And what a fun birthday it was. I have always loved birthdays. I think it is so fun to celebrate YOU, whether it's your birthday or someone else's. A whole day to make someone feel special and important. I don't know if it makes me self-centered to love my own birthday but I can't deny it so there it is : )
One of my favorite things about birthdays is that they often start early and end late - for instance, we opened presents a week ago (a Jessie/Austin trait is that we have zero patience for surprises from each other...as soon as we have a gift we simply have to share!) and then you keep getting mail/comments for days after your birthday, extending it even more. I love it. Ananda called me this morning and we were laughing about how one time I was planning my birthday festivities before she had even celebrated her birthday (in July, ha).
I did the paper route this morning, which sounds kind of backwards since it's generally not a celebratory or enjoyable task and it was my birthday, after all, but Austin did it yesterday and is doing it tomorrow so I figured it was the least I could do. Plus he promised me a Birthday Nap, so I was all in. (The BN has been postponed til tomorrow, in case you were wondering.) Doing something for someone else was the perfect way to start a day that is all about me - I was grounded in gratitude and service instead of self-congratulations (yay, self, you were born!!) and attention. I said a little prayer when I was about halfway through the route and asked that I could focus on being grateful and happy, and just then I noticed that the sky was clear and the stars were bright, and I stopped in the middle of the yard I had been traipsing through, turned my headlamp off, and stared straight up with my head thrown all the way back. It was glorious! The vastness of the dark sky, the wonder of something that is soooo far away still being so bright and twinkly, the mysteries of the constellations and the whole grandeur of the universe took my breath away and made me almost tearful at how wonderful our beautiful world is and how thankful I am that we get to appreciate it.
I came home and made our favorite pancakes and buttermilk syrup (SERIOUSLY LIFE-CHANGING: if you have never experienced the wonder that is buttermilk syrup, please waste no time in educating your taste buds) and then we were off to deliver the neighborhood newsletter, the "Witherbee Buzz." How cute is that?! This is the second time we've done this as volunteers, and it feels good to be an active part of our community and specific neighborhood. Natalie got really into it and probably went up to more doors than I did! It was a beautiful morning and we enjoyed being outside together.
We came home and officially got ready for our day, and I went shopping while Austin watched a movie with the kids. I got a new shirt that I really like and it was fun to wear it all day for our festivities. We went to the Birdsall's next for our planned birthday lunch date. Renetta was nice enough to organize babysitting for all our kids at her house so we didn't even have to find a babysitter, and then she and Dan even paid for our lunch! We stuffed ourselves at HuHot and enjoyed each other's company.
We went back to their house to check in with the kids and play some Kubb, but when we walked in the Bishop's 7-year-old daughter, Bekah, was upstairs peeking around the corner. It was kind of confusing because we didn't know why she was there - she lives down the street but we hadn't seen their car and didn't think she'd just come over randomly without her parents. She also was looking randomly mischievous and not saying anything, just smiling cryptically, and then I called for Natalie as I walked up the stairs and she said, "Mom, I'm hiding under here!" and then I saw Audrey and Kodi, which made no sense since they had no reason to be there, and then everyone said "SURPRISE!!!" and popped out of their hiding places!
YOU GUYS, they threw a surprise birthday party for me!!! I was SHOCKED! I turned bright red and couldn't believe it! Alissa was behind the couch, Annie and Rory were next to the piano, and then I turned the corner and the side room was PACKED with all our friends from the ward. It was so overwhelming and happy! There were at least 20 adults and as many kids and they were all there for me and I couldn't believe it. I felt so loved and special. Renetta brought out a cake (she hid it well earlier!) and they all sang happy birthday and we ate and laughed and played outside and enjoyed being together. I'm still so surprised! Renetta had set out notecards to write nice things to me and had everyone park at the church behind their house so there weren't any cars. So sneaky!
Advice: find cool people like the Birdsalls right when you move somewhere, decide to be their friends, and never look back. THANK YOU, Dan and Renetta! You really are the best. (And for the record, Renetta made TWO cakes. One of them was a chocolate oreo cake that she knows I love, and the other one was a poppyseed cake which she made just because she remembered me saying that I love the poppyseed cake we make around Christmas. SO thoughtful and wonderful.)
After hanging out for a while, everyone left except us and we played Kubb in the backyard, still enjoying the beautiful weather, and then we finally went home so the kids could have some quiet time before our next festivities.
After said quiet time we headed out for said festivities, dropping the kids off at the Smarts so we could meet my family for dinner. We went to Vincenzo's, a fancy Italian restaurant downtown that we went to for our birthday two years ago, and it was delicious, although I was still really full from HuHot haha. It was fun catching up with my family, and especially seeing Jack since it is his birthday too, after all. I've always loved sharing a birthday as a twin. It is special to have a celebration that is shared between both of you, and it's great to be able to sing the happy birthday song too instead of just smiling while you are sung to. We opened presents, had good food, and then the boys talked politics on one side of the table while the girls talked politics on the other side of the table. It felt good to use our brains to debate and reason, and it was especially encouraging that even though we may disagree we still can have a tempered conversation about it and respect each other.
Anyway, it was a lovely dinner gathering and I'm grateful we got to meet together. We fetched the kids (thank you, Smarts!) and hurried home to get them ready for bed so Austin could go watch the Cubs game with Kodi and Dan. Now the house is quiet and calm, and I read my scriptures (I'm currently studying Preach My Gospel in an effort to be more missionary-minded) and then decided to blog about my happy day. I'm putting off all sorts of other things in doing so but I wanted to remember how special and loved I felt. 26 is going to be a good year!
(OH! And this is the 400th post on this blog! Cool!)