It all started with an invite…a little early but we couldn’t be stopped!
And an empty tree.
That morning we got to work, decorating the apartment and the tree.
But leaving out a couple dozen indestructible ornaments for the kids to put up later on.
We made lots of food: pulled chicken BBQ sandwiches, mulled wine, polenta with cranberries, pumpkin muffins, cheese and crackers, chocolates and more.
Including mint-chocolate brownies with fudgy ganache on top.
Friends came over for food, Christmas music and of course, tree trimming.
The little guys decorated whole-wheat “sugar” cookies.
And ate them.
It was so fun…but a little tiring for super preggie ladies who have no choice but to take to the iPhone while nice husbands clean up.
Here’s to a festive season ahead!
Happy birthday Phoebe! To celebrate our baby’s first year we had a party in Villa Borghese. Gorgeous weather and help from Barbra, a pastry chef pro, brought the whole thing together including two kinds of cupcakes: sugar-free banana with cream cheese and maple frosting and chocolate cake, chocolate frosting with banana cream filling. Both an ode to banana, Phoebe’s favorite food.
As Barbra said, “I love a two cake party!” Who doesn’t?
For my whole life, I’ve shared my birthday week with a family member. And not just any family member. My dad’s was May 31 and he loved his birthday. Every year it meant a full day of family and friends, beer and volleyball on the lawn. Sun, shorts, Styxx blasting through open windows, icy coolers packed with Rainier and my grandpa’s six-pack of “Oly” tucked safely in the fridge.
The party started just before noon. I remember the crunch of gravel every time a new car arrived. Ben and I would race out to see who it was, opening the doors for our guests like extremely small, extremely friendly valets. Family members, neighbors, co-workers, everyone bringing a pasta salad, a case of beer, maybe a present and already laughing and joking as they walked in the door.
Volleyball became a big party thing for us in the 80s. I’m not sure what inspired it but these games were legendary. Young and athletic, my parents, cousins and friends batted a beach ball over, under and through that net all day long. Time outs for drinks, a quick burger and of course cake, were expected. Sometimes, depending on how serious the competition was and how strong each team was playing, the kids got to join in too. But this wasn’t a casual thing. You had to pull your weight and if you missed too many balls or flung them off into the field or something, you’d easily be subbed out. No matter. The sidelines were full of action too. Cheering, booing, trash talking were just as important as the plays.
When it came time to cut the cake and sing the song, it was usually a joint dedication for us both, “happy birthday dear CharityandPat, happy birthday to you”. I’d get to sit with my dad and together blow out the candles.
I miss those parties and I miss my dad. But at least I have someone to share the birthday season with again. Phoebe’s birthday is May 31.
Now Raphael is one and we celebrated last weekend!
This means Phoebe is next.
It’s already that time.
Last spring, five adventurous, English-speaking couples joined together for a prenatal class about natural childbirth in Rome. The experience was so comical on so many levels that I can hardly do it justice but sufficed to say, the best thing about the class was meeting the four other couples–now four other families–who we are thrilled to still be friends with.
This weekend Kate Olivia had her birthday party (you can just see her cute little face peeking into the camera on the right side), the first of the group, and Phoebe was there to help celebrate.
Kate couldn’t have had better timing for a party. After two days of total downpours, the sun finally came out in Rome.
And we brought a little present.
A pink rattle plus a gift certificate for Kiva.org, an amazing organization that grants micro-loans to entrepreneurs (mostly) in developing countries. When your loan is repaid, you are notified by email and can either re-loan the funds or of course, take your cash. This year Kate’s parents will help decide the recipient, no classes necessary.