Sunday, January 23, 2011

Happy 60th!!!

Well, we are able to pull it off. We held a surprise party Friday night for my parent's 60th birthday. Their birthday was Saturday but we celebrated a day early. Getting everything set up was like a little covert operation. First, Susan arranged to take them out to dinner on Friday night with Samantha so the plan was initiated. She told them that her husband Joe was out of town. They left at about 5:40 for dinner. Little did they know that I was parked right around the corner just waiting on the word (or text as it were) from Susan. As soon as they left, the mad dash was on to rush in the house and get ready for the guests.

Joe showed up a few minutes later with most of the food. He and Susan cooked all day and did a fantastic job. Also, my mom's sister Annette and her husband Robert were kind enough to show up early as well. Thank goodness they did because I don't think we'd have been ready for the guests without the extra hands. So, we scurried around and were ready when the guests started arriving.

That's when things got a bit hairy. This was the part I was worried about the whole time. We'd (ok, I did the invitations) put instructions on the invitation to drive to the end of the street and we'd shuttle them back up to the house. We wanted to make sure that when the folks got back from dinner they wouldn't see any extra cars and get suspicious. Well, in hind sight, this was not the best plan. I should have told them to pull in the driveway so we'd know they were there and then we'd take the cars down. At about 6:35 the phone rings and it's Ms. Mauney, one of the guests. She said "Myra?" Nope, it was me and they were at the end of the street waiting for their ride. Don't know how long they were down there...oops!!! Luckily my parents friends are very good natured. They laughed it off and I told them that we had no clue what we were doing and they agreed.

So, everyone was at the house safely and we were awaiting the next text from Susan. It came not too much later that they were paying the bill. The house guests planned the attack (where to stand) and what to say. In the mean time we entertained ourselves watching a slide show of old photos that Susan and Joe put together. I'd never seen a lot of those pictures and it was very cool to see my parents so young.

We got the final two texts that they were in the neighborhood and finally 'here'. We turned off all the lights and were 'shhhing' everyone. While in the garage my mom heard 'something' inside the house and was worried that they were being robbed (as if). So, my Dad heroically told them to stay inside and he went in first (I'm sure we was just pandering to my mom). I'd say they were sufficiently surprised. We knew they had no inkling that anything was going on. Except for Mom hearing something, it was almost perfect!!
This was the cake. I work with a lady whose mom makes cakes. She made one for a baby shower at work and it was yummy. So, I enlisted her to make the cake for this party. It was the perfect size and she left a nice little spot for the candles.

This is the arrival. My sister took a good video of it and posted it on her blog. If you watch it you can really see that they were truly surprised!!

Shot of all the guests. Just about everyone we invited came. Mom and Dad have such a great group of friends. They've been friends for I don't know...20+ years. I hope I'm half as lucky as they are and am blessed with true lifelong friends!!

Not only are they good friends but they are serious nuts. They always have a good time together. They brought lots of gag gifts. Larry even re-gifted an old man cane that Dad had given him 5 years ago when Larry turned 60. Five years of waiting...that's serious dedication.

It took both of them to blow out all those candles!!!

Mr. Mauney in the floor playing with the grandkids. He got down in the floor a few times to play. He married all three of us. I think that is so special. I loved that a close family friend was able to marry Mike and I. He is such a genuinely sweet man. I hadn't seen him in years and he just has a way of making you feel like we see each other every day.

Thanks so much to Susan and Joe for doing so much work to pull this off!!!! I was so excited about the party as it got closer and closer. Thank goodness it wasn't a complete disaster!! I'm so glad that we did it and I think Mom and Dad really enjoyed it. Love you Mom and Dad!!!!

Monday, January 17, 2011

Happy Birthday Samantha!!

Sunday we celebrated Samantha's 2nd birthday at her Grandma Judy's house. It was lots of fun. Samantha seemed to know that it was a special day that was all for her. She was sillier than usual.

Here she is opening one of her presents. She was cute because before she'd even see what it was she would get so excited about her present. She was pretty good at getting the gifts unwrapped. Her cousin Virginia stood right beside Samantha while she opened her presents. Virginia was so well behaved. She didn't try to help or take the presents. You could kind of see on Virginia's face that she wanted to jump in there but she didn't. It was very sweet!!

When they're together, they seem to be pretty good friends. Samantha likes to give Virginia hugs and kisses.

Mom and Dad got Samantha a tricycle. Virginia was the first on the bike and Samantha rode on the back. After some practice, I'm sure Samantha will get the hang of it.

Little Virginia is so cute. She loves balloons. She entertained herself by throwing the balloon up in the air. I have the cutest picture of Virginia from Samantha's 1st B-day party. Virginia's sitting in her car seat, sound asleep, with a balloon tied to her wrist. So, two parties for Samantha and two balloons for Virginia.

I just had to throw this one in there because this picture is a perfect example of Samantha's personality. Doesn't she just look so full of herself!! The kid is hilarious. Her mother is partly to blame. She's taught Samantha to say "See ya" instead of goodbye. It cracks me up.
It's been fun watching Samantha and Virginia both grow up over the last 2+ years. It's amazing the difference in their personalities. I predict that Samantha will be more of a handful than Virginia. Hmmm, just like their mothers!!!

Saturday, January 1, 2011

London - The Highlights

We left for London on Christmas night. I guess you could say this was our Christmas gift to each other. We got into London on Sunday morning at about 7:30. After a little nap, we were off to explore.

These pictures are a bit out of order but that's just too bad because I can't rearrange them easily.
Big Ben. Notice the ferris wheel in the background. This is the London Eye and is the tallest ferris wheel in the world. We took a ride on the London Eye and were able to get a good view of London.

Westminster Abbey. No pictures allowed inside. This place was something else. So much history there. So many people buried there. This was a very interesting and beautiful place.

Harrods. This is a huge store. It is also an expensive store. One thing London has is large stores. There was another store we went to, Selfridge, that took up an entire block and needed its own zip code. These stores are so big that people are standing around handing out maps.

This is an ancient Roman bath at, of all places, Bath. We drove there on our last day, Wednesday. This was a really neat place. These baths were around at about 34 AD!!! 34 AD!!!! And the lead lining at the bottom of the bath is the original lining. It was very neat to see all the well-preserved ruins here.

This was on Sunday in Green Park. We just walked around exploring. Sunday was Boxing Day and this is a national holiday and it is also a big shopping day. There were tons of bargain shoppers out and about. We did a bit of shopping ourselves.

Hyde Park at night. Mike tried Mulled Wine here for the first time. It was basically hot red wine. It was pretty good. We walked all around here trying to find a bathroom. One thing we learned is that London doesn't believe in a lot of public restrooms or trashcans.

Buckingham Palace. We saw the changing of the guards on Monday. There was a big crowd so we weren't really that close. I really don't know what the fuss was about. But, now I can say that I've seen it.

This is another out of order picture. Does something look odd about this picture? Yup, Mike is driving on the wrong side of the car. We took the Tube to Heathrow and rented a car. This was an experience but really Mike did a great job. There were only 3 curbings. Thank goodness for GPS is all I have to say. If we didn't have the GPS, we'd still be trying to get out of Windsor. Those round-a-bouts are tricky.

Tower Bridge. I LOVED this. This is iconic London. It is just so pretty. We got here right as the sun was going down, which is about 4:30 (London is farther North than you may think). We took a tour and walked around the bridge and checked out the engine room.

This picture would have been good except for...what's up with my hair!!!

St. Paul's Cathedral. There were no photos allowed inside but take my word for it, it was breathtaking. We walked up a ton of stairs to the top (well, almost the top) of the dome.

Windsor Castle. This is not very far from Heathrow and it was the first stop on our road trip. The Queen actually lives here part of the year. We had to go through metal detectors to get in. Again, no pictures allowed inside. It was very opulent and very hard to believe that someone lives like that. Talk about money!!!

Here we are again at the bath. Again, this would have been a good picture if only Mike was actually looking at the camera. We meet a native Londoner at Windsor Castle that lives in Texas now. He convinced us to go to Bath rather than Stonehenge. It was a very good suggestion.

Finally, this is Trafalger Square. Our hotel was right across the street from here. This is a gathering place in London and is within walking distance of Buckingham Palace, West Minister Abby, Big Ben, and Parliament. It is a good central location.

The weather was good. It was cold but you just wore your cold weather gear and you were good. It only rained one day but it really just drizzled off and on. Wednesday was overcast and foggy but it could have been much worse. I'd been wanting to go to London for awhile and it didn't disappoint.