I’m a terrible liar. A terrible manipulator. I could never be a spy, as much as I love spy movies. But. Sometimes. I do do things that are a little manipulate-y. And sometimes those things work!

This past weekend was Dave’s birthday. He’s been a sad camper since his dad died unexpectedly in August. Understandable. Papa wasn’t just his dad, but his best friend. That’s a lot to process and no one, especially me, expects him to get over it already. But. I would like to see him smile. I would like to see him happy.

So for the very first time in our marriage, I threw Dave a surprise party! Nothing fancy, not a lot of people, but as a complete surprise to Dave. He’d forgotten my birthday in September, really, truly not his fault. He’d just gotten home from burying his dad. I wasn’t mad or even hurt. But Dave is sensitive that way (I’m not LOL), and I’m sure he thought I’d deliberately forgotten his when there were no streamers, no presents, no balloons come birthday morning.

In reality my mind was whirling. I needed our friend Justin to get here & whisk Dave away for a day of fun. I’d told him noon, but by eleven I was antsy beyond belief. By the time the two of the left, a grin already on Dave’s face (he loves the game store, and Justin was taking him to TWO!), I was ready to explode into action.

I turned on the deebot, thank God for self-guiding vacuums, Dane & I wiped down all the surfaces while Tess braved blowing up 50 balloons. I whipped up a cake, from scratch, and plopped it into the oven and ran to the store for last minute fancy snacks. Fancy snacks in the fridge would’ve given me away.

I’d already prepped a slow cooker full of pulled pork, cole slaw, broccoli salad (to die for, try it!) and I bought the German potato salad with the fancy snacks (Turkish cheeses & olives). By 5 o’clock we were ready! And Justin called. They were going to be late. Dave was having fun. YAY!

I went ahead and poured myself a big glass of wine, put out the snacks and enjoyed our friends until both game stores closed and Dave came home. A very happy, very relaxed, very surprised Dave. Happy birthday babe! You deserve a day all to celebrate you.

In all the chaos & excitement I forgot my camera, I forgot I had a camera on my phone, and we just enjoyed the moments. But. Sometimes during the evening Jan, Cole’s best friend, pulled out his guitar to serenade us. And I remembered my phone and recorded him. Not to share here, though that is what I’m doing, but to share with Cole.  Because. I knew Cole was already missing us. I knew Cole had just been give block leave for Christmas.  I had a feeling that Cole just needed a little push to come home this holiday season.

And I was right. The second Cole spotted the video of Jan yodeling at our house, he shot me a text:

“I want to come home for Christmas.” No problem son, ticket is already reserved.