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Family: Mom's Surprise 60th

Family: Mom's Surprise 60th

My mom turned 60 recently, so my sisters and I decided to throw an epic surprise party for her. We did one for my dad in January, and it was a ton of fun- I’ll write about that one soon. Now its mom’s turn!


My sisters and I make a good team. My middle sister is the dreamer- she comes up with themes, orders 12 (TWELVE) rolls of crepe paper, and decides 4 days before we’re set to tell my mom we’re coming to see her that instead we need to devise a complicated (rhyming) scavenger hunt with eleventy billion moving parts and eight (EIGHT) separate surprises. Meanwhile, I do things like make sure we have: a place to sleep, a car to drive, food to eat, and people to attend. Our youngest sister, Stephanie, tries her best to encourage us to control ourselves and be normal (but too bad so sad, it’s 2 against 1); she then gives up and does whatever we tell her to do like a good youngest sibling #sorrySteph. She also makes killer lattes and is therefore an integral part of any function.

In this case, I think we may have started planning too early, because we had enough time to let this thing get pretty… detailed. As always, we started with the theme. This is Amy’s job. Our whole lives, our mom has signed every card to us as follows:

Cool being your,


It’s funny and quirky and something we mock her relentlessly for. It’s also the inspiration we used for the party theme:

Cool Being Sixty.

Mom loves hanging out at home so we wanted to be sure there was plenty of time for that this weekend- but we also wanted to have enough activities to keep everyone occupied. We came up with a series of stations featuring things our mom loves:

·       Cool being manicured (DIY stick on nails)

·       Cool being a sweet tooth (candy bar of mom’s favorite candy)

·       Cool being fluffy & toasted (all kind of marshmallows to eat)

·       Cool being a Sooner (OU football game on Saturday)

·       Cool being a puzzler (puzzle station)

·       Cool being a party animal (flavored vodka station)

·       Cool being crafty (knitting/crochet/needle point/ adult coloring books)


My mom lives in Denver, which is a fantastic city, but it is far away from family and many of her friends. We reached out to her siblings and closest buddies, hoping that a few of them would be able to join us in Denver where we would rent a fun house and hang out together. We weren’t prepared for ALL of them to accept, however.

Obviously, they all accepted. We even had family members whom we hadn’t thought to invite ask us if they could come. It was amazing and so heartwarming to see how many people love Denver in the fall our mom. When I’m 60, I’ll be thrilled if half as many people are willing to give up a weekend and fly to wherever I am to celebrate. What an incredible honor.

So, super heartwarming; also, a problem. Not a lot of houses out there that comfortably sleep 18 in downtown Denver. So when I stumbled upon this gorgeous house on Airbnb, it was kind of our only option and also, I fell in love. Not only was it big enough for us, but it was 130 years old and pretty much my dream mansion. Just look at it:


 At any point throughout the weekend, in any conversation in any room, you could count on hearing someone mention something about how amazing the house was. The woodwork! The furniture! The 6 king beds and 4 full bathrooms! The yard! The windows! It was a dream. To top it all off, Jonathan (the owner) is an absolute doll and when he learned what we were using it for, BLOCKED IT OFF A DAY EARLY SO NO ONE ELSE WOULD RENT IT SO I COULD GET IN EARLY TO DECORATE. The checkout process was: 1. Set thermostat to 70 degrees. 2. Lock door behind you. No cleaning. No stripping beds. No taking out trash and doing dishes when you’re pretty sure you’ve already paid a cleaning fee. 5 stars, 10/10, A+, all the praise hands… whatever your rating system, It was practically perfect in every way. Please stand by while I try to make up a reason to need a 6 bedroom house in Denver again v. soon.


Here’s how our trip started, as always (PS. It’s 4:30 AM here)

I had to bring my latte maker so this isn’t my fault.

I had to bring my latte maker so this isn’t my fault.

Check luggage? NEVERRRRRR.

Check luggage? NEVERRRRRR.

This wasn’t my kids first flight, but really the first that they’ll remember. They were AMPED to fly in an airplane. Isn’t it fun to see things through little kids eyes? They were amazed at the plane going so fast and taking off into the clouds. It really is amazing when you think about it. If it had been my job to invent airplanes, I would have scratched my head for a few days and then announced, “I GUESS WE’LL JUST WALK EVERYWHERE, FOREVER.”

At the Denver airport, we went to find our car. I decided that landing at 7 AM with 8 people and 3 toddlers for a surprise party which needed to adhere strictly to a crammed schedule was the PERFECT time to try newfangled millenial technology. My young, hip sister convinced me that Turo was the way to go. It’s like Airbnb but for cars- someone brings you their car, and you rent it from them, and then you take it back to them. But those details are for another post. Suffice it to say it went perfectly and I will be using it again for sure.

The rest of the day was supposed to consist of my sisters and me getting the groceries/alcohol/decorations all purchased and set up while various people surprised my mom, which would have worked swimmingly had my sister’s flight not been delayed. This left me to get everything ready and my poor sisters sprinted in the door 5 minutes before my mom arrived at the house. Luckily, the cutest cousin helped out and chauffeured me around…

Asses to ankles with 1000 balloons.

Asses to ankles with 1000 balloons.

…and my husband sacrificially took my children… well, I have no idea where they went, but after this went down at the liquor store, I just needed them not to be where I was:

Mad because I wouldn’t let him knock down all of the liquor bottles. #suchahardass

Mad because I wouldn’t let him knock down all of the liquor bottles. #suchahardass

I was somehow able to get all groceries, get liquor, get decorations, deliver a few clues to surprisers, check into mansion, decorate mansion, prep dinner and breakfast, and get a little work done. I also burned at least 7,000 calories and sweat through my shirt, so let’s say I also got a workout in. All in all, it was one of my more productive days.


Clue 1: on her birthday, mom received a bouquet of flowers with a riddle:

This led her to her best friend, who had a puzzle waiting for her. We instructed her friend that mom was at her mercy- she could make mom do anything she wanted each day to earn her puzzle piece. Challenges included: singing happy birthday to herself in public and calling friends to invite them to her (nonexistent) wedding.

My sister is really good at writing poems, it turns out.

My sister is really good at writing poems, it turns out.

The puzzle led mom on Thursday night to the first of her surprises- her brother waiting for her at her favorite dinner restaurant. After dinner, my uncle gave my mom the first of many paper clues…

Clue 2: led mom to breakfast Friday morning with my aunt (her sister), my uncle, my cousin, and my cousin’s daughter at the cute Bacon Social House. After breakfast, my aunt gave my mom…

Clue 3: It led everyone to a Paco Sanchez Park (with a seriously cool playground which my children still beg to go to) in downtown Denver where my husband and kids were waiting for some play time with Granny K! Noah gave my mom…

Clue 4: This led to DiFranco’s for lunch, where her best friend and my cousin were waiting. They gave her…

Clue 5: she was off to Freshcraft for ‘beer thirty,’ as it’s affectionately referred to in her circle of friends, with another uncle. They, in turn, provided her with…

Clue 6: This finally led her to the house where my sisters and I were waiting. We spent the day checking in, getting groceries, and getting set up while she was on her scavenger hunt.

We ate homemade chili for dinner and lounged and drank and talked and laughed and colored adult coloring books all evening. Just when mom thought the surprises were over, we handed her…

Clue 7: she didn’t have to go far for this one… 3 more aunts were waiting for her on the back porch, straight from the airport.

More hugs. More tears. More fun! One of these aunts is our ‘party aunt’ so we quickly broke out the Fireball that was purchased just for her. There’s nothing better than taking shots with your parents and their friends.


Day 2 started off with a home cooked breakfast in pajamas at the house. These are my favorite kinds of meals.

Next we took off for Georgetown, CO to take a ride on the train that goes about 30 minutes up into the mountains and turns around and comes back. Georgetown is my mom’s favorite little Colorado town, and she’d never been on the train. Plus- when you’re planning a weekend for a group of 18 ranging in age from 1 to 65, there aren’t many things that appease everyone but WHO DOESN’T LOVE A TRAIN? The kids were over the moon and so were the adults.


We stayed in picturesque Georgetown for lunch at Cooper’s and then headed back to Denver because #OUfootball.

Cooper’s on the Creek

Cooper’s on the Creek

The vast majority of the group went to OU, so it was fun and relaxing to sit together and watch the game all afternoon, munching and drinking and cheering and doing the ‘stations’ (press-on nails and adult coloring books = huge hits!). I don’t want to call anyone out, but there were also quiiiiiiite a few nappers in the afternoon. That 60 minute train ride took it right out of us.

The climax of the weekend was dinner on Saturday- we cooked fajitas and had a cake and invited a few additional local friends over to celebrate. The weather was perfect and the house had a fantastic back deck with a huge table and we ate, had champagne toasts, and then had cake under the stars. The perfect little memories like this are impossible to plan… they just have to fall into place.

After dinner, my aunt played a bunch of our old home videos and we laughed until we cried. Now I know my kids came by their… quirkiness… honestly (from their aunt).

Sunday morning we went to brunch together before we all had to head our separate ways to get back home #notcool.

It was a quick weekend, but we crammed a lot in and made many sweet memories. We promised mom she’ll get another at 120. :)

Toodles, tlo

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