Last night was the first night in Riley Family history that the "Countdown Calendar" activity was a surprise to even us. It was fun having the kids open the activity card and to say "we don't know....Heather Spinney is in charge and all she told us was to be ready at 5:30 - and to not have eaten anything for dinner." (She also suggested we dress comfy in jeans or so when I texted about that....so glad I didn't stay in pajamas!!). It was SO FUN for the whole family to be in anticipation for an upcoming "surprise". Even for me, as a person who isn't keen on surprises (the expectation of the right response stresses me out....not to mention I like control....) - was excited about the evening as I trust Heather to know me and my family well enough that it would be very special and nothing I'd be uncomfortable with.
So now I'm going to jump to the narration of Kaela who wrote a blog post about the experience from her point of view to give a set-up of what the plan really was.....
TONIGHT though....was the BIG night. So a few weeks ago, Heather came up with an amazing idea to have a night devoted to the Riley's to give back to them all that they have blessed us with. I'm just going to give ALL credit to Heather and wish I could have thought up of such a plan. She thought it would be great if their closest mentees would put together something for them. Since her and I both have spent a lot of the time with the Riley family, it would make sense that the two of us would be involved. The other two would be guys John has mentored this past year - Michael Chase and Kenjon Barner (yes, UO's running back). Anyways, Heather mischievously had to get Michael and Kenjon's phone numbers without John knowing. So one Thursday when we were at bible study, she stole John's phone without looking, took the numbers and had me give the phone back to him. John was so suspicious and blaming me and Heather for doing something. Little did he know what we were planning. Heather contacted the two boys and had many awkward conversations with them. Props to her because I would never be able to do that. And a week ago, when I had mentioned that I met up with a group at Starbucks to discuss an event we were planning, it was this evening. We met up with the boys and it was PRETTY funny. They're awesome. Anyways so the plan was to make them dinner. We were all going to show up at 5:30 and then each come in in 30 second increments. Heather was going to prepare the main dish - Lasagna, Michael was in charge of bread and drinks, Kenjon was in charge of salad and I was in charge of the dessert (I brought brownies I made from scratch this morning. They turned out okay but I realized after placing them in the oven that I forgot the salt and baking powder. WHOOPS!). Anyways after dinner, we planned to go bowling and invite the Whites along. After that we would just come back to the house and have dessert and hang out. Everything pretty much went as planned. Heather, Michael and I all showed up at exactly 5:30....Kenjon was a tad late. All in all, they were surprised! So glad!
Yes, indeed, we were surprised! Once Kaela walked in, I started to wonder just how many other folks would walk in...if it would be a "Thursday Night Ladies" group, a party, or something else entirely. But, then when Michael and Kenjon walked in, I was DELIGHTED....talk about the perfect mix of just the right folks that are SO DEAR to our hearts. And, clearly, based on the pictures, incredibly dear to our kids' hearts too.
The lasagna was DELICIOUS!
Some "family" pics....I'm so loving John's early Christmas present of this new lens....
After dinner, we loaded in to our Denali, put "Elf" into the DVD player and merrily took off to a mystery location. My guess was bowling - which was PERFECT, because we weren't able to make that happen with our usual crew (Quigleys, Meyers, etc..) and I just really wanted to do that that evening. In fact, I even mentioned that to John as we were getting ready for the night as the activity I wanted to have happen. Unfortunately, "Strike City" which had the cosmic bowling that Michael was wanting was PACKED. So, we called "Southtowne" and sure enough, their place was empty and ready for us to take over. Along the way, John mixed up the "control factor" and took them on his own route to dazzle the crew with the light display at the Vickers house. They were definitely impressed.
At Southtowne, we split into guys vs. girls and got our game faces on to do battle.
I love how Kenjon couldn't keep the straight face...
The quartet of conspirators. These four are PRICELESS to us!
While the rest of us kind of stunk it up with our bowling game, Heather was having an incredible night. Strike after strike after spare. At first, the contest was against Kenjon in the higher score, but unfortunately for Kenjon, that eventually got out of reach. However, Travis was having a stellar game as well. As it game down to the final throw for Travis, Kenjon and Michael ensured that Heather would not be distracting him...
Which wasn't at all fair because look at the way Kenjon and Michael were distracting Heather....I can't believe she was able to pull the spare with Kenjon jumping out to ambush her!
As it turned out, at least for the first game, Travis and Heather ended up with exactly the same score. =)
The evening ended with folks returning to our house, some chocolate chip cookies, oatmeal raisin cookies, and brownies for dessert - and plans for at least some of the crew to join us again Sunday to see if Tebow can pull off another miraculous win.
I really can't imagine anything Heather could have done different that would have made the evening any better than it was for our family. PERFECT, PERFECT, PERFECT!!! We felt so loved and honored - and absolutely had a blast. Love you Heather!