Five Years

Aria closeup - smelling flower

I’m so grateful to have this beautiful soul in my life. Aria Grace is bright, creative, imaginative, passionate, active. She constantly challenges me to learn, become a better mom, better person. She loves to run, dance, draw, paint. She is sensitive and loves animals. She loves her family, never happier or more at peace than when we are all together. She is never more at home  than when outside, in nature. She loves to be read to and to make up stories of her own. She is fascinated by space and Amelia Earhart. She is learning to sew, has mastered finger knitting. She goes big, this one, wearing her feelings on her sleeve, expressing her big emotions loudly, be them happy or not so happy. Yet she can be shy and reserved too, not letting on at first how deeply things affect her. Despite her inquisitiveness and her precocious nature, she still is very much a little girl who wants to be rocked to sleep at night, cuddled and loved. She needs closeness and drinks in affection like water. Her name becomes her. She is at once delicate and strong.

Two weeks ago our firstborn turned five. FIVE! How is it that I have a five year old? Surely, that’s not possible. I’m still kinda in a daze about it; it sounds weird to my ears when I say it.

Crown and presents, with beeswax candle

Aria wearing crown

On the day of Aria’s birthday, we woke to a small family celebration and some time together, just the four of us. I surprised her with the dress she’d requested to match her cape. When she saw it her face lit up and she said “A princess dress!” and thanked me so, so sweetly.

Due to our crazy schedules in the weeks leading up to the big day, I ended up working on this after the girls’ bedtime each night the week just prior – not my most energetic time of the day. I made countless errors and spent a lot of time with the seam ripper, but in the end it turned out beautifully. I finished it around 2am the morning of her birthday and the size 6, with my adjustments, fits her perfectly, much to my surprise and delight. It looks like it was made for her…by someone much more experienced than myself. And all those sleepless nights? Totally worth it to see this:

Aria sees her dress

Aria in her "princess dress"

Aria in full birthday regalia - crown, cape and princess dress

This is probably the most complicated dress I’ve made to date, made (much) more so by the fact that I customized it with parts from several different patterns and adjusted the sizing a bit. I used the Apron Dress pattern from the awesome book, Little Girls, Big Style for the bulk of it, substituting the Perfect Party Dress straps (the book is set up so that many of the features of each pattern are mix-and-matchable) and adding a bow from Heidi and Finn’s version of the Perfect Little Party Dress (except longer). I also lined the skirt (pattern calls for lining the bodice only) as the floral fabric is quite sheer in the light. I used vintage buttons (to go with the vintage floral fabric) Aria previously chose as favorites and used two for each strap, instead of the one called for in the pattern (you can see in the pictures, my first ever buttonholes are not exactly, um, even with each other; still getting the hang of that feature on my sewing machine…did I mention it was almost 2am when I did them?). I also lengthened the bodice slightly and widened the lower panels for a fuller skirt. I actually meant to lengthen the panels (one of those late night errors), but it’s a good thing I didn’t, as any longer would have resulted in a floor-length gown.

Vintage buttons on dress

Aria wanted a butterfly birthday this year – inspired, I believe, by this very cute book – so her crown got the addition of a butterfly to mark year five.

Butterfly on crown

and I made a butterfly garland to decorate the house (and later her party):

Butterfly from garland

After our morning together we met Grandma Janie at the park, where we surprised Aria with a joint gift, her very first two-wheeled bike (don’t worry, we got a helmet that afternoon and she’s worn it every time since).

Aria sees bike for the first time, with Keith

Aria riding bike - with Grandma Janie

She’s still working on figuring out balance but has been making progress, especially since letting us take the pedals back off. (We had them off to start but she wanted them back on; they seemed to be hindering her, though, so Keith showed her a couple YouTube videos of kids learning without the pedals and of older ones doing cool tricks. After that, she was all for removing them again.)

Aria running on wooden bridge, Gma Janie, Daddy and Ani in background

Aria on bridge at Luria Park

Aria learning to ride a bike, getting help from Daddy

Keith helping Aria ride her bike across wooden bridge, taken from behind

We had a party with friends and family the next day, on Mother’s Day. Fitting, I thought. Her birth was the night before Mother’s Day and this is the first year the two days have coincided since; it brought back a lot of memories. Aria and her friends explored a magical, woodsy park bordering a creek, taking care to avoid the copious poison ivy plants that I recently learned (from the man that manages the park maintenance office) are a part of a helpful, native species. (Did you know poison ivy is a ground stabilizer and provides food for deer and small animals through the winter? That it should be nurtured and encouraged to grow on all but the most walked upon paths? I had no idea.)

Daddy baked and decorated a lemon-strawberry butterfly cake. Yeah, he’s good.

Butterfly cake, made by Keith

Five years. It’s gone fast. We’ve had ups and downs and have made mistakes, but she continues to teach us, allowing us learn and grow as her parents. She’s a bit like the butterfly, she is; she goes through challenges and struggles, but perseveres, coming out the other side just breathtakingly gorgeous. We are so grateful to be here to witness her transformations and see her take flight.

Excuse me while I wipe a *happy* tear.

Aria in princess dress, cape and crown, looking over her shoulder, taken from behind

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3 thoughts on “Five Years

  1. I’m wiping tears, too! Your celebrations for her were all so thoughtful. I love that you’re adding to her crown as she ages, and that cake is incredible (nice job, Keith!!). She’ll love reading this dedication to her when she’s older! ❤

  2. What a wonderful gift of love your words and pictures. You have grown into such a wonderful mother. I also have to say with Claire, “nice job on the cake!”

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