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We’ve entered the time of year when the grass is turning green, the flowers are blossoming, and our calendar is jam-packed with birthdays, one right after the other. Zoey (and Stoney) kicked off the month-long celebration and this year, she turned FIVE!

When we moved into our current house, Zoey was just an adorable, tiny baby with the biggest blue eyes and the quickest smile. Now, she’s on the cusp of entering kindergarten, is so clever and smart and responsible. It’s been a joy to watch her blossom into the incredible person she is already, and the trajectory she’s set on as she continues to grow.
For one, Zoey is always up for an adventure. It doesn’t matter if we’re hiking, mushroom hunting, camping, road-tripping, or going to an amusement park, she is the first to grab her shoes and pack her snacks. Heck, she makes going to the grocery an adventure. If there’s one thing she hates, she doesn’t want to be left behind for being too little or too small. She can walk for miles without complaint and never seems to run out of excitement and enthusiasm.
She was laughing at her older siblings as they tucktailed and went back down.
In our family, Zoey’s growing bravery is legendary. Like the time we stopped by a fire observation tower at a local state park. The tower is rickety at best and shook anytime anyone took a step up. One by one, the rest of us chickened out, but not Zoey. She kept going to the top, touting her bravery the whole way. Props to her determination to see her goal of going to the top all the way up.
For as girlie-girl as she is–we’re talking skirts, pink, glitter, unicorns, painted nails, long hair, lipstick, the works–she is equal parts rough and tumble. There’s not a lot that grosses her out and I’ve watched her handle everything from fish to snakes, lizards to worms, cicadas to wooly worms without squirming. She is often covered with dirt smudges, has a muddy rear end, and filthy feet, but she’s going to look fabulous while getting into the thick of things.
As a person who flourishes when my home is tidy and clean, Zoey is a huge (HUGE!) asset. She is my shadow when I’m getting the house in order, and it’s not uncommon for her to take the initiative to clean without being asked. It’s especially heartwarming when she dresses in her Cinderella clothes and scrubs the bathroom. I certainly can see the appeal Cinderella’s stepmother saw. A cheerful, adorable girl who cleans? Yes, please!
Her willingness to help increases exponentially if there are paint or power tools involved. Of all of our children, she’s probably painted more square footage of our house. She fits into tight spaces and sticks with a project until we come to a stopping point. At the rate she’s helping me, I’m going to have every inch of this house repainted and renovated in no time.
Chocolate is Zoey’s first love.
Zoey is also notoriously helpful in the kitchen. It may be her interest in learning how to cook, it may be because she wants to be the first in line to lick the beaters. Whatever her reasons, she’s becoming quite the accomplished sous chef. She can flip pancakes, cook eggs, stir soups, and whip up cookies like nobody’s business. We’ve all benefited from her culinary excellence.
Somebody lifted my phone for some selfies…

If I had to pick one of my favorite attributes about Zoey, it’d be her sense of humor. Her laughter is infectious and she’s quick to let loose when she finds something amusing. I adore how cheerful she naturally is, and can’t help but laugh myself when she entertains her siblings, especially her younger brothers. She makes up ridiculous jokes, and I have a lifetime of silly selfies when she has commandeered my phone for her personal use.

Zoey’s in the “peace sign” phase of being photographed.

Even though we have back-to-back (to-back-to-back-to-back) birthdays, we try to make everyone’s day a celebration. Yeah, there are a lot of us, but it doesn’t diminish how special each member is, if there’s a birthday, we’re going to live it up.

Everybody gets involved when there’s a birthday party to throw. Windows are decorated, balloons are hung, cakes are baked, and presents are wrapped. Most of the day was quiet, with her older siblings off at school. Fine by her, it meant a whole day to do whatever she wanted. What does an animal-loving little girl do when she can do anything in the whole wide world? Go to the zoo, of course!

The weather was perfect and Jack took off the day to join us as we roamed around the Indianapolis zoo. There were a bajillion other school tours (including Henry, who we ironically didn’t see at all while we were there), but we managed to stay ahead of the crowd.

We watched the dolphin presentation, chatted with the flamingos, laughed as an elephant stuffed her trunk with treats, and saw a red panda climb out of a tree. When we’d walked until we couldn’t take another step, we piled into the wagon and vamoose to continue the festivities at home.
There, we got ready for her birthday dinner and party. Like her siblings, she’s developed expensive tastes that we indulge once in a while. I don’t know what I was eating for my fifth birthday, but it probably wasn’t crab.
For her cake, she went with a strawberry bunny cake, which she decorated with Claire’s help. I already have orders for her next several years’ worth of cakes, all of which promise to be as sugary sweet, and almost too adorable to eat.

We’ve also been trying to focus more on experiences for birthdays rather than things, but by golly, it’s hard not to shower a kid once in a while with the kinds of stuff we usually say no to. I did my best to rein myself in, but between Jack and me and her grandparents, she had a generous helping of presents to dig through.

Birthdays are often veiled behind cake and candles, but what I appreciate about the day is being able to reflect on how special the person is to me and how I’ve gotten to enjoy one more trip around the sun with them. Zoey is one of a kind. She is thoughtful and silly, sly and mischievous, determined and laid back, beautiful and tough. She’s everything amazing, wrapped up in an adorable, bubbly package. We love her to pieces and count ourselves lucky that she’s part of our family. đź’—
The birthday twins!
Happy birthday, Zoey! We love 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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