I definitely felt the birthday love from my family and friends. It was the birthday that just kept on going and going. Technically it was more of a birth’week’ celebration. It started the Sunday before my birthday at my parents’ home. My mom surprised me with a bouquet of 40 flowers with notes attached to each flower, each one with something they and my siblings love about me. I had no idea my mom had this planned and it meant a lot to me that she took the time to put it together.
There was a recurring theme on a lot of the notes. It seems I really like photography, photoshop, making DVDs, cleaning my house, being a mom and planning vacations. What a surprise!
1. You make every holiday special. You spend hours collecting pictures and videos from all our Christmases to keep the memory alive of past Christmases.
2. You take fantastic pictures and email them to me. They are so much better than I can take. You are always willing to help me with scanning and transferring old videos to DVD.
3. You create beautiful and personal cards. You take the time to gather hundreds of old pictures to make DVD’s for us.
4. You spend hours taking pictures of entire families, edits their pictures and get nothing but compliments for your time and work.
5. You blog each and every event that your kids do, and have them made into a digital book. How wonderful that your kids will always remember these important events.
6. You are an immaculate homemaker and teaching your kids to be independent and helpful and teaching them responsibilities.
7. You are an expert and juggling 6 kids with all their activities. You try to be at all of their events along with your camera. You somehow find the time to spend quality time with each of your kids.
8. You make sure your kids get the opportunities that they should have. You have had to stand for what you believe so that Morgan will have the best education possible. You know what needs to be done and you do not give up.
9. You face challenges with a positive attitude and make the best of difficult situations.
10. You are a great friend and often give encouraging advice to your friends and family.
11. It is important to you that as a family, that we do things together and you try hard to please each of us, which is not easy in a big family.
12. You are not judgmental and you go out of your way to make everyone feel accepted.
13. You are such a great mom, to such great kids!
14. You always let me tag along with you when I was little, Gavin was probably wondering when or if you guys could ever be alone!
15. You are a great nurse!
16. You are an amazing mother, sister, daughter, wife and Nascar Monopoly enthusiast. You are a very smart cookie and possess great Scrabble zealotry (zealotry 20 Scrabble points!).
17. You are so beautiful and look so young, that is why our patients can never tell who is the older sister!
18. You are smart and always looking to learn new things.
19. You are always willing to help anyone, no matter what the circumstances may be.
20. You have a strong testimony of the church, and that influences everyone around you.
21. You are busy, busy, busy! I don't know how you do all that you do!
22. Even with six kids, you manage to spend time and give attention to each one of them.
23. You are always willing to make the effort to come up to see us instead of just waiting for us to always come to Utah. That means a lot to both my family and to me.
24. You got me into blogging and share my passion for photos and documenting life!
25. Without you there would be no family trips or girl's weekends!
26. You are always the first one to get me the photos for the Christmas calendar - may not sound huge...but come November it is!
27. You seem to really care about and want to spend time getting to know my kids. For example, taking my girls to Park City last year, driving 6 hours to camp with us and arranging sleep -overs whenever we are in town.
28. You have 6 kids yet you still find time to make sure they all get to be involved in whatever they desire.
29. You share your talents willingly with others. I have watched you stand out in the cold for hours taking photos of others for nothing. We treasure our photos by you as some of our very best ever!
30. I always think of you as the one Stewart kid that remembers everything. Now I can't even remember where I was going with that!
31. You are really good at keeping in touch with everyone. You have kept in touch better with MY friends that I have!
32. You are a peacemaker. You see beyond others weaknesses and just love them for who they are.
33. Heather is great at forgiveness. I know I wasn’t the big brother to her that I could have been or should have been and that probably robbed her of an adolescent experience that she should have had but she’s been great about forgiving that.
34. Caring. In a family where the way we communicate is to just yell louder than the other people to be heard, Heather is a great listener and is genuinely caring about other people and their lives. She always knows Birthdays, special events, etc, in other people’s lives. I need to ask her sometimes when my wedding anniversary is!
35. I admire that you go out of your way to do nice things for people.
36. You are easygoing and easy to get along with.
37. You have an extremely rare talent of nose whistling. :)
38. Curly headed kids are adorable. Thanks Heather for being one and cloning another.
39. You are always concerned about all of us and keep me informed on the latest and best medical information.
40. You have always wanted to help others and do a great job with this still to this day. I had some difficult times where I was hard to talk with, but you would go out of your way to find me and see if you could help.
Birthday cake and celebrating with the help of my kiddos
I wanted this year to be different. I wanted to turn 40 and feel stronger and fitter than ever. To show forty that I was in charge. I started off the year strong. Eating healthier. Exercising and walking regularly. And then a few weeks passed and it was all gone. Somewhere along the way, I got my vowels mixed up and confused “fittest” for “fattest”. It’s a good thing I’ve got a decade to show forty who’s boss.
As my birthday approached, Gavin never mentioned a thing about it. The day before my birthday I figured if Gavin wasn’t going to do anything for my birthday then I would throw my own party . . . a pity party. I called up my bestie in Idaho and planned a get together at her place. And called Gavin to tell him all about my plans to leave town. I also let him know that I was sad he hadn’t said one word about my birthday. He reassured me that he did have plans for my birthday and to not go to Idaho. He was a little too good at keeping my birthday plans a surprise. I owed him a HUGE apology the next morning when I woke up and saw all of the thought, planning and effort he had put into making my birthday the best day possible!
I can’t even put into words the feelings I felt as I was going to bed the night before my birthday and noticed something on my lawn. I opened the door and found 40 balloons all over my front yard with sweet messages from my friends. I ran from balloon to balloon, in my pajamas, in the middle of the night, smiling as I read each of the notes attached to the balloons. It was the best surprise! I am so blessed to be surrounded by amazing friends!
1. You are so FUN!
2. You plan a Great Party!
3. You plan fun vacations!
4. You make events special!
5. You make your kids and Gavin’s Birthdays Special!
6. She is Amazing with the Computer!
7. You are so talented at photography!
8. You are Great at documenting daily life as well as special events!
9. You are quick witted!
10. You have a great way of saying things!
11. You look gorgeous, even right out of bed!
12. You can wear your hair in so many different styles and they all look fabulous!
13. You are sincere!
14. We like that we can trust what you say. When you say it we know you mean it!
15. You are thoughtful at doing small acts of kindness for others!
16. You have a flair for reality shows---and your family would make a Great one!
17. You make us laugh!
18. You can find humor in many situations!
19. Your outlook makes life more enjoyable!
20. You are very patient!
21. You are generous with taking pictures of our kids when we forget our cameras!
22. You are willing to share your savvy tech skills with those of us that are less techy!
23. You are a great example at record keeping and documenting the life of your family, their talents and their strengths!
24. You are always up for dinner and a midnight movie!
25. You are a Friend for Life!
26. You stick it out with us through thick and thin-good times and bad!
27. You’ll do anything for a friend!
28. You are a die hard Survivor fan!
29. You are good at spur of the moment!
30. You know how to relax!
31. You are able to empathize with others trials.
32. You are able to laugh at yourself!
33. You are a good listener!
34. You are a gung-ho painter!
35. You are a sushi connoisseur!
36. You make the Best cold pasta salad!
37. You are the #1 “blogger”!
38. You make everything look better with a can of paint!
39. You are a great mom!
40. You keep us in the loop what’s happening in the world of Facebook!
After the flowers and balloons (and 80 loving comments), I am set for another 40 years! I got into bed and couldn’t sleep, overwhelmed by the love and support of my family and friends. How lucky to be blessed with amazing parents, siblings, friends, children and husband.
I woke up to these cute faces, all excited to give me their birthday presents and help me celebrate my day!
Gavin surprised me with this Birthday letter . . . massage, lunch, dinner and then a birthday vacation with a surprise destination. I canceled my birthday breakfast and made it just in time for my birthday massage. Birthday Bliss!
Birthday lunch at Cheesecake Factory with my girlfriends
And then the big surprise. I honestly had no idea that I was going to be dining with all of these cute faces! As we turned the corner in the restaurant and walked back towards the table I was overwhelmed seeing all of the people that mean so much to me! I told Gavin I didn’t want a surprise party but this was different. The table was full of family and friends who mean the world to me. Not friends and acquaintances that I have lost touch with and haven’t seen since elementary school, but family and friends who know me and love me just the way I am. No pressure to make small talk or entertain. I was just able to enjoy that moment surrounded by those who have been there for me and have all had a big part in my life. Thank you for taking the time to come out and make my birthday the best one yet.
We ended the evening with laser tag and "birthday cake" (aka my laser tag code name). Who knew that a group of adults could have so much fun playing laser tag together in a dark room being shot by “the undertaker, ace, sly, the help, lucky number 13” and whoever else tagged me?
I wondered how Gavin was going to pull off a ‘journey around the world’ in just 3 days but once I found out the destination it all made sense. Anything is possible on the Las Vegas strip!
We started our journey around the world in Monaco at the Monte Carlo hotel
Made it to Rome
And enjoyed the fountains and gardens at Bellagio
Made it to New Jersey to see The Jersey Boys
And even made it to Paris!
It was the perfect way to end my birth’week’ celebration. I got to sleep in, go to movies, see a few Vegas shows, sit around the pool, get caught up on celebrity gossip, drink frrrrozen hot chocolates, eat buffet dinners, walk around the city. And the best part? I got to share it all with my best friend! Thank you Gavin for making my 40th birthday one that I will never forget! xo.