Nine years ago from Monday a little light was born into our family. Her name is Claire.2013-01-21 Claire's birthday 68549 Claire Hazel to be exact. 2013-01-21 Claire's birthday 68531-Edit And oh how we adore that girl of ours.2013-01-21 Claire's birthday 68546Chipped hot-pink nail polish and all:) She lucked out to have no school on the big day.  And to have some cousins come to our family birthday breakfast and participate in the “find-the-presents-scavenger-hunt.”2013-01-21 Claire's birthday 683872013-01-21 Claire's birthday 68392 …AND because it’s a party year this year (she hasn’t had one for a couple years), she got to have thirty-two girls come help her celebrate (not all of them made the picture apparently).  2013-01-21 Claire's birthday 68486Whew, what a day that was! Claire is the star of this post, but I have to put in a little side-note about Grace.  She is the best party planner of the century I tell you.  She helped Claire plan this party for weeks and had every minute planned out.  She got the games all situated and printed out a week before.  She was so organized.  She is so unlike her mother ;)  And oh how grateful Claire and I are for that!  She begged me to take her to Target and sought out the perfect gift for Claire (a new wallet):2013-01-21 Claire's birthday 68390 She and her friend rode bikes to the grocery store and she got all the stuff she needed for this poster all on her own with her own money. 2013-01-21 untitled 68553 Elle commented to Grace on the birthday morning that she thought she was more excited than Claire and she jubilantly agreed.  What a sister. After breakfast it was on to the party prep. 2013-01-21 Claire's birthday 68407 They did a get-to-know-you game first.2013-01-21 Claire's birthday 68420 Then they played “Three-Deep.” 2013-01-21 Claire's birthday 68432 That’s where everyone gets a slip of paper and it “matches” with two other people’s papers but you don’t know who.  So you have to yell to find your partners and when you find them you sit in order to show that you’re done.2013-01-21 Claire's birthday 68431It makes for a lot of happy loud-ness. 2013-01-21 Josh's birthday pics. 680532013-01-21 Claire's birthday 684352013-01-21 Josh's birthday pics. 68059(“Three Deep” is explained in detail back in this post). Then the girls did “two truths and a lie.”2013-01-21 Josh's birthday pics. 68097 …and went to the park to play “capture the ice cream cone” (it was an ice-cream themed party).2013-01-21 Josh's birthday pics. 68225 …and “guess which famous person’s name is stuck to your forehead.”2013-01-21 Josh's birthday pics. 681652013-01-21 Josh's birthday pics. 68248 Next it was on to the “piece de resistance” according to Grace and Claire: our ice cream cone birthday hats.2013-01-21 Claire's birthday 68448 I’m telling you, this was not an easy project and took Grace, my niece and I all night to prep the night before, but for some reason I kind of enjoyed it.  Maybe it was the anticipation of the next day, maybe it was that the girls were so excited, I don’t know, but it was pretty satisfying to make 34 of those puppies. (Grace and Claire got all the party ideas here.)2013-01-21 Claire's birthday 684492013-01-21 Josh's birthday pics. 682592013-01-21 Claire's birthday 684822013-01-21 Claire's birthday 684882013-01-21 Claire's birthday 68494 Claire opted for a Sundae bar instead of a cake.2013-01-21 Claire's birthday 684992013-01-21 Claire's birthday 685022013-01-21 Claire's birthday 685042013-01-21 Claire's birthday 685062013-01-21 Claire's birthday 685082013-01-21 Claire's birthday 68510 …and this is how it looked as the girls trickled back home.2013-01-21 Claire's birthday 68511 Nine things I love about this nine year old: 2013-01-21 Claire's birthday 68544 1) She sparkles when she smiles. 2) She cries when she feels the Spirit, and she tends to feel it often. 3) She is tough and doesn’t complain much when she gets her darn cold sores and other health issues. 4) She is the best tutor for Lucy any of us could ever imagine.2013-01-21 Claire's birthday 68410 5) She’s the first to jump on Saturday jobs.  She often makes them fun for Lucy too and turns them into a game where you have to jump to pick things up or you are secret spies and have to do your jobs with no one looking. 6) She’s an awesome dancer. 7) She is confident.  She knows what she wants and goes for it. 8) She is not high-maintenance.  She doesn’t ask for a lot and is so appreciative of what she gets. 9) She is genuinely interested in others and asks good questions. 2013-01-21 untitled 685572013-01-21 untitled 68558 Love you forever, Claire Bear.

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  1. SUCH a sweet post. I love your kids and have never met them! We hear of so many troubled or "bad" kids but I choose to believe that there are just as many amazing and great kids in the world. Thank you for sharing a bit of your heart named, "Claire"…Happy Birthday to your beautiful girl 🙂

  2. Claire looks so much older. What a fun party! Love the picture of them running in the park with the girl doing a flip in the background.

  3. What a sweet girl!! Happy birthday to your glowing Claire. And Grace's enthusiasm for Claire's big day is just beautiful. What a precious girl Grace is, also. All your children are amazing!
    P.S: that was me who deleted that comment above; I accidentally made the comment from my husband's gmail account:)

  4. Hi Shawni, Claire seems like such a sweet little girl and what a great sister she has in Grace. Very lucky girls! Is this a good place for questions? I have been dying to ask if you could share your top 3 photo editing do's. I love your photos and want to make that next step to get a better lens and better photo editing software (have read your advice on the blog). Are there a few things that you always seem to do to get your beautiful photos? The colours always just pop. Thank you!! Trina

  5. Hi Shawni

    I too was a frequent receipient of cold sores, but here in Australia we can get some normal lip balm called Blistex (Google images "blistex tub") it's a white container the size of a coin with red writing. It contains some active ingredient as well as sunscreen which manages to keep my (previously frequent) cold sores at bay. It's worked for many of my friends as well, perhaps it would be worth a shot for Claire, as I too hated having cold sores at school. The comments from others were never kind.
    Wishing Claire a happy birthday. Thank you for your inspiring comments on raising beautiful children.

  6. I love your blog, thank you so much. Happy Birthday Claire! I have a question, maybe for an FAQ post:

    Toys! What do you do with them? Do you have a system to keep them at bay? With 5 children I am sure you must have a lot & are probably experienced at managing them?

    I only have 2 children and I really struggle with Christmas and birthdays because they bring so many new toys which are just not needed & won't fit in my toy storage systems. I can't bear to keep buying more and more toy storage – I don't want to fill up my small house with toy storage! – so I try to pass on older/unused toys to charity. However, as my children get older this gets harder, as they do not want to give up their toys.

    I know it sounds ridiculous, but this feels like a factor for me in how many children I have. Please tell me it gets better over time? As you have more children do people become more sensitive about the size and number of gifts they give your children?! I hope so! (This post about Claire's birthday made me thinkg of this – I thought "32 party guests… that's 32 gifts!!")

  7. What a fun party! This may be a random question. What do you do for Claire's coldsores? My kids 5 and 1 just started getting them and they are horrible to treat. My son actually got one on his finger(called a herpetic whitlow, which I never even knew existed) and it landed him in the hospital for 3 days. NO FUN! Any advice?! Thanks!

  8. How adorable! for some reason this didn't come into my blog reader and I almost missed it! What a treasure! Love that Claire. You're right! She shines like a lightbulb!

  9. What an awesome birthday party!! I must say, all but #6 sound like me at Claire's age- especially crying when she feels the spirit!

    Thank you for sharing this!!

  10. I love your blog!! I don't know how you find time to do it! I too have 5 kiddos!! My oldest is 11 and the only girl, so a bit opposite of your family. They are also a little younger. 11 years to 8 months. I gain so much from reading your blog, so thank you!! My 8 year old son gets cold soars and has for some while. Anyway, I give him an amino acid called Lysine. It comes in a pill, liquid or powder. I just give him a squirt of the luquid once a day when his system is stressed, or he starts to feel one coming. It will stop it in its tracks. My husband is a dentist and many patients use it! It can be purchased at any nutrition store. You can also put a little on the surface of the skin if a blister has begun. Email me with any questions at: clintblake at yahoo dot com. Good luck, and thanks for sharing your life, it helps many of us!!

  11. How fun! I've said this before (the only time I have made a comment on a post) but Claire looks so much like my youngest, who will be 10 this year. Your whole family is so precious!

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