Ruth had a milestone birthday this year, so I surprised her with a party last weekend, and visits from family and friends.

Ruth's folks were the first to arrive - Friday night at 8pm. Ruthie knew nothing about it, of course, so when I finally had a moment to check the status of the flight, I realized they would be arriving early. I told Ruth I had to leave, and she couldn't ask why, and I hopped in the car and drove to the Portland airport (about 20 minutes). They were waiting, of course, and we had a nice reunion and visit in the car on the way home.

Ruth reacting to the surpriseHaving left so quickly, I didn't have time to grab a camera, so our memories are all we have of Ruth's surprise when the folks rang the doorbell. Ruth was expecting our last guests for the evening, and when she saw her parents, she screamed and burst out in tears. She said it was the best birthday gift she could have received - but little did she know, it wasn't over. The photos of the entire weekend are here.

Saturday morning I had arranged for some friends, Don & Karen, to take Ruth and the folks sightseeing, while I finished the preparations and got all the other people in. We still had to serve some guests Sat. a.m., but Ruth and her folks wouldn't leave! They just kept chatting! I had to think Ruth was getting suspicious, since my phone kept ringing - her friend Audrey was at the airport after taking the redeye, daughter Heather had the flu and didn't know if they would let her on the plane...

Finally they left and went sightseeing, and I was able to get to Portland to pick up Audrey. The sightseeing photos are 001-008. Picture 009 is Audrey arriving in Portland after flying all night. When we returned Audrey went to take a nap and I started Sunday's breakfast, so Ruth wouldn't have to do it. Not long after, the gang from Virginia (Randy & Kristi, Mike & Jackie, Ken & Penni, Tim & Elizabeth and Don & Aimee) arrived (photos 010-013). They got unpacked and went into town for a bit of lunch and some shopping, and I finished making breakfast, then picked up Heather and our grandson Brendan (photo 016). Meanwhile, Don & Karen had taken Ruth to their house, where a new dress and shoes were waiting (photos 017-020).

The folks at our house all got changed and went to the restaurant about 5pm. They amused themselves by taking pictures of each other (photos 021-030). Ruth and her folks, along with Don & Karen, arrived a little after 5:30. The restaurant host said, "Thomas, party of 6" and took us upstairs to the room where everyone was waiting (photos 031-051).

Sunday (Ruth's real birthday) we took the visitors sightseeing, first to Big Al's an odd-lots, low price place that is fun to visit, then to Pemaquid Point Lighthouse, Boothbay Harbor and Five Islands (photos 051-094). After returning home we had time for some family pictures (photos 095-100).

Monday morning Ruth took Audrey to the airport for a 6 a.m. flight to California, then took Heather to Boston for an afternoon flight back to Missouri. Meanwhile, the VA folks did a bit of shopping around Freeport, and headed off for some last minute sightseeing before flying home. The folks stayed another couple of nights, before they, too, headed home (photos 101-102), and we returned to our routine, with more guests on the calendar.

We had a wonderful time, and so appreciate those who were able to come, and also those who weren't able to make it. We are indeed richly blessed.

29 September 2007