Saturday, June 24, 2006

Surprising Amy

Some time ago Amy posted on her blog that she is never surprised and she would love to have someone surprise her sometime. Well, Emily and I are both a bit slow on the draw when it comes to hints but this one was broad enough that we actually caught on. We have to surprise Amy for her 18th birthday on June 25, we decided.

Hushed conversations and hurried lists in a notebook buried deep in a desk drawer followed. We tossed around dozens of ideas and finally settled on one. Paul was taking Amy, Emily, Ben, and Steven on an overnight canoe trip down the Willamette River on Friday and Saturday, June 23 and 24. We would invite all her friends and family to be at the park/boat landing in Peoria at 7pm on Friday and there we would have a party all ready and give her the surprise of her life.

Paul said he would try to pace the canoes and meals so they would land there at the right time, and their excuse would be that Emily would suddenly need a bathroom break and would insist that she wanted a proper restroom and not blackberry bushes. However, this proved unnecessary when Amy asked about restrooms at the beginning of the trip and Paul said they would stop at every place with restroom access, which of course included Peoria.

You have to realize that Amy is the hardest person on earth to surprise. She notices everything, she reads everything, she isn't afraid to ask questions until her curiosity is satisfied. I thrive and survive on lists, and I thought I would die or go crazy before this was all said and done, since I had to keep this whole bird’s nest of people and food and supplies in my head and couldn’t have any lists lying around.

Even then we had a close shave. I was calling the youth group people one day to invite them while Amy was gone, and got her friend Phebe’s number from her mom. Her mom and I also chatted a bit about trying to surprise Amy. That evening Amy was in the office and suddenly hollered, "Hey Mom, why do you have Phebe’s phone number written down here?"

Ooooooh my. Panicky wheels spun in my head and then I said in a minister’s-wife voice, "Well, I needed to talk to her about something that her mom and I were talking about, and it was a private matter so please don’t ask any more questions."
So of course Amy asked, "Was it about ‘Harry’?"
I said, "I’m not free to say." I thought, "YESSS! I got her nicely down the wrong track!"

The only other near-miss was yesterday when Paul was packing the food for camping and pulled an ice cube tray out of the freezer and said, "Do you need these for tonight?" Thankfully Amy didn’t hear because I’m sure she’d have asked what’s happening tonight.

They were planning to leave at noon but were an hour and a half late because the brakes gave out on the truck at the warehouse, so I was frantic inside and trying to be calm outside.

As soon as they were on their way I clicked into high gear, brewing gallons of iced tea, cooking up a chip dip, and running to town for balloons and a cake.

Matt helped me load all the supplies in the cars and unload them again at the park. People assembled. Paul called and said they’re pretty close. (He wasn’t in Amy’s canoe so apparently could speak freely.) A bunch of us hid behind the bushes at a bend in the path near the boat landing. We heard the canoes scraping on the landing. Amy came marching up the trail and we burst into a triumphant "Happy Birthday."

Amy was absolutely flabbergasted. Completely and totally surprised.

Emily and I high-fived. We did it.

It was a fun party. Paul and the kids went on downriver. We piled everything in the cars and went home, still amazed.

Quote of the Day:
"This has to rank among the major accomplishments of your life."
--Paul's sister Lois


  1. Yes! You did it! I enjoyed peeking into the background scenes of this drama. :)
    My own dau said something last wk about never having a surprise party... liking surprises... it sounds sort of like the same senario... she notices and asks about details too. It would be hard for me to pull it off.

  2. a definite success. just to let you know, i've cleared up those personal, private problems in my life. :-) lol