Surprise Visit

December 1, 2012

Ever since my mom left my house in early November, she has been lamenting that she won’t see Mazen until Christmas. Little did she know we had a surprise visit planned! This weekend is the Hillsborough Christmas parade, and Dad, Larbs and I arranged to surprise mom. I did my best to convince her I wasn’t going to be able to come:

“I don’t feel comfortable driving alone, and Matt can’t leave the bakery during the holiday season”

“We’re going out to dinner with Karen on Friday night”

“Don’t be sad; we’ll see you in a month for Christmas!”

“I have a dinner with my mothers group on Saturday. I might make a bean dip.”

“Hey,  Any news? I’m walking on the way to Body Pump. Oh hi Sarah! Mom, I’ll call you back”

And while I stopped to nurse, I emailed her a photo of Maze playing at home I had saved on my phone so she would think I was home having a regular day.

So when we walked in the door, she was SHOCKED!! One of the biggest surprises of her life, she says. (Tied with when I told her I was pregnant at Christmas last year!)



I had pumpkin oats topped with banana, pecans and Barney Butter before I left!



I left Charlottesville after our late morning nursing session. My plan was to just take the trip easy and if I had to stop every 30 minutes to tend to Maze that’s what I’d do. Luckily we only had one crying episode where I had to pull over and nurse him (and then pull over 5 miles after that because he hadn’t gotten all of his burps out) but luckily he slept happily most of the trip. He sure loves to sleep in cars now! For a while I thought it might be a 3 hour trip turned into 6, but then he dozed back off.

Packed lunch to go:


Turkey, pumpkin butter + spinach sandwich that was eaten on the road


With a side of orange segments and carrots


Early afternoon snack – Greek yogurt and cranberry sauce!! Yay for cranberry sauce!


The surprise was so fun!! We spent the rest of the afternoon going through my old childhood toys and clothes that mom and dad have saved in the attic for the past 20-something years. M loves to look at this busy box circa 1982.


I found a few gender neutral clothes for Maze in the collection! The rest we are saving for possible girl grandchildren down the line.


Larbs’s rubber ducky collection!


Do you guys think there is any danger in playing with toys that have been in an attic for 25+ years? I’m a little bit concerned – it does get really hot up there in the summer. I can see how when M is in his chewing-on-everything stage it might not be wise, but what about general touch playing? Am I just being paranoid about the potential of mutated plastic?

My little Duke shirt!


For the evening we all went over to Duke to meet Matt and Larbs for Fuqua Fridays.


Matt is in business school at Duke and they have these amazing dinners every Friday night. I’m sorry I didn’t take a photo of the scholar himself, but we had a fabulous time being his guests.


The buffet was an exciting selection of Southern favorites


I had BBQ, green beans, chicken, hushpuppies, a biscuit, mac and cheese and slaw


And the most delicious banana puddin’ topped with berries!



M took a nap in his Auntie Larbs’s arms, and I nursed him in the kids’ room before we left for home.


Maze and I were both in bed before 10. And then had our first long-stretch great night’s sleep in a week! He must have known he was in his mom’s cozy childhood bedroom : )

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{ 57 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Michelle (Peachy Palate) December 1, 2012 at 3:38 pm

Awh I’d say your mum was delighted!!! My mum adores her grandchildren, they just never fail to put the BIGGEST smile I’ve ever seen on her face. Looks like a delicious bowl of oats and an incredible dinner btw!


2 Emily @ Emily Eats and Runs December 1, 2012 at 4:10 pm

Aww, sounds like a sweet time! Maze is adorable!

On a food-related note, thanks for the yogurt + cranberry sauce idea. That has to be good.


3 Molly @ RDexposed December 1, 2012 at 4:22 pm

Your dad should be part of colonial Williamsburg! He’s got the look!


4 Jenny @ For Your Consideration December 1, 2012 at 4:23 pm

Very cool surprise!


5 Christine December 1, 2012 at 4:39 pm

I would be worried that the toys could have lead-based paint. I would try to look into it.


6 KathEats December 1, 2012 at 5:06 pm

Didn’t think of that yet!


7 Kathy W. December 1, 2012 at 6:38 pm

As far as lead goes, if the toys were made after 1978 they should be fine:

In fact, they may be much safer in that respect than toys made today, since most toys now are made in China & there are constant recalls for lead-based paint in new toys.

I would just check to make sure the plastic/paint/decals was intact and not crumbly. (or moldy smelling) If they look & smell okay, you could always give them a soak in water with a few drops of bleach, & then wash them w/mild soap.


8 Amy @ Eat Workout Succeed December 1, 2012 at 4:54 pm

What a lovely surprise for your mom!! … I’m a little nervous about driving so decided to drive from my parents house in Birmingham to my home in Devon (UK) – about 3 hours – by myself & to make it a bit more exciting, drive with my one year old in the back!Fortunately he was good as gold and we only had to stop for lunch, which was a nice break! It has made me less scared of driving and meant i had some quality time with my family.

My mother in law has kept a lot of my husbands old toys, and i feel the same as you… I’m not sure i am comfortable with him chewing on them. I just worry that the materials may be harmful after all these years! I might google it and see if i can put our worries at ease :)


9 Katie @ Talk Less, Say More December 1, 2012 at 5:10 pm

What a fun surprise!! Several years ago my parents had gone to visit my sister at college during the parents weekend. It also happened to be my mom’s birthday weekend so we surprised my mom by flying me down from college to join for the weekend. She walked into my sister’s dorm room and suddenly there I was. She was crying and it was awesome.

Those kinds of surprises are good for everyone’s hearts!


10 Elizabeth December 1, 2012 at 5:13 pm

What a fun surprise! I love Larbs’ coat, do you think she might let us know where she got it??


11 Jessica December 1, 2012 at 5:18 pm

I would use the old toys up high for decoration in his room, but no let him play with them. There have been so many toys even made currently made with lead paint, I can only imagine that is what those are also made with.


12 Polly December 1, 2012 at 7:49 pm

I agree with Jessica: decorate Mazen’s room with your and/or Matt’s childhood toys. I did this for my boys’ bedrooms with my husband’s collection of handmade wooden toys, Matchbox cars, classic board games, baseballs, and much loved Hardy Boys books. Also, I wanted to keep these cherished “heirlooms” in good condition to be handed down to the next generation :)


13 chris December 1, 2012 at 5:32 pm

LOVE this!! Your lucky Mama, say “hey” for me. And did you meet Sarah at Fuqua Friday? And about the toys – I think some bleach mixed with water and a good swiping, then a hot soap and water bath, they’ll be as good as new!


14 KathEats December 1, 2012 at 6:37 pm

I didn’t meet her, but I was on the lookout!


15 Kelli December 1, 2012 at 5:41 pm

First time I ever cried reading Kath Eats! Happy tears…don’t worry. What a wonderful surprise for your mom!


16 Mom December 1, 2012 at 8:51 pm

I was really overwhelmed!


17 Chiara December 1, 2012 at 6:00 pm

I would be concerned about toys he can put into his mouth–remember that plastic items made in 1982 most likely contain BPA. My MIL saved all of my husband’s Fisher Price toys for our boys to play with and its a walk down memory lane every time they come out and the kids love them. Im shocked Larbs’ ducks aren’t disintegrating. Great job on the surprise!


18 Kristi December 1, 2012 at 6:18 pm

I feel the same re: attic toys. But I would guess (don’t know for sure) that those toys weren’t made in China and covered in lead paint like everything today. Old plastic vs. lead, what to do?!


19 Stefanie @ Thin Vegetarian December 1, 2012 at 6:27 pm

That was a very nice surprise!


20 Dynamics December 1, 2012 at 6:32 pm

Kath, supervised play with the busy box would be fun. With the internet you can get contact info and ask the company directly. I know our toys went through three generations without any problems. The only thing we got rid of was the crib because of the slats. Give it a good scrub and it should be fine. I am more scared of new toys and what they are made of these days than the older toys. I only buy toys after extensive research. So many toys these days are horrible. JMO


21 Emily @ December 1, 2012 at 7:00 pm

Sounds like such a great surprise for your mom and I’m glad you got to get away and have fun!


22 Elise @ Expeditions of Elise December 1, 2012 at 7:26 pm

I love that you surprised your mom! I surprised my mom one weekend last year when she didn’t think I’d be visiting for a long time. It was so fun.


23 Verenique B December 1, 2012 at 7:38 pm

sooo sweet! so glad you got to surprise you mom! :) surprises are always nice! :)
so was curious how would it be to put plain pb on top of baked pumpkin oatmeal???
i made your recipe and it was delicous! this morning i had a serving of it toped with a lil bit of vanilla greek yog, pumkin seeds and some pump pie spice. but was thinking hmm i wonder if pb on top would go ok? what ya think? what else would go well with the pb on top of the baked pumpking oatmeal?


24 Aaryn December 1, 2012 at 7:50 pm

My boys play with my old toys but I have always been careful clean them well and we never let them put their in their mouths. The old plastic duckies may be more of a concern if they were used in the tub/with water. With those holes in the bottom, they harbor all kinds of bacteria, and since they can’t be cleaned inside, water spewed out form them is full of germs! (That goes for any bath toys today that have those holes on the bottom too!)


25 Liz @ Tip Top Shape December 1, 2012 at 7:58 pm

Aww, your mom looks so happy to be with your little guy :) Great planning with the surprise. That photo fake-out is brilliant!


26 Averie @ Averie Cooks December 1, 2012 at 8:07 pm

What a great surprise and glad you all could be together – how fun for all of you!

The cranberries and the pumpkin butter look delish to me!


27 [email protected] of Pace December 1, 2012 at 9:32 pm

You are so sweet for surprising your mom! She will remember that forever!


28 Lisa December 1, 2012 at 9:49 pm

I would definitely not let Mazen mouth any of the old toys for the exact reasons you mentioned. That busy box is awesome, though! I bet he’ll love that.


29 Kelly @ Foodie Fiasco December 1, 2012 at 10:50 pm

You’re such a great daughter, Kath. 😉


30 Kayla December 1, 2012 at 11:26 pm

Loved all the fake out explanations! Great surprise!


31 kim December 2, 2012 at 4:52 am

Hi Kath, I love your blog and have been lurking / reading it for quite a while without leaving a comment – I saw your bit about the toys though and thought I would this time. My childhood toys were from the mid 1970’s onwards, and there was an article in a UK newspaper around the time my son was born (2000) about plastic toys from that period starting to ‘sweat’ toxins as they degraded. I loved my toys, but given the tendancy of small children to experiment my putting things in their mouth, I decided to keep them away from my children. Hope this helps.


32 Ella P December 2, 2012 at 5:13 am

Dear Kath,
surprising you mom was an exellent idea, welldone :)

As for the toys, I’d leave them for what they are: memories. I do not think there is a real need, isn’t it?


33 [email protected] December 2, 2012 at 7:14 am

Sounds like a fun day and a great surprise!


34 Annie December 2, 2012 at 7:31 am

How sweet to surprise your mom! Quick question. In the pic at Duke your family is all cozied up in winter coats but Maze has his legs bare. Brrr! Do you think he might need a blanket, pants or snow suit if everybody else has multiple layers?


35 KathEats December 2, 2012 at 8:06 am

Actually it was 60* that day and I had no coat, mom is just wearing a sweater, and larbs was overdressed. M’s long pants bunched when I handed him to my mom and she pulled of his hood for the photo, which I knew would cause a stir. We were walking maybe 20 yards from our heated car to the heated building and left his blanket in the car seat. Babies are often a over dressed – I check the back of his neck frequently and he can get sweaty easily. He was fine.

So that’s the rest of the story.


36 Born in 1982 December 2, 2012 at 9:13 am

Both of my kids are extremely warm blooded even as they have become older. We were (are) always questioned about dressing our kids warmer! To this day, my children become to warm in winter coats and often choose lighter versions here in Wyoming! Plus, you must remember, that everyone always knows more than the 30 year old mother!!!! LOL

YEAH FOR 1982!!!!


37 Laura December 2, 2012 at 10:39 am

I’m lucky if I can get my kids into jackets at all! Kids can be such hot-bodies, it makes me jealous!


38 Hope December 3, 2012 at 9:57 am

Maybe you need to put a disclaimer stating the temperature and circumstances on every picture of Maze when he’s outside, lol.


39 KathEats December 3, 2012 at 11:45 am

I know, right! I wish people would give me the benefit of the doubt.


40 Whitney December 2, 2012 at 3:54 pm

Give it a rest Annie! I’m sure Kath (as his mother) knows how to dress her child.


41 Marcia December 2, 2012 at 11:04 pm

You’d be surprised at what I see out there. She was showing concern.

It did look to me like the pants were bunching up, not that his legs were bare.

My son had a couple of nights where he didn’t sleep well, when I realized he was cold! We’d been swaddling him in just a diaper because he was born in July and it was HOT. Started dressing him more warmly, problem solved. And it’s not my first time around the block either! Even experienced moms make mistakes.


42 Katie @ Peace Love & Oats December 2, 2012 at 9:10 am

That’s so great you were able to surprise your mom! I’m awful at surprises because I’m soooo bad at lying! I can’t stop smiling or laughing!


43 sally December 2, 2012 at 9:31 am

as I am decking my UK house with boughs of “found”cedar branches this post makes me warm all over — I miss my adult daughters this year— but I am so happy you gave your Mama- something special!– a surprise of love!


44 Sara @ fitcupcaker December 2, 2012 at 9:50 am

What an exciting surprise. Thats so neat. Looks like you had a great time. I want pumpkin oatmeal now!


45 ann December 2, 2012 at 10:11 am

How wonderful that you were able to surprise your mom! I have that same busy box saved in the attic from my daughter who is now 25. It brings back nice memories seeing it here.


46 [email protected] December 2, 2012 at 11:49 am

Sounds fun – I love surprising people like that :)


47 Hayley @ Running on Pumpkin December 2, 2012 at 1:03 pm

That is such a cute surprise – I’ll never forget the time I surprised my parents coming home from college one weekend for my dad’s birthday. You and your sister look so much alike!


48 Sarah (The Simple Dietitian) December 2, 2012 at 2:00 pm

What a fun surprise!! It looks like everyone had such a grand time. I love that picture of your parents and sister with baby M. 😀


49 ChemERunner December 2, 2012 at 5:17 pm

I’m a chemical engineer and I think your concern over the toys in the attic is not necessary. The temperatures at which nearly all plastics melt or morph (i.e. glass transition temperature) is well above summer temperatures in North Carolina, even in the attic. Seriously, a lot of older toys are much better made than the current ones, which are often being manufactured in China, not domestically. But, if you have any mice/rodent problems, you might want to soak all the plastic toys in a heavily diluted bleach water mix (1 gallon of water+ 1 capful of bleach is recommended). That would be my real concern.


50 KathEats December 2, 2012 at 5:27 pm

Thanks, my mom cleaned them all. My dad who is an electrical engineer had the same response as you : )


51 Megan December 2, 2012 at 8:35 pm

Hi Kath!

Quick question- where did you get your coral bowl? if you’ve answered this question before then I apologize for asking again.

Thank you!


52 KathEats December 2, 2012 at 9:04 pm

It’s from a boutique in Charlotte


53 Christina @ The Beautiful Balance December 2, 2012 at 9:35 pm

Aw! So sweet of you to surprise her! I hope you are having a fabulous time, nothing is better than family :)


54 yasmara December 3, 2012 at 2:56 pm

We discovered some black mold inside toys my mom saved from the late 70’s/early 80’s. Some of cleaned out easily with a diluted bleach solution & hot water…others we ended up tossing. The most successful saved toys were the Fisher Price castle & farm – my boys loved them when they were smaller & my 5 year old still plays with the castle!


55 penny December 5, 2012 at 1:32 am

For pics I would generally take off blankets and/or coats so you can see the baby better and people would ask those same ridiculous questions! People seem to think they have an idea of your life by looking at a snapshot. Cracks me up!


56 Molly March 13, 2013 at 10:27 am

Kath I know this post is months old, but I was wondering if you’d ever consider doing a “tour” of your parents’ home? It looks just lovely!


57 KathEats March 13, 2013 at 11:48 am

I could perhaps!


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