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This gorgeous gal’s a teenager!

I’m not entirely sure how it happened, but Jack and I are now the parents of a teenager. It happened way back in the spring, but our family life keeps us so busy, that I haven’t gotten caught up celebrating everyone’s special days. But, I have thought often about Evelyn being the big One-Three, and every time, it blows my mind. We are on full-blown teenager alert.

As evidenced by the overload of photos I have of Evelyn since the time she was born, she has always been a cutie pie. She’s my original helper, having been remodeling and renovating homes since she could walk. Unlike me, who was born a city girl, Evelyn knows her way around a farm, because, other than short stints, that’s all she’s ever known. Now, she’s on the cusp of womanhood, and well prepared for that grand adventure. However, I’m not ready to send her flitting out of the nest just yet. There are too many memories for me to soak up, and I intend on enjoying them all before she becomes a grown up for real, and is out from under my wing.
Evelyn usually comes off as quiet and shy, especially when meeting new people, but beneath the quiet, calm exterior, there are layers and layers of Evelyn that give her great depth and breadth of personality. One of my favorite parts about who Evelyn is, is that she truly enjoys laughing. Whether she’s the source of comedic relief, or she giggling about something one of her siblings said or did, her humor makes the world a better place.
As a mother, it’s amazing to physically watch my kids grow. Evelyn is still the biggest of her siblings (for now, but I doubt forever!), and she is so strong and sturdy. She’s cenitmeters from passing up my height and often works side by side with me, doing the backbreaking work our lifestyle often entails. Stacked hay? Dozens of times. Carried a sibling in a hiking backpack? Yep. Hoisted half her weight in supplies when she went to Girl’s Camp? Easy peasy.
Because of Evelyn’s grit, I have to give her a shout out for the cross country season she endured this year. She agreed to run, because Claire wanted to run, and while she didn’t mind practices, she loathed finding herself at the start line of a race. When she doesn’t feel confident she’ll do well, anxiety can creep in. However, despite not loving everything about running, she stuck with it the entire season, never once asking if she could drop out. She made a commitment, and saw it through, no matter how challenging. I don’t know if she’ll ever run competitively again, but as a former reluctant runner myself, she might decide she doesn’t mind it so much later in life.
Ahsoka or an Oompa Loompa? 😅
When Evelyn does find something she likes, relates to, or otherwise enjoys, she is fiercely loyal to it. Talk to her about Ahsoka from Star Wars, fennec foxes, Minecraft, or one of her favorite books or shows, and she will school you about it. I know I learn something new frequently from Evelyn, because she’s so thorough and committed to her passions.
That also extends to her favorite foods, one of which is ice cream. Naturally. In a lot of ways, Evelyn takes after Jack, with her brown eyes, tawny skin that tans in ten minutes in the sun, and her analytical brain, but her love of ice cream? That’s A-L-L from me. It’s never failed to bond us together. 😅

Not everything that she loves and is loyal to is frivolous. One of my favorite attributes about Evelyn is the strong bond she has with her family, especially her siblings. Not to say that there isn’t the occasional quarreling where Evelyn descends into the drama, but when it really matters, she’s the best big sister anyone could ask for. She’s often the Ringleader of Ridiculousness, and wears that hat proudly. She employs laughter and lightheartedness, unintentionally or purposefully, to make life more gratifying.

The three oldest girls got their ears pierced at the same time!
Evelyn often puts on a brave face, but there are times she leans heavily on her siblings for support. This past year, all three of the oldest girls decided to get their ears pierced, received a nod of permission from Jack (I would have let them do it years ago, but he had his reasons), and all went in on the same day to get it done. They held hands and encouraged each other through it.
Evelyn is what I refer to as a reluctant thrill seeker. She might be a ball of anxiety before the dreaded event, but in the moment, she is all in. Be it swimming, rock wall climbing, crab handling, ocean boogie boarding… whatever, she lives for the thrill. The only thing that she still struggles with? Heights. Also a hereditary trait she earned from me. You’re welcome, Evelyn.
Evelyn has an innate maternal instinct. She can probably beat most people at changing diapers, she cooks like a pro, and sometimes the ornery stuff that falls out of her mouth is a horrifying reflection of the sassy stuff I say. 😅 Sometimes I have to remind her that she doesn’t have to be the mother figure, and that she gets to enjoy being a child. Being a teenager is a tedious balance between growing into responsibility and the carefree innocence of youth.
A child at heart!

Ever since Evelyn could sit up in a bathtub, she’s been a water baby. “Her” sport is swimming, and she can drift around in our pond for hours. She also loves everything related to water–the beach, frogs, geode hunting, koi. Everything but jellyfish. We were able to indulge her interest in koi this spring, when our local fishery stocked koi big enough not to be immediately swallowed by our largemouth bass, or gobbled up by the persistent blue heron. In a matter of months, they’ve almost tripled in size, and have been spotted frequently in the pond. Her request for next year? Butterfly koi! Why? ‘Cause they’re even prettier!

Frogs seem to know something about Evelyn. Same as always, whenever she’s out swimming in the pond–heck, even when she’s sitting by the pond–frogs and toads find her. Persistent Prince Charmings’ in disguise? Still not kissing them to find out.

While Evelyn is a fantastic, incredible, young woman, it may be surprising to learn there are things she doesn’t like to do. Mostly, it’s a ruse. For example, she might say she doesn’t like hiking, but get her on an open trail, and she can out-pace most people. She pretends she doesn’t like to garden, but watch her show her friends around the raspberries and the tomatoes and the orchard. She might whine when it’s time to clean the house, but once she’s started, she’s so meticulous about the work a person’d be able to eat off the floor when she’s done.
Evelyn and Adam are my hiking buddies.

The actual day of Evelyn’s birthday was a lot like the other dozen she had before. It landed on a Sunday, so there was church, talking with family on the phone and Zoom, taking a nap, enjoying a break from the work of the week. We prepared a feast for her birthday meal, which everyone is always excited for. Birthday dinners break the rules, and there’s (almost) no limit to what they can request.

She stuck with the cookie dough cheesecake she’s had for the past several years, and that thing is good. It weighs about a ton after it’s been made, and can feed our family for days because it’s so rich. A combination of cookie dough, cheese cake, whipped cream, and cheesecake, it encompasses Evelyn’s taste in desserts.
Though I try, it’s never been possible for me to truly summarize anyone in a birthday post. I’m only scratching the surface when I attempt to label every good attribute, like chipping a chunk off an iceberg and claiming it’s an accurate representation. It’s not. What I do know, is how much I admire, love, respect, and hope for Evelyn, and all my children. She faces her fears, recognizes her weaknesses, feels her emotions, serves with her whole heart, and finds a lot of joy in life. She has it pretty good, and she knows it. What I want for her is that she keeps the momentum going, and knows no matter what, her family will be cheering her on, even–and especially–through the challenging teenage years.
Our silly gal. 🥰
Happy (REALLY belated) birthday, Evelyn!
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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