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  • Posted on August 5, 2013 at 10:00 AM

My husband’s parents have a cottage with private lake access. The family likes to congregate at the cottage to spend special (summer) holidays for obvious reasons. So, when I received a rather cryptic Facebook message from my best friend/sister-in-law asking me if we were going to the cottage, I kind of knew what she meant. But there was no holiday and no scheduled family gathering. At least, there was none that I knew about. Besides, my best friend/sister-in-law had moved to Louisiana. Last I knew, she wouldn’t be making it to the cottage any time soon.

I received this message around 4 am and was in bed by 5 am. Alex woke me up oh-so-thoughtfully by pinching me (while I was still asleep) ten times, before I finally got out of bed around 11:30 am. Shortly thereafter, we received a call from my mother-in-law with my very impatient best friend/sister-in-law making somewhat belligerent statements in the background.

Surprise! She’s here!

As you might imagine, surprises—even good ones—aren’t so easy for our family to deal with. But, because I hadn’t seen her or my nephew in about a year, we had to get everyone ready for a trip up to the cottage without notice or foreshadowing.

All things considered, it went well. The boys took it in stride. We all had a blast. It was great seeing her again. And now that she’s back in Indiana, I’m going to be able to see her a lot more. I even got to bring my nephew back with me to spend the night with his cousins. All in all, it was a very good day.

Which just goes to show how far we’ve come. It used to be that I’d try something like this, and we’d face major meltdowns from some very disturbed little boys who couldn’t handle their routines being shattered without notice. Then, it used to be that I’d just say, “No, we can’t do that. We need notice. We need to foreshadow. I’m sorry we can’t come, but just don’t surprise us.”

Surprise! We tried it and it worked!

We’ve come a long way.