Last week, we packed our bags and headed to Melbourne - 1000kms - for a birthday celebration.
My mother-in-law is about to turn 80, and our family decided that we'd throw her a surprise party. It was quite an ordeal, which included months of planning and many emails to and from the various family members. Mum's family is spread out over the country - including Victoria, South Australia and the Northern Territory, so it was going to be quite an effort to gather us all together, and keeping it all 'hush-hush' would be even more of a challenge.
In the end, all her children attended, and most of their families. As well, there were many friends and other relatives - around 70 in all - that were able to make it and celebrate the day with her.
The secret was well guarded - but the big question was - how were we to all arrive in Melbourne, and yet still keep everything under wraps? Considering that we always stay at her house when we are in town, this was a tricky one, but fortunately, my sister-in-law, Carmel, came up with the perfect solution.
We decided to hold the party a couple of weeks early, which put the celebration in the school holidays, as well as the weekend being Carmel's birthday and my Emily's birthday as well. Carmel also needed an reason to do a whole stack of cooking, so us stating that we were simply coming 'for a visit' gave her just the excuse she needed.
So, we rang and made our announcement. The rest of the family arrived at various locations around Melbourne, with several staying at the youngest sister's house, and some making the most of it by turning the whole affair into a family holiday and renting cabins, etc. nearby.
After we had arrived, we 'decided' that it would be nice to take Emily and Carmel out for lunch for their birthdays - and so, the stage was set. We all dressed up for a nice, 'quiet' lunch at a local hotel, but then received a phone call, asking us to drop off a box of supplies at the local church. Once there, a friend popped out and asked my mother-in-law to come inside for a minute.
The look on her face was priceless! And then to discover that all of her children were there, including the adopted son, brought her very close to tears.
It was a wonderful day, and we all had a ball. The children loved being with their cousins again, and the adults had a fantastic time catching up. And as always, there were a heap of games happening with the adults and the children as well - including some very interesting voices after sucking in the helium from the party balloons. And I'm sad to say, many of those who 'claim' to be adults got in on the act as well. My dear husband, who naturally has a very deep voice, took in far too much at one point, and had us all rolling on the floor with laughter as he began singing in his now very-high voice!
And 'Granny', as she is now known to us all, had a wonderful day, which left a smile on her face the rest of the week.
Later in the day, it was time to line everyone up for the photo:
Grandchildren first (and we did it in age order, too):
But wait, there's more:
And more (including that gorgeous baby):
And here is the lady herself (in the middle) with her children, most of their wives / husbands, and most of her grandchildren:
Don't we make a grand bunch?
Well done to Carmel and Mary, who spent many hours planning and preparing the event. The day was certainly a success!