By Willie Shaw

Every year for my wife's birthday, the same thing happens: Mom gets flowers, and Dad makes a breakfast of eggs, waffles, and bacon. And although these things aren't bad, the repetition has started to get a little… well, boring.

"I want to do something different for Mom this year," I told my four-year-old son. "I want to make it fun." My son, continuing to play with his Hot Wheels and not paying much attention to what I was saying, looked up and gave a smile. "Play with me?" he asked. As we raced cars around our living room couch, my mind also raced for an idea that would break us free from the 'typical' birthday family festivities.

"Look, guys, it's snowing," my wife said as she walked into the room, interrupting my thoughts. Our boys ran over to the window to see the fresh powder hit the grass ever so gently. "Snoooooow! Can we go out and play?!" my four-year-old asked me excitedly. "Maybe tomorrow," I assured him.

At 6:30 the next morning, we woke up to repeated shouts of "Snow, snow, snow!" Throughout the morning, it seemed the only thing we heard was, "Can we go play now?"

"Happy Birthday," my wife elbowed me with a smile. "Yes! Happy Birthday, honey," I replied. Between you and me, I had a little moment of panic. I hadn't yet landed on a gift for my wife.

I called to our boys, "Let's go out and play in the snow! We can get breakfast on the way to the park!" As we got everyone dressed and ready, I racked my brain for last-minute gift ideas. We packed our snow gear into our family van and were ready to hit the hills with our sleds.

"It's pretty icy out here… be careful," my wife cautioned. "I got this," I replied confidently. "Family snow adventure, here we come!"

I shifted the gear into reverse and pressed the gas to back out of our driveway, but the car didn't move. My wife gave me the look. I smiled back, trying to reassure her that I did indeed have everything under control.

I can tell you now, though, I didn't. I pressed the gas pedal a little harder, praying that this would be the solution to my problem. The car moved, but only deeper into the snow.

"Well, we're stuck," I said. "Looks like we're gonna have to play in our own, no-hill-in-sight-yard today, boys." Just then, a neighbor driving by noticed our van sitting in our driveway, embarrassingly stuck. As they helped us shovel ourselves out, my wife offered up the option that we just stay home.

"Yeah, maybe you're right," I said. But with the expression on her face, I knew she wanted me to say no. I glanced over at my boys, who were thrilled by the excitement of the day ahead.

I stood there for a second, pondering our options, and just when I was about to give in, a little spark of confidence hit me. "Adventure is out there," I said. "Let's go find it!"

As soon as we made it to the park, I thought to myself, "This is a birthday they'll never forget." I could hear my younger son's laugh echoing behind us as we sped down the snow-covered hill, my wife and two-year-old cheering us on. This year there weren't any flowers, mom didn't get a card, and dad didn't cook a lavish breakfast. But we went on a family adventure to play in the snow. Together.

Life is full of these little moments—the ones where we either choose to give in or step on the gas and press forward.

The truth is, my kids likely won't remember the days we stuck to our routine. But they will remember Mom's birthday where we got stuck in our driveway, went on a snowy downhill adventure, drank delicious warm cocoa, and giggled till our faces hurt. Not because it was the easy thing for us to do or because it was all part of Dad's master plan (though it's tempting to take all the credit) but because we shared an adventure as a family, which means more than a card or chocolates.

And, just in case our memories start to fade over the years, we took photos every step of the way. These photos will help us relive that little adventure — time and time again. These are the moments that life is all about.