Parent Potluck 2017

One of the lovely traditions at the kids’ school is that of parent potlucks. During the fall, various parents volunteer to host potlucks at their homes for the parents of the grade. We always try to host at least one, but sometimes schedules get in the way.
After not being able to host last year, we did host one this year for our son’s grade. Jim is opposed to potlucks as a concept and since he likes to cook, we cook the entire dinner. Guests are asked to bring their favorite bottle of wine to donate to the school’s auction.
This past weekend was a rather hectic one. Both Jim and I had board meetings followed by a wedding and reception on Saturday. The day of the potluck was also the day of Part 1 of our son’s Eagle Scout project (more on that in a subsequent blog post). But we managed to fit it all in (although I’ve never seen 2:00 am before on a day where the clocks were moved back—a new experience).

The menu was as follows:
cheese, pate, & crackers
cucumber & carrot salad
chickpea, arugula, & picked carrots salad
tossed salad
fruit salad
beef bourguignon
spicy shrimp
buttered baby potatoes
baguettes
steamed rice
apple pie

We had four couples over for dinner, some we knew and some we didn’t (which is a perfect combination). It was a fun evening with great conversation and some memorable moments.

 

8th grade graduation

Our son graduated from 8th grade a few weeks ago in a lovely ceremony held at the school.  Being a 14 year old boy with only an embryonic frontal lobe (at best), he neglected to mention that he was part of an ensemble that was singing as part of the ceremony.  (If you knew the history of the non-existent singing genes of both the Lintott and Liang families, you would understand what a shocking development this is.)  Nonetheless, he did a lovely job (you can actually hear his voice during the performance).
It’s a little bittersweet to now have two children in high school.  I was a bit melancholy the week of graduation, but it was a sweet ceremony, and the kids were all great.  Our son has a great group of friends, which should stand him in good stead in high school.
I have already decided that come next school year, with a high school senior and a high school freshman, copious amounts of alcohol is what is getting me through the year! 🙂

filing in for the ceremony

filing in for the ceremony

singing (!) during the ceremony

singing (!) during the ceremony

graduating!

graduating!

DSC_1052

Life on the International Space Station (interview with Dan Tani)

As part of his 8th grade science project, our son had to do a podcast about life on the International Space Station.  Fortunately, a friend of ours, Dan Tani, is a former astronaut who actually spent significant time on the space station.  Dan very kindly came over to our house to be interviewed for this podcast.

Here is the final version of the podcast (and thank you, Dan, for your time!):

Dinner party – December 2015

Some friends of ours were hosting a dinner party as part of a school event, and we offered to help out with the cooking. They kindly agreed to let us do so and, again, with major help from Robert, Jim’s nephew, we served the following:

Apple rutabaga soup with gougeres and Parmesan tuiles (wine: 2002 Dom Ruinart Blanc de Blancs Champagne)

apple rutabaga soup

apple rutabaga soup

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

parmesan tuiles

parmesan tuiles

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

gougeres

gougeres

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Scallops with shallots and bacon on Brussel sprout slaw with mustard dressing (wine: 2010 Louis Latour Corton Charlemagne)

scallops on brussel  sprout slaw

scallops on brussel sprout slaw

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Moroccan lamb with couscous, Moroccan orange salad and home-made harissa (wine: 2010 Rudd Estate Oakville Proprietary Red)

moroccan lamb with couscous

moroccan lamb with couscous

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gingerbread with salted caramel gelato and spiced whipped cream (wine: Alvear Pedro Ximinez de auada)

gingerbread with gelato & whipped cream

gingerbread with gelato & whipped cream

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It was a lot of fun to play in someone else’s kitchen for a change (although I’m not sure they shared the sentiment!).  🙂

Snow Day Activities

While the MLK long weekend gave us sunny and even warm (relatively speaking) weather, Tuesday brought us 6 inches of snow.  For hardy Midwesterners and New Englanders, this amount might be a mere blip on the winter radar.  However, for the mid-Atlantic and for DC in particular, it’s enough to shut down the federal government and school systems in the area.  Our kids managed to get 2 snow days out of it.  While much of it was spent watching Dr. Who and Phineas & Ferb, there was also outdoor play.  A snowball fight, complete with snowball guns, was a requirement.  Unfortunately, the snow wasn’t ideal for snowball fights, being light and fluffy, but good fun was still had by all (2 kids + dog).  And when the snowball gun fails, a hand-packed snowball is a perfect substitute.

Marcus with the snowball gun

Marcus with the snowball gun

Jade making snowballs the old-fashioned way

Jade making snowballs the old-fashioned way

Meanwhile, the prerogative of the parent is to stay in the toasty warm house and indulge in baking.  I got a bread machine as a birthday present last year, and Tuesday was the perfect day to try out a recipe for chocolate challah.  I doubled the amount of chocolate chips the recipe called for (duh!), and the loaf received an enthusiastic thumbs up from the family.

Chocolate challah

Chocolate challah

The kids are now back in school (yay!) and enjoying their 2 day school week.

Teaching at Stanford Law School

For the months of April and May, I have been teaching a class at Stanford Law School called “Internet Torts and Crimes.”  This means I’ve been flying out once a week to Palo Alto to teach the class.

Teaching the class has been a blast!  The students have all been great, and I have learned something every week from them.  (One of the reasons I like teaching so much is that you can always learn something from your students.)  However, teaching did make our already logistically difficult lives even more challenging.  There have been a few days where both parents were in the air or in different geographical locations while the kids have been here.  Not ideal, but for nine weeks, manageable.

I love teaching the class, not least because I promise my students that every fact situation we discuss in class comes from real life.  This is not as difficult as one might think.  Let’s just say that between AOL and Ruckus (the digital music company I used to work for), it wasn’t difficult to find examples about Internet-based torts and crimes.  And let’s just say that one of the most animated classes was the discussion on pornography.  🙂

But as much as I loved teaching the class, I am glad that the class is over.  The travel was a bit of a grind, although I really have no cause for complaint, since I was upgraded on every single segment.  (And the new Continental planes are much nicer than the old United planes.)  But it’s nice to be home for an extended period and hanging out with Jim and the kids, rather than rushing off various places and being at the mercy of United, the weather, and the FAA.

Of course, it’s time for paper grading as well.  🙂

Chronicles of the Mole Family, Chapter 14

Technically, I suppose we aren’t the Mole Family anymore, as we have moved above ground (shading our eyes from the vicious daylight).  But since this is a story of our continued renovations, I feel it justifies the heading.

Our driveway and front yard are now what’s being renovated (for the most part—there are still parts of the interior of the house being worked on).  The kids and I were having dinner out last night as the workers were working late in the kitchen installing a new piece of granite.  (That turned out beautifully as you can see.)

granite countertop

When we came back from dinner, the door from the garage into the kitchen was locked, as it should be.  We don’t have the keys yet for that door but there is a lockbox for that very purpose.  We opened up the lockbox only to discover that there was no key.

No problem, I think.  We’ve had this happen before.  We have keys to the basement door and will just get in that way.  So I dispatch handy-dandy son to make this happen (children aka slaves are so very useful).  Handy-dandy son returns after scampering down there to say he can’t unlock the door because it’s been boarded up.  Daughter then remembers and mentions that the same is true for the front door.

So, to recap:  the doors that we have keys for have been boarded up and are inaccessible.  The door that we do have access to we have no keys for.  I am beyond delighted at this turn of events.  You’ll be pleased to know that no profanity issued from my lips (which, in full disclosure, is not the same as no profanity crossing my mind).

So, I call our contractor’s son and tell him what our issue is.  He calls back a few minutes later to say that there are keys taped to a shelf for the garage door.  I find them and think, “Great!”  Only to discover that the keys don’t work.  I call back.

After about 40 minutes, the contractor’s other son arrives.  First thing he does is try the keys.  (I am mildly annoyed by this–while I am generally not handy, I am able to use keys–but then I realize that I would have done exactly the same thing if I had been him.)  The keys don’t work.  He doesn’t have a key to the garage door.  So, after mulling it over, he gets a drill from his car, squelches through the mud that was our front yard (did I mention that it has been pouring rain since we got home?), removes the plywood boarding up our front door, unlocks it, comes and unlocks the garage door, and then reinstalls the plywood.

It’s now been over an hour since we’ve gotten home, but at least, we’re inside the house, which is a vast improvement.  And working keys have been promised to us tomorrow.

It was a fitting end for a day that began with a bomb threat at the school, but that’s a story for another day.

Jig of Joy (aka The First Day of School)

One of my favorite commercials is the Staples commercial where a family is buying school supplies.  The kids are moping and depressed and the dad is dancing with glee while the song “The Most Wonderful Time of the Year” is playing in the background.

And that is where we are.  I danced a jig of joy on September 4 as the kids went off to school.  (Not that I don’t love them or anything.)  They both reacted in accordance with their personalities.  The angst-ridden child managed to stretch the angst across two days, instead of resolving it on the first day of school.  She had only two new teachers this year, but neither were on her schedule until the second day of school so, of course, it made perfect sense to stretch her angst another twenty-four hours. (Unfortunately, I know perfectly well where she inherited this trait.)  <sigh>

The non-angst-ridden child had a good first day of school and an even better second day of school and an even better third day of school.  This is in keeping with his joyful personality, which he inherited from his father.  I now understand why God created boys.  It’s to keep the blood pressure of mothers low(er)!  (At least, during the pre-teen years.)