Sunday, September 21, 2008


I had a surprise 40th birthday party for Joe on Saturday. His actual birthday isn't until the end of October so he totally wasn't expecting a birthday party last night (a month ahead of time). I've been working on this like crazy for the past few weeks. I actually started planning it way back in April. I rented the clubhouse at my aunt's townhouse complex and told Joe that my cousin was in town from Montana and my aunt was having a get-together for him at her clubhouse. He believed that because my aunt actually did have a get-together for her son, Dimitri a few years ago when he was in town.

I'd been making stuff and stashing it in our camper for weeks and I needed a way to get everything out of the camper and into my car so I could take it over to the clubhouse. I had a plan though. A couple days ago, I asked Joe if he had any plans for Saturday and would he mind if I met my friend, Jen to go shopping. Then I asked him if he'd take my car to get the oil changed on Saturday while I was shopping. He agreed so I thought I had everything under control. Joe would load up the kids and take my car in and then I'd load all my party supplies into his truck and drive it over to the clubhouse while he thought I was meeting Jen to go shopping. While Joe thought I was shopping all day, I'd really be decorating the clubhouse, finishing the cake, picking up balloons, and going to the grocery store for some last minute items.

That was the plan.

After staying up until 2:00 AM to finish making a video for Joe, I was out cold when Joe took my car to get the oil changed at 7:30 in the morning. Savannah woke me up about 8:00 and said, "Dad already left!" Whaaat? That can't be! He's supposed to take my car in later! He's supposed to take the kids with him! Now what am I going to do? Think fast! I sprang out of bed, threw on the clothes I'd worn yesterday, and Savannah and I ran out to the camper and started loading up Joe's truck. No shower. No make-up. I didn't comb my hair or brush my teeth. I was on a mission to get as much stuff over to the clubhouse as I could. And quickly! I ran out the door and realized I didn't have on any shoes. Oops. I ran back, grabbed shoes and car keys and hightailed it to the clubhouse. We left instructions with Austin to watch the little ones who were still asleep, and to tell Joe that we'd run to the bank should he get home and ask.

So Savannah and I dropped off the supplies we'd loaded up and headed back home as quickly as we could before Joe got home from getting my oil changed. Whew! We beat him back home.

After showering and getting dressed, it was time to leave so I could "meet Jen at the mall" (Or, you know, go back over to the clubhouse to set up everything for the party). But since I'd rushed to get to the clubhouse earlier in the morning, I forgot a few things I needed to take over there. Joe had already gotten my oil changed and come back, I had no way to sneak the rest of the supplies out to my car. If Joe saw me taking my huge tackle box of cake decorating supplies and containers of icing and party favors, he'd know something was up. You know, since I don't generally take containers of icing and party favors with me when I go shopping.

Anyway, I got out of that by asking Joe to take the kids to the library. As soon as he left, I packed my car and when he got back home, I took off for the mall, er, clubhouse. My aunt and my good friend Jen stayed and helped me out all day.

Fast forward to the party. When we arrived, everyone was already there and their cars were hidden down the street so Joe didn't suspect a thing. We walked in, everyone shouted, "surprise" and Joe stood there with a confused look on his face. Finally he asked, "Where's Dimitri?" LOL

I made a really cool slideshow for the party. It contained tons of pictures of Joe through the years. Austin and Savannah narrated it and I accompanied it with a bunch of music. My sister-in-law was able to borrow a projector from work so we played the video for everyone after dinner. Unfortunately the narration was really quiet and I don't think most people were able to hear it. Other than that, it turned out really cool. I was proud of that.

I had grand visions of how the cake should turn out. The execution didn't match my visions this time around. I was really disappointed in the cake, but other than that, the food was good, the company was great, and the look on Joe's face, was priceless!

The old man himself.

Favor box of mints (I printed out old pictures of Joe on sticker paper.)

Brooklyn being a brat because I dared to fix a dinner plate for her. Duh, I should have remembered that she'd already eaten the day before.

The cake that was supposed to look like a toolbox.

Stupid warped cake with stupid warped tools

I guess the wrenches turned out ok.

Clay and my friends' daughter Emma. Yes, Clay's shirt is on backwards. Why, you ask? In Clay's words, "I put it on backwards so I could be a dog." Understand now? Of course, this is the same kid who asked me, "Can I have a balloon?" the other day.
"Why do you want a balloon?" I inquired.
"To tie on my bike so I can have a flying bike."
"Do you think that will work? Will your bike fly if you tie a balloon on it?"
"Yes!" he answered emphatically.
"Have you ever seen a flying bike?" I asked.
He thought long and hard before answering. "No. Maybe I need a lot of balloons. Maybe fourteen."


Dawn said...

Dawn, I don't care what you say. The cake is awesome! Ok, so maybe it doesn't meet up with YOUR expectations, but WOW!

Great job surprising hubby!


Lowa said...

That is so cute about Clay! Kids are SO FUNNY!

Wow, that looks like quite a party. That is so neat:) MY hubby turned 40 in April and he didn't want anything done. He got a new guitar that we couldn't afford, THAT was his party:)

That is amazing that your husband actually did those things?? It never would have worked for me. My husband would not have done the oil OR taken anyone to the library! I am so impressed! Your hubby may try and use lime koolaide on fish, but at least he tries SOMETHING! LOL

Happy Birthday early Joe!

Lowa said...

Oh I almost forgot.

That cake is AMAZING! It clearly took a lot of time and effort. Lots of love went into that cake:)

Emiliy said...

clay's bike story reminds me of my brother. he had just seen ET and decided if elliot could do it, so could he. so he rode full speed into a brick wall. broke his arm and two ribs and sprained his ankle.

Karla with a K said...

Dawn! How can you criticize that cake?! I think the 'warpedness' of it that you pointed out makes it look great! So stop being a 'tool' about it.

Love the Brooklyn comment.

And love the flying bike.

FreeSpirit said...

I think that your cake turned out pretty dang good! I know I couldn't have done that. What a great wife you are! Clay is a riot. Who can know the mind of a child? LOL

I love Brooklyn's dress. Tre chic.

party of five said...

You are really too hard on yourself! I couldn't even tell your cake was a cake, I was thinking more like a real tool box! Very impressive and great job on the surprise!

cjweb said...

WOW! I don't know how you do it! Joe is a lucky man! That was nice of Savannah to wake you when Joe left. Best laid plans.....

Your cake looked great!


Christine said...

The flying balloon bike must be a boy thing. My brothers did that when they were little, only their plan was a little more involved and included capes, more balloons and a see-saw like launching pad. Try and nip it in the bud before he gets more ideas...

ps. the cake doesn't look that warped!

Candace said...

What a wonderful wife you are! I am sure you must have made his day! I don't know what you are talking about when you said your cake doesn't look like a tool box. I think it is perfect or at least a far cry from what I would have made! Thanks for sharing your fun story.

JustMeCopper said...

The cake is amazing, even if you think it is warped. And to let your kid wear his shirt backwards to his Dad's birthday party .. well that makes you the most amazing, confident, relaxed, most fun Mom ever. How fun!

Augusta, Ga

Table for Seven said...

I'm sure this is a stupid question, but can you eat the WHOLE cake? Not you personally, although I could, but it the whole thing made of food products? Did you use rolled fondant? I'm intrigued. I see where YOU see the flaws, but I think it's priceless and I'm sure Joe loved and appreciated it.

Mum-me said...

Yeah that cake was really bad (said sarcastically), so bad it actually looked like a box of tools!!

I hope he appreciated all the effor that went into his party.

Dawn said...

Technically the whole cake is edible, but I wouldn't recommend eating the tools. I used pastillage to make the tools and I don't think it would taste that great. Plus, it dries super hard so you might chip a tooth. I haven't worked with pastillage for like 12 years and I forgot just how quickly it dries out. Up close, the tools were wrinkled, cracked and dried out looking. The pieces that made up the tray on top, the drawer and the handle cracked a million times. They were glued together with royal icing many times over.

Rick said...

Party? No one told me about it. I'm hurt.

Those wrenches look like they've loosen quite a few nuts in their day.

Lynne's Somewhat Invented Life said...

That was a cake? Amazing. Simply amazing. How do you have time to make such an amazing cake and live your crazy life too? You are the amazing one making amazing cakes. There should be an alphabet book about you. "A" is already done.

BandK said...

ROFLMAO **snort** **snarf** OMG I nearly fell off my chair laughing about Clay. Kids are so freaking hilarious!

But did you see where he was going with that? He has his shirt on backwards so he could be a dog, right? At first, I couldn't figure out what in the world he meant, but then it hit me: when people put clothes on their dogs, they usually put them on so they button up the back, and thus the "front" becomes the "back"!!!! I'll bet you that's what he meant.

Holy cow, that is hysterical!! Only Clay. LOL

Jenn loves Derek said...

Happy Early Birthday Joe!
Good thinking Dawn! My Hubby turns 40 on Aug 3rd, 2010. I will just plan his party for July 4th of the same year. Who's says you don't learn things hear on your website? I have learned so much about flying Kites, that my life is now full!
You all are too funny!
Thanks for taking the time to share your life with us. Just to remind us that we are all in the same boat, Life isn't Perfect! It's what you make of it!

Lindsay said...

You are so clever! Planning all the way down to how you're going to switch cars - genius! And really - I can't believe he was so willing to do whatever you suggested - change oil/take kids to the library?! Impressive. I think you have a keeper :-)

Anonymous said...

You are so amazing! How do you do it all? I've done a few surprise parties in my days and I KNOW how much work they are, no matter how much help you have. Then to top it all off, you MAKE the cake yourself! That was one awesome toolbox, I don't care what you say. We all can tell it's a toolbox, so what more do you want? And all of this on the tail of giving us all those cool lunch ideas! No wonder you only get about 15 minutes of sleep per nite!


Anonymous said...

My husband got you beat, Dawn! He had a 40th surprise birthday party for me on my 39th birthday! Yes, I was surprised! His excuse...I made him *promise* he wouldn't give me a surprise 40th birthday party when I gave him one on HIS 40th birthday....... Also he said I was *in my 40th year* on my 39th birthday............. xoxox Kathy

Lee in Woodland Hills said...

What do you mean, stupid cake??? It's AWESOME and you should be SO PROUD! You go, girl!

Anonymous said...

WOW! Wasn't that a party! Happy early birthday to Joe :-)
That look on Brooklyn could peal paint off of a barn!
Theresa in Alberta

Jeff & Meg said...

That cake boggles my mind! Who cares if its a bit in the world did you do it? How much is cake and how much is 'other?' And what did you make the tools out of?

thea said...

OMG Dawn, that is só great! Love the cake, love all the hard work - I dont know when you sleep, if ever.

Jennifer in Wisconsin said...

Wow does the picture of Joe when he was little look A LOT like Clay. Amazing how we can find certain pictures of ourselves as kids and see our kids in them. Great job on the surprise. I surprised my husband with his 35th birthday party just 3 weeks after he completely took apart our main bathroom to remodel it, all the way down to the studs. My friend asked me if I should have him stall until after the party or what. I told him, I waited 6 years for a new bathroom, light a fire under his butt to get it done. We just installed thee toilet and sink the Thursday before the party. It was not completely done but functional. Still love how I pulled that one off, I can not keep secrets at all.


Whoa Dawn, you are way too hard on yourself. That cake is a million times better than anything I could come up with! Glad it all went well (except for the barfing of course). :)

Anonymous said...

Dawn, That toolbox cake is awesome! Very cool. Not sure what you had imagined that it would look like but I bet it was a big hit.

AuntyM said...

I think the cake was wonderful. As for warped tools, I've seen some that looked exactly like that (in fact I have a warped screwdriver myself), so you did a fantastic job. Such detail with so many types of tools too, and the toolbox is perfect. Great job!

Becky said...

That cake RAWKS, Dawn! And I love that you went to so much trouble for your man...getting the kids involved, sneaking give him a special surprise. That was very sweet.

Clay is a HOOT!

Keeley said...'re disappointed with the cake? Uh. Yeah. My kids are lucky to get birthday CUPCAKES...from the store. =D

I showed the picture to my son. He didn't even notice it was a cake at first. THAT'S how good it was.

Perfectionist much? =)

Anyway, it's astonishing you got all that done while you were doing everything else that you do. What the hey? Do you ever sleep? =)

Bus Driving Mama said...

Here is a blog that you would appreciate!

I am in NO WAY saying that your cake belongs on there. I think your tool box is da bomb!

My appolgies if you have already posted it.

Teri W

Veggiemomof2 said...

Just tell Joe the cake was made to be old & warped like him! LOL

Heather said...

That is an awesome cake!!! Happy birthday to your husband. Sounds like an awesome party. It gives me some ideas for when my DH's 40th comes around in a couple of years.

Anonymous said...

That was a great cake even tho it didnt meet your expectation. But I think the thought counts a lot more.
I really think Savannah is a very good daughter/sister!!
And Brooklyn looked sooooo cute in that chinese dress!


Anonymous said...

I am out of breath just reading that. I am glad everything worked out. Nice to see a picture of Joe. Never have a picture of him in mind. Have a restful Monday!


Rebeckah said...

You are seriously AMAZING! WOW! Happy Birthday, Joe! PS I like the cake : ). It looks WAY better than my store bought ones : )!

Knitty said...

After six kids who have undoubtedly used Joe's tools for their own devious reasons, perhaps burying them, playing catch with them or running them through the dishwasher (don't ask), I bet some of his tools and maybe even his real tool box look a little skewed. The love shows through, and that is the important part.

Clay sounds like a young version of my nephew who once wanted some string. Having younger sisters, mom thought she should ask his intentions before giving him string. He was going to tie the string to a neighbor's pet bird and take it for a fly. Can you tell he really wanted a dog and a leash? LOL!

Anonymous said...

OMG, Clay is the spittin' image of little Joe! Love your cake (and all your cakes.) I'm a perfectionist, too, although my cakes are never as good as yours.

Mabunny said...

Wow , gratz on the surprise party!
Looked like everyone had a great time. Love the cake - warped tools and all:)

Brianna said...

The photos are a hoot! :)

Your conversations with your son are remarkably like the ones we have here at my house (son is 4).

He's a schemer, too . . . they keep us on our toes, don't they? :)

Sudee in Florida said...

So that's why no posts for 3 days. Busy, Busy, Busy!!! Thought the cake was awesome. Looked like a tool box to me! Gave my hubby a surprise party for his 60th. It turned out great. Glad to finally see what Joe looks like. Nice looking!!! What is this pastillage? Never heard of it. But of course I don't decorate cakes either. You amaze me with all you get done with 6 kids. I'm so proud of Joe for being so helpful to you. You'd be surprised how many husbands don't do a thing to help their wives out.
Happy Birthday early Joe, and God Bless you and all your family.

MickisMorsels said...

I too have the Brady Bunch, minus Alice, plus a couple of kids. I'm on the roller coaster with you sister! From one perfectionist to another (don't try to deny it), I cannot believe that you think your cake was anything other than way cool.

Anonymous said...

Dawn, that cake is amazing!

Anonymous said...

So that's what Joe looks like! He has intelligent eyes. For some reason, I didn't expect him to look very smart!

Jill in CA said...

You've got to be kidding about the cake; it's one of the most impressive cakes I've ever seen! Wow!!

Manic Mom said...

Joe looks cute AND surprised.

The cake looks awesome.

Brooklyn looks pissed off.

And tell Clay there is a flying bike in the movie ET! What a cutie with the BEST imagination EVER!

And here's to US for both pulling off surprise 40ths for our hubbies! YAY!

HuNnY aNd PoPpA LeWiS said...

No matter what you say that cake was sooooooooo COOL--totally awesome!!! I would never have the patience to do something like that, so you are to be commended!!!

Michelle said...

Oh what a great surprise party! I love it! And I could totally tell that it was (not supposed to be, WAS) a toolbox. You are a great wife -- and a sneaky one, too!

Apparently Mister Man gets his ideas from Clay since he loves wearing clothes backwards. I finally had to make a rule that underwear wasn't allowed to go on backwards and shoes had to go on the right feet. Kids are weird.

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