Today this girl turns thirteen:

She’s so sad and serious about that little fact.

Ha!  This is more like it:

How is it possible that these three have all made that plunge into teenager-hood without my permission??

I love this girl and her pizzaz and determination.

I love her sparkly smile and how she isn’t afraid to talk to anyone, or to include others in her circle, even if they’re different.

She works hard in school and is the best babysitter.  She spills the beans to me about how she feels all the time and I treasure it.  (more on talking teenagers back HERE)

She loves her Heavenly Father and tries her best to do what’s right.

Oh boy I am so grateful for her.

Of all times to be at a BBS conference in Iowa, this was a bad one.  I could hardly bear not being with this girl as she turned into a teen so we did a little early celebrating.  We got to take some of her friends to the lake.

 She got them all up surfing.

 …and even tried to give them piggy-backs.

 She’s one strong girl.

We had cake with the cousins (and I took a super blurry pic. of them all together…good thing that fabulously creative cake is so well in focus.  Ha!)

We had an early birthday breakfast.

We’ll have to do the traditional home-made birthday piñata when I get home (HERE).

But for now, as the real day rolls in, I am just reminiscing about all the memories I have with this girl of mine.

Here are some of my favorite growing-up pics:

This girl lives life with zeal.
And I couldn’t be more grateful she’s mine.
Love you forever Grace Jam birthday girl.
Hope you can feel my heart reaching across the land to be with you.

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  1. Question about your kids with summer birthdays: did you hold them back or send them on to kindergarten when they were 5? I'm guessing your kids were plenty tall enough to go ahead. 🙂 Just curious if you even thought about this… holding kids back seems to be more and more popular these days.

  2. What a beautiful and loving girl. She looks so much like you. I'm relatively new to your blog, but already feel like I'm celebrating with you!

  3. Your children look so much alike when they are little. The baby pics look so much like Lucy and then the ones near the end looked so much like Claire! I bet you have to pause sometimes keeping all those beautiful old pictures straight of who's who! Happy BIRTHday!

  4. I absolutely LOVE your blog! You write in a way that I feel like I really get to know you and your family. I appreciate that, because it so very much helps me in Motherhood. You are such an amazing example to me! I love all your posts and Ideas and way of living. Thank you for being open with all of us. And I love that fact that I feel that much closer to you because we are LDS. (p.s. I came to this blog from your book "A mother's book of secrets" which I LOVE!)

  5. I look at our blog and never comment, but I love it. It's so inspiring as I raise my own family of 5. My oldest daughter just did sock girls in her hair last night for church and it turned out so pretty. It will be a staple from now on here, too!

  6. Love that girl too. The picture of her when you first came to Mesa and lived with is was so tender for me. It reminded me of how little they were when you came. Sooo glad you relocated when you did!

  7. Well, how cool is that to have an online family diary vs family album? I just love how you fill in every little moment of your life with a touching and inspiring words for all! That inspire me to get myself together and be serious about things I like – the best bets today sports. So, when I will meet the person I want to share my life with I will be financially prepared and free to follow my love. Thanks for the inspiration!

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