Monday, June 14, 2010

Birthday Weekend Wrap up

In typical fashion, we headed South for my birthday celebration, this time mixing things up a bit. I've learned a couple of lessons, but more on that later. First off, we headed down Thursday night to spend the night with Brother and his best girl, Melissa in their new-ish place. It was awesome! I love how all of the things they have accumulated along the way seem to go together and perfectly fit in their place! Oh, and I'm so jealous of their closet. It takes me back to my first apartment. ahhh....I digress. That night, the task at hand was to prep the jello shots for the party barge and get ready for Friday during the day since I'd be wearing my photographer hat.

Here are all of the jello shots we made. It was over 300, I would guess. Not sure. We went through 2 large bottles of Parrot Bay, which totaled 16 cups of coconut rum. Plus, we made a tiny batch of non-alcoholic jello shots, those are the orange ones down in the crisper.
Friday, I ran around Austin with one of my BFFs and my MIL doing her bridal portraits. I wanted to do them at Mt. Bonnell, but when I asked Brother for directions, I asked for Zilker Park. Um...not the same thing as I discovered when I drove up to the park thinking, hmm...this isn't what I thought I wanted. However, as fate would have it, Zilker Park has an amazing botanical gardens and during the week it is FREE!!! Let me tell you, I already think Ada is gorgeous, but these photos...whoa...STUNNING!!! I think she's gonna love 'em. We had super sexy light, but it was seriously humid like the inside of a sauna. But we all pushed on. Through the gardens, up to the Capitol, and on to the Drag for some fun shots with the graffiti backdrop.

We were spent! Whew...back to Brother's to change, shower, and load up to check in to the hotel. We still had 45 minutes before check-in, so we headed out to Hut's Hamburgers for lunch. It was delicious! I ordered the All-American Buddy Holly Burger, longhorn patty, hold the onions. It was a very, very good burger. Mari tore up her mini corn dogs, nearly eating every single one of them! Oooh...and I got to experience my first electronic meter parking. I was able to pay with a credit card and it spit out this cool sticker to place on my window. Faaaaancy!

Then, we headed out to check-in to our hotel. I booked this hotel several months back on Hotwire, not knowing what to expect. I had called in ahead to reserve adjoining rooms since our other friends promptly booked their room as well, but through Priceline. We each scored an $80/night plus taxes deal. Not too shabby. Anyway, I called requesting a higher floor, adjoining rooms, and preferably a corner room. I explained that I had a toddler with me and I was well aware that we'd be near the hustle and bustle of 6th street, but still, to see what they could do. Honestly, I wasn't expecting anything. But when we got there, we discovered they were having ROT Rally. Oooh doggies it was gonna be noisy! I was very, very scared we were gonna get a really shabby room that was smoke infested, next to the loudest and rowdiest group. They handed over the keys and we went to our rooms. We had been inadvertently upgraded with no extra expense!!!! Our room suite was outfitted with a sleep number king sized bed, a table, with a fridge, and rollaway bed. Next door was a two queen bed room, but the best thing was that we had an INCREDIBLE view of Town Lake!!! Seriously, Mari spent hours gazing out of the picture window admiring the boats and people. We didn't hardly notice the thousands upon thousands of bikers either. It was very quiet and everyone there at the hotel was extremely courteous! I would definitely like to go back there. Quite a change from last year. Something that really tickled me was that an entire floor in the parking garage was nothing but bikes. Hundreds of bikes lined up, each one gleaming and smiling. I wish I would've gotten a photo!

Anyway, we all settled in and began to clean up a bit for the night's festivities. We were gonna take a ride on Rosie! For a bit over 3 hours, we drove around Austin, singing karaoke to music from the 70s, 80s, and early 90s. We did a mini Trudy's marathon actually. It was a lot of fun, despite some initial tardiness that was not so much fun. But hey, that has to do with the lesson, which I'll wrap up at the end. Here are Brother and I on the bus. I have no idea why I'm throwing up a peace sign instead of my guns up. Oh well. I wore my white vinyl go-go boots that very nearly broke Danika's foot, but luckily it was a broken blood vessel. For you fashionistas out there, skirt from Target: $6.98, white tank from Old Navy: $5, vinyl boots from Electric Boutique years ago (pimp & ho party): $35, earrings borrowed. We were able to stock the bar with all of our own alcohol and I think everyone had a great time. The bus cost us $20 p/p (I think we had 21), which included the tip to the bus driver. It wasn't so bad considering I was able to get 2 hours using the groupon special that I had scored!

While we got in at a decent hour, I wasn't really in any shape to enjoy the next day. LOL! Mama partied a bit too hard and doesn't recover as well as she did 10 years ago. I was sufficiently dehydrated, but thanks to my MIL for having Advil and thanks to Margie for the 6 pack of Gatorade, which I inhaled and didn't share. Ooops, my bad. After that, I was good to go, well mostly. Here's a view of the party barge while we're loading up. It's two level, with a slide and a captain. They also have a grill on board, a bathroom, tables, and speakers for your music. The guy walking is our captain, Alan.

party barge
The lake is right in the heart of hill country, so to get to the lake, you have to park on top of the hill or drive down. Aquaholics is located at the top of a hill. They have trailers that you can load up with your gear and they will drive it down for you. As you can see, we had quite a bit of gear. They will also shuttle the people if you don't want to walk down. This was helpful for my mom who was using her walker, although, she trekked up that hill at the end, which made me very impressed.
the trailer
Here's a view of the slide. You could only go down it when the barge was anchored or parked. I was brave enough to only go down once. I'm totally regretting not jumping off the top of the barge. We were lucky enough to park in a deep enough section on the lake where we were allowed to do that. Don did it a few times and a couple of the guys even flipped off! Brother bombed a couple of times and they were so impressive, people on a nearby barge and in the boats were clapping for him.
the slide
This is the whole group! I think we had 32 total, including the two kiddos. For those of you interested, cost was $30 a person (adults only), which included the rental of the barge, the tip for the captain, all of the food, beer, cake(s) and jello shots. I totally spaced and forgot to buy the sodas and another flat of water. Luckily, many people brought their own drinks and they saved their plates because, again, I wasn't anticipating that many folks to show up, so I hadn't brought enough. I was truly, truly blessed by the turnout! We dined on turkey legs, brats, hot dogs, Luby's mac n' cheese, sweet tea, fritos, cheetos, doritos, tostitos, pork rinds, veggies, chocolate cake, strawberry cheesecake, vanilla & chocolate cupcakes!
group shot
The good Lord blessed us with a GORGEOUS day. It was perfect weather for being on the lake. Over cast skies, just the right amount of heat, a tiny sprinkling of rain is all, while loading up, and lots of wind & breeze!
view from the top
Mari and Hayden had such a great time together. They really enjoyed being up top to stare at the water, the bubbles, swimming in the lake, and the jello!
the toddlers
Here's Mari snapping a photo with Nani's camera. She's pretty good, huh?
future photographer
Of course, it's the Vibram foot shot. See how it makes a star? Neat, huh? You need to see my awesome tan line!
vibram star
Here's the pinata. It's a birthday cake and I thought it was a pull string pinata. Unfortunately, it wasn't. And the entire bottom section was empty. All of the candy was in the top layer. This is me frustrated that it wasn't a pull string, so I just punched it.
pinata
Finally, here's some chill time in the lake, relaxing with the noodles. I got a teeny tiny bit closer to evening out my tan for Ada's wedding in a few weeks.
lovin' life
After the party barge, we headed back and I caught a powernap in the back while Mari munched away on Cheetos. We washed up and took another bite sized disco nap before heading out to the Cathedral in downtown Austin for Saturday afternoon mass. (Danika, did you collect the coins?!?) It was really nice inside! The stained glass was stunning, the singer was fabulous, and I fell in love with the perfect blue ceiling with gold stars above the alter.

Afterwards, we went back to the room, changed up to go out on the town, but first up, dinner at Thai Passion. Just like last year, it did not disappoint! Service was great, food was good, and overall a great time. Another gal was there celebrating her birthday and was quite surprised when our table of 14 started serenading her as well. Why oh why did I order mango lassi knowing it was a Thai place? LOL I did, however, get some fabulous mango sticky rice.

We walked back to our room and the bikers were thundering along the way. I chugged some water and went to take a nap for 15 minutes after Will graciously aligned my back. That 15 minutes turned into 45. I guess they forgot to wake me up. It's ok, though. I needed it! We set out to Lanai rooftop lounge, where we scored a nice, comfy lounge area! It had a great view, the breezes were very welcome, the drinks were reasonably priced, and the house music wasn't too over powering where you couldn't have a conversation. I opted to settle in there for an hour and when we all broke apart, the rest of the group went to tear it up on 6th street while Don and I headed back to the hotel, in search of tacos! We found the perfect trailer that whipped up tacos and po'boys, all farm raised, organic products too! My buddy Boo had given Don some cash to buy me a shot, but instead we used it to buy me tacos instead. I preferred the tacos to the shot, believe me! All I'd had that day was two jello shots and the rest was water or Gatorade. Cruda much?

Unfortunately, I did roll my ankle while we walked back. The clumsy was bound to come out, huh? Oh well. It only swelled a bit, but I do have some bruising and I had to limp back to the hotel, which wasn't very far. The next day, I had to skip on breakfast. Don and Mari desperately needed more sleep and I probably did too, but I spent part of the morning texting everyone.

We made it home safe and sound! It was an incredible time and definitely in my top 10 birthdays, ever!

Things I learned about this trip:
  1. If you know for sure that people are coming or intend to come, book the rooms together at the same location for a decent price. This would've been helpful for us to have spent more time together. There was a mix-up on some of the meet-up times and had all of the out-of-towners been closer, that would not have been an issue...as much. The 20-minute and 30-minute tardiness put a damper on my mood because it was a pretty good chunk of time spent waiting.
  2. Have an itinerary printed out for everyone and send out mass texts for the day's activities. I usually put together a packet, but this time I didn't.
  3. Make sure to have plenty of water!
  4. Make only half the amount of jello shots, or even less than that. We had over 60 leftover, which didn't include the non-alcoholic ones.
  5. Only have one outrageous activity. Either party bus or party barge, but not both and definitely not back-to-back!
  6. Don't spend an entire day in the sun shooting portraits without properly hydrating and expect that you'll have enough energy to last you the weekend.
  7. Decide food places to eat early and stick to 'em. I really wished I would've eaten better breakfasts because it is my favorite meal, after all, and I was either rushing to get everything together or poorly attempting to recover.
  8. Spend quality time with people and don't obsess about the details that no one is going to notice, except for you. 
THANK YOU GUYS for being there. I am remarkably blessed and fortunate to have so very many wonderful people to come from all over (California, Arizona, Corpus Christi, Dallas, Lubbock, Austin) to celebrate with me. I appreciate all of your sacrifices (of time and treasure) to be there with me. THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU MIL GRACIAS!

*special thanks to Margie and Melissa for taking the photos above. Hard to believe I didn't take my camera with me on any of the outings.

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