Saturday, December 31, 2011

A Year In Review

Brian plays basketball while Alex looks on...recovery from knee surgery was long.  (7 months!)  And no fun.  But patience pays off.
The lime tree loves winter.
Gas prices...manageable.
Sweet potato fries with hummus...from a food truck!

I immerse myself in the life of Esther and will forever be changed.
Tomatoes are planted.
Matteo turns 21!
Our fig tree blooms.

Brian has his jaw locked shut for 16 hours a day for 6 months...poor baby.
Rain.  Lots and lots of rain.
Business blossoms.
Grandma visits.
Drivers Ed for the boy in the middle.
Suppers under the heat lamp.
Our family is shaken to the core.  Hope seems far away.  Friends hold us together...and we will forever be grateful.

Life continues.  Christ has risen and we are all forgiven.  
Easter lunch.
Stitches (and a concussion) for Alex.
H1N1 (swine flu) for Brian.
Lots of walks around our lake.

Matthew solo's.  Beautifully, I might add.
That guy that I like so much has a birthday.
I have a birthday.  Cakes galore!
I get an award from work...and then get laid off.  And then rehired.

We (that guy that I like so much and I) celebrate 25 years of marriage.
The fig tree explodes with figs.
Matthew marches his last season of drum corps.
Alex keeps us on the go with his basketball schedule...and shaves off his hair.
Homemade pasta.
Our house is full of boys for the month...and constantly out of milk.  And bread.  And cereal.  And clean towels.
Lots (yet never enough) of bruschetta!

Brian performs on trumpet with the city youth band.
Matthew leaves on his final tour.
The cousins visit.
We travel to Lake Tahoe and play in the July!
Gas prices...ouch.

Alex has his Senior pictures.
All the (elder...I am sure they'll appreciate that word!) Busch siblings together...oh, the stories!
The fig tree...night after night we pick from you and you never run out!  (because you can NEVER have too many figs!)
BLT's with our very own tomatoes.
Just like figs, you can never have too many suppers in the garden.
Matthew returns home for a whole 2 days and then moves back to school.
I travel to Chicago, see Paul McCartney at Wrigley, handle some business,  spend time reconnecting with people I love and feel blessed!

Our little house on our little street gets a new (not visible to the naked eye...sigh) shade of yellow.
My boys, all together for a Sunday at church.
Grilled pizzas with proscuitto and figs.
We steal away to the mountains to pick apples.
The kitchen seems to be in a constant state of garden party recovery...but that's ok.
That guy that I like so much and I go swing dancing at Disneyland...and decide that maybe the lessons at the Senior center didn't get us quite up to speed.
Brian turns 13!!!

Supper at the beach, conveniently timed at sunset.
Jonah helps me realize that our life interruption is really a divine intervention.
Halloween and no to the rescue.
Jury duty?  Seriously?  Turns out to be fascinating and interesting and kinda sorta fun.

Alex becomes borg. (and has an ear infection.)
Autumn on our little street.
Beignets at the beach with my boyfriend.
Carciofi alla romana.
Matthew comes home for turkey.
So Cal puts on a mighty fine cloud display.
Alex, gulp, turns 18!

Alex plays some great thankful!
The grandparents visit.
We conquer Las Vegas...or rather, Las Vegas conquers us. 
M and M and M...Michael, Michele, Maggiano's.
Jesus is born.  All is calm.  All is bright.
New Years Eve at our friends with the most amazing Tres Leches Cake followed by It's A Wonderful Life...just the way a New Years Eve should be.  (minus the worrying for the older boys who are out.  sigh.)

2012?  We're ready for you!


Happy New Year, everyone!

Thursday, December 29, 2011

A Little Trip to Vegas

The good:  Traveling with Alex's basketball team.  Fun families!
The bad:  The day after hosting Christmas?  Crazy!

The good:  All my boys together on the trip there.
The bad:  Gilligan style...the 4 hour drive became 7 hours, thanks to every single person in southern California deciding to travel to Vegas that day, too.

The good:  Our boys (with MY boy being the high scorer!) win a big game, defeating the state champions.  
The bad:  I miss the big game because Brian gets food poisoning and quite literally barfs for 9 hours straight.  Poor thing.  Let's just say that I will NEVER again use a hotel ice bucket without first lining it with a plastic bag.  And you shouldn't either.

The good:  Christmas in Vegas is pretty cool...all those fancy schmancy hotels all gussied up.  
The bad: People, people everywhere...including one very bad person who stole my friends wallet and charged thousands in the one hour it took for her to realize and cancel her cards. 

The good:  Buffets.  An all suites hotel.  The Wizard of Oz slot machine that went crazy when I won 2,000 pennies! Maggiano's take out.  Books on an iPad.
The bad:  Realizing that this season in life is winding down and coming to an end.  The smell of smoke in my hair.  The smell of smoke, period.

The good:  Brian recovers!  The fountains at the Bellagio.  Salt and butter NY pretzels.    
The bad:  So many cool things to see...not enough time.  Having to miss dinner reservations at Rao's.  Losing a big game by close to 30.

The good:  A safe and quick and easy trip home.
The bad:  After listening to Alex cough all the way home, we drive straight to the DR.  Hello, bronchitis.  

It feels good to be home.


Saturday, December 24, 2011


It's the morning of Christmas Eve and I am sitting at my kitchen table listening to the sounds of my three boys banter back and forth over who is going to eat the last cookie on the counter (for now...gotta ration the Christmas cookies) and as typical for me this time of year, my thoughts are on Mary.

Jesus' mama.

I keep thinking about her...holding her head high when telling people she was pregnant in a time when getting pregnant out of wedlock was just not cool.  I'm pretty sure she (and Joseph) lost friends and family members over this.  Holding her head high, knowing that she was different.

But her was really just beginning.

Even though this baby was going to change the world, Mary still had to go through pregnancy...and then at the point when she was so close to birth and probably really uncomfortable, she had to travel.  People needed to be counted, pregnant or not, and she had no say in the matter.

Onto a donkey she climbed for the journey.

And Joseph?  I picture him as being quiet and loving and calm, yet probably a little stressed...his wife (that he probably didn't know all that well) was REALLY pregnant.  And then going from home to home looking for a room to stay in when they arrived in Bethlehem?  They must've been tired.   And cold.  And achy.  And just done with the whole travel thing.

But their was really just beginning.

Into the barn they go...and then?  Was all really calm?  Giving birth isn't a walk in the's hard work.  I'm sure the night was long as she labored and pushed her baby out.  

In the end, it wasn't just a Savior that was born...but her very own baby.  The love she must have felt in the dark of that night for that little baby, for the Savior, was what anyone who has held any child (birthed or not birthed) they love has felt.  Add in the feeling of relief that the journey was over, that the pregnancy was over.

They swaddled him and rocked him and held him and loved  him, knowing their baby was going to change the world.

The real was just beginning.

For to us a child is born,
   to us a son is given,
   and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called
   Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
   Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Is. 9:6

Sunday, December 18, 2011

A Really Good Pizza

This week our school hosted a big tournament which meant that every day from the hours of 4pm - 10 pm were spent at the gym helping out.  I am feeling it all winding down and while I felt that way while Matthew was in high school, I also had the knowledge that he was going to keep on performing.  But for Alex?  He's decided that after this season he wants a break..and we all get it and accept his decision, but at the same time will miss seeing how crazily fun it is to watch him on the court.

But first?

Thirty more games over the next 8 weeks or so.  Bring.  It.  On.


That guy that I like so much and I stole away for a little shopping trip...which actually turned into a little lunch out and a little visit to the Mac Store (my laptop is sooooo slow and sleepy...) and not a whole lotta shopping trip,  when we rounded the corner and saw that Crystal Court, which is by far my favorite place to drool,  is now about to get 100,000 times better.

And to think that I thought it was perfect already.  Sigh.

Saturday found us in Placentia for (wait. for. it....) a basketball game and after?  REAL CHICAGO PIZZA in the state of California.  We got some really great eats in this state of mine but sometimes you just want a taste of your past....a taste that reminds you of a place that you love SO much and is a part of who you are and where you come from.  A taste of pure joy and happiness without a $400 plane ticket...though that $400 plane ticket is still SO worth it to me.

Hello, Tony's Little Italy in a strip mall in Placentia...and thanks to the Chicago friends who told us about you.

We'll be back.  Promise.  

Today is going to be a church going, prime rib cooking, cookie making, movie watching, laundry folding, game playing, hanging out kinda day.

Love those kinda days.


Saturday, December 17, 2011

Food Season

Tis the season for food.  Lots and lots of food.


Last weekend we hosted our 16th annual Christmas party for that guy that I like so much's students...the annual party where we take one 1200 sq ft house and fill it with 50 college students.

One more time.  1200 sq ft.  50 college students.

It's loud and crazy and loud and fun and did I mention loud?

The crazy part?  I cook all the feeling is that they eat in the cafeteria (which is excellent, by the way) all school year and it's nice to spoil them with some home cooking.  Plus, I like to cook.  Lots.

The very first year we hosted this party I learned a very, very big lesson in what to do and what not to do.  BIG LESSON.  That first year I cooked for days...complete with a turkey and a ham and a road beef and ALL the sides that go with all those things.  I was stressed and miserable and when the party time arrived, that group of students (who didn't particularly like my husband...he was the new guy after all) came, ate and left in record time.

I cried.

It was a complete FAIL in the party department.

Enter Year 2.  I scrapped the whole cooking for days thing and chose to do what I do best.  Italian.  Yep, it means lots and lots of meatballs but it also means everything can be cooked ahead of time in disposable pans and I can be an unstressed participant at the party. 

Every year I do the EXACT same party food wise.  Baked rigatoni, meatballs, italian sausage, caesar salad, garlic bread, hot chocolate and cookies.  My boys (the ones who live here) are a HUGE help to me and in recent years?  Friends who volunteer to serve the food and others who have offered to bring desserts.  Life savers.

Now, instead of coming and eating and dashing out the door, we often have to push them out because we are old now.  And tired.


Every year, I think back to that first party.  We were SO young (16 years ago!) with only two little of those little boys is now a senior in college and is one of the students at the party.

Time just keeps marching along, doesn't it?

2 1/2 lbs ground beef
2 cups Italian flavored bread crumbs
4 eggs
1 cups milk
1/2 cup parmesan cheese
1 tsp each, garlic powder and onion powder
1 tsp dried basil
1 tsp kosher salt

Mix everything together in a big bowl.  Scoop (I use an ice cream scoop) out onto a lightly oiled baking sheet (I use broiler pans) and then roll into balls.  Bake at 350 for 30 minutes and then drop into a pot of gravy (normal peeps call it sauce, I guess) to finish cooking.  Makes 20-25, depending on how big you make them.
For our parties, I double this recipe FOUR TIMES for a total of approx. 200 meatballs.  

Thursday, December 15, 2011


...I can't seem come up for air (something about a bazillion basketball games, hosting the hospitality suite at the tournament, working a day job, running a business,  feeding 50 college students, feeding my family, being kind and loving and calming to one child, being a drill sergeant to another child, being a fun mom to a third child AND being a wife), so I thought I would leave you with something ADORABLE.


Saturday, December 10, 2011

Friday Into Saturday

Friday morning began with me working a street corner, not something I do often which is unfortunate because I look SO attractive in my bright yellow vest and big red hat.  Not to mention the ginormous stop sign. 


(a new project...more to come!)

After I worked, I shed the vest (and the hat and stop sign) and went to Mass at the church next door.  I absolutely love Catholic churches...I've spent lots of time in them in the last few years because Catholic churches are always open and you can just walk on in, have a seat and pray away.

And this Lutheran girl has needed lots of quiet church time this year.

Speaking of which, that guy that I like so much told a pastor recently that I loved to go pray in catholic churches because they are always unlocked...the pastor got kinda defensive saying that it would never be a problem to go into the church office, find the secretary, have her scramble around to find the keys to unlock the sanctuary for an hour or so so that one could go in to spend time.  Yep, cuz I wanna go thru all that?

Anyway,  I went to Mass and it turns out it was a Mass for the nuns, which I didn't realize until it was too late.  So there I sat,  just me and 20 or so nuns, and all I could think was that I need to make a 'habit' out of reading the sign before barging on in.

Enter a serious case of church giggles.

(Balboa in the morning.  Paradise.)

From there...Costco, the grocery store, the bank (to try and figure out why every time that guy that I like so much uses his debit card it says 'call service center' and now every time I write a check it says the same thing.  And no one knows why. There's money in the account, shockingly, but we can't seem to spend it.  Hmmm...a sign, perhaps?  Anyway, their advice is to close our account and re-open a new one...ugh) and then home to finally take a shower.

Last night was a concert, followed by prosecco and a wickedly good brie with some spiced nuts. need to try these.  I am having a love affair with chipotle chili powder...sprinkling it on everything for a little extra kick.

(those green olives?  castelvetrano.  find them.  buy them.  weep for joy.)

This morning, my house is a wreck...we've got 50 students coming for supper tomorrow night and stuff is EVERYWHERE.  For now, though, that guy that I like so much and I are sitting on the couch playing on our laptops while watching the food network.  He made me a gingerbread latte and stollen for breakfast...the most perfect Saturday morning breakfast ever.

Can we just sit here all day?
(yeah.  his nicer than mine.)

I guess we can't.  

He has two more concerts today and I have to cook for a party.  All stuff we like to do, but would be so much funner (that's for my grammar friends) to just hang out all day long in our jammies and watch Christmas movies.

What are you up to this weekend?

Thursday, December 8, 2011

My Senses


Our little Christmas tree all lit up.  Sunshine, streaming in through filthy windows.  List upon list on the a bunch of people to feed this weekend! 


Skateboards on the ramp outside.  Christmas very favorite is Windham Hill's December.  The washer and dryer, working overtime today.


Mini burgers, sweet potato fries and an iced cold beer tasted soooo good last night.  That guy that I like so much and I stole away for a much needed date...a little easier now that Alex is driving.


The inside of the high school gym.  There's nothing like it.  My boy is back after missing the first five games of in season play.  He was so happy and played so well...I'm thinking, Sherlock, that my boy is back.

Peace.  So much to do yet I feel peace.  (Remind me of this peaceful feeling in a few days, ok?)  Also hunger.  Chili for supper...not my favorite but a definite crowd pleaser.  We eat ours over macaroni...made necessary when my boys appetites grew and our budget had not.


Tuesday, December 6, 2011

O Christmas Tree (Stand)

The tradition of buying a Christmas tree for our little house on our little street has evolved over the years.  We've cut them down ourselves.  We've ordered them and had them delivered.  We've taken the whole family, most of the family, and once I think it was just me on a year where we just couldn't eek out the time to do it all together.

My favorite years?  The ones where it was declared by someone (a very special someone at that) that it should be a boys outing.  I think the actual someone who suggested it also tried to sell it by saying that not only would they be able to pick out the best tree ever for mama, but that mama would be waiting when they got home with hot chocolate loaded with mini marshmallows.

They'd step out the door and I would do that happy dance....the happy dance of being all alone for a little while in my little house.

Sadly, that tradition didn't last long.

This year it was just me and Brian, driving over the river and thru the woods (or up the 405 to Harbor) to Home Depot (conveniently located next to the shoe store, the barber and In n stop does it all!) where we searched through mounds of trees for the perfect one.

OK, so it was the first one we plucked out of the pile...but it was perfect.  Short, but perfect.  Or maybe everything seems shorter next to really tall boys?

They trimmed it all up for us and we threw it in the back of Alex's little pick-up truck, which is actually my little pick-up truck because Alex has not become one with a clutch yet, and drove our little tree home.

And after watching Brian drag it into the backyard I happened to notice that her trunk was just a tad, ummm, BIG.

Now years ago that guy that I like so much invested in a fancy schmancy tree stand that he has fit a cup on the bottom of the tree, plop it into the stand and from there you can easily adjust the tree with a little push of a button.

He LOVES his tree stand.  

Problem this year?  Miss Short and Stout's trunk wouldn't fit.

So out came the back up stand, found deep in the depths of junk land, and the next 30 minutes involved a lot of screwing of screws, cutting of branches, sweating of brows and muttering of words. 

At one point I wasn't sure who was gonna win...that guy that I like so much or the tree.


But in the end we have a sweet little Christmas tree.

Emphasis on little.


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