Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Sweet Valentines

We started the weekend picking up the boys (yes, both of them for a change). I had some trepidation about how it would go to have Boot around again. In fact, my chest got progressively tighter as we drove toward their home. It was certainly different than weekends with Pie only, but he was very nice to be around and we didn't even have to contend with them fighting all weekend. I wasn't too keen on his conversation in the car the whole way home, all about his aspirations to join the mafia or the military, his plans for bootlegging whiskey (he tells us he has a still now, which I actually believe but can do absolutely nothing about but pray that it breaks before producing anything or blowing the house up with my babies inside), etc. He elicited several "That's nice, Brother" comments from Pie, which cracked us up. He said it in such an offhandedly calm yet thoroughly condescending manner. Boot cracked us up by telling us how amazing "ladies" are & that we don't even realize we're amazing. He said, "A lady could get me to do a lot of things" and I responded, "Well, we certainly haven't managed to!" Pie said, "Oh, burned, Brother!" to that.

Once we got home, Pie descended to his cave to play X-Box Live while Boot climbed up to his room to fall sound asleep. He'd been at a slumber party (Pie's term-Boot says, "It's not a slumber party when it's men! It's a sleepover!) the night before and had only gotten 2 hours of sleep. So J and I ate some of her plant's amazingly good bean soup and settled in with recipes (me) and a jigsaw puzzle (J). I also got to talk to my dad about our upcoming visit. He is encouraging us to check out Key West while we're down there. I think we shall, although it will have to be a down & back trip in one day because the room rates are exorbitant this time of year. 6 and a half hours on the road for a day and sunset in Key West somehow seems quite reasonable to me after doing nearly 4 on Tuesdays and Thursdays just for classes for the past 2 and a half years.

Saturday morning, J brought my gift to bed, in a beautiful bag with lovely tissue that had hearts cut out from it. She gave me a sweet collection of gifts: a book on the Beats, a "Bee Mine" bear, Valentine-themed stickers, a Dragonfly tin that's designed to hold a mini pen and paper, a deck of slumber party activity cards, a mini heart box of chocolates, a bouquet of heart candies, some conversation hearts, a packet of Hershey Kisses that says "You go, Social Girl" (although Boot, helping pick it, wanted to get the Sporty Girl ones. LOL!). I hadn't got hers finished yet, so after a bacon, egg and cheese biscuit and a trip to the grocery with my love, I dropped her off and went to the bookstore for the rest of Valentine's (I gave her an "I love you to the moon and back" mug and a booklet of love coupons that I hope she'll actually redeem) and for her birthday, which is tomorrow.

Pie played his games most of the afternoon, emerging for homemade pizza, and Boot hung out with J while she worked on her puzzle. I spent much of the afternoon researching new recipes. It was such a grand luxury to have the time to do that and not feel guilty for playing when I should be doing something productive. I made Alice B. Toklas' gypsy goulash for dinner. Pie was not hungry (could it have been all the brownies & cupcakes?) and Boot found it was not to his liking, so J heated up some alfredo sauce for him to have over his noodles. Then, the boys went to bed and we watched a little t.v. and sipped some Framboise.

Sunday morning, I got up and taught Sunday school (K-2, which was really fun) while the slugabeds dreamed away. By the time I got home after church, only J was up. She made grilled chocolate sandwiches for us and wondered whether she should wake the boys and make them spend some time with us. While I would've liked to see more of them Sunday, I also feel like they don't get much chance just to relax and be teenage boys at home. So, I suggested just letting them sleep in. We did rouse them for another homemade pizza before leaving for their father's, but otherwise let them sleep while J worked on her puzzle and I looked at magazines. Very relaxing Sunday. Until, that is, Pie decided to play his techno music so loud through his headphones all the way home that I wanted to bang my head against the steering wheel. J could hardly hear it, but it was loud & clear to Boot and me. Neither of us particularly likes techno, but we just had to put up with it. I wanted to play the audio book I'm listening to (Isabel Allende's The Sum of Our Days) but since I knew no one else wanted to hear it, I just gritted my teeth and listened to the same exact damn beat for almost 2 hours. Ugh! Toward the end of the trip, Boot got thoroughly irritated and said, "Okay, if you're going to play that game, I'll play, too" and turned on his country music blessedly loud, drowning out the incessant dance beats. Really, as annoying teenager traits go, listening to techno too loud is hardly on the scale. It may have driven me batshit, but it's tame & we're lucky.

After the boys were deposited back at home, we drove home and I made our real Valentine's dinner. I went bistro-style, with croques monsieurs, pommes frites and steamed artichokes with lemon butter and garlic dijon aioli for dipping. It was all amazing and we had a good time remembering our first artichoke together at Tarpy's Roadhouse near Monterey and the croques monsieurs we had at Mon Ami Gabi in Las Vegas. That Tarpy's artichoke was J's first ever and she has loved them since. I was introduced to them as a small child when visiting a family friend in Toronto and I adore them, too.

Monday, February 09, 2009

L is For Live Blues, Library Book Sale and Lebanese Food

Friday afternoon, I had coffee with a young man who attends our church & went on the mission trip last summer with me. He is bright & funny & really seemed to need someone to talk to. We visited for 3 hours, then I headed home, arriving about half an hour before J. When she got home, we commenced our L date weekend with an evening out at the local blues club for live music (and some of the very worst BBQ ribs I have ever eaten in my life).

Saturday, we relaxed with coffee & chocolate croissants before heading out for the second leg of our L date weekend, the library book sale. After gorging ourselves on books, we sat in the sunny library cafe and read for awhile. Then, it was time for her to run a few errands and me to meet the woman who was interested in having me tutor her kids. She turned out to be very nice, someone I'd hang out with on purpose, and the kids seem very sweet. She agreed to my price and I agreed to her terms and I walked out of her house gainfully employed. When I got home, I practiced my sermon a couple of times before we headed out for L date part 3, Lebanese food at Aladdin's. She thought of everything! Dinner was marvelous (we started with falafel and sfiya, moved on to a Lebanese salata and then I had an arayiss rolled pita and J had the Jasmine's special with tuna steak-menu at www.aladdinseatery.com). After dinner, we poked around the bookstore a bit and stopped by the outdoor fireplace on the way back to our car. Then, we lounged on the couch & loveseat with books until bedtime.

Sunday morning, I preached at both services in church, then we visited with folks at coffee hour. After church, J made us grilled cheese sandwiches before we went out to poke around Half-Price Books, T.J. Maxx and Lowe's. We capped off the afternoon with an early dinner and trivia-playing at Buffalo Wild Wings. Then, J spent the evening playing with her new watercolor set while I hung out and played online. She'd never tried painting before because her brother is supposedly the artist in the family. However, she turns out to be quite good! What fun! We went to bed early with books so that she could get up at early thirty for work.

Monday, February 02, 2009

Super Bowl? What's That?

Friday, J went to pick up Pie while I awaited the arrival of my mom & auntie with my things from my grandparents' house. I'd brought some of it up with me earlier in the week, but there were some larger boxes & some furniture (like a jelly cabinet made by my mom's partner-yippee!) that wouldn't fit in my car. So, I baked banana nut bread and when they arrived, the house smelled all nice & cozy. I gave them a tour & then we unloaded. My aunt was exhausted, so she headed on over to my aunt & uncle's house. We followed a little while later, joining them for Chinese food and a good visit, complete with lots of happy Golden Retriever panting. Meanwhile, J took the boys out to dinner in their town. Then, she dropped Boot off at his friend's, where he was spending the night before their wrestling tournament. J has consistently given the boys the choice to stay in town & participate in wrestling matches or come with us for weekend visitation since the season started. Boot has consistently chosen wrestling and says parents are a distraction at tournaments. Because of work obligations, we haven't been able to stay in town anyway. But we don't want to keep either of them from participating in sports. Pie has consistently chosen to come hang out with us for the weekend. Right after dinner, I got a phone call from J & Pie. He got on the phone with me, my mom & my aunt, telling us he loved us in a really funny voice, making us laugh. When we returned from my uncle's, they were home & we had a nice visit. Pie showed my mom his video game. He is such a delight on these solo weekends. It's amazing how different the dynamic is when it's only him. He is so laidback and affable that it's really easy to be around him.

Saturday morning, we made a nice hot breakfast for my mom and did some visiting. Then, she was headed home all too soon. J and I went to the grocery & library, then came home for lunch with our boy. She made peanut soup and sandwiches. Pie didn't try the soup, but happily munched on sandwiches & hung out with us. Then, we watched a video of animals playing and started "Finding Nemo." Sadly, the disc was all scratched up & I didn't even get to see my favorite part, the seagulls. Oh, well. For dinner, J made a spiral ham she'd found on deep discount. It was delicious with au gratin potatoes, salad and baked beans. She made a cherry pie for dessert, but we were all three stuffed to the gills. We did some reading, t.v. watching & video game playing and had a fairly early bedtime. I ended up staying awake longer than I intended to because I was trying to finish the Rita Mae & Sneaky Pie Brown mystery in which I was immersed.

Sunday morning, while Pie relaxed at home (something I suspect he doesn't get to do a lot of at his father's), I went to teach the pre-school kids about baptism at church while J went in to finish up some things at work. She made a good lunch when she returned home, then it was about time for Pie to pack up & be taken home. We stopped to get him a meatball sub on the way home, then dropped him off. We played games in the car all the way home, then J turned on the big game when we got home. Disgusted with the score, she turned on the Puppy Bowl instead & we ate our soup while we rooted for the adorable pup who curled up & went to sleep on the field. We liked the German Shepherd, too, who hung out around the edges of the action.