Summer and Summer

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We are still in school for a few more days.  I am holding on to the days.  Not because I am not ready for summer break.  I am so, so ready for summer break.  I am holding on to the days because these last few days with our teachers are special.  On Friday, my littles will all be promoted to new grades with new teachers.  There will be many good-byes, many tears, and many joyful celebrations.  It is quite possible that I cry the days leading up to the last day of school as much or more than I cry the entire year combined.  It is always such an emotional journey.

Sweet Summer will graduate from Kindergarten on Thursday.  As you can see from the above picture, she has been practicing for it for a couple of years. I will likely write all about her special day later.  For now, here is a glimpse of what Friday will hold for me.

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Which reminds me of Gabriel at his Kindergarten graduation in 2009

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and Ethan at his Kindergarten graduation in 2011.

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We have been blessed with such amazing teachers over the years.  So, while Friday will be sad, I will do what is normal for me.  I will look for the rainbows, search for the unicorns, and know that, while every beginning has an ending, every time we finish one chapter, we begin a new one.

Summer 2012: Having Fun One Day at a Time

As I sat down to work on our Summer 2013 bucket list, I decided to review what all we did in the Summer of 2012.  Looking through all of the pictures made all of the memories come flooding back.  I cannot wait to start celebrating the Summer of 2013!

1.  Have a Welcome to Summer party on the last day of school.

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– June 1, 2012 – We completed this the moment school was out for summer. While I did not have the time to make everything as festive as I had intended, I did make the sign and put together a quick, little indoor picnic. I loved watching them run through the sign and into their summer adventure. I will definitely try to do something like this each year.

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2.  Have a Science Experiment Day.

– June 19, 2012 – We decided to do science experiments just for fun.  The volcano eruption was definitely the favorite one.

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3.  Go to the Peach and Melon Festival Parade.

August 8, 2012 – After a rain storm delayed the parade, we were all happy to celebrate our annual tradition.

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4.  Have a bubble day, and make homemade bubbles.

July 24, 2012 – We incorporated this into our backyard obstacle course.  We made giant homemade bubbles and used the store-bought ones, too.

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5.  Water balloon fun.

– June 6, 2012 – We decided to have a water war with water launcher guns, rather than water balloons so that the fun could last longer.  The littles had so much fun attacking each other…and me…with their streams of water.

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– June 14, 2012 – We had planned to play in the sprinklers, but when my niece came out carrying a box of water balloons, we decided to combine the two activities – water balloon wars while running through the sprinklers.  They all had so much fun!

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6.  Have a watermelon themed day and eat watermelon foods all day.

August 11, 2012 – We did not have a watermelon themed day, but we did have a watermelon slicing.  And, it was perfect.

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7.  Have a shrimp or crawfish boil.

– June 10, 2012 – We had our very first shrimp boil, and it was perfect.  I definitely see many more in our future.

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8.  Plan a red, white, and blue menu for the 4th of July.  Sample the treats – Berry Spritzer, Star Spangled Strawberries, Red, White, and Blue Pretzel Sticks

July 2, 2012 – We made Red, White, and Blue Jell-O cups.

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July 3, 2012 – We made Strawberry, Cream, and Blueberry Popsicles.

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July 4, 2012 – I made homemade Strawberry Star Spangled Cobbler, and it was delicious.

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9.  Attend a Family Reunion.

August 2-5, 2012 – We attended our annual family reunion at Barton Creek, and it was absolutely perfect.

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10.  Go to Sea World…at least once.

July 19, 2012 – We went to Sea World and had a magical time.  It was a perfect family day, and I cannot think about it without smiling.

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11.  Make water balloon pinatas.

July 24, 2012 – We incorporated this into our backyard obstacle course, too.  The littles absolutely loved the balloon piñata station.

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12. Make KoolAid Playdough.

– June 13, 2012 – With Gabriel and Summer both sick, I looked for activities that we could do indoors.  I decided to make play dough, not knowing if Gabriel would enjoy it as much as Summer and Ethan.  Not only did he enjoy it, but my oldest niece, 12, had a great time, too.

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13.  Swim and play at San Gabriel River.

July 30, 2012 – We went to San Gabriel River for the afternoon to see the dinosaur tracks and have a fun family outing.  The river was low, but it did not dampen the adventurous spirit of our littles.

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15.  Go on a nature scavenger hunt.

– June 5, 2012 – I added some items to a list, printed it out, packed a small bag, and we walked to our neighborhood park/walking trail. It did not take very long to find everything on the list, but it was still a fun little outing.

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After exploring nature, we cooled off at the park before walking back home.

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16.  Visit some fun swimming holes.

July 26, 2012 – We went on a family outing to Hamilton Pool.  It was a beautiful, perfect family afternoon.

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18.  Make homemade bird feeders.

– June 12, 2012 – We made homemade bird feeders, froze them, and then hung them in trees on the 13th. Even though they fell apart within an hour in the Texas heat, it was still fun putting them together.

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19.  Make homemade finger paints.

– June 14, 2012 – We had decided that it was a day worthy of fun in the sprinklers.  So, before running through the sprinklers, I decided to let the littles get messy with homemade finger paints.  It was a perfect combination of fun – messy art followed by wet fun in the sun.

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20.  Build a fort and live in it all day.

– June 16, 20012 – With Summer and Gabriel both sick and doctor’s order to rest, we knew that it would be a perfect day to build a fort and live in it.  We watched movies, ate popcorn, and enjoyed our day in our living room fort.

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23.  Go cloud watching.

July 24, 2012 – We did not go far to cloud watch.  We just put a blanket down in our backyard while we all pointed out the clouds and what we saw when we looked at them.  We found bunny rabbits, dragons, puppy dogs, and pirate ships.

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24.  Make spaghetti and meatballs and watch Lady and the Tramp.

June 11, 2012 – I made spaghetti and meatballs, and we watched Lady and the Tramp, while having a spaghetti party, picnic style, on the floor.  It was a perfect Monday night movie night.

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25.  Have ice cream at least once per week.  I have a whole Pinterest board dedicated to ice cream.

– June 10, 2012 – I made milky way ice cream, but it did not freeze well.  So, we had milky way milkshakes.  I think that I tried to freeze it before the ice cream mixture had time to cool.  We all loved the flavor, though, so we will definitely be trying this one again.

We had ice cream many more times throughout the summer, but it was usually just vanilla with fun toppings.  We all love vanilla, so it was fine with us to stick to that.

26. Make paper rockets for the 4th of July.

July 2, 2012 – Since making a big mess after finally getting the house clean did not sound like fun to me, we made Glitter Paint Fireworks instead.

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28.  Give the littles cooking lessons…these pies would be a great place to start.

July 9, 2012 – We had our first cooking lessons of the summer by making monster cookies. The littles did great, and they loved cracking the eggs!

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29.  Make giant bubbles.

July 24, 2012 – We made giant bubbles to use as a station when we did our backyard obstacle course.  It was my favorite station!

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30.  Have a homemade water park day….or just have a sprinkler day.

July 26, 2012 – It was one of our 103 degree days, and I knew that it was a perfect day for the littles to cool off in the sprinklers.

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33.  Have an indoor camp out with sleeping bags, movies, and s’mores.

– June 7, 2012 – We walk up to a cloudy day, and we went back and forth between building and all day fort and having a morning camp-out.  We decided on the morning camp-out since the afternoon was promising sunshine.  We got out sleeping bags, pillows, and blankets, and we all cuddled together while we watched Scooby Doo.  Then, we made  a mess with some yummy s’mores.  It was such a great, peaceful, relaxing, fun morning.

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34.  Have at least one pajama day.

– June 20, 2012 – It was a rainy morning, and Summer and Gabriel were still coughing and weak.  So, it was the perfect day to spend in our pajamas, resting and relaxing.

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35.  Make homemade doughnuts.

August 18, 2012 – I had been wanting to make homemade doughnuts all summer, and I finally got around to making them.  They were delicious!

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36.  Have a rainbow day.

August 25 – We had our Somewhere Over the Rainbow back to school celebration.  It was perfect!

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38.  Jump in the trampoline at night…just for fun.

– June 9, 2012 – The littles excitedly asked me at 9:45 pm, if they could jump in the trampoline.  I told them that they could and then found the glow sticks that I had bought them for just this occasion.  They had so much fun.  And, it was one of those moments that was so simple, took no planning, and created memories that will last a life time.

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39.  Create a new school backpack and papers area and decorate with chalkboard paint.

August 18, 2012 – Sean made backpack lockers/shelves, and they are absolutely perfect for organizing their backpacks and other miscellaneous school supplies.

40.  Continue our fun gardening project.

We continued taking care of our garden all summer.  This year, we just started with several different kinds of peppers.  We are already looking forward to planting even more things next summer.

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41.  Have a weekly cookie day and try new recipes.  Keep notes and vote on our favorite at the end of the summer.

– June 6, 2012 – We made our first cookies of the summer, Brown Eyed Baker’s Thick, Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies.  The littles requested adding M&M’s and Reese’s Pieces, so, of course, I granted them their candy filled cookie wish.

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– June 13, 2012 – Sean and Gabriel both reminded me that I had not made a batch of weekly cookies yet.  After thinking about it for a minute and looking through my s’mores Pinterest board, I settled on Bakingdom’s S’mores Sandwich Cookies.  In a word.  Perfect.

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June 29, 2012 – I made Chocolate Chip Double Doozies, and they were a huge hit.

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July 1, 2012 – I made Chocolate Fudge Peanut Butter cookies, and they were Sean’s favorite cookies so far. Actually, he said that they were the best cookies I have ever made.

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July 9, 2012 – We had cooking lessons and cookies all at the same time.  The littles made some delicious Monster cookies.

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July 20, 2012 – I made Bakery Style Chocolate Chip cookies to celebrate Cooking for My Kids turning 1.

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42.  Have a movie and popcorn day.  Watch movies and make different kinds of popcorn all day.

– June 16, 2012 – We built our fort, watched movies, and made popcorn.

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43.  Have a Harry Potter Marathon and make Butterbeer.

July 12, 2012 – We started our Harry Potter marathon with some homemade Butterbeer. It was a perfect summer afternoon. Truly.

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45.  Make homemade limeades.

– June 7, 2012 – We made Pioneer Woman’s Cherry Limeades for our afternoon snack.  And, to make the ordinary day just a little bit extraordinary, we drank them out of champagne classes.  Yes, sometimes it is all about the little things that combine into one big, great, fantastic memory.

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46.  Play balloon ping pong.

July 11, 2012 – It was a rainy day, so we decided that it would be a perfect time to play some balloon ping-pong.

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48.  Make different homemade smoothies.  Keep notes and decide on our favorites so that we can have a weekly smoothie day.

– June 5, 2012 – We made our 1st smoothie of summer break. It was Strawberry/Mango/Papaya/Banana, and it was delicious.

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June 11, 2012 – Gabriel woke up feeling under the weather and asked for a smoothie.  After a quick glance in the refrigerator and freezer, I settled on the Lime Mango Banana Smoothies.

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49.  Make homemade ice cream sandwiches.

July 23, 2012 – I made Chocolate Fudge Cookie Ice Cream Sandwiches, and they were absolutely delicious.

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50.  Have marble races.

July 18, 2012 – Gabriel was sick with an ear infection and asthma complication, so we decided to have an indoor summer day with some more Harry Potter and marble races.

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51.  Make a hand print tree.

July 2, 2012 – We started our hand print tree.  We just need to add Sean’s hand print to complete it.

54.  Go for a ride on a train.

– June 18, 2012 – We took the Metro Rail downtown, ate lunch, and then rode the train back.  The littles loved the little adventure.

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56.  Go to Mt. Bonnell.

– June 9, 2012 – We decided that it was a good day to hike at Mt. Bonnell, since the temperatures were a mild 90, instead of 100. As an added bonus, Sean’s cousin, Betsy, was in town.  Betsy is a rock star to our littles. So, having her come along with us made for a perfect morning.

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58.  Go to a Farmer’s Market….or explore several different ones.

July 28, 2012 – We visited our local farmer’s market.  I loved the atmosphere and the little family outing.

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59.  Play in the rain….if it rains this summer.  Please, please let it rain this summer.

July 11, 2012 – The littles enjoyed the afternoon rain, while they jumped in the trampoline and rain around outside.  After a long drought last year, the summer rains this year were a welcome, happy sight.

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61.  Watch a sunset at Enchanted Rock.

June 30, 2012 – We decided that watching a sunset at Enchanted Rock likely would not work because we would be on the road to late at night with our precious cargo, the littles.  So, we decided to make it a day trip instead.  Sean and Gabriel had been before, but Ethan, Summer, and I had never been.  It was absolutely beautiful.  I am so happy that we were able to experience it as a family of five.

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62.  Have a card and board game day.

July 5, 2012 – We played board games all morning and had a great time.

July 12, 2012 – While the littles watched a movie, Gabriel and I played games.  It was so much fun having the one-on-one time with my oldest boy.

64.  Make fizzle paint.

July 25, 2012 – In keeping with Gabriel’s summer science camp theme, we made fizzle paint.

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65.  Family reading fun.

We read throughout the summer but never had a family read-in day.  It is definitely something that I am looking forward to doing later – maybe in the fall or maybe next summer.

66.  Have a sponge bomb water toss.

July 24, 2012 – We incorporated the sponge bomb water toss into our obstacle course.

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67.  Make popsicles…lots and lots of popsicles.

– June 5, 2012 – We made our first homemade popsicles of the season – Strawberry/Mango. The littles loved them, and I was happy that they were made from scratch and had a serving of fruit in them.

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– June 11, 2012 – Gabriel requested Pina Colada Popsicles, so I made them for him.  They disappeared in two days.

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July 3, 2012 – I made Strawberry, Cream, and Blueberry Popsicles to celebrate Independence Week.

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68.  Watch fireworks.

July 4, 2012 – We watched fireworks for the first time together as a family.  It was perfect.

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70.  Play with shaving cream…just for fun.  And, then run through the sprinklers to get clean.

– June 6, 2012 – We decided to have some fun, outdoor water fun.  Since the littles wanted to play in the sprinklers, we decided to make a shaving cream mess first and then clean off by running in, through, and around the sprinklers.  Hearing the squeals and laughter was music to my ears.

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71.  Have a one-on-one date with each of the littles.

– July 29, 2012 – Sean, Gabriel, and I went to see The Dark Knight Rises.  Batman has been a special movie for all of us to watch together, especially since Gabriel has had a batman fascination since he was about three years old.  It was a great little one-on-one date with our sweet oldest oby.

– August 22, 2012 – The only true one-on-one date that we had with Summer was to Meet the Teacher night.  In the end, though, it was the perfect date because it was such a huge milestone for our little sunshine girl.

– August 23, 2012 – My one-on-one date with Ethan was simply just running errands.  At first, it seemed a little lame.  But, really, that is what Ethan loves to do with me the most – just simply spending time with me running errands.  We had a great morning buying groceries and finishing up our back to school shopping.

72.  Make Sharpie tie-dye or regular tie-dye t-shirts.

– June 6, 2012 – I found some tie-dye kits on a huge discount at Target and bought several t-shirts on sale at Michaels so that we would have everything ready when we decided to make our summer travel shirts.  When we go places like Sea World, I like for the littles to dress alike in bright colors so that I can easily spot them. They each picked out their design and got to work.  It was so much fun to watch them, knowing how much their skills and confidence has improved in just a year.

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73.  Go fishing.

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– June 3, 2012 – While Sean and Gabriel were on their boys weekend trip, Summer, Ethan, my nieces and I went to Gorman. On the last night, I looked out, and they were fishing with Gran. I grabbed my camera and ran just in time to see everyone start catching fish. We lost count, but we think that Summer caught 8, while Ethan caught 5. They needed some help reeling in the fish each time, but it was their catch. And, it sure was fun to see them fist pumping, jumping up and down, squealing, and smiling each time.

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– June 22, 2012 – Gabriel and Ethan decided to fish while we were having fun at Nonna and Gran’s house. Gabriel caught the biggest fish, weighing in at 18 pounds and measuring 36 inches.

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74.  Set up a backyard obstacle course.

July 24, 2012 – We had a backyard obstacle course complete with balloon pinatas, giant bubbles, a sponge bomb water toss, and bubble blowing.

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76.  Buy new water bottles, decorate them, and take them on all of our fun adventures.

– June 5, 2012 – We decorated water bottles with paint, Sharpies, and stickers. It was a quick, fun activity, and the littles loved it.

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That just about sums up our Summer of Fun 2012. What great memories!

Sweet Summer Lovin’

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Dear Summer,

I cannot believe that you are six years old.  It does not seem possible that it was six years ago that I held my breath waiting for someone to say what I already knew, “It’s a Girl!”  As you know, you were labeled “Surprise Baby” because we did not want to know if you were a boy or a girl until you were born.  I was positioned in such a way that I was able to see immediately that you were, in fact, the girl who I did not even know I had always dreamed about.  When your papa said, “Its a girl!”, the tears started to flow.

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You see, when we decided to have a 3rd baby, I just assumed that we would have another boy, and I was perfectly, wonderfully happy with that.  I love your brothers with all my heart and soul, so I knew that having another boy would be amazing.  Really, I just wanted another baby, and I honestly did not care about anything other than having a healthy, happy addition to our family.

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When I was about 5 weeks along, I became very, very ill.  This pregnancy took a turn that my other two had not taken, and I started to suspect that there was a little girl growing inside of me. When I would see pink baby things at the store, I would touch them and smile.  However, I did not want to become attached to the “girl” inside of me, I just wanted to love the baby inside of me, not caring if it would be wearing blue or pink in a few months.  So, I did not allow myself to buy one single pink or blue item until after you were born.  I did not even buy your coming home outfit. That was an assignment for your Aunt Darla….who also believed that you were a girl.

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When I saw your face, I knew that I needed you, my baby girl.  You completed me, you completed our family, and you completed the world, in my eyes.  I do not even know how to thank you for that.

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You are loving, spunky, smart, kind, happy, peaceful, energetic, crazy, beautiful, and perfect in every single way.  You know how to light up a room with your magical, amazing ways – by dancing, singing, smiling, laughing. By just being you.

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I truly pray that you stay just the way that you are.  You are so comfortable and happy in your own skin, and that, my sweet girl, will take you so far in life.  To love who you are, to embrace everything that makes you special and unique, and to feel with all of your heart and soul are amazing, beautiful, wonderful qualities. Those are qualities that I did not embrace until I was a mom.  For you to have them now will make you such an incredibly happy, fun-loving, independent, and truly sweet girl throughout your journey.

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Happy birthday, Princess Summer Lovin’!  I hope that your day was just as special as you are. Thank you for allowing me to hear those three special words (“It’s a GIRL!”) six years ago, and thank you for being the girl that I did not even know that I had been dreaming about for so long.

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