Monday, February 20, 2012

February 18th, 2012

I've always been lucky enough to have my birthday fall on President's Day weekend, which means an extra day off for the hubby, and now my school aged children as well. Before children, we would take a weekend trip. Usually California when we lived in Las Vegas. San Diego, Huntington Beach, Newport Beach, Santa Cruz, and San Francisco were top destinations. When we lived in Michigan, it was almost always Chicago, a town my husband hates, and I love, so I knew to ask at a time when he couldn't refuse. Having kids has put a damper on my birthday weekend trip for now, both financially and feasibly. But I enjoyed my birthday "weekend" just as much as some of our mini vacations. And it truly has been a weekend long celebration. My oldest has wished me happy birthday for three days straight, and given me multiple hugs and verbal messages to the effect of, "I love you very much mom". The little one has made me a few cards throughout the weekend, and reused a gift bag to find presents around the house to give me, like glow stick bracelets.

My birthday weekend actually began on Thursday night. I had a great dinner with a friend. The company, the food, the wine, 2 desserts, and the present of a Trader Joe's goody bag made for a great girls' night out. And we shut the place down, twice!

Friday was parent teacher conferences where I got to hear how awesome my children were doing, and spent the day lounging on the couch watching my favorite food network competitions and recovering from all the wine drank the previous night.

Saturday was my actual birthday. The boys stayed quiet and let me sleep in. I got french press coffee and barely drank half a cup before the boys wanted me to open my present. The hubby got me purple wrapping paper in honor of my favorite color. The boys excitedly helped me open it. Much more fun than opening it myself.

The card is the first card I have received with all three of my guys signing their names themselves! You can see my husband's handwriting is only slightly better than my 6 and 5 year olds. It gets him out of filling out paperwork, so I guess it really is to his advantage.

The hubby ended up getting me a bread machine. After my first recipe with the BWJ group making my first loaves of homemade bread, I knew I didn't want to go back to preservative filled store bought bread. But I also knew I didn't have hours to spend in the kitchen every weekend since weekends are really our only family time. And my Kitchen Aid mixer didn't like the work it had to do kneading the dough. The machine is great in that it kneads, waits for the rises, and bakes it, and all you have to do is throw the ingredients in, set it and forget about it. I'm all about cutting corners where time is concerned, and this machine is my answer to weekly fresh baked bread! Happily, he did his homework and got me one that's highly rated and has more functions than bread making too. So far we've only made a Dutch Apple Cake in there because I have to replenish my yeast supply, but there will be some more bread baking tonight after our grocery store trip.

After opening my presents I decided to make a Big Apple Pancake- the one from The Original Pancake House. It's a bit time consuming, so I don't make it often. But it takes me back to my childhood. Going to The Original Pancake House was a special treat when I was a child. It was also a recipe we learned to make in Home Ec in high school since we were lucky enough to have an Original Pancake House in Grosse Pointe, where I spent most of my adolescent years. You don't have to have a skillet to make it, but it helps. You can find the copycat recipe here.

Birthdays are "our choice" days. We get to pick the activities of the day. Usually I'd choose to get out of town and shop and eat, but we had a bit of a time constraint since we had friends offer to watch the boys for us so we could go out alone, a rarity for us. Normally I wouldn't impose my 2 wild children on anyone else unless I had to or was paying them. But these particular friends have a little girl that my boys are in love with, and I knew it would be as much of a treat for them to spend time with her as it would for us to have a few hours alone. Since a time consuming trip out of town wasn't a possibility, I decided I wanted to go geocaching as my activity. My husband found a cache near Lake Avalon he thought we'd like, and off we went, dog and all. Unfortunately we couldn't find the first cache, but the area by the lake was nice and I've bookmarked it in my head as a future picnic spot.

On the way back into town we passed by a micro cache and decided to try for it. It was not where it was supposed to be based on the description or location, but my caching abilities kicked in and I spotted it. We had taken a two year long hiatus from geocaching until then, and now I'm happy we've reconnected with an activity the whole family enjoys.

After grabbing some lunch, then putting the boys down for a nap, the hubby and I vegged on the couch and watched 28 Days. Jury is still out on if I liked the movie or not. Then it was time to get ready for our night out.

It was a beer night. I started at home with the Chicken Killer, not for the faint of heart. Then we went to the Stock Exchange for dinner where I got Left Handed Milk Stout on tap to go with my filet mignon and colossal shrimp dinner and creme brulee dessert. Finally, we finished off our date night at the Elks Lodge with an Amber Bock on tap and a 5 cent chinese food themed slot machine. It played with me, but took my money in the end. Then it was time to go pick the boys up and get them home to bed. I'm so grateful for my family, and all the special things we have, both intangible and tangible. Days like this where you smile all day long from the fun you are having with your family to the sweet texts and phone calls from the people who want you to know they care, are the more obvious, in your face, days of gratitude. But everyday is a day to be grateful for. I hope I make the people around me as happy as they make me. In the end, love and the relationships we form, and celebrating those people, are most important in my mind.

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