21. throw a surprise party for someone

When I went over my “30 before 30” list a while back, I thought about some of the more practical goals I could still accomplish even though I am preggers. I started thinking hard when my eyes caught #21: throw a surprise party for someone. Living in a new place with new friends (kind of) made this one a little bit trickier. I decided rather than throw a surprise, I could just plain old surprise someone for her birthday. We did this for Lindsey a few years ago, knocking on her door in Canada at midnight and celebrating all weekend, and it was a blast. I love surprises in general, and get a thrill out of planning something unbeknownst to someone.

I thought hard about which of my friends had birthdays coming up, and quickly Jessica’s birthday in March came to mind. Not only is it a big one (a certain one that most of us have this year!), but Jess is someone in my life who I feel is very deserving of celebration. So, I texted Tab to see if she’d join in on it with me— Jess is always telling Tab to come visit her in Chicago, and I knew it would mean a lot if both of us could come (unfortunately all of our close friends at once isn’t very practical these days). Tab said that March wouldn’t work due to an already planned trip, but said she had a week off coming up and that she could do a long weekend. So we quickly got to work planning an early birthday girls weekend!

One thing that was hard to determine was whether or not Jess was available that weekend. I had a few friends text her to feel her out and actually make pseudo-“plans” with her. I also emailed a coworker and asked if she could have Friday off to spend with us, since Tab would be coming in Thursday night and me Friday morning. She seemed pretty free, so I went ahead and booked a ticket and was on my way!

My early early flight made it possible for Tab, Chelsea and I to meet at Jessica’s office. Her kind coworkers helped us get settled and ready to surprise her! Here is the video.

After initial confusion and shock, the excitement kicked in! One of my favorite lines was Jess asking, “Where are you staying?” and me replying, “Well, I hope with you!” 🙂


the surprisers

We followed Jess home so she could change out of her work clothes, then grabbed brunch. It was unseasonably warm in Chicago but also VERY windy, so my big down coat was a little bit too much, but just a sweater was not enough. We walked downtown, taking in the Bean and a few stores before trying the top of the John Hancock for some views and drinks. However, only a few minutes after arriving we realized that the building was very noticeably SWAYING due to the high winds. We all started feeling pretty woozy pretty quickly, so unfortunately we had to high tail it out of there.




After grabbing some drinks and snacks, we headed back to Jess’s to relax before dinner. After much deliberation, we decided on sushi, making it my third time at this particular sushi place in Chicago (but it’s REALLY good sushi and close to Jess’s apartment). Katie and Jess’s roommate Stewart joined us for a fun girls birthday celebration.



Saturday we woke up and grabbed coffee for a leisurely morning, then set out on a run along the Lakeshore. We were planning to do about 4, but it was a beautiful morning and we ended up doing about 6.5! After that we showered and ventured to find brunch.. by that point I was getting pretty hangry. I had had a banana, but as it was heading towards 2pm and I had yet to have a meal, momma needed food STAT. There was a wait at the place we wanted, but we stuck it out. I had a hummus app because I could not wait as well as a quinoa burger. Both were good, but not quite worth waiting THAT long for!!


loved this sign in a coffee shop



We then headed to Texas Brazilian steakhouse. None of us had ever done a brazilian steakhouse before, so we were excited to give it a try. While the ambiance was not the greatest, the food was out of this world! The salad bar alone was phenomenal, with so many options, and I was hardly hungry for the meat (probably their plan to save $$). However, the meat was excellent, and we enjoyed the beef portions the best. The way these restaurants work is that if you have your placecard turned to “green”, that means the servers are free to approach you with meat options. If you turn it to red, they don’t come to your table. We learned quickly that green REALLY means go, and had to turn it to red to give us time to try some of the food!
We topped it off with a shared dessert for Jess’s birthday.



Sunday was an early departure for Tab and a late one for me, so Jessica and I ventured to Mass at a beautiful cathedral in her neighborhood, and then I met up with Candace for brunch. I got to meet her new puppy and see her amazing new house—I am glad I got to catch up with her! By the time I made it back, it was time to hop on the train and start heading home.

So, there you have it.. my birthday surprise complete! I am so glad we were able to do this.. I am savoring the ability to do things a bit more spontaneously as well as see my close friends during any chance I get, especially before baby gets here. I’m so glad we could celebrate such a special lady and make more memories together.


beautiful (early) birthday girl!


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