It's official. My husband, who I call the Gardener, is retired. He has spent his entire career working as a Park Ranger (not a gardener, but he plays one at home) and while still in his 40's, with a 4 year old, and twin 11 year olds at home...he is officially, retired. It's something we have talked about since before we got married. How we wanted to parent. Being available to be with our kids and enjoy them every minute. It has required us to make some not so fun financial decisions. We don't have a fancy house or drive new cars or go on vacation very often. My kids do ask why we don't have what their friends have and my answer has always been, "Would you rather have a big house? Or would you rather have one of your parents greet you at the door EVERY single day when you get home from school? Why yes, in fact guilt does work quite well in our house. Because their answer is always..."to have our parents home".
And it's true. We get to be with our kids and each other, a lot. It's what works for us. Life is short and my husband and I have both experienced that in our life early on. Losing a sister. Losing a parent. Losing fellow officers during our law enforcement careers. It makes you look at life with a different set of eyes. And now that he is retired, we will be together even more. God is good and I know He has a plan for us. We are excited to see what comes next for our little family and what new adventures will come our way.
I wanted to share some of the ideas for putting together his party...and I have to start with the best! Remember my BFF Kristin? Who made THIS cake? She did it again! This cake had a tent on top with two word bubbles coming out. One said "So how do you like retirement now?" and the other said, "I'd like it a lot better had we seen some deer on this hunting trip". (the gardener is an AVID deer hunter) Outside of the tent sits a deer, roasting a marshmallow over the campfire. The cake also has shotgun shells along the border, grass, and rocks. Kristin is off the hook amazing with her cakes. It was great! All of the fondant is homemade and it is SO delicious. Usually fondant is...ick! Her's is made from marshmallows and mmmmmmm!
One of the focal points of the party was this table I set up with mementos. It has a resolution that had been passed by the park board recognizing his service, a vintage hummingbird picture (his loves his hummingbirds), a stack of books about deer, John Muir and wilderness, deer antlers, a memory jar and a few other pictures and items and a place for cards.
The memory jar asked for guests to leave Ken a memory - there were A LOT of stories to be told and this was a fun way for people to write down something that they remembered doing with Ken or experienced with him. He really appreciated the sentiments.
We also had a "Trail Mix Bar". Pretzels, nuts, M&M's of course and more...set out with bags that said "Thank you! Our family thanks you for your friendship through the years and for sharing this special occasion with us tonight". This sign above was set up to invite our friends to make a bag of trail mix snacks for their next hike. Big hit with the kids, young and old alike! And yes, that is the Gardener, my husband, on that horse in the mountains. His favorite place in the world, hunting horseback in the backcountry. (that cowboy streak in him is what made me fall hard for him...so hot. ahem...anyway...)
Each table was set with a wood "cookie" that his best friend had cut. I found little ceramic birds at The Flower Factory for only $1.50 / each. I had the jars and vases already so I added some moss inside them and also on the wood for a natural look. To each vase, I added a little picture of my husband that says Happy Retirement and a flower. Underneath I laid a piece of burlap layered with a Riley Blake chevron print. Simple, inexpensive, and fit our purposes quite nicely.
I got ZERO pictures of the food but it was AMAZING as always. Fresh, tasty and gorgeous. Our caterer, In Good Taste does a fabulous job and it took all the pressure off of me. It was so nice to be able to enjoy the party and not worry about serving or preparing. Love, love, love her!
So that's it. I think we will have a family day at the pool this afternoon. You know, since he's home on a weekend and all. (A first! He has worked EVERY weekend, and EVERY holiday, YES including CHRISTMAS, our entire marriage.) We are going to go enjoy our time together. Happy Retirement indeed!