Racing toward 40 with a smile on her face

As is her style, my sister in-law Melissa celebrated her 40th birthday with grace, gusto and ten pounds of green beans.

Melissa’s Racing to 40, a Kentucky Derby themed birthday bash, included everything Churchill Downs has to offer — mint juleps, crazy hats, and sweet three-year olds — and plenty that it doesn’t — a bounce house and flame throwing magician.

In the center of it all, calmly roamed Melissa, a party planner extraordinaire.

Melissa and her friends have raised more than $4,000 for their neighborhood grade school this year alone by throwing cool themed parties for the parents, an ingenious idea I wish had been around when we were raising small children and frantically purchasing wrapping paper, candy and fruit.

With all of that experience, when it came time for Melissa to hit the big 4-0, she knew exactly how she wanted to spend her day — in the midst of family, friends and a giant party.

In the weeks leading up to the bash, Melissa must have worked feverishly — the Melissa-made food included pecan pies, biscuits, macaroni and cheese, and southern green beans. She also whipped up an impressive array of decorations and who knows what deal she made with the Big Guy to score a perfect sunny day.

Like all excellent hostesses, though, Melissa managed to enjoy her own party. She easily greeted guests, grinned under her enormous hat, and circulated smoothly among her 120 guests.

For my next milestone birthday, I’m calling Melissa.

Clearly, she knows the best way to mark a birthday is to celebrate life.

Biskupic house
This is what we saw when we pulled up to the party house. Even the goose is all decked out.
Betting table
An impressive and beautiful betting table.
Kentucky Derby 2015 175
My hat and Melissa’s “Racing to 40” centerpieces.


Blueberry mint juleps
Mint juleps, of course.
The grand stand
…and a grand stand table for the non-alcoholic drinks.
Ham sandwiches
Homemade biscuit ham sandwiches.
My plate
My plate, with the homemade green beans and every other delicious thing. I missed the giant pan of mac and cheese.
Run for the roses
Run for the roses and the pecan pie.
Adorable boy
But, oh my! My favorites were the three-year olds. Check out this dapper fellow. I call him Colonel Cute. That’s his tie he’s holding in his right hand.
Derby hats
The ladies all wore derby hats.
Sam and Norah
My nephew Sam and his sweet cousin Norah. So, so cute!
Sweet filly
She loves me
He loves me, he loves me not.
My nephew Ben cracks me up, He will always, always pick the most active, competitive activity at the party. Here  he is playing bean bag toss with his uncle.
Jimmy and Matt with a horse hat
My brother in-law Jimmy with his friend Matt, who wore a horse hat.
The birthday girl. Hats off to Melissa, lover of life and thrower of amazing parties!


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