« September 2009 | Main | November 2009 »

11 posts from October 2009

October 31, 2009

Halloween Craftiness

I have always been terribly jealous of those who are naturally crafty.  Whether it is sewing, stamping, or scrapbook(ing), I always feel light years behind the curve.  1,000,000 blogs about those who handcraft everything from their child's Moses basket from organically grown reeds in the backyard to those who send out gorgeous hand-made cards (on time, mind you) to each and every person they know for everything from birthdays to Halloween don't help.  In fact, they have only increased my desire to figure out where my inner crafty person is hiding, and how I could get her to magically appear for my kids' sakes.

While I love to make cards for people, I usually run out of time before I can think of anything to do.  I have no problem copying other ideas, but that isn't always as satisfying as knowing that you created and produced something unlike anyone else.  So after drooling over Shannon's craft room last weekend for the umpteenth time, I decided it was time to come up with an idea, and just do it.  I figured I would shoot for completion, rather than perfection.

IMG_3286 IMG_3287 Miraculously, I came up with an idea almost instantly. (By the way, this is absolutely necessary in order for me to purchase the needed supplies.  Otherwise, I buying oodles of unrelated stuff, and never actually do anything with it.)   I have no idea how this happened, nor can I guarantee it will ever happen again.  However, what's done is done, and without further ado, I present this year's Halloween cards for my little (and somewhat bigger) pumpkins.  They aren't terribly fancy, but they were started AND finished prior to Halloween night.  In my book, with 3 kids, a nutty cat, and an otherwise crazy life, that's a start.

October 30, 2009

It's that time of year again....

No, I am not going to regale you with Halloween photos, or bug you to buy wrapping paper*, candy, or magazines (sillies, we did that last month!)  This is a bit more important in my mind, and could involve nothing more than the donation of your time, provided you are living in the East Bay.  It is time to start preparations for the annual Tri-Valley Basket Brigade.

If it doesn't sound familiar, you may have missed last year's posting on this event.  Not to rehash, but I was desperately searching for volunteer opportunities which could involve the entire family.  We planned on adopting a family for Christmas, but also hoped to do something sooner, and equally as hands-on.  A brief mention on one of my moms groups led me to this site.  Lo and behold, the operation happened to be run by the co-leader of my other moms club.  I eagerly signed up, and the rest is history.

I have already written on the topic, and won't belabor the issue, but trust me when I tell you this was one of the most fulfilling activities we have done as a family.  There is no tax deduction, and no reimbursement for anything.  You totally and completely give to others, without getting anything in return.  Oh, except for the look of stunned delight when the person cautiously opening the door realizes that they will have a Thanksgiving. 

The best part?  The delivery.  My biggest fear was somebody saying, "No, we don't need charity".  However, I needn't have worried.  No one declined, and in fact, after we finished our route, we were disappointed to only have delivered two baskets.  We will definitely look to up our numbers this year!

I realize not everyone reading this is in this area, but if you are, and wish to participate, please click on the link above, or in the note below.  If you cannot make it, but wish to help, drop-off donations are gladly accepted.

Here is a brief note from Katherine, one of the founders of the Basket Brigade, with a few more details:

The Basket Brigade is a Thanksgiving food drive that allows food donors to connect personally with a family in need.  On Brigade Day, participants bring food and clothing items and gather together as a group to create beautiful Thanksgiving baskets.  Once the baskets are assembled, participants have the opportunity to deliver a basket personally to a Bay Area family in need.  Bags containing food, clothing and personal products are also compiled and delivered to the homeless. 

The Brigade will be held on Saturday, November 21 at 10am.  For more information, and to participate, please sign up on the Brigade website: trivalleybasketbrigade.com.

*I do want to add that I was pleased to see this year that Kelsey's wrapping paper sales may have benefited Heifer International.  I don't yet know the results, but hoping to hear soon if her class helped, and will post accordingly.

October 25, 2009

October Showers

Today could have been miserable.  Not only was the weather a bit iffy by some standards (not mine, I love rain!), but the traffic was a tangled, knotted mess when we least expected it.  However, too many good things happened today to make it anything but a happy success.

We started off the morning with a visit to old friends, two sisters very close in age to both Caitlin and Kelsey.  Cait has known the older sister since she was a year old, amazing given our lifestyle.  For whatever reason, jet lag, three years since we last saw them, tween angst, Cait was a bit nervous and shy.  However, they had time to catch up a bit, and promised to keep in touch.  

After a quick lunch, we scurried off to Janet's house to finish prepping for the shower with only a brief detour to check out the old house. Yes, we still do quick drive-bys, but they are totally for her benefit.  She freaked out about the "new tree" in front of our house (our old renters planted it), and, of course, bemoaned having to leave the neighborhood (4 years ago, but I get it).

Classically, we got caught in a nasty mess of traffic on 236 or Little River Turnpike.  Turns out we were lucky, though, as we missed the bulk of the storm. We arrived at Janet's in time to get ready for the shower, and head out for a few more supplies.  Then, the fun began...

IMG_3218 IMG_3215 Guests started trickling in at the appointed time, and then the Mom to Be arrived looking happy, relaxed, and just a bit pregnant courtesy of the adorable bump.  Drinks (Habibi Fizz & Lemonate) were served, games (Which TV Mom are you, Fill in the Nursery Rhyme, & Woof or Waa) were played, and the Mezza cuisine brought guests back to the table for seconds and thirds.  It was a combination of Lebanese Taverna, Trader Joe's, and Whole Foods at their best.

After (or during, for some of us) the Mezza, the gorgeous array of gifts was opened.  Shannon's Little Lad will have no shortage of clothing, toys, bath items, or sailing accoutrement.  The afternoon ended on a high note of chocolate cake (gorgeous and incredibly rich), and treats from a local chocolate shop. Without a doubt, the afternoon went off without a hitch, and the glow of happiness from the mom to be just lit up the room.

IMG_3200Babybib All of the thanks are due to Shannon's incredible circle of friends and family, both those who there in person and those who could only attend in spirit.  While Jen Pope organized the shower from top to bottom, to include the homemade cake (and frog atop the cake!), Janet was the official shower hostess.  Some of you may remember that she also hosted my baby shower eons (I mean, years) ago when I was pregnant with the wee one who was old enough to play bartender (simmer down, non-alcoholic drinks only) today!

Caitbecky Babyloot Ann and Erin created tasty beverages, and games that had everyone interacting.  Caitlin not only turned out to be a magnificent bartender , but also a waitress, taking plates and refilling so that all could truly relax and enjoy the day.  Nor can we forget everyone who drove in for the day from the extremely happy Grandmas, to cousins, co-workers, neighbors, & a last-minute drop-in for a photo-op from Jack, Janet's husband and photographer extraordinaire.

Note: I took the photo of the favors and the bib.  All other photos are courtesy of Janet, with the exception of the group photo, which was taken by Jack.  Many thanks to both of them!  Oh, and the significance of the bib?  It was my second crafty project of late.  The first was another bib that I did not feel photo-worthy, but gave to Shannon anyway, as I am sure it will still come in handy at meal time. The last picture is of Caitlin standing next to Grandma Happy (or Becky, Shannon's Mom)...love the shot, thanks, Janet!

October 24, 2009

T-Minus One Day and Counting

With all we had to do to get ready for the shower, today just blew by.  We had numerous errands to run prior to meeting up with Janet, and I had neglected to remember that DC/MD/VA traffic is not always kind, especially when it seems every road is under construction.  Oh, wait, it seems that way because it IS that way.  If it wasn't the beltway, then it was every other road I decided to take, thinking one might be a short-cut.  As if!

KelseyVampWe ended up getting everything accomplished that we possibly could, and that included a delightful dinner with Janet and Jack.  We headed to Carlyle Grand (and, yes, most definitely called ahead!), and enjoyed lobster pot-stickers with the seared rare tuna salad.  It has been a favorite of mine for years, and the rest of the dinner menu barely gets a glance.  Cait was thrilled to see that they had added a tenderloin to the kids menu, and eagerly gobbled that up.  It was a late night, but we were so glad to take a break and just catch up.  It didn't hurt that we were able to do so in yet another local hot-spot introduced to us by Janet.

 Back home, well, they had a busy day?  I am not sure Pete slept much (Nicholas thoughtfully woke him at 5:30 a.m., and did NOT go back to sleep as usual), but he managed to get quite a bit done around the house, and chauffeur Kelsey around.  Not only did she have choir practice, but that was almost immediately followed by the Girl Scout Halloween Bingo.  Dressing up was (of course) on the agenda, and Kelsey had a chance to try out her costume before Halloween, just in case anything would need 'tweaking'.  I think it was a long day on both coasts, but interesting (in a good way) to have a bit of role-reversal for a change.  In fact, perhaps wouldn't be a bad idea to have a bit more of it once in a while...

October 23, 2009

On the Road Again...

Cait and I packed up last night and headed to the airport bright and early this morning for our trip to Maryland.  As some of you may know, Shannon is expecting a sweet baby boy of her own, and her shower is this Saturday.  There is absolutely, positively no way I would miss this event.  When planning the trip, I realized it might be an opportune time for Cait and I to have some much needed mom and daughter moments.  

It also means that I left Little Guy and the Nugget back home.  However, they are having a great time with the Dad Guy, and I fully expect to come home to a fort of empty pizza boxes decorated in pink tulle, and to be regaled with a laundry list of movies they watched, mom-approved or otherwise. Though Kelsey has at least one activity every day, to include a Girl Scout Halloween Bingo tomorrow night, so there isn't a need for too much planning.  Nicholas enjoys just having quality time with Dad, so he will be quite happy. 

No pictures of our trip today as frankly, not much to write home about flight-wise.  Not only didn't we have any delays, we even arrived in LA early.  Unfortunately, no time to deplane in either LA or Albuquerque, but at least the visibility was great, and I was able to enjoy the changing scenery.  It would have been nice to grab a cup of coffee prior to leaving Oakland, or a snack in LA, but it was so refreshing to arrive not only on time, but early and with enough time to have non-airport food for dinner.  Viet-Thai, yum!  And, now off to bed, as I must get some rest for what promises to be a fun and exciting weekend with friends.

October 19, 2009

When we were overseas,

IMG_3123 IMG_3127I must admit there was at least one thing we missed:  pumpkin patches. We could acquire fantastically shaped gourds in Caracas and genuine pumpkins in Iceland, but no pumpkin patches in either locale.We have decided, since we hope to go overseas again soon, to get our fill while we can.

One might think that would get repetitive, but not all pumpkin patches are created equal. They generally all have a wide variety of pumpkins, but some have hay rides, others have corn pits and mazes (of maize), and yet others just offer a few games, a lot of pumpkins, and the occasional jumping house/slide for kids.

IMG_3166 IMG_3186 Last year, Kelsey had a field trip to a very popular patch in Livermore, by the name of Joan's.  We never made it out as a family, and this year I decided it might not be a bad patch to try just with Nicholas.  We loaded up the picnic basket, found our sun hats (because it was 90 something in OCTOBER), and headed out with a friend and her daughter.

Joan's is a patch smack in the middle of a working farm.  We crept up the mile-long rocky road, and arrived just as the oodles of field trips were packing it up for the day.  We walked through several small patches, visited the "Old West" town (complete with a general store packed with modern-day candy), posed for pictures, climbed on haystacks, and ran through little tunnels.  Well, Nicholas managed to do all of that once he woke up.  Poor little guy fell fast asleep as we were driving in, and spent the first 45 minutes sound asleep in his Ergo (what would I do without it?).

IMG_3187 IMG_3191 Fast forward to today, and it's time for our second annual visit to G & M Farms, also in Livermore. They are famous for their corn maizes.  A new maize is designed each year, and one could easily get lost for hours, if not for the postcard-sized maps, clues (Trivia questions on tricky corners), and, now, text clues!  Yes, you can get a text while in the maize to help you along.  It was amusing, but we did just fine with the maps.

This year's map was dedicated to a local farmer who passed away last year.  It made for an incredibly interesting maze, and in some respects, very easy to follow.  We probably spent a good hour in there, and had even more fun than last year.  We kept Nicholas in the Ergo, but he enjoyed it all the same. Only once did he try to break the rules by grabbing at the corn; thankfully, it was a tough stalk.

IMG_3194 IMG_3197 We finished up at the play area, which includes the cow train, corn pit (and, thanks to the 'absorbent' diaper, have quite a collection of kernels at home), self-powered go carts, and 2 mini-mazes for the kids.  The larger maze is an indoor maze that even adult blessed in the height department can get through fairly easily.  One might not think it, but the hay can be quite insulating.  The farm was incredibly crowded yesterday, but one step inside the tunnels of the maze, and nothing but deafening silence.  It was only occasionally disturbed by Nicholas running through the tunnels at break-neck speed.

We had to cut the day slightly short to get Cait to CCD, but it was a great family activity.  There was something for everyone, and free, with the exception of a few rides.  I had been thinking prior to arriving that once may have been enough, but forgot how much more Nicholas could do this year.  After a hectic morning of soccer for Pete and church for the rest of us (first children's mass of the year), it was a welcome break on a gorgeous fall day.

October 14, 2009

You can take the boy out of Iceland,

IMG_3112 IMG_3113 but you can't take Iceland out of the boy.  Now we realize he is not *technically* Icelandic, but he enjoyed a taste of Icelandic babyhood prior to departing Reykjavik.  We took many a long walk in all types of weather.  Like other babies, he slept in his stroller outside, cozy and warm, but with all of the good, fresh air.  We have continued the tradition here, and he still has days where he dozes outside.  The natural white noise of barking dogs and the wind whistling in the trees helps him sleep soundly.

Many things, however, have changed.  Local reactions to weather do not, in any way, parallel those we saw in Reykjavik.  One of the first things we learned about living in Iceland, was that life goes on, weather or not.  Coming out of northern Virginia, we weren't quite prepared for the variety of offerings the meteorological gods threw our way, but we eventually woke up, saw the light, and adjusted.

HPa630n-770 After first arriving, and beginning school, Cait used to freeze on the playground. She *only* had a warm jacket, ski pants, and gloves.   Then I realized that LL Bean just didn't cut it there.  I headed to the nearest 66 North, and invested in two "super-suits" for both Caitlin and Kelsey.  Cait went from hanging out by the wall, and wringing her hands, to running around with the rest of the kids, no matter what the sky sent down.

Kelsey also played outside in anything, and everything and loved it.  The kids jumped on the trampoline in snow, with nothing other than long sleeves on.  The school rules included mandatory outside time.  If you wanted a bunch of kids with pent-up energy, keep them inside after lunch, and watch things go haywire.

IMG_3118 Then we moved to California, brought oodles of winter and wet weather gear, and landed in the middle of a drought.  Water restrictions galore, tawny hills everywhere, and no umbrellas in sight.  We were told "fall - spring is the rainy season," and finally the rains came on November 1.  We were thrilled to see the skies finally open on that gloomy Saturday morning.  It continued to rain frequently, and we were loving it...until the kids went back to school.

I noticed the oddity the first time it was drizzling at drop-off.  I thought I was in the wrong place, as there were no lines of children, just one or two teachers hurrying the kids inside.  Turns out if so much as a raindrop falls, they are rushed inside as though it is hailing (in any respect).  And when it was still raining at lunchtime?

They had indoor recess, and watched tv. I was confused, and angry.  Watched tv?  Why on earth weren't they outside, playing in the rain?  Well, that's not the way it's done here.  If I remember correctly, it probably was the same in Virginia, but the Icelandic way had become natural to me.

The rainy season has come early this year, and I am revisiting last year's debacle.  Do I fight the system?  Do I offer to personally outfit the entire school with proper rain gear, to include teachers and parents?  Do I suck it up and shut up?  I honestly don't know what to do.  I would love to regale the principal with tales of my immune-system strengthened children, or how kids really enjoy jumping in puddles and will not catch a cold simply because they are outside (remember the properly clothed part).

IMG_3119 No, they will get out their energy, and retreat to the indoors, happy for the warmth, but glad for the wild and free moments trying to catch raindrops on their tongues.  Sadly, I fear I am one of the few, and my opinion will be shunned for the more popular idea that sickness will be rampant, or the kids will be wet and miserable.

So, we will have our own outdoor times.  Auntie Shannon fully outfitted Nicholas in outdoor gear for his birthday, and he has finally grown into it.  He has a jacket, pants, and puddle-stomping boots (complete with ba-bas*).  Today was not the first storm (that one took us by surprise a few weeks back), but definitely the most vigorous we have had.  Nicholas played with planters, tried to catch water in a shovel, jumped in the puddles, and watched Kelsey dive under the water pouring off the roof test her umbrella's strength.  We finally ambled inside after a good 30 minutes, and were all tired and happy campers.  It's not Iceland, but it will do for now.

*Ba-ba: his current catch-all term for an animal. 

October 11, 2009

One of the least fun aspects

of moving (to me), would be the joy of having to find 'new' contacts.  Whether it be a doctor, chiropractor, or a luxury like the perfect hair stylist, it can take months (or as in my case in Iceland), years to find the perfect person.  I finally found a great stylist, but if Jogvan moved here, it would all be over for the new guy.

IMG_3095 IMG_3096 For whatever the reason, perhaps for the rise of pediatric or children's, well, everything, it seems much, much easier to find the perfect pediatrician, pediatric dentist or children's hairstylist.  The latter is particularly important for my children, as any of the Barbies (and their mutilated tresses) from my childhood could attest.  While learning how to properly cut hair would be a great skill to have, I have yet to get up the nerve to try.  Memories of perpetually unequal bangs probably will keep the desire at bay for quite some time.

IMG_3098 We lucked out by quickly finding a hair salon for the kids, aptly named Kids-N-Teens, run 100% by the owner, Daniella.  Much like Grenitas in Caracas, it is 100% for kids, complete with a play area and ribbon bar.   It's not Cartoon Cuts, and appointments are usually more than necessary. However, it is no pricier than Cartoon Cuts (or anything similar), and your child will leave looking and feeling like the beauty queen (or king) of her choice. 

Whether it's your child's first haircut (cue delivery of "1st cut certificate" with two locks of hair), or 18th, you feel as though she has known you, and your child, forever.  A closely-cropped cut for the boy, braids or tiny ponytails for girls, and your child is happily on their way.

Some might say it's a pain to wait for an appointment, or who on earth can't suffice with a haircut from the barber (or Mom)?  I look it as a talent-sharing situation.  Daniella is very gifted in the way of hair (and I am so very not).  Why not utilize the services of those who truly know what they are doing.  And, yes, I must admit, I also really like the way she cuts and styles Kelsey's hair without ever drawing any attention to her scar. It's the little details that matter, right?  

If you ever happen to live in this area, and have a child with shaggy locks or overgrown bangs, I highly recommend giving Daniella a call.  Check out the before and after pictures, and you will see how much one can get for a very small price. 

October 07, 2009

Mr. Quinn Goes to Kindermusik

The air is crisp, the leaves are falling, and the school bell is ringing. Or, in Nicholas' case, the bell is tolling for Kindermusik.  Since dropping his morning nap he has a few gaps in his daily schedule, and we thought another edition of Kindermusik would be the perfect way to spend that time.  As I mentioned in a previous post, Nicholas has attended a local class for almost a year now, and absolutely adores it.

IMG_3087 Maybe I am putting words in his mouth, but he is one who is grabbing at the drumsticks, swirling the sashes, and jumping up and down.  He is not always sure whether to hop on the parachute, or under it, but he grins the minute he sees Miss Linsday unfolding it.  From the beginning of class, which opened today with ABC, Music and Me, to the good-bye song, he is actively participating in listening, humming, dancing, pounding, stomping or just cuddling.

Today was his second class since the start of the season, and Miss Lindsay hummed, sang, and read her way through the class.  While Nicholas was a bit more laid-back on the first day, his first "Our Time" class with the older children, he was far more involved today.  I think he finally realized that he is with older children now, and needed a little observation time in the first class to get his bearings.  While he was adjusting, I realized we had very few, if any, photos of him in class other than the professional shots.

He was a little shy last week, but ran over to Miss Lindsay today when I pulled out the camera.  Not only will you see them here, but you may also find one on the Kindermusik site or at least a link to the blog.  In the early fall, I realized I had never mentioned my previous blog post to Lindsay.  I sent her the link, and thankfully, she loved it, and posted it immediately on her Kindermusik site.

She also had this to say about her Kindermusik classes, "Even in these crazy economic times, I actually do believe that Kindermusik is a must-have, for both musical and non-musical families, and especially for the very busy families we see here in the East Bay! The photo of you and Nicholas during Rocking Time in class is a perfect example of the unique bonding experiences that mommies, daddies, and other caregivers get to share with their little ones during class. It can also be a welcome escape, a musical Disneyland for babies! This is why I've been bringing Kindermusik to places like Shepherd's Gate. My goal is for every parent and child in the East Bay to someday be able to experience Kindermusik together. The fact that we are learning so much about music is just the icing on the cake!"

As we move quite often, and consequently, have to get up to speed quickly in a new place, I was extremely happy to have found this class right away.  Not only were we able to meet other children  Nicholas' age, but we were lucky enough to find a teacher who exudes happiness and true excitement about her calling.  I have taken my children to many a Kindermusik class, and while we have enjoyed them all, I would have to say this is one of the best.   

October 04, 2009

Aw, it's okay, I make lamb!

We have had a huge run of interest in all things Greek lately.  There have been many festivals in this area, and despite the fact that we are not Greek, we find the culture incredibly fascinating, the food divine, and the dancing quite entertaining.

We attended one such festival in Concord during the second weekend in September.  I had spent the previous day at CPR & First Aid training (yes, officially certified), and noticed a sign for the event.  A friend had been listing all of the festivals in the area, mentioned it, and I knew the girls would not want to pass up the opportunity to attend.  Ever since the first time they saw My Big, Fat, Greek Wedding, I am pretty sure they have wanted to be Greek.  The food, the music, the food, the dancing, the food, the food...

IMG_3027 IMG_3028 We arrived at the festival in Concord, and it was all we thought it would be.  The food, the wine, the dancing... Pete had to step away while we were watching a few of the dancers, and then ended up missing up being pulled into the fray.  Translation: no video of my terrible two-step, or the girls moving quite well in their costumes (or jingly-things, a technical term), despite no formal training.  The food was fantastic, the dancing was great, and the whole day was just fun.  When would we possibly have another chance to enjoy ourselves in such a way?

Lo and behold, one of Kelsey's friend's participated in a dance event at her church's festival today.  We could not pass up another chance to indulge in spanakopita, tiropita, baklava, baklava sundaes (yes, you read that correctly), loukoumades, or the chance to enjoy all while visiting with friends.  The girls had a blast.  The costumes were incredible, the dancers were great, and the atmosphere was just as one would expect. 

IMG_3029 IMG_1234 We spent the rest of the afternoon on the lawn, chatting, relaxing, and relishing all of the above delicacies and more.  It was a great chance to unwind after a hectic few weeks, and just have enjoyable family time.  Given the way things go in this lifestyle, quality time might now be at a premium, and we will take all we can get.

October 02, 2009

Here I go again, on my own...

While we are no strangers to separations, brief or otherwise, it has been a while since Pete traveled.  If you are a new reader, and don't know our history with DS, um, in a nutshell..  With this lifestyle,when posted domestically (being attached to a detail/field office), the spouse of a an agent can end up having a good amount of "alone" time.  This can be good, bad or somewhere in the middle. 

Maybe it had just been a while since I had an extremely active toddler while Pete traveled.  Maybe the issue was that I now had three vs. two, and the two older children are in separate schools, with 7 weekly activities between them (the irony is that comparatively speaking, they are massively under-scheduled for this area).  We don't send them to tutors or language school, and to be fair, I count CCD as part of their weekly activities.  However, they still add up, and two weeks ago, with Peter slated to go to UNGA for 12 days, I realized that we were going to be kept hopping on a daily basis. 

We started off slowly, on a Thursday. Nothing more than soccer practice in the afternoon, and I only needed to drive the carpool and drop the kids off.  Friday came and the only events were a play date for Kelsey, and the beginning of choir practice (at the church) for both girls.  Kelsey decided to join (has been chomping at the bit since last spring), and despite Cait's efforts to ban her, she is going each week and really enjoying herself.  We figured we would have an "easy" dinner, and opted for our favorite pasta place.  For whatever reason, maybe the heat (was over 100 F most days Pete was gone), but everyone was a bit cranky, Nicholas included.  

I ended up making the executive decision that we would avoid eating out again until Pete came back, but it would require a bit of planning and restraint on my part.  It just seems so much easier to say, "Let's go out for pizza!", and be done with it. 

Though I promised Kelsey we could sleep in on Saturday, this fell flat when I realized the soccer game was at 9 a.m.  Nothing like not catching up on sleep when you really need it!  We made it to the game (they won), and hurried home to change and back out to the Farmer's Market.  The Saturday morning routine of the Farmers' Market has become so ingrained that the girls are upset if we even consider not going.  We simply can't pass up stand after stand of fruit and veggies, from the boxes of freshly-shelled English peas to the bunches of basil.  It also doesn't hurt that the Green Lantern Catering Company normally shows up to whip up a veggie fritatta and grilled artichokes that are simply out of this world, but do not break the wallet. The owner is not only a part-time caterer, but also the executive chef at Standford's in Walnut Creek. 

Thankfully, dinner was at a friend's house.  As a part of our monthly international dinner, we dined on samosas, lamb biryani, and cauliflower.  It was mildly spicy, and deeply satisfying.  We headed home, and  Nicholas fell asleep on the way.  Sunday was a sleep-in day.  Seems great until you try to get moving and realize nothing is going as planned...primarily because there wasn't  a plan.  It hit me that if I didn't quickly come up with a something, my week was going to be a disorganized disaster.  Four days in, and I was completely frustrated already.

IMG_1211 I quickly planned out meals from Sunday to Friday, and it saved me.  No last-minute "What do I make" or "let's just go out!".  We ate in every night, and it was so methodical, the girls didn't think twice. Yummy leftovers made great lunches the next day, and we rolled from school to activities, volunteer and otherwise, smoothly.  Still exhausting, and I was up late with laundry, cleaning, and the like, but far easier than expected.

Friday night arrived, and Kelsey was busy with a play-date, choir practice, and movie night at her school.  Cait had her 6th grade social, choir practice, and then volunteered at movie night.  Nicholas and I took the time to relax, and have quality time in between the various pick-ups and drop-offs.

Saturday rolled around once again, and with a later soccer game, we had time for the Farmers' Market early in the morning.  There was face-painting, aioli mustaches (grilled artichokes were back!), visiting with the kitties needing foster homes (and both girls desperately want us to become one), and the 4-H with a bevy of bunnies and chickens.  We made it to soccer just in time, and Kelsey shocked us all by volunteering to play goalie.  I was able to quickly upload  a photo via Facebook, and "Coach Pete" was able to see despite the 3,000 mile/3 hour difference.

IMG_1215 Jamba Juice followed, and we had just enough time to head home, swelter for a bit, and depart for a spaghetti dinner at the home of one of Cait's Chorus leaders.  She is a member of a local quartet, and in the midst of a fund-raiser for a trip to a much anticipated international competition.  Not only did we enjoy great music, and a yummy dinner, but Kelsey won not one, but two baskets in the raffle (back to back, even more amusingly).  

Despite the organization, and the overall ease of the week, we were still swamped, and it hit me hard on Sunday.  While a friend watched Nicholas on Friday so I could get a much-needed massage, it is still very hard being "on" 24 hours a day.  I realized we all needed a break, and kept our activities to a walk to the movies, a light home-made pesto dish for dinner, and Cait attending the first of her CCD classes.

IMG_1213 Monday and Tuesday passed quickly, and before we knew it, Peter was pulling up in the shuttle Tuesday afternoon.  He was gone 15 minutes later, as Kelsey had soccer, but he was home all the same.  Though here it is a few days later, and I keep thinking he will leave any minute.  It seems as though I almost fell back into my Virginia self, forgetting that he normally doesn't travel (that much), and that he won't be gone again for a while. So, he is back, we are together, and quite enjoying family time. It's a crazy life sometimes, but I think anything less would simply not be for us.  And, now, perhaps, a nap.