Tag Archives: kids

When Time Stands Still

For kids, the last few days before Christmas feel like an eternity.

For adults, it’s time to panic as the holiday comes bearing down on us like a UPS truck loaded with presents.

“Is Christmas here yet?” little C. asked as soon as she woke up the other day. Sorry, not yet.

“My prediction is that this week is going to feel like the slowest on earth,” A. added. “Everyone is so excited.”

It’s funny how our perception of the holiday changes as we get older. We go from carefree anticipation to the weight of responsibility and more than a little dread.

The little ones can’t wait until Christmas morning. Adults are meanwhile doing the calculus to figure out how we’re going to cram last-minute shopping, present wrapping, house cleaning, cooking and all the other stuff into the coming days.

If I squint and look back, I can remember my own long waits for Christmas Eve and Christmas itself. I could hardly stand it. I knew that my grandma hid unwrapped presents under her bed, and even though I tried to be good, I couldn’t resist peeking. I was about 8 years old. I looked and found the box of Legos that would soon be mine. It didn’t ruin the holiday, but just gave me a little fix to help me make it through to the big day.

I watch the kids now and I can tell they feel the same way. When we arrive home in the evening, we often have a box or two from Amazon waiting. Each contains a Christmas present. I can tell it takes all of their self control to keep from tearing open the boxes right on the spot.

Just a little while longer, I tell them. Soon they’ll get their holiday goodies, and I can breathe a sigh of relief.


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Star Wars Theater

I never get tired of watching the old-school “Star Wars” flicks, and it’s even more fun when most of the audience is under age 8.

Our front room became a theater the other day, with “Return of the Jedi” as the main attraction.

Seven-year-old A., his 8-year-old amigo L. and little 2-year-old C. lined up on the coach to check out of frozen Hoth and the swamp of Dagobah.

The trio chomped through three bags of microwave popcorn (yikes!) as the battle scenes played out and Yoda tried to teach the ways of the Force to Luke.

The boys took it all pretty seriously. What ship would you fly in? The Millenium Falcon, they both agreed. What character would you be? Both said Luke.

As for C., she was just taking it all in.

“Who’s that?” she would ask when someone or something new showed up.

Fuzzy little Yoda caught her attention.

“A doggy!” she said, trying to make sense of this wise creature.

The boys asked themselves what they would do if they had the Force at their disposal.

A. said he would lift up a chair.

L. said he would use the Force on his teacher.

I didn’t ask why.

I just sat back and listened Yoda’s deep advice.

“Clear your mind of questions,” he tells Luke.

So true, I thought, vegging out as the movie played on.

“You must unlearn what you have learned,” he says at another point.

Also right on the money, in so many ways. Much can we all learn from this little green critter.

As for the kids, their attention wandered a little toward the end. They were busy making a fort out of the couch cushions. After the credits rolled, A. and L. engaged in a mock lightsaber fight.

Yes, the Force is strong with them.

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Chipmunks Stink It Up In A Good Way

If kids ran the Academy Awards, I think the latest Chipmunks flick would be up for something important.

I love movies of all kinds, but when (and if) I go to the theater these days, it’s usually for kids’ fare.

“Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel” was a big hit in the Natomas multiplex where A. and I took it in recently.

Children (and some adults) in the audience were laughing a lot, especially during one particularly thunderous fart joke. In kidland, the Oscar for flatulence would go to this film. It really wasn’t half bad, in that it gave me a good excuse to relax for a long time and munch on a ton of candy.

As for the real Oscars, I’m lagging more than usual in seeing the nominated movies. It’s just part of being a parent of young kids, I guess. I’ve only watched two of the films up for best picture: “Inglourious Basterds” (a guilty pleasure) and “Up” (a beautiful story that won’t win for best movie, but I’m hoping it will get the Oscar for animated feature). And “Avatar”? I know I should see it, but I’m just not too excited yet about the whole blue alien thing. Maybe if the aliens were zombies I might be more motivated.

Judging from the previews we saw before watching the Chipmunks, it looks like there are some pretty decent movies for kids coming our way.

Sneak peeks of “Cats & Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore” (can’t miss with a 007 reference) and “The Karate Kid” (this time with Jackie Chan and Jaden Smith) both got thumbs up from the 7-year-old movie critic sitting next to me. We’ll also come back to check out the 3-D “How to Train Your Dragon.”

And, of course, we have to see the next Chipmunks installment, when and if it happens.

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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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Where’s My Remote?

My son is full of good ideas.


“I wish I had a remote to speed up time,” he told me not long ago.

The idea was to make his seventh birthday and Christmas arrive sooner, along with the gifts.

As summer draws to a close, I’m wishing for a remote of my own, to slow down time.

We’ve had a great time as a family over the break, with short vacations to Washington, D.C., and Lake Tahoe.

There was also a fishing trip to Sly Park, lots of swimming and a couple of River Cats games as well.

But the summer has zipped by.

Now A. is about to start the second grade, and little C. will soon turn 2 years old.

I try to enjoy each day with the kids, watching them as they grow almost right before my eyes.

I want to remember the little stuff, like when A. sweetly takes C.’s hand and leads her to the best stuff at the playground.

This window when they are little is so short, and the time just flies by.

I’d like to slow it down, and even pause it, to savor each little minute.

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Joys Of Summer

We knew we were in for a good time before we even walked into Raley Field on Friday night.


As A. and I made our way up to the gate, a tight formation of Air Force F-5 fighter jets screamed by overhead to kick off the matchup between the River Cats and Grizzlies.

A., who loves any machine that’s loud and fast, couldn’t believe his good luck at seeing planes flying so low. But things got better.

A banner hung overhead near the entrance announcing $1 hot dogs and ice creams, and I knew then and there that we were in for an eat-a-thon.

First-inning action was already under way, but we had our priority: food.

A., who I think gets his love of grub from me, stepped up to a food counter and ordered a giant vanilla soft serve in a waffle cone. He was handed the tallest, most beautiful soft serve I’ve ever seen. Was A. up for the eating challenge? He assured me yes.

As for me, I could not let this $1 offer go to waste. Three hot dogs and an ice cream sandwich for me, please.

Since there happened to be a baseball game going on, A. took me over to his favorite spot — the grassy slope along the outfield. A neighbor kindly gave us tickets for some very nice seats, but A. likes to sit on the grass, where foul balls sometimes land.

So we found a place on the sod and began to chow down in a serious way. It was bliss, sitting with A. eating ballpark food on a warm August night, watching the game out of the corner of my eye as a setting sun cast shades of red on a few clouds to the west. Nice.

Once we were well fed, it was off to the kiddie game area nearby. A. tried wiffle-ball batting practice, pitching practice, the obstacle course and the tall inflatable slide. We were soon on the move again, checking out stuff for sale outside the souvenir shop.

In the later innings, we eventually found seats. We watched a little of the game and the American Idol-type contest that was going on along the third-base line.

We stuck around through the ninth, digging the music played prior to each batter, watching people do the wave and checking out video clips played on the large screen in the outfield.

By the way, the River Cats lost 3-0. But did it really matter?

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Fruit Market Stroll

The under-the-freeway farmers’ market is just another reason to love Sacramento.


Little C. and I made our weekly visit on Sunday morning, walking among the vendors to pick out produce for the week.

This year-round market, which sits in a shaded parking lot at 6th and X streets, seems to be hitting its seasonal peak right about now.

C. likes this place, and she sat up straight in her stroller taking in the sights and sounds. She likes to get out and about, to soak up anything new. To her, it’s all a big adventure.

As traffic roared by on the elevated freeway above, we made our way among the throngs of shoppers and past booths stacked artfully with produce.

We go back to the same merchants each week, drawn in by friendly sellers and consistently good fruits and veggies.

Our first stop on Sunday was the booth run by J&J Ramos Farms of Hughson. It sits at the northeast corner of the sprawling market. That’s where C. eagerly helped me pick out deep purple plouts. One after another, she dropped them into the bag I held. The peaches here gave off a warm, summery aroma that just begged us to buy them for fruit salad.

We like to get our watermelons from the booth next door run by Jimenez Farm of Stockton. The staff is happy to help pick out good ones and over the years, I can’t remember them selling me a bad melon.

We also like to roll by the Hooverville Orchards booth at the southwest corner of the market. This is the spot for Bartlett pears and Gala apples grown in Placerville. Plus, the guy in charge is a great salesman, always making a loud pitch to those passing by.

By the time we left, the handles of C.’s stroller were loaded down with bags of fruit.

I’ve been going to this market for years, first with A. and now with C. And I’ve seen the same vendors pretty much the whole time.

We try to go before 9 a.m. or after 11:30 a.m. to avoid the crowds. On some days, it seems like half of Sacramento is there. And I can’t blame folks.

This market is one of the constants that makes this town such a great place to live.

We stock up each Sunday on enough produce to carry us through at least Thursday.

And this Sunday, we’ll be back again.

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