Sunday, August 24, 2008

I'm only young once...

... but I can be immature forever.

The sign on the blow-up air castle fun house bouncing toy thingy at the Groton fair last week said that ALL AGES were welcome. So Joy and I took turns climbing in. My original entrance to the play area required a mighty leap to hurtle me through the small opening, but I made it. On my back way through the obstacle course (with a less subtle entrance, pictured to the left) a preteen girl looked at me there among the 7-11 year olds and cried in shock, "You're an aDULT!"

"Yes," I replied calmly, laying on my back, trying to squeeze between two balloons. "The sign says all ages."

"Really?" she asked dumbfounded.

"Yeah. Really."

She didn't know what to make of me.

Perhaps she didn't know that it is one of my life's goals to be open to interpretation:
Hyrum would certainly agree that I am open to interpretation. I don't know that people who only knew me at church or school would think that I am open to interpretation (though some of the folks recently who have seen the gleam in my eye when they say they enjoy playing games but are disappointed when everyone else just wants to talk might guess it). After all, people from my home ward admit that I was never a deacon - too serious and mature. But I'm not so worried that OTHER people think that I'm open to interpretation, as I am that I feel that I am.

Today ... I am 30.

I am very happy to be 30. I have a wife who loves me. I have the most adorable baby (though I leave other parents free to think otherwise). And I have a job. In fact, tomorrow I stop being a full-time student ... for forever. I was sitting back in church, listening to the talks on the importance of family, feeling very, very satisfied with life. This was a nice, new kind of feeling.

It's hard to get in a good birthday celebration on a Sundy-day, so we partied Friday, there being a church meeting in Owego Sat'dy.

Joy and Hy let me sleep in before having a yummy, hearty breakfast. Then we started the treasure hunt. Joy had hid my presents around the house and instead of her usual poem-based clues to help me find them, she this time sent me on a trail of documents on the laptop that would end in clue pictures. The pictures were way zoomed in - like to show the dust particles on a box! - and we played 20 Questions to help me figure out what in the world I was looking at. Then I get to search there for the gift. The most difficult ones were pictures she took of things she couldn't actually see: like the gift hidden above and behind the bathroom mirror. Let me see if I can find one for you....

Behind the mirror, outside under the stairs, and inside our luggage with Hyrum's clothes.

One of the more devious things she did was to take some of my books (fantasy, comic, and game strategy guides) with her on errands over the last two weeks and set up long winding paths throughout the books (Go to page 365 ... go to page 89 ... go to page 284 ... go to page 136 ... go directly to jail ...) with the final page of the trail telling me a computer file to resume the chase.

It took about 4 hours to find my presents. It took more than 2 weeks for her to prepare it all. I was pretty tired by the end, but eager to find out what it was I had gone searching for. Joy and my parents were very generous, and got me a wonderful variety of fun things to watch, to play and to play with, to wear, and to read.

So far, I've cracked open the second Fablehaven book, played the SimCity Societies tutorial, eaten some chocolate/pb smidgeons, worn my new Jesus tie, spent a couple hours playing Mannheim Steamroller and Jon Schmidt songs on the piano, and listened to the Princess Bride soundtrack. I have a feeling Tchaikovsky will be making an appearance tomorrow at work (and for months to come), with the Fraggles, VeggieTales: Jonah, and some Star Wars music (from Grandma) joining the party in the weeks to come. The stars say there will likely be a Wii game in my future (from the other grandma, though her card hasn't arrived yet).

Hyrum got me two cute Mickey outfits to put him in. Hyrum tends to get Mommy cartoons for him to watch.

As soon as the packages were opened, Hyrum got up from his nap and we drove down to Vestal to ... Chuck E Cheese's! I haven't celebrated my birthday there in a good 20 years. My brother or I sometimes would elect to celebrate there back when we lived in LA. This place was a bit smaller - one room instead of three or four - and I could swear I heard Mom in the back of my head saying "oooooookay" about my choice. In all honesty, I gave Joy several choices of venues, like miniature golfing.

This is how Joy tells it: You said Chuck E. Cheese's first. And then, oh, well, we could also do it here or there as afterthoughts. Why, as your dutiful wife, would I choose the second best?

*chuckle* I like her. She went online and got coupons for us. She also called around to see if there were slides for adults, and Vestal claimed to have a slide that kids of all ages could use, while Syracuse said theirs were only for kids, and Syracuse wasn't going to give us a show but Vestal would. So the Vestal franchise won. Their slide turned out to be a bit too tight of a fit for either of us, though (see crawlway above). I made a valiant attempt, reciting, "A bit of a pinch/But if Santa could do it, then so could the Grinch."

Now back in my day, they had kid-sized robotic Chuckee (before he was Chuck E.) and friends' heads set up over a large crawl space with swiss-cheese style holes so kids could run around under the robots during the show. At Vestal, they had a robotic Chuck - who would've fit right in with the Country Bear Jamboree at Disneyland - and eight television screens in sorry need of tuning. They blared out some happy birthday and summer time fun music to help the 7 year olds be happy and the 6 month olds cry and scream. It was the first time Hyrum evidenced stranger anxiety. The bored guy/gal/mouse in the Chuck suit was less impressive.

On the other hand, Hyrum is really learning to reach out and try to get a hand on our food. Here he is trying to get Mommy's drink and discover the ways of the straw.

We had our chicken and bacon pizza, then went in for the rides and games! My favorite was the Star Wars game that takes you through the Luke Skywalker trilogy, blasting everything in sight. I ALMOST defeated Vader - one more hit and I would've ... probably taken his place, so I don't know if I should've beaten him or not. Joy had a lot of fun riding their 3D jet ski game, "where you actually sit on a jet ski kind of thing," she enthuses, and it registers when she jumped on it and such.

The ski ball was a penny pincher.

They have a roller coaster simulator where two people can strap in and be jolted about to the video monitor as if you were on a roller coaster. Hyrum enjoyed watching Mommy on the smaller version of the toy. (That's the expression on his face watching her.) We rode together in the big kid version.

The cool thing (which I'm informed is not unique, but was new to us) was a machine you reclined on where the seats would vibrate and slightly tilt while a very large screen with large speakers in front of you showed a more exotic 3D roller coaster. We agreed that the haunted mine was probably the best - complete with Indiana Jones style boulders and a lava demon. The ice caves and toy store were also very fun. According to my photographic memory, it was called Mad Wave Motion Theater.

For about $20, we got pizza and some 4 hours of games that netted us enough tickets to get a tootsie pop and a laffy taffy. But we had a BLAST. It was a lot of fun.

Then today I got to play the organ and so I did my renditions of Kolob and Praise to the Man for pre- and postlude respectively. :D I loved it.

Happy birthday ... to me!

Oops. I can't end the birthday post without talking about my cakes. We're in search for the perfect brownie recipe again. We had thought we might have found it for a while, but we're less and less enchanted with it. Joy made me a thing of brownies with marshmallow in them last week (not bad, but not perfect), and we got a couple pre-boxed styles (shock! gasp!) to try out and compare: Girardelli chocolate and caramel vs. Betty Crocker triple chocolate. The official taste off with be later today. The triple chocolate brownies have been decorated by my lovely and gracious to resemble a diploma and we will blow out a candle or three with lasagna.

Joy has really put a lot of work into my birthday. I appreciate it. It's been very fun.

I'm discovering one of the nice things about Facebook: random people (better put - unexpected people) wish me happy birthday. The first one outside my family to do so was some guy I met at the ATHGO conference last month. I really appreciated the note from someone who said she had been looking forward to wishing me a happy birthday at church ... and then forgot. :)

Happy birthday ... to me!


Shari said...

Happy Birthday Derrill! I bet you had tons of fun at Chuck E. Cheese's!

Grandma Jule said...

Happy Birthday, Derrill!

I'm so glad you had a great time.

You are absolutely, 100% RIGHT ON.

I love you.