December 20, 2020
Oh my goodness today was a special day. Steve and I celebrated our 23rd wedding anniversary! The kids, first time I remember it being something that was of interest to them in celebrating, wanted to make the day special for us. How sweet is that! Natalie and Jacob whispered in delight a secret surprise plan for us. There were two requests: 1) that we would help them get some things from the store, and 2) that we would make sure we didn’t come into the kitchen until they were done. Initially Natalie had tried to convince Jacob that they could ride their bikes to Trader Joe’s and get the ingredients themselves, which is something they’ve done before. However, in this time of COVID and the fact that the pandemic has lingered on for sooooooo long (March 2020 through December 2020 and it’s stillllllllllll going on) and with all the stories of increased cases and Los Angeles being the most infected county in the most infected state in the most infected country, Jacob said he really feels uneasy going to stores right now. I get that. It is unnerving, certainly, how many cases of COVID there are right now. There have been unprecedented outbreaks and cases; we continue to stay home as much as possible, wear masks all the time when we go out, and try to stay vigilant about not hanging out with other people. We all wish this pandemic would be over already. Just last week the first vaccine was released. But now there’s even talk about the virus having mutated to a different strain, which could be even more contagious. Oh how I pray that this will end soon.
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But we can still celebrate an anniversary! So Steve took Natalie to Trader Joe’s. She went in to buy the groceries while Steve waited outside….she wanted it to be a complete surprise! This was midday Saturday Dec 19th. Little did I know that the very things I picked out from the pantry and refrigerator were ingredients for the dinner they had prepared! Ohhhhhh nooooooo!!! So when Steve and Natalie came back from their 5 mile run (World Vision training) and I proudly pulled out of the oven a spaghetti/chicken parmigiana baked casserole, oh the look on Natalie’s face! That was the VERY thing that she and Jacob had planned to make for our anniversary. They too had the great idea of making use of the leftovers from Jacob’s baked chicken from the Friday night dinner he had made! Oops. So back to the drawing board. More whispering. More secret surprise conversations between the two of them.
So Saturday evening Steve drove Natalie back to the store. This time she asked if she could go to Bristol Farms- for a nice “shee shee” protein, as she called it. Steve let her know that the butchers there are always very friendly and able to chat about the meats. And indeed that is what she did, as she recounted to us later. She walked up to the butcher counter and let the man know that she and her brother were hoping to make a nice anniversary dinner for their parents. After listening to her, he kindly said he was the seafood guy and would go get the man in charge of the steaks. He went and explained the situation to the other butcher, who came and chatted with Natalie. He asked her if she had a budget and she said ‘no’. So apparently he recommended to her some dry-rub aged new york something or other that weighed in costing $98. As he began to wrap the steaks, Natalie said “excuse me sir, do you have something that costs less??” She said she was imagining coming out of the store explaining to Dad that she spent almost a hundred dollars on steak and figured that was too much. Smart girl! And how proud we were of her that not only had she gone into the store by herself, but that she felt comfortable talking to the butcher, AND that she didn’t hesitate stopping the butcher from wrapping up those steaks. I think other people might have already felt committed to those steaks, not feeling free to say something to the butcher; Steve and I included. So she came home with rib eye steaks; but we didn’t know about it.
Sunday morning Dec 20th, Steve and I headed out for a drive in the MR2 convertible. That’s a fun little sports car we bought this year (Steve saw it in Redondo Beach on one of his bike rides along the coast). So we went for a top-down drive up the coast. But first we drove up the 405 to Mulholland Drive, to Bel Air Presbyterian Church, where we had gotten married 23 years ago. The parking lot was gated; closed. But we parked on a little dirt patch overlooking the valley and there had our in-car picnic lunch. Steve had picked up yummy sandwiches for us, so we sat there eating our food, grateful for this opportunity to be out while our growing-up fast kids were at home.
Off we drove….. Sunset Blvd, then up Mandeville Canyon, then to PCH….and up through Malibu. A beautiful drive. How grateful we are that only 5 days before Christmas, late in December, we have such glorious amazing winter weather. Glorious sun. Warm enough for me to be in a sleeveless floral blouse! Both of us with our sunglasses on, basking in the sun with the roof down on this convertible. Truly a beautiful way to spend the day.
As we were returning to the area, exiting the 405 at El Segundo Blvd, all of a sudden it dawned on me that Natalie had asked that we give them a 15-minute heads up via text before coming home. So I sent a hello to our “Fam Fam” group text. Funny thing…..we were told that we could not come home yet. So sweet- they were busily making last minute preparations. So off we went to the beach to soak in the sunset.
When it was time to go home we were met with the MOST amazing smells coming from the kitchen!!! It was still not quite time yet, but we both really needed to go to the bathroom, so we came home and walked to the back house where Omie used to live and used the bathroom there. As we walked past the kitchen I took one look in the window and my heart just leapt with delight….there stood my two teenage children working together at the kitchen counter.
They prepared for us the most exquisite steak and mashed potato dinner! Yes, they grilled steaks all on their own!!! And the most creative red velvet heart-shaped cakes for dessert. Absolutely incredible that we have such giving, responsible children who are both willing and able to celebrate and surprise us! So so so grateful.