This morning the kiddos and I packed up our gear, picked up freshly baked cinnamon buns from Great Harvest (where we saw some friends from TVHS), and hit the road to Fleetwood Mac as we headed up and over to the BFF’s house near L.A. She lives in Hawthorne, and I always think of the Beach Boys. I thought about putting on Pet Sounds, one of my favorite albums of all time, but it was more of a Rumors sort of day. Katie wanted to skip ahead to The Chain—who doesn’t love that one?

The drive was no biggie. Except that it was. Although I used to drive myself around quite a bit in my late teenage years and early twenties, ever since having children I have found myself dealing with anxiety when facing long drives in unfamiliar places. I think that worry is a combination of factors: 1) the awareness of the great responsibility for the safety of my children; 2) feeling that I love my life the way it is and knowing I could lose it all if there were to be an accident; 3) fear of getting lost (I do not have a natural sense of direction—anything I may know about routes and directions comes sheerly from studying maps, not from intuition like it does for my husband; 4) fear of becoming stranded on the roadside. Some of the fears are grounded in the rational (operating a big piece of machinery is a great responsibility, and we’re surrounded by drivers—hi, tailgaters—who who show no signs of understanding physics). I also know that I am far from a perfect driver myself (yes, I know my wheels sometimes veer over lines, and I am skittish and brake at the slightest provocation), and this compounds my lack of confidence, especially on freeways. But most of my anxiety about driving to far away and new places is a result of taking rational concerns and blowing them up to bigger proportions. If I complain about some drivers not understanding physics, then I could also lament my own lack of intuition with respect to actual probabilities and statistics. I am always afraid of being “the one” even when the chance is so remote. However, it is this very fear that often makes me sleepless when I contemplate long drives and freeway interchanges.

For awhile now, I’ve been relying on my husband, who is an exceptional driver, to take me hither and yon. I have no anxiety when he is driving, because he drives extremely well and defensively. Surely my friends have wondered over the years why he is always popping up—no, it is not because we’re attached at the hip. We have extremely independent interests and lives (thank goodness). Many times he offers to drive because he sees how the stress burdens me.

Silly, huh? I thought so, too. So for the past year, I’ve been making it my goal to reclaim my freedom to wander and to experience what I want to experience—no matter how long the drive. I will always be extremely conservative when it comes to personal risk (just the way I am wired), but I can honor that part of myself and still make the choice to let the rational win out over the irrational. I did not want my life to pass by without doing things like: driving to my best friend’s house in L.A. without having to coordinate it with Bill’s schedule first. I definitely felt the stress this morning, buckling my kiddos in the car. What if I failed them? Got in an accident? Took the wrong freeway and offramp and landed in Compton? Blew out a tire and stranded us along some unknown road? I had to remember to breathe.

But one thing about me is this: When I make up my mind to do something, I always do it. I am extremely stubborn when I need to be and have been ever since I can remember. A dog with a bone won’t give it up, and I can be just as tenacious—especially when I know I have to do something unpleasant for my own good. I cannot be 32-years-old and hesitant to drive outside of my own backyard. That just doesn’t cut it in life. I don’t want my best friend to keep wondering why I don’t always come over as much as I’d like to. I don’t want to have to wait for a spring break or a Christmas break to take the kiddos to museums or aquariums or on adventures.

So today, it was the kiddos, me, Fleetwood Mac, my new Christmas present GPS, extra water and food in case we got stranded or lost (over-thinker, over-thinker alert), and a piece of paper full of extensive directions and a “cheat sheet” of which freeways are connected to which (although I have been trying to memorize them). It was all overkill. The GPS was wonderful, but just as in high school, I had clearly over-studied. I had the route visualized and memorized, and the whole drive turned out to be incredibly straightforward. So often when we do what scares us to do, it turns out to seem ridiculous that we were ever afraid of it.

So it was no biggie. Or maybe it was… because the very moment I pulled into Rosa’s driveway, there was just this amazing moment of freedom and thankfulness, especially that I am able to cultivate our friendship now in new ways.

And then, we made macarons. Or is it macaroons? I always think of macaroons as those coconut puffs baked in an oven and sometimes dipped in chocolate. Yummy, those. Well, that is not what we made. We made these:

(photo copyright Rosa Behrens Camp/Catty Critic)

In Paris, these are called macarons. Well, supposedly. Martha Stewart’s baking book calls them “macaroons.” Our recipe we used, however, calls them macarons, and the general Internet supports this term. Whatever they are, the cookies are ground almond flour, sugar, and meringue, and they are filled with a cream filling—like a fancy whoopee pie in a way. Ours are a matcha (green tea powder) macaron filled with a lemon mascarpone cream.

We made these (and also a spice cookie) with our friend Tanya. Tanya and I were two of Rosa’s three bridesmaids for her wedding. I loved having this time with Tanya, time to get to know her better. I find myself really liking all of the friends that Rosa has made, and she is amazing at bringing us together. I know I am obviously extremely biased to say the least, but it seems like Rosa chooses really intriguing, kind, playful, curious people to be her friends. Like I said, I might be biased. 😉 But as she brings us all together from all phases of her life, I find myself really enjoying the people she keeps close to her.

When I got home, I filled my macarons:

I think Rosa’s picture makes them look more appetizing.


Tanya, Rosa, and Nolan in the kitchen


(photo copyright Rosa Behrens Camp/Catty Critic)

We also made the dough for these spicy ginger-pepper cookies while we were visiting. The dough needed to chill for awhile, though, and the kiddos and I had to get going before we could help to cut the cookies out with this fun skeleton cutter! Love it.

Katie loved visiting with Nolan

I hope our children grow up really knowing one another and feeling part of the friendship we have felt.