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That First Homecoming Dance

That First Homecoming Dance

Saturday was THAT night for Sophia, on her way into the annals of history with the first Homecoming Dance of her high school career. Oh come on, you remember it. That first awkward dance you attended with that super geeky/crushy/amazing/heart-throb/never-spoke-a-word-all-night Freshman classmate? Yep, that one.

Whether you loved it, or hated it, or skipped it altogether, Homecoming was the first official dance of the school year. It meant dizzying glimpses of impending adulthood, raging hormones, and all the power and intrigue of what’s to come mixed with the terror of being in over your head. Girls teetered on tippy-tippy-high-high heels, assuming a womanly air of self-confidence crossed with the giggles of a little girl. Boys tried hard to seem cool, act cool, BE cool- all the while desperate to catch the attention of the girls without looking like it, playing air drums to the beat of The Eagles’ Hotel California.

Ah yes, those awkward freshman years – I remember them well.

I was so intimidated by the senior men and women surrounding me in freshman year, and felt so very young in comparison. The senior men were enormous, and had facial hair – they really were men. The senior women were all-knowing, past the giggly stage and on to more heady subjects beyond my understanding. Sometimes they stood at their lockers, paired up and making out like it was the last day on earth. I’m sure I gawked from afar, in open envy of their maturity and coolness. Add to that scene my budding gayness, and I was just a mess.

But Sophia? Nuh uh. That girl has more self-confidence in her perfectly manicured pinky nail than I had in all four years of high school. As we dropped them off at dinner, she and her boyfriend (yes, she has a boyfriend but that’s fodder for another tale) just got out of the car and walked right on into the restaurant like they owned the place. If Sophia was intimidated, she sure as hell has perfected her “I could care less” face, because you would have never known it.

So beautiful. I cant believe she is already a Freshman!

So beautiful. I cant believe she is already a Freshman!

As we pulled away from the curb, I envisioned the scene she would encounter inside the high school gym when they arrived at the dance. Girls teetered on too-high heels, standing in small circles of giggling energy, while boys stood off to the side, playing air drums and trying to look extra cool. Sound familiar?

When she got home and told us about the evening, seems like that’s pretty much how it played out. I guess things haven’t changed that drastically after all. Except I’m sure they were grooving to Drake and Rhianna instead of The Eagles and E.L.O. But hey, I’ll take my throw-back music and memories any day.

Now just wait for Prom.

 

 


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Four Years Ago…

Four Years Ago…

Hard to believe it was just four years ago that Sophia wrote a letter to President Obama and he responded, triggering quite the global sensation and an epic adventure for our family.

A different election season this time around, donchathink?

sophia-letter-to-obama-1

president-obama-letter


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Qué Coqueta! (or: Your Daughter is a Tramp)

Qué Coqueta! (or: Your Daughter is a Tramp)

(Reblogged from 2008) Qué Coqueta! That’s Spanish for “Your daughter is a tramp”. Okay, maybe the literal translation is more like “What a flirt!” but you have have seen the look on our Mexican nanny’s face when she said it. It had ho-bag written all over it.

You see, Ava likes her dress-up. A lot. And she has the special pair of shoes that are a particular favorite. They are clear plastic glass slippers with a 3-inch kitten heel, a la Cinderella with an attitude. I have no idea where they came from. They probably arrived at our house as a birthday present innocently enough, in a Little-Miss-Dress-Up Play Set from Ronco or something like that.

Princess Ava

But oh, how Ava LOVES these shoes. She calls them her HighHeelGlassSlippers (all one word). The minute she gets home from school, off come the cute pink sandals or the polka dot Chucks, and on go the Little Miss CFM pumps. I swear, she would wear those damn things to bed if we let her.

So when I got home from work last night and walked in the door to greet my family, I hear the click-clack clickety-clack of Ava running towards me on the hard wood floors, and I know. I know the HighHeelGlassSlippers are making their evening appearance. Sure enough, she rounds the corner in full princess drag.

That’s when our nanny dropped the bomb. “Qué coqueta!” she said. “Ella tendrá muchos novios.” She will have many boyfriends.

Nice. Just what a dad wants to hear.


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Spooked At The Haunted Whaley House

Spooked At The Haunted Whaley House

Our kids have that weird fascination, where they are a little scared of ghosts but yet are drawn to ghost stories and scary movies in some sort of curious can’t-look-away kind of attraction. At 12, Ava lives in that in-between stage where she’s not a kid anymore, and not yet a sturdy teen with practiced cynicism and a healthy case of KnowItAll-itude.

So tonight, Ava was finally ready to tackle the Whaley House.

The Whaley House is noted as one of the most haunted houses in the US The Whaley House is noted as one of the most haunted houses in the US

Situated smack dab in the middle of tourist traps, great Mexican restaurants and many historic buildings dating back to the city’s founding, The Whaley House rules Old Town San Diego. Local lore tells us this is a classic haunted house, and the folks that run the house give a great tour full of stories that support the claims. (The House has actually been featured in several books and TV specials, including Ghost Adventures on the Travel Channel).

It seems Old Man Whaley was an opportunist back in the day, and he saw a good deal in buying the land where San Diego officials used to hang bad guys. The gallows were built pretty much where the Whaley House stands now. Now let’s see, what would be your first clue there was a reason that land was so cheap? Hmmmm.

Anyway, the ghost of Yankee Jim Robinson was the first dude to haunt the place, and the Whaley family reacted poorly. People started dropping like flies, including several children. All in all I think seven or eight people died in the house, not counting the people they hung on these grounds beforehand. On top of all that (literally) the house is built near a graveyard, which still exists in part. That’s a lot of ghosts to wander around, and naturally people are going to see some.

The Whaley House haunted tour is definitely spooky, like this hideous living room decor for example The Whaley House haunted tour is definitely spooky, like this hideous living room decor for example

Not us. Despite the spooky house – which is more like a museum than anything – we saw no apparitions, experienced no sudden gusts of cold air, heard no creepy little lady calling “Carol Anne, Carol Anne, go into the light!” We did listen to some great stories about the Whaley Family, the history of San Diego in its early years, and what life was like in the olden days.

On a related note, I almost died and joined the Whaley ghosts going up and down that staircase inside the house. That thing is steep and spindly, so watch your step.

You could easily become a ghost at The Whaley House by trying to navigate this rickety staircase You could easily become a ghost at The Whaley House by trying to navigate this rickety staircase

Overall, the Whaley House hosts a super interesting tour – definitely creepy – and maybe the kids were a little freaked. A little. Ava did great, racking up another notch on her Rights of Passage marker. Definitely worth the $13 ticket.

I kinda miss the days when she got scared and ran into my legs, wrapping her arms around me and burying her face, holding on for dear life. Yeah, that doesn’t happen any more.


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Sophia Loves Jack – Part Two

Sophia Loves Jack – Part Two

Earlier this year, Sophia had a “moment” with her teen boy band idol, Jack Johnson of Jack and Jack. (To hear more about that, read the earlier post here). So when Jack and Jack announced they were returning to San Diego as part of local radio station 93.3’s Summer Kickoff Concert, the begging began.

As parents, we’ve learned to use these moments, dangling them like carrots above our teen girls’ heads in order to extract good behavior and extra chores from them. Believe me, these opportunities come few and far between – so don’t judge!

Hanging with the teen idols at the 93.3 Summer Kickoff Concert Hanging with the teen idols at the 93.3 Summer Kickoff Concert

We did finally agree to go as guests of I Heart Radio, and settled into our pretty decent seats. Ever the schemer, Sophia had made pre-arrangements to sit with a friend whose seats were even closer to the stage. Since that girl’s mom was along, we knew it was okay to let Sophia sit up in front – in fact, we could easily see her from our seats 20 rows back.

While Ava, Triton and I bopped to the music, Sophia and her friend stealthed out of the venue under our noses. We figured they had to visit the bathroom.

But no. Come to find out, they had gone looking for Jack and tried to sneak backstage before being stopped by security. Ever resourceful, they stood just outside the backstage gate to peer inside like the stalker teens they are. And sure enough, Jack walked by so the called out to get his attention. “I remember you!” he said to Sophia. “You’re the one with the wifi sign! Come on in!”

And just like that, those girls were backstage groupies. They took photos with both Jacks, hung out and chatted with them and the crew, met a few other performers, and expressed their giggly thanks before returning to their seats.

I don’t know about you, but I’ve been backstage at a concert or three. I know what goes on back there, and it’s not meant for teen girls. Luckily, this was a family-friendly event with a high degree of oversight, but still. I was more than a little freaked out. (And maybe a tiny bit proud of my little hustler for being so resourceful).

We are so screwed.


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Daddy Needs A Break

Daddy Needs A Break

Alone time. Peace and quiet. Some time away. Escaping the madness.

Call it what you will, but in every parent’s cycle, there comes that time when Daddy needs a break. A break from the constant needs of others. A break from pretending to have all the answers. A break from the dawn-to-dusk fever pitch that is life with two kids in the house. I know you know what I’m talking about.

It’s the Gloria Gaynor “I Will Survive” disco drum beat that begins the day as the alarm goes off at 5:00 a.m., jolting me to hit the gym in the wee morning hours before the crazy starts. Then it’s the mad scramble to get breakfast eaten/dogs walked/teeth brushed/appropriate clothing chosen (more on that later)/homework completed/permission slips signed/kids loaded into the car/last minute grab of forgotten item/mad dash to school drop-off/mad dash to Starbucks for fuel/mad dash to the office for that 8 a.m. management meeting. Yeah, that’s all before the workday even starts. You hear me – you know you do.

This is the shrill pitch of parental life that causes us to push through our days like a car whose gas gauge is blinking red on empty, but we’ve got just two five more miles to go.

Recently, that car broke down (meaning me, not the car). Triton could see it in my eyes – that hyper-caffeinated, wide-eyed stare where I am taking in my full field of vision but not really focused on a flippin’ thing. I’m so lucky he gets me.

So we planned a weekend getaway for a quick visit to La Quinta Resort, one of our favorite places to bake out the crazy in the hot Palm Springs sun. I had already conjured the poolside images, could feel the nub of the terry cloth mashed into the side of my face as I lay on the lounge chair, an umbrella drink as my new best friend.

The spa pool at La Quinta is delicious. And no, that is not me in the pink hat, silly. I look better in blue. The spa pool at La Quinta is delicious. And no, that is not me in the pink hat, silly. I look better in blue.

I mentally made massage appointments in La Quinta’s world-class spa, and mused on menu choices (steak or lobster? hmm, why not both?) at their most excellent signature restaurant, Morgan’s. In the hazy distance, I could sense the kids were there somewhere, swimming or engrossed in their iPhones. Triton would be sitting nearby, bingeing on back episodes of Homeland. This was the kind of mini-vacay where we would never have to leave the resort all weekend long.

But this was not to be.

Evidently, the girls forgot to tell us that Friday night was the Spring Dance at their middle school. Sophia pleaded a compelling case for this, her last dance as an eighth grader before she and her friends scattered to different high schools. It worked, and we caved. I watched the scenes of palm trees and blue pools dry up, as talk turned to mall trips for new party dresses.

Sophia and her gang all gussied up for the big dance Sophia and her gang all gussied up for the big dance

But wait! Why not go anyway? BY MYSELF. After I pondered the ridiculousness of this thought, it started to seem less and less ridiculous. Could I actually take an entire weekend for myself, and go away from my family to be alone with no one to talk to and no distractions? Would I be able to relax, or would my brain spin me out of control, wonky from untethered thoughts and no one to bounce them back into reality? Well, we would see. Because I needed this. Badly.

So I set off for a different location – Two Bunch Palms Resort & Spa. It felt somehow wrong to go to our family’s retreat at La Quinta without the rest of us, and I was drawn to the crunchy spirituality of a new location.

You know what? It was pretty darn great! The drive there was odd and a bit lonely, as the two and a half hours in the car gave me plenty of time to waiver between doubt and elation. But the bliss far outweighed the concerns.

It worked too. By the time I arrived back home on Sunday, I was pumping out the zen. I floated into the house, hugged Triton and the kids, made a peaceful dinner and had a beautiful night’s sleep free from stress and anxiety.

And then it was Monday.