Surprising Our Mom for Her 60th Birthday

Last week my five siblings, one sister-in-law, and I flew to Oregon to surprise our mom for her 60th birthday.

But before I get to that story, one quick announcement: On Friday, March 25 I’m doing a book signing, along with my mom and Shari Zook, at Piccadilly Coffee and Tea House in Lancaster PA, from 11 am to 1 pm. So if you’re in the area already or coming for REACH, feel free to drop by!


Matt and Phoebe live in Houston, Jenny and I live in Virginia, and Amy lives in Thailand, but Dad got the bright idea to fly us all home for Mom’s 60th birthday.

Now, Mom’s birthday isn’t until June. But Amy teaches school in Thailand and Jenny attends grad school in Virginia, so this week in March, over Jenny’s spring break, was pretty much the only time it worked for all of us to come home.

Matt and Phoebe came out Friday and stayed with Phoebe’s parents. Mom and Dad took a trip to the coast on Sunday, but Dad pretended it was just going to be the two of them. Meanwhile, Amy was heading to the Eugene Airport where Steven would pick her up, and Jenny and I were heading to the Portland Airport where Ben would pick us up.

I joked once that it takes 20 hours to get to Oregon but only if you fly, and to be honest that wasn’t so far from the truth. We flew Southwest because Dad had a bunch of free tickets from credit card usage, getting bumped, and such. But we couldn’t find Southwest flights into or out of the smaller, closer airports, so with 3.5 hours of driving on one end, 2 hours of driving on the other, a 3-hour layover in Denver, and a 30-minute flight delay, we traveled a total of 18.5 hours from our Virginia house to our Oregon house.

We spent Sunday night at my parent’s house. The next morning Steven picked Amy up and the five of us packed up everything in the house that we’d need on the coast trip.

We headed out that afternoon and met Matt and Phoebe at our house in Depoe Bay.

Now remember, Dad and Mom were already out at the coast. They’d spent Sunday night at a hotel so that Jenny and I could spend Sunday night at home.

The plan was for us all to meet at a scenic viewpoint called Boiler Bay. Matt and Phoebe drove a car that belonged to Phoebe’s parents, and the rest of us just hopped in Steven’s car and hoped Mom wouldn’t notice. We parked, hunkered down in the car, and then after Mom and Dad were looking at the view we got out and sneaked behind mom.

We had a mild panic attack when Dad parked right next to Matt and Phoebe, but Mom didn’t notice, and we were able to surprise her!

Watch the tiktok video I made of it below:


My siblings flew to Oregon from Virginia, Texas, and Thailand to surprise my mom for her 60th birthday.

♬ original sound – Emily Smucker

After that surprise we all went back to the big house we’d rented, Amy made Thai food, and we all prepared for a wonderful three-day vacation.

And then Covid hit.

The funny thing is, our trip was exactly two years into Covid. And in those two years, none of us have gotten it. None.

And then it struck when we happened to be all together again.

What happened was this:

Just before Amy left Thailand she met up with some friends. Then, en route to Oregon, she discovered that these friends had come down with Covid.

Amy took a rapid test on Monday and another Tuesday morning, and both came up negative. But by Tuesday night she was starting to feel sick so she slept in a room by herself, and Wednesday morning she took another test which came up positive.

We’re all vaxxed and most of us were boosted, so we weren’t in danger of being extremely sick, but there’s still a number of guidelines in place that would make getting Covid a major headache. For instance, you’re not supposed to fly if you have Covid, and Jenny and I were scheduled to fly back Friday. Also, Jenny would have to skip classes and get someone to cover her teaching job for her.

Finally, Amy decided to just go home early and live in our barn loft. I know that sounds cold and 7-Brides-For-Seven-Brothers-ish, but I promise it’s warm and has a bathroom and kitchenette, haha.

The rest of us spent the day on a hidden beach searching for agates, and then we went on a hike in the afternoon.

That was basically the end of the vacation, because Thursday I spent most of my time packing up, leaving the coast, unpacking, and doing my taxes, and Friday I spent all day traveling. (Jen and I took rapid tests before we left, and they were negative.)

Meanwhile, Matt and Phoebe are staying with my parents so that they don’t get her parents sick, and Amy is still in the barn loft.

So far our precautions have proven fruitful. Besides Amy, none of us have gotten sick. But we’re not out of the woods yet.

At least we had two days all together as a family though, and I’ll see Amy again at least once before she goes back to Thailand. So all is not lost.

I hope you can tell, from the video, how much fun we all have together.


Remember, book signing in Lancaster on March 25!


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4 responses to “Surprising Our Mom for Her 60th Birthday

  1. Fun! I am proud of Paul!!


  2. Hi Emily,

    Sounds like a really fun surprise and time together (minus the COVID). One thing I’ve gathered about your family is that you all love surprises. πŸ™‚

    By the way, reading about your book signing made me think about the fact I would love to do a book signing with you sometime! With anyone else who cares to join too. If you have a good idea for one, let me know.

    Love, Luci

    On Sun, Mar 13, 2022 at 4:35 PM The Girl in the Red Rubber Boots wrote:

    > Emily Sara Smucker posted: ” Last week my five siblings, one > sister-in-law, and I flew to Oregon to surprise our mom for her 60th > birthday. But before I get to that story, one quick announcement: On > Friday, March 25 I’m doing a book signing, along with my mom and Shari > Zook, at ” >


  3. It’s funny, I’ve read all of your mom’s books and been reading her blog for years and it’s the first time I hear her voice 😁 not what I was expecting but I don’t even know what I was expecting πŸ˜‚. I can definitely hear the PA dutch accent which I love!
    It’s so sweet to watch your family love each other!


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