Tuesday, September 2, 2014

A Beautiful Birthday

So....my birthday was over the weekend.  I turned 36.  It's a little mind-boggling that I'm officially closer to 40 than 30, that my 18th birthday was half a lifetime ago, and my 21st birthday was already a decade and a half ago.  When my mom was my age she had a 7th grader and a 3rd grader...and as that 3rd grader, I remember her at this age pretty well.  I certainly don't feel that old (most days) but I don't look it either, so I guess I'm lucky there.

Originally I had wanted a nice quiet weekend at home.  We've been traveling so much and it seems like we're never home.  But then a few things came up and it became apparent that another weekend on the road was in the cards.  I decided to just make the best of it and squeeze in all the fun I could!

We already had plans in Rochester Friday night, which meant that we physically couldn't leave town until Saturday, which was good because I didn't feel like I had to cram in packing to be ready Friday.  However, we had a busy night planned.  I walked from my office over to Frontier Field, where I met Craig and the boys for a baseball game.  It was a bobblehead night, Stan Musial, to be exact, and THAT enticed Craig's family to come in since his brother's family are Cardinals fans and Musial was a Cardinal when he got to the Major Leagues.  So we got there early and waited in a very long (but thankfully quick once it moved) line and got bobbleheads, one for each of us so we had enough to share if his family didn't make it before they ran out.  His brother's family got them, and we had to (gladly) pass one off to his parents.  

We had a really nice night at the game--it was cool but pleasant--and the kids had a blast.  Carter was a bit cranky and dismissed my first attempt at dinner for him.  He ate option #2, but then I needed to spend quite a bit of time out of the seats just letting him wander because he did not want to sit!  Eventually he fell asleep in my lap and stayed asleep through the fireworks.  He woke up as we were leaving the stadium and stayed awake in the car (while Jacob fell asleep), but went right down once we were home. 

My entire goal for Saturday was to get us ready in enough time to eat lunch and run to Target before hitting the road at a good time for Carter to nap.  The problem with car naps on trips to Buffalo is that they're not quite long enough, but it beats having a well-rested kid who gets bored in the car and screams as his entertainment.  So...I was actually successful.  The main point of the trip to Target was to buy my new camera.  After breaking it on our trip to Syracuse, I'd been using our first digital camera (since relegated to being Craig's work camera) and researching to find the best one.  I'd finally made a decision, then concocted a plan to use a couple gift cards and my Target RedCard discount to bring it down to a price I was a little more comfortable with.  I really wanted to get one I'd love (meaning, nice zoom, great in low light, nice size, etc.), and there was one that fit the bill.  I haven't really put it to the test, but (spoiler alert) so far I am thrilled.

I forgot to mention that Craig and Jacob headed out earlier on Saturday to go up to Canada for a junior lacrosse tournament involving teams affiliated with most of the NLL teams.  Craig wanted to cover it (and the owner saw him and thanked him--score!), and took Jacob with him.  Apparently Jacob was pretty good and even got to play in a pick-up game with younger siblings of one of the Knighthawks!  They got back into town (Buffalo) just before bedtime on Saturday.

In the meantime...shortly after we got to my parents we left for a surprise party for the mom of my oldest friend, Heather.  My parents had been invited and when Heather found out I was going to be in town, she told me to come, too.  We also made plans for Sunday (and this coming weekend!)...more on that in a bit.  The party was fun.  I got to see some people I hadn't seen in years, the guest of honor was shocked and thrilled, and Carter was his usual charming but energetic self.  Between the three of us we were able to keep him occupied.  I couldn't help but test out my camera, and of course I'd have to use one of my favorite subjects!
Angle's a little funny and his eyes aren't looking quite at the camera, but gosh he's looking grown up these days...in spite of those baby face cheeks!
I loved the technicolor cupcakes, too!

I don't actually have a picture of the birthday girl because, well, I'm a little gun shy with my camera these days as rushing to pull it out is what caused the demise of my last one, and we didn't have a lot of warning for me to slowly pull it out for the big moment.  I'm coming up with some (hopefully) foolproof ways to protect my new one, though!

Sunday was my actual birthday.  We were all up bright and early for church.  The boys were a little antsy (Carter woke up on the wrong side of the bed, for sure), and I decided that I couldn't take Carter on my post-church adventure with Heather and her husband.  Since he's usually so good in the stroller, I considered it, but his behavior definitely convinced me he'd be better off at the house having a normal lunch and taking a normal nap.

The adventure in question was a trip to the Albright-Knox Art Gallery in Buffalo.  It used to be one of my favorite school field trip destinations, but I hadn't been there in years.  In fact, the last time I was there was my sophomore year in college, conveniently in the middle of my art history class, on a random extended family outing to see an exhibit featuring the work of this famous glass blower...Dale Chihuly.  Now, if you've been around this blog a while, you know that I am obsessed with Chihuly's work, and that visit to the gallery was what started it all.  We walked around the gallery a bit that day, and I loved being able to name artists without having to look at anything except the painting itself.  Still, I didn't get to do a full visit, and I've been wanting to go back ever since.  Earlier this summer I read an article about a visiting exhibit at the gallery.  All of the most famous works from the gallery had been part of a traveling exhibit, but were back in Buffalo for a couple months.  I decided I had to go to see it and revisit all of the works I loved as a kid.  When I posted it on Facebook, Heather volunteered to go with me...and luckily we were able to make it work!

The Albright-Knox is quite the place.  It has one building that dates back to 1905, and another that was added in the '60s.  Most of the art is pretty much from the Impressionists to now, and it boasts a pretty amazing roster of artists.  Seeing the classics back in town was really awesome, and it brought back so many memories for Heather and me.  This was one of the first ones we saw, and I can still tell you exactly where it used to hang in the gallery.
In case you can't tell, it's a painting depicting the motion of a man walking his dog.
There was another exhibit in this same wing, and it was full of these crazy wall-sized paintings with very thickly textured paint.  The paintings themselves weren't really my style, but I couldn't resist an up-close picture of the paint...
Can't even imagine how long it took to dry!
Another classic is this Jackson Pollack...
I've always felt like his work was overrated since I could probably do something similar, but I do really like this one...
Another famous one, the Andy Warhol Campbell's Soup cans...

There were so many other classics...Monet, Gauguin, Dali, Kahlo, Picasso, and more.  It was so cool to see them and it's almost hard to remember that they're the real thing, not just a poster.

There were other works, too...I really liked this one.  I just like color, I guess.

One of the highlights of any of our field trips was the mirrored room.  I wasn't even sure it was still there (come to find out, it had been on loan for years and just came back this summer), but we were thrilled to see it again.  Of course, we weren't so thrilled to find out we needed socks to go in it, as Heather and I were both in sandals.  We could have bought socks from the store, but we made do with standing in the doorway while Heather's husband Peter got his first walk around it.
Hard to tell, but it's a big cube with mirrors outside and an open "door" at the corner.

This is almost impossible to comprehend, but I am standing at the door taking the picture looking in.  There's a table and chairs in the center, and everything goes on infinitely.  Awesome.
Outside we took a stroll around the grounds to see the outdoor sculptures.  This one was really cool, mostly because the surface was glass mosaic.

I got a couple awesome shots of the mosaic standing where I was standing in the picture above, but zooming in to see the details.  Yep, my camera is cool.

Here's the outside of the 1905 part of the gallery.  There is a sculpture in the very center.

The sculpture is a seemingly endless stack of little men sitting on each others' shoulders and covering each others' eyes.  It was weird and jarring and stark...and very tall.

Around the side of the building was this giant head.  This picture is so weird and creepy.  The head just looks superimposed.

It was a great trip and it makes me want to visit galleries elsewhere.  So fun!  I'm so glad I got to go and enjoy it all.  I also loved giving my new camera a workout!  So many beautiful things to capture!

Back at my parents' house, everyone was getting ready for a Labor Day picnic.  My mom needed something from the store, so I ran back out and picked up the fixings for Buffalo chicken dip, too.  The picnic was low key as a lot of other family members were out of town, but we had a nice time and I got sung to before we left for our next stop...
Love my boys!
Our next stop was Craig's family, as his dad's birthday is tomorrow.  Considering he was in the hospital at this time last year, en route to open heart surgery, it's definitely a birthday worth celebrating.  We had a fabulous dinner and a delicious gluten-free cake (Jacob was so excited!).  

Oh, that face...Teddy is so stinkin' cute.

And so is this guy, when he cooperates!

We were all stuffed full of food and it was getting late, so we piled back in the car to come back home.  Unfortunately, we had two cars for the trip and had to go retrieve mine from a lot near the Thruway so we could both drive home.  It was a late night, but fortunately we had all day Monday to recover.  I spent hours putting together a fancy Lego set that was my birthday gift from the boys (long story--I'll try to explain with photos soon) and trying to get organized for meeting Jacob's teacher this morning.  We did dinner out last night with a good coupon, and did some quick school shopping with another coupon.  We were back to the grind today, complete with Carter in a new room at daycare and Jacob enjoying his last couple days there.  It all gets real on Thursday.  I'll be posting about all of that soon, too.  Busy busy...but what a lovely weekend it was!

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