A Birthday Celebration for Sean

A few weeks ago, birthday season officially opened in the A Team Household! Everyone but me has a birthday between September and October. Sean kicked this season off for us.  He doesn’t really love his birthday, but at least he loves a date and, luckily, that’s mostly what a Sean birthday celebration involves.

We celebrated his birthday with a dinner at Pineapple and Pearls, and we were so excited for this date!  We haven’t had a tasting menu dinner in DC in a long time. Two years, we decided, for Sean’s birthday two years ago. (I didn’t do a whole post on that dinner or what we did last year for his birthday, but it is fun to follow the links and read about Wes on Sean’s last two birthday posts.) I’m so relieved this date even happened!  Our babysitter was 30 minutes late. Sometimes you do everything you can, confirm in advance, call and text to make sure your babysitter is still on her way, and she’s still late!

We sat at the bar looking into the kitchen. It was truly amazing to watch how perfectly that kitchen runs and so fun to get a sneak peek at our upcoming courses. We learned some things as we ate. For example, the beef on top of that last dish comes with birth certificates! The mother and father are named and there’s a nose stamp.

We learned that, at least for Turbot, the fin meat is the best. A bone marrow equivalent in fish. This was our most favorite dish of the night.

A Daiquiri made with liquid nitrogen!

Truffle ice cream with lots of interesting toppings, including gummy bears and caviar!

This dessert reminded me of the Great British Baking episode we’d see only the night before.

It was a great celebration! Happy birthday, Sean!!

51 weeks

51 weeks

Madeline is walking!  She’s so happy and I’m so happy.  I love watching just the top of her head pass by from behind a table.  I know there’s more to manage when babies start to walk, but I love that she’s gotten here.  It’s nice that she can get places on her own and she’s not just needed to be plopped from one place to the next.  We went to a playground, just us, for the first time.  It was appropriately sized.  She loved climbing around now that she can walk!  It’s so fun!

50 weeks

50 weeks

Madeline has little patience for you if you get her request wrong.  Most often she’s requesting to be held, at least right now.  I think I remember this phase with Wes.  Where I worried he’d be ruined if I continued to hold him, but at the same time there really is something lovely about a baby requesting to be held by you.  I probably have more tolerance for holding her since I have a better understanding of how short the time frame is for this request.  She’s very determined, Miss Madeline, in this and most things.  I wonder how this will play out in the immediate future.  No, I worry how that will play out in the immediate future.  But I also am curious how her determination will serve her in the long run.

Date night!

I quit Junior League. I can rejoin, but I’m surprised by the decision even though it’s the right one. Volunteering is still important to me, but I want to do it differently than I can with Junior League. So I quit. My decision was last minute. I had already booked a sitter to fill in the gap between the time I needed to leave for a Junior League meeting and the time Sean would come home from work. I couldn’t waste this opportunity! I asked her if she could stay longer and she said yes but she thought she would be coming later than we initially agreed, 6:30 instead of 5:30. Then she showed up at 4:30! There is a point here! The point is we had a semi-spontaneous date night! As spontaneous as it can get around here. I had butterflies on the Uber ride in!

We went to Oyamel, the scene of our 4th date and a restaurant we haven’t been to since. It really holds up! The food was good and we had a great time!

When we went 8 years ago (!!) I was able to convince Sean to get their famed grasshopper tacos. Sean was nice about it then but told me we would not be getting them again. Which was really fine with me. They were a one time thing.

We finished our night with a little walk, a little selfie, and a lot of happy feelings about our semi-spontaneous date!

Volcanu

The other morning I went into Wes’s room. All the coins from his front loader money bank with out on the floor. “I’m trying to make a volcanu,” he said, “but the coins aren’t stacking. How can we make a volcanu?”

I paused and thought. How can we make a volcano? Hey wait! There’s an abandoned newspaper next door! As luck would have it our next door neighbors went on vacation just the day before. We talked to Mr. Steve in the driveway as he canceled his newspaper. He told us he was too late to cancel his Sunday edition, so we could have it!

“We’ll papier-mâché a volcano today, Buddy!” I said. And he giggled. I love when he does that. He doesn’t really know what I mean about something but he can tell enough that I’m making something happen for him so he giggles in delight. It’s so great.

Sean did a decent amount of this himself, but he was happy to do it. We used a recipe that called for boiling the flour and water, so it was really hot at first. Plus, he wanted to get a good base going before Wes started to add things.

But Wes did help!

And it was a success! What a fun little experiment! I’m so happy our neighbors forgot to cancel their paper in time so that there was an abandoned newspaper on the morning Wes asked to make a volcanu! What are the chances!

49 weeks

49 weeks.jpg

Wes started school last Wednesday, and Madeline had her first no brother playgroup on Friday. It was so fun to watch her just be Madeline! She got right into the action. She examined other babies, got herself into the lap on other mothers, and confidently explore the space, and did not let anything block her view of the whole scene. I loved having the opportunity seeing Madeline be just herself without a big brother to knock her down or influence her play. I’m so excited to spend more one on one time with her this school year.

She’s also dropped to one nap a day. Which is a little tricky on school days, but awesome. I’m so happy to be down to just one nap a day. Something I never would have said when I was the mother of just one child. We can do so much more with our mornings now!

Peach Pie

When NanaPapaAuntMaggie&Evelyn came to visit, we were wanting to watch some Downton Abbey re-runs on PBS. The PBS station in Pittsburgh was playing those re-runs but the PBS station in DC was playing The Great British Baking Show. I had never seen it. I loved it!

One night shortly after their visit I went to the bathroom before Sean and I settled into TV for the night, and I came back to find The Great British Baking Show all cued up on Netflix! I skipped to the family room, hugged and kissed my husband, and have been delighting in the show ever since. We watch a lot of Sean shows. I mostly like them, but I just don’t have a lot of shows that make sense to watch with Sean (I spare him the torture of RHONYC…it’s kind of embarrassing that I love that show anyway).

It just so happened that the day Beth sent me the peach pie recipe (because even though I had been instructed to get it, I totally forgot to take the picture myself) was the day we watched the pie episode from season 2!

They kept talking about soggy bottoms on this episode so I was curious. How does one avoid this? I want to be really clear here that Beth doesn’t have a soggy bottom. She makes a perfect pie. Really. But I had no idea this was a thing and that there were tactics to conquer it! So I wanted to try a few things. Plus, this recipe is border-line written like a technical challenge.

How do you slice the peaches? How much butter are we dotting? Are you mixing all the ingredients together in a bowl first? 15-30 minutes on 400 is a huge range! Unlike the technical challenge, our recipe’s author was very helpful. She got us through it.

First, this is how you slice the peaches. This is not how I would have done it. Sean knew and did a lot of this part.

Actually, Sean did a lot. It was funny how I had to come home with this recipe like I would be in charge of making this all happen, but he really did a lot. Wes helped too. And then made lemonade out of our left over lemons.

Beth told us she only used 1/2 to 3/4 of a cup of sugar, and we went with 1/2. Sean stuck a teaspoon of cinnamon in, and I totally forgot the butter. So we did play with the recipe a bit. Then to combat the soggy bottom I did an egg wash on the bottom crust layer before the filling went in and stuck a baking stone into the oven as it preheated and put the pie plate on that. Both were tips I sort of picked up during The Great British Baking Show but confirmed here.

I will also admit that I did not make my own crust this time. I know. I bought one in case my second attempt at the cherry pie crust didn’t work. Since we had it I didn’t want it to go to waste.

Definitely would not have scored very high in the technical challenge with that cracked crust. The bottom crust was also not perfect. It wouldn’t say it was soggy, but it wasn’t the perfect golden firm bottom I’ve seen on the show. I’m still very curious about how to achieve the perfect bottom crust. Anyway, not a bad looking first attempt at this very important pie recipe.

I’m itching to do more baking out of my comfort zone. I want to try macaroons, but also think having some madeleines made for Madeline’s first birthday would be fun. I also have an email with bread baking tips from my Uncle Don. He makes great bread, which he shared with us at Deep Creek. I’m so intimated by yeast.

Kansas City

Often Sean’s mom’s birthday and an annual golf outing for his parents’ church fall around the same weekend in August. We went this year for the first time in awhile and had such fun! It was too short.

I took the most pictures on our first night, when we went out for pizza with everyone, including Great Grandpa.

I love this series of pictures of Wes and Great Grandpa! I have no idea what was going on with these two, but it looks like a nice, sweet time. I feels special that I got to capture it.

The pizza at this restaurant is now some of our favorite pizza anywhere!

Can you see how all the adults have their phones out so Wes wanted to be a picture taker too?

Such excitement and fun to be together!

Of course we had to check out the caboose and the fountain before heading home.

More sweet Great Grandpa photos! I swear Madeline enjoyed herself!

We finished the night with pie and a tour of the fairy garden. How fun is the fairy garden!? Also, I was instructed (definitely not asked) to get Beth’s peach pie recipe because it’s Sean’s favorite. I’m writing this the week before Labor Day, knowing I will attempt this favorite for that holiday weekend. I’m a little nervous. It’s a lot of pressure to recreate a favorite from not just your mom but grandmother. I’ll probably have to do a follow up post to let you know how that goes! I hope well!

Look at that car! That’s a MG Midget! That is the type of car Rich had in high school (I think, or around then). He found someone selling theirs and bought it as a retirement gift to himself! It really is a midget. Sean and I went for a drive. I’m so glad Rich has it and drives it and loves it, but my goodness car safety has come a loooooong way. I wish I had taken a picture of the “safety” belt. The two pieces hardly stay together. It was fun to take it for a spin, but not safe.

Again, too short of a trip. But fun! Looking forward to our return at Thanksgiving.

48 weeks

48 weeks.jpg

It’s such a good time with Madeline now. She’s still little but we are definitely getting out of the baby phase and I’m so happy about it. She’s getting smarter and happier and sweeter. I can’t wait for those open mouth kisses. I think those come soon. Sean thinks open mouth baby kisses are kind of gross, but they are my favorite!

Swallow Falls State Park

Weeks before we arrived in Deep Creek and even while we were in Deep Creek, the weather was supposed to be rain. All day everyday rain most of the days. But that wasn’t the reality! There was rain, but we were all so happy we were able to get out most of the time. The morning of our Swallow Falls walk was one of those mornings we thought we’d be rained out but weren’t.

Sean, Wes, and I went with Maggie, my mom, and Madeline, while someone (maybe just my dad) stayed home during Madeline’s nap.

Isn’t my momma so cute watching the drips come down from the rocks?

I’m so glad we did this hike/walk. It was at the perfect level for our 3-year-olds. A little bit of a challenge but not too long and really pretty. It reminded my mom and me of Oregon. (Again, must go back and read more about these childless people in Portland for the sole purpose of tracking down a wine seller! Such fresh faces!  There’s just one picture in that post that reminds me of Swallow Falls but I’m linking it anyway.)

It also reminded me of the gorges in Ithaca.  (Not quite so fresh faced….)

We thought we’d end up in a swimming whole. I’m not sure this was really it, but the adults were ready to head back and the kids were really needing to make it to the swimming whole, so here we are! Thanks, Sean for not making me take off my socks and sneakers and taking one for the team here.

This was wonderful outing and a great way to end the Deep Creek series.  Until next year!