Today is my 30th birthday. When I woke up this morning, my first thought was, "Wow, I'm old." While in the shower, I started reflecting on how I have spent previous birthdays. While I do have very good memory (Ashley would say freakishly good), I couldn't remember as many as I wished, or more particularly, which went with which years. So I then went on a quest through old scrapbooks, childhood diaries, and my baby book (thanks, Mom) to compile a list. I have scrapbooks from every year from eighth grade on (okay, the post-college scrapbooks are not actually assembled yet....). Clearly I get my scrapbooking/memory-preserving gene from my mother, who kept details accounts of my first 12 years in my baby book (which she gave to me when Bryn was born). So here it is: my chronicle of the past 30 birthdays:
1 - family party at our house on Hushaw in Chillicothe, Illinois. According to Mom's records, I got my first doll and a popcorn pusher, which is kind of funny, since I have a popcorn pusher in the basement right now, waiting for Shay's first birthday later this month.
2 - I could say that I was "two" and say "blow out candles." I apparently knew what was going on when my extended family came over for a party, and I was too wound up to sleep afterwards. That night, I climbed out of my crib for the first time.
3 - I moved into a new room and a "big girl bed" and had my first birthday party with friends. The party was at McDonald's, and the party involved, among others, Todd, Chad, Chris, Trent, and Mimi, who were the children of my parents' friends, and became good friends throughout my childhood, as we took many family vacations together.
4 - We had pizza at Blarney Castle in Chillicothe (a family favorite all through my childhood) with my grandparents, Hattie and Parky. Then I had a party at Farrell's Ice Cream Parlour with kids--much the same crew as the year before.
5 - My grandparents on my dad's side, Bob and Mimi, visited from Florida. We went to Show Biz (now known as Chuck E. Cheese, the favorite birthday location of my own daughter). Apparently the big hit was a Smurfette cake, which I do have a vague memory of.
6 - I had a party at Pizza Hut with my friends, which this year included a few kids from my kindgergarten class. On my actual birthday, I was in Indianapolis (perhaps a foreshadowing of things to come?), having a family visit with several other family friends.
7 - I had a family birthday party at my great-grandma's house (which I do remember), and then with some school friends at Show Biz Pizza. I was big into the Princess of Power (She-Ra) and My Little Pony this year, and my gifts reflected it. This birthday was particularly notable because my dad wasn't there--he was in Philadelphia working at his new job, and we moved to join him a month later.
8 - This is the first birthday party that I have clear memories of. I mean, I remember being at McDonald's and Show Biz with group of kids, celebrating, but I can't place which year was which. This year is a bit easier for me to place chronologically, as it was my only birthday in Philadelphia. A group of my friends from school went roller skating at Cornwell's Skating Center in Philadelphia, and I was thrilled to receive Barbie and the Rockers as a gift.
9 - We had recently moved into our "new house" in Dunlap, Illinois, where my mom still lives. My parents hired a magician, and he did a show for me and my friends in our basement. I remember thinking that this was incredibly cool. This was the first birthday party attended by people who have become lifelong friends of mine, most notably my then-next-door neighbor, also named Amy.
10 - I went ice skating with a group of friends at Owens Center in Peoria. Most notably, this party was attended by Melissa and Caroline, who became lifelong friends. I also had my first sleepover party, with two girls who I have long since lost track of.
11 - I thought my birthday party was incredibly cool. I had a sleepover with several friends (most of whom I am still friends with now), and we stayed up "all night" (in the words of my diary, which probably means until midnight or something) playing Dare, Double Dare, or Triple Dare. This was my golden birthday (11 on 11-11), and my grandparents gave me a necklace with a real gold heart. I still have it, and actually even wore it about a week ago.
12 - I took a group of friends out to dinner at Agatucci's, my family's favorite pizza joint in Peoria (where I still insist upon eating during every trip home). Then my friends Melissa, Caroline, and Nicole slept over. I also got a box set of J.R.R. Tolkein's "The Lord of the Rings" as a birthday gift from my grandparents. I still have this set, and have recently been contemplating re-reading them when time permits.
13 - This is where my mom's records stop, and in my own diary, I was too busy agonizing over junior high issues to record anything. If memory serves, however, this was the year that Caroline scared the living daylights out of me by reading Edgar Allen Poe stories aloud at my slumber party.
14 - Much against my protests, my parents decided that I was "too old" for birthday parties. I went out to lunch at Vonachen's (another family favorite, now sadly closed) with my aunt and cousins, as well as several friends, including Melissa and Ashley. I got a brown leather jacket from my parents, which made me the epitome of cool.
15 - Completely disregarding the forced maturity of the year before, I started back into birthday parties by having the coolest one ever. My parents designed a clue hunt through the town of Dunlap and surrounding area, and my friends and I went out in several cars driven by parents to follow the clues through town. Afterwards, we all came back to my house and hung out. Also extremely notable for being my first boy/girl birthday party. It also featured the beginnings of the Dunlap Clan, who remain some of my dearest friends to this day: Melissa, Jolyne, Caroline, Nicole, Ashley, Meghan, Kelly, Maria, Derek, Chuck, Corey, Jason, Matt, Damon, and David.
16 - Also a contendor for "coolest birthday party ever." My mom drove me and five girlfriends up to Oakbook (outside Chicago) for an all-day shopping trip: the second-most ideal gift ever for a 16-year-old girl (the first-most ideal being a car, which I received that spring, when I inherited my dad's old maroon Lumina when he got a new car).
17 - Based on the success of my last birthday, we planned another shopping excursion, but I was hugely disappointed when a massive snowstorm forced us to cancel the trip. I moped around for most of the day, before my parents totally redeemed the day by allowing me to invite all my friends (quite a large group of both boys and girls, spanning from freshmen to seniors in high school) over for an impromptu party that night.
18 - Biggest birthday party ever. I remember opening windows in the basement because it got so hot with all the people down there. Tons of hilarious gifts from friends, including Anna and Nikki each giving me one shoe. My friend Amy also took me to see "Superman: The Musical" in downtown Peoria, as I was hugely in love with all things Superman.
19 - I was massively disappointed to learn that in Indiana, school is not cancelled for Veteran's Day, so my freshman year of college was the first time I ever had to attend classes on my birthday. I spent most of the day on the phone with my wonderful friends from home, all of whom called me. Jarrod sent the first of many "birthday trash cans," ordered from a local florist and filled with junk food of all kinds. The girls of 1E in Schwitzer Hall braved the tempermental oven in the basement to bake me a birthday skillet cookie.
20 - I got very sad about leaving my teens, but my wonderful roommate Amy (different Amy than my childhood neighbor) decorated our dorm room with 20 "20s" while I slept. Amanda, Lisa, and Julie took me out to lunch at Chuck E. Cheese to demonstrate that I could still be a kid even if I was technically in my 20s. Betsy helped me carry Jarrod's birthday trash can to our Brit Lit class in the afternoon, where the whole class feasted as we discussed literature. In the evening, my roommate Amy threw me a surprise party, complete with Jarrod arriving in a surprise visit from Peoria.
21 - Jarrod sent another birthday trash can, and then he and Tony drove over to celebrate with me. Many friends accompanied me out to what I termed "an adult Chuck E Cheese," and was actually called Gameworks, or something along those lines. Everyone was shocked when I elected to continue my trend of not drinking. We culminated the night with a Denny's run, including a table of Ken, Jen, Gwyn, and Sven (which was actually Tony).
22 - The fourth and final birthday trash can from Jarrod. This was the first year that Ben and I were dating, and Jarrod, Tony, and Derek drove over to celebrate with me and give Ben the official Dunlap Clan stamp of approval. These friends from home accompanied Ben, Amanda, and I to the Schwitzer Hall formal. We culminated the night by assembling many friends from the Butler band in my dorm room and playing Taboo into the wee hours of the morning.
23 - Post-college, the birthdays stopped being so fun. This was the first year that I actually had to work on my birthday. I was student teaching at a local middle school at the time, and I desperately hated it. I decided that being a "real adult" wasn't very enjoyable.
24 - This was my first year teaching at ZCHS. I was hugely depressed about some major conflicts at our church, which prevented me from continuing as a youth group leader and led us to change churches shortly afterwards. Not what I would call a fun birthday.
25 - My sister Kristin (then a senior in high school) came over to visit for the day, so I took the day off school to hang out with her. Ben took a long lunch from work (we were engaged at this point) to meet us for a festive birthday lunch at Steak 'n' Shake.
26 - My first birthday as a married woman. Unfortunately, not a good one. I again took the day off school, but for far less happy reasons this time. I spent most of the day sleeping and moping. The night before, Ben, our friend Elizabeth, and I had sat up until the wee hours of the morning talking with our Young Life committee members about some pretty major concerns we had about the direction our program was taking. This later led to all three of us resigning as leaders. Another not-so-fun birthday.
27 - Bryn was eight days old, and all I wanted for my birthday was a nap! I spent most of the day in bed with a migraine.
28 - Biggest present ever--I got a new house for my birthday! :) This was the day that we moved into our current house in Brownsburg. Unfortunately, Bryn decided to mark the occassion by coming down with her first-ever case of the flu and spent the whole day throwing up all over both me and the brand-new carpet in our brand-new house.
29 - I was two weeks away from delivering Shay, and all I wanted was to "get this kid out of me!"
30 - So here I am. I'm spending the day teaching at UHS, and my students have covered my board with "happy birthday" messages. I've heard guesses that I am anywhere from 25 to 37--some encouraging, some not so much! This morning, I opened my annual card from Mom R, Melissa's mom, who never fails to remember me. Over the past few weeks, I've had birthday visits from both sets of my parents and Ben's parents. Ben and I went out to breakfast together before work this morning, and Bryn is very excited about me opening my "big present" tonight, because, as she says, "Mommy, you want birthday!"