# surprise trip, take two

I’m getting pretty good at this surprise stuff. You might remember earlier this year I got a thrill out of surprising my niece (and other family members) for her sixth birthday. Little did I know that a few days after returning I would be planning another surprise for another person close to my heart: Bobbie.

I’ve mentioned Bobbie and our incredible past, a bond forged at summer camp over…what else…dinner. Well, and horn, but mostly dinner. This summer marks our 17th year as friends. Isn’t that awesome? We’ve lived in Cincinnati together, we’ve battled the Florida humidity together and I was there when her daughter was born. One of the most memorable days of my entire life.

abby birthday

Fast-forward a year, it was last October and I had a flight booked to Tampa to celebrate Abby’s first birthday. But my grandfather was sick and I cancelled my trip to be by his side during his final days. Bobbie understood, but we were both so sad to have gone a year without seeing each other. And a year of not seeing Abby’s steady, chart-busting growth.

I made a promise to her that I’d make-up the trip. But then we spent the holidays with the band in California, and I flew home to meet my new nephew, and then we were booking flights to my brother’s wedding.  And THEN I started a new job. It was the perfect storm keeping us apart, but…BUT. Nothing keeps us apart.

When accepting my job, I knew I had to tell them about my brother’s wedding, so I quickly called Robert and said, “I can plan to be in Tampa. How about her birthday?” And Robert said, “yes! and we won’t tell her!”  Then and there we became each other’s PICs…Partners-in-Crime: an unruly duo with a shared love of inappropriate jokes, even more inappropriate language, beer, but most of all, a deep-seated love of everything Bobbie and Abby. Our secret texts and emails were filled with exclamation points in our excitement.

I arrived last Thursday night, Robert feigning a work emergency to pick me up at the airport. Bobbie was already bummed thinking her birthday wasn’t going to be special, and felt even worse when Robert called her from the driveway telling her there was something wrong with her car. She came out and there I was, hiding behind the back bumper. She gasped, got all teary-eyed on me and, as a pretty vocal non-hugger, gave me one of the best hugs. Surprise success!


Here’s a recap of our wonderful time together, complete with photos from phone, purse camera and big-girl camera with commentary along the way. Hold on to your hats, so many photos in 3…2…

Abby surprisingly warmed up to me quickly. I had fears of her not wanting anything to do with me, but that wasn’t the case at all.



This is one awesome eater, just like her momma and Aunt Marci.


Speaking of food, it was important that Bobbie and I plan out our meals. Sound familiar?

Up first…Skyline Chili. Our Cincinnati favorite. And it was Abby’s first time to go! That garners a mention in the baby book, don’t you think?






Someone loved the cheese and oyster crackers. She’s off to a good start.


“No pictures post-Skyline!” I hear you, Abster. No one wants their Skyline-Bloat documented. Especially when they’re still eating crackers.


After Skyline, we went out to the beach for some relaxing digestion and sandy fun.

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I think we’re going to start calling that beach Bobbie’s “red-hair beach.” I guess when the sun is setting, your hair suddenly appears on fire.

The next day, Bobbie and I baked her birthday cake. Two years ago we were in Virginia for her birthday and baked a delicious strawberry cake, and this year we looked to fruit as well. Lemon.


I really need to write an entire post about this cake. It was delicious! Thank you, Joy the Baker, for this lovely, lovely Lemon Pound Cake with Lemon Poppy Seed Buttercream. What’s funny is that Joy blogged this days before I left on my trip, so to throw some more curve balls, I texted it to Bobbie and told her she should make it for her birthday. Little did she know we’d be baking it together in a matter of days. #gotcha


Not so sure of this candle business.


Or the make-a-wish business.


Stunned by the events.


Also not so sure of the tart lemon business.


But she quickly got over that.




To work off that sugar, we took a walk later and I couldn’t believe how big this little girl looked in her stroller. She’s going to be tall like her momma! The longest legs of any 1 1/2 year old!


That night, Bobbie and I went out for a girls-only night…a very rare treat…but not before a bath and some quick bedtime reading for Abby.


Here’s the book I brought her, full of mountains, mormons and Marci.



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After dinner we made it to the famous Dessert Room at Bern’s Steakhouse. Totally worth the hype and wait.

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The next day, it was back to the grind with brunch at Datz–our favorite place to eat in Tampa. I had this new egg sandwich on a pretzel bun with beer cheese sauce. Joe would have LOVED it.


They just opened a pastry/sandwich shop next door called Datz Dough, so we popped in after we finished eating just so I could see what they had. I was literally drooling over these fancy doughnuts. Seriously, get a sneeze guard over those things. I easily contaminated the first three rows alone with my open-mouth gawking.


After that, it was more calorie burning at the local park by the water. Kids look so cute in hats. When does that stop being the case? Pretty sure I never made it past year one.

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Abby ran into her friend, Olivia, while watching these horses act crazy. There was some serious hoof stomping and then thrashing on the ground like dogs. So strange.

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We managed to make the most of our three days together and it did my heart good to conspire with Robert, celebrate Bobbie and love on Abby. I love you guys more than you’ll ever know. Happy birthday to my wonderful best friend! Until next time…






9 thoughts on “# surprise trip, take two

  1. xoxo!! Thanks for documenting your visit so well! I know without a doubt that we’ll be all smiles as we flip through these pics another 17 years from now. I guess Abby will be headed to college then…! How in the world can we consume as much food as we do every time we get together?! Thanks again for the AMAZING surprise — you made this one of my best birthdays ever!

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