A Very Texan Teenage Birthday Celebration

With our oldest daughter’s thirteenth birthday on the horizon this spring, I was stumped with how to properly celebrate it. I wanted her to know how special she was, involve the moms of her friends in some way and do something memorable.

A providential evening at a Catholic schools event with the First Lady of Texas, Cecilia Abbott, got me thinking. Why not tour the Governor’s Mansion?


A thoughtful and kind friend, who knows the First Lady personally, set up not just any tour, but *the* tour of the mansion. Anna-Laura invited seven of her best friends (and their mamas!) and we enjoyed the loveliest of mornings in downtown Austin in early June, just a few weeks after she turned 13.

I will admit, it’s the first time I’ve ever asked attendees for their birth dates and driver’s license numbers. Ha! Now I really know those mamas. After a quick run through the security checkpoint, we were escorted through the mansion by Texas State troopers, assigned to the mansion, as well as a tour guide. She was absolutely lovely, personable and knowledgeable about all things Texan.

The hit of the morning? Being met by the First Lady and the family dog, Pancake, on our tour! What a surprise! Mrs. Abbott was kind enough to let us enjoy the upstairs, as well as the mansion balcony. It had been years since I had since the mansion as a young girl, so this was a real treat. I pray the morning was just as memorable for Anna-Laura and all her friends.

Gianna made herself right at home in the music room. Imagine that.

The girls fit right in when we visited one of the upstairs bedrooms. Our guide told us that’s where the Bush twins had many a sleepover and I can see why! What a room.

I’m not sure you can tell in these photos, but the custom quilts are embroidered with the seal of Texas and the mansion, among other iconic Texan symbols. I was in la-love.

We were especially happy to see this in the mansion.

Every former governor leaves a parting gift to be put on display at the mansion and Gov. Perry left his Aggie ring! It was fascinating to see what others left behind.

Then, there was this rug, hand hooked with the six different flags that have flown over Texas. It was details like this that really made me fall even more in love with the mansion. The love is always found in them, right?

Here is Stephen F. Austin’s original desk, the same one where (then) Governor Bush asked (now) Governor Abbott to serve on the Supreme Court of Texas. Talk about a nostalgic piece. I can see why this space is one of the First Lady’s favorites.

Our guide and the First Lady were kind enough to invite the girls to the second floor balcony which had a sweet view of the Capitol. Just before we arrived, we spied the Governor on the porch. It was such a serene and beautiful space even amidst the hustle and bustle of Austin.

This was one of my favorite bedrooms.

All too soon the tour was over. The girls each left with a sweet cookie replica of the mansion, baked with love by one of my friends, Kendra. We even left an extra for the First Lady. Anna-Laura, it was a spectacular morning!


  1. Nicole on July 6, 2018 at 9:00 am

    What a unique birthday party experience! I loved your recap of the day. Amazing!

  2. Ann-Marie Ulczynski on July 6, 2018 at 10:23 am

    That is amazing! What a great gift for a young lady.

  3. Verdina on July 6, 2018 at 12:05 pm

    Once again, you are amazing! What a special way to celebrate a very special young lady!

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