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We live within easy driving distance to one of the world’s top wine regions, Napa Valley.

Napa Valley


But we seldom visit Napa Valley…

Hubby and I try very hard to be good parents, and good parents don’t drag their children to Napa Valley’s countless wineries to sip wine.

Then one day, one of these children got a driver’s license. We got ourselves a designated driver!

Our teen driver


Hey, hubby and I can both taste wine all day long. This gave us enough incentive to stop being good parents. We loaded the kids into our car, and drove to Napa.

The first stop was lunch, and our navigation took us straight to C Casa.

100% Gluten free restaurant

C Casa is one of the rare 100% gluten free restaurants in the country. When you have a celiac in the family, any 100% gluten free restaurant qualifies as a destination all by itself.

C Casa offered wide menu options, and we ordered the Bison Burger, Duck and Steak tacos, and roasted chicken.

Gluten free lunch at Napa

Since C Casa started out as a gluten free bakery, we ordered their lemon cake and donuts to boot. This pleased our 13-year-old celiac child immensely.

Our baby felt like a VIP at Napa. Many of their ice cream parlors offered gluten free cones,

Gluten free ice cream cone

and for dinner, she got to order a gluten free dinner entree that is the good food, ribs and fries!!

Gluten free baby back ribs and fries

We still feel like good parents.

Napa Valley is teeming with fine dining options, boutique shops, galleries, high end coffee bars,

Coffee bar

and loads of fine cheeses.

Huge selection of fine cheeses

But mostly, people come to Napa for its vines and wine, and its endless supply of beautiful wineries.

Winery


We visited a number of wineries, tasted many glasses of fine wine,

Wine tasting

and came home with 16 bottles. The four of us agreed that when these 16 bottles run dry, it is time for another drive to Napa.

Drive to Napa

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Every night is my summer cocktail hour…

Pisco Sour


I used to toast the end of the my day with half a glass of wine. This was a practice I introduced to myself since my children were toddlers, as a way to reward myself having to put up with them all day, and for having put them to bed!

My personal drink menu has grown over the years, just recently I have added the Mojito, and my new favorite, the Pisco Sour, to my bar.

Pisco Sour is a Peruvian drink I enjoyed during a recent trip to Peru, and since not many restaurant bars offer such an exotic drink, I learned to make it for myself at home. All I needed was to score some Peruvian Pisco, and rest of the ingredients were easy.

Oh, I am no recipe loyalist, I don’t mind getting creative and mixing in things I can find in my fridge.

Who knew, you can add fresh lychee fruit to the Pisco Sour mix, and promote a great drink to a supreme drink.

Just add lychee


Checkout my Mojito!

Mango Mojito

I have had it flavored with mango, lychee, peach, and I can’t wait to try it with that watermelon next.

It only takes me about 5 minutes to make one of these drinks now. This is a great way to toast the joy of everyday life.

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Move aside! Baby Girl.

My baby girl


I have got new twins to adore.

Baby Hummingbirds


While I have been spending time in my backyard attending my new herb garden, I unexpectedly spotted a pair of baby hummingbirds, nested comfortably in one of my rose bushes.

Hummingbird nest


Ahhh…so darn CUTE.

The cutest pair


I visited their nursery daily, and only once observed their mother bird feeding them. I saw them growing before my eyes, then one day, only one baby hummingbird sat in its nest.

The grow up fast

The very next morning, it left too.

These babies grow fast, from when I first discovered them until they both flew away was only 9 days!

They left me with a genuine empty nest.

Empty nest

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The Do Nothing Pit

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I have done something totally wicked, and I am mighty proud of myself.

If you haven’t already, you must first read my previous post “The Do Nothing Pit”, to fully appreciate my triumph here.

It was week 4, and my avocado pit sat in its water cup, refusing to be productive.

My children took time out of their busy school schedule to make fun of my sorry pit, and suggested for me to toss the pit out.

I refused to give in. “Just need more time!” I would say. Then they laughed at me some more.

“I will give you $10 if your pit has root by Sunday. If no root, you give me $10!” my 16 year-old offered me a bet.

“You are on!” I was very stubborn.

My teen smirked, undoubtedly anticipating easy cash.

Last Friday, I glared at my do nothing pit, willing it to grow a root, and failing. This is hopeless.

To make myself feel better, I went outside to tend to my new herb garden.

Herb garden

I pulled some weeds from around my garden.

Weed


Hum…A devilish idea came to me. I am a freaking genius.

I cleaned out some roots.

Roots!


I took my pit out of its cup.

Do nothing pit


I used a toothpick, and pushed a chosen root into the bottom of the pit.

Just add root


Later that night, I showed off my newly improved pit to my kids, and watched their jaw drop! Ha, Ha, Ha.

Can you see the root!


Mom: $10 vs. Obnoxious kid: $0

Ten dollars for me


Hey, the bet is for the pit to have a root. No one said anything about it has to be the pit’s own root.

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The Backyard Struggle

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Early Friday morning, I donned gloves, armed with a brand new shovel, and furiously dug holes in my backyard.

I was planting a herb garden in my backyard.

New Herb Garden


I do not enjoy gardening, and it does not enjoy me. But sometimes, a new inspiration will have me forget all about my bad history with gardening, and convince me to reinvest fresh energy into this business where I don’t really belong.

It all started a few weeks ago. A very kind soul shipped me a huge box of organic avocados from her farm.

Box of Avocados


I love avocados, and these were some of the biggest avocados I have ever seen.

Huge Avocado


Inspired. I wiped up a guacamole, and put out a cheese platter, and chips, and started a party all by myself.

Gaucamole Party


These are the creamiest and tastiest avocados I have ever tasted.

“I should grow it into my own avocado tree!” I shouted to my children, so excited.

My teen burst into a laughter, “Ha, Ha….you can’t even grow an avocado tree from a young tree! You killed three of them already. What makes you think you can grow an avocado tree from a pit.”

That wasn’t a question. It was a statement. Rude.

Offended, I went googling, and came up with this plan.

Growing my avocado pit


The kids laughed at my medieval pit torture chamber.

Three weeks or so passed. No roots came out from the bottom, and no sprouts came out of the top. This pit is still just a pit.

“Nothing is going on here, mom.” one of these children said to me.

“Well, it is possible that I put this pit upside down.” me, then added, “How do I know which ends of the pit is supposed to be the top, and which is the bottom.”

The kids laughed at me some more. Clearly, they view my attempt at growing an avocado tree nothing more than providing them with comic relief.

I am still waiting for my pit to grow. But in case it doesn’t, I had the sudden inspiration to plant herbs. I heard that herbs are easy to grow. Who needs avocados when you can have Rosemary!

Young Rosemary plant

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Our Apple Tree

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A while back……

“Mom! The Rolling Stones are having a concert on Oct 19th!!!!!” my 16 year-old.

These guys are still alive?!

It is an utter mystery why my teenage daughter would have the music taste of a male who might start to pay attention to the benefits of AARP.

“Mom! They are my favorite band. Please can we go? PLEASEEEE.” the teen.

“Are they coming to town?” me, with a deep frown to tamper with her enthusiasm.

“It’s in Las Vegas!” teen, unfazed by my troubling facial expression.

I cast an even deeper frown aimed sharply at my teen.

“The only problem might be that it is on a Wednesday night.” teen, still dreamy and walking on clouds.

She thought this was the ONLY problem!

This problem was good enough to latch on for a refusal. We are not retired people like most of the Rolling Stones’ fans. A flight to Vegas on a weekday would mean missing school and work.

I went ahead and broke the poor girl’s heart. I added how sorry I was that this concert wasn’t on a weekend.

“I know you love the Stones. If this concert had been on a weekend, I would totally take you.” I was laughing on the inside.

Two or three weeks after that…..

“MOM!!!! Rolling Stones is adding a second show in Vegas! On Oct 22nd. It is a SATURDAYYY!!!” teen, pumping both fists.

She had to be messing with me. But no! The Rolling Stones did announce adding a second show in Vegas, on a Saturday. UNBELIEVEABLE!!!

Last Saturday, the two of us touched down at the Vegas airport just before noon.

In honor of our Rock and Roll weekend, as soon as we dropped off our bags at our hotel, we took a taxi to Hard Rock cafe for lunch.

Hard Rock Cafe Las Vegas


Ah, their Pineapple and Coconut Mojito was amazing, nothing puts me in the mood for vacation better than a mid-day cocktail.

After lunch, we leisurely walked the strip and visited the big casinos. We shopped, ate snacks, and were wowed by each casino’s over-the-top extravagant decor.

We made our way to the newly built T-Mobile Arena about an hour before the show time, and joined thousands of fans already congregating there in eager anticipation of the show.

Rolling Stones playing at the T-Mobile Arena Las Vegas


The Rolling Stones rocked the arena for two full hours. I danced alongside my teen to the music.

The Rolling Stones


At around 11PM, we poured out of the arena with tens of thousands of satisfied fans. A mad maze of neon lights enticed us back to the busy strip, and we went on shopping.

Vegas at night


At midnight, we decided a burger sounded good. We sat down at a cafe for a second dinner, and reminisced about the highlights of the concert.

My daughter smiled ear to ear the whole weekend. It was priceless.

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I want to announce that I survived my teen’s first driving lesson with me 2 weeks ago, but it was survived in a most unremarkable way.

“You can step on it more.” I said to the teen gently.

“Oh”, then the car picked up a bit more speed.

A short while later.

“You can drive a little faster.” me.

“How fast should I go?” teen.

“Well, this is an empty lot. You can go 15- 20 miles per hour.” me.

Empty lot good for driving lesson


“Oh!”, the car picked up speed, only to slow down again shortly after.

I had not expected this driving lesson to test my patience, which is often in short supply.

I turned to look at my teen, who was tensely looking ahead, with both hands tightly holding on to the wheel.

“Should I get out of the car, and push it from behind for you?” me.

The teen laughed, then protested with, “I am scared of going too fast.”

“You are going at 5 miles per hour! You need to drive faster, if we want to try driving on a real road later.” me.

“I am afraid of your car! It is so huge and expensive!” teen.

My mind momentarily went back to the mid 1980’s, when I was 16 years old, learning to drive in an empty parking lot with my uncle. My father was working 6 days a week far away from home, and I wanted to learn to drive. So my uncle offered to give me lessons. In his old beat up Pinto.

Pinto had been discontinued in 1980, and those who know the Pinto might remember it as a laughable car whose best selling feature was being cheap. But this car had been my uncle’s first car since arriving to America. He was mighty proud of it.

So, there I was, driving the old Pinto painfully slow in the empty lot. I had a real excuse for not wanting to go fast. The Pinto had no power brakes!! I bet most of you have no idea what that even means.

It means when you want to slow down or stop the car, you have to step on it with the force of your full body weight like Fred Flintstone!!!

“Okay, so this is a big car. But it drives smoothly. Haven’t you noticed, you pressed down on the gas pedal lightly, the car immediately responds with speed, you press down on the brake lightly, it immediately slows down or stops.” me.

“That is true! This car does drive nice.” teen.

“So don’t be afraid. Trust yourself, and trust the car. Now, let’s drive.” me.

After many more rounds in the parking lot, I instructed my 16 year-old to take the car onto the real road.

Open road


“Wow! I am going 40 (mph)!” teen.

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In plotting my baby’s road map to college, it occurred to me that she could use a backup sport. This kid may not make it on our high school’s highly competitive volleyball team.

I decided on golf. Why? Because it is better than badminton or bowling.

I offered golf lessons to the baby.

“Golf!? Is that even a real sport? I don’t think it is a real sport.” said the baby, totally unimpressed.

“Of course it is a real sport! It is even a big sport! They play these games on TV all the time.” me, defensive of the choice I made for her benefit.

“It is so boring to watch!” baby.

“It must be much more fun to play than to watch. Lots of people play golf.” me.

“Hey, how about we learn to play golf together?” me, fixated on achieving my goal.

Learning to golf


“You are on! I am going to kick your butt at golf!” baby, obnoxiously approving the plan.

The baby and I signed up for a package of 5 semi private lessons at a local golf course.

Two lessons and two rounds of driving ranging practices later, I was the undisputed better golfer.

The mommy golfer


The baby was not pleased, but not surrendering, and waved a fist at me, “NEXT time!… I will kick your butt.”

Last Sunday, after hitting 3 buckets of golf balls with the baby at a driving ranging, I was nursing the sore muscle on my right arm, and a new callus on my left hand.

“And you don’t think golf is a real sport…my arm is so sore.” me.

The baby popped up from the sofa, arms on her waist, chin pointed at me, and said, “ What is wrong with you! I did rock climbing for 2 hours yesterday, then volleyball for 2 hours, then played golf with you today, and I am not sore at all.”

The baby golfer


Whoever said that girls are all sugar and spice, neglected to add that this blend of sugar and spice turned into a bag of sassy when aged.

I wobbled my arms at her, “I have these noodle arms!”

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I found out that our Chinese school was closed for good the week before it was set to start. I wanted to complain that they didn’t notify us sooner, but I couldn’t find anyone to bark at.

The next best thing to do was to find a new school. I quickly hit up my trusted know-it-all friend we call google, and located another weekend Chinese school in the area. It is no where as close to home as our former school, but still within tolerable driving distance.

I called up the school immediately, and got invited to go to the school that afternoon with my baby. They wanted to make sure that the baby is qualified to enroll in their 8th grade class.

I brought along our old 7th grade class textbook, and the final test paper, where it was clearly marked a 100% for verbal test, and 99% for written test.

Old 7th grade Chinese textbook, and A+ final test paper


Of course we are qualified to enroll in the 8th grade class!!

“Your textbook has pinyin everywhere. Our 8th grade textbook has no pinyin at all.” the Chinese teacher at the new school stated as she flipped through our book. She showed no interest in our proud test paper. This was a bummer.

She walked over to a cabinet, pulled out a drawer, and pulled out a book.

“I think our 6th grade textbook is more suited for her.” she walked over with the book.

My baby took the book from her weakly. The poor child looked intimidated.

The teacher took the book back from her, flipped to a page, and said, “Here, read the first paragraph.”

The baby stared down at the page, and I leaned over to peak at the paragraph. The cursed paragraph was based on a Chinese idiom story starring a Chinese general.

Ancient Chinese general and his horse race


“This paragraph is kind of hard. She does not know how to read “general”, and this general has a difficult Chinese name.” this lame excuse served as my best effort to help out my nervous child.

“Oh yes, this is a difficult lesson to read.” said the teacher, finally showing off that she can smile.

“Here, read this first paragraph in the first lesson.” she opened the book to the beginning.

The baby sent another pleading glance at me.

“What is that” I pointed to the title.

The Star Fruit


“Oh, you don’t know. That is a fruit.” she looked at us, then added, “ well, we don’t have them here. It is fruit that looks like a star when you cut into it.”

The Star fruit. We have seen them up on a tree in Hawaii once.

“She has been out of the school for the whole summer. She forgets everything. I think it is hard to read about something you don’t know.” me, continuing my bid to bail out the pitiful looking thing that sat next to me.

“No problem….” she took the book back and flipped some more, “ Here, how about the Great Wall! Everybody knows that. Read the first paragraph. Or any paragraph is fine.”

The Great Wall of China


“You have been to the Great Wall, remember? You can read it.” I said to the poor baby cheerfully. There was no getting out of reading with this teacher.

The baby struggled with the paragraph the best she could, skipping many characters, red-faced, and sweating on the forehead.

“You guys don’t speak Chinese at home.” she said to me accusingly.

“We do…sometimes…” I fumbled for words, and added, “she understands Chinese very well.”

“Oh, you speak to her in Chinese, and she answers back in English?” teacher.

“She knows how to speak Chinese.” me, insisted.

“The most she can enroll in our school is 6th grade.” she said to me.

The baby and I shared a look.

“Okay.” We surrendered fast.

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I had an exceptional summer…. I didn’t get to go anywhere fun this summer.

I spent the whole summer driving my kids to their summer job, summer school, and summer camps. Actually, that is not all I did. I pestered my teen all summer long to get her driver’s license.

I thought all teens will leap into action on the day that they are just old enough to drive. But my teen allowed her 15 and half birthday slip past without making a peep.

“Don’t you want to drive?” I asked, driving her to school one morning.

“No, not really.” teen, shrugging her shoulders.

WHAT?!

“Why not?!” me.

“I don’t need to. You drive me everywhere I want to go.” teen.

Hum….The kid is wise. Why bother with driving when you have a 5-star rated personal chauffeur at your disposal?

“But I want to retire from driving you around!!” me.

“Oh! I will try to get my license then.” teen.

That was a conversation 6 months ago.

Nag, nag, nag, pester, pester, pester.

I made an appointment for my teen to take her written test last Wednesday at our local DMV office.

I hate going to the DMV office. A trip to the DMV office always feels like stepping into a tiny communist country run by uncaring dictators.

We stood in the line for people with appointments.

A stone faced DMV lady waved us to her station. I promptly produced our application and birth certificate, a required certificate for teens to take the written test.

“I need documentation that shows proof of address.” DMV lady.

I had called and looked online, nowhere did it say that we need to bring proof of address documentation.

I scrambled to see if I had anything with me. Hey, my driver’s license has my address on it.

“We don’t accept driver’s license as a valid form of proof of address.” DMV lady.

WHAT?! The DMV won’t accept my driver’s license. They issue these things.

“Oh, I have my vehicle registration in my car, that has my address on it.” me.

“Go get it, then get back in line.” DMV lady.

We got back in line with my car registration paper in hand.

I hand her everything, along with my registration card.

“We need two forms of proof of address documentation.” DMV lady.

“Oh, I also have my driver’s license….” me.

“We don’t accept driver’s license.” DMV lady.

“Well, I don’t have anything else with my address on it.” me.

“You can go home, and get another documentation.” DMV lady hand me back everything, trying to wave me away.

“What about my appointment? Will you still honor my appointment?” me.

“Your appointment is at 2:40, you have half an hour, you need to be back by 3:10” DMV lady, waving the next people to approach.

I needed Superman to fly me home and be back by 3:10.

MADDENING.

Get A Driver's License !

I had set a goal of getting her driving written test done before school. School was starting on Monday!

I drove out of the DMV parking lot, turned into the next street, and saw: BANK OF AMERICA.

Capitalist to the rescue…

I swung into the B of A parking lot, ran into the office, and asked a friendly personal banker to print me a banking statement.

I was back in line at the DMV office, and got to our DMV lady station by 3:07.

We made it!

A short while later, we were called into another window. Then to the station to get the photo ID picture taken, then on to the testing area.

I went to sitting area and waited.

20 minutes later. Two teens came out of the testing area, and informed their parents that they did not pass the written test.

You can fail this test? I thought this is one of those tests where everyone can pass.

Oh no, I can’t stomach another round of this torture.

I spotted my teen coming out, looking long faced. A sinking feeling assaulted me.

“How was the test?” I asked.

“I passed.” teen answered looking unhappy.

We waited around some more, and finally got our driver’s permit.

“Congratulations!! ! You can now take driving lessons.” me, inside the car, very happy.

“Cool.” teen.

“Why do you look unhappy?” me.

“My picture ID is terrible! When can I change that picture?” teen, looking at me all sad eyed.

Ha, ha, I can’t wait to see it.

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Category: Kids, Parents  One Comment