Our little girl, sweet Katie, turned seven today. She has always been a social butterfly with a big network of friends, but last year, for her 6th birthday, we had lived in Oregon for 3 weeks. She had not met one friend her age or gender and to top it off, Curt and I abandoned her all day to support my Dad while he had major surgery. My best friend from high school blessed me by coming up to our rental house with her family and being THE birthday for Katie. She made a cake for Katie, had her four kids play with Katie and even gave her a gift. We were so blessed by their acts of love and kindness for our daughter who they really didn't know. I know Katie had fun, but it certainly wasn't the birthday we dreamed of for her.
All year I prayed for friends for Katie. I just didn't seem to run into any moms with daughters her age. My heart broke for her as Grant, Alli and Paige found friends, but she was still searching. She met Elizabeth at Crater. A sweet, kind little girl who reminds me a lot of Katie. They became fast friends and Katie was in tears when she had to leave Elizabeth to start a new school at Mabel Rush.
The first day of school at Mabel Rush, Katie plopped down next to Emma. Her new teacher, who I had met one time, whispered to me, "Oh Katie made a good choice. Emma is such a nice girl." Her teacher was right and over the course of the school year, Emma and Katie became friends.
When we moved into our house the weather was just turning colder and people were starting to hibernate. We had one nice day where everyone came out and a friendly neighbor came down with her 6-year-old daughter, Macy, to meet Katie. She informed me that our neighborhood was full of nice, 1st grade girls that would love to meet Katie. But the weather got nasty and meeting all these sweet girls took more time than we thought. There's Macy. And Tori. And Audrey. And Haley. All within a two block radius. All great girls from great families. All who have become Katie's friends. And there's Lucy and Lauren from church. And Taylor who lives a whopping one mile away. Both their moms have also become good friends of mine which makes play dates twice as much fun.
All this to say that today was a special day. We ate plain pancakes for breakfast and ramen noodles for lunch (GAG) because that's what Katie requested. She wore her "I'm the Birthday Girl" pin to Vacation Bible School and they made a huge fuss over her. This afternoon was the crowning jewel. A birthday party that turned into a huge extravaganza. Nine girlfriends, two sisters, one brother plus two boy friends so he wouldn't be lonely, one college "helper" in Molly because Katie LOVES Molly and will jump at any excuse for Molly to come over, and a couple of moms who stayed to help manage the chaos.
We painted little wooden crosses. Played relay games outside even though it was 95 degrees. Came inside for the snacks which Katie chose. Cucumbers, because it's her favorite veggie. Fruit salad, because she would exist on fruit if we let her. Popcorn because it's another Katie favorite. And in lieu of birthday cake or cupcakes, sugar cookies. With sprinkles baked into them. Since I can't stand decorating cakes or cookies, we made the decorating part of the "craft." I frosted 7 cookies so we could light candles and sing "Happy Birthday" and then we dished up the food. Each kid got a plain cookie with a mound of purple and orange frosting on their plate. The toppings were on the table and they all decorated to their heart's content. When all the kids were full, we headed back outside. To the nail painting station. Or to the "Family Swim Center" pool that we buy every year for $30 bucks and it gives us hours of entertainment. Who knew a dozen kids could fit in a blow-up pool that size? They splashed and laughed. And giggled and played. After 45 minutes, they came in and since they are girls, took FOREVER to change from their wet clothes back into dry ones. Katie opened presents and I was so blessed by the thoughtfulness and generosity of her friends. I, of course, took a bazillion pictures. As each little girl left, I couldn't help but thank God for answering my prayers for Katie. He provided friends in abundance and in such a short time. And she chose her friends well. These little girls were so sweet, kind and polite and a real joy to have around.
While I cleaned up, Katie and Alli hit the pool again, and were surprised by a visit from Grandma Ru, Grandpa Terry and my Aunt Sandi and Uncle Paul who are visiting from Minnesota. They didn't stay long but it was so fun to see them.
We headed out as a family to Red Robin for dinner, again Katie's choice. We waited and waited and waited for a table big enough to seat 6 people to open up. And it was a painful wait. We couldn't figure out why all the kids were behaving so poorly until we got our food. Bless their sweet hearts. We were starving them. Every person in our ENTIRE family, including Paige who normally eats next to nothing, ate every single bite of their entire meal, big steak fries included. Grant was still looking around for more food when every morsel at the table was consumed. The Red Robin staff brought Katie an ice cream sundae and balloon ears, made her stand on her chair, announced to the restaurant that it was her birthday, and sang to her. She acted embarrassed, but I know she loved all the attention.
We stopped at Target where she spent her birthday gift card from Molly on new jammies and came home to go through the bed time routine. We listened to Katie tell us about her favorite parts of the day, and most of them weren't present-related. She liked being with family and with friends. Being the one in the spotlight. Feeling special. We kissed our tired, new-jammie-wearing, 7-year-old princess good night, wished her sweet dreams and collapsed on the loft by the computer.
I can't believe what a difference a year can make. Thank you God for giving our sweet Katie Joy friends and for helping her choose wisely. She is such a gift! Sweet dreams my dear Kaitlin Joy.