The Birthday Recap

Last Wednesday, I turned 36 and Cutie Pie turned 5.  We celebrated with a little party of close friends and family that night.  J put together an awesome get-together for us complete with our favorite pizza, the amazing Angry Birds cake for Cutie Pie and my personal weakness- a cookie cake!  Yum!

Earlier that day, my dad’s mom (my Nana), stopped by to wish us a happy birthday.  I love this photo of Cutie Pie with her 🙂

Cutie Pie was thrilled to finally have a kayak of his very own!  Now we’ll be a kayaking family!  J and I have a double adult one and both of the boys have their own now.  Since the weather has been so nice, we need to take advantage of it by taking the kayaks out.  Somehow we managed to skip right over winter and landed right in the middle of spring here.  Crazy!

Both of us got ridiculously spoiled this year.  It was so nice sharing our special day with everyone!

I got some serious gifts like this gorgeous original painting by our friend, Terri McCutchan.  My mom totally surprised me with that one!  I absolutely love it and have it hung in a place of honor on a wall that you see when you enter through our front door.  It fits perfectly with our style.

And I got some not so serious gifts like this one lb. Snickers bar.  A slice ‘n’ share!  Just what I need while trying to get in shape for our April trip to Puerto Rico!

It was a wonderful birthday and I’m so lucky to be able to share it with my baby boy!  I really don’t feel any older, thank goodness.  Age is a frame of mind, yes?  If that’s true then I’m holding at 25-ish 🙂

Flag Football End-of-the-Season Party

After Wildman’s baseball game on Saturday we headed over to Pump It Up for the boys’ last flag football hoorah.  It’s funny how skeptical I was signing the boys up for flag football this summer.  I was unsure of how this sport would suit my kids, the parents seemed overly intense about football at sign-ups, was it too dangerous?

All that skepticism vanished when we got our team assignment and met all of the great parents and boys on our team.  We had a wonderful season full of highs and lows.  We lost our head coach to a several-month job assignment up north but several dads jumped right in to fill the gap.  We may not have made it to the Super Bowl but we still ended the season on a high note with an amazing party.

We made some great friends along the way and learned a few lessons too.

I’m so happy that my boys got to experience flag football with these people.  It was a wonderful season.

Happy Happy Birthday

September is a busy month for birthdays in our family.  My grandmother, J’s grandpa, my father-in-law, cousin B, Uncle Chris and J all have September birthdays!

We celebrated birthdays for J, Uncle Chris and Papa on Saturday night with a pool party, shrimp taco cookout and a little college football.  Go Gators!

This year my father-in-law turns 69, J turns 39 and Uncle Chris turns 31!

It was a fun evening spent with family and friends.  Of course, my mom was super tense because Big Red was there.  She blames him for everything that happened in Steph’s marriage and cannot get past it.  But she was on her best behavior and I’m hoping that going forward we can just learn to let bygones be bygones.  Bitterness won’t get you anywhere.

I picked up J’s favorite cake for dessert- Cold Stone’s Mmmmint Chip.  Everyone said it was wonderful!  I did not have a piece because of the South Beach Diet thing.  I amazed myself with my willpower 🙂  Let’s hope this two weeks of restriction pays off…

While watching the Florida- Tennessee game replay, the birthday boys opened their presents.  J wanted a bottle of port wine and a fishing shirt which the boys and I were happy to oblige.

Happy birthday J, Chris and Papa!  Here’s to many more happy birthday to come!!!

Wedded Bliss

J and I just got today back from a friend’s weekend wedding in Maine.  Phil was my co-worker (and fellow new-hire way back when) at Dow Chemical.  He and I were very good friends with a similar sense of humor.  We ate lunch together most days and would inevitably end up laughing until our sides hurt.  J and I would frequently go to house parties at Phil’s and vice versa.  We lived in a very small company town in Texas.  There was not much for the twenty-something, kidless crowd to do on weekend nights that did not require a 1-hour trip into Houston.  So, we resorted to having many a crazy house party.  We spent many Easters and Thanksgivings together too since it was usually too costly and we didn’t have enough vacation time to fly home.  Phil was right there in the office next door during my pregnancy with Wildman.  He brought J and I a basket of baked goods and beer to the hospital the day after Wildman was born.  So, when the “save the date” for Phil’s wedding found it’s way to my mailbox in January, I made sure that J booked our flight ASAP.  How could we miss the wedding of one of our dearest Dow friends?

The wedding was held at the Bok Amphitheatre on the grounds of the Camden Public Library.  July in Maine is gorgeous!  Saturday treated us to perfect weather for the outdoor nuptials.  The setting could not have been more idyllic.  A four-piece orchestra played and the sun shown so beautifully for the happy couple’s afternoon wedding.

Phil’s nieces were the flower girls.

The bride wore a lovely off-white, strapless, eyelet gown with green accents.  It was the perfect choice for an outdoor summer wedding.  She was radiant.

Phil quit Dow not long after I did to pursue an MBA from the University of Michigan.  He met Emily while he was working for Merck in Philadelphia three years ago.  They lived in the same building and had a similar love of dogs.  He has a golden retriever named, Gracie.  She has a labradoodle named, Maddie.  It was love 🙂

We hung around the grounds for a while with the wedding party taking pictures, talking and admiring the view.  The amphitheatre overlooks Camden Harbor.  Everywhere you looked was like a postcard.

The reception was at the Megunticook Golf Club.  The clubhouse was like something out of a movie.  It had a broad wrap-around porch with lots of rocking chairs.  The inside looked like a hunting lodge with hardwood floors, stone fireplaces and paneling on the walls.  It was an old building with lots of swinging screen doors.  It felt like being transported back in time.  It was a truly lovely venue for a reception.

We sat outside at a table on the lawn with friends.  We had a perfect view of the green and the water.  We also had excellent access to the “bacon bar” that Phil was raving about!  The caterer set up a huge charcoal grill under a canopy for the sole purpose of preparing and serving bacon-wrapped food!  OMG!  They had bacon-wrapped lamb, shrimp, scallops and dates.  I could not stop hovering.  It was all so delicious.  All of the food was amazing really.  From the quesadilla station to the antipasto table to the open bar to the beef tenderloin- it was heavenly.  I’m sure I gained 5 pounds that night.

We enjoyed a slice of this gorgeous blueberry topped wedding cake as well!  Yum!

The reception ended with lots of pictures, hugs and last turns in the photo booth that was rented for the night.  We left with little bottles of real maple syrup in cutest glass maple leaf bottles as favors.  It was a perfect evening!

Flashback Friday

I was given a couple of terrific gifts this week.  The first being an opportunity to reconnect with my dad’s side of the family at a birthday party for my cousin and aunt (my dad’s sister).  I was able to re-establish a relationship with this side of my family at the baby shower last month and was thrilled to be included in the small family gathering this week.  The party was at my dad’s mom’s (my Nana’s) house.  It was so nice just to be there among people I haven’t really seen in so long.  J, the boys and I filled up on lots of yummy food.  It was such a nice evening.

Later on, after most everyone had gone home, I asked my grandmother if she had any of my childhood pictures that I could have.  Sadly, I have precious few photos of myself from 0-18-years old.  My parents divorced when I was four.  My mom has been married and divorced three times in all.  My life was always in turmoil growing up.  We moved all the time.  I went to 6 different elementary schools.  Pictures from my childhood have been shuffled around, lost or stowed away somewhere.  I have no clue where they are anymore.

Nana went into her bedroom and pulled out two albums full of pictures of me.  I couldn’t believe it!  She said that she had more pictures of me than any of her other grandkids and that I was welcome to take them all.  Being her first and only grandchild for seven years will do that I suppose.  I was shocked and delighted all at once.  I told her that I would scan the photos I wanted and would return the originals to her.  I certainly did not want to rob her of her photos.  But what a treasure!

My Nana took care of me from babyhood through about second grade.  Most of my fondest, carefree memories are of being with her at her house.  She was kind and I felt so safe with her.  So loved.

Here are a few of the photos that my uncle took of me.  I was four-years-old and we were outside at my Nana’s house.

Thanks to the thoughtful writing on the back, I know that these were taken on February 7, 1980.

The last one is my favorite.

What a gift to see evidence of those happy days once again!

Hot and Cold Stone

T-bone had two very different birthday parties last week.

One was well-planned, full of laughter, music and games.  It was a house party at Big Red’s.  There was an almost endless supply of food: appetizers, pizza, cake…  The lime sherbet and Sprite punch was an instant hit with both children and adults alike.  Conversation flowed effortlessly.  The children danced and played like it was their job.  Before we knew it, 4 hours had passed and the party was still going strong.  It was a Friday night and no one cared.  It was HOT!

The other party was a last minute affair set up more out of obligation than a desire to enjoy each others company.  Invitations were sent in the form of an impersonal mass text.  It was an ice cream party at our local Cold Stone.  The party was held late in the evening on a Tuesday (a school night) so it was a rushed affair.  No lingering when the event starts at 7 PM and bedtime is at 8 PM…  Steph chose this event to finally bring her boyfriend out of hiding.  I would say “introduce her boyfriend to me” but that was not the case.  He introduced himself and she ignored me for the first half hour of the party.  Tension was palpable among the adults.  It was COLD!

To be fair, the children (the exact same children that attended each party) had a good time at both events.  But the same could not be said for the adults.  My friend, B, Jon and I felt extremely uncomfortable at Cold Stone.

I haven’t really addressed the problems between myself and Steph here.  But it’s clear from her noticeable absence in my posts that we do not hang out anymore.  It’s an extremely complicated, drama-filled mess really.  At the heart of it is Steph’s relationship with her boyfriend.  I should call him a manfriend since he is a good 10 years older than both of her parents…  And, really, the 31-year age gap isn’t the problem.  It’s the lies surrounding their relationship that have made me see Steph in a completely different light.  I’m not sure I ever really knew her.

I’m in a tough situation because Steph is my family.  My mom is her aunt and her mom is my aunt.  They’re all- Steph, my mom and my aunt- divorced and somewhat bitter.  The women in my family are 100% in support of Steph and 100% opposed to Big Red even though there are some major, major ethical issues surrounding Steph’s relationship with the boyfriend.  Ethical issues that transcend my blind support just because she’s family.  I cannot do it.

Over time I have come to see Big Red’s side of things.  I wasn’t able to see his side for a very long time because I was so wrapped up in helping Steph.  As with any conflict, there are two sides.  I can’t tell you how bad I feel about simply believing the stuff Steph told me about Big Red and not finding out his story sooner.  But I trusted her.

Today, I am very thankful for knowing both sides of their story.  Neither party is blameless, of course, but neither is Big Red the monster that he was made out to be…  Because I am still friends with Big Red, I have become kind of an outcast from the women in my family.  They want me to fall in line with the man-hating and blind support of one another because we’re family.  That’s simply not enough for me.  I don’t get to choose my family, unfortunately, but I do get to choose who is in my life.  Because I have chosen not to play games, perpetuate lies and shun Big Red, I, in turn, have been shunned.

To be honest, it’s never felt better.

I feel like a weight has been lifted from my shoulders.  I don’t have toxic people surrounding me much anymore.  Life is pretty sweet out here on the fringe.  That’s what I call where I am today- the fringe.  I don’t have to deal with the emotionally draining, self-centered crap that used to take it’s toll on me.  I have chosen to be happy and things are so good right now!

I hope this helps to clarify some of the problems that have been going on in the background.  I surely cannot go into too much detail but just know that I am in a much better place now.  My husband and kids are too because I am a happier person.

If the only thing I have to deal with is the occasional awkward birthday party or holiday, I can manage.  The people I’ve chosen to surround myself with these days build me up so that I can handle pretty much anything that comes my way.

Pink Flamingos Aren’t Just for the Trailer Park

Cutie Pie’s sweet preschool Christmas program was last Friday.  The kids did a wonderful job performing the holiday songs they’d worked so hard on.  Cutie Pie dressed as the king in the white robe and did an awesome job of remembering all of the words and hand motions for his songs.  Adorable!

I was in charge of the program committee this year which just added another layer of stress to an already stressful time of year.  Of course I was happy to do it but I’m also happy that it’s over too.  Luckily, I had lots of helpers.

This year’s theme was “Christmas in Florida”.  A very talented local artist (and preschool grandparent) graciously offered to make a couple of cute signs for the event.

Another preschool parent made this beautiful layer cake for the “Happy Birthday, Jesus” portion of the program.  This photo does not do the cake justice.  It was gorgeous!

When the children had finished singing, we all made our way over to the fellowship hall for some refreshments. Cutie Pie was so proud of himself!

When planning the decor, I asked Big Red to stage a small landscape in the center of the fellowship hall.  Since his son attends the the preschool too and he had done it a similar thing at Boo at the Zoo this year, I figured he would not have a problem assisting us.  Besides, it was great advertising for his lawn care and landscape company.  Big Red happily agreed to get us whatever plants we wanted.  We had a Christmas palm strung with white and pink lights as the centerpiece with two concentric circles of tropical plants and poinsettias extend out from the palm.  It was beautiful!

No “Christmas in Florida” design would be complete without pink plastic lawn flamingos!  We had them everywhere!

The whole room looked so festive!  I was thrilled with how everything came together.

We gorged ourselves on lots of yummy food.  We had doughnut holes in three varieties, cheese cubes, tropical fruit salad sprinkled with coconut, pretzels in various holiday shapes, goldfish crackers and pink punch made with raspberry sherbet and lemon/lime soda.  Each of the three buffet tables had a mini potted palm and pink wrapped presents as the centerpiece.  Pink and turquoise glitter snowflakes were scattered around the tables as well.

It was a lovely way to wrap up the end of the semester.

Previous Older Entries