Monday, November 4, 2013

A Week in the Life - Day 6

Mark's Version

SUNDAY - 8:00 AM

Today is the day. Kate has been planning a surprise birthday party for her BFF, and unbeknownst to her, her BFF has been planning a surprise half-birthday party. They are both here at our house today, at the same time. Neither one knows that it's a dual party so it should be a great surprise. We've been so on the go that we haven't had a chance to completely prepare before today. I put cupcakes in the oven (made from a box mix) and start cleaning.

10:00 AM

Since it is 11:00 AM biological time, people start stirring. It's time for all of us to get our days going. Stacy talks with the mother of Kate's BFF to finalize a few details and make sure that between the two families we have everything we need. I get "fake ready" (wash my face, brush my teeth and hair, put on deodorant) so I can run to the store for the last minute items, but it turns out we've got it all covered. We all get ready, do the last-minute cleaning, go over the specific times we need to do everything, and generally get even more excited for the parties. Kate is super excited about surprising her BFF. We are excited to see how the dual surprise goes.

12:45 PM

I run out to buy a ton of tacos from Taco Bell, since tacos are the BFF's favorite food. I only hope I get them and get home without being seen by the BFF and her family since they will be arriving at our house soon. "Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me" is on NPR. I'm not usually in the car on the weekends so I don't hear this program, but if you are a current events junkie, this is a great show. Very clever and very funny.

1:30 PM

The BFF arrives with her mother and some of her siblings. We're going to set up for Kate's surprise (and also her surprise) while the moms and daughters go get frozen yogurt. Once they leave I tell the BFF's siblings that this is a dual surprise. Up until now they thought this was all for Kate's half-birthday. They are extra excited and jump right into the decorating. In no time flat we have everything set up. Guests start to arrive and the energy cranks up like 14 notches. There are several friends who have never been to a surprise party so this is a big thrill. The largest challenge will be keeping all of them quiet and calm before the door opens. Once all the guests arrive I send a text to Stacy to let her know the coast is clear. She sends the final reminder to take pictures of the decorations and to get the video camera ready. It was already covered, but I know how excited she is, too.

2:00 PM (or so)

The doorbell rings, Max hits the music (Kate cued up a Taylor Swift song to an exact spot with special meaning), Scout goes absolutely crazy waiting for the door to open, and in walk the girls. "Surprise!" Neither girl is overly impressed because they are waiting for the other to jump back, scream, and cry in utter and total surprise. They look at each other and exchange surprises, "this is for yous," and puzzled looks. Everyone in the room is laughing and pointing to the two banners on the wall: Happy Birthday, and Happy Half-Birthday. Once everything dawns on the girls, they both laugh and give us all the response we were looking for. It was a great reaction from two fantastic friends.

The party goes well with lots of games, food, outside play, music, and laughing. Halfway through, the BFF's father arrives with more food (pizza) and the two youngest siblings. The girls have both done a great job planning the whole party, including checklists and everything. The adults serve and try and maintain order.  We do an adequate job, and then breathe deeply once it's all over. The BFF hangs out after the party to help clean up.

Two great friends!

Playing Catch Phrase

Two more inches and I'd be in business . . .

Boys chowing down

Girls eating daintily

Hey, this is fun!

4:30 PM

The last guest have gone and it's just our family and the BFF (who may as well be part of the family). We clean a little and mostly get our things ready to go to a NaNoWriMo write-in at the coffeehouse. It starts at 6 but we want to get there early and get a bit more writing in, especially since we didn't do much writing yesterday. Stacy is hungry for egg rolls and Kate says she could go for a roll, so we pick up egg rolls at our favorite Chinese take-out restaurant. I walk in to pick up the egg rolls and she is surprised. "Wait. No soup today?" She knows us well. Stacy is concerned about eating egg rolls at the coffeehouse, but we're planning to get other food there so it's fine. I also run into the grocery store to pick up some poster board to make our gratitude wall. It's three days into November so we're behind. Welcome to my life lately.

5:45 PM

We arrive at the coffeehouse and start to set up. We look over and notice a nice display of books and food and realize there was a book launch there that afternoon. We go over and talk to the author, who is local, and have a great time. Like we've mentioned so many times before, the writing community is so open and welcoming. It takes us like 30 seconds to feel like old friends and to find out that he is starting a writers' group at a local library very soon. This sounds like a serious critique group so we are intrigued. We exchange email addresses and plan on getting together soon. Even though we haven't started writing, this is a great benefit from showing up tonight.

During our 4 hours at the coffeehouse, we meet up with a bunch of friends who are writing, we run into new friends from our book club and discuss the movie that is showing tonight, "Enough Said." We work on our Day in the Life posts, flesh out the rest of our characters and name them all, and get a bit of writing done on our books. Max meets his daily quota and Kate writes like 4 novels, 6 short stories, 2 manifestos, and a haiku. Well, she just writes a lot of her novel, but she could have easily done all of that in 4 hours the way her writing is going lately. I envy the roll she is on.

10:00 PM

Rod Stewart singing the American songbook is playing as the coffeehouse approaches closing time. I'm glad he's only now coming over the speakers because if he had been playing earlier I never would have gotten anything done. He does a decent job with the standards, but something about his voice irritates me. We step out into the cold--it's in the upper 20s/low 30s--and hurry to the car. We drop off the Johnsons since Christie is working tonight and has the car and we head home.

10:30 PM

Party days always mean that our eating is very off. Max eats leftover pizza, I don't remember what Kate eats, and I whip up an open-faced egg and cheese sandwich for Stacy. I don't like the smell or taste of eggs, but somehow I make pretty good eggs. We have lots of philosophical discussions about time management, achieving goals, and being our best selves. After a lively discussion we are ready to watch "The Amazing Race," one of our favorite Sunday events. It's good as always with a very fun finish. It's gotten quite late and we're all tired from all of the fun and the time change so it's off to bed.

12:00 AM

Stacy works on her Day in the Life post and I run to the store to pick up milk. When I was making the eggs earlier I realized we had like a swallow of milk left in the jug, which drives me crazy, and that's never enough for the morning. I come home, we say our goodnights and we go to sleep. There is something satisfying about  the end of a fun and very full day.

Stacy's Version

Oh, falling back is nice. I made myself sleep in today and it was good. We all slept in. I knew that once we got up, we’d hit the ground running. We may go to bed late and sleep in, but when we’re awake, we are doing LOTS of things and we go go go!

I woke up and checked my texts and talked with Mark about the nitty gritty of today’s festivities. For the past year, Kate has been wanting to throw her BFF a surprise birthday party, so I knew we’d do it this fall, as this past fall, they were in Florida.

But here’s the kicker, Kate’s BFF contacted me a few weeks ago telling me she wanted to throw Kate a surprise half-birthday party right around now, too. Neither of them knew the other was doing this. I was trying to figure out how to pull this off well – if we did it one week after another, it might look “copycat” and either girl might feel weird throwing one after having had one thrown in her honor.

But if they did it at the same time, would it work? The answer is YES and quite well, too! After talking about it with Mark and Kristie (the BFF’s mom), we all figured it would best to do it together without the girls knowing it. This took some doing and a LOT of thought and careful talking from all of us. We did it! The result today was fantastic, but I’m getting ahead of myself.

So, we got up, got party stuff together, cleaned, got ready, talked/texted a bunch with Kristie to make sure we were all on the same page with everything and that we had everything covered. That worked out AWESOME. Between the two families, we really did have everything covered and beautifully, too!

Mark baked cupcakes for Kate’s BFF and frosted them in blue (her favorite color) and with little fishes (she loves dolphins) – is he the best dad or what! The two girls had been playing a little “email game” for several weeks where they asked each other questions and they answered them. Both of them asked the other what an ideal birthday party would be and they used the notes from that to make the magic happen today.

They are both SUCH great girls and it’s such a sweet friendship. I love these two! They both made lists, organized everything, sent out invites, took care of collecting decorations, made banners, got food and drink figured out, planned games, and figured out how to pull of the surprise. It was really great.

12:00 PM

I forgot to say that somewhere in the morning cleaning and setting up, we had breakfast. We had everything cleaned up and ready with time to spare, so we all talked and typed a bit and ate just a little something because we weren’t super hungry. That time flew by and before we knew it, Kristie was showing up with her kids right on time.

1:30 PM

Kristie showed up with 5 of her 8 kids, mostly the older ones. The pretense was that Mark was going to keep an eye on them while we went on a double mommy-daughter date with our girls (Kate and Kirsten) for frozen yogurt. What’s hilarious and awesome is that both girls didn’t suspect a thing with any seemingly odd thing that was happening, because they were both so focused on throwing the surprise for the other person.

The 4 kids that stayed at the house totally helped Mark and Max decorate and set everything up (we couldn’t do too much beforehand because we knew Kirsten was coming over to get us). Kristie left her supplies and food in the back of her van and once we left, Mark and her kids went and got them.

I drove the 4 of us over for frozen yogurt across the street. We hung out and talked books and movies and waited for Mark’s text saying it was all set up and that everyone had arrived (everyone was arriving around 1:45).

2:00 PM

We left frozen yogurt and got home and rang the bell as the signal that we were there. I then used my keys to get in, because Mark was waiting with the video camera – the reactions were PRICELESS!

We walked in and everyone (about 15 or so mutual friends and family) yelled out, “SURPRISE!” Both girls smiled really big at each other. Then Kate asked Kirsten, “Did you suspect at all?” And Kirsten said, “What? This is for you!” And Kate said, “No, this is for you.” We all watched them, waiting for it to dawn on them and people were laughing.

Both girls looked around confused and then saw the wall where both of their banners were hanging up – one that said, “Happy Birthday, Kirsten!” and one that said, “Happy Half-Birthday, Kate!” When they had first walked, in, they hadn’t noticed the other – they had only noticed the one each of them had previously made.

They looked more closely at the banners and said, “Wait, what?” And they figured out what was happening. It was a GREAT reaction! Both of them were so thrilled to do this party for the other and they were both so excited about the surprise. All the guests were pumped because none of them had ever been to a surprise party. Winners, everyone!

It was so great, because both girls FULLY expected shouts of “surprise,” but not for themselves, so seeing them piece it together was really fun for everyone. There were so many layers to keeping this secret and everyone did a great job.

Funny story: We hadn’t told Max about the double surprise (he did know about Kate throwing the party for Kirsten), not because we don’t trust him with secrets, but because we figured he’d be here for everything anyway, so he’d roll with whatever. Truth be told, our kids are extremely good at keeping secrets/surprises. We tell them all kinds of things and never worry about them slipping up or telling. They’re awesome.

Anyway, one day, I’m sitting in the living room and Max walks by and says to me, “That’s kind of funny that Kate and Kirsten are throwing surprise parties for each other on the same day.”

“Yeah. Wait, what? How did you know that?”

He motions with his head in the direction of his computer and says, “I got the email.”

Of course he did. Kate and Kirsten both invited everyone via email and he was on both lists. Hilarious. Again, I wasn’t the least bit concerned about him spilling it. It cracks me up how sincerely nonchalant he can be about things.

Mark got video of the surprise that I hope we can add to this post. We’ll post pictures as well.

Flashing back to October 19th really quick, though – here is a chat I had with Kate’s BFF about the party:

Me: You sure you're okay doing this for her right around YOUR birthday?
You are so nice!

Kirsten: It's fine. I really want to do something awesome for her because of how amazing she is for being my bestie.

Me: Awwwww, that is so sweet!

Kirsten: :)

Me: She will LOVE it and I know she loves you.

Kirsten :I hope she does love it, and I love her too

How cute are they?!?

After 4:00 PM

The party ran late and everyone had a great time – they played games, they ate food (tacos for Kirsten, pizza for Kate), we sang, had cupcakes and cookies (cupcakes for Kirsten, cookies for Kate), took pictures, laughed, told stories . . . you get the idea. Great party.

The attention to detail on the part of both girls was so sweet and so thoughtful. Kirsten made Kate’s banner all in rainbow colors, as Kate had said in their clever emails to each other that she’d do rainbow decorations (yellow is her favorite color, but she also loves a full rainbow of colors). Kirsten baked Kate’s favorite cookies for her.

Kate also paid similar attention to detail in colors for her banner for Kirsten (we had suggested to both girls that they make banners with the other girl’s name on it – we knew we’d have to have something that showed that it was a dual surprise party) and reminded us about 10 times to make sure the cupcakes and frosting weren’t chocolate for Kirsten. Kate even made a playlist of Kirsten’s favorite song and had it cued up so that when they walked in, it blasted, “Long live!” by Taylor Swift – the part of the song they both sing out when it’s on or at the concert, etc. Love the attention to detail!

Cupcakes and cookies. Yum!

After a very fun afternoon

By 4:30 or so, everyone (except for Kirsten) had left and the girls helped us clean up. We wiped down all the tables and chairs, Mark cleaned the floors, I collected trash, crumbs, wrappings, etc. Max put things away. We got everything cleaned up pretty quickly, as there really wasn’t much mess. We’re pros at this. I’d say we have groups of teenagers at our house about 6-12 or more times/month easily. I love it!

5:20 PM

We got our stuff together and decided to go to the coffeeshop early for our write-in (scheduled for 6-9). We thought we’d get more writing done that way, but we were mistaken.

When we got there, there was an author event wrapping up – a local author’s book launch. Not being ones to pass up a chance to meet an author and talk to them, we went over to read about him. He came over and talked to us for close to an hour! Dave, Mark, and I, as well as several of our writer friends have all been looking for a serious writing critique group (as opposed to a “Rah! Rah! You’re so great and you can do it!” group). He told us about a statewide group that works that way and also told us that he is starting a local one at his library in our county. He took our email addresses and will be in touch with us about that. It was so fun to talk shop with him – agents, publishing, writing . . . there’s so much to it and so many different philosophies and avenues. It was a good conversation.

Dave showed up soon after and he talked with the author a bunch, too. Our friend Cristin also got there with her kids (who had been at the party). And Kirsten’s siblings also showed up as well. Another good group.

And while it’s not always conducive to writing, we spent a good portion of the evening talking to friends who were there that night at various times either to eat, write, or go to the movie. I love small towns!

At one point, I spotted an older couple we met at a BBQ this summer – the husband is one of the podiatrists in town (funny enough, we met him at the home of another podiatrist) and the wife is someone we talked to for a long time at the barbecue – we found a similar love of reading and books and we quickly figured out that she has read most of the books we’ve read in book club and she was desperate to find people with whom she can discuss books. She was ecstatic about being invited to our book club. She has come ever since and she is a FANTASTIC addition to the group – super excited about discussing things and asking such insightful questions and getting us talking about so many great aspects of the books. I’m so glad we’ve met her!

They were there to go to the movie “Enough Said,” which Mark and I got to see this past weekend. Great flick. We saw them before the movie and after the movie as well. When Kirsten’s grandfather picked up the kids, he came over and talked to us a bunch, too. We really like him and he loves to talk politics with us. Mark, Dave, Kirsten’s grandfather, and I stood around and talked politics for quite a while. Then the couple from earlier exited the movie and came over to talk to us. Turns out? They, too, know Kirsten’s grandfather, so we all talked together. It was so fun! Again I say, I love small towns!

No, I did not get much writing done, but we had so much fun. It’s so energizing to me. I loved that in college, too – walking across campus and seeing people I know and stopping to talk for a bit. I think a sense of community is so so so so so very important. And our local coffeehouse does not disappoint in this regard!

Mark and I named all our characters. You’d be surprised how much tangential research you can get sucked into when you look up something as simple as name ideas. We had a GREAT time and found some hilarious articles. I started in on our grown up story and he worked on our children’s book. For the first time in the past many years, the blank page intimidated me a bit. I didn’t know how to start. Plus, I’m big into first lines, so I wanted to choose something good. I started writing, but both of us don’t feel like we’re in a good flow yet. It’ll come.

The boys played games and wrote. The girls giggled lots and wrote and played games. Another good night. Instrumental music as well as Rod Stewart singing the classics played overhead. Max got his usual spritzer. No wait! This time he opted for an Italian Cream Soda. Kate chose a grilled chicken salad. Part of NaNoWriMo is getting various foods, drinks, and snacks while we write. The money we spend on books and food . . . you can tell we love both. We don’t usually spend this much at the coffeehouse in any given month, but November is special that way.

9:00 PM

That’s what time the write-in was supposed to end. Mark, Dave, and I debated whether we should stay or leave and that’s when Kate came over and said she was on a roll and could we stay. That helped us make our decision. Sure!

10:00 PM

So we stayed until they closed at 10pm. We packed up our things, took the Johnsons home, and settled in at home with snacks to watch The Amazing Race. It was a GREAT episode. They’ve had a few years of rather boring teams, but we have a lively bunch this time. I’m bummed about several teams who have already gone home and I’m not happy about who got booted yesterday, but my oh my the ones left are lively. We have people we strongly dislike as well as people for whom we’re rooting (we like the Boston couple best, followed by the ER doctors). 

Sometime around midnight or so . . . 

After that, Mark and I wrote a bit, Mark ran to the store for milk, and then we all got to bed. Fall back indeed.


Dr. Mark said...

Another fun recap. And again, we both get different details, but it's so totally obvious that we do everything together. I'm really glad the party went well. We have great kids and they have great friends.

The Magic Violinist said...

Aww, that chat with Kirsten was so sweet. :) The attention to detail with the party was so very her!

Emily Foley said...

That dual surprise is hilarious! I would never have been able to keep a straight face. I smile just thinking about it.

Our book club is mostly NOT talking about the book and eating good food. We bring up the book once or twice but...mostly not. You would probably not love our book club. :)

I was disappointed those guys went home on AR too. I like rooting for the regular guy.

Boquinha said...

Great recap! I laughed out loud several times. I love your line about Kate's productivity. :P

TMV, isn't it sweet?

Emily, so so fun! I've watched that video at least three times today AND I WAS THERE!

Ha! Our book club does both, but food is a very integral and important part!

Ditto the regular guy comment.

LMW said...

Wow! What an amazing event you guys pulled off! Your descriptions and the video made it even more than I hoped it would be.:) I'm super impressed that

Boquinha said...

Thanks, LMW! Your comment cut off and we're all wondering what you were going to say!! :P

LMW said...

Oops! I'm sorry, but I keep trying to comment, but it won't go through for some reason. I'll try to replicate it again though.:) I apologize in advance if a million versions of this comment end up posting later.

I'm super impressed that Kate and her friend were so selfless in their generosity toward each other. Very touching. It's a testament to a strong and healthy friendship and an example that we'd all do well to follow.:)

Way to go Stacy and Mark for being such good sports about the planning and execution of the girls' wishes.:) And, good for Max for keeping the secret!!

As for book clubs, I've always wanted to participate in one, but I suspect that I wouldn't have the stamina to stick with a book that I dislike, which seems like a requirement for a book club. I do think that book clubs should consist of substantive discussion about the book and, most importantly, good food. I mean, doesn't the saying go something like "What's a good book without good food?" Okay, I guess there's no such saying, but there should be.:)

I'm also amazed by how your day was full of so much good food. The thought of it makes me full, even though I think it's supposed to make me hungry.:)

Jimmy said...

I like the idea of a dual surprise. I have this notion that surprise parties are never really that surprising, but in this case I think I'm wrong.

Even in pictures there's a goodness to Kate that shows.

Dr. Mark said...

LMW, thanks. We really are a close family and want so much to make things nice for each other.

Jimmy, that's nice of you to say that about Kate. We've got two genuinely kind children.

Boquinha said...

Thanks, LMW!

Book clubs - don't feel obligated. I mean, sure, the expectation is that you'll read all the different books, but whether you read them or not, you're exposed to so many good books. I read most of them, but I do miss some once in a while due to being busy or whatever.

Awww, Jimmy, that's so nice - thanks.