Last Sunday, my family and close friends gathered at Max’s Wine Dive to celebrate my 38th birthday. I had gone there with Layne and Crystal a few weeks back for drinks and for an informal book-group-type thing and really liked it (the cheese toast is full of YUM and of course, when I tried to make cheese toast at home, it came nowhere near the perfection at Max’s).

They actually opened the restaurant 15 minutes early for us, since we had 10 adults and 7 children ages 5 and under, which was a smart move on their part since wee ones can be a bit disruptive. As a side note, Matt and I were thrilled with how well our children behaved, especially Harrison, who was met with great temptation to act up and chose the high road.

Our service was pretty efficient; while the waitron wasn’t particularly warm or chatty, she did a great job of meeting our needs and making our mimosas bottomless. (How do you figure the Weight Watchers points of a mimosa that keeps refilling itself?)

I had the SXSW, jalapeno cheese grits topped with pulled pork. Very tasty and filling. I probably took a bit more than half of it home:

The SXSW, mimosa, Amber

Crystal and Cynthia had the deep fried eggs Benedict (!). I think they liked it, although the yolk looked pretty hard cooked, which I believe was a disappointment to those wanting a really good money shot of breaking into the egg:

Deep Fried Eggs Benedict

Abby had the Bananas Foster French Toast. I didn’t ask her how it was, but it looks tasty!

Bananas Foster French Toast

Amber had the breakfast burrito, which she described as “a brick.”

The breakfast burrito brick

Laurel and Lucinda split the yogurt and fruit plate. The vanilla mint yogurt was flecked with vanilla bean and was DELISH. I also ordered a red velvet pancake for Laurel; naturally, I stole a few bites and found it to be deep and chocolatey, if not a bit overcooked. Matt had the fried egg sandwich and said it was tasty, but could have used a lighter touch with the truffle oil. Layne had the house specialty, the fried chicken and waffles, and said it was pretty good. (I didn’t get any pictures of her sweet face, boo!)

The mimosas were just what the birthday fairy ordered.

But really, this post is not about the food we ate at Max’s that day. It’s about how lucky I feel to have been surrounded by all of these wonderful people at my birthday celebration. I complain a lot about being stuck at the kids’ table that is graduate school, about how little money I make, about how my writing career has stalled out due to the economy, about my attempts to control my weight, about many of life’s annoyances. But then I look at these pictures and see the faces of the people that I love and think about the people I love who weren’t able to be there that day and I think, I’m so glad I’m exactly where I am.

The Crestview Crew

Crystal, Cynthia, Lucinda

Laurel not loving the flash

The Miculeks, Matt and Harry

Crystal and Me

I’m so happy. I’m so grateful.

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