I've been feeling a little down and out with a cough that just won't leave. You know the type: dry cough that keeps you up at night and wakes you from a sound sleep. I could feel it coming on last week, and so I hope I'm nearing the end of it. What good timing, then, for my friend Olga, and her two daughters Gabby and Monique, to come over for a swim and some dinner. Cheered me right up. Dinner, by the way, was all provided by Monique. I didn't have to lift one little finger, other than to run to Trader Joe's for some sparkling lemonade that I know the girls love.
Monique has a little specialty - she is a grill master. She'd been talking about her grilled turkey burgers the last time we'd all gotten together, so when Olga called to arrange a night out, Monique texted me asking why didn't we ALL get together and she would do the dinner. Sweet. I even checked back with her yesterday to see what she wanted me to get, and was told "Nothing." They were bringing the meat, a salad, chips, and dessert. What could be easier than that? For me, anyway...
It was a hot afternoon, and the girls wanted to jump in the pool and cool off. So Olga and I sat in the shade catching up while the girls did a little swimming. Her girls are so natural and easy to be around that even after their swim we still sat there talking. Gabby has a new phone, and she was busy fooling around with it - texting friends, sending her mother (who was sitting across from her) 10 text messages in a row - and basically going on and on about the group One Direction. A total 13 year old. Monique is 20 and starting her 3rd year of college in criminal justice. This girl is going to be a one woman war on crime one day. I pity the fool who has to go up against her. Olga has done a good job with these two. I can't imagine two girls more appreciative or unspoiled. They are a joy to hang out with - although it's still a mystery to me why they'd want to hang out with ME! Don't question a gift, I say.
When we got back to the house, we sprawled around the living room and watched the tail end of "We Bought A Zoo" on HBO. We may have each eaten one of the rainbow cupcakes that Monique had made. Delectable, with a surprising layered rainbow cake - another of her little surprise specialties. Then Mo got to working on the turkey burgers. Can I just say that my kitchen smelled amazing? She had made a magic little mixture of ground turkey, spinach, garlic, and spices, and I could hardly wait to cook them. Finally, LaMar rolled in from work and we fired up the grill so Mo could work her dinnertime miracle.
We all sat around the patio and watched Monique do her thing with the BBQ. She certainly knows her way around a grill, and wanted no help from anyone. Happy to oblige, as always... We decided to eat inside, as it was getting cool out on the patio. (Autumn is coming - I can feel it!) L sat next to Gabby, and got the full on effect of talking to a 13 year old girl. I have to say he did pretty well, considering he'd never experienced anything like it before. He has always been a little bit girl-challenged, since they tend to actually want to talk (and talk...), but Gabby brought it to a whole new level. The on and on and on about her favorite boy band, which one was the cutest, his favorite food, his birthday... you get the picture. I was at the other end of the table, being treated to the witticisms of Monique. It's been a while since we've had such a lively dinner table, and I loved it.
Olga and I started out as work-mates, our cubicles right next to each other. But as we would talk every day, sharing problems and our personal lives, we became friends. We've shared many a lunch hour, and many a French's Bakery cookie in the years we worked in that office. I was afraid that we wouldn't see each other again after we went our separate directions, but happily, we've stayed in contact. Every couple of months we try to get together for dinner, since we only live 20-30 minutes away from each other. The last time we got together, we had dinner here and she brought the girls. We had such a good time with them that it surprised me.
It surprised me that the girls weren't bored. They were engaged, and having fun. They were happy with everything we did. They like being with their mom. It brought back such happy memories of how much fun I used to have with my kids, just hanging out. And so when Olga called last week to arrange a time to meet for dinner, it was a pleasant surprise to have Monique suggest we ALL get together again.
She was excited to show off her grilling skills. It was a really fun evening, but I also learned that friends and family can come in a variety of personalities and ages. I'm friends with Olga, but I have to say that Monique has become a friend too. A really fun friend who makes me laugh. A beautiful young woman who has just begun making some important decisions in her life. A smart, savvy girl who has already had to make some tough choices, and knows how to choose well. She's been lucky - she has a great mom to help her. But she also has The Stuff - that elusive quality not possessed by everyone that helps you rise above any problem you face. She certainly does have it, and in abundance, lucky girl.
Gabby looks to be following in the same path. I've seen her go from the lazy little girl who used to do anything to get out of homework, to the giggly, smart 8th grader who is in advanced Math and Language Arts classes. She also has the thickest, most gorgeous head of hair I've ever seen. Jealous...
Oh yes, Olga has definitely earned her own spot in heaven with the sweet mothering job she's done so far. She is definitely number one with Gabby and Monique. I feel so lucky that I've kept a good friend, gained another with Monique, and it will hopefully continue on with Gabby. Three awesome girls. Poor L started out not knowing what to do with girls. The chatter was frustrating to him. The constant feedback and talk of feelings were scary. But slowly, thanks to Katie as the original pioneer and the other wonderful DILs, granddaughters, and friends that have followed, he's being won over to the awesomeness of girl company. He'll still need to steal away for his own sounds of silence from time to time, but he's realizing that a gaggle of girls is no reason to run. They can give pro quality shoulder massages, give the sweetest hugs, and every once in awhile you discover one that makes the perfect turkey burger. Thanks, Monique, Olga, and Gabby for another perfect evening.
PS: L and I have just started a little web company selling computer and device screen cleaners, keyboard cleaner, and microfiber cloths: cleanscreenmagic.com This is not only a shameless plug (it's really good stuff - try it! No alcohol) but when you visit the website, notice the beautiful hands that are used in the demo pictures. They're Olga's.