Friday, June 28, 2013

Thumbs Down On Bubble Tea

Expecting liquid joy, she was disappointed with an overly sweet beverage sporting suspicious gelatinous chunks. 
Like I've said before wish fulfillment is what we do here. My daughter had been wanting to try bubble tea for a long time. I saw my opportunity to work some extra advocacy into the bargain, "Sure, let's go," I said, "... on bikes."

So we rode down out of the West Hills and a few miles into the east side, generally keeping to residential streets until we arrived at the Hawthorne district. We found the bubble tea place which also sold bahn mi, as well as bagels, and assorted specialty beverages. This should should have been a warning as a place that tries to cover too much culinary territory usually fails at all destinations.  

My daughter ordered a pineapple milk-based drink with mango jellies. I was wary of sugary overload so I ordered green tea with guava flavoring and tapioca pearls. I preferred my beverage to hers but still found it too sweet. The green tea flavor, however, was clear and pleasing. The guava flavor just tasted like syrup.

I did like chewing on the tapioca pearls.

My daughter felt she missed an opportunity for a much higher level of treat -- a fresh muffin at a bakery. I agreed wholeheartedly.

We also both agreed the biking on a sunny day was the best part of our outing.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

No News Is Good News, Says Helicopter Parent In Denial

The kid went to camp eager to hang out with his compadres.
So it's Thursday and why haven't we received any mail? Oh, right, the kid is actually having a good time!

Despite being an advanced age, I forget that 8-year-olds don't blog about everything, make short videos to just say "hi," have phones, or care about changing their underwear. Sometimes life is just better that way.

LSS has been dutifully sending the kid pictures of sloths, his spirit animal (this worries me on the productivity level but is fine on the dude level), and running to collect the mail as soon as it arrives.

I think I am cut from different cloth, but I'm not. I'm checking out night vision systems and planning a surveillance raid soon. I just want to see that he's tucked in safe and sound. And to plant a listening device. That's not creepy if it's just one, right?

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Daughter Successfully Cleans Room

Not an illustration: This is actually the daughter's room.

A long time in coming, with plenty of false starts and dashed hopes, but the room became clean yesterday. After the official announcement I ran in with my camera, for these things can be as fleeting as a snowflake in April.

I haven't the courage to go in there today.

There are still some items that may or may not make the final cut. For example, the  bed canopy, which was acquired in The Princess phase, still hangs in a corner. The emerging tween has more of a discerning eye but still likes the flowing fabric.  

For me there is satisfaction in a more orderly environment, but perhaps most gratifying was the many boxes of clothes and shoes that did not fit anymore which were routed to people and places which could make good use of them.

For the record, the boot camp which I referenced yesterday was not militaristic enforcement of the clean-room doctrine.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

No Joke - Daughter Wanted To Go To Boot Camp

After all the combat, a delicious snack of blueberries is appropriate.
One kid is at sleepaway camp while the other is flipping pretend villains and living the martial life (as least for a few hours a day). She's attending Mastery Boot Camp, a martial arts-themed day camp.

I'd like readers to know that despite my moment in green I'm generally not a get-the-kids-into-boot-camp type of guy. This is her decision.

In addition to the judo, the campers played a game called "Chocolate Unicorn" which involved stacking chocolate donuts on one's forehead.

I'm now starting to understand where some of the gaps in my boot camp experience lie.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Kid Goes To Sleepaway Camp - Parents Doing Fine

Our little guy is little no longer!  Not really, but this is what one is supposed to say.    
The crush of emotional parents sending their kids to camp is a sight to behold. I'm a third-year veteran of this so I didn't weep -- at least in public anyway.

My eight-year-old son was ready to be done with us the night before, rambunctiously running around with his buddies before boarding the bus to go to camp for a week.

There was the usual assortment of travel gear - trunks, drawers, duffels - which eventually was piled in a truck. The buses started their engines, a crescendo of good-byes, then ...a noticeably quieter parking lot.

We then sped home and began furiously writing letters, wringing our hands as imaginations made weird juxtaposition of zombie apocalypse and Honey Booboo.

This morning we awoke refreshed, slightly optimistic about our expanded capacity. Somehow all will hold for a week.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Cyclepedia: Iconic Bicycle Design - A Hit With Kids

A bunch of super cool bikes in an art museum. That's the concept. Works for me. Thus, I have described Portland Art Museum's summer show of Cyclepedia: Iconic Bicycle Design

The exhibit consists of around 40 interesting bikes each having some unique design characteristic. The bikes range from the prosaic to the futuristic.

As I like this thing called bicycle cycling I enjoyed the exhibit but worried about the kids' interest. They loved it, finding the different sizes and shapes, colors and materials, a celebration of the bicycle.

There was a pleasant and helpful "Bike Guy" on hand to answer questions. He was a volunteer who worked at a local bike parts manufacturer. I give this guy a big shout-out as he didn't snigger when I asked him what was a "monocoque."

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Video Game Diminishes Interest In Legos

This is potentially the coolest Star Wars Lego.
Last year my son agonized over which Star Wars Lego he would choose for his birthday gift. After weeks of debate, both internal and with trusted advisers, he made his decision for the Clone Turbo Tank, pictured above.

Despite several months of intermittent assembly, work has ground to a halt. The culprit? Minecraft

In many aspects Minecraft is more creative than Lego kits where the shape of the object is predetermined. However, I want to encourage the kid to pursue interests other than those on a screen.

Perhaps this is a blessing in disguise, for if the kid loses complete interest I get to put it together and play with it!

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Long Summer Underway - Room-clean Project Grinds On

This dramatic make-over occurred after 8 hours of labor.
My daughter is being forced to clear her room. Like many children before her, she has expressed the view that she does not want to do it.

Still, myself and LSS feel compelled to push the issue. We have conferred with mental health professionals who unequivocally state that humans feel more relaxed and productive when they are in ordered environments.

Having the power of truth on our side such doesn't move any of us closer to the finish line. And I do mean all of us. We are all in this together. Our family is a unit that is only as strong as the messiest link.

The strategy is to break the project into its component parts - yesterday the desk, today the dresser, tomorrow the closet.

Yesterday I sat on my daughter's bed and encouraged her to move crap she didn't want or need to the hallway where the sentimental stuff would be put into storage. "When in doubt throw it out," I told her.

When I reached the time of night where I lie in bed with my eyes closed awaiting sleep LSS stormed into the room demanding to know why sacred objects were moved to the storage pile in the hallway. "She didn't want them," I told her.

Today some, but not all, of those objects are back on my daughter's desk. LSS realized, quite accurately, that my involvement in this project would denude the room to an unacceptable level.

Every day there are bad tempers and angry words and disappointment stalks us at each turn. Somehow we soldier on in the hope that the kid's room can be a suitable place for existing beyond sleeping. I expect a positive outcome but believe it will not come easy. We've got a few more months of this so I'm digging in.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Flames of 1,000 Burning Suns

Happy surprises -- the kid wanted to do a commercial. Only later did I realize what this entailed.

We here at Portdaddia are always trying new stuff. Our motto, “Let’s try new stuff! (unless we don’t want to because the old stuff is still kinda okay).

With this can-do attitude one can understand how paradigms get shifted and frontiers pushed back.

Today we learned that some companies pay for home video producers to make commercials. Or maybe it was something about product placement. Or maybe it was just that Ryan Higa did a video about pistachios that got dumped in favor of something Psy did.

Anyway, we did our own take on a commercial for Siracha hot sauce. Release the unicorns…!

Monday, June 17, 2013

Martial Arts Spectacular

We all juggle the elements of harmony and concentration, unless, of course, I'm asleep or watching TV.
Nobody was asleep in Hillsboro this weekend as the warriors from Ernie Reyes West Coast Martial Arts unleashed a torrent of awesomeness.

Here is but a small taste of the high-octane stoke.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Dramatic Video Comparison Shows Kids' Advancement

The video comparison shows the evolution of M.T. Freezer and Da Liv over the course of the school year.
Today was the last day of this school year and so I announced to the assembled (the kids) that I needed to shoot a video. My son immediately took off one shoe to use as an ersatz microphone and jumped to it.

The kid then insisted that the new video be compared to the one made at the start of the school year. From the mouths of babes...

Thursday, June 13, 2013

What The Hell Is Going On Here - Oh, School's Out!

Video game or reality? Is there in fact a difference? 
School is ending soon for my kids who are looking forward to a less-pressured life with more video games and YouTube videos.

I'm not sure that my life will be less stressed as a result. I work from home so a kid's freedom from oppression can be my annoying high level of noise. Plus now that I will be able to observe them much more I will be tempted to lecture them on my favorite subjects, for example, the moral ambivalence of the Chinese Civil War ( this can include a field trip to the garage where I have both the Nationalist KMT flag as well as the Chinese Communist one on the opposite wall).

They also need to digest many of my political views, that is if they know what's good for them. ("But I thought Yair Lapid was a good guy?" "No, son, that was only until he joined the coalition and insisted on an undivided Jerusalem.")

I predict they will attempt to lay low and indulge in screen time in a myriad of different ways. This will be all well and good until their inactivity weights so heavily on my mind I will be compelled to roust them out of their stupor and insist something be done under the sky.

If they start playing video games beyond the red line of nine hours a day I could be forced to give them an ultimatum: Write 500 words about Chiang Kai-shek or go ride your bikes.

The Xian Incident was pretty cool, but then again so are bikes. I will have to think up more drastic measures.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Zombie Interest Inspires Art

"Zambie" by the eleven-year-old was recently created at school.

I know all is well when I see works of art like this.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Bouillabaisse An Unlikely Hit With Kids

Getting the kids to like good food can sometimes be a challenge. We have the policy that the meal can be eaten or ignored, but it is the meal so skip it at your own peril

 I try and balance challenging meals, like bouillabaisse, with the more kid friendly pasta with cheese. One can only move so fast with these issues.

The breakthrough that occurred with bouillabaisse was when I produced a fresh baguette and told the kids it was to dip in the broth. My son likes shrimp, clams, squid, and mussels, but he appears to like baguette more. My daughter who had been moping about the imposed radical meal, suddenly brightened at the thought of bread dipped in soup.

After the meal the daughter, who ate only the fish portion of the soup, was a convert to bouillabaisse.

The eight-year-old son was already a fan of this type of dish, commenting that it was similar to the "Brazilian Fisherman's Soup" he had ordered at a restaurant dinner with a grandparent.

Most likely the kid will grow impatient with the chef as I hit my upper limits of cuisine. Can't wait.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Simulated Hair Photo Nice Father-Daughter Moment

In an alternative universe I am a member of Spinal Tap.
Sometimes we get lucky.

She and her mom have extra.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Summer Room-clean Challenge Underway

Girlish excess or modern necessity?
My daughter has been challenged to clean her room. I will be disappointed if she can't do it by September. We will see...

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Beverage Policy Tries To Limit The Damage

There's always some other kid who gets to brush his teeth with orange soda every night.
My parenting philosophy is if you can't do the right thing, do the kinda right thing.

I would like my kids to eat less sugar, as that is impossible the next best thing is to try and have policies that might, under certain circumstances, cause the kids to reflect on their excessive sugar intake. Our policy when we are eating out is that our kids may choose a sugary beverage or a dessert item.

Unless, of course, an eating festival is declared and all policies are cancelled. This usually occurs when a grandparent is present, at birthday parties, camping, or when other children are eating more sugar than our guys.

I dream about being a consistent parent, but then such a foolish consistency might be the hobgoblin of little minds (buzz-freaked on sugar).

Courtesy of

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Kids Announce Their Rap Personas

M.T. Freezer and Da Liv are currently honing their art and living large.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Son Proud Of Salmon Project

Becoming lox was left out of the equation.
What we (I) do here at Portdaddia is deliver joy whenever possible. So if a relative or friend comes to me and urgently needs something publicized I say, "Can do!"

Even better if the intended audience is my mother.

So when my son wanted his salmon cycle project immortalized in bytes I jumped into action. Below are his comments:

Salmon Life Cycle

A baby salmon (called an alevin) starts its life in fresh water rivers, after a little while they're called frys. (The Columbia River for example). Then it takes a long hard journey to the ocean where it is called a smolt. And somehow it adapts to salt water. It spends its ocean years maturing and growing.


Monday, June 3, 2013

Lady Washington Battle Cruise From Hood River

The captain was a stern fellow as he was responsible for his passengers, tight maneuvering, and a river full of barges and various wind junkies playing Chicken with the ship.
Sometimes one should believe the hype -- especially when such results in an epic mock battle in a replica square-rigged ship from the 1780s.

My buddy at Squidnut Squidknot posted about how Grays Harbor Historical Seaport Authority had two tall ships, the Lady Washington and the Hawaiian Chieftain, sailing up the Columbia River taking landlubbers out for various cruises. When I heard there was a "Battle" cruise I didn't need to hear any other option.

For the record, most of the crew were way into "Master and Commander," having not only watched the film several times, but a few of those listening to director Peter Weir's comments.

The Lady Washington was rigged according to custom of the 1780s with 168 different lines, crewed by 14. The Hawaiian Chieftain was circa 1850, a bit smaller, and needed only 10 crew with fewer sails and lines.

The captain was a professional and the remaining crew were volunteers, the newest having to pay to sail on the ship for two weeks to gain basic skills. The crew were not characters in an historical re-creation, rather people trying to give tourists a taste of sailing from a few centuries ago, wearing traditional garments and sensible footwear.

The two ships maneuvered closely around one another, having a day of good current, gusty wind, and a river active with windsurfers and kiteboarders, as well as barge traffic. The sun, scenery of the Gorge, two tall ships (pretending) to duke it out, made the day truly special.

The Hawaiian Chieftain bearing down on us as Gunner Patty readied her cannon.