I celebrated my birthday on Saturday, but really it was a weekend-long string of activities. It was a mix of things that were fun for me and things that were (at least supposed to be) fun for the kids, with the usual mix of highs and lows.
I started Friday morning in Chicago, giving my breakout session for the agriculture conference. This went quite well despite a last minute curve ball (I’d planned to do a panel of sorts with three people who’d kept track of their time beforehand — but then two of three couldn’t make it! So I winged it, but they were a great group, and the discussion flowed well). My taxi driver to O’Hare was a bit of a character. We got into a discussion of Chi-Raq, which turned into a discussion of Nick Cannon, which led to him insisting that I watch Wild ‘N Out. He proceeded to load this up on his phone so I could watch an episode with the sound coming through the taxi speakers. It was, in fact, pretty funny. As a speaker who’d just had to wing a whole session, I appreciate the fine art of comedic improv.
The security line at O’Hare was horrible, which was made worse by the fact that I’d just applied for a pre-check number, and had one, but couldn’t get it to come up on my boarding pass. So I was stuck in the main line. I mollified myself with a salad from Frontera Grill for lunch. My flight back to PHL was uneventful. Unlike with my London trip in October, I didn’t have enough time to drive home in between train and plane trips. I went to 30th St Station and into NYC for the Young New Yorkers’ Chorus concert. The music was beautiful, and a great way to ring in my birthday. I am neither young nor a New Yorker anymore, but I do miss singing with them. I walked to and from the concert to the train station, and got to see the Bryant Park Christmas Village and the lights of Times Square. I got home at midnight but it took a while to get to sleep as the 8-year-old was still up, and once I got him down, the baby woke up. At least I got to sleep until around 7:30 in the morning.
On Saturday we drove to Lancaster to do a “Christmas with the Conductor” event I’d signed up for at the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania. We listened to the Polar Express, got hot chocolate, and decorated a train-shaped cookie. We visited Santa, and got to telegraph the kids’ requests to the North Pole. We played with toy trains for a while (the baby really enjoyed the Thomas set!) and then ate lunch at a restaurant that was in a train car. We visited an old cemetery where some of my husband’s ancestors turn out to be buried, then headed back toward our neck of the woods. I waited in the van with a sleeping baby while we stopped at the ski shop to rent skis for the big kids for the season. Then it was home where the kids insisted we needed to get our Christmas tree, and bake me a cake. So that’s what happened for the next 2.5 hours. We got a tree from the local fire house’s fundraising sale, and decked it with great enthusiasm.
Our babysitter came at 6:30 so my husband and I could go to the Dilworthtown Inn for my birthday dinner. This is an old, historic setting, and was reasonably cozy with lights and fireplaces and such. The food was fine, although it took a looooong time. I guess the upside is that we could enjoy each other’s company! Likewise on the 40 minute drive there and back. I’d wanted to try the restaurant but I’m not sure we’ll go out of our way to go again. Fortunately, the 8-year-old was asleep this time when we got home.
On Sunday I took the big three kids to church. We made it on time, which was good, because the organist was playing Bach’s Wachet Auf – my favorite piece of organ music – as a prelude. We’re never on time, so that was fortunate. Then we had the Advent workshop after and the kids had fun decorating stockings and ornaments and such. We came home and ate my cake and opened my present (a necklace). Then, after a bit of downtime, we went to Sesame Place for the Very Furry Christmas.
It was…ok. The place was a lot more crowded than I thought it would be. I guess any slightly-warmer day in December will do that. We saw a show, and a parade, and rode on a few rides, but the lines were pretty long. And it got cold. So there was some serious complaining. We took off before too long and went to Uno Chicago Grill. We thought this would be a big hit with the kids, but we went to a different one than our local one, and they do different things. Like, not automatically bringing breadsticks. At the local one, they give the kids dough to shape, which then comes back baked and covered in cinnamon sugar later in the meal. The kids love that — and the restaurant we went to didn’t do that. So there was much complaining there too. I attempted to convey to the children that if it were up to only me and Daddy we would not be spending our Sunday afternoon at Sesame Place and a pizza restaurant, so it would be nice if they could at least be pleasant about it. Oh well. Home, and everyone to baths and bed.
Photo: The cake, with letters courtesy the 8-year-old. His handwriting is a lot better than my husband’s, so this was probably a good choice. Sorry about the blurriness. My iPhone is acting up.