This past weekend, we celebrated my husband’s 40th birthday. He was shocked to find out that I have been planning for several years to have a surprise party for his 40th. Not shocked that he had a surprise party… but that I actually planned something well in advance. I’m a bit of a procrastinator to say the least. Everyone asked how I would get him out there without ruining the surprise. I came out with a grand master plan that I thought was pretty genius but somehow it back fired on me. I decided I would tell my kids that we were taking daddy on a surprise picnic on his birthday, but not to tell daddy. I thought this was a sure fire way for them to tell daddy we were going on a picnic for his birthday. Well, as soon as I told them the plans, my daughter says, “Yeah! Or, I know… we could all hide and when he walks in we could jump up and yell ‘SURPRISE!!!’” I said “no, no, daddy hates surprises. No surprises.” Yet, she mentioned it again a couple times. Then, the day before his birthday, out of no where my son says “When is Daddy’s birthday party?” I responded with a panicked, “No, no, birthday parties are only for kids. Grown ups don’t have birthday parties.” Yet, he asked maybe five more times, in front of my husband no less, “when are we going to daddy’s party?” Well, I find out on our way home from the party that Dominic has actually known for months that I’d be doing a surprise party. Over Christmas, when we were at his sister’s house, she asked if I was planning anything for his birthday and I whispered to her that I was planning a surprise party. I didn’t know he was in the room next door and he has a freakishly good sense of hearing. I’m sure if he could have unheard it he would have because he would have genuinely wanted to be surprised, but he didn’t. As far as where the party was and whether I would embarrass him somehow, that was left unknown.
Anyway, the birthday really couldn’t have been more perfect. We had the party at Tree to Tree Adventure Park. If you’ve never been there, you need to call them and make a reservation. Now. What are you waiting for? I’m serious. They even have a brand new zip line course opening soon and it looks amazing. We found out about T2T when they first opened about three years ago and went on their opening weekend when our friends Malynda & Ian were in town visiting. WE LOVED IT. When I found out how easy it would be to host the party there, I was thrilled! They provided a large finished barn with the most beautiful solid wood picnic baskets inside. This was so wonderful to have for the party because it gave us a nice area in the shade for us to eat the incredible food and cake – more on that later – and sit down in one spot together. All of the guests were able to run the obstacle course. One a few sat out because they were either watching the kids, mine included, or they were 7.5 months pregnant.
The food and cake were EXCEPTIONAL.
Eat Your Heart Out Catering provided the gourmet picnic lunches. They catered one of the weddings I photographed last year and their food and service never disappoint. If you’re planning a wedding in the Portland area, you need to first book me as your photographer, then contact Monica and Chloe to have them cater your wedding. Everyone loved the food. Loved. Be sure to scroll down through the entire post because I have photos toward the bottom. Be sure not to look on an empty stomach because they will make you hungry. Consider yourself warned.
The cake was made by Erin of Sugarhouse Cake. It surpassed my expectations, to say the least, and tasted as good as it looked. Of course I got lots of photos of the cake. Again, if you’re planning a wedding in the Portland area, you need to first book me as your photographer, then contact Erin to create your masterpiece of a cake.
Okay, on to the party pics, and in true Krissy fashion, further commentary throughout…
This is us walking up to the stable where everyone was hiding. I’m pretty sure this shot was taken just as they were yelling “SURPRISE!!!”.
We had about 30 adults and 15 kids attend the party. So many great people who have been part of our lives were there to celebrate. Sadly, there were more friends and family who couldn’t attend, and boy did they miss out. The younger kids (those who were ~7 and under) weren’t tall enough to do the kids course but there was till plenty for them to do. There’s a great play structure, a sand box, a big field to chase each other on, and lots of paths to follow mom and dad around on while they’re up in the trees.
Some random pics…
My mom and Larry. I like to call him Llama Larry. It’s an endearing term, really, because they have 12 friendly and cute pet llamas. I never thought I’d be asking someone to bite my mom’s ear, but I did, and it was cute.
Mom and Larry taking my daughter back to the stable to change into shorts and a short sleeved shirt. It was the most beautiful day in the middle of May – clear with a high of 80. Pretty lucky considering typical Oregon spring weather.
My baby girl, the gymnist.
Crazy Grampa (yes, this is what my kids call him) and my super flexible niece.
Granny and my handsome nephew.
My soon-to-be-a-big-sister niece, who takes some of the most beautiful photos I have ever seen, even when she’s throwing sand.
Getting ready for the course. Keep in mind that for most of the photos below, everyone was 30-60 feet up in the air. Only because I’m zoomed in are you able to see them up close.
My awesome stepson, Nathanael. He was with us full time up until last June and we hadn’t seen him since. I flew him up for the party. I thought it would be a total shock for my husband but he said he had hoped I would do something like that and would have even been a bit disappointed if I hadn’t. It was so wonderful having him, even though it was only for the weekend. I didn’t tell my little ones that they’d be seeing their big brother and they almost didn’t recognize him, but wouldn’t leave him alone after only a short while.
Brett and Kim. The photo I got of Brett right before this shot was of him flipping the bird, hence the evil grin you see in the photo below. I chose to omit that one for my G rated audience.
Eric. Soccer buddy and long time family friend. It was great to see you!
Dave. Another long time friend. He left work to be at the party but still checked his phone while he was high up in the trees. Such a dedicated employee.
Blu & Melissa. Met them through our kids and a great family to be friends with. Love them.
Brother and sister-in-law. These photos crack me up. She’s happy and confident, he’s slightly terrified.
Our dear friends Malynda & Ian who flew up from Texas for the party. They may have been the only real surprise that Dominic didn’t predict. They were with us the first time we went to T2T three years ago and it was so much fun to have them visit again.
And there’s the birthday boy, acting like he’s gonna push his sister off a 50ft platform.
Shawn and Katie. Shawn was the only non-sibling in our wedding party. Great couple and long time friends. We need to have you over for dinner soon!
Dom’s sister. I’m not sure she knew the platform moves.
This is Weimin. We love Weimin. He was our boss when we met over a decade ago. He’s also my second shooter at weddings.
The kids’ course was incredible. I can’t wait until my daredevil daughter is tall enough because I know she would love it. They even get to zip.
Here’s Nathanael getting more courageous with each course level.
The birthday boy and his son. Same photo, left side zoomed in.
He may look super serious, but he was having a really good time. I promise.
This one is a cool shot. At first glance, you might only see the close up photo on the left. If you look a little closer, you’ll see that the photo on the right is the same shot, just at a shorter focal length. It gives you some perspective of how high up he was when he was standing on that wire. It makes my palms sweaty and my heart race just to think about it.
The food. Ugh. So unbelievably good. Eat Your Heart Out packaged up each lunch in its own bag. We had our choice of two sandwiches: grilled flatiron steak with tomatoes, arugula and Romesco (sweet red pepper and almond sauce) or baked pork loin with apple and pear chutney, Jarlsberg and mixed lettuces. They also included potato salad with watercress, scallions and blue cheese vinaigrette (this was the best potato salad I have ever had), spring panaznella with greens , English peas, grilled asparagus, radishes, croutons and green olives (this too was amazingly delish), and a cluster of grapes. Oh my god it was good.
They also did special lunches for the kids. The kids got to choose from either a gooey delicious peanut butter and jelly sandwich or a BBQ chicken leg, plus veggie sticks, chips, and grapes. The kids loved having their own special picnic lunch and it was super easy letting them eat when they were hungry instead of making them wait for everyone to finish the course.
The cake. I can’t begin to tell you how much I loved the cake. I had a vision of what I wanted it to look like and Erin surpassed all of my expectations. It was soooo incredibly delicious too. The small black cake was a whiskey (Dominic’s favorite) soaked caramel chocolate with butter cream and black fondant. The tall green cake was three layers of lemon raspberry, with fresh raspberries of course, buttercream, and all the trees were made of chocolate. Even the little rocks were edible and delicious.
For the little zip line dude, I took Dominic’s face from last year’s Christmas card photo, put it on someone’s head to get the helmet to look right, then photoshop’d the head/helmet onto someone’s body who was riding down a zip line. Erin printed it and hung it from a wire from one cake to the other. It was perfect.
The cake pretty much had a constant audience within a foot’s length of 3-10 year olds. Everyone sang Happy Birthday and Dom blew out the candles.
The stable T2T let us use was absolutely perfect for the party. We had some left over food so I walked around and shared with the guides because they are fabulous.
And here’s the super cute and extra happy birthday boy.
My favorite shot of the day. This one is getting printed BIG and is going on the wall.
And, last but certainly not least, a long overdue family photo (and proof that I was actually there since I was behind the camera the whole time). By this point we were all hot and sweaty and tired and coming down from a sugar high, but everyone enjoyed an exceptional day celebrating the husband, dad, brother, uncle, son, and friend who we all love. I’m pretty sure he doesn’t read my blog, but just in case he does… Happy 40th Birthday, Dominic. I hope you enjoyed every minute of it!
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