This is 30 (with blast-from-the-past pictures!)

I turned 30 on Friday, November 1st (and Ben turned 4 weeks old that day as well).
When I was little, I used to expect to wake up on my birthday feeling somehow different because I was now a year older.  I especially expected it on my 10th birthday, because it signified that I was leaving the single digit ages forever and would likely be in the double digits for the rest of my life, unless I turned out to live very long indeed! Yet on that 10th birthday I felt much the same as I had felt the day before.  It was a bit disappointing.  Again on the eve of my 13th birthday, I expected (although more dubiously) to feel a bit different as I entered the new milestone of being a teenager, and again on my natal day I felt no sudden change.  The same sort of thing happened at 16 (now I can drive!)  and 18 (now I can vote!  and smoke! and buy shrink-wrapped magazines! Or not...) and even at 20 (a new decade!) and 21 (now I can finally have a glass of champagne at a waltz party...wait a minute, this stuff is nasty!).  And then after 21 things quieted down considerably, because there are no real milestone ages (unless you count 25 as the age of the quarter life crisis, which coincidentally--maybe--was when I got married).  After leaving college, moving out to a region of the country far, far away from all family, and being truly independent working and getting my MAT, I felt like I had entered the age of grown up, and everything from 23 to now felt about the same: grown up.  I got excited about things like having the money to pay all of my bills on time and ready to throw a party when I had enough extra to put some towards the principal amount of my student loans.  I asked for practical gifts (or money) when my parents and grandparents inquired as to my birthday and Christmas wishes.  Settling into a teaching career, getting married and having kids definitely cemented my identity as a grown up.
All the while, though, a new milestone was creeping up on me: 30. Apparently for many women, turning 30 is almost as traumatic an experience as turning 40. It signals the end of your youthful fun-loving twentysomething days (i.e. extended adolescence.)  I imagine that turning 30 was not nearly as big a deal half a century ago, when most women were married much younger than now and had already been wives and mothers for close to a decade by the time they turned 30.  My husband will have been married 8 years and been a father for 7 years when he turns 30.  But now, in our time of stretching out young adulthood well through the 20s, 30 for many people sounds like the year that it is time to have it together and be a real adult.
Even so, though I've felt like a real adult for some time now, there was still a little bitty remnant of me that expected something special about my 30th birthday.  On my 29th birthday, I started to think about how I wanted to celebrate 30.  I had big plans, which all came crashing down a few months later when I found out that I'd be having a baby only a few weeks before my 30th birthday.  The postpartum 30th is quite a different affair than I had anticipated.  In fact, my birthday came and went with perhaps the least amount of fanfare ever, except perhaps for my 23rd birthday, which was my first one here in Portland when I did not know very many people here yet).  The day was extremely ordinary: taking care of the kids, running errands, cleaning and doing laundry, making meals, putting the kids to bed, etc.  I got phone calls from my parents and all of my siblings and from my mother in law and grandparents in law, and a friend stopped by to visit and drop off a beautiful handmade card.  Allen bought me the dinner of my choice (Thai) and brought it home. I got a blender/food processor combo thingy from my parents which arrived in the mail that day and I put it to good use right away:
Homemade frappuccino! (no, it did not include the Gerber formula)
So, it was a quiet birthday. I was excited for the next day, however, because that's when my real celebration was scheduled.  My big present to myself (and Allen's present to me) was to go to a ball!  Through his grandparents' ministrations we have gotten involved in the German American Society of Portland.  We are certainly not very active members (we are more involved with his grandpa's sister club, Germans from Russia of Oregon and Washington), the Society hosts an annual German Heritage Ball in November.  We went two years ago and it was very fun: a nice dinner and a fantastic band which played not only polkas (one of my fav dances) but also a great assortment of music suitable for swing dancing. I had such a good time then that I wanted to repeat it. So we planned to go and invited Andy and Alishia to accompany us.  The event started at 6:30.  We snagged some free baby sitting from our neighbor and everything was looking good.  But that day Ben was just the fussiest he had ever been...discontent, fussy, almost acting colicky.  And as the day wore on, he got warmer and warmer.  When I took his temperature at 5 pm, he had a temperature of 99.8. After going on WebMD and seeing that a temperature in an infant under 1 month old was not to be trifled with, I called the advice nurse with his insurance, who advised us to go to the urgent care to get him checked out.  So much for getting to the ball on time.  We dropped Max and Ruby off at the neighbors, got dressed for the event (which took me forever to choose my outfit since my regular dressy clothes weren't fitting quite right with me being only 4 weeks postpartum), and headed off for the urgent care.  When we got to the address listed, it turned out not to be there.  So we went to the ER at our local hospital where Ben had been born and they checked him out.  Of course, by the time we got there it was about 8 pm and Ben wasn't running a temperature anymore and was looking downright cheerful.  We did, at least, get a doctor's recommendation for how to remedy Ben's absolutely atrocious diaper rash (antifungal cream).  With his clean bill of health, we sent Ben to the neighbor and headed out to the ball. Thankfully, Andy was able to make sure that our dinners were saved for us so even though we got there at about 9, we still got to eat and enjoy the music.  I got a few dances in, too.  We left just after 11, not wanting to burden our generous neighbor overmuch.  So, although it was not exactly the evening I had expected, it was still a good time.

Like the black and red theme? Allen even has a red tie but it doesn't fit well with that shirt

Okay, I almost never paint my fingernails because I hate how quickly they get chipped, but I decided to go all out (it being my birthday, after all) and painted them red AND did a little German flag design on my ring fingernails.  They turned out remarkably well given my extreme amateurishness with nail art.) 

Just for fun, here are some pix from my 20th birthday (which also featured dancing, since I believe the annual Halloween waltz fell on Saturday Nov. 1st that year):
The lovely Sarah Navarre and me...and I still have the skirt from that dress and was going to wear it to the Ball but it didn't fit well :(

The Ferrell Boyz (David and Jackson) bring some banana bread to my dorm room!

This one is (obviously) from my 21st birthday, hence the alcohol theme.  David Cantine, Geremy Coy, Erica Freeman, Jonathan Coppadge, and was a surprise party where they stormed my (really messy) dorm room after seminar.  Others were there but not in this picture (Eleanor Clark, Cat Pisha, Sarah Navarre, Sarah Wilson, maybe others I'm now forgetting).  I still have a photo of certain friend who humored me by wearing a "tragic reindeer sweater"  but I will not post that to preserve the innocence of the wearer!!

And here is one from my 22nd birthday (my senior year at St. John's):
I can't remember if it was a surprise party or just one that was entirely planned by friends, but it was a really sweet gathering.  
Well, it has been fun tripping down memory lane, but I hear a squawk emerging from the room where this cutie has been sleeping:
As of 11/4, Ben is one month old!  
This, my friends, is my 30, and I'm mighty thankful to all of you who have been there along the path.  And a special birthday shout out to Cat Pisha and Chris Lowe (not that they know each other), who both have birthdays today, 11/5!  Oh, and Annie Shellito too!  November 5th is quite the day, I guess.  Guy Fawkes and all that.


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