Oh *SNAP* Gracie is 17!

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My baby is now 17! How is that possible? It seems like just yesterday I was holding that brand new, “straight from the arms of God”, beautiful baby girl. What a joyful journey it has been with Miss Grace. She has been such a delight to parent. We feel very blessed to call her “daughter.”

On Monday we were able to celebrate Gracie!

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Monday morning I woke early with the intention of making Gracie’s birthday “Picture Perfect!” I snuck up to Gracie’s room before she woke to booby trap her door. As I was taping streamers across her doorway and blowing up balloons to place between the streamers and the door, Tyler woke up. I tried to get him to whisper quietly while he helped me blow up the remaining balloons. When Gracie’s door was sufficiently booby trapped we headed downstairs to wake up the rest of the family and get her piece of birthday cake.

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Once the candle was lit we climbed the steps to surprise Grace. We knocked on her door and waited for her to be hit by the avalanche of balloons. She opened the door, puzzled as to why we weren’t just walking in. When she opened the door we began our early morning, off key rendition of “Happy Birthday.”

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We shuffled back downstairs where Grace was allowed to open her gifts before Toby left for work. She was thrilled with the gifts her siblings all came up with, but the biggest hit was the camera she received from Toby and I. Grace has become quite the photographer and has expressed an interest in taking her photography interests further with more schooling and possibly making it a business. She has been using my camera for her photography classes but had expressed a desire to have a camera of her own that she can use for her classes.

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Her birthday gift was the jumping off point for the theme of Gracie’s birthday:

“Oh SNAP, Gracie is 17!”

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Grace was pleased with her birthday table.

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One of our home school traditions is that the birthday child has the day off from chores and school work. I gave Grace the option of a school-free day but she decided to do school in the morning and just take the afternoon off.

While the kids worked on school, Ozzie and I headed off to the social security office where we spent the morning waiting with dozens of others. We recently found out that Ozzie’s biological parents were committing social security fraud in Ozzie’s name so we had to meet with an employee at the social security office to address it and resolve it. It is now taken care of and we pray that this is the end of that nonsense. There goes 3 hours of my life I will never get back again!

In the afternoon Grace decided to try her new camera out with the photo scavenger hunt I created for her birthday.

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Here are some of the photos she took…

Gracie's favorite color

“Favorite color”

"A favorite memory"

“What brings you peace”

"A childhood treasure"

“A childhood treasure”

"A favorite snack"

“A favorite snack”

"A photo of your smile"

“A photo of your smile”

"What makes you laugh"

“What makes you laugh”

"Favorite place to pray"

“Favorite place to pray”

"Your favorite quote"

“Your favorite quote”

After everyone was done with school for the day we headed over to Buttermilk Falls for a photo session. Ever since Grace saw the pictures taken on Rusty’s boy scout hike she has been itching to head over to the falls to take some pictures of her own. The warm day resulted in the falls being halfway melted. It was still beautiful! The warm temperatures and the sunshine felt so good and made me hopeful that spring is just around the corner. The boys had fun exploring while the girls spent their time taking pictures…

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After an hour of exploring we walked back to the car. We had just enough time to go home, clean up our muddy boys, and put on nice clothes before meeting Mimi Joy for dinner. We arrived at Applebee’s and the kids were tickled to find out that it was family night, which meant the balloon man was there. We were seated and after waiting a bit we called Mimi Joy to see if she was getting close, only to discover that because of a miscommunication she went to another Applebee’s restaurant 40 minutes away. Because of the drive time she decided to take a rain check on our get together and we ended up having dinner alone. We will celebrate Gracie’s birthday with Mimi Joy soon and we will be sure that we communicate better! 🙂

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Dinner was fun. The balloon man stopped at our table and made everyone a free balloon creation. Gracie got a hat that said, “Birthday Girl.” Toby, Molly and Rusty also picked hats to wear. After dinner we had to make a stop at the pharmacy. Everyone wore their hats in, making quite the impression. As we walked out Grace leaned toward me, pointed at Toby walking ahead of us with his inflatable chicken hat bobbing in the wind, and said, “Hands down, best birthday ever!”

Tyler picked a bow and arrow.

Tyler picked a bow and arrow.

Ozzie picked a dragon.

Ozzie picked a dragon.

The "Hat crew"

The “Hat crew”

The evening ended with birthday cake. Grace requested Red Velvet cake for her birthday cake. Ozzie unfortunately had to miss the birthday cake. Family celebrations are hard for him and I have found that his way of dealing with the tough emotions of love and bonding is to sabotage family events with tantrums. I have to find the balance of acknowledging his struggle without   letting him ruin his sister’s celebration. This night that meant tucking Ozzie into bed and letting him rage in his room while we had Gracie’s celebration in the dining room.

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After cake Tyler was tucked into bed too and the rest of us watched a movie.

We try to give the big kids times when it is just us and them. Life can be hard with our adoption treasures and I find the big kids need times when it is just them and us… our family together, like it was before the adoptions.

We watched “Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day.” It was charming and we all laughed at how we could relate to his “very bad day.” 🙂

The night ended with hugs and kisses and prayers of gratitude for this special girl we have been blessed with. She is a treasure!

Happy birthday, dear Grace, you bring great joy to our family!

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