July 4th

How was your 4th? Ours was very quiet and I’m still going to write this post as a holiday post, but it was more just like a regular weekend night over here.

Sean made burgers for our July 4th feast. He grinds his own meat and for this burger we have ribs, hanger steak, and veal. If you have the time and desire to grind your own meat I highly recommend it! It makes a big difference.

And while he did that the rest of us were playing chase and investigating boxes….

fishing off the stairs….

(Do you see Madeline trying to climb up the stairs down there?! Yeah, we need to find that baby gate again.)

and building pirate ships/voyager boats (voyager as in Moana).

This was the first day of Madeline’s Hand Foot and Mouth, although I didn’t realize it was Hand Foot and Mouth. We thought it was a fever and some other rash. It always amazes me how curious and active socks kids can be. We had initially intended for everyone to have burgers, but because of her fever Madeline went to bed and we had burgers with just Wes.

I had meant to make a cherry pie for the 4th, but it didn’t work out. I’ll keep it short but between cutting my finger while making my first round of pie dough and a sick kid, the pie didn’t happen until Friday.

Pie crust is something I would really like to master. I did okay this time but added too much water. And obviously burnt my crust. We used these canned cherries and are a favorite among Sean’s family and you can’t get here on the East Coast, so Rich and Beth brought some to us!

Sean and I want to start a social media network called “Instagross” where people post their real life pictures of the burnt crusts and sloppy plating. I love the inspiration I can get on Instagram but am so tired of the perfection. Just post some burnt crushes already! I should probably just get off of it, huh?

Anyway, happy belated 4th! Hope you saw some fireworks! I think we are still many years away from going to see fireworks, but that is something I look forward to. I’ll just keep practicing my pie crust until then.

Second Date Salmon

I search “second date salmon” on this blog pretty often and it always surprises me that I come up with nothing.  Second date salmon is our special occasion go-to.  We make it for anniversaries, birthdays, and for friends when we entertained at night more.  So when I requested it for my birthday the other week and again searched “second date salmon” and again was surprised it wasn’t already recorded here, I decided to remedy the situation.

On our second date, Sean suggested we tour the Embassies.  They have an open house day every year.  What a great suggestion, I thought.  Who is this guy?  We did that for a little bit.  It wasn’t quite as fun as we hoped but we weren’t ready for the date to end so we played pool.

We played best out of three, maybe, and the loser had to cook dinner.  Sean lost.  Sean’s really good at pool.  He will not admit to swinging the game.  Sean’s really good at pool.

So we went to Whole Foods where, without looking at his phone once or skipping a beat or displaying any hesitation, he pulls all of these ingredients into his basket.  Who is this guy?

Sean worked at a restaurant called TenPenh in college.  TenPenh was so great.  I went there with my parents during a restaurant week and had my first experience with Som.  The three of us picked very different dishes and that Som picked the exact right one for all of us!  It was amazing!  Anyway, Sean ate their salmon dish and wanted to recreate it at home.  So he worked at it and worked at it and finally got it.  To be fair he’s still working on it.  He switched from green beans on the side to baby bok choy not that long ago.

So on our second date we eat this very delicious and amazing dish that Sean whips up without ever looking at a recipe.  Who is this guy?

The man I get to call my husband now.  Who makes this really great dish twice or three times a year.  It’s my favorite food ritual in our family.

Second date salmon is wasabi mashed potatoes, spicy Szechuwan baby bok choy (but originally green beans), salmon, and hoisin butter sauce.  Garnished with as many black and white sesame seeds and chives as your heart desires (and in Sean’s case, that’s a lot).

Happy birthday to me!

I turned 35 on Saturday the 2nd, and we started the day off right with cake.  Yes, same cake, new year.

Remember last year I did it with Wes and he dropped an egg on the floor and it was kind of frustrating?  This year I did it myself in phases at night.  It just worked better because of more days in preschool and Madeline’s schedule.  I kind of missed him!  Dropped egg and all!  Oh, life!  We ate that cake for breakfast all the way through Tuesday!

Sean and I got a date night in Saturday night.  We hadn’t been on a date since New Orleans and so we were ready!  We had one set of plans that really needed good weather to work.  It seems as though the rain will not stop here!  So we switched plans at the very last minute and it worked out so well!

Sean ended up with a beef carpaccio  appetizer the size of his head!

And I got sushi which made me so happy.  Sean doesn’t like sushi so we never go for sushi.  I might have a craving now and I’m not sure how I’ll solve that problem.

That’s it for pictures.  In some ways I’m still getting back into the habit of telling the story.  I personally think the story is a little better with pictures, but sometimes it’s hard to take the pictures when you’re busy living the moment.

It was a good birthday, but I’m feeling a little sad about birthdays this year.  This is the first year where I’m feeling…different, weird, older, I’m not quite sure about my age.  This year Wes will be 4 and that’s very much a wow age for me.  I’ve never been unhappy to see him get a little older and now I’m like whoa!  4!  What’s next, college?  And Madeline completes our family and so our last child who will have a 1st birthday, which is more bittersweet than I imagined.  I can’t wait for children to turn 1 normally.  So I guess what I’m saying is 35 is the first official year when life started to move to quickly.  And it feels weird.

Happy 3rd Birthday, Wes!

Wes is 3 today!  It’s so exciting!  Remember when I told you I wanted to accomplish two things in October?  Well, the second was to  make sure Wes felt celebrated for his birthday, even though he now has a baby sister that takes up a lot of attention.  I’d planned for us to take a family trip to the National Building Museum.  We’ve never been but it sounds like there is a really cool kids space that Wes would love.  He’s in a real construction phase.  But when we woke up on Saturday morning I knew it wasn’t happening.  Initially I felt bad.  We laid out presents for Wes to wake up to, along with a cupcake breakfast.  He was SO EXCITED about these things when he woke up.  It was a glorious day for him.  It was a nice reminder that just cake and presents go a long way for a small child.


Again, he’s in a real construction phase, so we gave him this dress up set with the idea that it would also double as a Halloween costume.  We’re still not trick or treating, but we do have a Halloween party to attend.


Keeping with the construction theme, he also got a drill game.


My parents got him a guitar.  He promptly wrote a song for his favorite girl at school.  He also brought it on the couch with him while he watched his last TV show of the day and randomly strummed it.  Both things were so cute to me.


Sean has been trying to read science books to Wes since he was itty.  They have always been on his phone and without pictures.  So we were excited when we discovered these.  They maybe weren’t as initially exciting as some of the other gifts, but Sean is enjoying reading them and I’m glad we have them for both Wes and Madeline.


For the last few weeks, Wes had been pointing out these cupcakes at Wegmans and told me he wanted them for his birthday.  At first I was disappointed he wanted something store bought instead of home made, and then I remembered I have a newborn and decided to be grateful.  So Wegman cupcakes it was this year!  They weren’t bad.

Sean, Madeline, and I went to Wes’s classroom to read books for circle time and have a special snack.  We had kept it a secret that Sean was coming and it was very special to have him there!

So happy birthday 3rd to our sweet Wesley!  Thanks for making us parents and keeping us laughing with all the funny things you say.  We love watching you grow.

Happy birthday, Sean!

Yesterday was Sean’s birthday.  I was looking back at last year’s post about his birthday, and laughed again at the video of Wes shouting “Sean!” up the stairs.  It’s funny because Wes went out of the Sean phase, switched to calling him the normal dad or daddy for a very long time, and now is back full force into a Sean phase.  Sometimes even sneaking in the occasional “I love you, Favorite.”  It’s also funny how he might say dad first, and will switch to Sean if he doesn’t get Sean’s attention right away.  Kids!  Two year olds!  I love it!


Sean and I celebrated his birthday this year with a date on Saturday night, probably our last night out before BA2 comes.  Which is exciting and a little sad all at the same time.  Then our family celebrated with cake on Sunday.  So we were almost all partied out by yesterday.  Although Wes has been eating cake for breakfast since Sunday.  I think I need to put a stop to that tomorrow morning.


Sean’s favorite cake is Texas sheet cake.  It’s a cake that’s growing on me.  It’s very tasty, but I like to have a pretty presentation.  It’s hard to make sheet cake pretty.  I also wish it had more of a fudge frosting, but that was quickly shot down by Sean as soon as I said it.  So classic sheet cake it is!


Even though it’s a day late, happy birthday, Sean/Favorite/Dad!  We love you!

St. Louis

IMG_7861Did you have a nice 4th of July?  We went to St. Louis to be with Sean’s family for the holiday.  I’ve wanted to call it a weekend, but when the holiday is on a Tuesday it’s not really a holiday, is it?  One of Sean’s sisters, Shelley, and her husband, Eric, live in St. Louis, which is why we met up there.

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I love St. Louis.  My family took a trip there in 2009 just the four of us and had such a great time.  Sean and I went shortly after we got engaged in 2011 to visit Shelley and had a great time and a very memorable meal.  It’s such a nice city.  Shelley and Eric live a little outside of the city, but we decided to stay in it.  Those photos above are from our first morning.  We walked around City Garden and had breakfast at Rooster.  Rooster was one of a few really great meals we had this trip.  Can you tell Wes is pealing the wrapper off his crayons in this picture?  It’s the first thing he does when he gets to a restaurant with crayons.  We don’t know why.  I think it’s funny.

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We went swimming at Shelley and Eric’s community pool.  It was lots of fun and a great way to spend a hot morning.  In Northern Virginia (and probably other places, just not at Shelley and Eric’s pool), the life guards take a break on the :45’s.  They blow the whistle and  if you’re under 6 you head to the baby pool.  When the life guard didn’t blow the whistle to announce a time to go to the baby pool, Wes did it for him.  At first he blew his whistle just for Sean to let him know when to stop swimming, and then we all eventually made it to the baby pool.  Children are such fun!

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Sean’s dad’s birthday fell a few days after this trip, so we had an early celebratory dinner for him since we were all together.  We went to Pastaria, and it was another really great meal!  When it came time to order dessert we ordered three.  We almost didn’t get that birthday cake pictured above, but it was the winner!

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For our last morning, we headed to the City Museum.  Sean and I went with Shelley when we visited.  It’s fun if you’re just adults and it’s really fun if you’re a kid.  I didn’t do very much this time.  There’s lots of climbing and exploring and tight spaces in this museum, so Sean took the lead here and those two and Alli explored under and above and all over! IMG_7779IMG_7783IMG_7763IMG_7760

Plus there is a two story slide!  Which Wes loved even if he’s not showing it on his face here.

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That cheese face!  It just makes me so happy!

Take Me Out to the Ball Game

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A friend of ours had a birthday recently, and to celebrate a group of us were invited to join her for a Nats/Cubs game.  She’s a Cubs fan.  It was a 7 p.m., Monday night game, so initially I told Sean he’d probably be going on his own if he decided to go.  Getting a sitter to our house in enough time for me to leave to get into the city on a weeknight is tricky.  And then I thought, but this could be so fun!  I want to go!  And Sean and I talked more and we said, we should just risk it and bring Wes because the cost of the babysitter would have been more than his ticket.  So in a very unlike us move, we ended up breaking our rules and bringing Wes to a baseball game that started at bedtime!

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I’m so glad we brought him!  This worked out so well and was a lot of fun for all of us!  Wes, of course, didn’t really know what was going on, but he occasionally popped up on Sean’s lap and Sean would walk him through what was happening.  He liked when people clapped and cheered and would join right along with them.  He danced to the music, made friends with the birthday girl, and mastered drinking water straight from the bottle.  A very successful night all around.

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We made it through the first half of the 5th inning, or about 8:45 p.m.  Which meant we made it for the Presiden’ts Race!  I love the President’s Race!  George won.  We parked at Sean’s office and our house is a little ways out, so I knew getting home would take awhile.  I thought I was so smart coming prepared with pajamas and putting him in them before we left for home.  Because of course he’d fall asleep.  Right?  Nope!  He chatted the whole 35 minutes home!  “You’re going in the wrong direction, Momma.  Daddy told you the right way to go.”  “It’s raining?  Are we going to see lightning?  I need to call my friend Eleanor.  We’re going to talk about the ligtning.  Did you bring my phone?”  (It was not raining.  No, he doesn’t have a phone.)  “Momma, you crack me up.”  “Do you see the crane?  Are the construction workers still working?”  And he recapped the foul ball that landed incredibly close to us.  The man who caught it spilled his peanuts and Wes cried.  I’m not sure if Wes cried because he was scared by the close proximity of the ball or because the man spilled his peanuts.  I think it may have been the spilled peanuts.  It still comes up and he always leads with the peanuts spilling, not the ball landing.  While I didn’t really want him to fall asleep at 10 p.m., I really enjoyed experiencing a ball game with him and his loopy chatter at the end of his night.

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Father’s Day

IMG_7579I reread my Father’s Day post from last year before writing anything this year.  I was curious how things compared.  I had forgotten that Sean was pretty special on the weekends a year ago.  Although it’s definitely magnified.  Wes wants Sean to do everything when he’s home.  Give him a snack, change his shorts, go outside, answer the question that I just answered, do bedtime, everything.  It’s sweet.  Sometimes a little annoying because I really did just answer the question in the same way Sean would!  It’s such fun to watch their relationship grow and develop with each year.  While needing constant attention from Daddy can be tough too, it’s still much nicer than the rejection from two years ago.

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We kept with tradition and went to our same beloved brunch place for Father’s Day.  They only had waffles.  Wes doesn’t believe he likes waffles.  He only likes pancakes.  With the help of our waiter we came up with Belgian pancakes.  About midway through the meal Sean finally breaks the news to him that he’s eating waffles.  Wes almost looked like he might cry.  Then I said it again and he said.  “These aren’t waffles these are pancakes, silly goose!”  We laughed.  I’m not sure when Belgian pancakes will be called waffles in our house.

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Thumbs up for Belgian pancakes!

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I always say this but it never fails to be true, thanks so much for all you do for us, Sean.  Thanks so much for working so hard and for waking up so early for us!  Happy Father’s Day!

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Sean’s 10 Year Law School Reunion

Sean’s law school class celebrated it’s 10 year reunion the other weekend.  We dropped Wes off with my mom and dad and we headed to Cornell to be with his 2007 classmates.

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Cornell and Ithaca are really special to Sean.  He worked full time and attended school full time in undergrad, so he didn’t have the carefree experience most people I know had as undergraduates.  But law school was much more fun for him.  It wasn’t entirely carefree, but he bonded with classmates, traveled to some fantastic places, tried some new foods, and just generally enjoyed himself.  Ithaca is so special to him that we’ve actually been twice before.

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Not everyone Sean would have liked to catch up with came to this reunion.  We ended up talking and really enjoying the company of some of his classmates that he knew but not well.  While he wished he had the opportunity to see some of the people that didn’t come, he told me the weekend exceeded his expectations.  So that’s a real win!

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Cornell’s law school is all within one building, and they had plenty of activities to keep you busy the whole weekend.  We were able to pick and choose what to attend, which was perfect for us.  While it was no Switzerland or France, this weekend counts as our child-free vacation for the summer.  We were really happy to be able to spend some time enjoying the law school and Sean’s classmates, but also having dinners and doing activities just the two of us.  Some amount of child-free time each summer is becoming a tradition we really love.  It’s really nice to recharge our relationship batteries and have time to provide the other with undivided attention.  Even if it was only 3-ish days this time, it was a great refresh.

We may have checked the box on law school reunions, but we’ll be back to Ithaca.  Some of Sean’s classmates found lake houses that included fire pits and kayaks.  I think there’s a lake house visit with Wes and BA2 in our future so we can enjoy Ithaca, Cornell, and the surrounding areas as a family.  I’m already looking forward to it!

Birthday dinner

I didn’t take many pictures of my birthday dinner date with Sean, so I almost didn’t write about it.  But I never write about dates anymore and this one was so a good one!

We went to Tosca, which is sort of a DC establishment.  It’s not trendy or hip.  People barely write about it anymore.  But I love Tosca so much.  This was only second dinner there, but both times the waiters were so friendly and great and the food is so consistently good.

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When Sean and I eat multiple courses we decide on a winner for each course.  Sean usually wins.  But at Tosca we tied for our first two courses!  I won the last one…which was not just Sean being nice on my birthday.  I legitimately won!  ⇓

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I broke some pregnancy dining rules by getting seared sea scallops to start and having a few sips of Champagne and white wine.  I don’t regret any of it, and I think it added to some of the fun of the evening.  It’s funny what becomes the rebellious thing when you’re 34 and pregnant.

Then we just had some great discussions about our relationship and our family and life generally.  It made me really happy.  One of my top birthday celebrations of all time.  Thanks for a great birthday, Favorite!

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