The Gift of Surprise

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The Gift of Surprise

In 2004, I began dating my husband. I was living in Tennessee at the time and my family was still in Illinois. My brother and mom lived in central Illinois while the rest of my family (dad, stepmom, extended family) was closer to Chicago, where I was raised.

In May of ’04, I decided it was time to introduce my new boyfriend to my family. I took a week off from my job waiting tables and planned a trip to central IL to see my mom and my brother the first half of the trip while the second would be spent in Chicago with my dad and rest of my family. There was just one thing about our trip up North:

My mom had zero idea that we were coming.

We coordinated to arrive in Central Illinois on Mother’s Day and with the help of my brother and his girlfriend, we decided to give my mom a Mother’s Day surprise. We had everything planned: we would arrive at my brother’s in the late afternoon where he and his girlfriend would be getting ready to meet our mom at Olive Garden for her Mother’s Day dinner. Josh and I would wait until everyone had gotten there and make our grand entrance a few minutes after everyone had arrived.

When we got into town, we hit a small snag: my mom was tired and didn’t feel like going out but with a bit of whining and coaxing on my brother’s part, he finally got her to go to dinner as planned. As Josh and I began walking through the doors to the restaurant, I got an idea. I snuck into the bathroom and called my mom.
“Hey mom,” I said. “I just wanted to call you and tell you Happy Mother’s Day. I can’t talk long because I’m at work,” I lied with a smile on my face. She thanked me and I began walking from the bathroom to where I knew she was sitting at the table with my brother, his girlfriend, and her friend. I kept her on the phone as Josh and I rounded the corner.
I stood at a distance, looking at her sitting unsuspectingly at her table.
“Mom,” I said. “Look to your left.”
“What?” she asked, confused. She looked over to her left, and promptly dropped her cell phone on the table. She yelled something and started to cry. With a smile, I hung up my phone, walked over and gave her a hug. She was completely and utterly taken by surprise! It was fantastic. I introduced her to Josh, and she gave him a hug. The rest of the dinner went off well, with everyone feeling great about how well the surprise went down!

My mom and I don’t have the greatest relationship but that memory is something that I still smile about. The gift of surprising my mom on Mother’s Day is the best gift I can think of that I’ve given someone.. Coming in a close second is yet another Mother’s Day surprise; on Mother’s Day 2009 Josh and I surprised both our moms with messages written inside their cards: P.S…. We’re pregnant!

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Harry Potter Land or Bust: My Dream Vacation

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When I began thinking about this post, which is about my ultimate dream vacation, I was trying to conjure up something elaborate and exotic. A trip to Rome, perhaps. Greece always looks lovely in movies. Maybe Paris, with the Eiffel Tower all a-sparkle at night.

I voiced my thoughts to my husband who shook is head.
“Rome would be nice, but that’s kind of my dream vacation. You’re not into history like I am. You know what you should write about?”
“What?” I ask.
“Harry Potter Land. Or.. Whatever it’s called.”

And in that instant, I had my post. I began spazzing out just at the mention of the park.
My husband was of course, talking about The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios in Orlando, which we both have unofficially dubbed “Harry Potter Land”. You can keep your fancy cruises and far-away places, my friends, because MY dream vacation can only be reached by finding Platform 9 3/4 and hopping aboard the Hogwarts Express!

I’ve been a huge Harry Potter fan since the first movie came out. In preparation to watch the first film in 2001, I ran out and grabbed a copy of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone the morning that the movie released. I devoured the entire thing that day and practically ran to the theatre to see the first film on opening night. Since then, I’ve been hooked. Going to the WW of Harry Potter would be a dream come true for me.

While you’re at the WW of Harry Potter you can go to Honeyduke’s, the candy shop famously talked about in the books. You can visit Diagon Alley and pop into Ollivander’s wand shop for a chance to get a wand of your very own! Don’t even get me started on how amazing it would be to roam the halls of Hogwarts, the famous school I’ve read so much about and wished so many times were real so I could go there. You can go to the Three Broomsticks and have a Butterbeer! I’m getting all a-twitter just thinking about it!!

I’m reading the words that are coming from my fingers and feeling a little dorky, but I don’t really care. I’m usually not ashamed to let my Dork Flag fly high! On my dream vacation, I would most definitely take my husband Josh and daughter Nellie. I may want to wait a few years until Nellie was old enough to have read the books and watched the movies (she’s only 8 months old right now) so I could see the magic and excitement in her eyes, as well as feel it in my own heart.

My little dream vacation may be a bit unconventional, but it’s what I really want! One day, hopefully, my dream will come true and I’ll get the chance to see Hogwarts up close and in person!


Don’t forget to enter the “Do What You Love” Sweepstakes, for a chance to win your own ultimate family vacation. I was selected for this sponsorship by the Clever Girls Collective, which endorses Blog With Integrity, as I do.