Wednesday, June 1, 2022

They Grow Up So Fast

My son's 8th-grade graduation is upon us. He will officially be a high school student this coming Friday evening.  I have a hard time believing that he is 14 and about to embark on a new educational adventure. Life flies by in the blink of an eye. 

One thing that I have endeavored to accomplish is to spend as much time as I can with my son. Doing things together. We have gone camping, hiking, backpacking and even out to play Airsoft together. For me, this is a big deal. Up until the moment that I lost my Dad at the age of 53, I always assumed that I would have plenty of time to spend with him. I was just 21 when my Dad passed away. I regret many of the choices that resulted in me not spending time with him. 

That is why I do what I have to do to make sure that my son has plenty of memories of us together, enjoying the bond of father and son. He knows that I will be there for him. About 2 years ago, one of his friends wanted to give a Harry Potter wand to a friend of his. Well, Joseph told him that I could make it in my shop, no problem. I did a double-take when he told me, but I wasn't about to let my little buddy down. My Dad always taught us a can-do attitude. So I got to work and made a wand. Have to say it looked pretty good once I was done. 

These are the things I want him to always remember and pass down to his children someday. 

So, back to the graduation. It will be this Friday and then that chapter of his education will be done. He will be going to Aquinas High School and entering the Engineering Academy there. It took me by surprise that he wanted to be in the Academy. Because of COVID and mistakes made during the administration of the entrance exam, the scores did not reflect who he was academic. I had to advocate for him and make sure his classes were what he needed. Being that he was in honors math and English in junior high, it made little sense that he would enter high school assigned to algebra A (entry-level) and Earth Science (also entry-level). These classes would prohibit him from entering the academy. So, that was a no-go situation.

 I had to make several phone calls, but once I reached the principal we came up with a workable solution. He will be going to summer school and taking math and English. The math teacher will assess his abilities and place him at a more appropriate level of math (the same will happen with English). The principal did place him in Biology. So 3 weeks of summer school and he will cement his placement in the academy. I don't doubt that he will get into the academy. He is smart and loves to tinker with his computer and the code on his games. 

This week will be a whirlwind of activities for the graduates. Tonight is the final school dance for them. Thursday is the prayer service, the 7th grade hosted reception, and then a beach trip. Friday, they have all day to relax and reflect on their journey so far. That evening is the graduation mass and ceremony. 

Still hard to believe it's here.

Until next time my friends, love your children,
Cherish your family.

Sunday, May 29, 2022

A New Journey

 It has been a while since I last posted here. I took a break because I had gotten too wrapped up in the commercial side of things rather than enjoying the journey of discovery and sharing. Today is the beginning of a new journey for my son and me. A journey with a son who was a boy when I started this blog and is now an amazing young man.

Let me catch you all up on what has been happening since I last wrote anything. Since that time I officially retired from federal service and now do what I want, including working at my own business. Joseph and I started hiking during the pandemic and moved up to backpacking soon after. I'll share a bit about my experiences in these two for now. 

Ah retirement, it seems like it should be a simple thing to accomplish. Work 20 or more years and then pull the plug. Well, at the federal level it takes on a whole new dimension of complexity. The entire process, in my case, took almost a year. It started when I filed my papers about 3 months before my official retirement date (July 31, 2021). During that time the retirement specialist reviewed all my paperwork (yes, there was a lot of it) and then sent it back for mistakes. One of the simplest to correct was my name, I had neglected to enter Junior (I had not used that in over 20 years), but that had to be corrected by me adding "Jr." to everything with my name on it. There were other issues that were more complex and would result in a significant delay in processing. That issue was my job-related injuries. My retirement was based on several factors including the highest 3 years of pay, time in service, and any worker's compensation cases. Once these have all been accounted for, the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) then works its magic.

What should have happened and what I got were two different things. What should have happened was that around the two-month post-retirement mark I should have started getting an interim payment equal to 75% of what my estimated final amount would be. Well, that two-month mark was never hit and I spent the next 7 months wondering when I would finally get a payment.  I did finally get a happy birthday surprise when on February 1st OPM finally deposited my first check. Phew, to say that was stressful is an understatement. 

While that was going on my saving grace was my wife and son. They stayed positive and helped me weather the stress. Part of that help included the hiking I mentioned before. Since I had time on my hands I decided to get out and start enjoying nature. There were some exciting hikes, including one where we inadvertently (ok, it was my fault) chose the most difficult ascent on this trail. We did a 1700 elevation gain in just under 1 mile.  It doesn't sound too bad, but when you're scrambling up boulders and silty, near-vertical, paths, it becomes something else entirely. We did have fun that day, but it almost defeated my will to go out again.  The good news is that I did go back out and continued to enjoy nature in all its glory. 

One interesting positive from this is that, on a five-mile hike, I noticed that the person I was with was wheezing as we gained elevation. This troubled me so we turned around and ended the hike early. They went and got a check-up and ended up getting s stent placed in an artery that was blocked. Had we not gone hiking that day I would never have noticed the wheezing. God is good folks, He puts us where we need to be, we may not understand why at the time, but there is a purpose.

Onward with my story. After this event, Ruby's Uncle Juan started hiking with me because Ruby and Joseph were at school throughout the week. He was the one that would go out with me on our first overnight backpacking trip. After researching everything I could about the trails near us, I chose one that seemed to be the easiest to get started on. We started our overnight at the Fish Creek Trailhead, which ended up being about an hour and a half drive to get there. We parked my car, grabbed our backpacks, and started off. Being our first time out in the San Gorgonio Wilderness we were only doing 2 miles to get our feet wet.

With Juan at the end
We made it to the Fish Creek Camp in just under one hour. We unpacked, set up camp, and settled in to make dinner. The trick to backpacking and keeping the weight down is dehydrated or freeze-dried foods. I had Next Mile Meals (not a sponsor, just really love their meals), which is a keto-friendly brand, and Juan had Ramen which is always a good choice. Dinner was delicious and filling. We did not need to get any extra water as we both brought plenty with us (although I think it was a mistake, as the added weight wasn't necessary). 

My favorite activity car camping is the campfire in the evening. But, out in the San Gorgonio Wilderness, it's a big no-no, the risk of a wildfire is too great. So, we sat and shared some good conversation and hot coffee as night arrived. It is truly amazing how many stars you can see when there is no light pollution. The sky was so full of stars that it overwhelmed our senses. The quiet was almost deafening if that makes sense. We woke up early the next morning, had our breakfast (Next Mile Meals again for me), and packed up for the hike out. All in all the trip was a success. We enjoyed the time out in nature and looked forward to doing it again. 

Joseph and Me
The following week it was my best Buddy and Me. We took the same trail and camped at the same place. There were a few differences. First, we had a big storm come in during the week and that resulted in snow along our route. The other was that hunting season had started and there were more folks camped at Fish Creek Camp than the week before. Everyone was quiet, doing their own thing, which was fine with me. Joseph and I had a great time and headed home the next morning. 

This summer we will be doing several overnight trips and then before school starts for my buddy, a 4-day, 18-mile trip. I am so looking forward to that one. I've invited a few friends and Juan. Hopefully, everyone can make it, but if it's just me and Joseph that will be just as good. 

Joseph on Trail

Burn scar from a fire a few years ago

Friday, February 8, 2019

Pinners Conference & Expo California Comes to Ontario Convention Center
The Pages of Pinterest Come to Life as the Largest Lifestyle Expo Connects Consumers, Retailers, Wholesalers, and Influencers Together   

Friday, March 8 – Saturday, March 9, 2019
** Tickets On Sale Now **

LOS ANGELES, CA (January 4, 2018) – For the first time in the Southland, the Ontario Convention Center will host Pinners Conference & Expo California, Friday and Saturday, March 8 – 9, 2019.
Pinners Conference is a must-attend event where lifestyle experts connect with those who love to craft, cook, and create.  For two days, guests will have the opportunity to attend more than one hundred classes and presentations covering a variety of topics led by industry leaders.

 “Pinners Conference is the only DIY, cooking, crafting and style expo where the pages of Pinterest come to life,” said Roxanne Bennett, CEO.  “We connect consumers with the top influencers in their fields who offer the know-how needed to start (and finish!) any project.”

Originating as a women’s expo, with a few retail vendors, the idea of a Pinterest-inspired Expo was born. “We were inspired to provide a space for the “everyday” woman to be inspired, try something new, re-discover herself and be educated, as well as shop,” said Bennett.  “Our first Pinners Conference was in Salt Lake City in 2013. We have since expanded to six locations throughout the country, adding Texas and Arizona in 2016, Georgia in 2017, California and Minneapolis in 2018 and moving to Ontario, California for the first time in 2019.”

Expecting an estimated 10,000-15,000 attendees at the Ontario Convention Center, Pinners Conference showcases the best and brightest influencers in one forum to share their knowledge by offering classes that aren’t easily found at local craft stores, community colleges, or boutiques.  Retailers include Michael’s Crafts, Bee Kissed Caramels, Clover Needlecraft, Inc., Discovery Toys, Dunn-Edwards Paints, Jada Rose Jewelry, Matilda Jane Clothing, PB Creates, Petal Salad, She Shed Living, The Cat’s Meow Shop, and Verse Your Hair.          

“Pinners Conference is continually adapting to what is trending now. Whether that is the hottest trends in fashion and beauty, in home decor, DIY, cooking, fitness or crafting.”  said Bennett. “Our classes and exhibitors change every year based on what people are excited about now.”

Want to learn the intricoes of Macrame or chalk painting? Enroll in Macrame Plant Hanging or Chalk Painting 101. Looking for a twist on flower arranging? Try Wood Floral Arrangements.  Discover the secret to creating a Japanese Kokedama, at the Kokedama String Garden Workshop. Other specialty classes include Handlettering, styling a customized gallery wall, sewing and quilting classes, photography workshops, party planning, food arts, beauty secrets to even designing a DIY wedding centerpiece.  

“Pinners Conference is truly about the experience. When consumers come, they get to pick and choose which classes they take or if they just want to shop and who they shop from,” said Bennett. “Guests can customize their most fun and creative weekend, ever. Someone might stop by the Michaels Crafts booth and create a free make-and-take before taking a class by a local artist to learn how to watercolor, then find their new favorite outfit from a local boutique.”
Advance registration is recommended (as classes do sellout) however spots are available for walk-ins the day of the event. 

“Come with your friends as a girl’s weekend, or make it day for yourself,” said Bennett. “Our g
uests are always amazed after trying just one class or buying that something special, they’ve discovered a love for something new!”

Pinners Conference & Expo California
For the latest information, and to purchase tickets visit
- High resolution photography and b-roll Available -

Ontario Convention Center
2000 East Convention Center Way
Ontario, CA 91764

·         General (exhibits and shopping) - $8 (use BLOG50  to get 50% off).
·         Class passes (includes admission) - $19 to $49 (PINNERS10  - receive 10% off on VIP or class pass tickets)
·         VIP Pass $129 (PINNERS10  - receive 10% off on VIP or class pass tickets)

·         Many classes will have optional kits to purchase upon enrolling
·         Kids 8 years and under are FREE to all events.
·         All ticket options (except VIP) available at the door.

·         Friday, March 8th, 10:00 a.m. – 8:00 p.m.
Saturday, March 9th, 9:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m.

Monday, December 31, 2018

Sesame Street Live! Lets Party

(Ontario, CA) — Everyone’s invited to take part in the sunniest and funniest street celebration to ring in the New Year with Sesame Street Live! Let’s Party! when it comes to the Citizens Business Bank Arena for five performances on January 12th and January 13th!  The all-new inaugural production under Feld Entertainment’s partnership with the non-profit educational organization Sesame Workshop features favorite Sesame Street pals Elmo, Abby Cadabby, Big Bird and more in a brand-new interactive sensory adventure live on stage.

From the moment the curtain rises, parents and children alike will be on their feet dancing along to a pop-infused soundtrack with new Sesame Street friends and live emcees Casey and Caleb. Planning a party isn’t easy when everybody has a different idea of fun, but with some help from the audience, it becomes the ultimate reflection of what friendship plus teamwork can accomplish. Party guests will sing along to new and familiar songs, like “I Love Trash” and “C is for Cookie,” with Oscar the Grouch and Cookie Monster; dance to the beat with Elmo; explore a wintry wonderland when Abby Cadabby’s magic goes awry; take flight with Big Bird to learn about some of his fabulous feathered friends; and discover new cultures in an interactive Spanish lesson with Rosita.

Ever dream of taking a stroll down one of the most recognizable streets in the world?  During the Sesame Street Live! pre-show experience, you can visit some of your favorite furry friends right in their neighborhood!  At this unique, up-close-and-personal experience offered at an additional charge, families will have the opportunity to tour the on-stage neighborhood with special surprise visits where they can pick up a few baking tips with Cookie Monster, create magic spells with Abby, learn some dance steps with Elmo or sing along with Oscar.  But the fun doesn’t end there…a variety of interactive activities give children the chance to create, discover and learn as they help decorate for the upcoming party! 

WHEN:                        Saturday, January 12, 2019
Ø  Show Time:  10:00 AM
·         Pre-Show Experience from 8:45 AM – 9:30 AM*
Ø  Show Time:  2:00 PM
·         Pre-Show Experience from 12:45 PM – 1:30 PM*
Ø  Show Time:  6:00 PM
·         Pre-Show Experience from 4:45 – 5:30 PM*
                        Sunday, January 13, 2019
Ø  Show Time:  10:30 AM
·         Pre-Show Experience from 9:15 AM – 10:00 AM*
Ø  Show Time:  2:30 PM
·         Pre-Show Experience from 1:15 PM – 2:00 PM*

 WHERE:           Citizens Business Bank Arena4000 Ontario Center Parkway, Ontario, CA 91764

TICKETS:          Tickets start at just $20 each!
                        Pre-Show Experience Pass available for $20 per person
      (*pre-show pass must be accompanied by same day show ticket)

Tickets now available for purchase online at, charge by phone at 800-745-3000 or visit the venue Box Office; all seats are reserved.
*prices subject to change; additional venue/ticketing fees may apply

Thursday, December 27, 2018

Review of Dare to Dream by Disney on Ice

Dare to Dream, the latest Disney on Ice show by Feld Entertainment is here in Southern California and its as great as ever.  We had the opportunity to attend the opening night at the Citizens Business Bank Arena in Ontario California.

Themes that are often found in Disney films focus around love, family and kindness. Walt Disney imagined a magical world in each iconic film that have been made since his animated films came to the silver screen. These Disney films and the stories encourage us to dream. Whether we realize it or not, to dream is not always encouraged or accepted by many today. In this year’s Disney on Ice production, Dare to Dream, we are reminded to be brave and dare to dream, even if others try to discourage us. 
Traveling throughout the United States, Disney on Ice provides families with spectacular shows that we all love. This traveling production gives us short snippets of the whole movie, reinforcing the message of the production, in this case to Dare to Dream. For the children who know every line, the production hits the highlights well, and for those who may not be as familiar with a story, it is presented so that everyone understands the idea and focus of the full production. In every Disney on Ice show, families will be entranced by stunning costumes, perfect choreography and our favorite music accompanied by gravity defying ice skating.
Dare to Dream features Cinderella, Rapunzel, Anna and Elsa as well as Moana which had everyone very excited. Stringing these stories together conveys the larger message to our children that dreams are important.
Overall Dare to Dream is as great as all the past shows. This a great afternoon or evening outing for the family. I whole heartedly recommend that you go see this when it’s in your area, I promise that you won’t regret it.
You can follow the Disney On Ice on social media to see more highlights from their shows: