Tuesday, June 4, 2013

a beach party, a recipe and lots of gratitude


Well, the bustling season of grad parties is almost over and life is getting back to normal.

Sort of.

To be perfectly honest I’m still reeling from those surreal moments of time travel that happened these past weeks. One minute it’s 2013, and the next moment I’m seeing familiar faces from the past and experiencing a rush of old memories that are so real and so visceral, I’m suddenly catapulted back in time.

“I can’t believe how fast it all went.”

We repeat this a lot during graduation festivities as we notice how tall our kids have become. How mature and at times, almost unrecognizable some of them are.

“Hi Mrs. Harris,” says a beautiful girl in a flowing red gown during a Senior Ball gathering. “I want to get a picture with the St. Mel’s boys.”

And suddenly I realize it’s little Kendra, all grown up and headed to USC.


Brandon, Kendra, Andrew and Michael

Kindergarten friends, all grown up.

This weekend I was reminded of the precious bond that exists between us and those friends we’ve known from the grade school years. People who can remember our kids when they were little guys with pink, flushed cheeks and chubby fingers. That’s because there are indelible memories of our kids that can never be transformed into words. Ever. You have to have been there. Watching, seeing, and witnessing it all in real time.

And it’s funny how those ‘big’ things eventually becomes the stuff to reminisce over, even laugh about.


a rainy game for the poor Fair Oaks Flash team…

Like those losing soccer seasons (oh-my-god did we win one game?). Or the outraged mother incident (“Patrick stung Katie with a dead bee he found on the playground!”). And that ridiculous call from the Principal’s office (a spin-the-bottle game between 8th graders?) Pu-leeze.

Those were the kind of experiences that helped us learn who our friends were. And yes, our close friends were the ones who had the funny perspective; who would roll their eyes alongside us at some of the rigid, judgmental practices during grade school. We hung out with parents who never got too lost in the crazy world of test scores and academic competition that drives so many glassy-eyed parents to worry and obsess …


my favorite part of Jesuit High School: the boys link arms during prayer

…and in the end, it all seemed to hit home this weekend at our beachy grad party.



Since Michael will be rowing in college at Newport Beach, I did a beach theme celebration in shades of blue.

The fact is, we have so much to be grateful, Jim and I.

We have each other. And some pretty cool boys. Who I might add, are totally responsible for a few gray hairs.


We’re thankful to my parents who have been such loving grandparents. And for the fun Uncles the boys have.

For Aunt Judy, Uncle Rick, and my girl cousins who shared my childhood and still make an effort to come to graduation parties despite the fact that our lives go in different directions.


And we’re grateful for the kind of friends who will join me in the kitchen during the frenzied moments when I’m trying to get the food on the buffet table.

Yep. Andy and Tracey and Kirsten, yanking my drawers open as they grab for utensils. Pulling food from the ovens.


And noticing the occasional big empty bowl.

“Hey Les. What’s this for?” (“Oh-My-God-Andy---I forgot to put the salad out!”)

But I also forgot to bake my 7 dozen homemade enchiladas prior to the party, a realization I had thirty minutes before dinner was to be served.

(note to self: OK, Mr. Moss is right. I do need crossword puzzles for my memory).



And after dinner everyone drank Sangria and cold beer on a 100 degree day in my patio and we laughed and talked and celebrated Michael’s special day together.


I wish I could make this batch of Sangria for you. It’s such a yummy summer drink but since I can’t, here’s the recipe I used to serve 40-50 adults. It’s Bobby Flay’s recipe.


10 bottles of Spanish red wine (I used tempranillo)

4 cups of Brandy

2.5 cups Triple Sec

5 cups Orange Juice

5 cups of Pomegranate Juice

2.5 cups Simple Sugar

Blend 24 hours before. Store in air-tight container and garnish with orange slices, pomegranate seeds, and blackberries.

Now let’s make a toast to friendship, shall we?






I’m linking up to these fun places:



Leslie said...

Okay.. I must make that Sangria! Yum! Leslie, I can totally relate to your feelings.. except my littlest one is four years ahead and graduating from college. It IS a crazy time.. wonderful moments. Your pictures are wonderful .. gorgeous kids and I can tell there is lots of love around:) Your party looks PERFECT and it sounds like you have lots of wonderful friends and family that shared the moment.


Dayle ~ A Collection of Days said...


I'm sure you're the perfect hostess. Loved the decor. Also loved that last pic with the quote. Is that original?

Unknown said...

What a beautiful post Leslie! Time does pass us by far too quickly!
Gorgeous photos too by the way

Donna@anangloinquébec said...

This experience is so fresh for me that I have tears of joy rolling down my cheeks. Those bonds are long lasting.
Looks like your beach theme party was a hit. I am saving that recipe. :)
Cheers Leslie.

Sunflowers With Smiles said...

Looks like you had a lovely graduation party, with family and friends. And yes they do grow up so fast! I cant believe my son is already out of college. Still remember the baseball days, friends sleep overs, etc. like yesterday! Have a great week.

Art and Sand said...

Your pictures brought back memories of my own childrens' high school graduations. One of my favorite is my daughter Kendra with her "buds" who will all be with me on Saturday night to celebrate my retirement. They were friends from grade school all the way through. The two best buds will be here with their wives and babies on Saturday night to celebrate my "graduation" from middle school.

Enjoy your son for these last weeks before he goes off to college.

Sherry @ No Minimalist Here said...

Leslie, Congrats to Michael! Time goes by so fast...I feel like my kids should still be teenagers instead of grown with children of their own.

Unknown said...

Beautiful quickly time gorgeous daughter is 24, living and working in London...and just sometimes it feels like only yesterday when her hand was in mine and she was a little girl...
it sounds like you had FUN and Congratulations!
The quote says it all, doesn't it?
Catherine xx

Linda @ Itsy Bits And Pieces said...

Such a lovely post, Leslie...thoughtful and eloquent and I can so relate to the emotions and gratefulness. And as forgetting to turn on the enchiladas...I once did that with the Thanksgiving turkey...SO much going on and a full mind! It looks like it was a wonderful celebration!

Castles Crowns and Cottages said...

WOW. Leslie, your blog is just beautiful. First let me say that I love that you visited my post, left a comment (something many passer-bys don't do) and that you saw through my "fairytale" presentation what I really was saying: THIS IS LIFE. The things we dream for can happen but we have to work for them. THANK YOU!

I love those cobalt blue party favors, the recipe (sounds so refreshing) and all the lively photos of young people. Do come again some day; I will pass by as well. Enjoy your summer and LIFE! Live well, love the most. Anita

Gypsy Heart said...

Wow, such beautiful photos! Your table and the patio area are just gorgeous. I read your words and feel like I'm there too...except I'm missing a glass of that incredible Sangria! :) Will have to try that.

It just all happens so fast and as much as we try, it's sometimes so difficult to be in the moment with kids. Their friends, activities, school, etc., become their prime interests. I experienced it with my kids and now with the grands. Just have to love them and know they will return! :)

Thanks so much for sharing...I know you've created some treasured memories.


Lori said...

And now breathe out and say ahhhhh. I know it is bittersweet ~ love the shots of the kids in their finery. I can appreciate lifelong friendships that started in kindergarten ~ they will endure even when life pulls you in different directions ~ they will always have this to come back to. The party decor looks fabulous ~ wish I could have a glass of that sangria ~ would love to raise my glass to you and the wonderful man you have raised. xo

The Divorced Lady's Companion to Living in Italy said...

What a beautiful day! We also had a landmark celebration here the other and they ate so important - just to sit back and ponder afterwards. To stop and hold time in your thoughts. Xcat

must love junk said...

What a sweet post! Looks like a great party! :)

michele said...

what a fabulous way to capture the memory of graduation, leslie--your post chronicles everything so beautifully and even manages to generously share a yummy recipe.

well done, parents! i am breathing that sigh of relief with you. oh and i love love that pic where the boys link arms. that is incredible.

i am enjoying having my kids home, knowing the nest will empty in the fall but also hopeful about this new chapter.

best to you.


Sharon @ Elizabeth & Co. said...

I read this post a few days ago and wanted to come back and enjoy it again. Your posts always touch me so! ... Huge congrats on a big milestone! You know you are doing the right thing when your children are confident and ready to take on the world. Then we are left to figure out what comes next, but that's quite okay! ... Love seeing your beautiful patio. I bet it was a wonderful party filled with laughter and lots of hugs! ... And I love sangria!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...