Here we go

Ollie's off to school today.  He and I weren't ready to say good bye to the stay-home-and-play (-and-I-know-everything-you-are-doing-thank-heavens) phase. But he's had some good pep talks from his dad and me, and we talked more as we walked up to the school, and sure enough, he mustered up the courage and went in.  He's going to do great!  As he marched into that school, I gathered the courage to adios the old phase and move onto the go-to-school-then-come-home-and-play phase.  And even though it's hard, it sounds good too.

Say cheerio to our summer schedule (thanks to big O for writing this up):

Say hello to our school year:


Stream okay or not?

We've had a lot of good water time this summer.  Pools, oceans, even streams at parks.  Ansel walked right into a stream at a local park recently.  I let him do it. Then Ollie joined.  They played in the semi-stagnant water and afterward we took baths. I think that was one of the best days they've had this summer.  The freedom and newness for them was invigorating.  What do you guys think of streams at parks? Yesterday I didn't let them do it because I did not want to take them to the bath right after.  Am I over thinking this or under thinking this? Are streams too germ-ridden? I am torn. What do you think?


On weeding

This summer has involved lots of weed pulling. In the garden, in the gravel path, in the driveway cracks; weeds are pulled on a regular basis.  Friends of mine in the neighborhood have commented that they see me outside a lot, doing yard work. Pulling weeds has become automatic now. So much so that when I go running/walking in the morning I take note of most weeds I see and weigh how difficult this or that weed may be to pull and what kind of root it may have.  The other day I caught myself in a thought conversation with a seller of a price-reduced house with several weeds, "You know, give yourself a half an hour and you could pull most of these out without any trouble. Plus, the soil is wet making the task much easier." I had successfully solved the seller's weed problem (and thus his not being able to sell the house) that morning...in my head.

When we moved into our house we had a neighbor who mentioned she loved winter specifically for the fact that she no longer had to do yard work. I was kind of surprised, but I got where she was coming from.  I still like months with yard work however. It is therapeutic for me.  And though it is constant, there is a reward at the end which makes it all worth it.


A pick me up

I've made a goal to pick up less, which seems like a travesty, but in this case, a needed travesty.  I remember being a teen and going to some of my older sibling's family homes.  They'd have toys strewn about and I was kind of surprised at the mess (the house was clean, but the house not picked up). I realize now why: they had toddlers.  I kept our apartment in DC fairly organized and straight, picking up every toy or book mess quickly (folding the laundry is another story).  But now that we live in a bigger space and Oliver and Ansel do several activities a day (one of which is taking all books off the bookshelf - I'm looking at you Ansel), I can't keep up with it.  Well, the truth is, I can keep up with it, but that is what I would be doing all day and that is what I have been doing until now. I need a break.  And so I leave the pickup for the evening.  And if some blocks are still out at 9pm, I let it go and I don't think about it again.  Until the next evening, when I feel I should pick it up.  But then again, I've heard any statement that begins with "should" is not healthy, so maybe I should let that go too.  Whoops, there I go again.


Double digits

We recently celebrated our ten year anniversary by visiting a recommended 9th & 9th restaurant, taking a nice walk in that neighborhood to enjoy the architecture (who doesn't like a big porch?), and talking about our kidlets. In some ways ten years seems like a lot and in other ways it doesn't seem like all that much at all.  I look forward to more of the same.


Book Review: I Feel Bad About My Neck

I recently picked up Nora Ephron's humorous book, I Feel Bad About My Neck.  It seems that Nora didn't take herself too seriously and her style was easy going.  I like a good laugh and this book did the trick.  While I believe her intended audience was older women, it still was quite entertaining.  And I felt young, which is never a bad thing.  The chapters I liked the most discussed parenthood verses parenting, New York real estate, and missing favorite foods that have been lost to a closed bakery/cafe/restaurant.  This brought me to think of some of the foods I yearn for every now and again but are gone.

When Macaroni Grill was new to the scene, my family went every now and again.  We liked the place, a lot.  And since my mom had pretty much given the kibosh to Olive Garden (during one visit, it took twenty minutes to seat us when there were more than ten tables available - which I have since learned was no fault of the restaurant itself but the time of day and number of staff on the premises - but I digress), Macaroni Grill was our new spot.  Plus, that focaccia bread was way better than any bread stick.  I always ordered a dish that I loved there, the chicken calzone.  The dipping sauces made the dish: one was a balsamic vinegar reduction and the other, a caesar dressing-like aioli.  I lived for the dipping sauces, savored each bite, used up every bit of both.  And then one day, I got my plate and the balsamic reduction sauce was missing.  I kindly informed the waiter of the mistake when he informed me that they no longer served the calzone, or any dish for that matter, with that specific sauce.  Later came the blow that the calzone was no longer on the menu.  But, as luck would have it, I could still special order my favorite dish even if it did only come with the caesar sauce.  And then finally, the restaurant decided to no longer serve it.  And then I put the kibosh on Macaroni Grill.

Still, the most memorable food I miss on a regular basis is the ZCMI chocolate chocolate doughnut.  This delicious dessert was the pinnacle of the cake doughnut world for me.  I savored every bite and was known to spend my own 54 cents + tax on one, which was pretty much a miracle seeing as I held tight to my money and hardly spent a dime.  This doughnut was large and plump, with hardly a hole in the middle, topped with light brown, made-with-butter frosting that wasn't too chocolatey and thus allowed for the flavor of the cake doughnut to meld well with, instead of be taken over by, the frosting.  It was kept refrigerated inside a glass case at the little side bakery attached to the department store, and served a bit cold then slowly warmed as you enjoyed it bite by bite.  We'd make special trips to get one.  Then one day we went to get a doughnut and the bakery had been turned into a knick-knack shop.  We had hardly a warning!  The sweet bakery lady was gone.  Loaves of sourdough and cracked wheat were replaced with games you'd never heard of and super-soaker water guns.  The pastry glass case had stopped refrigeration and now held magnetic curiosities and swinging pendulums.  Our doughnuts ceased to exist.  Then ZCMI got bought out and part of my childhood was whisked away with it.  I tried to find the doughnut downtown at a bakery possibly owned by the same people who did the original doughnut, but I was never successful.  Since then, I've had several chocolate chocolate doughnuts, wishing, hoping that another bakery could get close to what I've enjoyed before.  But no luck.  And so I stick with the yeast-risen doughnuts and enjoy them a lot.  But the cake doughnut is up against all odds, a grand contender, a doughnut I miss and pine for especially on overcast, fall days.

Do you have a special food you miss?  Nora Ephron's was cabbage strudel and she ended up, after years of searching, finding the very food she had gone without all that time.


My annual post on August

August already?!  Again, I find myself at the beginning of August amazed at how the summer has sped along.  It has gone at a good solid pace, we've enjoyed (and continue to enjoy) it, but I am surprised when I count the weekends left. So here's to snow cones, farmers markets, bare feet, swimsuits, relaxing in the shade, and taking in those evening sunsets.  We welcome you for another month (at least).

Ollie takes a stroll in the summer sun at the San Juan Capistrano mission