Ghosts of Birthdays Past and Birthday Surprises!

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birthdays matter because it means you’ve breathed another breath, ate another cookie and lived to see another trip around the sun, that’s why!

my 28th (!) birthday is occurring on sunday, though we’ve been ‘celebrating’ all month. this basically means i say things like “oh let’s get fries, because it’s my birthday month!” or “how about i open my present that just arrived because it’s my birthday month”

here’s the present: my favorite new boots ever that my husband got me AND let me open a full 3 weeks before my birthday. the package monitor (aka my uncle) would disapprove.

Processed with VSCOcam with m5 preset

i’m pretty sure my face looks like that because my husband said something inappropriate moments before.

my dad sent me my favorite flowers-beautiful tulips in a super cool hipster mason jar! he’s such a thoughtful guy and i’m lucky to have him! i totally cried because i’m just a big marshmallow full of feelings.

birthday flowers tulips

i was kind of insistent on a “birthday month” because my husband is going to be out of town speaking (and it’s a pretty significant gig so he definitely needs to go).

i thought i was good with it and then i started getting depressed about having to wake up alone on my birthday (even though my trusty friend alison assured me she would take me to brunch and be my stand in significant other).

i was talking to my mom on the phone about this earlier in the week and she said she sent some gifts my way to be on the look out. that made me feel happier because she always wraps things super cute. then she said “oh, and there’s one more present on it’s way and it’s almost 6ft tall” (my first thought was man, i really hope the UPS person delivers it to our front door because that will be terrrrrible to lug from the front office).

after saying it’s almost 6ft tall, then she said “and it’s more than 50 years old! IT’S ME! SEE YOU ON FRIDAY!”

and then i started crying and screaming and crying more and running out into the living room to find my husband and kiss him because they had been planning this surprise since before christmas!


she arrives in a few hours!

they originally planned to totally surprise me and have her walk in the front door but i am 99.99% sure i would have truly passed out and smacked my head and ended up in the hosptial if that happened so this was way better. wait until the next married life chats where my husband reveals the true reason they told me! i totally did that to her though 2 years ago, minus her passing out.

birthdays are always a time of reflection for me because it’s hard to believe time is passing so quickly. i’m working on a post about my 28th year around the sun, but because i love to reminisce, let’s look back at a few of my ghosts of birthdays past.

i wrote a post that means a lot to me about how 27 was the most transformative year for me (and i still believe this).

last year i spent my birthday in the beautiful vancouver, british columbia area with a very sick husband who had 3 speaking engagements. however, i woke up in a mansion and a few great ladies made me feel extra special (thanks paula, meg and viven!)

i’m holding cookies they made me! so kind.

newlywed tips paula chelsea avery

when i turned 26, my husband had one of his very first paid speaking gigs and left the afternoon of my birthday so my mom came and played again! do you see a trend?

this was a few days after i could finally get out of bed after having the flu for 2 whole weeks. we walked very slowly everywhere.

valentines day chelsea avery and mom

however, the weekend after (see why birthday months are a thing!) my amazing husband surprised me with a stay at treepoint inn IN A FREAKING TREEHOUSE HOTEL (follow that link for more photos!)

treehouse point hotel treehouse point hotel

when i turned 25, he surprised me a trip to las vegas! this was the first time i’d been after i was 21 and while it was fun…we decided vegas isn’t really our scene. however, there are snakes you can hold on the sidewalk so we have that going for us. i was channeling britney the entire time.

vegas snake chelsea averymy birthday as of half of my life ago…my 14th birthday. please note my fake nails and thumb ring. my dad used to make these awesome birthday signs for my sister and me. we’d wake up on our birthday morning and it’d be such a fun surprise to see what it said and his artwork!

birthday flowers

this is when i started getting into “music” and had an obsession with flames. this probably marks the day when i became an intolerable, bitchy teenager. we’ll ask my mom when she gets here.

okay i have to go finish cleaning so my mom doesn’t see just how dusty it really can get in this place! hopefully we are besties on the instagram because it’s going to be a weekend of food and shenanigans.

1) did you have any birthday traditions growing up?
2) is there one particular year that felt really transformative for you?
3) what cake/dessert is your go-to on your birthday?


  1. Monika

    January 23, 2015 at 8:47 am

    First of all, HAPPY BIRTHDAY MONTH! I LOVE your boots and I also love that shirt (where is it from?! I want it). Also we are creepily similar in this post – tulips are my favorite, I do the “it’s my birthday month” thing, and I TOTALLY had to spend my last birthday alone because my BF was out of town for work, and I have no family or friends here in Dallas (wah) so I can totally relate to that feeling. But that is SO AWESOME of your mom to surprise you like that 🙂 That tree house is awesome but I feel like I would be terrified haha. I hate birthday cake so I would always have cookie cake or pie instead hehe and no transformative years that I can think of – I just know that everything after 21 felt lame and old #nevergrowup

    • chelsea

      January 23, 2015 at 9:42 am

      it sounds like we should be BFFs monika because only a few people truly understand the reasoning behind birthday months AND the amazingness of tulips! i’m sorry you had to spend last birthday alone- hopefully this year you are together! wait…and you’d rather have a birthday cookie?!?!?! come spend your birthday here and i’ll get you one 🙂

      the shirt is from an online store called “white plum!”

  2. Ashley @ Saving Money in your Twenties

    January 23, 2015 at 10:12 am

    awww so exciting that your mom is coming! HAPPY EARLY BIRTHDAY!!!! also that treehouse looks absolutely insane and SO COOL.
    Ashley @ Saving Money in your Twenties recently posted…Free Chipotle + Why I love Ikea

    • chelsea

      January 26, 2015 at 5:49 pm

      thanks ashley!!! you need to go to that treehouse hotel NOW (or someday) because it’s spectacular!
      chelsea recently posted…28 Things I Know For Sure at 28

  3. Danielle (@TheLifestylePrj)

    January 23, 2015 at 11:11 am

    Yay for family surprises!! Happy birthday Chelsea, I hope you and your mom have a fabulous time tearing up the city. Last year I celebrated my birthday by myself which I thought would be weird/lonely but I was in Nicaragua and that’s pretty awesome in and of itself. I’m usually a birthday week kind of person so it was different to be so low-key. Anyway, enough about me. Have a wonderful weekend girl and happy (early) birthday!
    Danielle (@TheLifestylePrj) recently posted…How to Still Be Stylish When You’re a Budget Traveller

    • chelsea

      January 26, 2015 at 5:50 pm

      thanks so much danielle! we had a fantastic time together! whoa celebrating in nicaragua sounds fantastic-even if alone! what an experience.
      chelsea recently posted…28 Things I Know For Sure at 28

  4. Vivien

    January 23, 2015 at 12:53 pm

    Happy (early) birthday! Man, I cannot believe a whole year has passed since I saw you and Ryan at that event! Where does the time go?!
    Vivien recently posted…Speaker’s Showcase: The Morning After

    • chelsea

      January 26, 2015 at 5:51 pm

      thank you vivien! it’s hard to believe that was just a year ago. so nuts!

  5. Paula Howley

    January 23, 2015 at 4:12 pm

    Ok, let me share that I spent my 28th birthday night in jail so you are doin’ WAY better than me. lol
    Also, if you think anything of astrology, and I do, the 28th year is a transformative year too as you are entering the Leo time of your life. You get 7 years in every sign.
    No real traditions growing up except I have the awesome Canada Day birthday so it’s always been a big party.
    25 was big as I thought about death for the first time ever and then left my husband.
    30 was hugely transformative for me as it was probably the first time in my life I stopped blaming everyone else for my problems and met a man that restored my faith in humanity.
    also the past 3 years in a row are pretty amazing too- feels like I’m making up for lost time.
    My fave cake- key lime cheesecake. Impossibly good.
    Happy birthday awesome lady. have fun with your mama. 🙂
    Paula Howley recently posted…Head Start Public Speaking For Kids Week 11- Speech PAR-TAY!!!!

    • chelsea

      January 26, 2015 at 5:54 pm

      whew thanks for the validation paula on doing well-wow cannot image that!

      i didn’t know that about the 28th year being transformative-thanks for sharing that because it’s super interesting and makes me want to know more!

      thanks also for sharing what’s been transformative in our years, both 25 and 30 sound like intense years. glad you feel like the last years are making up for lost time. if i ever see you on your birthday-i’m bringing you a key lime cheesecake!

  6. Nina

    January 23, 2015 at 5:20 pm

    Ahhhhhhhhh so exciting!! Happy birthday. Birthday months are totally a thing that I love to celebrate 😀
    Nina recently posted…5 Cheap, Easy Ways to Treat Yo Self

  7. Audrey

    January 24, 2015 at 4:54 am

    This year I’m turning 25 and it’s taking such a mental toll on me! (I know it’s not old, I just feel like I’m too young to be halfway through my 20s.)
    My parents have always given my brother and I wonderful birthdays. We’d wake up to a room full of balloons and sometimes we’d have a scavenger hunt to find our first gift! My 17th birthday party was when I introduced Kyle to my family and 4 days after my 21st had proposed. I LOVE my bday and October in general! 🙂
    Happy Birthday!!! Have fun!
    Audrey recently posted…Promises to My “Adult” Best Friends

    • chelsea

      January 26, 2015 at 5:56 pm

      i totally know that feeling well, audrey! that’s sort of how i feel about being 28 (although i will say 25 was a super solid year for me too!!). where the heck is time going??

      your birthday mornings sounds fantastic-love that your parents did that for you! ohhh you have a fall birthday-very fun and sounds like lots of fun things happen around it!
      chelsea recently posted…28 Things I Know For Sure at 28

  8. Amanda

    January 24, 2015 at 2:51 pm

    Aww, so sweet! And happy birthday!
    Amanda recently posted…Friday Faves

    • chelsea

      January 26, 2015 at 6:00 pm

      thank you amanda!

  9. Amanda Wood

    January 28, 2015 at 8:24 am

    Happy Birthday Month!! It’s so fun when mom’s come to visit. I’m hoping now that my guest room is really a guest room again that my mom will come visit us sometime.
    Amanda Wood recently posted…I Was “Cool” Before Being “Hipster” Was a Thing

    • chelsea

      January 28, 2015 at 7:09 pm

      that’s so great your guest room is together now-yay!!!! hope your mom gets to come out soon because it’s so good for the soul!

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