Category Archives: holidaze

home alone party times.

This is going to be a quickie. (Heyo!)

Hi, my name is Shawnna and I am serial movie rewatcher.  Especially around Christmastime and especially if it’s written by John Hughes.  I get it from my papa.  He, my brothers and I are a bit obnoxious (or amazing, depending on who you ask)  (ask me!) when it comes to quoting Christmas Vacation, Home Alone, The Great Outdoors, Uncle Buck…. you know, the classics.

Two of our good friends back in Portland would have a Home Alone viewing party every year and of course we LOVED it.  So when we moved to MN we decided we’d adopt the tradition and start our own annual Home Alone gathering.  Although ours is less of a “viewing party” and more of a “slam a bunch of drinks with your friends while wearing festive clothes while Home Alone plays in the background and you pay someone else to watch your children for a few hours” party.  There’s also cheese pizza.

Here are a few photos, if you care to see!  But go easy on the fluids, the rubber sheets are packed.

Ok that’s it!  Now it’s time for you to get your ugly yellow no-good keisters off our property.  Crowbars up.


willa is two!

We celebrated Willa’s second (!!!!!!) birthday a couple of weekends ago.  I won’t get into the can-you-believe-it-ness that she’s two because I feel like every parent says that same thing on every birthday of their kids.  It’s such a cliché thing but we all do it.  It’s written in the parent code.  Right before the clause about stepping on legos and right after the subsection about wiping your kid’s snot on your sleeve when you don’t have a tissue.

Speaking of snot!  JK there’s no cute way to transition back to Willa’s birthday.  She turned 2!  We had a party!  It was super duper fun!

We invited some family over for a little brunch celebration.  The kids painted bear masks and we stuffed our faces with food (including the everything bagel breakfast bake from Chrissy Teigen’s new cookbook which is so good but I’m pretty sure I’m still digesting it because it’s so extra).  Willa was so sweet the whole day and I just kept imagining her with a thought bubble over her head that said “I’m so excited but I have no idea why!!”

Which is another thing that’s in the parent code… throwing parties for your kids before the age when they’ll actually understand or remember it.  Listen, before I had kids, I was always like… why would anyone throw a party for a baby or take a toddler to Disneyland or a nice dinner that they’re not even going to remember TAKE ME INSTEAD.  But once I had kids, I got it.  It’s not necessarily about if they completely understand or will remember it or not, it’s more about them feeling joy in a moment.  And then as a parent, being able to witness that joy.  To see their faces light up and you can almost physically feel their excitement…. I basically black out with happiness.  It’s the freaking best.

That said…. Crosby + Willa, don’t expect a birthday party EVERY year.  Everything in moderation.  Is what the parent code says. I don’t make the rules.

I realize now that the strawberry sauce on the cake is a bit…. creepy.  Werps.
I feel this on a deep level.

Uncle Ben won the day with this unbelievably sweet dollhouse that he made with his own two man hands.  UB, any other gift you give Willa for the rest of her life is gonna suck.  Unless it’s a life-size version of this house. You did this to yourself.
Also, thank you for the greatest gift ever you da best spergy an merbles.
Happy Birthday, sweet Bill.  I will always love you, and leave you wild.

now back to your regularly scheduled program.

It’s taken me a while to get my writing mojo back after the emotional hangover of my last few posts. But I do want to say thank you so very much to all of you who took the time to read my words and reach out… in both support and empathy.  I’m in awe of the beauty that comes from vulnerability.  Thank you thank you thank you for joining this important conversation.

But for the sake of my sanity, let’s switch gears for the moment. Because we have many other (less) important things to talk about.

1. First things first. I need this shirt in my life.

2. You guys. I’m stating the obvious here but whyyyy does it have to get dark so early? Every day I’m like, welp time to start making dinner. Oh wait… it’s 3:15.  I still have 5 hours of mom-ing left before winebedtime.

3. Along the same lines… the early darkness has me putting on sweatpants earlier and earlier these days. I’m lucky if I make it to 5pm without changing out of my “normal clothes” (hahahahaaaa) and into my comfies. I mean, jeans are basically formal wear at this point in life.

4. Does anyone have a recipe that calls for garlic stuffed olives, leftover white rice and hardened tortillas? Cuz that’s pretty much all that’s in my refrigerator right now.

5. Casey and I are planning a trip to Mexico in February. (It was one of my stipulations in agreeing to move back to this ice cube.) I’m leaning heavily towards Tulum but it’s rather pricey so we haven’t committed yet. Anyone been? Hotel recommendations? Excursion recommendations? Guacamole recommendations?

6. I shared this on instastories a while back, but in case you missed it, Crosby filled out a little questionnaire thing at preschool shortly after he started… and when asked what his favorite subject in school was, he said “hanging up my bag.” Obviously. I asked him the same question today after school and you’ll be happy to hear that he’s now moved on to “I really like snack time and when I raise my hand to get more snacks.” Watch out, Ivy League!

7. PSA of the day… I recently got a sample of Biossance face oil and I swear to you, it is pure magic. I’m kind of obsessed with skincare and have tried a LOT of products in my day (sorry bank account! and Casey.) and this one is in my top 5 of ever. So, you just go right on ahead and add it to your Christmas list. But only if you want your face to feel like a baby’s ass.

8. This is going to make me sound coconuts but what else is new. I do not know what color eyes my children have. I’m serious. They’re like… technicolor. I keep referring to them as “mutt eyes” and I probably should stop that? Anyways, I really don’t know how to figure it out. Is there an app for that?

9. We’re having our first Home Alone Christmas party this weekend! Our friends (Hi Laurie and Joe!) hosted one every year in Portland and now we’re carrying on/stealing the tradition. We’re serving lovely cheese pizza and Pepsi cocktails and I may or may not have recreated Kevin’s battle plan poster while the kids were napping yesterday. There’s literally no shame in my Home Alone game. I’ll take some photos and maybe post em here next week, if you’d care to see? …..Hello?

10. Embarrassing thing I’ve googled recently: is there a plural of Ivy League?


happy third birthday, sweet boy.

Happy third birthday, my sweet little boy.

I can’t believe we’re already celebrating one more year of your beautiful life. Looking back on the last year, I truly cannot believe how much you’ve changed. You’re like, a real person now! A silly, stubborn, curious, bold, and oh so very loveable person. A person that I can have conversations with and go on adventures with. A person that makes me laugh so hard without even trying. A person that I grow more in love with every single day.

The past year has been full of adventures for our family. Big adventures…. a new sister, saying goodbye to Portland and all your friends, moving, moving again, and then again. And you’ve handled everything like a champ, just rolling with the punches. You’ve amazed me, kid. To be honest, it’s been a tough year for me with all the changes that we’ve faced. But through it all, you have been the one thing that has kept me grounded. You have been my place of comfort amidst a whole lot of chaos. You have reminded me that no matter where we are in this world, in this life, that our family is my home. And I appreciate it more than you’ll ever know.

This past year has also been full of dinosaurs. My god, you love dinosaurs. And animals. And going to the park. And the zoo. And mac and cheese and “special treats”. You love dancing. And playing t-ball in our backyard. You absolutely love reading stories. You love bath time. And swimming. And going for walks. You love watching shows and movies. And the popcorn that goes along with them. (You got that from me, kid. You’re welcome.) You love that you’ve learned to stand up when you pee. (I wish you loved aiming too.) And your stuffed animals. You love bubbles. You love spending time with our families. And meeting new people. (They’re so lucky.)

You completely adore your papa. You have mixed feelings about your sister, but you sure do love making her laugh. And for whatever crazy reason… you seem to love me a whole dang lot. I can’t even tell how much I love you back.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again a million times, I’m so lucky to be your mama. Happy birthday, my guy.

 

birthday letter year 1
birthday letter year 2


christmas 2016.

Happiest holidays, loves!  I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas.  Ours was so so lovely… we opted to spend the holidays here instead of flying to Minnesota, because newborn.  We definitely missed spending time with all the fams but there was also something very sweet about having time with just our little family.  It was just… cozy.  The whole holiday weekend felt like a giant hug.  The fact that I was in pj’s 85% of the time + WINE probably contributed to that feeling as well.

We spent most of the weekend hanging out at home, watching Christmas movie after Christmas movie, playing games, cuddling up on the couch, and eating all the things.  Lobster mac and cheese is always our Christmas Eve dinner of choice and this year did not disappoint.  And hey, if I could gift you one thing this year, it would be the wisdom of this mac and cheese recipe.  Merry Christmas, from me to you!  (I should probably also throw in a pair of stretch pants, because you’re gonna look 5 months pregnant after you eat it. I speak from experience.)

Crosby was such a sweetpea with Christmas this year.   He sorta/kinda knows what’s up and got pretty into the festivities.  Though I think his basic knowledge of the entire holiday season can be summed up with the word “presents”.   The kid has gotten so many gifts, he thinks it’s just common practice now.   His favorite thing to say lately is, “mama! I have an idea! ….. presents!”  So sweet.  So hysterical.  So terrifying.

And our sweet Willa was a trooper through it all.  She’s such a wonderful little baby lady.  My heart bursts just thinking about her.  (So do my boobs. Heyo!)  I cannot wait until she is able to partake in all the holiday festivities, but in the meantime I am loving her chill-ness (chill-ability?).

Anyhoo, we had a great holiday weekend and  I’m so bummed that it’s over.  We already took our tree down this morning.  We typically keep our tree up until after New Years but this year it had to go early because it was deader than crap.  But, she was a good tree.  She brought us lots of warm fuzzies this season.  And now she’s just sitting on the curb…. withering away alongside my bank account and soul.

Well that got dark.

And on that cheery note!  Here is a little video I made of our Christmas weekend.  Take a peek, if you’d like!

Happy Christmas, sweet friends.


it’s fall, so, pumpkins!

It wouldn’t be fall unless you were inundated with a ridiculous amount of pumpkin photos.  So this post is me, doing my part to help the cause.  You’re welcome!

I have been feeling like such a sloth lately but this past weekend I forced myself and my boys to get up and out of the house and go to a pumpkin patch.  I’m in the chapter of this pregnancy when we don’t really know how many more free weekends we have before little sis arrives, so I wanted to make sure we got our pumpkin patch on before it’s too late and my boobs are perma stuck in someone’s face and I can’t leave the house for eleven years.

I’ve decided that even though I’m 187 weeks pregnant, I’m going to embrace the fall season with arms wide open.  Whatever that means.  So far I’ve decorated our house in Halloween decorations and made pumpkin muffins and bought pumpkin spice syrup to dress up my morning coffee.  There are a couple of baking pumpkins on the counter just waiting to be turned into soup, and a vanilla pumpkin candle burning right in front of me as we speak.  And now we can cross pumpkin patch off the list as well.  Crushing it.

In other news, we have yet to install the baby’s car seat or pack a hospital bag.  So at least I have my priorities straight.

Anyways, here are some photos from our little pumpkin outing, if you care to see!

I mean. This photo is what us basic moms live for. Am I right?

Crosby is all talk when it comes to horses.  Here he’s like “heyyoo horsies!” and then the horses come walking over and he craps his pants and runs away.

After looking at these photos, I realized that I’ve officially entered the puffy face stage of pregnancy.  Or maybe it’s the corn dipped in butter and rolled in salt that did me in.  

img_2525Me and my 3 babies. Crosby, baby sister, and corn dipped in butter and rolled in salt.

Processed with VSCO with 6 preset

He’s “hugging” his pumpkins because he’s the cutest person on planet earth.

That’s it! Thanks for playing. And happy pumpkin-ing to you and your families!


happy second birthday, toddler guy.

IMG_6243

Happy second birthday, my beautiful baby guy.  I can’t even tell you how much I’ve loved year 2 of Crosby.  It’s been easily, hands-down, 100%, the best year of my life.  If I had one wish right now, it’d be to keep you at this age forever.  But today isn’t about my wishes, it’s about yours!  What are your birthday wishes, sweet boy?  If I had my guess, I’d say you’re wishing for… a “strawberry snack” (sliced strawberries), your “blanketandphi” (blanket + pacifier), a trip to the zoo, an episode (or 5) of Daniel Tiger, followed by a book reading marathon, a lengthy game of jumping up and down, and an ice cream cone.  I promise, I’ll do my best to grant as many of those wishes as possible today.

This year we’ve gotten to see so much more of your wonderful, sweet, silly personality.  I love that you call everyone your friends, I love that you say goodbye to everything: people, animals, objects, places…, I love your pure excitement when at the end of the night we talk about all the things we did that day, I love your ability to drop everything when you hear an airplane from a million miles away, I LOVE that you reach for my hand to hold, I love your sweet manners, I love your aggressive tickles… I just really freaking love you, kid.  And I absolutely adore being your mama.

I can’t wait to celebrate you today and smother you with one million kisses.  Happy second birthday, bubba!

IMG_6176 IMG_6170 IMG_6180 IMG_6194 IMG_6209 IMG_6211 IMG_6218 IMG_6217 IMG_6245 IMG_6246 IMG_6249


our european adventure. a month later.

So it’s been over a month since we took our trip to Paris and Amsterdam, but here I am finally getting around to sharing a few photos.  This post is more for me than for you (sorry) because I want to make sure that at least some of our photos are displayed somewhere.  Otherwise they’ll be shoved to the back of my photos folder, gathering virtual dust.  Please tell me I’m not the only delinquent who doesn’t make prints or do photo books?  I mean, I always SAY I’m going to.  But then I just go on living my life instead.

Anyhoosville, this is kind of an inconsistent smattering of pics because I constantly struggle with wanting to take a shitload of photos and also wanting to experience things without the distraction of a camera.

The early-2ooo’s digital camera tourist struggle is real, man.

Anyway, I’m just going to get right into it and add captions as necessary. #always

IMG_1335I had very few expectations of Paris going into this trip, but I cannot even tell you how much I enjoyed it.
It is effing beautiful.

IMG_1419We crammed in a few touristy things but mostly just wandered the city…


IMG_1416Taking in the sights…

IMG_5974And acting absurdly American.  (eg. Man: “Bonjour madame!”  Me: “Merci!”….  ::facepalm::)

IMG_5987We didn’t actually go into the Louvre, but we did admire it.  Though I do wish it wasn’t weirdly gift-wrapped like that…

IMG_5983My best gal, Carolyn.  And my other gal, coffee.


IMG_5989And my guy!

IMG_6021And this beaut!  She did not disappoint.

IMG_1437IMG_1442We stayed about 2 blocks from the Arc de Triomphe and this was the only photo we got of it!  Rookies.

IMG_1329This photo is more like a PSA for my fellow pregos, because this was the first N/A beer that didn’t make me want to chuck the bottle across the room.  So good!

IMG_6005Sacre Couer was beautiful, but SO overcrowded.  Both inside and outside.  What is it with tourists, am I right?!

IMG_6001IMG_1311The views of the Eiffel Tower neverrrrrrrrrrrrrrr got old.

IMG_1394 IMG_1375The reason for this whole trip! My GORGEOUS bestie, Kali and her dapper new husband. Their wedding was an absolute fairytale.

Except that I couldn’t drink wine at it.

IMG_1390Ok fine, I had HALF of a glass of champagne.  So sue me.

IMG_1678

IMG_1370The matching Zara skirt/dress situation was purely coincidental.

IMG_1384Beautiful couple, Michelin star chef, and 2 photo-bombing bozos.

IMG_1407IMG_1388My girls, minus one limb.  (We missed you Kendra!) 

IMG_1380IMG_1322Child-free, with my husband and best friends, in Paris.  You can’t put a price tag on this stuff, people.

Except, you can.  You can actually look at our hysterical credit card statement if you want to…



OFF to Amsterdam!

IMG_6038Where it rained every day except the day we were leaving!   Sometimes I like to imagine a rain cloud following me around saying “I wish I knew how to quit you.”

If you get that movie reference, give yourself a high-five.

1511-1We loved our hotel in Amsterdam! The rooms were adorable and the staff was so friendly.  I highly suggest it if any of y’all are headed there anytime soon.  In which case, can I come?

 IMG_6032Ok can we all just admit that Amsterdam is the MOST charming ever?  Seriously, I loved it.  We felt so at home there.  I highly highly encourage you to visit if you have the chance.  And if so, can I come?

IMG_6057Never pass up European caffeine, was my motto during the trip.  

IMG_6042Waiting in line for our tour of the Anne Frank house.  Which is UNREAL.  Must do, if you’re ever, you know, in the area.

IMG_6024I mean, C’MON!

IMG_6045Casey “why isn’t anyone wearing helmets this is so unsafe we are NOT renting bikes here you’re pregnant watch out!” Thompson


IMG_6027 IMG_1516There is something so fun to me about buying local munchies.  I could have spent numerous hours in the grocery store in Amsterdam. Is that weird?  Wait… is it?  IS IT?

Answer me!
IMG_1512OMG I don’t care because look how cute these Dutch Ella’s packets are!

Processed with VSCO with 6 presetMan. Don’t you just want to park your bike here forever?

Wait, is that morbid?

IMG_1486 IMG_1482You guys. The pastries in both Paris and Amsterdam. Ugh. I can’t even think about them without
having to wipe drool off my chin. 

IMG_1477Because I’m a good wife/person/etc. I accompanied Casey to a few pubs for some beer tastings.  And let me tell you, nothing is more fun than watching other people drink when you can’t.  ::side-eye::

IMG_6047IMG_1465

Processed with VSCO with f2 presetOh Amsterdam, you charming little love bucket!


And last but certainly not least… a collage of a few of my pastry endeavors. Ahhh… memories.pastriesyo1

Thanks for sticking around til the very end!  I hope you enjoyed my Europe trip as much as I did ;)


fam trip to chicago and indiana. in which we froze.

shawnnathompson_57_familyselfieJust a quickie post to drop off a few photos from our little family vacation to Chicago/Indiana last week.  Though I’m not quite sure you can call it a “vacation” when you have a 20-month old in tow.  It’s kind of like everyday life, but with a side of heightened anxiety, public restrooms, and jet lag.  It’s not exactly relaxing, is what I’m saying.  And don’t even get me started on flying with a toddler.  How can you really call it a “vacation” when you’re spending numerous hours suspended in a tin can in the air, touching body parts with total strangers, with a wiggly kid on your lap who is constantly rolling the tantrum dice.  I’m sprouting gray hairs just reliving it.

All that said, I absolutely LOVED our “vacation”.  No really, I did!  I never used to understand why parents would take their tiny children on trips.  I mean, they’re not going to remember it… right?!  But I totally get it now that I’m a ma, because it so so fun to explore the world and introduce new things to your little.  Even if Crosby won’t remember this trip, Casey and I will.  And we’ll remember how excited Crosby was at the Lincoln Park Zoo and how he shoved popcorn in his face at the Cubs game and danced his little butt off at our friend’s wedding.  Aaaaaand we’ll remember how he had a full-on meltdown in front of the gorilla exhibit because he ate the rest of MY Larabar and then was pissed that there wasn’t more.  (Crosby, not the gorilla. Though I’m sure the gorilla would have wanted my Larabar too.) But honestly, we had so much fun showing our little guy around one of our favorite cities.  And bringing him to his first wedding, where he impressed us with his killer dance moves that he no doubt learned from an episode of Daniel Tiger.

So here are the grainest, unedited iphone photos of our trip, if you care to see.  I took my nice camera along, but only brought it out once when we were at the zoo and maybe took 10 photos… and now I can’t find the cord to connect it to my computer.  So, I’m really sorry that you’re probably missing out on some high quality flamingo butts and blurry giraffe necks.  And by I’m sorry, I mean you’re welcome.

IMG_0695IMG_0719Guys. It was 44 degrees at this Cubs game.  And we were not prepared.  I had packed everything we might need for a rainstorm (#portlandproblems) but not nearly enough warm clothes for the tundra. I’m from the midwest, I should KNOW better!

IMG_0713 We only lasted 3 innings, and that’s mostly thanks to a box of popcorn that occupied Crosby’s facehole. His hands were freeeezing, but the kid just kept going.  He got his popcorn love from his mama, AKA the “Pepcorn Queen”.  (Just kidding nobody calls me that. But they should.  And maybe put it on a t-shirt? )

IMG_0711Processed with VSCO with f2 presetOMG. Look at the people behind us.  They were PREPARED, man.  Meanwhile, I had to buy a sweatshirt to put under my paper-thin raincoat.  And we had to buy a ridiculously expensive Cubs blanket for Crosby in order to save his appendages from freezing off.

IMG_0730IMG_0722 IMG_0748What does one do after sitting outside in the freezing cold for 2 hours?  They get ice cream, of course! Can’t pass up Jeni’s.

IMG_0735shawnnathompson_57_crosicecreamThe kid loves ice cream.  Also gets that from his mama.
I’m sensing a pattern.

IMG_0673We were actually super pumped about the 2 hour time change because in THEORY, Crosby should have slept until 8:30 Chicago time.  Which for us is like, all the dancing lady emojis.  But somehow, somehow, the little sheister managed to wake up at 6:30 every morning that we were there (AKA 4:30am Portland time).  I don’t get it.  It doesn’t make sense.  He’s so very lucky that he’s so very cute and sweet.

IMG_0683Sure, yah.  Take a nap.  You must be exhausted from all that getting up early and being pushed around and carried.

shawnnathompson_57_wakeupLook alive, sleep deprived!  Is our motto.  (No it’s not but it should be.  And maybe put it on a t-shirt?)

IMG_0784 IMG_0811 IMG_0807 IMG_0788IMG_0763 IMG_0770Loves of my lifetime.

 

IMG_0749Our airbnb had a walk-in shower, that Crosby walked into and turned on, on himself.  Lesson probably not learned.

IMG_0733^^Had to stop here, cuz duh.^^

shawnnathompson_57_crosbyskitchen

Where we ate this (lobster deviled eggs) and drank that (killer bloody mary).

IMG_0684And Cros almost slept through the whole thing.

IMG_0693Until he woke up and shoved his face with french fries for a photo opp.

IMG_0752IMG_0767

IMG_0839On Saturday we drove to South Bend, Indiana to go to our good friend’s wedding at Notre Dame. It was beautiful and lovely… and we’re so happy for you guys!
shawnnathompson_57_dancingcrosIMG_0834IMG_0845shawnnathompson_57_famwedding

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ll get back to eating my Garrett’s popcorn while Crosby takes a nap because I’m not sharing.

Happy weekend!


31.

IMG_8206This post is a week overdue but I still feel the need to put it to paper.  Errr…. to interwebs.  You know what they say, if you don’t blog about it, it didn’t actually happen.  True story.

Anyways, I turned 31 last weekend!  I don’t know why I’m !exclaiming! that because at this point it’s not something I feel the need to brag about.  Remember when Casey turned 31 and he had this whole theory about how you’re not really “in your 30’s” until you turn 31? And then I made fun of him?  Per usual.  And now… I totally understand where he’s coming from.  It’s all fun and games until you turn 31.  Is my new motto.  No it’s not.  I’m actually totally fine with it, but I do get what he’s saying now.

I had such a fun birthday weekend.  Well, birthday week, really.  If this birthday had a theme, I would say it was pampering.

Wait, is it just me or does the word “pampering” conjure up a completely different image after having a kid?  I mean, I’m assuming that’s how Pampers got their name, right?  I don’t like it.  Waa.  Excuse me while I go thesaurus an alternative word.

OK, I’m back.  Let’s try this again.  If this birthday had a theme, I would say it was mollycoddling.  (<— lol wut.)  Throughout the course of the week, I got a mani/pedi with one of my besties, I got my hair did, and my mom took me to get a facial and massage.   Plus, just having my mom here meant I barely had to cook, I barely had to change a diaper, I got treats and coffees and free time to do things like take a nap and take a toddler-free shower.  See!  I was mollycoddled!   Best part of all of it was the fact that my mom was here.  She’s the queen of making people feel special on their birthdays.  Decorations, cakes, gifts and cards, free babysitting.  She’s the very very best.

On my birthday night, Casey took me to dinner at a place where the servers use that little scraper thing that wipes up crumbs in between each course.  AKA fancy.  It was so freaking good, we’re convinced we cleaned our plates better than any other person that ate there that night.  We had a serious conversation about how they probably brought our plates back to the kitchen and were like, oh these are clean, did anyone even eat on them? we don’t even need to wash them.  Basically we were the King and Queen of the clean plate club, is what I’m trying to say.

And yes, that’s a whole paragraph on how much we ate at dinner.  It’s an exciting life we lead.

It was such a great birthday, and I’m so thankful to have such a wonderful family and friends to help me celebrate… me.  

birthdaybafoonsYou guys. What is wrong with us?  It took us approximately 37 tries to get a photo of just the two of us, without Crosby.  Here’s just a small smattering of the outtakes.  And why are our eyes shut in all of them?  Is this what happens when you’re officially in your 30’s?  Are your eyes more sensitive to light or something?  Help.

IMG_8126

Here’s to 31!  So far, so good.

Posts from my 28th, 29th and 30th birthdays herehere and here.