Tuesday, May 31, 2016

An Extra Long Weekend

I'm just coming off a really super incredible weekend...one of those weekends where I could tell that the light actually is at the end of the rainbow.

Summer is coming and I can feel it.


Friday night was my final birthday dinner with my most favorite meal ever...moussaka.  Not just moussaka, but really great moussaka.  The kind of moussaka that there isn't a recipe for and it is SO GOOD.  This birthday of mine has dragged on and on and I'm ready to put it to rest until next year and this was the perfect send off.


 My people are good, crazy people.  


Saturday morning was a delightfully lazy morning.  We stayed in our pjs forever and I only got up off the couch long enough to make a pasta frittata and a pot of coffee.  Around noon we ventured out of the family room and I worked on a puzzle while that guy that I like so much putzed in the garden.

And then we met back up on the couch and each took a cat nap on our respective ends and, well...it was heavenly.

Staurday afternoon we road tripped it up to a wedding of our beautiful friend.  This little house on our little street has produced the sweetest, most special friendships and it's such a blessing to have been planted here.

The house is little.  The life that comes with it is not.

These two boys climbed trees together and now Kyle is a soldier...we are so proud of him and miss him so much.  The Grassy Hill gang cleans up well.


Sunday morning, Brian sang with the choir in church and so a shower before hand was in order.  It had been a few days, so I'm sure the people sitting next to us were appreciative.

Hot dogs at Jerry's after.  More puzzles.  A movie.  Or two.

Can every day be a weekend???

I scored some incredible short ribs at Costco and cooked them low and slow all day, mashed some potatoes, made a big salad and invited the neighbors last minute...the garden was so pretty and was begging to be filled.

That whole little house, big table thing at its best...I'm not sure how it works but it just seems like the food always stretches to feed whoever walks in the door.  

This garden of ours is such a special place and I'm so ready for summer garden parties.  Let me know if you'd like to come.


And then Monday came and guess what?  The weekend continued!  Alex was at the beach, Brian had to work, the oldest was settled in to his new home.  I bought a HUGE ribeye and that guy that I like so much coated that thing with salt and wood-fired it and my oh my was it ever good.  I could easily be a vegetarian if it wasn't for beef.  

Fred Flinstone would be happy here.  Very, very happy.

 To go with that steak?   Champagne.  Real champagne.  

I totally dig real champagne.

And just for a bit I forgot that the dishwasher stopped working, the laundry was piled up, our dog has anxiety issues and there is a really nasty plumbing issue happening around these parts...and I know for a fact it's a boy issue and right now I'm totally irritated by whoever caused it. 

So that champagne?

Needed.  Much needed.

Farewell, really great weekend...thanks for the memories.

I'm going to miss you.


Friday, May 27, 2016

The Birthday of the (Half) Century

Oh boy.

A big birthday happened around these parts.

 Last Friday night, it began when the oldest shrub and his beautiful girlfriend arrived in town.  The neighbors saw lights on and heard the opening of the Friday Night Whine/Wine and soon began checking in.  Supper was made and once again stretched to feed the masses...how that always happens, I have no clue,  yet it always does.

I was happy because there were pizzelle's to make and I had people to talk to while I made them...and they also served as quality control agents because hello, nothing tastes better than a freshly made, warm from the iron pizzelle.

BUT...I caved and while standing there for 3 hours because you can only make them 2 at a time, I got onto amazon and ordered another pizzelle maker so I can pop these babies out faster.

Not a help this time but it will be in the future.


 In the middle of the birthday weekend was the youngest shrubs senior prom.


See that kid in the middle?  The super cute one?

I sure do like him a whole heck of a lot.

I don't get it.  Seriously...where did the time go?  He's my BABY.

 We got Brian off and party prep began.  That guy that I like so much was a true saint and man oh man, do I like him.  

I have to say, thank you to my 17-year-old self for chasing him down and forcing him to date me.

See, I was smart!


 This, my friends, was my birthday cake.  Look at this piece of art!  The whole thing is edible - the box, the wine bottle, the grapes...the whole thing!!!

I have never seen anything like this before and I was absolutely speechless.  And here's the kicker...it tasted better than it looked.  For reals.  The cake was an Irish car bomb cake with a milk chocolate ganache filling and the whole thing was iced in the most incredible frosting I have ever tasted.

It. Was. Incredible.

Look at the detail on this wine bottle!  My sweet sister/cousin had this made for me...her girlfirend is a true master.  If you live in SoCal, please check out Layers (on Facebook - in CA City)...tell them I sent you.


So...the party.

That guy that I like so much made a HUGE bowl of champagne punch and then grilled fresh pizza dough for everyone to eat with their antipasto.


champagne punch for 1,000
anti-pasto (salami's, proscuitto, cheeses, olives)
grilled foccacia with olive oil and fresh rosemary
shredded beef ragu with pasta
a huge salad with roasted asparagus, pine nuts, dried cranberries and feta
more wine
pizzelles with toppings (rasberry puree, fresh whipped cream, salted caramel, nutella)
whisky and sambuca and limoncello and whatever else came out that night


The most fun parts were the unplanned parts.  Cigars and bourbon in the garden for the big boys.  Girls gathered in the kitchen.  Children in and out.  Music - good music playing.

The table was long and pretty.

And filled with some of my favorite people.


And Tammy (with Chris and Kamryn in tow) flew in for less than 48 hours to be there.  They were our upstairs neighbors forever ago in family housing at CU Boulder.  We were babies in college having babies together and pretty much helped raise each other.  Our families are known as Team Wersch and while we prayed for a marriage between one of their 3 girls and one of my 3 boys we ended up with something much better...forever friendships.

I'll take it.

I will say, my mom taught me that well.  She always had girlfriends and she would say that girls need girlfriends...and I think that is very, very wise.  Us girls need that in our lives...especially me.  Not that I don't adore this houseful of boys, because I do...but I sure do love my friendships.


There was much laughter and many stories and lots of tears.

I am so thankful.  


And then the next morning we woke up to this.  The best part?  We all just sat down, pushed dirty dishes aside and drank our coffee in a dirty garden.  At one point I told Matthew that I would give him $100 to scramble every egg in the house (and someone upped it to $200...haha) - oh how I love that my boys can cook!  

Party #3 was beginning.


Here's my advice...surround yourself with a group of people that you don't have to clean your house for.  The dishwasher was running non-stop but I didn't want to waste a minute with us cleaning...I only had Joey and Michelle for a few hours before they had to head home and life is too short.

 Dishes could wait.  Memories couldn't.

 So then we did what grown-ups do...we avoided the mess and ran for the beach.  The kids and guys set up shop on the sand and Tammy and I had a few cocktails at the bar.

Have I mentioned how much I love my people????

 That whole 'if you don't have Turkish neighbors, you should' thing came into play again.  They came to the beach armed with a complete dinner that they cooked for us there.


And have you had Turkish Kefta's?  Think a fancy burger served on a pita.

So good!

 Some played games.

Some just hung out.

 Some cuties (the super cute tiny one is graduating from UCSB next week...we are so proud of her!) posed for me.

 And the sun set.

 I loved every single minute of this weekend and I am so thankful.  I remember spending an evening talking on the beach with that guy that I like so much many, many, many years ago...we were teenagers and had gone to watch the sunset.

I told him I had this dream about life...it didn't involve fany cars or purses or travel.  I wanted to live in a little house.  I wanted it filled with children and friends and family.  I wanted to be a stay-at-home mom.  I wanted to cook pasta.  I wanted to hold hands with him when we were old. 

Fast forward 31 years.

I saw God in every moment this weekend.  When friends were talking and laughing at the kitchen counter.  When Matthew brought his new roomate over to meet us and he ended up staying.  When my older boys arrived with their girlfriends.  When Brian arrived safely home form prom (and the after party).  When that guy that I like so much, who has always looked at me through rose colored glasses, held my hand and prayed.  When I looked up and down that table and couldn't help but think how each person there had helped shape the wife and mom and friend that I am today.

My God is so big.  And I am so thankful.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Is It Summer Yet?

This pup...who would have ever thought that one family could fall so head over heels in love with one funny looking scaredy dog???

I did.


 Birthday celebrations continue for weeks and weeks around these parts.  I had a BIG birthday followed by Mother's Day followed by that guy that I like so much's birthday.  We'll coast for a few weeks and then there's Father's Day and our anniversary....that's a lotta bubbly in a 6 week period of time.

And then?  Then there's nothing until next May when we do it all over again.  But until then...cheers!

We had lunch on that guy that I like so much's birthday at Carthay Circle in Disney.  The whole ambiance of that place is absolutely incredible and I'm so happy a friend of ours told us we should go.  

It's built to look old...old as in the 1930's?  Dim lights, comfy chairs, impeccable food.

It might've only been lunch but hey...we're now (gulp) in our 50's and so a cocktail was in order.  Old school cocktails that made me feel classy and let me tell you, I haven't been feeling so classy lately.

But the glassware alone is pretty darn gorgeous.

And then they kept bringing us things to try and I just want to go back.  Everything was so good!  Do we really have to go back into that 'we've got a boy in college' way of life?

Yes.  Sigh.  We do.

But until then we're having some fun.

My neighborhood has exploded in a cloud of purple.  I had never seen purple trees until I moved here and they are so very very pretty...sticky, but pretty.

I love springtime.


That guy that I like so much was honored for 20 years of service and scored a ginormous statue.  In real life it's beautiful and for now it's going to sit on the kitchen counter so everyone can ooh and ahh over it but then,  I think it's going to live in his office.

The statue...not that guy that I like so much.

My work year is winding down in time but not in things that need to be done.  Everyone wants everything done yesterday and everyone is just plain 'ol grumpy.  I am SO thankful for what happens once 4:00pm rolls around...the cooking of something or other for this family to eat, a bottle of wine being opened, candles and music in the garden.

I love what happens there so much and I find myself daydreaming about it all day long.

I feel like God is pushing me to do more with this space we call our 'garden'... and I'm not even sure what that means yet.  More as in the physical part of feeding or the emotional or the spiritual?  I'm not sure but the gate keeps opening and people continue to gather.  The conversations that happen there are almost sacred...dreams are shared.  Tears are shed.  Prayers are prayed.

And the laughter?  Oh, how I love the laughter.

A shift is happening here on my blog, too.  This space that I write on, ahouseful of boys, was created when I had a houseful of boys.  I began writing as a way of journaling their childhoods...this is each of their baby books.  In a few months, this little house on this little street will become something that it has never been before...a little house on a little street without any children living in it.

Oh boy.

I spoke about that transition at a conference a few months back and was approached by an editor...I had also mentioned that I had an idea I was toying with for another space on the world wide web and in my dreamland, in a real book.  With pages.  That I write.  She asked for an outline and I gave her a mini version along with a beginning chapter and it came back with so much red ink that it looked as if someone had died on the page.

And with it, my dream died a bit too.  But then she wrote seven words.  

I like it.  Very much.  Call me.

Will it ever become the book that I've dreamed so long of?  Who knows.  Will I merge this space over to that space?  Who knows.  (Seriously... who knows how to even do that?  Haha.)  I'm still firmly parked here but hmmmm...I'm getting itchy to move.

Back to work for me.  Three more weeks.  Three more weeks.  Three more weeks.

Three.  More.  Weeks.


Saturday, May 14, 2016

Hopping From Coast to Coast

The school year is winding down and so am I...the days are not only longer but it's almost as if they are taunting me to play hooky with all that sun shiney, warm air business.  My to-do list keeps getting longer and even though I'm slowly plugging away at it, I'm finding myself daydreaming about warm sand and coconutty sun screen and closed eyes.

My boys used to get spring fever and I'm realizing that I do too.  Is summer here yet?

On Monday morning in the early morning, I left on a jet plane for Florida.  This was the quickest of trips and I was only in south Florida this time around and I felt like by the time I got my sea legs under me it was time to turn around and come home.

But there were some really cool moments too...there always are.

Every one of my flights this time around was packed full.  I'm usually lucky enough to score an empty seat on at least one of my legs but not this time around.  I travel quite a bit and I like it but even I get antsy by the time we're an hour or so out.  I always choose a window because I don't like to be bothered and I like to be able to lean against the wall but this time around I was stuck in the middle for one leg.  

But work travel is cool in that it's free...and I like free.

I woke up one morning at 5:30am and went to sit on the beach.  It was so quiet and still and the waves were so beautiful.  My Dad was buried at sea and whenever I'm at the ocean I find myself talking to him through teary eyes about my life and his beautiful Grandsons and I really think he'd be happy with how things were turning out.  At least I hope so.

And then, as a reminder of just how small I am, the sun rose up and the light was blinding and warm and I felt the gentleness of my God.  These moments that he hands me on a silver platter...or on a sandy beach, are so precious to me.  I need these reminders.

 The days on work trips are long and this time around I had one of the bosses meet up with me for a day.  There are more work changes and I'm just raising my hands like I'm on a roller coaster flying down a big hill.  

And right now it's a very, very, very big hill.

 And then, just as soon as it started, I was on a plane headed back for the west coast.  For home.  For my little house on my little street.  For that guy that I like so much.  

I love that when I question my value....question my worth here on earth that all I have to do is go home.  


I do have job security here at home.  Three males on their own for a few days and our little house on our little street develops a rather distinct odor and I'm pretty sure a broom hasn't touched the floor.  But like I said...job security for me.  

It's nice to be needed.

It's even better to be home.


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