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Surprise! Zoey has turned four! Though four is only a baby in my eyes, let me assure you that she is positive she is a mature girl and is way past the baby AND toggler stage (yes, toggler, not toddler. Toddler is an incorrect pronunciation of the word toggler. Her words, not mine). Whatever stage she or any of her siblings are in, I love reflecting on their birthdays how much life has been brought into our home with each of our children. They’re each their own individuals with very distinct personalities and with Zoey, that personality comes in full supply.

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For example, Zoey is silly. Like, ridiculous levels of silly. It can sometimes be exasperating to find her with a straw up her nose, lying in wait to jump out and surprise me, or relentlessly teasing one of her siblings, but she also is always reminding me to not take life so seriously.

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Things can be tough, but we might as well laugh when we get the chance.
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If there’s one thing Zoey loves, it’s her baby brother Peter. I thought for a while that all her cheek pinching and tackling him to kiss him would taper off, but it’s still going as strong. Her need to show affection to him has gotten her into trouble a time or two, like when he bites or scratches her when she doesn’t listen to his insistent nos or when she tugs his ears too hard and has yanked him straight off his seat, but there are worse things than a sister who loves her brother too much.
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Being a hardworking person myself (or at least I like to think I am), I appreciate Zoey’s generally cheerful nature when it comes to helping when I ask. More and more, I’m able to depend on her as one of the helpers when the older girls are at school. If I start digging a fence post, she asks to have a turn when I’m ready for a break.

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When Jack’s making Sunday dinner, Zoey’s right there, wondering if she can help.
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Maybe what I love most is that even if something is not her favorite job, she still wants to be front and center to get it done. Like the other day when she pulled up a stool and asked if she could help cook. I said yes, she said my meal smelled horrible, plugged her nose, and kept stirring anyway. I reminded her that it would be rude for her to say that to anyone else, while suppressing a smile at her honesty.

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And, even though she is a girl and not a toggler or baby anymore, she more often than not works and plays hard enough that she passes out on the couch sometime before bedtime. It’s hard living life to the fullest day in and day out.

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Zoey is also really great at maintaining balance, a skill I can certainly learn from her. It’s no secret that she enjoys ice cream as much as any little girl…
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…but she balances it out with a healthy diet. She loves odd veggies like asparagus and Brussels sprouts (a.k.a. baby cabbages), which I’m not entirely certain I would have been willing to try at her age, and is already following in Jack’s foraging footsteps. She’ll eat wild chives, spearmint, and dead nettles that she’s found on her own and plucked out of the yard herself, and will eat any mushroom that Jack finds.
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With every kid, I’m super relieved that they like animals as much as I do. They all have their favorites–Evelyn’s our resident chicken lady, Claire’s on track for becoming a crazy cat lady, Kate insists dogs are the best, Henry lives for catching bugs, Peter will pick up anything that squirms and wriggles, and Zoey? She’s my horse gal.
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Despite our mutual love of horses, we still love all other animals. Anything that passes within Zoey’s reach is scooped up or offered a handful of grass or otherwise smothered with love.

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Even though Zoey has three sisters, a majority of her time is spent between brothers. They occasionally exasperate her to the point of stomping her feet, balling her fists, and screaming, but a great deal of the time, they’re best friends.

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It doesn’t hurt that Zoey absolutely has them wrapped around her finger. When she’s not into playing sword fighting or dragons, she gets them to brush her hair or rub her feet for her. Call me crazy, but I think sisters like Zoey are exceptionally important for her brothers. If nothing else, they will know how to treat a lady, how to compromise, and how to serve as they grow up.

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I don’t think Zoey has ever met a person, animal, toy, inanimate object, bAg, or snowman that wasn’t an immediate friend. She has a knack for making people laugh and helping them feel like part of the gang. In fact, she’s so good, she can convince a snowfriend (her term of endearment for snowman) to share his carrot nose with her. That’s more than Olaf ever did for anybody.

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There’s also something to be said about Zoey’s sense of adventure. She’s always up for something new and exciting, especially if her older siblings are doing it. Watching her explore through the excitement of her childhood has reminded me that this world truly is miraculous, magical, and amazing.

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As much as she craves adventure, she’s also perfectly content with mundane routine. In fact, her birthday was marred with all sorts of boring. First of all, she doesn’t even mind that she shares her birthday with Stoney. That’s right–she’ll forever be associated with my first gelding. Maybe that’s why she likes horses so much? Then, we had to go get chick feed for our newest hens, but instead of complaining, a trip to the feed store was a novelty, especially when we got to stop by the tanks of baby chicks.
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When we got home, there were still naps and cleaning and picking up siblings from school that needed to be done. Plus, she had to make her own cake. And by had, I mean she insisted she do it. She was turning four, after all.
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We try our best to make every birthday something special, and occasionally, I’ve had to rein in some of the kids’ imaginations (special birthdays, yes, but not break-the-bank occasions), but mercifully, Zoey chose to have a simpler dinner. All she wanted was grilled shrimp, chunky cheese soup, and grapes. Done!

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The dinner might have been simple, but the after-party was incredible. First it was singing and cake…

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…followed by a mountain of presents…
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…a homemade pinata (that was so well-made, they could barely smack it open)…
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…and a disco party. Seriously, Zoey knows how to party.
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Birthdays are only a snapshot of the life of any one of our children, and I can’t help but gush about them when I do have the chance to share their special day, but in truth, they are each more amazing than I could ever give them credit for. Zoey is resilient, joyful, and astute. She has a laugh that could remedy the entire world’s problems (seriously, it’s that delightful) and eyes that sparkle with wonder and mischief. She’d so smart and intuitive it’s hard to believe she’s only had four short years on this earth. We love her with all our hearts and are so grateful she’s been an integral part of our family and it’s hard to remember a time when she wasn’t part of our herd.

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We’re hoping we have many more happy birthdays with Zoey, but even more happy, exciting, wonderful every-other-days in between.

Happy birthday, Zoey!
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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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