I have to give myself some props for pulling this one off.
Wife had never been to Las Vegas. We've been talking about going since we've been together, but it wasn't a top priority. Our plan was to go when she got her promotion at work, but what little extra money came from that went toward other priorities.
That was a hard blow in a way; the expectation of a reward for hard work getting pulled out from under her. She never complained, but we all know what it's like to have our expectations thwarted.
Finally, it seemed that, if I could get a good deal on the flight and hotel, we could go. So I started searching between Christmas and the New Year for packages in February or March, as her birthday is March 18. I didn't realize that I'd found a great deal, but thought that the prices were at their normal levels. Because of holiday shopping, I had to wait till the credit card cycle renewed at the beginning of January.
I wanted this to be a surprise for Wife, so she didn't know about my research. She mentioned going a few times and I kept telling her, "We just can't afford it right now. Maybe in the fall."
In the mean time, I arranged for my in-laws to take the kids for a weekend in February. That problem was solved. So I checked back over my searches in January, but the prices had gone up over 50%! Yikes! By this time, most of my family knew that I was planning this, so they would give me a heads-up if they heard about some fare specials. Still, I finally told my in-laws that unless something dramatic happened, the trip would have to be postponed.
But I kept checking and finally found the deal. 2 nights at the Bellagio and non-stop flights out of O'Hare on American Airlines. Friday February 12th through Sunday the 14th.
The trip was set. Now to do the impossible: keep it quiet while getting the peripheral preparations in order.
For instance, I couldn't have Wife get on a conference call at 4pm. Secretary informed Wife's superiors what the deal was and, if possible, to avoid conflicts at that time.
I also couldn't have Wife come home early. Occasionally, she'll pack up some reading or editing she can do as easily at home as at work and come home at say, 3pm. That would make a mess of things. I called her friends to arrange a pretend happy hour. That would ensure she would plan on staying at work until 5pm.
Everything was going so smoothly. I was getting very excited.
Then Friday morning came early with text messages from my brother at 5am. His wife was in labor. I couldn't believe it. Of all the selfish things a person could do to ruin my surprise, this certainly topped the list!
I was beside myself. On one hand, I was so excited and happy for my brother and desperately wanted to be at the hospital for them. On the other hand, I had a grocery list of things to do to get ready for this trip. And there was the question, do we still go on the trip? I had purchased trip cancellation insurance in case the kids got sick or other obstruction to my travel plans. This scenario was in the back of my mind, but she wasn't due until 2/17, the following week. I mean really, who has their first baby a week early? That never happens!
But it was happening. Wife went to work, as usual, around 6am. I was up-and-Adam and had lots to do. But instead of being focused and knowing exactly what I wanted to do and when, I was scattered. Are we going or aren't we? When do I drop the surprise on Wife? Do I keep the plans intact? What about the baby? What if they have the baby? What do I do with the kids?
Just to get the kids to the In-Laws, I had to pack their clothes and pack their food. Staying for two days brings its own intricacies. I didn't want In-Laws to have to buy a bunch of stuff they don't normally eat, so I offered to bring all of their food. My plan was to portion it all out so that they had enough for their meals and some just-in-case food (like, if we stayed an extra day or two :). I didn't do that early so Wife wouldn't be clued in that something was up. In hindsight, I could have easily packed their clothes and non-perishable food and hidden them, but I thought I would have all day Friday to do all of this.
I told wife that In-Laws offered to take the kids overnight so that we could stay at the hospital as long as it took. She responded, "Oh, great! Hey, why don't you pick me up from the office on your way back? Then we can go to the hospital together." My, what a great idea.
Instead of having all morning to pack the kids' things, then all afternoon to pack for Wife and myself, I panicked, thinking that I had to do everything before I left at 9:30am. Of course, there was laundry to do and the kids were sleeping so I couldn't go into their room. So they did wake up and had to be fed and clothed. The TV babysitter took over from there.
Then JD pooped in his underwear which leaked out to the carpet and then stepped on it. Toodles needed attention. I didn't know if I was going to cry or throw up.
Then I did the sensible thing. I decided to drop the surprise early. A weight was lifted from my shoulders. I threw JD and Toodles' things into bags, dumped everything in the car, then drove like heck to In-Laws where I had to give thorough explanation about their clothes and food and schedule. Then downtown where I picked up Wife. Finally, I told her there was laundry that absolutely had to be changed over.
We arrived home where she found the itinerary on the counter.
What's this? We're going to Vegas?!?
She was terribly excited. Then she started asking questions.
Who knew about this?
She found out about the fake plans that night and throughout the weekend. Coworker friends. Family. It was a lot of fun watching her discover how deep the river ran.
The best part about telling her early was that she packed her own things. I was having some anxiety about that.
We packed, went to the hospital and waited. At 3:45, a baby girl came into the world. We got the be the first ones to hold her so that we could get to the airport. She was wonderful and beautiful and looked just like her mother's side of the family. Then we said good-bye and drove to O'Hare.