I've said it before and I'll say it again: This place where we live is magical. It has reached out and taken a hold on our family, and it's not letting go. Last year, in the middle of selling our last house and purchasing our new one, there was still a lot of other stuff going on, too. Amidst packing boxes, and choosing paint colors, and home inspections, there were museum visits, and trips up north, and swimming and everyday life. There was also a little girl navigating her sixth year of life.
She was hooked on Elsa. In fact, she didn't need many clothes, because every day was ELSA DRESS DAY. She loved that dress, and I didn't mind one bit. I knew that soon enough she'd be past that phase and on to more "grown up" things.
And if SHE wasn't Elsa, she knew a little boy who would gladly don the dress.
Even when she was sleeping (not in her bed, of course), she had Let it Go on the brain.
On rare occasions, I'd talk her out of the dress and into a bathing suit...
...Or into running clothes to pound the pavement with me.
But when those moments had passed, she'd slip right back into that dress.
At the fall back to school event, imagine her elation when she actually got to meet Ana and Elsa!
Things were going great until she realized that the new house meant an all new school. After months of struggling at the beginning of Kindergarten, I felt every bit of her anxiety of facing twenty-six new faces on that first day of school. At Meet-the-Teacher night, we toured the school and her new classroom and she got quieter and quieter and I could tell she was on the verge of tears. I mentioned to her teacher that Alayna was very nervous about all of these changes and very self-conscious about wearing glasses and being teased and she assured me that she'd take good care of her. Her classroom was going to have a student teacher for the first semester, and that woman had overheard me telling the teacher my concerns. She approached Alayna, got down on her level, introduced herself, and told her that she was also new to the school that year, and that she, too, had new glasses, and maybe they could be friends and start the new school year together. Relief flooded Alayna's face, and I tried unsuccessfully to hold back my tears.
And then, on the first day of school, we made another discovery. The house across the street was home to another little blonde girl with glasses, with the exact same birth date as Alayna. Chloe and Alayna became fast friends, dressing up, doing each other's makeup, and exploring outside. Those two girls are inseparable and so cute together. Chloe is the Ana to Alayna's Elsa. We spend a lot of time these days walking the girls back and forth across our busy road!
Another highlight of last fall was our girls' trip to Chicago. I had always wanted to take my girls to the American Girl store, and I finally was able to make it happen. Alayna carried her new look-alike doll everywhere we went, and did cartwheels while waiting for our Uber drivers.
The winter didn't slow Alayna down one bit. She pulled on her Elsa hat with the flip-up braid and played in the snow and hit the jumps on the sledding hill!
She also was a cheerleader for Greyson's basketball team. I'd have to say she was the cutest little six year old cheerleader ever. (Don't try to argue that.)
With the new year came our first new addition to the family: a bunny named Smokey. While everyone loved him, Alayna took a special interest in him, and I often find her arms and neck scratched up from "playing" with Smokey, but she has never complained once about those scratches.
As we settled into our new farm life, slowly our Elsa-loving girl gave up the dress and traded it in for play clothes and mud boots. Muddy ditches and pets and shiny aqua dresses aren't very compatible, and the animals MUST come first, right?
In March, we made a trip to Orlando and feasted on ice cream and soaked up the sun. We had a great time there, but were anxious to get back home because we were planning for our next additions...
Baby chicks! Five of them, one for each of our kids. And then three more chicks. And then two ducks. And then two turkeys.
After that, we added three new baby chicks and two more ducks. Alayna's love of animals has really started to shine. She absolutely loves all of them, and does a great job of giving all of the animals equal attention. She has a special bond with them, and doesn't ever want to be away from home for more than a couple of hours because she wants to make sure the animals are safe and happy.
All of the kids love Winston, but Alayna has really taken him under her wing, and she doesn't want to go anywhere without him. She even went to his first vet visit and was a great helper!
When she's not snuggling a bunny or walking Winston or chasing the fowl in our yard, you can find her at the neighbor's pond, sneaking up on unsuspecting bullfrogs. This girl is not afraid to get her hands dirty and she is always surprising us with the critters she catches.
She joins Owen, Emerson and me on our evening runs on occasion, and I'm quite certain she could out-sprint all of us if she tried. Someday she will discover what her body is really capable of. For now, though, she's happy to jog along beside us, laughing and telling jokes and hanging with the "big kids."
And those Elsa days? I don't think they're completely behind us yet. For her birthday this year, she requested a snowman cake. In July. Your wish is my command, dear. I think, secretly, Alayna really is a princess. She should totally kiss that frog.
Happy seventh birthday to my littlest girl, Laynie. Mommy loves you!