The Husband and I officially picked up our lives and moved to France (again) on September 1st, 2012, with the plan of staying here in Paris until May 2014. Since I was giving up my full time job (The Husband was only working part time at that point and was able to keep his job after moving thanks to a pretty awesome boss) and we were both going back to school full time, we knew that money would be tight for the next year and a half, and we were fine with that. The only thing that made us sad was the prospect of being away from our families for a complete 18 months. Luckily we have great resources like Skype and Facetime to help us keep in touch, but something about talking to a computer just isn’t the same as being there in person, especially when it comes to niece and nephews.
Unexpectedly, The Husband’s little sister (he has two older and one younger) decided to serve a mission for our church, meaning that she would also be moving out of the country for 18 months, but unlike us wouldn’t be able to call, text, and e-mail whenever she wanted. Lucky for her, she’s going to Japan and is super excited, but unlucky for her, she is leaving in October, meaning that we wouldn’t have seen her in person for approximately 3 years by the time she gets back, and who knows where we’re going to be then.
Although The Husband was overjoyed for Little Sister, he got really sad for a while because of the prospect of not seeing her for so long, prompting us to call The In-Laws and bargain with them. Hence, the surprise was born. We offered up what money we could afford, with them paying the difference, to fly us to Chicago, where my family lives. From there, The Parental Units flew us down to Florida, where The In-Laws, Little Sister, Old(er) Sister, and Old(est) sister (along with her husband and kiddos) live, with our trip ending back in Chicago. All of this in 10 days. Four flights, 30+ hours in a plane, and 10 days in America to see off Little Sister, both of our families, and meet the first grandchild on my side of the family. While exhausting, it was totally worth it!
We didn’t really expect it to work, but planned out a surprise for everyone on The Husband’s side — the In-Laws invited all the sisters (avec famille) over for a movie and then left part way through, saying that they needed to go pick up some ice cream at their favorite speciality shop about an hour away (a surprisingly common occurrence). The got us at the airport, we cried and hugged and were generally happy, and then we walked in to the house without saying anything and hung out in the kitchen until everyone noticed. There were an abnormal amount of tears and squeals, lots of hugs, and even one sister stating later that she thought she had fallen and hit her head and was hallucinating us.
It was a successful trip — most of the time (only 4 short days) spent snuggling on the couch (we actually did have a pretty epic tickle fight in bed), with a short get-a-way to the beach one morning to take in Florida. Let me tell you, after a long summer of working non-stop on my thesis, a day at the beach was exactly what I needed.
The dogs may have played part in the surprise as well — we came home from the store one day to see they had been outfitted with (cruelty-free) eyebrows and were surprised/angry to see us!