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August signifies two things: The impending return of school and my birthday. In fact, I don’t want to even think about the school year until I’ve enjoyed as much of my birthday as possible.

In keeping with our Safer-at-Home Summer, we rented the boat one last time and invited two young ladies to join us. As the day drew closer, I wondered how the day would unfold only because the forecast was grim. The threat of rain toggled between 50 and 80 percent all week, finally settling on a 100 percent chance of rain by Friday morning. I settled my mind by telling Chuck, “Even if we only get a few hours on the boat in the morning, it will have been worth it.”

Mercifully, it never rained a drop until that evening after we’d already gotten home.

We drove around a bit before dropping anchor at a sandbar. The kids floated around and enjoyed the shallow water while Chuck and I lounged on the boat. Going on a Friday meant the lake wasn’t overrun with people, thank goodness.

We hit up a second sandbar after lunch, where we all laid like slugs on floats.

It felt like we had the entire lake to ourselves, which wouldn’t have been the case had we rented on a Saturday. Thanks to the gorgeous weather and lovely company, I couldn’t have planned a better boat day. Before going back to the first sandbar, I gathered my people for a photo.

This photo shows you how shallow the sandbars are.

This guy right here:

He ended up being out of town on my actual birthday, but he never misses an opportunity to make me feel special. The boat was one thing, and then we went to dinner with Lesli and Jimmy the following night:

But he really knocked it out of the park with his actual gift:

MY HUSBAND bought me ACTUAL PROPS from my favorite television show of all time. I honestly couldn’t believe it. I don’t know in what season or episode Elizabeth Moss wore those earrings, but I’m going to spend the next few months rewatching Mad Men (for the umpteenth time) looking for them in every scene with Peggy.

I’ve been spoiled by friends and family with gifts and treats in the mail, and then I was so delighted to receive these English Garden flowers from Karin. Truly, I felt so loved all day and all week.

Even the sunset on my birthday was beautiful.

Mom’s birthday is a week before mine, so I must share the Treadway family photo we took with Becky over FaceTime:

School starts in less than two weeks, and I’m doing my best to manage my expectations. I so badly want everything to be normal, but I know that’s an impossibility right now. We’ll wear masks at our co-op and move as many assignments online as possible.

I hope we can meet in person all year long, but the reality is that we could very well move online entirely as the fall and winter months creep closer. No longer can we get away with a sniffly nose or occasional cough. Every symptom of potential illness, whether COVID-19, strep, or allergy, will be an anxiety ignitor. We may not be together in a classroom all semester, but I’ll take what I can get for now.

Despite the lovely birthday, this Dorothy meme accurately represents my feelings on just about everything else. Hang on tight, everyone!

Santa Fe with Michele

Earlier this year, Chuck started asking me what I wanted to do to celebrate turning 40 years old. Figuring that I wanted a party of some sort, he came back to that idea a few times – venues and guests lists. Nope, I reassured him. That’s not what I wanted. What I really wanted to was to go back to Amarillo and visit Michele

We met in 2009 when I responded to an ad for a features writer for the city’s magazine. We’d been freshly transplanted from North Georgia to the Texas panhandle, which meant I had given up my column of eight years in the Chattanooga Times Free Press. It was a natural thing to look for a job since homeschooling wasn’t on the horizon and the boys were approaching school age. When I interviewed with Michele, I felt an instant connection – not just that I wanted to work for her but that I wanted to be friends with her.

I was hired by March, and I knew right away that working at the Globe-News, specifically Amarillo Magazine, was going to help me adjust to the high plains, an area of the country unlike anywhere I’ve lived before. Michele became my boss and, soon after, my friend. She helped me find my way around Amarillo, helped me find a doctor, helped me navigate the school system, helped me feel not so lonely. 

Our mutual friend April picked me up from the airport! What a nice surprise!

Michele and I worked in sync and had a blast while doing so, but with much at stake for our family, I knew I couldn’t stay. We needed – and wanted – to move back home to Tennessee. So, three years after meeting Michele and enjoying every bit of my job as the features writer for Amarillo Magazine, I said goodbye.


The week before 40

I texted her in May or June (I can’t remember now) about visiting her during the summer. We wouldn’t stay in Amarillo, but I would fly there and we’d drive to Santa Fe, the best little retreat three and half hours from the panhandle. We used to run away to Santa Fe when we lived in Amarillo. In fact, my favorite camping trip ever was just north of the city at Hyde Memorial State Park.  We also spent the first Christmas without my mother-in-law in Santa Fe, an attempt at grieving and figuring out what happens to a family after the matriarch passes away. 

We settled on dates and I immediately starting looking forward to the trip. We moved away in 2011 but I went back there in 2014 – also for my birthday. That’s the last time Michele and I saw each other in person.

While I was eager for many things, the most important first thing I had to do upon arriving in Amarillo was meet Wilson F., Michele’s dog. 

The first night in Amarillo was relaxing, which set the tone for the next four days. We never moved too fast but that was intentionally.  We didn’t want to spill our wine.

Crush // Amarillo

Santa Fe

I didn’t take my camera on the trip so as to not distract myself from present company, but I snapped plenty of photos with my cell phone, which does a fine job of capturing things I don’t want to forget – like this place:

Las Palomas // Santa Fe

Our lodging for two nights was a delightful boutique hideaway near the main square, but that’s actually what every worthwhile thing is in Santa Fe – hideaways. Little restaurants and hotels are tucked away behind unsuspecting doors and corners. You have to take a chance on everything because facades are deceiving.

Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi

We had no agenda, other than to patronize the short list of shops I wanted to revisit – The Collected Works Bookstore & Coffeehouse, Double Take (the best consignment store I’ve ever known), and wherever the wine was good.

We returned to Amarillo Tuesday afternoon so I could catch the Wednesday morning flight home, assuring I could spend my actual birthday with Chuck and the boys. 

We grabbed dinner at 575 Pizzeria, a favorite of mine when I lived there. As a bonus, Andy Chase Cundiff was on the calendar to perform – another favorite – whose artwork currently hangs in my home office. He is one of the sweetest men I’ve ever known. (As a third bonus, the first song he sang was “Crazy Love” by Van Morrison, which is the song Chuck and I danced to at our wedding reception nearly 18 years ago. I wept.)

My dinner dates!

Thank you, Michele and Jerry, for being perfect hosts, and thank you, Amarillo, for welcoming this outsider. Thank you, Santa Fe, for being beautiful and inspiring, and thank you, boys (all five of you), for letting me get away for a few days.

And thank you, Wilson F., for sitting so perfectly for this photo:

Jeremy turns 14

Welp, I have a 14-year-old. Not sure how that happened, yet here we are. For his birthday, Jeremy wanted to gather a few friends to go go-carting. His actual birthday was on Friday, but we celebrated on Saturday. The day started with a big breakfast followed by his first soccer game of the season.

First, a little pre-game practice with Foster:

Ethan spent the weekend with us, and since he was born five hours after Jeremy, it was a double-birthday celebration. He really wanted to play soccer too. That kid came out of the womb an athlete.

The game went on and they tied 3-3. This photo characterizes Jeremy so well. The tongue is his expression of concentration and effort:

Once we got Noah, the group was complete, so we headed to the Nascar Speedpark to drop some cash and let the boys wear themselves out. I was the payer, the driver, and the photographer.

They played mini-golf but kept no score and followed no rules.

The game resembled hockey more than golf.

My child was at his happiest – surrounded by friends and being silly.

Noah’s side-eye is my favorite.

We left the park for pizza but returned by sundown for more racing and taking a turn on the rickety fair rides in the back.

Contemplating the Starship 3000…

Yep, they all went in…

As the night wound down, their level of fatigue increased. The park closed at 10 p.m., and we had been there since 4 p.m. How much longer could they go?

By 9:55 we left, but I got them to take one last photo:

Yep, they still had energy. In fact, after I collected devices and went to bed at 1:30 a.m., they stayed up playing hide and seek in a dark house for another hour.

Thanks to everyone who sent well wishes to Jeremy for his birthday. So far, 14 has been great.

Jackson turns 11

Jackson has been counting down to his eleventh birthday since the calendar turned to 2017. It’s fair to say he is obsessed with it, even beyond the general obsession kids feel about their birthdays. Yes, it’s about gifts and special food and all the extra attention, but it’s about that deeper feeling – that you are so well-loved that an entire day is designed to celebrate YOU.

Instead of a big party, which we did last year for his tenth, we kept it low-key and all in the family. He chose an ice cream cake from Dairy Queen (his request) and I made egg salad sandwiches for dinner (again, his request). We also watched Stranger Things over the course of three days (fast-forwarding through the mature bits with teen romance!) because turning eleven on June 11 meant he was old enough to see what all the fuss was about. (He loved it!)

Then we made him search the house and yard for his gifts (yes, his request).

We are a Packers family, yet, here we are:

There’s also a Steelers jersey in our house now, courtesy of my parents! Blasphemy!

Yet, Jackson loved it all. Just look at his face when he discovered a pair of Hufflepuff socks –

And a Hufflepuff house banner –

And a Bucks jersey –

That’s the sign of a happy little heart.

Later in the day we enjoyed a visit from Chuck’s dad and a FaceTime session with my parents.

I also read all the well wishes people sent through social media and texts, which brought a huge smile to his face. Thanks to everyone who took the time to tell him Happy Birthday. You warmed his heart and mine.

 

One foot at home, one foot in the Abbey

It has been terrifically challenging to fold back into day-to-day life after three days at the Abbey. I know – the math of that statement doesn’t make sense. Three whole days versus my entire life? Nonsensical.

And yet, that’s how I feel. Each day has been a careful step into what I hope will be my new normal. Less noise, more quiet. Less indulgent, more intention. Fewer complaints, more careful with my words. All of these disciplines are challenging because I’m not a single person who lives alone and has control over most of my environment. I’m an active member of a busy family so I have to make sure whatever habits I start will mesh with the vibe of the house.

For example, my “no noise until 10 a.m.” rule is working beautifully. When we start school in a couple of weeks, we’ll move it to 9 a.m. The boys have learned to move about the house a bit more quietly in the mornings, which I appreciate.

Though I’ve gotten back on Facebook a few times, I still do not have the app on my phone, nor do I plan to put it back on my phone. I am doing my best to limit Twitter, but with election season and all… It’s hard. The negativity is so strong, but the information is so good.

Television is… noisy. Still not fully integrated there.

Instead of busying my mind with what’s going on outside these walls, I’m readying the boys and myself for the school year. I’m editing the book and preparing for the literature and creative writing class I’m teaching at our co-op. We’re signing up for fall sports and volunteer work, and I’m thinking about what race to run this fall.

There’s plenty to focus on, like these two cuties who sit at my feet while I type.

Major and Sam July 2016

I did not expect the Abbey to leave this deep of an impression on me, but I’m not mad about it. Tomorrow is my birthday. Year 38. I’m curious to know if any new habits or disciplines will positively affect the course or outcome of the next 12 months. This time last year I was very down about all the rejection letters I’d received from literary agents. Though they were plump full of compliments and constructive criticism, they were rejections still. (My sweet husband planned the most fantastic birthday surprise ever and it was just the boost I needed.)

birthday surprise 2015

This week, I’m taking it slow. I’m listening and watching. I’ll be writing query letters again soon, and it’s quite possible that I’ll endure another painful round of rejections in 2017.

Or, maybe not.

Whatever happens in Year 38, I’m going into it with my eyes and ears open. A lot can happen when you pay attention.

Jackson turns 10

For Jackson’s birthday, we kept it simple but special. Three dear families joined us for a light dinner followed by cake and presents. The kids played, the adults talked, and Major was mostly well-behaved.

Make a wish

The thing most of you might not grasp about Jackson is that he doesn’t fully understand the reciprocity of friendship. Relationships in general are hard for him. He doesn’t understand inference or sarcasm; he doesn’t know when someone is being genuine or fake. He doesn’t always know how to relay his own emotions effectively. Jackson takes everything and everyone at face value, which means he lacks discernment in almost every area.

Big 10 helmetsAnd yet, he is happy, happy, happy most the time. Blissful oblivion is a real thing. Jackson is always the first to smile and hug someone and be a friend, whatever that means in his world.

Jimmy's football cards

We work on it with him – trying to teach him what it means to care about someone, how to show love and receive love, and always be ready to forgive. Jackson has a temper, a rage that can be disconcerting at times, but we’ve come to understand that it’s because he’s always on high alert. Temperament-wise, Jackson hovers at a 9, so it doesn’t take much to reach 10 and then tumble right over the edge.

Four square

In the above photo our guests were playing a game they created while Jackson sat on the concrete to sort his miniature football helmets. He was content not to be included because sorting the helmets was far more interesting than interacting with everyone else.

The same goes for reading sports encyclopedias.

Encyclopedias and helmets

And yet, he loves these people. He gets excited to see them. He misses them when it’s been a while. Jackson craves real connection just like the rest of us, though he processes it and perceives it in a unique way. I am grateful to have folks in the fold who understand him.

At ten years old, Jackson is a gem. He puts a smile on my face everyday with his optimism, his infectious laugh, and his love for life. I tell him all the time, “You are exactly the one I wanted.”

Happy Jack at 10

Happy Tenth Birthday, Jack Rabbit. We love you loads.

(Sidebar: Major never looks at the camera. What a turd.)

Major won't look at the camera

Throwback to when we met Jackson

To say we had little time to prepare for Jackson’s arrival would be an understatement. We found out about his impending birth and potential adoption on Saturday, June 10. He was born on Sunday, June 11, and we saw him for the first time through the nursery window that afternoon around 5 p.m. He was 16 hours old. He wasn’t legally ours yet, but in my heart, he was mine all mine.

The first time we saw Jackson

It wasn’t until Monday afternoon, June 12, that I got to hold him and kiss him and call him by his name.

TBT to June 11

Over an unsuspecting weekend in mid-June 2006, we became a family of four. Adoption is the coolest thing ever.

Jaw-dropping start to 37

I didn’t have a whiff of anything regarding my birthday until a random email came through in mid-July confirming Major’s boarding reservation for August 1. I didn’t arrange to have him boarded and it would’ve been strange if Chuck had, so I asked him about it. Obviously, I didn’t want to pay for a faux reservation.

The snowball had begun. Yes, Chuck made a reservation for Major and no, I wasn’t supposed to know about it. Dang those helpful automated emails.

Chuck wouldn’t budge on information. Are we going somewhere? Just for the day or for the weekend? Is is nearby? Is it far? Who’s going? All four of us? Just us? Just me?

Nada. He said absolutely nothing, except, “It’s something you want and something you need.”

I pestered him for weeks and got no answers. I texted Corey. She didn’t have a clue. Lesli didn’t know either. I didn’t ask other friends because why would they know anything either? I nearly asked around at church, but that could get annoying. So, I just waited for August 1.

Chuck told me what to pack. We were headed west and I needed a bathing suit and something nice to wear to dinner. I grabbed a book to read in the car. I was a good, patient little birthday girl.

We took this photo leaving our driveway.

On our way August 1

We were going to Nashville, a small detail he finally disclosed. But what were we going to do there? It almost didn’t matter because spending alone time with my husband is a favorite hobby of mine. I settled in with a book and then I made Chuck listen to a podcast about The Goldfinch. It passed the time.

His phone dinged a few times. A co-worker was texting, he said. He checked his watch occasionally. We arrived downtown and I had to use the bathroom immediately. There was a line outside Biscuit Love, a restaurant in the Gulch. Were we going there? What’s that line for? I raced into a nearby restaurant to use the bathroom, then headed across the street to where the people were. We surpassed the line – was this rude? Shouldn’t we wait in line too, I asked him. Nope, he said. Inside we went.

Jaw drop

I know these people

I saw a face I recognized, and then another, and then another. Six whole faces of people I love. They stood there taking pictures of me with their phones, laughing at my jaw on the floor. Corey, Karin, Amy, Kathryn, Lesli and Susan. And then there was Chuck, beaming. He wouldn’t be staying in Nashville but rather dropping me off. I pulled him into a hug and cried. None of this I deserved.

Biscuit Love

What’s a girl to do? I have more than one hundred years of combined friendship with these people. Corey, friends since 1991, when she took a chance on the shy new eighth grader in the church youth group. Then Kathryn, friends since 1993, when tenth grade was especially hard at a new school and she provided all the comic relief and support I could need. Good grief, the stories she could tell! Then came Lesli and Susan in 1998, forming a trio of friendship that is completely irreplaceable. I met Amy in 2000 when one of Chuck’s best friends made an awesome choice for a girlfriend (and eventually married her). Karin showed up in 2001 when I took a new job and we became friends at first sight. That kind of magic doesn’t happen everyday.

And then there’s Chuck, together since 1996 – post-Corey and Kathryn, pre-everyone else – he learned early on that my friendships were invaluable to me. They are the family I choose, and though it was a road we had to navigate in those early years of marriage, today it’s a no-brainer. These women make me better, and he thought it was the best gift he could give me.

Kisses from the Master planner

Once I stopped crying, we sat down to eat. Afterward we went to the hotel where Chuck had made arrangements for us and then he kissed me goodbye, leaving me in their hands. I cried again. That man. I swear.

The rest of the day was lovely. Hot-tubbing, dinner at Husk, wine after. Lots of laughing and talking and enjoying each other’s company. My cup runneth over, and more.

Elevator selfie

Dinner at Husk

Cabbing it

Matching clutches

The only negative – and I wouldn’t mention it if it didn’t explain how the weekend ended – was that I must have eaten something that didn’t agree with me because I spent most of the early morning hugging the toilet. No, friends, it wasn’t a hangover. It was food-related, so come morning I was pale and weak and craving my own bed. I really wanted to see Trainwreck and grab one more meal with these women, but physically, I just couldn’t. I cried over that too.

Goodbye selfe

There aren’t words to describe how grateful I feel. All the planning, the details, the sacrifice, the time… This was less about celebrating my birthday and more about celebrating the longevity of these relationships. They’ve ebbed and flowed for all the obvious reasons – moving, jobs, kids, illness, whatever. But all the lines are still open, still being nurtured, still hanging on. Because even though Chuck is my cornerstone, life isn’t fully lived without friends like these.

So thank you, everyone. I’m completely overcome.

The last week of 36

As my birthday approaches, I’ve been pensive about life. Does anyone else get that way? All self-evaluating and introspective? I’ve been particularly self-aware of who I was a decade ago and it’s humiliating how sure of myself I was in my 20s. I knew it all, I said a bunch of crap out loud that would mortify me today, and years later I sit with all this regret over the word vomit I had on a myriad of topics. I owe many people a slew of apologies.

But let’s look forward. Or rather, let’s look at today. For reference, these are the things 20-Something Me thought would be fully settled by my 30s:

  1. I’d no longer worry about my weight. Confidence would overflow. All that self-esteem garbage would disappear with maturity.
  2. My writing career would not only be well-established but also easily maintained. I mean, after all this time, right?
  3. Financial security. Nothing specific, just secure. No worries.
  4. Unshakeable political and religious beliefs. Rock solid, they were. Rock solid.
  5. Easy parenting since we have boys! No girls means no drama. Whew!

Now that we’ve had a good eye roll, here is the reality check:

  1. My body dysmorphia is the burden I will likely carry for the rest of my life. I’ve accepted this. It will never go away but instead be managed. Some days are better than others. Some days I run, some days I eat Oreos. I try to be kind to myself either way.
  2. I write because I love it. If I get paid for writing, glory be. If I don’t, that’s okay. Obviously, I prefer to be paid, which brings us to #3.
  3. Thank goodness my husband has the skills to pay the bills because clearly I do not. This is what happens when you marry a creative person. (Sorry, babe.) We’ve made good decisions and bad decisions, and this year we decided to get braces for both boys (goodbye, anniversary trip.) Money comes in, money goes out. Such is life.
  4. All political and religious beliefs have been shaken and stirred. It’s been the most fantastic ride and I’m thankful for the growing pains. My current state of faith is that God is not done with me yet, and THANK GOODNESS FOR THAT.
  5. Easy parenting? Ha! No one told me that babies turn into preteens. I proceed with caution.

This is my last week of being 36 and I’m actually feeling fine about it. There is much to be thankful for: I’m crazy in love with my husband. We kiss in front of the kids and laugh when they call us disgusting. I have the freedom to write and volunteer and homeschool the boys. I absolutely love where we live. My girlfriends are second to none.

In a moment of my own daydreaming today, Jackson asked me what my birthday wish is and I said, “To be published.”

“Wouldn’t it be great if birthday wishes came true?” he said, then he returned to the book in his lap.

“Oh yes,” I said to no one. “It would be a dream come true.”

When I blow out my 37 imaginary candles this weekend, I will wish for it. Publication, I mean. I’ll wish for it at 11:11 or whenever I blow away a loose eyelash from my fingertip. I’ll always wish for my stories to take flight. But in between that wish and the next one, I’ll try to remind myself of all the reasons life is good anyway.

Birthday Month Interview No. 1

I told Jackson that we’d do some interviews leading up to his birthday. He insisted we start right away. In this first video we talk about how to have a fun summer, whether or not Age of Ultron was better than Tomorrowland, and how I’m a lovely mother. You know, important things.

https://youtu.be/71TCPELRujA

Happiest Day to my Sweetheart

It’s this guy’s birthday:

Handsomeist

He doesn’t surface on this site often and probably won’t like this attention either, but oh well about that! I love him and it’s his birthday, so today’s post is for my husband. Happy Birthday, darling. You are my favorite. 

Amarillo Bound

I gotta say – I never thought I’d go back to the Texas Panhandle, much less to celebrate my birthday. When we packed up our things in March 2011 and headed east, I was sure that I’d never return. Living in Amarillo was one of the strangest detours of my life, one that created a lot of heartache, but also one that landed me a fantastic job where I met some wonderful people. Still, when I said goodbye to Amarillo, I didn’t look back. Not even once.

It was foolish to presume that I’d never return, particularly since one of my dearest friends lives there. Michele started out as my boss, but it didn’t take long for her to become my closest confidant. We worked well together at Amarillo Magazine, so well that I sobbed some hard tears after turning in my notice. Despite how badly I wanted to move back to Tennessee and be closer to my family and other friends, I didn’t want to leave Michele or my job. (Seriously, who can say that about a job?)

Growing up an Army brat, I learned early on how to keep in touch with people. I knew distance wouldn’t affect our friendship. She came to visit me in October 2012 and now it’s my turn to do the visiting. I’ve been giddy about it for weeks.

Michele and Me, 2010

 

Michele and Jennie, Maryville 2012Despite my excitement, I’m getting tons of flack from my boys about leaving.

You won’t be here for your birthday? What are we gonna do with Dad? Can I come? When will you be home? How many days will you be gone? 

And so on.

For the record, I’m not the least worried about the boys. Chuck is a great dad. They’ll eat junk food and walk around freely in their underwear.

(I am a little worried about the pets, though. And the garden. No one loves them like I do.)

I leave tomorrow morning. ♥

 

Yay baby!

So yesterday I had the most awesome privilege of seeing brand new life appear on earth. Lesli and Jimmy, parents of Henry, had their second child, a precious little jewel named Catherine. I was over-the-moon excited to be there with them to capture her first few hours.

Catherine's dark hair

Wide awake

My favorite of Catherine

 

She is a beauty. Now, between Susan, Lesli, and me, we have three boys and two girls. My heart is bursting. I want them all in a room together as soon as possible.

Don’t think I didn’t freak out when Jeremy said, “When Catherine is ten years old, I’ll be twenty!” Wait, what?

I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention our little baby, who officially turned one year old yesterday.

This was Major at six weeks old, sleeping soundly next to his older brother:

sleeping togetherAnd here we were last night, cuddled for about ten minutes until Salem was over it:

Major and Salem on Dec. 9I’d forgotten that it was Major’s birthday until I came home from the hospital and the boys told me I needed to join them in a round of singing Happy Birthday to the dog.

The Underwood: Best Birthday Present Ever

When Girls Weekend officially ended yesterday afternoon around 2 p.m., I called Chuck from the road to discuss our afternoon plans. I had a paper to write and was considering a stop at the public library where I could have a little peace and quiet to complete it.  When I asked him whether or not I should come home beforehand, he replied, “Just come home first.”

There was much fanfare when I walked in the door, as if I’d been gone two months instead two nights. As I made my way through the living room towards the kitchen, I noticed Chuck was hovering. He missed me, I thought. So sweet.

And then I noticed a strong chemical smell. I turned away from petting the dog to determine where the oily, gasoline smell was coming from… Which is when I saw this on the dining room table:

UnderwoodI screamed. Then I ran to Chuck and jumped on him. Arms around his neck, legs around his waist. Then I screamed in his ear. Then I ran back to the typewriter and started crying.

To my writerThe reaction was two-fold. I have always wanted an antique typewriter that works. That is part of it. But the other part is that Chuck has kept an eye out for this machine for years, always remembering that it was something I desired. The gesture, more than anything, is what warranted the tears. My goodness. He still woos me. It is scary good when your spouse knows you this well.

I turn 35 years old on Friday, and this was a killer way to start the week.

For record-keeping purposes, here is a shot from Girls Weekend. Love these ladies dearly:

Girls Weekend July 2013

Oops! Happy Early Birthday to me

Yesterday, while Chuck took Jeremy to his last day of tutoring, I decided to make a quick run to the grocery store with Jack. It wasn’t my original intention for the afternoon, but hey – sometimes you just get a wild hair and make a unplanned grocery run.

Jack and I got in the car – which Chuck usually drives – and went to Kroger. We succeeded in shaving more than $40 off our grocery bill with coupons and smart shopping and proceeded to the parking lot to load the car.

For a second, I contemplated putting everything in the back seat with Jackson. Instead, I chose to put them in the trunk. I popped the button in the glove compartment and lifted the latch.

Oh crap. There sat what I presumed to be my birthday gift.

Continue reading “Oops! Happy Early Birthday to me”

A School Intruder and a Birthday

Just as we start school, he lays down right on top of Jeremy’s Explode the Code notebook. Naturally.

So we decide to see how he likes it when our stuff is on top of him.

He cared not.

In other news, Saturday was Chuck’s birthday. When Jackson asked me why Darth Vader was on Daddy’s birthday banner, I quietly answered in my best James Earl Jones voice, “Because he is your father.”

*snicker*

Lucky Number Seven

Jeremy finally turned seven yesterday. He was so relieved too since he’s been waiting all year for it. I was a generous mother and let him open two gifts before school. The first was a vintage Star Wars tin with sandwich cutters in the shape of the Millennium Falcon and a Tie Fighter. The second was a new Webkinz pet that I purchased last year and hid in a closet. I actually meant to give it to him for Christmas but I forgot all about it. She is a tiger whom he named Sarah. Continue reading “Lucky Number Seven”

Thus Begins Birthday Week

Jeremy turns seven on Wednesday, which is something he’s reminded me off no less than three times a day for the last two weeks. So just in case you didn’t know, Jeremy turns seven on Wednesday, and according to him, that means he’s almost 10 and that means he’ll be able to drive soon.

Did you hear that Jeremy turns seven on Wednesday? There, that should be enough.

I’m carrying on a tradition started by Chuck’s mother – the hanging of a Happy Birthday banner during the entire week of a birthday. However, to put my own spin on it and not use something pre-made, I decided to make a flag banner out of retro-inspired fabrics I found in a half-price bin at Hobby Lobby. It was love at first sight.

For some strange reason, I sent my sewing machine and other materials to storage, so I had literally nothing with which to make the birthday banner. Naturally, that didn’t stop me. I freehanded the shapes and cut the fabric on a whim, then hot-glue gunned it all together on white yarn I found stuffed in the boys’ craft cabinet. The whole process took about an hour and I’m pretty satisfied with the result.

I’ll probably redo the banner later or at least trim it with white thread when I have access to my sewing machine again. I’ll also make Jeremy a name banner like I did for Jackson in June, but I may not get to that until tonight or tomorrow. I’m swamped with freelance work, which means my Labor Day is going to be quite laborious.