As if an entire day of birthday fun wasn't enough, Derek really surprised me on Sunday, when I showed up to what I thought was just a cookout with our home group from church (we meet every other Sunday, so this was the Sunday we're supposed to meet). We walked in, bringing ice and mac n cheese, since we always potluck when we get together, to a 1983 throwback surprise 30th birthday party.
Everyone was dressed up and the house was decorated a la 1983. They even had an 80's outfit for me to change into. Enjoy the photos!
Thanks to Derek and my sweet friends for pulling off a great surprise and making my 30th extra special!
Recapping our trip to Italy is kind of hard. I want to write it all down, so I remember, but there are so many details and sooooo many pictures, that when I think about sitting down to do it, I get a little overwhelmed. So, I thought I would take a little break, because this week is my 30th birthday!!!! Woot woot!!!!
I don't actually turn 30 until Wednesday, but you wouldn't know it by the way we spent our weekend.
I feel like at this point, I need to give a little back story. Back in the day, when we were leading young life, Derek liked to make a big deal to all our young life peeps about how I am older than him. He doesn't turn 30 until March, so I have 6 1/2 months on him. But he loved to exaggerate and act like I was soooo old. So for the past 4 or 5 years, he has been telling everyone I'm 30. And all his YL guys thought it was hilarious, so they got on the bandwagon and basically every time we get together there are multiple, "Anne is soooo old" jokes. In fact, they've moved past giving me a hard time about being 30 and like to act like I was born during completely different eras of history. So all of that to say, that I've been telling Derek for a while now, that when I actually do turn 30, he better do something awesome, because he has been telling people I'm 30 for years.
So, flash forward to this weekend. I knew he had something planned for Saturday, because a little while back, I was texting with my friends Katie and Ryan, who turned 30 a week before me, about planning a fun joint 30th birthday party for the three of us. Once we started talking to our spouses about this we were told to not worry about it, so we all knew they had something in the works, we just didn't know what.
Saturday morning, Derek and I went to Josie's for brunch, where Katie and Kyle met up with us and we ate delicious waffles and pancakes. After brunch, we parted ways with our husbands, who were going to take the birthday boy to go play basketball for the afternoon, while we met up with a bunch of our girlfriends at the pool. We had a whole afternoon of sitting around talking, and even though it was a little cloudy with intermittent rain, we got to spend some time in the pool. Our husbands know us well, we love the pool!
After several hours of quality girl pool time, we met back up with the boys and headed home to change for dinner. We arrived at Mi Pequena Hacienda (awesome Mexican food!) where a huge long table was set up for us and about 30 of our friends for dinner. I took zero photos the entire day, but luckily some pictures were taken and instagrammed at dinner. So here we all are, wearing the birthday sombrero.
After dinner, we went over to Kristian and Lucianne's house where there was more snacks, birthday cake, and games and fun friend time. We also did a little birthday photo shoot!
While I knew that we would be doing something with friends on Saturday, I had no idea what all it entailed and who would be involved. The day was so much fun, it was filled with lots of my favorite things, plus so many of my favorite people. I felt so loved that our friends would take an entire day to celebrate with us. The funny thing is, when Katie, Ryan and I were initially talking about doing something for our birthday, we all said we didn't want it to be anything extravagant, we just wanted to provide a reason for everyone to get together and hang out, and that is exactly what happened. We have all been friends since college, and now as we're getting older, having kids, and a lot of us no longer lead YL, we don't have opportunities to all get together and see each other as often. So having this day when so many friends were able to join in was really special. I'm so thankful for sweet spouses who planned our birthday party so we didn't have to, and sweet friends who made it a priority to spend the day with us!
It was on our trip to Venice that we first experienced the excitement of trains running late, missing your connecting train, running through train stations with all of your baggage and breathing a sigh of relief when you finally make it onto the last train. In Italy there are a few different types of trains, the regional, intercity and high speed. The high speed trains require a reservation and you are given an assigned seat. They seemed to always run on time. The regional and intercity - not so much. (Also, on the regional trains there were no assigned seats, but on the intercity there were.) Which made it interesting when our regional train from Barga was late, so we missed the next regional train in Lucca which would take us to Florence where we were to catch the high speed train to Venice, on which we had reserved seats. Luckily when we arrived late to Lucca there was another regional train heading to Florence, so we just hopped on, and barely made it to our train to Venice.
When you walk out of the train in Venice this is what you see:
Venice is beautiful, with all of the canals and old buildings. We joked that it felt like we were in Disney World, except that it was weird because people actually lived in these buildings, they weren't just facades.
Our favorite thing to do in Venice was just to walk and look around at everything.
We took the vaparetto down the Grand Canal, walked across bridges and generally just enjoyed being in Venice.
We also went to St. Mark's Square and Basilica, and the Doge Palace. This area was really crowded, which I didn't love, but the buildings were impressive.
We also spent some time in the gardens on the eastern side of the island. I could have spent a lot more time in this area, as it was much less crowded.
We went to the island of Murano because we heard about the glass blowing that they do there, but we went not really knowing what we were doing or where we were going, and apparently there are some places that are legit while others are a ripoff. So, not knowing the difference, we mostly just walked around. It was a lot like the main island of Venice. I'm sure if you know which places to go, it would have been a lot more interesting.
We had some interesting meals in Venice. Derek ordered a spaghetti with lobster one night. Before the food came out they brought him this:
To which he responded, "Uh oh."
I ordered something called cicceta, which I head was like an appetizer sampler, but really it was just a bunch of seafood. Squid with tentacles, whole sardines, and a bunch of other fishy tasting food. I guess it was authentic, but it taught me to be a little more careful about ordering items on the menu that don't have a description.
Overall though, Venice was really pretty. I think the best thing about it is just walking around and enjoying the scenery. I would have love to have rented a boat and just spent an afternoon boating around the island. But we only had 2 days there, and I feel like we squeezed a lot into those 2 short days!