The Big Four-Oh

Yes, I just turned that old this week — the big “four oh.” Thankfully, I was able to celebrate with a bunch of my family in friends in a celebration that was spread out nearly all week long.

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On Saturday, I woke up to find Hannah had drawn a lovely “birthday card ” picture of me celebrating my birthday with everyone, which was a wonderful way to start the day.

Then that afternoon, we had a celebration at Elmwood Park with a bunch of our family and friends. Kody and Phil grilled burgers and hot dogs (with my dad) as the guests arrived and the kids (and adults) played on the playground next door. Vivian had gotten some lovely over-the-hill decorations for the party, and I brought the teddy bear Lisa gave me for my 30th birthday. Donna also made an amazing over-the-hill cake, complete with fondant figures of me and Vivian and a graveyard at the bottom (with a plot open for me).

It was great to have so many family and friends in one place to celebrate another year of me not being dead, and we stayed well after the sun went down. Then the next morning, I got to try out one of my gifts — a tiny waffle-maker from Phil and Jen. It was a nice way to make a little breakfast the morning after.

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In other news, it’s been a fairly gorgeous end of August. We’ve had a few scattered showers and days here and there in the 70s. We’ve also had days warm enough for a long-expected trip to the All Play Splash Pad on 72nd and Harrison the Monday after my birthday, where we got wet with the kids after work before they shut the water down after Labor Day.

We discovered on Wednesday before my birthday that Stinson Park finally turned the fountains on, so the kids got to splash about and get nice and wet during lunch that day. Hannah got nice and messy eating crab apples and needed a good rinse. We also happened to see a few accidents this same day — Vivian and a friend witnessed a hit-and-run as a confused lady played bumper cars pulling out of a parking space, and I got to hear a more serious accident on Center Street that happened minutes later. Drive safe everyone!

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At work on Tuesday, I and the other August Birthdays got to celebrate with some cake courtesy of Dr. Keefe, which was lovely. Then on my actual birthday, I got to have breakfast at Amato’s with Hannah and Vivian (while Aaron was at preschool). The last time we’d been there was five years earlier for me 35th birthday, so it definitely felt good to be back. I had some peach ricotta pancakes (as did Hannah) with some Italian Sausage, and Vivian got a “garbage breakfast.” Vivian even had some mints for me afterward, when I turned exactly 40 at 9:59 am.

After breakfast, we headed up to Memorial Park, where I literally went over the hill (with Hannah) to celebrate my turning forty. It was 72 degrees and gorgeous, so we spent a little extra time walking around the rose garden (in full bloom) and letting Hannah play on the playground with her “friend” Linda.

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The weather was still too gorgeous to stay inside, so we continued celebrating through the afternoon taking the kids to Thompson Park and then going out for ice cream at Dairy Queen afterward. It genuinely felt good to have a day to do pretty much nothing at all.

Then that evening, my parents took us out to The Drover down at 72nd and Mercy. This is an old-school steakhouse (so old-school they still have a salad bar) that I heard about twelve years ago and had been planning to visit but never have. They’re known for whiskey-marinated steaks, so Vivian and I both tried one, which was quite tasty. The food was excellent, but the restaurant itself was dark, small, crowded, and noisy, so the atmosphere alone didn’t top some of my other favorite steakhouses in town.

We finished off the night at my parents’ house, where my dad had some chocolates from Chocolaterie Stam at Shadowlake. He also played for me a 40-year-old recording of him and my mom calling their own parents to tell them about me being born. It was eerie to hear my much younger parents talking to my long-deceased grandparents about me being born, but it was so nice to hear how happy they all sounded about it. It was a very lovely gift.

Here’s to forty more wonderful years!

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