For my birthday

For my birthday

I know it’s a little late (my birthday was July 5th), but I thought I would share with you what all we did for my birthday, since I shared a lengthy post about Husband’s birthday earlier this year.

My birthday celebration wasn’t quite as grand in some ways as Husband’s, but it was enjoyable and it was me. Or rather, still is. It isn’t finished.

Let me explain.

Every year, my birthday kicks off with fireworks because I’m just that special. =)

Husband and I (and a good friend named Ivan from the Dominican Republic) took a picnic dinner of Subway to the Chesapeake City fireworks. A lot of our conversation revolved around American traditions vs. Dominican traditions (fireworks for New Years) and odd American sayings that Ivan sometimes has a hard time remembering.

Husband and I at the fireworks.

Then we all three promptly fell asleep waiting for the show. Thankfully, we woke up just as they began.

Fourth of July fireworks.

The next morning, I flew to Ohio to meet my new nephew. A portion of my plane ticket was my birthday present from my wonderful parents, making it affordable. I got to spend time with my little nieces, hold my new nephew for hours on end, and celebrate my birthday with my family.

Meeting my nephew for my birthday.

Birthday cake

My birthday flowers from Husband.When I returned home, Husband met me at the airport with these surprise flowers. They were absolutely beautiful!

Husband also gave me a brand new pair of hiking boots (can’t wait for fall camping!) and an apothecary cabinet for storing tea (which I would like to paint, I think… I might try my hand at milk paint. If I do, I’ll let you know how it goes!).

The next night Husband and I used one of those wonderful buy one/get one coupons you get for your birthday from the local ice cream shop (and we used the last couple dollars on a gift card for the first ice cream cone, so it hardly cost a thing!). And we managed to snap these blurry photos (I don’t think the camera in my phone was really meant for night-time photography.)

Ice cream with Husband.

And on Monday morning I returned to work to find that my coworkers had decorated my office with one of my favorite themes…

Winnie the pooh decorations for my birthday.

As wonderful as those birthday celebrations were, they aren’t over yet. My two requests for my birthday were these: Making homemade mint chocolate chip ice cream and trying stand-up paddle boarding.

We had plans to do both, but they sort of fell through. The unusually intense heat this summer has made attempting any sort of outdoor sport nearly impossible. However, we have it on the schedule for mid-August which I guess we’re hoping will be cooler because it can’t get much hotter than it has been.

I’ll let you know when we wrap up the celebrations!

What weekends are for…

What weekends are for…

I was reminded over the past few days what weekends are really for. And a part of me was surprised to discover, yet again, that they’re not for running errands or catching up on life or knocking out that to-do list.

They’re for being. Living. Thriving.

They’re for relationship. Conversation. Laughter.

First thing Saturday morning I headed out to the local blueberry farm where Husband works on weekends. When I arrived it was overcast and in the mid-70s–perfect berry picking weather (did you know there was such a thing?). When my bucket was about half full the sun burned through the clouds and blazed down on me as I worked. Another 20 minutes and my bucket was full of delicious, fresh blueberries.

Fresh picked blueberries.

I’d forgotten to sample some as I picked, so I popped a few in my mouth as I headed back to the front of the farm–perfection, seriously. Fresh blueberries are sweet and tasty, just the way summer should be.

The afternoon consisted of a mix–cleaning the house, folding clean fresh laundry, attending a bridal shower for my soon-to-be-sister-in-law, and running to the mall to use a coupon to get some free goodies for myself (and a new pair of jeans for $10–seriously, I love new jeans…a lot.).

The best part of the day came after the thunder and soaking rain had waned and just before the sun went down. My dear friend R. and I had our monthly “date”…we packed a bag with fresh fruit, cheese, crackers and water bottles along with a picnic blanket and headed for the beach. We walked along the mostly deserted coastline as we talked about the deepest part of ourselves–the pruning, the changing, the evolving.

Beaching it with a friend.

We settled in just before the sun went down for a little picnic dinner and the conversation continued. As dusk began to settle we packed up our things and trekked back up the beach, never a moment of silence as we entered each others’ lives for the briefest of moments on our monthly date. At times, it feels that once a month isn’t nearly often enough, but distance and busyness make getting together difficult.

The beach is lovely and deserted in the evening.

By bedtime, I was thoroughly exhausted, but wonderfully satisfied and content.

Sunday afternoon we invited friends over to make grilled pizza and do nothing more than talk. We enjoyed ice cream with blueberries as their little one played in the grass under the shade trees in the front yard. There’s just something about fellowship and community and makes a Sunday afternoon so sweet.

Homemade grilled pizza.

Husband and I got our hands on a canoe this weekend and took it out in the bay for a paddle just before dusk Sunday evening. The heat had subsided and even the humidity seemed a little less intense as we journeyed out among the old dilapidated docks in Back Bay.

Canoeing with Husband.

Dilapidated docks in Back Bay.

Someday we hope to own one of these lovely little boats…maybe even this one. And someday we dream of living near the bay so we can take in an evening paddle whenever the fancy strikes us.

Canoeing.

Sunset from the canoe.

Slowing. Being. Loving. Living. I think that’s what weekends are for.

Fireworks

Fireworks

Fourth of July is my second favorite holiday of the entire year (behind Christmas, of course, I am a little Christmas crazy after all).

I guess it’s kind of a strange holiday to call your favorite–most people like Thanksgiving, or Memorial Day or even Valentine’s Day, Easter, or Halloween. Not me. Fourth of July is where it’s at!

fireworks

I think there are a few reasons for my undying love of the Fourth. The fact that my birthday conveniently falls on the fifth is probably not the least of them. And, of course, the Fourth usually brings a good dose of family time, and you know I love my family. It’s usually sunny and bright (and hot) and the best day of the year to spend outside, searching for four-leaf clovers in the backyard, catching butterflies, or jumping through the sprinkler. It’s even a good excuse for bringing out the slip-n-slide (or at least it was when I was a kid).

And then there are the fireworks. Oh, the fireworks. Really, I can’t begin to express how much I love those magical, wonderful sparkles in the sky.

My memories of the Fourth are a dazzling array of vivid pictures best summed up in a single word–magical. They are memories of picnics and sparklers and brothers and just plain wonderment.

Fourth of July as a child.
Fourth of July picnic when I was a child.

Of course, over time things change. A few years back I began taking my nieces to the fireworks. I loved sharing the awe and inspiration with them, even if they were small enough to be afraid of the noise–I just covered their ears with my hands and held them close in my lap.

Holding my niece.

Now that I’m in Virginia, Husband and I joined his family (or maybe they joined us?) at a local park for fireworks. We brought chairs and picnic blankets and spread out on the grass. Husband fell asleep as we listened to a live band play patriotic music before the big show.

You see, magical isn’t something you have to grow out of. It’s just something that evolves with you.

This year we’re going again, for the sights, sounds, and smells of summer. We’re going to drink in the being part of summer and let go of the doing part. We’re going to spread out a blanket and lay on our backs and just enjoy the moment.

And it’s going to be magical.

fireworks

Dear Monday…

Dear Monday…

Dear Monday,
Thank you for providing chamomile tea this morning…I have a feeling I’m going to need it today.

Orange flower.Dear June,
Only a few days of this month remaining…I’m sorry to say that I am glad. June has been a long, hard month for us. I truly want to enjoy summer–embrace it–but I need the time to do that.

Dear July,
Please be kinder than June.

Dear Truck (BTW, I think you need a name),
Well, we’re off and running–hit 60,000 miles. Can’t wait to see what you bring into my life during your next 60,000…

My odometer

Dear Husband,
Thank you for everything you are and do. And for time spent together. It means more than you can know. And thanks for the belated Christmas present…(details to come!)

Dear Projects,
We’re having fun! Just wait, there are more in store over the next few months…

One of my latest projects...

Dear Peter Jr.,
I sincerely cannot wait to meet you! Stay small for another two weeks, okay?

My new nephew, Peter.

Sincerely,
Holly

P.S. New skill to be acquired this summer:
My canning books arrived!


Linking up with Happy Day.