Matt’s Surprise Party: I pulled it off!

I did it! I am absolutely in the running for Wife of the Year! I pulled of the surprise graduation party for Matt! He never saw it coming; I must be sneakier than I thought. Matt insisted he didn’t want a party or anything special for his graduation, but earning his doctorate is such a huge accomplishment. I couldn’t just NOT celebrate!Image

I used my friends and my ceramics class as alibis when I made the banners and favors. I made Lets Go Rangers, Congratulations Doctor Niepielko, and Congrats Dr Matt Banners

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 Decor

Favors: Test tubes with M&M’s, Nerds and Smarties Candies, petri dishes with mints, “fly” test tube cookies, and rolo pretzel candies

 

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I went with a whole science theme. Microscope and beaker centerpieces.

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Flask accents

 

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And because it was during Game 2 of the Stanley Cup, I threw in some Ranger decor also.

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I never saw someone so surprised.


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He was so amazed that so many people came just to celebrate for him. Matt is such a humble and modest person, the idea that other people would take the time out of their day to celebrate his accomplishments was the nicest surprise he had.


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About 100 of our friends and family were there to celebrate, even during the game!

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The game was supposed to be on, but something went wrong with the TVs in our banquet room, so people had to keep going out to the bar room and checking their phones.


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I felt so bad and apologized to Matt for missing the game, but he thought the party was so much better anyway.

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We did get to see the last period of the game at home, where we transplanted some of the party. The Rangers lost, but we still had a blast, and two weeks later Matt will still say he’s shocked it even happened!

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In the meantime, there has been a lot of yard work going on at Castle Niepielko. I made my plant towers, started the garden, and we’re beginning the rock wall in the yard. It’s going to be a productive summer!

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April Fool’s Day/Chicken Day for Mom!

In case you didn’t know, one of my many jobs is an English Professor, so I love the fact that April Fool’s Day could be traced back to one of Chaucer’s most popular Canterbury Tales, The Nun’s Priest’s Tale, about a fox who plays a trick on a rooster.  You can check out the real version here or the Spark Notes here. The best part about the fact that the original April Fool’s prank was on a rooster is it perfectly aligns with my April Fool’s joke on my mom. This year, I completely bombed her house with chickens.

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Giving my mom a chicken has been an ongoing joke between me and my sisters for the past 15 years or so, and not just on April Fool’s Day. Whenever my sister’s an I would go out shopping (a considerably often occasion) we would always ask my mom if she wanted to come. If she didn’t come along with us, she’d yell from her room “No, but bring me back a surprise.” My sisters are very sweet to my mom. They’d always bring her back a cute kitchen decoration, a picture frame, or some candy. I’m a little different from my sisters. I love my mom to bits, and I like to show it by busting her chops.

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So during one of our shopping trips, I noticed at this particular store, we had already “surprised” my mom with most of the nicer trinkets.  Then I saw it. It was the ugliest supposed-to-be-a-chicken-decoration I have ever seen in my life. This was no French country style chicken statue or Easter chick. It looked like a 4 year old made it at day care: basically a Styrofoam ball with black and red feathers glued all over it with googley eyes. It was perfect.

“She’s not going to want that! It’s ugly,” they told me.

“That’s the point,” I said, “she knows we have better taste. It’s a real surprise.”

It took a little convincing (and some snacks to make up for the trick), but they agreed to let me get the ugly chicken and present it to my mom.

At first she didn’t say anything because she thought we were serious, but once she saw that we couldn’t hold back our giggles she let us know how ugly she thought it was. Ever since then, she’d tell us to “bring back a surprise. And not a chicken!” But we always did bring back a chicken. Eventually, my mom had enough chickens to redecorate her whole kitchen and half her house. She didn’t like them, but she rarely threw them away. She would always joke that when she’d finally “buy a cabin in the woods, the house will already be decorated with all the chickens.”

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Last year on April Fool’s Day, I was in Home Goods and saw a glass chicken statue and thought “I should get that for mom today!” Then the whole idea struck. Instead of giving her the chicken that day, I decided to stock up on chickens and roosters and bomb her house with them  this April Fool’s. So for the past year, I have been buying, crafting, and stocking up on all the chickens I could find. The chickens took over our spare bedroom.

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I printed lots of chicken pictures and taped them over all the pictures in the house, and I took video of our family doing the chicken dance and played it on loop in the living room.

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I put some chickens outside.

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I made this planter at ceramics.

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And these statues

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I even made some chicken quilts and pillows for both living rooms.

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And as much as I’m teasing, it’s all in fun. To us, food is love, so along with my chicken house bomb, I made everyone lots of chicken themed dishes. Egg salad, chicken salad, deviled eggs, rotisserie chicken, chicken bites, chicken shaped cookies, and chicken cakes.

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When I was getting some things ready for the Chicken Bombing, some people asked me if my mom would get mad. I’m glad I have a mom who can take the joke, because it seems like it’s a rarity. The amount of people who were sure my mom would be furious about the prank made me appreciate her sense of humor. I knew she would pretend for a half a second that she was mad, but I knew wouldn’t actually be upset.  I was right. She thought it was hilarious. She didn’t even want me to take everything down just yet.

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 One of the most important things my mom has taught me is not to take myself too seriously. She was always playing jokes on as when we were kids, and it taught me to laugh at myself (and to question everything). My mom loves mysteries anyway. She’ll spend money on “mystery bag” items, even if she knows it’s junk, just so she can have the suspense before she checks the bag. So in my mind, that equates to her loving surprises, and thus not minding about my prank. So thanks for being a good sport, Mom! I think from now on, you can expect a chicken every April Fool’s! xoxo

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