Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Ho-hum

I've had a bit of writer's block the past week or so. Lots of fun things going on, just no motivation to write about it that night or the next day (or the day after...) I blame this on trying to get prepped for our trip next month and tying up loose ends before we leave.

Bullets are all I can muster right now. Sorry.

*Went to the Clips game last Wednesday. Jim scored tickets in the company box, which he never passes up... even if the game did feature 2 really bad teams. We had a few friends there as well as some of fun colleagues. We actually spent most of the game watching the Lakers game on TV instead of the game actually being featured at Staples Center that night. Oh well.

*Finally got around to getting the eyebrows waxed. It had been weeks. Even the tech remarked "Wow, it's really grown in, hasn't it?" Why, yes it has, thanks so much for noticing. :/

* My poor sweet mother-in-law broke her elbow :( She had surgery yesterday and everything went well, but still. I feel so bad for her. And I totally wished I lived closer so I could run food over when I go on my marathon cooking sessions. Instead, we sent her fancy chocolate strawberries until I can get down there with something more substantial.

* I'm finally getting back to my regular gym routine. Did back to back classes on Saturday and it sucked for the first 30 minutes or so, but after that I felt great. Yay!

*Went to a going-away food and fun 'fest for Winnie on Sunday. Sad reason for getting together, but I had a great time hanging out with everyone. We'll miss you Winnie! :(

*I'm currently obsessing about a pair of dark brown leather heels from Cole Haan for work. I have a couple different sizes on order because no one actually has narrow widths in stock. They are exactly what I've been looking for, but now I'm just worried that they might now fit right. Stupid think to be stressing over, but yeah. I still am.

And that is about it in a nutshell. The next few weeks before our trip are jam-packed with stuff and I'm in full list-making mode to make sure I don't forget to do anything. All good things, of course, but still a lot of get done.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

vegas... baby... vegas...?

As I've mentioned here several times, hubs has been working crazy hours since October. So crazy, in fact, that he has been talking about needing a weekend away for several weeks now. But really, his schedule has been so insane that I was sure it was all talk. Until he called me on his way home from work on Tuesday night and asked "Hey, wanna go to Vegas this weekend?" Within an hour we had a hotel, dinner reservations made and spa appointments . What can I say, once I get the go ahead, I can plan a trip in the blink of an eye!

Friday we left work at 1pm and got on the road. Traffic was a nightmare until we reached the I-15, but then, thankfully, it opened up and was smooth sailing the rest of the way out.

In an effort to try something different, we booked a room suite at the new Palazzo hotel. While the hotel itself is just okay (nice enough, but nothing spectacular), our room was amazing! The main room had a king-sized bed with a flat screen tv and a recessed living area complete with a sectional couch, entertainment unit, desk and dining table. The entire room was done in shades of browns, taupes and whites with the ocassional splash of red or pastel blue.



The bathroom was huge and was a great space where we could easily get ready at the same time. The vanity area made doing my hair and make-up quite fun while the flat screen tv perched above the sinks allowed us to watch the latest sporting news while getting ready. It would be a great place for a bachelorette party or a girl's weekend (just book the room with 2 queens for better sleeping arrangements).

Friday night we had reservations at Aureole at Mandalay Bay. Another upscale restaurant by Charlie Palmer (who is already high on our list due to a wonderful meal we had at his other Vegas outpost CP Steak), we had heard great things about the restaurant from several people. We decided to be daring and opted for the 7-course Celebration Tasting Menu with wine pairings. Now, we figured that both the courses and wine selections would be smaller versions of the a la carte items seeing as it was a tasting menu. And for the food, that held true. There was enough of each entree so that you got a great idea of what the full dish would be, but not so much to leave you stuffed. The wine, on the other hand... let's just say that by course 5, I was sloshed. And no, this was not because I am a lightweight, as my husband was right behind me on the drunkard scale. Not only was the quantity high, the quality of each wine was right up there as well. Wheee!

Okay, back to the food. Neither of us had ever done a tasting menu so we were really excited to see what all the fuss is about. First off, the service was great. We had a variety of servers and everyone was very nice without being over the top. In particular, the girl serving the wine was a delight. The full menu was as follows:
*Hawaiian Ahi Tuna Trio
*Braised Beef Shank Ravioli with Wild Mushroom sauce
*Olive Oil Poached Petrale Sole with polenta and baby bok choy
*Pan Seared Rabbit with fois-gras rabbit links and fricasse of wild mushrooms
*Duo of Beef Tenderloin and Flat Iron with potato cake and fava beans
*Tasting of Cheese
*Meyer Lemon Parfait with lemoncello sorbet

With the exception of the cheese plate (which was truly awful), each dish that came out was better than the last. And that is saying something, as the first course set the bar very high. It is easily one of the top 3 meals I've ever had. It was so fun to try a bunch of different tastes and quite cool to see how the right wine with a dish can really enhance already wonderful flavors.

Along with the dessert course, they also brought us a small platter of petite fours. Hubs looked at them and said "Hey, look, party favors!" OMG, I almost fell out of my chair laughing.

They practically had to roll us out at the end of the night seeing as how we were completely stuffed and beyond tipsy, but the meal was really a dream. I'd highly recommend the tasting menu, but if that is not in the budget, our favorite courses were the tuna for an appetizer and the sole as the entree.

The rest of the evening was spent milling around the casion floor at The Palazzo and enjoying one last beverage at Dos Caminos, the hotel's version of a restaurant/ultra lounge. It wasn't very crowded seeing as it had just opened a week before and there wasn't a lot of buzz about the place yet, but the music was good and the sangria even better.

Saturday morning was rough, for obvious reasons. We opted for a quick breakfast at Grand Luxe Cafe in the hotel before our spa appointments. And we must have looked awful as the waiter came up to us immediately and offered us bread and water while we perused the menu. Wine hangovers are just wicked people. Wicked.

After a plate of buttery hasbrowns, toast, bacon and copious amounts of coffee and water, we felt somewhat human again. Time for a brisk walk over to Qua Baths and Spa at Ceasar's Palace for some much needed pampering. The theme for the spa is water, which isevident immediately --- lots of stonework, soft blue tiles and paintings and mini waterfalls as you enter the main spa area. Then it was a quick kiss before we went to the separate men and women only areas.

A quick guided tour of the place revealed lots of fun amenities -- 3 roman mineral baths (one warm and 2 plunge pools, hot and cold), another hot whirlpool spa, steam room, wood sauna, inhalation room (kinda like a steam room with aromatherapy), artic ice room and lots of places to sit and enjoy it all. The roman baths were relaxing whether you were in them or just enjoying them from nearby lounges. The arctic room, however, was severely overrated. I liked the cold after being in the spa, but the "snow" was nothing more than that crappy stuff they have at Disneyland that hubs and I make fun of everytime we're there during the winter season. Lame!

For treatments, I opted for the hot stone massage while hubs went for the deep tissue in an effort to work out all the kinks and stress of the past few months. While I enjoyed the hot stone massage (definitely more relaxing that a traditional swedish massage due to the heat from the stones) I may have to switch to deep tissue next time. I think I need something that will actually work out the knots and the relaxation style massages just don't do that very well. Hubs couldn't say enough wonderful things about his massage. When we finally met back up after a few hours he looked like a completely different person. Said it's the best he has felt in months. Well, in that case, mission accomplished!

We spent the rest of the afternoon bumming around the Forum Shops and while I tried several times to make a fun designer purchase, it just never panned out. Ah well, it was fun window shopping anyways.

Dinner was another late night affair, this time at DB Brassierie at the Wynn hotel. We've become huge Daniel fans after becoming addicted to his show After Hours on the Mojo network. We were thrilled when we heard he had opened a Vegas restaurant (thanks for the tip Weemo!), seeing as how getting out to Vegas is much easier for us than flying out to NY.

I started with the french onion soup while hubs opted for the ceasar salad, claiming he felt like he hadn't had anything green in a long time and his body was craving something vegetable-y. I was told the salad was good. However, I didn't hear much during the appetizer portion because I couldn't stop muttering "omg, this is the best onion soup I've ever had", while slurping it down. No really, I've had onion soup at several places in France, this blew all of those out of the water! Granted, they did add beef shank to the soup, which is a change from the traditional recipe, but even without that addition, it was still unbelievable. UNBELIEVEABLE. Have I made it clear how much I loved this soup? Even if you don't want to do dinner here, the next time you're in Vegas, save room for a snack, go right when they open at 5:30pm and just order the soup. You can thank me later ;)

But yeah, we had a whole rest of the meal to go. The special that night was beef wellington, something I've wanted to try ever since watching multiple episodes of Hell's Kitchen. Hubs went with the DB Burger - a 9oz. burger stuffed with braised short ribs, black truffle and fois gras. Mmmm hmmm, you read that right. Decadence and then some. Even though it was huge, he loved it. Sadly, it was this point in the meal that my stomach started acting up. No, it wasn't the soup. I had been feeling off all day and after taking just a few bites of the wellington, my stomach held up a big red flag. :( The couple bites I had were tasty, but just too rich to stomach that night. The waiter was very gracious about it though and while only the hubs ordered dessert (sorbet trio, very tasty), he still brought out a small chocolate square with a mini scoop of espresso ice cream for me. This was after he let me try 2 different wines so I could pick the one I enjoyed most to pair with my entree --- you know, the one I wasn't able to eat.

Even with my stomach issues, it was still had a nice dinner and I'd definitely recommend the place, if for no other reason than for the soup!

We spent the rest of the night again at Dos Caminos, although Saturday night it was definitely more crowded than the previous night. Again, great music, tasty sangria and eager, sweet waitresses. The best part of the night though, was a mother in her 50's (dressed like a teenager) with her 20-something daughter and their husbands just rocking out like crazy folks to the music. This was entertainment for hours. We were very sad when they left.

Sunday morning we slept in, then it was back down to Grand Luxe for brunch. Afterwards, we tooled around the Palazzo and Venetian shops for a bit before heading back up to the room to take a nap before dinner. The original plan was to have dinner at Jay Z's 40/40 Club while watching the UCLA-USC basketball game. However, the place was packed with folks watching the NBA All-Star game so we went to Plan B. [Side Note: The club is quite cool and would be a great place for a bachelor party or for a co-ed group to watch a game. And it must be popular, as we tried to check it out on Saturday morning around 2:30am and the line was still ridiculous!]

So, instead of the club, we settled for Carnevino, the new steakhouse from Mario Batali at The Palazzo. [Yes, it wound up being a celebrity chef restaurant tour this weekend. :)] Service was great and the food was delicious. The brought out rosemary bread with regular butter and "bacon butter" (pork lard flavored with salt and fresh pepper) to start. Yes, you read that right - bacon butter. I was expecting it to blow me away, but it was a much more mellow flavor than I was expecting. Pretty good though. We split the black fettucine (made fresh daily) with crab, jalepeno and shallots for an appetizer. For dinner, I had the tenderloin while hubs had the NY strip steak and we split the spinach with garlic and hot peppers. My steak was fine, but hubs said it was the best NY steak he has ever had and we both agreed that the hot peppers took the spinach dish to a whole other level. The desserts were equally yummy; chocolate and carmel panna cotta for him and orange creme frittas with earl grey infused chocolate for me. Another great dinner with 2 happy and stuffed folks waddling out afterwards.

The night ended pretty early after that, seeing as how neither one of us could keep our eyes open. So, back to the room to watch a bit of tv and then lights out. The next morning we got on the road at a somewhat decent hour and thankfully the traffic was much better than it had been on the drive out.

It was a great, relaxing weekend, one that both of us really needed. Even though I miss him when he works crazy hours for months at a time, the upside to the hard work is that he also plays hard when he finally gets a break, which leads to whirlwind weekends like this one. For now though, it's back to the grind... for both of us.

* I had fully planned on taking many more pics, but the combination of alcohol, being tired and just wanting to enjoy the meals and some quality time with Jim led to the camera spending more time in my purse than on the table taking pictures.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Happy Valentine's Day!

As weird as this may sound, ever since getting married this "holiday" hasn't really been as important to me, but it's still nice to take a little time out to make sure the hubs knows how much he means to me. I hope you all do the same for the ones that you love. :)

And speaking of red hearts, I was shocked to find that my pal R had given me a special shout-out on her blog:



Thanks R! I am so touched by it and I totally got the warm fuzzies when I read the post.

And to keep the good vibes alive, I want to pass it along to someone whose blog I usually lurk, but has been in my thoughts and prayers for months, nonetheless. MrsGingerGrl over at Multiple Baby Pileup was recently blessed with 3 adorable babies, but sadly, God called one of them home too soon. I can't imagine what she has gone through, but I can see that she is dealing with everything with a grace that can only come from God himself. Just keep taking it one day at a time and know that there are so many people out here keeping you and the whole family in our thoughts and prayers. Lots of love to you all.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Routine

Those of you who know me, know that I tend to be a creature of habit. I like having my week and weekends planned out in advance and changes to those plans can sometimes leave me feeling unsettled. I've recently realized that while my daily activities are somewhat regimented, my Monday routine is practically set in stone and really helps get my week off to a great start.

It looks something like this:
* Alarm goes off at 5:10am, hit snooze a couple times, finally get up, get ready and out the door by 6:30am
* At the office by 7:00am, stay til 4:30pm
* Hit the grocery store right after work; shop for ingredients for the week's dinners from a list made either the night before or at lunch
* Drop off/pick up the dry cleaning (if necessary)
* Back home to get changed, unpack the groceries and cook dinner
* Eat dinner while catching up on TV from the DVR
* Head to hip hop class just as hubs is coming home from the office; point him in the direction of food, quick kiss and off I go
* Hip Hop class for an hour at the gym; leave feeling tired, but accomplished
* Back home to shower and clean up the kitchen
* To bed by 9:45pm, read a bit and then lights out around 10ish

This schedule leaves me feeling like I've started the week off on the right foot and seems to get me mentally set for a good rest of the week. My last couple weeks have not started off like this due to extenuating circumstances, but last night I was back on my game and it felt great.

And the icing on the cake: Hip Hop class last night consisted of the instructor T, 2 guys and me. The routine was heavy on the cardio, but a lot of fun. At the end of class, she usually splits up the group into guys and girls to perform separately. The guys went first. And then it was the "girls" turn. Since I was the only one though, T danced with me. She is a total diva on the dance floor and dancing with her made me totally up my energy and really give it all I had. We did the routine twice together and I was on cloud 9 by the end. A perfect end to an already awesome day!

Sunday, February 10, 2008

The good, the bad and the ugly

As I had mentioned on Thursday, this weekend was all about lots of time in the kitchen. As in, everything else basically fell by the wayside. Granted, I did manage to call my brother on his birthday and straighten up the livingroom tonight, but that is about it. But I sure did cook. A LOT.

Friday I woke up pretty late. Jim and I, along with our Peru travel companions M and T, had gone to get our travel vaccinations on Wednesday afternoon -- 5 for each of us. It was a lot of shots. :( We were told we may feel like we were coming down with the flu for 1-2 days, but then we should be fine. I was good until Thursday night, when I felt like I'd been hit by a mack truck. Booo! But I was determined to get started, whether I was or wasn't feeling like crap. After a dose of ibuprofen and some caffeine, I felt somewhat human again and I was off and running!

To start my little cooking project I chose a recipe from The French Laundry Cookbook (TFL) that I thought would be a bit of a softball. You know, a warm-up of sorts before the real fun began. The selection was Staff Lasagna and salad with Staff Dressing. "Staff" referring to the fact that this is a meal made for and consumed by the restaurant staff before the restaurant opens for the evening. I've made lasagna before and while it's time consuming, it's not particularly difficult. Especially in light of the fact that this recipe calls for pre-bought lasagna noodles (unlike the rest of the recipes in the book).

The sauce, however, is a combination of oil, onion, garlic, fresh tomatoes and herbs. Mmmmm..... I've never made homemade tomato sauce and was excited to give it a whirl. After bringing home what felt like a ton of tomatoes (okay, 14 to be exact), they needed to be peeled, seeded and chopped. Simple, yes, but it just takes a while to get through all the steps.



All the ingredients get added to the pot in various stages and then you have a choice -- finish it on the stovetop or in the oven. Now, I wanted to use the oven method, however, I didn't have 3-4 hours to let the sauce hangout and cook. Thus, stovetop it was. And there I was faithfully, every 10 minutes scraping the bottom so it wouldn't burn. Wheeee.
<


Once it's reduced down to about a quart or so, it's off the heat and the herbs are stirred in. At this point my apartment smelled just amazing.


The cheese filling was mixed up while I was waiting for the sauce to cool. And then it was time to layer it in a baking dish, throw it in the oven and wait for it to get all mushy and yummy.

While the lasagna was doing a great job of making the apartment smell like an italian restaurant, I tackled the dressing. Now, I've made the ocassional vinaigrette that basically just calls for shaking a bunch of ingredients together, but never a dressing that requires an emulsion. Gulp. I got all the ingredients together, added the first few to the blender and started it up. And then came the egg. And then the oil. Lots and lots of oil. Now, had I, at this point, re-read the instructions, it would have been clear to me that while the recipe called for a certain amount of oil, it should only be added to the point where the dressing is thick and creamy. However, I neglected to read that part. So, while the blender whirled away, I just kept drizzling in the oil... and drizzling... and drizzling... til the thing broke! I've never actually witnessed a dressing "break" before Friday night, but I knew what had happened immediately. After a few choice words not suitable for the blog, I got my head together and tried again. This time catching the part about not just dumping a ton of oil into the poor thing. Success! Not only did it not break, it tasted great! I'll let you figure out which one is the oops container:


From there, the dressing was tossed with some romaine and joined the lasagna and garlic bread (recipe not in the cookbook) on the plate. Dinner was served!


Overall, the dinner was delish! But, like most recipes I try, there were some user errors. I got a little over-zealous with overlapping the pasta noodles and didn't do a very good job of seasoning the cheese mixture, so it was a little too noodle-y and the cheese didn't have a ton of flavor. Things that I'll fix next time. Also, I used pre-grated mozzarella for the topping (I can hear the cringing from some of you) which was okay, but I'm willing to bet the fresh stuff is a lot better. Lastly, hubs and I tend to like our pasta with a lot of sauce. While the sauce itself was absolutely fantastic, I just wished there had been double the amount.


[I just couldn't bear to use a jarred sauce on the leftover lasagna, but at the same time, it needed a little help. So... I might have gone back to the grocery store. And I might have bought another bushel or so of tomatoes. And I might have gone through the million steps to peel, seed and dice them up so that I could make another batch of sauce. :/ Yup. I just might have done that.]

Saturday started off with a little culinary field trip to Surfas, a gourmet kitchen and restaurant supply store. The place is just loaded with tons of fun stuff, but I managed to keep myself in check and just bought the few items on my list. But, I know I'll be back soon. :)

Dinner was seared sea scallops (Cooking Light recipe), salad and dressing leftover from Friday night, garlic bread and baked cucumbers, courtesy of Julia Child. I was so intrigued when this dish was mentioned in Julie & Julia that I just had to try it out. Hubs and I both thought it was just so strange to be eating baked cucumbers, but they were really good! Neither of us was wild about them paired with the scallops, but they were tasty nonetheless.


The other recipe that I tried from TFL this weekend was "Peanut Butter & Jellies" -- Peanut Butter Truffles and Concord Grape Jellies. Try is the key word folks. Let's start off with the bad and ugly first and then end on a high note, shall we?

I had read in Carol's blog about the awful time that both she and many of her readers had making these little jellies. So at least I had been forewarned. However, I thought that I would be in the clear since I had advanced knowledge of the problems and how to fix them. The recipe is simple enough, but getting the little guys to actually set seems to be an issue. My first go was a miss. Even after 4 hours, they never became more than a syrupy liquid.


So, I scraped the whole mess back into the saucepan and heated it up again. Once I thought I had heated it up enough, back to the pan it went. And even after hanging out over night, the sucker still didn't set. Grrrr....

Early this morning, for a third time, it went back to the pan and I boiled and whisked the heck out of it. At this point though, I'd lost so much of the original product that I had to put it in a much smaller pan.


And it sorta set. Sorta. Well, more so than the prior 2 attempts, but it was still sticky enough that I couldn't get it off the plastic wrap. The few bits I peeled off with my fingers were tasty. And I bet they are even better if they set properly. But after a full weekend of cooking, I just couldn't start over again. I'm working up the nerve to try it again in a week.


Okay, now on to the good part of the recipe. The truffles are so. freaking. yummy. Chock full of peanut butter, sugar, butter and chocolate they were easy to make and their taste makes them well worth the effort. The first step is mixing up the filling in the food processor. Now, I realize that I should probably have had a larger food processor to make them, but since I didn't feel like buying one this weekend, my little 3 cup guy just barely made it.


Once the filling is all mixed, back to the fridge it goes to harden up. From there, you use a small ice cream scoop to make little truffle balls (stop laughing) and then back to the fridge they go to get hard. (no really, stop laughing)


While they are cooling off (snort), you melt a bunch of chocolate in a metal bowl. Mmmmm, chocolate....


The truffles are then double-dipped in the chocolate and set back in the fridge to harden. To finish, they are supposed to be rolled in unsweetened cocoa powder, but since I was a dumbass and bought the sweetened kind, I just left them as is.


Super easy. Super tasty. They even sorta make up for the fact that the jellies were such a complete and utter failure.

I would say the whole weekend was a resounding success! I'm a little tired from standing so much, but I had a great time tooling around the kitchen this weekend. Even with the snafus, I still feel like I'm learning so much and I forsee many more weekends like this. And what does the hubs think about all this? He thinks this all bodes very well for his stomach ;)

Thursday, February 7, 2008

*&%$@&*%

I was trying to think of a witty title for this post, but instead thought I'd just the clean version of the ticker tape that has been going through my head for the past week or so.

The backstory is very long and very convoluted. Just trust me when I say that I am really not a calloused person in general, but I've more than had my fill of the melodrama with my dad.

Short version: My brother and I over the past 12 months have been getting somewhat consistent calls from my dad announcing that any day now he'll have to have surgery on [insert body part here] and that he might not make it off the table. Obviously, we get all upset and worried and then a few days later, he calls back to say there isn't going to be a surgery and he is fine. And then the cycle repeats. We've done this at least 4 times in the past year. It's getting to be an awful lot a bit like the little boy that cried wolf. My brother has much more contact with my dad than I do and has been convinced that my dad has a deathwish due to other circumstances. Since I haven't been that close to the situation, I believed my brother's take on things.

Cut to 2 weeks ago when we get a call from my dad announcing that he was having cervical surgery in one week and he wanted me to be there (if I could), but was demanding that my brother drop everything and go to take care of him for a week and then drive him back to his house. Complicating the situation is the fact that my dad lives in Arizona, but was having the surgery at Stanford. Makes perfect sense, right? [eyeroll] After a series of conference calls (cause, you know, we function like a business. ugh.) it was decided that I would fly up the night before surgery, be there through Sunday afternoon and then come home; my brother would fly up Monday night, drive him back on Tuesday morning and fly home to LA on Wednesday evening.

All the time, he kept driving home the fact that this surgery was very serious and invasive. He quoted a surgery time of 6-8 hours and that there was a good chance he wouldn't make it off the table. My brother flip-flopped back and forth between indifference and being upset. I shared the situation with a close friend and my MIL and they both asked the delicate question of whether maybe he was doing all this for attention. I brushed them off, but that thought did linger in the back of my mind.

The morning before the surgery, he drove up to see my brother for breakfast and ended the meal not telling my brother he loved him. Nope. Instead, he said "Just be sure to take care of your sister." My brother made it back to his car, where he called my mom and started bawling.

That night, my dad picked me up from the airport and we had dinner. You know when you get a cart at the grocery store and it pulls to the left. And you spend the whole time trying to keep it centered? That is the best analogy I have for dinner that night. He kept trying to go on a "poor pitiful me" spree and to give the allusion that it was the last night he may have on earth. And I just couldn't play into it. By this time, I started thinking that maybe this was all being done for attention. And I just couldn't keep playing into the drama. So, I was a happy, upbeat little soul the entire meal. It was obvious this was not the way my dad has thought the evening would progress.

The next morning (Friday) we were up well before the sun was, and off to the hospital for check-in and pre-op. He gave me a sealed envelope before we left "in case he didn't make it" complete was a somber expression. Lovely.

Pre-op went well, but he was still just being weird about the whole thing. Just trying to make things much more dramatic that it needed to be. It was especially apparent when the doctors and nurses that kept stopping by were very upbeat and not in the least worried about anything. Compare this to the man that was next to my dad. They told him they had 6 pints of blood on hand "just in case" and they were inserting a tube to monitor his blood pressure by the second. Hmmm, I wonder who was having the more invasive and complicated procedure? Oh, and that "6-8 hour" surgery time? Try 2.5-5 hours.

They wheeled him in at 7:30am. The doctor was back out to me at 10am with not surprisingly good news. Everything was textbook and my dad would be fine. After hearing his nice doctor speel, it was my turn to ask questions. The most important of which "What were the chances of my dad making it off the table?" I wish I had had a camera to capture the surgeon's expression. I'm guessing he doesn't get asked that a lot post-surgery. The answer: "Well, he does have a slight heart condition, but really, his risk was just the same as anybody else." [Thud] And there you have it folks, direct from the horse's mouth. All the drama was made up. The emotional rollercoaster my brother and I had been on for months was all for naught. It was just for attention and to feed his ego. Livid does not begin to describe the emotion that I was feeling.

The recovery time was 5 hours because my dad was having issues with pain. And once he got back to the room, things weren't a whole hell of a lot better. It took him several days to get off the IV pain meds and with the heavy duty pain pills he was being given, he was still pretty doped up for the rest of the weekend. Saturday night came around and as angry as I was with him, I just couldn't fly home and leave him there by himself. My mom just didn't raise me to be like that. So, I opted to stay til Tuesday afternoon until my brother was there to drive my dad home. I'm happy with my decision because I was able to do as much as I could and leave there with a clear consience.

The next 3 days were just mentally and physically exhausting. I was there every morning before rounds started (around 7am) and would leave around 7pm. Granted, I would take breaks, but it was still a lot to deal with especially seeing as I had no one to trade off with. Even though my dad was doped up, he still found a way to sometimes be a bit rude with the nursing staff. Or, he would try to be "cute", telling them he had no vitals, being a brat about walking around, etc, which was anything but. I spent a lot of time running after the nurses apologizing or just being overly thankful to them to make up for him.

I could go on and on about his antics, but it's just too much to type here. I felt more like a babysitter than an advocate. It's not anything I would wish on anyone.

Tuesday morning finally rolled around. At one point my dad had the nerve to ask "So, how can we make this better for everyone next time?" My first thought, of course, was next time? Hmph. Next time will be just fine for me because I won't be here. But no, I said that I really didn't think we should talk about next time, but he just wouldn't let up. So, I finally confronted him about all the crap he had pulled on me and my brother. Said that I asked the surgeon point blank what his risk was of making it off the table and that he said it was no more than any normal person. And that we can't keep doing this emotional rollercoaster and to lay off the melodrama. I think I was fairly eloquent in what I said, but I was shaking like a leaf. I hate confrontation.

And after all that, what was his response?

"Well, that's fair." And then he fell asleep.

[scooby doo noise]

Are you effing kidding me? Not an apology. Not saying it was all a misunderstanding. Nothing but "that's fair"?!? I was speechless. Truly and utterly speechless.

Our relationship will never ever be the same. How can you knowingly play those kinds of mind games with your own children? Like, I seriously can't get my head around it.

I'd like to say that things got better from there. But that would be a lie. My brother said the drive to Arizona was hell. My dad was making ridiculous demands of my brother on and off the whole trip and at one point told him that the walker takes better instructions than my brother. And to clarify, then said "That means you [my brother] don't take instructions well."

Yeah, my dad is still on heavy duty drugs, but I don't believe for a second that he doesn't know exactly what he is saying.

My brother left my dad's house last night and now my dad is there by himself. Because of course, trying to arrange for help would have meant actually putting some thought into this surgery beyond just telling his kids he was gonna crump on the operating table.

I really don't know what the outcome of everything is going to be. I still find myself alternating between worrying how he is taking care of himself all alone in the house and being so angry with him I could scream. I've had a piercing headache behind my eyes for the past week that I can't seem to shake; I'm sure it's a combination of tension, stress and anger. I haven't slept well and my shoulders and back are just in knots. Ugh. Just ugh.

To not end this post on a total debbie downer note, I'd like to share a couple of bright spots in an otherwise shitty last week:
* I got to spend some time with my mom, which I was expecting. She came and sat with me for a few hours each day and took me out to lunch. I love her a lot and so appreciate her keeping me company.
* One of the residents that was checking in on my dad had the most beautiful british accent ever! I swear, it was like he stepped straight out of a chick lit novel. I wanted to just follow him around and listen to him talk to patients, nurses, anyone really.
* I read Julie & Julia: 365 days, 524 recipes, 1 tiny apartment kitchen while I was waiting around. A great, easy read and just like the French Laundry at Home blog, totally inspirational. It served as a great daily reminder of the fun cooking project I have at home, waiting for me once I got through the whole crazy mess.

Even though I've been home for a full day, I still just feel so off. I figure it'll take me til Monday to finally feel normal. I can't wait. To help get back on track, this weekend is the weekend of ME. I have a lot of cooking planned and I can't wait to tuck into my tiny little kitchen in some comfy clothes, with my ipod and a couple of "real" cookbooks on my countertop.

As for my dad, I don't know. I really hope everything goes okay, but at this point, I'm spent and just can't exert anymore effort. If you're the praying kind, if you wouldn't mind sending up one for each of us: my dad, my brother and me. We could all use all the help we could get.