My mom & stepdad are visiting.

I took the week off of work.

These are two things that instantly make my life exponentially better.

Nothing but fun this week!

We started the week off with this one’s 10th birthday:


That kid’s face kills me. I just love being his mother.

And, of course, we had a 10th birthday bash, complete with a bounce house:


Fun was had by all.

Then it was time for some mom & daughter bonding time over mani/pedis:


And I noticed my peonies are getting ready to bloom:


I made the most scrumptious lemon bars ever:


And I may have drank a little red wine:


And watched a little soccer (or a lot of soccer):


Unfortunately only from the car on Thursday because I developed an awful cold & cough mid-week and couldn’t be out there on the field like I normally am at my little guy’s practices.

My folks are going to head home in a day or two and I will reluctantly resume my chaotic life as usual. Sad they are gone but thankful they came at all.

Oh, and they introduced us to a fun dice game called LCR, Left Center Right. I think this would make an awesome drinking game:


That’s my week so far in Instagram. Part 2 may be following shortly!

Have a great weekend all,


San Francisco, my city home

I’ve been in San Francisco for the last 3 days and every time I’m here I experience something new, incredible and glorious. Whether it’s the time I spend with my friends/co-workers or the different places we go, it’s always a wonderful addition to my memory bank.

This week was, in some respects, harder for me than usual. I felt weighed down with a heavy emotional burden and it was hard to shake that at times. But I did, thanks to the people I’ve been with here, and it’s helped me a lot.

Though I’ve been in the city for work meetings this week, we always manage a bit of play. My friends from our London office are generally the life of the party and they certainly didn’t disappoint this time.

First, just two blocks or so from my hotel was the Blue Bottle cafe. Now, I’m not a serious coffee person. I like my chocolate with coffee rather than the other way around. This place is not meant for people like me. These people are serious about their coffee. Take a look at this contraption – they tell me it’s vacuum-sealed brewing or something but it just looks like a chem experiment to me:


We ate at the Wayfare Tavern, a Tyler Florence restaurant, in their Bartlett Room. I’m not sure what Bartlett they are referring to but I prefer to think of President Bartlett (in the utopian society inside my head):

The food was excellent. The tri-tip melted in my mouth like prime rib. Awesomeness.

That day I gave my presentation at our meetings. It was received with thunderous applause and accolades while confetti was shot from the ceiling and showgirls danced. Okay, fine, there were no showgirls. There must have been confetti though, right?

The meetings culminated in last night’s “holiday” party at Harry Denton’s Starlight Room at the top of the Sir Francis Drake Hotel. What a treat! We sang, we danced, we cried! (oh, no, the crying was when I got back to my room and pried my high heels off my swollen & bruised feet. Why oh why must we do that to ourselves? I can barely hobble today.) It was glorious and I wouldn’t change a thing.

Here are some views from the Starlight Room:

The Westin St. Francis towered over us:


And we towered over Union Square:


But, to be honest, I think my favorite picture from the trip was taken in a quiet moment in my hotel room. I was contemplating friends, relationships between them, life and its ever evolving nature, as I sat in my hotel window watching the sunset. My room overlooks Yerba Buena gardens, St. Patrick’s Cathedral, and the Jewish Museum. As dusk was settling in and the rain was starting, these little lights popped on and they were so random, and somehow elegant, and they beautifully illuminated this gloomy eve.

A patch of light in the falling darkness:


San Francisco is my city-home. I don’t live my life here but I feel at home whenever I visit. “Save me, San Francisco,” indeed.



What kind of week has it been?

Well, my friends, it has been quite a WEEK. I tried to slack-off, I really did. Despite my best efforts I actually earned my pay this week. In fact, I may have kicked some well-needed booty too. (I’m being cheeky – just go with it).

No, but really, work is killing me. Like, to death. I have worked 10-12 hour days entirely too much this week. Early meetings with the Brits and late evenings playing catch up. I don’t typically talk about work here – and I’m not going to start now – but because of the horrendous week I seriously need a pick me up and OH MY GAWD thank goodness it’s Friday. Friday before a 3-day weekend no less – bonus!

So let’s look at some of the good stuff that has happened over the past 6(ish) days:

On Saturday we got our 7 year old a big boy bike and, oh my goodness, he’s actually a BIG BOY now. But he’s my baby too. Tear. He and his brother spent the weekend riding bikes together. Look at them on bikes together. Just LOOK. It was just YESTERDAY when they were babies, right?

On Sunday I went crazy and got on a cooking trend that still hasn’t let up. Every day this week I’ve made something new. It’s my goal to eventually get the recipes up here, and the pictorials as well – for the ones I actually did pictorials on – but I can’t guarantee how quickly that will happen. In the meantime here’s a few things I made:

Because I knew I had a heinous week ahead at work and with my little one starting school this week I decided to make breakfast burritos in advance.

Here’s the ingredients:

And apparently I made 12. Aren’t these pretty? 45 seconds in the microwave and I have a portable, protein-rich breakfast meal. Yum.

Monday night I made fried rice for the first time. No pictures. I was in the zone. It turned out well. I said YUM and so did the hubby.

Tuesday I made pesto for the first time ever. Seriously! And with basil from my own garden. It was so, so good. And then I cooked some chicken, baked some pizza dough and threw it all together with zucchini and tomato for a yummylicious pizza. Like whoa.

And I’ve been obsessed with fruit this week. Pineapples and strawberries are manna straight from heaven. (I didn’t really cook anything here, except some whipped cream. I just had to include the picture because of the YUM factor).

It’s a good thing I’ve munched on so much fruit because tonight I decided to make sweet potato tempura. Deep fried (oh the horror) with a Greek yogurt and garlic dip. I ate it too quickly to take pictures. Nom nom.

I’ve also managed to work-out a couple times this week so far. Last night I really wanted dessert but I put my work-out clothes on and GOT ON THE ELLIPTICAL INSTEAD. Gasp. I can hardly believe it myself. I must have been a rainbow sherbetty blur on the elliptical in my pink yoga pants, orange tank and teal blue sports bra. Stylish, I am. (Thank goodness my husband loves me).

But do you want to know the best thing I did this week? The very best?

I was a mom to my boys. I squeezed them and kissed them and tucked them in at night. I sang a lullaby to them every night before bed. I got them up in the morning and picked out their clothes and helped them get ready for school. I fed them. I cuddled them. I loved them.

I made this one giggle and smile naturally. He doesn’t do that much; he’s usually all about the cheesy fake smile when the camera comes out.

And I got this one off on his first day of 2nd grade at a new school. I was so nervous, and we had some hitches from, as my mother-in-law put it, the “ineptitude of the adults around him” (not meaning us, but school & district officials) and he, my little dude, just breezed through and he’s adjusting wonderfully.

And that, my friends, has been my week. I guess it was pretty awesome after all.

On Vacation, Part 3: The party’s over already?

Last Thursday morning when we woke up we knew we had less than 48 hours left in California. At least me and the hubby did. Time to cram EVERYTHING IN that we hadn’t done yet. Oh, wait, that’s not possible? Okay, let’s go to the coast instead.
We crammed the 6 of us into my stepdad’s truck, plus all our junk for an overnight stay, plus snacks – because, helllloooo, ROAD TRIP – and we were off! Then we stopped at 15 places like the bank, the gas station, Rite Aid, etc., before we left town. But then we were off!! Woo-hoo. 
We made it about 45 minutes to Kettleman City. If you don’t know, Kettleman is a town that survives for the sole purpose of being a major pit stop for people traveling down the I-5 corridor. Back in a previous lifetime I used to go on patrols in this town with a law enforcement type friend of mine so I got to know the area better than most people who pass through. There’s very little to recommend it other than all the country roads, away from the light pollution, and the gorgeous starry skies. Oh, and the In-n-Out Burger. Yep, forget the starry skies – In-n-Out is probably the best thing about Kettleman. 
So, duh, we stopped there. Now I typically order straight off their simple menu – just a cheeseburger (no grilled onions or tomatoes), but In-n-Out has a not-so-secret-menu that they don’t advertise. You just have to know what to order. For examples, you can say you want your burger animal style and they will add pickles, extra spread & grilled onions and Mustard fried into the patty. Or a 4×4 is 4 meat patties and 4 pieces of cheese – this is the largest burger they will serve. You can also order a Flying Dutchman – you can Google that one yourself. Or, if you are brave, just order it next time you swing through In-n-Out and find out what it is. But, hey, cool, right? Secret menus FTW. 
Okay, back on the road after our burger fill. Morro Bay or BUST! And my bladder nearly did. But we made it to our hotel/motel place. (Never stayed there before. It wanted to be good but it just didn’t quite make it. Sad Panda.) But YAY. Morro Bay. 
Morro Bay. Ah. My heart belongs to Morro Bay. I love Cambria and Cayucos and now Avila Beach as well, but there’s just something about Morro. It tugs at me. It’s my spiritual home. I want to eventually live there. In my good, long retirement years. (Fingers-crossed).
We drove out to the rock first thing. What rock, you ask? Well, this one:
Confession: I didn’t take this pic. I don’t know who did, but I do know that I love Google Images. Amen.
Big, right? And awesome too. 
So we went out to the left side of the rock and hung out on a little beach there for a while. I snapped some Instragram pics (duh) while hubby and the boys climbed all over tarnation. (Spell check doesn’t recognize “tarnation” as a word. Obviously spell check isn’t Okie or Southern at all. It’s a word, dang it). 
Boys. Hubby. Tarnation. 
I perched on a rock (not THE rock. a significantly smaller one) and snapped away. This was at the rock (yes, THE rock) looking back at the little coastal village that is Morro Bay:
And then I said, oh, look, there’s a boat!! And let’s use a different IG filter:

With a boat or without, with an IG filter or not, Morro Bay is gorgeous. It’s quaint. It’s touristy but not. You get the impression that the locals just go about their business and they don’t mind the tourists too much at all. There’s the embarcadero for that, but the little downtown area really shouldn’t be missed; little book shops, antique stores, unique coffee places, and all with a coastal charm. Love, love, love. 
We stayed at the coast that night and until about 4 pm the next day before jumping back in the car to drive the 2 to 2 1/2 hours back to my hometown. Then the hubby and I packed and fretted about leaving our boys with their Grandma & Papa for “up to two weeks.” We had made the decision long ago but that didn’t make it any easier. In the end, we got up the next morning at 3:30 AM, kissed our sleeping boys, and drove to the airport. We were back home (via two planes and 3 airports) before they even woke up. 
It’s been 5 days since then and they tell me they don’t want to come home. They want to stay at Grandma & Papa’s where they can swim every day and go kayaking at Shaver Lake and go to the Zoo and go to the movies and go to Adventure Park as well. Well, YEAH. Duh. So apparently Grandma & Papa will return them kicking and screaming at the end of next week. Something to look forward to.
Oh, yeah, one last thing. 11 years ago today this happened:
Don’t we look ridiculously young? We were. We were leading with our hearts. Happy 11th wedding anniversary to my life partner. Mwah!
(And, yes, there was nothing in the champagne flutes. They were/are awesome, and engraved (thank you Auntie) but at the time the photographer wanted to snap the pic we didn’t have an champagne or sparkling cider available. C’est la vie, I always say.)

Things I love in this blog post? At least 3: Morro Bay, vacation, and my guy. (In no particular order).

Not quite Wordless Wednesday: Peonies, and some unfortunate euphemisms

Do you say Pee – uh – nee or Pe – OH – nee? We’ve been discussing this at my house and the hubby says one thing and I say the other. Well, I looked it up today and this is what I read:
Pronunciation of “Peony” Plants and Word Origin:
The standard pronunciation is pee’-uh-nee (accent on the first syllable). However, many people place the accent on the second syllable: pee-oh’-nee. As is often the case with anglicized versions of Latin words, rulings on what should be the standard pronunciation seem rather arbitrary. The word derives from the Latin genus name, Paeonia, which, in turn, derives from a figure in Greek mythology, Paeon (see below). If you want to be safe, stick with the standard pronunciation: pee’-uh-nee.
So, I would say that both are acceptable, right? I don’t think I can teach myself to change the way I say it so it shall be acceptable (so sayeth me).

Here’s the original:

I had to hold the stem up because the Peonies are so heavy they droop. (Like a couple other things I know and have to hold up sometimes as well. You know, sometimes you have to be big to be glorious. The heavier they are the more impact they make. The bigger the better. Size is impressive. I could go on. What? Sheesh).

Peonies. Peonies. Peonies. It’s fun to say either way.

Slacky McSlackerton here

Hi, it’s me. Remember me? I used to try to post a couple times a week but lately not so much and I feel badly about it. There is life happening here, you see. And life takes precedence over blogging. It must otherwise I wouldn’t have anything to blog about, right? 
It’s after midnight on a school/work night and I’m going to have to make this brief. And full of pics. Instagram, to be more specific. Because I can’t find my real camera again. For reals. I DON’T KNOW WHAT’S WRONG WITH ME. *sigh* Moving on. 
So these things have been happening:
We had a mini-twister hit our backyard. It was the weirdest thing. Knocked one tree down, and lifted and twisted a small tree nearly off its stump. And killed a duck. Sad. So this is the big tree that fell:
It leaned like that for a week before we got a tree service out to chop it down. For mucho moolah, might I add. Grr. But they left the rounds for us so we can use them as firewood next year. Can I just say that’s some pretty dang expensive firewood?
Since the weather has finally started to get Spring/Summer-like we’ve also been doing a lot of work in the yard. We’ve planted a few plants and have just been cleaning up some of the beds. I love that my kids get involved now so much more than they used to. I took this 2 days ago and the light was just perfect (you can see our oldest sweeping on the right):
We’ve also had a lot of this going on:
But this Saturday was the first time he actually made it home during a game so it was monumental. He has batted last in his previous two games, but on yesterday’s game he batted first. He’s doing great and getting better each game/practice we have:
I love that pic. Great light. But, because of that light I developed a sunburn. Unexpected and weird. I was wearing a cap and v-neck t-shirt so I have half a face sunburn and v-shaped redness on my chest. Weird. (I won’t torture you with that pic.)
After that game was over yesterday the rest of the weekend was about getting ready for my sister’s visit. My (step)sister from Australia, to be more specific.
She’s awesome. I first met her in ’98 and I’ve seen her maybe 2 or 3 times since then. The funny thing is, she went to my high school 5 years ahead of me but I never knew her. I didn’t meet her until after her mom & my dad had been together for quite some time because she had moved to Australia. She met an Aussie in SLO in the early 90’s and followed him back to AU and stayed. I like her a lot and we get along great. I wish I had known her a long time ago. Not that I wish my parents had split earlier than they did, but it would have been cool to have an older sister like her. She has a pretty awesome husband and two kids as well. Every time the kids speak I think they are going to sound like Americans and then they sound totally Australian and it’s too freakin’ cute.
So, interesting side note, my sister worked at the Australia Zoo with The Crocodile Hunter, Steve Irwin, and his wife, Terri. Terri is an American – she’s from Oregon – and she and my sister became friends. My sister has always been an animal NUT and the Zoo was an ideal place for her to work. Don’t believe me? BAM!:
That’s my sister feeding Harriet – a 166 year old tortoise.
So the cool thing about their visit tonight is that our husbands never met before and we hadn’t met their son (though my sister and her daughter were here a couple years ago). I was excited.

I got up Sunday morning and did a few things in the yard and then started the food prep for 10 of us. We were going to BBQ, but my husband has had performances (he’s an actor) both afternoons this weekend so a lot of the prep was left in my hands and it was a LOT of freakin’ work. I started the food prep about noon and didn’t finish until 4 pm. At which point I still needed to clean the house and shower before they got here at 6:30. I started to PANIC. Then I died. No, not really. Just felt like I might.

Food prep consisted of marinating both chicken & beef for kebabs, cutting up and marinating all the vegetables, making a greek spinach, feta & pasta salad with a homemade dressing, making a fruit salad and strawberry cheese fruit dip, and making cookies. 4 flippin’ hours, people, with nary a break – except to make lunch for the kids and occasionally play referee to their bickering:
But, thankfully, it all turned out lovely and oh so yummy:
And my boys got to play with their Australian boy cousin for the first time – as only boys do:
Once the wrestling stopped we got the older girl cousin to sit down with the stinky boys and we clicked a few pics of them:
Love it! Love them. Great night with fun people. Now I’m utterly exhausted and apparently I have to go to work tomorrow. Really? Because I feel like I’ve been working all bloody weekend. I guess it’s not the same. 
Off to la-la-land for me. G’day, mate!

Sometimes I’m a lucky girl

My company HQ is in San Francisco. Coincidentally, I love San Francisco. Always have. Sometimes I have to go visit my HQ to do work type stuff. When that happens I take full advantage of the opportunity to visit my California family.
So last Thursday night I packed a small bag for the weekend and got my booty into bed by midnight. I set the alarm for 5:30 AM. Then I lay there. And I tossed. Then I turned. Then I tossed again. Then I moved to the sofa. Sometimes I can sleep on the sofa when I can’t get comfy in my bed. 2 am, 3 am, and finally, blessfully, I fell asleep around 4 am. I had moved the alarm to 6 am. Yeah, you do the math.
On the way to the airport I saw this:
When I got to SFO I took the BART, because I’m thrifty like that, to my HQ’s BART stop near Market:
And schlepped the few blocks, partially UP HILL, to my office in SOMA. It was an absolutely, unbelievably gorgeous day:
I worked for a while. I had a successful, productive meeting. I found out that our HQ has a “Zen room” (more like a Zen closet) which I said was very Zen-like and my co-worker corrected me and said, no, it’s more IKEA-like. But, you know, that works for me.
After a few hours there, I took the BART back to SFO and picked up a rental car. In fact, I got a BRAND SPANKING NEW rental. It only had 70 miles on it. Sunroof, leather seats, satellite radio. I dug it. And I hit the road. And parked. In San Jose traffic. It took me 2 1/2 hours to travel 42 miles. Frick ‘n’ frack was I annoyed. And tired. Did I mention that I was operating on only 2 hours sleep?

Finally, around Morgan Hill, CA, I hit open road and I kept going until I hit Fresno County. At which point it was about 8 pm and I had to pee. And felt a powerful need to eat a little something too. But, thank goodness I didn’t need gas because that’s where I saw this:
Holy preposterousness, Batman. For reals.
And then I got a text from one of my best friends from high school, Alicia. I call her Leash. Her brother’s band was playing at a dive bar that night in my hometown and could I come? Pretty please? And bring my mom since her mom was going to be there too? Um, yeah, SURE! Because I may have only had 2 hours sleep and flew across 3 states at dawn, and been in meetings all day and on the road for 5 hours but OF COURSE I’m up for hitting a dive bar with friends to listen to a rockabilly band. Duh.
So this happened:
It was sorta dark in there and my mom couldn’t figure out how to work the camera on my phone. At this point we were all laughing at her. That’s Leash on the right. And on the left, Kristen. We all reminisced about getting into a fender bender in Kristen’s car on the first day of my Freshman year. Probably the first time my mom let a friend drive me anywhere. Yep. Kristen & Alicia look exactly the same since HS and I hate them. Except that I love them. Moving on.
I spent the weekend with my Mamacita. This is her in her backyard. It’s my own personal Zen place. Her house backs up to a field so it’s super quiet and there’s very little light pollution so I can lay out there in the patio loungers and listen to the fountain and look at millions of stars. Om.
One of the biggest reasons I came to my hometown this weekend was to see my Grammy. You see, she’s the best Grammy EVER. Without exception. Even my hubby says that she’s the best – and he had a pretty amazing Gram himself.
Here’s me and my Gram:
I was laughing in this pic because she was clutching her blouse up around her neck in order to hide her “turkey neck.” She is so silly. The best parts of me, my cousins, my mom & my aunts all came from her. She’s ornery, nurturing, loving, understanding, and the epitome of gracefulness. Except when she burps out loud. Man, can she burp. And snore. My goodness. Oh, how I love her.
I also spent a good part of the weekend with this dude:
Okay, so his hair is a little crazy in this pic, but he’s still cute right? And he has kind eyes. He’s my cousin. He’s my brother/cousin. And he’s single. Swoon, ladies, swoon. Also, he’s 30 and he likes older women. If you live in the valley and want to meet him just email me. (He’s also a journeyman/electrician looking for steady work so, you know, email me for that too).
Saturday night something momentous happened:
That’s JONI! Yeah, THE Joni. My blogging inspiration and altogether-awesome-person Joni. And that bitty baby is Ella. I tried to hold Ella. She took one look at me and screamed her adorable little head off. C’est la vie. But I did get to try one of Joni’s chocolate cupcakes with peanut butter frosting. Delicioso. (That baby WILL like me someday. I’m determined).
Sunday afternoon I packed up my fancy rental car and headed for the bay. I pit-stopped at Harris Ranch in Coalinga. I sang my way along I-5 and 152 over Pacheco Pass. I smelled the garlic in Gilroy. The drive went quickly and before I knew it I was standing at the window in the airport looking out at the bay and thinking how much I love California. Politics, finances, even pollution aside – I love California. I love the way I feel when I visit. I love the roads that I know by heart. I love the colors. I love the ocean, the country and the mountains and that in one afternoon’s drive I can experience all three. Until we meet again, California: 
Sometimes I’m a lucky, lucky girl. 

Bitchfest & IG LW review

I’m annoyed. For several reasons:
  1. I’m at work and it’s Monday. 
  2. I’m getting a cystic/nodule type acne bump on the side of my chin. I could ignore it but it freaking hurts. Like I-can’t-forget-it’s-there kind of hurt. So that sucks.
  3. What started out as a nice Mother’s Day yesterday went south in the middle of the day when my kids completely forgot that they ever had manners to begin with and proceeded to act like whiny, annoying, born-in-a-barn, selfish 2 year olds. They are 9 & 7. I was taking THEM shopping for stuff for THEM. On Mother’s Day. Ungrateful little wretches. People used to compliment me about their manners. What the hell happened??
  4. My oldest decided to continue this trend through this morning when he laid on the floor for 30 minutes because we were making him wear jeans to school that make his butt look big. For reals? I mean, really? He’s 9. He’s small. 51 inches tall and maybe 52 pounds. Nevertheless, kicking, screaming, pounding the floor tantrum this morning. He is grounded from the TV & the computer now.
  5. We decided to try an ADHD med for my little one this weekend. He has never taken ANY meds, and there’s some concern with treating the ADHD because the medicine can cause Autism characteristics to become “worse” or just more defined. Well, we tried one on Saturday and, OMFG, the child turned into a holy terror. We were in survival mode with him until it wore off. I held him until he calmed down and then quietly handed over the the Wii remote and slowly backed away. So, yeah, we won’t be trying that again. I would rather deal with his concentration issues than that mad, angry and aggressive little spawn of satan.
  6. My insurance guy keeps calling (when I’m not home so I just get these annoying messages) to sign up for a service or I’m about to lose a discount for the next 6 months. This is my thing: I obviously was signed up for it the last 6 months – why the hell are you bugging me about it again? When I sign up once I expect it to stay in effect. Do you really think I have time to deal with ONE MORE THING? And I have to carve out the time to do this during the day while I’m at work. 
Which brings me back to WORK. I try not to talk about work too much here – but I just have to say something. I’ve been doing this job for over 5 years. Which is a long time, in this field, to stay with one company and in the same position. I’m getting a little freakin’ burned out. I’m tired of the same problems and the same non-solutions. Home annoyances on top of the typical work stuff makes days like today really hard.
I would love to be Susie Sunshine and see the bright side of every thing, every day – but that’s just not me. Sometimes I can do that. Other times I want to wallow in my annoyance with the world or just go back to bed already. 
I know I’ll get over it soon. Except for this stupid cystic pimple. That’s going to take several days and a lot of oil massaging.
So enough bitching. Here’s a look at how last week (LW) went, in Instagram (IG):

Sunday: We shot off the rocket my 9 year old got for his birthday. It was SO COOL.
Monday: I took my little guy to his developmental pediatrician. This was in the waiting room. 
Tuesday: I got new specs.
Wednesday: We went to see Wicked. This is the stage before it started. It.Was.Awesome.
Thursday: There was a duck in the road. I persuaded her to move for her safety.
Friday: Read Night at my oldest’s school. Every year we put on a puppet show for the event. We = my husband as the puppeteer with help from a nephew and friend. It’s a real crowd-pleaser. 
Saturday: The hubby got all handy and installed our new water heater.
Saturday: During the medication snafu: angry eyes and a thunderous brow.
Saturday evening: Hot water. Bubbly toes. Fantastic.
Sunday: Mother’s Day breakfast in bed. Crepe with Nutella & whipped cream. There was bacon too but somehow it disappeared before the picture was taken.
Sunday: some of my Mother’s Day loot. Chocolate (of course), funky socks, and homemade books. Plus a card with a tropical island and tropical music in it (no drink with an umbrella in it though). I also got a color bowl (flower pot) for the front porch AND, drumroll please, I did not have to wash a dish all freakin’ day. Hallelujah!