Sunday, June 07, 2015

Honeymoon #2

True beach volleyball 

Melissa getting tossed by the waves


Kids at play

This guy had just proposed to his girlfriend. They asked me to take a picture of them. So I did, including one with my camera

Breakfast with a view 

Butter cake for my birthday 

"And I see your true colors shining through."

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Chapter 17

I've seen you grow and become a woman with your own:
I've seen you cry through pain and happiness and I've cried with you.
I've seen you trust and love without questioning.
I've seen your loyalty for those you love.
I've seen you love your sisters as if they were your own children. 
I've seen you love your mom as if she was your natural mom.
It saddens me that we are approaching a time when you will take flight
A time when you will become more and better than you are now.
It saddens me that the price to your happiness is my joy and tears at the same time.
But like the flower that closes at darkness only to spread its leaves at the first sight of light, 
I look forward to the day that you take flight and become yourself.
What our creator destined for you.
I've seen you grow and I can't wait to see more of it.
Through sadness and joy.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

A great day with the triplets

Drove out to Lake Mead and Dam and look what we found. Tunnels!
It was a great day and the babies walked like real pros, there were some trip and falls but overall they did great. 
Enjoy the sights

This was our first stop. It seemed a bit steep then we realized trails were mostly for mountain bikers, so we decided to go to the Dam instead.
Dangerously peeking over the bridge and looking down into the Dam.
The Dam as viewed from bridge.
Ready to start our hike. It is now 1:30PM

First of five tunnels. Weather was great

La familia, walking together.

Low flying helicopter tours, noisy.

Couple of hours later, they were getting tired. 

Almost back to car. 
It was a great day. Who says there's nothing to do in Vegas?

Saturday, March 07, 2015

Girls' Soccer - Third Season

The girls started "playing" soccer last year. Not sure whether they were going to like it or hate it, we went at it like every parent sticking their kid(s) into a sport or activity not of their choosing. 

I believe our expectations were much higher that theirs so it was very frustrating to Melissa and I when the girls would just stand around on the field while everyone else attempted to chase the ball. There were other kids who acted the same way while their parents also yelled and pulled their hair in exasperation.
Joining the team was not cheap, so yanking them out after the first two or three sessions was not an option. With encouragement from their coach and after much consideration, we signed
them up for the second season hoping they would take to it and have fun. Of course they were having fun, it was us parents who were not.
Season two was at beginning of Fall last year.
They were a little more willing to participate this time around though every now and then, they would still act up and revert to playing with grass while their teammates either ran around them or joined them at staring at flowers.
We still were not 100 percent convinced that they were into it and with Melissa being the only one dealing with practice nights while I was at work, we still debated whether they would com back for Spring.
Spring is but two weeks away and their third season began today. The difference in their level of participation and understanding of the game is, as Kitty would say, "fantastic". 

I've had the chance to be at some of their practices now that I'm not working nights anymore and I can see a huge difference from last year to this one and I'm looking forward to not just their practices but their games as well. Even if they just stand in the middle for the field while Melissa and I yank our hair out.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Happy 16th birthday Olivia!

What a day 16 years ago. You came into the world a happy baby with a mop of black hair on your head and blond streaks. You didn't come out crying and even after cleaning you up, the doctors were concerned with your breathing or low oxygen level and then you surprised them with a loud cry. 
That's been the story of your life; quiet demeanor but with a rage of emotions right underneath. 
And now you are 16. 
This is your day to enjoy and be
To enjoy the company of those who love you
To enjoy a great milestone in your life. 
To be.
To be 16.
Soon the world will be yours, every path and road will be open to your choosing.
Soon you will be your own person.
A woman who will be forged by a combination of love, tears, pain, sadness, happiness, tenderness.
A woman who will love unconditionally 
A woman who will dream and cast away sadness and pain to emerge behind clouds and mountains like a new sunrise.
A woman who will stand on the love of those left behind.
A woman not yet to be.

Happy Birthday My Darling Olivia.
Love, Dad.

Cake by Mommy

Not quite finished

Mom and Grammy

Kevin, Bill, Kevin and Jack

The twins and Olivia

Daddy always supporting his baby

Kitty eating watermelon

Kids playing at Pappa Rick's new toy

The Ladies

The Kids

Aya and Didi.

Anthony and his gramma Yolanda

Wednesday, May 07, 2014

San Miguel Cajonos

San Miguel Cajonos, Oaxaca. Mexico

It is much easier to tell people that I am from Mexico City than to tell them I am from Oaxaca or even say "San Miguel" - There are probably hundreds of towns in all of Mexico with the name of a very revered Archangel. Saying Mexico City then is much easier to explain and some will know of the city because of a layover there or trips in past times.
I was born in this town in 1965. (You do the math). A town high up in the Sierra Madre where the fog envelops the mountains from early in the morning and you are truly awoken by the far cry of roosters and dogs. 
Modern times have arrived along with the dollar remittances from places as far as California, Minnesota and New York.Yet, the town still holds a tight grip on some people that year after year, documents or no documents, return to pay their homages to the Virgin or to San Miguel, who dutifully watches over his flock.
I lived here for only a short period of my life. From birth to about my 6th year of life. I remember many people along its muddy streets during the rainy season. Streets that are now covered with concrete but still get flooded with rain.

My father at the time was the only one of the siblings who did not emigrate to Mexico City like his brothers, perhaps because he was the only one who was married then and with kids. Eventually we'd all move to the big city to join my uncles.
While growing up there, I also remember trips to the fields of corn along with my grandfather or with other relatives. Harvest time required all family and extended family members to join in. 
My first language is not Spanish but rather the indigenous Zapotec of which exist many variations even from one town to the next. I was introduced to Spanish when I began attending our local elementary school, General Ignacio Zaragoza. (Big building in center of picture). I still remember my first teacher and perhaps of many in mine and other generations. Don Bernabe Crisantos.
It's been many years since I left, not just there but also Mexico City where I truly grew up. Even though more than half my life has been spent here in the Estados Unidos, that pull still exists and whether it is through pictures or stories of others, I relieve my infancy with each word or Images from San Miguel Cajonos.

(Thanks to my cousin Fernando Zarate for the pictures of his recent trip.)

Monday, April 28, 2014

Tripadvisor Review

This is a follow up to my previous post regarding the guests who left without eating.
It is more of a statement with regards to the reviews posted by people at travel sites like, Yelp, Tripadvisor or many others that serve more as a platform or tool for disgruntled, unhappy customers.
The percentage of good reviews overshadows most of the negative ones, unless a place completely drops the ball in all categories, most reviews are on point. (tripadvisor is where our restaurants are reviewed the most)
My issue is with the disgruntled or unhappy guest that posts an exaggerated review in hopes of hurting a business, just because of a slight crushed ego.
Consider the guest I previously blogged about. I believed my staff and I did everything in our power to not only keep them from leaving but to "guarantee" them a great experience.
They ended up leaving, which is OK for anyone to do at any place, where they are not happy with product and or services. However this people did not even give us a chance and yet, they feel empowered to rate us on: food, service, value and atmosphere.
Granted, their main complaint was about the atmosphere and indeed, that could be rated as low as they pleased.
Unfortunately, the site does not distinguish between the different categories.
So be it. It's the nature of the beast!

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Fine dining vs Coffee Shop

Last night an elderly couple walked into the restaurant and immediately notified their server that, they were appalled that we called our restaurant "fine dining" they insisted that this was no more than a coffee shop because of the the way some of the patrons were dressed as well as the level of noise from people talking, laughing and engaging in their dinner.
I walked to the table to apologize and find a way to make them feel welcome. The gentleman was a bit more receptive than his wife who immediately told me the same that she had told the server. "this is disgusting, look at the way people are yelling and it's too bright in here, this is not your steak house this is just your coffee shop" 
I informed them of our new initiative to address dress codes and also told them that I could move them into a quieter area of the restaurant, which they refused. I the told them that we would do everything to make them feel welcome and forget that it was noisy or too bright. 
I walked away to let the server know my expectations with regards to them and to wow them with his service skills and if that didn't work, to Code Red them. (I'm kidding here, we have no code red - disclaimer)
I actually felt sorry for them. Late seventies, maybe older searching for a bygone era. Working in the casinos in Vegas, you come to meet a lot of the old timers and after engaging in conversation, they always speak of the "good old days" and point at the current ways in which people dress or talk or even going as far a pointing at minorities that somehow don't fit in their world. I know they see the color of my skin when they make these kind of comments, or perhaps they don't or don't care.
Not ten minutes later I saw them walking out the door. I could only thank them for stopping by and wish them a good night. To be so full of anger and unhappiness that you'd be willing to go hungry just because you did not like the ambiance in our restaurant. 
Fine dining is: white linens on tables, candles, fresh flowers, subdued lighting, some kind of music fitting of the room, servers in jackets or vests, extensive wine list, etc, etc.
Coffee shop: placemats in place of linen, maybe rolled up silverware, servers in pools or long sleeved shirts, perhaps a tie, two, three page menus, "fun drinks" as options, you get the idea.
Don't go hungry because you may not like the looks of the place, give service a chance, most of the time, that is what makes the fine dining experience possible even in a coffee shop.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Les Mis

It's been years since I last saw Les Mis. I could have seen it last year when it came to The Smith Center here in Vegas. I could have seen the production put on by the Las Vegas Academy but I guess I've always been a purist or call it a bit of a snob when it comes to Broadway shows.
Last night was quite an eye opener.

The show they put on last night was as good as any you see in NY, SF or LA. Of course you'd expect the show to be put on at any of the theaters along the strip and probably because of resources, they chose the Summerlin Library. We are talking about a stage as small as you would find in your local neighborhood theater. An IMAX theater or cineplex is much bigger than this stage and yet, they made it work.
All the actors were right on spot. Javert was more credible and sang much better than his counter part in the most recent Les Mis movie. Jean Valjean could have been plucked from one of the big productions across the country. The Tenardiers were also just as credible and I could go on about every character in the play. They were awesome, they had my wife in tears and she was not the only one. In such a small venue you could hear the sniffling and see the wiping of tears. That proves that this production is as serious as any other one playing anywhere else.
Don't miss it!
Buy your tickets at:
Les Mis tickets