Saturday, June 25, 2011

Very Special Family Dinner Night

June 25, 2011

Why was tonight's Family Dinner Night a special one? Because it was MY choice, and because tonight was the official grand opening of Giuseppe Gallo's restaurant. (They've been open all week, but all the fanfare was on today's date--the real deal opening.)

The place was beautiful and the tables were all full the whole time we were there. We were greeted at the door by the lovely hostess Courtney, who directed us to our seats. Our orders were taken by the very friendly and helpful waitress, Haley. Dean and Mama Carolyn stopped by to make sure we were being well-taken care of, and even Cheryl was able to break away to check in on us and give hugs and kisses all the way around. Even on opening night, packed as they were, everyone made us feel like they couldn't be happier to make our Family Dinner Night a memorable and enjoyable one.

But of course, atmosphere is nothing if the food doesn't live up to the hype. Let me tell you, the food was at least as wonderful as the people who cooked it and served it to us! We were definitely not disappointed.

We started out with the famous Gallo Chips as an appetizer. Bread, cheese, and smoky garlicky goodness. This is the perfect appetizer for our family. Nicholas especially loved the concentration of garlic in the toasty center, but he had to fight his little sister for it. I like it all on its own, and Doug loves to dunk it in the marinara sauce. No matter how you slice it, those Gallo Chips are sure to disappear quickly from the table!

Our meals came with soup or salad. The kids all got the salads, and I was impressed with how fresh and BIG each of those salads were. We should have known then that we were in trouble; there was no way we were going to be able to finish our whole meals. (Luckily, that means leftovers for tomorrow!)
I chose Minestrone Soup, and of course everyone just had to have a taste.
Doug's choice was Clam Chowder. This was amazing. Seriously. Doug was consciously eating slow, small bites just to make it last longer. I got to taste it, and I can't say I blame him. I have vowed to eventually eat my way through their menu, just so I can say I have tried everything. I'm pretty stoked that I didn't actually order this soup, because I can order it next time without breaking my 'rule' of not repeating menu items until I've tried them all.
Next came the entrees. Danielle ordered Nonna's Ravioli. Let me point out that this was the kid's-sized portion--more than plentiful and hearty. (We all shared and tasted each others' dishes, so I know that this ravioli was very satisfying.)

My dish was Linguine Alla Genoa--chicken, garlic, creamy tomato sauce with spinach. Oh my goodness, it was delicious! And what a huge serving!
Okay, so I lied a little. We didn't all share. Nicholas, my brave boy who equates spicy foods with being a manly man, decided to challenge himself with the Diavolo Burger. Loaded with jalepenos and Fresno chiles, this burger might be the one thing I decide to leave off my list when eating my way through the menu. Firey food just doesn't do it for me; I guess I don't feel the need to prove my manliness in that way. I am, as a matter of fact, decidedly un-manly. I'm okay with that. Sometimes Nicholas' ego is a little tougher than his stomach, but he muscled through--with the help of a lot of pomegranate lemonade. He made Haley earn her wage tonight just keeping him hydrated after downing most of the burger. Still, he loved it. This burger, though, be warned, is not for the faint of heart.

Doug and Bree both ordered the heaping serving of Paul's Lasagna. Rich, meaty sauce, gooey cheese, wonderful flavor. I know, because I just had to have a bite. Doug has been dying to try Paul's Lasagna since we saw it on the menu. You should be jealous, I'm telling you. Better yet, you should get yourself down to Giuseppe Gallo's and try something--anything--off of that menu!
With all of that food, you would think there was no way we'd have room for dessert. Oh, my friend, you would be wrong. (Those of you who are of my mindset know that there's always room for dessert, even if it means you might have to put some leftover food in a to-go box first.) Gelato anyone? One chocolate and one vanilla, and spoons all the way around. Perfect end to a perfect meal. Oh, we'll be back soon, believe me....

Tigers Are Unstoppable

June 25, 2011

Tonight the Tigers faced a doubleheader, but they were more than prepared. With a full roster of girls in attendance, the girls were fierce and determined to make it a memorable night. Danielle played goalie for the first game, and she got her taste of her first shut-out, as the girls scored twelve goals while holding their opponents at zero. For the second game, Danielle jumped in on the field, regaining her footing at defender and mid-field, and even stepping in as forward for part of the game. Although she loves goalie and feels most at home there, she felt pretty good knowing that she could still move out on the field as well, assisting in the team's final 13-3 score.

Two more games on the season, and the girls have a great chance of pulling off first place. What a great group of girls, and what a great coach they have!

Summer's Just Grand

June 25, 2011

One of the best things about summer is having more time to hang out with friends and family. Our local mall puts on a Rock The Mall concert series during the summer months, where families can come out and sing and dance to free concerts featuring local bands. Thursday's band was Midnight Run, a Journey cover band. Being a good 80's-bred mom, my kids have all been raised on Journey. We packed up the lawn chairs and drinks and snacks, and I texted some girlfriends to come and join us. As we sat around immersed in the sounds of pseudo-Steve Perry, watching our kids play and dance and giggle, it occurred to us that two of our kids are exactly the same age now as we all were when we first joined the high school marching band and all became friends. It was a very weird and somehow very satisfying deja vu sort of a moment.


Nicholas and Lisa
Me, Lisa, Rosa, and Julie
Lisa, Rosa, Julie

Friday, June 24, 2011

Now We're Rollin'

June 24, 2011
Just like her mama, Bree decided to wait until she turned 18 to officially hit the road as a licensed driver. Congrats, Bree--now you're rollin'!

A Little Venting (Not the Air Conditioning Vents, 'Cuz Those Don't Work)

June 24, 2011

My van has been operating without air conditioning for at least a couple of months now. It hasn't really been a huge deal, since we have, up until fairly recently, been experiencing a very mild spring. However, we hit the first day of summer--not the one on the school calendar, but the actual one--and suddenly, someone got the memo that it's supposed to be hot. Really hot. Like attempting to break records hot.
I knew I needed to get my air conditioning up and running before the ridiculous Fresno heat really set in, but I was lulled into a sense of complacency. Well, that and a rather unfortunate financial position kept me from dropping the van off at the shop. Unfortunately, not long ago, the van developed another even more worrisome 'character trait'. Brakes that used to operate smoothly, quietly, and compliantly suddenly decided to go on strike. Accelerating? Piece of cake. But slowing down became a grinding, screeching affair--a loud protestation that let me know the brakes were ready for a break. I'm an adventurous type, but rear-ending someone is not on my to-do list for the summer. It was either time for replacement--brake pads and rotors--or I'd have to train my kids in the art of hitting the ground running when exiting the vehicle. Literally.
So replace the brakes we did, with the cash I was hoping to drop on repairing the van's internal atmosphere. Now I'm driving around in 105 degree weather with the windows down, hair blowing in my face (notice how much less sexy that sounds than 'hair blowing in the wind'), dripping with sweat while I drop my kids off at their various destinations. It's not pretty, but it's safe, I suppose.

In a bit of irony, now that the brakes are fixed and the van's air conditioning has moved up to 'next on the list' again, the air conditioning on the house has decided to assert itself. Yes, it appears that the air conditioning in the house, with its uncanny ability to sense that it's time to pay the premium summer prices, has decided to slack off. So guess what? Van's moved down on the list again. House air comes first, then van air. Sneaking up to vie for attention are Doug's car (bleeding power steering fluid like there's no tomorrow), and registration for both vehicles. Not to mention that kid I'm sending off to college in two months.

One step forward, two steps back sometimes, I tell ya.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Happy Birthday to My Baby

June 20, 2011

How is it possible that over night, this tiny, precious little darlin.......has become this gorgeous young woman?
Although you turn 18 today, you'll always be my baby. Hope your birthday is spectacular!

Let the Celebrations Continue

June 20, 2011

June is generally one celebration after another in our household. My birthday falls right in the middle. We decided to celebrate my birthday this year at our favorite Saturday night hangout, Thai Fusion. We had a huge crowd turn out for karaoke, fun, and lots of laughter. I'm so glad so many of our friends could join us!

Doug serenading the birthday girl
Doug and Maria
Bill and Renee
Doug, Brent, and Mitchel, sharing a 'bro' moment
Happy birthday to me!

Brady and Danette

Matthew's 16th Birthday Party at the Bowling Alley

June 20, 2011

Even though Matthew and his family live in Washington, they were here visiting us so we could all celebrate his 16th birthday this year.

Micah, Scott, Matthew the Birthday Boy, and NicholasMicah and Nicholas
Scott, Scott, and Geoff--friends from way, way back
Nicholas and Danielle
Matthew and his proud dad
Doug and me
Danielle, on her way to the winning score in our lane

Sunday, June 19, 2011

A Restaurant is Born--The Grand Opening of Giuseppe Gallo's

June 19, 2011

After weeks of hard labor and lots of love, Giuseppe Gallo's officially opened for business last Friday night. We have loved seeing this restaurant being built up from its inception, and know that Gary and Cheryl have created a family atmosphere that honors love, laughter, and delicious food. We wish them all the best, and look forward to trying out everything on the menu! (We plan to be there a lot.)Miss Kathryn
Val and friends, charming and lovely bartenders
Gary, the amazing Executive Chef
Bree and her fellow hostesses, ready to greet customers.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Graduation Celebration

June 17, 2011

We had a combination birthday/graduation party for Bree, and as always, she was surrounded by a huge group of family and friends. We had lots of tasty snacks, but the beautiful cupcakes, lovingly baked and frosted by her wonderful step-sisters, were definitely the big hit.

What's a party without a princess bounce house? Yes, even almost-eighteen year old big kids love to bounce. And, by the way, before the night was through, my brother and sisters and I got a turn as well. We may be older, but we're all still kids at heart!

Bree and Morgan
Morgan, Liz, Kim, and Laurie--beautiful step-sisters and step-mom who all helped put together the party. I really appreciated all their hard work and help. I'm so glad all of the sisters will be down in San Diego near Bree when I send her off to college.
Bree and her best friend Shelby
Watching the picture slideshow I put together of Bree through the years...
What a great graduation gift to start her college career--a San Diego State sweatshirt!