Posted by: angelnorman | November 29, 2008

Lots of love and happiness.

Yesterday was my twenty-ninth birthday. It was a lovely day filled with my favorite people texting, calling, messaging via the internet, and visiting me… and me feeling especially loved as a result. I’ve been getting birthday love for well over a week now in some form– gifts here, early birthday wishes there, e-cards in my inbox before Thanksgiving, and the like. I could never ever complain about not feeling enough birthday lovin’!!! It’s just a further reminder beyond Thanksgiving of how blessed I am in this life: to be thought of so highly, to be special to so many people.

So I spent my special day in my favorite city in this great state, Chattanooga. Michael and I were just discussing this past week about how “at home” we feel in Chattanooga, and then for the millionth time about how we need to retire there. So it wasn’t exactly a spontaneous trip yesterday as we had clearly had Chattanooga on the brain all week. It seemed only fitting that we spend my birthday there.

We rented a car yesterday morning and drove down to visit the Tennessee Aquarium, which I haven’t been to in about 8 or so years. As I had never seen them, the penguins were by far my favorite exhibit; Nicholas delighted in watching them swim so swiftly pass the glass and Mike and I loved watching them move effortlessly from underwater to surface. My mom came along with us and I believe the penguins were probably her favorite exhibit too. My only complaint was that the exhibit was not big enough. I felt they should have had way more room devoted to these lovely creatures.

As we were looking on at them and remarking about how they walked with their little wings out, some man near us said to his son, “Smile and wave, boys. Smile and wave” a la Madagascar, and we laughed and laughed about that all day. It was really fun; Nicholas had a blast.

And how lucky am I that my birthday trip to Chattanooga just happened to fall on the same day as this event? My birthday + Christmas lights= best. day. ever. We rounded out our trip to the Aquarium by watching the beginning of the parade of lighted boats on the river. It was lovely, because it was just getting dark, and though there weren’t many boats there, there were enough to make us feel all Christmasy. Also, there were tons of people on the riverside, and there were guys selling glow-y things which we just HAD to buy when SOMEONE figured out that they were selling light sabers. And as if that wasn’t enough to look at, there were booths set up and selling all kinds of goodies- from local honey to candles to glass ornaments. And there was a concert going on, with a choir singing carols… Just fantastic, really. It was such a neat little affair; I wish they did something like that on the Cumberland. Or perhaps they do and I am just out of the loop.

Afterwards, we went to my favorite place in Chattanooga, the Bluffview Art District (of which you may or may not heard me speak of before) and more specifically, to Tony’s for dinner. Once we had stuffed ourselves completely with the excellent food- especially the bread- at Tony’s, we decided to walk across the way and have coffee and dessert at Rembrandt’s. I had a cafe mocha and a rather large slice of tiramisu that was so divine, I could have died right then and there a perfectly content person.

Later that night, we drove around town, through St. Elmo, up the mountain to Rock City and its fairytale surroundings. Just as we turned off to view all these things, the fireworks show started… how lucky am I that I get to see large fireworks displays going off on my birthday? Hehe. It was really cool.

And just in case you’re curious, this totally replaced the trip to Gatlinburg, which we realized we couldn’t do this week because HELLO! Mike is still in school. I’m not sure what we were thinking there; well, the truth is, we weren’t thinking at all, ha. It didn’t even cross our minds not even once, until I was asking Mike about his preparations for final exams– did he need to study, did he feel ready, etc. He was like, “CRAP! We can’t go to Gatlinburg next week! I can’t miss class!” Silly us. Though I was a bit bummed, I couldn’t help but be a little pleased as I really want to finish Christmas shopping and not spend so much money on little getaways, no matter how badly “needed” by all of us.

I am almost done with it. Almost.

Now, about Thanksgiving… it was truly good. We drove an hour and a half to get to Mike’s mom’s only to find that everyone had started eating without us. Awesome, huh? We ate a little, then looked at all the Christmas papers to make our Christmas lists. I talked my SILs into letting the kids draw names between themselves– Nicholas got my niece Taylor, who’s very into Hannah Montana  and the like. *Insert eye-rolling and sarcasm here* That will be fun. Then we went home, got Mike’s charger for his Blackberry as he was on-call and afraid his phone might die, and then just barely made it to my mom’s on time.

I felt really guilty for not seeing my dad’s family, and on the way to my mom’s, Mike and I discussed possibly switching up who we visit on Thanksgiving– one year, his mom… the next, my dad… the next, my mom… etc. But the truth is that I feel more at home with my mom, stepdad and sister than I do with anyone else, ever. I mean, Mike’s family didn’t even wait on us (his mom told us that people wouldn’t arrive till one, and we showed up at 12:45 only to eat alone.) My parents at least wait on us. For instance, this year, my sister was a little late because she got lost (Hey! It’s a new house in a new location; don’t judge!) So we all waited till she arrived before blessings were said and plates were loaded. My parents at least sort of center the Thanksgiving dinner on Courtney and I, their children, you know? Us being part of their blessings and all.

I mean, I understand that we’re not the stars of the show but why would I want to forsake my family, who loves us and shows it, to visit family that seems a little indifferent? I know they love us too, but dang. Seriously? You couldn’t wait like fifteen more minutes? Ever heard the term, you scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours? Yeah, give me a reason to carve out time in a holiday for that, please. I enjoy seeing my family, I really do, but not if they’re going to be so whatever they are. Mike was so irked by it, way more than I was. This after Nick’s birthday fiasco, too. You can only imagine how it made him feel.

I did however feel really badly about missing out on seeing my dad’s side of the family. I love my aunts, uncles, and cousins so much (not to mention my grandparents), and it does suck of me to only see them all together only once a year. It makes me a little sad, really. I will need to do something about that in the coming years.

I can’t imagine a holiday without my parents in it, though, so I’ll just have to always squeeze a lot of people into my festivities. My parents and my sister are my everything. My stepdad may have had his feelings hurt when I mentioned that next year, we might have to visit a different family. The whole room was quiet when I said that… I felt a little guilty for bringing it up then. So later, he handed me my typical birthday gift (cash money baby), and he jokingly said, “This is why you will never ever miss Thanksgiving here!” And we laughed, and I said, if those other jokers started paying me better, we might have to make adjustments. It was really funny.

But truly… my Thanksgiving/birthday would be incomplete without seeing them. Where else could I get this? Or this? Or this? This is OUR FAMILY- Mine and Mike’s. We feel the most at home with them. I would be lost if I didn’t have this feeling of HOME on Thanksgiving.

So there are pics. Lots of them. You can see Thanksgiving pics here and birthday pics here, starting on Page 4. They are terribly out of order. I’ll fix them one day.



  1. I’m so glad it was that awesome!!! You deserve it..and I’m also glad that Juan is such a great “picture poser”. LOL

  2. Sounds like both your birthday and your holiday were incredibly blessed!

  3. Did your Mom move? The pictures look like they are in a different house. We missed you, of course, but everyone knows that you and Mike have a lot of family to visit, and I think most of them understand. I am excited to see you at Christmas!!

  4. Jen: Juan is a nut. Seriously, he is really crazy. I have video to prove it, and I threatened to youtube it, but I think maybe he’d actually LIKE that a bit too much.

    Mandy: They were indeed!

    Stephanie: Yes, my mom did move! 🙂 She’s about 25 minutes or so away now, thank goodness. I’m very excited to see you all at Christmas too. I haven’t seen you guys in MONTHS… since May? June? I bet Everly is getting so big now!

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