Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Mom's 60th Birthday Party

The Lamb Family came together in August to celebrate a very important birthday of a very important woman...our Mom. And the best part was that she didn't even know we would be celebrating with her!
We started planning a surprise birthday party for my Mom's 60th birthday when she turned 59, and we managed somehow to keep it a secret the whole year. That wasn't easy considering how many different places we were coming from and the pack of lies we had to tell Mom to keep her from guessing what we were up to, but it all paid off in the end.

We rented a beautiful home in Monterey, CA for the birthday weekend that fit the 18 of us quite nicely. We all got there early and made dinner, then we hid the cars so Mom wouldn't know what was up when they pulled in. Dad told Mom that they were going to a bed and breakfast alone, so when they got there we had all the lights out except the ones in the entry way and were hiding in the dark.

Once they were inside, we flipped on the lights, jumped out, and shouted, "Surprise!" Mom put her hand over her heart, sort of slumped against the wall in shock for a bit, and finally regained her composure to greet each of her family. It was awesome.

She said she hadn't suspected anything at all, so we were victorious. Sophie could hardly contain herself long enough to hide she was so excited about our plot to surprise Gramma.

The home we rented was not just big and beautiful, it had a few great amenities added on as well, like this hot tub we enjoyed a couple times.

The kids found the shot glasses to be the perfect size for celebrating. I promise that's just juice they're drinking. :)

We all walked down to the pier for lunch the next afternoon.

It was a beautiful day and a nice walk. I could definitely see Monterey's charm right away.

The girls loved seeing the pelicans on the rocks and all the boats in the water.

We had fish for lunch but Will's favorite part was being entertained by Uncle Leo. He's 9 months old here and so much fun.

Will's first tutorial in how to blow straws.

"I got it! I got it! No, I don't."

Wow, Birthday Girl, you're looking hot! :) What a clown. Can you see where we all get it? At least we come by it honestly.

One of the funnest parts of our day was going to the Dennis the Menace playground. It had so many unique things to play on.

When we parked at the play ground we saw this sign...

...and suddenly we all had limb failure! (See what I mean about the goofiness? It's so genetic.)

William impersonating Uncle Geoff. I think he wore it well.

Will was a happy boy to lounge in his stroller while we pushed him all over the park and the city. Babies have it so rough!

A bridge spanning the width of the park was the first order of business. The kids loved trying to keep away from the troll underneath, a.k.a. Uncle Peter.

A fun twisty slide for Sophie.

Avery and Gabe mastered it, too. This was the same location as the maze in the bushes where Joseph had a great idea to play one of our favorite games, Sharks and Minnows. You had to get from one side of the maze to the other without the person in the middle tagging you, and if you do get tagged you are stuck in that spot and have to tag others who come through. The last one untagged wins. It was so much fun.

Everyone had a turn down the long green slides, even Gramma.

But the best slide of all was this roller slide. Sophie and Avery loved it and went many, many times with various people and groups.

Here was our attempt at a train. It was fun until we went over the bump that I didn't know existed in the middle. That one hurt.

Apparently Gramma didn't know about it, either. She took the brunt of it while protecting Avery's little bum.

Austin got to have a turn with Grampa.

That night we had dinner back at the house and Uncle Scott attempted to take a nap while it was being made. This is apparently what happens to people who try to nap when we don't want them to. It wasn't the poor guy's fault that this couch was his bedroom and he didn't get very good sleep at night on it.

After dinner we gave Gramma her birthday presents.

I had decided many months before that I wanted to make a book for my Mom for her birthday, filled with memories and tributes from her friends and family from all throughout her life. I received so many thoughtful contributions to her book and was able to include about 75 entries from people who love and wanted to honor my Mother for the amazing woman that she is. It included pictures from her life and spanned almost as many pages as her age. It was a great honor to be able to compile all the nice things people said about her. I learned a lot about her and it made me want to be a better mother, wife, and person.

I made this chocolate cake topped with strawberries for her birthday cake.

The 4 oldest grandkids insisted on helping Gramma blow out her candles after she made her wish. Then we played a game patterned after "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?" all about Mom's life to see which of her family knows her best. No one got a million bucks, but several of her kids answered enough questions correctly to get close.

The next day we took a hike along a trail out to Point Lobos to see the ocean and the seals on the rocks.

We sang camp songs as we went and the kids were real troopers, especially on the way in. On the way out several of them got shoulder rides from kind uncles like Uncle Jonny because their little legs were worn out.

What handsome boys I have!

Sophie sure has great uncles!

My two goofballs.

Okay, so they come by it honestly, too. This is the pic we should've used on this year's Christmas card!

Will knows how to cheese it up for sure!

Here are the newlyweds, the Almeidas. They had just returned from finishing Leo's Masters of Accountancy program at Notre Dame.

The whole gang with the seal rocks behind us.

We drove to Pebble Beach not far from Point Lobos and saw the famous golf course peeking up over it.

Will loved the sand and miraculously didn't even put much of it in his mouth!

It was a little too cold to get in the water so we mostly stayed dry, but the highlight of the beach was running down the sandy hill at full speed. The sand was so fine it felt awesome to run in and it didn't hurt if you fell.

And sadly there were several people who wanted to make sure we fell. Saboteurs Scott and Peter waited for us at the bottom and took out as many of us as they could. Not even my Mom escaped! We thought we were safe because we had children with us, but oh, no, they still came after us.

Peter took out my Mom while Joseph kept Austin up and I barely kept Avery from falling.

I made it safely to the bottom where Scott finally ambushed me and I got a mouthful of sand as a prize.

Here's another brave group of runners, considering what they just saw happen to us.

Scott's attempt to flatten Joseph was foiled when Joseph slid to safety.

So he went after Peter instead and was victorious.

The sand was so soft and forgiving that Abby, Peter, and Scott even did back handsprings down the hill.
Sophie stuck with cartwheels.

What a cute little gymnast.

Sophie and Avery were also the only ones crazy enough to don swimsuits and go in the water. They really only got their feet wet as they ran from the waves, but it was still cold.

Will was content to sit with Daddy and have his nap.

The girls wrote me a note in the sand: "Sophie and Avery Love Mama."

After we made it back home and had dinner and a few people got in some hot tubbing, we turned on 6 songs that represented each of the 6 decades my Mom has lived in.

Peter and Abby still know how to groove.

Joseph and I have a few moves of our own.

The favorite song of the night was when everyone threw their hands in the air and danced to "Firework", a favorite of the grandkids.

Dance parties like this are becoming a Lamb family tradition. I love how Joseph and I have Sophie between us, and Jamie and Jonny have Andrew between them. :)

We capped off the night and the vacation with a game of "Chubby Bunny" at Mom's insistence. We played it once when I was younger and have so many fond memories of white ooze spilling out of each of our mouths that she wanted to do it for old time's sake. Sophie was a fan of this strange new ritual, even if she only managed to fit one marshmallow in her mouth.

Leo is showing us that he has 7 large marshmallows in his mouth.

Who won? It was a 3-way tie between Scott, Leo, and Joseph who each fit 8 marshmallows in their mouths while still being able to (sort of) say "Chubby Bunny". I officially give you the biggest mouths of the family!

We had such a wonderful time being together and celebrating a great lady. Thanks for letting us fete you, Mom! We love you! Happy Birthday!