I love that burst of instant, unbridled enthusiasm you get from kids when you tell them something exciting is about to happen. But (and it's a big but) timing is everything, isn't it. Tell them the surprise too early and you will pay. Their relentless enthusiasm can be like a kind of chinese torture - a drip, drip, drip of (the same) questions about what exactly is happening - and how many days, hours, minutes are there until it does. And you know you've brought it on yourself.
Lots of stuff falls into the 'exciting thing' category - playmates, sleepovers, holidays, a trip to Legoland...I'm sure you know what I mean. My husband isn't that great at keeping a secret from the kids (you'd think he'd be better, considering what he does) He has on a few occasions merrily let the cat out of the bag - then gone back to work, leaving me with a child about to spontaneously combust.
I've got a lot better at not spilling the beans, and I've had a big secret. A whopper.
The kids knew they were going to Northern Ireland for half-term: what they didn't know was their dad was going to join us.
It's all been very last minute - he was given a few days of compassionate leave because his mum hasn't been well. Thankfully she's much better.
Now my plan was to get through the journey to Belfast before I told them. But I couldn't help myself, I was itching to say something.
I felt this huge wave of relief when I finally managed to pin them all in the car. And it just came out.
OH it was so wonderful to see their faces light up - SUCH a brilliant bit of news to be able to tell them.
A very, very special moment.
But I still had seven hours of travelling to go.
With hindsight I should have held off - but honestly, I was as excited as them.
We did have more than a day longer to wait than I'd thought - army transport can be pretty unpredictable. They were bouncing off the walls by the time he turned up.
Such an unexpected treat to be together again, and his mum was over the moon to see him.
It felt 'normal' unbelievably quickly. I think that's because we know we've only got a few days and we're away from home and the routine. There is an advantage in meeting up somewhere neutral, although we have to shift around a lot here because both our families live in Northern Ireland.
I know it'll be ok when he goes, because we've not had the usual weeks and weeks of build up - and this time together is a bonus. That's the way I'm looking at it.
We've had long enough to whip up the youngest into a state of hyper-excitement by promising her a trip to the beach.....and then we went out for a meal, leaving her to plague my mum.
'When are we going Granny? Look at my swimming costume! I want to go paddling with you Granny! (lucky Granny) What colour are your buckets and spades Granny?Can we have a picnic?....
It was cold, damp and grey, but there was no way we were going to get out of it. And amazingly the sun shone....briefly. We had such a lovely time. Something for her dad to smile about on the long, long trip back.
And we're over halfway through now.