Birthday Princess (Lydia’s Fifth Birthday Celebration)

Five years ago on Memorial Day, Lydia Hope was born unexpectedly. Unexpectedly because, after a completely routine and healthy pregnancy, my water broke at only 30 weeks. Several hours later we had a baby. This year, Lydia’s birthday fell on Memorial Day again. It was her fifth birthday. And, for several reasons, this one felt like a big one. Since Dan had the day off and Lydia knew exactly what she wanted to do for her birthday, and since Dan and I knew exactly what Lydia would love for her birthday, we made the day a pretty epic celebration.

Dan greeted Lydia in the morning with a birthday tiara and a bouquet of orange roses, her current favorite flower. Dan has a tradition of getting his girls birthday flowers and he puts a lot of thought into getting them flowers that they will love.

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Then Dan and Lydia took off on their own for Lydia’s first Daddy-daughter date. They went to Leo’s, a coney island just down the road from us, and Lydia got to pick whatever she wanted from the menu. Now Lydia had been fighting this plan for weeks because she likes us all to be together and just couldn’t understand why Daddy had to take just her. Afterward she told Dan, “I didn’t think it was going to be fun, but it was.”

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When they got back, we surprised Lydia with a couple of small gifts. Gum, and nail polish. She’s been drooling over both for the past several months with no idea she could ever actually chew gum or wear nail polish. “Maybe when I’m sixteen?”, she would ask. Lydia’s not usually a good “reaction” girl. She takes in surprises slowly and gets excited a day or so later. The gum and nail polish must have been pretty good surprises then, because her reactions were priceless.

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After lunch and a quick (failed) attempt at naps, we packed up and headed to the splash pad for some more fun. I didn’t bring my camera with me, so you’ll have to use your imagination on this part. Abby was beside herself with excitement. She loves playing in water. Paul was uncertain and spent much of the time watching the kids play but keeping away from the water himself. Lydia was in and out of the water, torn between relaxing on her towel and running around getting wet.

Then we fulfilled Lydia’s requests for dinner: pizza and ice cream from restaurants. The first pizza place we tried was closed for Memorial Day, but we yelped “best pizza” in the area and found a winner. We got our meal to go and ate outside at our favorite ice cream place, a locally owned Dairy King in Plymouth. Paul was a trooper and didn’t complain once about his steamed broccoli and bananas while the other kids got pizza and ice cream.

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There’s a picture of me when I was about Lydia’s age, eating some sort of blue ice cream out of a cone while standing on a beach. I wish I had it to post along with this one. Ice cream all over my face. Like Mother, Like Daughter.

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It was late by the time we got home, but we finally let Lydia open her “official” present from us, a new (bigger) ballet leotard and tights. The girls danced around in their dress up clothes before finally getting ready for bed

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As Dan was tucking Lydia in, I heard her crying, “Today was the best day in the woooorrrlllddd. I don’t want it to end everrrr.” Good thing we’re Taylors. “It’s not just a birthday, it’s a celebration” is what we like to say, and the celebration continued over the next two days.

Tuesday Lydia got her presents from my mom and Dan’s Gramma. Abby had trouble understanding why they weren’t for her and Paul was disgusted at the amount of clothes Lydia was opening.

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And, finally, Wednesday tapered off the celebration with a visit from Dan’s parents, more presents, and sharing the news with Lydia that Grandma got a job in Ann Arbor and is moving down here!

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The birthday was a complete success, way too much fun for me to handle in a day, and a meaningful way for us to show Lydia how very thankful we are that God has given her to us, even it she was unexpectedly early.

We’re Off Again!

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Yesterday we packed up some clothes, some food, and our girls and made the four-hour drive up North. This time we brought Dan with us too. For the next few days we’re planning on being “Traverse City tourists”. We’ll go to the beach, walk downtown, and spend some quality time with our families. Even as I write this, Lydia is having a blast with Grandma mixing colored sand and playing outside. Saturday is a big family reunion, so check back with us next week for lots of pictures of our trip. Happy weekend everybody, see you when we come back down!

Taylor Girls’ TC Escape

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Well we’re back from our week up North. In all it was a great trip visiting family, relaxing, working on Abby’s quilt, and getting out of our basement “home”. And even though it was our first real time away from Dan, we pulled it off without any major catastrophes.

We started the trip off by meeting Dan’s Dad in Alma, about half of the way up North. Once we found the right gas station, we took a break to stretch our legs and transfer all of our luggage. (Even when we’re only going to be away for a week, and we’re without Dan, we still end up with a LOT of luggage.) Then Grandpa Taylor took us straight in to Bob Evans to grab a bite to eat and say “hello” to Grandma Taylor, who was working at the time.

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Soon we were back on the road heading to my family’s house for the night. Lydia was getting pretty excited.

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Monday was our big beach day. After stocking up on some beachy essentials (flip flops, sunglasses, a new outfit for Abby, and a beach umbrella), Nana took us all (Lydia, Abby, and myself, Aunt Christina, and cousins Colten and Coby) to the beach where we met up with Aunt Steph, Uncle Nate, and Uncle Tim. It was the first time all of the Carlson kids have been at the beach together since who-knows-when, and it was a lot of fun.

It wasn’t long before Coby found a nice stick.

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And Lydia taught the cousins her favorite beach game: throwing sand into the water.

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At one point a family of ducks came walking right in the middle of our family’s circle on the sand. I couldn’t believe how close they got! You’ll notice the duckling in the picture is almost sitting right on top of Uncle Tim’s foot.

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Nana got in some good Abby-holding time.

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And I did too. It was so nice to be back at the beach again.

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Lydia looked right at home on the beach with her new sunglasses and flip-flops.

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When we got home that night there was a big pile of dishes to wash. Lydia insisted on helping Nana with them.

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Tuesday we took it easy at home. It was a cooler day, but Lydia and her cousins had fun playing with Papa in the back yard. Afterwards, Lydia and Colten “helped” Papa edit some of the videos from the latest Disney trip.

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When Nana got home from work that night, Lydia got to open her birthday present.

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Then Papa took us to visit all of the great-grandparents. This was the first time Abby got to go to her Great Grandma Carlson’s house.

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Great Grandma’s may not be the place to find all sorts of toddler toys, but Lydia was pretty happy playing with a rug and a pillow, pretending to nap.

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Wednesday morning we packed up again and Grandma Taylor picked us up and brought us out to her house. She surprised Lydia with a “big girl bed” but Lydia calls it her “little bed”.

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There was also a tricycle waiting for Lydia. Grandma had a lot of fun giving Lydia trike lessons. After a while she seemed to be getting the hang of it.

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Thursday Grandma got in some quality time with Abs…

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And Lydia.

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It was hot enough to spend some time outside, so after planting some sunflowers, Lydia changed into her swimsuit and had a blast splashing in Grandma’s kiddie pool. Then she found the hose and watered her newly planted sunflowers.

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In the afternoon, Great Gramma and Grampa came to visit with Great Aunt Debbie.

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Abby tried out Aunt Debbie’s Tigers hat.

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For dinner, Grandma and Grandpa had the idea to make homemade Qdoba. Lydia loved getting a big burrito all to herself.

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Thursday was also the night Lydia figured out how to peddle the tricycle.

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Friday was chilly so we ran some errands and took Lydia to her first garage sales. She brought that big white purse everywhere we went.

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Much to our surprise and delight, Dan took half a day off work and surprised us when he walked in the door about six hours earlier than we expected him.

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It was perfect timing because he was able to join us for a belated birthday dinner for Lydia. Grandpa grilled and we enjoyed a delicious meal followed up by some Lydia-approved dessert.

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Saturday was bittersweet as we packed up and said our goodbyes. It was totally out of character for her, but Abby slept the whole way home.

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…To Grandmother’s House We Go!

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Thursday morning we all got up early, packed our bags, and headed North. I wasn’t very faithful in my picture taking throughout the trip (completely missed Aunt Christina and the cousins, Uncle Nate and Aunt Steph, and Lydia’s great grandparents on my mom’s side), but here’s a glimpse into the good time we had.

A long drive, a fussy baby, some delicious burritos, a visit with Aunt Christina and her boys, and more driving brought us FINALLY to Grandma and Grandpa’s house. Lydia loved a special toy from Grandma: an old purse stuffed with sunglasses and a broken cell phone.

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There was a lot of reading.

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And it should be noted that a significant portion of this trip was spent trying to keep Abby from staring at bright lights. You’ll notice in the picture above that she was succeeding.

Lydia gorged herself on homemade guacamole.

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During the Carlson Christmas celebration, Uncle Tim serenaded Abigail with his guitar.

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Lydia got a piano and played us some tunes. The poor piano didn’t fit in our car so we’re waiting for the next visit to bring it home.

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Then Lydia tried her hand at Uncle Tim’s guitar.

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Nana and Papa got in some seriously needed snuggle time with Abby.

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And Nana read more Lydia more books.

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Lydia gorged herself on blueberries too.

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And the great grandparents finally got to meet Abigail.

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It was so good to finally, finally make it up to see everybody and let them see (and read to, play with, and snuggle) the girls. Now we’re all home again, safe and sound. There was a lot of laundry to catch up on and we all needed some good long naps. Traveling with kiddos is no easy task, but the memories will last a lifetime.