Shopping Under the Influence

Proof that you should not go birthday shopping w/ your 14-year-old in downtown Santa Cruz after consuming two mai tais at Hula’s:

Not only will he will walk away with $50 donut print Sanuk bedroom slippers

I swear I didn't know they were called "Glazed and Confused."
I swear I didn’t know they were called “Glazed and Confused.”

…but he will also score a pair of WEED kneesocks.

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“Was that a good choice?” tsked Jimmy when we met up at the car.

“No,” I replied sheepishly. What could I say other than the Appletons Gold Rum impaired my parental judgement?

Could have been worse. I’m pretty sure if I’d pounded two Scorpion Bowls, Saxon might have hoodwinked me into buying these…

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When did kneesocks become fashionable again anyway?

The Curse of the Cussing Skier

Every New Year Jimmy resolves to stop swearing. Alas after 21 years of marriage I’ve come to the conclusion that my husband is powerless to profanity.

Ski trips are an especially ugly trigger.

Over break we headed to Lake Tahoe for a few days. There we were changing in the frigid Sugar Bowl parking lot, only to discover that Sax was busting out of his old snow pants. They were two sizes too small, total floods. He couldn’t even zip them.

Already exhausted from packing, driving and unpacking our equipment, that snafu set off Jimmy’s cussfest. “Dammit Kim! I told you to have Saxon try on his pants before we left!”

Oops.

“Come on, dude!” he yelled, shoehorning the kid into his puffy polyester Daisy Dukes. “BUTTON that F***ER!”

“I can’t!” Saxon whined.

“Um, dad, where’s my ski jacket?” Tanner asked sheepishly from the back seat.

“What do you mean, where’s your ski jacket?” erupted Jimmy. “You F*CKIN’ forgot it? You’re 16! What the F**K, man?”

In calmer moments, Jimmy has admitted the reason behind his pyscho-ness. He says it’s because our teenagers have a case of pussitis. He has a point, I thought, as I watched Tanner wrestle his foot into his new-used ski boot along with two pairs of socks and the bottom six inches of his sweatpants. “Dad!!! This boot is too small! If I shove it in, my ankle’s literally gonna break.”

“Well, why are you wearing two pairs of effing socks?” Jimmy yelled, violently ripping a pair off Tanner’s feet, “and get those sweats the hell out of there!”

By now people in the parking lot were staring. I was mortified. When we finally got up the mountain, the weather was windy and freezing, but we toughed it out until the last lift closed. Then per tradition, we warmed up in our toasty car with apres ski brie and brews, sparkling Clementine Izzes for the dudes. “Ahh,” sighed Jimmy. “Maybe skiing is worth all the hassle.”

After crashing at our pricey one-star hotel, we got a late start the following morning, and SKI NAZI was raging. “This trip is costing me BANK! Why can’t you guys get your A$$ES out of bed earlier?”

I felt bad that we slept in, but I was wiped from the holidays. Plus I was dreading the single digit temps. Thankfully it turned out to be an epic day at Squaw Valley, sunny and gorgeous and…

…Uh-oh. There was Jimbo, lumbering across the frozen tundra like a rabid polar bear. “Guess how much 2-day passes for a family of four cost?” he bellowed. “Seven hundred and forty-eight F*CKING bucks!”

Oh shoot. It was 11 a.m. and we were just now hitting the slopes. Plus the mountain was packed. It was practically costing us $10 a run. Jimmy and Saxon left Tanner & me in the dust. Just as well.  I needed a reprieve from the cuss-a-thon.

That night we met friends for dinner at Village Pizzeria. We had a great time, that is after Jimmy made it back from Sports Exchange in downtown Truckee to buy some used ski poles for Saxon. Unfortunately, we neglected to take into account that when your kid sprouts five inches in one year, he’s probably going to need taller poles. Saxon’s were so short, they looked like he stole them off Verne Troyer.

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I googled the store’s address and offered to Map it on his iPhone, but Mario Andretti  peeled out of the parking lot before I had a chance. I shrugged and went in and added our name to the 45-minute wait list. Five minutes later, my phone rang. “WHERE is this place?” Jimmy screamed. “What’s the EFFIN’ address?”

The next morning we rallied and hit the slopes by 9:30 a.m. SKI NAZI actually sweetened up: he tightened our boots, reminded us (nicely) to bend our knees and treated us to warm chocolate cookies from Wildflower Bakery. The four of us skied together and had a blast.

At 4:30 p.m., we trekked to the car, pounded a post-sesh Modelo, packed up, and headed home. Or at least we tried to. It took 35 minutes just to inch out of the parking lot.

“This traffic is SUCH a Cluster F**K!” yelled Jimmy. “The equipment, schlepping, packing, whining, crowds, everything!!! I F*cking HATE skiing!!!”

Look on the bright side, Jimmy, all those coins in your New Year’s swear jar will buy us another trip to Squaw Valley.

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"Seriously, Granite Chief Ski Shop, two hundred bucks for these Electric Blue Boogaloo powder pants? That's an EFF you to me!"
“Seriously, Granite Chief Ski Shop, two hundred bucks for these Electric Blue Boogaloo powder pants? That’s an EFF you to me!”

Barry Bringing It!

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Yesterday I scored a free pair of Barry Manilow tickets from my mechanic. The only dilemma? My man is NOT into Barry. Mr. Manilow may have sold more than 80 million records, but Jimmy would rather get a colonoscopy sans anesthesia than see him in concert.

“Dude, I did a 7:30 surgery today,” he whined when I bugged him at the office. “I put a titanium screw in somebody’s foot. I’m exhausted, plus the Raiders are playing. I’m not into this at all.”

So what I did was trick him. “Totally empathize, but since you’re commuting on 280 from Menlo Park anyway, want to grab dinner?”

We met at our fave Vietnamese place, 19 Market. After we’d polished off the last of the garlic prawns, I said coyly, “You know…HP Pavillion is right down the street. Let’s go to the concert. Just a fly-by. I PROMISE!“

“Oh, alright. But we’re OUT after two songs.”

When we arrived, the arena was packed-ish.

“Are you sitting in the wheelchair section?” Laura, my music snob friend texted me.

“Yeah! And my hearing aid is cranked to 10!” I cheerfully texted back.

Despite the median age of 65, the audience was showing Barry some serious glow stick love. That arena was an undulating sea of neon green.

Botoxed and bronzed, Barry looked fabulous and sounded even better–and, he was strutting his stuff with a sexy, black back up dancer half his age. He also played piano on most songs. Luckily we were late, so we only had to endure a couple of his lesser-known cheesy songs.

At first Jimmy was a total dud. He just sat there, arms crossed while checking SportsCenter on his iPhone.

“Let me take your pic,” I said.

“No way. I don’t want anyone to know I was here!”

Barry couldn’t have been more personable. Right before he launched into the Christmas-song schmaltz , he revealed that he’d attended a sketchy high school in a tough part of Brooklyn. “Being in the orchestra saved me,“ he said. “Obviously, I wasn’t sporty and can you image me in a gang?“

Not in that sequined fuchsia blazer I couldn’t. Or any of his other 20 other costume changes for that matter.

Finally Mr. Manilow delivered a tune I recognized. “I’m going to play the most romantic song in my catalog now. If you can’t get lucky to this one…” Barry laughed, before performing “Weekend in New England.”

I don’t know if it was the crashing waves projected on the big screen or Barry’s superb showmanship, but the song totally brought me right back to sloshing around on my waterbed, making out with my 7th grade boyfriend, Paul Michael.

“When will I see you againnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnn?” Barry hit the high notes like a pro. Even Jimmy seemed impressed.  “He’s got a nice set of pipes and I like his piano playing. How old is Barry, anyway?“

“Hold on, let me Google it…OMG he’s 69!”

“Wow! Barry’s BRINGING it!“

Then things started getting really good. Barry sang “Can’t Smile without You” which totally reminded me of sloshing around on my waterbed, trying not to lock braces with my 8th grade boyfriend, Joe DiDuca, then “Mandy“ (slutty/sloshy–you know the drill) and finally, the piece de resistance–“Copacobana.”

The AARP crowd went wild for Lola and Rico, twirling their glow sticks, and when Barry thrust his mic toward the audience, hot damn if we didn’t whip ourselves into a frenzy singing the chorus…

“At the copa (CO!) Copacabana (Copacabana) / The hottest spot north of Havana / At the copa (CO!) Copacabana / Music and passion were always in fashion…”

He wasn’t dancing in the aisles like me, but even Jimmy seemed into it.

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Barry might have done an encore, but I can’t say for sure; we hightailed it out to beat the wheelchair gridlock.

On the street, I was positively high–it was as if I’d just taken a couple hits off a big joint of medicinal Barry-juana. “LOOKS LIKE WE MADE IT—through the concert, that is!” I crooned, locking arms with Jimmy as we headed to our car. “So what was your favorite? “Mandy?“ “I Write the Songs?“ Wait, I know—“Copacabana?”

“No, it was that I love you, baby one,” he said.

“Oh, you mean ‘Can’t Take My Eyes off You?’ That was Barry covering Frankie Valli,” I said. “Yay! That means we can go see “Jersey Boys,” the musical about Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons.“

“Don’t push your luck.”

Hot to Trot

On Thanksgiving morning we rousted early and headed to downtown San Jose for the 5K Silicon Valley Turkey Trot. The race benefits the Second Harvest Food Bank. Racers bring canned goods to donate and some people even show up in costumes–seriously, how can you not love Mayflower pilgrims and Butterball turkeys cranking out six-minute miles?

We’ve participated ever since our boys were little. For as long as I can remember the guys have rolled out of bed protesting. “Why can’t we sleep in on our vacation?” “Nobody else’s parents make them get up and run on holidays!”

Saxon, in particular, detests running. Here’s our M.O. in years past—Jimmy Jam deserts us within the first few blocks. Tanner, Sax and I trudge along at a tortoise pace for maybe all of a block, then Saxon grimaces, clutches his side and stops.

I break my stride and walk beside him, pumping him up, “You can do this, buddy!” “Pace yourself!”

Meanwhile his little red face fills with vitriolic rage while he screams, “I haaaaate running! This SUCKS!“

Suddenly, he rockets ahead, legs a Wile E. Coyote blur for oh, 60 seconds, before he cramps up again.

SPRINT. STOP. RAGE. REPEAT.

This lovely pattern persists for the next 2 & 3/4 miles. Every freakin’ year.

I never, ever get a workout.

Call us masochists but for some reason, Jimmy and I keep dragging the boys back to the Trot.

This year, the 8th (give or take a year or two when we slammed too many martinis the night before), something strange happened. We woke the teens up and they complied with nary a protest. They were even cheery.

We actually made it into line before the race started—a first.

As we muscled our way into the crowd, I nicknamed Jimmy and Saxon “TEAM CREAM” because they were sporting matching Creamsicle orange Nikes.

It was nice because we actually had time to goof around for a few minutes before the race. Mostly we did Tom Cruise imitations. Have you ever noticed how Tom runs in every movie he’s ever made? And when he runs, he karate chops the air.

Soon the announcer began the countdown and we were off! Saxon and Jimmy started together. The course is flat, fast and flows through neighborhoods and business areas.

Before long I noticed Saxon starting to run in that strained telltale fashion. Uh-oh.
But for once he didn’t stop and melt down. He kept going.
Tanner lagged behind and I ran alone. The air was crisp. I felt alive and appreciative to start a holiday centered around gratefulness in such a healthy way. Downtown shined up like a new penny in the bright morning sun, albeit a faintly urine-scented new penny. The restaurant windows glittered, Japantown sat tidily with with its tofu factory and markets, sushi bars and noodle houses.

Saxon and Jimmy fell into an easy, rhythmic pace, their Day-Glo kicks shining brightly, scorching the corneas of nearby runners like a total eclipse of the sun.

Feet pounding in time to the Taiko drums lining the course, I followed Team Cream until they dusted me around mile 2. When we all reunited near the finish line, Jimmy told me on that Thanksgiving morn, a miracle had occurred. Not on the scale of the birth of baby Jesus, but a miracle nonetheless. Saxon made it to the end without stopping once. And he even finished with a smile.

Ears to you, Saxon.

As we walked to the car I realized maybe it’s good to make our kids do stuff they hate once in a while.

They may not come around for years—or ever—but how will they ever know if they like something unless we encourage them to try?

From our pack to yours, happy holidays!

Tale of the Tainted Twinkie

Sometimes, when our teenagers are really bad, beating grounding them just won’t do.  We parents must get creative. During a recent visit with friends in San Diego, all I wanted was for my college bestie, Dasha, to think I was a semi-decent mom. With her husband, Dean, Dasha is raising two of the sweetest, refreshingly attitude-free girls on the planet. Since the bar was high, I gave Saxon a pep talk beforehand. It went something like this: Begoodbegoodbegoodpleasebegood. Unfortunately, he has a 13-year-old mind of his own. Here are but a few of the ways in which Saxon veered from the path of righteousness during our three-day stay:

1. Flipped off the camera whenever I tried to document our fun family adventure.

2. Authored the following Mad Lib: Hiking is a really shitty thing to do. But, hiking is nothing like going for a walk in the poop or pee around the house. The serious hiker needs lots of dumbass equipment.You must have very comfortable thongs. You will need a 69-foot rope.

3. Answered our gracious hosts, the Hervey family, with monosyllabic grunts.

Sample convo:

Dasha: “So Saxon, how do you like being at the top of the food chain in 8th grade?”

Saxon: “Good.”

Dean: “How ’bout them Giants, Sax?”

Saxon: “Good.”

Makena: “How did getting baptized at Hume Lake Christian Camp this summer change your life?”

Saxon: “Good.”

But these transgressions paled in comparison to his biggest sin, gluttony. Saxon chowed eight Twinkies in a 24-hour period.

I knew this because I bought him a box on our first day thinking he could stretch them out over the long weekend, or for that matter 20 years if he wanted—everyone knows preservative-laden Twinkies never ever go rancid.

But the next morning, Dasha’s daughter, Makena, alerted us that Sax was down to his last two Twinkies.

This called for serious consequences. There was only one thing to do: Punk the little bird flipping, Bad-Libbing Augustus Gloop!

Thankfully my partners-in-crime were up for the challenge.

Clockwise from right: Dasha, hostess with the mostess; Lauren, cutie with a bum thumb; and Makena, cool Indie music chick.
Ingredients at the ready…

Here’s what we did. With precision, Dasha extracted the creamy filling from the Twinkie…

I swear Dasha missed her calling as a neurosurgeon.

…then re-injected the moist, golden sponge cake with with creamy Hidden Valley Ranch Dressing.

Lastly we carefully glued the plastic wrap back together, returned the bogus bakery product to its box and waited.

“Gimme a Twinkie!’

At 8:00 a.m. Saxon sauntered downstairs and beelined for the Twinkie box. As he ripped open the bag, we held our breath.  Uh-oh. He quickly noticed something was remiss. “Huh? Is this bag open? Oh well,” he shrugged, then shoved the tainted Twinkie into his piehole.

“What the ???”

Look on the bright side, Saxon. Not only are you cured of your addiction, but you have a new noun for your next Bad Lib: “Ranch- flavored Twinkie!”

Thanks for putting up with the Ratty Pack, Dash. You will always be my favorite mischief making, blonde hair tossing, partner-in-crime.

Kim & Dash, circa ’85.

The Other Mohawk Guy

This past summer I bribed our teenage sons, Tanner and Saxon, with extra computer time if they guest-wrote for our family blog. I hoped blogging might help offset the dreaded summer brain drain.  This is Saxon’s first—and probably last—contribution. 

 

“Mow’n all the Way”

    It was yesterday when I got a mohawk.  My mom just had to get highlights and a spray tan for her high school’s 30th reunion.  She was about to leave for her session when I asked, “Do you think I could get my mohawk after you’re done?”  She called Chris, her hairstylist, to see if he could fit me in.  He replied yes, and we sped down to Maddox Kai, the hair salon, to get our ‘dos done.

While my mom got her hair all sun kissed , the time went by so slow.  So I got out my Ipod and played a little Jet Pack Joyride. Sooner or later I was up! As I got in  the chair, he started buzzing off my hair in a movement like mowing the lawn.  It felt great! Chris was asking me if I was going to spike it up, dye it, etc.  He got out hair supplies and buzzed here, snipped there there, sprayed everywhere, and POOF, I was done!  I looked fantastic!

My mom and I thanked Chris many times, then finally got into the car.  When we were driving back I was thinking, Gosh, my grandma is gonna kill me!  I would probably give her a heart attack if she saw me like this.  She freaked out when I had long hair, but a mohawk, uh-oh.  All summer I been rocking a Hawaiian/Rasta look, but as soon as I got in the car I took off my pukka shell necklace because it clashed with my mohawk. Next, I think I’ll ask my mom if I can get ear plugs.

By Saxon

Editor’s note: Sax, if you even THINK about getting ear plug gauges, you’ll be grounded for life. I’m cool, but not that cool.

Do You Know the Way to Makalawena?

A few years ago on our first visit trip to the Big Island in Hawaii, we stumbled upon the most gorgeous beach, Kua Bay. We couldn’t believe our luck. The sand was silky white; the water fanned out in front of us in like a peacock’s tail~turquoise, cobalt, aqua and sea foam green. Best of all, the sand was sprinkled with only a few other beachgoers. We thought we’d died and gone to heaven.

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A year later we returned. The beach was a little more populated as the road had been paved. But still, it was pristine as we remembered…

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This time? Not so much. Every tourist and their mother had discovered our little secret. Sadly, Kua Bay was kooked out…

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(Of course this isn’t Kua but just to give you an idea of the claustrophobic feel.)

So, it was back to the guide book for The Ratty Pack. Just down Hwy 19 not far from the Kona Airport, we read, was an epic, deserted beach. The only bummer? The road to the coast was a little uh, bumpy. How bad can a 1 & 1/2 mile, unpaved road through the lava fields be, we wondered?

Bad, it turns out. Thirteen minutes of bone-jarring, chiropractic appointment-inducing hell.

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The view from out our car window.

An eternity later, we arrived at a parking lot that still looked very, very far from the Pacific. Not to mention this foreboding sign…

It was just Jimmy and I on this mission as the teenage half of the Ratty Pack contingent had stayed back at the house to mainline their crack, uh, Minecraft computer games. There were a half dozen cars in the lot so we decided to go for it. Hoofing along the trail, chunks of lava rumbling under our feet, we felt as if we were moonwalking.

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Are we there yet?

See those palm trees waaay off in the distance?

Turns out that wasn’t even Makalawena. We had only reached Mahai’ula, a well-protected snorkeling bay which was pretty, but not the most exquisite beach on the island as our guide book promised.

So we kept on walking, right past this old, red abandoned house which I later read once belonged to a prominent part-Hawaiian family called the Magoons.

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Following the breadfruit trail like the Hawaiian Hansel and Gretel…Image

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Climbing over gnarled tree roots, we soldiered on. Thirsty, parched, hot and dusty, how much longer…we’d been trekking by now 40 minutes.

Then finally we spotted a sandy trail leading to dunes…

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And just beyond, a heavenly crescent of deserted beach! NIRVANA!Image

Giant palms fringed the white silky sand.

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“Aren’t the views just stunning?”I marveled.

“Why yes, they certainly are,” replied Jimmy.

We bodysurfed, walked the beach, and sprawled out on our towels marveling at Makalawena’s beauty. The occasional airplane buzzed overhead and the long walk through the lava field seemed a small price to pay for such serenity.

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Coconuts washed up on the beach.

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Body surfing in the minty green sea.

The beach was so deserted, we had trouble finding someone to snap a pic for us.

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And that’s just how we like it!