Oh my sweet Hailey bug. How have we enjoyed 12 wonderful years with you already? Time flies and it shows every time someone asks- oh my goodness is she taller than you? Yes, she is, with no up on tippy toes required. Her last official measurement has her at 5’3″, a good two inches taller than her mom, and she likes to remind me of it constantly.

But a slight teasing is about as mean spirited as the girl gets, unless you cross her on a soccer field where a competitive level of aggression seems to come out of thin air. She is such a sweet old soul, happy with life’s simple pleasures, and grateful for little things.

Don’t get me wrong, she knows how to push her little sister’s buttons, but isn’t that just in the sibling genetic make up?

We are celebrating her today with lunch out, a surprise escape room experience, her dinner of choice (Shepherd’s Pie and Tret Leches Cake), and presents. I never mean to spoil our kids with gifts, but the generosity of our family members on birthdays is sincere and I’m looking for a fun way to hide her gifts and have her find them. I’m thinking of stuffing clues inside balloons and as she pops each one she’ll have to solve the riddle and find a gift. She adores scavenger hunts and the like!

But before I take off to spend the day with my firstborn, here are a few fun facts about Hailey at 12 years old that I want to remember.

  • She likes to know what to expect. Give her a plan and she’d good to go. Spring something on her last minute, even something good, and expect wide eyes and quick chat about the details before she hops on board.
  • She loves a list and will knock it out like nobody’s business. Need something done? She’s your girl! She’s dependable and capable.
  • She is self-motivated and disciplined. On her own accord she’ll go for a run, practice piano, study Spanish, or clean her room.
  • She is SO chatty. You probably wouldn’t know it if you just met her, but once she’s comfortable with you, expect nonstop chatter about whatever is going through her mind at the moment.
  • Arts and crafts is a favorite hobby of hers. Painting, hot glue crafts, and Modge Podge can almost always be found on my kitchen table. File under: this is why we can’t have nice things.
  • She craves the cozy feeling of home, football, and fall, like her mama. Lighting a candle, putting out snacks, and watching Georgia or Georgia Tech on the field is her idea of a great day.
  • She loves playing with a bunch of other kids. She has a couple close friends, but in general she’s a fan of a big group of kids, enough to get a game of basketball or tag going. If that’s not in the cards, she prefers to hang out at home.
  • Current favorite foods: all FRUIT, hamburgers, Shepherd’s pie, Cobb salads, everything bagel with a fried egg on top. Oh and did I mention fruit?
  • Current other favorites: getting to sleep in, when mom reads aloud while she does art, playing soccer, candles that smell like fall, lemonade, snuggling Finley.

As she grows, I can see our relationship start to shift. From needing me during the young years to trusting me with the middle years stuff as she transitions from little kid into full blown tween. I’m hopeful, watching this transition, that our relationship will continue down the path of slowly morphing from authoritative parental figure to eventual close friend once she’s fully grown, just as I feel lucky enough to have experienced with my mom.

“The years fly by” stuff, while incredibly accurate, also sometimes rubs me the wrong way. So instead of lamenting about time, I’m focusing on gratitude. I’m so thankful to be her mom. I’m so grateful for the experience of getting to raise her and watch her grow. I have enjoyed every stage and the trend continues. I know 12 is going to be a great year for our girl!

Happy birthday, Hailey bug; we love you more than all the stars in the sky!