Grace is no longer a Teenager!


“Now you can get married!”


This was the greeting Grace was awoken to on the morning of her 20th birthday by a loud and enthusiastic younger brother.

“You are not a teenager anymore!” he declared, “So now you can get married.”

I don’t know if it was Tyler’s words or the loud and bouncy delivery of his words, but Grace looked a bit shell shocked as she rubbed the sleep from her eyes and tried to focus on her family that was gathered at the foot of her bed with cupcake in hand.

I am still wrapping my mind around the fact I have a 20 year old child. In my eyes she is still a five year old princess begging me to watch her pirouette, when in reality she is now the age I was when she was born…

It is all a bit surreal.

This year Gracie’s birthday fell on a Friday which meant she was blessed with a birthday at home with no school or work that day. Her big plans for the day included relaxing at home, watching a movie, and fitting in a nap. With her life as busy as it is right now her birthday wish was downtime…a birthday wish I can relate to.

Her birthday day became a day full of favorites with many of her activities reminiscent¬† previous year’s birthday themes.

During lunch break the girls all gathered to watch an episode of Downton Abby together just as we did on Gracie’s birthday two years earlier.

For many years this traditional Abby viewing was a weekly Monday activity for Grace, Molly and I during the current Downton Abby season. We would gather on my bed during lunch break and watch the newest episode of Downton Abby together. We did this up until the final episode which we saved and watched on Gracie’s 18th birthday, a fitting way to bring two eras to an end simultaneously. Then for her 18th birthday gift she received a handmade dress reflective of this favorite show and that time period which she then wore to her Downton Abby birthday tea party two months later.

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Her other birthday wish for this birthday was a hike to Buttermilk Falls, a throwback to her 17th birthday when she received a camera for her birthday and we took her on a photo scavenger hunt hike to the falls.


This year she asked if we could make the hike again, so after the other kids had finished school for the day, but before Toby returned home after picking up Ozzie for the weekend, we went hiking. It was cold but the sun was shining and the hike was beautiful, giving Grace and I many opportunities to capture the beauty of the day in photographs.

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After our hike we met up with Toby and Ozzie and drove out to Boardman, Ohio for Gracie’s birthday dinner. (Molly had to work that night but met up with us later for cake and gifts.)

We had dinner at Red Lobster (Gracie’s favorite restaurant) where she ordered her favorite meal of coconut shrimp and mashed potatoes with a virgin Pina Colada for a birthday treat.

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It was a fun dinner and so nice to have Ozzie there to help celebrate Gracie’s big day!

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When everyone arrived back home we headed into the dining room to celebrate Gracie’s 20th birthday with cake and gifts. Ozzie chose to go to bed early since he wasn’t feeling well, so we saved him a piece of cake and jumped into the celebration down one family member.

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Each of the kids took turns giving Grace her gifts.

The best part of Tyler gift to Grace (the card game, “Code Names”) was the wrapping that was tied with a “Its a Girl” balloon and an awesome homemade birthday card.

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Rusty gave Grace her first ever Lego set. Rusty was so excited to share with her a gift that he has was passionate about, and she was equally thrilled to build her first Lego set.

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Toby and I surprised Grace with a CD and concert tickets to one of her favorite groups, Home Free. We will be taking her to the concert for the second half of her birthday celebration.

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Molly, following our lead, made a homemade card for Grace that looked like a Home Free t-shirt and enclosed cash for Grace to purchase a souvenir t-shirt at the concert.

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The night ended with cake and song as we celebrated 20 years with this special young lady.

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The birthday frivolity continued for Grace the next day with a birthday sleepover with her best bud. Grace and Olivia have discovered that being grown-up doesn’t allow nearly as much time to socialize as either would like so Gracie’s birthday request was a night hanging out and catching up with her bestie. They camped out in the converted school bus, made homemade salsa, guacamole and other treats in the bus’ kitchen, and watched movies into the night. How grateful I am for this sweet friendship that has grown stronger and sweeter over the last decade.


Happy birthday, my sweet Gracie, we love you to the moon and back!


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