Sunday, August 19, 2018

Our Silver Anniversary

August 10 was my birthday; August 12 was Abigail's birthday; and August 14 was Susan's and my silver anniversary. Yes, 25 years of marriage! To celebrate, our daughters were sneaky and turned the tables on their parents. Usually it's Susan and I who are keeping surprises from the girls--but this time, they planned and threw a surprise party for us! Here's how it happened:

On August 7, the girls brought Susan to my office so that we'd all be together when they gave Susan and me our anniversary gift: a collection of gift certificates for a weekend spent together out of town! We had been told ahead of time to clear our schedules for August 10 and 11, and this is why: they wanted to send us to Bismarck, ND for a special birthday/anniversary getaway.

On August 10, my birthday breakfast = Norwegian pancakes filled with fresh peaches and drizzled with maple syrup . . . and, of course, a side of bacon. Thank you, Susan!

We went out for dinner at El Sombrero in Dickinson. Then the girls sent us off to Bismarck. Well, first we stopped at Dunn Brothers in Dickinson, where a free coffee awaited me for my birthday. When we arrived in Bismarck, we stopped at Starbucks for another free birthday coffee. Then we checked into our room at the Wingate in north Bismarck, where the girls had reserved us a room. Super-friendly service at the front desk and a lovely room with a king-sized bed.

The girls had pre-paid for movie tickets and popcorn for us at the Grand, a movie theater complex in Bismarck. They also gave us gift cards to use for our meals. Still full from our dinner and two coffee shop stops, we opted for cocktails and an appetizer at the Red Lobster (which is near the Grand) in lieu of a full supper. Then we saw the movie Skyscraper starring Neve Campbell and Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson. A great action film!

On August 11, we started our day with breakfast at the hotel and then some shopping, getting a lot of bulletin board materials and posters for Susan's library for start-of-the-school-year decorating. We ate dinner at the Bistro, a terrific "American cafĂ©" in Bismarck. Susan's lobster bisque was filled with huge chunks of lobster instead of the shreds of seafood in most lobster bisques.

Before we left, the girls made it very clear to us that we were to return to Dickinson at 4:15 P.M. Mountain time, no sooner or later. Their explanation was that Abigail, who is a resident assistant (R.A.) this year in the residence halls, had to be at R.A. training at the university most of the day but had a short time available at 4:15 P.M. to meet with us and hear stories about our trip to Bismarck. Riiiiiiight.

Okay, so Susan and I had some time to fill between dinner and our departure from Bismarck. We went to the ND State Capitol Complex and got a tour of the Capitol. It had been several years since either of us had gone on the official tour, and it was interesting to get to look around and hear stories about the building's history. (And the tour guide was a hoot!) This is a view of the chamber where the state House of Representatives meets.

And this is a view of the chamber for the state Senate.

And this is a view of the Capitol grounds, looking south from the observation deck on the 18th floor.

Another building on the Capitol Complex is the ND State Library Memorial Building. I asked the librarian to pose near the waterfall on the east side of the building.

Then we spent some time in the ND Heritage Center, which houses the State Historical Society and features several terrific exhibits--and a great gift store with a lot of ND products and books. By the way, the Capitol tour and admission to the Heritage Center both are free--so not only are they worth your time for the content they offer, but also the price is right!

We made another Starbucks stop on the way out of town (yes, one of our gift cards from the girls was for Starbucks) and made it back to Dickinson on time. As we neared town, I had Susan text Suzanna to say we had enjoyed ourselves so much that we were opting to spend another night in Bismarck. Suzanna's response: "Get here." That confirmed that something was up!

And when we drove up to our house, we saw a driveway and garage full of family, friends, and neighbors, all waiting for us to arrive for a party in our honor!

While we were in Bismarck, my sisters had come to Dickinson and helped the girls set up our garage and veranda for a surprise party. There were tables and chairs everywhere, all decorated and featuring photos of Susan and me. There were counters filled with food, and along one wall of the garage were several coolers with beverages of all kinds. There was a gift table with a guest book and a photo display, including our wedding scrapbook, and strings of lights adorned the walls of the garage. It was over 100° outside, but we stayed near the fans and kept hydrated and found the shade and enjoyed a lot of hugs, laughter, and visiting into the night.

These three beauties decided they'd better throw us a 25th anniversary party because they had heard enough stories from me about how my sisters and I had done the same for our parents the summer before their 25th anniversary--and the girls took the hint! They did a great job keeping everything a secret and enlisting help from my sisters and others along the way. Susan and I still are learning the details of the girls' planning as we ask "How did you three manage to . . . ?" types of questions from day to day. How fun!

Others were taking photographs throughout the afternoon and evening, so I did not. I did ask people to share their photos with me. Until then, here's one photo that I did take: a look at the garage setup toward the end of the night. The only people left were Susan, the girls, and my family. We had just opened gifts and cards and were sitting on the driveway, enjoying the cooling temps and the glowing lights in the dark of nighttime. What a great weekend getaway ending with a terrific surprise party!

On August 12, we were able to go out for brunch with Abigail, the birthday girl, before she had to return to the university for more R.A. training and duties. Suzanna had to head back to her job at Badlands Ministries south of Medora, ND to help run one last camp for the summer, so she couldn't join us. Throughout the day we bid farewell to Dad, Sandy, and Kathy as each one headed back home; and the next day, Cathy left for home, too. Thank you all for spending the weekend with us and making our 25th anniversary party such a great celebration!


  1. Congratulations! How proud you must be of your girls!

    1. Thank you very much! Yes, we're proud, for sure.