Category Archives: Family Antics

Things that pertain to my family and extended family.

Birthday, Birthday…

What do you get when you layer fabulous hometown beer, grilled steaks, and triple chocolate mousse cake? An amazing birthday. Yesterday was my birthday, I’m inching closer to the big 4-0 and I’m actually feeling pretty good about it. It helps to have a wonderful husband who is 12 years older and has very little sympathy for me where the aging process is concerned.

Mike is going to be 50 this year and he still gets up every morning and wages a life or death struggle with his ridiculous cat. That is a man who is not going quietly into senility by any stretch. I really have very little room to complain about 40 looming out there, just two years away.

I also have to appreciate a man who will stretch my birthday into an entire weekend of celebrating. Our family is notorious for stretching out birthdays and my birthday was certainly no exception. We celebrated all weekend long and it was wonderful!!

Saturday we spent a few hours at Lengthwise Pub. We indulged in the Zeus Imperial IPA (probably the only IPA I actually enjoy) and some fabulous food. I also had a Truffle, Lengthwise Kern County Crude Porter mixed with their Raspberry Wheat. It made for a delightful, chocolate-y, coffee, raspberry, dessert beer. I’m a dark beer girl at heart so this was the ideal way to end our trip to Lengthwise.

Sunday morning we rolled out of bed and headed to a local breakfast spot, J&M’s Bar & Grill. Mike had the homemade corned beef hash and eggs with a side of biscuits and gravy. I had the eggs benedict and the girls had pancakes and french toast. The eggs benedict was really fabulous. I’m picky about my hollandaise sauce and this one fit the bill nicely. It was the ideal way to start the day of my official birthday.

We spent the day visiting some nurseries in town. Our weather has been so spring-like lately that we almost forgot it was still January. It was a great day just hanging out with family and enjoying a little sunshine and mild weather.

One of the highlights of my birthday was logging into Facebook and seeing all the sweetest, birthday wishes from friends and family. I am really blessed to know some amazing people and have some of the sweetest friends on the planet.

Sunday morning I found myself tagged on instagram with the sweetest birthday collage ever:

Birthday collage

Katie is the most thoughtful daughter a mom could ever want. Each one of these pictures is a really great memory for me. There is Katie’s first birthday up in the top right corner and the bottom slide is from a baseball game last summer. Needless to say, this was a really special and very thoughtful treat.

We ended my birthday with a fabulous dinner. Mike grilled gorgeous steaks and we had a great dinner with all the trimmings. My birthday cake this year was an amazing triple chocolate mousse cake. There really aren’t enough words to describe the decadence of that cake, it was truly a cake fit to cap off an amazing birthday weekend.

Of course, after all that weekend indulgence the girls and I were out first thing this morning for a 2 mile run. 😉

Now to figure out how to fill the next 11 months until my next birthday! 😉 We have lots of adventures planned this year so I bet it will fly by!

Basque party of 16

Fabulous Family Weekend!

Family was the theme of the weekend and we had no shortage of it! You see, I am married to a really wonderful man who came from a fabulously wild, colorful, warm, clever, hysterical family. Unfortunately, this family lives down in San Pedro, CA about 2 1/2 hours from us, which doesn’t seem like much, but with children and busy lives – it’s a chunk.

Let me tell you how wonderful these people are… over the weekend we had eleven house guests at one time. Counting our family, that was a house of sixteen people all weekend long. Now, let’s be honest, barring some form of catastrophe, funeral, wedding, something you just HAVE to deal with… who willingly packs 16 people in a 4 bedroom, 2 1/2 bath house for an ENTIRE weekend? And what sort of people make the trek from the beach to Bakersfield??


Every time I think of family showing up I am reminded of that scene from Christmas Vacation:

Although, that is never how it plays out with Mike’s family. No looks of dread, no slowly going to answer the door. To prepare for Mike’s family we make sure we are well-rested, well hydrated, we become vegetarians for the entire week prior, and then we watch facebook check-ins and tags as they make their way to town.

Weekends with Doran/Hay/Gjonovich Clan are filled with great food and drink, hours of amazing conversations, cigar smoking, and more food. If you are lucky, Tommy brings a batch of microbrew beer, which he did this time and I still can’t get over how AMAZING it was, all the perfect fall notes in a crisp, tasty beer.

This weekend was no exception to what has become the norm with this family. I can’t possibly think of a better way to kick off the holiday season than spending it with some of the best people on the planet.

Family Weekend

Basque dinner – Party of 16

I have laughed until I cried with these people. I’ve sat around talking with them as the sun went down and stayed almost until it came back up. I don’t think we made it to bed either night before 3am. In the best possible sense, I am completely drained and exhausted and I loved every second of it.

It means so much to Mike and I to see our girls interacting with their cousins. Mike’s cousins have 3 girls between them that are all around the same age as Maggie and she has an absolute blast hanging out with them. Of course, all the girls adore Katie. It reminds me of when Katie was little and she absolutely adored Mike’s cousin, Melissa. Actually… she still does:

Family Weekend

Katie and Melissa

This weekend we put a fire in the deep pit and cooked two 24lb turkeys. I called it a “leftover Thanksgiving” dinner, instead of a big sit-down meal, we whipped up turkeys and all the trimmings that people love to munch on hours after the big Thanksgiving dinner. It was a hit! We stuffed dinner rolls with cream cheese, homemade cranberry sauce, and turkey. We plated up piles of smashed potatoes, gravy and turkey. People had their dinner, their way, casual, friendly and full of laughs.

Out in the backyard we sat around the fire telling jokes and sipping hot cider while the kids watched Charlie Brown’s Thanksgiving on the outdoor movie screen. Then we made s’mores with ritz, peanut butter cups, and marshmallows.

I couldn’t ask for a better weekend with better people, better family. I feel truly blessed.

Halloween Jack O' Lanterns

I Blinked and October was Gone

Just like that… October was gone. I can’t believe how fast it flew by! We’ve spent this month doing all the usual fall things. We watched our favorite Halloween movies. One lovely evening we took a long drive out to a farm to pick the perfect pumpkins. I prepped Maggie’s Halloween costume. It was a really wonderful October. But, I’m still shocked at how quickly it flew by, I really do feel like I blinked and October was gone.

Katie and the Bean October 2013

Katie and Sunny Bean

One of the highlights was getting to have a weekend visit with Anna and her family. I can’t tell you how much I adore the Bean. That baby is the funniest, cutest, little spitfire you’ve ever seen! We watched Halloween movies on the big screen in the backyard, smoked ribs, and had brunch at The Crystal Palace. This was their second visit and I can’t begin to tell you how much we enjoy having them here.

The big ending to October was Halloween, of course. We called in an order to our favorite Italian restaurant which made dinner fun and easy. This year we had so many trick-or-treaters that we ran out of candy before 9pm! Usually we have candy left over but not this year! Mike had door duty because I had costume and make-up duty. Katie and her adorable boyfriend, Collin, took Maggie and Collin’s little sister out trick-or-treating. So, the girls got to hit two neighborhoods and they brought in quite the haul!

Some highlights from October and Halloween:

Almost every time Mike answers the door he tells the kids that he forgot it was Halloween and would it be okay if he just gave them a slice of bologna. Seriously. Most kids are very polite and tell him that will be just fine. One said – No, that’s not okay.

The Jack O’ Lanterns…
Halloween Jack O' Lanterns, October 2013 Left to right: Mike’s traditional “puking pumpkin” my creepy Jack O’ Lantern, Maggie’s vampire, and Katie’s owl. 🙂 I think these are some of my favorite pumpkins ever!

For the last several years I have begged Maggie to go as Chowder for Halloween. This year she relented… and even managed to make it sound like it was her idea!

Chowder Halloween costume, October 2013

Maggie as Chowder

I have to admit, not only was this an easy costume, it was super comfy too! Chowder has been over for a few years so only a couple of people recognized her… but, she looked great!!

Of course, Halloween is just a warm up for the holiday season around here. I’m prepping for a big family weekend with all of Mike’s awesome family. Katie and I are getting our decorating plan together for Christmas and I’ve started Christmas shopping. I can’t remember the last time I was this excited about the holiday season!