Tag Archives: family night

A Night With The Little Chefs

5 Oct



Usually Friday nights consist of Cars. Despicable Me, Madagascar, or The Lorax, followed by a lot of jumping around and hyperactive woo-hoos for the hero. Movie night. We do it twice a month and I’ve seen each of these movies at least five times. At least.

But tonight my son had a different plan.

Pizza night.


First step … hit the deli for our special ingredients.



“Mom, this does not look like pizza.”
“We have to cook it first. Make it into a pizza.”
“Ohhh … let’s get started!”



Other than eating, this is the part he enjoyed the most. There was flour everywhere. My one-year old daughter got into pizza baking too, however she just decided to be in charge of the flour. The flour throwing that is … on the table, on the floor and at the dog. Sometimes I wish we still had a DustBuster.



I told him that he needed muscles for this part of the pizza making — that perhaps maybe mom should do this part of cooking.
“Mom, I got muscles. Let me show you.”



I was hoping to guide him during this phase of the cooking, however he felt the need to be Top Chef. His sister … still throwing flour.




We had a little over a pound of shredded cheese. My son felt the need to use all of it. I mentioned that he might want to save some for later. He just shook his head and said: ‘Mom, I thought I was the chef today?”
I zipped it.




Now the waiting game, which consisted of Nickelodeon.



His final masterpiece … Although I wish I had a better camera because this picture didn’t do it justice. My son was so proud of his creation he took a couple of slices over to the neighbor’s.



We ended the evening as it should always be ended. Cannolis. We battled for the chocolate one …


There’s nothing like a Friday night with the little chefs.



Color Cash and Dad, Jalopy Junction and Son

29 Apr

It produces both laughter and screaming: The Kamikaze, The Sand Blaster, The Mega Wheel, The Spinning Cups, and The Water Gun Game.

Church Carnival

Every year the Catholic folk down at my church organize a big spring carnival with kiddy rides, adult rides, and games. Popcorn, cotton candy, live entertainment, food booths, alcoholic beverages, and throwing ping-pong balls into bowls of water. This is what we looked forward to every year.

It was tradition in our family to attend the festival. My parents, uncles and cousins always attended the little fair. We enjoyed the atmosphere and the family gathering.

But since my dad’s passing and the kids getting older, the family crowd has gotten smaller and smaller.  Party of four today. It got me thinking about my dad and the entire family celebrating. I remember my dad coming home, cash in his pocket and ready for us to hang out. But it wasn’t so much the carnival rides. He wasn’t big on rickety pieces of metal spinning you in circles at high speeds. His favorite part was the games.

Roll-A-Ball Game

There’s nothing like the rush of a water pistol in your hand ready to squirt the clown face in hopes that your cartoon character makes it to the top first, or the small ball in your hand during the Roll-A-Ball game where your train or horse tries to get to the finish line first every time you roll the ball.

You want to hear the DINGGGGGGG! You want to look up and see your number light up. That’s what made him smile.

Color Cash

But his favorite game happen to be Color Cash. As I walked passed it, I remembered my dad laughing in excitement as he tried to will the spinning soccer ball to land on the color he bet to win. The whole family tried to will the ball. It unleashed excitement. He would spend most of the night on this game of chance. Losing forty, maybe fifty bucks. Winning fifteen or twenty. He said it evened out in the end. He helped the church and had a good time in the process. The whole family did.

Color Cash drew out all kinds to the betting table: fathers, teachers, single moms, rocker chicks, grandmothers, biker dudes, nuns, and baseball-cap- wearing-sports enthusiasts. They would eventually high-five each other during wins. Complete strangers bonded by a soccer ball and colors. It was good to see my dad smile.

So in between the popcorn smell and barbecue aroma of the food booths, I got a little sad thinking about my dad. I wished he was there, playing Color Cash and betting five dollars on green, or red, or white, or yellow.

Jalopy Junction

Then I looked at my son.

Nothing like the Jalopy Junction, merry-go-rounds, and a squirt gun race to make your day, and your son’s.

Aisle 19, The Long-Lost Cookies, and My Dad

17 Mar

I never thought I’d get emotional in aisle 19. I’m not the type of chick that turns on the waterworks quite easily, but there I was … in the cookie aisle, having a moment.

It wasn’t because I’m an emotional eater or I was having Oreo withdrawals from Weight-Watchers-point calculations. No … I happen to come across something that sparked a childhood memory with my Dad. It happens from time to time, in random places, but I usually keep it together.

I hadn’t seen these in over twenty-five years, and I’m sure they were in aisle 19 all along, but I seldom run my cart down that aisle. And when I saw them, I remembered … I remembered … and all I could think about was my Dad and how much I missed him.

As I’ve mentioned before, we grew up in a tough inner-city neighborhood, but that didn’t necessarily mean we didn’t have a slice of something special. Every so often my Dad would drive out about thirty minutes on the freeway to take us to a place called Carnation.

We’d all pile in the brown supreme station wagon and venture off to this restaurant that specialized in making its own ice cream.  Oh. For the love of banana splits made with rocky road and marshmallow topping.

I couldn’t wait to finish my meal, because I knew dessert would be coming shortly. We would all get whatever we wanted, no limits. My sister usually got two scoops of chocolate chip, my mother strawberry, our cousins mint chip … me … I’d go for the banana split … and I’d never have to share. Usually we’d go to other restaurants or 31 Flavors and I’d always have to share my two scoop sundae with someone. But at Carnation … my dad made it a point to splurge. No sharing required, but if you wanted to … you could.

The only thing I absolutely did not share were these cookies that were neatly surrounding my awesome banana split. I’d get six … two for each scoop.

Light, crispy, and sweet. Awesome.

Just as I finished the last one, I’d always want more. But it never happened. Six and that was it. The waitresses weren’t much for extras, so I’d always come home longing for more.

Until one day …

After we had piled back into the station wagon, my Dad remembered that he had left his wallet in the booth. He left all of us there in the parking lot, with our seat belts on, the radio blaring something from the Spanish station KLOVE, and the windows rolled down because the air-conditioner was on the fritz. We were in the shade so it wasn’t too bad.

It took him a while to return. But when he did he smiled and we rushed back home. As we were trekking up the stairs to our apartment building my Dad told me he had forgotten something in the car. It was for my sister and I. He said it was in the front seat.

He tossed me the keys and I went to go get it. As I opened the car door, I saw a brown paper bag in the driver’s seat. I opened it up … it was a box of the sugar wafer creme-filled cookies. A box!

I turned to look at the stairs, my Dad stood there smiling.

He passed away about a year and a half ago and I miss him every day.

So when I saw the cookies on aisle 19 I just had to buy them. I fixed myself up a nice banana split with six cookies, the only thing missing was my dad, his cup of coffee, and our conversation.