Family

Birthday Diva 3

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After demanding diamond earrings this year, and throwing a hissy fit after last year’s missing husband bicycle catastrophe, it’s probably apparent that I’m somewhat high maintenance when it comes to birthdays.

While I realize this isn’t the most appealing quality, it’s actually not my fault.

You see, my birthday diva tendencies are completely genetic.

Dad

The original birthday diva.

That’s right — my dad, who celebrated his sixty-fourth birthday earlier this month, is even worse than I am.

There is one difference worth noting. While my birthday demands tend to come with a hefty price tag, Mark wants all of his birthday glory free of charge.

Let me explain.

Last Friday night, our family went out to dinner at our favorite Mexican restaurant in Coronado, California. While the food does cost over ten dollars a plate, there’s free bottomless chips and salsa, so Mark agrees to dine there. We had just settled into our seats when I heard the faint sound of singing. Gradually, the melody grew louder and louder, until the table next to us was surrounded by six different waitors singing the restaurant’s official birthday song. As the performance commenced, the birthday “Ponchito” was presented with a slice of ice cream cake that was quite literally the size of a small pony.

I tried not to make eye contact with my dad, but it was too late. The seed had already been planted.

“We should tell them it’s my birthday” he suggested.

“Dad,” I calmly responded, “you’re birthday was eight days ago.”

“So?” he shrugged. “I didn’t get free dessert anywhere else on my birthday…I might as well claim it now!”

I rolled my eyes and went back to my chips and queso. This universal rule about being able to transfer your free birthday dessert to a later date was certainly news to me.

By the time our waitor had returned to take dinner orders, it seemed Mark had forgotten all about the free cake. Unfortunately, the Ponchito sitting on the other side of our table just so happened to also be celebrating a birthday. As the second slice of pony-sized ice cream cake whizzed by our table, Marks eyes gleamed with envy and desire. Again, I did everything in my power to avoid eye contact.

“Hey,” he whispered, “When the guy comes back, tell him it’s my birthday.”

“But Mark, it’s not your birthday” my mom protested.

“How are they going to know?” he grinned. “I don’t have my wallet, remember?”

This was true. Dad’s wallet had been missing for twenty-four hours. Suddenly, I wondered if the missing billfold was a desperately elaborate scheme for free frozen dairy product.

Each time the waitor breezed by our table, dad begged us to let him know it was his birthday. After three failed attempts, Mark decided to take matters into his own hands.

“Excuse me,” he inquired while tapping the waitor’s elbow. “How far from your actual birthday does it have to be for you to get the free cake?”

We cringed. Scott buried his face in the chip basket out of pure shame. I swooped in to salvage what was left of this humiliating exchange.

“Sorry sir,” I nervously muttered, “His birthday was…um…yesterday, but well, we didn’t get a chance to celebrate until tonight. Do you think you could sing to him?”

Our server generously obliged. As he walked away Dad turned to me and winked, wearing the biggest smile I’d seen on his face in a very long time.

Twenty minutes later, his moment in the spotlight arrived.

While most people blush a deep shade of crimson when publicly serenaded with a Tex-Mex version of “Happy Birthday”, Mark chose to sit a little taller, savoring each wonderful second of complimentary birthday glory. He glowed with pride as he claimed the attention of the room, along with his very own slice of pony-sized ice cream cake.

I’d be lying if I said the largest portion of the pony-sized ice cream cake didn’t go to me. Us birthday divas have to stick together, after all.

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Fanny packs need love, too. 1

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Is it just me, or does anyone else revert to their childhood self when they get together with their family?

Unfortunately for myself (and my next of kin) my childhood self is…well…kind of a brat.

Late last night, Scott and I returned to ‘Sota after five days in beautiful California with my parents and younger brother.

My brother is stationed in San Diego, and scheduled to leave on his first deployment to the Middle East in just a few weeks. We wanted to make it down to California to see him off and spend some quality family time together.

Let’s just say we certainly got our family time in. Remember how we still hadn’t booked a hotel last week?

I think you can see where this is going.

Long story short, Scott, myself, both my parents and my brother ended up holing up at his two-bedroom apartment. There were five adults and only four bath towels.

Did I mention he has a roommate?

To say we wore out our welcome would be an understatement.

To say I grew slightly crabby after being in such close quarters with my parents?

Also an understatement.

A gross understatement.

Essentially, I fought with my dad for the majority of the trip. I’m certainly not proud of this, but anyone who knows both myself and my father is probably not all that surprised. Basically, we’re the exact same person aside from our gender, age, and spending habits.

Also? He willingly wears fanny packs.

Anyway…both my dad and I are extremely stubborn. We also both insist on getting our way. Unfortunately, my way is generally the polar opposite of his way, which results in some good old-fashioned head butting.

Figuratively speaking, of course.

(Most of the time.)

The funny thing is, I always regret our little spats after the fact. Yet during the actual argument…I seem to be totally on auto-pilot. It’s as if I’ve been transported back into my snotty, Old Navy-wearing, hormone-raging, sixteen-year-old self, and am completely incapable of acting like an adult and simply biting my tongue, no matter how hard I try.

Also…we fight over the silliest things. There was literally a fifteen minute debacle regarding milkshakes.

So, while the trip was a total blast, my sassy tantrum-throwing ways certainly put a damper on things. I really feel terrible about squandering the last visit before Leif deploys by engaging in petty squabbles and making snide remarks towards my dad.

I realize this blog is typically a place of jest and facetiousness, but today, I’m being one-hundred-percent serious– please take every opportunity you have to treat your family with love, respect and care.

Even if they do willingly wear fanny packs and have horrible taste in milkshakes.

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‘Til Compost Do Us Part

‘Til Compost Do Us Part 6

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Yesterday, Scott and I celebrated 5 years of wedded bliss.

Scott and Katrina wedding photo

Although if you average everything out, it’s technically been about three years of wedded bliss, a year and a half of “meh”, and six months of “If-you-even-look-at-me-right-now-there’s-a pretty-good-chance-I’m-going-to-shank-you-with-the-toilet-scrubber.”

Please tell me I’m not the only married person who feels this way.

Five years later, no one has actually followed through on the toilet scrubber threat, so I figure we’re in pretty good shape. Also…toilets get way cleaner when you scrub them while you’re angry.

Just saying.

Scott’s family was in town this weekend, so we didn’t have our traditional romantic dinner, which was fine by me. I lucked out with some pretty awesome in-laws, and spending our anniversary with them was a total blast.

Spending our anniversary cleaning rotten compost juice from the trunk of our car?

Not a total blast.

Let’s start from the beginning, shall we?

Scott and I offered to host the family for a day of Smalltown-style fun on Saturday. By the time everyone arrived, our compost bin was practically bursting at the seams. Living in an apartment means we’re forced to drive our bin nearly ninety minutes to Scott’s dad’s house whenever we need a place to legally empty it. As we were about to cook two large meals for twelve people, an empty compost bin for scraps would have been ideal. Yet despite our imperfect circumstances, the King of Composting was somehow able to work his magic, pressing the compost down to make room for eight more pounds of organic material. By the time we drove it to his dad’s place the next morning, it was packed tighter than Times Square on New Years. I swear…the thing had to weigh at least 30 pounds–carrying it down the stairs was like a smellier version of lifting weights.

Things were complicated by the fact that before stopping at Scott’s dad’s place, we drove two hours to watch him compete in a mountain biking race. I recall hearing a thump in the trunk of the car about fifteen minutes into the drive, but assumed it was one of the mammoth salad-filled Pyrex bowls we had packed to share for lunch. Fortunately, the bowls are sealed with some pretty serious lids, so I didn’t think twice about one of them potentially falling over.

Five hours later, and about fifteen minutes from my father-in-law’s home, Scott made a critical observation.

“Something smells like…vinegar.”

“Yeah,” I replied, “I noticed that, too. Uh…is it your feet?”

(If by some off-chance, you saw two adults–one of whom was driving–and a small child heading north on I-94 while smelling each other’s feet at approximately 2:30 pm yesterday, now you know why. The fact that we didn’t get pulled over is nothing short of astounding.)

While I’m happy to report that everyone’s tootsies smelled fresh as daisies, I’m not so happy to say that the culprit was about forty ounces of putrified compost juice.

Putrified compost juice that had baked in the trunk of our car for approximately five hours in 100 degree heat.

Putrified compost juice that, by my estimation, came mostly from some rotten tomatoes and egg shells that were about three weeks old.

We stood there scrunching our faces, trying not to breathe, and wondering how in the world we were going to undo this extremely unfortunate organic tsunami. Finally, I broke the silence.

“Hey, Scott…can you get brain damage from a smell?”

(In case you’re curious, brain damage smells as if Satan himself had rolled about in a vat of cream cheese and cigarette ashes before descending in to the heat of hell and working out for seven consecutive days without so much as a shower of single swipe of deodorant.)

As everyone ran off to play volleyball and prepare lunch, Scott and I were tasked with cleaning up the “compost gravy”. He assured me neurological damage from the odor was out of the question, but I wore a protective mask as a precaution anyway.

Happy Freaking Anniversary.

While I certainly would have hoped to avoid the great compost flood altogether, I’ve got to say, Scott and I made a pretty good team. He removed the lining of the trunk, hosing it down with soap and water, before laying it out to dry in the sun. I threw all of our reusable grocery bags in the washing machine and sanitized the dozens of pieces of contaminated Tupperware. Together, we wiped the rancid sludge from the nooks and crannies of Jolie’s pink dog crate.

We didn’t fight, we didn’t blame, we didn’t even complain. Without any verbal communication whatsoever, we divided and conquered. We didn’t rest until the trunk smelled less like cream cheese Satan, and more like a Febreeze overdose.

We were a team.

A really good team.

As I sat on the front porch, vigorously scrubbing the compost bin with a toilet brush, I wasn’t even halfway tempted to shank my compost obsessed husband with it…partly because I was sure it would be really efficient way to give him MRSA, but mostly because I genuinely love the guy.

Finally removing my protective mask, I started thinking about the nine years I’ve spent with Scott as my boyfriend and husband. Suddenly, I realized the last sixty minutes had been one giant, foul smelling metaphor.

Sometimes, life is a lot like a lot like a compost disaster in the trunk of your car. It sucks, it smells like Satan’s B.O., and it seriously tests the boundaries of your sanity.

But it’s a whole lot easier to handle when you have your best friend by your side.

Love you, Scott.

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Twenty Eight 22

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In a mere eleven days, I’ll be turning twenty-eight years old.

As a matter of fact, I’ll be turning twenty-eight on the twenty-eighth, which means this year is my golden birthday!

I’ve imagined my golden birthday on many occasions, and always seem to conjure up visions of travelling with a group of friends to New Orleans or Las Vegas and wearing a sparkly gold dress so that I would literally be golden on my golden birthday.

Yes, these are the things I choose to occupy my brain with.

Instead, we’ll be spending the weekend with Scott’s family, who is coming to visit us in Minnesota for our annual summer get together. Honestly, playing sand volleyball and going to the lake will probably be a lot more fun than spending way too much money on sparkly mini skirts and plane tickets–even if it means I’ll be covered with mosquito bites as opposed to gold sequins. The older I get, the more I realize that spending time with those you care about trumps wearing a fancy outfit any day of the week. (Managing to do both at the same time? #Winning.)

My upcoming birthday has caused me to think less about sparkly dresses, and more about my existence in general. Realistically, I’m about 1/3 of the way through this big adventure we call life. This has made me consider where I’m at and where I want to go next. What have I already accomplished? What do I still want to accomplish? Is this where I thought I’d be at the age of twenty-eight?

I believe major life events, and birthday’s in particular, are a great time for a good old self-evaluation. Let’s see how I measure up.

Stuff I’m proud of:

Earning my master’s degree: Let’s just say I’m glad this is out of the way.

My job: I got really lucky here. I work as a web designer at one of the best organizations in the world. I love the people I work with and the changes we are striving for.

My marriage: Spoiler alert: marriage is not easy. Not at all. The day after my birthday Scott and I will celebrate our fifth anniversary. It’s been extremely challenging yet incredible rewarding — I’m particularly proud of this one.

Starting this blog and working on my book proposal.

My friends: I have an amazing network of people I’ve been lucky enough to know as a result of my time spent in Washington, New York, Nebraska and now Minnesota. When I think of the special peeps I know all over the country, I can’t help but smile.

Being SO INCREDIBLY CLOSE to paying off our student loans. There may or may not be a trip to Australia in the works once this goal is accomplished

 

Stuff I need to work on:

Save more money: Believe it or not, I think the plan is to stay in Minnesota and (gasp!) buy a house. This means I need to stop giving all of my money to Nordstroms and fatten up our piggy bank a bit lot.

Arrange life and finances so that Scott and I are able to start a family: Insert second gasp here.

Spend more time on my book proposal: This is currently my biggest goal, and I’ve been majorly slacking.

Be a better wife:  I’m trying my best to tame my control-freak tendencies and lighten up a bit, for the sake of Scott’s sanity.

Get my fitness and nutrition in line: Moving to Minnesota caused me to fall off the wagon, and I’ve been wallowing in a pool of greasy apple fritters ever since. It’s not pretty. (But it sure has been tasty!)

Focus on the important things: I’m pretty incredibly materialistic. This needs to become less of a priority in my life.

Be less of a people pleaser: While I’m incredibly honest on this here blog, I tend to be kind of a push-over in real life, and have serious issues with confrontation.

 

Stuff that’s surprised me:

I don’t have it all figured out: As a teenager and woman in my early twenties, I thought that surely, the magic switch of adulthood would have flipped on by age twenty-eight, resulting in a perfect and flawless life. I think I’m finally realizing that the magic switch of adulthood doesn’t exist.

It’s just the two three of us: The younger version of myself would have thought that we’d for sure have some non-chihuahua children at this point. While I certainly didn’t predict that we would start a family later in life, I’m really happy with our decision to wait on the whole having kids thing.

We’re still renting: My younger self would probably be shocked to know that at twenty-eight, I would be living in an apartment. And not just any apartment. An apartment that is in walking distance of the mall. (This is the part where my younger self screams in sheer terror.) I’m learning to love the freedom of renting, and have slowly accepted the fact that when you’ve moved six times in the last six years, owning a home isn’t always in the cards.

My metabolism has slowed down: I distinctly remember at the age of sixteen saying “I’m so glad I can eat whatever I want! I don’t know what I’d do if I ever had to go on a diet…I love food way too much.” This is the part where I’d like to go back in time and punch my sixteen-year old self in her perfectly sculpted abs and then yank on her pony tail before force feeding her a giant salad covered in non-fat dressing.

I’m becoming my parents: Both of them. I look like them, I act like them, I’ve picked up their good and bad habits. I’ve also started incorporating phrases they’ve coined into my daily vocabulary. “Uff Da!”, “That really frosts me.” and “Looking sharp!” are prime examples of this.

Even more frightening? The moments I look at my reflection in the mirror and see my younger brother Janss, wearing mascara, staring back at me.

My tastes haven’t changed: Scott loves to remind me that I still have the tastes of a fourteen-year-old when it comes to television, music, and even literature. I think he’s just jealous that I know all the lyrics to “Call Me Maybe” and actually read the Twilight series as opposed to copping out and just watching the movies.

****

There’s so much more, but I won’t bore you with the gory details. Now, I want to know about you. Do you keep a list of goals and accomplishments your proud of? Does the course of your life continuously surprise you? Do you still have a passion for teeny-bopper bands and MTV reality shows? Spill it in the comments section–if only to make me realize that I’m not alone here.

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