Turning forty seemed about as exciting as going to the dentist. We actually really love our dentist, but truth be told, I dread every appointment.
In my younger years, reaching the top of the proverbial hill didn't seem that big of a deal, but once I found my self there--feeling slower, chubbier and less "with it" than I have in years--I really didn't want to go over it. But alas, I couldn't stop forty from coming and there really are lots of fabulous things about this stage in life, so let's celebrate those, shall we?
If you know me, you know that I delight in all things pumpkin. Having a fall birthday often lends itself to pumpkin-flavored gifts. A fellow employee at work has been making small gifts for each member of our staff every month. This person remains a mystery to everyone, but whomever it is comes up with the cutest little gifts that are themed for that month's birthdays. This was the first birthday gift I received:
Pumpkin bread was baked in that jar and it was delicious!
Other thoughtful cards and gifts followed. My in laws and parents both sent birthday money. Who doesn't love birthday money? My mother-in-law wrote a really sweet message in her card to me and my own mom, who is known for indulgent gifts, included these words, "I'm sending a little extra this year because every 40 yr. old mom deserves a massage!"
There seems an expectation that forty should be celebrated in extravagant ways. About six years ago, Jon and I went on a trip to Cancun for a friend's surprise 40th birthday party. My sister-in-law celebrated on the beach in Hawaii. I saw on Facebook that an old high school friend recently had a barn dance with all of her friends and family. Perhaps due to financial and time restraints, my birthday was none of those things. It was simple. But it was perfect.
I came home from work to find this beautiful flower arrangement from Jon:
Then we loaded our overnight bags into the car and headed toward a secluded cabin near Mount Rainier. I kind of have a love affair with Mount Rainier, you know. On our way there, we stopped for a gigantic lunch at Black Angus. I had the salmon, he had the steak. A little further up the road, we stopped again to rent a couple of movies and buy snacks like Dove chocolates and microwave popcorn for later.
We arrived at our cabin at dusk.
After getting settle in, we built a campfire under the crystal clear sky that was bursting with brilliant stars. The mountain air was cold and crisp and perfectly pine-scented. Heavenly, really.
We talked while sipping hot cocoa. (And Jon made dorky faces when I pointed the camera in his direction.)
But soon the warmth of the fire and hot cocoa were not enough to overpower the dropping temperatures, so we slipped into our private hot tub.
Later I got into my footy pajamas--oh boy do I really love those!--and we watched a couple of movies while eating birthday dessert.
My friend Camille had given me pumpkin cupcakes which were the perfect treat.
The cabin had a cute little shelf where couples could leave a little something to celebrate their time there.
The very first Dove chocolate we ate had a most perfect saying. So we smoothed out the wrapper, signed and dated it and added it to the collection.
The windowless bedroom allowed us to sleep late into the morning. Outside birds were chirping and sunbeams burst through the evergreens. Stunningly gorgeous, I tell you!
That's our private fire pit right there:
The hot tub was just as wonderful in the frosty morning as it had been the night before.
What were our kids doing this whole time? Well that right there is one of the wonderful things about the stage of life we are in. Our kids were home, very responsibly and ably holding down the fort all on their own.
We weren't originally planning to go into Mount Rainier National Park, but with the weather being so picturesquely perfect, we couldn't pass up the opportunity.
The views were spectacular. We drove up to Paradise and went on a short hike to some water falls.
That's me in a t-shirt. In November!
We stopped at the National Park Inn at Longmore for lunch before heading home.
The entire little get away really could not have been any more perfect. So in the end, I guess turning forty wasn't so bad after all. And besides, I still have that birthday massage to look forward to!