If you have ever had the pleasure of meeting my dad you would know that he is one of the most hardworking and humble people alive. My dad was a career military man who retired as a Colonel in the USAF several years ago after serving 27 years. Yet, I think he is far busier since retiring than he was when he served. He puts his family first, driving my sister to and from school daily and helping my step mom, Donna, with her Mary Kay business. He even opened his house to my grandfather a few months ago. (& we couldn't be more thrilled to have him in NC now!!)
My dad is also shy and doesn't like to be the center of attention. So naturally, Donna & I decided to push him out of his comfort zone so that we could celebrate him in a big way this year! Not only did he turn 60 but he shared the day with Easter Sunday this year. After I suggested that we throw him a party, Donna ran with it. She found an absolutely gorgeous, massive home in the Outer Banks that could sleep 20 of his closest family and friends.
I'm slightly OCD so once the beach themed party was underway I had to add my touch. Even though we had the most obnoxious group text going where all of the weekend's details were provided, I decided we needed fabulous custom invitations. I turned to none other than Paper Refinery. I found a wedding suite that was beach themed and had her customized for the birthday. Aphrodite Studio provided two amazing prints for the party, both which my dad loved! They were customized to match the party's beach theme and color. If you are looking for a unique gift, go check out her site! Since there were so many big mouths to feed, we created a Google Doc that listed out every meal and everyone volunteered. I definitely suggest doing this if you have a big event! We had so much food, way too much actually.
A birthday party isn't complete without decor, specifically balloons. So one of my fails for the party was that the helium tank wasn't large enough but I did get the 1958 balloons up and floating. (I may have lost one to the ceiling but my uncle came to the rescue!) One of my favorite party tricks was LED light balloons. After blowing up 48 balloons filled with LED lights we then attached them to balloon sticks and lined the driveway. It wasn't quite dark enough for the LED balloons to really shine because my parents actually arrived just before sunset. (They're usually late for everything travel related!) My aunts and uncles all arrived early and helped set up & I couldn't have done it without them!
The whole crew was waiting outside on the driveway as Donna kept us all up to date with their arrival time via group text. 7:11....7:10....7:09....7:08....then finally 7:07! As soon as we saw the glorious pink Cadillac we lit up sparklers awaiting his arrival. Wellll, another fail was that the sparklers only lasted 30 seconds, probably less in the windy conditions, and my dad was driving extra slow checking each house number. By the time he was pulling into the driveway, only my Aunt Shelly's sparkler was still lit. Oh well, it was the thought that counts.
My dad is hard to pull anything over on, especially of this magnitude. Donna asked my dad what he wanted to do for Easter this year and he said he just wanted to stay home and not cook. In order to try to conceal the surprise party Donna threw me under the bus and said I really wanted to go to the beach. My dad expected it to just be them and me. Just about everyone in his daily life as well as his extended family knew about the party so I wasn't convinced that he didn't know. It was clear though, when he pulled up to the Outer Banks rental that he had no idea and we truly surprised him!
The Meixsell family are huge card players, specially a game called Blitz for the last few years. The whole weekend consisted of cards, alcohol and family bonding. I ended up breaking even on Blitz, which was good considering I borrowed the first 3 quarters from my 12 year old sister, Madison.
The party started Thursday night and we stayed up until about 2:30 am playing cards and catching up. We grazed on BBQ sliders and chips all night long. & we washed it all down with wine and beer. Friday morning my dad woke up very early super sick. He was down for the count the entire day. We never even saw him leave his room. It was strange to be there celebrating someone who was quarantined. We were hoping it wouldn't last the whole weekend and that it wouldn't take out the whole house.
Luckily, Saturday morning when I woke up, my dad was sitting in the living room visiting with his brother, my Uncle Mike, who had arrived Friday. He didn't eat or drink much besides Gatorade the rest of the weekend but we were thrilled he was starting to feel better. Uncle Mike's wife, Aunt Kim bakes amazing cakes and made the cake below which had a very strong resemblance to my dad! It tasted as incredible as it looked! Saturday we celebrated my dad's birthday so that Easter could have it's own celebration on Sunday. He was adorned with golf gift cards and a book he's looking forward to reading.
The only food we ran short of that we had to run out and replenish was eggs. Donna is hanging on to Madison's last few years of complying with holiday rituals. Maddie reluctantly died Easter eggs. I have to admit, they were pretty and definitely gave us the Easter vibe we were looking for. Sunday morning we woke up to Easter banners, an Easter selfie station and even Easter baskets.
Most of the family decided to go to church Easter morning. My Aunt Shelly and her husband Gary tried out a sunrise service on the beach. As peaceful as it sounded, I couldn't force myself to set an alarm on vacation so I joined the 9:30 church crew. We found a local church and joined in to praise the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Although, that is not quite the sermon we heard. But, that's a whole other blog post...
For Easter breakfast we had a delicious Breakfast Before Casserole made of eggs, bread, sausage and cheese. It's one of my favorite holiday traditions. Only a few hours later we had a massive Easter spread provided by Boston Market. If you are traveling over the holidays ever and want a quick but full meal, consider their heatable party sets. We had ham, sweet potato casserole, mac and cheese, mashed potatoes and gravy along with cornbread. More than anything though, we had desserts! Sugar Bomb Sweets made custom cookies that went along with the beach theme and they were amazing. I'm pretty sure I ate more than anyone else. The proof was on the scale Tuesday morning! Oh well, totally worth it. I made a pineapple upside down cake that my dad requested, but it wasn't pretty enough to be included in the pictures. He also loves Nothing Bundt Cake's White Chocolate Raspberry so I brought one of those along too. Sadly, we had so many desserts that the Apple Pies didn't even get touched.
My dad comes from a large family. Four of his siblings travelled from far and farther to come celebrate his birthday. My Pappy is my last surviving grandparent on my dad's side. It was so special to be able to spend time with them all. Since it's rare that we are all in one place, I broke out the camera Sunday afternoon and forced some group photos. The first one below is my Pappy with all of his biological children. Below that you will see our party crew! (Thanks self timer.)
Someone drank more milk than the rest of the siblings growing up. Your typical sibling photo where everyone cooperates but one can be found below. Oh and I see you being rebels with those sunglasses on ladies!
It's rare that couples have their picture taken after their wedding day. So I may have forced everyone to take couples and a family portrait while they were there. Next time when we all get together the cousins need to come too! But, we may need several houses for that one!!
Clearly by Sunday my dad was feeling back to his 60 year old self. My step mom was feeling a little feisty too. I love watching them let loose and leave work behind for a few days. It's a rare occasion as a small business owner to unplug.
It was sad to leave the beach on Monday but my cup is full! The good thing is I won't have to wait years to see everyone again since my cousin Mike is marrying the love of his life, Liz, in Virginia in just a few weeks. Until then Meixsell crew!