I had a lot of help from several of Tom's friends. His best buddy John was in on the whole thing and was responsible for practically dragging a recalcitrant and slightly grumpy Tom out of the house on Saturday morning for a day of go-karting. Then he kept me updated on the timing of their arrival with continuous text messages throughout the day. Tom’s friend and co-worker Dave was responsible for getting me the email addresses of numerous GM coworkers of Tom, loaning me some tables, chairs and a tent for the party, helping to set up…and storing 7 huge cases of beer in his garage the night before the party. (I would have had a hard time hiding THAT from the birthday boy.) And last but definitely not least, Tom's brother Robert and his wife Karen, visiting on the sly from Illinois, came over to our home as soon as Tom left and helped by taking care of the kids while I went out and picked up cakes, ice, and balloons. They also helped with decorations and storing umpteen thousand beers into coolers of ice. Couldn't have done it without you, guys. I owe you BIG TIME.
Although I assembled the brave and fun-loving guests on the soaking lawn for the surprise portion of the party, I had no idea of the "entrance" that was planned by Tom's friend, Mike. I should've known. (Mike is a race car driver. Don't try this at home, folks.) I am glad that a) there were no cops on our street for that entrance, and b) the cop that DOES live down the street has a sense of humor.
Many, many, many thanks to all of you for helping to pull this off. Tom was deeply touched by everyone who showed up to celebrate with us, especially his parents, brother and sister-in-law who all drove to Michigan and stayed the weekend for some family time.
Happy 40th Birthday to my wonderful husband, the love of my life, my red-hot stack of man waffles. Like a fine wine (or a stinky cheese), you just get better with age. You're the best husband a girl could want, and an incredible father. You're the most amazing, sweet, sexy, smart, fun-loving 40 year-old I know. I love you.
Tom's always told me he's not crazy about surprise parties. I had a feeling that he wouldn't mind this particular party, and this particular crowd. Thank heavens I was right!
The birthday boy and his precious little girls
This is the last shot anyone got of Ava with a clean face for the rest of the evening.
You'll see what I mean....
The bouncer I rented to keep the kids happy and occupied. It worked! Adults actually got to hold adult conversations. (A few choice adults with no pride tested the bouncer as well. I have no idea who those people would be. None. Really....)
Liesl teaching Oma and Opa how to use Uncle Robert's iPhone.
Uncle Robert and Liesl
(I decided not to post the choice picture I have of Ava with Aunt Karen.
You're welcome, Karen.)
Guests on the patio (and Ava eating cake)
Sweet little Amalie, just turned 2
(I can't believe she's already 2!!!!!!)
Guests in the family room. Some of these people are Tom's old family friends that we have not seen in years.
More guests. From left to right: Mike, driver of the "entry" car; Julie, his wife and Ava's godmother...and lookin' damn skinny; Tyler, age 2, Julie & Mike's son, who has a future in racing if he knows what's good for him; Mark, mutual friend of Tom's and mine; Sherelyn, Mark's wife, and one of my dearest friends from high school.
Mark and Sherelyn introduced Tom and I. Our first date was Mark and Sherelyn's wedding.
Ava eating cake...
More guests..mostly Tom's work buddies
Still more guests in the bouncer
Ava eating cake...
(And Liesl on Uncle Robert's iPhone)
Joyce G., a friend of Tom's family from way back
Janet and Carl, my inlaws, who drove up from Cincinnati to surprise Tom
My mother, Rosalyn
Tots on the swingset
Ava eating cake...no, wait. That's a chicken leg. How did THAT happen???
Sunday morning, after the party, we had some nice quiet (sort of) visiting time with Tom's family.
Here, Aunt Karen and Uncle Robert are teaching the girls how to play Sorry.
Notice how everyone's shirts match their game tokens
Ava gave up after 1.394 turns.
(Liesl stuck with it...thanks to, no doubt, the perseverance of her aunt and uncle)
Liesl with her Uncle Robert and Aunt Karen...two of her most favorite people in the world
Sunday night...Liesl was allowed to stay up late and cuddle and read with her grandparents, whom she loves but doesn't get to see very often.
These are special times.