Apr 16, 2014

A Saturday at Railroad Park

I've written about it many times before, but we are so, so fortunate to have a park as beautiful as Railroad Park in Birmingham.

Nick asks to go almost every weekend, because it's one of only a couple of places in town that has designated skateboarding spots.

When they built Railroad Park, they included three concrete "bowls" specifically for bike and skateboard tricks.

The boys are much more daring in the bowls on their bikes than they are on their boards ... and I'm GLAD they're more careful on their boards.

On this particular Saturday -- about a month ago -- I toted all the kids downtown for the afternoon while Grayson was doing something else, and I spent the bulk of my time watching Nathaniel and Nick skateboard while explaining to Amelia and Jake why they couldn't run off by themselves, unsupervised, and do whatever they wanted to without me.

Speaking of Jake, Jamie has a little bit of a thing for that one:

She thinks he's a little bit of a charmer ... and pretty easy on the eyes.

He IS adorable, but markedly less so when he's in your face for the fiftieth time asking how much longer it will be before you will take him to the ice cream truck.

The playground and the ice cream truck were basically the only things that Jakey and Amelia were interested in.

Once I'd given Nathaniel and Nick an hour at The Bowls, I told Jake and Amelia we could head over to the playground. Amelia took off like a shot.

Of course, the boys never let her get too far away from them.

She and Jake played on the playground while the big boys skateboarded on the adjacent sidewalk for a while ...

And then eventually the big boys came in to play for a little while, too.

There are so many people in Birmingham who've never been to Railroad Park ... it makes me sad. There are families who are afraid to come downtown. They have no idea what they're missing! Honestly, this park is such a GEM.

As we were finishing up on the west side of the park, Jake ran down the Lawn Terraces, one of his very favorite things to do.

Then we looped all the way back around to the far east side of the park to the Amphitheatre. The boys had asked to bring their plastic sleds in the hopes that they'd be able to slide down the big hill.

They tried hard. Really, really hard. But that hill was having NONE OF IT.

So they moved over to another side of the hill, a smaller -- but steeper -- side. And they attracted an audience. And audience that believed in audience participation.

I was really proud of the boys for sharing without complaint, though. Especially because I wouldn't call that their forté.

We had no idea who these little girls were, but they were friendly and they obviously wanted to play with the boys. And they REALLY wanted to ride on our sleds.

It's hard to tell, but I think they had a good time.

The kids did well taking turns ... although the afternoon wasn't without its arguments.

One thing I can always count on is that if something seems Perfectly Fine, Nick will find a way to take it up a notch. LIKE SO.

It wasn't until I got to the third picture in this series featuring Nathaniel ...

that I noticed ...

... that Amelia was in the sled with him. She definitely didn't want to be left out.

It was a full day. It was a good day.

One I wouldn't mind repeating.

Apr 14, 2014

#twittersupperclub never disappoints

It's been a while since we went, but with all of my Disney posts, I fell behind. Apologies to Steph and the rest of the #twittersupperclub crowd!

Stephanie and Tadd kindly offered to host another evening for our motley crew (you can read about our first two outings here and here if you missed them), and of course we couldn't get there fast enough. If you've ever made one of Steph's recipes, you know that any meal she makes is NOT to be missed.

When we walked in, I handed Steph her hostess gift, a bottle of pinot grigio (her favorite), which she promptly stuck in the fridge. Then she pulled out a box of pinot and offered me a glass. Did I expect a box of wine at Plain Chicken's house? NO I DID NOT.

Was it surprisingly delicious? YES IT WAS.

Grumpy Cat and I helped drain it in a matter of ... not a very long time.

Of course she had prepared her famous Crack Dip. Y'all. If you haven't had the Crack Dip, you MUST make it. I don't care if you have an occasion or not. It's four ingredients plus Fritos. YOU DON'T NEED AN OCCASION.

Between the appetizers and the meal, I insisted we take pictures in the living room. I'm annoying like that.

I'm sure none of them would use that word.

Well. Maybe Jamie would.

So this is Steph, Jamie, me and Robin.

Then I took a picture of the guys. And I asked, "Why are you all standing there like you're in the Chamber of Commerce?"

I told them they had to look LIKE THEY'VE ACTUALLY MET EACH OTHER BEFORE. So they tried again.

They passed. I allowed us to move on to supper.

Tadd grilled the most magnificent ... filets? I am totally clueless about beef. I DO KNOW THIS WAS BEEF, NOT PORK. It was definitely beef. And it was great. I am 98% sure these are filets. Right now 99% of you are screaming at your laptop screens, "THESE ARE FILETS, YOU DORK!"

Steph put together a lovely green salad, her Italian Green Beans, and an amazing corn pudding.

As if that wasn't enough, she topped it off with homemade rolls and TO-DIE-FOR cinnamon honey butter.

So the food was nothing to sneeze at, of course, but the fellowship was -- as always -- an equal highlight of the night.

These friends I met on the Internet who have become dear friends in real life ... well, they're just really special to me.

I love to get together with them and laugh until my sides and throat hurt. Never you mind that you have to practically ROLL me and Grayson out of the house at midnight because we're so full we might burst.

Blame The Chef and her menu that just. won't. quit.

Behold the Chocolate Cherry Cake:

And -- my newest love -- the Butterfinger Cake:

But look. Ima warn you about this Butterfinger Cake: It's ridiculously easy to make, but if you make it, you'll eat it. ALL OF IT. Trust me on this.

So anyway, after we all ate that huge meal, Steph brought out those two desserts.

And forced each of us to take a piece of BOTH of them. Yes, at gunpoint.

After we were all so full we felt sick, people started whipping out gifts. I LOVE GIFTS!

I hadn't taken any, mind you, other than the wine for Tadd and Stephanie, but still.

Robin brought cute little bags with our Twitter handles printed right on them ...

... and inside them she'd tucked custom T-shirts with our Twitter handles on the front and #twittersupperclub on the back. Adorable!

(Robin designs custom shirts, cups and all sorts of cute stuff through her shop, Blueberry Hill Handmade. You can check out her Facebook page here.)

Patrick brought us a package of yummy Penzeys Spices:

And Jamie brought special #twittersupperclub cakepops. An embarrassment of riches, it was.

Finally, as we were on our way out the door -- way too late, I might add; we always overstay because we have such a great time -- Stephanie sent us away with a loaf of her delicious homemade bread and a jar of that sinful cinnamon honey butter.

I must be living right, Internet, to have landed among these folks. Not to mention that butter.
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