What Counts?

17 Oct

I have spent the last couple of weeks cooking dinners for my family. This came after I realized we were eating out sometimes as much as 5 or 6 nights a week, mostly due to poor planning and laziness. It’s not healthy for us, it doesn’t set a good example for Michaela, and it’s really expensive. Mike has traditionally done the bulk of our cooking, but he’s been working a lot lately, including a lot of nights out of town, so I though I’d pick up the slack.

I follow a pretty healthy number of food blogs and am always bookmarking things that seem interesting, so I mostly have been going through my bookmarks to find things that sound good or work together (e.g., buy broccoli for stir fry, use the rest of it later in a pasta dish). It’s going okay, although I have to admit, a few days in, I was exhausted. Tired of cooking, tired of thinking about cooking, tired of washing dishes. I have mostly gotten over that for now.

Some of the stuff I’ve made has been really good. Other stuff, only okay. I track it all in this Tumblr, where I add little notes about what I changed in the recipe, how everyone liked it, etc., so if you’re interested in my hits and misses, that’s the place to look.

Last night, I made ravioli with sage, walnut and spinach brown butter sauce. The recipe called for store-bought ravioli, which got me thinking– does it really count as a “homemade” meal if you buy the major ingredient? Does it matter? Are my expectations too high as far as my nightly dinner making goes? Am I crazy to want to try different recipes all the time, especially since it kind of stresses me out to have to get home and get dinner ready? Would it be wrong to pull out a frozen pizza once a week? It’s still eating at home, but it’s… not “real” cooking.

Does any of that even make sense?

It’s not a contest. It probably doesn’t matter in the scheme of things. But it’s something I have been thinking about a lot since I started cooking dinners.

Earlier this week, Mike was out of town and I had some veggies and an open jar of spaghetti sauce, so I decided I’d be lazy and we’d make pizzas on pita bread. Michaela was thrilled to get to top hers (she chopped up her olives so it looked like a spider), said it was the perfect amount of food, and she really enjoyed eating it. Maybe that should be enough?

Who knew dinner was so fraught with deep questions?!?

Only 1 Year Left

11 Oct

When I turned 35, I made a list of 40 things I wanted to do before I turn 40. I have been working on it little bit little, but there’s a lot to be done still. In fact, when I went through the list just after my birthday, I was feeling pretty good about crossing things off… until I realized that even with all the new stuff I’ve managed to accomplish, there are still 21 things left on the list to do!

Looks like it’s going to be a busy year…

#8

5 Oct

Mike and I got back from Mexico City on Sunday; Monday was my mom’s cancer procedure (short version: directing chemo right into the tumor, to shrink or kill it), which required an overnight hospital stay so I was with her Monday and Tuesday at the hospital; and Wednesday I was back at work, but offsite all day coordinating media stuff. Thursday was a normal day and then Friday, I flew to San Francisco for my 8th annual girls’ trip!

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I felt kind of bad turning around and being gone again (from work and from home) after being away so much, but we book the trip a year out, one of the girls just had a baby, and I really needed the time with my friends. The weekend flew by, between lounging and shopping and eating (hello, Slanted Door!) and meeting the baby (who is adorable). Only 51 weeks until we can do it again…

CDMX

5 Oct

When I studied in Mexico City, everyone called it “el DF,” for “el distrito federal,” or “the federal district.” You see, Mexico City is like Washington, DC, in that way. It’s the capital of the country, which is made up of sates (just like the good old U.S. of A.).

Now, though, it’s “CDMX.” Way hipper, more Instagram-friendly.

You can say that in some ways about the entire city. It’s changed a lot since I was there! Of course, it has been (gulp) nearly two decades!

Mike and I walked across the border and flew out of Tijuana. It was a snap, and the TJ airport has a VIP lounge we could access, so we waited for our flight in extra comfortable surroundings. We landed in CDMX about three and a half hours later and took an Uber to our Air BnB.

What an amazing thing Uber is! Plug in the exact address of where you want to go and then watch as your driver navigates there. No more being dependent upon a taxi driver who may or may not know where you’re going and who may or may not take the most direct way there.

In the city, we ate a lot and walked a lot. We had a nine-course dinner at Pujol, which is one of the top restaurants in the world and was absolutely amazing. We also ate at a place called Zefiro. It was a wonderful experience; the restaurant is in a former convent and everyone is a final-year culinary student. The food was really yummy and the girls who waited on us were so sweet, I wanted to take them home.

Mike got pick pocketed on the Metro. They stole his phone right out of his back pocket. Bastards!

We went out to the pyramids and climbed the Pyramid of the Sun. When I was in Mexico before, I went alone. It was more fun to go with Mike, who cheered me on as I hauled my now-middle aged ass up the giant pyramid.

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We saw the Diego Rivera murals at the national palace with a private guide because neither of us brought our ID and you can’t go in without one… unless you hire a guide.

We got caught in several thunderstorms. I’ve never heard it thunder so hard!

We went to several markets and saw everything from live goats to supplies for witchcraft to beautiful fruits and veggies.

It was really great. Our anniversary wasn’t  really on my radar with everything else that’s been going on, so the whole thing was an incredibly loving surprise. I’m a lucky girl!

Anniversary Surprise

16 Sep

The last few weeks won’t go down in anyone’s books as the best ever. We had a scare that my mom’s cancer had spread into her bones, but it looks like that’s not the case and so we’ll be moving forward with a type of targeted chemotherapy. My mom called me to let me know she’d made an appointment of Sept. 24 for the procedure, which requires 1-2 nights of hospitalization (depending on how she reacts to everything). I, in turn, let Mike know. And Mike replied asking if she could put it off by a day or two.

I was floored. What a rude, insensitive thing to ask! She has been dragging her feet about having any treatment and she goes ahead and does it and he asks if we can move it? For what? I looked at the calendar and he was set to be out of town, but I didn’t see what that had to do with the procedure.

“You’ll be out of town with me” he said.

“Huh?”

“It’s kind of a surprise. Do you want to know?”

“Yeah.”

“Are you sure?”

“YEAH.”

Well, as it turns out, Mike has been planning since July a trip for our 10th wedding anniversary. He worked with my secretary and my boss and his secretary to block three days on my calendar. He’s flying his mom and stepdad in to watch Michaela and he’s taking me to Mexico City for a five-day getaway.

I sat at my desk and cried as he told me all that. I feel like basically since the end of July, I’ve been triaging my life, just dealing with whatever was most important at that moment or on that day and letting everything else slide, including (especially) taking care of myself. So for him to have planned this trip — a trip to a place I love, that I’ve been telling him for 10 years I want to take him to, to show him where I lived and went to school — it was just so thoughtful and sweet.

And while I’d do anything for my mom, thinking we wouldn’t be able to go was a giant bummer, to say the least.

I told Mike I’d talk to my mom to see if she could move it by a day. When I called her, she said the scheduler had given her the option of Sept. 24 or sometime in October, so obviously we can’t move the appointment.

I was just about to call Mike back to tell him to cancel the plans, or to see if we could come home a day early, or I don’t know what, when he called me back to say he’d gotten the dates wrong and that we come back on Sept. 23, not the 24th, so nothing has to change at all: we can go on our trip and I can be here for my mom’s procedure!

I have spent the days since then floating on air, dreaming about our trip. I have to get through two days of work and then we’ll be off to CDMX, as people call it these days. I can’t wait!

Where to Begin?

4 Sep

Things have been insane since I last wrote.

It’s really too much to go into in detail, but the short version is, my work team has been operating at 50% capacity after one employee left and was out for a while so work has been extra busy; the house we bought needed a bunch of work; packing and moving all our stuff was a huge stressor; my mom was diagnosed with cancer and I’ve been taking her to a lot of medical appointments; and Michaela started third grade.

The good news, in no particular order, is– our new house is lovely (and will be even nicer once we’re able to fully unpack once we install floors in the two bedrooms and two living rooms downstairs). It has a hot tub and I’ve taken a couple of soaks to relax and decompress. The kitchen, our bedroom and bathroom, and Michaela’s bedroom and bathroom are unpacked, so now we can function in our daily lives. On the work front, the employee who had been out came back today and the process is underway to hire a replacement for the person who left. Michaela is rocking third grade. Her teacher said she’s “a fantastic student and an incredible helper. My mom is in good spirits, even if we don’t have a good sense yet of what her prognosis is.

I’m trying to look on the bright side of things.

Living Well

30 Jul

Michaela and I participated in our third Live Well San Diego 5K this weekend. It was super hard to wake up at the crack of dawn (we’d been out late the night before at a friend’s house) but we managed to make it on time for a team picture and then kick off the race. We finished in about an hour, which is pretty standard, and Michaela did very little complaining. The race people changed the course this year so it was much more along the water than down the middle of city streets, and I highly enjoyed that. All in all, it was a wonderful experience. I’m glad we have established this mother-daughter tradition!

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Odds and Ends

23 Jul

It’s been a while!

Let’s see, what’s been going on…

Mike went to Vegas for a bachelor party so I decided to plan a little getaway of my own. Michaela and I went to Palm Springs. It was HOT but we had a blast. We did the aerial tramway, visited the Cabazon dinosaurs, played in the pool, ordered room service, and generally lounged and relaxed. I feel so lucky to be able to travel with Michaela. She’s a great companion and we have a ton of fun together.

My college roomie (hi, Way!) and her sister (hi, May!) came into town and we enjoyed catching up over dessert at Extraordinary Desserts. I love that place, but more importantly, it was so nice to spend time with my old friends! We’ve known each other since 1996 so when we get together, we pick up right where we left off last time we were together.

We went to Oklahoma for our annual trip with Mike’s family. We were 12 people (one nephew was missing, but we’ve added one since last year) and it was as fun as usual. Michaela went tubing, I read four books, we all slept in late and ate like gluttons.

I attended a conference for work in Orange County. This is a national conference so is in different places each year; it was nice to not have to go too far this time. Mike’s close friend from college is now working in school PR after nearly two decades in TV news and he attended the conference, so Mike and Michaela came up one night and we all went to dinner together. It was really lovely.

We bought a new house! It’s in the same neighborhood where we currently live, but on a much quieter street. The house is much bigger than our current home and backs on to a lovely, peaceful canyon. It’s on a street full of families with kids, including a couple Michaela knows from school.

We’ll be selling our current house. We have now bought three homes, but this will be the first time selling one. I’m nervous!

Before that, though, we have to finish packing, make the changes we want at the old house, and get this place ready to sell. At least I’ll have a good excuse for not blogging too much here!

 

June Happenings

26 Jun

Where did June go?!?

This month, Michaela finished second grade.

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She missed the last day of school, though, because she and Mike jetted off to Colorado the day before school ended. Mike headed off to Greely to work while Michaela had a rockin’ week with her nana and papa and I enjoyed blissful solitude. The highlight of each day for me was talking to Michaela and hearing about her adventures. They had a fancy meal at a steakhouse for Father’s Day (“I had a ceasar salad and a blueberry-herb sorbet palate cleanser that was soooo good, and a New York Strip Steak that was overcooked but I ate it anyway, and coconut creme brulee!”), did a gathering with my mother-in-law’s extended family, saw “The Incredibles 2,” painted in Papa’s art studio, baked banana bread (Michaela told me she liked mine better! I was shocked.), went to the mountains for a picnic (and there was still snow!), and generally had a great time. Michaela eventually flew – solo – from Denver to Austin, TX, where she met Mike, who had flown there for another gig. They spent a couple of days enjoying Austin: tubing, kayaking, watching the bats, eating at Waffle House, etc. It sounded like a really fun getaway!

I have been super busy at work. We are in the middle of a re-branding effort and last week launched a whole new logo, mission statement, tagline, and more. So I’ve been working long days (which was made easier by the fact that Mike and Michaela were gone for 10 days). I found out I am a finalist for the San Diego Business Journal’s 40 Under 40 award and won three awards from the National School Public Relations Association. So all is well on that front!

Last weekend, we hiked Cowles Mountain as a family. Its summit is the highest point in the City of San Diego. The trail we took had a high degree of difficulty, and I honestly thought I was going to die at one point (not because my legs hurt but because I was dehydrated and started feeling really dizzy). When we made it to the top, though, all that was forgotten. It was beautiful and I was so proud that we had all done it together!

We held the 2nd annual block party for our street, which was super fun. Mike pulls permits and we close our street from 2 to 10 p.m. The kids run wild on bikes and scooters, there was an inflatable waterslide, we ate like pigs (carne asada and pollo asado tacos, brats, tri tip, grilled corn, pot stickers, a million desserts, ice cream… the list goes on an on), some neighbors put up an outdoor screen and hosted a movie in their front yard. People came not only from our street but also from a couple of surrounding ones. It’s a really lovely way to build community. We’re lucky Mike had the idea and puts in the work to make it happen!

We’ve got a few days left in the month and then it will be July. On the agenda: our annual trip to Oklahoma, the National School Public Relations Association conference in Orange County (CA), zoo camp for Michaela, and hopefully more adventures!

If It Weren’t for You, Mom

1 Jun

As the school year ends, kids always come home with lots of written pieces, old tests, corrected homework, etc. Michaela yesterday brought me something I assume was intended to be a Mother’s Day exercise. When I read it, I was thankful she didn’t give it to me!

If It Weren’t for You, Mom

By Michaela, Age 8

If it weren’t for you, Mom, I could eat lots and lots of candy

If it weren’t for you, Mom, I could watch TV all day

If it weren’t for you, Mom, I could stay home and play

If it weren’t for you, Mom, I could stay up late

But if it weren’t for you, Mom, I would not have someone to make me lunch everyday.