monday mash up, birthday weekend edition

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1. Birthday cupcake, later eaten by the dastardly Violet. Bad dog! | 2. Cheasapeake Bay Bridge | 3. One of my favorite bridges | 4. Eastern Shore church | 5. Philadelphia Skyline | 6. Our room number AND Callum's birth weight! | 7. Cal reading all your sweet comments on his birthday blog post | 8. Dinner at the Midtown Continental | 9. Coffee | 10. Rittenhouse Square | 11. Liberty Bell! | 12. Independence Hall | 13. A little piece of Paris in the middle of Philadelphia | 14. Phillies Game | 15. The gang, assembled | 16. Rain out, :( | 17. Fitz does tricks! | 18. Brunch with friends.

Thirteen is a biggie, isn't it? For a long while, our plan for Callum's birthday was to try to do something that he really loved. Something BIG. What more would our baseball-loving boy want to do than to see his beloved team in their home ballpark? Not much, we figured. So on Friday morning, we brought a cupcake up to his room and brought along the dogs to sing "Happy Birthday." In his card we asked if he might want to go to a game the next night. That question was deliberately baffling, so we had him read a birthday email from the lovely Erin that clarified "Hey! Let's go see the Phillies!" I'm not sure I've seen him smile so bright.

He had half a day at school, so there was still a lot of rushing around, during which Violet (with, we think, Lucy as an accomplice) ate that birthday cupcake. Bad dog! That cupcake was as big as her head!

But then noon came and out from school he bolted, grin wide as the world, and we were off. The drive from our house to Philadelphia takes just over five hours and we travel up the Eastern Shore of Virginia and Maryland. It's beautiful. Our true starting point is the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel, which is a 20-mile long bridge tunnel system crossing the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay. It's considered one of the Seven Engineering Wonders of the World. I'll have more photos on Wednesday, but I just love it and love this drive.

We stayed at the Radisson Warwick in Rittenhouse Square, which made for easy walking everywhere. On Friday night we met Erin for an amazing birthday dinner at the Continental Midtown. If Callum loves anything as much as the Phillies, it's staying at nice hotels and eating in nice restaurants (are we raising him right or wrong?!), so this felt like the start to a perfect birthday weekend.

Saturday was very patriotic. We hit the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall, the real birthplace of our country. And can I just pause for a moment and give a shoutout to the park rangers in our national parks and at our national monuments? Most recently we've been at Fort Sumter and Independence Hall, and they've been simply amazing. Our ranger this weekend pointed out that the founding fathers of our country labored in a small room with windows sealed shut (so the press couldn't snoop!) in the heat of summer and STILL managed to compromise. Our politicians these days could do well to take a lesson.

After Indepencene Hall, we traveled across the ocean to France where we had an amazing lunch at Parc with Erin and Boyfriend, proof positive that he does exist, he's just as delightful as you'd imagine (as is she, of course), and she really does love France. Parc was amazing, lunch was amazing, we had so much to eat and talk about that afterwards we all needed naps.

And here our story turns tragic. Perhaps you've heard about the massive cold front and line of storms that traveled along the northeast? Tornadoes in NYC? Nasty weather in our nation's capital? Steady drizzly rain in Philadelphia? Yes. It started to rain right as we left the hotel and hopped the subway to the ball park and was drizzly when we got there. As long as they didn't call the game, we stayed there, and the only bonus was that our seats were under cover (good job Erin!), but it didn't go well. We had some beer and some cheesesteaks and we watched the drizzle fall. After a few hours, that was that. Game called due to rain. Cal was devastated. We were all heartbroken for him. He was worried that he'd made a fool out of himself in front of Erin and Boyfriend, but oh, Little Man. Sometimes 13 is still a kid. I feel weepy simply writing this.

On Sunday, Erin and Boyfriend invited us to a simply amazing brunch with fresh New Jersey tomatoes and a gorgeous quiche and bagels and delicious coffee...and of course the incomparable Fitz. Fitz really felt like we'd brought him a boy for a present, and he was quite pleased with us. He thinks we can come and visit any time.

And we plan to go back. I'll download my photos and write more about Philadelphia for Wednesday, but we had an amazing weekend, despite the sad finale. It's such a quick trip and Callum and Neel both love it so. We're working out what to do about the missed game, but the season is short at this point. I just hate to see my sweet boy so sad. And all of your comments over the weekend meant so much to him! He even got a tweet (on my feed) from an ESPN analyst that he loves! All was not lost, not by any means. Thirteen is a biggie, you know. xo