Friday, September 2, 2016

Three-Part Birthday Party

On September 1st I celebrated 62 years of life.

This is what happens when you don't have a plan. I knew my birthday was coming up, of course, but since it fell on a Thursday this year and my job is extremely stressful right now, I had just a vague thought that we'd celebrate the following Sunday, on Labor Day weekend, when we all gathered for our weekly family dinner. I didn't mention it to anyone, though. After all, it was still a week away.

So when we got together for family dinner on the Sunday before my birthday, the stage was set for confusion. Dylan and Jake arrived first. While we waited for Sarah and Chris to get here, Dylan and I chatted in the living room, and then Jake came from the direction of the kitchen to join us. I was asking if I could use my old Wii game system to watch a new Netflix series that looked interesting, called Stranger Things. (I usually just have the Netflix DVDs sent to me.)

Dylan reminded me that I had run the vacuum over the Wii cord awhile back, severing it. "Oh yeah, dang," I said. We discussed the possibility of finding a new cord for my old system and how expensive that might be. He said what I really needed was a Roku. Huh? A what? So they spent awhile explaining this new technology to me.

Meanwhile, Jake kept whispering something to Dylan. Finally, Dylan said, "We need to run to the store." I asked why. "We're going to get dessert," he said. I pointed into the kitchen. "There's a box of brownies on the counter we can bake," I told him. "Do you have frosting?" Hmm. "No, probably not," I admitted. "Then we're going to get frosting," he said, and they took off before Sarah and Chris even arrived.

Now, I'm no dummy. It's four days before my birthday, so I figure their antics are somehow related. Sure enough, they return with a can of frosting and a gift bag.

These four cards started the party ball rolling.

It turned out that Jake had noticed the four birthday cards I'd set up on the kitchen table, and he thought that meant we were having my party that day and they'd just forgotten! In reality, I just love birthday cards, and as they arrive I put them out where I can enjoy them for a week or two.

Once we realized the misunderstanding, we convened a brief family council and decided to go ahead and have a small celebration. We would continue it when my birthday finally came on Thursday, by going out to dinner together. Meanwhile, I could open my gift from Dylan and Jake. I didn't want to wait to see what they ran out to get me!

You've probably already guessed it. Yes, they bought me a Roku for my television! Dylan got it all set up for me so I can now watch all these free channels (most of which I'll probably never use, but it's the thought that counts). And, I confess, I watched all eight episodes of Stranger Things in just four nights!

After an ear-splitting rendition of "Happy Birthday," we had frosted brownies 
and ice cream on Sunday, August 28th, four days before my birthday. 
The unexpected nature of the party caught me wearing ratty clothes and no makeup.
My eyes sort of disappear without mascara, thanks to my blonde lashes...

The party continued on Thursday night, my actual birthday. In this photo are
my new Roku from Dylan and Jake; a rose and candy from my friend Wyndie;
and the hand-quilted pillow from my friend Debbie, along with two unopened gift bags.
You'll note that Mark re-gifted Dylan and Jake's gift bag...

After we were all done with our various jobs on Thursday, we all met here at my house around 6:00 to open the rest of my gifts before we headed up the mountain to our favorite Mexican restaurant, El Rancho. As always, my children were thoughtful and generous with me on my big day.

A new Willow Tree figurine from my sweet Sarah!
This one of a mother and daughter is called "Close to Me."

Sarah gave me another beautiful Willow Tree figure for my collection. This one is particularly sweet since it depicts a mother and daughter. The card that came with it (from the artist, Susan Lordi) states, "Apart or together, always close to me." It's especially meaningful because Sarah has become one of my very best friends. She is always there for me, no questions asked.

Beautiful from all angles!

Mark chose this wind chime for me. 

Mark has had it in his mind for a long time that he wanted to get me a new wind chime to add to the collection on my front porch. I simply love the random music of chimes on a breezy day. So Jake took Mark shopping on Thursday, which is why I came home to an empty house that day and had a couple of quiet hours alone. They said they searched three different stores before they finally found wind chimes.

The lovely pink rose from my friend Wyndie
(plus two bags of sugar-free chocolates).
The rose makes my kitchen smell luscious!

The number of birthday cards increased...lots of lovely sparklies this year!

It was about 7:00 when we finally got to El Rancho. While we waited for our food to arrive, I texted with my older son Jacob, who had earlier texted me a happy birthday wish and explained that his phone service was out or he would have called. He also told me my gift was in the mail.

I took a group picture (below) to send in a text to Jacob, telling him that I wished he and Danielle were here with us, but then Dylan took my cell phone and started snapping unflattering, ridiculously close closeups of our faces, or parts of faces, and then texted them all to Jacob at once, which tied my phone up for a bit. Next, he spent 10 minutes secretly filming Sarah eating tortilla chips, and then we all laughed hysterically (except Sarah) when he played it back in time-lapse mode. There's never a dull moment with my baby boy around!

Everyone poses for this picture I sent to Jacob in Utah. (Jake looks mad 
because he's jealous that Jacob got to see Mark Hamill at Comic Con that day!)

Mark and Mary at our end of the table in El Rancho.

But wait! It's not over yet! After we'd finished dinner and the waitresses had brought me my free deep-fried ice cream (which I shared with everyone), taken my picture in a sombrero, and sang happy birthday, Dylan asked, "So are we going back to your house for cake and ice cream?" We all groaned. It's rare that you leave El Rancho without being stuffed to the gills.

So we decided that this coming Sunday, three days after my birthday, we will have a third celebration featuring my homemade chocolate chip cheesecake and homemade ice cream. Both are sugar-free, but they are delicious family favorites. I think we'll grill burgers, too. It will be Labor Day weekend, after all!

Technology can be so fun! I know that no one at Google knows me,
yet it's strangely pleasing to have your name pop up on their search bar!

At the end of the day, after everyone had gone home and Mark had gone to bed, I got a phone call from my dad around 10:00. We had a great, long talk, and that just ended the day on a good note. It's hard to believe that he'll be eighty-two on Sunday! His birthday is three days after mine, on September 4th. He was still nineteen years old for three more days when I came into the world, just a baby himself when he became a dad. So his big day is up next!

And it's so cool to find all these birthday greetings
from friends on your Facebook page!

Even my students remembered to wish me happy birthday at school,
and some even sang to me, on Thursday. One sweet freshman girl
brought me this note and a sunflower on Friday.

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