Gabe at 16, Mary at 14– a tale of two birthdays

Maybe it seems unfair to combine two birthdays into one post, but not if you know Gabe and Mary. They ADORE each other. They have the goofiest, happiest relationship. And since their birthdays fall within a week of each other, it works out well. Gabe really wanted a surprise party and we delivered (even if it wasn’t much of a surprise). Mary shares a birthday with our dear friend Wyatt who died of leukemia last year. In honor of Wyatt, she chose to put together care kits for Sole Hope (and if you haven’t heard of them you’ll want to check them out right now).

Instead of writing about Gabe and Mary myself, I’m including letters from Ben and Lizzy. Because really, they put it best.

Gabe at 16, Mary at 14 from Michelle Lehnardt on Vimeo.

Hey Xander,

Today was Gabe’s birthday. He was careful to also drink milk with dinner and he didn’t spill a single drop. I think you’d be proud of Gabe for so many other things too. We spent pretty much the whole weekend partying for Gabe’s birthday and it was well deserved.

Friday evening we helped set up for Gabe’s surprise party. We made a sweet 16 banner and the girls kissed lipstick all over it. I vacuumed the basement and washed the dishes. Gabe knew about the surprise but did a good job pretending not to. This feigned ignorance became increasingly important as Mom, Mary (and Lizzy, I think) sent mysterious texts to Gabe’s friends, made Gabe clean bathrooms, baked four dozen cupcakes filled the pantry with  waffle bowls*. They just kept saying it was all for fun and Gabe managed to go along with it.

Gabe has his permit and is getting better at driving. It’s terrifying to drive with him (I’m told) but I’m not sure if it comes from his driving or the screaming from the passengers. The neighborhood fire hydrants have been safe lately though so I’m sure he’s getting better. Gabe also, I should add, seems to handle the screaming very well when he drives.

Tonight we had macaroni and cheese for dinner and Hans blew out the candles on the cake. We didn’t even bother relighting them. We all know the drill.

Gabe has been Gabey Baby for so long that it’s funny to watch him get older. Not only is Gabe taller than me now but he’s also the one with the funny jokes and even temper. I literally spent a few years trying to keep Gabe from eating dirt and drowning but now I think Gabe might be the one to keep me out of trouble.

Hans and I had a very short argument today that eventually ended very well, but in the meantime Gabe was the peacekeeper. First he walked with Hans and then he walked with me and by the end Hans and I both just needed to say sorry. I’m glad I have such big little brothers. I don’t know what I’d do without them.



*Waffle bowls are essential for ice cream nachos. It’s basically ice cream in a waffle cone bowl with whipped cream and fudge on top. They’re amazingly good though. I feel sick for eating ice cream nachos and cake tonight.


Happy Birthday! I love you so much. It is the best to have a cousin so lovely and smart and funny. You are so talented and fun and so good an dkind. I adore your commitment to never settling for ha lesser version of yourself.

I can tell that you really strive for excellence! I really did miss you so much while I was gone and am just beyond thrilled that we are together again. Let’s make lots of fun plans and enjoy it to the fullest.

love, Lizzy


January 19, 2018
January 31, 2018


1 Comment

  1. Katie W

    January 30, 2018

    Happy birthday, Mary and Gabe!

    I’m curious–have you guys ever tried trick candles? That would make for an interesting time for whoever’s trying to blow out the candles before the birthday person does.

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