From the moment she was born, this girl has been fond of front and center stage, depicted quite nicely in this picture.
Her siblings were enamored by her right from the start:

She was just so darling that we couldn’t get enough of her.  Those chunky cheeks and big smiles melted us right away.

And ever since then she’s added some serious spunk and sparkle to our family.

She took front and center during her colic/reflux stage because it was all we could do to keep up with her.

This was how she looked:

All the time, and I’m not kidding around.

(I’m refraining from posting the traditional picture I post every year of “the spit-up,” just taking a year off.  I’m sure it’ll be back next year:)

And then once we got through that her sparkly personality started coming out.

 She is a born performer.  EATS IT UP to be on the stage.

 And she adds a little pizazz to all that she does.

 How I love this girl and all that she’s growing up to be.

She is up at girls’ camp today…her birthday happened to be right smack-dab in the middle of all the camp festivities this year, so we had a grand celebration before she left.

We pretended it was her birthday on Tuesday…the 23rd of June…the only day we had available for serious celebrations which also happened to be Dave and my 20th anniversary.

(This summer has kind of thrown us for a switching-around loop…we’re doing a couple switches on pretty important celebrations this year.  Dave was out of town for Father’s Day so we’re doing our own version this Sunday, we switched Grace’s birthday so we could be with her and we’re having a re-do of our anniversary on Monday. Phew!)

Ocean pancakes for breakfast.

Max leaves for work at 5:30am and Grace considered getting up to have the breakfast before he left but “considered” is as far as she got.  Elle is in London but sent her the sweetest birthday message.

I’m sure glad we have soaked in family birthday parties for so many years because this is the beginning of the end of having everyone together.

Grace’s request was to go to the waterslides for the big day so we did.

Her cute friend from out of town came to town to help celebrate (she was coming for some other things too but adjusted the date to be here for Grace…made Grace so happy!  Thanks Jen and Carli!)

These girls (below) have started a tradition of celebrating each other’s birthdays at a favorite restaurant so we dropped those two off to meet up with the others and went home to bake up her cake.

Fourteen things I love about this girl:

1)  She makes life fun.  She always has a new idea for us to do and she is a “gatherer” by nature so she’s always surrounded by fun people and tried to make sure everyone is included.

2)  She somehow knows every beauty secret in the book and I’m thinking she’s going to be a lot of help to me as I morph into an old lady.

3)  She is brave.  She will try anything new (almost) and shares her courage with those around her.

4)  Grace has serious drive.  When she wants something to happen, she makes it happen.

5)  She’s a great student.  She really struggled in China, but pushed hard and still came out on top.  Maybe it was because she looked up this website:

Dave and I were cracking up when we opened the computer she had used in China and found that web page saved.

6)  She does anything I ask around the house without hardly a complaint.

7)  She is an awesome babysitter and makes things fun for her little sisters.

8)  She is an excellent chef and baker.

9)  She isn’t afraid to beat to her own drum and has no qualms about breaking out into crazy dance at any given party.

10)  She is a good friend.  She is always looking out for those around her.  I have loved watching her take her friend who moved here from China under her wing and help her integrate into American life.   She had her communicating with her friends here before she even moved.

11)  She knows right from wrong and makes good decisions.

12)  She has a great sense of humor.

13)  She is becoming a fabulous photographer and I love seeing her work.

14)  She loves her Heavenly Father and works to build up her relationship with Him as she strives to love those around her as He would.

The morning after that great day she headed out for camp with Rebeka in tow (her friend from China).  Love these two together!

So sad to see her go knowing when she returned she’d be a year older, but so happy for her to have such a great time up there too.

I keep getting cute pictures from friends up at camp chronicling her day up there.  Love it!

Can’t wait to hear all about it when she gets home.

Happy Birthday dear Gracie.

Love you forever.

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  1. Such a crazy time for you guys! I love that you switch things around and don't let special days fall through the cracks. Celebrating everyone is so important! Have a wonderful, busy summer!

  2. Hi Shawnee~ I just wanted to let you know that for various reasons I quit reading all blogs (I'm LDS but don't even read other LDS ones) but I will still read yours. Our kids are roughly the same ages, and though I live what seems like a world away in Alaska, I can relate to a lot of what you have to say and I find you very down-to-earth and inspirational. Thanks so much for all that you do and for sharing your life with all of us. 🙂


  3. My family is living in London for 6 months with study abroad through the BYU London Centre. I thought I may have seen your daughter at church today while I was helping my daughter find her way to YWs. My daughter doesn't do well with change but I'm hoping after a few weeks it will be old hat. Im sure your daughter is having a great time. I love London.

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