I have spent the last couple years celebrating my half birthday in June (because December is crazy enough as it is). But Steve informed me earlier this year we would be celebrating my real birthday since it is a milestone year: 40 years. Steve worked so hard to make it a special day for me and I can’t say I was very helpful.

He kept asking me what I wanted to do for my big day. The truth is – if I was choosing my perfect day – I would be at Lake Powell on a houseboat. That’s what I would’ve chosen for my birthday. But that was unrealistic. So the next best thing was celebrating with family!

My brother and his family have made a tradition of coming and spending the week after Christmas with us. I have another brother who hasn’t been to Arizona for a visit in 6 years so they decided the week after Christmas sounded great. So I brought in my 40th year with my two older brothers and their families (and foreign exchange student) and it was the best day.

We started the day with a girls shopping trip to Nordstrom Last Chance.

After shopping, the adults went to our friend’s gourmet milkshake shop/escape room. If you have not been to the Soda Jerk and Nemesis Club up in Scottsdale, you are missing out! They have created an experience unlike anything you’ve probably witnessed in an escape room. I don’t know how they came up with this concept, but they truly have mastered their craft. Last year, we did the Evil Robot room with Steve’s brother, and this time we did the Mogollon Monster and it was so fun and pushed our ability to problem solve.

I arrived home and was surprised to see our home had been turned into a casino for the night. The kids did such a great job of transforming the space – I knew we were in a for an eventful night.

But before we pulled out all the chips and cards, we enjoyed the early evening outside playing pickleball, cornhole, spikeball, skateboarding…etc.

Steve thoughtfully curated some meaningful gifts including a very special project he worked on with the kids which included letters, thoughts and pictures from some of my closest friends and family. I’m not typically a words of affirmation kind of person, but hearing how I’ve touched someone’s life or how I make them feel…it’s gold! They are the words you want to read over and over again when you’re having a rough day! I’m so grateful for everyone that contributed, it was a beautiful reminder of the wonderful people who have weaved in and through my life over the years.

After gifts, it was casino time. Everyone received a set amount of chips and and a designated amount of time and we got busy. As the time drew close to an end, the level of excitement increased significantly and so did the sound levels. Everyone was making one last ditch effort to earn chips and there were so many who were neck and neck until the buzzer rang. Sadly, only two people won gift cards, but we all walked away having the best time. And it was a good lesson to everyone that the house always wins and bluffing will only get you so far. 🙂

I crawled into my bed that night so grateful for Steve and all his effort to make the day special and for family who traveled so far to spend the day with me. It wasn’t Lake Powell, but it was up there!