To my dearest Faith,

You are officially five-years-old now. Your birthday party and birthday trip to Adventureland have come and gone and here we are. Wow. Five whole years. Not only can I not believe you're that old, but I also can't believe I've been a mom that long. I feel like I need one of those "years of service" awards, in which I will pick the cutlery rather than a piece of jewelry, to believe it's true.

More about you in a second, but this milestone birthday has me reflecting. As I lay awake in bed the night of June 24th, hours after we returned from Des Moines from two days of fun-filled activities in your honor, I couldn't fall asleep. I looked at the clock. 11:11. Yes, time to make a wish, but more importantly, in four minutes five years ago, you were born. It hit me, hard, and I began to sob. That seems like 5 DAYS AGO, NOT YEARS! I recall it so vividly...

I thought to myself how much I had no idea back then how the next five years would go. We've made a lot of memories.

Your first bath.
Your first spaghetti.
Your first birthday.
Two Years with One Girl.
Binkies Part 1. And Part 2.
Potty talk.
Raising a threenager.
Going to the lodge.
Turning four.
And more Faithisms than I can count.

As I lie there silently crying for fear that I would wake your dad up and he'd make fun of me for being such a softy, I couldn't help but feel beyond blessed for the last five years of your life. But at the same time, I felt sad. Sad that my arms don't remember what your toddler body felt like to pick up anymore. Sad that I can't recall the funny thing you used to say during a certain point in a book we used to read or how exactly you mispronounced a word. Sad that my nose has forgotten your new baby smell.

I blog because I want to diary your childhood, but all the posts in the world won't bring me back to those times in your life. It's just a snapshot of what it was like to be there. As tight as I try to hold on, I'm just along for the ride like every other mom out there. I'm comforted knowing God didn't design us to be able to live in the past. That, and I love living in the present with you.

The following list will never capture the true you, but because it's better than nothing, I will try.

1) You remind me of me. Emotions get the best of you sometimes and that means all of them. You are REALLY happy when things go your way and REALLY not when they don't.

2) You have a best friend. You met Maisie at school and bonded at her Frozen-themed birthday party. She was the first kid to invite you over to play at her house without me there. She's been your go-to pal ever since and I love her spunky personality. Though she won't be going to the same school as you next year, I will always consider her your very first friend.

3) You have turned a corner at the dinner table. I wanted to purchase this book last year, but then you decided that you were hungry and the way to remedy that was (wait for it) eating what we put in front of you! You scarf down turkey sandwiches, tacos, chicken of all kinds and even eat edamame and broccoli now. (PRAISE THE LAWD!) Your absolute favorite is dad's homemade beef sliders with cheese on a King's Hawaiian Roll and baked french fries. I'm not sure how this happened, but it has and now mama has trouble pushing you up the hill in the stroller.

4) You went and got your own opinions. From picking out an outfit to purchasing new shoes, you want to pick what you want to pick. My opinion has lost all meaning and sometimes I think you purposely pick the opposite of what I say. (Pause while I call my own mother to apologize for doing this same thing.) While it's hard to have lost my right to vote, I love seeing the autonomy and empowerment that comes with you choosing what you want, even if it's as wacky as all get out.

5) This is nothing new, but watching you play make-believe with your 117 My Little Pony figurines is fascinating. You can entertain yourself for hours. And when Gabby threatens to join you, you counter by getting out your "chokables" and saying she can't come in your room.

6) Your curls are beautiful and make you you. You, however, are constantly trying to straighten them. Hopefully someday you'll have an appreciation for what makes you unique!

7) The world is your stage. Every night your dad and I are in for a "performance." There's no talking, laughing, smiling, interrupting (MOM, you're interrupting me!). When you found an open display at Target, it too became your stage!

8) Your obsession with "sugary snacks" is why you receive gifts like this and do things like this. It's also why your dentist bill is the highest of anyone in our family.

9) You've learned to operate an iPhone camera, thinking that my four-digit password is my phone number.  It's led to such gems as these.

10) The photo below is a rare sighting, but you are becoming a much bigger help around the house. We have to make chores a game in order for you to be interested in cleaning up. The other day dad set the timer for 30 seconds for you to clean up your toys and you weren't finished when the timer went off. Instead of walking away, you asked for 30 more seconds on the clock twice. We felt like evil geniuses.

11) Your preschool graduation was held on our 8-year anniversary and we couldn't have marked another marriage milestone any better than watching our firstborn sing songs in a mini cap and gown. Here you are with your teachers, who showed you more patience during nap time than you'll ever realize, at least until you have non-nappers of your own.

12) Kindergarten roundup was pretty non-eventful, but I did so well because you are so ready. It's barely July and you're already asking if Kindergarten starts tomorrow.

13) Instead of dance, we went with gymnastics as your activity this past year. (I'm a horrible dance mom, but if you want to rejoin we'll hire someone to do your hair and makeup and alter your costumes and maybe even practice with you at home!) Anyway, on the day of the exhibition (hearing you try to pronounce "exhibition" in the days leading up to the event was worth it alone) you got tp running too fast (I think you were trying to show off) and you tripped and fell. Totally unfazed by it, you got up and completed your tumbling routine, which included pausing for applause while you struck a pose (not required). Next up, soccer.

14) Your class trip to the zoo on the last day of school was one of my most memorable trips there in my 32 years. We didn't have to haul a stroller, you walked the entire time, and I got to see you interact with all your friends while we had the exhibits to ourselves because of a rainy forecast but beautiful day.

15) You are signed up for swimming lessons that cost entirely too much this summer because you still won't put your pretty face in the water. When you work up the courage to blow bubbles in the pool, you immediately ask for a towel afterward. I do not know why water troubles you so much as your sister is always trying to drink the pool and submerge herself. It's just one of the things that make you you.

16) I plan to mention in my mother-of-the-bride speech that you are technically still married to your dad as of 2015. Here's the announcement we ran in the paper on Facebook.

The bride wore a (pajama) dress from Target and her little sister served as the flower girl using week old birthday decorations. The groom said his vows and the bride said "thank you." They kissed right in front of his current wife. The couple honeymooned in the living room.

17) At your "adventure soccer" themed birthday party, you loved having all your little friends over. When two of the boys got there, you orchestrated a competition by telling them whoever won a wrestling match could marry you and THEN THEY BOTH STARTED WRESTLING EACH OTHER! Grandpa is not allowed to watch the children anymore ;) Otherwise, a great time was had by all!

18) You've always had an attention span 10 miles long, which makes going to the movies fun. Recently we saw Inside Out and your favorite character was Disgust! (Please save the teenage tendencies for a few years, k!)

19) You are such a sister. Loving Gabby comes naturally to you as does picking her up by the waist and dropping her where you'd like her to go. It's tough being the oldest, but we know as much as you tease her, take from her and tell her what to do, you are her protector. When some boys were roughhousing in a line at the library recently, one of them asked Gabby if she wanted in. (Why is the library holding Royal Rumbles I ask you?) You stepped in front of her and shouted, "She's MY SISTER and NO, she doesn't want to play with YOU!" Well, allrighty then.

20) We got you a bike for your birthday. You might make it to the neighbor's driveway by the time you turn six. Seriously, you are thee most cautious creature on the planet (see number 15) and hit the brakes more than the gas. Meanwhile Gabby stands on the scooter, not moving, and shouts "I did it!" You two are the worst dynamic duo of your time. But I love you for it.

21) I can't wait for you to learn to read. Right now, we are reading the Level 1 Disney books and you are starting to recognize sight words. Dad and I fight over who gets to read to you or be read to by you now because this development is probably the biggest deal since you became potty trained.

22) You got to go camping with your dad this summer and to say you loved it is an understatement. For all your dress-wearing, lip-gloss sporting, preference for dress shoes ways, you love the outdoors. I think it has something to do with s'mores and staying up late, but we'll have to do it again soon.

23) As part of your present this year, we went to Adventureland and you, my dear, are an adventure seeker! You loved the roller coaster! (Be still my heart!) and went on everything you were tall enough for. The next day you had whiplash on your poor little neck, but to you it was worth it.

24) That's all the stuff I can think of about you. So here's one about me: I love you. So much. Happy 5th Birthday big girl!

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