Monday, April 29, 2013

Tanti auguri a me!

My birthday is a pretty big deal. Make that a very big deal. I might start the birthday countdown on January 1. And when I say 'I might'...I mean 'I do.' I can't help it. Growing up, my mom always made a big deal about the birthdays around our house. We would wake up in the morning and the kitchen would be decorated with streamers, balloons, and signs. She would meet us at school at lunch time and we could pick where we'd go to lunch. For dinner, we could either go out to eat or she would make us our favorite meal followed by the dessert of our choosing. Big deal. And that's stuck with me throughout adulthood. No matter how old I get, 3...., I still love my birthday. This year was no exception.

I awoke, surprisingly, somewhat early on my big day. April 16, just so you know or want to mark you calendars. I decided that a nice walk/run would be a good way to start my day considering that I awoke in a funky kind of mood...not terribly happy, but not really sad or whatever. Funky. I opened my parents' card and one of their gifts--I rationed them out throughout the day. My mom had written that she was praying that the Lord would bless me with a small reminder of how much He loves me. Cheering me up just enough to get going, I headed out into the gorgeous Rome day, bopping along with my iPod. Towards the end of my time, my phone beeped with a text from my friend Laura. She was in my neighborhood and did I want to grab a birthday coffee with her, she asked. Heck yes! I didn't even care that I looked and smelled like...ehhh. I was just so thankful because I knew this was God's "Happy birthday, Kristen" gift. On top of that, the corner bar had started stocking cold coffee since the weather had turned. What a great present! (And let's not forget the double-cheek kiss that I received from Daniele, my favorite barista) I was so blessed to start my birthday with a friend who has been a true gift from God, drinking my favorite beverage, eating a yummy cornetto, in my favorite city.

Arriving home, I showered real quick, got dressed (of course, I put a little more effort into it seeing as it was my special day), and went into the kitchen where I was greeted by a gorgeous bouquet of yellow tulips (my faves!!!) and lovely card made by my students. Awww!! I felt so incredibly loved!

After this discovery, I went and watched  my students' "perform" their final oral exam for Italian class--skits. I love watching their skits because not only are they really creative, but they're also hilarious! Following the skits, Sean, Joy, and I made our way back to the corner bar for my second cup of coffee. Why? Because one of the things I want to do before I leave is have one of the baristas let me use the espresso machine to make coffee. What better day to try and get them do this than my birthday? Sadly, though, I failed. Daniele explained the process to me, but didn't even offer to let me get behind the machine. I will try again!

I spent the rest of the early afternoon with my RA, John, in our final one-on-one. We both wanted to try pizza from Pizzarium, said to be Rome's best pizza, so we decided to wait for his last meeting with me for the honor. The pizza was very good, the company better, and again, what a way to spend my birthday!

Later on that afternoon, I was called into the kitchen because John needed "to talk to me". Upon entering, my students, Sean, and Joy began to sing "Happy Birthday" to me. The buffet was lined with delicious treats that Joy had made for me and I was presented with my birthday gift--a pedicure! Couldn't ask for a better gift!! Of course, we then followed up the yummy treats and gift with a dance party. On the terrace. LOVE it! No birthday is complete without a spontaneous and random dance party.

Leaving the students behind, Sean, Joy, and I went out to dinner to celebrate at an adult-only time. Woo hoo! We ended up going to a restaurant recommended by Laura not far from the Pantheon. We were not disappointed. Everything was incredible! We started with fabulous breads, an artichoke tart, then I had the blueberry risotto (yes, blueberry. It was AMAZING. Tart and tangy, but so flavorful), and finished it up with my favorite--creme brulee. The restaurant itself was cute and quaint and I couldn't have asked for a better place to have my birthday.

All in all, it was an incredible day. I felt so loved and just...loved. My favorite gift, though, was from my niece, Sophie. My sister and bro-in-law made a video of her attempting to sing to me. Instead, she distracted herself every time she began. Best.Gift.Ever.

Of course, my birthday is never relegated to one day....psht, one day is for amateurs. I celebrated again on Thursday night with Laura who drove us out to Castel Gandolfo (the little town outside of Rome where the Pope 'summers') so that we could eat alongside the beautiful lake. Good food, fantastic fellowship, and gorgeous scenery just capped off the celebrations.

Yes, I had a fantastic birthday. Yes, I heard from the many people in my life who took time out of their busy lives to show that they care, but really...what I am taking from April 16, 2013 is how lavishly the Lord pours out His love upon us. He never does things by half. He's an all in or nothing kind of God. And He showed His love for me over and over and over again. I am blessed and am thankful for His reminders.

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  1. Kristen! it's awesome to see you crankin' out the blog posts now that you have some free time! I love your writing, and especially reading stories about Europe and Rome. Amazing that this is all real-life! No hoodwinking here. You are blessed and awesome!

    remember, "tanti auguri a la torta a me" :)
    Drink a couple caffe lattes and have some rossetta bread and jam for me

    Ciao ciao ciao ciao.....ciao ciao


  2. Thanks, Ship!!! I will of course take care of the lattes, bread, and jam for ya! ;)