Project 31: The First Anniversary of My 30th Birthday

I’m pretty sure this was the first time I’ve ever actually been truly surprised.

But let me back up a bit, because the story is really in everything that led up to this moment. or just scroll down for photos

A couple weeks before, I was wearing my husband’s Garmin watch, basically to show off to him how many steps I assumed I took in a day as a full-time mommy… however he forgot to turn off the bluetooth that has it connected to his texts and emails. Well, as I’m standing in the kitchen, my arm buzzes and my mom’s name pops up with the subject “Project 31” and I look at my husband who quickly turns off the bluetooth. It only took me a few seconds to think they must be planning something for my 31st birthday. Everyone who knows me, knows I truly love surprises, so I made myself not think of the possibilities.

Now reading that first statement, you may think I’m crazy…

Fast forward to the weekend of and I haven’t seen or heard anything else – maybe that’s because, as I learned afterward, my husband changed my mom’s and best friend’s names in his phone to men’s names, Terry Groke (Torrie) and Clay Oar (Claire), to throw me off incase I saw anymore messages coming through! Haha!! Saturday morning (the day before my actual birthday), I’m nursing the baby in bed and KR runs into my room and says, “Stay in bed!” and scurries away again. Then comes a beautiful parade of my parents (who got in town the day before), my husband and my girls carrying a tray of a cinnamon roll with a candle lit in it and a hot cup of coffee (they know the way to my heart) with a card with #1 written on the envelope. After I read it, I immediately thought, “This is what ‘Project 31’ meant”, although I was a little confused. Written, was a riddle, and I was only able to figure out that we were having mimosas, but that’s basically my favorite way to start a Saturday… ok, really any day, so I was excited! We enjoyed a wonderful brunch at Black Sheep, one of the best rooftop restaurants on the river in Jax (in my opinion), and at the end of our meal, an envelope with #2 showed up in front of me…

“Fingers and toes, everybody knows, a day of pampering begins with these!”

Now, something that requires me to be gone for a couple hours and my husband to have all the kiddos, definitely requires a heads-up, so I was now sure this was the culmination of ‘Project 31’. I guess all of them understood it was my birthday because no one cried or begged to come along when we departed!

After my first mani/pedi sans kids in years – I’m talking at least 3 –  I’m getting ready to head home when another card with #3 is handed to me. You guys have to know how creative and thoughtful my mom is – she’s absolutely who I get it from.

“If we’re going to get it right, a light bite and an outfit for the night, must be the next adventure in sight”

I value our time together so much & she’s honestly one of my favorite people to hang out with, so I was so happy our day wasn’t over yet! I truly hope and pray that I have the true friendship with my children when they’re adults that I have with her. Even after a cocktail, being the over-thinker I am, just telling me to “get something you feel great in” was not enough information! I needed to know more , but knowing how important surprises are to me and not wanting to give it away, she just hands me another envelope with #4 written on it and says, “Here, maybe this will help.”

“Sweet fruit of the tree, fruit of the vine, ending the night with nibble to delight”

I looked at her with a blank stare… This is also the moment I realized I’m terrible at riddles unless they’re completely obvious. So then she says, “Well, maybe your husband is wanting to take you on a date to a nice restaurant tonight .” to which I replied, “You didn’t have to tell me the surprise!!” I know I sound ridiculous, just wait… I now decide on this amazing dress (which happens to be on major sale now) and we head home to get ready. Pretty quickly I’m giving marching orders, telling my parents they  need to get going so they can get the kids fed and back home to bed on time. I know, I know… basically the moment I recovered from my shock and surprise, I felt bad and we had a good laugh about it…


So here it is, the most thoughtful celebration of my life through a few photos…


Invitation design
The super talented designer behind Loved Baby Designs happens to be a lifelong friend of mine, and she nailed it as always, even though I didn’t see this until after


Curated Menu
 As I looked over the menu, I was told Zach was who I could thank for the amazing menu selection. For a little behind-the-scenes detail, I ordered the Herb Crusted NY Strip, Zach ordered the Blackened Atlantic Salmon, and we shared both – which he knows is my favorite thing to do!!

I suddenly figured out the last riddle when I saw the menu with wine pairings… “Sweet fruit of the tree (Candy APPLE Cafe), fruit of the vine (WINE)!!!


Moment of surprise
The look of genuine surprise… It might be blurry, but it reminds me that my dad was there to capture this moment. And looking at this brings me right back to that moment of seeing so many of my friends and family waiting for me when I walked in.


This night was the first time I realized how many great friends I’ve made in the 2 short years we’ve lived here.








I didn’t want to let go… I couldn’t believe she was here – she lives over 8 hours away people!!


Here she is… the bestie who drove all this way, with these giant balloons in the back of her car, because she knows me so well that I would want a good photo op!

I have to point out my favorite part about this picture though – do you see that guy back there and the way he’s looking at me?! Yep, ‘nough said…


Mommy Daughter posing with 31
Her mismatched socks… my heart.



Mommy with The Kraze posing in front of 31
I’m so thankful that the group who pulled this off, knows my heart well enough to know how much it would mean to me for my children to be a part of the experience… although we quickly sent them off to bed after they finished their dinner.


Trying to get me to stop being mommy long enough to decide what I want to order


My seriously wonderful, fun, supportive and dedicated parents… married almost 35 years!


My mother-in-law DROVE 9 hours to be here, so she could take the kids home and put them to bed because my husband couldn’t find a babysitter! The blessing of a wonderful MIL is not to be underestimated!!


3 generation photo
I’m told I look so much like my mom, and I know this little bit looks just like me when I was a little girl – I love that we captured a 3 generation photo!


So Candy Apple shares their building with this amazing “million dollar” candy store and the 2nd floor has ice-cream… Every time we’ve gone to this restaurant and Pops is in town, the 3 of them get ice-cream as soon as they’re finished with their dinner and tonight was no exception.


Group Photo
I was amazed this many friends showed up for me and without a baby on someone’s hip! Well except me, but even he is smiling… but that little red-faced girl who dropped her rainbow lollipop and cracked it just moments before this photo was taken – don’t worry, Pops got her a new one… grandparents!


Cheesecake decorated
Y’all, I love cheesecake so much that I wanted it as my wedding cake. Taking everyone’s advice but going against my better judgement, I opted for the traditional. A renewal will happen again one day (we just celebrated our 9 year anniversary so maybe next year for the decade mark) and I will have a giant 3-tier  cheesecake. For now, I’ll take it for my birthday every year!



Making a wish
Every time I make a wish, I actually say a prayer. Anyone else? It just doesn’t feel right – who in the world am I sending my wish to?



When you’re 40 weeks pregnant on your 30th birthday, THIS is how those who love you most, totally, absolutely make up for it, although it was 100% unexpected and not necessary! I am forever grateful and humbled by the love and effort that was put into this.


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