Thursday, April 17, 2014

Reflections on 37

Today is my 37th birthday. I've never been one to worry too much about getting older. I have always seen it as simply part of life; the natural way of things. We all get older. Plus, if I start complaining about being "old" when I'm in my 30's or 40's, I am literally going to spend more than half my life complaining about my age. How does that make any sense? We either get older each year, or, well, we don't... meaning, we're dead. I'll take older, thankyouverymuch!

But sliding down the other side of my 30's, I am struck by how things have changed. I've had the same group of good friends since we were all in our 20's, and we often look around at our lives and wonder, "How did this all happen?!?" Gone are the days of hanging out after work until late on Friday nights, and sleeping in on Saturdays; of spontaneous road trips and weeknight snowboarding; of reading that 1000 page book cover to cover in 36 hours, barely coming up for air. For you, it probably looked a little different, your life as a young adult. But if you're heading towards 40 (or beyond), you have probably noticed things aren't quite the same as they were 10 or 15 years ago. (Especially if you have kids!)

So in honor of my birthday, here are some reflections on my later-30's:

Ten years ago was not 1998
Have you seen that meme? Good grief, that is SO true. I still think 10 years ago was sometime in the 90's. I'm not sure when my mental calendar is going to catch up with the rest of the earth, but I am still floored when I think about how many years have passed since certain milestones, like high school graduation or my marriage (20 years next year, and 15 years in June, respectively).

Movie theater trips are for GOOD movies
David and I were movie people. Before we had kids, we probably saw a movie at least 3 or 4 times a month. We saw just about everything. And if it was awesome, we saw it again. Now, between the expense of going to the movies (seriously, why is it so freakishly expensive!), plus the need for a babysitter, we reserve going to the movie theater for movies we really want to see on the big screen. Even movies that look enjoyable, but aren't necessarily visual or action-packed, don't make the cut. It needs to be theater-worthy, and our standards are pretty high.

"Late" has a new meaning
My first 6 or 7 years of motherhood were spent with at least one child who either a) didn't yet sleep through the night, b) woke at 6am or earlier, or c) both. I was in bed by 10pm every single night. Now my kids are more merciful and don't wake at such an awful hour (have I mentioned I am NOT a morning person?), but I still need to go to bed by 11 in order to be a nice human the next day. Staying up late used to mean 3 or 4am. Now? I'm a crazy party animal if I'm up past midnight.

Shopping for cars is all about utility, and rarely about coolness
I can't even think about cars with any sense of what might be cool to drive anymore. Cars are a tool to get from point A to point B, with a zoo of kids in tow. I wasn't a big car person before, but now? I drive a minivan. And I love that thing. Seriously, the doors slide open so I don't have to freak out about my kids dinging the car next to them! There's plenty of space so they rarely wind up elbowing each other in the back seat! What more do you need out of a car than that? I'm so out of touch with "cars as status or coolness symbol" that when my husband has asked me what kind of car I'd get if I could have any car in the world, I can't fathom anything with seating for less than 7.

I'm still me
My mom once told me that one of the strange things about getting older is that you still feel like yourself - the you from your twenties or thirties or whatever. But as the number gets higher, you feel like you ought to be different somehow. When you're 25, someone who is 40 seems a LOT older than you. You might not think of them as an "old person," but they seem like they are in a different category than you are. It's like the seniors when you're a freshman - dude, they're SENIORS. They're on some other plane of existence. In young adulthood, adults who are a decade or more older than you seem similar - older, more experienced, maybe lamer (maybe not). But then you hit that age, and you think, "Wait, I'm not lame. I'm not some old fuddy duddy. I'm still ME. I'm still the ME that I was when I thought 37-year-olds were like waaaay older than me." And yet now you're the 37 year old. Or in this case, I am. Weird.

Getting older is a funny thing. We move through seasons of life and watch things change, and yet who we are, at our core, remains. I have more experience and (hopefully) more wisdom than I once did. I'm rockin' a little bit of pixie dust in my hair, and my life has certainly changed in a lot of ways. But I'm still me.

With a minivan.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Our medieval feast

My kids decided weeks ago that they wanted to have a medieval feast. We've been reading and learning about the middle ages over the last few months, and this seemed like a fun way to wrap up our study of this fascinating time period.

I wanted to keep it simple. No roasting a suckling pig all day or making seven courses of decorated tartlets and meat pies. Medieval lords had a staff of cooks and servants - they simply had to shell out the gold, show up, and eat all day. Me? No staff here. So simple it was. We invited some family, served some good food, and the boys put on a show - good times.

The boys had been working for days on their knight costumes. David even sewed himself a cloak.

It turned out really well. They also used poster board, card stock and a lot of duct tape to make armor. Add to that their shields bearing the colors they chose and their coats of arms, and they were decked out!

Dinner, as I said, was simple - but awesome, if I do say so myself. We had roasted turkey legs, ham (of course they had Honeybaked ham in the middle ages, duh!), soup, crusty bread, and some assorted cheese and fruit plates. It was easy to throw together, and everyone had a great meal. Since there wasn't a ton of preparation involved in making dinner, I made a couple of medieval-inspired desserts. The apple turnovers may not have been strictly authentic, but pastries with fruit filling were common at feasts; and they were delicious, thanks to my amazing Grandma's apple pie recipe. I also made some lemon cakes, which were somewhat authentic, although made with modern ingredients. And they were good - really good. Seriously, go make some.

Our table. Yes, those are paper plates. Remember the not having of servants? Yeah.
We had medieval harp music on in the background (thank you Spotify). We said it was a minstrel in the corner, certainly not a cell phone hooked up to a set of speakers. The kids also made some decorations to make our feast more medieval.


Ella made this torch all by herself. I love that she added flower and butterfly stickers
The sign David made to greet our guests. It might be hard to see in the photo, but he drew dragon heads and the tissue paper is their fire breath
After dinner, the two Prince Knights did battle in the arena! I wish my camera had not chosen that moment to run out of batteries, but I did get part of their tournament. It was a lot of fun. They wound up calling it a draw at the end, hugging and bowing to each other. Seriously, these kids are ridiculous. I love them. (And I can't get the video to upload here, but here's a picture of the beginning of their battle.)

It was a great evening. We enjoy any excuse to invite family and friends to eat lots of good food, so this was right up our alley. And keeping it simple meant it wasn't a source of stress or tons of work for me (which can definitely happen when my kids have ambitious ideas). Maybe we'll have some fun and do a big meal from other time periods we study.