Oh yes! This Epic Weekend In Pictures / video was certainly Epic. I was able to visit Savannah, Georgia for my first time and successfully surprise one of my best friends, Chris Benvie. Late last summer, my best friends Chris, Kristine and Bella moved from up back home in New England to Georgia. It was a timely juncture for them to relocate. They always had interest in moving to a warmer climate than New England, which is totally understandable here in the Northeast. They're far from the only ones seeking warmer weather as we know.
While it's always tough when you see your friends move away to another location, you're always rooting for them to find happiness and success. I was so happy to see my friends in positive spirits.
This whole secret plan, as I nicknamed it #OperationSurpriseBenvie start coming together over the past few months. I of course couldn't wait to see my friends after they moved down to Savannah, Georgia. Timing was also going to play a key role. Every January, many radio stations start planning and mapping out the promotions they want to run throughout the year. We look at the calendar all together and start planning what we would like to accomplish, whether it's food drives or other types of promotions. Once we started mapping out what our 2023 will look like, by late January I was able to start planning potential vacations. I reached out to Kristine on a Saturday afternoon and threw out my hopeful surprise plan. She loved it. My goal was to surprise both Benvie, and my niece Bella for her Birthday weekend. For me, the weekend around Valentine's Day for the past now 15 years hasn't been Valentine's Day weekend, it's been Bella's Birthday weekend. The next morning, Kristine Facetimed me with Bella. She immediately said "I TOLD BELLA AND SHE'S SO PSYCHED I CAN KEEP IT FROM HIM BUT I CAN'T KEEP IT FROM HER TOO AND SHE'S SO EXCITED!!!!"
It all started in the early 2000's when I first met Benvie and Kristine while we were students at Bridgewater State University. After graduating, our friendship grew closer and stronger every year. When they told me their news about expecting, I was so psyched. Even though I honestly wasn't a huge fan of kids back then, this was wonderful news. They joked about setting up a pool predicting which date Kristine was going to give birth. Months in advance I predicted February 15th. They then agreed it didn't feel right for someone to make money off the birth of their daughter blah blah. LOL. Fast forward to February 15th, I was working as an assistant morning show producer at then WBMX Boston's Mix 98.5 (which would later become Mix 104.1.) Benvie's Mom and dear friend Laurie called me during the 7am hour to tell me the good and exciting news that Kristine was in labor and going to the hospital. I immediately said "you know today is my day in the pool, right?" She immediately laughed and said "YES STEVE! Everyone knows that today is your day in the pool.
I was able to leave my morning show for the day by 11am, and was at that New Bedford hospital by 12:30pm. I was pacing in the waiting room while my friends Kathy, Doug and Laurie, the future grandparents looked on laughing. I was so nervous and excited, the pacing did not stop. I pace even when I'm not nervous, let alone during a major event like this. Then around 3:03pm or so (if memory serves me correctly,) Annabella Grace Benvie was born! Looking back on that amazing day, we are pretty confident that I was the 5th person to ever hold her in my arms. I'll never forget how intensely nervous I was holding her. It was my first time holding a baby in my hands in many years, let alone a brand newborn just minutes old. Ever since then, Bella has been my niece and BFF. Everyone jokes that we've been joined at the hip ever since she was just minutes old.
We have such a history and so many stories. I'll never forget when we had Bella's second birthday party. This is back 13 years ago remember when everyone always had big first and second birthday parties. There were likely 70 or so people at Benvie's house for this party. This was when myself and others were starting to become more active on Facebook. For a couple months leading up to the party I was trash talking both Grandmothers Kathy and Laurie on Facebook telling them that my gift for Bella was going to be MUCH cuter than their gifts. I was full fledged trash talking telling them "it's okay, don't even show up to this one, I'll see you at her third birthday party when you guys can try again."
Well apparently I had been talking trash with them for much longer and louder than I realized. They started opening Bella's gifts, many getting the usual "awwwh how cute," responses. After a few gifts, they announced opening my gift to Bella. Everyone at the party came to a screeching halt. You could have heard a pin drop among 70 people at this house. It was rather awkward having the large intense spotlight on me. They opened up the charcoal gray hoody and said "oh this is so cute." Everyone was ready to move on. Granted, remember pretty much any kind of clothing you get for a 2 year old is going to be cute because it's so tiny, we know this. As they started to put the gray hoody back in the bag and move onto the next gift I stopped them. I yelled across the house filled with friends and family "Hey wait read that. What does that hoody say? Does it say BRIDGEWATER STATE UNIVERSITY WHERE MOMMY AND DADDY MET AND FELL IN LOVE AND MET UNCLE STEVE?!?!" Everyone in the party gave a huge "awwwh," and both my friends Laurie and Kathy cursed at me at the same time. Simply hilarious. Only me. LOLOLOL.
Now you know how and why this weekend has been so special for me. The past few weeks I swear Kristine and Bella have alternated texting me with how excited they were and how excited their Dad was going to be. It was great. All while we kept making steps to hide the surprise and distract him away from figuring it out. Thanks to the hard work of Kristine, Bella, and myself we pulled it off. Benvie was absolutely pleasantly shocked and stunned. He was literally speechless as you can see in the video. Kristine thinks he was still in shock even when we went to dinner together Saturday night. Kristine and Bella kept texting me how torturing it was to have to live with him and keep the big surprise a secret. They were absolutely amazing angels helping me pull this one off.
I'm a little wiped out from having such an amazing time and getting in late last night. I'll try to let the pictures tell the story. It felt great being back in the south, where all you can hear is "YALL," and "have a blessed day!"
It was amazing getting to hang with them. We're so close, sometimes we didn't even have to say anything to each other at all. We were all just so happy to be together in person, that pretty much nothing else mattered.
Oh, and my apologies to residents of Savannah, Georgia. We always joke that the bad weather cloud follows me wherever I go. This held true once again. Late last week their high temperatures were in the high 70s. When I arrived Saturday afternoon it was raining sideways and 54 degrees outside. I struck again. My first time ever in Las Vegas almost 20 years ago, as we were leaving the cab driver explained to us it was the first rainy weekend in Las Vegas in 37 YEARS. I have brought rain to deserts, and even Los Angeles, California. You can totally blame me for the bad weather LOL. Also when my family and I leave the northeast to go to a warmer climate, it's almost always resulting in a cold front in the south, and a warm front in the north from where we left.
Again, my apologies to residents of Savannah, Georgia. Everyone at the radio station is joking I brought the warm weather up with me even though I didn't have it down there to begin with, LOL.
Thank you for taking the time to read my Epic Weekend In Pictures. Not stopping for a breather at all, my parents will be visiting me for the holiday President's Day Weekend and I'm psyched!