Happy 14th Birthday Sarah!

It seems like every week I am blogging about one of my kids’ birthdays. Today happens to be Sarah’s birthday, my oldest daughter. She is 14 years old today and I have to say, I cannot seem to keep up with my daughter’s ever advancing age. It is really amazing to watch your kids grow up. Over the past few years I have watched Sarah grow from my little baby girl to my little girl to my big girl to my young woman of a daughter.

Today she is wearing makeup, dressing herself quite fashionably, writing profusely, singing wonderfully and playing the piano amazingly. She is smart, witty, funny and to be honest, pure awesomeness backed by an adorable smile. And I’ve had the pleasure of watching all of that develop.

To my dear daughter, I just want to say that I am so very proud of the young woman you have become. Not a day goes by that you don’t amaze me in some capacity. I am so honored and proud to be called your dad.

And for those of you that may not know, she is also a blogger. She’s been publishing her blog, Sarah Said, for some time now. If you get the chance, stop by her blog and have a read. It is just one of the many ways that she will knock your socks off.

Happy birthday Adriannah


Today marks my daughter Adriannah’s ninth birthday. Nine year’s since my little pastry chef, my little fashionista, my little tickle bug was born. And no matter how long it becomes since a child was born, I still get taken back to when they were babies.

As I sit here and wonder where the heck nine years has gone I begin to look back on some of the experiences we have had as a family. And I recall with fondness many of the things we have done over the years and how each of our children took to it.

I remember things like our Disneyland trip in 2006, where we celebrated Adriannah’s sixth birthday. I remember her huge water slide birthday party a few years ago. I remember when she made the chocolate watermelon cake that she invented all by herself.

I also look at how much a nine year old can be. How smart, funny, witty, athletic and ambitious she can be. Did you know that Adriannah gives every single one of her stuffed animals a name? Their own name. And they are never repeated. And did you know that she remembers each one of them? Like they were her kids.

And did you know that she can sit down and single-handedly solve every single puzzle on Wheel of Fortune? That’s right, she has solved puzzles that I haven’t been able to.

Nine years… wow. On this, your ninth birthday, I wish you, Adriannah, a wonderful day filled with laughs, smiles and enjoyment of being another year older. I love you my baby. Happy birthday.

Happy 13th birthday Sarah

Today my oldest child, my daughter Sarah, turns 13 years old. And I am so not sure what to do with that.

I can remember vividly the moment she was born. How she looked when she came into this world, how small she was and soft she was. I remember her trip home from the hospital and how we spent every minute of the first 15 months of her life parenting right out of the books.

I remember when she started walking, talking, learning, growing. I remember when she learned to ride a bike, when she got her ears pierced for the first time, the first time she spent the night at a friends house, the first time we left her home alone for a few minutes to jaunt to the store.

Most recently I can remember her developing into a young woman, changing physiologically, getting super tall, looking older. 13 years passed me by in about three paragraphs.

Where does that time go? When you have as many kids as I do time does move pretty quick. Anyone that tells you a minute is a minute never had a house full of kids. But 13 years? I mean, they just started last week it seems. And no sooner did I take her out of diapers than I am preparing her for high school, her first work for money and the prospect of driving lessons in a few years.

I am a blessed man to have the children I have. Each of them is independent and individual, and each has their own unique quarks, personalities and characteristics that personifies who they are. Sarah is an outstanding musician. She can play just about any stringed instrument and can readily learn the tune for a song on the piano in a matter of seconds.

She is a drama queen. Not like your usual kicking and screaming, throwing a tantrum type drama queen (not that she hasn’t done that before) but the kind that loves the stage, theater and acting. She has an amazing sense of humor, sometimes bordering on gross or dry, but always funny and always well past her age level.

She has a keen eye for fashion and designs dresses whenever she has the time to doodle in her journal. She also loves to work on her comic strip “The Robinsons” from time to time, showing a sense of humor and wisdom well beyond her years.

And the characteristic that I love about her the most, one that the entire family is blessed with daily, is her ability to belch like a longshoreman. There is not a person on this planet that can rip ’em like Sarah can. I love you for that baby. 😉

Seriously though, I have had a hard time coming to grips with my daughter’s coming of age. She is an amazing kid and is turning into an amazing 13 year old young woman today. I am so happy for her, so proud of her, so glad to be her father and so ecstatic that I get to experience her 13th birthday with her and our family. Few men get to live the life I live when it comes to children and family.

So as I sign off of this little emotional rant, I would like to offer this suggestion to you parents, and specifically you fathers… love your children mightily. Men, if you have daughters, treat them like the lady you would expect her future husband to treat her like. Tell her she’s beautiful, smart, funny and awesome. Tell her you are a better man because she is your daughter. Let her know what she means to you as a man and as a father.

Every little girl needs to know her parents, specifically daddy, loves her. Make sure your son(s) and daughter(s) know it today.

Happy birthday my Sarah. I love you baby.

Maximizing a Saturday

Yesterday was a busy day for my family. Most weekend days are busy days nowadays, but yesterday was one of those days where at 6:00 in the evening you could swear it was 11:00 in the evening and you are wondering why everyone is still awake.

It started out the day before. Yeah, I know that sounds silly, but Sandi had sent me an email late Friday evening asking me if I would be willing to wake up early to go garage saleing with her. How could I say no? So we woke up early on a Saturday, had a quick and light breakfast and headed out the door. We were able to hit a couple of sales before we had to head home to get ready for…

We left the house almost as soon as we got home to head over to Calaveras Skate for my neices birthday party. Well, it was actually just a roller skating time before the party unlike what I was led to believe, or perhaps misunderstood. Regardless, the skating rink portion of the day was just the beginning of what was going to be a much longer part of the day. But I digress. I left the rink a little early with three of my five kids because it was time to …

I hit the barber shop at around 12:30. I desperately needed a haircut. My hair is usually pretty short, so when it starts to grow it looks like it is starting to sprout. I began to look like those little trolls you see on the tops of pencils. You know, the pink headed Don King lookalike troll? Yeah, that was me. Just without the pink. And it needed handling in a serious way. So I hit the barber shop up before …

The real birthday party started at about 2:00. We headed over to my brothers place for the festivities and it wasn’t long until I was at the barbecue handling carne asado with chips and guacamole in one hand and a Heineken in the other. Few things make a sunny and warm day better than having a pair of tongs in one hand and a cold beer in the other while being surrounded by family.

After the cooking and the eating and the drinking and the eating, wait, did I already say eating? Nevermind that, we headed out for a little street football. I shouldn’t have done this because I was still sore from the pillow fight the other night and I had just eaten and I had just drank. But how is a guy supposed to say no to street ball? Seriously?

It didn’t last long.

Yes, I am fat and out of shape. And I was still sore. And after that fiasco, I was exhausted. So I hit the table again and made sure I would not be hungry until next year. Then my family helped clean up some of the mess before heading home.

It was a crazy busy day. It was exhausting. But it was also a blast. And I would not have traded that for the world.

Celebrating two birthdays in one dinner

Today was kind of a neat day. Though it was longer than I would have likes it we were able to spend some time with my family, my in-laws and my sister-in-law.

We all got together at my sister-in-laws apartment to celebrate my wife’s parents birthday. They have birthdays that are very close to one another and, given the nature of the economy and the fact that my mother-in-law was recently laid off, it made sense to maximize this event. So my wife and her sister decided they were going to make a dinner for their parents to celebrate their birthday.

Cioppino was the order of the day and it was some kind of good. I have never had it before and I gotta say I could get used to a few more bowls of that stuff. It is sort of like crawfish stew mixed with a seafood soup. It has a very oceany flavor and it is very filling. Plus it was hot and the day was chilly so it made the end of the day so much better.

Throw in the fact that we were surrounded by family and food and football and, well, you can rest assured that I had a fantabulous time. Oh yeah, and the Colts beat the Patriots. If nothing else happened tonight that in and of itself would have been enough to make the night better than ever.

Happy Birthday Adriannah

Today is my daughter Adriannah’s birthday. She turns eight years old today. Another birthday (and thank God the last of the year for our family) is upon me and I could swear that is was January 1st just a few weeks ago.

I don’t know about you but it seems that the years are beginning to move a lot faster than they have in the past. It is already almost month 10 of the year 2008. Uh, huh? Not only is already October practically, it already 2008. Wasn’t it just last week that we were worrying about the Y2K scare?

Anyway, I will spend time later trying to figure out where the heck my life has gone over the last eight years. For now I have a little more pressing of an issue… wishing my daughter a happy Birthday.

Happy birthday to you;
Happy birthday to you;
Happy birthday dear Adriannah;
Happy birthday to you.

Picking up where we left off last night

I should have known it would start this way, with the noise and the “I’m hungry” and the “Did not!” and the “Did too!”. Seems as though almost all day-afters are the same. The thing that made this morning a little different I think was the sheer volume of what had to be done today to make today work.

First, and probably the most difficult, thing of the day was actually waking up. After last night just the thought of getting out of bed this morning was daunting. Then the thought of a living room that was beat to hell seemed to add to the stack. Throw in the fact that we needed to leave early this morning for the festivities of the day AND that I had to feed this army of a sleepover and it is easy to see that I was not looking forward to being awake at any point today (except for the fun stuff that is).

After coming to grips with what the day had in store for us I decided it was time to handle the feeding of the flock. And what better way to do that than with some eggs. But how many should I cook for eight girls, my son, my wife and I? This is what I calculated:

2 dozen eggs
2 dozen eggs ought to do it

Yep, you counted right. 24 eggs. Two dozen of them. That is a lot of eggs (don’t be fooled though, we go through 14 just in my family alone). Alas, I even needed to haul out the big bowl to harness all of them things.

2 dozen eggs in a bowl... the big bowl
2 dozen eggs in a bowl... the big bowl

So I scrambled up those eggs after beating them something fierce and was able to serve up the eggs and toast in just enough time to get us out of the house almost an hour late. Fortunately for us the hour late was made better by the fact that the people that were going to be there when we eventually end up there were also late making the beginning to our festivities better.

Where is there? There is here, the Malibu Grand Prix and Castle. Bekah wanted to drive go carts for her birthday so we hit up the go carts, bumper boats and mini golf for the day. The reason we wanted to be there early was because a group of 25 was scheduled for a party immediately after ours. Like I said though, they were late too so we actually had the track almost entirely to ourselves for the duration of the driving. I was blessed to be able to take my daughter Adriannah on two laps and a friend of my daughter Rebekah’s on two laps (which means I got four laps baby, yeah!).

After the driving was the bumper boating which was a blast. Sandi took Alaynah on the bumper boats and had great big water battles with all of the other kids. She was soaked, they were soaked, it was a big old soakfest. Which was good because the sun was starting to peak and it was getting hot. Not to mention that fact that were about to embark on hitting the greens with eleven of us, count it, eleven of us playing.

Golf did not go as well as the rest of the day did. It was nice that we made it through about five holes, after which kids started dropping off like flies. By the sixteenth we had five playing and Alaynah wasn’t even hitting her ball anymore, she was walking it up to the hole and dropping it in. It was hot, there was no shade and we had killed all of our water by the fourth hole. Crap.

The nice thing though was that we hit the arcade soon after that. The arcade is air conditioned and for the most part devoid of life as we know it. We were the only people on the place for a while until a few other people decided to crash the joint. By then though we were out of tokens and just basically playing on the various sit down games. Not playing the games, playing on them.

We managed to leave the place after only about four hours which was truly just about all I could stand of it. It was hot, I was tired and the kids were cranky from not sleeping enough last night. At the end of the day (the play day that is) we all needed a little R&R. Which is what we are having. Right now.

Bring the noise – bring it big, bring it well

Tonight marks the night my daughter Rebekah will be celebrating her 11th birthday. It is a little late, but scheduling circumstances outside of my control necessitated this weekend be the weekend we do this.

What that means to be is that tonight I will be flooded with young girls eating, playing, screaming, eating, screaming and screaming. I already know that it is going to be loud. And that I am going to get eaten out of house and home. And that I am going to get very little sleep. I am prepared for that. I think what I am not prepared for, and what I truly do not know how to prepare for, is the physical impact this will have on me and my wife.

Of course, knowing me, I am going to throw myself headlong into the festivities. I always do. And I will probably end up setting up games or something fun for the kids and see to it that they stay up too late. That just seems to me to be something that I am drawn to. So I am rather looking forward to having some fun tonight.

I guess I am just not looking forward to the noise, the food bill, the noise and the noise. But with a house full of girls, should I really expect anything less?

A true example of charity

Due to extraordinary scheduling issues in our family (immediate and extended) our July birthday party marathon had to be massaged a little into fitting a totally different series of weekends. Given that the Hubers, long time friends of ours, had come back to the area for about a day we managed to wrangle our weekend so that we were able to see them yesterday. That left today to have a birthday party for my daughter Alaynah.

To make sure we had all of the stuff we needed for the party I made a run to Costco this (late) morning to get a a few things (plates, waters, pizzas, etc). Little did I know that Costco would be having a massive sale on Pizzas today which left the better part of the East Bay wanting to head to the Fremont Costco. And buy pizza.

The line was atrocious to say the least. It stretched well beyond the eating area as it began to wind past the tire center. I thought that for sure I would be in line for a half hour. But the party needed food and I had Alaynah and a cake with me so I had to tough it out. And I did.

About 20 minutes into the mess of waiting, getting walked on, pushed, almost spilled on and breathed on heavily by all sorts of freaks and weirdos I would not want ever be in close quarters with, I found out there were two lines for picking up food. One was for pizzas, since that is what all of northern California was there for, and the other was for food that wasn’t a whole pizza. When I found this out I thought the right thing to do would be to at least inform those around me that this was the case, so I did.

It ended up being that half the line was not there for a whole pizza. In fact many of them were waiting, grumpily as I was, to get their churros or slices or sodas. And as the lines split rapidly I found myself standing next to a whole new collection of people. One of those people was a young woman that keep peaking over at Alaynah and I was we patiently waited our turn to get our pizzas. She didn’t talk to us, but she did show some interest in our interaction. I thought nothing of it as I eventually got our pizzas, loaded them onto our cart and headed for the door.

As we walked out of the Costco however I found myself still next to this young woman and her family. And as we began our right turn toward our parking space the woman looked over at Alaynah and said “I hope you have a great birthday party Alaynah.”. You would have thought that time stood still and the heavens opened up for her.

Alaynah beamed with excitement. “How did she know my name? And how did she know it was my birthday party today?” she asked. Apparently all the time we spent in line she had heard Alaynah and I talking about the party. And so she stepped out and wished her a great party. And it made Alaynah’s afternoon.

So to that young woman at the Costco this afternoon, thank you. That was a very fine gesture you made. You were a perfect example of what charity is. And you made my daughter’s birthday party day a bit brighter as well.

Happy Birthdays Rebekah and Alaynah

Today is a birthday. I really cool one.

It belongs to my daughter Rebekah. But it also belongs to my daughter Alaynah. Yes, they were both born on the same day. Six years apart, but on the same day. And almost at the same time, being born 12 minutes apart.

I remember the days pretty clearly. Mostly because the entire last four days or so was almost identical. The day of their births (which oddly enough fell on exactly the same day of the week) I woke up and got to work at about 7:29 (I started work at 7:30 in those days). Sandi was awake when I left the house and I asked her if she needed me to stay home because she had been having contractions all night.

She said that she would call me if she needed me to come home. So I left for work, got in, checked my email and voicemail and as soon as I was done with that, about 8:15 or so, I got a call that I needed to come home because we needed to get to the hospital.

Anyone who knows me and my wife knows that her deliveries have all gone very fast so there was really no time to waste. I got home, we took the kids to wherever they were staying so we could get to the hospital and we took off, getting to the hospital a little after 9:00.

A little after noon our kids were born.

They even looked alike when they were born, both having extremely thick dark hair. Facial features looked remarkably similar as well. It was uncanny. And it is still fresh in my head.

So to you my beautiful daughters I tell you Happy Birthday. Thank you both for the memories and for the joy you have brought to my life just by your existence. I am so blessed that God chose me to be your daddy. I love you immensely and I am glad you are my daughters.