the mother of all surprises — or not

Screen shot 2012-12-07 at 6.25.18 AM

It was going to be the Mother Of All Surprises.

The greatest present since the day that Katie turned three and we woke her on her birthday, bags packed, plane tickets in hand and said, “Hey, do you want to go see Cinderella?”

Yup, it was going to be THAT big.

Bigger even.

Because if you’ve been around here for more than ten minutes, then you know how my girl feels about these guys ..



And I found out where they LIVE.

(Florida, as you do.)

Here, to be more specific ..


Nickelodeon Suites Resort


And we’re going.


Well, almost right after. Like two weeks after. Close enough.

And the whole thing is going to be the biggest surprise in the history of biggest surprises. I planned out the way we’ll present it to her on Christmas – a social story that she’ll read – pictures and all. Dora, Boots, Ming Ming – all her friends. Jet Blue — her beloved Jet Blue. It will all be part of the story. And on the last page, it will say, “Mama and I will fly on Jet Blue to meet Dora and her friends on January 9th! I can’t wait!”

And when she reads that part, she will gasp again with shock and awe and SURPRISE. She might even fall off her chair.

Or not.

Last night, Katie performed in her school band concert. After the experience at Tuesday night’s choral concert, we decided to give Brooke the choice of joining us or staying home with Julie. She opted for the latter.

When we got home, Julie had a question.

“Hey, when are you and Brooke going to Nick Jr World?”


I hadn’t told her. I hadn’t told anyone.

I ..

Um ..


“You’re going, right?” she asked.

I stuttered.

“Well, um, yeah, but, how did you know?”

She pointed to the Jet Blue itinerary that was pinned TO THE VERY TOP OF THE BULLETIN BOARD (we’re talking over seven feet up, people.)  “I asked her if you guys were taking a trip,” she said. “And she said, ‘Yeah, we’re going to Nick Jr World to meet Dora. It’s in Florida.'”

Julie had no idea it was a surprise. Why would she?

“Is the whole family going?” she told me she’d asked her.

“No. Just me and Mama,” she’d said.

I ..

Um ..


I have absolutely no idea how this child figured it out. I didn’t write it. I didn’t say it anywhere near her. I plotted the whole thing from my desk at work.

Fine, I told her the place existed, but when she asked if we could go I simply said that I’d think about it.

I guess the gig is up.

But damn it, if she asks me, I’m sticking to Maybe.

And I’m still making the dang social story.


Ed note: This is really only half the story. You see, the real story is how I couldn’t afford to do this and my dad decided that not affording it wasn’t going to be a reason not to do it and how now it’s Brooke’s Christmas present from him but how it’s really just as big a gift to me and Oh My God, I still can’t believe that he’s doing this cause seriously, who does that? But if I tell that part of the story then we’ll all be in tears and I don’t know about you, but I just can’t start my Friday like that, so I’ll save all that for another time.

Thank you, Dad. It’s not nearly big enough, but thank you. 


24 thoughts on “the mother of all surprises — or not

  1. I’m not surprised at all that she figured it out. Once you mentioned it and she was so excited about it, she knew her momma would figure out a way to make it happen for her! She’s a smart kid 🙂

  2. The clues. . . . . oh the clues we leave by accident. Even if she has figured it out, the two of you will have a great time. . . . and it is because you are an awesome mama! The hard part is that I am going to have to wait to hear all about it.

  3. This might sound weird, but our kids just know things. My husband was researching a trip from work, never even told me and when he got home Daniel asked him when we were going there…..That happens with us. A lot. It’s weird and unexplainable. Except that his brain is different than ours and how could we ever know what is really going on in there? Sounds like a perfect, wonderful trip! Enjoy. We stayed at that hotel before Nick bought it and it was great then. It will be awesome now!!!

  4. Ok. I was all excited and happy for you but you’re “PS” brought the tears. We did the surprise Disney trip last year and didn’t even tell them when we left the house where we were going. We stopped 1/2 way in Savannah to stay the night then asked if they’d rather hang there and visit all the cool historical places, or drive another 5 hours and just go to Disney? The screams of joy was awesome once they realized I was serious. But stupid me turned off the camera to show them the tickets, since they didn’t believe me at first, and didn’t get any of it recorded. I still get so mad when I see those Disney commercials of the kids when they find out they’re going. So make sure you’re husband keeps the camera rolling.

  5. I swear, our kid does have a sixth sense sometimes. My son has figured things out like this, without anyone prompting him.

    I am beyond excited for you and Brooke!!! What a fun trip it will be!!! Say hi to the Nick Jr. Crew for us!

  6. “and Oh My God, I still can’t believe that he’s doing this cause seriously, who does that?”

    Daddies. Daddies do that, Jessica. Doing for you what you do for your kids because it doesn’t ever end…the worry, the love, the fear…doing for you, what you would do for yours.

    I don’t mean to imply that it’s expected. Some dads wouldn’t be able to afford it. Some dads might not even care. But a dad worth his salt…THAT is who does that.

    • Oh this comment just wrecked me. WRECKED me. The question was rhetorical really. I knew the answer. But yes, so, so yes. 

      My dad does not have a lot of money. This isn’t small. But he is my dad. He has ALWAYS been the dad who found a way. Who prized the making of memories and lasting connections and LOVE above all else and the one who, no matter what, ALWAYS came through. Always COMES through. 

      The one who I still call, at 42 years old, when the shit hits the fan. And when it doesn’t. The one who somehow makes it better – even when he can’t. 

      I’ve heard it said that any man can be a father, but it takes someone really special to be a Dad. 

      To all of the Dads out there – the Luaus, the Jims, the Michael Gordons – THANK YOU. 

      PS When you call me Jessica I feel like I’m about to be grounded. Lol

      • I just read that whole friggin’ post and only when I got to that part…about your dad buying it…and really not even then…only when I started formulating my reply did I start getting misty. I just kept thinking to myself…god damn RIGHT he bought it! There’s a DAD!

      • And guys? Your conversation here has me in such tears. My father was a Dad like that. But the man I’m married to, the father of my kids? Really not so much. Too childish himself, too self-involved. He loves his children, but vaguely, abstractly. He is never in the trenches. It’s the source of so much sadness and frustration in my life. I wish I had chosen a Luau, a Jim. I really don’t know what I was thinking (that he would rise to the occasion?)

  7. Daddy’s are the BEST… And apparently Grandpa is pretty GREAT too! Have fun at “Dora World.” You will have such fun and Brooke WILL enjoy your Christmas morning social story too.


  8. This is why only a Dad can get away with yesterday’s comment about giving advice (which was all kinds of awesome by the way), because we know His love is true and unconditional, and sometimes a little snarky. Shower him with love every day, I lost mine last year and cannot begin to explain the hole it leaves in you.

  9. Love this! We, too, are raising James Bond. I only surprised my son once and that was after several blatent lies and true conspiracy theories between all the big people in our family, starting with a phone call from my dad saying there was a line at Target for something called a W…I….I….a Wii??? Ya, that’s it. Do we want one of those? Two days before the first Christmas they came out.

  10. My 3 1/2 yr old son (w/asd) saw Ming-Ming and said “The duck!” and pointed to it as I read this post. It’s going to be a good day…

    And even the best laid plans can go astray. Maybe telling her was the key to her figuring it out. Either way it will still be an awesome trip!

  11. =) That’s so awesome.
    I just read the book Carly’s Voice… which I highly reccommend… and after reading how she experiences the world… it doesnt seem so far fetched to me that Brooke could have figured it out =)
    Although I like the blind faith theory too

  12. Hello! Word to the wise, my friends got bedbugs at that resort a year ago. Check the beds, the mattresses, and leave your suitcases outside when you get home until you can wash everything in hot water and dry it in a super hot dryer. Be aware and have a wonderful, wonderful time!

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