Just So You Know...

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

The days leading up to my birthday were full of "Oh, my! Your birthday is in ____ days." and "Um...Not to disappoint you, but we don't have anything for you." and "So, our auditions are on your birthday." With a September birthday, it's rare that we celebrate ON my birthday.

When I was growing up, my friends (my two closest friends happened to be a set of cousins) were always out of town on a yearly trip their whole family took. When I was a little older, my brother's football season took precedence. And then there were work schedules to work around. I've learned not to set my hopes too high or to expect too much. By September 12, summer has come to and end and people are trying really hard to settle into their fall routine.

My expectations are low, but birthdays are my favorite. I can't help but be excited and a little hopeful that SOMETHING great will come my way. Just about every year SOMEONE comes through with a surprise up their sleeve. This year, it happened to be my sister.

I woke up knowing that the day would be FULL and yet also realizing that the birthday activities would probably happen on a later date and that was okay by me. I was hoping for a dinner at home with my family in between all of the running around that the day held. Well...First thing that morning, (after my Mom and I got back from driving by a house we might have wanted to buy) my sister said, "If you're taking a shower, you need to go do that. You need to get ready! We have things to do!"

My sister (like the brother that falls in line between us) is TERRIBLE at keeping secrets. She wants to tell you what she is getting you or doing for you and she basically BEGS you to make her share her secret. I am the person that loves those kind of surprises so I plug my ears and say "lalalalaaaaa" and refuse to let them let the cat out of the bag.

I got ready to go and packed a jacket and some water and my camera and we were off for surprise number 1. Once we were on the road, she told me that there were three surprises and that she was going to need a bit of help navigating. She asked me questions about road names and I helped us get to destination number 1. All along the way I was secretly hoping that it was our favorite Chinese buffet, but it was a little early yet, so I wasn't sure if there was something else going on....We got closer and closer and SHE TURNED ON HER SIGNAL! Destination number 1 WAS our favorite Chinese buffet.

We got out and took pictures in the parking lot and then we went in and got seated and she was BEAMING. I mean, I was EXCITED, but she was REALLLLLY excited. When I first got my driver's license, I used to take my brother and sister to do fun things out of town. The thing that meant the most to my sister was going out for Chinese. The year that I taught them, I would take my brother and sister along for afternoon grocery runs and we would stop for a late lunch. It's been a little tradition of ours to make time for a sister lunch on HER birthday. This time SHE wanted to take ME out for MINE.

The food was excellent and we had a great table and we ate until we couldn't eat any more.

Next up was a stop that I couldn't figure out. We drove and drove and we went to a part of town that I knew had NOTHING birthdayish in it. I knew there was a Sonic and a Wendys and a WalMart, but that was all I could think of and neither of us were ready for any more food or drinks. I was genuinely confused. This made my sister even more excited than she already was!

Finally, we pulled up to this mini golf place and surprise number 2 was out of the bag. We got out only to learn that it wasn't open. Now, this surprise meant more to me than you have any way of knowing. In the PNW mini golf consists of wood boards with holes in them set up at the ends of green carpet. One of my favorite summer activities in SC was going to putt-putt golf courses complete with waterfalls and caves and bridges and basically a real golf course made just for families who don't have the time or the skills for real golf. My sister, a PNW girl, has never been to what I call "REAL putt-putt" and I've made a promise that we WILL do it together some day! So, she found the closest mini golf and made it her goal to take me. Again. I loved it!

Since surprise number 2 didn't take as long as my sister anticipated, she said we needed to do something to burn off some of our food. She let me choose, so I asked her if she wanted to walk a trail that reminded me of the one I walked by the canal in MA. She was up for it and I said that it would work as long as we could find a place to park.

We drove and drove and due to college having started back up and a MAJOR construction zone, we couldn't find a good (or legal) place to park. The good news was that our food was burned off AND we were right by destination number 3. The funny thing about that is that my sister wasn't EXACTLY sure how to get to that stop or how to ask me how to get there without totally giving it away. We pulled into the complex where it was to do some walking there instead and she said, "Oh good! It's here!" I said, "What's here?" She said, "Oh, nothing. Stop reading the signs."

It was too late...This is a complex I'm very familiar with and I thought for sure that our last stop was going to be for frozen yogurt. We wandered around for a bit and then headed down the street. Straight toward the frozen yogurt place. But, then, she said, "We're HERE!!!!" I looked up and realized that she was taking me to a bookstore/coffee shop. It's one I've been wanting to go to WITH her since we were here on vacation back in 2014.

Now it was my turn to TOTALLY BEAM. We wandered around looking at books and journals and just checking out the whole store. We weren't in there two minutes when MY SONG (Drops of Jupiter by Train) came on over the sound system. The minute the first chords played I got quiet and said, "This song WOULD play." Everything was PERFECT. We made our way around the store a little bit more before ordering a chai tea (my sister) and a hazelnut latte (me) that we took out to a bench in the sun.

We made it home in time to rest for a little bit before heading out to their auditions....As soon as their auditions were over, we booked it over to a Mexican restaurant (at my Mom's planning and insistence).

We ordered their cheese dip and heaping plates of food (I got a beef burrito with rice and beans which actually turned out to be a bean burrito thanks to our lovely server, but I didn't notice until the next day when I was heating up some leftovers) and just had an all around great time. I spotted my old science teacher and his wife and an older guy sitting on his balcony reading the evening away. All through dinner the phone rang and rang with people hoping to catch me for a quick birthday chat. By the third call, I was laughing when I answered the phone. We finished dinner JUST in time for my brother to make it to call backs.

Call backs lasted and lasted and lasted. I sat in the car reading and catching up on phone calls as the sun set. It was a great way to close out the first day of my 26th year and left me with plenty of time to reflect on how special this "Just so you know...." day turned out to be!

Thank you, dear sister!!!! Your joy in helping me ring in 26 meant a TON. You know that I go back and forth between loving our life in this town and wanting to run for the hills. This day reminded me that there is nowhere else I'd rather be. I love you and your love for me. Running around to each and every one of your surprise destinations was THE most fun I've had in a long time. I <3 i="" nbsp="" u="">

How do you celebrate birthdays?

Are you a surprise keeper or a "Oh, let me just tell you everything!" kind of person?


  1. HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!! I love that you had such a great birthday! Your sister is so sweet to plan the day for you guys!

  2. Ah, this is so special, Victoria! I'm so glad she was able to treat you to a few of your favorites with surprises, too! We didn't play miniature golf at the beach this year because of Ethan's illness. We are heading back to the aquarium and to play golf one day soon, though. I'll be thinking of you when we play!

  3. How fun! What a fabulous sister thing to do! Happy Birthday! I can totally relate to you, I have a September birthday too. Growing up I always got school clothes for my birthday presents (when everyone else just got school clothes because they needed them) and for many years my group of friends always ended up on their annual camping trip on my birthday weekend. I think people born in January can also relate to us!

  4. Aww, what a sweet sister! Your birthday surprises are so special!

    My birthday is in June, and I have a twin brother who shares it. ;) Growing up, we rarely celebrated on our birthday because it was summer vacation. Sometimes we shared a party; sometimes we had separate parties. My parents would give us a few dates that were good for the family, and my brother and I would each talk to our best friend about their availability. That way, we could guarantee at least one close friend each for our party. Usually other friends were available too, but you just never know with family vacations.

    As an adult, I love planning my own birthday. For my 26th birthday, I planned a wine & cheese party for just my closest local friends the Thursday before my birthday. It was a small party of just me, my now-husband, and three friends, but we had the best time. Then my husband and I spent three days in Cincinnati, where I hadn't been before. (I was newly living in Columbus at the time). For my 27th birthday, I was the best wife ever and overlapped my birthday weekend at the track so my husband could do his high-performance driving. We stayed at a b&b near the track. While he was in his classes, I got a massage and a mani-pedi. We went to a wine bar for dinner and played putt-putt after!

  5. What a special birthday! And happy belated birthday!


I love hearing from you! Please be sure to leave your e-mail so that I can reply. :)