Last year Julianne's birthday fell during a gymnastics meet weekend in Las Vegas. Because of this, Bryan and I decided to take the whole family with us as a mini vacation to celebrate...even leaving a day early so we would have some serious birthday celebration down time in Sin City. (See here.) But Julianne is a traditionalist when it comes to holidays and birthdays. And so though we took her to the huge aquarium in Mandalay Bay, saw the white tigers and dolphins (her favorite animal) at The Mirage, and had icecream at Serendipity 3 at Caesars Palace (where we even saw John Travolta), among other various activities....because we did not have wrapped gifts to open, cake with candles or a big banner and other such traditional decor, it was a fail. She enjoyed the day...but didn't really feel like it had anything to do with her birthday and therefore felt that she hadn't been properly celebrated. Sigh.
I learned my lesson this year. Julianne turned the very special age of 16. And tradition states in our household that turning 16 means rather than lots of presents or a big party, a special trip with mom and dad to a location of the birthday girl's choosing. (Remember Rebekah's trip to San Diego?) Because of various commitments that have all three of us tied up for the next couple of months, the soonest we can go is late April. And where did Julianne choose to go? The Big Apple....New York City. Her main goal, to see "Newsies" on Broadway. Truth be told, though it'll be a lot of travel time for a quick in and out trip, I'm certainly not complaining about her choice of venue!
But point being, with no traditional presents or party, and with her birthday trip still 2.5 months out, I knew I'd have to do something else to make sure that this birthday was not another repeat fail. So armed with ideas from pinterest, Rebekah and I waited (somewhat) patiently for Julianne to go to sleep the night before her big day. Unfortunately for us, she stayed up reading till midnight. But once the coast was clear, we quietly put our plans into action and tiredly went to bed around 1:00 AM.
At 6:30 AM Julianne's "Core Four" group of friends (Taylor, Lauren and Jessie) came over with breakfast. (I can take no credit for this one...they texted me the night before asking permission to surprise Julianne.) And to mine and Rebekah's balloon hallway decor, they added hearts inscribed with fun messages all over her bedroom door before going in and waking her.
After lots of hugs and "Happy Birthdays!!!" and such things, Julianne walked the three to the door, only to find on her way up the stairs the "life of Julianne" picture collage Rebekah and I had created the night before.
"Mom!" she exclaimed as she threw her hands up in the air, almost as if she wanted to hug the pictures..."You succeeded!!!"
I'd already succeeded and it was only 6:45 in the morning! Lucky me!
What with breakfast coming from the Core Four, I thought Julianne's request to skip 1st period and have breakfast at Granny Annie's might be off. But she was still jazzed about the idea of missing 1st period, as was Rebekah...so off we went.
She was in a very good mood when she got home. "Everyone is celebrating ME!" She was incredibly touched and a more than a little bit amazed by all the gifts, hugs and messages.
One friend stopped by with balloons and treats. Another stopped by with cupcakes. Gifts and treats and visitors showing up all evening long. At one point shortly after the doorbell rang, I heard Julianne shrieking with laughter. She had just opened a gift from her good friend Jordan who lives down the street. He had bought her a toaster, a loaf of bread and a stick of butter. And though it'd probably take too long to explain all the back story, I'll just say the two of them are "toast buddies" and have long since bonded over their love of toast, bringing each other pieces on various occasions....it's their "thing."
Taylor brought over a "kissing tool kit" filled with things like a new toothbrush, mints, chocolate, socks for a "foot popping kiss" (a reference to "Princess Diaries") etc. It even came with a kissing manual. Julianne has some seriously creative friends.
Bryan took Julianne out for her first date. But because of homework restrictions, they made it a quick one and just went to dinner. (Julianne was asked out three more times that week and put together her first creative "ask" to a big dance...Sadie Hawkins next month.)
When Brandon got home from gymnastics around 10:00 we had the official "Happy Birthday to you..." singing and the blowing out of the candles. She decorated the cake herself and was quite pleased with the results. Granted, she was quite pleased with the whole day so I think by 10:00 at night she was already predisposed to like anything and everything.