Love & Marriage

Three Zero

Today I turned 30. Woot.

My mom didn’t make me stand in front of an “I AM 30″ banner (or fashion a crown for me) like she has in past years, but she and my dad did have us over for brunch on Sunday morning. It was actually a surprise that Sherry planned with them. I had known about the brunch (since my cousins, aunt, uncle, and little sister had traveled in from DC for the day), but was somehow oblivious to the fact that they might use the gathering to celebrate my thirtieth until a candle-filled plate of muffins was placed in front of me. Oh, but my mom did make me this:

Never one to just slip money or gift cards into an envelope, my mom constructed this “flower” with a happy face spatula and paper leaf pockets that housed some gift cards to my favorite places. Oh, and the can “planter” was stuffed with new running socks (likely my dad’s contribution).

My sisters went in on this for me:

It’s the Christine Berrie bicycle print that I’ve always loved over on 20×200. It’s the perfect addition to my bicycled-themed art obsession. Speaking of which, I did actually manage to secure a set of the Gap bicycle prints that I yearned for thanks to a helpful Gap manager (remember when I pined for them here)? We were truly shocked when they arrived at our PO Box. Lesson learned? If you ask enough times, a manager might take pity on you and actually send a sign your way (instead of tossing it into the dumpster). So be the squeaky wheel, folks. And hooray for recycling! (Get it? Bicycle? Cycling? See what I did there?).

We haven’t figured out where to hang my new bike collection yet, so pictures “in situation” will have to wait for another post when we pin down proper locations.

But I do have “in situation” pictures of what Sherry gifted me. Any guesses?

Yup, it’s a white rhino. Specifically the large Robbie trophy that she bought me from Cardboad Safari. I know it’s probably one of the weirder sentences I’ve ever typed, but rhinos are kind of our thing. We even worked one into our blog header.

Sherry knows that I’ve always loved the larger Cardboard Safari creations (not that I don’t also love our little full-bodied Robbie, who makes frequent appearances in various places like our console table and our laundry room). Big Robbie is an especially fitting gift since I surprised Sherry with a ceramic rhino for V-day a while back (more on how that turned into a highly involved rhino scavenger hunt here). So apparently we like giving each other horned mammals. And they keep getting larger. Maybe we’ll end up with a life sized rhino in our kitchen someday a la the giant dog on Friends.

Oh but one word of warning for anyone else who’s eying a large trophy: be sure to consider how far they stick out from the wall when it comes to where you want to hang them (this guy comes out about 18 inches). We fortunately found this spot where no one’s gonna knock into him when they walk by or sit down (since you stand up in front of the chair and not on the chair). So while nobody puts Baby in a corner, we totally put Robbie in a corner. And we love him there.

Overall, the birthday celebrations were pretty low-key (just the way I like ‘em). My family took me out to dinner last night and my mom is babysitting tonight so Sherry can have a date with her old man (aka me, in case that was too cryptic for you). Lately she has been calling me her silver fox because I’m sporting some gray hair in the front. But she swears up and down that it’s a compliment. Her rebuttal is usually “Hello? Anderson Cooper – I rest my case.”

Oh, and since I never got around to making a “to do before I’m 30″ blog list (like Nicole), I was pleasantly surprised to find that I had actually made one on paper back in high school (as part of a prompt in my senior English class). Who knew keeping those old notebooks stored away would ever come in handy?

Looks like I had gone back and updated it with “Completed” marks sometime around 2005. And sadly I haven’t checked off many more since then. No new countries (#4), bungee jumping (#6) nor movie roles (#7) for me. Though Sherry and I did visit Hollywood (#8) on our first vacation together in October 2005.

And I sorta accomplished #9, if you count my run in with Kelly Clarkson at a client event in May of 2005.

Neither Sherry nor I can remember if we still had our fish when we got Burger, so #10 is an unknown. I definitely haven’t learned how to play the bass guitar (#11)… or even the regular guitar (though I owned one for a short time in 2002). But I did work for the National Geographic Channel (#12) in the summer of 2001. It was far from glamorous, but certainly more satisfying than seeing #13 come true. Oh the lofty dreams of an 18 year old…

And although I had completed #15 by visiting Hawaii with a friend before Sherry and I even started dating, it was nice to earn some bonus points by going to Alaska on our honeymoon.

Speaking of which, I’m gonna earn a third check mark on #15 when Sherry and I continue the turning-30 celebration next year (Sherry hits the big 3-0 in March) by following through on our plans to vacation in Hawaii (which will also multitask as a vacation to celebrate our fifth wedding anniversary). But more on that another time. A long post like this has made these old bones weary. Just kidding. To anyone wondering, 30 feels just like 29. But Clara’s even more fun this year because she’s walking and talking (and singing hilarious songs). This morning, for example she sang this:

“Twinkle twinkle little star, how I wonder what you said.”

Anyways, thanks to my family for a fun 30th. And to everyone who made my 20′s an exciting and eventful decade. Here’s hoping the 30′s are just as fun!


Our 4nniversary

See what I did there? If our 4th wedding anniversary were a movie sequel I’m sure that’s how the title would be treated on the movie posters (and yes, it would be dubbed a blatant rip off of Scream 4). Anyways, as is the tradition, we’re dropping in with our little rundown about how we celebrated four years of marriage last Thursday (see our three year anniversary post here and our two & one year anniversary post here). This year it kicked off, as most days do, with breakfast.

I made this particular breakfast (Strawberry-Orange Stuffed French Toast with Raspberry Butter) as an homage to our so-good-we-took-my-picture-with-it (here) favorite meal during our Alaskan honeymoon. Of course, what I lacked in food presentation (do I get points for my strawberry hearts?) I made up for in flowers in our wedding colors.

We agreed not to do gifts this year (our new laundry project was going to be a joint gift to ourselves), but I broke the rules when I spotted a bunch of bee-themed stationery from Smock Paper. Since Sherry’s an epic list maker and our wedding invite had bees on it, I just couldn’t stop myself from shelling out my credit card digits for a few items. And yes, Smock Paper is a sponsor of ours but no, they didn’t have any part in me buying these. They’re probably finding out about my purchase via this post, actually.

They sadly didn’t have any bee themed big sticky pads, but I got one in the closest color scheme since I knew Sherry was low on office notepads (small sticky notes went unused in our junk drawer, but these big guys are already getting a workout). We appreciate how eco-conscious these wares are in general, but we particularly loved this simple request printed on the bottom: use this to do good.

What I spent in dollars, Sherry matched in thoughtfulness – writing a homemade card listing thirty things she, Clara, and Burger love about me (each of them got ten). I told you, the girl loves lists. And it sure beat the “Love, John” in my card. Oops.

But the day wasn’t about exchanging paper products. It was about doing fun stuff together. So after working the morning away, we ducked out for lunch at one of our favorite casual spots: Sticks Kebob Shop. Yum. And we had a $10 off Groupon for it too. Aw, cheap lovebirds. Or should I say cheep? (Bird joke for the win).

From there we popped over to a local art place called Crossroad Art Center, which we’ve heard lots about but never managed to visit in five years of being Richmonders. It’s basically a massive gallery featuring of lots of local artists, though sadly we couldn’t take pictures inside for ya. One of our favorites was Morgan E. McKinney, but we didn’t find anything in our current price range. Someday.

We did get giddy over these $4 paintings-turned-notecards by Sherri Conley that we thought (once framed with big generous mats) would make for a great little “zen moment” in our master bathroom. So we took them home.

How could we pass up buying something that said “I Love You” on our anniversary? And the photographer’s name is Sherri, so that counts for something too, right? Sherry and I were actually standing in different areas of her booth and each said “this is sweet” at the same time. We reconvened to see what each other had found and we were both holding the I Love You airplane card.

From there it was time to take our annual corny anniversary photo. We’ve got a little tradition of snapping (and later framing) a family pic each year on 7/7…

… and this year definitely proved the hardest. Apparently a 14 month old can’t grasp the concept of “hey, look at the beeping black thing on the funny three-legged stick… and oh yeah, smile while you’re at it.” Guess we didn’t know the blessing we got last year when her 8-week old self slept through the entire thing. But we did eventually manage to get this one. Stacked heads = maximum cheesiness.


Apparently we pressed our luck by trying to get Burger in the picture. This was our most successful attempt. Hey, at least the adults are looking!


Then we headed off to grab our anniversary photobooth picture (more on that tradition here). The place we always go (New York Deli here in Richmond) has an authentic 50-year-old booth that actually develops film strips (not digital prints, like a lot of the others out there). Sadly the booth was having an off day, so the results were especially smeary (note the fourth frame in particular). We were having a bit of an off moment too, apparently. Yes, Clara cried the entire first strip.

Well, that was actually the second strip because we didn’t even keep the first one. During our first attempt the thing started going off prematurely with only me in the booth, so half of the strip is me looking perplexed and calling for Sherry to hurry inside with the bean. But we got some happy squeals during the third attempt from Clara. Good nuff.

After some in-the-car blog tending (what did people do before iPhones?) it was dinner time.

We ate at Brio Tuscan Grille because it was the site of our rehearsal dinner back in 2007 and, well, we hadn’t been back since celebrating our second anniversary. Meaning it was this little lady’s first trip.

Is it just us or is there something hilarious about a sippy cup, some Goldfish crackers, and a Dr. Seuss book on a carrera marble table? Thankfully those magic items (plus her very own pasta meal) were enough to keep Beansie happy and entertained – even after a long day of celebrating.

And as if we hadn’t shoved in enough anniversary bid-ness already, Sherry followed up this July 7th just like she did four years ago after our wedding: by chopping off a bunch of her hair (you can actually see her with short hair waay back in the 2007 archives here).

Yep, say “goodbye” to the honorary fifth member of the YHL team: Sherry’s ponytail.

Though I’d say it’s a fond farewell, since I think my lady looks mighty sexy this way. Note that she was too shy to pose for photos by me, so she snuck off and took pictures in the mirror because “I made her nervous.” Aw yeah, four years later, I still got it.

Oh and Sherry wants me to add that all is right with the world – she can still pull her hair back into a tiny pony when we paint. How would she know? Let’s just say we’re working on the laundry room rightthissecond. More details tomorrow.

Anyway, as much fun as we had this seven-seven, we must admit that our minds have already kinda skipped ahead to next year’s big five year anniversary. In honor of our Alaskan honeymoon, we thought it’d be perfect to celebrate the big 0-5 by going to Hawaii (since it’s sort of Alaska’s non-contiguous partner in crime). We haven’t really planned much at all, but we figure if we keep saying it out loud it’ll force us to actually make it happen next year. Since we haven’t actually flown anywhere on vacation since our honeymoon in 2007. Better make it happen.