This girl turned 16.

Just like that. (The 16 things I adore about her are back HERE on the big day.)

We have done a surprise party for all of our kids at 16. It is a tradition. (Max, Elle, Grace)

So you’d think by the fourth time around Claire was BOUND to know what was coming. All day I figured maybe she was just playing along with not knowing because she wanted to be surprised (kind of like a kid who knows about Santa but just can’t quite admit it to himself). But I think she really was genuinely surprised to come in and have that giant group of kids jump out at her, and that was so fun.

But let’s wait and back up for a second to the morning. Because SIXTEEN!! It was such a big day!

We had our traditional bday breakfast:

Lu made sure to make our traditional candy bar poster:

Lu gave her the sweetest gift that took her forever to make:

(and wore a great milk mustache as she handed it over, ha!)

Let’s get a closer look at part of that gift:

That thing took some time!

As soon as she stepped out the door to school I worked fast and hard to bake three cakes and get things ready in preparation for the surprise party before I took her out of school for lunch. As I was hustling I accidentally dumped one of those cakes, fresh out of the oven, all over our cabinets and the floor and my new shoes, gosh darn it!

I could NOT believe it but I got right to scooping it up and trying to mold it on the cake platter anyway…maybe no one would notice?? HA! Those are just the remnants after I scooped everything up on the left down there:

Oh boy.

Needless to say I was sweating by the time I picked her up from school, but there she was, such a glowing and happy sixteen-year-old lunch date!

Tried to be nonchalant just hanging out after school, all the while texting back and forth with her friends who were spreading the word about where to park, how to distract her, all that jazz.

That core “organizing” group hung at our house for a little while as I cooked Japanese curry (Claire’s dinner choice) and I felt so much love for them as we talked around the counter before they headed out so some other friends and I could finish setting things up.

Our house was filled to the BRIM with SO MANY KIDS who gave her a grand surprise when she walked in and she was SO HAPPY.

I never even got our traditional family-with-the-cake-birthday-picture in all the commotion, and because the cake was smashed to smithereens, so this will have to do!

Here was an attempt to get at least some of them in pictures:

It was a good night.

Claire got her driver’s license a few days later while Lu and I were in Wisconsin.

I tried to talk her into waiting until I got home, because I’m crazy like that and wanted to be there! But she was DYING to get that thing (it had to be after her birthday since we were in Bear Lake when she was permit-worthy this summer so it pushed her real license off a week), and really, what a fun date for her and Dave. Sweetie Dave recorded the whole driving three-point turn thing on our family Marco Polo and I was dying watching it in the waiting room at the clinic with Lucy. It looked like she hit a cone and I think my heart was racing as much as hers must have been.

But she came out smiling from ear to ear and she GOT THAT THING.

We are all so excited. But also a little melancholy since that means I won’t be driving with her as much and she’s also my last kid to get a license. Lucy won’t be able to do that. That makes my heart ache so I’m not going there, and just basking in the amazingness that we have another driver.


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  1. Happy birthday Claire!!! She’s looking more and more like Elle!!

    Ok so do they just take their road test on a pre set place ?

    Here you have to drive around the city you live. You have to parallel park, park correctly up and down hills him with tires pointed the correct way. You are allowed 70 demerits but that can add fast like 10 if you don’t check your mirror before you signal etc .. I find it interesting how different places are !!
    Do most kids get their license first try , they don’t here.

    1. I totally agree with Claire looking so much like Elle.

      Sometimes I have a hard time telling the two apart in pictures.

  2. Oh wow. First of all, happy birthday Claire!

    Second of all. I went through all of the birthday posts and wow, what I time capsule. I have been reading this blog through all these birthdays. What was weird and heartwarming at the same time was the fact that I recognized so many “familiar” faces in your kids’ friends. Like friends who at times still pop through this blog. So weird to think that I have seen glimbs of these stranger kids’ lives through the years and now many of them are married themselves.

    Anyways, hello from Finland, where one part of the country has record breaking cold winter, and the other, my sad part of the country, has yet to see any snow, which is also super odd.

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