Monday, October 17, 2011

Brighter Than the Brightest Star

The brown-eyed girl turned 13 yesterday. She celebrated the weekend by having some friends come over to go shopping, play with Bill the bunny and just "hang out".

The girls were so fun to take shopping. We just drove to a few spots in Platteville, beginning with Farm & Fleet where Toyland just opened that morning. It was a little crazy there (early Christmas shoppers--how do they have money for this? I have to join one of those Christmas clubs for next year)....but Ally and her friends did manage to find some treasures there. They went in on a few trinkets and some "sea monsters" which are supposed to turn into some sort of organism when you drop them in warm water. As of this writing, I believe the sea monsters are still waiting to take shape, but the girls had fun in the anticipation!

Alyssa, Jacy, Ally & Brooke

We did some Halloween costume browsing at Goodwill, then hit Dollar Tree for more goodies.  I dropped the girls--and Cy--did I mention that we had a stowaway in the vehicle??--at Walmart while I did some quick grocery shopping at Aldi's and Menards.  (Yes, you can buy groceries at Menards.  Occasionally they have great deals on pantry items like cereal.  And you are all invited over for pretzels at our house.  I bought the world's largest bag of pretzels there for $2.48 or something like that.  We will have enough pretzels to last us through the winter, I think!)

By the time the youth group meeting ended on Saturday night, the girls had already conspired to stay overnight.  Even though we had to get up early and go to Sunday School/church, the girls were okay with that.  I was surprised that they were willing to go with us to church after a late night of talking and watching Sea Monsters hatch.

Sunday was the actual official birthday day.  After church, we dropped the girls off at their homes and headed down to Dubuque for lunch with Mark's family at the restaurant of Ally's choice--Texas Roadhouse.  It's a new establishment by the mall, and man was it packed.  Great atmosphere there - lots of country/ranch charm and "yee-haws" for birthday boys and girls.  Free homemade (fresh) rolls with cinnamon butter and all the peanuts you care to eat, too!
Grandma Jan and Great-Grandma Joan were at my table with Uncle Joe

The menu was full of scrumptious (if not healthy) choices of your standard country-western variety. I was impressed that the prices weren't terribly high, but I would suggest to Texas Roadhouse to please offer half-portions!! They say everything in Texas is BIG and they aren't kidding when it comes to PORTIONS!! Not complaining--we brought home 4 or 5 boxes of leftovers. I ordered a mushroom jack burger (I think it must have been at least a half pound of ground beef, smothered in huge whole mushrooms and monterey jack cheese.) with steak fries. Yum-dilly-icious!!! Did I mention they have all-you-can-eat fresh rolls and peanuts, too? You could seriously get full on the table treats and not even order anything, and still come out of there with a full belly. The "kids table" got full before they even received their ordered entrees!

Ally's friends warned her about the embarrassing torture method used at Texas Roadhouse for guests celebrating their birthday.  She said she would "die" if she had to sit up on the saddle and have everyone sing "Happy Birthday" to her.  That was all her Uncle Joe needed to hear to tell the wait staff about Ally turning 13 ;) 

Uncle Joe (back left) the instigator of torture as we all sing "Happy Birthday" and give the Birthday Girl a big Texas "yeeee-hawwww!"
I don't think Ally minded it too much, as we were probably the 4th birthday party in there since arriving.  Misery loves company!

We dropped the boys off at Great-Grandma Joan's house and went shopping so that Ally could spend some of her birthday money.  Her dad and I gave her cash, which sounds so trite and sad and un-personal, but when you saw the excitement on her face and heard her say "I am SO HAPPY!", you knew it was the Universal Gift.   We headed over to a trendy consignment shop and let Ally pick out an outfit, then to Target and the Dubuque version of Dollar Tree.  Because the Dubuque DT has a whole lot more of a selection than the Platteville DT.  My husband would say that they are all of junk, but believe you me, there are some quality items in DT sometimes.  Plus Wynne had a chore ticket to buy fingernail polish!  (Or shall we say, "Singernail polish" like her big sister used to call it.  Oh my, how can she be THIRTEEN already??!!!)
My beautiful girls.  Am I lucky, or what?

If our computer hadn't crashed, I would have been able to post some old pics of Ally when she was a baby and a little girl.  Those pictures aren't all that old.  Thirteen years may seem like a long time to a kid, but to moms and dads and grandmas and grandpas, it's the blink of an eye.
I love to catch her in those candid moments when she is not worried about her appearance or what others are thinking.  So real, so refreshing!

I look at this girl and not only wonder where the time has gone, but pray to God that He gives me the wisdom to help her & not mess her up!!  She is a great kid and excels at nearly everything she does, but will she stand firm in His love and truth when the going gets tough? when she is on her own and has to decide which road she will travel?  Will she grow in her own identity and not let those outside voices influence her?

One of my favorite singer/songwriters Matthew West wrote a song in response to an agonizing letter written by the mother of a middle school boy who was teased a lot at school.  Luckily, Ally is not the recipient of that much teasing, but I remember those teenage years and I know how every little thing is amplified inside of your mind.  You want to just fit in and go with the flow and not be noticed (unless it's for an outstanding athletic feat or a cool new pair of shoes).  If someone picks on you or gets mad at you, you think it's the end of the world.

 When I heard Matthew sing "To Me" live this spring, I cried because I could so relate to his words as a parent who wants their child to recognize and love themselves for who God made them to be.  To my darling daughter, our eldest, our teenager, I want to reiterate Matthew's words from the refrain:

To me you are
Heaven's finest invention by far
So much brighter than the brightest star
And what I'd give to make you see
Who you are to me
To me, Ally, you are a beautiful, intelligent, hard-working, kind young lady.  Your dad and I are so proud of you, and we love you.   Happy Birthday, Honey!
For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.--Ephesians 2:10


Blogger Astrid in Bristling Acres said...

Happy birthdday to a very beautiful girl! You do indeed have four wonderful, beautiful and lively girls! A blessing indeed!!!!

We haven't checked out that restaurant. I wonder what a restaurant that claims "Alaska" size portions would serve. Texas just wishes it was as big as Alaska. ;-). LOL!

October 17, 2011 at 9:28 AM  
Blogger Amy said...

I know Alaska is bigger, but Texas does everything up BIG. They even have pink-and-blue parties for people to announce the birth of their unborn babies. They party big and eat big!!

October 17, 2011 at 12:28 PM  
Anonymous jodi said...

what a beautiful tribute,'re lucky, indeed...but your family (and friends!) are blessed beyond words by having you in their (our!) lives. don't forget that you had just a little bit to do with how wonderful she is :0)

October 18, 2011 at 6:20 AM  
Blogger Amy said...

Aw geez Jodi, again with the compliments! thank you. Whenever someone says that Ally looks like me or reminds them of me, I am tickled pink just a bit (and Ally is probably a bit mortified!) LOL She is such a daddy's girl, so close to her dad, but as she gets older she's starting to lean on her mom just a bit more...

October 18, 2011 at 8:03 AM  

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