January Beach Birthday - The Planning

Years ago, my husband planned an incredible surprise birthday for me. He left notes and little gifts all along my path during the day- on the coffee maker, the steering wheel, in my office... well, you get the point. There were no incredibly extravagant gifts, just my favorite cheese danish in the morning, a special perfume, flowers on my desk. In the middle of the afternoon I got a call to look out the front of the building where I work, and up drove a limo, coming for me - there was a crowd watching (Everyone in my office was in on it!) as I was escorted out under an umbrella by the driver to the car full of my husband and kids. Seriously, I felt like Deborah Winger in An Officer and a Gentleman.

Since then I have been looking for an opportunity to surprise my husband in the same way, and everything came together at the end of January as his birthday approached. It started when I discovered that this year his birthday fell on a weekend and Molly had two teacher workdays right after the weekend. My husband, in fact, my whole family loves the beach, and I thought it would be great to rent a house at the beach for a nice midwinter getaway. I began hatching a plan. First I emailed several rental companies in the Outer Banks to see if I could find a house that would fit in my budget. In less than a day I had found a house on the oceanfront with a hot tub and a rec room for not much more than it would have cost to get a nice hotel room for our family, and the subterfuge began. All the kids worked together to keep the secret, to plan our escape, plan meals, and pack without giving my husband a clue.

Our family is a little crazy, so it was not enough to surprise my husband, they actually wanted to torture him, so Kate pretended that she was leaving to look at apartments in DC where she is moving later this Spring and Colleen, who had come all the way up from Florida, pretended it was to go DC for an interview, so he was already really bummed that everyone wasn't staying the whole weekend.But how to get him to the beach? I called him from work to tell him that I had an offer to review a restaurant in Duck, North Carolina, and maybe he and I, Bridget and Molly and Andrew could go since they were comping us a meal (What a liar!) He bought the story, and I convinced him we should take the dogs to the kennel so that just in case we wanted to linger, we wouldn't have to worry about rushing back to let the dogs out!

Saturday was crazy. We sent Gavin to take the dogs and furiously packed cooler, boxes of food and other staples and the Wii into all the kids' cars. Katie had gotten her dad a Garmin GPS which she installed in the car with the address of the restaurant (really the beach house). He was so surprised and excited to use it to go to the beach. We said tearful goodbyes (the epitome of crocodile tears) to Katie and Colleen, and had last-minute drama, when Andrew said he had decided not to go with us for our lunch (another lie). We locked the house and got on the road, my poor husband still clueless.

Despite cold temperatures, it was sunny and clear and the ride to Nags Head was relaxed, with everybody entranced by the Garmin. We were in constant contact with the other co-conspirators who actually were a bit ahead of us on the road so they could get the keys and check in. At one point we were making such good time I had to pretend to be getting a migraine so we could stop and get a fountain Coke and give the kids a bigger head start.

As we approached the address, Gavin was looking for a restaurant, but what he saw was all the kids (except young Gavin who couldn't make it) waving from the porch. He was so surprised that we had to double back. I wish I had a picture of his face, he was confused for at least an hour as he checked out the house and heard bits and pieces of the conspiracy that had been hatched for the better part of the month. And honey, if you are reading this.... GOTCHA!
Next: Family,Food and fun at the beach


rayvnniscool said…
Dad was shocked. I was more surprised that we could all keep a secret.
rayvnniscool said…
He was shocked. I was more surprised that we could all keep a secret.