Friendsday Wednesday

May you and your friends always be this joyful, and fabulous!

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You had a Baby, not a Lobotomy

I say this fairly often. Officially “trademarking” the phrase for my future baby book! or something…

Before Baby was here, M and I talked a little about our expectations for our lives after Baby arrived. We both agreed we planned to continue being socially active. Why would we suddenly turn into hermits?

We had a baby, not a lobotomy. Who we are, and what we enjoy, is still fundamentally the same. We like seeing our friends. We like trying new foods and going out for a drink.

So…we still do it. We bring the little one along with us. It was super easy when she was still teeny-tiny. She’d sleep through anything in her car seat. Now that she’s older and more active, it’s definitely more work to keep her happy and safe. But it’s worth it.

Our friends are one of our happy-makers. For me, seeing them, catching up on the happenings, and laughing with our friends recharges my batteries. As a stay-at-home Mom, I also enjoy the experience of speaking real words and sentences to someone who will not respond with “pbbbblth” or “bahmnmamnanana”.

It’s the little things like coherence.

M and I also went to two craft breweries on Saturday. We would have also gone to a winery, but 95 was completely shut down for hours, so we postponed. We went to Rusty Beaver, in Ladysmith, and Center of the Universe near Ashland. M is the beer fan, so he did his tastings while munchkin ate puffs, waved at strangers, and clapped to herself. At COTU, we met up with an old friend I have not seen in 20 years. Munchkin proudly grabbed Friend’s beer glass and dumped it all over Friend. She’s generous and giving in that way….

The trick to going out with babies is to know your child and your own limits. If Lil Miss starts acting up and I suspect a meltdown, I take her for a walk around the room or to a quieter spot and tell M to get the check. We try to leave before she loses it. She usually only loses it if she wants to nurse but is too distracted, or has been fighting naps all day.

M and I also know what we’re comfortable with her doing in public. Chewing on a straw or occasionally squawking? Sure. Screaming, throwing food? No.

We also make sure we communicate ahead of the outing. Who’s driving? How are we going to juggle the meal? I remind him sometimes – if you get X, you need to wash your hands as soon as you’re done eating so you can hold her while I eat. If you get Y, we need to alternate back and forth so we can both eat while the food’s hot.

I’m always befuddled by people who say “Oh, forget having a social life! You’ll never go out again! 18 years before you can have fun!” Really? Why is anyone locking themselves up and becoming a hermit? To each his own, of course. There is no benefit in judging others, but I freely admit I do not understand the logic.

Anyhoo….If you enjoy being social and going out before baby, you can continue to do so afterwards. You just make adjustments. More Happy Hour, less (or no) late nights. More casual locations, less formal restaurants. More 1-2 hour outings, less 4 hour events. Less fabulous sparkly clutches, more big roomy bags capable of holding toys, puffs, and diapers!

It’s a baby, not a lobotomy. You can be Mom and still be You.

Friends

I’ve been thinking a lot about friends and friendship so far this year.   banana

Last year, around New Year’s, I remember telling my husband I did not want any more friends. I meant it. I was pregnant, three of my friends were pregnant, and my ‘main’ social circle already consisted of 20-30 people. That means 20-30 people invited to all the main events, birthdays, etc.

M was mentioning a friend’s friend, who had a ‘rough year’ and I should make an effort to be her new friend. This was someone I’d known casually for years, who had never reached out to me, and was only a topic of conversation because of a friend accidentally invited her to my NYE party. I felt odd about saying that. It was true, but it seems like a terrible thing to admit. “No, I do not want any new friends.”

Now, here in 2015, I can look back at 2014 and realize I actually made several new friends who I really enjoy. One, E, is probably my favorite new friend. She’s single, has a medical-related job that involves travel, is stylish, smart, and always up for an adventure. If I wasn’t married, I would probably demand she be my BFF immediately!

So I am thankful that, even though I wasn’t looking for new friends I have in fact made some new ones.

And, in that same note, I am also …conflicted? about some old friends…

Back in high school, when I was being bullied (and basically prehistoric cyber-bullied, since the internet was still ‘new’), I decided to not pursue one-sided friendships. I reinforced that decision later in college, but added a dose of ‘Love the person for who they are’, meaning some people are worth the extra effort and truly don’t mean to be one-sided in friendships.

But where’s the line on effort? When do you give up? If a friend rejects your attempts to get together 10 times and never bothers to reschedule or get back to you or acknowledge the pattern of cancellations or ignoring…it’s clearly gone beyond the ‘absent-minded forgot to reply’ scenario. But what about the years of friendship, and the intensity the friendship once held? It seems like a tragedy to ‘throw away’ all those memories and adventures and good times. But are they being thrown away, or are they just…The Past now?

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I’m glad for the friends I have, in all their different forms. The ones I see every week, sometimes 2 or 3 times a week. The ones I see once a month, or every two months. Those I keep in touch with via email now that distance has separated us. The effort is on both sides, and I like to believe both sides are equally fond of the friendships.

Then there’s the new element of being a parent and watching my daughter grow up. She’s only 8 months old but I find myself wondering about her future. Will she struggle to make and keep friends? Will she be accepted or rejected by her peers? Is she going to become hardened or jaded in the ways that I did during my struggles as a lonely adolescent and young adult?

But

Good times, good friends….poor Tigers!

I know, I know. I am failing at this 365 posts thing. Moving right along…

Last night we met up with friends at Home Team Grill to watch the Auburn-Florida bowl game. A good chunk of my extended family was actually in CA for the game, all of us Auburn supporters. Most of my family is going / went / will go to Auburn, except for me, my brother, and one other cousin. It was a good game, with a great first half…but then we lost it in the end. Super sad!

Anyhoo, Home Team Grill is a sports pub nestled in Eagle Village, right across (or I guess part of) University of Mary Washington. Jerseys from different teams, including UMW’s rugby team, and paintings decorate the walls. The menu is pretty standard sports fare – burgers, wings, wraps, and a fairly impressive salad list. HTG also does Happy Hour and food specials – Tuesdays are half off burgers, Wednesdays are wing nights, and Happy Hour drinks usually run until 7:00, with wine specials!

More memorable is the sheer amount of fun M and I have with our buddies. JC recently popped back into my life – we were friends in college and hung out for a couple of years before drifting apart. He and his wife are friends of friends, so they have been part of the group for a couple of years now. JC is absolutely hilarious, and anytime we spend time with him and his wife, we are always hysterically laughing over the most absurdly stupid things. Old friends, mixed with new friends, equals fun.

Boys don’t have cooties.

I have always considered myself a guys’ girl.

I suppose it’s to be expected. I have an older brother (3 years, 2 grade levels). We grew up constantly bickering, physically fighting, those obnoxious kids on a roadtrip going “he’s on myyy side.”  God bless my parents for surviving us.

They never diminished or tried to alter our relationship, though. My dad would frequently say “Fight back” when I whined that Bro had kicked/hit/pushed me. We all had black belts. It seemed logical. The only downside, I think, is I tended to continue that physical aggressiveness into my adult life. Guys in college don’t really like being hurt by girls in college.

Our relationship, however, produced a lot of positive advantages. I have always felt comfortable with boys, particularly those who weren’t “popular”. I remember being in 5th grade, talking to the nerdy, pale, white-haired guy instead of my ‘cool boyfriend’. In middle school, I had a quasi-fan club: a bunch of really nice, quiet, B & C student guys who liked me primarily because I talked to them. They were funny, they were nice, and there was no pressure. In high school, I liked the popular boys, but I hung out with the social misfits, and I embraced the younger, awkward guys who were trying to fit in. They were fun, I had fun with them, and it was innocent.

Except when they developed crushes. I never knew how to deal with that. I’d find myself hanging out with one of them, and then realize at some awkward moment that he thought this was a date, not a casual movie or tennis ‘hang out’ situation. I never appreciated those guys at those moments. I usually just panicked and told them some variation of the truth: We’re good friends, this isn’t going to happen, I’m not into this.

Over the years, now that I’m a ripe old lady, I appreciate the advantages of all those friendships and relationships. I really enjoy being with a group of guys, sitting around a table, trading dirty jokes and crazy stories and laughter. I like the casual exchange, so much less entwining and ensnaring than girls’ conversations can be. The guys usually aren’t negative, aren’t criticizing, aren’t gossiping. It’s purely about enjoyment, humor, and being in the moment. That, in my opinion, is priceless.

Restaurant week continues…

Friday night, we met up with our great friends JS & MS.

We had reservations at 730 at Ristorante Renato, which none of us had ever been to before, despite many years living in town. Renato is an old-school Italian restaurant, and feels immediately familiar even on the first visit. The food is classic Italian, with lots of white wine sauces, marinara sauces, and veal dishes.We decided to warm up with some drinks – MS had a sav blanc, I had pinot grigio, and the boys… Well, M ordered a dirty martini. JS, for some reason, decided to order one as well. He had never had one before. He hates olive juice. The drinks were served, he tasted it and said “well, it’s certainly dirty…”  JS was a champ and managed to finish it, though.

We all agreed on the restaurant menu from the get-go. M and MS ordered Oysters Rockefeller, and JS and I ordered the mozzarella in carozzo.

Here’s the thing: MS & I joke that our husbands are interchangeable. JS is as picky as I am about food, and MS and M are both the adventurous eaters with similar “favorites”. MS and M prefer red wine and seafood, JS and I are happy with sweeter white wines and basic chicken dishes. A double date match made in heaven!

Anyhoo, MS and M both really liked their Oysters. M said he liked this oyster dish better than True Luv, but only because Renato gave him two oysters instead of one. J and I both agreed the mozzarella was good, but we also wish the sauce had been thicker or poured on right before serving. The breading sat in the white wine sauce and of course got a little soggy. Sometimes the crunch is the best part, and I did miss that.

For entrees, MS and M both got tilapia with crabmeat, which was served as a generous portion. JS ordered the cheese ravioli, which looked wonderful and had perfect pillows of pasta. I ordered the Pollo Milano, breaded chicken in white wine sauce. It was accompanied by pasta with marinara sauce, which was perfect to cut through the white wine. We all cleared our plates!

For dessert, we decided to each get one of the three options. We asked our waitress to explain the Spumoni – she advised it was an ice cream dish with cherry, strawberry, and something blue. But DEFINITELY not pistachio. Maybe blueberry.

So of course, when the Spumoni arrived….the “blue” layer was bright green, pistachio, and had slivers of pistachios throughout. We thought it was hilarious, and while I’m not a fan of pistachio, it was still quite well made. M and JS ordered the cappucino panna cotta, and MS had the cannoli. The cannoli was small and had a pleasant cinnamon taste.

Afterwards, we trekked out into the cold and went a block down to Castiglia’s. Castiglia’s is another Italian restaurant that recently had an amazing renovation to a chic, modern, upscale neighborhood bar and restaurant. We squeezed into a table at the back and the boys had a beer, MS had another wine, and I had a Ciroc Chic (Ciroc, pineapple, pomegrante, twist of lime). We sat and talked, laughed, and caught up.

We had a delicious meal, but the company of great friends makes anything memorable and more fun.

http://images.google.com/url?sa=i&rct=j&q=Ristorante+Renato&source=images&cd=&cad=rja&docid=f5eMR70Toyzs7M&tbnid=f4GAYrR0y5eBAM:&ved=0CAUQjRw&url=http%3A%2F%2Ffredericksburg.com%2FNews%2FFLS%2F2011%2F042011%2F04142011%2F618644&ei=sQFJUejbHq2r2AWcxYBY&bvm=bv.44011176,d.b2I&psig=AFQjCNHVG3n6zryGvNFRE5KtFy1VqrVSYQ&ust=1363825453437098

A great weekend about town

This was a great weekend.

Fredericksburg’s annual Wine Festival at Old Mill Park was this weekend. Husband and I went yesterday, Saturday. We were there about 5 hours, and got to hit each vineyard. My favorite wine was Westwood Farm‘s raspberry wine. It was delicious, great with chocolate, and I got a glass to end the day perfectly. We wandered around the booths and then sat on the banks of the Rappahannock river, talking and waiting out a quick drizzle. Before we left, we purchased three cheeses from Marshall Farms – white cheddar, garlic and parsley, and buffalo. They are SO good and will not last long in my fridge!

We came home and took a nice nap, then headed out to Taj, a brand new Indian restaurant right near us. The food was good – I had a Lamb Do Piazzo (spelling?), and Husbie got the buffet. He had three huge plates before he finally gave up. I had leftovers as well, but the sauce for my lamb was delicious. Spicy, but not overbearing – it was a cozy, warm dish that was perfect with the cooler temps of the evening.

Friday night, we went out with friends for a late night birthday celebration at Bonefish. Great company, great food, and amazing service from our waiter Matt. This is the second time we have had a large 10+ group there, and Matt has been attentive and wonderful each time! We passed a thank you on to his manager, so hopefully he gets a nice kudos!

Hope you had a great weekend!!