My birthday is actually tomorrow, but my family and I planned ahead of time to celebrate today, as we've made arrangements to attend a church picnic tomorrow afternoon.
I had expected a dinner and cake in the early evening, but the doorbell rang just after breakfast, and as I was rushing around trying to make sure I was adequately dressed to answer the door (Tom was busy with Michael) and wondering who it could possibly be, I heard familiar voices drifting down the basement stairs.
We haven't been married long, or even known each other long, in the grand scheme of things, but I should have known that Tom was up to something, because when it comes to my birthday, he always is. Last year, he arranged a surprise party for me on Father's Day weekend, and I was totally blown away. He even got my sister to fly up from Tennessee unbeknownst to me, so that she could be one of the faces waiting the crowd to surprise me, and was there celebrating with me on my special day.
This year, he knew that the thing I wanted most was to have our house start looking like a home. We've been here almost a month, and we're still spending our days weaving between and tripping over boxes, and searching for clean clothing out of huge plastic bags. With two little ones running around all day, and one little one up all night, I've had virtually no time or energy to get any unpacking done beyond the stuff that was done within the first 48 hours, while we had a team of friends and family around to help.
So, he had my mother, sister, and good friend Lisa come by to surprise me and provide three extra pairs of hands for childcare, unpacking, and cleaning. And let me tell you, we got a lot done. Plus, Tom was free to go run a couple of errands and pick up a few things that we still needed to get a bit of organizing done.
It seems funny, in retrospect, that a large part of my gift involved so much good, old-fashioned work on my own part, and it was exhausting (and not exactly fun), but it felt, and still feels, really, really good. It's been a long time since I've had the freedom to do much of anything outside of caring for my two children when I'm at home (for any significant amount of time, anyway)- I couldn't even really participate in our recent move, since someone always had to be watching and tending to the kids. But the best part, of course, is being able to walk through the rooms of my house without having to guess at what they might look like someday, under and behind all of those stacked boxes and scattered paraphernalia.
And the kids had a great time, too, playing with "Mima," (my mother), "Mei Mei" (my sister), and "Yeesha" (Lisa)- all names courtesy of Abby- who all switched off between helping with clean-up and helping with the kids. Tom, my sister, and I were all able to get a few shots of Michael and Abby with my newly equipped speedlight (a birthday gift from my wonderful mother and father-in-law). It's incredible how natural the lighting looks in almost all of the pictures now.
In fact, the light is so good in this picture that you can clearly see how badly in need my cat is of brushing.
It did come out a bit grainy somehow, though. I'm hoping I can start to figure out how to work around issues like that once I get a chance to dig into the photography book that Lisa gave me today- "Digital SLR Photography for Dummies."
But here are some pictures of the kids:
And now, Mima comes with an I-pad...
Even Tom and Michael got a chance to play.
By the way, if you've never tried the pastries in Wegmans' bakery department, you really should. Tom went all-out and got me a huge Napoleon (that was my cake), and a sampling of some smaller enticements: a lemon tart, fruit tart, chocolate mousse cake, mango cake, and some decadent chocolate-infused slice of chocolatey chocolateness. A-MA-ZING.
And tomorrow, I turn 29 "for real." Again. ;)