Sunday, August 25, 2013

Happy Birthday Day To Me!

If you know me well, you know I love my birthday. Beyond love....It's like a national holiday for me. And my good friends know this. For the past 3 years, this has been Adult Camping Weekend (ACW)...when we camp with 2 of our couple friends in Truro. We go out to dinner, go the beach a lot, have some cake, dance on the beach, and just relax in general. Unfortunately for us, our friends' kids are older and this year, they had to chose between ACW and bringing their kids to college. And they chose college. Whatever. Not to be deterred, Tim and I decided to camp this weekend anyways. It was my birthday afterall. We asked the kids to come and after rounds of "Do you want us to go?" and "Do we have to go?" we decided it would be best to part ways and spend the weekend apart. Do I want you complaining the whole time and asking when we can go home? Feel free to choose your grandparents over me. I'm cool with that. On Friday, we met my Mom and dropped off Mimi who had just made the JUNIOR VARSITY field hockey team! She was just happy that the 9th grade was a no-cut team and then she made the JV team. I'm a little proud...I'll admit it! So, we dropped her off and headed off to Truro. We got down around 7, set up, and then enjoyed a relaxing night in the camper. We had dinner - that I made and just heated up - had some wine, and chatted for a few hours. The next morning it was up at 7 to start the day! We had planned on taking a walk to the beach but instead we had breakfast and hit a few yard sales. Each time we go down, we try to drive around and explore the town because our ultimate goal is to buy a cottage down there some day. Some day. And some day we will come across a cottage for sale for $5. I'm pretty sure that's going to happen. It was an absolutely gorgeous weekend and we just literally sat and read for hours. Ok....we might have napped, we might have had lunch, we might have had happy hour, but all in all we had such a great day. I even saw a whale! It breached right off the beach. Amazing! On Saturday night, we went out for dinner. We thought we would hop around to a few places for some after dinner drinks but honestly after dinner we were ready for our pj's. Of course we ended up playing Rummy til midnight (I'm pretty sure Timmy cheats...) and just hanging out. Very relaxing night. On Sunday, we got up early for our beach walk and then headed back to pack up the camper. Then it was off to pick up the kids and head home. Everyone, from my kids to my parents, were sad to see the summer coming to a close. We still have next weekend but this weekend, it started to hit home. Speaking of home, when I got home, I was greeted with a birthday dinner with my good friends Ann & Adam and Cori & Scott...our ACW friends. They asked what restaurant I wanted to go to and I said I just wanted to hang out at someone's pool and relax. It took them awhile to realize I really meant that but honestly, I just love to hang out with my friends, I don't care where, and laugh and enjoy each other's company. And that is just what we did! Ann has a beautiful pool and she set up a table alongside the pool with candles for dinner. SO adorable! And we had my favorite and Annie's chopped salad. Perhaps the best thing was that Adam, Ann's husband and Tim's childhood friend, made me a homemade crown to wear during dinner. I'm going to be honest...I love a good crown. But one that my great friend made with markers and duct tape? Even better! I wore it proudly. There is something to be said about being loved on your birthday. The idea that people think about you, that they are excited to be amongst the first to wish you happy birthday, and the idea of a day in time dedicated to you. I love everything about it. Tim gave me presents from Friday night to Sunday morning. My friends texted and called me. Annie hosted a poolside, beautiful dinner, and I got a homemade crown. Oh yeah....I'll take the attention and love it. And I'll give it back to you on your birthday, believe me. Adam asked me tonight if I will get tired of my birthday when I'm older and just want to pass the time quietly. It was one of those moments when you hear the tires squeal to a stop. Stop loving my birthday?! Stop wishing that everyone fawned over me for a whole day?! Never!! I don't care how old I am....keeping loving me on my birthday, please! Thanks to everyone for their birthday wishes! I loved every single second of my birthday today! You made it a great day for me!

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Four Wheelin' with Princesses

Last week was Mimi's 14th birthday. Gasp! I seriously don't know how fourteen years have gone by. It seems like just yesterday she was hopping and skipping alongside me with her little page boy hair cut. Sigh. Somehow at work the other day we got on the subject of kid's birthdays and the parents with younger kids were lamenting how out of control parties have become. Parents are spending $500-$1000 on 3-year old birthday parties. Whoever you are, stop doing that. You are CRAY-ZEE. Growing up, my birthday, every year, consisted of me and my 2 boy cousins celebrating together. We all had birthdays 5 days apart so we got one cake with our 3 names on it. We always had a family bbq at my cousin Karen's house and many times we ended with a family wiffle ball game. I always remember it being very fun, and I never remember feeling like I was being short changed. Times have changed though and even when my kids were growing up, parents were already out of control. I have always loved planning and having the kids birthdays at our house. I'm a party planner at heart so their birthdays have always been so fun. One year for Jack's birthday...he must have been 5 or 6, we had just moved into our house and we had a mound of dirt in the front yard, because we had no money to put in a lawn. Well, the mound was a boy's dream and Jack was out there every day playing with his trucks on it. I decided to embrace the mound and we had a four-wheeling birthday party. Everyone brought their motorized little four-wheel drive/cars and we had extras for those that didn't have them. We spray painted a course in orange in the dirt, turned on the hose to make some mud puddles, and put a few giant plastic alligators in the "lakes". It was a huge hit but let's just say that the Mom's that had their little girls in white wasn't as much of a hit...for the Mom's. I made a homemade, imperfect chocolate cake covered in oreo crumbs for dirt and I topped it with matchbox cars. Jackie loved it! Mimi wanted a princess party for her 5th birthday, of course. So, we found a giant box and spray painted it silver and spent a weekend making a castle. I laid out a red long tablecloth for the runner and as the "princesses" arrived, they walked the red carpet, through the castle doors, and promptly went upstairs for their make overs. We did their hair, nails, and due to Mimi's extensive princess costume collection, everyone got dressed in a princess gown. Meanwhile the boys got swords and knight helmets and then with the adults gathered around each Prince & Princess came down the stairs for their grand entrance. We even played pin the tail on the toad. It was so cute! One year for Mimi we had a tea party on the town common and all the girls wore old lady hats that I found at a thrift shop and the boys got top hats. Another year for Jack we used the local baseball field and had a wiffle ball game and instead of a cake I had the ice cream man come. Silly little fun things that don't cost a lot but the kids still remember to this day. The kids are too old for parties now...I stopped them when they turned double digits (10), but they still get to do something with a friend or two. This year Mimi decided she wanted to share her favorite place, Cape Cod, with a few friends. My in-laws were so nice to let us use their house, especially considering it was 6 14-year olds and they weren't even going to be home for most of it. I picked them all up early in the morning and we drove to the Cape where Tim's parents were waiting for us at the marina to give us a boat ride down Bass River. This happens to be one of my favorite things to do each year so I was happy too. My mother in law had made a fruit platter for the girls and they munched on that while they cruised along looking at the houses and waving to everyone that went by. After that it was back to my in-laws where the girls had "chopped salads". They had put their order in the night before so I had an individual salad waiting for everyone. Then they swam and played on the beach for awhile, before deciding to play a few games on the deck. In the afternoon, I took them all out mini golfing and for ice cream. Then it was back to hang out and get ready for our "fancy" dinner. I guess they all thought it was fancy because I used a table cloth and they had candles and flowers? They all had Mimi's favorite meal - steak and twice baked potatoes. Later we had cake - Mimi had requested a ombre cake. I had no idea what that even was but apparently each layer of the cake is a slightly different shade of the same or different colors. Of course hers was 2 shades of green and 2 shades of pink, with white frosting in between. Thanks Pinterest! Later in the evening the munchies hit and I was ready with sour patch worms, Swedish fish, m&m's, and various other sugary treats. I thought I was in for a late night but they all went to bed at 11:30. Impressive. The next day we had to go back home early because Mimi & I had to turn around and go back to the Cape for a family party. Not fun, especially on Saturday which is the Cape's main changeover day for rentals. For breakfast I went out and got munchkins but set them up all cute on the table with waters and flowers...again I heard "What a fancy breakfast!" Yep....made 'em myself. I love when I don't have to work too hard to impress. I wish they were still having their little kid birthday parties, but I'll take what I can get, even if it is putting munchkins out with flowers.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

The Ride Home

Well, I only have a few things to say about the ride home. First, I saw a Grammy bottle feeding her granddaughters bottles of milk at a rest area bathroom. She was holding the bottles high and away from her. The girls were doing their best to reach them. I'm not was like she was feeding orphaned goats or calves. Did I mention they were teenagers? Kidding....but they could have been...they were WAY too old to be drinking bottles. I'm guessing they were about 4&6. I was dumbfounded and unable to hide my poker face. I literally caught myself with my mouth hanging open and staring. I just didn't get it. I was so close to sitting down and asking Grammy a few questions but I could feel my kids silently praying "Please don't say anything....please..." The only other thing worthy to note is that our AC decided not to work on the way home....from the hot South. well, let me be did work great in the back for the kids...and it did work great on our great in fact that I'm nursing hypothermia on my feet...and heat stroke on the top. I suffered from a temperature mullet. The kids were so cold that they had blankets I had to turn it off...but then the smell of their stinky teenage bodies that hadn't showered since Friday was too much to bear. It was not pretty in our car. We finally got home around 1:00 pm today...and then proceeded to unpack the car and the camper for 2 hours. Then it was off to the grocery, do laundry (and it's 10 pm and the laundry is still going), then make dinner, clean up, and finally at 8 pm we sat down. Thanks to Pinterest, we started a "2013 Jar" where we write down highlights from the year and put it in a jar. Then on New Years Eve we are going to read all our favorite things that happened throughout the year. After dinner, we all wrote down our favorite memories from the week and sealed them up in the jar. Can't wait to read what everyone wrote although I'm pretty sure paddle boarding ranked the highest for most. We talked about what everyone was most looking forward to when they got home. The kids both said sleeping in their own beds. They are teenagers....they love to sleep. I was most excited to see the kitties. Tim was most excited to shower in his own bathroom. Admittedly, we were all looking forward to showering. And then I said I missed camping already and Tim agreed. The kids....not so much. And the Jack said (like a drone) " But when we get older we will appreciate these trips..." Yes, you will. I know it's hard to believe now. We told them our idea for next year, which we came up with on the 18-hour trek home...a 2-week trip with multiple stops along the Key West. I could see the travel glint in their eyes...or maybe they were tears of fear...?

Saturday, August 3, 2013

SUP'in With Gators

On our last day of vacation, we usually reserve it for doing all the things again that we liked during the week. That was true for our last day yesterday but we also had one thing left to do on our list that we hadn't gotten to yet - stand up paddle boarding (SUP). we have all been wanting to try it, me especially, that is until I saw a baby alligator floating in the river by a place that we had lunch. This was the second time we had encountered alligators or warnings to stay away from water because of them while on our trip. I immediately had fears of falling off my paddle board and being drowned in a death roll by a gigantic alligator. Not a pretty way to end vacation...or my life. So, truth be told I was kinda putting it off hoping the kids wouldn't ask about it again...but it just made them ask "When can we go?" even more. I finally made the call for a reservation on all the info...and then I ended with "I know this may seem like a crazy question but I'm not from around here...are there any alligators in the water we will be paddle boarding in?" The guy didn't even skip a beat or laugh...he just said "I one wants to be eaten by a giant lizard on vacation....but no, this is salt water and our winters are too cold to attract salt water crocodiles." Uhm...what about your summers?? Are they warm enough? But I didn't push it. So, off we went yesterday bright and early to the Intracoastal Waterway in Wrightsville Beach, NC. They said it was best to go early in the day before the winds pick up and your body acts as a giant sail. Oh great. Before we got going, the guy that got us going gave us a few pointers like, "These boards are fiberglass so try not to hit any pilings or docks with them." We were in an area with a lot of docks and boats so this seemed like good advice. off we went! Tim and Mimi took right off across the water to explore the marsh and Jack and I immediately ran into the dock and some pilings. Right before we took off, the guy said "if you start to panic for any reason, just sit down and paddle." so, just before I hit the piling I sat down and was able to just gently nudge into it. two seconds in and I was panicking. Then I realized I was in knee height water and I could just stand up and restart myself. So embarrassing. My biggest fear with this, other than getting eaten by alligators, was not being able to balance on the board and constantly falling off. Turns out that wasn't an issue at was trying to steer in the current. By this point, Jack had been able to get himself going and was halfway across the water with Tim and Mimi. I could not get myself turned around for the life of me and was headed in a completely different location. I panicked for a few minutes and then decided the kids were fine with Tim and I would just do my own thing. It was actually just survival at this point so I went with it. I was getting the hang of it, staying fairly close to the marina when all of a sudden, what appeared to be a giant fish head appeared next to me. I'll admit it....I squealed a bit and then said out loud to myself "What is that.," it was not a fish but rather a sea turtle coming by to say hi! It was awesome! He literally looked at me,swam next to me for a few seconds, and then went back down. It totally made my day and the whole experience worth it. But then a speeding boat had to go by and ruin all that. Imagine the wake a boat makes as it goes by. Now imagine being on a paddle board, trying to stand up, while that wake goes by. I almost went down but didn't. Instead I steered into the space between two docks because it was easier than getting knocked over. I ended up back on the beach and had to paddle back out. That's when I saw a water ski boat out by Tim and the kids. I figured it wouldn't be pretty for them but they just took a break and sat on their boards til it moved on. Smart. By this time I was making my way back to the starting place, assuming our hour was almost up. When I reached the shore the woman at the desk said "Done already?" I asked "How long did I last?" she said "You did good! About 35 minutes" It was at that point I got the sense they all had bet how long I would last out there. I decided to just call it a day and wait for everyone to come back in. While I was waiting a group of 5 "young" people went out....and two of the guys couldn't stay on the boards to save their lives. On one hand, I was like "I totally feel for you" and on the other hand I was so grateful I hadn't done that. It's a great activity and I would totally do it again....on glassine water with no boats, but it is a little harder than you think. The rest of our day was filled with the beach, the pool, getting ready for our trek back starting this morning, and just enjoying our last night together by playing a few games and having some laughs. Wish us no traffic jams!