It’s a tradition for me to fly down to California to surprise my nieces for their 10th birthdays.  Well, now it’s a tradition, anyway.  Now that I’ve done it twice.  I flew down as a  surprise about a year and a half ago for my oldest niece’s tenth birthday and I’ll definitely be doing it again in 2016 when the next one in line turns 10.

This year it was Emily’s turn and we managed to pull off the surprise again, this time revealing me at Peet’s coffee.   My mom was seated at a table near the door.  I was stationed at another table across the way with a newspaper in hand, opened in front of my face.  When my sister came in with Emily and Mary (Hannah, the oldest, was at play practice), my mom expressed her dismay that she was only able to snag the one tiny table for the four of them.   When the girls started looking around for another open table, I lowered the newspaper and said, “Want to sit over here?”

Emily was completely surprised and she said to my sister later, “I thought Hannah was her special one.  I never thought she’d come for me.”   What a sweet, darling girl.  Hearing that made me all the more glad that I had made the effort and spent the money to be there for the weekend.  Like her sister, she got to get her first “grown up” drink at Peets (a blended “tuxedo” something-or-other) and we spent the morning doing some of her favorite things.  She was most excited about going to “Teacher’s World,” a supply store for teachers and picking out things for her “classroom” that she has all set up at home (her classroom is legit, by the way – girl means business!).


First sip of glory. REAL coffee. Sorta. It was decaf.


Mary having a “little kid” drink.  You know, cause she’s only 8.

We wrapped up the morning with lunch at Emy’s favorite spot, Noah’s Bagels.  Steve brought Hannah and Peter and met us all there.


This one’s blurry but Peter was SO excited to be part of the birthday action!

After lunch I took Emy out alone for her first pedicure.  I had a few ideas for our afternoon out but it was pouring rain and Emily thought the idea of having a pedicure was just about the best thing she had ever heard.  The second we had walked in the door at her house to drop everyone else off, she turned to me and said, “Ok, I’m ready!  Let’s go!”


She talked with me a little but she was pretty focused on her feet. She picked green polish – her favorite color.

We spent the rest of the afternoon at home, just hanging out, before we headed over to my folks’ house for the big birthday dinner.  On the menu?  Split pea soup.  Seriously.  We had split pea soup.   But hey, it’s Emy’s favorite (who knew?) and she was the birthday girl.  Dessert was peppermint chocolate cookies with vanilla ice cream so we finished up strong.


Peter on the go at the grandparents house.


Steve photobombing


Birthday girl and her mama.


Peter, Emy, Sarah & Mary


Dinner time.  That’s me gearing up to eat Split Pea Soup


With my sis

We finished the evening back at my sister’s house, watching Little House on the Prairie before the girls had to hit the sack.  I’m so, so glad I was able to be there.  I’m glad I was there to celebrate her big day and I’m glad I got to hear all about her teacher and various schoolmates, see her “classroom,” chat about what she’d like to be when she grows up, and discuss important things like coffee and shoes and trumpets.  Those are the things I miss out on because we live so far away and it was good to enjoy them, even just for the one day.  Happy Birthday, Emy Lou!  You are so very loved.