Saturday, September 12, 2009

We officially (heart) Park City

Michael and I have been in Salt Lake City since Thursday. We visited the Salt Lake City GTT office, we spent some quality time with newlyweds Andy & Lindsay, and today we decided to spend a few hours in Park City.
We have now officially fallen in the love with the ski resort town of Park City. We had lunch at a cute little french cafe, Bistro 412.
They had an excellent looking menu and it was difficult to decide what to order:
Oh, and these pictures were all taken with my iPhone because we didn't have any other cameras with us. The bread and olive oil at Bistro 412 may have been the best I have ever eaten. No kidding. Delicious baguette with a delicately crispy crust and a soft delicious middle, but the real key was the olive oil. Light oil with a little balsamic, red pepper, rosemary and garlic thrown in, yum!
So delicious, here I am stuffing my face:
They make their own sodas. Michael ordered the homemade root beer and said it was "pretty good". We decided to split an appetizer, a soup, and a sandwich. We knew it would be too much food, and it was. Not sure why we decided to order a quesadilla at a french bistro, but it sounded good at the time. As it turned out, it was not all that good. A goat cheese & mango quesadilla with an avocado salsa sounded scrumptious, but in fact there was too much goat cheese which overpowered all the other flavors. Something in it was spicy, but that was really the only redeeming quality. I would not order this again, but I do think I will try and recreate a better version at home where I specialize in eclectic cuisine, not french!
We ordered the french onion soup (this should be a slam dunk, right?) and also the smoked chicken, provolone and pesto croissant (french, right?) sandwich. Both were very delicious although the french onion soup was our favorite. It was just perfect.
The sandwich came with a whole slew of shoestring fries which we could not even begin to finish, but they were great. They had lots of other delicious options like wild mushroom strudel, daily quiche special, pork loin french dip, steak frites, and even beef bourguignonne.
After lunch I got some love from Franz the bear...

We decided to take the city chair lift up to the top of the mountain and it turned out to be really fun.
At first I was a little scared as the "chairs" are a little high off the ground (obviously I am not a skier).

I was a little worried about my slip on sandals after seeing someone's flip flop abandoned below on the netting over the street, about 20 feet into the climb. So I kept my feet very still the whole time and my sandals stayed securely on my feet.
The forest and sky were just beautiful today.Although it looks like the ground is very close to our feet, solid ground was actually about 30 feet below...
The original chair lift towers run parallel to the new chair lift:
Here's the mechanism that keeps us safely moving up and down the mountain:
Heading back down through the aspen forest:
The aspens were beautiful. Here a few maples are thrown in for beautiful early fall color.
View on the way down:

Heading back down to Park City:

A really fun aspect of the chair lift and surrounding area during the summer are great mountain biking trails. Lots of people took the chair lift up with their bikes following behind and then they rode the trails back down. Looked like fun.

After our fun chair lift ride, we headed back into town for a little shopping. We stopped into a very cool pet store. The owner was great. They currently have about a half dozen Newfoundlands and they sell a raw protein diet, plus supplements. It was interesting to hear this woman's theory about the life span of pure breeds and how vaccines and mass produced foods are killing our dogs. She previously had golden retrievers that she did not vaccinate and that she fed a raw diet and they lived 16-19 years. Nearly unheard of for golden retrievers. Definitely something worth thinking about. Below Michael is getting to know a 200 pound Newfoundland and I am petting a 160 pound 1 1/2 year old "puppy". So cute!
The weather was perfect, the town adorable, the food 'mostly' delicious.
We had a blast!

Park City

Sunday, September 6, 2009

18 Favorite Photos

So it was inevitable. Inevitable that two things would happen...
First, that I would start fretting already about Joey leaving in less than a year for college. That I will be obsessed with this for the next 11 months does, in fact, seem inevitable.

I knew it would happen. I tried to be brave, but it is going to be difficult. The college search, the essays, the tests, the interviews, the graduation... and then, the leaving part. So here, ever so self indulgently, is another opportunity for me to reminisce about the past 18 years. They have been great. They have been fun. They have been special. I know it's not the end... it's the beginning. We have spent the past 18 years raising an independent child. A child that will be ready to go out on his own and be a responsible, mature, contributing member of society. So why is it so difficult.

The other thing that was bound to happen... that I would do a post about Joey on Labor Day (or in this case the day before Labor Day since tomorrow I will be baking those yummy cakes). Any Mother who has a child born the first week of September is bound to experience said Child's birthday on Labor Day. How appropriate!

So here goes.... at approximately 3:00am on September 7th, 2009, Joey will officially turn 18 years old. No, I can't believe it either.

September 7, 1991
Joey was born on a Friday night... well, I guess technically early Saturday morning. After many long hours and much trauma to both Mother and Child (and mental trauma to Daddy and everyone else), Joseph Benjamin Lubitz joined the family.

December 1991
Joey loved his swing. Joey had colic and was super sensitive to loud noises. The swing and pacifier were really the only things that would calm him down. This all lasted a few months and then Joey turned into one of the most delightful little people to be around. So happy. So inquisitive.

The above picture is actually of Michael at age one. The picture below is Joey at age one. I just love these two pictures. The Father with blonde hair and blue eyes, the Son with brown hair and brown eyes, but gee, it seems the differences end there.

September 1992

August 1993
Above is one of my favorite pictures ever taken of Joey. I was 7 months pregnant with Sammy. Michael's parents had come to town for a visit. We took them to Seaside. It was a great day!

November 1993
The above picture was taken about a week and half after Sammy's birth. Since Sammy was a C-Section, there wasn't a lot of cuddle time for Joey and Mommy. This picture was taken while Sammy was napping. I think it speaks volumes about the exhaustion we were all experiencing. I can't believe Michael even had the energy to get the camera out and take the photo. A few years ago my Sister Tiffany was staying at our house while we were out of town. I came home and Tiff had dug this picture out of a box somewhere deep in the closet and she had framed it for me and placed it by my bed. I love her for that.
November 1994
Speaking of Aunt Tiffy, every year we would go to Disneyland. Her absolute favorite place to be. The first couple of years after Sammy was born, Sammy would stay home with Michael and Tiff and I would take Joey. When Sammy got old enough, we would take him along and we would spend hours playing on Tom Sawyer's Island. Tiff and I would hide and Joey and Sammy would have to come find us.

April 1995
Another of Joey's favorite activities was visiting Papa Skip & Grandma Karen's house up in Port Orchard, Washington and taking the ferry over to Seattle for clam chowder and fun times at the big bookstore. In the above photo Joey is on the ferry with Uncle Andy and Uncle Ben.

March 1997
Joey loved preschool at the MJCC. In this picture he is dressed like King Ahasuerus for the Purim Festival.

June 2002
Joey attended the Portland Public Schools Japanese Magnet Program from Kindergarten through 8th grade. In the above picture, Joey is on his 5th grade trip to Japan. He and his classmates are at a school in Kobe learning to make Okonomiyaki.

August 2003
We have so many fond memories of family vacations. Above Joey is relaxing on Hawk's Nest Beach on the US Virgin Island of St. John. If you have not been there, you should seriously think about going. St. John is an amazing little island with some of THE best beaches anywhere: Trunk Bay & Cinnamon Bay are awesome with rental facilities, snack bars, etc... but quiet little Hawk's Nest is our favorite.
September 2004
The above is my favorite picture from Joey's Bar Mitzvah. Just a genuinely happy smile.

March 2005
Joey has played tennis since he was 6 years old. In this photo he is practicing at the Portland Athletic Club. Our friend Elliot was kind enough to take this really great photo of Joey at age 13 1/2.

August 2005
In this picture we are at Catherine's Palace in St. Petersburg Russia.
This may be the only time you see Joey in baggy jeans.

October 2006
In the above photo, Joey is at Sammy's Bar Mitzvah party surrounded by girls. Not an uncommon sight as he is often surrounded by girls and has been for as long as I can remember.
July 2007
And alas, the above photo commemorates the "I refuse to smile for your silly photos" years. I think we are starting to leave those years, thank goodness.

October 2007
Above, Joey in his element, entertaining friends at his art show a couple years ago.

May 2008
And a photo from Joey's high school years without a picture of Julia would be--well, just silly. This photo was taken at the Sasquatch Music Festival at the Gorge Amphitheater in Washington State.
August 2009
And here we are 18 years later already.
No matter how I look at it--the time flew by. There were days when I wish it would, but overall, I want those days back. I want time to stop while I close my eyes and remember every single minute.

Old School

For the past 15 years we have been buying Joey's birthday cakes from Helen Bernhard Bakery in Northeast Portland. We have had pirate themed cakes, batman cakes (a few of them), soccer themed cakes, tennis themed cakes, music themed cakes... and just plain old birthday themed cakes. Helen Bernhard's was always Joey's favorite. He absolutely loves their chocolate butter cream frosting. Well, folks, times they are a changin'.... we have now decided we will make all our birthday cakes at home--from scratch. No fancy bakery decorated cakes and certainly no store bought mixes. We strive to know what every ingredient in our cake (and all our food) is and also that it is the freshest we can find.

Below: me and Grandpa John outside Grandma & Grandpa's house in Southeast Portland with my Mom's turquoise Metropolitan in the driveway behind us.
We are going back in time and doing it the old fashioned way. One of my favorite things to do when I was a child was to visit my Grandparent's house in Southeast Portland and we visited them all the time. Their house wasn't big or fancy, but when you walked in the front door you could smell the fresh brewed coffee and all kinds of delicious goodness that was cooked in their modest kitchen. My Grandma made THE BEST scrambled eggs ever. They also had a beautiful garden. I loved going over and helping my Grandpa "harvest" the peas. We would pick them off of the simple chain link fence that separated their yard from the neighbors and we would shell them right there sitting on the grass and gravel driveway. Every season my Grandma canned anything she could find. Their basement was kinda scary, cold, dark and a bit musty, but I knew canned goods of all varieties resided there. Grandma or Grandpa would go down to the cellar and bring back the most wonderful canned peaches or pears. Maybe a little apple butter or delicious green beans or bread & butter pickles. Canning: an old school tradition for another day perhaps. At least in our house, canning is something we often talk about, but haven't quite mustered the resolve to practice on a regular basis. Next week maybe?

But for today, we will be making our cakes from scratch. Labor Day this year is a very big day for us as it is perhaps the last birthday Joey will celebrate at home for a while. We will be making a 'Mile-High Chocolate Cake with Vanilla Cream Filling and Chocolate Butter Cream Frosting' and a 'Frosted Apple Spice Cake with Walnuts and Currants'. There won't be any Batmobiles or purple confetti, but I am thinking they are going to be delicious.

Weird, two cake posts in a row... huh.