Danelle’s Surprise Birthday Party – 7/7/2018

Danelle has had a few surprise birthday parties for me. They are always a fun time and lots of planning. I think she was a bit surprised when her 40th birthday came and went with little fanfare. Unless you consider sending her to the beach for a week with friends a decent thing.

Anyway, this was the year for her 41st birthday that I would plan a surprise party for her. The idea for the party started with a business trip to Milwaukee, WI for Danelle. She came home raving about a concert at a bar she happened upon. The artist’s name is Pat McCurdy. It was good enough that she purchased a CD of his. We have listened to that CD for almost 10 years now and enjoyed it every time. I thought it might be really cool for her if we made a special trip to see Pat play.

I invited Megan Pagliaro (a lab mate at SLU), and Laura Berlin (one of her roommates from college). Each of those ladies was invited to bring a plus one for a quick weekend to the Wisconsin Dells to see Pat play a concert. It took a bit of planning, but each of the ladies was in. Laura declined a plus one, but Megan brought Leticia Classen Rodriguez as her plus one. No, don’t get excited, they are just good friends!

In order to prevent Danelle from doing anything that weekend, I “planned” an overnight paddle training trip for a race I wasn’t even paddling in to help a friend. Danelle was a little bitter about this plan of mine as I had done lots of paddle training this summer and let me know about it a few times. Additionally, I planned this fictional trip with Andy, but didn’t tell him about it. At one point in the summer before this trip, Danelle asked Andy about our training, but Andy said he couldn’t remember but that we were probably doing something!

The the great morning came, I woke up to go paddling, then rolled over and woke up Danelle. As far as she knew, she was also our shuttle driver and would have to drive us across Missouri early in the morning. I told her I wasn’t paddling, but she had to get up for a trip. She was surprised and relieved that she didn’t have to drive all morning just so I could have fun. Her packing was without complaint other than the fact that I wouldn’t tell her what she was packing for.

When we got in the van, this is where things got interesting. Danelle has an amazing internal GPS. I told her that after we got gas and coffee, that she would play the game where she closed her eyes and had to guess where we were going. I further told her that she would never guess where we were going, a challenge she accepted. So I set off with her not looking as I frantically tried to find the highway. The ramp for I-44 I was planning to use was closed. She figured out pretty quickly where I was and directed me with her eyes shut.

During this time we, chatted about what was going on. She wondered if Laura was part of it, but then decided it was too early in the morning and that Laura would not be up yet. Little did she know that Laura was making all of us home made breakfast biscuit sandwiches. Eventually we got off the highway, parked and walked up to Megan’s house to pick up our first passenger. Danelle started to wonder what was up now.

Next was Leticia’s house and finally when we got off downtown, she realized that Laura was also part of this. Before long, we were headed north towards Wisconsin. The girls were chatting and having a fantastic time, but none of us would tell Danelle where we were going or what we were doing. Eventually each of the girls slept while I drove on (there and back), we have a fairly tight deadline.

We stopped at a sandwich shop for lunch. Its a chain, but one I had never heard of before. I learned that Leticia is a vegetarian and lactose intolerant. Not a good thing for somebody heading to America’s dairy land.

After lunch, we passed a turn off for Chicago, so Danelle started to wonder what was going on. She asked if we were going to the Dells and I said “What are the Dells” which gave it away for her. She didn’t know why we were going there. Its a family place with tons of water parks. I didn’t have her bring anything for swimming, so this confused her further!

Eventually, we got to the White Rose Inn, our hotel for the night. I didn’t know what time the concert would be done, so we needed to check in first before the office closed for the night. After a fast visit to our rooms, we went on to the most important destination of the whole trip, Fawn Creek Winery. There on the door to the winery was a poster for Pat McCurdy that gave Danelle the largest of smiles. She finally knew what we were doing at a random winery 6 hours from home!

At the winery, we got a tour of all the wines and picked the ones we liked the most, then found our seats for the show. I didn’t know what to expect, so I brought two jeans quilts and some chairs. We ended up sitting just off the front of the stage in an unused place because it didn’t have seating till we arrived. We made it ours quickly and got snacks for the show.

In the photo below from left to right: Leticia, Megan, Laura, Danelle

Pat’s concert was a total thing of beauty. I was nervous taking three new people as you never know how people will react to a new musician they have not heard before, but they became fans after the first song!

To get a flavor of Pat’s music, here is a 20 minute clip of part of the concert. A few different pieces.

And most interesting is the audience participation. Pat will ask people from the crowd their name and where they are from, then sing a short song about them. We put him to the test giving him Leticia from San Juan Puerto Rico. He didn’t disappoint!

Of course we highly recommend seeing Pat play if you have the opportunity. He’s a hidden talent that makes everybody smile!

After the concert, there wasn’t anything I could do to top the afternoon’s festivities. So we went back to the motel. The plan was to freshen up for 10 minutes, then hit the town for dinner and exploring.

It didn’t take long before we found lots of fun things to see.

If there is one thing there is too much of in the Dells, its Fudge shops. Seems like there are two on every corner. But we finally found somewhere we could hang out for the evening.

We ended the evening just before 1 am. We promised to be up and ready to head back to St. Louis by 7am. Somehow, Danelle and I woke up just after 5am ready to go. We even got to have a romantic early morning walk before everybody else was up on the river walk.

It was a perfect surprise birthday weekend celebrated with close friends. One Danelle will not likely forget!

Hogan Haake

 

 

Corvin’s Friend Birthday Party – 10/10/2015

What birthday would be complete without having your friends for a sleepover? So we invited Zach and Henry over to share in the festivities. After dinner, we had to provide dessert. In order to keep things interesting, I served a few scoops of ice cream and cake. But they each got special implements to eat with.

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Corvin got chopsticks and a pizza cutter.

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Henry got a bib and a baby spoon.

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Zach got a baby spoon and a butter knife.

The kids got a great laugh out of trying to eat with what they were given, and eventually got real spoons 🙂

In the morning, we woke them up and got them all packed to be taken home. Then we loaded up in the van for adventure. Don’t they look excited?

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We arrived at Go Ape!, a ropes course. We ended up getting Zach’s mom, Christine, to join us so we had a 1 parent to child paring which was good. Once we were checked in, we loaded into safety harness and listened to the safety talk. Then we practiced on the ground doing what we were taught.

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With ground practice out of the way, there was a practice course a few feet off the ground. High enough to use the equipment, but unlikely to kill you if you fell!

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This is the start of the challenge. Its going to be interesting! IMG_20151011_102229

The course is set up into 5 sections. The first two are closely monitored by staff for issues from the participants, but they don’t actually go with you. One of the greatest things about this course is that you’re mostly unsupervised, but can whistle for help.

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Henry is all hooked up and ready to tackle this section.IMG_20151011_105539

All queued up for adventure! here comes the end of the first section, a long zipline!

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Hanging off the platform!

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Some random obstacles

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And two videos to round it all out 🙂

It was a fantastic treat and we all had a good time and a workout! If you get a chance, treat yourself to one of their courses!

Hogan Haake

 

Crazy Birthday – 6/10/2015

Now that all of you know my birthday, I expect presents next year… Anyway, this day started off fantastic. Danelle told me not to leave for work till I talked to her. I was mildly concerned. I got ready slowly can came downstairs to her and the kids singing me happy birthday with my first ever homemade donut cake featuring Strange Donuts!

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Then I packed up my supplies for the day. We were having a Chicken and Waffle day at work. That meant at 10:30am, I would go to the kitchen at work with a few others and start cooking for the office. Since its an office, we don’t always have everything a normal kitchen would have. But with creativity, we can re-fill a salt shaker from packets…

Anna Blazer refills the salt from packets.

Anna Blaser refills the salt from packets.

We don’t have a stove, so we had a table with a few waffle irons and a fry daddy!

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That large orange bowl is a quadruple of this Alton Brown waffle recipe, which turned out amazing! Here is a sample plate of the chicken and waffles.

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Of course, no lunch would be complete without fried Twinkies! I seriously considered a second one it was so good!

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Finished Twinkie!

Finished Twinkie!

With a perfect lunch to go with breakfast, I was ready for our weekly softball game. Honeys ‘N Badgers vs some other team lead by Kris Ninnis. The game was going well, but like always we were not winning. I had a ball hit right past me that gave me a scare. The other player apologized for such a close call. Being a nice guy, I said, “As long as you hit me in the head, I’ll be fine.” Two batters later, Nick did just that. There was a line drive right off the bat and it came up and hit me in the face.

The people in the outfield thought I caught the ball based on that satisfying smack the ball makes when it hits your glove just right. However, it was just the ball hitting my face. I didn’t fall down, but took a few steps back to evaluate my health. By the time I decided I was okay, many people had come out to the pitcher’s mound where I was standing. I was bleeding from the inside of my mouth. Somebody thought I lost a tooth, but it was just my bloody gum I was chewing which they insisted I spit out. I wanted to keep pitching and insisted that I was fine, but the other team decided it was worth two outs and promptly ended the inning.

We had one more at bat that went like all the others and the game was over. By this point, I knew that my face was going to HURT for a while. So I downed another beer to help and told Danelle she could drive home. And now, if you’re still reading, you can see the photos.

A selfie right after it happened. Still in enough shock that I didn't know how bad it would hurt.

A selfie right after it happened. Still in enough shock that I didn’t know how bad it would hurt.

Shot in the car. Not stitches, just the seam of the ball.

Shot in the car. Not stitches, just the seam of the ball.

Bruising on my lip the next day.

Bruising on my lip the next day.

Yep, Hogan Haake is still ugly.

Yep, Hogan Haake is still ugly.

Overall, a perfect birthday and I wouldn’t change a thing!

Hogan Haake

Henry’s Birthday – 2/22/2015

Corvin and I happened to be in Kansas City for a quick visit and were able to celebrate my brother Henry’s birthday with family.

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Mom did good making him a special cake, and Henry did his part by taking a large strange shaped piece to celebrate.

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Hogan Haake