Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Birthday Season Begins!

Our 3 daughters celebrate their birthdays in the next 6 weeks.  It’s kind of nice in late winter to have a reason to eat cake and ice cream every couple weeks.  We start the birthday season with the youngest member of our family – who turns 6 tomorrow, so this post is more or less all about her…

“Though she be but little, she is fierce!” 
William Shakespeare, A Midsummer Night's Dream

This line very well describes our “baby”.  She started out on the small side at a whopping 6 pounds and has stayed a petite girl to this day.  We were happy when she finally made it onto the height/weight chart that the pediatrician always referenced.  Not that we worried about her size, but the pediatrician seemed to come close to making it an issue a couple times. 
Daddy's girl -then and now

Her “fierceness” is obvious – she never lets her older sisters push her around and she doesn’t hesitate to make her opinions known.  She has a temper that can flare up almost out of nowhere, but then again, she is also the most contrite once she calms down.  Her apologies are very sincere and detailed.  Never a general, “I’m sorry for what I did.”, but rather, a very specific description of her mistakes.
the fierce face then
the fierce face now

Having an (almost) 6 year old youngest child has made us realize that the craziness of baby and toddler years is -sadly- behind us. 

(Unless there are more children in our future, which, of course, is not impossible.  Check your Bible if you don’t believe it.  It’s happened to people even older than us.) 

I see now that what my Mom told me back then is true: while you are in the midst of those years it can sometimes seem that an individual day – or trip to the grocery store – will never end, but then suddenly you realize that you made it – that phase is over – and you can’t quite recall when exactly it ended.  But ended it has: No one here naps anymore; we don’t have to pack a bag (diapers, snacks, toys) just to run errands; we can go to the store without ABSOLUTELY NEEDING the special cart that holds more than one child; There are no gates in our house; we’ve never been in the cry room at our parish (we’ve lived here 2.5 years!); We don’t have outlet covers or cabinet locks; and finally, I don’t get panicky around 4:00 when I realize that there are still 2 - or more – hours until Mark gets home from work.
2 & 3 year old sisters
3 & 4 year old sisters
5 & 6 year old sisters
Our 2 youngest girls are a mere 11 months apart, so tomorrow we will have two six-year-olds.  And one of their favorite things about being so close in age happens: they become twins.  Yes, that’s right: twins.  It makes sense to them.  They are sisters and they are the same age.  In their minds, it helps if they dress alike, but it's not absolutely necessary.  
Thinking about their close ages also brings back memories of the amazing weeks and months around the time of both their births.
1 year old

Without going into the whole story (maybe some other time) it is relevant to know that our first and second daughters are adopted and that our youngest came to us *in the usual way*.  We had been married for nearly 7 years before the birth and adoption of our first child.  Then we had another 5 year wait before the birth and adoption of our second child.  Let us tell you that after that many years, a couple like us feels pretty darn confirmed in the fact that a pregnancy just isn’t going to happen.  That isn't meant to sound like we were defeated or had no hope.  Rather, after that many years, lots of good doctors, etc. and on top of that – 2 adoptions – we just thought of ourselves as “people who adopt” - and we were perfectly at peace with being an adoptive family.  So, when we realized – pretty much out of nowhere – that I was pregnant, we were shocked beyond shocked.  There are levels of surprise in the world, you know?  It’s possible to be surprised about something that you knew was possible, but just didn’t think would happen.  But this was a case of being utterly dumbfounded because the idea that it was possible had gone away YEARS before.
1 day old

So anyway, it is with great fondness that we think back to the days of having a 5 year old, a newborn and being pregnant for the first time.  It was such a neat time.  And, then, our third daughter was born.  And, of course, she adds something to our family that only she can.  She’s very bright.  And super-cute.  Oh, and did we mention fierce?  She loves her sisters, but she’s always valued her own quiet personal time – she’s the only one of the 3 who seems to need time on her own to play quietly and in her own way.  Mark jokes that she got a little bit of his only-child-gene and that's why she wants to be alone sometimes.  When she was little she was a definite wanderer; just when no one was looking she'd wander out of the room and away from the group to explore - or find mischief - on her own.
3 years old

I assume that we do “baby” her a bit.  We still let her climb into our bed if she has a bad dream (a benefit of being petite – she still fits) and we have to remind ourselves that her chore list can be as “heavy” as her next older sister.  I'm sure the other 2 girls could give plenty more examples of our babying her, but let's not ask :)
She’s a kindergartener this year.  And doing a great job.  She’s a whiz at math, really enjoys stories from history, and has mastered phonics to the point that she is reading - which is such a milestone.  The reading thing isn’t really that big of a deal to her though, she just wants to have a loose tooth – oh, and long hair.
Christmas 2011
Happy 6th birthday, eenie!

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