Posts Tagged ‘birthdays’

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The Last of the Birthday Trip

February 7, 2012

First, the trip almost didn’t happen, then we had a meal that we will always remember, now – I think I can resort mostly to photos, and lay off all the blah blah. ¬†We’ll see ūüôā

On our one full day, we got up early and had breakfast at the B&B. ¬†Then we grabbed coats (that we didn’t need, because it was 55 or so, despite being December) and hopped in the car for our day exploring the entire island, rather than just the towns.

We started out in Menemsha, which is where Mouse spent her time when she vacationed with friends, and where at least some of Jaws was filmed:

There was a fish market there that was known for its clam chowder, and I really wanted some, but we were there too early.  So we had to move on and go around the island to the Aquinnah area.  We enjoyed some overlook views and then went for a very long and very rocky walk on the beach.  I was not wearing the right shoes:

 

One of the things about the beach there is the natural clay, to wit:

Here is the cliff’s worth:

And here’s a shot of a funky little crevice in the clay:

It was tough, but we avoided applying the clay to our bodies.  (heh)

Then, because he loves me and it was my birthday, David drove me back to Menemsha for my clam chowder.

Some sites along the road:

The chowder was delicious. It was worth the zigzag. After the chowder, we drove to South Beach, not far from Edgartown. ¬†This was my favorite beach, and if I one day win that lottery, I will buy me a house near THIS beach. ¬†Even though I’m told it looks nothing like this during the summer, but is instead wall-to-wall people. ¬†I don’t care:

And then, finally, we started to get chilly. ¬†After the entire day of walking on beaches and hanging out outside, we didn’t need a sweater or a coat until 4 p.m. ¬†First time ever for my birthday to be that warm, I’m sure.

And then our funny story of the day:

We to Edgartown for a little bit, because we’d missed a couple of shops¬†before they closed the day before, due to early off-season closing times. We were alone in one of the shops, looking at some wallets, one of which I knew that Mouse wanted, when the door went ding-ding-ding. ¬†An older couple walked in – a polo-clad 60-something man and his fur-drenched wife. ¬†I did a double take and said, “Judge ______?!??!!” ¬†It was the judge I’d worked with during my first summer of law school and his wife. ¬†Very surreal and odd (especially when you think that my true FIRST visit to the Vineyard was the time that I flew there in this judge’s prop plane — I even got to fly for most of the trip. ¬†It was a lot of fun).

He of course was asking me about work and practice and the Big/Old Firm, and I was just about a week out from the lay off news. ¬†I pretended that it hadn’t happened. We just caught up in general. Still, who would have thought?

That night, David went to a more casual restaurant. ¬†I had some oysters, and we had – other food. ¬†I think burgers. ¬†I know it was good, but it wasn’t like the night before.

For our last morning, we got up and did some shell-combing on the beach across the street from our hotel . . .

. . . and headed back to the ferry, relaxed and ready to delve back into our school play. ¬†(Which I plan to be the topic of my next post, but we’ll see. ¬†This series has been exhausting!)

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The Birthday Trip, Day 1 (The Dinner)

February 7, 2012

Like I said in the preview, David and I had a great quick getaway for our birthday weekend, but primarily for his 50th birthday. ¬†The girls were going to friends’ houses, and it was a little strange because they slept at home on Friday night, and slept in on Saturday, but didn’t leave our house to go to their friends’ houses until after we left to catch our ferry. ¬†So we just – walked out. ¬†With two girls asleep in their beds. Of course, we knew they’d be fine (and they were).

We were on a 10 a.m. ferry, and it took about an hour and a half to drive down to Woods Hole, where the ferry leaves from. ¬†It was the first time we’d put our car on a ferry, and so that was not boring. ¬†It was a nice quick ride across the water. When we got to the island, we were a little early to check in at the hotel – a sweet bed and breakfast right across the street from the ocean in Oak Bluffs. So we left the car at the inn and walked into town. ¬†There wasn’t a ton open, but the weather was nice, and we enjoyed the walk. ¬†We ended up having lunch at the same restaurant that we had breakfast/brunch at the last time we were on the island – Slice of Life.

The one other time that we’d been was a bit of a last-minute decision. ¬†Mouse was going with a friend for a long weekend (a portion of her friend’s 2 week vacation), and we had to drive her to the ferry. ¬†We had thought about going onto the island at the same time, but she complained. ¬†This was her trip. ¬†We rolled our eyes, but said fine. ¬†Yet, once we’d driven the 1.5 hours to Woods Hole, we told her we were leaving, waved goodbye as her ferry left, and then bought tickets to the next ferry. ¬†It was a warm June day, and we had nothing with us. ¬†We wandered the town of Oak ¬†Bluffs (where our ferry landed), and then took a bus to Vineyard Haven, and then another bus to Edgartown (those are the three large towns on the island). ¬†All three towns were fine. ¬†But I was jealous of the cars full of towels and beach chairs. I wanted to go see the lighthouse. ¬†I wanted to rent a bike. I wanted to look at a house’s window at the water.

Other than my discontent at not having a house to stay in and beach gear to utilize, we had a good day. Including our breakfast at Slice of Life.  So we were happy to see it was open again.

By the time we ate lunch and got checked into our hotel, it was going on 3, and because it was December, that meant we knew it would be dark soon.  So for the rest of that day, we ended up replicating our first day.  We revisited the spots and shops we remembered from the first trip in all three towns.  We also did some investigation into restaurants.

My friend who goes every summer (who Mouse went with that time 2 years ago) had given me a list of restaurants to check out, sure that at least one of them would be open in the off-season. ¬†None of them were. ¬†So we did our own research into the available options – there were plenty. ¬†There was one menu that jumped out at me, because it had a really solid range of food. ¬† I wanted a nice dinner because this was our big birthday dinner. ¬†We had brought nice clothes, so were equipped to go as fancy as we could. The menu I liked included a range from the fancy to the quick lunch, but what I really liked about it was that it had a “Chef’s Tasting Menu” option. ¬†David was a little less sure, and he also was drawn to a super-fancy French restaurant.

After we had our short list of restaurant choices, we checked them out in person as we went through the towns.  His first choice ended up looking a bit bland, and full of grey and blue-haired folk.  We ended up crossing it off the list, and ultimately deciding to go with the one I liked:  Zephrus, which was in the Mansion House Inn in Vineyard Haven.

The menu had a lot that looked good, but I really wanted to try the tasting menu. ¬†David was a little hesitant, because he was afraid we’d end up with something gross. ¬†(The on-line menu has changed since, so I can’t really share. Sorry.) ¬†We looked at the menu to see if there was anything we’d be unhappy to eat. ¬†The only thing was the fois gras. ¬†Everything else looked great. ¬†But I shut my mouth and let David decide, reminding myself this was his 50th trip.

But he decided to go for it.

Oh My God.

The Tasting Menu was 5 courses, one of which would be dessert. ¬†The chef doesn’t let you partake in the exercise unless everyone at the table is on board. ¬†We were told that our dishes may or may not come from the existing menu – he may make something up on the fly.

Now, I’m sorry to say we didn’t get with the program and start taking photos of the courses from the start, so I do not have a photo of the first course, which was a sweet potato gnocchi with spinach, garlic and some yummy cheese. ¬†I was in heaven. ¬†We both had been a little nervous, not knowing what the heck was coming, and we were both giddy with this first dish. ¬†Sweet potato and spinach are both favorites of mine, and so I was over the moon.

Our second course:

Balsamic braised bay scallops and asparagus over mashed potatoes. This was more David’s dish. Scallops are a huge favorite of his, although asparagus is another favorite of mine, and so were the mashed potatoes. ¬†Again – this was cooked to absolute perfection.

Third course was a salad – but not just any salad – it was a roasted beet salad with gorgonzola and parsley:

(Beets are yet another of my very favorite foods . . . )

We remained giddy, and the chef and the waiter were getting a kick out of our enthusiasm. ¬†After the beet salad, David said, “well, the only way this can get any better is if we get steak for our main course.” ¬†But when the waiter re-set our places after the salad, he didn’t bring steak knives, so we figured we were in for a fish, or something else.

Our 4th Course:

Oh, what’s that? ¬†Filet Mignon over a truffle risotto? ¬†Oh, wait – what’s that? ¬†Risotto, rare steak and truffle are all some of Suzie’s to-die-for foods? ¬†Really??

The waiter chuckled and said, “I didn’t want you to guess, so I didn’t bring your steak knives ahead of time!” as he handed us our steak knives.

For the first few years that David and I spent our birthdays together, we hadn’t yet figured out how to do this “two birthdays in a row” thing, and so we made cakes back-to-back, one for each birthday. ¬†Mine was spice cake, his was German Chocolate.

So what was the 5th course?

That, right there, is the last bite of spice cake. ¬†(That’s a coffee ice cream, and I really wasn’t a fan — not to mention stuffed!) ¬†And so that we had a bit more fun, they brought us different desserts – here’s the second:

A yummy cobbler.

The desserts, frankly, weren’t my favorites. ¬†But I don’t think of myself as a dessert person, as a rule. ¬†Of course there are things I love, but I’m not always ready for a piece of cake. ¬†Also, I’m never a “dessert in a restaurant” person. ¬†I will refuse dessert until after a walk every time. ¬†I’d prefer a solid walk and then a chocolate bar (preferably high quality) or some ice cream. Sometimes, I’d prefer an after-dinner drink to a dessert. ¬†So, the fact that I wasn’t head over heels over the desserts didn’t mean a thing.

David and I both were on cloud 9 after that meal. ¬†We felt like it was really our best meal EVER. ¬†We agreed that there was something to be said for the surprise element – we had no idea what was coming, so we couldn’t have preconceived notions about how it should taste or look or be cooked. ¬†Even putting that psychology aside, though, this food was amazing.

We had gone out to a nice dinner for Thanksgiving, a couple of weeks before this, where we had much less food for the same price. ¬†Hands down, this tasting menu was better than the Thanksgiving meal. ¬†Maybe one of our New Orleans meals 2 years ago (specifically, the one at Emeril Lagasse’s NOLA) came close to this meal. ¬†But, it’s a little doubtful. ¬†It’s probably obvious how awesome this was, since I can still write about it 2 months later with some pretty impressive enthusiasm!

We highly recommend not only Zephrus, if you find yourself on Martha’s Vineyard, but specifically the Chef’s tasting menu. ¬†We went with the 5 course option (I think it was $65/person, but we know it wasn’t more than $85/person — we do know that with drinks and tip the total check came to $227. ¬†Thanks to Mint.com), but there was also a less expensive 3 course option, which did not include dessert.

I think the next time we come across the option of ¬†Chef’s tasting menu, we will take it. ¬†It was really so amazing.

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Birthday Parties Suck.

June 14, 2011

Last month, Mouse turned 13.  I had a frustrating experience planning her birthday party with friends.

We wanted to go to a cabin in Vermont – one that my family has been going to for years upon years – just like we did for Lemon’s 13th birthday. ¬†Mouse had been quite excited for the trip.

But Mouse and her friends, they have sports to play.  Bat Mitzvahs to attend.  And scheduling became, shall we say, difficult.

It became apparent that an entire weekend was not going to happen.  Not with the crucial attendees.

So we had to revise the plan.  Flexibility is key, when parenting teenagers.  Nothing is more important than being flexible.  Head still attached to the neck?  NOT IMPORTANT.

Which is good, because the whole birthday-party planning thing did, in fact, cause my head to pop off in frustration. ¬†Frustration with kids, with kids’ parents, with myself, with my parents, with my kids, with my spouse, with the state of Massachusetts – with everything.

The revised plan is taking place this weekend.  On Sunday.  We are going to an amusement park.  A big, famous amusement park with roller coasters and a water park, and lots of sticky pavement and nausea-inducing rides.

Yee ha.

But hey – wait! ¬†Let’s not get all the way to the Big Day without throwing in a little more frustration? — to wit:

When we made the plan, we had 4 girls on the invite list. ¬†This weekend/trip/birthday folly was always going to be enough of an outing that it was small numbers. ¬†I would have¬†preferred¬†to have 3 girls on the list, but the dynamics of the group are such that it cannot be done. ¬†So when one of them had a big sports tournament or other thing that couldn’t be avoided, it seemed perfect to me. ¬†4 girls. ¬†A nice, even number.

Oops, Mom!  Wait!

“I was walking to school with Friend 5, and I kind of forgot that we weren’t inviting her this year, and started talking about my plans and stuff, and since Friend 4 can’t come, can Friend 5 become Friend 4? ¬†Please? ¬†I really want her to come, and now if I don’t invite her, it will be awkward.”

I run through the issues in my head. ¬†I think about group dynamics. ¬†I think about seats in the car. ¬†I think group dynamics will be improved by the addition of friend 5-now-4, and I realize that regardless of whether or not she is added to the list, our car isn’t going to fit the crew – so I’ll have to work out transportation in some fashion.

So I approved the switcheroo.

About 2 weeks ago, Mouse says, “Um, Mom? ¬†Didn’t you say Original Friend 4 can’t come because of sports?” ¬†“Yep, sure did.” ¬†“Well, today she said she can’t wait to go – and I was confused, so I just played along.”

Original Friend 4’s mom is a friend of mine. ¬†[And no, I can’t just use first initials. ¬†They all have very similar names.] ¬†So I called her. ¬†“No, I really think that sports are devouring our entire life and she has about 15,000 games that weekend.”

I talk to another of the moms from the List. ¬†“Hey, want a hybrid for the day? ¬†So I can shove 7 bodies into your mini van and not pay a rental car company or zipcar to take the kids to the $50/head amusement park?” ¬†She happily agrees. ¬†Perfect! ¬†5 girls, WD and me, fitting into a 7 passenger van.

A week later. ¬†“Mom, Friend 4 keeps talking about my party. ¬†I am confused.”

I again call mom of Friend 4. ¬†“Now it looks like there are 20,000 games that weekend. ¬†I really don’t know why she thinks she’s going.”

This past weekend, “MOM!! ¬†She said something AGAIN!!”

Last night, I sent the reminder email with a list of things that the kids need to bring: “They need bathing suits, but can’t wear JUST bathing suits, because if we’re not in the water park, shirts are required. ¬†They should¬†have¬†flip flops for the water park, but need other shoes for roller coasters, or else they’ll lose their flip flops and drop them on someone’s head. ¬†Please don’t forget sunscreen. ¬†Or towels.”

I sent it to all 5 girls. Meaning the girl who couldn’t come and the girl who was invited to replace the girl who couldn’t come.

Guess how many moms wrote back to say their kids cannot wait and are soveryexcitedohmygodthisisthebest!?  5.  Plus Mouse makes 6.  Plus me makes 7.  Plus WD makes 8.

Goddammit.

So I’m in talks with another friend, because her van holds 8. ¬†She thinks it will be fine to swap cars. ¬†Probably. ¬†She just has to talk to her husband. ¬†Who is out of town. ¬†He may be gone for a few days. ¬†And maybe they’re going away for the weekend. ¬†Not really sure. ¬†But it should be fine.

I think I’ll go reserve a zipcar now …

 

 

Wait!

First, I’d like to just say:

I’ve come a long way from the days of throwing phones into walls because of a lack of grocery money. ¬†But¬†I’ve¬†rounded the corner from that into the days of saving for college tuition. ¬†My financial planner has us saving quite aggressively for this. ¬†At the same time, my kids keep coming up with new camps & stuff that they want to attend this summer. ¬†Result? ¬†I’m freaking broke – all summer long.

So the extra ticket to the amusement park – groan. ¬†But knowing that the kids are so very excited about the FAIR part of the park? ¬†You know, the part where you shell out crazy amounts of cash so they can throw balls into holes and then make ME lug giant stuffed animals all over the place? ¬†I’m not thrilled. ¬†Not at all.

The finances of the whole day are actually freaking me out.

But I know it will be fine.

(I think.)

 

 

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Starting off on the Right Foot (and in the Right Shoes)

May 25, 2011

Mouse turned 13 yesterday.

Starting at some point last week, she made it very clear that she was SUPER EXCITED about her birthday.

And so starting at some point last week, I started to stress out.

There would be no party ON her birthday – that’s not happening until June (thanks to crew and soccer schedules). ¬†We had no clue what she wanted for gifts, she wouldn’t tell us what she wanted for her birthday dinner — we were adrift. But she was SO EXCITED, and bouncing around the house about it, that I knew I had to make a Good Day.

Pressure!

Fortunately, at some point last week, I remembered a request she had for some low top Converses. ¬†Simple, but an “extra” (because I just bought her a pair of running shoes, flip flops, and sandals) that seemed perfect for the birthday. ¬†Made even more perfect by the fact that she had sent me a link – months ago – with the exact ones she wanted. ¬†They were $50, which seemed pricey for Converses, but whatever. ¬†But even more perfect is the fact that between my office and the T stop I get on every day … a Converse store. ¬†I thought it was iffy that they’d have what she wanted. ¬†Their selection is always limited, and these shoes were a couple of months away from new.

But! ¬†When I told the helper-boy what I wanted, his eyes lit up! ¬†“We have those, and they are on sale!” ¬†And they had her size. ¬†Woo hoo! ¬†So instead of $50, they were $30.

So I did the most logical thing. ¬†Threw in a t-shirt — that was on sale! — to make up the difference.

I believe it was Friday that I bought the shoes, and then on Sunday night, at the dinner table, she raised the fact that she would really love “to have the privilege” of owning low-top converses for the summer. ¬†I somehow managed to squelch my smile and act all indignant because I just bought her 3 pairs of shoes. ¬†“I know, I know! ¬†That’s why I chose those words, so I didn’t say I *need* them, I just would be very pleased to have the privilege.”

WD found her a very sweet summer weight hoodie (because no teen in this town can be seen in public without wearing a hoodie …), and I put on my Lemon hat and bought her a cute wallet and a pretty, bright umbrella.

And then she came up with her birthday dinner … Burritos! ¬†At her favorite taqueria!

Which happens to be dirt-cheap, super fast, and easy as pie.

Does she want a cake?

No! ¬†Let’s go to J.P. Licks! ¬†And get ice cream cones! ¬†Hooray!

Again with the ease.

Then, the weather gods decided, “This Mouse-Child is a sweet girl. ¬†We like her. ¬†She is pretty, and she smiles a lot. ¬†Let’s give her sun!”

And so on Mouse’s birthday, the Boston area (all of New England?) climbed its way out of a 2 week gloom of chill and rain and drizzle and gray. ¬†And it was 80. ¬†And sunny. ¬†Happy birthday, punkin.

Her friends brought her a cake to school, and “caked her in the face” during lunch (which was, oddly, a highlight of the day). ¬†“I think everyone in the whole grade said happy birthday to me!” And some of them brought her cards.

It was also her first birthday on Facebook. ¬†And we all know what that means. ¬†“I had, like, 60 notifications!!!!”

So many smiles from this girl.

I spent the day ¬†“working from home.” ¬†Quotes used to signify the fact that I spent my day (as evidenced in the previous post) cataloging and scanning old photos of my little girl. ¬†This one, in particular, choked me up:

That little 4 or 5 year old face.  how can that be the same girl of today?

I mean, right?

Our night out was great.  Everyone was happy, the girls got along.  It was bliss.  She was happy.  The burritos were yummy (and super cheap!) The ice cream place had my favorite ice cream, that I can never find anywhere (vanilla ice cream with peanut butter).

And she was thrilled with all her gifts, and very excited and surprised about the Converses.  She looks awesome in her hoodie.  She already put all 4 of her dollars in her wallet.

And as she went to sleep, I commented on the fact that she was a lot more excited about this birthday than last year’s. ¬†“Is it because it your first as a teenager?” ¬†“No, Mom, I think I figured it out. ¬†I wasn’t so excited about my birthday last year, and don’t you remember I wasn’t so excited about Solstice* this year, either?” ¬†“Not really, but okay ….” “It’s because I had boyfriends**.”

Perfect life lesson with which to enter the teen years. ¬†“I am happier when I do not have a boyfriend.” ¬†Yes, my dear. ¬†Yes.

And as I was saying goodnight to Lemon, I had to say to her “today was the best you’ve ever behaved on your sister’s birthday.” ¬†She got a typical-Lemon wise-ass grin on her face and said, “Well, I restrained myself several times.” ¬†Which is progress. ¬†Restraint is progress.

(They actually got along fantastically all evening. ¬†I was almost – again – brought to tears by it. ¬†And while Lemon may try to say she was just showing restraint in honor of her sister’s birthday, it’s not the entire truth. ¬†They’ve been getting along better for the past couple of months. ¬†And it makes me very, very happy.)

* ¬†We enjoy celebrating the Solstice, and putting less emphasis on Christmas. ¬†Historically, we exchange hand-made gifts on Solstice, and attempt to focus on the season and nature. ¬†More recently, busy schedules have kept us from making anything by hand, and so …. we just exchange gifts. ¬†So, um, yeah. ¬†(As Lemon would say.)

** Boyfriend, in these situations, is defined as either (a) boy who you text occasionally and over the course of 3 months, meet at a park one time, and meet after school for a slice with 6 other friends one time, or (b) a boy who asked you out in school, and in a flurry of embarrassment and surprise, you agree to “go out,” but then the next day, inform him that now that you had a chance to think about it, you really think you’re better off friends. ¬†Apparently, that overnight mind-changing happened on December 21st, this year.

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How on Earth ….

May 25, 2011

Did we get from this …..

Or even this …..

Then this …..

To this!

I mean …. Wow.

And Happy 13th birthday, Mousey.

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Ooof. And Happy Birthday and Stuff.

December 6, 2010

This past weekend was the joint-birthday celebration of my husband and I.  I believe we finally got our mojo on, in the shared-birthday department.

We’ve struggled.

Or at least, I have. ¬†I don’t think he has.

But I bet if mine were second, I wouldn’t have either.

(I’m on the 4th, he’s on the 5th.)

For many years, I spent much of my birthday scrambling to make sure everything was set for his.

(Well, not that many.  But they were traumatic years.)

This year, he asked me what I wanted to do for my birthday; Saturday. ¬†“I want to go out to dinner.” ¬†I said. ¬†“Okay.” He said.

Then, at 1:30 in the afternoon, I looked around the house, found no kids, and emailed* WD a link to The Black Swan and the one theater – way across the river – where it was playing at 4 p.m.

“Let’s go!”

So this was my birthday:

9 a.m.; wake up, cuddle with 12 yo Mouse.

10 a.m.; read in bed.

11 a.m.; realize back hurts from lying in bed, and take book to couch.

1 p.m.; Take a shower, because dear friend announced she’s coming by with a birthday present.

1:30 p.m.; say hi to friend.

3:15 p.m.; go to movie theater.

3:45 p.m.; tell husband to park in parking garage that actually is nowhere near the theater, but feel okay when saying it, because – after all – I’ve *been* to this theater, and he has not [and – also – because the GPS agreed with me]

4:05 p.m.; finally sit in the theater, after returning to the car, leaving the wrong garage, driving the 1.3 miles to the right garage, waiting in line to pick up pre-bought tickets, and asking at least 6 people to move down so that husband and I could sit next to eachother, 2 inches from the screen, in the sold out theater.

5:45 p.m.; Get out of theater, shake head frantically to get deliciously creepy feelings out of brain, and head home.

6:45 p.m.; say bye to girls and walk around the block to our favorite restaurant.  Steak!  Vino!

9:15 p.m.; Back home, watch Sixteen Candles with girls.  (How did I forget that it was essentially a party movie?  I am the QUEEN of showing inappropriate movies to my kids.  I mean, seriously.)

 

And then I was 38.

 

WD’s birthday was mostly the same. Throw in the predictably Suzie-esque last-minute gift errand, and exchange “nice dinner out” for “home made reubens and potato salad” (his choice!!! ¬†which may or may not have been colored by his knowledge of my cooking abilities.)

Lemon and her friends put their considerable baking skills & experience to work for our joint benefit, and we had a post-dinner joint birthday cake and present opening session.  We both felt sufficiently spoiled by daughters & each other, I think.

And now I’m in school play mode. ¬†Our musical is coming up this weekend, and I am deeply involved, and Mouse has a decent role, and WD is also deeply involved. ¬†I’m putting my job on the back burner for the sake of dress rehearsals and emails out the butt. ¬†Of course, Mouse got sick, and is alternating dress rehearsals with basketball try outs and 10,000,000 coughs a day.

Somehow, we have to fit Christmas Tree procurement into the weekend, as well as entertain my parents who are coming for Mouse’s sake, and I have a work gathering on Sunday night.

Which is where the “Ooof” comes from.

 

*I was on the couch, he was in the chair.  3 feet away.  I thought I was being cute.  I bet he did, too.