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Ever since Zoey and then Peter joined our family, it feels like we have a month of nonstop birthdays in late spring. Our oldest rounds off the birthday extravaganza and this year, Evelyn is eleven (say that five times fast). It’s amazing how quickly time has flown. It seems like only yesterday we were wondering if we were ever going to be able to have children then the next, Evelyn came and made us parents. She has been with us through the desperately poor Iowa years when Jack was in school, interned in Texas, made the move to Indiana, has attended three different schools, and has welcomed each of her five siblings with open arms. Already she’s had a full life.
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That hair! 😍
On the surface, Evelyn appears shy and uncertain, polite and quiet. She certainly is but that’s only if you don’t really know her. She’s cautious about coming out of her shell but once she does, she’s talkative yet introspective, creative and attentive, she’s a starter AND a finisher, and is as happy surrounded by friends as she is reading quietly in her room. Her laugh is contagious, her smile lights up her entire face, she inherited Jack’s ability to tan and has hair so thick and curly it’s got a mind of its own.
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Silly crawdad!
I remember enjoying the odd craft or art project when I was younger but Evelyn’s repertoire of creative endeavors is extensive. She loved art at school but also indulged in lots of her own projects at home. Since being quarantined at home, she’s made vases out of mud she’s dug from the yard, sewn herself a dress (with a cape!) from scraps she’s found in my sewing supplies, and woven cattail mats from what we’ve harvested from the pond.
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That doesn’t include the dozens of coloring pages she’s finished and taped onto the wall by her bed. We’ve burned through entire packages of glittery gel pens in the name of art but as long as she keeps putting them to good use, I’m happy to keep supplying them.

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Whoopsie! Got a little mouthy with a watercolor pencil and ended up with rouged lips.

The older Evelyn gets, the more adventurous she becomes with her food. There are still some things she’s hesitant and grumpy about trying but her world has been opened up as she’s been introduced to culinary treats we’ve taken the time as a family to make. Homemade (like, really homemade…noodles, broth, marinated eggs) ramen is one of her favorites. She loves seafood and will eat any meat that’s put in front of her. She could eat sharp cheese by the pound and loves bread. She definitely inherited my sweet tooth and is becoming more adept at baking them herself. It’s a dangerous skill to have but we balance it out with plenty of salads and fresh fruit and exercise. What’s life without a little balance?

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If there’s one thing Evelyn loves more than a freshly-baked cookie, it’s a newly-born baby. She’s the family’s second mother and can care for an infant better than I could when we first had her. Even when she would rather have some alone time in her room, the baby of the family is always welcome.

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And, of course, if there aren’t any babies around, she finds them in other ways–a baby doll, a new chick, a baby snowman…🤣

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Having been born on a farm, many days have been spent outside working on whatever necessary project has been prioritized. Many of those days, she’s been an extra farmhand and has been the go-fer, the fence puller, the babysitter. Sometimes though, she’s content to sit in the tall grass and dig up worms, find four-leaf clovers, or watch the animals graze. If I couldn’t grow up on a farm, I’m so glad I get to watch my kids grow up on a farm.
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Found another four-leaf clover!
With all the uncertainty this year has surprised us with, we weren’t sure what kind of birthday Evelyn was going to get. Sure, she’d have cake and ice cream and presents, but one of my goals for family birthdays is that everyone feels special and is reminded how loved they are. Evelyn was looking forward to celebrating her birthday with friends at school (on a Friday, even!) but it wasn’t meant to be. What could be even better than a birthday with friends? A birthday with twin cousins!
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Our small corner of the world opened back up just in time for my sister and her family to come for a visit. We’ve just been hanging around the farm and kicked off their trip with a birthday party for Evelyn.
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We spent the day doing whatever Evelyn wanted because what the birthday girl wants, the birthday girl gets. Though the water was frigid, we swam and paddled around the pond. That girl is an absolute fish if I ever saw one. She’s lukewarm about most sports but given the chance to swim and her competitive streak comes out. Aside from swimming, a good portion of the day was spent making her chocolate chip cookie dough cheesecake, and playing a few card games. She was slightly disappointed we didn’t get to pull out the bounce house but a turkey had been nesting on it, so it was unavailable. Not an unexpected hiccup in birthday plans for a farm kid.
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She’d planned on crab for dinner but it wasn’t available in the grocery store, so we had grilled shrimp instead. Something I’ve noticed about Evelyn, especially these past few months, is how she craves responsibility. She could have easily taken off the day from chores and helping out but she dove right into the action to help prepare her own birthday dinner. She marinated and grilled the shrimp, made sure the fruit rainbow was just so, and stirred the homemade mac n cheese.

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It was chaotic and loud and the food was gone in a snap but it’s the kind of celebratory meal that made Evelyn feel very special and loved, especially being surrounded by some of her favorite people.

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After opening presents and chatting with grandparents, it was time for birthday cake. I made the mistake of doubling the recipe and ended up with about fifty pounds of decadent, chocolaty cheesecake. We’ve been eating it for a week–not that anyone complained–but our pants are a little snug from the residual effects of Evelyn’s birthday.
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Evelyn’s last request was to stay up late with her twin cousin, Kaylee, and play Jackbox TV games with the adults. I love playing games and being silly with Evelyn for a glimpse into her personality and sense of humor. She’s terribly clever and witty and so innocent that no one ever suspects her.
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It is so hard to sum up a person into words, especially one as special and sweet as Evelyn. She’s steady and vibrant, wise and innocent, adventurous and beautiful. She’s brimming with potential, is a light in a sometimes dark world, is fierce and tender and intelligent. Evelyn’s a gift and a blessing, the first answer to many of our prayers. She’s our guinea pig child, is forgiving of our shortcomings as parents, and is resilient. Along with my sweet tooth, she has a measure of my passion and she’s meek enough to control it even better than I can control mine. She never ceases to amaze us and we’re so, so glad she’s part of our family.

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Happy birthday to you!

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True stories of raising children, remodeling, braving the elements and plotting out life, all while living on a humble acreage in central Indiana.

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