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     It is Birthday Week in the Costa household!!! Note the exclamation points? That's because we are not celebrating any holidays nor are we hosting any children's parties. It is Birthday Week for just us big people, therefore we don't have to do ANYTHING we don't want to do (uh-hem baking cakes, cleaning the house "guest-style", blowing up balloons until we're dizzy, wrapping presents, or dealing with fall outs from disappointments and emotional "it's over"s). We will eat the good food and watch the good T.V. and NOT clean ANYTHING because we won't be inviting over the people who care if our house is guest-style clean, our-style clean, or just plain dirty! The benefit of adult birthdays is that we can do virtually nothing and it feel like all the somethings that we longed for as kids. It's wonderful and fabulous and perfect. This, my friends, is how we celebrate Birthday Week.
     But not this year. Apparently we've grown tired of celebrating the in wonderful, fabulous, perfect sort of way of which we are accustomed. Because this year, we are going away.
     I know. Hold the phone, right?
     We are actually leaving our dogs and leaving our kids and leaving our dirty house to go away. Could it be that perfect just got more perfect?? Folks, not only do I not have to clean for my Birthday Week, but I don't have to stay here and look at the filth either! It's so exciting that there may even be some tears shed as we walk out the door and prepare to spend 36 hours away from it all.
     However, as with most things, there is a catch. And it's name is Packing. You know what I never have to do for Birthday Week when we stay home? Pack. Even the word itself just sounds to harsh. Pack. P-ack. Ugh, why can't there be people in my life that will know what to pack for me and just come over and do it while I'm asleep? People that will plan for the unexpected, know which pants will cover my muffin top, and anticipate just which top will make me feel sensational and yet sexily understated at the same time. People that will drag the suitcase from the back of my closet and fold all the things so neatly and wrap my leakables in leak-proof containers and load my heavily-laden suitcase into the back of the car for me..... I need better friends, that's all I'm sayin'.
     My husband fails to see p-acking as an issue. Probably because his list includes these three things:
Phone charger, clean underwear, contact solution.
     Anytime we go ANYWHERE he acts like packing is just no big deal, and he proceeds to grab his few items and then make a sandwich while I run around like a mad woman, scrambling to get all the "what if" items accounted for, make the list of all things needed for my in-laws to care for our dogs and kids, make sure we've got enough money in the correct account for any unexpected purchases, etc., etc., etc.
     So, to make my life so much easier, I made a list of things that I absolutely must bring and I will simply wing the rest, just like the husband. Here is my list so far:

     1) Breast pump- even if I leave everything else, this is a must! There will be no relaxing or fun times to be had if I'm engorged and drenching the front of my shirt while in public. No one will know if I forget clean underwear, but everyone will know if I forget my pump!
     2) Mini cooler- to store the pumped milk. Wyatt has grown used to milk sans chunks.
     3) Extra breast pads- no sense risking it. They weigh like half an ounce and are worth their weight in gold.
     4) Condoms- oh my gosh, and birth control! I'm pretty sure Husband has birthday wishes that involve more than making good use of the hotel's gym accommodations, and we need another munchkin running around like we need a kick in the head.
     5) Caffeine- While the kids are away, the parents will play. But only until 8 p.m. if we forget to pack the caffeinated things.
     6) The real bra- no one wants the nursing bra uni-boob on date night. No one. It's time to suffer through and put on something with an underwire and some support. Hike 'em up, tie 'em up, whatever gets 'em UP and where they should be instead of keeping my abs warm where they usually reside. (Well, keeping the place where there used to be abs warm, anyway.)
     7) And while we're at it, let's pack some good underwear- (but also throw in a secret pair of granny panties for the actual sleeping part of the trip.... no one wants to sleep in the pretty stuff because it shifts around and creeps up and up and up and, well, it really ain't pretty any more at that point).
     8) Shoes with a heel- gasp!
     9) Skinny jeans- (or at least skinnier jeans) basically anything that makes me look like I did before all these little people is acceptable, skinny or not.
     10) Earrings- I haven't worn them for 2 1/2 years due to grabby hands and a few torn ear lobes. But for Birthday Week I will make an exception.
     11) Toiletries- all the things that it takes to make me look human.
     12) Medicines- all the things that it takes to make me feel human.
     13) And finally, The List......
     You couples know The List. Every time you manage to leave the house kid-free, what's the first thing you talk about? The kids. But not us! We are NOT talking about the kids at all during our time away, and to make sure we stick to our plan, I am creating a list of go-to topics that are sure to spark meaningful conversations, flirtations, and emotional intimacy. Things like......
     The Holocaust....
     Gas Prices.....
     Favorite Colors.....
     The Weather.
     Well, hopefully I'll win him over with my skinnier jeans and flashy earrings. If all else fails, we'll just make out in the corner booth and hope my breast pads hold out. Happy Birthday, Baby.

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