Quite a lot has happened in the last couple weeks. So I will simply itemize as I go…

  1. Our son celebrated his third birthday (wow, only three years on Earth with so much learned and so much changed). He’s obsessed with Angry Birds at the moment, so it was AB themed with matching balloons and cake decorations. Since we’re between posts, we just had a small family affair at grandma and grandpa’s house, and he obviously blew through his afternoon nap since he was way too excited to sleep. But he seemed thrilled with the gifts and the cake and the attention. And he only once tried to bite the cake with no hands when no one was looking…shades of his first birthday when he planted his face into it and began to chew. 🙂
  2. I finished two weeks of Advanced Intensive European Area Studies, which was absolutely fantastic. One snarky friend had asked if I was learning to drink tea properly, but it was way cooler than that (although an etiquette class would be fun too). We spent two weeks listening to subject matter experts, who were everything from professors at Georgetown to international newspaper correspondents to directors of DC think tanks, as well as the awesome faculty of FSI, tell us all about Europe from medieval history to future of the European Union. I was so very impressed. If you’re a gov’t employee and have the opportunity, I highly recommend any of the intensive area studies classes. I hear the ones that are mixed in with language study are a little less dynamic.
  3. We squeezed in a few more DC restaurants with a beverage theme, including the Mad Fox Brewing Company and the Green Dragon Pub. The Green Dragon is, you guessed it, a hobbit themed pub attached to the Bilbo Baggins Global Restaurant in Alexandria. It’s been there for over 30 years and has a ridiculously massive beer menu (in a good way), not to mention great food. We’re a fan of nitrogen brewing (small bubbles are so much smoother), so we started out with a Victory Irish Stout and an Old Speckled Hen, and snacked on some Buttermilk Fried Jumbo Oysters served with a Basil-lime aioli, Portobello Mushroom Cap & Brie cheese served warm with housemade Basil pesto & sundried tomato tapenade, Duck and Shiitake Spring Rolls, sweet Ponzu and mango mustard sauces. From there we shared The Shire pizza with shredded pulled pork, caramelized onions, parmesan, goat cheese & BBQ sauce. And we couldn’t resist topping it all off with a small mead tasting. So we shared a glass of Hopped Blueberry Maple (14.6% alcohol) and a glass of Vanilla Bean (18%). The blueberry tasted a bit like watery red wine, and the vanilla bean was similar to port. But it all made for a great experience…we even picked up a couple souvenir glasses.
  4.  We went to the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History and got a tour of the Springfield Volunteer Fire Department. They were both very cool and very big hits with our son.  🙂
  5. And finally, we managed to get our cat’s US and UK vet certificates that now have to be stamped by the USDA in Richmond. We were also reminded that it’s actually somewhat rare to have a 15-lb female orange-and-white tabby. Most of them are male for some reason.

How’s that for a busy couple of weeks?!?