It’s a whole new level of fatherhood watching your 8-year-old play on his first organized sports team. While words cannot describe the immense satisfaction watching him enjoying himself and then actually playing well, I think the real sense of pride is in seeing that athletic ability take shape. Leading up to Troy joining the “5-Pitch” rec league, we had practiced a bit of hitting and throwing. I would pitch a soft rubber ball that he took swings at with a toy bat and then we’d switch it up, so it’s nice to see our backyard playtime translate into noticeable skills. And bonus for dad: I’ve been a Yankee fan since childhood so it was ironic to see his assigned team with the interlocking “NY” on their uniforms. A nice little precursor to Little League, the 5-Pitch league fosters sportsmanship, team camaraderie, fundamentals and a general feel-good atmosphere for players and parents alike – a great entree into team sports for everyone involved.
Athena has been wrestling with some bad dream issues lately and will request an escort to get something from a darkened room, for example. So on a recent weekend morning after all three kiddies were ordered out of our bed for kicking each other and not respecting our Sunday morning relax-in-bed time, I lay there with a hot compress on my sore neck and overheard the following exchange between Athena (who I assumed made an unsolicited announcement about something scary while the boys play with their cars in the front room):
X: Monsters are not in this world
T: Yeah, they’re fake
Parental lesson learned: Don’t be afraid to sternly send the kiddies away when they need some tough love. What was it Sting once said? If you love someone, set them free to play with their cars while you tend to your sore back. They worked it out by bonding over their toys and we all review the situation shortly afterwards when the dust settles.
There are few things more satisfying than watching your kids eating – and enjoying – ethnic foods. We’ve always strived to expand their culinary horizons, and, for the most part, they have always tried, and, by-and-large, liked our diverse offerings. From Chinese to Mexican to Jewish deli, I’d say Mr. T & X and Miss A all have pretty eclectic little palates, but their number one international cuisine, hands-down, is Japanese. Put a salmon onigiri (seaweed-wrapped sticky rice with cooked salmon in the center) or miso soup in front of them and they’re happy little campers. Which is why on our way back from Legoland it was a no brainer to stop for lunch at Kabuki in Huntington Beach.
Basically, Kabuki is the Japanese P.F Changs – a commendable franchise with very good food served in contemporary spaces throughout California, Nevada and Arizona (the Kabuki at the Howard Hughes complex that my wife and I would have lunch at the very next week had a bit of a darker setting, certainly not as sleek as the OC location). There’s sushi bar seating at every restaurant but a nice family-friendly booth had our names on it so we settled in to peruse the menu while the siblings were set up with the obligatory kiddie menu-placemat-cum-coloring books. The little ones shared tempura, onigiri, salad with ginger dressing and a Calpico (yogurt-style) soda while Irene and I mixed and matched a couple of lunch specials: the “chirashi” sushi, consisting of assorted sashimi over seasoned sticky rice, and a teriyaki salmon with shrimp and vegetable tempura served with miso soup, salad and rice (both lunch combos nicely priced at $10.95 and $11.95 respectively).
Yep, Kabuki is a Keeper.
At the annual Easter Egg hunt in abuelita y abuelito’s backyard, where the 3-minute dash by 5 cousins between the ages of 4 & 8 gathering up who-knows-how-many eggs is always so glaringly disproportionate to the 30-plus minutes it took for 2 adults to hide them all in the 80-degree heat of the Valley….
As Legoland first-timers, we went in with no expectations and high hopes of shorter lines than Disneyland, especially on a Spring Break week day (I can clearly recall T’s first trip to the Magic Kingdom 6 years ago when he was 2, getting off the carousel with a look of utter bewilderment as to why he couldn’t get right back on – “What do you mean another 75 minutes standing in line, SIR?!”). As it turned out, the average ride wait time ran between 20 minutes to just under an hour and the kiddies, who were surprisingly patient throughout the course of the day, even had enough stamina to stroll through the neighboring Sea Life Aquarium. It was also great having our friends Kyla & Kevin and their 4-year-old boy drive down from Bakersfield and join us for our 4-day mini-vacay.
Our overall theme park rating: 9 out of 10 Legos.