Tuesday, March 23, 2010

A Surprised Birthday Girl

Lest you think I stuck my head in my new oven after my last depressing post, I've been anxious to update. I ended up having a really, really good birthday, after all!

But it did get worse before it got better. I said something to Paul about getting ready to go out to eat late that afternoon and he said well, he'd already taken care of that. Huh? He said he'd picked up some Papa Murphy's pizzas earlier that day when he'd been in town. Well, whoopty-doo! I like anything I don't have to cook myself, but I like to have something a little more extravagant for my birthday! We had this discussion as I was leaving to take Will to the school for weight lifting. I fumed all the way there and back. So when I got home, I let Paul know of my displeasure. I don't want to be a diva, but, it WAS my birthday! He protested that he had heard me comment that perhaps we should try to go cheaper for supper that night, so he was doing that. Well, I had said that, but what I meant was that maybe we should find a more middle-of-the-road type of restaurant, rather than going to one of my favorites, which would be more high-dollar (like Fuddruckers or the Machine Shed). Finally, Paul looked at me and said, "I need you to trust me on this, ok?" That gave hope that he wasn't being a total Scrooge, so I said all right.

And I ended up having a nice supper, Mr. Scrooge being present and all. Paul set the table and gave me the "red" plate. He then instructed each of the boys to say something they appreciate about me. Ben said, "I like that it's your birthday." Paul looked at him, frowned, and said, "Deeper, Ben!" So then Ben lowered his voice and repeated, "I like that it's your birthday." Ha, ha, ha - you have to love the literal, autistic mind!

Earlier that day Paul had baked a bunch of cupcakes and after supper he arranged them on the table in the shape of "39." I got two cards, and each one had bunches of $1 bills in it - there were supposed to be 39, but Paul had miscounted so there were actually 40! He then told me, "I couldn't get your main gift until tomorrow." I demanded, "When tomorrow?" He looked a little flustered and said, "Antsy, aren't we? I don't know for sure!" At that point I decided in my head that he must have gone ahead and purchased my coveted refrigerator and I even dreamed about that fridge that night! As it turned out, I'm going to be waiting for my refrigerator for awhile longer, unless I can get my old white Whirlpool to break down one of these days...

One cute thing that did happen on Thursday night was that Sam spontaneously broke out singing, "Happy Day to you!" The boys taught him and I love it when he does that!

So, the next morning, Paul walks into our bedroom at 7:30 and tells me to pack my bags. What?! I told him I couldn't go anywhere because Sara and the girls were coming down. He said he'd already "taken care" of that. I had thought it was kind of odd that Sara had not emailed me on Thurs. to let me know when she planned to roll into town... Paul said to pack my money from the night before, too. I didn't know what he had in mind. But I got up, packed a bag, and got ready for my unknown day, while Paul packed up the boys and himself. That alone is a first. Never, ever has Paul had to pack for even himself in all the years we've been married. He conceded to me later that was quite a chore. No kidding!

I had no idea where we were going until we got to Cedar Rapids (2 hrs. east of us). They have an outlet mall near there and Paul turned into there. He told me we could spend as much time at the mall as I wanted and we could even go to the Amana Colonies, if I so desired. We've always talked about going there, but never have. And then he told me that we had reservations that night at the Aquabahn Water Park - news to which the boys began cheering! We even had separate rooms, which was quite the splurge. Actually, that happened because Paul was honest when making the reservation about how many kids we have. I'm the one who always makes our reservations and I've learned to keep mum about our lastborn because, othewise, they make you buy two rooms. Five people is the limit per room, no matter if one ot he people is only 3 feet tall.

So we shopped for a little bit and then drove over to the Amanas. The Amana Colonies are a group of 7 villages that were founded by some Germans in the 1800s as religious communal living groups. Now they are a tourist attraction - lots of little shops, restaurants, antique stores - that kind of thing. Now everything was open yet this early in the year, but quite a bit was.

We were hungry by then so we looked for a restaurant called the "Ox Yoke Inn." I grew up hearing my mother talk about this restaurant. She had been there a number of times with her parents and had special memories of the place. We found it and had a very, very nice lunch - with an $84 bill at the end of it! I about fainted when I saw that, but Paul just smiled and said, "Once in a lifetime!"

We then spent rest of the afternoon exploring the shops in the villages. Paul was excited by the number of antique stores and we had fun poking around in those. I'll have to share my favorite find in my next post. Then, we went to the hotel/waterpark. The boys had a blast there, although Ben wanted to leave once it got to be 6:30 and he knew "Wheel of Fortune" was on. We didn't let him. It took Sam quite awhile to warm up to the whole idea. He got freaked out by this big bucket of water that dumps into one part of the park and it ook a long time for him to get over that. We ordered food from the snackbar for supper and took it back to our rooms to eat because Paul had thriftily brought along a cooler full of pop. I got to watch "What Not to Wear," which was a real treat for me. I love that show! We don't have cable tv, but if I could just buy TNT, I would in a heartbeat. I got addicted to that channel during Sam's and my 4 hospitalizations back in the fall of '07.

I just can't believe Paul pulled this whole thing off. He kept saying, "Turn-about is fair play!," referring to last year when I "kidnapped" him on his 38th birthday and drove him to Moline, Illinois. He has often commented on that weekend and how special it was - and wanted to do the same for me. I would have guessed he would have done something like this next year, when my birthday is on a Friday and it's the big 4-0. How is he going to top this? (not that he has to) Will was in on it, helping Paul to navigate the computer, so that he could explore options. He helped Paul find Sara's phone number in my phone so he could cancel with her. Sara was the one who suggested to Paul that he tell me my main present couldn't get here until the 19th. Paul said he even went through my purse calendar to make sure I didn't have anything planned for that day - if I had, he was going to cancel it for me.

We had planned all along to spend Sat. in Waterloo, which is less than hour from Cedar Rapids. That factored into Paul's planning, too. We got up there around lunchtime Sat., just prior to my brother's arrival. I'll post more about that later.

So, I ended up having a fabulous birthday, after all. I was stunned, again, at the number of birthday greetings - some really heartfelt - that I got on Facebook. Paul lined up all my birthday cards on Sun. night across the buffet and had me stand by them so he could take a picture. Then, yesterday, Monday, I got 3 more in the mail. He exclaimed, "How many people do you know?! Now I have to take another picture!"

It's nice to be reminded - at least once a year - of how much I'm loved. Somehow that has a way of making the trials more bearable and the days less long. I am one blessed woman.

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