Thursday, March 29, 2012

Surprise for Mom (and Me!)

Alternately titled: How I Accidentally Spent Another Spring Break in Chicago

My mom had her birthday two Mondays ago. I planned to surprise my mom by heading her direction last Saturday, taking her to coffee, getting pedicures, and finishing the afternoon with a late lunch. It was sure to be lovely. I was excited.

But then.

On Friday, my coworker had a situation arise and she was unable to take a work trip to Chicago. I was told it would be great if I could go but no pressure. And I mean, who turns down a work trip to Chicago? Who? Not me, I say!!


Well, you know, I had this big surprise for my mom's birthday. I'll will just admit I am not too great at birthdays. In my head, I am fantastic. But in real life, well, my plans don't always work out.  So I was determined to have this fabulous pampering day for my mom.  So, I said I couldn't go. Ugh. I wanted to go! But no! 

At which point, the department in charge of the trip let me know that the room they had reserved for me had two beds and why don't I just take my mom?

Why don't I just take my mom? What? To Chicago? With 16 hours notice? Really?


I texted my mom and asked if she wanted to do it and after a few texts back and forth, it was decided: we would drive to Chicago on Saturday, stay Saturday and Sunday, and drive home Monday.

So much for the pedicure--she was about to get a whole weekend!

Mom rolled into town at 9 am and, around 10, we were off! I drove the whole way and it may or may not have been one of those "officially feel like an adult" moments.  I drove and my mom navigated.  We listened to a lot of hits radio on satellite. We did not ever get lost. And at about 6, we arrived at the hotel.  

Lucky for me, one of my nearest and dearest lives in Chicago and was already planning a girls' evening out.  She invited us to tag along and we obliged. After checking in, eating a chocolate chip cookie at the hotel, and applying quick makeup touch up, we were off.

To the big city. WHERE I DROVE.

People, I have never, ever driven in the city before. And somehow I navigated with ease. Well, I should say my mom navigated and I drove with serious purpose.  We arrived on time, no problem. I got to see Miss Melissa's new home. I should have taken pictures but I was a little focused on getting us to dinner. So, please trust me: it is lovely. I can't wait to stay there.

We went to dinner, five ladies, out on the town.  The host tried to tell us he gave away our table but his grin said otherwise. We ate stir fry at a place called Flat Top until I thought I was going to burst.  I did not burst. Do not fear.  Then, we bid goodbye to two of our ladies and somehow I didn't grab a pic.  Sad day! So, we headed, just the three of us, to Rise for drinks.  And we DID manage to get a picture there:

We don't look half bad for being in the car for seven hours, eh?? And yes, I look like my momma. And my dad. I got great genes from both.  But that's another post. 

We hugged Mel, thanked her for a great evening in the city, and headed back to our hotel in the burbs at relatively decent hour. We were both asleep before midnight. I'd call it a win.

Sunday, my mother convinced me to get up and go running. Because she is not only cooler than me, she's also more motivated.  So we ran, had coffee, and before you knew it, it was time for me to work.

Because you know, I was actually there to work.  We had hundreds of students and their families interested in Mizzou. And lots of them wanted to be nurses. So, I was busy. It was delightful. And as the event was ending a few hours later, I looked over at a familiar looking family, only to realize it was my cousins!!

Yes. My mom's cousin Judy and her daughter Amy popped in from Wisconsin for the evening.  It was absolutely fabulous.  Judy is kind of like mom's pseudo-sister, so I feel pretty lucky that God saw to it she was able to attend the impromptu birthday celebration.

I changed clothes and we did what ladies do best: we hit. the. mall.  Oh yes we did.  I may have made some purchases. And I may have been pretty happy about said purchases. I may have even made a purchase for my man. Plus, I needed a swim suit so we could go hot tubbin (a favorite pass time for both my mom and me). And I may have even found a new swimsuit for summer that I love--and I didn't even try it on. We managed to fit a LOT of shopping into about an hour.  

Which, of course, meant it was time to eat. I had never been to Maggiano's Little Italy but let me tell you, I will be going back. The portions are huge. We ate until literally all I could say, over and over again, was "I hurt."  That was in between the laughter and tears, because, let's be real: when four women together, there are almost always laughter and tears. And we got a lovely pic. Our waitress had done this a few times, as evidenced by how nicely she arranged the table for us:

Yeah. We're not related at all. Oh yes. Yes we are.  It was such a neat surprise to have them come play with us for the evening.  We bid them adieu back to Wisconsin and the mama and I did what everyone loves to do when you feel so stuffed it hurts.

We put on swim suits.

Well, really though, there is almost no time I will turn down a hot tub. We relaxed. We laughed some more. I would say we cried some more but I am not my  mother's daughter in that way-- the woman rarely cries. Like ever.  Whereas this girl? If you haven't seen me cry, well, we probably haven't met in person.  It's a daily activity. Happy, sad, annoyed, I bring the tears. So after tubbin it for a while, we headed back to the room. Mom crashed. I put on real clothes and went to hang out with some co-workers.  Here they are:


Aren't they cute? It was Katherine's birthday. Katherine is 4th from the left. And she turned 23 so we're not even going to talk about what a young one she is.  We did a count down and yelled for her. And then the hotel manager may have come and asked us to be quiet.

Or maybe he didn't.

But he probably did.

On to Monday...I woke up right at 8 and the blessing of being able to sleep til 8 on a Monday was a great gift in and of itself. We ran again, because my mom is a workout slave driver. We grabbed coffee, and we headed out for more shopping.

Oh did we shop. Crate and Barrel was just a delight. I got a hand towel that can only be described as made specifically for our family. It is apple green and black and brown and has pictures of coffee beans and french presses.  Eeee!!

We went to the Container Store and left overwhelmed, as always.  We decided we needed to make one more stop because there was one place neither of us had ever been that we'd both been dying to go:

That's right. We went to IKEA. If you don't hear the heavenly chorus at hearing the name, you clearly haven't been there.

IKEA can be a little overwhelming but luckily for us, we looked completely overwhelmed and a lovely sales associate came over and gave us a ton of tips. Armed with our new knowledge, we trekked through the store, stopping to ponder at its magnificence.

I tried to figure out how to get this couch into my Camry:


It stayed in the store but I may be back with a vengeance. I haven't forgotten about you, couch!!

I also purchased a ton of this material to use for curtains for our French doors so the neighbors will stop complaining. We have received no actual complaints but E is convinced they are staring at us. Eh, who cares?  We should also have some left over material for pillows for the new couch. You heard me.

So, 2 1/2 hours later, we ate lunch at their cafe and lamented our departure.  We arrived home way later than we thought we would but our new love for IKEA was totally worth it.

So the best part? Had I planned for weeks and months, I wouldn't have been able to pull this off. Our schedules are nuts.  It just never would have happened. And God knew that. So he just busted a move and rocked our worlds with a surprise trip to Chicago.

I couldn't have been more surprised. Or more pleased.  Or more thankful.

Happy birthday, Mom!! I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did.


  1. SOOOOO FUN!!!! :) WISH ME AND MY MOM WERE THERE TOO :) We should do that :) If for some reason you get asked to go to Chicago for a work trip and they have booked a room with four beds.... three will suffice :) you'll know who to call :)

    1. Um I would have LOVED for you both to be there! We would have had a blast. Mom and I were just reminiscing about prom dress shopping. Miss you and your family! And if I have three beds in the future you and your momma are first in line (don't tell Age or Ali:)).

  2. Hey Jess! Email me if you get a chance!!