Monday, June 23, 2008

Long Overdue

This has been one incredible and exhausting weekend, but probably the best weekend of my life for a long time. My top secret project was finally complete and ready to be revealed, which it was Saturday night.

Back at the end of April, my father came to me with an idea and asked for my help in excuting it. It instantly got my creative juices flowing (hehehe juices) and I was off and planning before we were even done with our lunch. See, my mother's birthday was coming up and it was a big one. Dad had decided he wanted to throw her a surprise party with about a 60 person guest list and a four plate dinner option. The party planner in me had four different invitation and RSVP card templates ready by the end of the week and the stationery ordered little over a week later. We carefully planned when to get the invitations out, since we knew the party would be smack in the middle of wedding season.

So the date was set, the guest list made and invited and one night while my mother was on a work trip, Dad and I poured through photo album after photo album, boxes upon boxes of photos of my parents, my childhood, my family in its entirety and we tried to pick out a good collection of shots for a collage of her life. We marked the photos that were in albums and I scanned those and had them back to my father before my mom got back so she wouldn't miss them and suspect anything.

Being the kind of girl I am, who doesn't halfass anything, I wanted there to be centerpieces at each table, tying into the theme of the invitation that my father had picked out - butterflies. So my shopping list quickly began to grow from tag board for the collage to cardstock for coloring, letters, stamps and ink, flower pots, flowers, picture forks, ribbon, possibly confetti . . . and I had to squeeze it all in around school hours and still have enough time for Mike, my friends and of course, my mom so she wouldn't wonder what was going on.

It ended up being a huge hit, completely a surprise and so much fun. . . .

We decided the "lure" to get her there was that Mike and I wanted to take her and Dad to dinner on a gift certificate Mike had earned at work. It seemed plausible, because of Mike's recent birthday, Father's day and of course, Mom's birthday. So there wasn't much issue with that. But then she started asking about carpooling to save gas. I needed to get there far earlier than 6:30 to get set up and greet all the guests, so that wouldn't work. I had to tell her that we had plans to see a scary movie after dinner so she wouldn't want to join us and we'd have a reason not to carpool. I left school around 3pm and got ready and got to the restaurant about 5:15 to get things set up and the guests were to show up about 6 pm. Once Mom and dad were leaving for the restaurant, Dad secretly called me and I headed up to the front of the restaurant to "lead" her to the party. I decided to tell her they were setting up for a party in the banquet room and she HAD to see the centerpieces we'd seen them bringing in.

Hook. Line. Sinker.

They dimmed the lights even more so she wouldn't see immediately, so the "Surprise" pictures are kind of dark. I am hoping someone with a better camera got brighter shot than Mike did on mine. (I love my Dad's glowing red eyes). Mom and Dad included, we had about 45 people there to help her celebrate such a big year and it was a hit.

About a week before the party, I got a call from Mom's best friend from when she lived in California (pre-Dad) and Bonnie and her mom, Rosemary, were coming up for the party. A surprise on top of a surprise! When Mom got the to the party, people started coming over to wish her hello and happy birthday and Bon and Rosemary held back, kind of avoiding being seen until she was nearly through the entire group. But when they locked eyes on one another . . . I wish I could have recorded the scream they both let out. Sheer joy and excitement.

The collage

The collage . . . the product of 60 years, lots of film and a few late-ass nights for me getting things printed, cropped, matted and posted on the board. Click on the photo to see all the notes that I have added to the picture.

It was a lot of work and was over in about five hours, but it was so worth it. She is so worth it. I want to thank everyone for coming out and helping us celebrate the amazing woman that is my mom. She is a major part of the reason why I am the woman I am today.

The rest of Saturday night was spent at the Thirsty Lion in Portland with Kate and Joe and Aja and Brian. I haven't been in a bar like that, in PDX, in a long time. In fact, I didn't even know that Bar 71 was now the Thirsty Lion.

It's strange, going to a meat market like that, as a married woman. I felt more confident, more at peace. Actually, when I first got there, I felt a little self-conscious because I wasn't in short shorts and I wasn't a size 2. I debated going into the bathroom to take off the brown tank top I'd worn under my empire waist shirt to kind of "hide" the cleaveage at my mom's party. But then I stopped and realized that if I was going to let two and a half inches of fabric bother me that much, than I hadn't grown or matured at all since I first started going to bars and when "bar top shopping" for more busty shirts. After that, I just had a great time and realized that I wanted to still go out and do this more with my girls. Just because I am married doesn't mean I can't go dancing with my girls.

We pretty much shut down the bar and I got home about 2:30 to Mike on the sofa, sleeping, waiting for me. I utilized my awake status and wrapped my presents for the next birthday party I had to go to (did I mention that we were out at Thirsty Lion to celebrate Brian's 29th birthday?? We were.) and I got to bed about 3 am.

I awoke with a start at 9:53 Sunday morning, because we'd made plans to do brunch at Tommy O's at 9:30 (Kate, Aja, Joe and I) before I headed up to Felida for Sarah's daughters Larkin and Ruby's 1st birthday party. I'd been asleep when I got a text from Aja saying that brunch had been scraped, so I wasn't late and I hadn't overslept. Small blessing.

I got to Felida park shortly after 11 am and immediately saw the balloons. And the cake. And the dual highchairs. And friends like Nicolle who I do not see often enough. It was all so colorful and festive and everything a first birthday party should be.

After the party, I joined my parents and Bonnie and Rosemary and we went to Saturday Market in downtown PDX before having an early dinner at McMenamins on the Waterfront, where we got great burgers, tasty hard cider, a killer view of the river and I got a bit of  (needed) sun.

We finished up the night with some wine at home, watching the DVD of all our wedding photos (Bonnie and Rosemary were invited but since both Bonnie's daughters got married last year as well, there wasn't much time for traveling.), playing some Apples to Apples and wrapping up the night with more wine around my parent's firepit.

Perfect weekend. Now I am ready for one last week of school before our "Summer Break" and then the family reunion in upstate New York. I have do decide what to wear/pack (which is easier since most of the people who will be there, I haven't seen since I was 10, 14 or 17 years old, so all my clothes will be new to them) and the dreaded bathing suit shopping I have been putting off. Blah. Hate it. But Sam's in town and there will be girl time with our favorite Canadian this week.

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