Milestone Birthdays + A Giveaway

My 40th birthday is in 5 days. I am not suicidal.

Nearly every time I mention my age at blogging meet-ups or events, I am hit with a tidal wave of pity. Pity, not self pity. I once even shut down a conversation. We were talking about age, and one blogger mentioned she was only mildly depressed to be turning 30. I smiled, and mentioned I was turning 40. The entire table stopped talking. They were speechless, floundering for words. Consoling words! Funny words! Any words! They had no words. Really, what can you say to someone who just announced her life is completely over?

“Don’t worry, you don’t look that old!” is a popular, although ill-advised, platitude.

I’m happy to turn 40. For a few months, I wasn’t. But now that it’s almost here, I’m excited about everything it brings.

First, I am now Lands End’s demographic. J. Jill, Coldwater Creek, Talbots, Pure Collection: all mine. I can wear a cardigan without irony.

Next is the wisdom that comes with four decades on earth. I have enough life experience to avoid appearing like a boob 75% of the time. The appearance of my boobs 75% of the time is a different matter.

More than anything, I am excited to be old enough to what I want, when I want, how I want. I’m starting with my birthday party.

By that I mean I am not having a 40th birthday party, nor do I want one. I’ve expressed my wishes to everyone close to me repeatedly. I hope they were listening.

My reasons are straight forward. I would rather take the money that would go towards a huge party and put it towards an incredible trip.

The older I get, the less interested I am in stuff. I don’t need gag gifts or knickknacks or whatever it is you buy people you rarely see for their 40th birthday. I want a trip.

I want to go to Washington, DC and visit the world’s largest museum. I want to visit The Smithsonian. I thought it would be fun to fly out to DC this summer, spend a few days there touring The Smithsonian, and then visit as much of the east coast as possible by car over 10 days. Is that even possible? (For this post I am limiting the east coast to everything north of Virginia.) You could do it on the west coast, but it would be fast and furious. It takes 8-10 hours just to vertically cross the state of California.  You wouldn’t have time to see all the major points of interest, and you can forget about Texas. The state is huge.

Feel free to tell me I’m crazy–or give me advice–in the comments. While you are there, feel free to enter today’s giveaway.

Radisson Hotels approached me with a giveaway opportunity around the time I started telling everyone to ignore my birthday. They, too, are celebrating a birthday, and they are older than me! They are celebrating their 50th anniversary with 50 Years, 50 Days, 50 Rooms. From October 13 to December 3, 2012, they are giving away a voucher for one free night, standard room, double occupancy at any North American Radisson Blu or Radisson hotel of the winner’s choice. (Disclosure: I received a voucher for hosting the giveaway.) The full terms and conditions are located on the voucher, but, yes, it includes the Gulf of Mexico.

Anyone over 18 is welcome to enter here by leaving a comment. You can also visit the Radisson facebook page to see which blog Radisson is visiting next and enter there, too. Each blog has their own set of rules, so don’t delay. I’m only allowing entries until my birthday on November 30. After that, I will choose a winner using a random number generator. Please be sure to leave a valid email address so I can contact you. I will forward your email address to Radisson, and it will be their public relations team that will handle fulfillment.

Good luck!

[image sources]
one/two/three/four/

 UPDATE:

Congratulations, Rita!

Comments
192 Responses to “Milestone Birthdays + A Giveaway”
  1. I had a few moments of feeling odd about turning 30 this month. I couldn’t really put my finger on it, it just felt”other”. I’d always been on this side of 30 and now suddenly I was about to be on the other side. It just felt weird. But it didn’t take long to start feeling very sheepish about the whole thing. Vanity! I thought I was exempt but for whatever reason turning 30 was what hurt my pride. How silly to take pride in a thing like age, that we have no control over. As soon as I was laughing at myself, the less of a deal it seemed like. I hope I can remember that when I turn 40. Something about those big -0 numbers makes them feel daunting to me.

  2. Charlotte says:

    Happy birthday! I turned 40 two weeks ago, and it was considerably less of a big deal to me than it appeared to be to everyone else. No party here, either. My present to myself was a trip to Quilt Market in Houston, so I can completely relate!

  3. anna says:

    amen! i keep waffling between having a party for my 30th early next year (because it’s expected) or not (because i don’t want one). i’m also vacillating wildly between being excited about it and petrified because i still feel as dumb and obnoxious as i was at 18. although since i’m worried about it,maybe that means i’m not, because i definitely knew everything back then…

    but the trip? – do it! i’m not really a seasoned traveller, but when we went to the US in 2009, we had 10 days in texas and two in arizona (including a there-and-back-in-a-day from phenix to the grand canyon). there’s so much that you can fit into a week and a half, especially if you don’t have to worry about nap times for kidlets. ;)

    ps – i live in western australia. it would take 37 hours to get from northern-most town to most southerly by car. (and pps – we’re not likely to be travelling any time soon, so i don’t need to be entered into the giveaway)

  4. Shelley says:

    I’ve always enjoyed my decade birthdays, fascinated by the adventure of aging. 50 was a little scary, it being half a century and all! When I turned 20-30-40 I always thought this would be the decade in which I became the sophisticated person I was meant to be, but of course it didn’t happen. I’ve had that trip you’re talking about. Touring even a small part of the Smithsonian is wonderful but exhausting. I still remember shuffling along the glass fronted displays, part of an endless queue. Running a marathon would be easier than a day of shuffling, but it was well worth it. You are wise to plan to trip rather than acquire stuff.

  5. Southern Gal says:

    Happy birthday early! 40 is great. I’m in the last few months before I hit my 50th year.
    That’s so wild! You should hear the crickets in the homeschool circle when I tell my age. I’m the one who has two children in their 20′s (what?!) and a 10-year-old. Ha!

    I’d love to go to DC. Never been and I”m not that far away. The east coast is gorgeous. Head south from DC – The Outer Banks of NC and the beaches of SC are well worth the trip.

  6. Jen says:

    Happy almost birthday! I would love to be entered to win a night at a radisson- travel is always the best gift.

    DC is a wonderful (though humid) place to visit in the summer. You could then head slightly south to see colonial Williamsburg, head north for tax free shopping in delaware, Philadelphia, NYC, Boston, with lots of interesting points in between.

  7. Courtney says:

    I was going to comment anyway, giveaway-schevaway, (though it is a great giveaway!) to say: I’m 35 and have already embraced the Lands End demographic. That part made me guffaw. (Part of your post always does!) Also, I LOVE the Smithsonian. Totally get your desire to go there. When my best friend was getting her phD in history, she interned there. I was studying for the bar that summer, wondering why in the world I chose law school . . . Anyway, I hope you get your trip. And bring your cardigan – museums get chilly! :)

  8. Sarah s says:

    Happy Birthday!

    One thing you can do on the east coast that you can’t do a lot of places is take trains and public transport.

  9. Tina says:

    My issue with turning 40 is I feel I should be WAY more “together” at that age then I feel. :) As for traveling up the East Coast, oh yeah you can do that! I grew up in TX and was just amazed how much closer everything is in the mid-west and East Coast. You’ll just have to pick out what you want to see, there is so much to see along the way.

  10. Samantha R. says:

    Happy almost birthday! :)

    Sounds like a good giveaway!

    You deserve a good vacation! :)

  11. Becky O. says:

    Awesome! If you get to New England I will meet-up with you in a hot second. Also whoever is lamenting your birthday number is not your friend. You need to hang with the kids who are not counting : )
    We are saving for an all-in-one husbands b-day and our anniversary year trip next Summer… 50th and 20th. Places are so much better than things.

  12. Anna L says:

    Happy, Happy Birthday! I was ready to comment just to tell you brava for not stressing about 40, but why not try to win a hotel room too, right?
    But really, I’m so delighted to hear you say that you hate the gasping reactions, as if turning older is the end of the world. I completely and utterly acknowledge that, at 27, I have little to no right to talk about the dread of getting older, but I’m so sick and tired of women that I look to as friends or role models for my future lying about their age or acting as if it is the end of the world to get old. As it turns out, we all do it, and it’s something not everyone gets to do. I really look forward to just what you described about knowing yourself and what you want.

    So, thanks for your words and I hope you have a wonderful trip this summer – whenever you get to planning it, I would love to give you some suggestions for visiting the East Coast!

  13. Annabel Vita says:

    My mum always says that the nine-birthdays are harder than the decade ones – because when you turn 29, 39, 49 etc, you spend the next few months worrying about turning 30, 40, 50 etc then by the time you do you’re ok with it.

  14. allison says:

    My son goes to College (mild nod to My age) in DC. He loves it, you will too. There is a great spy museum there also that your boys will LOVE! Happy Birthday!

  15. HopefulLeigh says:

    Happy birthday, Jules! The year before I turned 30, I decided I would embrace it. I didn’t want to be depressed or sad on my birthday or the months leading up to it. And outside of freaking out (just a day or two) about 2 weeks before my birthday, my approach worked. I had a great birthday and I have truly loved my 30s. There’s no point in getting worked up over milestone birthdays, unless it’s to appreciate the lives we’ve been given.

  16. Margaret says:

    Happy Birthday! Glad you’re embracing it, and the line about a cardigan without irony is hilarious! You do realize that 40 is the new 30, though, right? (This from a 29 year old.) As far as East Coast travel, you can absolutely do the East Coast in 8-10 whirlwind days! But if you’re flying to DC you’d have to pick a direction… and it depends on whether you consider the south/Florida part of the “east coast”. You could start in Boston/Cape Cod (even drive up to Maine for a long day trip from there), hit New York City (you need a solid 2 days to do most of the touristy things), Philly (one day is good here, and I live in Philly!) and DC (from Boston to DC is about a 10 hour drive, but there’s so much packed in between!). You can do public transport from Boston to DC and then you’re on your own. If you want to keep going further south you drive down from DC to Charleston, SC in about… six/seven hours? Florida’s a bit far IMO, though. Totally depends on what you want to do!

  17. Ashley says:

    Oh you will love DC! I took my kids for the Columbus Day weekend (we had planned to go to NH, but even after a decade on the East Coast, I still don’t know some things like how absolutely expensive NH hotels are in the fall…) and we had an amazing time. The Smithsonian was a bit much for my 5 year old daughter, but we had fun nonetheless.

    Enjoy!

  18. Ailsa says:

    Jules,
    Get online and order Jane Fonda’s books, either My Life so Far or Prime Time. Granted, she is much older than you are but she has such great lessons to share about aging, especially since she has the benefit of reflection — and the fact that she looks and feels great doesn’t hurt!
    I’m 53 and never thought I’d make it to my 20th birthday – you know, teenage angst and all that – let alone my 50th! But I truly believe age smartens us up and allows us to see what’s really important. No more pussy-footing around, you can now say what you mean, which is a real blessing, right?
    You are right on about no gifts, rather saving for a trip. There is nothing ridiculous about this – it reflects you are being genuine. But do consider your friends (and family) might want to still see you; so make some time, sans gifts, to have a low-key get-together. And enjoy!

  19. Susan says:

    Happy Birthday! I’m 41 and feel fine about it. Welcome to the club. :)

    I live in Chicago ‘burbs. Last summer, we loaded up our family of 5 (kids were 8, 10 and 13) and drove to DC. Stayed there for 4 days, drove to Ocean City MD for 2 days at the beach then drove to Hershey PA and Gettysburg. DC in July was absolutely exhausting. Very hot and humid for all the walking that is required. I thought it wouldn’t be too bad since we’d be doing indoor museums and such, but we also wanted to see the monuments, Arlington Nat’l Cemetery, and Mt. Vernon. These all required lots of walking in the heat and humidity. If I did it again in July, I’d skip Arlington and do some kind of bus tour for the monuments. The beach was very welcome after all that touring of DC! I would also skip Hershey and Gettysburg unless you have a big civil war buff and maybe go to Colonial Williamsburg instead. Have fun with your planning!

  20. Bari says:

    We have a vacation tradition for 40. Maybe it is the different place in life from 30 to 40 (not there yet -but many of my friends have hit tat milestone in the post few years) but it’s more enjoyable to get away then a party. I’ve been to DC many times on vacation since it’s only a 10hr drive from Michigan. Here are my tips – contact your senator and/or representative to get tickets for to tour the House and Senate and the White House. The National Cathedral is beautiful and I would recommend going a mass there. I don’t know how many days it takes to drive across the country, but if you have time Annapolis is a beautiful city with wonderful history and the Naval academy, Baltimore has a wonderful harbor and aquarium. Then a drive to Philly, to see the Liberty Bell and spend a day there, then up to NYC to see the Statue of Liberty, Ellis island, etc. It’s a lot of time in the car, but the history of America is amazing.

  21. Susan G says:

    Well, most important – Happy (early) birthday and good for you!! I think the East Coast trip sounds wonderful – with the caution that knowing what I do about you and your family from your posts, you may want to stay forever at the Smithsonian and cancel the rest of your plans. It’s amazing!

    • Susan G says:

      Hmmm…I added something but it didn’t take. Although your boys are probably too young, if you can get away for an afternoon the Holocaust Museum is incredible. The history is of course the major part of that, but the thought and intention that went into everything – the building design, the exhibits themselves – is amazing. The design is an integral part of the experience, presenting the stories in a way that is manageable (so you can actually look and see). At the same time, there were points that literally stopped me in my tracks and made it hard for me to breathe. The self-guided tour ends on a beautifully spiritual note (again largely due to the physical design),

  22. Smallgood says:

    Happy early birthday! A trip sounds like the best birthday gift ever. Well, that and the gift of wearing a cardigan without irony. Enjoy your trip!

  23. Fairfax Avenue says:

    Birthdays are a great time for some positive action! I never make New Year’s resolutions. I make birthday resolutions. One year it was to wear jewelry every day, in addition to my wedding band. I had so many inherited vintage pieces that this was fun (and several years later, is a good habit).

    While I was forty I had my fourth daughter, then another daughter when I was 43. Expecting at forty is great, but not everyone’s option. The only negative thing about having children in my forties is I don’t want to drive carpool when I’m sixty!

  24. candice says:

    Happy almost birthday Jules. A trip to Dc sounds great! The States are so small on the east coast that I’m sure you could see a lot in 10 days. Do the urban stuff … nyc, philly’s liberty bell, and Dc … or the small town history in Gettysburg and the amish in Lancaster. So many options!

  25. Jessica says:

    Turning 40 is not so bad now that I look back on it. I was depressed for about 6 months, but then I began to see the humor in things. Apparently so do you! Love the Talbots, Lands End demographic…I have been there for a while! The Smithsonian is awesome! The best part is that it’s FREE! Did you know that? We went as part of our home school group with Veritas Press. Best trip EVER. Don’t miss the Spy Museum, it’s awesome!

  26. Mami2jcn says:

    Happy Birthday! I turned 37 last month and once again I tried to ignore the fact that I’m 4 months older than my husband.

  27. Laura says:

    Happy Birthday! A trip is a great idea–my husband and I have started that tradition for big birthdays and anniversaries; more memorable for both of us than things, which are not hard to get anyway.

    As an east coaster my whole life, I’d say that trying to see the whole coast in 8-10 days is a bit ambitious, particularly if you are talking about Maine to Florida, top to tip. If you are starting in DC, I’d choose a direction and commit to either north or south. And, honestly, I’d go north. Sites start to spread out as you go further south and more of your time will be spent traveling than seeing. And definitely plan for DC to take longer than you might think. Those museums are exhausting (wonderful, great, HUGE) and then there will be the monuments that you want to take in as well. I totally second the National Cathedral, by the way. If you get to the city and start site seeing on Friday–by Sunday the calm and beauty of the Cathedral will be a pleasant respite. From there I’d head to Willliamsburg then back north toward Baltimore for the harbor and aquarium and crab cakes! Then north again to Philly for the Liberty Bell/Independence Hall and cheese steaks. If you are Rocky fans you’ll want to go to the Art Museum and the boys would probably really enjoy the Franklin Institute. But they might be getting a bit museum-ed out by that point. And then maybe east to the Jersey Shore (depending on how recovery is going there) or just north up to NYC. Definitely Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty–so much other stuff to see there that you’d really have to just pick three or four and say that’s it. Then north again to Boston or maybe the Maine Coast and the national seashore then back to Boston. If the boys are into baseball, you could catch a game in Boston or Philly–fun atmosphere in both places and a change of pace from the hustle of seeing it all. Although–this is your trip, so definitely plan for YOU, too!

  28. Olivebertie says:

    I lived and worked in the DC area all of my life, and it is a wonderful city to visit. Not only is the Smithsonian the greatest museum, it’s FREE! What a shock it was to me when I first traveled to other cities and had to **gulp** pay for a museum. I never knew how good I had it…

    That being said, I would avoid it in the summer if you can. If you can’t, go as early in the season as possible. Tourist traffic is really a bear (this coming from someone who worked in a building next door to the White House for 10 years and had to commute on the train and sidewalks with the tourists) and the weather is stifling. This may be clear to you, but many people don’t realize the Smithsonian is a whole network of buildings across the city, and not just one building or even one area of town. The zoo (which is great, and free) is in a completely different part of town from the traditional museum buildings. So you will be walking (and riding the train, and taking taxis) a lot, too.

    But you can definitely see soooo much in a week if you plan it right. Tons to do and so much is (dare I say it again?) — FREE!

    There are also great deals to be had in business hotels when you’re there on the weekends. We live in Raleigh, NC now, but whenever we take the kids back up to do the museums, we can often stay near the Spy Museum in a nice hotel for as little as $100 a night. So keep your eyes peeled!

    And enjoy turning 40 — I agree with you on the benefits. How is it possible that I didn’t even become who I am until I turned 40? What was I doing all those other years??? : )

  29. Kathy S. says:

    Happy 40th birthday on the 30th!!

    Hope you will have a wonderful vacation to celebrate your birthday! There is so much to see and do in Washington. The museums are free, and they are so much fun! Visit the monuments too! Really you can spend days in Washington. We love going to Williamsburg and Jamestown/Yorktown too. Busch gardens for the kiddles. Virginia Beach is nice too.

    Have fun!

  30. Robin Reid says:

    Happy Birthday to my favorite blogger!

    You will love the Smithsonian and talk about the trip for the rest of your life.

    From vantage point of 60 years, including two marriages, two kids, cancer, near death, building an awesome business from scratch, losing everything twice and coming back to happiness and stability:
    Life only gets better as you get older. Whether you appreciate that or not is up to you!

    Many blessings to you.

  31. Lindsay says:

    I hope you take the trip! Some must see places on the East Coast – Charleston, SC, Virginia Beach, VA, and Newport, RI – I’ve found great places to explore, relax and eat in all three. But there are almost too many places to see. Maybe just shut your eyes and point at the map. Have fun!

  32. hannah says:

    Happy Birthday! Your trip sounds lovely – and isn’t it wonderful to know exactly what you want?

  33. ris says:

    Happy birthday! I think a trip instead of a big shindig sounds lovely.

  34. Arin says:

    Hi and Happy Birthday! I turned 40 this year and didn’t have a hard time with it, maybe because so many of my friends turned 40 years ago. I celebrated my birthday with a vacation. It was great. Have fun and do what you want, it is your birthday.

  35. Sara B. says:

    Happy birthday! I live in the suburbs of Washington, D.C., and it is a wonderful tourist destination (and a fun city for us locals too). The best part of visiting D.C. is that most of what you want to see is free — museums, monuments, the zoo, the capitol. So that makes it much more affordable. It gets very busy here in the spring, and we have lots of tourists over spring break, and for the cherry blossom festival, so if you plan to come in the spring, book your hotels early. We have a great metro system, so feel free to stay out of the city (but on a metro line) in the suburbs, and just plan to metro into town for your sight seeing.

    I think you can definitely do the highlights of the east coast in 10 days. You can do a combination of major cities — Philadelphia, NY, and Boston, with beautiful countryside, like Vermont or upstate New York. It will be a lovely trip for your family.

    Enjoy the planning!

  36. James Merrill says:

    Thank you!

  37. Elizabeth says:

    Happy birthday! I like birthdays, particularly round numbers, as they always feel like fresh starts.

    My partner and I spent a month travelling from Miami to NYC last year (more on my blog – see link) – admittedly we spent a week on the beach, and ten days with friends, but we also skipped most of the South. I don’t think I’d want to try that trip in 10 days, as it’s something like 30h straight driving from Miami, FL to Bangor, ME, assuming you don’t take any interesting detours. Also, there doesn’t seem to be much in the way of big & obvious sights south of DC — plenty of interesting things, just not so much that you see on TV or read about, it’s not like going to Paris & seeing the Eiffel Tower for the first time — so you might prefer to go north, rather than south from DC, if that’s your starting point.

    New England is quite densely packed in terms of sights, and it’s possible to daisy-loop – stay in one place and day trip around, so you don’t have to change hotel every night. There’s also a lot of interesting things to see just in Boston, NYC and DC, never mind, Philly & the rest – we underestimated how much there was to see, but we only had a fixed amount of time & a lot to pack in.

    We only had a day for the Smithsonian and it wasn’t enough to hit more than 2 museums – I think we saw Space and Native American history, and it was still a bit rushed – so if that’s your dream, I’d say budget half a day to each museum you want to see.

    Anyway, hope planning your trip goes well – we had a brilliant time and started planning our next trip before we got home.

  38. mari says:

    Jules, Happy Birthday!
    We should appreciate our past but be grateful we have today; good for your outlook!
    We live in CT; have a tiny house but you are welcome to unwind and spend the night on your tour this coming summer [my bday gift to you]. Email if you are interested…and we live by a historic dinosaur park! :)
    Thanks to you and Radission for the celebration overnight get away!

  39. Steve Miller says:

    Thanks for the chance!

  40. Joanne M. says:

    Happy Birthday! A trip to D.C. is a great way to celebrate!

  41. Elisabeth says:

    Happy Birthday to you… and Radisson! :)

  42. Heather says:

    I don’t think you’re crazy at all. My girlfriends and I actually went to the Smithsonian for spring break one year in college. We felt like the biggest nerds ever, but we had a blast. For a few years before the economy went south, my school field trip was to the Smithsonian, and I loved taking my eighth graders there.

  43. HeatherL says:

    Happy almost Birthday! Have you noticed that (37 year old) Niki Taylor models for Land’s End now? I remember when she was starting out in teen magazine when I was in that demographic, so I feel like I am right on target with my shopping preferences now, eve though my (very hip) 91 year old Grandmother also shops there.

    I think the trip is a great idea. I love Washington DC, but I am in New York, so it is a quick trip for me–I have been there 6 times. You can definitely see a ton in 10 days, if you plan well, and only concentrate on what is important & interesting to you & your family. (You know, sort of William Morris up your vacation.) You probably won’t have time to see all of the Smithsonian Museums, but some of them might bore your kids to tears anyway. I would maybe spend 3 days in D.C & Williamsburg, and then head NY. It is about 5 hour drive. Like DC, you could spend 10 days here alone, but it can be overwhelming, so pick the essentials, and then take a drive to New England. I wouldn’t go farther than Boston.( although New Hampshire & Maine are beautiful.) That’s about another 5 hours from NY. On the way back to DC, you could stop in Philadelphia. You could also do a split flight, if you only want to drive in one direction.

    As an alternative plan, you could start in DC, and go south. I am not as familiar with the Southeast, but you could go to Virgina Beach, North & South Carolina, and various parts of Florida.

  44. 40 didn’t bother me at all. For some reason, the birthday I have coming up in a few weeks (48), has been. A little. First time ever. I think because I was a bit older when I had kids (33), I have felt younger than I really am. Thanks to Facebook, (and an impending 30-year (!) high school reunion) I can see that so many of the people I went to high school with are on the verge of becoming grandparents (or are already there), and that freaks me out a bit.

    But, I spent yesterday with a wonderful woman in her 60′s, who was so happy to become 60 because it made her officially a crone. She told me that the older she gets, the better it gets–because she is able to let go of more and more with each year, making it easier to see and appreciate the stuff that matters. Hope it will be the same for you.

  45. burbhappy says:

    Happy Birthday! I’m in a MD burb of DC – you’ve been given lots of good suggestions. You will be marathon vacationing if you try to do DC/Baltimore/Philly/NYC in one trip. A unique experience you may want to investigate would be Chincoteague, VA for the pony swim (Misty of Chincoteague). Rehoboth Beach, DE is a low key beach town great for kids.

  46. Jamsby says:

    Congrats! This is a great giveaway! I ‘d love to use it!

    I remember turning 20 was traumatic for me. Wow.

  47. Meg T says:

    I grew up in Maryland (Annapolis) and my husband is from New York, so I’ve done the whole east coast corridor thing hundreds of times. Don’t forget some of the often-overlooked, non-urban areas – like Amish country in PA and the Eastern Shore of MD. Smithsonian museums are amazing, and best of all, FREE! I got so spoiled growing up going to them that I remember the terrible sticker shock I got when going to some Manhattan museums. No matter what you pick, I’m sure you’ll have an amazing time.
    Thanks for doing the giveaway!

  48. Sandy says:

    One word: Go! DC is one of my most favorite places to visit. (I live in Oregon, originally from Chicago). The only thing is you will want to stay in DC for 8 – 10 days as there is SO MUCH TO SEE! Really! You could rush from city to city but you will be exhausted and will you remember anything? Heck, I spent 5 hours at Mt. Vernon alone. The Smithsonians are amazing. The Washington Monument. The National Cathedral is one of my favorite places on Earth. The Catholic Basillica is beyond beautiful and a person will take you around each area and explain it all to you (my tour guide was Joan and she was amazing!) Arlington Cemetery is a must see. Walking around Georgetown. Make sure you take the tour of the White House (you have to get tickets from your Congressperson). See the Capitol Building. I’ve been there twice for a week or so at a time and I’ve barely touched the places to see! My advice is go and stay in DC and take another trip to see the rest or you will feel rushed and exhausted. And if you must go somplace else, go to Boston!

  49. Liz M says:

    Happy almost birthday to you! I would love to win this free night and could think of many places to use it – likely at the Radisson Blu Chicago or the Radisson in San Francisco.

  50. Tim says:

    Great post and great giveaway. I just turned 50 and am not suicidal either! ;-)

    If I won the Radisson voucher, I would stay at their San Francisco hotel — great city to explore.

  51. jen_alluisi says:

    I’m 35. I wasn’t angsty about turning 30, and I don’t anticipate I will be about turning 40 either. So good for you – embrace those wonderful years and experiences that have made you the awesome, kick-ass woman you are today! I live about 2 hours south of DC in Virginia’s wine country. DC is well worth the trip – you can easily spend 2 or 3 days among monuments and museums alone. As for other parts of the east coast – you can certainly see some things, but you can’t see everything. If I were you, I’d choose to head either north or south and not try to do both. North you’ve got Baltimore, Philly, NYC, and New England – you can do some or all of those. South you’ve got Virginia mountains/wine country (Charlottesville!) or historic Williamsburg, the Outer Banks of NC, Charleston SC, Savannah GA, the many moods and locations of FL, and all points in between (the southern attractions are a bit more spread out from each other – there’s more serendipity to what you’ll randomly run across on a southern road trip than a northern one).

  52. Holly C. says:

    Happy Birthday! I really liked my fourties. I have been to Washington DC a few times. There is so much to do and see, love that they do not charge to get into everything. have fun!

    thanks for the chance on this giveaway! If I was the lucky winner I would use it in NYC, my all time favorite city!!

  53. Richard Rebhun says:

    Although it may not be the most beautiful city in the world (some might argue that it is, although that honor goes to San Francisco in first place and Venice in second), I would like to sojourn at the Radisson NYC because it certainly is an exciting place.

  54. Christina W. says:

    Happy Birthday. You might be happier celebrating it in New Orleans, which is my choice.

  55. Kathy says:

    I turned 47 in the 13th. Sigh. There have been advantages – like you said the desire for “stuff” is gone. If I can travel, knit and read for the rest of my days, I will be content. ( Although I guess I do need to get these last two kids raised first!) I am beginning to accept who I am more and more – like the serenity prayer – I accept the things I cannot change – and am developing the wisdom to know the difference.

    That trip sounds wonderful. I highly recommend a trip to Mount Vernon, as well as the museums. Do it and tell us all about it.

    Happy Birthday, Jules. Thanks for the gift of your blog.

  56. Chris in Hawaii says:

    Happy Happy Birthday Jules. Well I turn 50 in 3 days and have a son in kindergarden! That is also a conversation killer. Age is just a number not a state of mind. Just keep being your fabulos self and go to DC, your family will love it.

  57. Biggles209 says:

    Happy birthday!

  58. Barbara Q says:

    Happy Birthday, Jules. Forty is nothing. Fifty is “Well, now, how did that happen?!” Sixty made me cry, but I got over it. Have a wonderful birthday trip and remember to enjoy every minute of every day.

  59. Amy Kate says:

    I became 40 in August and met it with trepidation. So far, I’m loving it. I feel like I like myself more. (It helps to have a sweet man who in spite of myself, loves me very much.) The extra dose of confidence has allowed me to find my voice and use it: in relationships, in personal day-to-day interactions,etc. As long as I can apply my expressions with grace, I think this decade may be my best yet. Happy birthday to you!

  60. Colin says:

    Happy Birthday!

  61. Jeanne says:

    I’m with you on the “no party” idea. I would not want to be the center of attention, and I think you seem the same way. Re: the trip. . . . .DC is a great place to visit, but can be really really hot and humid in the summer, so museums are a good option with the AC, and also make sure you find a hotel with a pool for your boys. My parents always made that a priority and evening swims were fun and refreshing. We traveled on a budget at cheap hotels with pools, never fully realizing there was a fancier way to go. DC is a bear to navigate by car, since the layout and streets are confusing to those who don’t live there, however the train system is great. Pre-planning your hotel location with that in mind will be helpful. I have never done this, but have heard the tour of the Treasury is awesome. Contact your politicians (senate office? state reps?) about getting tickets in advance for that, and other key attractions (White House?). I work for a law firm with a DC office, and have heard about this from people there. The Air and Space museum is wonderful, if your kids are into that. Make sure you check special exhibits online before you go. If I had a stroller for my 4 year old when I was there, I would have squeezed in the Corcoran to see Jackie Kennedy’s clothes, but ended up skipping it due to lack of child stamina. Had I known, I would have packed the umbrella stroller. Also, weather permitting, time to just hang out on the mall, walk and enjoy the scenery and monuments is really enjoyable. I think your plans are a little too ambitious since the east coast is full of great things to see. Williamsburg is the logical extension of a DC trip and a day at Busch Gardens would be a treat for the boys after walking the museums. You need a balance. . . . .Happy birthday, and remember as you get older, next year you will wish you were this age! It’s the inevitable slippery slope, but 40 is the new 30. I do recall getting outspoken and gutsy at age 40, which is a wonderfully enpowering and positive thing. It was as if a switch was flipped!

  62. susan b. says:

    Happy Birthday! Thanks for the chance to win!

  63. Rebe says:

    Happy Birthday! My favorite way to celebrate is traveling – I’ve done it for years and plan to continue as long as I’m fortunate enough to be able to do so. Christmas present one year was a trip to Australia. Starting college was a trip to North Carolina. My first successful year teaching was a trip to Denmark. Heading off to grad school was a trip to Vegas. My friends and I are planning a joint “the year we all turn 30″ trip which the current thinking is either a cruise or overseas. All this to say you will absolutely love taking this approach to celebrating. Enjoy D.C. – I’ve never been but I’m planning that to be my “graduated grad school and got a job” trip. I can’t wait to visit the Library of Congress.

  64. Janet says:

    The Radison is as old as I am, wish I was 40 again. Although I had a 1 year old at that time so ummmm….maybe not. ;) Happy Birthday!!

  65. Danielle says:

    Happy (early) Birthday! I’m with you on the no-party nonsense. For my 40th (2 whole years ago- gee, I’m so old now – ha!), my husband and I went to Hawaii. It was wonderful and I didn’t miss a party one bit. Of course I still celebrated with my family when we got home – the highlight was the 3 bday cakes baked by my 3 sisters. Truly, that was the sweetest gift of all. :)

    And awesome giveaway, btw! Fingers crossed I win – we’d use it in Chicago (4 hour drive away) to see some of friends. They’re great, but a family of 5 in 2 bedrooms doesn’t leave much room for overnight guests!

  66. I turned 30 this year & was excited to finally be out if the crappy 20s! I have always thought that a tripod a better way to celebrate than with getting little things! I hope you have a lovely birthday, Jules!

  67. Amanda says:

    While you’re in DC I’d suggest checking out the Albert Einstein Memorial. I went to DC when I was 9 or 10 with my family and we stumbled upon this and I swear it’s the thing I remember most from our trip. It’s a huge Einstein that the boys would love. Google it!

  68. Erika Kotite says:

    Hey Jules,
    Have a great birthday! My favorite thing at the Smithsonian was seeing the recreation of Julia Childs’ kitchen. I look forward to reading your blog post about it after your trip. Bon voyage!

  69. Kendra says:

    If you come to the East Coast a meeting betwixt the two of us is so on.
    Of course the only way it would be possible is if I could win a hotel room to stay in wherever we meet. Ha!
    ;)

  70. Beth galusha says:

    Happy birthday! I could really use this give away. I am pregnant with my 5th child. I have 4 boys right now 17-6. I need a break. :)

  71. Elena says:

    Happy Birthday! Thank you for the great giveaway! I would love to visit San Francisco again

    elena150980 at yahoo dot com

  72. Jessica says:

    Happy Birthday! And good for you for doing what you want with your birthday. I think if you planned it just right, you could visit a large portion of the northeast coast in 10 days.

  73. Kat in Canada says:

    Your attitude about aging is incredibly refreshing! I turn 30 in just under 3 months, and I vacillate between being perfectly okay with it, and freaking out.

    There are lots of places I would love to go, depending on the time of year- Chicago, Boston or Washington, D.C. in the spring; Palm Springs or San Diego in the fall; San Francisco or Seattle in the summer; Florida or the Gulf States in the winter. A free hotel room would sure come in handy!!!

  74. Deanna R. says:

    When I hit 40, it gave me a moments pause to see where I’ve been and where I want to go. I am now in the 60′s! Thankful for where the Lord has led me. I enjoy trips too AND I live on the east coast. Hope you can come visit for a while. Washington, DC is great to visit and much is free to see. Happy Birthday!

  75. Sy Ochoa says:

    I luv Radisson Hotels, I really want to visit Chicago Radisson Blu

  76. lucia ochoa says:

    I love Radisson’s

  77. Rellz Daigle says:

    Just got married November 3 and my Birthday’s on December 3rd would love a night in Atlanta with the hubby =)

  78. Jennifer Young says:

    Happy birthday, Jules! I don’t mind getting older–I feel wiser and more a peace with myself with each passing year. Although, I am a party girl. I would love for someone to throw me a party!! Finally. You are coming to the Right Coast! Haha. I haven’t read through all of the comments, but I would say that you could definitely spend an entire week in DC. Trying to fit more in might be hard. We are in the Philly suburbs, so if you do want to do a daytrip, I would recommend Hershey or Philly. It really depends on what you want to do and see. Lots to do and see in both places. But, is it really worth a bunch of hours in a car? Traffic can be tough in and out of DC. But, then again, you drive around LA sometimes, right? Can’t be any worse than that. I haven’t been to DC in years. My kids are 1 and 6, so I’m still waiting a few years to take them. Have fun! Can’t wait to read about your trip.

  79. Alaine says:

    Happy Birthday :)
    family74014 at gmail dot com

  80. Kelly in DC says:

    Hi Jules!! I’m so excited you’ve decided to come out to visit DC. Seriously consider making the trip in April/May. The weather is so, so bad in the summer. Some of my favorite family vacations as a kid were ones my parents coordinated with our school teachers ahead of time, and took place during the school year. There is so much to learn in DC, the boys could easily do class work ahead of time, and then write a report/do a presentation about what they learned in DC. One of my best friends here is also a “recovering attorney” who’s two little girls love the dinosaurs at the Smithsonian. We’d love to show you around when you come to DC.

    Kelly
    @idontlooksick

  81. Amy says:

    Ooh, a fabulous trip is a fabulous way to celebrate the start of your fourth decade! I may just follow suit {I’ll be joining you next year}.

    And I completely understand the shock value of announcing said birthday. It’s even worse being single and turning 40. Some friends got a head start this year; I noticed the sentiments of some cards had completely lost hope. Luckily, it still makes me laugh–so I must have a little life left in me! :)

    With that, a very Happy Birthday week to you!

  82. Julie says:

    Happy Birthday (early)! Travel sounds like the perfect gift. So much better than knick knacks!

  83. Carlin says:

    As a former Virginia and NYC resident, I can tell you that DC can be very hot/humid and crowded in the summer. If you want lovely weather and scenery with loads of museums, I’d suggest starting with Boston (you could walk the Freedom Trail to celebrate your freedom from the tyranny of age) and driving up the coast to Maine. We spent a week one summer in Bar Harbor and were entranced. There is plenty to do (whale watching, hiking, ice cream and lobster eating, etc.) and the weather is great!! Save your trip to DC for spring during the cherry blossom festival or fall.

    Welcome to almost 40! I’ve found it lovely since January.

  84. lindsey says:

    Happy Birthday to you and Radisson!

  85. Michelle says:

    Happy Birthday! Your 40′s will be amazing. I found it liberating – as if since I reached this age I had finally earned the right to be my own person.

    Living in the DC area, I second all the comments about the heat and humidity, and the crowds in the summer. The weather in the fall is beautiful, and even though the winter can be cold it won’t be nearly as crowded.

    I grew up in Maine, so if you want to road trip I’d say hop to NYC for a day or two, then to Boston for a couple days, then hit Maine for a day trip. There’s plenty to do in each place, way more than you can fit into 10 days, so you’ll have to pick and choose what’s most important to you.

  86. Amy Rene says:

    Here, here! At 36, i realize it only get’s better. Enjoy every minute!

  87. John B says:

    I like Radisson Hotels 50/50/50 contest.

  88. Ellie B says:

    Looking foward to my next stay at Radisson…..especially if it’s as a 50/50/50 contest winner!

  89. Wendy T says:

    For me, 30′s were where it was at. 40′s suck.

    *My attitude is due to extenuating circumstances that the vast majority of folks never know….so don’t let me worry you.

    And on that uplifting note ;) …. Happy birthday and many healthy returns.

  90. Catherine Robichaud says:

    Happy 40th. I’ve loved my forties and I agree a trip is much better than a party any day!! I’m now planning my 50th birthday trip and a hotel voucher from Radisson would sure come in handy. Thanks to you and Radisson Hotel for giving me the opportunity.

  91. Robert B. says:

    You won’t want to miss the air and space museum. Fantastic.

  92. CP says:

    Happy Birthday to you both!

  93. Amy Bounds says:

    We lived in DC for a year, it is an amazing place. We really enjoyed the Native AMerican Museum.

  94. Chrissy says:

    Fourty will be fabulous, I promise.

  95. Wendy Kroy says:

    Happy 40th!

  96. Suze says:

    Great idea! I’ve always wanted to do that. Visit the Biltmore House, on to Reading ,PA to spend a day with Crayola, then Hershey for the obvious, then up to Cooperstown to the Baseball Hall of Fame. Have a fun and happy 40th!

  97. Mike C says:

    I try to hide from people on my birthday. I’ve had mixed levels of success with that.

  98. Matt T says:

    Happy Birthday! And I hope I can celebrate it in a Radisson Hotel…

  99. kim says:

    happy birthday!! if you go to DC, make sure you go to Georgetown and go to DC cupcakes :)
    i would love to visit DC especially if I win a free night to radisson hotel:)

  100. Claire Martel says:

    Happy birthday ! I would like to win a night in a Radisson hotel

  101. Natalie M says:

    Happy Birthday! I hope you have a good one!

  102. Marcia Goss says:

    Happy Birthday!
    Washington DC is a perfect vacation destination for a family. So many things to see.
    Thanks for this giveaway. I’ve never stayed at a Radisson, so I would love to win a free night.

  103. Venetia R says:

    Happy Birthday! You will have such a great time in DC
    So many interesting museums! I would love to win a night at the Radisson! Iam a loyal Radisson guest !!
    Thanks for letting me enter

  104. William R says:

    I would love to win a night a the Radisdon! Hope you have a great bday!!!

  105. Sharon says:

    Id love to have a night at the Radisson in New Orleans. Thanks!

  106. Angela says:

    Happy Birthday!

  107. Laval Brassard says:

    I would love to stay a night at Radisson Plaza Hotel Saskatchewan Regina

  108. Amy says:

    Happy birthday! I, too, turned 40 this year. I didn’t have a party either. Like you, I wanted to travel. My husband planned an entire 5-day trip for just the 2 of us – arranging babysitters and everything. It was wonderful, as I hope your trip is too.
    P.S. I’m not sure you’re really in the Coldwater Creek demographic. I went there looking for clothes for my trip. It was a little too old for me, and I’m pretty sure you and I are equally hip. ;)

  109. kim holt says:

    Happy birthday! I’d love to visit Chicago or Washington DC.

  110. Mary W says:

    A trip is exactly what I want too because December is my 60th birthday and what better way to celebrate living that long than by traveling? I lived in the Washington, D.C. area for years and adored every minute. I could return over and over to see the sights and never tire of learning new things each time. Go for it!!

  111. I hope you make your trip!! But, you’ll need at least 5 days to hit all of the Smithsonian buildings! DC and San Fran rank as two of my all time favorite cities. I’d love to explore the east coast more!

    xo
    heather

  112. Kate says:

    I don’t know about trying to fitting in the “east coast” but I think your trip sounds fabulous. I’m quite sure I could spend 10 days in just DC. So many cool places to visit and see (I was there for three days and it went too too fast). The Smithsonian is amazing – a favorite exhibit of mine was the First Ladies inaugural dresses. Looking forward to reading about it.

  113. Jonathan M says:

    And don’t forget, DC has an up and coming culinary scene with many new restaurants and young chefs trying to make their mark.

  114. trish says:

    stumbled upon your blog today and really enjoyed it.

  115. Amy says:

    Happy Birthday! I heard 40 is the new 30 but that doesn’t matter either way. 40 is beautiful on a woman who knows what she wants and I think a trip sounds perfect! I live on the east coast and I’d say take your time in DC, a maybe VA and MD — the whole east coast is way too much for 10 days. Or do New England in 10 days but not in the winter — go after April! Have fun!

    P.S. – pick me!

  116. kfloveinme says:

    You don’t look no where near 40!! You go girl! :) Hope you have a fabulous birthday.
    If I’m the lucky winner, I would spend the weekend in Chicago! Thanks for a fab giveaway!

  117. Annie says:

    I’m so excited you’re coming to DC! The boys will totally love it. I promise that you’ll want to have several days to fully explore the Smithsonian museums–the beat part is they are all free and blissfully aircondiioned from our humid summer temps. Getting from DC to Philly is also a snap. We head up to Philly several times a year and not during rush hour, you can make the trip in 3-3.5 hours. While in Philly you should really try and see the Barnes collection at the Philly art museum. It’s amazing and you’ll enjoy it even more if you Netflix the movie The Art of the Steal first–it tells the whole sordid tale of how the collection ended up in Philly. Let me know as you start planning your trip. I’d be happy to help answer any questions you have. Also, once you have your dates for your trip contact your congressman if you want a White House and/or Capitol tour. They take a bit to get all the details settled so the sooner you start the better.

  118. Linda says:

    I love D.C. I could spend a couple of weeks there with no problem. I hope you enjoy the planning stage of trip prep as well — I love getting every travel book I can find about my destination and planning my trip.

  119. We were JUST in DC and down the East Coast a few weeks ago! We had a family wedding in VA and couldn’t resist adding in DC while we were so very close. We had the whole family along for the wedding, and wanted them to see the nation’s capital while we were out that way–so they could see that it was real, and not just pictures in history books! I hadn’t been there in a decade and it was even better than I remembered. We visited several Smithsonian museums and just gaped at the Capitol and the monuments. Sooo worth it!

    Your trip is totally doable, and it will be fabulous.

  120. Susan P. says:

    My sister and I are planning on a road trip as far north as Virginia from Florida, stopping n GA, SC and NC. Travel is such a blast and if you have it planned out, you can see lots of stuff. I love to research so that’s my job. I do the driving and my sister makes the peanut butter & jelly sandwiches! We did 2 weeks in the Pacific NW solely on our sweeps wins, including flying there first class and plan to do the same but will drive this time.

  121. Happy birthday! I’m with you, no reason to stress birthdays when you certainly can’t change them! Hope you get an amazing trip. I’ve never been to the NW or Boston and want to go there for my next big trip (unless I can swing a big literary themed Scotland Wales trip! Gotta see all the Outlander scenes and more!)

  122. Neal Trautloff says:

    Pretty neat! I love my birthdays & Radisson hotels are a great place to stay.

  123. Terry T says:

    Happy Birthday & hope you have a great one!

  124. I, for one, am jealous you are turning 40.
    I feel as though I will be smarter and more well equipped, for life, at that age. The older and more well seasoned a woman gets, the more I want to be around her.

    Pity that comes from others is merely jealously or their misunderstanding of what matters….

  125. Andrea says:

    I am 23 but already know that the best advice comes from my mother, aunts, grandma, and family friends, all over 40! So that time + wisdom thing is definitely true.

    I grew up in PA only an hour and a half from DC and think your ideal trip sounds amazing. As a giant nerd, every year my dad would pull me out of school for a special day where I could pick the location. I always chose either DC for a new museum or memorial or NYC for a museum or cheap show tickets. I love the Smithsonian, but my favorite is the American History Museum. They have an incredible exhibit of all the first ladies clothes and china that has fascinated me since I was a child. Can’t wait to hear how it goes!

  126. Tammy says:

    Happy birthday! I’m four years from 40. :)
    Thanks for the chance to win!

  127. DC is a great city! If you go make sure to eat at Ben’s Chili Bowl, wander around Georgetown and visit the National Museum of the American Indian. I haven’t been to DC in a few years and need to head back there soon! Enjoy and Happy Birthday!

  128. Modern Day Nomads says:

    Would love to win this – have some big traveling plans!

  129. brookstar says:

    I was pressured to have a big party for my 30th birthday, but I made sure that I got what I really wanted – a trip to Amsterdam – beforehand. Big parties aren’t really my thing when I’m at the centre of attention, even though I know that my loved ones have good intentions. It always feels like there’s too much pressure to have a really amazing time. The trip to Amsterdam was amazing. The big party exhausted me, but allowed my friends to make a fuss. I guess we all got what we wanted. Your trip to DC sounds great.

  130. Kathie says:

    Happy birthday! We are planning a big trip in Spring 2014, about half way between 50 for my hubby and me. Great idea! For me, I’m bothered less by my birthdays, and more by the corresponding advancement in years for my parents.

  131. Karina says:

    How fun!

    I’ve been to the Smithsonian and it was really neat. I wish I had been able to spend more time in it.

  132. Carly Cleghorn says:

    Enter me into the random number generator, please!

    As Kathy said, “thanks for the gift of your blog.” Your voice is endlessly amusing and ruthlessly bare. Keep on!

  133. Sarah says:

    I turned 40 this year, and it is not bad at all. I’m not sure what all of the fuss is about. I think reaching 40 made me feel like I was more myself. Not sure that makes sense.

    You will love the trip to DC, and will probably write 50 posts just on what the boys have to say.

  134. Kay B says:

    Love this idea and my steal it for my 50th in a few years. I stayed at the Raddison in Alexantria – great location for a DC trip.

  135. Kara McGee says:

    You have been on my mind -a lot, lately. You will be fine with forty; it’s like a shot. It stings for a sec and then poof. You *almost* even forget it happened. I can’t say enough great things about DC except -DON’T go in summer unless you love humidity. Once you determine a travel date -write your congressperson (after the inauguration) and ask for the free tix to the Kennedy Center, Supreme Court, house and senate, national cathedral and drum roll please…. The library if congress (if this isn’t your favorite, the universe may turn on its side. I have a feeling you will LOVE it!!!! LOVE you.

  136. Missie says:

    Congrats on making it to 40! :) I’ll be sure to have a beer in your honor on Friday. I agree, being 40 myself, that it’s a great time in life. But all of a sudden, I feel a lot more like my mother, like from the inside. Sometimes it’s like I’m looking through her eyes. It’s weird. I love Land’s End & Talbots. LOL I’ve never been to DC but I remember a trip I took with my sister and Dad out to New York. He was on a business trip and we drove through 7 or 8 states in 2 days. I think it’s highly likely you can see what you want in a weekend! Enjoy your week!

  137. Jen says:

    Happy birthday! DC is totally on my list too…and how lovely would it be to go while baby #1 is old enough to hang out with grandma for a few days but baby #2 hasn’t yet arrived (and isn’t too big to make walking around for hours too uncomfortable).

  138. Miranda says:

    Awesome birthday idea, trip instead of party- love it! My b-day is a few days after yours, I think that is what I will tell the husband…just take me somewhere fun! Thanks for the chance to win a getaway too!
    miranda dot hahs @ mctx dot org

  139. Ashley says:

    Happy Birthday!
    I loved this post. I am two years from 30 and I am actually excited about it! The older I get, the more I like the person I’m becoming. I’m more confident in myself, more accepting of how I look, etc etc. All good things! And I love the idea of a trip vs. gifts. Such a great idea!
    P.S. Thanks for the chance to win :)

  140. roni says:

    Happy 40th!!! DC is on our list too. But of course you will have to get up to see NYC! Too bad it’s not enough time to visit the coast of Maine. We love visiting Acadia National Park and Portland is such a cool town. Thanks for the giveaway. We’ve been dreaming of a getaway soon…

  141. Norah says:

    When I turned 26, I was taking some college courses. One of my classmates wished me a happy birthday and asked me how old I was. When I said “26″, it was the same response, except I remember someone dropped their pencil. TWENTY SIX! “Wow! I bet that is how old the teacher is too.” (she probably was) and “Are you married?! Do you want to be because you better hurry up!” I will never forget it!

  142. Kara says:

    What a nice thing to do for us in celebration of your birthday. Enjoy your day! (BTW, isn’t forty supposed to be the new thirty or something like that? I’m sure that ranks up there with things you’re not supposed to say to someone who’s turning forty. DH is already there, I’ll be joining him in a few more years.)

  143. Kate B says:

    Aww, happy birthday! I don’t understand why people are shutting down and being awkward when they find out your upcoming age. That is really weird on their part. I don’t like my own birthday in general, but it was never about my age. 30 was fine (though weirdly tough for my husband), and I anticipate being equally ambivalent about 40. Go to DC!

  144. Nicole says:

    I never ever win giveaways or anything that relies on drawing a number, but I’ll just leave this comment here to wish you a happy upcoming birthday!

  145. Mary H. says:

    Happy Birthday! I turn 40 around the same time next year and I have no qualms about it. Life has never been better.

  146. Anne says:

    Happy Birthday! Your trip sounds great – I think you could stay within an hour of DC and not run out of things to do for two weeks:)

  147. Lindsay says:

    I think visiting the east coast sounds great. I live in Montreal, and have visited the North Eastern US a few times. A few friends and I took a roadtrip through New York State, New Jersey and Pennsylvania in a few days. I think 10 days is enough to see a few cities at least.

    Also! I would love to win that voucher!!

  148. Alice says:

    Fun giveaway! As for the trip, I think that it really depends on how you like to travel – I’m a putterer, so picking a few cities and then poking around each for a few days is far better for me than planning out a series of quick stops during a big drive, pushing myself to cover a lot of ground, but I don’t know what works for your family.

    I would advise getting your museum fill in DC – they’re amazing, plus, since they’re free, it’s a lot easier to bail if you find yourself bored by their collections. As for the rest, what are you interested in? Historic parts of cities? Historic battlefield stuff? Amish country? Kitschy boardwalk-type places? Nature and more rural areas? I’d say have everyone in the family pick a few Things that you really want to do, and then add in some extra choices for yourself, since it *is* your birthday trip, after all. :)

  149. Sarah A. says:

    Happy birthday!!! Ok, a mad dash road trip is my new favorite way to travel! This summer my husband and I did a “Founding Fathers Road Trip.” We had to go to Baltimore for a toy show (twist my arm, the former lawyer, now toy store owner that I am!). On the way, we saw Philadelphia in a day (Liberty Bell, Independence Hall, Portrait Gallery, Ben Franklin’s print shop and the country’s first post office, got our picture taken under the Robert Indiana LOVE statue in John F. Kennedy Plaza), went to Baltimore for the show and explored while we were there, spent an afternoon & evening in Annapolis (water tour of the harbor was awesome, as was the tour of the capitol building, thanks to an A+ security guard who let us stay after closing and showed us behind closed doors), spent a full day in DC (no Smithsonian, but went into the National Archives, sat in the Supreme Court -and bought a tiny gavel in the gift shop-, Lincoln Memorial, and Vietnam memorial). Went back toward Michigan by traveling through PA and stopped in Shanksville/Stoystown to see the Flight 93 memorial (so moving. wow.) SO- that was all in a little over a week. A ton of driving, but so, so worth it. Of course, our kids stayed with grandparents, so that helped. (By the way, if you’re looking for a good place to eat on the Mall in DC- definitely go to the Museum of the American Indian; it is awesome). Yea! I love your travel plan!

  150. Kelly says:

    I celebrated my 40th with a trip to Yosemite. I loved waking up on that morning in one of my favorite places on the planet. That was a few years ago (the next one is just a few weeks away). I won’t say every aspect of my early 40s has been awesome, but I feel a LOT more sure of myself and my place in the world, esp. compared with 10 years ago.

    Sincerely hope you get to visit D.C. and the Smithsonian; that’s on my really-wanna-go list, too.

  151. Jenny says:

    Happy Birthday! I was able to go to DC and tour the Smithsonian while in high school many, many years ago. I’d love to go back. My children have both been to DC/Gettsyburg with their high school JROTC program the last four years and love every minute of the trip. You will have such a fantastic time ~ ENJOY!!

  152. Kylie says:

    Happy Birthday! I agree, we need less stuff and more experiences!

  153. Neena says:

    Have a great birthday! Love making memories as opposed to acquiring more stuff!

  154. happy birthday and thanks for offering this. have you thought about visiting dc’s holocaust museum? it’s heartbreaking and wonderful in sort of a “we need to be sure people know about this” sort of way.

  155. Abigail says:

    Our trip to DC last summer included a visit to the International Spy Museum (http://www.spymuseum.org/) which was pretty fascinating. I live in Boston, and I highly recommend a stop there on your trip, for some neat history and a chance to climb aboard the 200+ year old USS Constitution. New Hampshire and Vermont are also an excellent choice, for the scenery as well as the fantastic local food products (Ben & Jerry’s, Cabot, and many smaller companies).

  156. Martha K. says:

    I live 2 hours South of DC. You will looove it. DC is such a part of our lives. Come and enjoy and you can hit several areas of the East Coast in 10 days. Have a great trip!!!

  157. Tara says:

    Thanks so much for the giveaway! We share the same birthday and I’m turning 33. I’m dreading it as well! Happy Birthday- hope its a good one!

  158. Beverly says:

    Happy (early) Birthday! I did almost the entire Maine coast in less than a week…some people thought I was crazy, but it was amazing!

  159. The Smithsonian is AMAZE BALLS. You will not regret it, in fact I think it’s a wonderful idea!

  160. Jacob says:

    I don’t think it sounds all THAT crazy. I once drove from Oklahoma City to Fort Lauderdale without stopping (24 hours straight). Looking back that was a really stupid thing to do but if you had somebody to switch off with driving you could really make great time! Now that I’m 30 I would never attempt that again!

  161. Erin says:

    You could totally do the East Coast (or at least DC -> Boston) in that time period. From DC you could go to Philly for a day and do Constitution Hall, Liberty Bell, Reading Terminal market and all the food in the area. Plus, there is the art museum and the Barnes should be open by next summer (I think).

    Then hit up NYC and all that entails (the Met, MoMA, Freedom Towers, circle island tour that brings you by the Statute of Liberty).

    Then continue north to Providence/Boston/Maine.
    Exhausted yet?

    and Happy birthday!

  162. Andree says:

    road trips are the best!

  163. Joan says:

    I love The Smithsonian, and can never manage to see as much as I would like.
    Have a wonderful birthday!

  164. Brandi says:

    Ahhh… I LOVE DC!!! I cannot even tell you. It really is the best city (from someone who has traveled around). The museums are the best… Let me know when you are planning and I can give you some pointers.

    Oh, and I strongly suggest you visit the Library of Congress- trust me, that cold exterior is not what you will see on the inside. Let a visit with Google images blow your mind. :)

    The rest of the east coast.. Not going to happen. There’s so much wonderful scenery and wonderful places along the coast and not nearly enough time. What are you thinking (time-wise) and maybe I can suggest a route?

    I’m in Atlanta now… if you get this far south- :)

  165. Ha! Ok, I am 42 and turning 40 didn’t phase me (it’s the new 30, right???). So far I still prefer Anthropologie to Land’s End or Talbot’s and I do not wear Coldwater Creek (or Sag Harbor, for the record). So, I think you will be ok…
    We’re still young so maybe at 50 we can circle back on this.

    And compare pictures of the grandkids. Pfffft. ;)

    Happy, Happy milestone birthday!! xo, Claire

  166. Elaine says:

    Reaching 40 is better than the alternative….being dead!! Enjoy your youth, I’m 64 & look back with fondness to my 40′s. You always feel the same in your head anyway, its just the bones that start to creak!
    Happy birthday

  167. Sarah says:

    Agreed that saving the money for something meaningful and fun can be way better than just have a party because people think you should! It is nice to have friends around, and know that you are loved, but itsn’t it more meaningful to meet 2 or 3 for a coffee and a real conversation, than hosting 20 or 30 at one time?
    And I think the Radisson Blu hotels are just lovely :)

  168. Torey says:

    Used to live in Northern VA and worked in DC. Just remember that the Smithsonian a whole bunch of different museums, like maybe 10? So there is a LOT to see. I’ve had people ask me about going to THE Smithsonian castle b/c they thought that was the actual museum (it’s not).

  169. Janae says:

    Happy Birthday!!! 40s are great!

  170. kate says:

    i’m having my own milestone b-day. but i’m doing a party AND a trip.

  171. Valerie says:

    Happy birthday to you! I hope it’s simply marvelous! I also hope I win a night at the Radisson. ;-)

  172. Avalee says:

    Each decade seems to get better and better for me. It sounds like turning 40 is going to be a great adventure for you (and me too when the time comes!) Happy birthday — hope you have a great time :-)

  173. rachel says:

    Welcome to the club! Turning 40 is fun, being 40 is fabulous. You’ll be great ~

  174. Laura V. says:

    Happy Birthday! :)

  175. Grace says:

    When you go to DC, definitely check out the International Spy Museum- really cool and really funny! Congrats on 40 years of aliveness! :)

  176. Kendall says:

    Hey! I am 28 and wear Land’s End AND Talbots! I like clothes that have weight and don’t fall apart after one wash. Their ponte wrap dress …SO comfy AND cute. I just bought it in two colors.

    Aaaanyway. Congrats on your birthday. Every day is a gift….I hope I get as many as possible.

  177. Michele says:

    Oh, a birthday trip. Much more fun that a birthday party with gag gifts.

  178. Cory says:

    Happy Birthday!!!

  179. Gena says:

    This would be so awesome! I have a 10 year anniversary coming up and it would be cool to stay in a nice hotel for a change (we’re notoriously cheap, haha!)

  180. Krissa says:

    I am so on board with your idea of taking a trip instead of having a party! I’m the same way. And Happy Birthday (tomorrow)!

  181. Terese says:

    Just found your blog this afternoon. Love the idea of memories versus more “stuff”!

  182. laura h says:

    Been lurking for a few weeks and couldn’t agree more with more memories and less stuff.

    I will be turning 40 in April, and I think that I want a trip instead of a party too.

    DC and the East Coast (or at least part of it) is totally doable and will be great!

  183. Ms. Amy says:

    We hit DC this summer, and it was amazing (and sad, really) how many non-Americans were jammed into the Smithsonian museums. That said, BE SURE to head out to the Air & Space museum out by the airport. I know, it’s not with the others, but it is AWESOME (and still free, but you do pay for parking – worth it). No crowds, and you can get up close to the space shuttle. Our family loved it.

  184. Paul says:

    Hey there. Hope to win a free night to stay at a Radisson!

  185. Hannah Rose says:

    Happy birthday!

    And what a splendid giveaway. Count me in!

  186. Brittany says:

    You will love Washington! The Smithsonians are a must (Aviation, Natural History and American History are my favorites), and Georgetown is a lot of fun too. Thanks for such a fantastic giveaway!

  187. What a great giveaway! And happy birthday!

  188. MeganG says:

    Happy Birthday, fellow Lands’ End/JJill/Talbot’s-er! [giggles]

  189. Lina says:

    Happy birthday! I agree with you…more traveling and less stuff!

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Hi! I’m Jules.

I used to be an attorney, but it made me grumpy. Now I write about life, sweet and savory, as a wife and mother to two small boys. My knowledge of dinosaurs knows no bounds.

You can read more, including the meaning behind the name Pancakes and French Fries here. And, yes, I really am phenomenally indecisive.