MEH’s Big Birthday Surprise!

surprise for meh

MEH at the mirror art installation in Terminal C of Logan Airport…always the curious MEH. (If you look closely you can see he’s wearing his MEH sweatshirt!)

Sometimes a surprise works out perfectly—if I do say so myself—and such was the case with the surprise birthday trip my daughter and I cooked up for MEH (My Engineer Husband). It all started when I discovered that I had just the perfect number of frequent flier miles to get a free trip to California, just where my daughter happens to live! What better way to spend the miles than for a trip for MEH to visit one of his kids? (In addition to being a wonderful MEH, he’s also the world’s best dad. This is not open to argument. He has the “world’s greatest dad” mug to prove it.)

Now, if MEH were like me, this idea just never would have worked. First, I hate to fly and would’ve been freaked out if I’d found out just two hours before a cross-country flight that I was going somewhere, let alone on a plane…let alone cross country. Second, I’m a naturally suspicious (and sneaky) person so I would’ve figured the whole thing out way before it ever got off the ground.

For MEH, however, it was the perfect gift. For one, he LOVES surprises! For another, he’s had a rough winter, still job hunting… and on top of that we’ve had over two feet more than the normal snowfall this winter (guess who never complains about shoveling the lion’s share?). Plus, MEH loves to fly. He’s a pilot and I knew that part of the fun for him would be a seat where he could watch the wing flaps go up and down (he called me from the plane and thanked me). But, mostly, I knew it was the perfect gift because he misses our daughter like crazy. We’re lucky enough to see our son a lot (he’s doing hospital rotations—for med school—very nearby), but our daughter lives clear across the country now (you can read about that here).

When we drove down to Logan Airport (in Boston) yesterday morning, I told him we were going to see my aunt at the airport. (Except he told me later that he knew that wasn’t true, and he really thought our daughter was flying home to surprise him!) When I handed him his bag in the parking lot and said “Happy Birthday,” MEH did what MEH always does when he talks about “our girl,” he teared up. To say he was surprised would be the understatement of the century, and after he regained his bearings, we went into the airport, had a cup of coffee together…he kissed me good-bye and he flew to California!

I came home to Maine to do all my regular things and all the MEH-y things, too. No small task because that man is a powerhouse. But I don’t want MEH to come home and have to do anything… What kind of gift is that? So far, I’ve put everything back in the pantry (we cleared it out for a repair), walked the dog a lot of times (she’s discombobulated having MEH gone), ran errands (don’t worry they included coffee), did a couple of loads of laundry, took stuff to recycling and the dump, took stuff to Goodwill, changed a couple of light bulbs, and shoveled a foot of snow (okay, that’s not true, but after I wrote the list it seemed pretty pathetic so I thought I’d throw snow in for good measure). Soon it will be time to walk the dog again.

Oh, and since we’re having our first real spring-like day, I also went to the beach.


HAPPY BIRTHDAY, MEH! We all love you and appreciate everything you do for our family…always with love in your heart and a smile on your face! You are the best (and so are you, Miss H, my partner in crime…we did it!). Sending love to one-half of the Martin family way out in California (touring Alcatraz Island as I write this), from the other half of the Martin family here in Maine.







  1. Erika Marks says:

    Julia, that had ME tearing up!

    What a gift, what a remarkable gift.

    Life is truly about moments like this, joys like this. Thank you so much for sharing YOUR family’s joy with all of us.

    May the snow melt quickly now and spring be on its way!

    • Thanks 🙂 Let me tell you, I had trouble keeping it together in that parking lot (not true, I cried like a baby). It really is what life’s about. The snow is indeed melting fast, and soon winter will be a distant memory! Glad you enjoyed, Erika.

  2. Susie Klein says:

    We have never even met but my eyes teared up when I got to the par about him tearing up! crazy! This is such a fun story and bravo to you for pulling it off! One christmas I surprised/shocked Hubs with an expensive gift purchased with my own writing-money. SO FUN! I know the feeling you are enjoying now. Yay!
    Susie aka Recovering Church Lady

    • Aw, thanks, Susie! It was one of life’s wonderful moments, I’ll tell you. Thanks for the bravos, too… we kept the secret ever since Christmas if you can believe it! SO fun. I love your story of the big Christams surprise, too. Such a fun feeling!! Woohoo!

  3. Ann Mc says:

    Oh, my! I absolutely LOVE this! I did the same for Father’s Day for my hubby….sent him to California to see the boys! Good for you and I’m glad you were able to pull it off! Happy Birthday MEH!

  4. Julie Luek says:

    Oh what a nice way to surprise and love on him! Yay! Here’s hoping it’s just the pick-me-up he needed. By the way, I’d like to join you for that walk on the beach!

    • Thanks, Julie — it really was just what he needed. I’m glad you enjoyed it, and I would’ve LOVED for you to be able to walk on the beach with me. It was a perfect day and tide was just at the right level!

  5. Micky Wolf says:

    What a lovely post, Julia! Feels so good, even by way of distant sharing. 🙂 Way-to-go! And, and I’m with Julie L. for a stroll on that beach!

  6. Micky Wolf says:

    P.S. Julia–thoroughly enjoyed your story about “Writing the Rails”. Was out of town at the time so couldn’t comment.

  7. Aw, Julia, I love this! Made me go all warm inside and goosebumpy all at once. What a lovely and precious gift to give YEH. Happy Birthday to The Powerhouse by the way – hope he has a great time with H, hope A isn’t further combobulated, and hope you don’t get any more snow! xo

    • Thank you, Abi! No doubt H and MEH will have a grand time! A will survive (after I give her lots of treats to keep her busy) and if it snows, I’m up a creek without a paddle, haha. Glad you enjoyed and it gave you goosebumps 🙂 xo

  8. Fabulous!!!!

  9. I always love a good MEH story on your blog. This is one of the best!!

  10. Such a thoughtful birthday gift, Julia. I bet MEH is having the time of his life.
    I’m like you in that I dislike surprises – especially ones of this magnitude – but this sounds like the perfect gift for him.
    Tell Abby that MEH will be home soon. 🙂

    • Abby is seriously weirded out, Jackie, haha. It would be funny except she needs about ten times more attention than usual :-/ I keep telling her he’ll be home soon, and she doesn’t seem to understand! And you’re right, he’s having the time of his life, they both are… “best present ever,” says MEH! (I just hope I’m not next on the extreme gift list… that would produce a much different kind of blog!)

  11. Lee Martin says:

    Thank you very much. I’m having the time of my life.

  12. Oh my gosh — what an AMAZING gift! You and your daughter are so COOL to have planned this surprise for him — my hat is off to you both, and MEH for being such a TERRIFIC sport!

  13. Hugs to you. Hugs to your husband. We’ve got to get a report on the visit. How wonderful that he just stepped on the plane and went. Like you mentioned — I don’t know if I’m there yet. Why for pity’s sake, I’m not — I don’t know. (Sounds like good blog post material.) What a great present. Yay for you.

    • Thanks, Jamie! I agree… why for pity’s sake am I not there yet?? Exactly my thought when I dropped him off. It would be great post material except I may need to see a therapist first prior to writing it. It’s complex, is it not?

  14. This is just the sweetest thing ever! I seriously have the biggest grin on my face! Happy birthday to your husband. And you, Julia, deserve a gold star AND a cookie. 🙂

  15. Nina says:

    This was wonderful! Both the post and the surprise were such a sweet tribute to MEH–a “character” we’ve all grown attached to!

  16. Shary says:

    Bravo!!!!! I can never pull of surprise presents because I can’t keep a secret. I just get too excited to keep my mouth shut. I’m glad to hear he’s having a wonderful time. Can’t wait to hear all of the details.

    • THANK YOU, Shary!! I am rarely good at keeping surprises either, and that’s what surprised ME 🙂 It really helped to have my daughter as someone to share it with…she’s a cool customer and was definitely laughing at me for some of my crazy stories to cover my secret. Can’t wait to fill you in!

  17. This is the sweetest thing, EVER, Julia. What a beautiful surprise. I teared up a little reading about how MEH teared up when he found out the surprise, and I love the image of the two of you grabbing a cup of coffee before his flight. You two are so cute together.

  18. Christine M Grote says:

    What a wonderful spouse and mother you are. Great gift! And so selfless. Kudos to you.

  19. I love every single thing about this post. You are so sweet to think of this for his birthday! You guys are all so close and I’m sure it means the world to him to get to see his “little girl” again. Dad’s have a special place for their daughters and you are pretty amazing to make this happen for him.

    Just when I think I can’t adore you any more, you go and pull this out. Hugs to you all and enjoy the rest of your “me” time. Love you!

  20. Lisa Ahn says:

    Julia, I love this post! What a burst of sunshine!!


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