"Gratitude bestows reverence, allowing us to encounter everyday epiphanies, those transcendent moments of awe that change forever how we experience life and the world."
-Sarah Ban Breathnach
Besides that one year when I had my first teacher in-service on my birthday, I love that I was born in August. It's the end of summer, my mind and spirit are happy and content, and it's one more opportunity to soak up my favorites of the season with my favorite people before beginning another school year. By the end of summer, our memory bank is full of wonderful memories of vacations, everyday trips to pool or park, and special days at home, and as I edge closer to the familiar feelings of deadlines and routines that August brings, my birthday is one more opportunity to stop, let go, and create special ways to celebrate. It's usually simple, but combines some of my favorite things --- good food, time outdoors, a few pictures, and my closest comrades.
This weekend was good to us. Sometimes, it seems all three of us our on the same page and the minutes flow together to create this lovely little tune all weekend long. We had no set plans, beautiful weather, some unexpected surprises, and a whole lot of family time exploring our town and soaking up time together.
Friday, we had a date night. Beau always sets out to surprise me and this year, he wanted to make sure I would never guess his plan. Instead of dinner, we pulled up to my favorite nail salon, only instead of leaving me for an hour while I got my toes polished and my hands manicured, Beau turned the car off and grinned at me from ear to ear. Yes, it was our first mani/pedi together and probably our last; however, we shared lots of giggles, held really soft hands, and watched a Packers preseason game that the Vietnamese owner cordially turned on for Beau. We left for dinner with freshly painted tips...or to be more specific - one of us left with French tips and the other got a little more creative :).
After my (our) surprise pampering, we headed to one of my favorite places, The Montage, to try their new rooftop patio and have a familiar favorite, raspberry chipolte pasta with spinach fettuccine. We sat in our own little corner of the patio, amidst the warmth and glow of an outdoor fire and shared shrimp spring rolls, seasonal pasta, and a surprise chocolate souffle with a candle for my birthday. Beau and I don't get these little romantic date nights as often any more, but I think that's what makes them sweeter. I love this man I married so much and feel so lucky to share a plate, a life, and a pedicure with him.
Saturday morning was my favorite type of morning. Cruz woke up early and Beau took him downstairs to watch Monsters Inc. and try out our new surround sound we scored from a friend's moving sale. I slept a little longer, but soon took advantage of the peaceful morning and the egg bake I had prepared for breakfast the night before. I preheated the oven, made a cup of tea, and retired with a bowl of cherries and a new book to the deck to usher in the morning. And just like date nights, these peaceful mornings are few and far between and the ten minutes I had outside in my pajamas with my steamy Anthropologie cup seemed to buy me a lifetime of days. Soon, my boys joined me outside for some egg bake and muffins and we welcomed sweatshirts and mukluks and all felt like fall.
After dishes and showers, we headed to downtown Main Street and explored the Farmer's Market, peeked in a few shops, picked out three cupcakes for a little birthday celebration, and gave in to street tacos and quesadillas from Pablos. We sat under a shade tree and watched Cruz run through the park, played monsters in a pretty alleyway lined with red brick and green ivy, I found the best set of vintage glassware at Miss Wonderful, we scored Sully cupcakes at Scratch (they are always sold out when we get there), and sat on the sidewalk and ate tacos with watermelon salsa that was out of this world.
A picture preview of the bump. Lots more pictures to come as soon as I run out of other things to blog about :).
Naps for the boys followed our tacos and I snuck out for a little girl time with my friend, Julie, who happens to be my idol in the world of flea markets, refurbished home goods, and DIY fabulousness. She's always game for a good estate auction or flea market, so the two of us set out for an afternoon of egg baskets, ball jars, and other fabulous diamonds in the rough. I scored the cutest mint green trunk and a set of old wooden blocks for the baby's room, and Julie walked away with two vintage egg baskets that I most definitely coveted. We talked home projects and girls' night ideas, and I walked away ready to buy some chicken wire, peg boards, and milk paint and get myself to work.
Saturday night, it was back to my boys and I and one of my favorite ways to celebrate summer. With an easy picnic of sandwiches with tomatoes and peppers from the garden, pasta salad, fresh berries, and a bottle of sparkling cider, the three of us headed to one of my favorite spots, Alice Wyth Lake deep in the heart of George Wyth. We stayed until the sun set, went on a bear hunt through the woods, and ate cupcakes and sang happy birthday amidst a chorus of crickets.
On the way home, Cruz wasn't yet asleep and I wasn't quite ready for our night to end so I made Beau pull into Pfeiffer Park for a quick stop at the park. Instead of our usual playground, we took Cruz to the nearby baseball field to play a little baseball and mostly just run around the bases. He had never been on a real baseball field before, and the dirt, bases, and sheer size of the field were fascinating to him. The three of us took turns hitting balls and chasing one another around bases. We laughed so hard as Cruz struggled to follow the directions of the game and ran straight to the pitcher's mound to chase us after getting a hit. I loved him so much in this moment. Completely unaware of all rules and insecurities, untainted and unphased by all that is to come as he grows, we chased him, let him run to second base first, and treated his hit as if he had won the world series, even if he missed the first twenty or so. Once again, I was Holden Caulfield, watching Cruz on that carrousel, longing to keep him little forever.
Sunday brought church in the morning, an afternoon of garden harvesting, and a pizza picnic at the park, in a rain storm, with my family. I dried herbs from the window sill, canned eight pints of pickles from our cucumber crop, and we devoured a jar of sun sugar tomato salsa in about the five minutes it took to make it. And although the skies had tempted rain all day long, we took our chances and met at a park for some carry-out pizza with my family. Thankfully, we chose a park with a shelter house, so when the rain began to pour around us, we ate our pizza and let the littles jump in rain puddles. We were, of course, the only ones at the park, and the rain was cozy and peaceful. Fittingly, Grandma baked a sunshine cake and Cruz and Charly had their first experience blowing out trick candles.
Maybe it's the new book I'm reading, or the fact that I'm feeling nostalgic about summer coming to an end, or maybe it's the lyrics to my favorite song from church right now, but I'm feeling so grateful for this life I'm currently living. I'm in a good place. God's grace abounds and there is so much joy to be found, whether it's a surprise pedicure with a man I'm blessed to call my husband, a peaceful morning amidst in my own piece of God's creation, or laughter and childlike innocence from my precious boy who's growing much too fast.
Another year older, another year wiser tomorrow. The last year of my twenties awaits and I have so much to be thankful for.
P.S. Thanks for the present, babe. You know the way to my heart is most definitely through new picnic supplies ;).