So, no pictures today. Because WE ARE ON HOLIDAY!
Remember, I mentioned how we were going to take Stinkerbelle to visit her Grammy and Grandad and aunties and uncles and cousins, as a birthday surprise? That we had planned everything without mentioning a word to her, so we could surprise her?
Well, our plan went PERFECTLY.
Yesterday, Stinkerbelle went to school, as normal, and while she was away, BDH and I packed our suitcases and carry-ons and got ready for a week away. Meanwhile, at school, the teachers (who knew she was going to be away on Surprise!Trip), were having a birthday party for her! So when BDH picked her up from school, Stinkerbelle declared it the Best Day Ever.
She had no idea what was in store. So on the ride home from school, they picked up some take-out burgers, and over lunch, we asked That Girl if she’d like to go on an ADVENTURE.
Of course she did!
We said we should probably take a BUS on our adventure, because we’d never gone anywhere on a bus before, and Stinkerbelle agreed. We also thought we should have backpacks for our adventure, and the suitcases we said were bags full of “adventure gear”, just like she sees on Zoboomafoo. So when the Airport Transit van came to pick us up, she just got right in, no question.
Apparently, she thought the adventure should be exploring a cave, and she told everyone that that was where we were going. Thus, as we rode the hour and a bit to the airport, she was growing increasingly more peevish and complaining about the lack of caves.
Until she saw the airport, that is, where she put the cave idea aside for a little while, and asked if we could go look at some planes. We thought that was a good adventure. So in we went.
All the way along, BDH had been quietly telling people — teachers, transit drivers, airline staff — that this trip was a surprise for Stinkerbelle’s birthday, and it was quite unexpected and quite lovely that people had been going out of their way to help play along with the plan. So, at the airport check in counter, where they offered to “take care of” our “adventure bags” for a little while, the lovely staffer asked if we’d like to go for a plane ride. Stinkerbelle OF COURSE said yes. So she printed off a “boarding pass” for That Girl, and a “baggage tag” for her giraffe backpack (with Stinkerbelle’s name and big hearts written on it) and off we went.
We got on the plane, and once again BDH mentioned, on the sly to the flight crew, what our plan was. They immediately played along. One, named Maureen, bought chips and pop for Stinkerbelle from the snack cart, which was a treat. And then she asked That Girl if she would like to help her out by being a Junior Flight Attendant.
OF COURSE SHE WOULD!!
They took Stinkerbelle to the galley, and they made an announcement — that this flight had a Very Special Guest on board, named Stinkerbelle, and it was her 5th birthday next week, and she was going to be a Junior Flight Attendant today. Then, they got That Girl dressed up in a little WestJet apron and some gloves, and she helped Maureen go up the aisle and collect all the trash from the snack service. All the way along, passengers were fussing on That Girl, saying what a good helper she was, wishing her a Happy Birthday… and one, who owned a McDonalds, even gave her coupons for free burgers!
Stinkerbelle was BEYOND thrilled. She was beaming. Three things she loves — being social, helping tidy up, and being the centre of attention — were making this the Best Day Ever. She loved it.
But it was not done yet. At the end of the flight, once we were at the gate, Maureen said that Stinkerbelle could go up and sit with the pilot. So off she went, where the pilot fired up the plane again so all the lights and dials would come on. He got her to pull on the steering and turn it and so on, and took pictures, and she had a grand time.
But that was the end of the flight, and so we said perhaps we’d get a bus home, and maybe have some supper and watch some Doctor Who. Stinkerbelle thought that was an excellent idea. So she hugged Maureen, said thank you to the other flight staff, and high-fived the pilot, and off we went out into the airport.
Now, for all Stinkerbelle knows, an airport is an airport is an airport. She doesn’t know between Hamilton or Toronto or Halifax. So as we walked through the airport, after getting off the plane, she thought we were on our way to get a bus home. And, as we went down the escalator, BDH had the video camera out and interviewed her about her day’s adventure.
She had no idea who was awaiting her at the bottom of the escalator, and it was only once we got through the doors and into the baggage claim that she saw her Grammy and her Uncle Mike that the jig was up. She ran, ecstatic, into Grammy’s arms, for big hugs, and then hopped and danced with excitement that WE WERE VISITING GRAMMY AND GRANDAD!!
She had had NO IDEA. Not a one. We had pulled it off. And it was the Best Almost-Birthday Surprise Ever.
Although her birthday is still a few days away, I hope she loved her present. And although the trip home will likely not be as magical, I hope she’ll be able to remember this particular birthday for years to come..
Well, it was inevitable. After BDH and Stinkerbelle both getting a cold two weeks ago, and me sitting there saying HA HA I REFUSE TO HAVE THIS BASTARD COLD, what happens?
I got the cold. Actually, it came on like a Japanese bullet train. Last Thursday morning, I got up and exercised. Fine. I had breakfast. Fine. Took That Girl to school around nine o’clock. Bit of a sore throat. By noon, I was sneezing my brains out. And by five PM, I was ready for bed.
And, to add insult to injury, it had snowed that day, and when I was going to pick Stinkerbelle up from school, I slipped on a patch of ice and hurt my back. So that was fun.
But in spite of that, our week has been ticking along fine. We’ve been doing our thing, working and school and whatnot, busy as usual. I’ve had quite a few projects on the go at work keeping me pretty busy in my non-Stinkerbelle-maintenance hours. I’ve been running errands and the like as well when she’s at school. And BDH and I have been determinedly working our way through THE ENTIRE The West Wing when we have some TV-watching time.
BUT. There is something on the horizon. Something coming. Which is very exciting.
I am only telling you this, Dearest Internet Peeps, because I know you can keep a secret. And also, because Stinkerbelle cannot read yet. So.
Stinkerbelle’s fifth birthday is in two weeks, and we are — AS A SURPRISE — flying her to Nova Scotia to visit her Grammy and Grandad and family. And to have a party.
She has NO. IDEA.
We’re going to drop her off at school in the morning, and while she is at school, get our bags packed and into an airport transport van. And then when she gets home, we’ll just get into the van and she will have no idea what is going on. Until we get to the airport.
And then she’ll positively flip her lid with excitement. Which is kind of the point, really.
Five is a big deal. She’ll be going off to Big Girl School in September, and we wanted to do something a little special. And, because she tells us almost every day how much she misses her Gram and her Grandad and her aunts and uncles and cousins, what could be more special than partying it up big time with them?
That’s what we thought too.
So, there’s lots of preparation that has to happen before then. Like I said, I have some BIG projects at work to get done. I’ve had to online shop for birthday presents and then get delivery without her being aware of it. OMG laundry like whoa. Cat sitters to be arranged. Teachers must be informed of absence. The house has not been cleaned since Chretien was PM. And all on the sly, without Herself knowing.
This, on top of the MOM MOM DID YOU KNOW THE EASTER BUNNY IS COMING HE WILL BRING ME CHOOOOOOOOCCCCCOLLLLATTTTE that’s been going on for two weeks AT LEAST. And has also required some on-the-sly stuff as well.
It all kind of adds to the excitement, really.
So, yeah. While it has been busy, it’s starting to get crazy fun busy. But if we can get through this weekend, and all the cleaning and laundry and organizing that has to happen, without spilling the beans, I will be happy.
As I mentioned, THIS IS A SECRET. I am counting on you to KEEP IT UNDER YOUR HAT. DO NOT LET ME DOWN.
Stinkerbelle goes to the local Salvation Army preschool. Now, anyone who knows me gets a good chuckle at the fact that my kid goes to a religious-affiliated school when, you know, I AM SO CLEARLY NOT. As in, every time I walk through the doors of the place I am in danger of being struck down by lightning.
But, we chose them because although we’re not religious, we don’t have a problem with her learning about different faiths. And they are one of the best schools in the city, with great special needs support that we are ever-grateful for, and a nurturing and supportive way with the kids that has benefited Stinkerbelle tremendously. Plus they have a gym and a library, for a school with just 3 classrooms, which means That Girl’s experience mirrors in some ways what she will see when she moves on to kindergarten next year.
She loves it. And we think she’s doing great there, so we’re happy to have her there.
Today, I went to pick her up from school, and before letting the kids out each day, their teacher comes out into the hall and debriefs the parents on what happened that day, and makes any announcements about upcoming events. And, as it happened, the teacher mentioned that today was a library day, which means the kids all went to the library for a story and a craft and then got to sign out library books.
I went in to sign Stinkerbelle out, and she came running at me, shrieking, “Mommy! Mommy! I went to the library and I got a book!”
“Great,” I said, and I sent her off to gather up her craft bag.
The teacher took me aside and said, “I had to show you this.” She held up a book. It was called “Children in the Bible” or some such thing, and it had an illustration on the front of white people in Hollywood-style middle-eastern attire, right out of DeMille’s The Ten Commandments.
She said, “I just had to tell you, because Stinkerbelle was so excited to sign this book out.”
I paused, my mind starting to search for something inoffensive and neutral to say at the prospect of my kid bringing home a religious book. Because at such times, I try to bear in mind that perhaps cracking wise just would not cut it.
I needn’t have bothered. Her teacher laughed and said sotto voce, “She saw the cover and THOUGHT IT WAS ABOUT PIRATES.”
I let out a big laugh, and said, “So I see there will be some, er, CREATIVE STORY TELLING in my future,” as Stinkerbelle was skipping towards the coat rack bellowing to all and sundry that, “I’VE GOT A BOOK ABOUT PIRATES!!”
Her teacher laughed as well and added, “Yeah, so… GOOD LUCK WITH THAT.”