A sample text widget

Etiam pulvinar consectetur dolor sed malesuada. Ut convallis euismod dolor nec pretium. Nunc ut tristique massa.

Nam sodales mi vitae dolor ullamcorper et vulputate enim accumsan. Morbi orci magna, tincidunt vitae molestie nec, molestie at mi. Nulla nulla lorem, suscipit in posuere in, interdum non magna.

Feb 10 2008

Firecracker 5K

Happy Year of the Rat!

Stephanie and Ron ran the Los Angeles Chinatown Firecracker 5K. This was the second year in a row that they ran together. The weather was much better (it was pouring rain last year). They went with Ron’s co-worker/friend, Tom, and his wife, Aya. Tom’s friend, Paul, also met them at the course, which started in Chinatown over by Little Joe’s restaurant.

They ran into Ron’s Uncle Sam about a half hour before the race. Technically, Sam is Ron’s first cousin once removed (his father’s first cousin), but, as Chinese tradition goes, Ron’s always called him Uncle Sam. Uncle Sam said that he and maybe one other person are the only ones who have run in all of the Firecracker races since it began 30 years ago. Ron ran in a couple of the Firecracker 10K races about 20 years ago, and, man, it was (and still is) a hilly course.

Paul finished in 26:04, Uncle Sam ran in 29:36 (pretty good for a 73 year old), Stephanie came in at 33:20, Aya made 35:21, and Tom’s time somehow didn’t get posted. Ron ran in 38:27, about 5 minutes off his usual mark, but his knee has been bothering him the past few weeks and he’ll probably need to take a couple of months off from running to fully rest it. Hopefully it’s not a longterm thing.

Jan 27 2008

Stephanie’s Birthday Snatch

Stephanie decided she wanted to surprise her friends on her birthday by doing a “reverse” snatch. We started off at 6:15 AM and went to 10 different houses, “kidnapping” her unknowing friends. The rules were simple: no makeup and no changing, other than to put on shoes and a robe or sweatshirt. With three carloads of kids, we ended up at the Stick & Stein restaurant in El Segundo, where we treated all to a hearty breakfast.


Later that night, we met Barbara, Lena, and Barbara’s boyfriend, Ron, for a finger-lickin’ rib dinner at Johnny Rebs in Orange. And in keeping with the Johnny Reb tradition, Stephanie kissed the pig’s butt to bring another year of good luck.

Jan 2 2008

Morgan’s 10th Birthday

Morgan’s birthday was actually Dec. 18, but we decided to celebrate it during her school’s winter break. Instead of a party, Morgan invited a couple of friends for an overnight trip to Disneyland. We booked a suite at the Disneyland hotel, which fit all six of us comfortably. The four kids took the bedroom while Iris and Ron got the pull-out bed in the living room.

Our first day was spent at Disneyland, and we managed to get in a lot of rides because the park wasn’t very busy. The Christmas decorations were still up, and the Haunted Mansion was still decorated with the Nightmare Before Christmas theme. We had dinner back at the hotel, at one of our favorite spots, Goofy’s Kitchen. After dinner, Ron took the four kids back to Disneyland to catch a few more rides before turning in. The only bummer was that we got stuck in the Pirates of the Carribean ride for almost ann hour because of a malfunction; we did get a good-for-anytime FastPass to make up for it, but we only had time for one more ride before the park closed that evening.

The next morning, the kids wanted room service, so we ordered up a bunch of pancakes, French toast, fruit, juice, and toast. We spent most of that day at California Adventure, and again, we caught almost all of the rides that we wanted, some of them multiple times. All-in-all, a very nice trip, and the cost was comparable to throwing a large party (especially since our family and one of Morgan’s friends already had annual passes to Disneyland).

Dec 1 2007

Ponies Christmas Party

Morgan’s basketball team, the Venice Ponies, had their Christmas party last Saturday night at the home of the Akamines. Lots of activities for the kids, including ornament making, card making, karaoke (featuring music from High School Musical 2), gingerbread house making, and a special visit from Santa.

Oct 31 2007

Center Street School Halloween Parade

Major Flirts

Morgan’s elementary school, Center Street School, had their annual Halloween parade this morning. It’s always a fun time, and some of the costumes are very creative. The teachers always dress up and some of them always put on a skit of some kind. This year, Mr. Guy, Mr. Raukko and Mr. Gladous were the Blues Brothers, while Ms. Read, Ms. Scaltrito, and a couple of others that I didn’t recognize dressed up in Hairspray outfits.

This year, Morgan wanted to be Major Flirt, a costume sold through Party City. Boy, the costumes for younger girls are starting to get a little too risque.

Feb 11 2006

Skiing at Lake Tahoe

This is our second ski trip with the kids. We stayed at a timeshare in Reno and drove two hours each morning to Sierra at Tahoe, a nice family-oriented resort. This was the first time Morgan would be taking real lessons. Last year, she was in the day care facility.

[singlepic id=1511 w=150 float=left]

On our first day in Reno, we did a little sightseeing. I forget how we heard about it, but we sought out the Labyrinth Garden at the May Arboretum.
Like many things ,the description was much better than the actual labyrinth. Still, it was a nice diversion.

[singlepic id=1516 w=150 float=right]

We ended up skiing three days, since we could get a pretty good rate for a three day pass. Both Stephanie and Morgan took lessons during the morning, and skiied with us in the afternoon.

[singlepic id=1523 w=150 float=left]

We also visited one evening with our friends, the Kovacs, who live in South Lake Tahoe.

More pics here.

Sep 7 2005

First Day of School

First day of school for the kids. They both go to Center Street Elementary, which is one of two elementary schools in town. Took me a bit to get back into the swing of things, as far as making them breakfast, packing their lunch, fixing a snack, hustling them off to school.

Stephanie is starting fifth grade and Morgan second grade. Stephanie didn’t want me to walk her to her class; said it would be too “embarrassing” to be walked to class by a parent. Hoo boy, aren’t we all grown up, now. It worked out because when I drove them to school, there was no parking to be found close by, so I just dropped them off at the rear of the school and they each found their way to their classrooms.

New school schedule this year: each and every Monday is a minimum day, meaning students get out at 1:30 instead of 2:45. That’s going to be tougher for families where both parents work.

Sep 1 2005

New Dog!

[singlepic id=1506 w=300 float=left]

After three and a half years of not having a dog, we finally got another. The kids named her Emiko, and Iris got her from She’s a Cavachon, which means she’s a cross between a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel and a Bichon Frise.

We picked her up this morning at LAX after she flew across from Iowa. As soon as I let her out of her shipping crate, she was bouncing around all over Lily, the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel that belongs to my friend, Paula. We had been dog-sitting Lily during the month of August while Paula and her three kids were in Finland.

Pictures here: Emiko

Aug 30 2005

Disneyland Resort

We spent the past weekend at the Disneyland Resort with Iris’ brother, Scott; his daughter, Jennifer; his son, Casey; and Jennifer’s husband, Edward. We stayed at the Grand California Hotel, which is very nice in amenities but a little short in service. Best thing about the hotel is that it’s right next to California Adventure and Downtown Disney, so you can walk right into the newer theme park or take the monorail over to Disneyland.

Right when we got there on Saturday (we went straight from Morgan’s Saturday game at the Pasadena Bruins tournament), we went to Ariel’s Grotto at California Adventure. A fixed price menu, where you select a starter (soup or salad), main course and a dessert, for about $20. Separate kids’ menu. Food is good, but you go because of the Disney princess characters that roam around from table to table. During our lunch, we had Mulan, Snow White, Cinderella, Belle and Ariel (sans tail) walk by.

[singlepic id=1449 w=150 float=left]

During our lunch, Barry Bonds, the ultra-famous baseball player for the San Francisco Giants, came in with his family. He had a small entourage of Disney employees making sure that autograph seekers were kept at bay, which I could understand. I mean, I’d hate to be mobbed at Disneyland while my family was trying to enjoy themselves. Anyway, I managed to sneak a snapshot of him while at Ariel’s Grotto, and then again when I saw his family riding Grizzly River Run. In fact, I seemed to come across him quite a few times over the weekend. Again at the Fantasmic show Saturday night, and then on early Sunday morning, his kids rode the Jumpin’ Jellyfish the same time Morgan did.

We did something a bit different for the Fantasmic show. Seems you can buy balcony seats at the Disney Gallery located in New Orleans Square just above Pirates of the Caribbean. For $56, you get a dessert & beverage buffet and a fairly unobstructed view of the Fantasmic show (I was sitting on the far right, and I had a light pole that was sort of in my way). Only 20 seats on the balcony, and it was a tight fit, although you could get a bit more room by standing behind the two rows of chairs. While I was waiting for the show to start, I saw the Barry Bonds family again. They were escorted to another balcony that adjoined ours, one that Disneyland must reserve for its celebrity guests. After the Fantasmic show was over, we got to hang around on the balcony for the Remember…Dreams Come True fireworks show, which is kind of neat for us old timers, because it features many of the songs and sounds from Disneyland attractions both past and present, like the Monsanto Journey Through Innerspace.

Of the rides we went on this trip, the one we went on most was the new Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters. What a neat concept. It can best be described as a cross between a slow version of Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride and a shooting gallery. Each two man car has two laser guns attached to the dash via a thin cable, plus a joystick that can be used to rotate the car around. As the car journeys through the ride, you aim for targets marked with the letter Z. Lit targets score more points. There’s a scoreboard on the dash in front of each gun. I scored 141,000 my first time, then 171,000 and then 180,000. None of the other people in our group scored over 100K, athough Stephanie came close. I think the kids must have gone on it seven or eight times. Seems like we were always going back for FastPasses.

We also rode the newly remodeled Space Mountain. It seems like it’s been closed for the past year. Anyway, we tried to get FastPasses for it when we came last week, but there weren’t any, and we didn’t want to wait an hour and a half for standby. On Saturday, the same thing, no FastPasses. Jennifer found out that the FastPasses were all gone early in the day, so on Sunday Morning, she and Stephanie went over to Disneyland to get some. The ones they got at 9:30 AM said to come back around 11:00 AM.

Anyway, most of the remodel seems to be cosmetic. The entry leading in looks like it’s longer, I guess to accommodate larger crowds. Everything looks like it’s been updated to give it a fresher look. Couldn’t tell if the ride itself was changed. It seemed darker, and I don’t remember seeing the stars and galaxies on the roof of the attraction like I was able to before. Almost left my hat behind. The cars now have a net bag in each compartment where you can stow your loose items. I stuck my hat in it, but forgot to take it out when I left. Went back and the ride operator checked each car as it went by. Finally found it on the fifth or sixth one.

[singlepic id=1491 w=150 float=left]

We also caught Aly & AJ Machalka singing at the Captain Buzz Stage. They’re the sister teen pop duo that’s been getting a lot of air time on Radio Disney. We bought their CD and stayed in line for over an hour to get their autograph (plus a picture, which can be seen on this page).

All-in-all a good trip, although we were pooped by the time we got home Sunday night. Pictures here.

Aug 27 2005

Pasadena Tournament

[singlepic id=1437 w=150 float=left]

Morgan’s basketball team, the Venice Ponies, played the first game of three last night. They beat the FOR Hula Hoops 11 to 5. Morgan had a basket in the second half, getting the ball down in the low wing and driving to the hoop.

More pictures here.