Written by Girl Birthday Gift
Two weekends ago, we celebrated my father-in-law's 60th birthday. We spent two days at Disneyland and stayed at the Grand Californian Hotel. Definitely going down in the books as one of my favorite experiences.
It was a complete and total surprise, and I am still scratching my head as to how we all kept it a secret for so long and actually pulled it off! My MIL is basically Danny Ocean, and swiftly planned and executed the whole ordeal. Let me assure you it was nothing short of amazing. And since her name is Dianne, let's refer to her as Dianne Ocean from now on.
The rest of us were all really proud of our contribution, which was basically planning on how to surprise my FIL once we were inside the park. We decided on a nonchalant, stranger strolling by approach. Let's give it a nickname to keep in proper Dianne Ocean form... we'll call it a Lookie-Loo with a Side of Tada!
My MIL had told him they were going to do a day at Disney and a night at the hotel, just the two of them, on Thursday while everyone else was at work. Very plausible and logical, and no reason to question! A mastermind, that woman!
Matt's older brother and sister were there, so we thought we'd split up into three groups. (There are a total of 11 of us, so Ocean's Eleven is very fitting.) First up was Matt's older brother's family. They waited at the beginning of mainstreet, casually looking into shop windows as innocent Disney bystanders. I got to play the role of discrete photographer, and briefly considered a career as a private investigator. I am alarmingly talented at lurking in the shadows and capturing scenes unseen!
Here we have our first moment of shock and wonder! There are few things more gratifying in life than seeing someone greeted by surprise, by the people they love the most. I feel like all of these pictures are literally worth ten thousand words. Forget the 1,000! We like to talk a lot around here.
Next up in the Lookie-Loo with a Side of Tada grift was our family of four. After shooting the first mini reunion, I had to book it down to the middle of Main Street where we were planted to jump out. You should have seen me. I was definitely that crazy lady tourist running down the street with a camera around my neck, but trying not to be noticeable so Tim wouldn't see me.
That right there is the look of, "Got ya!" (I think I succeeded. Also, he hadn't seen Matt, who is to the right, yet.)
Tim saw me first, and after getting a big, ole' bear hug, he asked, "Where's Matt?" only to turn around to see his baby with his babies. (Matt and I are both the youngest in our families, and so far our self-centered, bratty, youngest child personalities are working out marvelously together.) There were more hugs and smiles, and this is when the waterworks began to leak a little.
The next surprise was the sweetest. Tim had no idea Matt's sister, Stephanie, would be in town. Matt's brother lives here in Orange County, so he thought he had seen the last of the surprise popups. Besides, Stephanie had just been on the phone with him the day before lamenting on how she wished she could be there for his birthday but was slammed with work.
She was sitting down by the statue of Walt and Mickey right before the castle. We pretended to take a shortcut through the crowds to Tomorrowland, when Steph, breezily propped up near the fence said, "Hey, Popps!"
At that point Tim lost it. He hugged onto her tightly, and now behind those black sunglasses were full on tears of joy.
All of his kids and grandchildren at his side, on his 60th birthday, at Disneyland. We'd hit the trifecta of pure, ultimate happiness. And subsequently, we were all crying, I think. I know I was!
The rest is a magnificent photo dump from the birthday bonanza. We laughed, ate our way through the park (and by that I mean CORN DOGS) and found the loopholes of the Fast Pass and Stroller Pass system, so we all managed to get on all the good rides without waiting longer than 25 minutes. I call that sting the Mickey Exit Route. (Soderbergh, feel free to use my material in the event you make Ocean's Fourteen, which takes place at Epcot Center, much to Terry Benedict's chagrin.)
Wes pulled out his party tricks especially for Papa!
Yet another dress I found at the thrift store. I believe it is an old Forever 21 dress. The tags were ripped out, but I saw a girl on Instagram wearing an identical dress. And as I always like to say when I score a stellar thrift find... best $3 ever spent!
These are all from the next day, where we wore Team Rodriguez shirts. The picture on the front is of Tim when he was a little guy... I want to say maybe 6 or 7? It's funny, because as we walked through the gates to go into California Adventure, one of the workers said to Luke, "Oh, look how cute! Your face is on the shirts! Happy Birthday!" You were right, Mom. Luke is a spitting image of his Papa Rodriguez.
Don't ask me why we decided to take a family photo at the end of the day when we all look tuckered out, and by tuckered out, I mean crap. This one is purely for posterity's sake!
On Sunday, after all the festivities were over and the last candles had been blown out, Tim gave a loving and devoted speech where he told us that when he dies, he knows that he will be greeted by all of his loved ones, just as he was that day at Disneyland.
That's what this life is all about... family. Incredibly grateful to be a part of this amazing clan. Love you, guys!
P.S. Today is Dianne Ocean's actual birthday. Happy Birthday, Dianne! We're coming for ya' next year with an even greater birthday heist! Love you!
P.P.S. I've made Disneyland its own tag for this blog since we are apparently fanatics and have religiously gone since before Luke was born. You can find all of our Disneyland posts here. I'm feeling a guide coming on...
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