Wednesday, February 27, 2008

I Knew This Would Happen Eventually

Overheard last night after scolding Genna for being fresh:
"Ella, Mommy is so mean. She is not going to be my friend anymore and she can't come to my private party. Hey Ella, only you and Linus and Bosco are coming to my private party. And Mommy and Daddy. Oh, no. Mommy can't come cuz she's so mean. Come on Ella, my party is downstairs."

What three-year-old has a private party?

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Thoughts on Seattle

It's hard to believe that merely a week ago, we were lounging around having an amazing breakfast at our friends' house in Seattle. Herr and I spent a fantastic four days there, entertained by our friends, Frank and Laura, who have lived there for eight years.

I feel I should mention that Seattle is the It is hillier than San Francisco and Pittsburgh combined. When one walks to the Public Market, it is a breeze to walk down. Once laden with groceries for dinner, it is a BEAST of a hill to walk back up. I am thinking that the residents of Seattle, in theory, should have amazing calves and thighs.

We spent a lot of time exploring the neighborhoods of Seattle. Sometimes, we spent time deciding which road we should take:

Sometimes we drove around until we found the perfect view:

I also spent the four days trying to figure out how we could get some quick cash to buy one of the 200 dream homes I saw there:
It wasn't just the houses I loved--the views they had from their windows were most assuredly priceless.

Laura also took us past sites that were of interest if you love movies like, "Sleepless In Seattle." She even drove us past the apartment that was the backdrop for one of my favorite movies of my collge years, "Singles."

I also had the luxury of going to a movie! Herr and I always talk a good game about going to the movies when we have the very-occasional babysitter, but we are usually too tired once we've eaten dinner. Laura and I went without the guys as Herr and Frank would have been forced to relinquish their male memberships cards had they gone to this movie.

We got to visit all of the things we wanted to see while we were in Seattle. We visited the Olympic Sculpture Park which was really cool. I took some really neat photos at the Gas Works Park, which is on Lake Union. I had all but begged Laura to book us a couple of mani/pedis instead of going to The Museum of Flight, but it turned out to be much cooler than I anticipated. We got to see the inside of an older Air Force One. They also had an exhibit called, "Style in the Aisle: The History of Fasion in Flight." I'm not stupid--how else would you get women to come to this museum and willingly stay for 3+ hours without a mall in sight?!

The only thing that turned out to be an enormous disappointment was The Seattle Underground in Pioneer Square. Herr had been really excited to see this and had been looking forward to it for a couple of weeks. Unfortuantely, you learn AFTER you have paid your $14 per person, that the tour is a venue where failed comedians come to die. Our tour guide was Gail. I'm all for a little dash of humor with my history lesson, but we quickly tired of Gail's Ellen DeGeneres-talking-under-her-breath-with-the-punchline schtick. Once we were able to head up to the street, we turned left while the rest of the group went straight. At least we had been able to enjoy the Elliott Bay Book Company while we were in Pioneer Square.

The best part of Seattle was the food! When Frank wasn't feeding us amazing food, he and Laura were taking us to really good restaurants. It would seem natural that a visit with Frank and Laura revolves around food. We all met 17 years ago when we worked at an Italian Restaurant in Bloomington Indiana. Laura, Herr and I were servers, paying our way through IU and Frank was the Chef of the restaurant. We are two sets of couples who married after our employments at Grisanti's (there are actually two more couples who married after working there!) We know that if we are with Frank, we will eat well.

Geraldine's on Capitol Hill was amazing for breakfast and totally worth the wait. La Carta de Oaxaca may very well have been the best Mexican food I have ever had. It is a favorite of Frank and Laura's, and for good reason. Laura said that if you think you want to go there for dinner, there is no point in trying unless you get there at 5:00PM. She said that people wait around the block for hours just to eat there. It is a tiny family-owned place that may seat about 30 people. They have a "small plate" menu, so you can order a ton of different things to try. The fish tacos were pretty amazing. Tuta Bella was also outrageously good. It is one of only a handful of true neapolitan pizza restaurants in the United States. The salads and pizza were so.damn.good. They also served this crazy chocolate latte thingy made with Nutella which may as well be labeled, "crack in a cup." It has replaced Starbuck's, Gingerbread Latte and the best latte ever. Finally, I would be remiss if I didn't mention our wonderful meal at the Palace Kitchen. While it did have a more sophisticated menu than most, the Grilled Chicken Wings with coriander cream were pretty damn flawless. I am not a wings kind of a gal, but they were good. They were so good that Herr has been inspired to try to replicate them at home.

And now, I am back home, wondering how I can parlay my blog into a food review site...

Friday, February 15, 2008

February 15

I remember February 14, 2001 like it was yesterday. Herr and I were having a lovely dinner at a restaurant outside of Pittsburgh. I had been edgy all night, worried about my parents. You see, my father was nearing the end of his life. He had been dying a slow and agonizing death, but in the weeks after Christmas 2000, he had started to rapidly deteriorate. His heart transplant surgeon and nurses drove to my parents' home two hours away to say their good-byes to him after it was determined that there would be no more trips to the hospital. They had known him for 10 years. I supppose the end has to be near if that happens.

I had been spending a lot of time in Indiana helping my mother care for him. I had been there the previous weekend and planned to go home in a day or two, but I told Herr that I had a feeling that I should go home that very minute. My husband, being the voice of reason, reminded me that it was a six hour drive home and I couldn't see at night when I drive. He told me to pack a bag when I got home, go into the office in the morning and leave for Indiana after I had time to talk to my boss.

The next morning, I got to my office before 7:00 so that I could check some emails and leave some voicemails before I left. My phone rang at 7:10. When I picked it up, it was my mom, telling me that Dad had just died. Even though I knew that this news was coming, I felt like I had been kicked in the stomach and couldn't breathe.

I don't beat myself up much anymore for not going with my gut and driving home that night. Except on February 15. I would have given anything to have been there so that my mother wouldn't have had to go through the torture of watching the bumbling EMTs try to figure out how to get him out of their bedroom. The angle of the room and the narrow width and zig-zag of the hallway made it impossible for the overweight EMTs to take him down the hallway and out of the house. Instead, they took him out through a fucking window like he was a piece of furniture.

I would have given anything to be there to hold his hand because he was so very afraid to die. While he would never admit it to my mother, he had some concerns about the afterlife. No more Packers and Cubs games, no more breakfasts at Louie's Cafe, no more books to read, no more money-making schemes to plan, no more time with his family. He was worried about Mom and what was going to happen to her after he was gone. A week before he died he made me promise that I would always take care of Mom and my sister. Time was running out and he was terrified. He did not go peacefully. He fought tooth and nail. It wasn't until the hospice worker told him to just close his eyes and let go that he finally did.

Most of the time, it seems like Dad died a lifetime ago. In some ways he did. My life is so much different now with two children, changed jobs and having lived in 5 different places since 2001. But every February 15, the pain and the tears return. Every year I am surprised that the rawness of my feelings and the pain in my stomach is just as strong as they were the day he died.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Happy Valentine's Day

In case you were wondering, Ella was in charge of choosing their outfits and accessories. If you are familiar with Ella's creative sense of style, this should come as no surprise. She lives for holidays that have a corresponding "color" to them.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Genna Turned Three!

Genna had her birthday party on Saturday. She was pretty pleased with herself. Despite some coaching with Ella over several days, she still managed to forget that she had a birthday a couple of months earlier. She got pretty jealous of some of Genna's loot--particularly a Tinkerbell Doll. Ella went on and on about the doll and asked me to leave the party and buy one right that minute. After I told her to chill out, she asked if she could have one for her birthday. I told her that if she still wanted one 10 months from now, maybe she would. Then she asked who bought it. When I told her that our neighbors, Lori and Brian purchased, she walked over to them and asked if they would buy one for her when it was her birthday. At least she asked with manners--at least I think she did.

Herr and I are off to Seattle in about an hour. Sans children. Awwww yeah.
We'll be back Monday morning.