Somehow, in the midst of everything else going on, I forgot to post pictures of Gracie’s 22nd birthday celebration two weeks ago.
As I reflect back on that celebratory day it is hard to believe it was just 15 days ago. It feels like a lifetime.
This birthday was an unusual one, as it was the first time I haven’t had a child home on their birthday. Our normal tradition of waking up with birthday kid with a song and a cupcake didn’t happen. I didn’t think Zach would appreciate us climbing up through their bedroom window in “I Love You Forever,” Robert Munsch style, with a cupcake in hand…
So we left Gracie’s birthday morning wake-up to her husband, and instead delayed our well wishes for later in the day. I did, however, wake that morning with a feeling of panic over forgetting to wake up Grace with her birthday song, until the cobwebs cleared and I remembered Grace no longer lives at home.
Gracie’s birthday celebration took place that evening in Cranberry. When we asked Grace what she wanted to do for her birthday she requested a family dinner at Blaze Pizza. Blaze Pizza is a favorite eat-out spot for our crew. Everyone loves the novelty of building their own pizza, and we love the vast number of toppings to pick from. Rusty describes it as Subway for pizza.
We all arrived at Blaze Pizza at 5:00 with gifts in hand. Everyone was coming from different directions so our group of eight people took up 5 parking spots in the lot. Tyler and I came straight from his dyslexia tutoring in Wexford. Molly and the boys drove over after their dentist appointments in Monaca. Grace came from her home in Ellwood City, having taken the day off work for her birthday. Toby and Molly drove up from the construction site in Toby’s truck, and Zach came from the site in his car. It felt a bit obscene when we realized we had five cars for eight people.
When we got inside we decided to start with dinner and save gift opening for the end.
Everyone got in line to build their pizzas.
The results of that effort was nothing short of delicious!! Yum!
Then it was time for gifts. Grace requested camping gear for her birthday with hopes that she and Zach could enjoy some inexpensive vacations once they acquired the gear necessary to go camping. She had already received a hand-me-down tent from my parents who also gifted her with a Coleman lantern for her birthday gift. From Toby and I she received a two-man sleeping bag and camping cooking utensils.
Molly and Rusty pooled their money and bought Grace a Dutch oven. They laminated a homemade camping cookbook of Dutch oven recipes that they had printed offline and attached to the Dutch oven with a carabiner.
Tyler and Braden went in a different direction with their birthday gifts to Grace. Braden bought Grace a beautiful book and Tyler bought Grace a t-shirt that read, “Kind People are my kind of People.” He thought Grace would like it because it reminded him of Mr. Rogers, who is a personal hero of Miss Gracie. When he found it at the store they only had it in a large. I was concerned that it would be too big on Gracie’s petite frame. Tyler tried to quell my concerns with the logic we use when clothes shopping for him. “It’s ok, she will grow into it.” I hated to burst his bubble but Gracie’s days of gaining inches with each passing year are long behind her!
After we were done at Blaze Pizza we headed over to the Milkshake Factory for Gracie’s birthday dessert. In lieu of cake, Grace asked for milkshakes. She and Zach had discovered the Milkshake Factory and were eager to introduce the rest of us to this yummy place.
We arrived and began perusing the menu, trying to decide which shake we each wanted to try.
It was a tough choice, as they all sounded delicious, but everyone finally settled on their picks. Grace and Zach were right…Milkshake Factory shakes are amazing!!
After enjoying Gracie’s birthday dessert, we said our goodbyes and headed back towards home. That night just happened to be the night of Braden’s end of the year basketball banquet.
So, we kissed our 22-year-old daughter good-night and headed off to the next celebration.
How grateful we are to call this talented, kind, diligent, thoughtful, generous, wise, patient, faithful, forgiving, beautiful young lady our daughter.
We love you, Miss Grace, and hope this year is the best one yet!!
(It is certainly starting out memorable!!)