Party…and Pups

Todd’s surprise birthday party was a blast! We sneaked his friends out to the Lodge and they (along with Alex, Paige, and Bryce, who left the cattle working early) were all waiting for him when he and Marlboro Man “stopped by for a snack.” As they were driving up the road and we were all ducking behind the kitchen island for the surprise, my heart started racing because surprise parties make me a nervous wreck. Even though a little eleven-year-old’s surprise birthday party is inconsequential in the grand scheme of life, I get so wrapped up and invested that I send myself into a tizzy. That I was squatting while waiting for Todd was causing all sorts of other problems—both cardiovascular and orthopedic, and probably urological, too—so by the time he and Ladd walked into the Lodge, I was sure I was going to faint or have a coronary. Wouldn’t that have been an awesome birthday surprise for Todd?

It was a happy ending—Todd was surprised, alright. But he wasn’t surprised in a jump-up-and-down and laugh and smile sort of way. It was more of a stick-his-fingers-in-his-ears-and-look-terrified sort of way. Evidently, because everyone had gotten up so early to work cattle that morning, Todd had fallen sound asleep in the back of Ladd’s pickup on the 8-minute drive to the Lodge. So when he walked into the kitchen, he was still in that groggy, sleepy state. That approximately 14 of his closest friends and family jumped out and screamed at him the second he walked in threw him for a bit of a loop.

But yes. He was surprised!

And once the sheer terror wore off, he was excited!

IMG_8234I made homemade versions of Freddy’s burgers: smash small portions of ground beef onto a hot griddle—and I mean smash them flatter than flat. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. When brown on the first side (this doesn’t take very long), flip the patties over and wait 30 seconds. Put cheese on half the patties, transfer the other patties on top of the cheese-topped ones. Wait 30 more seconds and transfer to standard, soft, white burger buns. (Note that using any kind of gourmet hamburger bun is completely forbidden when making these burgers.)

I also made onion strings, and as usual, I didn’t even begin to make enough.

Those things are tough to make for a crowd. They disappear, man!

IMG_8316Do you remember doing this in youth group growing up? I sure do. Buy a length of guttering at Lowe’s or Home Depot, then line the whole thing with heavy aluminum foil and make a honkin’ ice cream sundae. (I made dark chocolate brownies and cut them into small bites to make it a brownie sundae.

I didn’t take a picture of what it looked like after everyone devoured it. It was absolutely destroyed.

IMG_8323Todd had a great day! The whole celebration ended with an epic water balloon and water gun fight, and some of his friends spend the night at our house, and everyone was nice and strung out the next morning.

It was so much fun!

IMG_8325In other news, I wanted to show you a picture of the puppinses. They are enjoying their life on the ranch, and they are enjoying Charlie, Walter, and the other canine companions that live here. They look like polar bears, they like to lick everything and everyone, and they have chewed up one of my wicker chairs on our back porch.

But man, are they sweet.

(I didn’t need that silly ol’ chair anyway.)

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