Category Archives: Words of Wisdom

The Return of the Xanderism

It’s been a while, but Mr. X blurted a beauty the other day.

China baseballWhat with all the recent baseball interest (rec leagues, two weeks of LA Xtreme Baseball camp and following in the steps of my Yankee fandom), Xander has taken to grabbing my phone and checking the ESPN app on a daily basis. Scanning the MLB standings, he started translating some of the city abbreviations: “NY, New York Yankees, LA, Los Angeles Angels….”

When he got to “CHI White Sox,” he said, “Chinese White Sox….”




Yes We Have No Bananas!

“Welcome to The Fancy Banana B&B and here is our menu, sir,” said Troy handing over a hand-written sheet of paper with their breakfast offerings.

Eager to take our orders, Miss A moved closer to our bed with pad and pencil in hand while Mr. X asked how we were doing this fine Sunday morning. About to be served breakfast in bed, we’d have to say very well, we replied. With the entire family’s interest in things culinary, playing restaurant with real food came as no surprise.

A few minutes after running our ticket back to the kitchen, Miss A appeared with some regretful news: “I’m so sorry, we don’t seem to have any bananas but we do have Cuties so will that be okay?”

(Note to kiddies: before picking the name of your restaurant, be sure you are fully stocked with the namesake item).

No worries, I told her, suggesting a restaurant name change to The Crazy Clementine. Smiling, she headed back to the kitchen to check on our food. Moments later, Xander appeared with our Nespressos and Troy set down this appetizing tray:


Toasted flatbread & butter, mandarin wedges and havarti for me and a fruit salad for Irene


Words of Wisdom: Lotto & Car Covers

One Ticket to Paradise!

I purchase the occasional lottery ticket and always wondered if the kiddies wondered what that little orange ticket was for. Finally, the question came so I explained that I’m trying to win so I can retire early and take the family to live on a tropical island. Knowing full well that the lottery conversation wasn’t closed, Miss A shot back: “Oh that would be good; I wish that ‘LAND would have no school.”

“And I could help you win that because I’m good at Bingo!” Troy chimed in.

We were planning to go out to dinner that night so Miss A concluded with: “There would be restaurants in that ‘LAND just for us!”

Sounds good to me!

While we’re on the subject, think I’ll close with a pair of Xander-isms. Looking out the car window as we cruised a local boulevard, X posed: “Why is this: why do some cars have bags over them?” and is there a big enough bag to put our minivan in?

Me: “Don’t need a bag, Mr. X, because we have a garage.”

X:  “Oh…..”

Xander on the nuclear family: “I’m not gonna have kids,” then after rethinking his stance, “I’m gonna have 2 kids because 3 is too much work.” Moments later: “What if you had 10 kids?”

Me: “You’d need to buy a lot of food”

X: “We have a lot of food”

Life x 5: 2012 in review

Happy New Year! prepared a 2012 annual report for my blog (thanks to everyone for following/commenting); here’s an excerpt:

600 people reached the top of Mt. Everest in 2012. “Life x 5″ got about 1,900 views in 2012. If every person who reached the top of Mt. Everest viewed this blog, it would have taken 3 years to get that many views.

Click here to see the complete report.

Mincing Words

This is my 50th post so it seemed it should be about something momentous, profound or in the very least, a little something to mark the occasion. Hmmm, what could that something be? A family-related anecdote? A fatherly musing? An upcoming festivity? My birthday is this weekend. Nah, too self-indulgent and I’m all about others, so I think I’ll just go with a little stream of consciousness inspired by my PC’s “words-of–the-day” screensaver scrawl and maintain a journalistic theme to this post. Today’s two words – OLIGARCHY (noun; a political system governed by a few people) and RECOMPENSE (noun; payment or reward, as for services rendered) – aren’t exactly a pair of terms that one often gets to work into everyday conversation but I have actually heard the latter in a recent song by BUSH (noun; an alt-rock band fronted by oft-incongruous wordsmith Mr. Gwen Stefani, aka Gavin Rossdale).

Third Word

“I write, I travel, I eat and I’m hungry for more” takes on a literal meaning. One of my favorite TV shows, “No Reservations,” just ended its run on the Travel Channel, but Anthony Bourdain will have a similar new show over on CNN starting in Spring 2013 so that’s good news for his legions of fans.

The Final Word

I really enjoy doing this blog because it allows me to keep the creative juices flowing and writing skills honed. I like being able to pull it up on my WordPress mobile app whenever necessary. I like the “posterity” nature of the whole thing. But I gotta go now; I just heard an email notification alert on my cell and I should go check if it might be WordPress congratulating me on my posting milestone.



Xander is at that cute age where he’ll ask one of those humorous questions that only a 5-year-old can pose or just spout an entertainingly random thought.  Here are but a handful of his latest quotables from left field:

  • When I’m a grandpa, will [pet turtle] Crush still be alive?
  • Are you going on the freeway? I hate the freeway because there’s no trees and no sidewalks
  • What if everything was made of cotton candy? I’d eat EVERYTHING!
  • Papa, don’t drink too much coffee or it will make you little!
  • What are chemicals? (and then, just moments later, looking up at the restaurant door we were sitting near) … Does that say “EXIT”?
  • When you get old, can I … (pause) … When I’m an adult … (phew! This is about HIM, not about ME being an old guy!) … can I have the [garage] remote? (HUH?! I guess he meant I won’t be needing it when he’s old enough to drive himself to school!)

You can’t make this stuff up….

Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow

You may now kiss….your hair goodbye…..

For some reason, my hair (or lack thereof) is a running topic of conversation with the kiddies. While assembling three school lunches one morning, I listened to an Algonquin roundtable discussion about how Irene and I look different in the wedding photo they see hanging on our bedroom wall. Their little breakfast chat quickly veered into a thought-provoking analysis about how much less hair I have 14 years later. Faster than a four-year old can say “follicle,” Xander had bounded away from his Cheerios to offer a general overview of my recent haircuts.

X:  Your hair gets cut, but it doesn’t really come back.

Me: Well, after you turn 40, it grows but just not as much as before 40 (except if you’re my dad, who at 80 still has a full shock of white Fonzie Fonzarelli-style hair). My bright idea was to give Xander a reasonable far-off age number so he wouldn’t have to freak out about his own hair growing back sufficiently every time he gets a trim.

Yep, there may be less vinyl on this guy’s car roof but the engine is still hitting on all cylinders. That is, the brain is still sharp — still able to tap into its deductive reasoning skills….or perhaps it’s just the sporadic Rogaine applications seeping in…..

From the Mouths of Babes

One recent morning on our walk from the car to the schoolyard, Troy spotted a dad wearing a shirt with his company’s logo, prompting a question that led to this gem of an exchange:

Troy: Papa, why does that guy have on that kind of shirt?

Me (rather succinctly): Some people wear uniforms to work.

Athena (jumping in to explain it much more eloquently): Yeah Troy, see, if he’s wearing that shirt, the people who come into the store will see him and be able to tell that he works there. So if they have a question they know who to ask.

I couldn’t have said it any better myself, Miss A.

S.F. Roadtrip: 5 Days, 4 Sidebars

1. At Sheba’s place after dinner, Troy was putting on his pajamas and said to me, “I’m sad, our vacation is half over. Surprising even myself, I served up this negative/positive thinking analogy on the spur of the moment: “Troy, when a glass is filled halfway with lemonade, do you see the glass as half-full or half-empty?” “Half empty,” he replied. “Well there’s another, more positive way of looking at that,” I told him. “It can also be seen as being half FULL, meaning that we still have HALF the vacation left, which is good.” “OHHHHH, I see,” he said. Gotta love when you can trigger that lightbulb moment….

297 laps less than the conductor’s average day

2. In San Mateo’s Central Park, the kiddies had just finished their third revolution on a miniature train ride when I had one of those “gotta-know” journalist thoughts so I took my inquiry to the conductor who sat on the locomotive for each lap. His answer: on an average day, he makes 300 trips around the track, with a high of 1,000 times on Easter.

3. Shortly afterwards while eating our lunch at North Beach Pizza, Miss A looks up from her salad and asks me about the physical aspects of the growing process. For the next 10 minutes, my explanations of “You can’t actually see yourself growing,” to the more scientific “We grow in our sleep” were met with comments like “I don’t understand” and why-did-I-even-ask stares. I may not have shed much light on the topic, but it was a very cute, vacation-y repartee.

“Man it was way cooler in those underground wine caves! Over 100 degrees outside.”

4. At the J. Lohr winery, a woman came up to me and asked how DO we get the kiddies to sit so nicely in a corner of the tasting room while Irene and I partake. I replied that half the battle is simply setting them up with the individual devices (Irene’s iPhone and iPad and my Android). The other 50%, I said somewhat pompously, was good parenting/discipline. Yes, that is how it is done my good woman, and everyone went back to their respective wine buzzes.

Adults Night Out at SmithHouse

Whenever I have child-free time, I gravitate to one of three luxuries: listening to a favorite band at higher-than-usual decibel levels, reading a good chef-driven autobiography, or enjoying a dinner out / happy hour (or better yet, both) with Irene. So as we headed into our final child-free Thursday evening of July (the kiddies were spending the night with Irene’s parents before their last day of summer school in the Valley), the extra-curricular wheels started turning.

Joining us to mark the occasion would be our very good friends Jackie and David, and, of course, Irene tasked me with finding a cool spot for dinner and drinks. In this department I lean towards a festive atmosphere with equally imaginative and tasty food so I immediately went into OpenTable mode and found SmithHouse Tap & Grill, a brewery/restaurant occupying the old Lunaria space on Santa Monica Boulevard in Century City (think BJ’s on upscale steroids).

With a menu created by “Top Chef All-Stars” Angelo Sosa, SmithHouse’s ambiance sets the tone for a lively outing with its exposed brick walls and large centerpiece bar offering 120 beers on tap. Our early dinner reservation snagged us one of the raised booths adjacent to the bar, where we had a primo view of the televised sporting events and general restaurant buzz. Service and food are equally noteworthy and you can even reserve a private booth with built-in taps to pour your own draft! Coincidentally, David had been to SmithHouse the night before for a business gathering and told us about the private room with its extra-large screen TV that can also be reserved for big groups.

Selected Happy Hour beers are $3 (domestic) and $4 (import) and “the rest of the rail” tap beers are $1 off, with 50% off a few special small bite dishes (we all split the warm spinach artichoke dip and beer battered onions rings). For a main dish, I really liked my grilled cheese with its blend of aged cheddar and smoked gouda cheeses and bacon bits served on cranberry walnut bread.

Beyond the food and drink, it became readily apparent to me how infrequently I’m able to enjoy the simple act of sharing your views on topics like the current presidential race (David and me) or your mutual love of organizing/The Container Store (Irene and Jackie) with other adults.

Words of Wisdom: Rules Repetition

They know the morning routine on school days: get dressed, breakfast, brush teeth, shoes, jackets, out the door by 7:50. Yet they have to be repeatedly told to stay on course from the aimless wandering and other assorted distractions (the one that tends to rattle me is the bellowing conversations over their Cheerios while I’m busy making three lunches). I understand they’re 4, 5 & 8 and need regular “reminders” to FO-CUS but, man, how and when will the concept sink in to their little brains? In the interest of keeping things constructive, I’ll add an analytical takeaway: it’s pretty amazing a kid’s ability to shift gears from the seriousness of being disciplined to a minute later playing happily with a sibling. As adults, we could take a cue from this adolescent “ability” instead of dwelling or brooding over a disciplinary action and move on in a more rational manner (but I guess if we were capable of having the requisite patience, we’d all be teachers)…….