This little girl with her bright blue eyes and chubby checks as done a lot of growing. Tomorrow she turns 10. She isn't my little baby any more.
Last week everyone needed new shoes. Double bonus is was BOGO and I had a coupon so off to the store we went. Zac's been in men's sizes for a while. He seems to grow by the second. It didn't surprise me that he'd gone up a size. Nathan and Katelyn had grown a little too (or shrunk if you believed the employee who measured their feet). Chloe, sweet Chloe, had grown 1.5 sizes since we last bought shoes in May. Her new tennis shoes, are a half size bigger than mine. I have a hard enough time trying to find shoes with the right toe/heal combination. Do you know how hard it is to find shoes acceptable to a 4th grader in the women's section? After over an hour in the store and lots of pleading of "You have to find something to wear to school tomorrow." We found the one pair in the whole store that would work. And I thought taking her to buy a bra was hard.
As the kids have gotten older the quest to find the perfect fit for a friend birthday party has become increasingly difficult. No longer is it okay to play a round of duck duck goose, go on a treasure hunt through the back yard, eat cake and go home. These are big kids, and they need big time entertainment. With an eye out for any deal, months ago I saw an ad for "Birthday Makeovers" and showed it to Chloe thinking that would be a fun thing to do for her party. Then our finances got a little bit squirly. That fun thing I'd hope to do, wasn't in the budget anymore. But Chloe still really wanted to do it.
Luckily I've got a brain trust. Except mine isn't just for advice anymore. My mom introduced the concept within our family years ago. Lots of time when you aren't super rich, you need help with something but might not be able to pay for it. So our family shares skills. Kind of like barter with a little bit of you scratch my back and I'll scratch yours thrown in. For example Scott fixes the computers and my dad helps us fix the hole in our kitchen ceiling. At any time you can call up the brain trust and say "Help" and we'll all pitch in to do what needs to be done.
I've also been fortunate enough to have some great friends and neighbors who don't mind joining in with the system. I've traded tutoring\ for haircuts. Scott's fixed computers for yummy baked goods. And every once in a while when we happen to be wondering the neighborhood looking for a certain tool, help and the tool appear. We have been so blessed to have great neighbors.
When I couldn't give Chloe exactly what she wanted, a plan popped into my head. Maybe my neighbor could help us out. And help she did. For 2.5 hours she stood in my kitchen and gave 10 girls a unique "grown-up" do. I painted nails (it's my one sleepover skill). At the end of the party we had a gaggle of giggly girls who had had an amazing time. And were excited to show off their fancy braids and messy buns. Dianna Byrd - you are a super hero and totally saved the day.
One mom who moved away from the neighborhood asked to stay and enjoy the girls time during the party. She has a little boy born a week after my twins and a daughter Chloe's age. That first summer she would often show up on my doorstep just because she needed to talk. Each and every time I needed company but was too tired to drag four kids out to find it. Instead of just talking, she removed polish, painted nails, held strands of hair, and even did a little bit of braiding. Miranda - You are an angel sent straight from heaven.
My life used to consist of an endless parade of diapers and spit up. Now we've moved up to bras and reminders to put on your deodorant. I could not have gotten here on my own. I can not move forward on my own either. I can get up and face my life everyday because people invite my kids over for playdates and treat them like part of the family while they are there. Neighbors run over and shut my garage when I've forgotten, or chase away the older neighborhood boys playing basketball in the driveway when my kids are home alone. They drive carpool, drop off missing lunches, pick me up when my car dies, love my kids when they are sad, and so much more. I could not get by without them. They are part of my most treasured blessings. May each of you know how much you are loved and appreciated. I truly could not do it without you!