One more checked off The List: Baltimore's National Aquarium

For years and years he has been saying to me, "I'd like to visit the National Aquarium and Inner Harbor in Baltimore."  Well, I'm being kind here.  He actually says something more like, "I've never been to the Baltimore Aquarium!!"  Translation:  I really want to go!  Okay.  Okay!!  It only took us 23+ years to check this one off Kurt's bucket list, but, hey, we did it!  With Kurt's 50th birthday to celebrate, we decided to finally visit and plan a weekend getaway for the four of us!  It was well worth the adventuring for all!  

The aquarium is set up as a tiered system of tanks seemingly filled with every imaginable aquatic creature known to humankind.  This works well to keep traffic moving through in order to see everything.  There's even a tropical rainforest at the top of the triangular-looking glass building, where we discovered a hungry sloth (they move quick when their bellies rumble!) and some amazing Scarlet Ibis birds (bright red) while they enjoyed a snack.   

We viewed the "Jellies Invasion" exhibit (strangely alien-like ~ way cool!) and watched the dolphins perform their signature cuteness as they put on a playful show.  They had everyone in the audience smiling!  :)  Once we made it to the tippy-top of the aquarium and viewed most everything they had to offer, we found our way to the harbor view lookout point, where we took a break and watched the comings and goings of the boats in the harbor, including the sea-monster paddle boats.      

After a long day of traveling and exploring the aquarium, it was time to make our way to the hotel where we stayed, The Kimpton Hotel Monaco Baltimore.  But not before I got a shot of Kurt and the girls on this sculpture (thanks family!)!  Okay... Time to head to the hotel, get cleaned up and head out for dinner.  

We cannot say enough glowing, wonderful things about this boutique hotel.  Utmost in quality, cleanliness, friendliness, amenitiness (oh, I guess that's not a word, is it?).  My point being, they've thought of every detail, including putting families on the top floor - where it tends to be quieter (thank you!!!).  The hotel is a clever mix of ornate grandeur, chandelier lighting and marbled walls and staircases upon entering to quickly changing over to contemporary chic, with a tad of groovy funk.  I could have had fun all day just photographing all the unique quirks, the details and surprising stylized rooms!  When in Baltimore, definitely look up the Kimpton to meet your accommodation needs.   

We looked at the menus and local restaurants and are so glad we chose to dine at Maisy's Restaurant for the BEST lump crab cakes in town!  Having grown up with family roots from Maryland, boating on the Chesapeake as a young girl and eating fresh crab meat (pulling up the traps on the dock of my grandfather's Chris-Craft boat) and my grandmother's authentic crab cakes, I can safely say Maisy's knows what they're doing!  Superb!  

I think Emmy and I successfully threw Kurt way off when we conveniently went for a bathroom break and quietly spoke to our waiter, CJ about surprising the birthday boy with happy birthday cake for dessert!!  It worked like a charm!!  He had no idea and turned 3 shades of red!!!  Yes!  Happy Birthday again, my love!   

Sunday morning, we had some time after breakfast to relax in the Kimpton's lobby area before checking out.  We didn't have a lot of time to stick around Baltimore and do more sight-seeing, but we made the most of our weekend getaway!  It was a memorable, fun time with the family celebrating Kurt's 50th!!  Great eats, company and loads of new sights and experiences to take in and explore = happiness!!!  :)  We'll take it!     

It's Nifty to be... Fifty!

He's going to want to wring my neck for this one...  But, here we go anyhow - thankfully, he has a forgiving nature!!  

It's someone's BIG 50th BIRTHDAY today!!!  This man is one of the sweetest, most patient, loyal, loving, selfless people on God's green earth.  He works tirelessly hard to provide a comfortable life for his family.  Girls flock to him, especially the cute ones in his family!  He doesn't realize - even after telling him over and over - how amazing he truly is.  He's an artist, a craftsman, a lion-hearted soul incredibly devoted to his family.  I love this man so much.  He's my guy.  And, I know it to be utterly true when I say I'm the lucky one in this match. 

Come along with me on a walk down memory lane...  Thank goodness I'm the keeper of photographs!  Print your images, my friends!! 

Happy 50th Birthday to you, honey!  I love you, Kurt.  When I say "you," I mean everything you were, you are, everything you will be.  You are the world to me and our girls.  Shine on and on, my love!!      

It's a 4 year old's birthday party!!!  At Kurt's childhood home surrounded by family.

Kurt at two - already breaking hearts!

Did someone say 'baseball?!!'  Years and years (and years) of baseball!!  And soccer, and fast-pitch softball, and some basketball, volleyball and football, too.  
But nothing filled his boyhood heart like baseball. 

F A M I L Y P A R T Y T I M E!  What?!  Didn't everyone's family in the early 80s take their shirts off for the "men picture?!"  Kurt's seated (with shirt on) in the #12 jersey... what's that he's sitting on?  A volleyball! 

Kurt (16) with his parents, Dorothy & Walter (the absolute best in-loves ever - love these two beyond expressed words), at a family party.  Is that a football in his hand?  How about that vavoom hair?!  I remember Kurt at this age and had such a crush on him (but I never told him so)!!  Girlfriends?  You too?! 

High school senior portrait, 1985.  What a handsome young man! 

High School G R A D U A T I O N!!!  

I debated over and over if I should include his Navy days in this birthday blog post, since it might bring him down.  But, then I thought, it is part of his story, and his life.  He did not have the best experience in the military.  Sorry to say.  But, Kurt, you have to admit, these photos of you and Rocky Formica are classic! 

Okay, I got him smiling again.  Kurt with his fabulous sister, Jeri, at a family party, 1987.  He adores his sister and I love this photo because that adoration shines through!!  :)

Fast forward in time, 1996.  Kurt and I were dating, soon to be married.  I could fill a book with all of our dating memories, but I don't want to bore you all.  So, I'll just say... here's my handsome soon-to-be husband.  

Wedding day portrait!  Many thanks to our photographer, Neil, for this shot.  
March 1997, my handsome husband! 

Shenanigans are a sure bet with this crew!  This was a snapshot at our wedding with some of Kurt's best mates: (L-R) Rocky Formica, me, Leroy "Woody" Woodward, John Antonini (may he rest in peace), and Paul Tazik.  That's a blast from the past!!  Twenty years ago, friends!  So, who else is turning 50 this year?!!    

1998, Chelsea and Kurt.  I treated Chelsea to a Florida vacation (and Disney!) and we had just gotten home.  We rented a house in Morgantown at the time.  I just love these smiles!!  See what I mean about cute girls flocking to you, honey?! 

Two nights ago, we had a pre-50th birthday dinner celebration while Kurt's sister, Jeri was in town visiting from Maine.  Jeri brought the cake and their mom for an evening of fun with us and the girls, complete with museum-mannequin games and lots of great conversation!  
Thanks Jeri and Grandmom!!  

50, baby!!!  You've come a long way!!!

Here's wishing you the happiest, brightest birthday ever, my love!  I'm grateful for your love, your wit and charm, your devotion and sensibilities, your patience and for all the ways you help us grow as a family and as individuals.  I couldn't be more proud of the man you've become and I'm eager to see where we'll go from here.  Don't they say '50 is the new 40?!'  You wear it well, honey.  I'm still crushing on you after all these years!!  You are amazing and forever young-at-heart!  Thank you for giving us your all, everyday.  I love YOU, Kurt!!   

P.s. We aren't finished celebrating just yet, friends!  There'll be more honorary festivities coming up to highlight on the blog!!  :)

P.p.s.  I wish I could give every photo proper credit in this post.  But I am unsure of the image makers in many of these photos.  They were made mostly by family and friends.  If you provided a photo in this mix, thank you!!  I scanned these in using a regular inkjet printer and made some minor touch-ups in photoshop to clean up the images.