The Powell kids had spent this year’s snow days sledding on the hill near Blumfield Elementary School, having snowball fights and inviting friends to their house. But the snow day on Feb. 25 had an even bigger surprise.
Their dad came home.
Lyle Powell had been dispatched to Texas with the National Guard and had been gone for four months.
He was coming back on leave for about a week and he and his wife, Emily, wanted to surprise their kids: Lacey, a fifth-grader at Blumfield; Tyson, a third grader; and Carly, a kindergartner.
The original plan was to have him pick up the kids from school. The teachers were even in on it, ready to take video of the action, but Mother Nature had other plans and Ralston Public Schools called a snow day.
“That threw a wrench into everything,” Emily said.
They concocted a ruse that Emily had to go to work and have lunch with her boss, when she was really heading to the airport to pick up Lyle.
They had to turn off the GPS on their phones because Lacey had previously foiled a Christmas surprise. Emily and the kids were visiting Emily’s parents in Texas a couple hours from where Lyle was working, and he had some days of leave and was going to come visit, but Lacey saw he was on his way on an app on her phone the family uses to keep track of where each other are.
“I see where they are all the time,” Lacey said.
“It was hard to keep the secret,” Emily said.
After Emily and Lyle went out to lunch, they went and sneaked Lyle in the house. The kids heard Lyle coming up the stairs and looked out, but didn’t recognize him right away because he was bundled up after getting used to 80 degree weather in Texas.
“I was very surprised,” Tyson said. “I wasn’t expecting somebody coming up the stairs.”
Carly had the strongest reaction, running up to Lyle and jumping into his arms.
“I felt very surprised and I felt happy,” she said.
Lyle said it was nice to see his kids react that way and good to be home, even if it was temporary.
He had to return to Texas on Tuesday but will be back long term in April.
“I’m always pretty proud of my kids,” he said. “I like seeing them happy. It makes me happy.”