As far back as I can remember we would take a family trip in the Fall to visit a good sized orchard in the southeast corner of Michigan. My mom still tells the story of the blustery day they first walked into the large barn structure with a huge warming fire roaring in the (now closed) stone fireplace. It has grown into quite the attraction since the earlier years since we used to go, complete with bouncy house, tent sales and music shows. And sadly I think they do most of the apple pressing for the cider on weekdays, not on the weekends while the kids are out of school and we actually have the chance to go. I loved watching the apples get crushed through the viewing window, while the bees were buzzing everywhere. But the donuts and cider still taste the same, and the country store still sells local homemade treasures. They offer a huge variety of Michigan made jams, jellies, candles, honeys, and more. They still make a corn maze, where you can get lost in dried stalks grown over your head. I take my children on the hay ride, where they bring you out to pick a couple of apples right off of the tree, just like I did as a kid. And you can feed the farm animals, like goats, right out of the palm of your hand, jump in large bales of hay, ride a pony, and pretend you’re driving an immobile tractor. I love getting my kids to farm country.
My husband turned 40 this week; which meant we could listen to Coach Mike Gundy’s sound bite incessantly, “I’m a Man! I’m 40!” (Are you familiar with the speech from a couple years ago? He was defending one of his young Oklahoma State players…) I think Owen even made it his ring tone for part of the day, because it was finally legitimate. It also meant that an event I had been planning for about a year was finally ready to come to fruition. I didn’t tell a soul until about 3 months ago, which was my mother, when I was confirming a babysitter. It seems like I plan a lot of events throughout the year, but this had to be special. I wanted it to be memorable (and something to commemorate his manhood, thank you Coach Gundy. -Honestly, I don’t think we could wear it out.) So when I was struck with the idea of a surprise private hot air balloon ride, I didn’t waiver!
The other details took a little thought. Owen’s favorite food is pizza. I needed a place that could hold a crowd and be conveniently located by our landing site. I also needed a cake place that could pull off my Pinterest find and wouldn’t be far from the restaurant, because I wouldn’t be able to store it. Thankfully my sister offered to pick it up before dinner. There was the small issue of having the kids ready for the party before we left… but all of that could be worked out, no problem.
So it was hard to believe that my parents were ill (exposed to Shingles/Chicken Pox), and couldn’t babysit. As well as my sister’s kids, so they couldn’t come and I would have to pick up the cake. The wind was too strong to go on the planned ride (a chance I knew I was taking). And the pizza place that we were supposed to meet everyone at afterwards had an oven fire and sprinkler situation. They called me the morning of to say they couldn’t serve us… What are the odds?
However, our very accommodating friends made the switch to a different location without issue. (And BTW a huge shout-out to the Moosejaw employee who will never read this and who was working at the store when I received the phone call about the restaurant mishap. You are dear to my heart for making phone calls and getting us relocated, while keeping our children entertained with the store video games none-the-less!!) I’d also like to thank my in-laws who offered to watch our children in place of my parents, and although our flight was cancelled allowed us to have a lunch date. And last but not least I’d like to publicly express my gratitude for “Money” and “Clutch” (aka Nanny Tara and Molly O) who once again came through like champions on a perfect windless night so we could balloon high in the sky and I could actually give my gift to my husband on his actual birthday! (Not a bad ending after all.)
Happy Birthday Owen, I love you!!