A 31st Birthday Full of Surprises!

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thank you for all of the birthday love! so far, 31 is feel pretty good…except for this sudden weird ache in my lower back. i’m not even kidding.

what made this birthday extra fun is that ryan ravery gave me three notecards with clues on them.

something you may not know about me…i freakin’ love sleuthing. my mom and i read all of the nancy drew books together when i was growing up and they heavily contributed to detective abilities.

some of his clues felt like a biiiiig stretched (backed up my peeps helping me on instagram try to solve them). despite some trickery, i am SO impressed and feel so loved that he took the time to come up with everything!

in case you missed them, i’ve included them below. try to figure them out before moving on.

(yes yes, ravery knows he spelled ‘surprise’ wrong all three times. he spelled my name wrong when he proposed to me. he has other redeeming qualities).

so, each dash is a different clue for a different word that makes up the surprise.


  • “you call someone this in the military

my guess: colonel (pronounced “kernel,” which btw, i feel like is the most confusing word in the english dictionary). i was thinking like a popcorn kernel which lead me to movie!

what he was going for: private

  • “we love to do this”

my guess: i guessed everything from travel to eating to wine drinking to movies to playing cards to procreating. once i finally got ‘colonel’ i guessed GOING TO A MOVIE

what he was going for: watching movies!

  • “it involves something you put on your head & a word that sounds like another word for a devil like thing.”

my guess: i eventually got it out of him that this last clue had to do with what movie were were seeing. lots of people on the ‘gram had good ideas like ‘demon/dreamin’ ‘satan/satin.’

what he was going for: the first part is WIG, as in the actress kristen wig. the second part was DAMON, as in matt damon.

surprise #1 = it’s small meant that we were going to see ‘downsizing’ at a private theater he rented for us! it has to do with people shrinking themselves. i would like the record to show that when i saw the word ‘small’ i did jokingly say “alison is coming to visit because she’s small!”

i immediately sat down and said, ‘i’m not even going to silence my phone!’ but then i did because some rules are meant to be followed. my favorite part was when we randomly both would make a loud noise solely because we could.

well done ravery! that was a very cool experience, despite the teenager who helped set it up asking if we were celebrating our 25th wedding anniversary. why no young man, we did not get married when we were six.


this one was a little tricky because he had to get creative after he accidentally put the phone on speaker when the spa called to confirm our massages. he went another route with this clue for a gift he and atlas got me!

  • “you don’t own this anymore, but use ‘it’ semi-often.”

my guess: i really struggled here. i kept thinking it was something i recently gave away and now rented it. i couldn’t get past maybe my wood burner?

what he was going for: cassette tape!

  • “Mulan uses this word in one of her songs 🙂 it’s popular!”

my guess: i eventually got it out of him that the song was “be a man.” then i eventually sang “you must be swift as a raging river.” then i freaked out that he got us taylor swift tickets and felt a lot of anxiety because they are insanely expensive. he did not get us tickets (thank goodness).

what he was going for: taylor swift!

  • “it will bring back memories, good memories (nostalgic – the word he was going for)” 

my guess: blink 182, my obsession with all things that had flames on them, watching TGIF

what he was going for: listening to music on a tape!

surprise #2 of relaxing – listening to music (as well as massages)!


(this is a freaking clue INSIDE of a clue)

  • “you probably enjoy this at least six times a week.”

my guess: wine, cookies, showers, saying i’m not going to eat anything else and then i do…

what he was going for: dessert <double agent answer: texting alison all the time>

  • “in other words…’it’s part of a shove.'”

my guess: push. this one, in my humble opinion, is not the best clue.

what he was going for: ‘part.’ <there was really only a double agent answer here…it’s an inside thing that me, him, alison and matt call ourselves team CRAM. apparently it’s ‘part’ of CRAM since matt wasn’t there. yeah. that’s a streeeetch.>

  • “it will take a few miles to get there (but not overseas).”

my guess: i guessed he was just messing with me to get my mind all twisted since we have a rule he can surprise me with a trip as long as it’s not overseas. since we are leaving for the middle east and africa this friday, i was pretty confident we weren’t going anywhere by plane but did have to drive there.

what he was going for: driving 50+ minutes to stanely marketplace. <double agent clue: someone was traveling miles to see ME>

surprise #3 that was filling (to my soul): my BFF from portland came out and SURPRISED THE HELL OUT OF ME!

that’s what i look like not showering after a massage and crying tears of happiness at seeing her.

at first i didn’t want to go to stanley marketplace because it’s almost an hour away from us (but close to the airport) and i was so relaxed from the massage. then i wanted to go home and sleep but ravery insisted that i get a birthday cocktail. fiiiiiiine.

right after taking this picture, i looked up and was truly 2 seconds away from leaning over to ravery and saying, “doesn’t that woman look kinda like alison?” AND THEN IT WAS ALISON. but my brain was all confused like maybe i’d superimposed her face on some random person but nope – in the flesh!

epic surprise alison and ravery – you reaaaaally got me good! we spent the rest of her time here eating, playing with atlas and me constantly saying “we are in the same room together!”

it was definitely a birthday to remember! plus, our curls were so happy to be intertwined again!

thank you for always making my birthdays special, mr. ryan avery. i know you don’t care a lot about birthdays so it makes it extra special that you make a point to care about mine!

this was probably the most surprised i’ve been by someone! when did someone get you real good?


  1. Paul White

    January 31, 2018 at 7:25 am

    what a fun read that was. and I always love the pictures of you guys. what a giant album you must have from all around the world!

    • chelsea

      February 6, 2018 at 1:15 am

      glad you enjoyed it paul and thank you for reading! we are very grateful for our experiences and opportunities!

  2. Jennifer Haston

    January 31, 2018 at 7:47 am

    Wow!! Sounds like an awesome birthday! I love surprises too! Last Monday my friend Nadia had a last minute trip to Austin and sent me a message at work- “I am in the building, where are you?” Mad dash and thirty seconds later, tremendous Hug and lots of laughing!! That was awesome, but the last time someone “really got me” was when Jeremy and I went to Nashville for our debt-free Scream at Dave Ramsey’s office (already a great day) and our friends who taught our class who had said they would not make it (starting a business, bad timing)
    were SITTING in the lobby! I burst into happy tears and it was great!!!

    • chelsea

      February 6, 2018 at 1:15 am

      it really was a great birthday, thanks jennifer! i normally don’t love surprises but it was the perfect mix and ended up with my bff so i can’t really complain 🙂

      that is SO fun that your friend said ‘im in the building, where are you?” haha fun friends are the best friends!

      and whoa, epic surprise of the couple at dave ramsey’s office – TOOOOO COOOOOL

  3. alison

    January 31, 2018 at 7:48 am

    i think we should do this EVERY week. i like being part of the surprise, much more than i like being surprised. and you’re welcome for not hiding in the trunk of a car… xoxoxoxoxo.

    • chelsea

      February 6, 2018 at 1:11 am

      YES PLEASE!!!! as you know, i normally don’t love surprises but you can surprise me any time (as long as you don’t pop out of a trunk)! love you friend!

  4. Amberly

    January 31, 2018 at 10:32 am

    He did a great job!!!

    • chelsea

      February 6, 2018 at 1:09 am

      he really did!

  5. chelsea jacobs

    January 31, 2018 at 12:14 pm

    He did so good! Also, I am laughing SO HARD at the teenager asking if it was your 25th anniversary. Hahahaha.

    • chelsea

      February 6, 2018 at 1:08 am

      he really did! i was like ‘i know i have some gray hair, young man…but c’mon!”

  6. Audrey

    January 31, 2018 at 2:10 pm

    “he has other redeeming qualities” – hahahahaha!
    I love that you made loud noises in the theater! Hahaha!
    I freaking love that he surprised you with your bff!! That is the absolute best. And the story about you looking up and seeing her but not really seeing her?? Perfect!! Haha!

    • chelsea

      February 6, 2018 at 1:08 am

      haha yes, spelling is sooooo not his strong skill. it’s bad. haha it was really an epic birthday full of surprises!!

  7. Lisa

    January 31, 2018 at 2:42 pm

    Awwww so fun! I’m glad you had an awesome birthday!

    • chelsea

      February 6, 2018 at 1:07 am

      thank you lisa! i sure did 🙂

  8. Linda Leazar

    February 1, 2018 at 10:53 am

    So glad to see you both so happy! Chelsea, you are getting prettier every year – you glow, girl!

    • chelsea

      February 6, 2018 at 1:06 am

      aww what a sweet thing to say linda! each year i feel closer to looking less like i’m in high school (and dressing that way – ha!)

  9. Elyse @ Just Murrayed

    February 2, 2018 at 2:25 pm

    This is so fun, sweet and thoughtful of ravery! I am so glad you an awesome birthday!

    • chelsea

      February 6, 2018 at 1:05 am

      thank you elyse! he went above and beyond!

  10. Courtney {Alkeks Abroad}

    February 3, 2018 at 3:01 am

    Ravery wins husband of the year! I would for sure cry if my bff surprised me (she actually lives in Denver). Super jealous of your massage too. Glad you had such a great birthday!

    • chelsea

      February 6, 2018 at 1:05 am

      oh i cried multiple times over the weekend because she surprised me!!! i feel like your cry would be even bigger because she would come allllll the way to australia for you!

  11. Vivien

    February 5, 2018 at 1:58 pm

    Way to go Ryan!
    Haha oh dear 25th wedding anniversary. Maybe he’s a time traveler and accidentally went back in time 😉

    • chelsea

      February 6, 2018 at 1:03 am

      haha very good point, vivien! let’s go with time traveler – i like that!