Monday, November 24, 2014

A Weekend Away

On Friday we hopped a plane and flew half way across the US of A for a long weekend.  It was a secret trip...a party was scheduled for my Uncle's retirement/birthday and since we are never one to miss a good party, we didn't think twice before going.

We packed our bags, somehow bringing more with us than we did for two weeks in Italy.  Seriously.  I brought TWO winter coats for a three day trip because, well, I like them both and winter coats aren't  a normal something I get to wear.  Ever.


We flew in to Wisconsin, rented a car and headed straight away to Illinois.  My cousin lives in the most awesome house...it's old and I am sure it's walls are full of stories and I just love everything about it.  She cooked all day and as soon as we pulled up there was wine and food and SO MUCH laughter...whoever said you can never go home again?

These are my people and they feel like home to me.  

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There are stories to be told but for now...just know that I laughed until no sound came out.  And then laughed some more.

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The next morning that guy that I like so much and I went to my other cousins house for breakfast.  Not just any breakfast but my favorite breakfast...a special coffee cake that you can only get in Chicago.  Close to 30 years ago my aunt and uncle hand carried a few of them all the way to California because I wanted to eat it on my wedding day.

That's love, people.

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These people...these are my people, too.  

I'm blessed in the people department.

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That guy that I like so much and I snuck in a much needed Italian beef at Kojak's.  Yum.  My toes might stay warm year round but Chicago has the best food on the planet.

For reals.

Right near my cousins house there is an old cemetery.  We walked around and it was so very, very quiet...I mean, it should be  but still.  All I could think was 'if only.'  

If only. 

If only we knew their stories.  Most of these people died before 1900 but what were their lives like?  Did their kids give them a struggle, too?  Did they wish they could order pizza for dinner rather than cook?  Did their checking account balance teeter on the low side more often than not?

If only we knew their stories.

If only they blogged.

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And then it was party time.

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The night was perfect.  My Uncle Pauly was so surprised and there were so many people there who love him so much...a true testament to the kind of man he is.  

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The weather was chilly and then the rain came. The sky was gray and it was absolutely perfect.  We had nowhere to be except tucked inside for the rest of the day and all we did was hang out.  And by the time the sun was setting I began to miss my boys and knew, once again, that it was time to head to MY home.

I needed this trip...I always do.  It's always nice to go back to a place where there are people who knew you 'back when'...who watched you grow and mature and learn to fly.  It's especially nice if those places don't change much...if all the same people are there.  I know that times are changing...that we are all aging and that life is frail, so these visits mean more to me each time I go back.

I'm thankful...even if we could only squeeze in 48 hours.

On the way home I was able to get all caught up on my bible study, watch a whole movie, nap for a few minutes and play countless games of solitaire on my phone.  After flying to Europe earlier this year, this 4 hour trip was a breeze.

My buns were thankful for the shortness of it.

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While we were in the air?  The snow dumped down.  We got out in the nick of time but I'm still bummed that we missed it.

I wanted to build a snowman and make a snow angel.

Next time.

I'm home now and there's much to be done this week...shopping for Thanksgiving dinner, laundry, a car that needs an alignment and an oil change.  We landed, drove home and went straight to Brian's basketball game and then that guy that I like so much headed in to work for a late night rehearsal.  

As for me...well, I have yet to move off the couch.  I should unpack.  I should clean.  I should, I should, I should.

And I will.  Tomorrow.

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Tuesday, November 18, 2014

A Quick Hello



The other night called for the breaking open of a brand new box of See's candy.  Nothing better in my opinion and it's so hard to choose only one...but I really do try to.  Dark chocolate truffles for that guy that I like so much; a mix for me but usually something involving a cherry.

Usually, but not always, if the candy comes out then we are sitting for a long time at the table catching up on stuff.  In this case it was a few phone updates that I believe whole heartedly were put on this earth to ruin my whole life (or at least my day) and I was not happy...but candy did help.

So did talking about it for hours.

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Boy #2, who has a BIG birthday approaching, has yet to make it through a year without some big illness or injury.  However, his 21st year is THE year for a new trend to begin...but he's ending his 20th year with a jacked up knee.  

Ah well.

Nothing that can't be fixed.

So Cal weather has us still in flip flops.

No complaints from me.

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I began the week on top of things but now feel behind.  Again.  It's only Tuesday, but work has been a tad bit trying lately.  But...for a few hours this morning, I will forget all that.  Bible study today and then lunch at a girlfriends house where I will happily turn off my phone for a few short hours.

Bliss.

Supper tonight?  I'm not sure yet.  I'll head to the market and pick up something that sounds good.  

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Monday, November 17, 2014

A True Weekend


This past weekend was what I think weekends were invented for.  There were pj's until noon, coffee with (sugar free) peppermint mocha creamer and a roasted broccoli frittata with pancakes on the side, Hallmark movies, laundry, house cleaning, a little shopping and a whole lot of cooking.

It was EXACTLY what God meant when he created the sabbath and bonus; we got two whole days of it.  

I feel rested...and rested is a really good way to feel.

Friday night found that guy that I like so much and I without any sort of parental responsibilities...well, we handed a boy $20 and told him to have fun,  which is how we ended up with no parental responsibilities on a Friday night.

And no, he didn't deserve it.  He didn't work for it.  He is just a 16 year old kid who wanted to hang out on a Friday night and I am a 40 somethin' year old mother who wanted to hang out on a Friday night and while we both love spending time together, we both had something else in mind.  Well worth the loss of a crisp, fresh from the ATM $20 bill.  

So that guy that I like so much and I ventured to Maggiano's and ate a divine meal (veal porterhouse for him, beef medallions for me and BONUS...we brought our own bottle of wine) and then hit up the massive Levi's sale at Sears.

Hooray for date nights.

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 Saturday involved some garden clean up...both in the small garden and the big garden, which has yet to be planted for Fall.  I'm still toying with what to grow but am leaning towards broccoli, cauliflower, and then some sort of lettuces and yeah, I know I'm behind the 8 ball on this one.

That's what Monday's are for.

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Saturday night we rolled out some fresh pasta and hung it from wire hangers all around the kitchen to dry a bit before turning it into a rather fabulous b├ęchamel lasagne.

There was music playing, wine was poured, a cat pee'd on Alex's bed and the dog ate a granola bar (in the wrapper) to round out the evening in the most lovely way.  

That pasta though?

Perfect.  

In the end we all gathered around our table and devoured this pan of deliciousness.  I've never met a lasagne I haven't liked and it's got to be one of my very favorite foods...one I could eat day in and day out.  

Yum.

I'm ready for the week to begin.  There is all the regular stuff to be done but somehow, after a true sabbath, the stuff doesn't feel overwhelming or are like it's a burden.  My goal this week is to find joy.  To spread joy.  To radiate joy.  It's been so easy to radiate frustration...at things and at people and I just don't like the way it makes me feel.  

So joy it is.  

And yes, there will be Christmas music happening, too.  I normally do a self imposed 'wait until after Thanksgiving' ban on Christmas music but I'm jumping off the wagon and diving in.  I just love it so much and it feels right to turn it on early this year.  And nope..haven't started my shopping yet either.  Big kids are easier to shop for (cash brings more joy than anything else...) so this year is actually a bit easier than ever.  So far.

I'll worry about that later.

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Friday, November 14, 2014

Why Yes, I Still Live Here


It's so easy to fall into a place of questioning...of second guessing who and why and what and where. And that's what I've been doing recently.  The 'what if's'.  And 'what for's'.  And a few 'oh my's' for good measure.

All those things?  Time wasters.  Joy robbers.

So tomorrow morning, bright and early, I am going to go to work.  And then?  I'm going to head to Disneyland, order myself a sugar free peppermint mocha on Main Street USA and forget real life for a little bit.

I cannot wait.

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This picture below?  A time release shot of a day in Boulder.  Sunny to snow in the blink of an eye...makes me homesick.  I've got a ticket that needs to be used, too.

Hmmmm.

This week I spoke at a big university on a big stage in front of a lot of people with a bunch of other 'writers'.  What a hoot.  The idea that I write a diary of my life and others peek into it...well, that just make me laugh a bit.  I read a bit from things I've written here and read a story I wrote about the night my oldest son was born, which is not written here but should be, and told a another about my middle boy and another about the night that guy that I like so much and I met.  They then opened the floor up for questions and they were challenging this go around.  I'll be honest, they've made me think a lot of thoughts.

Thinking is good...until it becomes overthinking which then turns to overreacting.  And if you've read above then you know my thoughts have gone down that road a bit too far.  

But in all fairness,  life's been a bit of a challenge lately.  Boy #2 had his MRI today and we have the big appt. on Monday.  I'm struggling to turn all this over to the one who has written this story and I need to.  No matter how much I try to control all of this...I can't.  So I know it needs to be released...but I'm struggling with that.  With letting go of the worry.

Soon, I hope.

I'm working a lot...but finding balance, too.  I have to travel east again, probably before the end of the year as that program there is quadrupling in size.  Yowza. The best thing is the new iPhone6 that is now in my possession...it's shiny, brand new and is for work only.  WORK ONLY.  That means at the end of my work day I can turn it off and shove it in a drawer.

Amen.

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Suppers this week, because that time in my pretty little kitchen is the time I'm feeling most like me, have been a little of this and that.  I made roasted pork one night with onions and fennel and served the whole thing over smashed potatoes.  There was a pot of black bean soup one night and pasta with gravy another.  There was a take out pizza in there, too, because...well, because sometimes you just gotta order a pizza or throw a plate against the wall.  And I chose to order a pizza.

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Sunday, November 9, 2014

Course Redirections


Life around our little house on our little street has been nothing short of chaotic.  I'm struggling to find my groove...I know it's in there somewhere but I just can't seem to find it.

Welcome to grown-up land.

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That being said...while life is busy and full, it is life.  A good life.  

I've been working a crazy amount of hours.  The good news about my job is that it happens early, early in the morning and while I was leaving in the pitch black, it's now bright and sunny thanks to the time change.  I like what I do, which helps a lot, but I'm looking forward to things slowing just a bit.

They will.  I think.

I did manage to squeeze in a few hikes this week, though while the sun shines brightly on my mornings, it sets really early in the evenings.  The up side to all that is that as I'm coming up my final hill, usually sweaty and whiney and over the hardness of it, I am greeted by a glorious sky.

I never get tired of that.

Meals around here have been hit and miss.  One night I fed the family leftovers as they were all running out the door...that guy that I like so much had choir, Alex had basketball practice and Brian had football.

As for me?  I walked over to my neighbors and invited myself in, helped myself to some of her home cooked deliciousness and a glass or four of wine and turned an ordinary night into a holiday.  It was a win win...the fridge got cleaned out and I got a hot meal.

But shhh...don't tell.

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I've said it over and over but it is seriously true...if you don't have Turkish neighbors then you are missing out.  And even bigger than that...everyone should have someone in their lives where they can walk over, knock on the door and know you will be invited in.  

My little street?  A hidden gem.

The weather in SoCal?  Hot.  I called my Aunt in Chicago and it was snowing.  There's gotta be a happy medium out there somewhere...I'm thinking it's Italy.  I carry my passport with me at all times just in case I get a call from that guy that I like so much asking me to lunch in some faraway land...or to hop over the border into Baja for a really great street taco.  

Well, Baja is out for now thanks to the drug cartels.  Jerks.

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And here is where my week turned.  Brian was cleared to return to football and sitting in the stands was not easy on the mama.  I spent a lot of time looking down at my hands and waiting for that guy that I like so much to tell me everything was ok and I could look up.  

Not easy for me.  At all.

The boy, and his hip, are just fine.


AND THEN...because life can never be calm when you've given birth to three overly active, life living boys, Alex hurt his knee playing basketball.  Like, really hurt it.  

His good knee.  

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Friday was spent at the Dr and we have no answers yet as to what is going on...well, it's his MCL (again) but we won't know anything until his MRI is read on Monday.  This boy of mine?  My heart is breaking in two for him.  He needs his limbs for work and for this next stage in his life and this could very well be a game changer.

I believe full well that God sends course corrections to us throughout life but it just seems as if my boy is constantly given full on road blocks.  One after another.  And as a grown up, I have seen that the way he used to live life to the fullest...well, those road blocks were crucial.  

The thing is...this boy of mine?  He's growing up so nicely.  Like really nicely.  Let me tell you, without those big hurdles his life choices could have been different.  Very different.  But now?  Now he could use a little break.

And not a knee break.

Friday night I cooked supper and we ended up with a houseful.  Man, I love that.  Not planned and I love how the food always seems to stretch to feed everyone who walks into the door.  And after a really stressful week this was exactly what the Dr ordered.

Kir royale for me.  Wine, beer and vodka cranberry for everyone else.

Bigger than that...I needed a houseful on that night.  I needed to get my mind off off the negative and focus on others...on feeding others and loving others and laughing with others.

Basically... I needed others.  Not quiet, because quiet would have had me overthink everything. 

I love when that happens.

So here I am, trying to live faith in a way that is outwardly visible to my boys.  Showing them through my prayers and my walk and my talk and my actions, that while life isn't always easy or doesn't always go the way you plan...that there is a plan.  A great plan.  That course redirections are not bad...that there is a purpose behind them that might take a while to come apparent.

That seeing things through rose colored glasses means we are choosing to see things in God's light.  That while it would be so easy to always see the negative but we have a great opportunity to focus on the light in all of it...that a blown out knee means something different and better is around the corner.

But as a mom?  Hard to watch.

So now I sit, waiting on the sidelines to see what happens.  I want answers, too...and have mentioned that to God more than a few times.  That while He is directing all of this, that maybe I could be let in on the plan?  That, after all, I'm the mom.

But I trust.  I really do.  




Monday, November 3, 2014

Let's Catch Up

1. My boy, the one who dislocated a hip and required ambulance transport to the hospital just a few short weeks ago, seems to think he's returning to the playing field this week.  The Dr has cleared him, the physical therapist has cleared him, his coaches and trainers have cleared him.

I have not.  Not sure I ever will.

2. Last week was a doozy.  Huge work decision to make and I rallied the troops to talk things through.  I'm weary...not just physically tired but emotionally.  

Chips and beer helped.  A little.  

3. This boy, the one who brought home a dog, took me to breakfast on Friday and we spent 2 hours talking.  He's making some pretty big life decisions and needed to talk them through and then...then he apologized for the gray hairs he's given me.

I just smiled.  He's growing up, my friends.  He's growing up.

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4. I've been needed out in the field in towns far and away lately...our neighborhood is still fast asleep when I leave.  I like the quiet of the mornings but I am a bit jealous of all those people tucked into their warm beds...thankful for coffee, a radio station I love in the mornings and the fact that there isn't much traffic.

5. That guy that I like so much and I met for lunch at Disneyland on Thursday; we were there long enough to split a salad and french fries, ride Pirates and Pinnochio and then head for home.  

And take a selfie with Donald Duck.

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5. Halloween day and my girlfriend brought her little kings trick or treating,

Ok all you dog people out there.  I get it now.  I never did before but now I'm one of you and I get it.

Dogs rock.



 6.  Halloween night and that guy that I like so much likes nothing more than to grill a huge piece of meat and torture all those dads out there who are trick or treating.  We opened a good bottle of wine, sat down to a movie and then had a huge group of his students show up at the door trick or treating.

Good thing we had lots of candy.

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7. Saturday it rained.  Well, sprinkled is a better word for the few drops of water that fell from the sky and gave the meteorologists something to talk about.  SoCal was officially on 'storm watch' and the ground outside almost got wet enough to make a puddle.  Almost.

8. The cloud show was magnificent though.  No complaints here.  We actually lit our fireplace and turned on our furnace...the nighttime temps have officially dipped into the 60's.  Yes, we're wimps.


9. Pho.  My newest addiction...hot vietnamese soup with rice noodles and lots of other fun stuff in it.  Hard to eat with chop sticks but sooo good.  And cheap.  Cheap is good because we just made a big household purchase.  It never ends, does it?

I'm ahead of the game on laundry but behind on almost everything else.  Oh well, that's what the week is for, right?

For now, we're working our way through the Harry Potter movies and a really delicious carrot cake with cream cheese frosting.  Perfection.

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Monday, October 27, 2014

Girls Weekend

Thursday afternoon, while sitting around my kitchen table complaining about how hard we were working, how hard life seemed right now, how we just didn't feel like cooking dinner, my girlfriend suggested a girls weekend.

Ummm...girls only?  For a whole weekend?

Ok.

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We left Friday after work, drove 4 1/2 hours to Arizona and pulled in to her family's campground well after midnight.  The stars were so bright, the air warm, the silence...silent.

We were...camping.  Camping in a trailer, with a bathroom...but still camping.

My plans for the weekend revolved around very few things:

pj's.
coffee and or tea and or wine.
chips and dips.
girl movies.
a good book.

But plans are meant to change.  By noon on day #1 we were on a pontoon boat cruising the Colorado River toward Lake Havasu.  We stopped all along the way, meeting people, visiting multiple floating bars, experiencing way too many interesting things...some of us swam in the chilly water and some of us just dipped our toes in.

It was an amazingly awesome afternoon spent meeting new people and laughing our heads off with the ones we already know.  

I showered in a shower the size of, well...a kitchen sink.  I've discovered I like the whole trailer camping thing...everything you could possible want is all at your reach.

Watch out, Michael...I'm searching Craigslist.

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That night we were invited to the clubhouse...the trailer parks club house, where there was a residents only party happening.  I'm so glad we went...we were able to lower the average age to 75 or so.

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Live band, pizza, wine, a rowdy ride on a golf cart, a tarantula sighting (SERIOUSLY!!!!), the Parent Trap with someone who had never seen the original version, chips ahoy cookies...and finally a really great night sleep.

Arizona...aside from the tarantula, I really like you.

Sunday we loaded up and began the trek home, stopping for real food in Palm Springs.  I'm telling you, I cannot go without real food for more than a day.  The whole chips and beer and ice cream thing?

That's just fine, but this mama needs protein.  And carbs.  And a veggie or two.

Once home, that guy that I like so much had supper ready (have I mentioned how much I like him?) and all I can now think about is a long hot shower.

Tomorrow is back to real life but I'm not quite there yet.


Weekends away with girlfriends?  Necessary.  Us females need that time...time to have fun, bust out a couple of moves on the (floating) dance floor, laugh until we can't laugh anymore.

The best part about girls weekends away?

Missing our boys...and coming home to them.

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Such a great weekend...minus the tarantula.

Did you know they travel in packs?  That where there is one...well, there are more?

Farewell, campground.  Farewell.

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