Sue’s Birthday Month

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Once again I will be on vacation during the month of May. This means that I will be away for my youngest daughter’s birthday. This is not the first time I missed my daughter Susan’s birthday. In fact I have missed it a few times before.  It does make me feel bad but it is the best time to go on vacation. If I start my vacation in the spring before the schools close the sites are much less crowded.

This year I may miss her birthday but I will not miss her wedding.  Susan originally planned her wedding for the month of April so I scheduled my vacation for May.  She is now getting married in June and I am happy that I will be back from my vacation in time for her wedding. She asked me to walk her down the aisle and I feel honored.  Marti will be with me so we will both enjoy the ceremony.

Sue has two children.  Her son Michael is her oldest and he will graduate high school this year.  Monica is her young daughter and will be promoted to second grade.  Bruce is her fiancé and will soon be my son-in-law.  I am a lucky man to have such a wonderful family.

My daughter Sue is a nurse and she works with children who have a long-term or fatal illness.  Sue would like to work for the Lucille Packard Children’s Hospital at Stanford should the opportunity ever come about. I am very proud of my daughter and her choice of profession.  I remember a time long ago when Sue volunteered to spend her summer at a camp for disabled children.  She worked as an assistant to the children.  Sue loves her work and the children she is happy if she can make just one child smile.  If you are looking for a charitable organization to donate a little money please consider the Lucille Packard Children’s Hospital at Stanford. Their e-mail is http://www.lpch.org/

Sue has been very busy. She is planning her wedding.  She has adjusted to her new responsibility as a nurse and may take some additional classes.  She works most weekends and on her days off she volunteers to help at Monica’s class.  I am sure that is the reason she was unable to send me any photos for their Easter celebration. I love my daughter with or without photos.

John C

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John C is one of my wife’s younger brothers. My wife Monica had two younger brothers, John and Rick.  She had two older brothers, Mark and Joe (Joe passed away).  John C has four sisters, my wife Monica and Donna who have both passed and Mary and Missy.  John is married to a wonderful lady, Terry.  I could tell you more about Terry but I just want you all to know that she is a sweet and special person.  John and Terry have one son, Michael.

The first time I met John, he was called Johnny, and he was playing with his younger brother Ricky.  He was a happy child with a brilliant mind.  He had a love of music and wanted to live both making and enjoying music.  He became the leading entertainer in the Bay Area.  He entertained by playing his electric piano and singing popular songs as well as his own songs.  He interacted with the audience and they enjoyed both him and his music.

John bought an 80 acre farm in North California where he grows grapes, makes wine, raises pigs and chickens.  He also raised his son in this smog free, insecticide free, chemical free environment. He has continued with his music and is planning to produce a tape by this summer’s end.  John informed me that he is very busy putting together a compilation CD of some of his home recordings of his original songs. He said that he would send me a copy when he gets it completed.  I am looking forward to this music.

Here is a photo of John, Michael and Terry.

John, Michael, Terry

Another Two Birthday’s

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I sure am a very lucky person.  It seems to me that we are either just finishing someone’s birthday or we are getting ready to celebrate another birthday.  Well I just finished celebrating my Grandson Michael’s birthday and I just sang a song to my sister Marianne on her birthday. Now I am prepared for another two birthday’s one for my new daughter Alex and one for my daughter Susan.  The older I become the more birthdays’ there are for me to miss.

As a young boy all I had to remember was five birthdays.  They were the birthdays of my mom, dad, two sisters, and one brother.  When my sister married and made me an uncle not just once but three times, I needed to remember three more birthdays.  When I got married I not only had to remember my wife’s birthday, I had to remember a lots of other dates too. No longer did I just need to remember the birth dates of my family. I now had to remember my wife’s family birth dates as well. Oh yes, I also had to remember the day we meet, our wedding day and other days my wife felt were important.  The more time passed the greater in size the list of days I needed to remember grew.

My newest daughter, Alexandra is having a birthday this month.  Alex is a wonderful person and I am happy she is my daughter.  Alex is currently working for a new web technical marketing company.  In addition to her full-time job she is attending graduate school on her way to a MBA.  She is a special young girl who was a pillar of support for her mother after the passing of her father, Cy.  Alex was instrumental in my being able to meet her mother, Marti.  Alex was also the first in Marti’s family to welcome me into their family.

I want to take this time to wish my new daughter, Alex a wonderful and happy birthday. Alex lives and works in southern California so we do not see her as often as we should.  However, we do see her on special occasions and these are always good times.  Alex likes my cooking skills.  One of her favorite items that I prepare is from my list of salads, it is known as John’s tomato salad.  I will make this salad whenever Alex visits her home in Aptos.  Alex also likes my special burnt Almond cake from Peter’s Bakery in San Jose California. I have been known to pick up a burnt Almond cake when Alex visits her mom and me.

I also like the fact that Alex and Monica share the same room at our house.  They act like sisters even though Alex is Monica’s Aunt.  Alex has welcomed all of my grandchildren and enjoys spending time with each of them.  Alex attended the family reunion and enjoyed the event.  She will be attending the wedding of my daughter Susan in June.  She is going to visit her Aunt Jolynn, who lives outside Washington DC and is expecting her second child in October. Alex shows she is a caring and loving person by how she has maintained friendships from her early school days through today.

Alex was born on the same day her grandfather was born.  Her grandfather, Mike S. was living in southern California when he suffered a stroke that affected his right side.  The family felt it would be better for Mike if he was moved to the Santa Cruz County.  This move would place Mike close to his son and daughter, Matt and Marti.  Mike is a very interesting person and most of the time is a fun person to visit.

Mike likes to drink Coca-Cola. So whenever we visit him we bring extra dollar bills so he can ask the orderly to purchase one for him.  He also likes for us to bring him sweet things he can eat.  His favorite sweet snack is Lemon Bars.  He also likes Tiramisu, Lemon Cake, Chocolate Cake and Cheese Cake.  Mike’s condition has improved greatly after his move from southern California.  I attribute the improvement to his health directly to the multiple visits from his son and daughter.  I also visit Mike because he makes me laugh and treats me as a member of his family.

Happy Birthday Alexandra!  Happy Birthday Mike!  I love you both!

Michael’s Birthday Lunch!

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It was Sunday the day before Michael’s birthday.  We were all planning to meet at Michael’s most favorite restaurant, La Milpa in Milpitas.  Lunch was planned for 1:00 pm and I was looking forward to enjoying some time with my family.  We were all up early on Sunday except for Chris who went to a party on Saturday night all decked out in his new outfit.  He sure did look handsome.  I made my world-famous Papa John’s pancakes and even after everyone had their fill I still had a lot left over.  So into a storage bag the extras went. I will give them to Michael as an extra gift so he can have them on his birthday Monday morning.

Soon Chris was awake and both he and Monica started to pack for their return home.  I do enjoy having Chris and Monica at the house.  Chris can be very helpful to his mom and she always saves a few things just for Chris to get done.  This was a wonderful weekend with Chris. A lot of time was spent discussing things that needed to be talked about and plans that needed to be made about his future.  Chris turned eighteen last year and I am amazed at how he has matured.

Well with everyone ready we packed our stuff and ourselves into the car.  We were on our way to my Grandson, Michael’s eighteenth birthday lunch.  I guess I was just way too excited.  We arrived thirty minutes early to the restaurant, so we took a lot of time exiting the car and strolled into La Milpa’s.  The owner greeted us as soon as a small break occurred between customers.  We were then taken directly to our table.  Once we were seated we begin to eat the chips and salsa present on the table.  We were waiting for the birthday boy (cross that boy comment and insert man) to arrive.  Before completing our order for drinks I see my Grandson entering La Milpa’s front door.

I wave to Michael and he heads straight to the table.  Hugs and kisses to Marti, Monica and I with a smile and handshake for Chris.  Seconds later the last three people arrive for the party.  Now sitting at the lunch table are: Michael (the birthday –Man), Chris my son, Monica my Granddaughter, Marti my wife, Susan my daughter, Bruce my soon to be son-in-law, Barbara my daughters Godmother and long time friend of the family and of course me.  Missing is my daughter Deborah and her two daughters Abby and Braylin.  Deborah and her family were unable to come to the lunch due to illness and that made lunch just a little sad.

With everyone seated at the table our family started to enjoy the party.  The eight of us began talking and discussing just what we thought was best for lunch.  Michael really enjoys good Mexican food and his favorite is the giant Burrito.  He ordered his lunch and the rest of us ordered our lunch.  The food at La Milpa’s is always excellent and I understand why it is always packed.  The service is excellent and the guests at the restaurant are treated with both thanks and understanding.  Barbara needed to leave after lunch to return home and Marti and I needed to take Chris to the BART station.  So it was agreed that after lunch Susan, Bruce, Monica and the birthday man, Michael would drive to their home and await Marti and my return from the BART station to enjoy cake and open presents.

We dropped Chris off at the BART station and then drove quickly over to Susan’s house.  There at the house everyone was waiting for Marti and I too arrive so the presents could be opened.  First we all sat down and a special made cake (that looked just like a giant camera) with eighteen candles arrived.  We all sang Happy Birthday (someone sure does not know how to sing; in fact I think that person cannot carry a tune even in a box).  Then Michael cut the cake and shared a slice of cake with everyone. Next he opened all of his birthday cards and read them aloud to all of us.  Presents were next and you could see the happiness on Michael’s face as he opened each present.  He thanked everyone individually after opening each gift.  At the end Michael thanked all of us for attending and celebrating his birthday with him.  It was late afternoon and Marti and I returned home to Aptos, California.

A Special Dinner (pasta, sausage, onions and peppers, without tomato sauce)

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We arrived in Aptos ahead of Marti. She had to work at her job with the Monterey County today but she will not have to work this weekend. Chris and Monica put their things away in their respective rooms as I prepared dinner.  I was planning to make my special sausage pasta without tomato sauce.  I start by cooking the sausage in a frying pan.  I place the sausages in the pan with a little water and cook the sausage for about twenty minutes.  By this time the water has evaporated and it is time for a little olive oil to brown the sausage.  With the sausage browned I remove them from the pan and prepare to brown some onions.  Using the same pan the sausage was cooked and browned I add just a little butter and cook the sliced and chopped onions to their caramelized state. I add three crushed and chopped garlic sections and a dash of crushed red pepper.  I normally cut each of the sausages up into four equal pieces and toss them into the onions and garlic.

Just prior to sitting down I toss my pasta into the salted water to start the cooking process.  As the pasta cooks I prep the final few ingredients.  I cut cherry tomatoes into half’s, chop fresh parsley and basil, and grate my hard cheese. I reheat the sausage, onion, oil, and butter mixture to await the pasta.  When the pasta is cooked just right I remove it from the water and toss it into the pan with my sausage mixture.  Tossing this combination quickly to coat I dump it all into a large pasta bowel.  It is at this time that I add my four last items to the dish cherry tomatoes, parsley, basil, and cheese. One final toss to mix the cold ingredients and my dish is ready to be enjoyed.

I like to serve my pastas with a cold crisp green salad with just a light oil and vinegar dressing.  Of course I also serve Crispy French bread with butter or better yet, John’s special olive oil.  Round out the dinner.  Let me add my special note here.  To make “John’s Special Olive Oil” for bread all you need are the following simple ingredients:  Good tasting Extra Virgin Olive Oil, black pepper corns crushed, balsamic vinegar, and grated parmesan cheese.  Mix well and serve on the table in small individual bowels for each person.  I have found that normally people will dunk their bread into the mixture.

I have served this meal many times and too many different people and it has been a hit with all.  If you ask Monica, Chris, Michael, and Marti they will all tell you not only how good it is and they even like it reheated by microwave the next day.  I am always happy to hear just how much they like my pasta.

Shopping with the Guys!

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We completed our lunch and with full tummies we were ready to shop.  The girls headed in one direction looking for a dress and the three guys headed in another direction looking for pants and shirts.  I was just along for the joy of paying the bill but I must say that it is always fun to shop with guys.  We do not look at items and wonder like the ladies.  We head right to our size and check out what is offered for sell.  We can reject items very quickly and we can select items just as quickly.

As the three guys enter the department store we head straight to the men’s section.  We do not stop at the jewelry department, we pass quickly through the makeup section, and we stop only at the men’s department.  Even here we do not stop and look at everything.  We head directly to the area of the men’s section that holds what we are shopping to buy.  Today we are at the racks of pants and checking only the section that holds our size.  Both Chris and Michael find a pair of jeans but the search continues for another pair of pants for skateboarding.  Chris finds his pair first and Michael is disappointed by the lack of choice in his size.  Chris is now looking at shirts and selecting some.  Michael is looking at some sweat tops and selected one.  I am resting my body by a rack of all types of men’s items.  This rack has pants, shirts, jackets, sweaters, and other items and at this time I notice a sign that states SELL prices as marked.  Savings up to 70%.  I glance around and notice four more racks just like the one I am resting on.

I point this out to the boys and at first they glance but not very impressed.  I pull out a windbreaker that will fit Chris and the price is just $12.00.  He shakes his head but now he has interest.  He starts to quickly look through the racks selecting a pair of pants, a sweater, and a shirt.  He returns a pair of pants and a shirt he selected earlier and continues looking at the discounted items.  Soon both boys have what they need and we are off to the cashier.

I call my daughter Susan to see how the dress shopping is progressing.  It is sad but they have found nothing.  But it is soon becoming time for us to drive over the hill before the Friday traffic rush starts.  We meet up at the cash register just before the sales person starts to ring up the items.  Michael shows his mother the items he selected and she nods her approval.  She sees the great deals us guys received and is amazed.  See guys can shop, get good deals and do it fast.  We left the store and headed to our parked car.

Departing the mall I first dropped Susan off at her house and picked up Monica’s weekend bag.  Next I dropped Michael off at his friend’s house.  Now Chris, Monica and I were heading over the hill home to Aptos, and Marti.  I sure had a very fun day with my family.

 

A Special Friday!

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The weekend started for me on Friday.  I awoke early and prepared myself for the drive to San Jose.  I was planning to pick up Chris at 10:00 am and then we could do a little shopping before picking up Susan and Michael for a family lunch.  It really sucks when I confuse the time lines I am trying to work with.  I called my son Chris to inform him I was on my way. He was confused and said that he did not arrive in San Jose until 11:30 am.  I did not want to wait for over ninety minutes so I placed a call to my daughter Susan.  I explained what had happened and if possible could I arrive early and pick up her and my Grandson Michael.  She too was confused because it was her understanding that I was going to pick her and Michael up first and then we were going to pick up Chris.  I was wrong again.  The only thing I had right was that I left on the correct day.

I stopped at Susan’s house and she was ready.  Michael was at school but he was due to arrive home very soon.  It is the last day of parent teacher conferences so students are released early so the teachers have more time with parents.  We departed Susan’s home and headed to the mall.  Both Michael and I needed to be fitted for our tuxedos.  We entered the store and were soon measured, tested and finally fitted for our tuxes.  You sure need to answer lots of questions for a fitting.  They measure everything starting with your neck and ending with your foot.  The tailors’ take measuring very serious so kidding and joking was just not appreciated.  With this task completed we drove over to the Santa Clara train station just in time for the arrival of the train Chris had taken.

With Chris in the car we now drove to little Monica’s school.  We were going to pick her up just a little early and the five of us were then going to lunch.  It did not take long before little Monica was in the car and we were driving back to the mall first for lunch and then for some shopping.  The opinion of everyone in the car was that Dave and Busters was the place for lunch.  We parked and entered the restaurant, requesting a table for five.  We were seated and the menus arrived.  I so enjoy the pleasure that is displayed on the faces of young people as they select their choice of lunch.  I always thought it was because they were the ones to choose what they wanted.  I was wrong.  It is because they are not paying for lunch.

I enjoyed watching and hearing the talk around the lunch table.  Michael and Chris were talking about skateboarding, cameras, and school.  Monica was talking to her mother about school and homework. Susan was reminding me of some extra duties that were needed to be done when babysitting Monica for this weekend.  My partial family was happy and enjoying each other.  I was a happy and delighted man.

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