Celebrating my birthday in Italy.

It sounded wonderful, even in the abstract. And while I missed celebrating with my friends back home, I have to say that it was one of the nicest birthdays I’ve ever had!

In the morning, I met one of my sister’s dearest childhood friends for coffee. KC lives in London but was in Rome for the weekend. Talking with KC made me feel really happy because she knew every member of my family well when I was growing up. Sometimes birthdays are hard for me because they highlight the fact that all of the members of my childhood family have passed away. But reminiscing with KC about how great they were brought a lovely warmth to a chilly (for Rome) morning.

The afternoon was also quite mellow. I tried to shop (without success – I find the stores in our neighborhood intimidating), and had a good Skype with my 2nd year grad students back home. Then the real fun began! The kids had been very secretive about my birthday. They’d let on that they had some sort of surprise in store for me. And what a surprise it was! The kids wrote and performed a 10 verse song for my birthday, to the tune of Twinkle/ABCs. Here are two of my favorite verses:

Nell:

You always keep our laundry clean

‘cause none of us know how to work the laundry machine

You record the Packer games

Without you SkyTV would be really lame.

You will always pack a snack

And then carry it in your back-pack

Eli:

You make sure we’re never late

When we’re heading out for a date.

Making good hotel reser – vations for us

But not so much getting us through Rome on a bus.

You always like to carry a map

But also have an iphone in your lap.

After the musical interlude, we took my Aunt Lois and the kids to a restaurant in the neighborhood that we’ve been wanting to try but which has always been fully booked. It’s called Ad Hoc, and the food was spectacular! The starters included fried zucchini blossoms, which are a local favorite. But instead of being stuffed with fresh mozzarella and salted anchovies as usual, they were filled with wild mushrooms and other delectable veggies. For my main course, I asked which of the two roasted fish dishes were better, and they brought me a half portion of each – perfecto! The restaurant is known for its wines, and it’s still warm enough to enjoy crisp whites and prosecco. It was the perfect day and way to welcome a new year.

– Jenny

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