Grandma’s Home-Cooked Meals to Napa Valley Delights ~ Summer, Part 1

The typical Expat Summer entails leaving the host country the minute school dismisses, traversing across the home country visiting relatives and friends, doctors, dentists, optometrists, and returning to the host country the night before school begins giving your children the added benefit of jet lag and waking early. (Of course their teachers get the subsequent grouchy moods and falling asleep on their desks around lunchtime.  Yes, I’m a teacher. )

But after 10 years in Tokyo, the concepts of “home” and “host” country become muddled. I had to drag my son, who’s lived 10 of his 16 years in Tokyo, to the States and upon returning he proclaimed, “I love Japan!  Couldn’t you smell it when you got off the plane?” As a result, the typical Expat Summers of years 1-5 have given way to four strictly fun-filled weeks in the States and six weeks in Japan.

Highlights of Part 1 (in chronological order):

  • Grandpa teaching my girls to drive
  • My 21-year-old getting her driver’s license and my 19-year-old her driver’s permit!  Rights of passage for typical 16-year-olds.  We’re not typical.
  • Grandma’s pork and macaroni and cheese a la Grandma Mary
  • Indiana storms
  • Toy Story with the Lusk’s during said storm
  • Enjoying time with my friend, Laurie, in Saugatuck ~ eating, shopping, the Beechwood Manor Inn with our hosts, Sal and Gregg, shopping…
  • Lunch with Grandma and Grandpa Maggart
  • World  Cup Soccer and Germany’s third place finish! Kind of miss those vuvuzelas.
  • Celebrating Mom and Dad’s 50th Anniversary with the family in South Carolina! (missed you Colorado Lasky’s)
  • Relaxing, talking, drinking wine with my brothers and sisters
  • Watching Pat and John golfing on the beach
  • The 7-course dinners! Colleen, I’m with you. It’s all about the appetizers!
  • Chocolate eclair cake and mud pie!
  • The cousins all together
  • Penny and “Whatcha doin’?”
  • Blue skies
  • A little plane delay which ended up saving us a 4-hour drive to Detroit the next day  (sorry dad)
  • Dinner with friends at Bravo
  • Bruegger’s Bagels
  • Watching Eclipse with Lauren (yeah, don’t tell anyone)
  • Napa Valley with friends ~ 3 days of nothing but food and wine, and a little spa afternoon thrown in to ease the stress
  • Brandon at the Chateau Montelena tasting – what a hoot!
  • Lucky Pig at Solbar ~ Interesting name as it wasn’t very lucky for the pig, but lucky for us. Sixteen ounces of braised pork shoulder. Butter lettuce cups and sesame seed crepes. Mongolian peanuts. Rice noodles. A sweet and tangy peanut sauce. Mint, cilantro, basil, and sliced jalapenos. Unbelievable.
  • Chocolate mousse at Bouchon
  • Our tasting at Pina ~ fabulous views of Napa Valley, the Cornhole Tournament, the unpretentiousness and barrel tasting
  • Our tasting at Vine Cliff ~ sitting in the caves at this long salvaged-wood table with Mark. He chose to relax with us for as long as possible because 1) we were so much fun or 2) he could avoid any other tours – which wouldn’t be nearly as much fun.  You decide.

It’s all about family, friends, and food – and a little wine.

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