Hey, Hey, It’s My Birthday

37

It’s the normal human body temperature…in Celsius

It’s the number of plays written by William Shakespeare

It’s the number of weeks Michael Jackson’s album, Thriller, spent at #1 (coincidentally, also the first album I ever owned)

It’s the number of vertebrae of a Tyrannosaurus Rex

It’s the most commonly chosen number between 1-100

If you choose any single digit (1-9) and write it out three times. Say 3. 333, then add the sum of those numbers 3+3+3=9 and take the three digit number 333 and divide by the sum 9 and you get 37. Works for any single digit number.

It’s the age deemed officially too old to work for the FBI (and Homeland Security, and Treasury and the CIA)

It’s the year Amelia Earhart disappeared (1937)

Richard Nixon was the 37th president

Rubidium is the 37th element on the periodic table

It’s the television channel reserved for radio astronomy

In roman numerals it is XXXVII

It is also my age for the next 365 days. Now that my future no longer contains the option of becoming a profiler and working for Hotch, I shall strive to find a way to go on. But so far, 37 hasn’t treated me too poorly. I got a call from about 20 8-year-olds (and one 37-year-old) who sang me happy birthday. It’s not really your birthday until you hear all those tiny voices singing confidently….until they reach your name! But it was a terrific way to start my morning.

In the manner of technicalities, I’m not actually 37 until 5:00pm today. At that exact time, my mother and I will be watching a movie, it starts precisely at 5:00pm. And no birthday of mine is complete without a handsome man, which is why I chose London has Fallen with Gerard Butler and Aaron Eckhart. (Okay, that was mostly because there is nothing else out I’d want to see but I do want popcorn on my birthday). Of course, my favorite handsome man, Christian Kane, has been singing to me since I woke up this morning. Literally my fave CK playlist has been on repeat, nothing better than hearing his voice on my day.

Lastly, I’m treating myself to Jimmy Johns for lunch today. Seems a good way to celebrate. I’m also leaving work early, another good way to celebrate.

Happy Birthday to me, and thank you to all of you who reached out to me on this day.

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(gratuitous photo, just because it makes me happy and it’s my day. Also, this was now FIVE years ago)

Thirty Five – Part V

Yep, five separate posts just to detail all my celebrations. Anyone else think I’m a little overboard? No? Me neither.

The festivities came to a close on the night of my actual birthday. I had sent an email to all my friends, asking them to meet me out for drinks at RayJs. RayJs used to be my bar, but I so rarely go out anymore that it has now become a thrill. My sister took care of reserving tables for us, right in the party area, near the dartboards. And she decorated with balloons.

My family was there, Kelly and Mark, Elena (my chauffeur), Niki, Frodo, and the Amys. It was a great turnout. Most of the rest of this post will be photo heavy.

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Me with my sister.

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Kelly and me, wearing the same shirt.

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With my mommy.

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Brother Zack (yep, he works there now!)

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Family photo. I do love this. We don’t do these nearly often enough. So thank you to whomever suggested it (Kel, was it you? I think you took the photo…but I don’t remember, actually).

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Lane and me. (And yes, many of these seem a little blurry, the lighting in there is horrible for photos, plus my new camera is a lot harder to use than my old one).

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Ooh, how I love this photo. From L-R Niki, Amy Blonde, Amy Red, Me, Frodo. My GW peeps.

This was so dorky/cute. I was sitting at the table and my dad came up and put his arm around my mom and then HE said, “take a picture of us”. He NEVER says that. That could possibly have been the first time in his 60 years he has ever said that. So, I did and he dorked out, as usual.

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Elena took a selfie, which cracked me up. Still does, actually. When I was uploading, I didn’t remember she did that and I laughed out loud.

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Yet another shot of the people whose job it was to turn me into adult. Explains a lot, right?

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I think Lane took this. Wow, I look drunk there. I was, I assume, but I really look it.

My mom, with me and Kel, I really like this shot, too. It’s so cute. The last one of the three of us I believe was at my 30th.
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Yep, five years ago.
Me, Mom, and Kelly

And we end with the greatest gift of all. Kelly was the big winner this year, which is saying something because I got some seriously amazing gifts this year. But I actually gasped so loud in the busy, loud, crowded restaurant, that strangers were turning around to see what happened. True story.

I still get giddy when I look at this.

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Yes, it’s true, she got me a wine glass etched with Christian Kane’s FACE. I’m blown away. She and I might have to start a no gift policy because I don’t know how she will ever top this. Unless she actually gets me Christian Kane. Hmm…maybe we’ll keep the gifts in place, just in case. Also, I swore there was a picture of her and I where I was holding up the glass so you could see it, but I can’t find it. Anyone have it on a cell phone maybe?

And that’s all she wrote. Weeks of celebrating, ushering me into the back half of my 30s. Thank you so much to all my friends and family who turned out to celebrate with me. Love you all more than I could possibly express. And I’m pretty good with words.

Oh, and Mark, I did kick your ass at trivia. Deal with it.

Happy 35th to me!

Thirty Five – Part IV

Can you believe it is my actual birthday already?

For this day, I decided to have lunch with my family. My mom was making her famous corned beef and cabbage, which she makes for St. Patty’s day, but I wouldn’t be able to enjoy it on the holiday, so my birthday it was. Simon was going to be there to celebrate, and I invited Kelly and the kids to join us.

Lunch was excellent, as always. The kids were a bit thrown by the food, it was not food any of them are used to eating, but they still did well. Then we did some presents. Victoria, Christian, and Brecken got me a beautiful purple watch. I haven’t worn a watch in years, so it was surprising, but I also don’t have one, so it was great. I’ve worn it far more than I expected to!

My amazing mother MADE me beautiful wine glasses. She hand painted them in different colors. They are so me. If I had seen them in a store, I would have probably bought them.
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My sister and her family got me a gorgeous silver bracelet from Stella and Dot. It, too, went perfect with my planned evening outfit.

Then, of course, I wanted photos with the kids for my birthday, like last year.
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Me Kids Edit
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And since they were there, I wanted pictures with Kelly’s kids as well. I don’t know if I have any of me with all three of her kids…but I do now.
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(Notice B and I coordinated the rocking striped look!)

And I love this photo, me with my only niece…and Simon in the background.
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My sister took this of Brecken because very little is as cute as a baby sucking its thumb. I’ve said this to Kelly over and over again and how much I wanted a pic of him sucking his thumb. But she had never given me one, for whatever reason. I think she thought she had. Anyway, that comment got me an addition to my birthday present.
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My birthday cake (the second one!).
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What I enjoy about that photo is the two lonely sippy cups in the picture.

And then after everyone had left, it was just me and my mom and Simon hanging out. I asked for a photo with my little buddy because he’s getting so big and we don’t really do that anymore. And that is another treasure from my birthday experience.
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(and you can see my new purple watch in that picture)

So the rest of the afternoon was just chatting, talking, and hanging out. It was so relaxed and low key, I absolutely loved it.

Boy, even writing about all my celebrations is exhausting….imagine how I felt living them!

Thirty Five – Part III

This part was my celebration with Elena. She and I had very special plans. Back when I was in grad school, living by myself in DC, I met this girl who was obsessed with the show Veronica Mars. I had never seen it, but had an excess of time on my hands (I didn’t work while living in DC) so I checked it out. I quickly understood why she liked it so much. It’s a smart and savvy show. Unfortunately, it was cancelled, abruptly after the third season and left wide open with no actual conclusion. They always talked about one day doing a VM movie, but as the years passed….

Well, after a record setting kickstarter campaign, they funded it last year and released it to limited theaters just in time for my birthday this year. Last year, after the campaign, I added VM to my tv dates with Lane and she rushed to complete the series just in time for the movie release.

We had to go to an AMC theater to see it. There is one of those about 2 minutes from her house…Roseville, but I don’t like that theater and it is so expensive. I browsed online to find that the Coon Rapids AMC was offering discount tickets to the show, along with DreamLounger and reserved seating. Um, hallelujah? We bought tickets and I reserved two seats for us.

We decided to go to dinner at this place called Patricks? Billys? I seriously cannot remember the name of it. Anyway, it was in the city of Anoka and we were off on an adventure.

Oh, look at that. Apparently Billy’s. And now I remember thinking we should take a photo of ourselves just so I could remember that. I’m so smart.

And then it was off to Coon Rapids to the theater. And they had those crazy new touch screen pop dispensers. I honestly was stymied by it. I couldn’t figure out how to get pop from that machine. Luckily the girls using the machine next to me were kind enough to teach me. Crazy machines. So high tech. And slightly annoying to pay like $5 for a 16 oz pop that I have to serve myself. Basically paying for the cup.

And here we are in front of the theater marquee. It’s harder to read than I thought it would be.

Then in our dream loungers.

Yes, we’re pretending to sleep…and yes, she is peeking.

And the movie.

Sigh.

It was awesome. Can’t recall the last time I had so much fun at a movie. Knowing every person in there was a fan of the show…we all loved it already. It was a little like seeing a movie with all your friends…everyone in there. We were talking and chatting with strangers. Cheering for the movie to begin. Applauding when it was over. Crazy. And fun.

Elena and I (and many others) actually GASPED loudly when Logan first appeared on screen. It was priceless. A wonderful way to celebrate my birthday.

And then when we got back to her house, I got loads of gifts. A beautiful necklace that she MADE for me. This was weird, because as I was driving to her house that day, I was planning my outfit for my actual birthday and worrying because I didn’t think I had the right necklace for it. Then she gave me one…and it was perfect. And she had no idea what I was wearing. She’s a little psychic like that. She did the exact same thing a few years ago…got me the perfect necklace for a birthday outfit. How does she always know?

She also got me a wall hanging for my entry way that is so incredibly perfect I couldn’t have picked better myself. And beautiful decorative plates that still need a home, I’m working on that. And black lentils…which was just funny. But the best was she filled the bottoms of the gift bags with candy. I never thought of that, but what a great way to make a gift extra special.

It was a terrific and memorable way to continue ringing in my birthday.

 

Thirty Five – Part II

During the week of my birthday, I had several lovely surprises. A community partner at work came in and brought me these beautiful flowers. I actually just threw them out on Sunday. They lasted over two weeks! I had to refill the vase of water twice…these were some amazingly fresh flowers.
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I like the second photo because you can see the new clock Elena bought me for Christmas. The most perfect clock in the entire world…so incredibly glad I waited for the right item.

A coworker brought me a birthday gift of a water feature. It’s a little fountain that sits on my desk. It is beautiful and tranquil, the only flaw? It’s a huge battery suck. It eats through an entire set of batteries in about 40 hours. Yep, needs new batteries every WEEK. So now it sits on my desk without being on and I still enjoy it.

Then I stopped by my sister’s house to drop off a balloon for the kids. I got a cute photo of me and them in their jammies as an early birthday gift. And Arionna asked me what I was wearing to her birthday party, which was two weeks after mine. I asked what she wanted me to wear. “A red dress.” More on that later.
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Then Kelly had requested to take me out to birthday lunch on Thursday. She was on spring break and was putting the kids in daycare to have a free day for mom. I decided to take a half day at work and join her for the afternoon. We met for lunch, then went and did some shopping. I got new shoes at DSW. These ones here. In the orange. We also hit Lane Bryant so I could get a new shirt for my birthday. Kelly got one, too. Actually, the exact same shirt, but in different colors. It was an amazing afternoon.
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This second photo is me driving home after my shopping afternoon. I text this photo to my cousin in Alabama. Sara and company think 60 degrees is cold. I captioned the photo “it is 48 degrees. Driving with sunroof open and windows down, wearing a t shirt. Thought you’d get a kick out of it.” She did. (And Sara, notice how I’m not chastising you for NOT sending me my very favorite birthday video this year….)

As a matter of fact, considering how low key this week was, it was the perfect way to celebrate a big birthday.

And that covers the miscellany. And yes, this is two full posts before we’ve even reached my actual birthday.

Thirty Five – Part I

Well, it’s official, I’m 35. I’m feeling pretty good about this year. The festivities for this year were unusual. We began the week prior with a birthday dinner. Tom and Mindy hosted, Elena, Niki, and Finn were the other guests.

Mindy made an amazing meal, tarragon chicken with harissa sauce and braised black lentils.
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It was as beautiful as it was delicious.

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Me with the little lads. Lewie was determined not to look, though you can clearly tell he IS smiling. Finn and Clay were much more cooperative.

Here’s a shot of the adults:

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Clay was kind enough to take these for us.

Then he asked if he could take some more.

Here’s just the ladies:
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Yes, we look a little weird….

My amazing birthday cake that Mindy made and Lewie decorated.
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Then Clay took this one of Finn and me, one of my favorite birthday photos.
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Then we wanted a better ladies pic, so we enlisted Tom to help us out.
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After that, it was game time, we just sat around and chatted and played board games. I love that Clay is big enough to play adult trivia games, but is still little boy enough to sit on his daddy’s lap.

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It was an amazing experience, full of laughter, friends, good food, good drink, and shots of whiskey. What more could a girl ask for?

***Edited to ADD*** I cannot believe I forgot to mention this as it was my favorite part of the night. Clayton, just shy of 10 years old, plays the trombone at school. He was chosen for the trombone because he has the longest arms. Anyway, I knew he played, but he would never play for me. But that day, for my birthday, he had gone online and printed the sheet music for Happy Birthday and then, in front of audience, never having played it before, he played the song for me. He did amazing. Then he played it again and everyone sang along. It was so special to me, I don’t want to forget it. I wanted to record it, but I didn’t want to embarrass him, so I just sat and listened and enjoyed. Thanks, Clay! I loved that gift from you.

Do Not Spoil My Joy

I’m doing this because Elena asked me to.

I wrote her a story, which I will not tell here, because it is long. To summarize, I used my innate powers to will a song to play on my iPhone. True story.

She said that my magic finally kicked in at 34. I’m all “cool”. (Because I’m very casual about magic).

Then I said that maybe Dean Winchester will come and try to kill me now. Dean Winchester, for those not in the know, is the main character on Supernatural, my favorite television show. He, along with his brother Sam, hunt supernatural beings that are evil and the kill them.

Elena said Dean would not try to kill me.

My response was:

I WANT Dean to try to kill me. It’d be all dramatic. And I’d outsmart him. But only for a minute, because he’s freaking smart, and then he’d come after me again, but then I’d convince him that I’m good and would never use my magic for evil. And he’d still want to kill me. But them Sam would show up and actually almost kill me. But Dean would SAVE me, because he knows I’m not evil. And they’d have a heart to heart about it, right there in my living room. I’d get to watch.

Dean would do the single tear. Sam would stand there, looking awkward, but then he’d turn on the puppy dog eyes and he and Dean would hug. Then they’d decide to let me live. THEN, they’d start calling me for help. Like if they can’f figure out a spell or they’re just stumped. They’d call me, because they know I’m good AND powerful and I’d be their new ally.

 It’ll be great. And SPN S9 will be all about them hunting with their magic friend Olivia.

 Do not spoil my joy.

And she laughed, and told me to write this on my blog to allow others to share the wonder and the crazy that is my brain. I figured “why not”.

Because, it’s not like anyone will dare make fun of me.

I’m magic.

I could kill you with my mind.

But then Dean would actually kill me. So that would be bad. Fine. I won’t hurt people. But that won’t stop me from giving you a flat tire and making you late for work and then getting a cracked windshield and then burning your dinner and then getting a zit on the day of the big presentation and then dropping a pencil and bending over to retreive it, only to have your pants split down the middle.

I will not hurt anyone, but I will be the biggest pest alive, if you’re mean to me.

So be nice.

And for Heaven’s sake, do not spoil my joy. I’m magic now.

Lent Letter #26

Dear Me,

Happy Birthday! Yes, today is your birthday. 34 wonderful years. As I’ve been doing this writing experiment for Lent (and, just between you and me, it kind of sucks that our birthday is always in Lent) I’ve realized a few things about myself. Possibly the best thing about me (you? us? let’s go with we) is my openness. I love that we’re so willing to try new things, to take risks, to dare, to change, to learn.

This is an amazing trait that so few people have. We like discovering new things. We like change. We experiment. It doesn’t mean we’re not happy with things, we are. We’re good at living in the moment and enjoying the life we have, but that doesn’t mean we don’t like change.

We accept new ideas. We’re willing to listen to something that we might initially disagree with. We allow the beliefs and knowledge and wisdom of others to seep into our life. This changes us, molds us, makes us different people. Everyone we meet, everyone we love, is a part of making us who we are. They come and they go. Sometimes they stay. It doesn’t matter, because they all leave an indelible mark on this life we are living. It’s not always for the best. Sometimes the change is difficult or hurtful or worse. But those things help us grow and become a better person. So, it is all for the best.

Hardship is just that, hard. It doesn’t mean it is bad or evil or wrong. It’s not even something to be avoided. We learn best when we are challenged. We are open to the truths that the world can bring and that is what makes us extraordinary. We are at our best when we are learning and changing and growing.

Remember that. Hold it tight within our heart and keep it close. When it’s especially hard, pull it out and remember that it’s helping us become better. Never forget that our gift to the world is exactly who we are.

I am a gift because of who I am. When I get better, so does the world around me.

Thank you for being you,

You

(to see why I am doing this, read here)

Two Girls in Hats

The day of Arionna and Camden’s pictures was a pretty long day. I was in full-on fun Auntie mode, doing my best to keep the three-year-old entertained. We were wandering through Sears when we came upon a row of hats.

She immediately zeroed in on a pink, sequined hat. I handed it to her and she put it on. I said, “can I take a picture of you and then show you how cute you look in that hat?”

She agreed. She doesn’t always. Not a huge fan of getting her picture taken.

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Really? Why are little kids so cute in hats?

Then, she said to me, “you try it on Auntie Livi and I’ll take a picture of you and you can see.”

It’s pretty hard to refuse an offer like that.

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And that is the first photo she took of me that worked out. Clearly the pink hat is too small for me, but I don’t even care. I’m loving these matching photos of me and my best girl.

My Birthday

Well, it’s almost hard to know where to begin, so many awesome things happened on my birthday. For those who are waiting breathlessly for information on the bash, that is not this post. This post deals directly with my actual birthday, March 15.

Let’s start with waking up. I set my alarm to wake me up to the note “Happy Birthday!” which is a terrific way to start the day.

Next up, my special “surprise”. I was leaving for work and I opened my garage. The first thing I saw was a balloon in the bush between my house and my neighbor’s. I wondered how Donna knew it was my birthday. Then I stepped outside.
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Isn’t that adorable? Balloons everywhere, and this is the close up of the front door.
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Who doesn’t love a present on their doorstep?

This was done by Kelly and her children. She had called me early that morning, while I was in the shower, so I assumed she’d been there to decorate. I knew right away who it was from. Later, when I talked to her, she said she had done it at 7pm the night before! I didn’t notice until the next morning.
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When I got to work, students were yelling “Happy Birthday” while I was still in the parking lot. I’d had a sign up all week, so it was no surprise that people knew it was my day.
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I was surprised to show up and the first thing I saw on my desk was this:

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Next to that awesome sign, is a full cake. No kidding. A whole cake! A student made it for me.

I also got this from a coworker:
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And this from several coworkers:
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Clearly, I’m a spoiled girl. The edible fruit was delicious! Everything was just ripe enough and full of flavor. The coworkers who gave it to me also sang to me in the library.

By this point, between the tiara, the sign, the balloon and the cake on my desk, I was getting wishes upon wishes. Being the anal retentive person I can be, I grabbed a post it note and started keeping track.  I know, but I was curious. Who doesn’t wonder about that stuff? No one? Really? Just me then. Fine.

But I know that by the end of the day, I was wished “Happy Birthday” by 107 different people and 25 2nd graders sang me the birthday song over the phone. That is very special.

After I had lunch, I decided to cut into that cake.

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Those are kit-kats lining the edge and M&Ms all over it. Inside was a two layer chocolate cake, with chocolate butter cream frosting with fudge chips between the layers. The outer frosting was chocolate cream cheese frosting. So delicious, but almost too chocolatey, even for me! (I did say almost…) I could have used a glass of milk with it, but there was none to be had. And I gave a piece to everyone who came into the library. Students now LOVE my birthday!

My cousin Sara sent me a video of her children singing “Happy Birthday” to me, she also did this last year. I wouldn’t have thought it could get much cuter than last year’s video, but I was wrong. They are so adorable and at the end they run up and kiss the camera. I’d actually post it for you, but I don’t know how Sara would feel about it, so I’ll let her decide.

At the end of my day, I went to my mom and dad’s for the rest of the celebration. I got to meet the newest baby at daycare, Hayden, who is only three months. It’s been a long time since I’ve held a baby! My grandma was there and was her usual cheerful self. Em and Chad came for dinner, with Arionna. And Elena joined us as well. It was Ario’s first time meeting Elena and she eventually warmed up to her and started calling her Leena, which was darling.

My mom made a version of chicken kiev for dinner, which was very good, but the chicken was HUGE! It was so much food. She also did a rice pilaf (sorry, mom, not my favorite–) and tasty asparagus.

She made me a birthday cake–my own special bunny cake, but, of course, the picture is on my actual camera, not my phone, so I can’t post it until tomorrow (when I upload it). The cake was delicious and perhaps the most moist cake I’ve ever had.

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My niece was in a bit of a mood all evening and wouldn’t take pictures, she just wanted to be held and cuddled.

This was the best picture we got together on my birthday:

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After dinner, she asked me to take her outside and we stood on the deck and looked at the stars. I forced her to take another picture. She just wasn’t in the mood.

I stood us under the porch light to get that, you can see she’s ready for bed…and she will not smile. However, as I carried her out to the car, I pulled her Nuk out of her mouth and said, “I love you” and she gave me a kiss and said “I love you” and then, I asked her to say the thing she’d been practicing ALL DAY and wouldn’t say to me all night and she finally said, “Happy birfday!” in her little voice and it was about the cutest thing ever.

Then, after everyone left, my parents, Lainie, and I went out to the garage to play trivia and open presents. Lane bought me a bottle of Crown, which I love. She bought me one last year as well, but that one didn’t survive the night. This one didn’t get opened, so I still have some! She also bought me new rings. I don’t have a pic of the purple one, but I happen to be wearing the blue one today, and I wore it on party night and I think everyone at the party commented on it. Want to see it? Of course you do.

(and yes, I made the face expressly for the photo, I get tired of just smiling all the time) Also, yes, it really is that big, it is not a trick or an illusion.

My mom made me a new scarf in the most gorgeous purple you’ve ever seen. Know what’s funny? I own about a dozen scarves and this is the ONLY purple one I have! Kelly’s kids got me a ceramic heart keepsake box, an awesome red pen with a pinwheel on top, which I love and is now at work with me, I’ve been using it all day. It makes me happy. What’s that? You want to SEE it? Well, of course I’ll take a picture.
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hee hee.
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They also gave me this “hat” but it didn’t fit me, it was too small, so I made Elena wear it.

Then we played trivia until 1am and I had to go home because I had to work in the morning, but not before Zack came home and entertained us with his humor and personality. I also have a birthday photo of Zack and I, but it’s on my camera. I guess I wasn’t as prepared as I thought to write this blog. Ah well, it will just be that much more enjoyable when I update it tomorrow.
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(Isn’t that nice? I think he and I always take nice photos together, it’s not my favorite–that was from my 31st, or maybe my 30th..I only get photos with Zack on my birthday.)

It was a wonderful birthday, and I was so happy to spend it with the people I love most in the world! Thank you all for making my birthday so special!