Thirteen years ago, my water broke in the Border’s bookstore in downtown Seattle. They tell you in the birth classes that it’s not like the movies. But they were wrong. I was picking out my labor music to bring to the birth center. It was two weeks until my due date. I needed those two weeks of maternity leave to get ready to have a baby. She had other plans. Before we realized I was in active labor we went to the paper store to pick out paper for our birth announcements. In between contractions I remember giving Justin my opinion on this vellum or that cardstock. Five and a half hours later she slipped out of my body and into the warm water of the birth tub, making me a mother, the vocation and calling I cherish most in this life. We didn’t even have diapers or a car seat yet. But we had all that really mattered.

This weekend, in honor of her thirteenth birthday we had a girl’s overnighter in Seattle. When you have a lot of kids (four kids is a lot of kids) one-on-one time is so precious and hard to come by. The dynamic of being able to have extended conversation without interruptions from little brothers, laughing about inside jokes, talking about womanly things, eating delicious (read:grown-up, foodie) food was a breath of fresh air for both of us.

Thanks to Mr. Uhler’s notorious travel schedule we were able to cash in on some points and stay at a fabulous hotel downtown. Warm cookies greeted us upon arrival before we were whisked away to our rooftop room. The staff were all amazing and went out of their way to make her birthday special. I could really get used to having a staff.

We watched a movie, painted our nails, ate a delicious dinner, talked until the wee hours. The next morning we went for a run together along the gritty downtown streets near the waterfront, through the International District and Pioneer Square and finishing off with coffee at Zeitgeist. No trip to Seattle is complete without a visit to Elliot Bay Bookstore, especially for our bookworm. Seriously, this girl has had her nose in a book since preschool. After wandering through the stacks we were a bit peckish. The hardest part of a city adventure for me is usually narrowing down our culinary options. This city has no shortage of delicious fare, and sadly, we just didn’t have time for all of it. But we did get to eat Lola’s famous donuts with mascarpone cream and strawberry sauce.

Sephora was next on the list, and The Girl had a mini-makeover and came home with her first make-up. I still remember those early middle school years of navigating my way through black eyeliner and Aqua Net. I’m thankful she is such a natural beauty and knows that she doesn’t HAVE to wear make-up even if other girls are, but it was a blast to see her face when the make-up artist showed her the mirror.

We ended the day with a quick stroll through Pike Place Market mostly because I was chasing the light. It was, of course, a little touristy, but a visual feast nonetheless. It seems like it may also have become a tradition- we reminisced about eating pain au chocolat in a French bakery at the market three years ago on her tenth birthday mother-daughter trip.

Coming home to a houseful of boys who had apparently subsisted on sugar for the duration of our absence helped us to decide that we just might do a trip like this next weekend…and the weekend after that… and after that. But seriously, this girl takes it all in stride.

Baby girl, we are so proud of the gracious, kind, thoughtful, intelligent, funny, well-spoken, literary, compassionate, beautiful girl that you are. We can’t wait (well, we can) to see the woman that you will become. We pray that you will cling fast to God as you enter into the fast-changing waters of adolescence. We are here for you no matter what.
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By the way, these images were chosen as an assignment for a class with one of my favorite photographers, Molly Flanagan, through The Define School.  The assignment was to tell a story (complete with sensory details, a variety of camera angles and perspectives) in 20 images. This is so much harder than it sounds.  Culling down to 20 images was incredibly hard for me, and there are so many more that I wanted to include.  Maybe I’ll add some later.  What do you think?  Does this post tell a story? Also, I can’t wait to do more story-telling sessions for families. Message me for details and I will let you know about my introductory rate, including your own photo storybook.

Gimme some sugar, Sugar!

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