Best Surprise Ever!

12:45 PM

There are times when the goodness of God is overwhelming. When He surprises you with an unexpected blessing that could not be more timely. I was on the receiving end of such a blessing a week ago. Friday evening, to be precise, February 3rd.

It was the tail end of a really bad week.
August and Wyeth had been fighting a nasty cold virus all week.
There were several days during which Wilder acted like my own personal "haint" intent on driving me absolutely crazy. I think I truly hit my all-time personal low as a mother one day that week when I just could not, for the life of me, get Wilder to stop crying. I have never in my life been unable to get my own baby to stop crying - and I couldn't that day. He was screaming his "cheese grater" cry as loudly as it seemed he could, while Brooklyn, August, Dorien and Wyeth were going on and on about why I wasn't making them lunch. I actually yelled words which are totally not acceptable in our house - "SHUT UP!" - rendering all my children speechless - including Wilder. (I later apologized).

What nerves I had left were strewn about the floor being royally stomped on by every member of my family except Kyle who was at work, completely unable to help me. It was bad.  I found that lonely place they call your wit's end.  I was there.

To enhance my fabulous week, I woke up Friday morning with pink eye in both eyes, I couldn't breathe out of my nose because August and Wyeth generously shared their cold with me, and I had a plugged duct trying to turn into mastitis because Wilder had somehow kicked me. I had a low-grade fever, goopy, swollen eyes, and was desperately in need of sleep. 

Kyle had told me he was going to try to come home a little earlier on Friday, which made me very happy. But then he texted around 4 saying he was really sorry, but it wasn't looking like earlier was gonna happen. Ah well. Par for course.

Around 4:45 Friday evening, Kyle texted me that he was home, but needed help with a package at the front door. I put a sleeping Wilder on the bed and ran down the stairs to help him.
I saw him through the front door with his phone pointed at me, and I thought, huh, well, must be a good package if he is filming this. But I didn't really give it much thought - he films everything. I opened the door and he indicated the package was to the right of the door. 

I opened the screen door fully and walked around only to stop in my tracks because my MOM was standing there!!!!! I was utterly and completely blown away. Because I was so so happy to see her - because it made my whole week suddenly all ok - because I couldn't wrap my mind around how it was that she was actually there because she hates winter and told me she wouldn't venture up here until it was warm and it was definitely not warm that day - because I'd been texting her earlier in the day while she was on her way to see me and I didn't even know - because she was HERE at my HOUSE and I have never been so happy to see anyone. 

I laughed and cried and hugged her as tightly as I could while my kids followed the sounds of our joyful reunion out of the house and swarmed around us like happy little bees. 

So apparently my sneaky husband had been in on the surprise - obviously - and I hadn't detected a thing! We entertained my mom by showing her all over the house, talking non-stop...until a few hours later, we were sitting in the boys' room talking and Kyle slipped away and returned with my DAD! 

My mom had driven up in 9 hours, which is a pretty amazing feat in and of itself, but then she got a little turned around once she got close to Chicago (adding another 2 hours onto her total travel time...) and my Dad flew in from Birmingham where he was on a work trip.  He took a Lyft from the airport to our house - savvy traveler that he is! 

We took them out to eat to Lou Malnatti's, our favorite deep dish pizza place, and had the best time ever just being with them. Plus we ended up with a free pizza out of the deal because there was a mistake with our order! Yes! (That pizza was like the loaves and fishes that kept fed us for so many meals...) I highly recommend the deep dish cheese with hot jardiniere. Holy moly.

I can't begin to tell you how happy the kids were to spend time with Ran-Dad and DD. And me and Kyle as well.  I confess my biggest fear was that they would look at our house and think, "They've made a terrible mistake." (in the words of Gob from Arrested Development) I really was worried about that, in spite of my knowing that my parents love old houses, too. 

Early Saturday morning, Kyle and my Dad had a chance to talk and my Dad confided to Kyle that as much as he hated to admit it, he really loved our house. He later told me the same thing, so that was a lovely blessing in and of itself. He agreed it needed lots of work, but that it was gonna be fabulous. 

Kyle and I wanted to show them some of our nearby areas, so they would see where our lives took place these days and why we loved it so much. So we took them to the beach near our house and walked down a little pier where there is a lighthouse. It's gorgeous!

The little jutting strip of land is a little nature preserve, and on the south end is a view of downtown and on the north end, more shoreline beauty. It makes me so happy every single time I see it. 

It was also stinking freezing that day. My parents were absolute troopers as we all froze our keisters off - that wind cutting across the lake is BRUTAL. It makes you suck in your breath and squint your eyes, but I am by no means complaining. I love it. 

I was so so very happy. 
In spite of my double pink eyes and totally congested nose.

We also took them to Fresh Farms on Touhy - the bigger market we'd been told would thoroughly WOW us. And it was pretty wow-inducing. Huge.  Very international market-y. Hugely diverse range of clientele and an enormous variety of food. Enormous produce section, fresh fish, meat of all kinds, cheeses galore - there was a whole section just for fresh Greek cheeses, including about 15 varieties of feta cheeses. We also got lucky and there were sample tables everywhere! I think we all filled up on samples! 

When I say they had meat - I kid you not. I took a picture of a lamb head. The only part of lamb not on display was the tail. Everything else was on sale. I was thoroughly grossed out.

An entire leg of lamb for $45!

The pastry selection was vast and impressive. 
I was so impressed, too, by my mom! She is normally NOT an adventurous eater. She likes what she likes and doesn't usually try much outside that list. Maybe it was being in Chicago or just around so many different types of people or foods or what, but she was sampling figs, feta with basil and olives, won-tons...and liking them! 

We found ourselves later back at the house, all jammed into Brooklyn's room, just talking away. For the longest time. It was so much fun!

Later that night, we all played the Chicago version of Monopoly and ate popcorn.

A very good time was had by all. 
And it was all over far too quickly.

Bright and early Sunday morning, they packed up the car DD had driven and headed back to Arkansas. They will be coming back in March and we are super excited! 
We were so thoroughly grateful for our time with them last weekend. It was unexpected and although my house was a wreck, I was sick and I had not a whole lot to show for my big dreams and plans for this house, it was perfect. In all the ways that count, it was absolutely perfect.

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