Fun Friday: Santa Barbara Overnight

Today is Juan’s birthday and we are in Santa Barbara for an adults only overnight.It’s one of those times where the planets aligned and all the kids are either with the other parents or with Grandma. The gods were especially smiling since I managed to secure a discounted price at a beachside hotel and a nice restaurant.

We are enjoying each other and some of our favorite things.

Happy birthday to the one who keeps my heart awhirl!


Fun Friday – Blogging From Boise

Last weekend I was in Boise. Idaho.  I left the warm temperatures and these sunny skies of Southern California:

For this:

But I didn’t go to Boise for the climate. I went to visit my sister. My sister and I are only 17 months apart, and we were very close growing up.  We shared  a room when were young, and had a lot of good times.

As we have grown older, it’s been more difficult to stay close. Thirteen years ago my sister and her family  moved to Boise. She is very happy there and has built a nice life for herself and her family. Unfortunately, we don’t see each other very often, so I decided it was time for a visit.

Besides, I got to travel ALONE.  When I arrived my sister picked me up and took me for drive in her home town. We had a nice lunch in Boise downtown, BODO. Then we went to Basque market on this little street that has a Basque community, because apparently there are a lot of Basque people in Boise. Who knew?

Then we did what all sisters should do…we went shopping.

My sister is a star shopper. I do not like shopping.  But I watched and shopped along with her.  It was a quick trip but a nice visit…eating, shopping, movies and more shopping.

We even bought the same sweater. Good thing we live in different states because we won’t be spotted wearing it together.

The Mommy Cocktail

Category:WikiProject Mixed Drinks templates

Image via Wikipedia

I was born in the 60’s, and grew up in the Mad Men era, so that’s probably why I am transported when I watch show. The scene where Don Draper teaches his young daughter Sally how to make his favorite cocktail seemed so familiar. My dad taught me how to make his favorite drink, Jack Daniels. On the rocks. Two fingers. I didn’t know that the “two fingers” were supposed to be my two fingers horizontal to the glass to measure how much Jack to pour, so I put my two fingers inside the glass and filled it to my knuckles! That was a good night for my dad.

When I was little and my parents entertained friends and family they would usually serve mixed drinks. Wine didn’t seem to be the cocktail of choice. When wine was served I seem to recall that it came from a jug. Boone’s Farm Strawberry Hill , and  Spañada were the  “merlot” of my parent’s day.   I remember that the “wine” that was served at the party following my First Communion was Spañada. In a punch bowl. With fruit slices. I felt very grown up that day, and the drink looked so pretty, I begged my parents let me have a small glass while they toasted me. Yeah, no wonder most people drank mixed drinks.

My dad’s drink is Jack. My mother liked 7 and 7. It always seemed like a mystery language to me, ordering cocktails. Old Fashioned. Gimlet. Jack and Coke. Gin and tonic. I think it’s easier to say Chardonnay or Merlot.  A few months ago, inspired by a recent Mad Men episode,  Juan came home with a stainless steel drink mixer, some Vodka,  Vermouth and olives. He made me one of my favorite adult beverages, a dirty Martini. He’s gotten to be a pretty good mixer.

So, a few weeks ago, after a long, stressful week at work, and the prospect of having only one child home for the night, I decided I wanted to unwind and have a drink. But, I didn’t feel like a martini, and we didn’t have anything to mix with Vodka. No orange juice, cranberry juice. Nothing, but this:

I read somewhere that Vodka goes with everything, so I tried it.

Put it in a nice glass, filled with ice and squeezed in a little lime.

Refreshing, and tasty.  But, one problem. How do I order it when I am having a night out at the bar…

“I’ll have a vodka with a juice box?” Or maybe, the “Mommy Cocktail?”

Fun Friday? Black Friday.

I love a bargain. I also love the thrill of the hunt. So, Black Friday usually presents me with the best of both worlds. In past years I would ask my kids to make a list of things that they would like for Christmas. I would also make my own list of things I want to buy others for Christmas, and things I’d like to buy yself for Christmas. Then, the hunt would begin.

A couple of weeks before the big day I start checking out all the Black Friday web sites, scoping out articles and links which will have scanned ads from the stores. I then mapped out my route and scheduled my stops. Which store opens first, which store has the items likely to sell out first?

The big day dawns, and I arrive at the store before they open. I don’t camp out overnight. I am not that crazy. Depending on the year I will team up with my mom and she and I will switch off shopping while the other holds a place in the check-out line. Other times I have been on my own shopping while my mother shops at the same store close to her house, and Juan shops at home, on-line.  We coordinate via cell phones and compare who is finding what deal and where is the best price.  

This year, I dropped the ball on all my planning. I was also going solo, without my mom or Juan as my wing-man. Perhaps it’s the blogging, but I did not have time to preview the sales and surf the net looking for the best Black Friday deals.  I also didn’t have any idea about what my kids would like. Maybe it’s just a sign that they are growing up and no longer want the latest super hero action figure or tech gadget.  A gift card or money will do just fine, thank you very much.  Nevertheless, I wanted to shop on Black Friday because I felt like I’d be missing out on a great deal on something if I didn’t head out with all the other diehard bargain hunters. 

So, even though I didn’t have a well-developed plan, I headed out to Old Navy.  They opened at midnight.  There were some really good deals on clothes, jeans for $10, sweaters for $15. Before I knew it my arms were full of gifts for me, and for my kids. I must have shopped for an hour or so, then I headed for the check out line. It was unbelievable. I don’t think I have ever seen a checkout line that long. But I had already invested an hour of my time and I found some great deals. I felt like I was too committed, and what kind of bargain hunter would I be if I backed out now? So I got in line and waited. And waited. Nearly an hour later I made it to the front and paid for my bargains. I don’t think I’ve ever waited that long to give someone my money. 

After that I headed to Kohls. They opened at 3:00am. I was there before the doors opened. I had just four items to buy on my list.  Twenty minutes later I was at the back of the store with all my purchases in hand. I started to walk towards the front of the store to pay for my items, but I didn’t have far to walk because the line wrapped around the aisles and met me at the back of the store. This time my 20 minute investment was one which I felt I could walk away. I was no longer experiencing the thrill of the hunt, or the excitement of a good deal. I was tired. I put down the few items and walked out of the store without buying a thing. Gift cards and money make fine gifts, thank you very  much.

Freaky Friday

Have you seen this movie? It’s the Disney tale of a teenage daughter and her mother in classic parent/teen conflict who experience a body switch for a day to help them understand each other. That part about the parent and teen conflict? That is my life lately, and it is not easy to write about. The past few weeks I have posted about the fun times in my life, and called those posts “Fun Fridays.” This Friday is not fun. In fact, it’s completely not fun. 

Yet, as difficult as it is a parent trying to negotiate your way through teen drama, the Freaky Friday experience let’s me catch glimpses into my own painful experiences as a young teen. That terrible trying-to-fit-in-I-want-to-hang-with-the-popular-girls-please-cute-boy-like-me-stage.  It reminds me how it felt to go home to parents who couldn’t’ possibly understand what it meant to be in middle school and feel the peer pressure and the academic pressure to keep up. How it felt to be the only one in the universe with parents who were so strict and old-fashioned that I couldn’t wait to get out of their clutches. As I am witness to all her teen anguish it pains me to see her hurt, and yet I find it hard to overcome my own resentment and impatience at her self-centered, disrespectful behavior. It’s even more troubling for me because I am only the step-mother, and my role is limited.  I am there to support my husband, her father, in raising her. My own mothering instinct kicks in and I feel the need to discipline, and intervene so that I can maintain some degree of calm in the midst of this storm, and protect the rest of the household. 

I feel badly for her, guilty about my own feelings of impatience and anger, sad for my husband who is doing the best he can, loving her in this storm, and feeling unloved in return.  I almost wish we could have that Disney moment.  A moment filled with clarity after the parent and daughter, having  switched places and after returning to their own bodies, each gain valuable insight and a deeper appreciation for each other. But our own version of this movie has just begun.  Even though her father and I have been through our own adolescence, and we should be able to understand her, in the heat of the battle we forget what it’s like. And because, she is still weathering her own adolescence, and has yet to experience the “joys” of parenthood, she cannot understand how it feels as parents to be deemed irrelevant and considered the cause of all that is wrong in life. 

In the Disney movie the mother, played by Jamie Lee Curtis, and the teen daughter, played by Lindsey Lohan, work out their differences and you are left with the impression that they will have a good relationship. But, I fear what every parent of a teen must fear, that in real life it may not always work out so happily. Look at Lindsey’s life now? I only hope that this too shall pass and my Freaky Friday experience works out like the Disney film version.

Fun Friday – Celebrating Los Muertos

Today at Diego’s school the class celebrated El Dia de los Muertos with a fun sugar skull making activity. Diego is in the first grade at a spanish immersion program in our local public school district. It is a great opportunity for him to become bilingual, biliterate and enjoy his latino culture. It’s also a great opportunity for me to practice my spanish skills and enjoy my latino culture. Today was a perfect example. I took a couple of hours off from work to help out in the classroom.

In celebration of this Mexican holiday, the kids were shown how to decorate a traditional sugar skull. The skulls are made of real sugar and more than one of his classmates tried to taste the skull before decorating it.  The kids decorated their skulls with a frosting-like paste.

Then they attached sequins, feathers, glitter and more frosting.

 The end results were simply good enough to eat.  Que divertido!