Note: this sat as a draft for the past 8 years. 🙂 Figured I should publish it and hold onto the nostalgic memory of all that was planned for this milestone birthday.
To celebrate 40, I decided I’d love to spend my entire birthday month trying to do forty things new things. Some things on my list are things I’ve dreamed of doing. Others are ideas that sprouted up in conversation with people who had fun suggestions to make. Here is how I’ve celebrated…..
1. Began a 500 piece puzzle of “Cupcakes”. By the end of the month I hope to have completed it. I’ve learned that there sure are A LOT of variations of each of those jigsaw pieces. Wow! It is amazing to me that there can be such incredible detailed differences in each of those pieces.
2. Ran my 1st mile without stopping. I had never done it and felt it was about time. I have so many friends and family who love to run great distances. I’ve never considered running my sport- always preferring swimming instead. But this time I decided this was a feat I needed to finally say I was able to do. It was no marathon. Not even a 5K. But for me it was a big deal- one mile without stopping. Woohoo! I did it!
3. I curled my eyelashes! Martha lent me her eyelash curler (which I always used to tell her looked like some kind of torture tool) as we primped for Sharon’s wedding. I finally felt how truly painless it really was. Thanks for doing my make-up that day Martha!! Mma! Mma!
4. Thanks to my sweet, dear friend Diana- I had the great joy of having my home-life captured by a professional photographer! Considering I’m the one who is our family’s historian, it is a joy beyond a joy to have someone else take pictures. And of all things something that is soooooooooo near and dear to my heart- being a mama and homeschool teacher. Thank you Diana for capturing pictures that show aspects of my life at home!
5. I was able to spend several hours of uninterrupted just-me time at the Huntington Library & Botanical Gardens. Oh what p-u-r-e joy. I had been to the gardens countless times with the kids- but then I was homeschool mama, pointing out plants to grow the kids’ appreciation of the diversity and beauty of nature. It was talk, talk, talk. On each of those visits I would longingly eye those grown-ups who were there quietly engrossed in the story of a book, sitting on a bench all by themselves. That is what I dreamed of experiencing one day for myself. Thanks to my wonderful mother who was willing to drive out to my place and take care of Jacob and Natalie, I was able to slip away on a homeschool day and drive up to the botanical gardens for 3 whole hours of uninterrupted solitude. The time flew by. My soul ate it up. I moved several times within the garden, my sense of sight and smell overwhelmed by the grandeur of all that was in bloom. Finally I found myself in the Japanese garden, sitting on a bench under a trellised walk area and that’s where I opened the book “Love Does”. I sat there soaking in the words, laughing out loud and just relishing in the treasure of this alone-time. And then all of a sudden it sounded like it was raining. I looked out and saw raindrops falling into the streams of the garden, making perfect ringlets in the water. And yet I stayed completely dry as the drops pitter-pattered above my head on the leaves of the vine. That was just glorious beyond glorious. Awwwwww- it seriously couldn’t get any better.
6. Being a tourist in my own city was also a first! Steve met me in Old Town Pasadena for a walking food tour. I walked out of the parking garage and there he was- a handsome man, waiting for me on the stoop of the meeting place for our tour. What a sweet sight that was to my eyes- to see this man I love so much- just waiting there for me. Our tour was led by a wonderful woman named Barbara. She led us from 5:30-9pm, making all kinds of stops through Old Town for various types of food. It rained along the way in parts…..Steve and I huddled together under our umbrella….as we walked through this part of town discovering wonderful family-owned shops and restaurants we would otherwise never have stumbled upon. It was truly an amazing evening! Loved, loved, loved that night!
7. I ate yak! Yup, at a Himalayan restaurant on the walking food tour, we were served yak dumplings. That was a new taste- and yet similar to beef. Kind of crazy to imagine the big huge animal as I ate it. Points for adventurous eating. 🙂
8. We went to the Renaissance Fair! For years and years my sister and her husband used to go to the fair. He even proposed to her there! So I’ve always been intrigued to visit. And today we did. We were there for 7 hours! Saw many shows- jousting, Moonie, Broon and others. It was a very dusty, hot day but an enjoyable one of lively music, fun people watching and a great time-machine experience of being shot back to a time where people said “gramercy” for thank you, “anon” for goodbye, “my Lord and my Lady” as references when talking to each other, and where people definitely dressed very differently. A great time! Can’t say I ever dreamed of it…..but today I danced around a May Pole. That was interesting and new. We were at the Renaissance Fair and children were invited to join in the dance. I got up to take a closer picture of them and then before I knew it I was being shuttled to a nearby awaiting dancer to be paired with. I do admit it was fun, going “over- under- over- under” trying to keep track what part of the pattern we were in as we were releasing more and more of our colorful ribbon that was being braided together nicely with other dancers’ ribbons onto the pole.
9. I’ve always wanted to try shooting a bow and arrows. I had calendared going to a place in Pasadena in a couple of weeks…..but at the Renaissance Fair had my luck that I could try archery there! That was fun- for $5 we got 11 quivers. I tried 5 of them and each of the kids had 3 turns as well. Wow does that require a steady hand. Definitely not as easy as it looks. It was fun! I was happy that at least 2 of mine hit the target- once in the outermost black ring and once in the blue ring just inside. 🙂
11. Painted on a canvas.
12. I had my eyebrows waxed for the very first time in my life! I will never forget that on the day of my wedding, as my make-up artist was applying makeup, she said to me “honey, you REALLY need to get your eyebrows waxed!” That stuck with me and 16 years later I finally got them done. I was so thankful that Martha coached me on knowing what to say when I went in to the European Wax Center. “I’d like to keep their natural shape, just have them cleaned up.”
13. We went on a Grunion Run!!!!! Yes, it only happens here in California. Considering I’m a native Angeleno, the fact that I had never been on one of these runs definitely made it something I wanted to do.
14. I ate a banana split at Farrell’s Ice Cream Parlor!
15. Murder Mystery Dinner with friends. Okay I officially have amazing friends! I asked 6 of my friends if they would be willing to participate in “Fame, Money and Murder”- a mystery dinner where everyone comes in costume and acts their part. And wow did they run with it!!!! Marti came dressed as Polly Darton- a famous country western singer. Rick came as Duncan- a boxer. Heidi was a comedian stuck in the Neolithic Age who only told jokes about rocks. Kenny came as a scientist who had found the cure for skin cancer. Jen was a belly dancer teacher. Travis a jockey. Steve the conductor of the NY Philharmonic Orchestra. And I was supposed to be a shy person with fears of crowds and secret talent for playing the organ and synthesizer. Okay…..all of it soooooooo random. I laughed my head off. Seriously laughed my head off. I am so thankful for how much attention each couple put into preparing their costumes. They made phone calls and asked people they knew for parts of their costumes, they went shopping at Aardvark’s and Joann’s and Target to get the perfect look, they used make-up to create tattoos, had props and accessories, stuffed bras for large bosoms, painted their nose, gelled up their hair, considered which shoes would best match the costume, wrote on their robes, wore the perfect-matching hats, adorned boots with fur…….all for me. To grant me my wish of one day having a Murder Mystery Dinner. Wow do I feel special!!!!! I used to love, love, love playing the game “Clue” when I was a kid. And tonight I got to play it in real.
I am so thankful for Rebekah Hellerman and Cheryl Ortiz from Haven Academy of the Arts who let me peruse their costume wardrobe. Thank you Cheryl for picking out the perfect outfit for me!!!!! I’m also thankful for Diana McGregor who helped us out by getting Steve a bow tie for his outfit! He looked so handsome with his tuxedo shirt and teal colored bow tie!!!! I am thankful for Shannon Morgensen who so patiently helped me search for glasses while we were at the OC Swap Meet. I loved being able to have glasses to hide behind as I tried acting my part of the shy one.
And man the memories from tonight! “Rashless love”- a song that Polly Darton was going to try to write for us. The rock jokes that Pebbles prepared for each of us in the weeks leading up to tonight. Charles Concerto’s incessant reminders, in a loud booming voice “I PROMISE you that I did NOT know that her father was a rich man when I married her.” Also, his long arm stretch behind him to our piano, to play suspenseful, dark notes as the plot unfolded. I was certain that Jacob and Natalie would wake up- there were such loud outbursts of laughter from all of us and the loud playing of the piano keys. And, yet, they slept soundly.
I’m so thankful for Jacob and Natalie. So thankful that we were able to pull off an evening like tonight and ask them at one point to get themselves into bed. And they did just that. They ran off to their rooms, read in bed for awhile, then turned off their lights and drifted to sleep. Soooooo thankful they were willing and able to tuck themselves into bed and give us the gift of this evening with friends. Also so thankful for how excited they were for all of us. They were bubbling over with excitement when our friends started to arrive. They ran to the front door and welcomed in the guests. Jacob went scurrying to his room and unbeknownst to me, ended up creating a “This way to the bathroom” sign that he gingerly propped up on his Jacob foot stool in the hallway. Sooooo cute! And Natalie was beyond excited when we asked her to take a group picture of all 8 of us. What was precious beyond words was how difficult it was for her to remember her job as photographer when we got in character for the picture. She was able to take our picture when we all smiled in normal pose. But when Heidi shouted “now silly- in character”- Natalie’s eyes grew large and fixed on all of us. She stood there with her arms extended in front of her, gripping the camera, but mesmerized by everyone’s dramatic pose. It was cute beyond cute. She, being our dramatic theatrical one, was tickled by the whole premise of this dinner party. When introductions were being made and Steve said he had 20 turtles as pets……Natalie went racing away…..and returned with a turtle-shaped bottle of bubbles. Where in the world did she get that from? And so fast? She knew she had it and knew exactly where it was! I was so impressed!
We had appetizers out on the deck; thank you Marti & Rick! They brought so many different types of cheese, crackers, olives and fig jam. And wine! After snacking and taking pictures, we sat around on the deck and began. I read the rules aloud. The kiddos passed out name tags and I read introductions of each character. The kiddos helped by passing out the clue booklets to each person. We all read our Act 1 clues. Then we sent Jacob and Natalie off to bed. Act 1 ensued. It was hilarious. Marti did such an amazing job being and staying in character of a country/western girl. We all read our Act 2 clues and then transitioned inside to the dining room for a dinner of barbecued tri-tip, colorful roasted vegetables, salad and fresh bread. As we acted out Act 2 I laughed and laughed! Travis’ pink sequins from his oh-so-feminine swanky jockey outfit, reflected and shimmered pink on his face. The storyline was hilarious- our murdered brother, Nathan, had been found in the horse stable, wearing a dog collar and only boxer shorts, handcuffed by one wrist to a post, and covered in gold paint. Weird. Yes. Kenny’s character Magnus had a gold-plated racquetball racket! Okay- hilarious. In Act 3 we found out that Jen’s character actually made chocolate chip cookies- which she had indeed also done for tonight’s party. Crazy cool! Rick, known as Duncan, ended up being the one who killed Nathan, the brother. And Steve (Charles Concerto) and I ended up being the only ones in the family to inherit the billions of dollars of father’s will. We were all supposed to meet 3 criteria in order to inherit the money:
1) marry someone
2) make a contribution to the world
3) move to a country town
All of that was supposed to happen by midnight of the night we were gathered. Turns out Magnus’ scientific cure for cancer was fraught with accusations of not being based on evidence- so he didn’t meet the 2nd criteria. Duncan wasn’t married by midnight- he and Polly got in an argument and she called it off. Although it was HILARIOUS when before their fight she leaned over and called him smoochie woochie cutie face….or whatever endearing super cupcake cute and sweet love-bird comments she made to him as she blew him kisses. I was rolling with laughter!!! She played it all so seriously without busting up at herself; I love that! Serina failed at meeting the requirements because her husband Tommy Whip called off their marriage that night- he was so mad when he found out she was pregnant- having received stock of sperm. So, yes, Charles Concerto and I, Cynthia, became the lucky recipients of all the billions of dollars! Turns out my contribution to the world was my astounding music I had written. 🙂
Oh it seriously couldn’t have gotten better the way everyone was casted. A perfect night of lots of laughs!!!!
So thankful to have such fun-loving friends, willing to be crazy on account of my birthday celebration. 🙂
16. Went to the L.A. Arboretum
17. Splurged by buying myself a funnel cake at Knott’s Berry Farm
18. Saw a silent movie at the Old Town Music Hall in El Segundo
19. Shot a gun. Several actually.
20. Spent a morning with a girlfriend, shopping, at the Orange County Swap Meet
21. Laughed at Laughter Yoga
22. Attempted (somewhat successfully) to let go of drinking coffee in the morning. Made a transition to tea-drinking! Yay! Still have a cup of coffee here and there…..but definitely drink more tea than coffee now.
23. Almost went a whole month with every day devotions.
24. Went to the Anatolian Festival. Tried Turkish Delight. Saw the World’s Tallest Man- first time seeing a Guinness World Record holder. Watched a Whirling Dervish perform.
25. Let go of my high expectations to try to accomplish all 40 things within one month.
26. Went on a hot air balloon ride.
27. Ate a banana split sundae at Farrell’s Ice Cream Parlor.
28. Went to a painting class. Created a painting of trees.
29. Had my portrait painted.
30. Went on a fabulous surprise getaway with Steve. He took me to the shopping outlets and then to San Luis Obispo. All on a whim. He had it all planned out and I knew nothing about it!
Yet to come….
11. Jacob teaching me 6 songs on the piano.
12. Going for a hot-air balloon ride in Temecula.
13. Going on a tandem bike ride.
14. Going to the Anatolian Festival.
15. Eating a banana split sundae at Farrell’s.
16. Taking a dance lesson with Steve.
17. Shooting a gun.
18. Hosting/participating in a Murder-Mystery Dinner
Not sure yet how/when it will happen, but hopeful I can still…..
19. Have my portrait sketched/painted
20. Visit the Museum of Tolerance
21. Donate blood
22. Have my eyebrows waxed.
23. Buy a Dutch oven.
24. Go a whole month without missing a single day of a quiet time with God.
25. Tour the L.A. Central Library
26. Play a Geo-caching game with the family.
27. Organize all my recipes.
28. Visit the Disney Hall
29. Write a mission statement for my children.
30. List 40-50 things that have happened to me to shape who I am.
31. Camp in the backyard.
32. Go in our pajama’s to Cafe 50’s.
33. Visiting the Getty at night.
34. Perhaps going to the Museum of Tolerance.
35. Making a switch from coffee to tea in the morning.
I’m thrilled to have Natalie be my art teacher. She is enjoying the thrill of being Mama’s teacher. She will teach me how to make my very own water color painting. 🙂