They’re officially ours, and he’s officially old – celebrating a birthday & adoption

Yesterday was a very special day for our family – we got to celebrate the adoption finalization of my brother’s two children and my dad’s 75th birthday (still convinced I was a mistake).

Though he’s got a knack for being the center of attention, my dad absolutely hates surprises.  But for a birthday as big as three quarters, we had to celebrate in style! My mom and I have been planning a surprise for months – one where we gather just immediate family and the closest of family friends – to celebrate the milestone occasion.  The secret was kept until I accidentally blurted it out over the Fourth of July holiday in front of him, quickly covering my tracks when I saw my mom jumping up and down, whaling her arms to get me to stop talking.  I recovered from “…dad’s party…” to “…”you know, the one he is throwing for the kids’ adoption!”

To give you some background here, my brother and sister-in-law, after trying for several years to have children of their own, recognized their calling to become foster parents with the goal of eventually adopting.  Early last year, they received word that their family would soon grow and in the summer, we welcomed two beautiful children into our family.  While a joyous year, the months have been filled with ups and downs for the new parents. But, the moment we have been waiting for for what seems like an eternity, finally came and now the kiddos officially share our name and have to put up with us for good!

So back to yesterday.  We were doing great – were able to keep my dad occupied outside while decorations chronologizing his life were set up.  The guy had no idea; or so we thought.  We get inside, tell him “You think everyone is here today to celebrate the children but actually, we’re here to celebrate YOU! Surprise!”  Just then, he hands my mom a folded up piece of paper: “Hey Carol, thanks for the surprise party” (only he types in ALL CAPS, ALWAYS).  He had known for the ENTIRE week!  When asked how, he quietly points to me.  Before my mom could say anything to me, he jumped in with “she could have played it off if I didn’t feel the wind of you jumping around and waving your arms behind me to get her to stop talking!” Team effort, momma!

Here’s a peek into the elements that made this celebration one to remember (unless you’re 75, then you have an excuse not to remember.mom
There he is, with proof that nothing slips by this old guy!

dad2My dad grew up in Minnesota, lived in California (among other places), settled down in New York, retired in Virginia and sends his heart to Columbia, SC each Saturday during football season.  That being said, he’s got friends in low, and high, and medium places.  My brother and I reached out to friends and family across the country – those he knows now and those that he hasn’t seen in years – and asked them to send in a happy birthday video message for the special day.  The end result? An amazing video compilation of so many that were a part of his life on this 75-year journey.

dad3

dad fireplace

video

We adorned the windows and fireplace with pictures of his past and even put together a video montage to capture his first year as “Grandpy.” Note: The video pic is intentionally cut off; we don’t share pictures of the kids for their safety.

dad5We lined the table with newspaper clippings touting some of my dad’s lifetime accomplishments.

75 signInspired by Pinterest, I created this chalkboard to highlight the differences between today and the day he was born, 75 years ago.  A lot has happened during the 27,375 days he’s been around but what will never change is how much we love that man.

dadkidI’m sure one of things that makes him more proud than anything is the ability to pass his family name down to these two amazing kids.

dad and iI cannot even begin to express how thankful I am to have this man in my life.  I thank my lucky stars every night that I have had him by my side during my 29 years on this earth and recognize how fortunate I am that I can say that.  I’ll never stop learning and laughing around him, and being the best woman I can be because of him.  I love you, Keithypoo!  Happy 75th!

P.S. because fashion is one of the primary purposes of this blog: I have been dying to wear this Taylor dress for weeks.  Retailing at $158, I picked up this gem at Ross for just $29.99!  Clearly, I did not get my fashion sense from my father;)

Like I said, we are like twins: reflection of a lifelong friendship from a 9-year-old’s perspective

Nearly 20 years ago I wrote a diary entry about how my best friend and I were “…like twins ‘seperated’ at birth.”  As we grew older, the differences between us became more evident (like the fact that she’s half a foot taller than me L), but the one thing that has never changed is the unbreakable bond we share.  Reflecting on the validations I put forth back on March 2, 1996, I realize how much is different but more importantly, how the underlying intention still remains the same.

We both have the same toothbrush.LO

While this one probably held a lot of clout back in the day, I can’t really relate to it today.  At all.  And I REALLY hope she’s still not using that same toothbrush 😉

We like the same exact same food.

This statement could not be further from the truth.  Lauren lives an extremely healthy lifestyle and that’s reflective in her diet.  Where she opts for protein and veggies, I opt for ice cream and Mac & Cheese.  But the one thing we do have in common is that we be both detest cooking, so, that counts for something!

We both like playing store we both like playing “detictive.”

Playing store turned into both becoming shopaholics (a reason I’m sure her husband does not want me to live in the same cityJ) and playing detective became figuring things out together.  Throughout our 20+ years of friendship, Lauren has been and will always be one of the first people I turn to when I’m struggling or in need of sound advice.  She’s always there to listen and to talk through the hurdles that arise in life.  She helps me analyze the situation and find the best solution, even if it’s not what I want to hear.  While her brutal honesty can be painful, it’s often what I need to know.

We both hate Michael O’Dell (a lot).

I feel bad for this one; I really do.  Mike O’Dell, wherever you are in this world, I apologize for making you the subject of my 9-year-old self’s diary entry!  Now that maturity has set in, this statement obviously no longer holds any truth, but the deeper meaning does.  Part of what has held our friendship together for so long is the fact that we share the same values.

We both like dogs (Cody).

This will never change.  Though Cody has long since left us, our hearts have been filled with dogs of our own and one day, the space will widen to make room for the children we plan raise together.  I’m confident that my future children will adore their Auntie Lo the way that I do and that she will be a person they can always turn to in life, just as I always have.  Unless they want to eat, then they’re out of luck.

Like I said we are like twins.

The twin part may have been a stretch, but the sister part?  That is a fact.  I will be forever grateful for the loyal, genuine, hilarious, brutally honest, forever friend I have in you, Lo.  Let’s enjoy our last year of our twenties, my friend, and get ready for a lifetime more of memories.  Love you!

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