Monthly Archives: January 2010

Socks And Shoes

Sometimes just getting little C. to put her socks and shoes on, and keeping them on until we reach our destination, is a major achievement.

It’s an exercise in patience for a dad, a delicate operation that if done incorrectly, results in a piercing wail from a wonderful but very opinionated 2-year-old.

When done correctly, all is calm and everyone is more or less happy. It’s a tricky, Jenga-like puzzle that once mastered is transferable to other problems in the world.

The latest round of the shoe battle happened this morning when C. and I were heading out to do errands. We had big jobs ahead of us: a visit to the farmers’ market and a shopping trip to Bel Air.

Before we left home, I put some clean socks and sensible brown shoes on C. and I thought we were in good shape.

We hadn’t yet left the house and she had other ideas. She wanted her shiny white shoes, the ones with the flowers on the straps. Fine with me, I thought. As long as she has socks and her feet are covered, I’m good.

Yet on the short car ride to the farmers’ market, she changed her mind again. When we arrived, I looked into the back seat. There she sat in her car seat, quite pleased with herself. She had taken off her shoes and socks, placed the shoes back on hear bare feet and then put the socks on her hands as mittens.

Something had to be done, but I had to be careful. Any wrong move could result in a crying fit on her part. I was one thin ice, but I managed to get to her to take the socks off of her hands. It was pretty cold outside, but I opted to let her wear her shoes without socks, just the way she wanted.

We got out stuff at the farmers’ market and made our way to the supermarket. At this point, as she sat in the shopping cart, I realized she had her shoes on the wrong feet.

Should I push my luck? After all, she didn’t seem to be in any pain. She was getting a little cranky, and I had already bribed her with a chocolate chip cookie to keep her calm. Rather than risk a meltdown from her, I decided not to make the risky move of putting the shoes on the correct feet.

Pick your battles, I thought. Taking off her shoes in the middle of this supermarket aisle and making things right just ain’t worth it.

That turned out to be a good move. I’m sure I looked like the world’s worst dad, with a daughter lacking socks and with her shiny, dressy shoes awkwardly sitting on the wrong feet.

But deep down, sometimes I know it’s best just to let things be.


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It Was A Dark And Carbonara Kind Of Night

Friday was a comfort food kind of night, a perfect time to break out the carbonara recipe.

After a week of rain and writing stories about rain and kicking off a new semester of teaching journalism class, I was ready for some good eats.

My wife has made carbonara for a long time, and I’ve just recently gotten into cooking it myself.

We make a slight variation of the Joy of Cooking version, which the authors call Spaghetti alla Carbonara.

It’s the perfect dish, plus A. and little C. gobble it up, which is saying a lot.

Making it filled the house with the smell of bacon (one of nature’s perfect foods), and with a little Neil Diamond on the hi-fi and a glass of ice cold Sierra Nevada, I was doing fine.

Here’s what you do:

Sizzle a half-pound of thick-cut strip bacon. Once it’s done and cooled, break it into large bits.

In the meantime, boil up a pound of linguini noodles.

The noodles will cook in about 10 minutes. Drain them and put them back into the pot in which you boiled them. Save about a half cup of water from the boiling, adding it back into the noodles. Put the pot on medium heat.

In a bowl, beat four eggs. Add them to the pot with the noodles. Add about a half cup of grated parmesan. Add a couple tablespoons of leftover grease from the bacon. Mix all the ingredients in the pot while cooking.

In just a few minutes, the eggs cook and you are ready to go.

When plating, adding a little more grated parmesan on the top of the noodles.

The result is pure deliciousness.

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I Crabby

The day begins very early at our house.

At about 5:30 a.m. today, little C. was up and ready to go.

After rousting her parents, she sat on the couch and proclaimed just what was on her mind: “I crabby!”

Yes, little one, I hear you.

Mommy and Daddy clutched first cups of coffee, the magic juice essential to good parenting.

C., who is closing in on 2 1/2 years old, knows just what she wants and says it clearly and often. L. and I chuckle at her directness, and of course we jump to meet her needs to fend off any round of toddler crying. She has us trained very well, for sure.

When L.’s mom visited last weekend, C. got to the point about what she wanted: “I need Grandma!”

Of course, Grandma loved it.

When I was having a bowl of cereal this morning, C. wandered into the kitchen and spotted what I had.

“I need cereal!” she proclaimed.

Her use of “need” instead of “want” is both cute and to-the-point. It’s refreshing how honest kids can be.

At other times, she cracks us up with her sly wit.

The other day, I said, “You’re such a good girl!”

She looked at me out of ther corner of her eye and responded in a kooky sing-song: “No, I noooooot!”

The “not” was drawn out, with two syllables. She had a look on her face as if she was about to draw on the walls with crayons. Or grab the keys to my car.

I couldn’t help but laugh, and wonder if this is just a sign of things to come as she marches on toward 3 years old.

I enjoy her little declarations, and brace for what little sayings she comes up with next.

I’m just hoping I can keep up. With a good dose of caffeine, I’ll be fine.

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Saying Goodbye In Knights Ferry

It’s been nearly a week since my grandma’s memorial, and I’m still taking it all in.

Eda Mae Sagar passed away on Nov. 8 at the age of 94.

About 60 people turned out to the Knights Ferry Community Club, a rustic little building on Main Street.

Outside sat the 1956 Volkswagen Beetle she once owned. In the the window was a photo of her with a friend, and the words “In Loving Memory.”

The crowd inside included family, friends from long ago as well as bridge partners and others who live in and around Oakdale.

As I stood up on the stage giving a short eulogy, I half imagined that she might just walk in the front door and start visiting with all of those she loved so much.

I talked a little about her long, rich life, as well as her kindness, class and courage.

But what I really enjoyed hearing were the stories told by others — tales of fun times, visits to her beloved San Francisco and countless examples of her wonderful style and grace.

We ended with a dessert buffet — including angel food cake, which she made often — and a champagne toast in her memory.

We couldn’t have put everything together without the help of family and friends.

It was the kind of gathering my grandma would have loved, and I know she was there in spirit.

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Vans Make The Man

When you hit second grade, style really matters.

I found that out the other day when I took A. to Arden Fair Mall to find some replacements for the ripe, worn out Nikes he’s been wearing since the beginning of school.

I made the mistake, as any dad may have done, of first taking him to Stride Rite, the place where we have bought so many durable, well-fitting shoes over the years. It was hoping they would have something good, since the Nikes just didn’t hold up very well.

A., who is now 7, clearly wasn’t impressed. He didn’t roll his eyes at me, but he was close. It seems that this store sells shoes for little kids, and he wasn’t having any of it. I guess I should have seen this coming. As we walked out, I knew it was just one more sign that my little boy has become a dude.

So we went to the nearby Vans store, where the place was rockin’ and crowded. A.’s eyes lit up, I knew we were on to something. We looked around and left to comparison shop at Skechers and Kids Foot Locker, but neither had the impact of the Vans store.

We went back to Vans, which is full of skateboards, pictures of guys skateboarding and a video screen playing videos of guys doing crazy moves in skateboard parks.

A. picked out two pairs: black sneaks with lots of support around the ankles, and black slip-ons that have flames on the top of the toes.

A. is really into the skateboard he got for his birthday, and he and other kids around our neighborhood talk about all the skate moves they can do (or think they can do).

So wearing old-school skateboard shoes makes sense.

“These Vans are off the hook!” A. volunteered as he wore his new kicks out of the mall.

Still slightly bummed about what was likely his last trip to Stride Rite, I quizzed A. a little about why he didn’t go for for the shoes there.

“They don’t have anything I like,” he said diplomatically.

A. has moved on. But the good news is that 2-year-old C. is still cool with Stride Rite and will gladly wear the cute little shoes they offer. At least for now.

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Slightly New Hairdo, Same Wild Girl

Little C., whose curly red locks bounce as she runs around the house, got her first haircut today.

Not too much. Just a little off the ends. And she didn’t raise a fuss at all.

At the recommendation of some friends, we took her up to Natomas to Cool Cuts 4 Kids.

We made it a family outing. L. was on hand to tell the stylist what we wanted. I was there to take photos and A. came along to watch.

This place is set up for kids. Little C. sat in a red fire engine that doubles as a barber chair. The stylist put on an Elmo video, and C. sat still and glued to the nearby TV screen, making it easy to cut her hair.

For the older kids, they have video games. A. was in the zone with a round of Mario Kart.

C. is a little more than 2 years old, and her hair has gotten slightly out of control. It’s been drooping into her eyes, and she’s started flicking it out of the way with her hand. We’ve tried to help her out, especially in the last couple months or so. L. has tried barrettes, but C. takes them out as soon as they are put in.

C. just likes her hair wild.

The stylist carefully put little bits of C.’s hair into a bag as a keepsake. She worked quickly, and put a little plastic flower into C.’s hair just for fun.

The tyke left it in for a few minutes, just long enough for me to get a photo. Then she tore it out.

Nobody, C. seemed to be telling us, can totally tame her hair.

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