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.
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