I'm not sure how this happened. I thought I had been so careful. I thought I had been soaking in every day, every second. I thought I treasured each moment. Some days went by more quickly than I would have liked but others seemed to drag on. Still, the entire year flew by and now here we are in the middle of August. And Gracie is five. FIVE.
I don't know how this happened.
We celebrated Gracie's birthday early this year (the 13th) since Todd would be out of town on her actual birthday (the 15th). You'd think that would have given me enough time to prepare myself for her turning five yet somehow it still caught me off guard.
On Wednesday we did the usual presents and cake. Grace got a beloved baby carriage, a fishing rod (to replace the one she accidentally cast overboard as we were fishing a few months back), and a few toys. As you can see she was pretty excited. She was equally excited when she woke up from her nap to find I had decorated her cake. Her pink on the outside, and pink on the inside, cake. It was a very exciting day.
As the tradition goes, the grandmas joined us for dinner at the restaurant of Gracie's choice. The entire restaurant sang "Happy Birthday" to her and she was properly embarrassed. However, the free t-shirt and treat made it worth it. Afterwards it was back to our house for a couple of presents yet to be given (from the grandmas) and then some pink cake.
Overall, it was a very happy birthday for Grace.
"Of course," (a small voice in my head spoke up) "she isn't really five yet. She doesn't turn five until Friday. She isn't really older yet. She is still four."
I shrugged off the crazy voice in my head. What difference will two days make? She is practically five already!
And then before I knew it today was here. Grace's birthday.
It didn't really feel like her birthday since we had already celebrated it so I had that going for me. I was going to be fine.
Still. Today was her ACTUAL birthday so I felt that we should all do something special.
I packed the kids in the car and we drove up to Green Bay to a wildlife sanctuary. The kids had a blast running around looking at all the different animals. Cougars, wolves, river otters, eagles, owls, hawks, fox, bobcats, skunks, deer, coyotes, turtles, and hundreds of ducks and geese. We even met some crazy tame chipmunks that came up and ate corn out of the kids' hands. But the best and most favorite part of the day was when the kids fed the ducks and geese. Who knew a $1 bag of corn could make my kids so happy? It was exciting stuff, people.
We spent hours at the wildlife sanctuary, too busy for me to even start to get melancholy over my girl's birthday. As a matter of fact I think I only remembered it was her birthday when I reminded her that now that she is 5 years old there is no need to whine since 5 year olds don't whine. Happy Birthday!
Since the kids were so good and we had so much fun I decided to reward them with a trip across the street to Bay Beach. Yes, we were just there last week (in part as an early birthday gift to Grace, as a matter of fact) but who can resist such inexpensive fun? Surely, not I.
We ran from ride to ride enjoying the warm sunshine. Grace got to ride all of her favorites and skipped out on the ones that still freak her out. She is too little for the rollar coaster yet (which is just fine with her) but Ben really wanted to go on it. Joey and Tommy offered to take Grace on all the kiddie rides while I rode the coaster with Ben. I was a little nervous that my two little meatheads wouldn't be responsible enough for the task at hand but they vowed to be extra attentive.
Luckily, there was absolutely no line at the rollar coaster and Ben and I were able to walk right on. In ten minutes Ben and I were on our way back to look for Joey, Tommy, and Grace. The minute I spotted them my heart nearly burst. Joey was ushering Grace onto one of the safest rides in the park. Not only did he walk her to the little car but he lifted her in and secured her seatbelt too. Yep. He was extra attentive. I asked the boys if they were able to ride anything with Grace and the both just shook their heads. They let Grace pick the rides and both boys were too big to ride with her. Instead they stood vigil. Good boys.
After a full 7 plus hours of walking and running and riding and laughing we were all famished. So, once again, it was off to our favorite restaurant, Kaleidescope. Our meal was delicious and Grace was treated like a little princess and was served her very own extra large slice of chocolate cake. Thankfully, Grace shared it with all of us because it was THE BEST chocolate cake I have ever had in my entire life. Woah. Amazing.
The car ride home was heavy with rehashed favorites, complaints of full bellies and tired feet, and singing and dancing along to the radio. By the time we got home the kids were actually eager to hop into bed.
And I did it! Grace turned five and I didn't cry. I wasn't overly emotional. I was barely even sentimental.
And then I started editing our pictures from today. And I started looking through pictures from past birthdays.
I just lost it.
Because, how? HOW????
How do I go from this...
my newborn baby girl, Grace.
my newly walking one year old Grace.
And then this...
my spunky 2 year old Grace.
And before I knew it she was...
my three year old Tinkerbell, Grace.
And I blinked and she was...
my 4 year old fairy princess, Grace.
Just like that. Boom, boom, boom, boom, boom.
And now she is five. FIVE. My five year old, Grace. Still a pink-loving, princess-loving, spunky, sweet, sassy, independent, smart, funny, tough, shy, cuddly, loving, kind little lady. But now she is five. FIVE.
And she is this.
My girl. My Grace. Happy 5th Birthday.
I love you.