# surprise trip

Disclaimer: You might need a good 10 minutes to get through this post…

A trip home has been on my mind ever since my sister’s due date was approaching in November. When Lily was born, I was able to drive up from Dallas in time to be there and I knew it wouldn’t be the same this time around…but was still so anxious to be there as soon as I could.

Since our holiday was consumed by a certain warm job obligation (and it was our year to go to Michigan anyway), I thought my first opportunity to hold Lincoln would be at my brother’s wedding in March. And this Aunt just couldn’t wait that long. Plus I’d have to share with too many other family members looking for the same chance of some baby snugs, and everyone knows middle children are bad at sharing. So my brain started churning the possibilities and what better opportunity than a big sister’s birthday? I love surprises, especially if I’m in on them and especially if they involve parties.

Only a handful of people (okay, four…) knew I was coming, so there were plenty of surprises to go around. I took many photos with my purse camera and phone – no BGC (big girl cameras) were spotted on this trip. Here are the highlights:

Lincoln and Lily were really the stars of this trip. So my first morning was spent meeting Mr. Linc. Here’s our first picture together—I’m so impressed he already knew how to make my Game Face!




Here’s Booh – doesn’t she look fabulous?! I think she has a secret celebrity trainer hiding in her closet she’s not telling me about. Girlfriend looks awesome!


Lincoln was getting fresh and wanted to hold hands right away. I told him he better be up for buying me dinner first. #justkiddingyoucanalwaysbemyboyfriend


We also snuggled in our matching owl jammies on Sunday morning after our big sleepover.



Lily had no clue I was coming into town, so Booh had planned for me to pick her up at school and even had Lily’s teacher in on it. Since it was so cold, the kids were waiting inside when I walked up. The teacher asked if anyone knew who I belonged to. All of these kids, bundled up in multiple layers, were just staring up at me slack jawed, including Lily. And then she recognized me and her eyes popped open and her jaw dropped even more and she came running, screaming “That’s my NoNo!!!!” It really was in the top three moments I’ve ever had with her, even making me tear up as we hugged. I scooped her up and Booh said all she could see from the car were Lily’s feet kicking up and down. It was a beautiful reunion, but Lily told me as we walked to the car that because I wasn’t wearing my glasses she didn’t know I was NoNo right away. Point taken. Glasses on. Game Face on. Always.


During our time together, Lily learned the importance of the “selfie” photo. In fact, if you now ask her to take a selfie with you, she knows what to do. And she also knows there are no better selfies than those with marker on your face, duck lips and an icing-covered spatula in your hand.


More highlights included:

Playing horn candlestick holders – she’s got a pretty good embouchure!



Sharing this guy with this girl, who was also pretty surprised to see me walk through the door.


And seeing Lily dressed up like her favorite book character, Waldo, with her new doll. My mom knitted her the scarf and hat and she didn’t want to take it off. So funny!





Since she was turning six, Memaw read A.A. Milne’s poem “Now We Are Six”—her favorite as a young girl:

When I was one I had just begun
When I was two I was nearly new

When I was three I was hardly me
When I was four I was not much more

When I was five I was just alive
But now I am six, I’m as clever as clever;

So I think I’ll be six now for ever and ever.

Lily loved it.


She also is a girl after her Mikey Joe’s heart and was pretty crazed over her new Star Wars sheets. haha! I didn’t know who R2D2 was until I was in my twenties. This girl is going places.


One of the best/funniest parts of the trip was cheering on Lily’s Lady Dalmatians basketball team. What. A. Hoot.

Here’s Lily during the warm-ups:




They even turn out the lights, turn up the fog machine, and have the girls run out during the team introductions! I felt like I was watching a Thunder game. Totally legit.


Each team, I believe, had five girls and only three were on the court at a time. The girls wore a colored wristband that would match up with a girl on the opposing team. That’s who they blocked during that period.


The game had a lot of hands in the air, waving ‘em like you just don’t care, and the ball rolling around on the floor. Seriously, it was hilarious. At one point Lily was holding hands with the girl trying to block her. And sometimes blocking can look like a dance party’s about to start.




Here’s Lily as she makes a basket! She shoots, she scores!


Good game, good game, good game.


Not a selfie, but a goody.


The morning of the party I was in Lily’s bathroom putting on make-up and she asked if she could watch. (She sounds a lot like me, huh Pam?) I told her that since she was six she could WEAR some, so I brushed blush over those smiling cheeks and put on a little lip gloss. She was over the moon and asked what happens when she turned seven. I think she was expecting me to say eyeliner, but I said “oh, you come live with me.” To credit my sister and brother-in-law, she looked horrified and politely said ‘no thanks.’ Ha! One day year at a time.

Now, to the par-tay: Lily wanted her birthday party to be held at Bounce U—which Booh tells me is a popular party destination for kids in her class. Basically it’s a bounce house bonanza—rooms and rooms of inflatable fun. The party was a total success. My sister is known for Lily’s amazing parties—going all out on themes, decorations, attire, etc. Lily’s big into Spidey right now and this place was perfect for getting your Super Hero on.

The first room had a big slide, target practice, basketball toss and a wrecking ball pit:





Seriously, those kids were moving so fast, it’s Blurry Photo Central, but you can just tell how excited she is here.


Aunt NoNo even made an appearance on the big slide, where it was said her screams were louder than any of the kids. I’m okay with that.

Lily and NoNo on Slide

The second room had a football field, climbing wall and a huge spider web climby area that led to another huge slide. Lily was all about this one.



I looked in once to see this kid just hanging upside down, haha.


She even got her first tattoo. *sigh* They grow up so fast. Next it’ll be a butterfly on her ankle and “Believe” across her lower back. Only 12 more years, Lily. #ArkansasSpringBreak2026


I love this girl and am so proud she’ll carry on the “whispies” for me and Booh. Crazy hair is awesome.


Look who, amid non-stop screaming from the party guests, remained Mr. Cool and Collected. Sweet Linc!



After much playing, when all the kids looked like this, we went to the party room for refreshments and singing.


Everyone should get a side of disco lights with their Happy Birthday song.


Lily really wanted cookies instead of cake (seriously, we are the same person) and Booh had these gorgeous, delicious almond-flavored sugar cookies decorated for Spider Man and a special one for the special girl. So yummy. Happy Birthday, Lil!




A few more selfies and it was time to put a close on year five. The next day I was on a crowded, coughy plane back to Utah–leaving a bit of my heart in Oklahoma with these precious littles.


Other highlights not pictured include: spending time with Dad, Janet and Rachel at their new digs while their house is being redone; eating Savoy cinnamon rolls and Mediterranean food with Pam and Memaw; visiting The Nest; meeting Alex and seeing Jessica and Autumn; and chilling out with my Mom and Mike. The trips are always fast, but always fabulous too.

I should mention that when I wasn’t hugging and kissing on Lil and Linc, I was hugging and kissing on dogs. Specifically Maggie, Ella!, Tootsie and Molly. I’m sure I smelled like a doggie whore house to Bella when I returned. But she took me back anyway. Joe did too. They always do.




You made it to the end! Consider your passports Oklahoma-stamped.


6 thoughts on “# surprise trip

  1. Best post ever. We loved having you. Being an aunt is the best. Hurry back and please bring Joe and Bella. Aunt Pam and Toots.

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