Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Birthday Shenanigans

We're on the cusp of Christmas, so I figure I better post about my birthday now before it's just another bunch of memories in the dust! For anyone with a birthday in Holiday-Land-Time, you'll understand how easy it is for your birthday to be skipped by as everyone plunges straight into something else.

But that's not gonna happen here!

FYI before I get started - I talk about the new Star Wars movie in this post, but it's spoiler free. One of my friends asked me if there even is a "big" spoiler and, uh, yes. There is. But I would never spoil it for someone else, so read on with reckless abandon!

First Birthday (for the impatient folk)

The gifts started flowing last Tuesday - two days before my birthday. I mentioned in my last December Streak post that Cam got me a WiiU this year. He was very clever about it, and I was actually very surprised when I found it. He asked if I wanted to open it then or wait until my real birthday, but because we had so many plans for that day I knew we wouldn't get to play it until the weekend, so I opted for the impatient route.

Here's the picture I posted on Facebook of the entire haul that went with it:

WiiU console in back, a few games, the WiiU game pad, and some amiibos.
He obliged my child-like spirit and set it up right away (after he transferred the Wii to his parents TV so they can play old school Mario on it).

We've had a blast playing this thing this past week - I'm especially in love with Yoshi's Woolly World. It's a cute game where everything is made out of yarn (including all the Yoshis!) and you 'eat' your enemies to make yarn balls and then use the yarn to complete different tasks while you try to gather gems (akin to the famous Mario coins) and hidden flowers and skeins of yarn. If you collect all the skeins, you create a new Yoshi at the end of every level.

We've been playing it co-op and are almost through the second world - I get a ton of laughs out of the game, especially playing it with Cam. I also really enjoy that it doesn't have a limited number of lives (I tend to die a lot in normal games) so your game play just keeps rolling as long as one player stays alive.

I think Cam is more partial to Super Mario Maker though, which I've only played a few times (he tends to play when I've fallen asleep). You can play this game multiple ways:
  1. Build levels on your own and then try to beat them (you have to be able to finish them to get them 'published' and released to other players)
  2. Play levels made by other people.
    • including the 10 Mario Challenge - where you try to beat 8 random player-made levels in 10 lives
I did the tutorial for building levels, but have mostly played other people's levels, and done multiple runs of the 10 Mario Challenge. It's fun...but it's no Woolly World! I'm also looking forward to playing some of the older Nintendo games on it...but not until I've finished with Yoshi!

Sidenote: I'm pretty sure Cam bought Super Smash Bros for himself/our friends. I **extra** loathe that game. He and his friends have been playing it since N64 eons ago, and I've tried, but I just can't. It's a stupid game and I hate it! With N64 you can only have 4 players so I immediately always volunteer to sit out...apparently with the WiiU you can have 8 players, so my excuse making just got way more difficult :/

He also got me the two little amiibos (the yarn Yoshi and 8-bit Mario), which we haven't really played with yet - we will at some point though!

Fer Realz Birthday

Next up was my actual, fer realz birthday on Thursday. I turned older, in case you're wondering.

Normally on my birthday my mom takes us (me, she, Cam, brother, grandparents) out for dinner. But this year, as soon as I found out the release date for Star Wars (December 18th, the day after my birthday, meaning 'midnight' releases would be on the 17th) I told her I wanted to go see it. Back in October I spent an hour on the phone getting tickets, and we ended up getting them for an 8:00 show (not midnight, because nothing is sacred anymore!).

Now b-b-back that bus up.

Before the movie we went to a Mexican restaurant called Mago for dinner. Do you know what they give out on birthdays?!

NO?! Well I'll tell you:


Yeah. That's right. I got a free freaking sombrero along with my chips and guac (favoritest food ever). And I rocked it out (in my new Star Wars shirt that Cam surprised me with!):

Pardon the weirdo look in the restaurant bathroom mirror. It feels weird taking selfies in public places and I'm positive someone was about to burst in and embarrass me at any moment.
Not joking, I wore that thing into the theater. I love it. Might wear it on Christmas too.

Anyways...the movie was fantabulous. It certainly lived up to the hype. I love the new main characters (Fin and Rey), and it was good to see old characters come back. I also liked that they didn't rely on special effects and CGI like they did in the prequels - it felt like watching one of the original trilogy.

Now that I've seen it I've read a bit more about it - like everyone else I was avoiding spoilers as much as possible in the lead up to the release - and I've formed a few theories and learned about some of the Easter eggs in the movie. I'd like to watch it again to see what else I can catch!

Also - for any fans out there who haven't seen it yet - some of my theories are based on little things I learned while watching the animated Clone Wars series. I know, I know, you're probably thinking "wasn't that a kids' show?" and you're kind of right. It was originally a Disney thing, but they were going to stop production and Netflix picked it up for the last three seasons so it got more real. The entire series is on Netflix and is well worth watching because it gives quite a bit of background to the whole Star Wars universe.

So that's it! That's my Star Wars update! I really couldn't have asked for a better night out, and loved getting to spend the time with my family and Cam and just relax through it all.

Saturday Zoo Lights

The last item on the birthday docket was a trip downtown with the Wack Pack (we even used the L and buses like big kids!) to check out the Lincoln Park Zoo Lights.

I'm fairly certain the Zoo Lights weren't a thing when I was little, but I love Lincoln Park Zoo and was so excited to get to go trundle around after hours and see it all decorated and lit up.  I didn't take a ton of pictures because a) they all turned out really bright because of the lights, b) crowds and c) selfies looked dumb because I was so bundled up.

Oh yeah - Saturday just happened to be a freakishly cold day. Okay not really, it was like a normal-December weather day, but compared to the strange warm and damp weather that's been hanging around lately (seriously, it was almost 60*F today), a day under 30*F was shocking. It's been the only thing I've done all season that has felt seasonal...and that made it worth it in it's own right!!
The fun stripe Zebras!!
It's the Loch Ness Monster!!!
All of the Wack members along for the ride. 
This was just inside the doors to the Small Mammal and Reptile House (my absolute fave!!)
He totally reminded me of Ned, lazing about like this.
The new lionesses, in for the night.
Polar Bear lights!
Polar Bear Carousel!!! (seriously, I have a thing for Polar Bears).
And of course, just a few of me and Cam. I can't remember at a wedding, but I can remember when it's freaking cold as balls out and I look like a nomad:

Even though it was freezing we still went to all the exhibits and buildings, and I still looked desparately to see if I could find the animals in their enclosures (in the super dark where there were no lights). I didn't find many animals, but looking for them never gets old!

After all the fun, we stuffed our gullets at a corner gyros place, hopped in an Uber, and got ourselves home so I could fall asleep on the couch while everyone else did socializing stuff. I'm such a great friend...I always fall asleep, lol.

Last But Not Least

I have to give a seriously honorable mention to my cousin, the Presidentress, Jennie. This girl seriously knows me. And she knows that, in a time when we're all struggling to find someone to believe in politically, we can turn our shining faces - scrubbed new like old things that have been scrubbed to clean them - YES! We can turn our faces with hope to a candidate who has weathered the ages with his boundless experience.

WE CAN TURN OUR HOPE FOR OUR FUTURES TO ONE (kind-of, not really because he's the undead) MAN:


I know whose bucket I'm putting my pennies in this election. And I shall display my support proudly, thanks to Jennie!

(And if you have no idea wtf is going on, go here and do some 'research'.)


And now, kids: It's late, I'm tired, and I'm going to bed.


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