Birthdays, Milwaukee and the Kia Sorento

I consider my birthday a national holiday. I don’t care if you don’t, because that doesn’t change the importance of it for me. It’s the ONE day of the year, where everything is about me. If I didn’t have children, I wouldn’t have Mother’s Day. Christmas is about the birth of Jesus, and Thanksgiving isn’t really one of those holidays where you can be selfish, unless it’s YOUR birthday? Get what I’m saying? Last year, I got to take the Kia Sorento on a tour of my city, and our sister city to the North, while I stuffed myself full of food, fun and memories. The car is part of an ongoing partnership between Kia Motors and our Houseful, but all places visited, that honor goes to the magnificent planning of my husband.

We got to cruise around in this spacious car all by ourselves! Do you know the last time we were able to be in a car this large alone? Don’t worry, it’s a trick question, because we haven’t. We spend a lot of time in cars, and I’d rather spend time with someone that I love in a space that I am comfortable in, than having to tough it out in something quite uncomfortable. Dennis the Dog is only in the car for scale. He did not get to come with us. Don’t feel too bad for him though, he was well taken care of by a bunch of kids. 

If you can’t tell from context clues, it was quite  warm. To the point where we couldn’t really drive around during the day with just the windows down. I’m not sure when my birthday started becoming a heatwave during the day with perfect summer nights, but it’s the time of summer that I enjoy the most. Being able to open that panoramic sunroof and actually enjoy the breeze that came through is one of the reasons I love having a birthday in September; it can still be warm enough to cruise around with windows down, but not so hot that your face melts off. 

My birthday is important. It’s important to me. Full stop. My husband gets that now. At first, he didn’t. Mostly because his birthday is just another day for him. He’ll go to work, church, weddings or a funeral and not be the least bit annoyed that he couldn’t focus on himself for 24 hours. I’m not that person y’all. Please don’t plan anything on my birthday and expect me to come. Know that I will graciously decline and enjoy the fact that I was born however many years ago, to the full extent that my body allows.

Last year, I went to Milwaukee. Now, most of you may say that Milwaukee is nothing special. In your eyes, you may be right. If you’ve been around here for any length of time, you’ll know that Milwaukee kind of grew on us, and we find ourselves heading up that way for anniversaries, and family trips more often than we anticipate.

When my day started off, Mr. Houseful stated that he had surprises in store for me. I was skeptical. You see, as much as I love and adore my husband, his love language isn’t the planning sort. His intentions are ALWAYS amazing, and I know that he wants to see that smile slowly spread over my face in response to something that he’s done, but I usually disappoint him, because I can always anticipate it. I’m surprised he doesn’t hate me. My love language is actually acts of service, his is physical tough, and for this particular weekend, we both got what we wanted.

This particular birthday though, he pulled out all of the stops. HE TOOK OFF OF WORK FOR ME! We were going to spend the entire weekend together, and enjoy MY day. Y’all. This is my love language. Acts of service. Well, acts of service and food, but you get the gist. Between seeing Lauryn Hill and Nas in concert, to eating at Duck, Duck, Goat, and then heading to Milwaukee to FEEL like I was getting away, he really spoiled me.

We ate lunch at Duck Duck Goat – another restaurant of the genius that is Stephanie Izard – which serves reasonably authentic Chinese fare. We gorged ourselves on dim sum, including wood-fired duck hearts, and the conversation of a good person. You do want to take the advice of the waitstaff – and order less if you’re thinking more. We had more than enough food to take with us for another lunch the next day. You live and learn. 

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The surprise wasn’t over for me though. My dear husband put the Sorento in drive and we entered the freeway, going North on I-94 to one of the cities that has grown to be a favorite of mine, Milwaukee. What’s funny is, when I lived in Wisconsin during college, I couldn’t stand the place. Working with the good folks at Visit Milwaukee several years ago helped change my perspective, and now we head there whenever we need to get away. 

This time around, we were piddling around in a 2017 Kia Sorento, and just taking our time visiting all of the spots that we had become familiar with. Spots that I couldn’t afford to visit while I was attending school just 20 minutes west of the city. Spots that were probably not there twenty years ago, because to be honest, Milwaukee wasn’t attractive enough. I remember laughing in the face of a couple of college friends when they boasted that downtown Milwaukee was loads better than Chicago. I still take pride in my city, and all that downtown Chicago offers, but I will say Milwaukee is giving it a good run for its money. 

Birthday Celebrations
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We made a stop at a coffee spot that has become one of our favorites whenever we’re in the city, Anodyne and grabbed our cups of joe before heading to the Milwaukee Public Market for a serving of lobster rolls and fish for him. It was nice to just sit and be. Taking in the people, the sounds, the fact that we were alone, on a trip, no work involved. Something that was a last minute decision happened to be one of my most favorite memories of 2017. 

Settling into the passenger seat for the weekend was refreshing. After running the kids back and forth to activities, and the long road trip that I took from Baltimore the week before, it was nice to leave the driving ONLY to my husband. The room that we both had in our sections of the car proved to be just what we needed after what could only have been a hectic week of work and parenting and being an adult in general. My husband, who is much taller than my 5′ 2″ frame had enough room to sit back and relax while driving and listening to his podcast of choice, while I, not lacking for space for my legs, could adjust my seat to support my lower back and bottom all while fighting sleep on the road. It’s a talent I have; falling asleep as soon as the car gently rolls from in front of our house. Falling asleep on the road to Milwaukee gave me plenty of time to rest up for the walking we do when we got there. 

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We strolled around the third ward, walking along the river and talking about all of the things that we wanted to accomplish in our new years. I’m two months away from 38 and while my list was extensive, I’m glad that I was able to cross quite a few things off of it. Wanting to spend more time with my husband and my children, free from distractions was at the top of that list, and we started the year off well, even after ending the year laid off from his job. He found a new one when he needed to, although he was beginning to get twitchy. 

We ended the weekend with dinner at The Shack – which was so good that I didn’t even bother to take photos of the food. I’ll use that as the reason instead of the inside of the building being completely unsuitable for flashless photography. Plus, we were living in the moment, because that was the point of the weekend. 

Now that you’ve read a bit about what good birthdays consist of for me, tell me about one of your favorite celebrations. Who did you celebrate with – if there was someone else – and what makes it so memorable? 

Here’s to more years of celebrating. 

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