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Families love each other…sure, I’d say that’s pretty foundational. What is truly remarkable is when they actually LIKE each other. I was always taught that you have to “love” everyone you just don’t have to “like” them. I’m pretty sure this was just a way to teach me not to say I “hate” someone; I could say “I don’t like them” instead, and this was acceptable (although not desirable). I’m sure my mom’s whole goal was to get all of us siblings to get along (as well as to help teach us to make friends), which was not an easy feat given the fact that there were so many different personalities.

So do I know my family loves me?….of course. But do I sometimes wonder if they “like” me?…most definitely, especially since I have tendencies toward being opinionated and controlling. I try to use these powers for good, but even the best of intentions don’t always work out and my quick tongue sometimes gets things out before checking with my brain first. Good thing families give their members second chances on a regular basis.

But on one wonderful Sunday in May, I got to see firsthand just how much my family truly “likes” me. They put together the most fantastic birthday party I could have ever dreamed of and all of it was kept a surprise. It was a whole day (12 hours really, I think we set a record for the amount of time we have all been together in the last 5 years) filled with my favorite things, most of which involved just being with my family, and food, of course. I can’t believe the amount of thought that was put into every detail just to make sure I had a special day.

My two favorite things are Thanksgiving and the beach. If I could have Thanksgiving on the beach with my family…priceless. They did all of this and more and we didn’t have to leave the driveway of our family home. Top the day off with fun carnival games (we are a competitive bunch with shockingly good eye-hand coordination and aim…freaked Danny out a bit to see us all in action) and snack, upon snack, upon snack, and you’ve got a recipe for my perfect day.

Barley green shots (nothing but super healthy things in here). Healthy shots kicked off the party. Barley green, carrot juice, and a mix of all the healthy things that my mom constantly fed us while growing up. Nice touch of nostalgia here.

Mini fruit smoothies with my favorite, the tiny umbrella. In Pre-K I used to choose this as my weekly “grab” prize quite often…that or gum.

Yumi-licious Frozen Yogurt: Coconut and Avacado Tart with toppings, including a chopped up Hershey’s Symphony Bar (one of my childhood favorites…these things are still good).

Candy Crane Machine (hours of fun) and S’mores

Popcorn Bar – full of different organic popcorn flavors

Organic Chocolates

My mom’s Ugly Cake (yellow cake, cream cheese, coconut, pecans…wow!) – my every year birthday cake bar! I loved all of the labels on the food…organization = fun 🙂

Thanksgiving Beach was not complete without traditional Thanksgiving foods prepared by none other than Nana. This was the first time that her dressing and broccoli, cheese, and rice casserole have seen the light of day outside of the holiday months. If you haven’t tried dressing in May, I strongly suggest you do. I think the more humid months make it even better somehow. She subbed turkey for her fried chicken strips…nope, we didn’t mind one bit.

Thanksgiving in May: Fried Chicken Strips, Dressing, Broccoli/cheese/rice casserole, quinoa salad, and more

After the meal, the games began and our competitive natures came out. I will say that I was the champ at bottle ring toss, despite the fact that my mom slipped a tiny ring into the mix, making it extra challenging for us all.

I do like to win.

She’s a quick one, that KaLynn, and quite an athlete.

Flip Cup with distilled water….hydrating and good for coordination.

We ate and played and had the best day. I later cried happy tears (I can’t remember this ever happening) just thinking about how wonderful the day was and how loved I truly am by all of them. There are several great things about coming from a big family and family birthday parties are definitely one of them. No need to have an extensive guest list when all of your favorite people come built in already.

Thank you all for everything you did to make this day one I will never forget. I love you so very much!

Where to Go/What to Order:

Yumi-licious Frozen Yogurt: Coconut Tart and Avacado Tart…apparently they travel quite nicely (and for a fairly good distance) in a cooler.

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