Thursday, January 26, 2017

A Big Celebration, Part One

 So, how do you celebrate an 80th birthday?

When you are Rick's mom, Kitty, the main thing is to be surrounded by your tribe -- and if there's a party (or two) involved, all the better!

Kitty's birthday took Rick and me to Dallas, Texas where we were joined by his four brothers and their wives for several glorious days of family. Dallas was far from where they'd grown up. Kitty hailed from Toledo and they lived there through Rick's high school years before moving to Michigan. When the boys were grown, they took off for points south.

Those of us who arrived by Friday evening enjoyed a wonderful dinner at a restaurant called Via Real. Their specialty was Mexican food and we certainly weren't disappointed. We needed good fortification for the next morning's activities -- and they involved cleaning and party planning!

Our gang met at the church where Kitty's Sunday birthday party would be held. Everyone had their tasks. Rick took one look at the filthy folding chairs and said, "I need ammonia!"

He and his brother Jeff tackled turning 70 pretty grim looking white chairs into chairs that looked like new. They were glad when reinforcements joined them!

Inside, we were decorating!

Kitty's favorite color is turquoise blue so the tables were covered with that color. Then we added colorful bags stuffed with even more colorful tissue, a jolly balloon and table tents made from photos all the brothers had sent to me and mounted on watercolored card stock.

Meanwhile, in the kitchen, brother Randy was making the carrot cake to end all carrot cakes!

The ingredients included eight pounds of browned butter, about eight of cream cheese, four pounds of carrots, around a pound of sugar, several pounds of flour and a pound of walnuts, not to mention raisins and spices.

After awhile, we were realizing it takes a village to bake a cake -- at least one this big. Of course when the village is adding things sometimes you think something has been added that didn't quite make it. I'm not sure anyone but us noticed that the middle layer of the cake was lacking its sugar!

The finished cake would be three layers tall, baked in those foil roasting pans. And maybe the birthday girl shouldn't have had her hand in her own cake till serving time -- but Kitty is a master cake decorator and she couldn't help it!

By the time all was said and done, we would have seven tables of ten set up, birthday banners hanging, a bulletin board decorated and counters for the food buffet covered. Considering that we were in an area that wasn't one we were familiar with and none of our own entertaining tools available, and that it was in a church hall and they are never warm and cozy, we were reasonably pleased with the result! By the time it filled with people, no one noticed anyway!

(Later that night Rick and his brother would bring in the super-sized TV for the slide show that would play throughout the evening.) We were ready for a break!

But what we were really ready for was the special party -- that night's dinner with just the family, all celebrating Kitty. It was held at Bruno's Restaurant in Irving/Los Colinos area of Dallas.

Kitty pretty much raised the five boys single handedly in Toledo, a young working mother. Five boys in a bit over seven years.

And from hearing the stories these guys told, we all have a lot of respect for what she managed to turn out!

Every one of the boys (for they will always be her boys) did well for themselves in terms of family and life. They all acknowledge it was a pretty hardscrabble existence, yet they all managed to succeed.

There were many toasts and loads of story telling.

Some of the stories I'm not sure Kitty had ever heard before!

And for all of us, it was a chance to relax and connect with family.

The evening was capped off with the arrival of the birthday cake and the birthday song -- even the waiters and chef joined in.

Pretty much everyone said that the family dinner was the highlight of the weekend. Simply being together, paying tribute to a woman without whom they'd not exist, was truly the best gift for Kitty -- and it was a pretty darned good one for ourselves, too!

When all was said and done it was time to head home and prepare for the next day -- but first, a photo moment.

Kitty and her boys.


Valerie-Jael said...

What a wonderful party you all made for Kitty - fantastic. That's love! Happy Birthday Kitty! Hugs, Valerie

I need orange said...

Beautifully described, Jeanie. Nice job.

Olivia Oberle said...

I love your blog so much, Jeanie! Sounds like it was a good weekend--I know my mom was glad you were there. Makes me smile seeing my dad making that cake, too. I talked to Grandma yesterday and it sounds like a memorable weekend. She definitely deserves it!

Laura said...

What a wonderful time,Everything looked so nice too.
A time will be rembered for a long time
Hope you have a nice week

My name is Erika. said...

You can tell they are all brothers. Pretty impressive- 5 boys must have been a huge project! It all looks fun and that cake can only be described as Texas size- but perfect since you were in Dallas. Hugs-Erika

Bleubeard and Elizabeth said...

Toward the end, you had me in tears, Jeanie. Seriously. And the party you threw at the church was incredible, just as the dinner at the restaurant. I admit I'm a menu reader, but must say I've never had scampi cooked in olive oil before. Guess it would be healthier than butter, but I'll take my butter and garlic any day.

All those boys look similar. I noticed that when Rick and his brother Randy were in the kitchen. Glad to see Rick's mom had fun on her day, and things turned out better than anyone might have hoped.

Stacey said...

This looks like so much fun! Kitty must be a pretty special lady. :)

Deb said...

The last photo is fabulous. What a special birthday for a well-deserving mom. It's not easy these days getting everyone together to celebrate. Bravo!

Linda said...

What a heart warming story. Absolutely wonderful.

Castles Crowns and Cottages said...

Oh what a lucky woman, to be loved so and have such children!!!!!! In the end, our greatest possession is one another. Oh the joy!!

Anonymous said...

You guys did a bang up job. I love that photo of Kitty with her slice of cake in front of her on the table at the restaurant (3rd one from the last). She is glowing. Raising five boys deserves an award even it you had help; I can't imagine doing it on my own. When people reach Kitty's age, they don't always have enough family and friends to fill seventy seats. That says something about her and about all of you for making it happen for her.

Anonymous said...

Love the photo of the boys in their pajamas. So cute.

Bonnie said...

Thanks for sharing your beautiful family gathering celebrating Kitty's birthday. How special for all of you to be together. It looks like a great time for all.

Tammie Lee said...

That all sounds like a lovely celebration! Nice that there were so many siblings and people to help out. I am so glad you had a great time.

My mom turns 80 this summer.

La Table De Nana said...

What a mom! 5 boys..♥
God bless her..I bet they adored and adore her..
the pj pic:)
Lovely family all does 80 get here so fast? How does 75? 65? 60?

all too fast..

Marilyn Miller said...

How special you all made the time together with Kitty. I just know she will treasure this gathering of her boys. Yesterday we celebrated my "live-in gardeners" 75th birthday.

Joanne Huffman said...

What a wonderful tribute to Rick's mom!

The Happy Whisk said...

Really, really lovely post. Greats smile. 80! Wow! So wonderful. Really made me smile big.

Nasreen said...

Wow! Sounds like you all had fantastic time!

Tracy said...

Happy Birthday, Kitty! (Nice to see her... and love that sparkly cross necklace she's wearing too!) What a wonderful celebration... and fun to see Rick with his siblings! The old photos are precious... wow...Love that last photo! Gosh, I'm gonna cry... :))) ((HUGS))

Rita C. said...

So amazingly blessed, all of you are!

bj said...

A perfect 80th birthday...with all her boys and their families there, it must have been heavenly for Kitty....great photos of a birthday full of memories.

Shelia said...

Hi Jeanie! Oh, what a wonderful birthday party for Kitty! She looks so happy. Now those brothers all look so much a like! What a special time for your family. Thanks for popping in to see me and hope your week has been wonderful.
Be a sweetie,
Shelia ;)

Roz and John said...

What a special lady and a very special family time for all concerned, you all have another memory that she will not forget and it is such an achievement to reach a good age, well done to all of you

Victoria Zigler said...

What a beautiful post, and a wonderful birthday celebration for Kitty!

Also... Mmm... Carrot cake!

jenna meon said...

Special time!! Looks like quite a gathering and celebration! Happy Birthday to Kitty!

Anonymous said...

What a beautiful family! Rick's mom is so young! :)) Don't know why the comment procedure has changed or something. I can't register Arti but shows that I'm Anonymous.

Mary@mydogsmygardenandmary said...

Oh what a wonderful Birthday party for Kitty, God Bless her raising 5 boys. I know how hard it was for one, but 5 WOW.

It sounds like everyone enjoyed themselves. I am so happy that everything turned out so well for her. Belated Happy Birthday to her.

Looking forward to seeing the post on the party.


Jennifer Richardson said...

This is so deeply beautiful!!!
Gosh, your people do family well:)
I love her face while hearing the stories....could
any gift be sweeter to a mamaheart?!?
What a beautiful, brave, blessed woman:)
And they won the jackpot when her son married YOU:)
Thanks for sharing the joy,

Lynne said...

Sounds and looks like a wonderful 80th!
Great woman . . . good momma for those five!

shoreacres said...

What an amazing event. It's just wonderful -- and nearly unbelievable today -- that you managed to get everyone together. Clearly, Kitty enjoyed herself, but the great thing is that she was surrounded by people enjoying her!

Katie Clooney said...

What a fabulous celebration for a wonderful lady! You can sure tell that the boys are all brothers. So glad you had so much fun!

Lisa from Lisa's Yarns said...

Oh my goodness, what a wonderful series of celebrations! You guys did a great job with the church celebration. The cake sounds awesome - what a huge group effort that was, though. The family dinner sounds the best, of course, as intimate celebrations like that are always so fun. The story telling is just wonderful to hear and contribute to. I am glad she had such a wonderful celebration! Her boys are all so handsome!!

~*~Patty S said...

Well I started with Part 2 and sure have enjoyed your wonderful tribute and birthday extravaganza to honor such a special lady.
All around lovely and heart warming!

Jemma@athomewithjemma said...

What a tribute to this precious family and a Momma and her boys.
She surely must be proud and I know her heart overflows with the love and respect that you all showed her.
Such a really good, heartwarming story. I loved it!

The French Hutch said...

Jeanie, such a wonderful lucky lady! A wonderful celebration. I am coming back to comment after reading earlier while on the road. Thanks for sharing this sweet lady and a special birthday..........Happy February.

Anonymous said...

Happy birthday, Kitty! Oh my, five boys! That calls for a celebration every day. :)
Same as Emily, I'm commenting after reading earlier. Tried to comment from my phone but no such luck. ;)
Great celebration! My mom turns 80 this year, July 4th. Must plan a special party too.

Blessings to all.

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