With the help of her brother, Iva set out to make an anniversary surprise for Mommy and Daddy.

As we like doing a little something special during family milestones, Iva volunteered to prepare a gimmick for our 12th wedding anniversary.

Her plan, with the help of her brother, as we counted down the days, was to: (1) do extra house chores for an amount; and (2) use those earnings to sponsor the celebration. Good idea, Iva! Why not?

And so it was, that for the next couple of days, the duo got paid for washing dishes, sweeping the floor, cleaning the dining table, watering the plants, and washing their uwabaki or indoor shoes on weekends.

The kids hatched their secret plan at Iva’s room, which would be off limits to us; well, you can knock and get stuff, but it was strictly no looking at her table.

And once they started earning, they would occasionally ask me to drive them to the nearest Daiso or wherever to buy “stuff”, which I wasn’t supposed to know either. A “just be wise with your money” reminder was all I could utter, to which I got a mannerly “Yes, Daddy.”

“Don’t forget to get flowers for Mommy on the day, Iva”, I remembered, to which Iva shot a “Yes, I  have budget for that” back. Only an “I’ll just chip in, so she can also have flowers from Daddy” was left to be said.

While anniversary day fell on a Saturday, it was still a busy work day for Mommy, but it was fine because the kids had time to prepare the house with their surprise. I helped them set up the decors, taking the cue from Iva. I was truly amazed, almost tearful, at seeing what they had been planning for and busying themselves with the past days.

The kids had handcrafted cards for us, with some pop-ups even. They also made posters and hanging decors, and laboriously cut and colored letters that spelled HAPPY ANNIVERSARY. Iva even made a centerpiece artwork of the bride and groom – us – at our garden wedding, but this time with obvious Japanese influences, namely, the (slightly multicolored) red sun, which is standard among Japanese kids; and the crows that were hovering above the horizon. Of course, they had their various gifts, all bought with their own money and wrapped personally.

These cutouts were made without rulers, and were colored in secret by the kids a few minutes every morning before setting out for school.

Finally, Mommy got home, her eyes glittering at the sight of the kids’ surprise. We then read our cards and opened our anniversary gifts. After, to my surprise, they had even prepared an anniversary program, which involved a magic show by the two; a word hunt game for us, celebrants; and a family bingo to cap everything off. Actually, we also did a spillover party the next day with a takoyaki dinner and a bingo rematch.

It was our first kids-themed and kids-authored celebration, and we’re glad that we did just that. Kudos to Iva for delivering on her promise and pulling off such a wonderful, well-planned and heartfelt surprise. We missed you at the wedding, kids, but you are definitely part of the unfolding story of God’s love, blessing and faithfulness in this union.

Our anniversary cards were all unique, and definitely labors of love.
Here are our anniversary planners turned magicians, props in hand.
Iva’s instructions and map for the anniversary word hunt – dekimashita!
Players pose for posterity and prepare for the bingo game.
The king and queen prepare takoyaki at the spillover anniversary party.