Saturday 16 August 2014 started out overcast and gloomy but the weather turned lovely for our party. Mathew’s day started before the crack of dawn, at 4:30 am because he was so excited. He had a bath and then fell back asleep for several hours ~ *whew* ~ and when he rose for the day, he spotted these on the front lawn:

Flamingoes!

Flamingoes!

A bunch of pink birds ~ 21 of them to be exact, planting themselves in our lawn.
DSC_0876Cute, aren’t they? Mathew was amazed and the little kids across the street were happy to see them when they looked out their window too. They were a hit! I found them for rent on Kijiji and wouldn’t you know it was one of my best working buddies renting them??!

There were balloons outside, two of which had “21” on them in case you didn’t have time to count the flamingoes on your way by.

A bouquet of balloons

A bouquet of balloons

There wasn’t much of a garden this year because Mathew’s treatments didn’t finish until the end of June. This clematis however continues to bloom every year and I’m thrilled. I always wanted one but could never grow one out in Alberta; probably too far north without a good southern exposure to warm a mini-climate enough to grow these. This one is called a Nelly Noser. One day I will grow my favourite of all, the Jackmani with all its glorious purple.

The only one bothered by the outside fuss was probably this fellow in the garden, caught with his pants down reading a book.

A gnome in the garden

A gnome in the garden

The petals on the soil drop there when the deer stop by to munch on a yummy treat ~ my Hostas. Quispamsis is like a fast food restaurant walk-through for the over-abundance of neighbourhood deer. They eat from garden to garden picking out their favourites, popping by any time of day convenient for them.

The inside was special too for other types of decorating: namely of the food persuasion.

This photo shows the potluck food out for serving. This wasn’t all of it either as there were servings dishes here and there throughout the dining and kitchen areas. Let’s see… dishes included a feisty tomato soup (awesome, by the way), sweet and sour meatballs, taco salad, two kinds of rice, chicken wings and bacon-wrapped cocktail wieners, apple turnovers, pies and a death-by-chocolate dessert. There was mashed potatoes and other veggies to feast on too.

Everyone brought food ~ it was all so good!

Everyone brought food ~ it was all so good!

And if THAT wasn’t enough, there were other “stations” to pick at and enjoy ~

Like this:

The Candy Bar

The Candy Bar

A Godzilla-themed candy bar!

Here is a closer look at the display created by “Miss Charlotte’s Cakes”; a local pastry chef who loves creating displays and baking for special events.

The cupcakes

The cupcakes

The dinosaur egg pops.

The dinosaur egg pops.

Chocolate dipped pretzels

Chocolate dipped pretzels

More of the candy bar

More of the candy bar

Treats for all!

Treats for all!

Or you could go over to this set up and snack:

Kristen tries the chocolate fountain first

Kristen tries the chocolate fountain first

A chocolate fountain!

At first I was going to rent one but decided to buy one for special occasions instead. The chocolate is specially prepared for the fountain and other than a bit of a mess pouring the chocolate into the fountain, it went extremely well and was a party hit. The fountain ran for 8 hours straight and more chocolate was added as necessary. It didn’t quite flow completely over the bottom tier but that didn’t bother anyone. There are no picture of the huge set up of items to dip into the fountain, but the plates people liked the most were the Rice Krispie Squares, the Strawberries and the Cantaloupe. There were also gummy candies, marshmellows, cherries, cookies, pretzels, etc.

Ella trying out a goodie in the chocolate fountain

Ella trying out a goodie in the chocolate fountain

In the above photo you can see where the chocolate didn’t drape over the back of the bottom tier. There are a few reasons this might have happened but I wasn’t about to stop the party to figure it out. Another time. No one minded anyway so big deal!
The youngest nieces posed for a photo while passing through the kitchen

Sara, Ella and Sophie.


Sara, Ella and Sophie.

The deck and lake got good use during our party. The sky brightened up and the sun came out, turning it quite hot for part of the day. The nieces and nephews took turns taking our kayaks out on the lake as well as the canoe. Some of the adults wandered down to the dock and enjoyed some scenery right at the lakeside. As far as water and kids go the only excitement occurred when the older boys started to race back across the lake and the one in the old type of kayak (sit inside it) energetically dipped his paddle into the water and tipped the kayak right over. In he went and the kayak almost sank. Jack towed the mostly sunken kayak back to our dock and Aiden draped himself across Callum’s kayak for an easy ride back.

For the adults the party place was the back deck. It is so big we had room for the round table, the oblong table and a separate seating area with the fire bowl! In this next photo our friends Wayne and Sharon talk to John’s brother Harry and his wife Christine.

John's brother Harry and his wife, Christine

John’s brother Harry and his wife, Christine

They are seated at the round table under the canopy in the one corner of the deck. This lovely lady is a newly minted Canadian! She’s been here a while… 20-ish years (am I right?) but late is great! Canada is lucky to have her.

Christine, a brand new Canadian citizen!

Christine, a brand new Canadian citizen!

Poppa, Alistair and Grayson eat their dinner on the sunny side of the deck. People rotated into the different areas, in and out of the house, up and down from the deck. You just never knew where you would find someone in any given minute!

Grayson, Alistair and Poppa enjoy dinner

Grayson, Alistair and Poppa enjoy dinner

You will always find these next two ladies cleaning up. It doesn’t matter which home we visit and for what party, they will always tidy up and clean the mess. Wendy and Denise, with a little help from others, did a great job keeping the kitchen ahead of the mess which made my job so much easier at the end of the night. Thank you to all who helped out!

Wendy and Denise

Wendy and Denise

I wish I took more photos of everyone, and of these two, but for the first half of the party I was overseeing everything and for the last half I visited. Somewhere in all of that I took a few photos but missed a lot of people sadly. It isn’t often we all come together at one time and this was one of those rare occasions. With neighbours and friends plus family there were between 30-40 people enjoying the day with us.

Not only was this a belated birthday for Mathew, but also a celebration for all of us after that last year we had. These people supported us during Mathew’s cancer treatment, babysat him, brought us meals and desserts and offered continual support. It made the heartbreaking time a little easier to bear.

Alistair and Wayne in deep discussion while John’s youngest sister, Linda, relaxes in the corner.

Alistair and Wayne

Alistair and Wayne

That’s John in the Hawaiian shirt (with his back to us) and his sister Wendy balked when he came out wearing it. The benefit of these patterned and colourful shirts are their ability to hide food and drink stains so well.

Here again are the three amigos; Alistair, John and Wayne. These three went to high school and graduated together. John and Wayne went their separate ways but as guy buddies do, every time we rolled into town they picked up where they left off. When we moved back here 7 years ago it was almost like nothing had changed.

Alistair, John and Wayne relax in the corner of the deck.

Alistair, John and Wayne relax in the corner of the deck.

Except maybe this:

Kristen with her Aunt Linda....and Erik on the lounger

Kristen with her Aunt Linda….and Erik on the lounger

Kristen with her beau, Erik. Erik is Wayne and Sharon’s youngest child. These two have now dated about 1-1/2 years, which is the same amount of time John and I did before we married 29 years ago. Yikes! They look so…so…. YOUNG! Not that you can see Erik, with the hoodie pulled over his face. That wasn’t because he was wearing her fuzzy pjs with the hearts either; he sashayed out to model them in front of his parents (brave fellow), then flopped down and pulled the hat down to keep the sun out of his eyes. In his defence, he was wearing them because his shorts were wet and cold after a swim. It doesn’t bother him in the least what he wears, he is a pretty relaxed guy!

My niece Jessica popped in with her boyfriend Mike for a bit, as did some other nieces and nephews.

Jessica and Mike

Jessica and Mike

There aren’t any photos of most of the nieces and nephews because Mathew was holding court in his bedroom. It is hard to take pictures in a blackened out room. No lights, blackout curtains shut….only the tv for light. Room full of teens and young adults watching some super scary video game. There is just no way I am going in where angels fear to tread! Mathew wasn’t up for photos so there aren’t any of him either.

Earlier in the day, before the party started, John managed to get Mathew out of the house for a few hours so Kristen and I could set everything up. By the time Mathew returned home however his anxiety was over the top and he started melting down. The anticipation and anxiety over a lot of people being about brought on the meltdown so he ended up taking an Ativan. That did the trick and by the time his relatives started showing up Mathew was calm and looking forward to company.

Mathew’s visitors wandered in and out of his room for the whole party. Although he was happy to see the adults his favourite time was spent with his cousins while playing the freaky video game. Every so often you could hear screaming and then gales of laughter coming from his cousins in his dark room. Knowing he was in his element relaxed us and we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves too.

Mathew was showered with gifts and generally spoiled rotten. He received gifts of money for his upcoming trip to Toronto and iTune cards and even a Lego Ghostbuster machine, which was being put together today. Mathew loved his day.

The evening was capped off by fireworks. Alistair and Denise selected two awesome choices that lit up the sky, sparkled and glittered for a few spectacular minutes each. Two fireworks seems such a small and short display to end a good time but they were showy and last a long time each.

We are grateful to everyone who came to our party and missed those who weren’t able to come. We want to thank everyone for shifting and changing schedules, for driving in from out of town and working crazy hours to get some time off to come over. We appreciated the effort each and every one of you made for us.

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