Saturday, August 29, 2009

I'm wiped out.

And I'm not the only Over 40 feeling this way today.

The first week of school is behind us. I just want to stay in bed all weekend but we all know the chances of that happening. It's 105F out I'm grateful that The Pinks aren't in a soccer tournament.

Although my husband does more than his fair share of the parenting, I still found this week draining. Three kids at two different schools with six schedules in total: Minimum Day (first day), Wednesday schedule and Regular Schedule (Thursday and Friday). Six different times that the bus picked up and dropped off. Three days of homework to supervise to completion, three sets of paperwork to process each night, three lunches to make each morning. Three children to coerce into bed at a decent hour each night and then out of bed the next morning.

And, to top off the week, my husband decided to orchestrate a neighborhood block party since many of our neighbors are now home from their summer travels. He planned this well in advance and executed it flawlessly. I did little except show up last night and clean up this morning. He is THE MAN!

Although the kids had ten weeks off school, I only had three. Why, Leslie, you may ask, did you go to school this summer? It's not that I went to school, it's that I spent a whole lot of time thinking about school.

The work I do right now is with technology solutions in education. It's really fun stuff, things I can absolutely relate to and it's interesting and challenging as well. But I cannot dispute the fact that I didn't really get away from school this summer.

The Pinks all seem quite happy in their new classes. Eldest Daughter started middle school and, aside from the huge, ugly and mandatory PE outfit, she's good with it all. I'm not sure who loves the bus more -- the kids or us. They just walk out the door in the morning then back in after school. In one more week after-school activities start (gymnastics, theatre, Hebrew, etc.) so Dave will be back to picking them up and driving them around but for now it's a beautiful thing.

Is it naptime yet?!

Monday, August 24, 2009

'Twas the night before Christmas

Oh wait, wrong month.

Tonight, all over America, mothers and fathers are doing the same things.

Writing names on new backpacks. Inventorying school supplies. Making lunches. Laying out "first day of school" outfits. Locating bus passes. Spending an obscene amount of time on the phone and on email figuring out who is in whose class. Checking to be sure battery in digital camera is charged. Preparing for the moans when we insist they pose by the front door on the way out in the morning.

Eldest Daughter starts middle school tomorrow. As time marches on I have less and less involvement in her academics, her friendships and her selection of clothes. (Thank you from the bottom of my heart, Ms. Principal, for the dress code.) Her shoe size is barely one below mine now.

A few of my friends are sending their firstborns off to college. I'm glad I had children in my 30s instead of my 20s! This I cannot fathom.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

The Weekend Report: two new restaurants and some crafting

We're just back from a quiet weekend up at Tahoe. The Pinks were disappointed that none of their winter friends were around. We had dinner with two other families from the Bay one night but the kids still missed the ski clan. We tried two new restaurants -- Evergreen in Tahoe City, which was barely worth note, and Mountain Nectar in Squaw, which makes custom smoothies, among other things.

Eldest Daughter's newest book, Paris Goes to Lake Tahoe is selling well at the toy store in The Village, which was a nice surprise since we didn't even know that they carried it.

The kids have long wanted to do beading at the Farrah Rale Bead Studio in Northstar. I had an ulterior motive for heading to Northstar: restocking the Asian olive oil blend I'd fallen in love with at L'Olivier. Sadly, they no longer carry that blend. The beading adventure was fun. So much fun that I wish we'd done it earlier. Thing 1, Eldest Daughter and I made bracelets. Thing 2 made an anklet. My bracelet is green and white. Green for Tahoe in the summer and white for Tahoe in the winter.

The kids were a bit antsy up at Tahoe so we came home late Saturday night and spent today getting ready for school, which begins Tuesday. I've done as little as possible in preparation for school, wanting to prolong summer. But today we stocked up on lunch necessities, ripped the price tags off backpacks and timed the walk to the new bus stops.

Back to reality soon enough.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

I am not interested in your pecker.

On Saturday night we went up to the wine country and had dinner with some friends. There, at the very nice restaurant, it happened again.

I walked to the ladies room and, as I approached it, the door to the men's room swung open. Although I quickly averted my eyes, I was not fast enough to avoid seeing a man taking care of business. Fortunately his back was to me. What do the feng shui experts have to say about the urinal being positioned in full sight of the open doorway?

The other thing that happens, fairly often considering how little time I spend at places with public restrooms, is that I see men walking out and adjusting their zippers. Why wouldn't they do this while still inside? And wouldn't you think they'd do this before they washed their hands?

Surely I am not the only one this happens to!! My new strategy: read email on iPhone while entering and exiting the loo.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Mmmmmm Maggieray's

We are pretty big BBQ fans in this house.

Uncle Syd, originally from Kansas City, does mean ones. I cried real tears when he and Aunt Linda moved to Newport Beach a few years ago.

My mom grew up in Memphis and we love Rendezvous and its dry rub. Rendezvous is so big now that there's an outpost in the Memphis airport.

Dave used to travel to Dublin, Ohio for philanthropic work and his favorite spot there was the Montgomery Inn.

We've long patronized Emil Villa's but frankly, it's gotten less and less palatable over the years. We rarely eat it anymore.

And then Maggieray's opened one town north of here. Wow. I stopped there en route to my folks' house last week and bought one of everything so we could do a taste test. The ribs were outstanding. (The chicken and brisket were good but not as mindblowing as the ribs.)

Would you like some? If so, invite us over to swim I'll bring dinner.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Forty Four

Today is my parents' 44th wedding anniversary.

I once asked them, individually, and probably about the time that Dave and I got married, how you're sure you're going to still love that person in 50 years. They gave me the same answer: you plan on it. This is good advice.

This picture was taken in Spain this summer.

Happy Anniversary Mom & Dad!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Antsy

While others I know are fighting The Flu Bug, I am being viciously attacked by The Travel Bug.

My ice cream SIL is trying to put together a girls' weekend in NYC, which I'm all over. I will head to DC after that to meet up with my client face-to-face. (It's only $55 to take Amtrak between NYC and DC!)

It irrationally irritates me that Neeracha went to Bangkok this summer and I didn't go, too. She goes every year but after last summer's amazing trip, I'm very sad that I wasn't there too. It also irks me that I can't pinpoint why that trip was so great. Was it the Thai culture? The sense of satisfaction I gained being in a very foreign place and not finding it so foreign the second time around? Or was it the fact that Dave and The Pinks stayed home and it was all about me?

I read David Lebovitz' new book this summer, and also saw Julie and Julia, both heavy on Paris. This was torturous. Me, who went to Spain this summer! I hate how monstrous this sounds and I know how lucky I am, really and truly I do.

We're heading to Tahoe in a few weeks for a last summer long weekend hurrah. I don't think that's going to relieve my itch.

Monday, August 10, 2009

The movie was better than the book.

How often does that happen?!

I read Julie and Julia when it came out. The concept was cute; the book on the boring side. It's the story of a underachieving twenty-something that cooks her way through Julia Childs' tome and blogs about it.

But I do like food and I do like movies so this past weekend a friend and I escaped the heatwave and headed to our local multiplex. We both should have been working and it was a great diversion. Meryl Streep as Julia Child redeemed herself from Mamma Mia. (Pierce Brosnan may never.) She was fabulous: so joyful, so passionate about everything. You can see why Paul fell in love with her. Meryl's face must have ached after each day's filming. Stanley Tucci as Paul Childs was well cast, too. And who doesn't like a movie set in Paris, especially in the 1950s?!

Amy Adams as Julie Powell was whiny and, well, more whiny. But the acting was good and there were plenty of laughs. Julie becomes obsessed with Julia and her mission, something those of us who have read Twilight can relate to. The movie even touched on something I feel rather strongly about these days: butter. It sounds dumb but I really have developed a thing for butter. I'm particular now. I like European style. Organic and expensive. Even for baking. It's an odd fetish for sure.

Julie and Julia has a happy ending and we left with smiles on our faces.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Sara's Chocolate Chip Cookies

It's been a while since I posted a recipe. My friend Sara sent me this one, promising it was the best chocolate chip cookie recipe ever. I have to admit, even though Crisco creeps me out, it's my current favorite. Enjoy.

1/3 cup Crisco - room temp.

1/3 cup unsalted butter – room temp.

½ cup brown sugar

½ cup granulated sugar

1 egg

1 t. vanilla extract

1 & ¾ cups flour

½ t. salt

½ t. baking soda

12 oz. bag of choc. chips (I used milk chocolate)

½ to 1 cup chopped walnuts (optional)

Preheat oven to 375F.

Mix the shortening, butter, sugars, egg and vanilla thoroughly. In a separate bowl, blend the flour, salt and baking soda. Mix into the wet ingredients then stir in the chocolate chips and nuts.

Round a T of dough into a ball, then press to slightly flatten it on an ungreased cookie sheet. I used a Silpats.

Bake 10 to 12 minutes. Cool for 5 mins on the cookie sheet before devouring. Makes about 18. Package and deliver to friend who just had Baby #3 or keep at home and hide from children and husband.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Summer at Squaw

The littlest pinks and I took friends to Tahoe with us this weekend. Paige's twins are the same age as mine, and classmates, too.

We had a leisurely drive Friday afternoon with one stop for frozen yogurt, another at Old Navy to use our Friends and Family coupon and a third at Ikeda's for fruit and other assorted edibles.

There really are two Tahoe's -- the summer one and the winter one. I prefer the Winter Wonderland while many people, my husband included, prefer the summer one. On Saturday I came a little closer to understanding the summer one. My MIL's gentleman friend has a place on the lake and graciously took us all out on his boat. Ron has grandchildren of his own and a lot of patience. He even let the kids steer the boat and the dinghy. Riding on his inflatable Sea Doo pulled behind the boat was so much fun that my face ached from grinning so much. The little kids loved it. Surprisingly, they also loved swimming in the very cold water. You can see how much Paige enjoyed her brief bit in it, below.

After spending a few hours on the boat we went for a late lunch at Jake's and had my favorite appetizer: Hula Pie. Our waiter obligingly brought it on the double and didn't flinch when I ordered it upfront. This might be my favorite treat: macadamia nut ice cream, Oreo cookie crust, chocolate sauce and lots of whipped cream. It's even better than Mud Pie.

The kids hopped in the pool when we got home and then ate dinner in front of TV while Paige went into The Village to get sushi for us. At 10p we were all asleep except for Thing 1, who I encouraged to make coyote sounds out the bedroom window to scare the people walking by. While this was my not best parenting moment, it was sure funny!

On Sunday morning the girls rode their scooters along the Truckee River while Paige and I power-walked. It was gorgeous out -- not too hot yet with lots of rafters to watch on the river and bikers on the path to avoid. They did the trampolines when we returned to The Village, swam and then we had a late lunch at Burger Me before leaving the mountains.

Paige is a very good house guest; she drove some, let me pick all the places we ate, applied sunscreen to all children within reach, even when they complained, read the car user manual out loud en route so we could figure out what all the buttons on the dashboard did, and even dutifully signed the guest book. She's even good at loading and unloading an SUV. (Note to Jeff: Do you know how good you have it?!)

Four seven-year-old girls are quite entertaining, pee-in-your-pants funny at times. They talk about their siblings, how they get along with their twin, food, religion (we're Jewish, they're Mormon) and clothes. Paige and I covered the usual subjects: books, TV, parenting strategies, places we'd like to vacation, celebrities and elective plastic surgery. Her pictures of the weekend are much better than mine so check them out here.

Dave, the kids and I have just one weekend planned up there before summer ends and I'm fine with that. Soon enough the snow will fall and our skis will come back out.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Scotchmallows for Breakfast

I ate See's Candy for breakfast. Not good.

Eldest Daughter is sitting on a plane right now. All by herself. This is the first time she's flown alone. I'm a little nervous. Not because the plane will crash -- we all know that statistically it's safer to fly than to drive on our freeways. But because she's alone.

Dave is at the gate, where he will stay until the plane is in the air. And my SIL will be at the other end waiting for her.

Still, I ate four Scotchmallows for breakfast.