Wow, this past week has been hectic. Tall Mountain was busy conference-hopping last weekend and shooting the next film until late at night most nights this past week. Back on the home-front, it was survival mode for this 23-week pregnant mama, dealing with a strong-willed munchkin and his scattered toys and far-flung food late into the evenings. So, at long last, here are a few lines and some photos about my birthday weekend.
For my birthday, Ayo happily flopped into our French sitter’s gentle arms and we went out for sushi à deux. (Technically, à trois!) It was my first time visiting this understated sushi restaurant, that you could quite easily drive past. Izakaya Den is attached to another sushi place, with minuscule black signage etched into the grey brick-wall. We sat upstairs in what looked like an upscale fish market and caught the tail end of happy hour, pretending we were carefree DINKs. The elaborate interior design with caviar-incrusted counters and circular wooden cut-out ceiling hangings made up for the simple first-impressions. It was such a beautiful place.
We both felt like we hadn’t seen so much design detail in a restaurant since Asia, where labor costs aren’t so prohibitive. As it started to sprinkle into the restaurant on this warm summer evening, we watched the massive glass roof close above our heads. At last, I managed to peel my eyes away from the decor details to discover the overwhelming menu. Now, while TM and I love experiencing all types of fresh, world-class food, we are pretty much sushi illiterate. So, for us, the words on the menu almost felt like a new language. Thankfully, our waiter was able to help us find the gems flown in from all over the world, including the catch of the day arriving no later than 24 hours after being caught off the coast of Japan! We tasted a deep and earthy miso soup and a few truly exquisite sashimi dishes that were straight out of the documentary film Jiro Dreams of Sushi. The fresh fish melted in our mouths, dancing around to the delicate sauce accompaniments, followed by a symphony of nigiri, then a crispy tuna and jalapeno creation on a bed of crispy rice topped with eel sauce (see below), a small selection of rolls (apparently a more pedestrian choice) and ending with the most stunning mochi trio you could imagine: mango, green tea and red bean.
Instead of resting our full bellies on a couch or collapsing in bed after paying the babysitter, we continued to prepare for our camping trip with mamabud and family. We joined them for only one night due to TM’s work commitments on Saturday morning and Sunday afternoon. Sis puts it well that kids have no idea how much work goes into family camping until they have done it themselves! (Insert a shout-out to ma’ and pa’ for all those fun camping trips!) On hindsight, we should have planned to go for at least two nights as the workload is almost the same for one or for several nights spent in the woods. Think about it. Regardless, we enjoyed switching off in the great outdoors, 3000m above sea level, far from any cellphone reception tower.
Our favorite memory was chatting around the campfire with kids sleeping soundly in our tents…and then discovering the most star-filled sky we have ever seen in our lives. What a sight to behold! We also loved waking up to the sound of rain, to unending toddler snuggles (see picture below) and to freshly roasted Yemeni coffee brewed by my brother. They sure know how to camp right! They even made me a birthday cake to enjoy after our pasta salad, marinated grilled chicken and stuffed portobello mushrooms. Not too shabby. It was also fun to watch Ayo and his youngest cousin roll around in the dirt, mostly uninhibited (with exception for the area around the hot fire). Saddest memory was watching my niece sit still the whole time, feeling miserable with an evil stomach-bug. Bleh!
Overall, my boys rested well in our tent, which was a gift. Ayo did fairly well in our tent after being rocked to sleep by his caring Tia. I can’t say the night was very restful as far as I was concerned, but I was prepared for this. We slept right next to a peaceful creek…that made me want to go to the bathroom all night. Then, I was afraid my kid would freeze to death, so checked on him all night long. He was obviously too busy making sudden loud noises throughout the night, giggling or saying something to be cold. Strangely, he was clearly still sleeping. (Imagine if I did that all night, you’d think I was totally looney!) I was yanked out of my measly slumber at least 12 times only to find him cozy and happily resting. I remember finally dozing and finding Ayo with his head stuffed inside a sleeping bag! Aghast, I forcefully yanked the bag away so he could breathe…only to discover I had my bearings all wrong. “Everything ok, hun?” TM said as I uncovered his face. Oops!
We left the campsite wondering why we don’t get out into the mountains more often. Maybe it is because life just gets busy if you don’t make time for such things? We changed one last diaper and then raced down the mountain to make it in time for a slew of Sunday meetings TM had downtown with a few organizations interested in investing in this new film.
Racing into the garage, we rapidly rid our car of campfire smelling items. TM showered, put on business clothes and ran back out the door whilst I bathed a really dirty boy and aired out the smelly gear, realizing once more, how much work goes into a camping ordeal. Also, realizing that it is worth every hour spent on prep and clean up to get out there with your family, disconnect from everything and listen to the rain, watch the stars and spend time with people you love!
A perfect birthday weekend.