Sunday, January 08, 2012

40 to 40 update

At long last, here's the 40th birthday update. It ended up being very low-key. I kept trying to muster some excitement or interest in something extraordinary, but I finally accepted that it was okay not to want some big shindig and to instead just revel in the day and the knowledge that I'm happy, healthy and blessed.

I went to work and had a lovely lunch with some cool friends of mine who made me laugh, gave me gifts and reminded me that the best in life was yet to come.
Then my folks kept the kids so that Jason and I could have a solo, grownup dinner without retrieving silverware from under the table, or hoping that the server is kid-savvy enough to not place an open glass of anything (liquid, fire, salt) within arms-reach of the little ones, or making a run to the bathroom to assist a small person with their personal waste management. It was lovely.

I even got to try out a new place. I love fining new places. We did this a lot when we were kid-less. Even the ones that were not keepers were interesting experiences. To me at least.

Jason's deal is that he doesn't like to try any new restaurant when he's hungry. Because if it sucks, not only is he still hungry, he's spent money for it and still has to go find or buy something that doesn't suck. He sticks to what's tried and true. Since he's often hungry when we head out to eat, we don't try many new venues unless I do a reconnaissance run alone or with others beforehand to vet it.

This time, I found great reviews and comments on a place called Blueacre Seafood in downtown Seattle. The chef/co-owner is from Louisiana (yay!) and that came through in every dish.

Baseball-sized and delicious lump crab cake...

Oysters Casbarian with apple smoked bacon, fennel and anise...

Pan seared scallops and clams...

Some sort of awesome apple and cinnamon dessert thing with fresh cream. I was in foodie overload by that point. It all rocked.

The last time we went there, it was another restaurant called Oceanaire that was known for being very good but also extremely expensive. I remember going there with Jason and my folks after my mom had spent a night in the hospital for what turned out to be blood pressure-related sypmtoms.

Her discharge instructions included  something along the lines of "get more exercise, lose weight, and reduce your intake of fried and salty foods." That night, when the waiter arrived to take her order, my mom said, "I'll have the seafood tower," which was some three-tiered ode to every sea creature that could be batter dipped and fried in oil. We literally could not see over it on the table. Jason and I just looked at her in disbelief.

Apparently, it made an impression on my mom too. When we told her where we'd gone for our dinner and that it used to be Oceannaire, she and my dad both asked, almost in unison, "Did you have the seafood tower?!" Uh, no.

But every dish we had was fresh and delicious and our server was great. We'd been joking with him all night and at one point, he came back to the table with our bill to find us both staring intently into our respective phones.

"Oh, I'm sorry," he said, "I don't want to interrupt your sexting..." Ha!
He took this picture of us.

So in October I started a 40 days to 40 countdown with a list of things I wanted to at least start or make progress on before the big day. Here's how I fared.
    • Renew my study of the French language - in progress and online to boot! The key was finding a list of online learning resources that includes a section on languages. So enjoying this when I can fit it in late at night. The weekly reminder emails are great.
    • Learn to play chess - in progress. I mentioned this to someone and they're sending me a great book that they said helped their neice learn.
    • Plan and take a family trip to go innertubing in the snow - research complete. I found a great article on the Seattle Times website with info on local tubing locations for this winter. We're going in January and hoping to enlist some family members with kids to join us.
    • Take a photography class to learn to use our DSLR camera properly - not done
    • Do some career planning - in progress. Surprisingly, several folks I admire at work asked me specifically about this around my birthday and into December. One even met with me to do a visioning exercise aimed at deciding what my core purpose is, which will serve as a centering tool when I get distracted or overwhelmed with "why don't you do..." or "you have to do..."
    It will also help me prioritize my time and resources so that I'm working on or towards things that are central to my goal or purpose. It's kind of like that saying about journeys: if you don't know where you're going, any path will get you there.I see a corollary as there being many roads to get from here to there, but some take you out of your way while others are much more efficient. Sure, some of the side roads may be more interesting, and the direct route may seem kind of boring at times, but if you ultimately know where you're headed, you can make better decisions about whether to take the road less traveled or stick to the map.
    • Write letters to people I care about to tell them what they mean to me - not done. This is tough, especially around the holidays with all the hoopla and busy-ness to attend to. I think I can make it happen over the course of this year though.
    Work with a personal shopper to upgrade my wardrobe - not done. This will have to happen in phases, for financial as well as time reasons. But I've already identified a store that does this to make it happen. I just need to schedule the time.
    • Sponsor a local family for Thanksgiving or Christmas - I chose instead to contribute to a local charity that supports families and children in need, and to an organization that helps kids transitioning from foster care into young adulthood. It was a nice way to close out the year.
    • Get active! - I added this one after the original post and it's in progress. I don't really have the time to go to a gym before or after work, and frankly, the moist, recently used equipment kind of grosses me out. Always has. Even in college when everyone on the softball team had to work out in the gym.
    But I found out there's a small but nice gym in my building at work that I can use with a few stair masters, reclined bikes, treadmills, a small weight set and some exercise balls. But it will take some serious coordination to pack clothes and shower gear each week, in addition to the multiple bags I already carry to and fro (lunch, purse, laptop/work bag).

    • In the meantime, I've been using the exercise channels on my cable "On Demand" menu and they're pretty good. It's a start, right? Sure, I won't be so ripped it should be illegal extremely hot fit like Hugh Jackman in X-Men Wolverine Australia everything.
But I can work with what I've got. "What I've got" being a still-high metabolism and a not too shabby, nursing-assisted, post-pregnancy body.
  • And I want to set a good example for the kids, which seems to be working: the other night Ava asked if I could turn on the stretching and jumping show. I was perplexed for a moment thinking those damn Fresh Beat Band people had finally rotted her brain as feared, then I realized she meant the On Demand exercise shows.
    "Yes, I just feel like stretching and moving," she explained. Well let's encourage more of that, shall we?!
    • Play pool with Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson or Hugh Jackman - sadly, will never be done. But again, a girl can dream.
My favorite part of the day? It's always the cards. Especially the ones Jason got me from the kids, which were signed/scribbled on personally, and his card for me, which read: "Happy birthday to my wife who's still "got it"... [inside message] "From your husband who still "wants it"!

Now that's a great way to wrap up a 40th birthday. Hope your next birthday, milestone or not, is just what you want too.

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