Happy Birthday Lois

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I’ve mentioned that Lois just had a birthday in May in three separate posts:

The Paper Raincoat and Ian Axel at Mercury Lounge

The Addams Family

Ian Axel and Joey Ryan at Rockwood Music Hall

In fact, many of our friends (and family) had May birthdays, at least one even more significant than Lois’ (see below). Because of the many celebrations, and that thing we don’t like to mention (or think about), work, I haven’t had the time to post about the actual celebration we held for Lois.

Now that May is officially behind us, I’ll do that here, and throw in two other May birthday celebrations for good measure. 🙂

In the last of the three posts linked above, I mentioned that we had a weekend-long celebration which included The Addams Family and a wonderful dinner at the Peking Duck House. More than just another incredible meal and fellowship at the Duck House, the gathering there was also meant to spring a wonderful surprise on Lois.

Time to rewind… Our friends in Richmond, VA and Birmingham, AL coordinated to come up to NYC and spend the weekend. That much Lois knew. What she didn’t know is that one of them, Sally Ann, in consultation with the others, came up with a great idea.

She designed a custom T-Shirt, using a photo of Lois from her teaching days, and invited all of us to submit sayings that we’ve learned from Lois throughout the years. From that list she chose 10 sayings to print on the back of the T-Shirt.

The idea wasn’t to present Lois with a T-Shirt, but rather to have her friends take photos of themselves in the shirt and have the results printed and put into an album for Lois. In addition, those that wanted could write a personal note to Lois for inclusion in the book as well.

I was blown away by the idea, knowing that it was the perfect gift for Lois. The southern crew ordered their own shirts and took their photos. I ordered a bunch of shirts and handed a few out locally, but mostly FedEx’ed T-Shirts all over the globe (yes, more money was spent shipping the shirts than ordering them!). 😉

The furthest photo came from a family in Tokyo that Lois befriended 16 years ago.


The stealth involved for me to sneak out and create nearly 30 separate FedEx packages and ship them, over the course of three days went off nearly without a hitch. When I tried to make a physical handoff at a restaurant to our friends who live in Thailand, but were in town for one last night, she nearly caught me. I couldn’t explain my erratic behavior to her satisfaction and it was a point of irritation (and comedy) between us for a few weeks until I could finally explain what happened.

A similar thing happened when someone else emailed her with a subject line that I thought meant that the T-Shirt photo was attached (it wasn’t). I panicked and started yelling that she shouldn’t open the email. She looked at me like I had three heads. I couldn’t explain that either.

So, she knew something was up, but she had no clue, until the actual reveal, of exactly what was up, since it was such a creative surprise!

The reveal came in two stages. Everyone else went to the Duck House before we did. They claimed they wanted to walk, and Lois wanted to take a cab, so no misdirection was needed! When they got to the Duck House, they all had their T-Shirts on for Lois to see when we walked in. It was awesome.


Here are two close-ups of the front and back:

Front Back

Stage one was complete, and of course, Lois thought that was the entire surprise. After the cake was served stage two was sprung on her, the book itself, with photos of people she never dreamed I would remember to contact! As predicted, Lois was crying non-stop as she flipped the pages. 🙂

LoisAlex LoisCake

My thanks to everyone who participated, with extra special thanks going to Sally Ann and Laura, not only for conceiving and shepherding the process, for their tireless work in producing the actual book, with gorgeous arrangements and reformatting of the notes and letters. It was truly an amazing work of art!

ClearlyDrunk VillageOnDeck

Two more May birthdays to recount (though there were more, that I apologize for not mentioning specifically). The very next weekend we were down in Richmond, VA for a 90th birthday party. It was awesome, and there is little that I can hope for in life more than to be just like Vivian when I’m 90! We love you Vivian, and it was an honor and a pleasure to celebrate with you!


Finally, we ended May with a bang. Our wonderful Trevor turned 12 and the entire family came up for the Memorial Day weekend to celebrate. They went to the Statue of Liberty on Saturday (before they got to our apartment).

Arrival1 Arrival2

After dinner at Jackson Hole (amazing burgers) we all went to the Top of the Rock. It was a gorgeous night and we all had a great time there. We let the boys stay up too late and watched National Treasure 2, and enjoyed every second of it (other than the boys squealing whenever someone kissed on screen). 😉

TrevorCentralPark GarretTrevorHadar

LightShow1 LightShow2 LightShow3

Sunday was the big day. The boys, their dad, Lois and I went to see the Yankees play the Indians. We got there very early. While the boys were unable to get any autographs (apparently that doesn’t happen much any longer due to security concerns), they got something nearly as good. Derek Jeter hit a ball deep into the outfield during batting practice. The dad asked one of the Cleveland Indians players if he could retrieve it, and he was kind enough to do it. Cool!

TheBall TrevorDadGarret

The Yankees were down 3-0. In the bottom of the seventh, with two outs and two strikes, Derek Jeter hit a single which scored two runs. Following a double by Granderson, again with two strikes (obviously still two outs), Mark Teixeira hit a 3-run homer putting the Yankees up 5-3. They scored two more in the eighth, and then Mariano Rivera shut the Indians down in the ninth. It was awesome, and the crowd was in ecstasy (as were the boys!).

GarretHadarTrevor HomeRun

The girls (other than Lois, who I still consider to be my girl) went to see Mary Poppins. They loved that too, so all seven of us had a delightful day.

We capped the night off with a wonderful Mexican meal at El Rio Grande followed by watching the original Karate Kid movie. The next day the family spent the day at Ground Zero and Battery Park, nearly walking all the way back to the apartment (until one of the kids cried uncle). After lunch on the deck, they hit the road back to VA, and even though it was Memorial Day, had no traffic and an excellent ride.


An excellent end to a month-long celebration of wonderful people’s birthdays, Lois included. 🙂

Happy Birthday Lois

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Lois and I rarely exchange gifts or cards on any occasion, including birthdays. The main exception is that Lois has gone out of her way to make some of my milestone birthdays very special affairs. That included my 30th, 35th and 50th.

This was not a milestone birthday for Lois, but I decided to give her a small surprise nonetheless. Surprising Lois is no easy feat. She’s curious about lots of things, and not shy to ask questions, so some outright lying is required, something I am normally loathe to do. C’est la vie! 😉

We spend a lot of time working in Fredericksburg, VA, and often spend the intervening weekend in Richmond, VA, where we have more good friends than you can shake a stick at (always a fun thing to do). I noticed that there was a Bluegrass Festival (specifically, the City Slickers Bluegrass Festival) on Lois’ actual birthday. I knew that this would be a cool thing to do, with as many of our friends as could make it.

I already covered the event itself in a post yesterday. This post will cover the details leading up to it, and a bit of the rest of the weekend after as well.

Once I decided on this event, I wrote to a bunch of people and invited them to join us. One after another, I got back regrets that people would be out of town. Of course, it turned out that this was Mothers Day Weekend, and our closest friends were coupling that by attending a Law School Graduation for the son of another friend.

For a couple of days, it looked like it might just be Lois and me. Not that it wouldn’t be fun, but it wouldn’t be a party. 😉

Then I got one yes, followed by one maybe. That’s where the count stood for a few weeks. I bought four tickets, and figured at least we were set for a good time, and put it out of my mind.

A week out, I got another two tentative attendees, and they asked me not to purchase tickets in advance, in case they couldn’t make it. Thankfully, they were able to make it. In a wonderful surprise, someone else who was planning on being out of town ended up staying in Richmond, partially to help celebrate Lois’ birthday, so seven of us all enjoyed the show together!

Along the way, there were some twists and turns. Lois reached out to a number of friends independently, knowing that we would have more time to run around than usual, given that we would be house sitting (and dog sitting) for our friends. Behind her back, I was telling people that they should respond however they want (make plans, don’t make plans, etc., but not to reveal the surprise!).

In fact, I asked one of the confirmed people to suggest coming to see Lois at 2pm on Saturday (the gates for the Festival opened at 2:30pm) so that I could be sure Lois would want to be at the house at the correct hour. That worked out perfectly (or so I thought it would).

One of the women that Lois reached out to invited us for dinner on Friday evening to spend some time with them and their now-crawling baby girl. We were delighted and accepted right away. An hour later, she emailed again (to Lois) asking if we could move it to Saturday night. Lois instantly accepted and (thankfully!) informed me after the fact.

I wrote to our friend and said that I didn’t intend to officially cancel, which would make Lois suspicious, but that we would not be able to make dinner on Saturday because of the concert. At this point I was pretty sure that the surprise would be revealed sooner rather than later, purely for logistics reasons, or from being caught in a silly lie.

On Friday, we had lunch with our attorney in Richmond. We bumped into our hostess for Saturday night waiting for the elevator (she works for a consulting firm which is part of the same law firm). Later that afternoon, I emailed her and asked her to write to Lois and move our meal up to lunch. She did.

Lois became suspicious immediately. This was now the second time that the meal had been rescheduled. I did my best to downplay the changes. Lois was now nervous that we wouldn’t get back in time for the 2pm meeting at the house. I assured her we would.

Then Lois wrote to another person who was coming to the concert, and asked to get together for breakfast on Saturday. That person wrote to me and asked what she should do. 😉 I told her that breakfast would be fine, as long as it didn’t interfere with her ability to join us for the concert. She said it wouldn’t, and she showed up at 9:30am at the house on Saturday.

We ended up at our appointed lunch at exactly noon, perfect. We had a wonderful time catching up with our friends, and playing with the baby (a complete delight!). When it got close to 2pm, Lois was getting nervous about the person who was coming to the house. Of course, I had already redirected her to where we were (she’s the sister of the husband of the couple we were visiting). I pretended to email her, and pretended that she said she would come there instead. 🙂



Baby and Hadar

Baby and Hadar

We had a fantastic meal (home cooked) outside in the garden behind their house. It’s now three days later, and Lois and I are still talking about it.

Amazing Outdoor Meal

Amazing Outdoor Meal

At 2:30, I excused myself to go back to the house to walk the dog and feed the fish. Half an hour later, Lois showed up, and the other couple was already there. Now she finally knew something was up, but she still thought it was just going to be a get-together at the house, to say Happy Birthday.

I told her not to sit down, that we were heading to the Science Museum. She didn’t believe me. It was the truth, as the Festival was held on the grounds of the Science Museum of VA, in the Garner Pavilion. I joked that there were 6,000 strangers waiting there to sing Happy Birthday to her (and she was a little more than nervous that perhaps I was telling the truth!).

Science Museum of VA

Science Museum of VA

Until we were in the parking lot, she had no idea what we were about to do. Thankfully, she loved the idea, and the actual show, beyond my hopeful expectations. So, I done good! 🙂

After the show, we went to one of the couples’ house for home made birthday cake (chocolate-chocolate, which was beyond awesome!), and ice cream. The next day we joined most of the people who joined us for the show for an incredible Mothers Day celebration at the local country club. It was magical, with three generations of mothers in attendance, all mothers-in-law to each other.

Birthday Cake

Birthday Cake

A fantastic weekend that will not be forgotten soon. Happy Birthday Lois! 🙂

P.S. We have a ton of good looking friends. Here is one tiny bit of proof of that fact!

Good Looking Friends

Good Looking Friends