It's strange how that big belly can produce such a small, fragile little baby, but there she was: Alayna.
And while Emerson and Owen were excited to hold our new little girl...
Greyson mostly wanted to poke at her and check her out.
Nine years ago, we were living in our newly renovated Valley Vista house, Jason was working for Pulte Homes, and this new baby was our fourth and last child.
If you would have asked me at that time what our ten year plan looked like, I never could have imagined that in just six weeks Jason would no longer be employed, due to the crashing housing market, that we would move to first, Tennessee, then Ohio, have a fifth child, then move BACK to our Valley Vista house which we would find in near ruins (thanks to some crappy renters), re-fix it up and buy a farm.
As we were living it, it didn't seem like time was flying. During Alayna's first year, times were tough, but so were we. She went from a quiet, sleepy little girl, to a cake-eating one year old, and she was happy.
Just before we moved to Tennessee, Alayna broke a bone, slipping off of a single step, and her second birthday was celebrated with a not-so-little cast from hip to toe on her right leg. She managed to adapt just fine, and by the end of July she was splashing in the kiddie pool in the backyard of our Tennessee home.
By her third birthday, Alayna was finally becoming Alayna, in large part thanks to the fact that her thin, nearly white hair was no longer straight. Her blonde, curly hair had a life of its own, and drew attention everywhere she went.
By age four, we were firmly settled in Ohio, but we still managed to spend a good part of our summer in Michigan at the cabin. Oh, and during that year Alayna became a big sister to Nash.
And then, our time in Ohio came to an end, and we moved back to Michigan. She was nervous to start school in a new city, and it took some adjustment, but she quickly made friends and had a great Kindergarten year.
By the time she was six, I was starting to think Alayna was actually turning into Elsa. It was very rare to see her not wearing her favorite Elsa dress, and of course her birthday was an Elsa-themed one.
Shortly after her sixth birthday, we bought the farm. My animal-loving nature girl was getting a farm. And by the time Alayna was seven, she had traded her princess clothes for plaid shirts and cowboy boots, and she never turns down s'mores over the campfire.
From seven to eight, Alayna got used to rabbits and chickens and ducks and had also developed a huge interest in mermaids. She researched how she could become one and tried really hard.
Today Alayna is nine. Nine! I can remember that bald-headed little baby just like it was yesterday, but clearly we have had quite an adventure since she came into our lives. These past nine years are filled with memories of places we've been and things we've seen and people we've met. Alayna is a big part of those happy times. She is always ready to try something new and she always finds time to laugh that amazing laugh she has.
She will hop on a motorcycle,
or a snowmobile,
or a swing,
or a sled,
and especially a horse! She loves horses and is still anxiously awaiting to have one of her own.
She makes slime,
and isn't afraid of grabbing that turkey leg off the plate!
She hunts frogs at the pond,
is great at fishing,
and always finds time to snuggle the chickens.
She continued with gymnastics this year, and takes every opportunity to show off her skills. She has even persuaded Nash to join her on occasion!
And while she loves being a kid and dressing up on stage at the children's museum,
she also looks forward to joining her big sister and her friends for pampering face masks.
Alayna is also learning to find her voice. Literally! She tried out for a solo in her school musical and she even sang in the church choir for our Easter performance.
And even though I only have five children, there is more often than not a sixth child here at our house. Alayna and her best friend, Chloe, are nearly inseparable. Both with blonde hair, glasses, and the exact same birthday, these two were meant for each other. Alayna is the sweet to Chloe's sassy and when Alayna gets in one of her famous terrible moods, Chloe isn't afraid to tell her that, "Alayna you are my best friend and I know you're upset but if you don't get yourself together, I'm going home!" These two really are the best of friends and I love seeing them together.
As for school, Alayna shines there, too. She is always so eager to please her teachers. She was chosen to be a Kindergarten buddy this year and she was also selected to be a part of her school's LINKS program, where kids are partnered up with special needs students to give them some extra support. I really hope she continues with things like this because she really excels at it.
From the farm to the beach, dressed up or dirty, Alayna is so good at embracing this life. She is always ready for anything.
She is sweet and thoughtful and funny, too.
She's been here for nine years and I couldn't imagine this life without her in it. She is everything that is good and kind and she draws in everyone around her. This girl is totally rocking it.
Happy birthday, Laynie Loodle! Mom loves you.