(What in the world is up with that streak blond hair there on my head? Have I really been going around like that since my last haircut??)

I find it interesting how mothers change through the years. I, for one, have sure mellowed out.

For Max’s first birthday we whipped up a serious shin-dig. We invited practically every friend we could think of. Every babysitter who had ever taken care of Max was there with bells and whistles. Our house was packed.

One-year-old Max looked up at everyone with his big brown eyes and was amused by all the gifts and hoopla, but mostly he just cared about putting balls through his new “Little Tykes” basketball hoop. I realize as I look back now that he would have been just as pleased had we popped some popcorn and watched some of his favorite episodes of Barney with him.

Since then I’ve learned to simplify…a little more each year. This year I figured we’d do another down-year. I mean, Dave was in China all week last week and with all the running around craziness around here I hadn’t given a party much thought. Besides, all Lucy wanted was some “squinkies.” I knew her day would be complete as soon as she opened those babies.

But the afternoon before her birthday the girls and I decided any girl who was as excited to turn five as Lucy was really deserves to have her first friend-party ever.

So I emailed some friends and figured even if one or two came Lu would be in Heaven. It was really nice to know I had professional party planners (Grace and Claire) in my back pocket because I knew they’d pull through to make it fun whatever happened.

We started the day with our traditional family b-day breakfast (Lu chose gingerbread waffles) before we ran to Claire’s soccer game (AWESOME game BTW…more on that later).
(She wore that hat all day, by the way. I woke up to her quietly “reading” by herself after having already donned it right when she woke up.)

She looks really worried up there but that’s her “I-can’t-even-smile-because-I’m-so-excited” face.

She helped cheer at the soccer game and then played with all her new “goods” for a few hours…
Sometimes she takes her playing very seriously:
…and helped me bake the rainbow cake she picked out from familyfun.com.
(I used this cake recipe that I found when googling “healthy birthday cakes.” It was really, really good. Even my kids who helped me grate the carrots to put in licked their plates clean after some initial trepidation.)

Then the kids arrived.

We did a few crafts…including making their own party hats:
(Those “fives” they’re holding up is for Lucy’s five years just in case that doesn’t make sense.)

They played a nice game of “pin the tail on the kitty.” I say nice because seriously, look how nice they’re standing in line?
(See those great party planners hard at work?)

There was present opening (more squinkies and things that delighted Lu even more):

And candle-blowing:…and a little swimming at the end.
I know it’s lame of me, but maybe I’ll plan all our parties the day before from now on…

That night we hauled out the tent. (Lucy’s birthday tradition is sleeping in a tent.)

We soaked up having Dave freshly home from China and even did a little skyping with Nana and Papa who are up in Idaho:
I’d love to say that it was all butterflies and rainbows, but it was HOT.

And it was also a lot of work.

And it can be frustrating to try to get teenagers to stay home on a weekend night.

But that’s what memories are made of, right? Putting in the effort to make things that kids will hopefully remember through the years.

Grace and I were the only ones who ended up sleeping out there with the birthday girl.
But we’ll remember snuggling together in that tent for a long, long time.

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  1. you are the best mom and family! loved every single one of these pictures Lucy is so precious and beautiful! please tell her someone from way over here wishes her the best year yet!! we love you Lucy!

  2. You are beautiful Shawni. I know everyone says it, but I totally feel like I know you in real life through your blog. {I am in real life friends with your sister in law, Kara} (:

    You look much like your mom at your age. I am reading the Entitlement trap right now & am in awe at the things I'm reading/underlining/learning/wanting to implement.

    I would LOVE if you could somehow get & post pictures of your families book from growing up. The one with the family tree & stories of your ancestors with your family moto, mission statement, etc. That part has totally inspired me to do something similar and I'm so visual I'd love to see how it was compiled in your parents home.

    Love the birthday traditions. Sleeping in a tent would be the last thing on my list but would mean the world to my son{s}, I'm sure. Thanks for the continued inspiration and authentic transparency. You are doing so much good and living the life God gave you so beautifully.

  3. What neat traditions your family has! It seems we keep thinking it will be easier when the kids aren't so little, but I am learning from you to enjoy the "little" times too (even if they are crazy or hard) because those times disappear way too fast!
    So, I was sooooo excited to see and your mom at TOFW in Richmond. I was going to drive over with some friends from the ward, but then the chance came up to fly out to see family in Idaho and show them our newest baby and I just couldn't resist! However, it is really REALLY sad that I won't get to meet you! My hope is that you come this way again and I get another chance. Your blog has been a huge inspiration for my family.

  4. Shawni, You are such a wonderful mother! I am just starting my family {2 year old & a 2 week old} and you are so inspiring to me of the mother I hope to be.

    I love all your family traditions and how hard you work to make family #1 (like keeping teenagers home on weekends) I hope that I too can be the loving, fun and spiritual mother that you are.

    Happy Birthday to Lucy!

  5. So sweet, Lucy is beautiful!! I have never commented, but really feel the need to tell you how awesome I think you and your family are!! I have bookmarked several of your posts and plan on referring to them down the road. (My little boy is only 2 right now!!) Thank you for sharing your life on your blog. I won't go on and how about how much I adore your family….I'll just say you are very inspiring and TOTALLY cool!!! 🙂

  6. awwwww the best photos! great to know that party was organised the night before but looked so amazing – my baby number 4 turns 1 in less than 2 weeks and there are no party plans – I better not tell her that when my first baby turned 1 we had the biggest party and organised months before! Looks like she had a dream party!

    enjoy the squinkies – the cat likes them here 🙂

    oh and the cake is gorgeous! I also love your birthday traditions!

  7. Lucy's party looks AMAZING! I would not have guessed you threw it together last minute. And incredible that at 5 they played pin the tail on the kitty so nicely! I love seeing your birthday traditions, it's fun to get ideas for the future when my husband and I start having kids!

  8. love the pictures- and I think simple often is better. I'm curious about the teenagers and weekends- that is coming up soon for me and I will truly miss having everyone under our roof on a fri and sat night. would love you to share your philosophy/rules. Our weekends are still very family centric and I am so sad those days are dwindling, however, I'm also excited for my kids because I know how much fun it is to be with friends. I just don't want it to be the mall and such…

  9. I absolutely love this. Simple (well sort of)yet very sweet and very memorable.
    Happy 5th Birthday Lucy. You don't know us, but we know you and we love you.

  10. I keep seeing pictures taken in your back yard and I'd love to see the layout! It is so fun to have wholesome recreational activities for teenagers to do to draw them to your home… and it seems like your backyard is loaded with possibilities! Could you share pictures, or just sneak them into a post?? 🙂

    And besides your backyard, what things have you invested in that are good recreational things for you and your family and their friends to do in your home? I want my kids and their friends to congregate at our house… and want them to have good clean fun while they are here!

  11. Hi Shawni, have been a reader of your blog for ages and just wish we had our children at the same time, boy did I ever need some of your advise. My children are grown now, almost with one off my hands which makes me sad.I love the involvement you have with each one of your children and the support for them with sport. That was big in our household too. Now if I could give you a question for your Friday list, where do you purchase your clothes…love them and the colours. We are just coming out of winter here in Australia and I am looking forward to getting the summer wardrobe out. Thank you so much for sharing your journey through parenthood with us all….

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