Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Sixteen and Full of Surprises

This girl turned sixteen yesterday.
My Lily Jane. It was an eventful few days filled with big surprises.

First surprise--Sunday evening, Brad brought her two dozen pink roses.
Girls need to get flowers from their daddies. I firmly believe that, especially as they get older.
That was the first surprise. Then, one by one for the next two hours, sixteen young men rang the doorbell, each with a lily for Lily.
I don't who was more excited about this surprise, me or the boys. They would text me with "I'm so excited I can't wait to ring the doorbell!" or "She is such a good friend--let's make this incredible!" or "She is gonna love this!" After he went home, one guy texted me, "We should do this again in June and REALLY surprise her!"
So many hugs. So many jokes.
So much fun.

I watched as this small army of young men embraced my girl and showed her how much they love her. Aren't they dapper?
Each time she opened the door, Lily would squeal their name and hug them tight. 

They talked and laughed.
It was incredible to watch. 
Her cousin even FaceTimed from Utah to talk to her.
Then, after the fifteenth young man left, the doorbell rang for the last time.
I wish Ben had been here to give her that last lily. It brought her (and me) to tears--we miss that guy.

She went to bed that night with a smile in her heart, thinking that her birthday surprises were over.

She was wrong. (and so was my focus on this picture. I think I need to learn how to set my camera viewfinder to "old lady" mode.)

Her best friend/cousin Abby and I had been scheming for a week on how to surprise her, and when we came up with the perfect idea, I stationed myself across the street from her school to capture her reaction. Abby made her a 16th birthday sign, which you can see Lily wearing as she's walking out the door. Abby is the blond in the black and pink leggings. At this point, Lily had no clue anything was unusual.
Then she saw something in the carpool line.

I don't know who was more excited--Abby to surprise Lily or Lily by Abby's surprise! I could hear their shrieks of excitement over the traffic.
With a doorman/driver and everything!
The limo brought them back to our house where they met up with the rest of the party.

I don't think any of the girls had ever ridden in a limo before, so they were all pretty excited about it.
Doug, the driver, was great with them--took them wherever they wanted. And where they wanted was Fiiz . . .
 . . . where they took turns with shots of sour syrup and ghost pepper flavor . . . 

. . . then off to Chick-Fil-A for dinner. I guess it doesn't matter where you go when you're in a limo with your friends, right? They cranked the music, waved to people on the street, and took a firm oath that "What happens in the limo, stays in the limo."

And just like that, two hours flew by, and they were back.
All seven of them were bubbling from caffeine and their first limo ride. It was fantastic!

But that wasn't the last surprise of the birthday.
We met with a few families from our neighborhood to discuss General Conference and eat cake to celebrate the birthday girl.

The only thing to go wrong with all of my birthday surprises was this cake. And it was so wrong that it was comical--Disney Channel worthy. It was supposed to be green and pink--first glaring error. When I saw it at the bakery, I was so disappointed, but because I didn't have time for them to remake it, they gave it to me for free. I didn't take it out of the box but headed out of the store as quickly as I could.

When Tucker looked into the cake box on the kitchen counter twenty minutes later, he commented, "Mom, you realize this says, 'Happy 16th Lily JAMES!!'"

It does not.

"Oh, yes. It does."

For once in Tucker's life, he wasn't teasing me.
Lily dubbed it her baby shower cake. Luckily, wrong cakes taste just as good as right cakes!

As we walked home from our neighbor's house after eating Lily James' cake, Lily Jane commented to me how tired she was and how great her day had been. Little did she know that there was one final surprise waiting for her in her room.

I secretly solicited Lily's friends and family to write letters to her, finishing the sentence, "Lily is . . ." Lily loves letters--loves to write them and loves to receive them--and I thought this would be a great gift for her. I cried as I assembled those letters.I compiled the 60+ letters into two small books so she can reread them whenever she needs a boost. I printed out the words people used to describe her, and Karli and I taped them all over her bedroom wall.

Overwhelmed by her last gift, Lily spent some time in her room, reading letters and shedding a few tears. Just before bed, she found me. She encircled me in one of her best hugs and whispered in my ear, "Thanks, Mom."

Happy Birthday, Lily James.

As Long as I'm Living.


  1. What a wonderful day friends and family arranged for your precious daughter.
    The cake story will live on in family lore. I have one too. A certain husband ordered a cake from a certain bakery. He said 'it should say Happy Birthday _____ and I want it small on the top and big on the bottom. When the cake arrived it said "Happy Birthday________ Small on the Top and Big on the Bottom"
    You just can't make this stuff up.
    I watched one of the videos to which you linked - beautiful.

  2. I love it all. Every single bit. Even the cake!


  3. What an amazing birthday you planned for her! I might steal some of it in 11 months.

  4. I have a feeling Lily will never hear the end of Lily James! I love it! Such an awesome birthday with so many wonderful and kind surprises...that Lily is a lucky girl. You're a pretty terrific mom Jenny! Happy 16th birthday Lily James! :)