The Surprise We Kept

Zach’s father just celebrated his 60th birthday. To commemorate the amazingness that is turning 60, Zach’s mother decided we should throw a surprise party.

But not just any surprise party. This would be extra special. Amazingly special. We would get family and friends from all over the country in addition to the family and friends that are close. We would have amazing food, a bartender (!), and lots and lots of fun. It would be hosted at our house, under the guise that Zach would make us all cocktails before a fancy dinner out in order to get Zach’s father, called Big D by Alex (and, let’s be honest, everyone else at this point because kids do that), to our place.

Somehow we managed to keep the secret. Somehow, even though Alex knew for months, no one spilled the beans.

Somehow we managed to get almost all of the many people who love Big D to Pittsburgh, staying in hotels, quietly facebooking so no one knew where they were, eating take-out at our house because we couldn’t go out and risk being spotted! Somehow we managed to absolutely shock Big D.

D's 60th Birthday Party

And, yeah, there were many (happy) tears shed.

D's 60th Birthday Party

At one point Alex asked me why people were crying. “Sometimes, people cry when they are happy. They’re happy tears!” I attempted to explain through tears. He looked at me like I was crazy and walked away, only to show up again when cake was served.

It is a funny thing to cry when happy, but I, along with at least ten other people, shed a lot of tears during this party. It made taking pictures a bit difficult at times because everything was so blurry and made me even happier to be the one behind the camera so I could mostly hide my ugly-cry-face.

All of Big D’s siblings were able to make it: three from New England and one flew all the way up from Florida!

D's 60th Birthday Party

Plus their spouses and kids, and kids’ kids!

D's 60th Birthday Party

The outtakes from the family pictures are, by far, my favorite pictures of the day. People who see each other not nearly enough having way too much fun.

D's 60th Birthday Party

And then there’s Alex making this ridiculous face in nearly all of the pictures:

D's 60th Birthday Party

He’s lucky he’s cute and was surrounded by so many people who love him and even more who love his Big D (and therefore have to be nice to him).

It was an amazing day.

D's 60th Birthday Party

We are all lucky to have someone as wonderful as Big D in our life.

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All Done

Thursday morning I had the pleasure of sleeping in a full two hours later than usual.

It was Alex’s Kindergarten Graduation.

The ceremony was adorable, of course, with each of the three kindergarten classes performing various songs and every child having the opportunity to walk across the stage to collect their diploma.

And of course I was sitting there the whole time thinking, “really? My kid is done with his first year of real school? How can this be?”

It feels like just yesterday we were dealing with a really rough start to the beginning of Kindergarten, full of fear and tears and sadness.

First Day of Kindergarten

Fortunately, things didn’t stay quite so awful as the days progressed. Things got better, though he never reached the point I had really hoped he would: loving it.

Learning is hard when you’re a perfectionist. Practicing new tasks is particularly challenging when the thought of getting it wrong causes extreme anxiety. Throughout this year we really struggled with homework, not because it was hard, per se, but because there was a chance he could do it wrong. There was a chance that the picture he drew wouldn’t look exactly like what it was supposed to. There was a chance that his writing wouldn’t be legible, and a chance that he would sound out a word wrong. We had many nights that included many tears. And many more nights that simply included excessive whining, groaning, frustrated-sighing.

First Day of Kindergarten

But the year went on, and he learned so much despite his insistence that he wasn’t learning anything at all, all day was nothing new, Mom, I don’t want to talk about it.

And then, before I even knew what was happening, it was graduation time. Alex is officially done with Kindergarten, done with his first year of school.

He was, by far, the best dressed at the event.

Kindergarten Graduation

And he was, by far, the best Kindergartener he could be and I cannot wait to see what next year brings.

Kindergarten Graduation

My little first grader.