Expat Life

Celebrating Thirty in London

I’ve got to admit, turning thirty is a whole lot easier when you’re living in an incredible place like London. Not to say it wouldn’t have been fun in Tennessee. It just would have been quite a bit different. I’m fairly certain in Tennessee there would have been a BBQ and a bonfire or two, but instead we celebrated with an international potluck, a wander around London’s lovely South Bank, and tickets to see “The Beatles” in concert. I didn’t see that one coming when I turned 29 and started planning what I wanted to do for my 30th!

It’s a given that when your birthday falls on a weekend, the entire weekend is spent celebrating instead of just one day, and celebrate we did! It all began on Friday night when we went to an international potluck for the sixth grade parents at Lexie’s school. Now, this wasn’t a party for me, it was just a party. I hadn’t told anyone at Lexie’s school that my birthday was coming up because I didn’t want them to know I was still in my 20’s. I am one of the youngest moms at the school…by a lot. I had already been mistaken by a few of the moms for being a “second wife”, which is actually one heck of a compliment that they’d think I was some older businessman’s childless, trophy wife. (Cory got a kick out of that one!) But I didn’t want something like age alienating me from the other mothers, so I’ve been attempting to stay in an ambiguous age range until I could say I was in my 30’s. Anyway, it was actually a really fun party. I got to know even more people from all over the world and sampled dishes from their home countries. (Except the sushi. I still can’t get that down.)

Celebrating Thirty In London

On Saturday we spent the afternoon walking along the Thames on London’s South Bank. One of the most popular tourist areas in London…on a Saturday? We really didn’t think that one through.  It was madness. Even still, we had a good time. I just love this area – seeing all the famous sites that I’d previously only been able to see in movies. It’s when I get the most overwhelmed (in a good way) that we’re living in London. We stopped and saw Big Ben, Westminster Abbey, and Parliament Square before heading back to the South Bank so we could peruse all the secondhand books for sale under the Waterloo Bridge.

Celebrating Thirty In London

Celebrating Thirty In London

I could have spent hours there browsing through all the books for sale. Old books, new books, records, a little bit of art – and yet all we came home with was the third book in the Twilight series for Lexie. (Too many books already, too little space for them.)

Celebrating Thirty In London

Celebrating Thirty In London

Sunday was my actual birthday. (Although, since I didn’t technically turn 30 until 9:31 PM, it was more like saying goodbye to 29 than hello to 30.) There was cake, and seven candles because who the heck has the time to light 30 candles? (Waitrose saved the day again with the birthday cake!) And then there were gifts. One of which arrived in a huge box and needed to be opened immediately due to a few perishables being inside.

Celebrating Thirty In London

Oh yes they did – my parents sent me spicy cheese for my birthday! I was almost as excited about seeing the Kroger label as I was the cheese. (Little reminders of home.) But cheese wasn’t the only familiar American product in my box of treasures.

Celebrating Thirty In London

I think it takes becoming an expat to get excited over receiving dental floss and allergy medicine for your birthday. There are some things you just can’t live without! (And this is when it comes in handy having a daddy who works for a major shipping company – I don’t even want to know how much it cost to ship those black beans!)

Celebrating Thirty In London

Celebrating Thirty In London

To close out a wonderful birthday weekend, we spent Sunday evening watching “The Beatles” perform at the Savoy Theater. A perfect gift for someone who earned the nickname Penny Lane in college due to a minor obsession with the Fab Four! These guys put on a marvelous show. When they played Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown), my all-time favorite, I felt like they were playing it just for me. (I’m sure they knew it was my birthday…)

If the rest of 30 is as good as the first day was, I’ve got a lot to look forward to. Also, thank you to everyone who left such wonderful comments on my thoughts on turning 30 post. I absolutely loved writing that, and it made me feel really good that so many of you enjoyed reading it, too!

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  • Diana Bockus
    November 8, 2013 at 6:58 PM

    Happy Birthday! (I’m so late). The care package was great! On a side note… do they not sell floss in London? Really? haha

    • Sarah Shumate
      November 8, 2013 at 9:14 PM

      Haha! No, they totally do! It was more of a joke because I did have trouble finding floss at first and when I did, I was paying the US equivalent of $3 for a small package! So my mom sent some to be funny!

  • Emmymom
    October 24, 2013 at 8:46 PM

    Yea!! I am so behind on your blog, so happy belated birthday!! Your 30th was much more exciting than mine, I flew home from my little sister’s wedding on my 30th birthday. How fun you got to see “the Beatles”. Looks like a great weekend. October is the best birthday month, mine is tomorrow. :)

  • Miwa
    October 23, 2013 at 6:47 AM

    What a wonderful way to spend your birthday weekend! And welcome to the thirties ;)

    By the way, I love that picture of you and Lexie. You two are beautiful!

  • Anna
    October 22, 2013 at 8:27 AM

    I laughed at the dental floss but I have to say I have been looking at your teeth (creepy?) and being quite jealous so you’re clearly doing something right. I think spicy cheese sounds amazing and they must have something like that here though I haven’t found it. Sounds like you had a blast. Happy belated birthday!

    • Sarah Shumate
      October 22, 2013 at 9:47 AM

      I just busted out laughing at your comment about my teeth! That is totally not creepy…or if it is, I’m guilty, too. :o) I had to suffer the humiliation of having braces as an adult to get my teeth straight and pretty, but now that it’s over, I’d say it was well worth it. Plus wearing a retainer to bed every night is a HUGE turn on for my husband. ;o)

  • Hannah Taylor-Johnson
    October 22, 2013 at 7:27 AM

    Happy Belated Birthday!

    I was going to say ‘you can get black beans in England’ then I remembered that you can also get chocolate in north America and I still get my friends and family to send me UK chocs. I’m glad you had a good day! London has a lot to offer but it doesn’t always make up for being away from ‘home’. I find birthdays are the hardest thing for me.


  • Quyen Nguyen
    October 21, 2013 at 11:26 PM

    Happy birthday! What a great city to celebrate your birthday in!

  • LeeLee
    October 22, 2013 at 2:43 AM

    Aw, how lovely. Happy Birthday, Sarah!

  • Sammy @ Days Like This
    October 21, 2013 at 8:54 PM

    Happy Birthday! Weekend birthdays are the best. I don’t think I could ever get sick of looking at Big Ben – so cool.

  • Stacie Stamper
    October 21, 2013 at 7:09 PM

    Oh, thje assortment in that package makes me laugh! That would totally be me asking for all of the creature comforts that I would miss.

  • Erin P
    October 21, 2013 at 4:31 PM

    Your 30th birthday was much more exciting than mine! (last year we had dinner at a brewery with friends and family) And how very awesome of your parents to send the goody box! I LOVE pepperjack cheese too! ;) So glad to hear you’ve enjoyed the birthday you were dreading…trust me, 30’s aren’t so bad!

  • Rachael
    October 21, 2013 at 9:16 PM

    I am so jealous right now. What I wouldn’t give to have some normal tasting cheese and milk in this place, and not to mention black beans! Gah I still don’t understand why they don’t have them anywhere in the UK! Happy birthday!

  • Tina @ Girl-Meets-Globe
    October 21, 2013 at 9:01 PM

    Definitely looks like a fun weekend! And wow, pepper jack cheese!! What a special treat!

  • Nicole
    October 21, 2013 at 3:58 PM

    The care package cracks me up! They don’t have dental floss over there? What the heck?! My birthday is on a Friday this year, and we’re headed to Minneapolis to watch the Green Bay Packers/Minnesota Vikings football game. Patrick and I’s birthdays are only 2 days apart so his mom bought us tickets for that, and kind of as a “babymoon”. So we kind of get to celebrate all weekend too :) My 30th will be next year, and on a Saturday-so party all weekend! HA! And I LOVE that all the other moms thought you were the younger trophy wife. I call that a WIN! hahaha

    • Sarah Shumate
      October 21, 2013 at 5:07 PM

      Oh, no – there’s definitely dental floss. It’s just way more expensive here than in the US, so my mom sent me a few packets!

      That’s awesome that you and Patrick’s birthdays are so close together! It makes it easier to remember when each other’s b’day is. ;o)

      I totally took the “second wife” comment as a compliment, whether it was or not! :o)

  • Jessica
    October 21, 2013 at 8:51 PM

    Happy birthday! That is a really great haul, I’m quite jealous.

  • Keith Wynn
    October 21, 2013 at 11:54 AM

    Happy Birthday my blogging friend!! I would seriously have never guessed in a million years that you were 30!? I would have guessed 23-24. That blows my mind. What’s your secret??

    • Sarah Shumate
      October 21, 2013 at 5:03 PM

      Haha! I have to laugh a little at that, even though it was a very sweet compliment! I think I look like all of my 30 years, but lots of water and a big smile will do wonders for your face. :o)

  • Jenn
    October 21, 2013 at 4:19 PM

    Looks like a great way to spend your birthday!! That book sale alone would make my day :) That care package is great too!

    • Sarah Shumate
      October 21, 2013 at 5:09 PM

      I love that book market! If I had a library room in my flat, it would be full of secondhand books! I wish I had more space for them!

      • Jenn
        October 21, 2013 at 6:24 PM

        I agree on that one! I swear Josh gives me the evil eye when I bring home books because my shelves are already sagging under the weight and we don’t have room for another shelf!

  • Jacintha | Urban Pixxels
    October 21, 2013 at 4:16 PM

    Happy belated birthday! Had mine two weeks ago (another October blogger :-), the first in London and I can definitely get used to it. Although at the same time you also miss having your old friends and family around you. The Beatles show looks amazing. I definitely want to go there (will add it to my ‘to do’ list). And don’t feel weird about the stuff from home you miss around here… You don’t want to know the things I keep bringing with me every time I visit the Netherlands :-).

  • topchelseagirl
    October 21, 2013 at 8:53 AM

    Happy Birthday. That is a beautiful photo of you and Lexie. Oh and you can get Glide dental floss over here, next time you need some.

  • Katrin
    October 21, 2013 at 1:30 PM

    So happy that you had a wonderful birthday weekend, Sarah! It sounds fantastic! And I love that book sale of course! :) And getting packages from your home country is always exciting! Such a sweet idea!

  • Dannielle @ Chicadeedee
    October 21, 2013 at 12:08 PM

    I can totally understand getting excited about that stuff! I still get my mom to send me EmergenC from time to time. Sounds like a great Birthday!

    • Sarah Shumate
      October 21, 2013 at 5:04 PM

      Yes! Cold and flu medicine is something that I don’t think the UK does as well as the US. It’s nice having someone who can send you stuff from home though, isn’t it?!

      • Dannielle @ Chicadeedee
        October 22, 2013 at 9:32 AM

        Yeah I agree, I don’t know what the difference is though! Def handy having someone on the other side :)

  • Rebecca
    October 21, 2013 at 4:55 AM

    happy belated birthday! Looks like you had the perfect birthday weekend! Love all the stuff you got from home, funny what we miss when we can’t get it. Loved the Beatles back in the day even though my parents thought they were awful cuz of their “long” hair! When they were on the Ed Sullivan show for the first time, I had to go to a friend’s house to watch them, (boy does that date me)! Kate got married a week ago today, was a lot of work pulling it together but it turned out perfectly. Will be posting pics soon.

  • Emma @ AdventuresofaLondonKiwi
    October 21, 2013 at 9:22 AM

    Aww, happy belated birthday!! I’m glad you loved your day in London.
    All the best bloggers are October babies – it’s weird as there are SO many of us it seems!?
    Ps. I think I’ve seen those beans in London. In fact I’m positive I have in a local ethnic store to home. Do they come in a red cover as well?

    • Sarah Shumate
      October 21, 2013 at 5:02 PM

      It is coincidental how many bloggers have October birthdays! Maybe October babies are more inclined to write and take pictures and then share it all on the internet. ;o)

      I have never seen these beans with a red colored cover, but that doesn’t mean that’s not how they’re sold here. They might be! I can occasionally find good black beans at Waitrose, but my mom sent me some anyways!

  • Sara Louise
    October 21, 2013 at 5:11 AM

    Oh it looks like a good one! Especially the care package, I’m more than a little jealous of that pepperjack!
    I’m so happy you had a great one Sarah, I hope all of your birthday celebrations are every bit as fun :)