Poor Big-O.

Yesterday was his birthday, and he was excited for his party: A sleepover with his best buddies in a big tent in our living room. Alas, it was not to be.

The day started off just fine – our now eight-year-old(!) popped out of bed bright and early and ran into our room with his brother. After birthday hugs and a present from his mom and dad, Big-O got himself changed and ready for brunch. He wanted to go “someplace new,” so we decided to trek into the hills of Woodside for grub at Alice’s.

Tucked among the redwoods high above the Silicon Valley, Alice’s has been serving casual eats since the 1960s. (The building that houses the restaurant, however, has been around since the early 1900, when it was a general store that supplied the logging industry.)


In the restaurant’s cozy dining room, we met up with Sidney, Jory, and little M, and the seven of us celebrated Big-O’s birthday over eggs and bacon…except for me, ‘cause I was in the mood for a burger. I mean, how can you pass up a menu item called a “Hog Burger”? Even without the buns, the thing was huge: two sirloin patties topped with avocado, grilled onions, and waaaay more cheddar cheese than anticipated.

Plus, the side order of sweet potato fries was pretty great.

Big-O had a good time, too, though he seemed a little tired. (Foreshadowing!)

After our bellies were full, we drove to Zest Bakery in San Carlos to pick up dessert for the birthday boy’s bash. He’d requested a chocolate bundt cake, and I knew just the place.

Zest is a terrific gluten-free bakery that whips up all of its goodies from scratch, and it certainly didn’t disappoint: Big-O’s cake looked delicious.

But when we got home, Big-O told us he was tired, and volunteered to take a nap before his party. Henry and I exchanged looks – this kid hasn’t napped since he was three – but we didn’t mind having a couple of extra hours to get ready for the sleepover party (with the assistance of Lil-O and his stuffed cat.)

An hour-and-a-half before the guests were set to arrive, Big-O emerged from his room, flushed and feverish. Uh, oh.

“I’m okay, I’m okay!” he protested. “I can take some medicine and I’ll be fine!”

We explained that he might feel better, but he’s contagious, and his friends wouldn’t be very happy if he got them sick. I called our guests’ parents to tell them that the party was postponed. Henry held Big-O as he sobbed.

After dinner (just leftovers from the night before, so I didn’t snap photos), Big-O was feeling well enough for some cake. His brother handed him a party hat, and we sang “Happy Birthday” twice for good measure.

At last, we coaxed a smile out of him.

Happy birthday, big guy. We love you very much.

About Michelle Tam

Hello! My name is Michelle Tam, and I love to eat. I think about food all the time. It borders on obsession. I’ve always loved the sights and smells of the kitchen. My mother was (and is) an excellent cook, and as a kid, I was her little shadow as she prepared supper each night. From her, I gained a deep, abiding love for magically transforming pantry items into mouth-watering family meals.

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