Sunday, June 5, 2011

Good Friends and Birthday Flashback

So, I think I have SAD. You know, seasonal affective disorder. I hole up and retreat slightly from about mid-January to mid-March. And I wait and wait and wait for the sun. And soon, I'm craving the warmth and light of sunshine the same way I crave chocolate once a month.

There's probably some element of post-holiday let down/anniversary of my Dad's death/my Dad's birthday thrown in that timing, but the lack of sun certainly doesn't help. I think my mental and emotional health necessitates sun and warmth in wintertime.

In 2009, we went to Disney World and that really seemed to help a lot. It's taken a while for us to recognize this pattern, but I think we've figured out that there is one, so we're definitely looking into visiting sunny, warm places around February/March. Like Harry Potter World. You know, for my health. Ahem.

The tricky thing is that my birthday is in early March and so I'm usually in a bit of a slump, making cheery birthday time a bit of a challenge (which is especially rough since I totally love birthdays). Though I suppose that's sort of a "bonus thing" when you look at going someplace sunny as a solution. Beach in March? Happy birthday to me! But I digress (hold your shock).

Wait! One more digression. Come sunny spring weather, we make up for it by doing about 50,978 or so things and have fun, fun, fun. Life is good.

I love 4 seasons very much, but by mid-January, I am ready for spring. Anyway, this past winter was no exception. But, here's the thing. There were some lovely bright spots. The sun might not have provided much light or warmth, but good friends did.

This is all stuff I wanted to blog about even back then, but I just haven't been very on top of picture uploading and blogging-as-we-do-things. It's been somewhat by choice. Rather than constantly chronicling what we're doing, I want to be in the moment and just enjoy it, you know?

But yet, I also want to blog more and post pictures. Because I like blogging a lot. I like writing and sharing. I enjoy the process and hearing from readers. See, I tend to get caught up on reading other people's blogs before allowing myself to sit down and write my own. But I've got a lot of stuff to share, so I'm hoping to spend more time doing it.

(Of course I'm saying this in a month where only about 7 of the 30 days are days in which we don't have out-of-town guests! And, truth be told, we LOVE hosting and enjoy spending time with family and friends, so I don't see myself getting to too much, but we'll see). :)

Hmmm, maybe we should open a bed-and-breakfast . . . but again, I digress.

Bright spots.

How about the day that I was having a typical wintery day and this showed up at my door?

This wasn't even a birthday gift. This was a wonderful "just because" treat and the timing was great. Just when I was feeling kind of bleh and maybe even unappreciated, I got this beautiful (and delicious!) edible basket of fruit.

And the best part? The note.

I hope I don't embarrass her by posting this, but this blog does serve as a type of journal for our family and I really want to document this. I consider myself a very lucky person in many, many ways. I value friendship deeply and I love to do things for my friends. And I can't say enough how much it touched me to be on the receiving end of such a thoughtful "just because" gesture of appreciation from one of my dearest friends. It was a wonderful surprise that brought tears to my eyes.

The very next day, Mother Nature herself decided to bestow upon us a spring-like day in February, so my friend Cristin and I took our children and our new puppies on a walk at a local park. It was GREAT to get outside. And the dogs did great with each other. Enjoying dogs and sunny days with friends? Also great balm for the winter blues.

Shep and Scout

A couple of days after that, our family traveled to State College and attended Penn State THON (a ginormous cancer awareness and support and fund raising event) as invited special guests of our friends, the Waldrons. We were happy to go there and show our support for Jake and their family. As soon as I walked into the arena and heard the music and saw all the people supporting families of kids battling cancer, I immediately started crying. It was an overwhelming and special, spiritual experience really.

After a full day of dancing and water fights!
Me and Kristie -
I like this picture of us

Then, two of my closest girl friends growing up (Cathy and Kellie) came for another weekend of fun. This time, they brought kids. And one of my high school friends, E.J., also joined us. The crew came from 3 different states and there were 10 of us in the house and every single guest room was in use (plus some!). It was a PARTY. Roller skating, ice cream, unlimited lazer tag, video games, Glee, Chocolate world, music, and good food were all involved. Much sleeping was not. And I'm especially glad that my friends here got to meet my crazy MA friends. But, that's a post for another time. It's coming, I promise.

Scout got groomed and the groomer put a sweet, little bow in her hair. Definitely a bright spot. This little dog totally has our hearts.

On my birthday itself, I got breakfast in bed with my kids and enjoyed some really neat homemade cards, then I got to . . .

watch Mark and Thing 1 test for their next belt in Tae Kwon Do,

eat a fantastic lunch at a great seafood restaurant, open presents, enjoy phone calls, emails, blog comments, and texts from family and friends, and have a great homemade Mexican dinner as well as my "cake," delicious homemade flan made by my awesome husband. Yum!

Several good friends found ways to make my birthday special, too. I absolutely LOVED when my good friend Cristin came up to me after a homeschool activity and handed me a gift bag full of these things:

How awesome is that?!? I thought it was a SUPER clever gift. You can tell she knows me well. :) This is something I really, really enjoyed and would not have bought for myself. What a treat! I felt a little spoiled by it and totally enjoyed every chocolate morsel and every gossip-filled page!!

My sweet friend Laura made me a really neat homemade card (she's totally crafty) and her little girl made me that paper doll -- you can't tell from the picture, but she even glued yarn hair to the back, which I thought was super cute.

Later in the month, my husband surprised me with a great "just because" surprise one evening.

A private, candlelit picnic dinner in our library -- fresh fruit and veggies, hummus dips, prosciutto, breads, cheeses, dinner music . . . it was really nice!

A couple of days after that, determined to celebrate my birthday during my birthday month (things got crazy), Kristie took me out for a REALLY nice, fun day where she totally spoiled me rotten with gifts and good food and great fun. I love everything she did for me that day, but especially loved getting to spend the whole day with her (and Ellie!).

Ugh. My eyes are closed.
This is us at the Hershey Lodge having a FABULOUS brunch
in the most awesome booth EVER. The booth walls go SO high!
And the lights were so cool.
And the food? Oh. My. Wow.

After brunch, she had a special surprise for me. But before we could get there, she would first almost run out of gas, then cut someone off in traffic, and then get us lost. We were laughing so hard, I think we were both crying. We felt like teenagers again.

Once we got out of the wrong part of Harrisburg alive, she took me to "Color Me Mine," a really great place to sit and be creative with friends. You go in, pick a pottery piece, all the paint colors and brushes/sponges you want, and you create! They glaze it when you're done and you pick them up a week later. So so neat. She was worried I might not like it, but the truth is, I loved it! We picked out matching tall mugs and similar colors and painted for a couple of hours. It was sooooo relaxing and it felt good to be creative. Ellie helped, too. :)

Here we are with our mugs!

You can't tell in the picture, because the mugs hadn't been fired in the kiln yet, but they are SUPER bright and cheery (we did 3 coats). And, as per her awesome, intuitive idea, we try to get together about once a week on some evening once kids are in bed and we either talk or watch some Modern Family while we drink out of our awesome mugs. I love it!

After the pottery outing, we got some delicious Coldstone Creamery and laughed and ate all the way back to our house where we attended book club together. It was a really great day and I so appreciate her making it so special for me. I could tell that she really hoped I would like everything she planned and did for me. And I really, truly did. I'm so grateful for her friendship.

So, the moral of the story is that even when it's winter and the sun isn't making it particularly sunny or warm and we're feeling a little bleh because you have self-diagnosed SAD, the wonderful people in our lives who love us can create our very own bright, warm, happy spots. I hope I haven't left anyone out in this post. If I did, I didn't mean to. So many people did thoughtful things for me for my birthday and, mentioned or not, I am grateful to all. I love and appreciate my family and friends and the warmth and happiness they bring to me.


Cristin said...

That January-March stretch can be pretty long...I'm so glad it's June. Love the photos! And love the digressions. I'm so glad you enjoyed your magazines and M&M's. :) The Hershey Lodge sounds sooo nice.

And you know what? I think I need to visit someplace warm next year for my health, too. Someplace like...oh, I dunno...the Bahamas.

the emily said...

You make me jealous for friends. That sounds like a fantastic winter to me.

Have I ever told you the story about the tray you gave us for our wedding? It's just like the one in your picture of your library picnic...I might have to blog that story. SO funny.

Boquinha said...

Cristin, I'm so glad it's June, too! The weather has been, for the most part, GORGEOUS. Like today. Beautiful! And the magazines and chocolate were so perfect -- guilty pleasures gifted by someone else? Perfect!

Emily, I don't know that story! I have to get caught up on my blog reading. I'm hoping to do that today. I'll go check it out and see if you've posted it!

terahreu said...

Happy Birthday, Stacy! I wish I could send you loads of sun so you don't get the seasonal blues. We have PLENTY here. More than I care to have. In fact, I beg for a dark cloud or two. It never comes.

Life is definitely brighter when you have great friends!

J Fo said...

The gloomy weather really makes for some gloomy moods here too. (Especially when it's still snowing in May!) I love all of those little thoughtful things. It really makes you feel thought of and appreciated doesn't it? Especially the just because things. This post sure makes me wish we lived closer!

Boquinha said...

I hear you, Terah. In Arizona, I longed for the occasional cloudy day or rain! I like 4 seasons. I just wish winter were abnormally short. :P

Thanks, Jess. I so so so wish you were closer, too.