27th birthday recap

Just a fair warning: This blog post is going to be heavily littered with pictures.

It’s no secret that I love my birthday. In fact, I never understood people who don’t love their birthdays. Your birthday is the only time in your entire life that you’re showered with presents and attention for doing absolutely nothing, for merely existing. So when my special day rolls around every year and people start tossing cake my way for simply being alive, I tend to revel in it.  

And it’s also no secret that the love of my life happens to be one of the world’s absolute finest men (and I mean that he’s “fine” in every sense of the word). Clayton Charles knows how to woo a woman (say “woo a woman” ten times fast) and he knows how to do it in the most subtle, non-cheesy ways possible. Over-the-top romantic gestures and flowery dribble make me cringe, but my hubby knows how to drop my jaw to the floor and get my little Courtney heart to go pitter-patter. And lemme tell ya, Clayton brought his A-game on my 27th birthday.

Friday night I drove north to Greenwood to spend the night and enjoy some mother-daughter bonding time. My mom and I did what we do best: We went out for Thai and then drove to a wine store. We selected a couple bottles of different Prosecco wines (Prosecco is my new favorite drink. It’s like dry, white wine and champagne got to together and made a delicious bubbly baby!) and headed home to change into our jammies and watch movies. I had been looking forward to watching Rock of Ages for months and was super disappointed at how terrible it was. The music was awesome, but the plot was stale (and boring) and Russel Brand and Alec Baldwin making out disturbed me in ways that even a third glass of Prosecco couldn’t fix.

Saturday morning I headed home early because I had a quick date with the trail before meeting my father-in-law at the Rally for Regina Car Show. I know it’s hard to consider a 10 mile run “quick”, but I was in a major time crunch. Even though my body was exhausted from not taking a rest day in 6 consecutive days (I rearranged my runs to make sure I didn’t have to run a single step on my birthday this year. I ran 12 miles on my 26th birthday and wanted a break this time!), I got it done. It was sloppy, but I got it done.

After the car show, Clayton and I cleaned up before going over to my in-law’s for some birthday cake and ice cream. This was surprise number 1. I knew Clayton was going to try to make me a cake this year, but when I asked him to do so, it was with the assumption he would buy a box of mix and let Betty Crocker guide his way. Nope. My hubby made my entire birthday cake from scratch! He even made the icing! I was so blown away by his efforts, I almost didn’t want to eat the cake and ruin his handy work. (But of course I ate it. And it was yummy!). 

Sunday morning was my big day! We woke up early (after I received my annual 7:51 a.m. call from my mom who calls every year to tell my happy birthday on the very minute I was born) and met a group of some of our closest friends for brunch at Farm, an amazing little restaurant that prides itself on using local ingredients for all of its dishes. Farm’s setting could easily be described as “shabby chic” with homemade quilts serving as privacy walls between vintage white tables and chairs. The entire place has a laid back, down-home feel. When Clay and I first entered the restaurant, we were greeted by a plate of warm, gooey cinnamon rolls that were quite literally the size of Joey!

Farm’s brunch menu is unrivaled and it took our group very little time to decide what to order. Clayton ordered the Hoosier Benedict that included buttermilk biscuits smothered in sausage and sweet pepper gravy, topped with poached eggs. The gravy also included chunks of green pepper that provided a subtle sweetness to the gravy that was out of this world. I couldn’t stop stealing bites from his plate!

I was in a major egg mood and order a fluffy omelet that was stuffed with all kinds of delicious goodies and several different creamy cheeses. It came with a side of home fried potatoes and roasted tomatoes. Since I was the birthday girl I decided to order a cranberry mimosa with my omelet and was so excited about my meal, I was more than halfway through it before I remembered to snap a picture for the blog. Ooops!

And Ireli brought a cake to enjoy after my meal, just like she does every year. It was a vanilla cake with pumpkin icing and served as a great compliment to such a lovely fall morning. She also admitted to me that I'm the only person she ever bakes a cake for. What I did to deserve such an hour, I have no idea. But I sure do appreciate it!

Being that it was my birthday, I wanted to celebrate my special day my way. So Clay and I went back home after brunch and took a nap.

We’re party animals, he and I.

But we had little time to feel groggy after our nap because Clay and I were due at the horse stables in Nashville that afternoon. After a beautifully scenic drive in the sloping hills of Southern Indiana, we arrived at the farm where we would be horseback riding. Since we were early, Clay and I had a good half hour of time to kill by walking around the farm and snapping pictures. The leaves have officially made the transformation from summery green to golden brown and the colorful trees provided a perfect backdrop to the whole experience. It was so picturesque and charming, it was almost ridiculous.

My favorite spot in Indiana!
I have to give Clayton the credit for horseback riding because it was all his idea. When he proposed we ride horses on my birthday, I was almost mad that I didn’t come up with the idea on my own. I was smitten with him for even suggesting we do something so fun and out of the ordinary. 

There were at least 20 horses saddled and ready to ride and as I pet each one, I kept saying, “My sister would love this. Ashley needs to come do this.” I’ve ridden horses a few times in my life, and I was around them quite a bit as a child when my sister took horseback riding lessons. Whereas Clayton has physically sat on a horse, but he’s never been on a horse that’s actually moving. I knew this was going to be a great experience. 

One of the riding instructors tried to put me on a small, older horse who was normally reserved for little kids. “She’s the one I normally put 3 year-olds on,” he said to me in a way that made me shift from excited to straight-up annoyed almost instantly. Um, I'm not a delicate little waif. I'm an athlete. And I’m an adult, dammit.

“No thanks, sir,” I said testily. “I’m a grown up. And I’ve been on a horse before.”

So Clay and I were both put on large spotted horses who were actually brother and sister. I was given the aptly named Pongo and Clay rode Perdy. I think the horse instructor was impressed that the little girl he wanted to put on the tiny horse for toddlers was the only person in the entire group who swung up into the saddle without the assistance of a step ladder. 

Now, I’ve ridden a horse before, but I have never in my live ridden on a horse that was RUNNING. Since Clay and I were basically newbies to the whole horse riding thing, we opted to be in the walk/trot part of the group and lag behind with the other inexperienced riders. However, both the walk/trot group and the run/trot group remained close together for duration of the hour-long ride and eventually one of the instructors said, “Does everyone feel comfortable trying to run at least once?”

It doesn’t take a master’s degree in physics to understand that trotting on a horse wreaks havoc on your lady lumps, so I was totally game to run Pongo and save my chesticles a little discomfort. Running on a horse is far smoother than trotting and once your horse finally breaks into a full-on gallop, it’s actually quite awesome. The only thing you have to be weary of is not re-losing your virginity on the saddle.

And thank goodness I remembered to wear stretch jeans. 

Pongo was a great horse to ride, but he did tried to kill me a few times (completely unintentionally, of course). He wasn’t wearing horseshoes, so walking over the branches and rocks of the trail was causing his hoofs some pain. Pongo tried to remedy this problem by walking right along the side of the trail, trying his best to stay in patches of smooth mud and grass. 

Pongo dragged me through many tree branches.

And when Pongo began to run, he dragged me through many tree branches at high speeds.

After our ride, Clay and I were both feeling a major adrenaline rush from sprinting on horseback through the woods. Feeling a bit bold on our way back to the car, I took the opportunity to chase down a few of the chickens that were roaming wild on the property. I scared the dickens out of a small brown hen by running behind it and making what I thought were appropriate chicken noises. When I later walked over to the passengers’ side to open the door, I was greeted by no fewer than 10 chickens that had wedged themselves between my car and the one next to it. Apparently the little hen I scared tattled on me and there was extreme hell to pay. 

“What do I do!?” I shrieked at Clayton. He came around to my side of the car, saw the gang of chickens giving me the stink eye and started laughing. He tried to head back to his side of the car, but 5 or 6 more chickens were now standing behind us and trapping his exit.
It was probably one of the dumbest experiences of my life. I was being jumped by chickens.

I started gesturing wildly with my arms and making loud “Bah!” noises to get the gaggle of chickens to flee (the gaggle of chickens I later named The Mother Cluckers). They eventually got the hint and scurried away (I think one even ran under my car) and I learned the valuable lesson to never mess with poultry. 

The rest of my birthday was fairly low-key. Too lazy (and still kind of full from brunch) to make dinner, Clay and I ordered a pizza and caught up on our DVR from the previous week. He presented me with the beautiful Fossil watch I had been pining over for months and I closed out my first day of being 27 with a relaxing foot rub. (I don't know why I included that part about Clayton giving me my watch at the end of my actual birthday. Because that's a complete lie. I was bouncing on the edge of our bed at 8:00 a.m. while he was still asleep with the package in my hands begging, "Can I open it now? Huh? Huh? Can I!?")

My sister, Ashley, has an incredible knack for making the most adorable homemade cards. She sent me the cutest birthday card in the mail that was, what else, owl themed!

I took Monday off of work so I could sleep in and be a lazy girl (since I’m old now) and had a wonderful day all to myself. I watched 5 straight episodes of True Life and only left the house once to run to the bank and buy a Polar Pop. I make such a big hoopla over my birthday that the day after is usually kind of a letdown, but I was actually thankful that life was back to normal.

Or so I thought it was.

Around 7:30 p.m. on Monday night there was a knock on the door. Suspicious, I followed Clayton down the hall and stood in the corner while I watched him open the door. Standing on our front step was a woman I had never seen before holding a chair and an awkward lump under her arm. Clay welcomed our guest inside like he knew her.

“Hi!” she said in a sweet, perky voice. Then she extended her hand to me. “My name is Kari, and I will be your personal masseuse tonight!” 


Clay grabbed his keys off the hook. “See you in an hour,” he said, winking at me as he closed the door behind him.

As it turns out, Clay thought my body might be a little jarred and sore from our horseback riding excursion and figured I might need a full-body massage the next day to help me feel better. But more than that, he thought I might need a full-body massage in the privacy of my own home. 

I was in disbelief. The entire time Kari was setting up her table (in my living room! EEEEE!) I kept shaking my head and muttering, “I’m just so surprised!”

In a matter of minutes I was on the massage table, covered in soft sheets, and surrounded by a room full of candles with relaxation music playing softly in the background. Joey was so concerned about what was going on, he tried to jump up on the massage table with me not once, but twice before eventually giving into the peaceful calm of the room and sitting quietly on the couch.

Well, he sat quietly on the couch for a few minutes. Then he started to do that really neat party trick where he licks his crotch for hours on end. Both the masseuse and I burst out laughing on more than one occasion and I had to hiss at him to stop being disgusting.
Nevertheless, it was heaven. Getting rubbed down from head to toe was pure bliss and the most welcomed surprise my stiff, sore calves have ever encountered. I’ve never felt so relaxed in my life.

After the massage was over and Kari quietly excused herself from our home, I went to the refrigerator for a glass of water. When I opened the freezer for some ice, I came face to face with a giant Reese’s peanut buttercup Blizzard. Clay somehow managed to sneak that little surprise in as well. Nice touch, sir.

Taking my frozen treat upstairs, I found my hubby laying on our futon and I enveloped him in a inappropriately long hug. (Like a hug could even come close to expressing my gratitude and appreciation for how incredibly thoughtful and sweet he is. I was about ready to go all Wayne's World at his feet and shout, “I’m not worthy! I’m not worthy!” over and over again until he understood how much he means to me.)

He knocked my socks off, plain and simple.

So I gave him a few bites of my ice cream. It was the least that I could do.


  1. Gah! Sounds like you had a spectacular birthday! Well deserved for such a great gal.
    And, Clay! I'm telling you...and I say this every time you write about the nice surprises he springs on you; he needs to write a book, or host classes. Haha! :)

  2. hey courtney - great stuff! (Just discovered your blog via Maria A's blog). I'll be checking back often!


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