I entered a new decade this week. I can’t say I was looking forward to this milestone.
Not because I necessarily cared about the advancement in age, but because I knew that being nine months pregnant would limit any sort of celebration. And after a tough year, I didn’t expect nor want a lot of fanfare.
Little did I know, my husband planned an elaborate evening to make sure I ended my 20s on a high note.
It all started on my birthday eve. Troy came home from work early (which never happens – I found out later that he didn’t go to work at all that day) and was out in the garage on a phone call. I was preparing dinner as usual when he came inside and mouthed to me that I needed to stop and go get ready. I was halfway through the preparations and had ingredients spread across the counter so I couldn’t just stop. He came in twice more and whispered to me to just leave it. I was so confused. Didn’t the boys need dinner even if we were going out? Who was watching them? Where were we going? When were we leaving? And what did I need to do to get ready?
I finally got it out of him that the boys were taken care of for dinner and I had a half hour to get ready. I stuck the now fully prepared dinner in the fridge and attempted to “get ready.” Had I known what was coming I may have put more effort into sprucing up, but it wasn’t my actual birthday so I threw on one of my few dreaded maternity clothing options and called it good.
I was trying to get some more information out of Troy when Blake announced, “There’s a HUGE car outside with lots of people in it.”
We all headed out to find a stretch limousine parked diagonally across our driveway. I was completely thrown off when my father-in-law pulled in our driveway at the same time. What I gathered from the scene was that I needed to give him instructions for taking care of our boys, and Troy and I would be hopping in that limo.
Looking back, I did not have the best initial reaction for such an epic surprise. I think I’ve always imagined what it would be like to have a surprise party thrown for me and how I might react with a jaw-dropping gasp, or tears, or screaming, or something. But in that moment, my head was spinning in a million different directions. I felt frazzled about the boys getting fed and ready for school the next day. I felt silly with my ginormous belly and frumpy clothes. I felt blindsided because I hadn’t seen anything of this proportion coming. And then when I finally peeked in the limo and saw a bunch of my friends in there, I felt terrible because it was some of their kids’ first day of school and I couldn’t believe they would come out and celebrate with me instead of their own families.
Once the initial shock wore off and my complete lack of a visible reaction passed, I finally realized how completely amazing this night was going to be.
What I also didn’t realize at first was that Troy wouldn’t be coming with us. Since his dad came over to our house, I assumed he was babysitting. But then Troy started passing out sparkling cider and giving a few last instructions to the driver and it all made sense.
He had planned an entire girls’ night out from start to finish and he would be staying home with the boys (as well as running around town to change reservation times and set up other aspects of the evening, which I found out later).
He gave me a stack of cards that spelled out our itinerary for the night. I was instructed to open one card after each stop we made.
I opened the first card and read:
Happy “I’m not excited to turn 30 so I’m going to celebrate my last day in my 20s instead” party day! As you can tell by the people that will be celebrating this night with you and the mode of transportation, you are supposed to cut loose and have a fun time. And I am counting on the rest of the girls to make sure that happens.
There are a few logistical items for tonight. There will be an envelope to open after each stop and one after you read this card. Each message needs to be read out loud by someone in the group and will send you to the next phase of the evening. There will also be a card with the address for the driver.
Everything is already paid for so don’t worry about that. And don’t spend all of your time behind your camera tonight! Let other people take pictures for you.
Remember, let your hair down and go party like a 20-something year old!
We all filed out of the limo for a group shot before seeing what was in store for us. My friend Steph happily took over camera duties for the evening as per Troy’s instructions (he knows me too well).
What made the night even more thrilling was that none of my friends knew what we were doing either. When Troy was emailing everyone to set it up, he described the celebration as “a fun girls’ night out,” but he didn’t give any indication as to what we would be doing.
My friends were all just as shocked as I was when they discovered the limo at their designated meeting place a few blocks over.
Since none of us knew where we were going next, it made getting into the limo that much more exciting after each stop. The first destination card read:
Time to get this party started right with some good party props. Head off to Zurcher’s to get fully stocked. You’ll need to split up into
groups of two and get everything in five minutes. Babe, you aren’t in a group, just roam around and watch the fun. Every group has an envelope with a list of things they need to get and money to buy those items with. Anything left over get some fun stuff for the group.
Everyone set out to obtain party hats, candles, table decorations, and fun things for all of the girls and “birthday girl” to wear.
I think my friends officially picked out some of the most obnoxious accessories they could find. The balloons alone turned into a battle of Bre vs. the balloons within the confines of the limo.
They dressed me up in a ridiculous boa, crown, gloves, necklace and plastic bling ring.
The next card read:
It’s your birthday so I guess you get to eat where you most like, at least since I’m not with you, even if it isn’t a “real meal.” Just don’t get anything sweet – that’s for later. And remember, no walnuts. While a limo ride to the hospital would make for a great story, it would mess up the rest of my plans.
In the envelope was a gift card to Zupa’s, my favorite soup and salad restaurant. If a meal doesn’t contain a large portion of meat, Troy doesn’t consider it a “real meal.” He typically boycotts those types of places.
We broke open the non-alcoholic bubbly while en route to dinner; living it up in true fashion.
My friends put on their crowns, necklaces and rings and we made quite the spectacle. From that point on, people everywhere asked us if we were having a bachelorette party. That gave us a good laugh considering how pregnant I was.
Troy scouted out the location ahead of time so they had a table ready for us to decorate. The employees made sure to let us know that our table was “in the back.” Ha ha.
After sufficiently embarrassing ourselves at dinner and outside the restaurant, I opened the next card:
Okay, now that you have had soup and salad (both not a meal) you might as well just skip straight to dessert. The reservation is under Tanner. The only requirement is you have to light the candles and get sung to. And none of this everyone shares stuff. Everyone step up and order something. Oh, and I want a picture.
We took a nice long limo ride downtown. I think our driver took the absolute longest route possible. We didn’t mind too much since it gave us more time in our fancy mode of transportation, complete with the party playlist that Troy sneakily put on my phone to hook up to the speaker system.
We eventually arrived at The Cheesecake Factory at the shopping center.
Troy knew us all too well when he indicated that we each needed step up and order a dessert. We probably would have shared two slices of cheesecake had it been up to us. We were all completely stuffed after our “non-meal,” so we ordered our desserts in to-go boxes. We kind of forgot that the candles would be going in the to-go box slice instead of on a nice plate. And there wasn’t enough room for “Happy Birthday,” so we made do with “Happy.”
It all worked out, even if the moment wasn’t very picturesque.
After dessert, there was one final card to open:
Hope you’ve had fun tonight. I’d say it’s time to hit the clubs but there aren’t too many clubs open on a Tuesday night. But feel free to start your own dance party! The limo is yours until 10pm. Tell the driver to go up above the capitol building for some great views of the city or wherever else you want to go. I’ll see you when you get home.
We drove up to the capitol building and recapped the night in awe of all that had gone into planning such an epic evening. I felt so blessed to be surrounded by such great friends. And imagining Troy arranging all of the details and keeping it a secret for over a month put a huge smile on my face.
We took in the panoramic view of the city on a perfect September evening.
And then it was time to hop in the limo one last time and call it a night.
I arrived back home only to find out that the evening was far from over.
My in-laws were at our house to watch the boys and take them to school the next day. Troy swept me away to a hotel downtown. He had packed everything up and checked in while we were out on our adventure. I was greeted with a vase of fresh lilies.
I was on an adrenaline high after such an exciting evening and it was a highlight of the night to recount all of the details to Troy. I felt bad that he wasn’t there with us to soak it all in after so much planning, but it was also so much fun to talk for hours about how he had pulled it off and how each phase of the night played out.
We walked to a darling bakery that I’ve been wanting to try the next morning and ate brunch on the sidewalk. We caught a movie and he sent me off for a pedicure. We topped off the evening with a family dinner and more candles to blow out with our boys surrounding us.
They say that 29 is the ideal age; the age that you tell people you are for the rest of your life. But I can’t say that I’d ever want to relive the last year. I say, bring it on 30s. Let’s do this.