My hubby and I did the empty nester whirlwind tour this weekend. We caught up with three Parker kids and spouses at granddaughter Mia Parker’s second birthday party on Saturday in Erie. That’s the first time all three of the Parker boys have been together with us in a long time.
Mia calls me Pammy, and it makes her laugh. It also rhymes with lambie (she got a stuffed lamb) and jammies — she got plenty of those, too.
After birthday cake, we took off for Iron Bridge Inn on Route 19 in Mercer for dinner with my sister, Patti, and her husband, John. This place is a favorite for them. We spent a lovely evening at John and Pat’s scenic home a few miles away. It has one of the prettiest farmland views you could ever find when the sun comes up.
Then, we navigated to the ‘Burgh to meet daughter Kelly and her boyfriend, Nick, for a view of Pittsburgh from Mount Washington and a walk through the strip district of Pittsburgh, which is something I just love. We bought tasty popcorn from Pittsburgh Popcorn Factory and stopped for anything Steeler, Pirates or Penguins. I have the song “Here We Go, Steelers” stuck in my head. Mia now has a Steelers’ cheerleader outfit and Steelers’ socks. Patti found them. I don’t know if Mia knows the Steelers’ song, but she has mastered cheering, “Go Blue” because “Papa,” my hubby, taught her that in honor of McDowell.
We ate at Lidia’s — Lidia Bastianich of PBS fame. We met Lidia a few years ago for a Lake Erie LifeStyle story. She is warm and wonderful, and the food is outstanding. This is a terrific find in the strip district. Lidia has four restaurants in New York City and another in Kansas City. We did the brunch — $28 per person. It starts with an included cocktail — mimosa for me. It includes scones — I don’t usually like scones, but these are Lidia’s scones — ahh and yumm. You get trips to the buffet where frittata and salads only Lidia could make rest. Then you get an entree. I chose unlimited pasta servings of a pasta trio (Nick did, too), and the best one was melt-in-your-mouth ravioli — the homemade kind I’ve only ever tasted at Tarsitano’s (but they don’t have that menu anymore.)
The ravs were filled with veal, pork and sausage in a light oil and garlic flavoring. My hubby had a steak. My sister had the chicken, and Kelly had swordfish. Yumm. The dessert table had a light custard type selection, cherry and chocolate concoction, tiramisu, almond bread and assorted cookies. We polished off the trip off with a walk through Phipps Conservatory, and it was beautiful. Gardens, gardens and more gardens with stained glass mosaics and other incredible art that depict a lot of recognizable Pittsburgh scenes. The ride to Oakland brought back memories of all the times we had visited and moved Kelly at Pitt.
We also ran into Erieites. Dan and Kathy Dahlkemper were at Phipps, and Daniel Meyer was in one of the Italian markets in the Strip.
We missed only two kids this weekend, but I had bonded with my youngest son, Ryan, at the Emergency Room on Thursday night. He played basketball and his good defense was rewarded with a head to the lip, a few stitches and a nice encounter with all the folks at UPMC Hamot. When the kids were younger, we were regulars at both hospitals and all the doc in the boxes. It’s been a while. I reminded Ryan we can bond in ways that do not include a $100 copay.
We missed my oldest son Howie this weekend, but since he is in Virginia Beach — that’s a tough weekend trip without a plane ticket. He turns 27 this week. Where did that time go? Which brings me back to the empty nester thing. Never in all those years of raising kids could we have just packed up and headed South. It would have required a network of help for sports practices, work schedules, and we’d have missed a few games or other activities. It was a nice trip, and these empty nesters need naps.