Everything Old is New Again

The first day of 2012 was a bit like many nights in 2011 and yet, it was different from many days in 2011.  It was different in the sense that Juan and I hosted an open house for the New Year, something we haven’t done before.  In previous years, we entertained a lot, hosting  a big Christmas open house, and several dinner parties throughout the year.   2011 came and went, and except for a family dinner in September and Thanksgiving, we did not have anyone over for dinner, or drinks, not even a sandwich.  I realized that I needed to change that so, at the last minute, we sent out E-vites and invited people to come over. It was a really good time. Even though we did not have as big a turnout as we would have liked (I think something went wrong with the emailed invitations), we had a nice mix of people from our church, our work, and even our neighbors.  I made black-eyed peas for New Year’s luck and we had a good spread of appetizers and drinks.

January 1, 2012 was also a bit like many of the nights we had in 2011. In 2011 we spent a lot of time at doctor visits, and waiting rooms in hospitals and urgent care centers.  About halfway through our open house, Erica started feeling really bad, with symptoms she had experienced before.  She toughed it out for a couple of hours, and as soon as I was able, I left our party and took her to the ER. Luckily, all the guests that were still at our party, were very understanding and gave me the excellent advice to go to a different hospital, away from the craziness of Pasadena on the night before the Rose Parade. Erica was treated quickly and we got out of the ER in about 3 hours. Unfortunately, by the time I returned to my party, it was over. Ah well. I heard from all the guests, and Juan who stayed behind to continue hosting, that the party was a lot of fun. I just hope that we can get through 2012 with more parties, and fewer hospital visits!

During our party, one of our guests invited Juan to go to the Rose Bowl.  Juan accepted, but after the last guest left and the party clean up was over, he felt tired enough that he began to regret that he committed himself to getting up early and going to an all day event.  I told him that expanding our social circle was one of our goals for 2012 so he had to go, and he had to have a good time. When he came home from the game, his voice was hoarse and his face sunburned, but he had a fantastic time. Even though he didn’t have a favorite team to cheer for, the friends he went with were Oregon fans, so Juan ended up sitting with the Duck fans, and cheering right along with them.

Juan and friend in a sea of Ducks.

While Juan was enjoying his first ever Rose Bowl game, I stayed home and tried to get some house projects done. I was feeling the anxiousness that I usually experience when I have to return to work after a long weekend, or the end of a vacation, and I realize I haven’t accomplished what I planned on getting done.  I spent most of my morning packing up Christmas, grateful that we had pared down on the decorations this year. It only took 6 plastic bins to contain all my Christmas decorations.  Despite the fact that it was a gorgeous day, with temperatures in the mid 80’s, I stayed indoors, packing up decorations, doing laundry and cleaning. Then, Diego asked if I could do something special with him.  He wanted to take a ride on his scooter.  I thought to myself, it’s a new year, and there was laundry and cleaning to do in 2011 and there will be laundry and cleaning to do in 2013–I need to do something different, now. So, he got on his scooter, I got on my bike, and we took a ride around our neighborhood with our neighbors.

It's a beautiful day in the neighborhood.

We ended up a our local gourmet ice cream shop, Carmelas. The place has all kinds of interesting flavors, Salted Caramel, Spicy Strawberry Sorbet. I had the Meyer Lemon, and Diego had a cup of Brown Sugar Vanilla Bean. At $3.50 a scoop, it isn’t cheap, but it’s not everyday, that you break out of the old habits, and get a fresh start on a New Year.

Diego at Carmelas.

 Two days into 2012. How’s your New Year going?

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?”

Happy Birthday To Me

Yesterday was my birthday. It’s a big number. And while I don’t feel any older than I did when I was 30, or even 40, I am quickly closing in on an even bigger number. My mind and heart feel youthful, but my body insists on telling me that I am getting older.  The funny thing about birthdays at this point in my life is that it makes me think of my own mortality and what it is I want to leave behind. Not that I am at all close to leaving this world, but for me, my birthday is a good reminder to hit the pause button and and assess where I am in my life. I have a teenage step-daughter, a tween son and step-daughter and a kindergartner. All their ages are wonderful, (with the exception of maybe some of the social awkwardness that comes with the tween/middle school years, and the adolescent angst), but I would never want to go through those ages again.  Even my 20’s and 30’s while, those years certainly had high points, it’s my 40’s have been the best decade so far. I feel, dare I say, like an adult. I am still young at heart. but I am old enough to know better, and have experienced enough to look back and think, why did I not know then, what I know now? I am adult enough to have a mortgage, a good career, responsibility for someone besides myself, yet I feel young enough to enjoy life and laugh at myself. Case in point, take a look at me dancing with Julie’s 2 year-old daughter Ty. I have to laugh at how ridiculous I look, but also smile at how silly and spontaneous that moment was.

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Dancing_fools.MOV (1057 KB)


We celebrated my birthday this year with a family barbeque. It was fun, low key and just nice.  I also treated myself to a good workout, and a mani/pedi. The workout was great, at my Bar Method class. It is soooo hard. But it makes me feel strong. I love feeling like my body is changing, shaping itself into a better, stronger version of me.  The mani/pedi was long overdue. When I walked in I decided I would get a fun color for my toes. Something current, something fun.  I chose a beautiful blue. I was going to go for the predictable, understated French manicure on my hands, but in a risky, impulsive move I told the girl to give me blue on my hands! So here it is! An age inappropriate color!  E, my 12 year-old and O, my 14 year-old both had something to say about the color when I got home. E said, “Wow. That color is so surprising. It’s kind of unexpected.” I think what she really meant to say was, “Wow, what kind of color ARE you wearing?” I like that it’s unexpected, and surprising. I think keeping something unexpected and surprising in your life is good. It’s good on a birthday, and it’s good anytime you want to feel young enough to be silly, and old enough to feel confident to do something surprising and unexpected.



 This was a good birthday. My family was together. N showered me with kisses and presents. J did everything for the barbeque– from prep, to cooking and clean-up.  While the celebration was simple, it was special. It was a special day because we marked it together, and it made me stop and look at where I am in life. And when I heard D sing me this song he made up, I knew that whatever assessment I could make about my life, I would probably be too hard on myself. I was reminded that my life is meaningful, because I am valuable to the people I love. Here’s D’s song…”I love my mommy. (Repeat 3x). She is so beautiful. She is my queen. She is my commander. She is in charge of me.”


Happy Birthday to me!