shine project {a surprise for steve}

Hey friends! Remember the shine project? Well I fully intended to post my first post about it last week and then I was at home with a sick kid for four days. Life is crazy, right?! My first attempt to spread a little kindness was directed towards my sweet husband Steve. It wasn’t a total fail but it kind of seemed like everything went wrong before it went right.

For weeks I had been planning an overnight getaway for us. I booked a hotel in Avila Beach, lined up a babysitter and hoped I would be able to keep everything a surprise. I had never planned anything like this–but Steve loves surprises, so I figured it would be a ton of fun.

Well the week before our getaway, David was having a lot of reflux and pain. For days we had horrible bedtimes where he would cry and scream for hours and be inconsolable. Every night I thought, I should just cancel our getaway, David isn’t well enough. But I bit my lip and hoped for the best. Three days before our surprise overnighter, David started feeling better and slept through the night with no issues. The next morning, Matthias woke up with a fever. He never gets sick–so I figured 24 hours and we would be back in the swing of things. Unfortunately, I was wrong.

The fever lasted for days, but since Matthias is such a sturdy kiddo, I wasn’t too worried. On the day of our surprise overnighter, he was complaining his ear was bothering him, and by noon I was certain he had an ear infection. I had planned to check into the hotel early, drop our bag off and pick up some wine and cheese at Trader Joes for a picnic on the beach later that night. Everything was falling apart and i was getting frustrated. I asked Steve if he would take Matthias to the doctor and he could sense my frustration. Busy with his crazy list of things to do and unaware of my plan for a night away, he got stressed and we ended up getting into an argument.

Great, this was going the exact opposite of how I’d imagined it.

We resolved it fairly quickly and Steve took Matthias to the doctor while I ran by the workshop to do a couple things and found a few minutes to get us checked into the hotel. Ok, phew, things were coming together, right? Wrong.

That evening, Steve and i wound up at home and our friend Claire arrived to take over with the kiddos. I told Steve we were going out for dinner and planned to tell him about the hotel as we got closer to Avila Beach. As we were heading out the door and saying good-bye to the boys, Matthias began crying and begging us not to leave. Oh my goodness–my heart was breaking into a thousand pieces. He felt so crummy and he just wanted us around. The timing felt like the worst in the world. I gave Matthias some advil and threw some chocolate chip crescent rolls in the oven {one of his favorite snacks}. I hoped a little medicine and snack might help him feel better. With heavy hearts, we headed out the door.

As we got closer to Avila Beach, I broke the news to Steve. “Surprise! I got a hotel for us–we are spending the night here!”. Of course, the look on his face was less than thrilled. I was on the verge of tears and pretty much all we wanted to do was go back home and cuddle on the couch with the boys. We decided to get some dinner and then check in on Matthias to see if he had perked up.

We munched on burgers and berry pie at The Custom House and then walked down the pier to call Matthias. Good news, he had perked up! And he was okay with us returning in the morning. We walked all the way down the pier, holding hands, talking and trying to put our minds at ease. By the time we reached the end of pier, we were starting to feel more relaxed.

Back at the hotel room we had time to focus on each other and laugh and talk. We watched TV and ate snacks. We stayed up later than we usually do and just enjoyed the beautiful hotel and each other. I was so relieved we were enjoying ourselves.

The next morning we slept in, grabbed coffee and chocolate croissants at Joe Momma’s Coffee and then headed home. It was a quick getaway, just about 14 hours, but Steve felt loved and special and our relationship had been nurtured.

So while it certainly wasn’t easy or smooth, overall we enjoyed ourselves and Steve felt cherished–which was my goal. Next week I’ll be doing a random act of kindness for a friend. Will you join me?


  1. Lisa, thank you so much for such an inspiring and realistic post. I just have to say that your blog is a true gift to us readers because you keep it so real and yet so positive at the same time. You are a wonderful writer. Thank you for doing this blog! Hugs to you. I’m glad the little “overnight” with your husband turned out well, and I am inspired to plan one for my husband later in the summer.

    1. Thank you Mary Beth! I appreciate you. This blog is such a sweet place–it’s such an encouragement to me too! xo

  2. Lisa, the Shine Project sounds something like the book “29 Gifts” in which the author talks about giving something away everyday for 29 days. It doesn’t have to be a material thing — a compliment counts! It’s a wonderful, inspiring book.

  3. Go, Lisa!

    I often think of an episode of Oprah with Will Smith and Jada Pinkett-Smith when I think of marriage. They said that their relationship was the most important thing in their household/family because, without it, the rest never would’ve been there. I try to remember that from time to time in my own marriage. Sometimes it’s hard!

    I am going to join you and shine! Just waiting for the cards I ordered last week to arrive….

  4. I’m glad it came together, and I’m even more glad that you shared this story. I can’t count the number of times I’ve had almost-flops like that when it comes to planning dates and things for my partner (or my friends, or my family). I’m glad I’m not the only one!

  5. You are amazing, Lisa!!!
    So happy that the overnight stay ended up with a happy ending(:
    Just a few days ago, I came across The Shine Project. I love it!!
    And the Shine t-shirt, I think I am going to go purchase one and bring some random sunshine to some random peeps.
    Love your blog,
    Keep Shinin'(:

  6. So glad your overnighter ended up working out . . . especially after seeing your snapshots, what a pretty place! Hope your boys are feeling better. Those rough days can be so hard to get through! As a mother of 3 kids 5 and under, those challenging days come around more often that I’d like =0). Quiet time with my husband is a must! Btw, I got my dewdrops necklace and LOVE IT! I wore it all weekend and felt beautiful. I read your blog daily and look to it for fashion & life inspiration. Thanks!

  7. Hi, Lisa — I’m glad your surprise ended well. It’s difficult to plan events like that when children are in the mix. The place you went looks and sounds wonderful. I’m curious about the chocolate chip croissants. Are those unique to that particular coffee shop? Also, I have a question concerning your jewelry — if someone has more children than what is shown in your jewelry (more than 4) are you able to add another piece to the necklace or bracelet than what you show on the website? It’s probably more difficult to add another name? Thank you for responding.

  8. Lisa, thank you for such a rich and realistic post. So many times I have set out to create my idea of ‘perfect memories’ for the family, only to encounter reality along the way. I appreciate you persevering inspiration…and ability to celebrate love amidst ‘real life’.

  9. Wow Lisa, you are one brave sole. So happy it all worked out and you and Steve had some quality time. I can’t remember when my husband and I had a get away. Might have to try it some day.

  10. Yes! I’ll join you. I have been meaning to send a surprise package to a friend who is pregnant and her husband is deployed. She definitely needs some encouragement.

    This is such a great idea. Thank you for sharing it.

  11. YikEs, that is a big bunch of mess! Glad it turned out and everyone mended. So, uh, are the chocolate chip crescent rolls a secret recipe???

  12. I will join you! I have a good friend sadly going through a rough time with her husband:( I’m going to mail her a sweet package this week. Thank you for your inspiration!!!
    When my now 1yr old baby girl is bigger I too will surprise my hubby with a night away!!! We also have 2 boys, 3 and 5. đŸ™‚
    Thank you for your blog and inspiration. I don’t blog but love reading a few:):)

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