I can’t remember the last time I got to celebrate my sister’s birthday with her. This year, she turned 24 during her first visit to Florida. I wanted to make sure that she had a very special day, so I had a few surprises planned for her during their visit. First, we had a very fun Dunkin Donuts breakfast, which Andrew LOVED. Then, we enjoyed a fun afternoon at one of our local malls, International Plaza in Tampa. After that, we left Kristi and her boyfriend, Raff, at Westshore Plaza, another local mall, while my mom, Drew, and the boys hurried back to get all of the items from the store and get things set up for her party. With only about an hour to get things ready, my wonderful mother-in-law helped me cook, someone else cut up the watermelon, Drew cleaned a bit, and we set up a few decorations before they arrived. It was truly a group effort, especially with a toddler (who entertained himself pretty well with grapes and John Deer videos on YouTube) and a newborn (who enjoyed quality time with his Grammie).
For the decorations, we had everyone blow up some balloons at the last minute. Andrew really enjoyed playing with them all night! Then, I strung some adorable childhood photos along a string that I asked my mom to bring with her on the plane. It made for a cute backdrop! Plus, it was a great way to share my sister’s background with people here who had just met her. Finally, my wonderful and amazingly talented husband made her the cutest cake ever! It was a beach-themed cake (to go perfectly with her celebrating her birthday in Florida) based on a really cute post I saw on Pinterest a couple months earlier. I knew it would be perfect! Not only did it turn out perfectly, but it tasted delicious!
We decided on doing build-your-own taco bar for dinner since it was semi-quick and easy. I knew we’d have very limited time to get everything ready since I wanted it to be a surprise and it’s hard to keep a party a surprise when the guest of honor is staying in the same house! (We told her we had to rush back for a meeting, but I wasn’t sure if she suspected anything or not…)
Another special treat for the party was that a few of Drew’s siblings and our niece along with my cousins (one of which grew up in the same hometown as my family and me) were able to make it to help us celebrate her birthday! They got to meet everyone, some for the first time! Unfortunately, I spent most of the evening walking a very fussy baby up and down the driveway and trying to calm him down by feeding him on the bathroom floor (he wouldn’t stop screaming). I felt horrible that little Aidan was having such a bad time and I was disappointed to miss out on the party, but I think everyone had a great time.
I gave Kristi her present from us, an autographed book: The One Year Uncommon Life Daily Challenge by Tony Dungy that he personalized for her when I met him and his wife just a few days prior. You can see photos of the book signing event here.
Of course, Andrew won the Party Animal award–he had a BLAST! You would have thought it was his birthday! He had a very hard time containing himself around Kristi’s birthday cake, and who could blame him?! He kept letting us know that it was there and asking for some, even saying please. When it was finally time to sing Happy Birthday, he was overjoyed. As soon as Kristi blew out her candles, he yelled, “Yay! Cake!” and started clapping. He was also excited about her candles, so we re-lit them and let him blow them out. He blew them both out in one shot on the first try! (I’m telling you, this boy was made for parties!). We did this over and over a couple more times until he wanted to hold the fire, then mommy blew the candles out and we cut the cake. Kristi got the first piece, and of course, before she had a chance to take a bite, Andrew had already stuck his finger in it and tasted it. After cake, he ran back and forth in the living room throwing and kicking the balloons and squealing with complete joy. He was full of laughs and smiles, and went to bed a very happy boy about two hours past his bedtime.
I am so thankful for the opportunity to share her special day and was glad Raff and my mom were also here. Living thousands of miles away means that we very rarely get to celebrate together, so it was a really special day.
Here are some photos from the party: