Saturday, December 15, 2012

No Answers

Nolan padded down the stairs about 90 minutes after being put to bed tonight. He says he is not sick nor did he have a bad dream.  He knows nothing of today's tragedy in Newton, CT . He just needed to be by me. Ironic, because tonight more than any other night, I needed him. He climbed onto the couch and stretched out in between my legs and was snoring in 2 minutes flat. As I look down at his lashes so long that they make a shadow on his face, I started to cry. How many of the 20 innocent children murdered today had long lashes? How many parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and friends are staring at gifts under the Christmas tree tonight that will never be opened? How can life ever go on when your baby is ripped from this earth in an act of such violence? How many siblings will have to live the rest of their lives wondering what little brother or sister would have grown up to be? Where any of them twins?

The pain is unfathomable. I don't want to think about it, but I have to. Just because I homeschool doesn't mean we are 100% safe. This could (and does) happen anywhere. The mall, the movies, hospitals.

After hearing the news today, I was in a farmers market. A man walked in, both hands buried in jacket pockets. He was unkempt and muttering to himself, his eyes shifted nervously. Probably totally harmless, but at that moment I had a panic attack. I walked out without buying anything. I can't run away forever, but today I did.

We have become an angry society. Someone in front of you is going a mile under the speed limit and the car behind is honking and yelling. The cashier isn't moving as fast as you'd like, so you make some rude comment. So many have no patience or kindness in their hearts.  Mentally ill people either have no where to go because there are no beds, they can't pay for it, or no one cares enough to speak up and help them.

Violence has become an acceptable way to deal with problems. Rappers sing about it like it is a tea party. Kids play violent video games at such a young age that they know no other way to deal with problems than to hit someone. Or worse, pick up a gun with bad intentions. (I was raised in a home with guns. I learned to shoot. I learned respect for them. No matter what gun laws are made, they will always make it into the hands of those that really want them.)

I'm not an ultra religious person. I believe in a higher power, but at times like this I question how any higher power could let something like this happen. People say things like, "everything happens for a reason"  or "God needed more angels." That is bull. There is NO reason why 20 little kids will never ride their bike around the block again, put a tooth under the pillow for the tooth fairy, or kiss their parents good night. Why 7 adults will never see their children get married or bounce their Grand-babies on their knees. NO REASON.

This was not a random act of violence. This person knew where he was going and what he was going to do when he got there. He is described as being "off", but was on enough to plot this massacre and get himself some body armor in the process. I'm angry that he had access to guns. Why would there be guns in the house with him? If his mom was afraid of him enough to buy a gun(s) then something else should have been done for everyone's safety.

I have no answers tonight. Only tears.

Life will go on for us, but not for 26 families in CT.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Christmas 2012 Card

When I took this picture last year, it took my breath away. Well, until elf #2 yelled at me for taking pictures because she didn't think I was buying anything. I was and had told the elf #1 that, but Grumpy didn't know that (and didn't really care.) I digress.

I love Shutterfly's selection of cards and this one was just what I had in mind when I sat down to do up our cards this year. It saved me from designing one of my own!

So which category do you fall in this year?!

5x7 Folded Card
View the entire collection of cards.

Friday, November 9, 2012

10 To Try in 2012. Fail.

10 restaurants I want to try this year: 

2. L'Albatros
3. Spice Kitchen & Bar
4. Sun Luck Garden
5. Fat Casual BBQ
6. Bac
7. Crop Bistro
8. Deagan's Kitchen
9. Pura Vida
10. Pranzo much for my 10 To Try in '12! I know there are 7 weeks left in the year, so I may knock another one of the list, but let's face it, I've had 45 weeks to get to 10 places and I've made it just FOUR (well, technically 5 but it was for a party and only tasted a sample from Crop!)

 I'm not confident I'll make it to one more on my list this year! 

One I love, love, love. SOHO. 

One I really, really, like. Deagan's. 

One was good, but not my fave. L'Albartros.

And the other one, I'm just not feeling. There is much better Italian food in DTW at Fauncee's for a lot less money than at Pranzo.

I look at Spice every time we go to Happy Dog, but still have not made it.

I've had some of Fat Casual's meat on a steam bun from Noodlecat, does that count for anything?! 

The other 3 I haven't even laid eyes on this year. 

The problem is two-fold. One we don't get out enough. Two, we are creatures of habit.

Nolan could eat Ramen from Noodlecat (and I'm not going to lie, I crave the chicken steam bun).

Reagan and Daddy are two peas in a beer pod, in that the love Ballantine and Fat Head's. 

And me, well I'm on a Food Network show professing my love for Momocho's Machaca. (insert "that's what she said joke".)
(I'm in the first minute, again around 3 min, and again around 5min.)

So, I'm carrying over Spice Kitchen & Bar, Bac, and Crop to 2013 since they are in locations we tend to go to more often. I need 7 more. Tell me what I must try in this city and if I haven't tried it, I'll put it on the list. 

Friday, August 24, 2012

Off They Go!

Training wheels came off......Dad ran around the circle for an afternoon..... and they are officially bike riders minus training wheels!

Saturday, August 18, 2012


Meet Sox. Or Soxster. Or Soxer. Or Soxie. Depending on who you talk to.
  Regardless of what we call him, we are happy to have him. 

You forget how much fun a kitten is to have around. 

Hopefully Boxster will come around soon. 

Thursday, July 26, 2012

40 Is The New 30, Right?

As 40 is breathing down my neck, I have been thinking a lot about life. Where I am. Where I want to be. How to get there. What needs to change for me to be happier.

The present and the future.

I've also been thinking a lot about the past. About the people that have come into my life and have stuck around. Or not. You can read that whole Reason, Season, Lifetime poem to get the down-low on that. I'm a firm believer in it.

I've also come around to the idea that no matter how bad a relationship was, friendship or a love, some good came from it. I learned something, even if it was to not make that mistake again. It may have taken two or three or four times to learn the lesson, but in the end there was some good from it.

The thing that has had the most impact on my last 39 years was losing my Dad almost 12 years ago. You already know what a great guy he was, so I won't bore you with those details. Let's just say that my life was forever changed on August 19, 2000.

I have been fortunate because I pick up friends from every job I've had. Two of my very dearest friends came because I met them in the workplace, Kathy and Mary. You know those friends that you call for anything and they are there. The ones that throw your wedding and baby shower. The ones that don't particularly enjoy children, but love yours because they are a part of you. Friends like Nancy, that your kids call, "Grandma" and want them at their birthday party, even though they live in California.

I've got friends that I made when I barely able to walk. Paula and Stephanie. Paula and I have remained friends for 38ish years. Holy moly, Paula, that is just crazy!Stephanie left this earth over a year ago. For many years during college and after we lost touch, but our moms remained friends. I was lucky that she came back into my life a couple of years before the kids came along. They were lucky, too, because she loved them a lot.

I've kept friends I've made in elementary, middle school and high school and I've been lucky to find two of those friends that I had lost touch with, thanks to the internet. It's so good to have Beatrice back in my life. I've talked to Heidi once since hooking up with her sister on facebook. It was good to catch up.

I think of some wonderful men and women I had as teachers in my life. From kindergarten to high school, I was really lucky to have some people in my life that really cared about their job as a teacher. Mrs. Hamrick (kindergarten), Mrs. Vaughn (4th grade), Mr. Burns (8th grade), Ms. Gauvin (high school) and Mr. Hace (high school.) These individuals really made a difference in my life and I am lucky to still be in touch with, and consider some of them my friend. I also think of the ones that were really awful and did horrible things to students that didn't deserve it. So, to my 2nd grade teacher, Charlene Yohe, who taped a boys legs to his chair because he wouldn't stay in his seat, you left a mark on me, too.

I think of Joey. He was my Dad's son he never had. He and I became friends and I turned to him a lot back in the day. He could always cheer me up. I remember our trip to Vegas and how I was sure we were going to miss our flight because the craps table was hot and he just could not leave. He also introduced me to in-room Keno. He was there for me when Jim and I broke up. I had "forgotten" most of my friends at that time because I was young and in love and thought I didn't need my friends anymore. That couldn't have been farther from the truth. I needed them more than ever and he was there for me. 6-pack in hand.

I think of Candi. We had some laughs in our teens. Laughing so hard that you are crying and literally rolling on the floor. We had a couple of really fun trips to Punta Cana and Mexico, too. Sadly, we are no longer friends. I've reached out through her mom, but got no response. It's hard to lose friends like this, but there comes a point when you can do no more and just hope for happiness.

I think of failed relationships. As Adele says, "regrets and mistakes, they are memories made." That they are. They were all learning experiences in one way or another. Sure there was a lot of heartache and wishing things could be different, but it wasn't what was meant to be for me. It wasn't all bad, I had a hell of a lot of fun in my "youth." I played demo derby driver and was a giant inflatable sub thanks to my past boyfriends. All fun memories.

The fun times. Oh, there were lots of those. blending drinks in my travel blender at company outings, stealing a barstool from the Brickhouse, baaaaaa, hanging out under tables, have a nice day cafe, Cindy's flophouse, Sunday "church" at BW3, wanted to be a tugboat driver, Indians World Series games, boobies on the freeway, No Doubt concerts, Painesville Speedway, The Vagabond, Mexico, Punta Cana, Hurricanes (weather and drinks), New Orleans, Dallas, Brickhouse, Key West, Hellabama, Here Kitty Kitty, Cebars/Abby Normal, Big Wolf. Jen, T-Love, Cindy, PorkChop, Ed, Doerner, Kathy, Tracy, Billy.... those were fun times.

Lots of memories, but the here and now is what is most important. I am blessed to have some wonderful people in my life right now. I've never met people like John & Jan Ross. When someone says they know someone that would do anything for them, then they must know John & Jan, they are part of our framily.

The Framily, you ask? Friends that I consider family. Having such small immediate families-more on them later, we really need our friends. I have some great ones. Sam, Deb, John, Jan, Mary, Kathy, Barb, Fred, Linda, John ,Joy, Connie, Mike, Sheila, Kelly and Shawnie. All are surrogate Aunts, Uncles, and Grandparents to my kids.

My family unit might be small, but I love them to pieces. I can't imagine life without my twinadoes. They make me laugh every single day. I so love being their Mom. We have taught each other so much in 5 years. You can't explain loving someone so much until you have a child. I always thought that was a cliche. It's not. Your heart truly walks around outside your body once you are a mom.

I wouldn't have those two awesome little people in my life, if I hadn't fallen in love with my best friend, Billy. We've have had lots of good times and did lots of partying in our "youth" and I'm so glad we got to do that before becoming parents. It has given us a foundation of friendship to fall back on, when life throws curve balls at you and times are tough. Honestly, I'm surprised he still married me after I spent so much time sitting in the fireplace behind him while he DJ'ed at the Brickhouse though.

When my Dad passed, I never thought I'd see the happy, jokester Mom I grew up with. There were lots of years of sadness, but she stood by us and helped us when we had so many problems conceiving. Once those kids were born, my mom got her happiness back. She and I may not always see eye to eye, but she will always be my mom, the one I can count on to always be there and love me. I am so glad my kids have their "Gram."

My Uncle Bob is a pistol, but he has a soft spot in his heart for me, and I for him. He and I shared a lot of fun times when he first moved to Dallas and I would go to  stalk Troy Aikman  visit him often. Thanks to him, I can never drink Goldschlager or Yukon Jack again, but I also got to do some things a lot of people never will get to do; like having drinks literally ON the star  at the 50 yard line in Texas stadium at midnight.

All of these people are woven together to form the quilt of my life. Each person it's own square. Comforting me from storms, warming my heart, and sharing life's joys.

I can't believe I am 40, but looking back, it has been a life filled with love and mostly, joy. It could only be better if my Dad were here and we could raise a glass at Beanie's together.

May there be 40 more years and I can blog about what brats my Grandchildren are because their Grandmother spoils them rotten!

So Happy Birthday to me...

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Importance of Friends

Bill and I know we are lucky in the friend department. 

I have friends that I have known since I was one year old and Bill's college fraternity brothers are among his besties. We have also been fortunate to meet some amazing people along the way through former jobs, the internet, or by moving to a new neighborhood. People that I call "framily", the friends we consider family.

Bill and I both come from small families, so our friends make up a majority of the people we spend each holiday, weekend, and life's special (and not-so-special) moments with.

I was once again moved to tears by the generosity of our framily this past weekend, a long holiday weekend no less.

Bill's mom called him at 3:30p on Friday and announced that she was moving. Over the weekend. She is frail and her roommate is not in much better health, so we all knew where this was going. Bill was going to be doing all the packing and moving. The kids and I were all sick, so we were not much help nor would I have wanted them in that situation.

We didn't ask for help. Bill posted this on facebook: "Great. Now, on top of everything else I need to do before surgery, I have to move my mom out of her sh!thole apartment. Just great."

Oh yeah, did I mention that Bill is having serious surgery on June 6? Well, he is. Moving heavy stuff up and down stairs is just what the doctor DID NOT order. But, that didn't matter. She was moving and that was all there was to it. (ETA: After writing this and posting, Bill has decided to postpone his surgery until fall.)

Within 5 minutes of that post, the first offer of help came from our next door neighbor, Mike. He is the chef-manager with the Gamekeepers group. Go eat at one of his restaurants. His food is awesome, just like he is. He works 6 days a week, long hours.
Mike in the kitchen, where he always seems to be.  John Kanuk, too.

An hour later there were two more offers of help. The John's. Ross & Kanuk. Only problem was one of them forgot he had an anniversary celebration to attend; his own!
John & Jan sharing the kids first view of the ocean. Which they were able to see because of John & Jan.

An hour after that comes an offer of a trailer and the help of the owner, Rick Stark who Bill has known since college. Back in the day, Rick probably attended a party or two at the apartment they'd be moving out of.
Rick giving a speech at Bill and Sam's 50th birthday party. Assist by Nolan.

At that point, I was in tears.

Bill worked his a$$ off Saturday to get things packed and began moving on his own.

Sunday rolled around and the posse assembled. Plus Jan Ross. She knows the mother/moving dynamic all too well and did a great job trying to keep things moving along smoothly so the guys could get the heavy stuff out without interference from Bill's mom.

To not know the situation intimately, you can't imagine what a difficult job this way. Bill's mom doesn't part with things easily so you can imagine what was in her house after 30+ years of living there.

It was a difficult day in so many ways. Without Rick, Mike, Jan, and John I'm not sure where we'd stand today. There was no way Bill could have done this on his own, and once again our friends came to our rescue.

Thursday, May 10, 2012


I can't believe my little sacks of sugar turn FIVE today. 

They are smart, funny, and loving. They are the light of my life and push me to be a better person. I didn't know love like this existed. 

Thank you, Reagan and Nolan. You make your Mom & Dad proud and we can't wait to see where the road of life will take you. You can do anything you put your mind to. 

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Welcome To Ladybug Land

Last year it was butterflies, so I decided we'd try something new this spring (and Groupon ran a great deal on the habitat) so we are raising ladybugs this year. 

The larvae arrived today and all we had to do was dump them into Ladybug Land and  make sure their water pad was moist. 

 They guarantee we will get at least 5 ladybug, fingers crossed! 

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

10 To Try

In January, I started a 10 to try list of the restaurants I most wanted to try in 2012. It's the end of April and I'm 40% complete.

Pranzo was just OK. I prefer the Italian food across the street at Fanucce's and at a better price.

Deagan's Kitchen was really good. Lots of things on their menu I'd like to try. The hot nuts were, well, hot!

We were able to sneek in a visit to the newly opened, Hodge's as well. If you have a must-try list, add Hodge's. We loved it.

I really, really want to get back to SOHO soon. It has been my favorite new to me place so far.


2. L'Albatros

3. Spice Kitchen & Bar

4. Sun Luck Garden

5. Fat Casual BBQ

6. Bac

7. Crop Bistro

8. Deagan's Kitchen

9. Pura Vida

10. Pranzo

Monday, April 23, 2012

Two Monkey Boys

This little guy was very fascinated with my little guy. I didn't know exactly why until I took a few steps to the left. 

A stick. 

Two monkey boys bonding over a stick. 

Well, I shouldn't say a stick because to Nolan it is a "treasure." Maybe to this guy as well!

Monday, March 12, 2012

Grandpa Fred Retires and I Knock Another Reso Off My 2012 Try List

In January, I made a goal to try 10 new-to-me restaurants in 2012. We knew we'd get to SOHO sooner rather than later and we can't wait to go back.

Honestly, I forgot about the list while getting ready for our trip to San Francisco in February. We also fall into old habits easily and always end up at the faves nearby, Ballantine for example.

When we returned from San Francisco, Grandpa Fred's retirment from Cleveland television was set for February 22. We were lucky enough to be able to go to the studio and watch his last show and even get to be on the set with him for the last segment. It will be a memory I treasure forever. He kissed each twinado on the top of the head as he talked about how glad he was that they could share the day with him. Thank goodness all you could see of me on TV was one hand holding a champagne glass and the other holding my camera because the tears were flowing. They don't yet completely understand how lucky they are to have him in their life.

A true gentlemen and scholar with a kind word for anyone he meets.
We were on-air and I quickly snapped this. I (and I know Bill was too) was honored to stand behind Fred as he did a farewell speech. Even more pleasing is that he considers our kids his honorary Grandkids and had one of them on each knee for this momentous occasion.

After the show, we adjourned to the wine "room" at L'Albatros for a celebratory lunch.

L'Albatros is a beautiful space with lots of natural light during the day in the dining room, however the wine room is very dark. No windows, metal garage-type shelves for the wine that they sandwiched in a large banquette seating area, and hung a vineyard scene on one wall. Probably at night, it is a sexy, romantic setting, but in the daytime, with all that wonderful light streaming in it felt confining.

The food was good; the company better. I enjoy Zach's Chinato a little more. The cheese selections at L'Albatros were fabulous however. I'm glad I got to try it and would enjoy going back for lunch another time to enjoy the regular dining area.

I've got 8 more places to knock off my list first though.


2. L'Albatros

3. Spice Kitchen & Bar

4. Sun Luck Garden

5. Fat Casual BBQ

6. Bac

7. Crop Bistro

8. Deagan's Kitchen

9. Pura Vida

10. Pranzo

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

One Down, Nine To Go

It went like this.....the kids called my mom to see if they could come over on Saturday evening to watch the "Wipeout"she recorded. She said sure and she would pick them up around 5p. A little after 5p, she arrives and I walk the kids to the car to kiss them and make sure they got buckled in and my mom turned to them and asked them if they wanted to sleep over. They were so suprised (as was I since they have only stayed at her house one other night) and excited. So I ran in the house to pack a bag and to tell Bill we didn't have to rush to get out to dinner and back in a couple of hours and to start thinking of where we wanted to go.....all the while I was thinking, SOHO, SOHO, SOHO!

A little backstory about Nolan Konkoski, the owner and chef of SOHO. When Momocho first opened in 2006, Bill and I started going there often. We enjoyed sitting at the two-seater chef's counter and got to know owner and chef, Eric Williams pretty quickly. If you've not been to Momocho (why the hell not?) the kitchen is the size of a postage stamp (no joke), so the chef is about a foot in front of you. The chefs stand basically shoulder to shoulder and turn out the best Mod Mex you will EVER taste. The other chef was a super quiet, very serious looking guy named Nolan Konkoski. Little by little we got to him and he even cracked a smile or two ;)

Our first meal dining out after finding out we were having a boy and girl was at Momocho. Nolan and Eric were some of the first people to know and they joked about names. Nolan and Erica (Nolan's choice) and Eric and Nolina (Eric's choice.) On the way home we started talking about the good time we had joking around with them and the names came up. We already knew the girl would be Reagan, it was a name Bill really wanted for either a boy or a girl, I only liked it for a girl so that was settled. There was the issue of the other little bean growing quickly who was going to need a name. We wanted something that complimented Reagan, looked similar, and had a similar origin (Welsh.) That was when it really hit us; Nolan really was the perfect boys name. So I guess Nolan K. really does have his own (well, not HIS own) namesake.

Back to the original story.... I called SOHO to make a ressie and we were able to get in. When we arrived we settled on drinks, a beer for Bill and a "Savannah" for me along with BBQ and Pimento Cheese Dip. One sip of that Savannah and I was hooked. I need to figure it out so that can be the house drink on our next OBX trip. It was tea-infused vodka, hibiscus syrup, lemonade and something else. SO GOOD.

We wanted to try everything on the menu, it all sounded delish. We settled on the Crawfish & Crab Fritters and a side of Deviled Eggs for another app course.I think Bill was surprised I ate one whole fritter. My intention was to just have a bite, but I couldn't stop at just one.

For dinner, Bill chose the Charred Ribeye Steak: Fried egg, fingerling-spinach hash, pickled Vidalias, Tabasco Hollandaise.I'm not a lover of med-rare meat, but I loved the fingerling-spinach hash served over the steak. Mixed with the egg yolk it was sinful. Bill loved the ribeye and said as much as he wants to try everything on the menu, he'd probably order this one agian and again. I had the Dixie Cheese Steak Po'Boy: Brisket, collards beer-cheese fondue, hot sauce. The texture of it was more pot roastish, but that was OK for me. The collards are what knocks this po'boy out of the house! We might have to steal this idea for our next BBQ (of course, Nolan, Molly and Sophie are invited!)

As if we weren't stuffed enough, we managed to finish off an order of Crispy Beignets Dark chocolate, blackberry jam. Holy, sweet hushpuppies of goodness!

A nice surprise of the evening was having a round of drinks bought for us. We didn't know who bought them until we were just leaving. Those J. Ross' sure are sneaky. They phoned in a round on them!

I'm so glad I got to cross SOHO off my "Must Try 2012" list, but I'm sure it is not going to be our only visit.

10 restaurants I want to try this year:

2. L'Albatros
3. Spice Kitchen & Bar
4. Sun Luck Garden
5. Fat Casual BBQ
6. Bac
7. Crop Bistro
8. Deagan's Kitchen
9. Pura Vida
10. Pranzo

Friday, January 6, 2012

10 Things

I don't make resolutions. I don't like setting myself up for failure. This year I decided I would create some lists of things I'd like to accomplish. Things that I currently enjoy, but the things on the list will push me out of my comfort zone a bit. We eat out alot, but we tend to fall back on our favorites instead of venturing out to try new ones. I would go to Momocho for every meal if I could and Bill's fave is Lolita. There are SO many great places in Cleveland to try, so here goes....

10 restaurants I want to try this year:

2. L'Albatros
3. Spice Kitchen & Bar
4. Sun Luck Garden
5. Fat Casual BBQ
6. Bac
7. Crop Bistro
8. Deagan's Kitchen
9. Pura Vida
10. Pranzo

Sunday, January 1, 2012

First 5/Last 5

Happy New Year from The Pchaks!
I did this last year, so I thought I'd carry it on this year.

The first 5 pictures I took in 2011

 (Yes, Uncle John has Reagan's socks on his ears!)

And the last 5 pictures I took in 2011

I lost count of how many there were in between, but have enjoyed every single snap!