Wednesday, March 25, 2015

The Best Surprise

If you read my earlier post, you know that my mom just turned fifty. When my dad turned fifty we threw him a surprise party with all his family. We wanted to do something amazing for my mom as well. We know she hates surprises with lots of people and prefers intimate, close-knit gatherings instead, so we decided to try to figure out how to get her together with all her kids as her surprise. As we tried to plan how to make that happen, there were some far-fetched ideas flying around.

Here are some of the snippets of the emails sent between us children and Dad:

Dad: I suggest one of my wonderful daughters fakes a pregnancy and she has to go to Utah for the baby....The problem with this is one of you would have to fake the idea that you got pregnant in July or August. Is this even a possibility? Just throwing out ideas.

Sadie: It totally is for me! Remember I called Mom about a month back about being pregnant and really sick. She knows I am still sick and that I haven't taken a test yet so she will buy it! 
*Disclaimer.....I am not pregnant...we think

Kyle: So we're all clear, Sadie is now "pregnant" and in dire need of Mom to come help out sometime in March. That is only five months away, so if you only became pregnant about two months ago, we're talking a 7 month term baby. That means we especially freak Mom out that you went into labor early and she scuttles off to the airplane all mother-bear like and bam... surprise party.

Scott: What we could do if that is too risky is get sandy in on it, and have her plan a birthday trip with her just like they went to hawaii together but this time to some exotic place in utah, we could put all the fake getaway details together for the trip propaganda etc. She also could convince her to come so she can see her kids or something extra. They fly down and bam its not a getaway but a surprise party with everyone here. 

Kyle: Another option, if we really like the do-it-in-UT vein, is to pretend Poly's parents are coming to the USA (finally) and they really want to see Mom and Dad. Mom may object, at which point Dad points out (truthfully or otherwise) that he's been having this really uncomfortable feeling about needing to see his mom again, and soon, and that they could do both simultaneously. 

Katrina: Or Grandma could need Mom for something? Health?

Seeing some reality needed to brought to the conversation, I finally brought some sense to the table:

Kari: I really don't think we should do the fake pregnancy thing. As a mother I know how worrying and disappointing it would probably be for mom to fly all the way out there and to anticipate seeing her first grandchild from one of her daughters and then arrive and it's all a joke. The disappointment could possibly outweigh the benefit of the celebration...especially where mom is concerned. 

Also, while thinking about it I just don't see how to get her to Utah at that time of the year without her figuring out a party plan. It's all too suspicious for that time of year and with her being so busy with the house selling. I don't know that she'd go for it. Also if she's going to have a party she would most enjoy it with all her kids there and not a huge party. That being said, I think the best surprise would be to have her head to a weekend getaway with dad for her birthday and then showing up at a place where all her out of town kids are, and then  the rest of us show up and we have a small weekend together.

I really liked Katrina's response to my idea:

Katrina: Kari is a genius. Amen.

Everyone sort of started to default to this plan, and with everyone working together, we were able to pull it off. My Aunt Sandy helped with flights, we had help from a ward member in finding a house to stay in, we picked the weekend, and then we planned and waited. We wanted to pull of the weekend with everything taken care of so my mom didn't have to worry about managing anything. Katrina and I took care of the food, Scott and Sadie the activities, my dad the house and keeping mom away to be surprised, and others with their own various assignments.

We also wanted to pull it off without my mom having ANY idea that there was a surprise coming. And if you know my mom, you know this is super hard, but we did a pretty good job. By the time of the surprise, she had an idea that there was a surprise, but she thought it was some get together my dad was planning; she had no idea what it REALLY was. 

The afternoon of the surprise, I rushed and picked Scott and Polyana, and Sadie and Taylor from the airport. Then we rushed to the cabin where everyone else was already gathered and ready.

We had a few false alarms, when we were told she had arrived and we all rushed to hide behind walls and counters, but she hadn't really. The hiding and anticipating of the surprise is the best part, so it was fun to enjoy that multiple times, though we jabbed at Brigham and Ryan for having us hide early.

Ammon took the hiding seriously. Even when we realized we didn't need to hide anymore because she wasn't at the cabin yet, Ammon remained curled in a ball on the floor...just in case...

When my mom finally did arrive and we surprised her, it was epic. She didn't really know what to do at first, there were a few tears, and of course she automatically worried about where the money came from to get us all together. She was so surprised to have all her kids together, and so touched. It was wonderful.

We spend the night talking and laughing and enjoying everyone together. It doesn't happen often with half of us living in different states.

The next morning we spent eating a big breakfast, sleeping in, and relaxing with more conversation and catching up.

Then we embarked on our grand plans. My mom loves ferry rides so we had a nice ferry ride planned. Mom, of course, stepped in and improved our plans with more fun ideas and we had an exciting day ahead.

An hour-long ferry ride to Bremerton began our excursion. It was Brigham and the kids' first ferry ride, along with others of us, and the kids loved it. Ferry rides are quite fun, and we had time to get wind-whipped, enjoy the water and views, and eat lunch on the way over.

At Bremerton Island we enjoyed the free Naval Museum.

Humorously, all the men took time to read the sign, while all the women glanced at it and were ready to move on with the kids.

After the naval museum, we visited a free Bug Museum that was pretty sweet. No pictures here because my daughter is so petrified of the snakes that when she saw one just inside the entrance, she literally screamed and cried in terror and I had to forcibly drag into the building. Luckily Grandpa Nils calmed her down and she eventually sat and watched a giant yellow and white cobra climb up onto the ledge in it's cage with me....although she was clinging to my hand very tightly.

We played at a park until our ferry ride back, and then had dinner at Zoopas. Brigham lamented the entire time that he wasn't at Zupas in Utah. The night brought more talking late into the night, and then Sunday morning we had church and family pictures, then played some games, ate dinner, and everyone left to fly home. Short, but so sweet.

This time together was extra special because it's the last time we'll all be together for four or five years because of upcoming missions. It truly was wonderful. I was worried we would all get together, but that we wouldn't have a good time. Luckily, the opposite happened. It really was the best weekend. How I've missed staying up late into the night talking to Kyle and Katrina, or laughing with Scott, or talking sister stuff with Sadie. We all worked cohesively together and enjoyed every second. And we were able to give Mom something she truly wanted and truly loved. 

I echo what Kyle emailed out later: Just wanted to say this last weekend was one of my favorite times in memory. I love you all and am so grateful to have you as my family. 

Happy Birthday Mom, you deserved everything that went into this and more. 

We're a crazy bunch, but we're kinda the best....especially when we're together. 

1 comment:

  1. how fun! i would love to do something like this for my mom too. getting all the siblings together these days is quite a feat.