Ah, New Jersey. How I've missed your salty air, your wonderfully sunny beaches, and your small town charm. It's like coming back home and being greeted with 20 oz. of Wawa coffee. It never gets old. I forgot about your "teacup handle" left turn roadway design. Not impressed. Perhaps we can discuss that later.
This little goofball turned two! Tully and Megan invited us up for Declan's big birthday bash. And it was big! There were easily 50 people there, at least a third of whom were kids. A lot of family traveled in to make it, plus friends and coworkers with their kids in tow. Brian and I came the night before and helped with setup. In all, the backyard held a tent for shucking oysters, a wildly popular inflatable bouncy house, a cool sandbox house, and Tully's newly licensed and purchased hotdog cart (Hero Dogs). That doesn't even account for the food and drink spread. At first I thought, "why would you go through all this effort" but then I saw the massive windfall of gifts – plus the fun of hosting a party – and my mind totally changed. Big birthday bashes for everyone! :)
…so of course we went to the best seafood restaurant on the Patuxent River.
The week leading up to this weekend was long for both Brian and me. Extended hours at work with new projects and "school" with fast-approaching deadlines meant that we didn't see much of each other. While we wanted to see family, we also wanted to collapse in front of the TV, or maybe just sleep for a few days! That is not how real life works, though. :) Saturday was full of chores and errands. The funny thing about that was, once the house was clean, the fridge full, and the dog walked, I felt a huge weight lift off my shoulders and I once again had the energy and desire to give back to other people. And that's good because we had big Sunday plans!
Our last-minute plans to drive to my parents' meant that lunch with Brian's mom and sisters got postponed a week. But instead of them coming to Old Town for a picnic lunch, Brian and I drove down on Saturday and we had a celebratory dinner at their house. Sarah decorated the kitchen and picked out coffee ice cream to go with the decadent double-chocolate cake we ate for dessert. Elena made me a pair a turquoise earrings and Sarah got me a handful of things, including an oversized coffee mug and a fall weather blouse. The group of us chatted around the table, and chatted on the deck (easily my favorite part of the house), and that evening we drove to the water and chatted on the dock while watching the sun set over the bay. It was a great birthday celebration, one I will not soon forget.
This was a super last-minute trip, to the point where Mom wasn't sure whether to mail my birthday card or hand it to me. Ha. Sorry, Mom. But it wasn't really indecision; more like a lack of time to make a decision. Brian and I had a lot going on leading up to Labor Day weekend: Brian had just started a new job and was spending a lot of overtime there even in the first week. He spent his remaining waking hours studying our budget and spending trends. I was busy with a couple big work projects, and all my free time was spent on homework for this certification I'm trying to get. We were also looking into flights to MN that turned out to be prohibitively expensive. Our only two sources of relaxation were walking Sasha and watching the US Open (btw, how fun is professional tennis??).
The eclipse wasn't a big deal until suddenly it was. And that was about 15 minutes beforehand. Alexandria and I went out for some iced coffee around 2, and on our way back to the building we saw several of our coworkers gathering on the market square across the street. Not to be left out of the fun, she and I joined the ever-growing crowd. What's fun is that some people actually came prepared: Alexandria brought paper with holes punched in it, another person brought a FedEx box with a similar eclipse-viewing contraption, and a few people even brought official eclipse sunglasses (which they kindly passed around).
While off-roading the beautiful Virginia mountain trails we came across a fire tower with a stunning view!! What an adventure. <3
Happy 4th of July! Brian, Tony and I spent the extended holiday weekend visiting Mom and Dad in Indiana. We grilled out every evening, got some yard work done, and then had some fun! And what is more patriotic than exercising our 2nd amendment right on Independence Day? Mom and Dad are active members at their local gun club and they took the three of us to the outdoor range twice during our visit. Besides, Brian and I wanted to break in our G19. :)
This is just a quick shout-out to our good friends Christine and Edgar. They invited us and some other really sweet friends to their house for a BBQ. Everybody had a great time. Edgar made us some world-class ribs, sausage, and pulled pork on the Big Green Egg, and Christine worked equally hard prepping the house. ;) After lunch we thought about playing a board game, but the kids convinced us to spend the afternoon outside while they shrieked and giggled on the slip-n-slide. It was a good call. Those kids played hard, and it was adorable. I especially liked Esteban's excitement at getting rocket launched down the slide, even though it usually meant careening off the edge. Haha. Boys will be boys. As a side note, Ali and Scarlett are almost the same age – Ali just turned 7 and Scarlett is 6.5… how crazy is their height difference?!
Happy birthday, Maura! We had so much fun spending the day with you.