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Saturday, March 25, 2017

Steve's Birthday, April's Birthday, Steve's 40th Surprise Party!

My camera missed his smile because it took too long to snap the photo.  And, this happens to be the only pic I got of him his entire birthday weekend!
Steve's birthday fell on a Thursday this year, and the following Sunday happened to be my niece's baby blessing in Eagle Mountain, so I concocted a plan to do a big party for Steve's 40th that weekend since we would be in town and near so much family, and I thought it would be fun to keep it a surprise. But more on that later.

Funny story, a week earlier I asked Steve what he wanted to do for his birthday dinner and he said that he wanted crablegs, but when we went to the store together and he saw the price (it would end up being near $40) he said, "No Way! I'm not paying that price!  Let's just go out to eat!"  Then, a few days later I was finalizing plans for his birthday weekend with my sister and I told her about the crableg let-down and she exclaimed that she had just bought crab legs at a "Wahoo" price, and she'd love to make Steve's birthday dinner.  I told her I'd pay her back and I'd convince Steve to take Friday off so we could have them for his birthday.   So, I told Steve about the crab leg good-news, and he was all game for driving to April's house right when he got off of school for his birthday dinner.  So, on Thursday, Steve's birthday, we went to April's house for his birthday dinner of CRAB LEGS! Spencer and April went all out and made shish kabob veggies and marinated steaks and skewered shrimp!
Steve's plate of crab legs and veggies.  This was before he started eating.  I believe he actually was able to pound 3-4 times as many crab legs that are pictured here.
 April used a neat method for steaming the crablegs.  She made 2 sealed foil pouches with the crab legs inside and a splash of water and heated them in the oven for 30-40 minutes on 375 degrees.  They were perfect.
My plate.  It's making my mouth water just looking at it!  Not pictured was skewered garlic shrimp.  Guys, this was SO GOOD!

Spencer, the fire tamer and master griller for our amazing meal!

April's 35th Birthday

The next day was April's birthday.  I was so spoiled getting to celebrate with her all day!  We went to the Provo City Center temple in the morning and did work for our ancestors.  That was so fun, and neither of us had ever done work in that temple before!

Then, my dad took us out to eat at Osaka in Provo (a longtime favorite Japanese restaurant).  Nancy still runs the place and she remembers us.  Dad couldn't eat his curry Udon noodles very well because he just got his braces on his teeth tightened.  April was still hungry after eating her veggie donburi bowl.  She blamed it on her pregnancy.  My food was just right, and it was something I had never tried before.  It was thin sliced beef with a sweet and savory sauce over rice.

April then showed me the new D.I. in Springville and I bought her a cute maternity dress.  After we got home, we loaded everyone in the cars to go out to eat at Sushi House for dinner.  Spencer's sisters joined us, and it was delicious!  We all did the all-you-can-eat sushi, except Lily and Amara.  Amara ordered a godzilla roll and Lily got steak teriyaki kids meal.

To finish the night, we went to my dad's house, where Micah's family was staying to be with grandma while Dad and Deb were out of town, and we had cake with everyone there.  Endless fun times!

Our sushi house table covering was paper that we illustrated beautifully.  See Harry Potter?

Steve's 40th Birthday Surprise Party!

Let's talk about the surprise. Steve thought I was out shopping with his mom and our girls, and that we were going to meet Laurel's family at 5:30 for dinner, it being Daphne's birthday; but really we were at the church trying to set everything up and decorate in 1 hour's time. 
Beverli and Steve's mom coordinated the decor.  Steve's favorite color is blue, so there were blue table cloths and napkins.  There was also a page I made up that was like a mad-libs fill-in-the-blank type of thing.  People could fill those out in their down time.  We ended up collecting them and even reading them at the end.  Some people filled theirs in with real answers and others made something up.  It was fun to see what everyone wrote.

The middle of the tables had a smattering of  googly eyes and mini black-and-white photos of Steve throughout the years for people to glance through.  The yellow paper rosette in the center was a nice contrast to the blue table cloths and brought out the "Here's Lookin' at You" card.
Steve was under the impression that he was to go with his dad to help set up chairs at the church around 5:15, right before we'd be going to dinner with Laurel.  When I told Steve his dad needed his help setting up chairs for an event at the church, his quick response was, "What!  Why the heck did they ask the old men to set up chairs?"  I hadn't thought about that, but I suppose it's pretty customary to put the younger Elder's quorum in charge of chair setup.  I told him, "Who knows?  Knowing your dad, maybe he volunteered."  Steve rolled his eyes.  He was willing to do it, but he looked a little annoyed about the whole thing.   

5:15pm rolled around and everyone was in the gym, approximately 25 enthused faces of family anxiously awaiting the arrival of the birthday man.  Unsuspecting Steve was to be arriving at any moment.  Ryan, Laurel, and Tron were on the lookout in the hall where they had a clear view of the double glass doors that faced the West parking lot, which I had previously instructed Art (Steve's dad) to bring Steve to.  Their minivan was to pull up to the West entrance of the church so they wouldn't see all our cars on the East side.  

I was in the gym announcing on the microphone that as soon as we get the signal from our lookouts, everyone is going to crowd near the West door of the gym and as soon as Steve comes walking through, we would yell "surprise" in our cheeriest voices and then sing Happy Birthday!  After my announcement I realized I had forgotten one important thing.  I was supposed to be sure the West door was unlocked because I had taken Art's church keys earlier to let us all in!  I rushed out to the hall to Tron and told him to be sure the door was unlocked, but just at that very moment, through the large glass doors, we saw the van pull right up!  We all quickly darted away from the doors so we wouldn't be seen.  I came into the gym telling everyone, "They're here!"  Everyone did a good job and quickly got silent and crowded by the West door of the gym.  My mom turned out the lights and we waited.  It was dark.  It was quiet.  We heard a little jiggling of the glass doors outside, but mostly all we heard was silence.  We waited and waited, but nothing.

Meanwhile, as Steve and his dad were getting ready to leave the house, Steve asked his dad if he had keys to get into the church.  Art confirmed that he did, so they got in the van and drove to the church.  Then, Steve was questioning his dad's sanity for parking on the vacant West side of the church when clearly all the other cars were parked on the East side.  His dad assured him that he had a key and they could get in on this side. So, they went up to the double glass doors and gave them a jiggle.  Locked.  They gave the other set of doors a jiggle.  Locked.  They were all still locked.  "Where's your key?" Steve inquired.

Art reached into his pocket and said, "I must've forgot it."

So, Steve went straight back to the van and as he got there he saw his dad peering into the doors and trying them all again.  "What's he doing?"  Steve thought as he opened his door and called, "Let's just go to the other side where there are people!"

Art could see no other way of getting in, so he pulled the van around to the other side, parked, and they went in the unlocked doors on the East side of the church.

Back in the gym we were all patiently waiting in the dark in confusion as to why it was taking so long.  Ryan or Tron came in from another gym entrance and whispered to us that the doors were locked so Art and Steve were going around to the East side, where there was an unlocked door.  I was hoping hard that they wouldn't take the route that would give them a grand tour of everyone's cars.  

So, in the dark gym, we all crowded to the doors on the East side of the gym.  One of those doors was propped wide open and had a curtain of blue streamers in front of it, which was letting in a little light for us.  We waited and waited, listening for voices or any sound that would clue us in as to where they were. Then, the silence broke as we heard Art in the hall with Steve.  Steve was confused and questioning his dad.  

"Go check the clerks office and see if anyone's in there." Art told Steve.

Steve could see the clerk's office at the end of the hall, the light was on, and no one was in there.  "Why? No one's in there.  I can see it from here."  Steve replied.  He had observed a bunch of cars in the parking lot which gave him hope that the chair set-up would already be taken care of.  He assumed he would see a bunch of people helping set up chairs, but the place was silent, which was confusing.

"Well, I don't know." Art said and continued to walk up the hall wondering how to get Steve into the gym.  Steve walked ahead of him a little. 

From the light in the hallway, we saw them pause and slowly walk past the open door with the streamers.  Steve glanced at the streamers, and walked past, his dad paused, looked in at the streamers and kept up the rouse.

"Maybe they're in here."  Art walked in which Steve didn't think was a good idea.  He stood far off and didn't follow.  He could see that there were people in there, yet the gym was still quiet and dark.  It didn't seem right.  There was obviously something going on in there, and they likely didn't need his or his dad's help anymore.  In his mind he was thinking, "Let's leave!  They already set up without us!  There's people in there.  They're having a dance."

Art walks back out into the hallway after Steve didn't follow him.  

"I'm not sure." He said.  Steve still stood back, but he moved into a position nearer the door where we could see him and he could peer past the streamers into the dark gym.

"Let's see.." Art turned back toward the streamers and went in.  By this time, Steve thought his dad was nuts.  Why would he keep going in there and disturbing this group of people?  Couldn't he see them?

My brother Micah was somewhat near the doorway and he could see Steve looking directly at him, yet no one in that gym moved or said anything since Steve still didn't come in.  Steve was looking directly at Micah, but all he could see was a large, dark shadow of a man that he not only didn't recognize, but also didn't want to mess with.  He could see other figures in there, dark figures of people, and he was really questioning his dad's sanity for going in there.  

Steve's dad came further in and found a light switch.  He flipped it on and we all yelled "Surprise!" and started singing Happy Birthday!  With the lights now on, illuminating the dark, still figures, Steve could recognize our faces and a broad smile shot from ear to ear as he made his way into the gym.  He was truly surprised!  He had no idea this was coming and you could see in his eyes that he truly felt the love we all have for him.

I pushed play on the music app on my phone which was hooked up to the gym speakers, and "Forever Young" was the perfect song to begin the night of fun!

Micah is helping his kids get some dinner while I show Steve around to some of the fun games and favors we had planned for the evening.

The kids were running the halls, playing tag, and coming in and out of the gym.  Tommy was screaming with sheer joy and was found splashing in the toilet and playing in the water.  Lily and Jaxon were playing a witch game where they were fighting Darth Vader and the pictures in the hall were spies.

We set up 6 tables which was enough room for people to spread out and still mingle.

Spencer, my dad (Jim Lauret), and Micah

Heather, my step-mom (Debby), and my grandma (Leta Lauret)

So, this day was over a month in the making.  I delegated lots of assignments out to family members, and it all got pulled together to make a wonderful party.  The theme was "Steve's favorites."

It was held at a church near Steve's parent's home.  My dad had an entire nacho bar leftover from a scout event the week before, so that's what we had for dinner.  We also had Steve's favorite pizza from Papa John's, pineapple and pepperoni!  
People getting all dished up!
Nacho bar: chips, nacho cheese, ground beef, shredded pork, shredded cheese, sour cream, green onions, jalapenos, and olives.

This 5-tiered lazy susan is a beautiful piece that was at my grandparent's home.  After my grandpa's death last year, their house was sold and my grandma came to live with my dad and Debby.  Now, my dad has this lovely piece and he looks for opportunities to put it to good use.
From my phone, I played in the background a playlist of some of Steve's favorite music which he helped compile unknowingly a few weeks prior.  There was everything from Weird Al, to Journey, to Imagine Dragons, to Frankie Valli and the 4 Seasons, to electric swing and more.  

Everyone brought a dessert to contribute to the dessert bar (desserts are Steve's favorite part of a meal) and a paper bag with something in it that reminded them of Steve and he had to guess who brought what.
Desserts: Peanut butter bars, Cherry pie, Vanilla Ice Cream, Cutie oranges, Grapes, Oreos, Cotton Candy, and Candybar cake

Jaxon and Lily enjoying some sweets

The Fountain of Youth: water or rootbeer
The guessing game with the bags was a fun way for people to remember Steve.  I wish I had recorded what everyone had brought and the stories that went along with each item, but I missed the boat on that one.  I also wish I had gotten a picture of Steve at his party!  Anyway, here's what I could remember:

Steve's dad - a basketball- he remembered lifting up Steve as a little boy to try to get a basketball into the hoop.

Steve's mom- plastic bugs- she remembered that Steve was always taking his time getting to school because he would pause to look at bugs and study them.  

My dad and Debby- a rooster from Portugal- Although Steve hasn't been to Portugal, he speaks Portuguese because he served his mission in Brazil.

Capoeira picture- Steve did capoeira after his mission.

Bev's family- A dog statue- Steve got a black dog that he named Gideon when he was a boy.

April- A cup of of candy and a tie- Steve is always dressed up in a tie for work and he loves sweets.

Heather and Alex- picture frame- Steve does photography.

Laurel- picture of a collar bone- When they were little kids, Laurel was swinging Steve by the arms and he slipped from her grip and flew into a fence and cried and cried.  She didn't think anything was really wrong, but later they found out that he had a broken collar bone.  She said she still feels guilty.

???- Chewed gum - As a little boy, Steve would find gum and eat it and also share it.

The table with the Guessing Game bags

As people were filling out their game sheets and waiting for festivities, there were bags of popcorn to enjoy.  Popcorn is one of Steve's favorite things!  I bought popcorn from the theater, a 1/2 filled 33gallon bag cost me $10 from the Water Gardens.

For games we had guess Steve's favorites (and unfavorites), Mandala coloring contest, and Finish Steve's phrase.  There were some prizes of candy bars and whatnot too.

The pencils had Steve toppers.

I had contacted several of Steve's friends and cousins, but none could make it.  And then out of the blue, halfway through the party, Steve's childhood friend, Josh Peay shows up!  They visited a little while and I could tell Steve was absolutely having the best time of his life!
Josh Peay and his wife talking with Ryan and Steve.  Josh, Ryan, and Steve all ended up teaching school!  Josh remembered sitting on the front steps with Steve and having deep philosophical discussions as young boys.  He lived only a few houses up the street.

The party was an absolute success.  Steve was still all smiles about the party even days later.  I think he really felt special and this is one memory he'll cherish.

And to end this blog post, here's a few more fun pictures from that night.
April, Tommy, and Tron


Alex and Heather
Lots of fun going on!

I can see Amara really enjoying this dinner.  Not one veggie.

Lexi with Grandma Bobbie and her daddy, Micah.

Tommy pounding his nachos!

Yummy dinner!
After everything was cleaned up and everyone had gone home, we headed to Steve's parents home to sleep and Steve's dad got this picture of him!
He's enjoying more leftover pizza while watching something on his smartphone and earbuds in his ears.

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