When parents take a vacation and leave their kids to take care of the house, they take a calculated risk. Either the house will resemble a pigsty after a “home alone” style party, or the kids will step up and show their responsible side with everything in its place. The teens living in the following house did not conform to expectations. Let’s see what they did.
Between work and home, parents to teenagers rarely have time to themselves and their fondest wish is a nice long vacation, with fingers tightly crossed that their house will still be in one piece when they return. The Schoonovers could not believe their eyes when they returned from their holiday.
Although the Schoonover family already lived in beautiful vacation hot spot Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, that did not mean Karen and Chip didn’t deserve some much-needed time away. After some deliberation, they came to the debatable decision that their four daughters were old enough to stay on their own for a while and booked a week-long trip in December.
The surprise their daughters created while they were away was something that they never expected.
The Four Hs
Chip and Karen decided to use a special naming convention with their children and each daughter that joined the family was given a name starting with the letter “H”.
Heather is the eldest and had already married and moved out a few years before the incident but younger siblings Hollie, Halice and Haley made sure to include her in their scheme. As soon as their parents were out the door, the girls started working on their plan.
The Shining Light
Hollie, as the second eldest daughter, and the oldest of those living at home, orchestrated everything and organized her sisters.
The four girls waited for their parents to leave and immediately got started, hoping they could work together to create the most amazing Christmas surprise anyone could ever imagine. Hollie had a brilliant idea and asked her youngest sister Haley to document their entire process right from the start, because the plan was intricate and had several stages.
A Star In The Making
Although Hollie came up with the plan, she never actually planned to become an interior designer. The truth is, Hollie’s dreams have always been to touch the stars through a successful career as an actress and singer.
It’s not easy to get your shot in showbusiness, so in the meantime Hollie was experimenting as a makeup artist, making up friends and family in her spare time. She is hoping to continue training and this field and maybe even make a career out of it in the future.
Snapshots Of Time
Hollie loved posing for the camera, while her youngest sister Haley enjoyed being behind it.
The two sisters often helped each other work on their craft. Hollie would do her sisters’ make up and Haley would photograph the end results. While working on the mysterious Christmas gift meant for their parents, the girls’ unique skills and artistic vision were a perfect complement for the scheme they were hatching.
Taking A Study Break
While Hollie and Haley decided to travel the road less taken and pursue success in more artistic fields, Halice decided to follow in eldest sister Heather’s footsteps and enroll in a local college.
She decided to stay close to home and was accepted by Coastal Carolina University, the same school Heather had attended a few years before. Halice decided to complete her bachelor’s degree at the school and then pursue grad school on her path to becoming a physical therapist.
Back To Her Roots
Hollie, Haley and Halice all still live in North Myrtle Beach, so they are slightly more invested in the Christmas surprise than their sister Heather who no longer resides in town.
She is still living in South Carolina but has moved with her husband to a more inland area, where she does marketing work for a real estate company. This did not deter her from coming home to help her sisters make one of their parents’ dreams a reality.
Making Big Moves
The Schoonovers are an essential part of the community in North Myrtle Beach and it seems like they’ve been there forever, but that is not really the case. The 4-H girls were actually born and spent most of their childhood in Seminole, Florida.
However, soon after the move to North Carolina, the entire family felt that they belonged in North Myrtle Beach and that it was meant to be their home. The love they felt for their community made the gift they were making even more special.
Racking Up The Views
The sisters were quite clever documenting their work in the house while their parents were away on vacation and with a little luck, their project took the internet by storm.
Their homemade YouTube video was watched by many, who were just as moved by the outcome as the Schoonover parents were when they returned from their trip. Viewers sent the video to their friends and so on, and it soon went viral, spreading the impact of the surprise far and wide.
Starting From The Bottom
The sisters had decided that the best present they could give their parents while they were away was a makeover of their house. Although a lot of kids think that just cleaning the house is an amazing gift for busy parents, they decided they wanted to do so much more.
But they didn’t know what they were in for and how much work goes into a project like this. Also, none of them had ever done any renovation work before, meaning the present might not be ready by their deadline.
Out With The Old
The girls had decided that the first step in updating the house while their parents were away was cleaning things up. They soon realized that cleaning was only the beginning.
When the girls attacked the rooms with mops and brooms, they soon discovered piles of old junk that needed to be thrown out. Although the girls believed they could sort through everything in a few hours, the whole first day was taken up by step one.
A Clean Slate
As the sisters moved on from cleaning and sorting to the actual fixing up, they soon found out that real renovation tasks are hard work. Hollie may have gotten cold feet about their grand plan at this point, but they decided to keep going, and ripped out all the old carpeting in the house.
While steadily working their way through the house to the bigger tasks, the girls learned a DIY tip, the best way to get the old carpeting out of the house was to throw it out a window.
I Get By With A Little Help From My Friends
Maybe the sisters got their inspiration from one of the many home make-over shows on TV in which family homes are fixed up in one quick hour, hold the commercials, but they quickly realized that there was lot more work then they thought and that they would be hard pressed to finish everything in time.
That’s when they decided they needed more hands-on deck, and they had the perfect guys in mind. They just had to cross their fingers that help would be there when they needed it.
While the Scoonover sisters were putting together this unforgettable surprise for their parents, their main goal was to update the house as much as possible. To do this they needed to do more than paint and renovate, they had also saved money to buy some new living room furniture.
They soon found out that getting the new furniture in was much easier than getting the old furniture out. As documented in their video, all their strength was barely enough to push their old couch from the porch into the backyard, and their efforts were quite entertaining.
Flexing Their Abilities
Although the sisters soon learned the sheer amount of physical labor required for the big job, they were not all unfamiliar with physical fitness.
Heather, the oldest, helps others achieve their health and fitness goals and keeps them on the right track by hosting working accountability groups. Halice also knows a thing or two about keeping fit, because she was in the midst of getting her degree in exercise and sports science while the renovation was taking place.
Playing To Their Strengths
The fact that the sisters were so close in age was also a big advantage because they were used to working together as a team. The enormous undertaking of renovating an entire house in only a week would not have been possible if the Schoonover girls did not know how to cooperate with each other and play to each other’s strengths.
When the girls were growing up, the family used to pursue geocaching, another activity in which they had to cooperate in order to succeed.
Hitting The Hurdles
As anyone who has taken on an enormous project knows, somewhere around the middle you begin to lose hope. You feel like you’ve been working forever and can’t even begin to see the end.
The sisters were near their breaking point and it was only day three! There was still so much to do, their house lay in shambles and a long list of unfinished tasks remained which they had no idea how to even approach.
Looking For A Boost
Early the next morning, the girls had a hard time leaving their warm beds for the chilly winter air. They grumbled as they put on their dirty old clothes and got ready to start another day of hard work.
They had all slept poorly and were hard pressed to keep going in their nearly uninhabitable house. To keep them focused on the task at hand, one of the sisters picked up a pack of energy drinks, and they all gladly dug in.
Wearing Them Down
Although by now the girls had brought in extra help, painting every room in the house was far more work than they had originally anticipated.
They probably believed moving all the furniture in and out was going to be the biggest challenge, but as night came on and they were all still painting window edges with no end in sight, it took all their willpower and words of encouragement for each other to keep them from throwing in the towel.
Feeling The Physical Strain
More than half of the week had gone by, but the sisters still had an enormous amount of work to complete. They were tired from lack of sleep, but their bodies were also feeling the strain.
In their video they talk about back pain and sore legs from all the standing they did while painting. The great love they have for their parents kept them going, even when they felt more than a little out of their depth.
Finding Their Numbers Depleted
The girls barely got through the days, but bit by bit, they started to see improvement. However, if they thought they had a hard time before, things were about to get a whole lot harder.
On the fifth day, only Haley and Hollie were able to put in the work on the house renovation. Despite their reduced numbers, the girls worked twice as hard, not wanting to slow down the progress they were making with the end finally in sight.
All By Themselves
Haley took up the camera to record all the progress she and Hollie made all by themselves on the fifth day. Hollie sat on the dining room floor and carefully painted details on the wall in light blue paint.
Haley explained that they had worked on their own all day but that they had nonetheless made significant progress. Haley and Hollie, without any help, had installed new carpets all over the house, to replace what they had thrown away.
Up All night
At 7 AM, Hollie and Haley were awoken by the alarm after not enough hours of well-deserved rest. The girls literally worked until they dropped after finishing the paint job on only half the kitchen.
The kitchen cabinets were also not done, half needed a second coat of paint and half needed their first coat. The sisters had to hustle, this was their last day of work before their parents arrived the next morning. The Christmas surprise needed to be ready.
Hearts On Their Sleeves
Hollie decided to take the camera into the car with her on the morning of the sixth day. She wanted to show her parents just how exhausted they both were. She asked Haley how she felt, and her sister said, “I feel like I’m in the army.”
Then Hollie talked openly in front of the camera about her feelings, showing off the “stress acne” that had flared up. The girls still had a bit of painting to do, after which they could return all the furniture.
Using A Decoy
The day of their parents’ return was sure to be a whirlwind of emotions. The girls were preparing themselves to share the amazing surprise with their parents and their excitement was tangible. However, the sisters had planned a bit of misdirection first.
They decided to start things with a distraction in the form of a visit from eldest daughter, Heather. Heather arrived at the house, ready to greet them as they arrived. Every moment was captured on a camera they had set up outside.
An Enticing Introduction
The moment had almost arrived as Hollie whispered, “We’re so nervous,” to the camera. As the Schoonovers’ car was coming down the driveway, the girls stood and waited, with the camera rolling on the last few minutes of the Christmas surprise.
In the end, the sisters decided to use part of this sequence in the opening of the video they would end up posting on YouTube. The girls were unable to sit still and hurried from the camera to the window, to make sure that they were not going to miss their parents’ arrival.
Uncovering Hidden Treasure
Millions of people participate in geocaching all over the world, but it is still not so common for families to spend their weekends on treasure hunts. The proliferation of smartphones with GPS tracking have also made this activity less challenging, and a little less fun.
In geocaching, someone in the worldwide community will hide a trinket in a mysterious locale, and then posts the coordinates to other players. Participants in the featured area would then input the coordinates to uncover their little bit of treasure.
Off The Trail
When Karen and Chip Schoonover pulled into the driveway, relaxed and recharged after their week-long getaway, they immediately felt that something was up. Outside the car, Karen started looking around the yard to try and figure out what was going on, just then her four daughters came out of the house together.
Karen and Chip, who only expected three, exclaimed: “Hey! Hey! What are you doing here?” to eldest Heather. They were overjoyed by the unexpected visit and surprised to see her at home.
Judging A Book By Its Cover
Karen immediately noticed that the front of the house looked different, and she jokingly asked her kids, “Alright, who cleaned?” The surprise of having all four of her daughters waiting for her was above and beyond Karen’s expectations, but she secretly hoped her daughters had cleaned up the inside of the house as well.
Looking at the house’s façade, Karen realized that something more than a little bit of cleaning was going on, but she had no idea how much they had actually accomplished.
It’s Not Over Yet
According to the girls’ plan, Heather informed her parents, “Your surprise isn’t over yet” and led them into the house for the unveiling of their Christmas present. Chip and Karen could not believe their eyes, could all of this possibly have happened in the one week they were away? The sisters warned their mother to “take a deep breath” before leading both parents into their “new” home.
The Schoonovers walked through the doorway and could not believe their eyes.
Cards On The Table
Karen’s mouth popped open as she yelled out “What!” Looking around the house, taking everything in, she could not believe this was the same home. She exclaimed “What did you do!” with surprise and walked around the renovated house with her hands over her mouth in astonishment.
She had dared to hope the house was clean but could not have even imagined a fully updated kitchen. Karen had no idea what surprises were still awaiting her.
Rewards Of A Challenge
Karen and Chip stepped over the threshold into the kitchen, and Karen was suddenly overcome with emotion. As tears ran down her face, she admired the new and updated kitchen her daughters had created for their family.
The girls painted the walls a calming, pale blue, and painted the cupboards dark brown, to serve as a contrast. Amazingly, the girls had succeeded in replacing the old and worn countertops with new and gleaming polished marble. They also let their parents know that there were still plenty of surprises to check out.
Dining In Style
While walking into the dining room, Karen had to take off her glasses to wipe the unexpected tears from her eyes. She had never even imagined that her daughters would work so hard to surprise her with this special gift.
It was clear to see that their makeover continued through the rest of the common areas and the changes were unbelievable. The girls walked alongside their mother, giggling and emotional. The pride in their accomplishments bright in their eyes, and Karen had not even seen the rest of the house yet.
Updating Their Comfort
The girls walked their parents into the master bedroom, where they couldn’t wait to show them how they had considered their comfort in every detail. Karen was practically dancing at this point, with plush new carpeting soft beneath her feet.
Chip stopped in the entryway, clearly in shock, hardly breathing while he surveyed the amazing change. While Karen was gushing over the changes, Chip was stunned into silence, with his jaw permanently on the floor as he took in each new wonder.
Shining With Gratitude
Chip and Karen could barely comprehend what had prompted their children to set out on such a massive, transformative undertaking. The girls had taken care of everything. The master bedroom was completely renovated, including the sparkling tub and shower, and a fresh coat of paint.
All the accessories had also been replaced and matched the style of each room. The Schoonover parents couldn’t believe it, but more surprises were still in store.
An Open Invitation
Karen and Chip were still reeling as the girls led them from the master bedroom into the guest bedroom. The room was completely redone and matched the rest of the house in color scheme and design. As in the other rooms, all the curtains, bedsheets and comforters were new.
The surprised parents felt enormous pride in their incredibly considerate and caring daughters. Clearly the girls had spent not only time and sweat on the project, but also a considerable amount of money.
As the video the girls made documenting the renovation draws to an end, they try and explain to their overwhelmed parents that they wanted to surprise them with the best Christmas present they had ever gotten. Looking at the project in its entirety, especially the before and after shots, it becomes clear what an enormous undertaking the girls had set for themselves.
Chip and Karen were not only happy with their new house but filled with pride at the amazing young women they had raised.
The Internet Takes Note
Not long after the surprising revelation, Hollie posted the video of the remodel on her YouTube account. It was actually the very first video she had ever posted, but that didn’t change the attention it received. The views kept going up steadily, beginning with hundreds and then thousands of viewers checking out the touching story.
After a few months the Christmas surprise video had 115 thousand hits and the momentum was still growing.
Discovering Their Fame
Hollie had aspirations of becoming a household name, but she never thought she would become famous for the surprise Christmas present she made for her parents with her sisters. As the video made its way around the globe, countless people wanted to share this amazing story.
Haley, Hollie, Heather and Halice had no idea that the video was blowing up, and so was their story along with it. The sisters couldn’t contain their excitement at the amount of people their story was touching.
Seeing It In Print
Haley was the one who figured out just how far the story was reaching, when she stumbled upon a picture of herself and her sisters while checking out her Facebook feed.
She understood immediately that this was a reaction to the video they had made and that it had spread far and wide. Haley couldn’t wait to share the article with friends and family, all of whom had played a central role in the big surprise.
Relishing Their Impact
The girls couldn’t believe how much their hard work and dedication inspired others. They had no idea just how many sites were spreading their story. The story about the North Carolina renovation was not only popular in America, but even places like Portugal and India were covering the piece.
Hollie, Haley, Heather and Halice Schoonover hope that by sharing what they had accomplished with willpower and hard work, others will realize how much they are truly capable of.