On January 19th, my Mom and I boarded a plane to Fort Lauderdale, Florida. On that day, there were SO many things that could have gone wrong…but didn’t. It was amazing how we all made every single flight – no delays. And Caren (who was flying standby) made it to Fort Lauderdale first – it was seriously amazing and a huge answer to prayer!  I got a text from her when she made her first flight (which looked impossibly overbooked): “I am on!!” I remember that surge of emotion (JOY) and thinking to myself, “this is it – we’re really doing this!!”  The day – seriously – couldn’t have been more perfect.

mom geo travel

Made it through security and relaxing before our first flight!  Like our coordinating outfits?! 😉

Doctor ordered mask (on the airplane and around large groups of people) and oxygen in flight. A beautiful sunset from the air as we neared our first stop: Minneapolis. (I couldn’t get that mask off fast enough – one way to get people to stay away – wear a mask!)

My two sisters were already there – waiting for us with the rental car – when our plane landed.  We left the airport at about midnight, ready to “embark” on a fun, tropical week, but little did my Mom know of the adventure that lay ahead.  From the time we left the airport to the time our heads hit the pillow that night at the hotel – each of us girls had accidentally let the words “cruise” or “ship” slip in front of our Mom.  This surprise was getting more and more difficult to keep secret!

holding hands

Our hotel room had one king bed and a pull-out sofa. We all climbed into the king bed to watch tv and chat before going to sleep. Well, my Mom woke up in the night and went to the pull-out bed, but us three girls slept this way til morning. =)

waking up

We woke up to the flash on Mom’s camera…well, and Caren yelling…haha!

Here’s the story:

On December 7, 2012, my Mom turned 60. My sisters and I knew for a long time that we wanted to do something extra fun and special.  We had lots of planning conference calls, emailing and texting in the months leading up to our big adventure.  One thing we knew for sure: we wanted the best part of the trip to be a surprise for our Mom.

On my Mom’s actual birthday, we planned a day of fun surprises/clues all leading up to her gift from us: a custom book FILLED with photos and memories from her friends and family.  On the last page of the book we included a poem:

Happy, Happy Birthday
60 years have flown by fast!
One more adventure to make
the celebration last,

The scavenger hunt
does not end here,
we have more planned
to start the new year.

Pack your bags
for unexpected fun,
we will laugh, play
and enjoy the sun!

January 19th
is the day we fly out,
we have everything ready,
even the route!

You are the best Mom,
you deserve all the credit.
You are deeply loved
please never forget it!

So for the six weeks between her birthday and our trip – she only knew that we were going to Florida.  We wouldn’t give her any more details.

It was so awesome waking up in Florida to a warm, sunny day!

Hotel in Fort Lauderdale

Hotel in Fort Lauderdale

We did some research the night before and found the highest rated diner in Fort Lauderdale.  We asked some locals and they said it was their favorite – and it was good.  We ordered waffles, an omelet and two orders of eggs Benedict and shared all of it (which is pretty much what we did at a lot of our upcoming meals, as well!).  They had a ton of baked goodies, so we loaded up on those, as well.  Then we were off to turn in our rental car and wait for the shuttle to the port.


Lester’s Diner – Fort Lauderdale, Florida – January 20, 2013


Lester’s Diner – Fort Lauderdale, Florida – January 20, 2013

At the car rental drop-off, there were shuttles to the port.  At this point, my Mom was very confused as to why we were dropping off the car and where we were going next.  We pretty much lied and said we had to turn in our rental car and then take a shuttle to our “resort.” Well, EVERYONE around us was waiting for a shuttle to the port to go on a cruise.  It seemed EVERYWHERE we went, people were talking about cruising.  We got asked several times if we were there to go on a cruise.  Finally, Mom had asked one too many questions and we decided (while still waiting for our shuttle to the port) that we had to tell her.  I dug out her passport – that I had smuggled from her files weeks before – and got my phone ready to record her reaction.  Caren handed Mom her passport and our Carnival luggage tags…


There is a video, but she swore in it and she won’t let me post it.  Lame. It is MY blog, after all. Oh wait…

We went on a 6 day cruise…to Key West, Grand Caymans, & Ocho Rios, Jamaica!

(and I did get her permission to post this)

I asked Mom months ago what her dream birthday would be and she said, “go on a cruise, just us four girls.”

Her dream came true. Stay Tuned!


One of our first views of the ship, Carnival Freedom!


2 thoughts on “Surprise!

  1. Thank you so much for the pics and taking us moment by moment on the adventure with you! This is great stuff!! It needs to be made into a reality movie. You are all much more beautiful, amazing, creative, fun, and inspiring than any of the other reality shows (the Cardashions especially). Go Viral Girlfriend! I know I wish, and I am sure plenty others do also, that I would have been with all of you! Love you to pieces!! Miss Judy

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