Sunday, September 30, 2012

Birthday Palooza!

I had initially expected to be able to avoid the birthday-train until at least year 4, but I enthusiastically jumped on it this year, and boy did I learn my lesson fast: next year - boxed and/or frozen everything! I even went so far as to make my own invitations (a high order for someone with such little artistic talent, but I rationalized that I would only be making four). The sad part, though, was that I never actually sent them out. So, I'm sort-of a lazy home-made mom.

I made a few variations, but this was the ultimate gist. Sorry the picture is on it's side, I'm too stupid to figure out how to get it to not rotate during the upload process. You're welcome for the neck stretch.

We wanted to get Zoey a swingset, so that was the basis for our playground-themed party. I could have gotten one for very little compared to others we found, but still astronomically over-priced for what it actually was, but I didn't get my ass in gear, so maybe we'll figure out a way to give it to her for Christmas without it being complete torture ("Sorry, kid, you can't play with it until the snow melts."). With her birthday on a Monday, we gathered everyone at our house the Saturday before.

My parents came over Saturday morning to watch Zoey so Jacob and I could do some pre-party errand-running.

 Daddy buying his girl her first car. It wasn't a swingset, but still an outdoor-sy toy. She can toodle around the house in it, too.

 For the first part of her party, it was at the playground she loves to frequent in our neighborhood. Yes, I know my decorations are awesome and you totally want my tips.

 Thanks to work for the borrowed decorations!

Looks like a party! (A week later, the Elmo balloon lives on)

 Zoey woke up from her nap and Jacob and I snuck away to "decorate" the playground. Then Jacob went to grab everyone and bring them over. As Zoey walked up, I yelled, "Happy Birthday, Zoey!" And she said, "Happy Birthday, Mommy!"

Unfortunately, my kitchen timer went off right as Zoey got to the playground so I had to head back and get some food together. By the time I was able to get back, playground-time was over. :-( I'm told a fun time was had by all and I'm glad for that.

 Grandma Bobbie wanted a turn!!

 She *had* to go down with her balloons.

Cousin Layne enjoying himself.

 The park has a made-of-cement table, and we have sidewalk chalk, so I figured I'd combine the two. My mom told me it was a big hit.

Uncle Todd and Cousin Libby getting their chalk on.

 Gorgeous Cousin Libby, enjoying some fresh air and sunshine.

 Auntie Rachael and Cousin Libby enjoying some park time.

 How dudes do playground parties.

 My grown up, little girl.

How and where I spent most of the day. I didn't mind, it was tiring, but it was also fun and satisfying. I made homemade macaroni and cheese, salad, fruit salad, and homemade peanut butter fudge pudding cake (yay, crock-pot!), which worked out perfectly because I forgot to pick up candles. Well, maybe it's better we leave fire out for at least another year.

After food, it was present-time. A couple were even for me!

 Helping Zoey learn the art of the un-wrap.

 The requisite socks gift from Grandma Sally; she's famous for the sock gift.
 It's hard to match my excitement, but she was pretty thrilled she got shoes.

 Sparkly shoes!! (Though it's hard to tell in this picture) Even better, a purchase of these shoes buys a pair for a child in an underdeveloped country.

 Then the big present!!!

 She totally hated it..... :-)

 Auntie Rachael, Uncle Todd, Layne and Libby got her this adorable play shopping cart. Don't even try to tell her she's pushing it from the wrong end, she won't hear of it. She wants to push it that way.

For our first go at the birthday-party thing, I think we did a pretty good job. No, I didn't actually send the invitations; and, no, I didn't bake the cupcakes for Zoey to bring to daycare to celebrate her birthday with her friends, but everyone had fun at our get-together, including - and most importantly - the guest of honor. I definitely learned what to do and what not to do next year, chief among them: start planning in January.

A gigantic thank you to everyone who helped make Zoey's birthday great!

Monday, September 24, 2012

The Dirty Thirty

Well, if we're going to get technical, my 30th birthday was pretty rated-G. I don't remember how I entered my 20's, and we all know you don't count being in your 20's until you're 21. That involved a day of classes, dinner with friends, a power-hour that meant being required to drink everything that was placed in front of me from midnight until 1am, an excruciating economics class the next morning, and a hungover weekend in Vegas.

This year - for my 30th - I woke up at 5am, went to work, came home to have dinner (yum-tastic homemade French Dip and homemade French fries; the Hubs can cook), went to book club, and was home before the toddler went to bed. I am not complaining in the slightest, that's about all I can handle and equals a pretty exhausting day.

My birthday was very book-alicious. I came home the night before, disappointed I had left my book at work, so Jacob insisted that I open one of his presents. It was:

I got up early the next morning and read the first 30 pages. Yup, I'm hooked; and totally one of those suckers who thinks there's a chance it could totally be real.
When I got to work, I was met with a very nice surprise:

 Applicable Princess motif.

My under-desk-chair mat. LOL!!

My coworker celebrated her birthday a few weeks prior so she got to brag that she's "still in her 20's!"

Best boss ever!! Booze, jewels (paper weight, as well as a necklace), sweets, and shoe!

 Later in the afternoon, my sweet husband surprised me by stopping by with flowers and candy. He must know me, or something; especially the chocolate band-aids, "For life's boo boos."

My friend, Mer, sent me this extremely appropriate and thoughtful card. I tried to eat it; it didn't taste like margarita. :-( Guess that means we'll have to find the real thing!

 All hail the birthday Princess!! :-D

 Payin' the presents forward.

As much as I teased that it was my birthday-week, I really was able to celebrate all week. On Monday and Tuesday, I annoyingly told people they were the last days of my 20's, bought a book for myself - my high school friend's mother, Dianne Jewkes's, The Heart You Own - made a fuss over myself and wasn't sorry about it on Wednesday, a coworker took me out to lunch on Thursday, and my boss and other coworker took me out to lunch on Friday. I felt thoroughly spoiled.

I suppose the only similarity between this birthday and my 21st is that the bar we went to for our book club meeting bought my $2.75 beers. Yeah, that's right - we go to a bar for book club. Don't pretend you're not jealous and think we're awesome.

My birthday celebrating continued into the weekend as my parents, and in-laws came into Billings to help celebrate Zoey's 2nd birthday the following week. I got a cute top (that I got many a compliment on at work today), earrings and necklace set, lip gloss (some I just happened to see in a glossy and decided I wanted; ESPN is real, people), a sewing kit and box to keep it all in from my mother-in-law, a bottle of wine from my sister-in-law, and the greatest present a would-be home-made mom could ask for:

That's right. Be jealous.

 The next morning, we made cookies before having breakfast. That's right; I *am* the best mom ever.

 Would-Be Home-Made Mommy's little helper!

Watching it "go 'round and 'round."

I had a very good birthday, I was very pleased with the start of my 4th decade. The only thing that sucks is I'm a real adult now; not just a my-bad-decisions-are-mine-to-make-because-I'm-an-"adult" adult, and that now I'm expected to get my shit together; so I guess that means I'll have to get my shit together.

I am definitely lucky in that I had many kind people show me love on my birthday. Many, many thanks!

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Impromptu Camping

"Do you think my parents would want to take Zoey for the night?"

"Why? What do you want to do?"

"Go camping, just you and I; pack up all the liquor and beer and just sit in the woods and get blotto."

And that was how our clusterfuck impromptu camping Saturday began.

Jacob's parents were more than thrilled to have Zoey for the night, and once we propositioned the idea to Zoey, she couldn't stop talking about how she was going to Grandma and Grandpa's house. We finished breakfast and managed to finally leave the house at 11:30am. We drove Zoey to Columbus and figured we'd find a place to camp nearby so we could easily collect her the next day. But, of course, we needed nine-million things we forgot at home, or needed to pick up something in town, so it was back to Billings we went.

We got what we needed, picked up a few forgotten-and-decided-much-needed things from the house, concluded we weren't going anywhere remote without chips and chocolate, and we were back on the road around 3:30pm; to Taco Bell, about a mile from the house.

As we waited in the drive-thru line that was not moving, we joked at our pathetic selves, ideas of camping swimming in our heads, on the road for 4 hours and the most we made it was a few blocks from our house. To add insult to insult, we still hadn't determined where we were even going to camp yet. Since we had to go back to Billings, we thought we'd go South, East, or North - anywhere but West since that was where we had just come from. But with my limited knowledge of Montana - 3 years here and I still get frustratingly lost in Billings, but that is more a testament to my direction ability - it was up to Jacob to find us a home in the wilderness and he could only think of one place - in Red Lodge. We hemmed and hawed but ultimately decided to drive up there even though we wouldn't get there until after 5pm.

 Shortly after entering the camping area.

And get there after 5pm we did. Naturally, we opted for the campground arguably furthest from other people, 8 miles away, but it came at a bit of a price.

 This road; this wide; up the side of a mountain.

 With these-sized rocks both on the sides of the road, as well as in the road. (We're no scientists, but we're pretty sure they got there by glaciers.)

 Happy Jacob, finally getting to take the Trail Rated Jeep on something other than pavement and the dirt road to his parents' house. From what I know of cars, it did great.

 The road; just the beginning.

 Edge of the world.

 Scared out of my mind, but can't argue with the view!

 I gripped my seat belt, eyes bugged out, and hyperventilated as we drove through what I dubbed Rock Village. It looked like this straight up the side, across the road, and down the steep other side. It was definitely my least favorite part of the entire experience.

 It was shortly after Rock Village, though, that things evened out a bit. It was getting late, though, and the road would only get worse and more steep, so we soon decided to turn back.

This drive was/is my reoccurring nightmare. I have a few and most of them involve me on very high places. Coincidentally, this road happens to match one in which I'm driving on a small, barely-fits-my-car, one-lane road around a mountain. I keep waiting to have the nightmare, but it hasn't happened yet. I wonder if this experience has cured me of it.

On the way up, I was on the hill side. On the way down, I was to be on the drop-off side and there was no way I was going to handle that well at all. So my gallant husband offered to move everything around so I could sit in the back seat on the hill side. I still held on to everything I came in contact with like a life preserver, and, well, I guess you know we made it. We wondered if that was in fact the right road to the campsite and ultimately concluded that it must not have been. I learned later that I was wrong (I know, right; who saw that coming?!); the Glacier Lake Trail head is up there, easiest to get to by backpacking. That explains all the people we passed who were walking.

 Around 7pm (that's right; remember, people, we left the house at 11:30am) we finally found a suitable camping spot. It was actually quite perfect.

 Our site. No fire, of course, but we could pretend. We ended up getting so drunk, we didn't even realize it was cold.

 Yay for impromptu camping!

 The bar is open!

 Jacob, making a cup for me to drink out of. Yes, we planned that well.

 Thank you, Trailer Park Boys!

 Thanks for the sweater, Mom! I guess it did come in handy!

 Night time by Rock Creek.

 The candle lantern we borrowed from Jacob's dad. Although, in a fit of buzzed paranoia at a car headed in our direction, Jacob clamped his hand down over the top to put it out and scorched the doozy out of the palm of his hand. It hurt so much, he decided to drink more to ease the pain. It didn't work.

It goes without saying, we were up with the sun the next morning. We put our futon mattress in the back of the car with blankets, and while as comfortable as it was going to get in the car, it was pretty bloody uncomfortable. And friggin' freezing!

It also goes without saying, we weren't feeling so hot when we woke up the next morning, so going home was the only thing we really felt like doing. I had wanted to commune a little more with nature (by which I mean sitting in a chair, reading by the creek), but we just weren't feeling up to it. And you'd be surprised at how little time goes by before you miss your toilet.

 The morning sun coming through the mountains Sunday morning.

We got home around 9:30am. We cleaned, cleaned ourselves, made some food, was lazy, then headed to Jacob's parents' house to collect Zoey. There was no jubilant greeting, she was passed out cold on the living room floor. Spending the night with her cousins, Layne and Libby, and her aunt and grandparents, she was zonked and had absolutely zero interest in doing anything besides going to bed. She had a super-fun time, and Layne enjoyed that she's bigger now, pulling her this way and that saying, "Come play!"

There were some funny moments of our impromptu camping excursion that could have been not-so-funny, but we decided those are how you know you're with the right person; if you can laugh at the circumstances instead of fighting or blaming over them. After all of our joking, we're glad we didn't decide to just bag it and go home. Despite the hiccups, we had a great time and it was a lot of fun. Next time we'll plan a bit better, and maybe we won't wait until the season is just about over.