Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Birthday Parties & Hockey Games...Boys, Boys, Boys

Friday night, we took to boys out to Chili's for dinner. J & I had steaks (I was happy to see that they've added broccoli to the menu), Pie had his standard cheeseburger, & Boot had hot wings. Then, we went home & to bed.
Saturday morning, we went out to pick up a pack of bacon & some cappuccino. Then, J made us a big bacon & egg breakfast.
The boys both had birthday parties to attend, so I played chauffeur while J napped. Boot went to a laser tag party for one of his friends, while Pie went to a play outside kind of party for their mutual friend (whose mom is a friend of ours)...after Boot's first party was over, he went there, too. Between spurts of driving, I napped with J.
The mutual friend & his brother, who is Pie's age, spent the night Saturday night. We fed the boys pizza & took them to see the Dayton Bombers play the Johnstown Chiefs (hockey). There were some people near us who had brought bubbles & blew them throughout the game...what fun!
Sunday morning, we taught the Sunday School class all 4 boys are in. It worked out well...we did some discussion, a skit, & loud shouting of "Hosanna!!!" to practice for their role in the procession of the palms in church. After church, the little boys came back over until their folks picked them up on their way home from church.
We hopped in the car & went down to visit J's mom. On the way, I took J & the boys to their first meal at Sonic. It's a drive-in burger joint that I came to love when I was living in Tennessee. It's taken me all this time to find the one up here...halfway down to Cincinnati. It was fun! Boot & I had coneys & slushies while J & Pie chose burgers & ice cream drinks.
We had a nice visit with J's mom, dad, & aunt. Then, we headed home. I made my annual first day of spring dinner...salmon patties with dilled new potatoes & the slimmest asparagus stalks...and we watched "The Incredibles".

Friday, March 18, 2005

Getting Warmer

I spent time out on our deck this afternoon, getting leaves swept off & the table glass cleaned. Soon, it will be hammock time again. Ahh! I think it must have been in the high 50s or maybe even 60 today & it feels fantastic! Makes me feel like opening all the windows & airing out the house. Maybe I should put a fairy house out on the deck. My friend D sent me a picture of the wondrous fairy house her oldest daughter created. Also, a pic of her younger gal, who adores all things pink & sparkly...a kindred spirit...resplendent in a pink gown with pouffy tulle skirt & giant hot pink heart sunglasses, holding an orange bowling ball about the size of her torso. She is over the top fabulous! What a couple of delightful, creative girls they are raising!!!

It's been a fairly uneventful few days, with time spent reading, cleaning, having the kids' friends over. I went over to the beauty college & got my hair cut yesterday...what a silly thing to do. It looks silly, with bangs entirely too short. Betty Page, I am not. J doesn't get why I don't go to a good salon. Force of habit, I suppose, but I am changing that. It took that girl an HOUR to give me a silly-looking haircut, when all I wanted was a trim for my sheepdog bangs. Today, I had my brows waxed, at a good salon. The gal who did them kept gushing about how gorgeous they are, how jealous she is of them, how perfect my arches are. She called my brows "luscious" & told me I have "movie star eyebrows". Isn't that funny? Of course I was pleased, but it seems such a funny thing to gush over. Every time I get them done, someone (either a customer or a beautician) does that. What I thought were one of my worst features turn out to be one of the best.

In other events, my dad sent me an e-mail full of praise about my writing skill. He also said to write as much as I want, as he really enjoys hearing from me. Who'da thunk it? Maybe J will someday meet him after all. I would love to meet his wife. I dreamed about her the other night...I think we were out shopping. We'll have to travel to Miami one of these days.

Yesterday, we celebrated St. Paddy's Day by making a big Irish feast & taking it over to my grands' house. My granddad was out at amateur radio club, his first drive since he broke his wrist. Progress! We had dinner with my grandmama, who wore orange in honor of the occasion (I was in great-great grandmother was probably rolling over in her grave). She had part of her hair pulled back with a tortoiseshell comb...quite whimsical compared to her usual no-nonsense style...& she looked like a little girl! I loved it. She cracked us up by saying that she looks like Kramer if she doesn't hold it back! I made a big pot of Irish stew with lamb, a bigger pot of colcannon (heavy on the cabbage), & a loaf of Irish soda bread. It was delicious AND I didn't spill a drop in my beloved car. The last time I transported food in the car was the day of the black bean soup disaster!

Off to have my weekend adventures...they will include some hockey, some boys overnight, and Sunday school teaching...I am excited about the palms.

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Back Roads & Grandma Clothes

Yesterday morning found my mom spending her last few hours of this visit. We visited over mugs of green tea, Easter eggs & cinnamon toast, and the book "West Virginia 24/7". I love those 24/7 books. We talked recipes & child-rearing & politics & poetry. I love having a mom who is also a best friend. I just always hate the leaving part, but she loves her sweetie the way I love my sweetie, so she needed to go home. If only we could teleport!

After that big blue truck rolled down the road, I waited for R to appear for one of our Monday lunches. When he arrived, I pumped him for his "wonderful news". It is wonderful, indeed...he is going to be an uncle again! In high school, I never would have thought P would have wanted to be a mom & now here she is with her third baby on the way. From all I hear, she is a wonderful mom. I am so happy for her to be happy.

R & I went out to the local Mexican place. I just love the succulent colors in there. Makes me want to visit Frida's Blue House. R chose the "Speedy Gonzales"...taco, enchilada, & rice. I love their has potato bits mixed in. I don't know if that's a traditional Mexican thing, but it adds an interesting textural change. I went for the huevos con chorizo & they were wonderful. Of all the sausages in the world, chorizo is my favorite.

I mentioned during lunch that I wanted to take the kids to Sonic, since they've never been. The only one in the area is down in Middletown & I have never wanted to go wandering to find it while I had my car-weary wife with me. R said, "Middletown's not that far...wanna go find it?" I love that about him...he is always so willing to have an adventure. He has always been that way. So, we headed down 75. We found the Sonic not too far from the interstate...close enough that I can easily take J & the kids. We ordered hot fudge malts & hit the back roads home. I love traveling back roads & seeing new scenery, so it was great fun for me.

In the afternoon, I had to take my favorite kitty to the vet. He started coughing over the weekend & I was worried about him. Well, it was horrible. He is so cautious of other people anyway & the vet's office sent him nearly over the edge. He managed to work himself into enough of a panic that he was panting heavily, looking at me with eyes & mouth wide. I felt dreadful for him. Luckily, the vet thinks he simply has a hairball (no doubt from grooming the long-haired kittens) & gave us medicine for it. Petroleum jelly with tuna flavoring. YUCK!

When J got home, she announced that we were going to shop for Disney clothes for all of us & to eat at BW-3. Pie has plenty of shorts & didn't want any new outfits. J tried to talk him into it, but he was steadfast. He despises new clothes, for some odd reason. Boot was willing, though. We found him some nice shorts & fun t-shirts. He is happiest of all with his underarmor sort of t-shirts. J got a lusciously pink t-shirt & I found some pink & some aqua polka dot panties. We got some new make-up, too. I was aggravated that Target had 16 racks of skinny people swim suits in all different colors & styles & had only TWO racks in plus sizes, all in various shades of navy, brown, and black. What the hell? I will be glad when designers get their heads out of their asses & start making the same clothes in all the sizes. Just because I'm fat doesn't mean I want to look like someone's grandma. When I'm someone's grandma, I doubt I will want to look like someone's grandma. I HAVE the spending power, I just can't find what I like. Thank god for Levi-Strauss.

BW-3 was unusually uncrowded. Maybe because all the trivia playing machines are on the fritz. I had looked forward to playing trivia with J while the kids indulged in the claw machine & the video games, but they only had one working machine. Apparently, the company (that would be NTN) has crappy customer service because they have no competition. But, I did get to play one game of it & came in second. The food was fine, the kids & J had fun, so it was a good night. I just enjoyed being in their company.

Monday, March 14, 2005

Winds Café & Women's Voices

Friday night, we went to dinner at The Winds. I ordered Spanish beef tenderloin...served on a piece of grilled garlic toast with a dry sherry-bleu cheese sauce & accompanied by bay leaf roasted potato slices & slim green beans. J had (really incredible) butternut squash ravioli with sage brown butter. The pasta was so delicate that you could see the filling through it. That came with sautéed spinach & root veggies. We also drank a lot of tea...Roots tea for J & 2 teas for me. One was a very strong green tea that tasted of fish oil or maybe vitamin E oil (Hojicha, I think it was called)& the other was chamomile with lavender.
Saturday morning, we stopped by Current Cuisine for a bite to eat (an empanada for me & a sausage, egg & cheese croissant for her), then headed down to visit her mom in Cincinnati. We grabbed a couple of caramel macchiatos on the way.
We played cards with J's mom...gin rummy. Her aunts came just as we were leaving, so we stayed a half hour longer to chat with them. Then, we stopped by Jungle Jim's to get a fruit & cheese feast to share with my mom. We stayed longer than we meant to, so had to hurry home.
Once changed into dressier clothes, we headed to my hometown for the Women's Voices Out Loud event. My mom met us there...she had spent Friday night & Saturday visiting with my grandparents. The show was wonderful, with lots of poetry & dance, a great visual arts show, and some prose readings. There was one lovely musical piece, as well. J read wonderfully & got a lot of applause, as always. I got to see a few old friends. I met one old friend's wife & son for the first time. Another friend was a good friend in high school, but moved away shortly afterward, so I hadn't seen her in about 17 years!
After the show was over, we went home (my mom was spending the night) & had a late supper. We had French bread, good olives, Medjool dates, quince paste, d'Anjou pears, Pink Lady apples, green grapes, kiwis, strawberries, Italian salami, Parmigiano, Taleggio, Maytag blue cheese, a good French brie, Haloumi, and dill havarti.
In the morning, we got over to the church early to help our Sunday school class set up for coffee hour. We took a loaf of apple cinnamon bread, a loaf of lemon poppyseed bread, blueberry spread, cinnamon walnut spread, & raspberry spread. After a busy coffee hour (finishing up usher duties & going to both a Program & Worship meeting AND a Sunday school teachers' meeting), we ducked out for brunch.
We took my mom to The Winds. She had a raspberry scone & fresh fruit, J had an order of migas, & I had corned beef hash unlike any I've had before. Afterward, we went poking around the some books & a stained glass lamp that was on sale for a quarter of the usual price! It will go in our bedroom.
My mom & I hung out in the church office to answer phones before the afternoon concert, then J joined us for the concert. It was a duo called Mazaika. They played violin & accordion. They did everything from Vivaldi's "Spring" to "O Sole Mio" to tango to traditional Gypsy tunes. It was WONDERFUL!!! At the reception, we got to chat with them & see their beautiful baby.
Post-reception, we headed home to greet the boys. They had KFC for dinner while the grown folks had more fruit & cheese. J fell asleep pretty early, while my mom & I stayed up & watched "Bowling for Columbine" before heading to bed. We had a delightful visit!

Thursday, March 10, 2005

Day of Browns & Greys

The weather has been particularly blah...chilly & grey, with all the earth & trees turned a hundred shades of brown. But, it's still so beautiful! That just amazes me! I was sitting at Derr Road Inn today looking out the picture windows at the brown fields, brown earth, brown bark & clinging leaves, grey-brown deer, grey sky...and it all looked gorgeous! Certainly not lush, but lovely in its own spare way. Of course, with it being spring...or nearly soul is longing for Florida, Coastal Georgia, the Carolinas. I always want to head South as spring is coming. I could cheerfully spend a week strolling the beaches of Sea Island. Oh, to stay at The Cloisters just once. What a silly dream, but there it is.

I have been doing pretty brown & grey activities, too...nothing exciting. Nice, though. After listening to the boys sing Tom Jones yesterday, I went to Bible study. It was an interesting one, on the dry bones. Resurrection of the body always escapes my memory, even though I SAY it each week. But, I don't really THINK about it. It means that I can still smell hyacinths & taste taleggio in the afterlife...or, that's what it means to me! I made a specifically pro-gay prayer request (of thanks) & our pastor didn't feel right just saying it at that moment, but he found a way to word it that was genuinely meaningful. I am so relieved to have him as our new pastor. He is good for the church.

Our Wednesday lunch was at Frisch's this grandmom gets so tired of Bob Evans. I know she probably wishes we could go to Little Saigon or someplace more exciting. My granddad, on the other hand, could eat at "The Bob" every week, I think. So, I couldn't resist the vanilla Coke & I had some very good fried catfish. It's not Uncle Bud's, but it was good. I loved licking the cornmeal bits from my fingertips.

I did some extra writing exercises yesterday & that felt good. Tomorrow, I will have to find time to finish my review. I have the women's circle in the morning, but after that I could write. I want to start taking walks, too, as Julia Cameron advises. I am really enjoying "The Sound of Paper" (I think that's the title...).

Last night, the boys had been promised Burger King, so we got that to go. Dinner was a quick meant we got the boys to bed right on time, though. That was good because it meant WE got to go right to bed. I read awhile before I slept, but I got to sleep before 10 for a change. I felt so alive this morning. The light is changing, too...I expect that helps.

Today, I spent too much time on poking around. What fun it is there! I do find a decent amount of snobbery on the message boards, though. Ugh.

I had lunch at Derr Road Inn, watching the deer & eating a wonderful grilled turkey sandwich, reading my book & taking notes on creativity exercises I can try. Lots of interaction with strangers there, which I love. On the way in, I helped a woman get her mom's wheelchair out of the trunk. I was so happy to be able to was pretty frustrating for a few minutes because it was wedged in there so tightly. After my meal, I asked the older couple behind me how their pulled pork's hard to find it up here & even harder to find it done well. We ended up in a conversation about food in Nashville. They used to go down there for horse races & told me about Cock of the Walk. They also told me about a place they used to go in Las Vagas where much of the food prep was done tableside. Restaurant as entertainment...I love it!

Afterward, I stopped in to see J at work. She was busy, but happy to see me. And her accountant called me into his office to get the scoop on a hole in the wall in Waldo that is supposed to have sublime fried bologna sandwiches. I haven't had a good one since I left Nashville.

Boot had an orthodontist appointment & we ran some errands. Those stooopid crickets, but I can't let the frog die. And I purposely went to the grocery with a Starbucks inside so I could have some of that appalling wonderful chocolate drink. It's been awhile since I indulged & while indulgence is NOT what my waist needs, it was delicious.

I must go cook...we are having sesame pork, brown rice, and steamed broccoli. Mmm...

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Office Work & Poetry

Yesterday was full of what should have been mundane, but it all felt delicious. The reheated St. Lucia bun I had for breakfast felt delicious, especially the alchemy of swirling just the right proportion of powdered sugar with milk to create a drizzly glaze that reminded me of the King Cake I always make during Mardi Gras. Throwing on a ballcap from Munch's in St. Pete felt delicious, with its memories of trips to St. Pete past & anticipation of Florida later this month. Even working in the church office felt delicious, as though I am really doing something good to help...and am getting refreshment in return.

I always take my basket of recipes over when I go, something to keep my hands busy between phone calls & chats, often about food, with B. Yesterday, I had a fun assortment...things like chocolate wontons with ginger ice cream (and I was transported to that summer ice cream making class I took from Jeni...and reminded I need to interview her for the book), pear mimosas, foods that transport my imagination to a different kind of life, one of friends coming over for brunch, soigné dinner parties, an always-busy social life. Really, my social calendar is pretty full, with poetry readings, dinners out, game nights, book group. I just always think about entertaining in an entirely different way. Maybe someday I will give an elegant brunch for a few close friends.

I toyed with the idea of walking to L's to let her dog's only a mile and a half from here. But, the wind picked up & reminded me that walking in the cold wouldn't be at all pleasant. So, I drove over & let myself in. Salsa was happy to hear me & I let her out of her daytime space & into the wide world. She was all long legs & Lab enthusiasm, puppy-kissing me over & over as the cats watched, disgusted. While she did her thing, I hung out with the cats...stroking Sushi's soft black & white body, scritching Popcorn's gorgeously orange head. I love that L & B have named all their animals with food names.

I allowed myself some library time, even though I am currently immersed in a few books from my big stack...Adriana Trigiani, Julia Cameron, Rachel Ashwell. They didn't have "Pride & Prejudice" on cd...I need to brush up for book group, since we are reading a book based on it...but I did find a book on New Orleans, a book on Carnival, a book on Halloween. I ought to be reading Presbyterianism & theology, but that can wait for now. I mailed invites to book group, then headed home to play with more recipes. I went through the local Junior League cookbook, a nice mix of yummy recipes (BLT bites was one) & local history. I sometimes think about what it would be like to be a Junior Leaguer or a College Women's Club member. I remember going to G's luncheon at the Women's Club & thinking, "My god, this is just like something out of a book or movie". It was fascinating & I wanted to be part of it that day. Maybe a part of me still does. And maybe I should. But, with what time? I have to laugh at myself for being such a joiner.

I allowed myself the frivolity of working on my cookbook a little, too, before I got ready for the poetry reading. J came home, allowing me to go pick up the boys. I sat down a minute or two with their friends' mom, B, who is a book group member & someone I consider a friend. All the children came & hung out as we talked & I thought about what a nice clan she has. I am happy for my boys to be friends with hers. She is a good mom and also manages to remain very much herself. That is, she is MORE than just a good mom.

L had arrived when I got home, so we were soon off to the poetry reading. I had decided not to read. I am not really a poet & besides, I have been so often racked with coughing lately that I was afraid I would lose it on stage. But, I had a great time talking with a fella named John and one called Mose, about goings-on in our county, about "Nickel & Dimed", about Castro, about writing. I found it interesting to find that other writers just accept me as a writer. I so often feel like I am a sham because I don't have books published, don't slam, don't make my living at writing. But, I AM making money from my writing. And I WILL have a book published, if I just don't give up hope. It's funny to me that Maya Angelou said she feels like a fraud...was that the word she used?

The reading was a little disorganized, as the usual host was gone & the gal who was subbing was not real happy to be there & not real willing to be flexible. She was pretty uptight. She wanted to do everything by the book & if a certain number of poets didn't show up by a certain time, she was NOT going to hold the open mic. So, she held us up & held us up, looking at the time over & over on her cell phone & pacing, looking impatient & irritated. We audience members/poets chatted amiably with one another while we waited almost an hour for her to get things rolling. Finally, Mose got up & started playing notes on his big, gorgeous bass & John started a poetry riff. I think that about sent our sub host over the edge, but what a relief it was for someone to take action. The only negative, aside from the edginess vibrating from the host gal, was the cigarette smoke. I would be happy if the state banned smoking in public so I wouldn't have to go into coughing fits at gigs & readings. I love to hear J read...she is a great writer & her presentation is great, too.

I should get the Tom Jones-singing children fed & off to school...why do my kids love Tom Jones??? Do most 10 &12 year old boys go around singing "What's New, Pussycat?" at the top of their lungs before school? It's quite surreal. Better than Eminem, with his homophobia & misogyny, at least. Harmless, if odd.

Monday, March 07, 2005

Christmas in March

The weekend started Friday morning, really, because J took the day off. We finished up a few things we needed to do for the trip (with J making gift tags & me doing a couple bulletin boards at church) in the morning. Then, we hit the road for West Virginia. It was a hilarious trip because we didn't get a book on tape & J was bored out of her skull. So, we were pretty slap happy the whole way down & spent the time laughing hysterically.
We checked into the hotel & unloaded the car. Then, we got into the hot tub for awhile. After showers, we drove out to my almost-grandma's for dinner & celebrating her birthday & my mom's (since we hadn't been able to get down there in December when we usually celebrate). I had made a chocolate nemesis cake & we had that for the birthday cake. I helped my mom make dinner, too...we had parmesan rice, green beans, & a big salad. Then, they opened their gifts. J spent time with my mom's partner poking around on the internet, too. When we got back to the hotel, we collapsed into bed.
In the morning, we had breakfast in the lobby & spent some time coloring. Then, we went back to the room & finished tagging the gifts. Once finished, we headed out to my almost-grandma's.
Since there were so many gifts to be opened, we had brunch (fruit, cheese, and Swedish saffron buns) & started opening gifts. It was really fun...I think they loved what we picked out!
We took a break to make dinner when my mom's partner came down the hill. He & J got on the computer again. My almost grandma came into the kitchen & chatted with me & my mom while we cooked. We made spinach lasagna, "Emeril bread" (Italian bread with a topping of mayo, artichoke hearts, green chiles, garlic, & parmesan...broiled until the topping is bubbly), fruit, & salad.
We opened more gifts, then looked in our stockings as we ate more of the chocolate nemesis. One of the coolest gifts I got was a treasure ball...a roll of crepe paper streamer wrapped into a ball with tiny gifts randomly wrapped into it...beads & candy & fun little things like that. Those were from the North Polar Bear & his nephews, Paksu & Valkotukka. I am sure they hand-rolled them! I also got a wonderful letter from Father Christmas.
Sunday morning, we had breakfast & read our books in the lobby. Then, we packed up our things. My mom arrived & we all spent about an hour lolling in the hot tub discussing philosophy & religion. My mom said that when she was driving into town, she was passing people going to church & thinking she was going to HER church. It was interesting that our discussion headed the way it did.
After we checked out, we took my mom to TGIF for lunch, then started home. We got a tape to listen to this time, so J wasn't quite as foaming-at-the-mouth bored.
Yesterday evening, I stayed with the boys while J went to the practice for next week's poetry reading. Then, she fixed dinner for us & we watched a little CSI before bed.

Now, we are back to the real world of dishes to be done & work to go to. There is still plenty of joy...we just have to look harder for it when we aren't on vacation.

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

March is Here!

...and it came in like a lion cub, if not a full-blown lion! The children are out of school & thrilled about that. The snow was enough to make my honey fishtail 3 times on her way in to work, but the roads look clear now. Of course, with the cold I have had, I have not been out, even to get the mail. I finished Jeffrey Deaver's Praying for Sleep and started a book called The Hot Flash Club. J wants me to go to the doctor, but I think she will just tell me to drink plenty of fluids & get plenty of rest. I am drinking lemon-ginger echinacea from Knudsen's & hoping it will help.

Despite being sick over the weekend, it was a fun one. Here's what I wrote for my lists:

Friday night, we went to dinner at The Winds. We had our usual waiter & it was fun to laugh with him. The food was excellent. For her appetizer, J ordered seared scallops with a walnut-kumquat marinade. I had the cheese service, which was great...Pierre Robert (a wonderful French triple crème that J likened to smelly feet), Humboldt Fog (one of my favorite domestic blues, and about which J said, "Why do you eat things that taste like the underside of a man's scrotum that's been living in a nursing home for 14 years???"), a manchego & a parmigiano (both of which J adored), and a really interesting goat cheese with an ash rind...all accompanied by medjool dates & quince paste.
We each had a cup of their beyond-exquisite cream of mushroom elixir...I mean, soup. We split a bitter salad with a pumpkinseed oil dressing. For our entree, we split rosti-crusted bass served with lemony green beans. Dessert was dark cocoa mocha ice cream with a shortbread cookie.
After dinner, we went home & went to bed, sleeping in until 8 Saturday morning. We had breakfast (the banana walnut pancakes are phenomenal) at Clifton Mill (, then poked around my hometown's shops. We got some good coffee at Dino's, then headed to swimsuit shop at Target. The lack of selection in my size is always frustrating, especially when J has such a wide range to choose from. But, I did find a nice suit.
After our shopping excursion, we had dinner at Longhorn was late enough that we didn't have to wait 2 hours. After bleu cheese steaks, we headed home.
Sunday morning, J tried to talk me into staying home in bed with hot tea while she went to church, but we both ended up going. Then, we went shopping for book group food & spent the afternoon cooking.
There was a game "night" at church from 4:30-6, so I whipped up some guacamole & we gathered together our favorite games (Scattergories, Imaginiff, & Magnetic Poetry) for that. J spent the time playing Magnetic Poetry while I got whupped at Trivial Pursuit by our pastor...finally, someone willing to play with me!!! I whupped him at Scattergories, though. LOL!
Back home, we finished cooking our Australian book group fare. We had read "The Road from Coorain" by Jill Ker Conway. I made Australian meat pie & scones (which we served with double Devon cream). We also laid out some basil crackers, sheep cheese, and thin almond wafers. With this, we served Foster's beer, some Shiraz from Australia, and hot tea. The food was great & the discussion was, too. Most of us hadn't enjoyed the book, as it was quite bleak. But, we did have respect for the writing, since it very effectively made us feel the bleakness!!!
After choosing the next book & rounding up children (our boys are friends with some of the other women's boys, so it makes sense for them to come on over, too), we said farewell to our company & hello to bed!

Then, yesterday, I spent the day in bed with a box of pink tissues, a book, & a few cats. I got dressed when J came home from work wanting to go to Bob Evans for dinner. It was a blustery night, just deciding to snow rather than rain, so the comfort food was perfect. Our waiter was quite good, too...friendly & down to earth.

We tucked in to bed as soon as we got home...J rising only to put the kids to bed 45 minutes later. It's nice that they are old enough to be left to play without direct supervision.

I am still not feeling 100% up to par, but I am so tired of being in bed that I am going to take the boys to the grocery & cook some good Cuban food for dinner.