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I remember 5 year old Grace staring up at Rockefeller Center, neck craned, tree glistening in front of her like it was yesterday.  We were in the city to see the lights, window displays and of course, the tree.  She always loved the city, loved the noises, the bright lights, the energy.  For the longest time her deepest desire was to live in a brownstone and have 100 cats.  When I kneeled next to her on that cold winter night, I told her there was a restaurant at the very top of Rockefeller Center and that I was lucky enough to to go there once, for a company Christmas Party.  I told her we would go when she turned sixteen.

Sixteen.  It seemed so far away back then.  In the trenches of motherhood with two kids in cribs, two kids in diapers, bottles, dogs, toys, blankets, stuffed animals, car seats, soppy cups, high chairs, and binkies, having a teenager seemed so far away.  The teen years snuck up on me and I've gone from having two babies in diapers to two teenagers sharing clothes, going away with friends on retreats, joining challenging educational programs, and picking careers.  Blink.  We were at the tree.  Blink.  She is 16. 

We talked about that promise I made her all those years ago and we looked into dinner at the Rainbow Room but Grace does not like getting fancied up and we are not really fancy eaters.  Greg and I are, but as a family, we are more back yard barbecue than fine cuisine.  So instead we are going to New York soon, to Carnegie Hall, because we are music people.  That will culminate what has been a pretty fantastic sixteenth birthday for Grace.

On her actual birthday, the 13th, she had her first day of her educational cooperative where she is taking American History (Notgrass Exploring America 1 and American Voices), English (The Hero's Journey, essay writing and literature), study period, and painting.  She had a good time.  She made a new friend to have lunch with and she enjoyed her classes, even the English one!  From coop she ran to her first worship band practice and then to youth group.  She got home around 10pm and we had cake, ice cream and opened presents.   Our gift to her was a camera lens she has wanted for ages, an Olympus zoom lens.  

Her birthday celebration went on and on.  At 10am Wednesday she passed her permit test and is now driving!

Thursday she drove to see her friend Victoria which was pretty cool.  She is confident and capable.  We have lots of work to do but bit by bit she will get there and will soon be as independent as she feels.

Friday was another stellar day. We picked up her friend and she came with us to Grace's first piano lesson of the new year.  They share the same teacher and having a lesson together was fun for them.  After piano we ate at Maggie McFly's and indulged in yummy gluten free cupcakes before viewing Hillsong's new movie, Let Hope Rise.  It was awesome and the best part was coming out of the movie and running into a bunch of people we know and love from church!

Saturday was tough.  Getting bed late did not make for an easy rise and commute to New York for her sign language class.  ASL is a bit tough this semester.  She is torn between wanting to take the class and grow in her second language, but she also wants  to be home with Greg running errands, playing with Crosby and having family time.  Little did she know that for about a month her sister and friends were planning a surprise party at our house for when she returned.  They were there, hiding under our breakfast bar and jumped out and scared poor Grace to death!  She was completely shocked and touched beyond words.  She just hugged them and this is no small thing because Grace is not a hugger.  This was prayer answered.  We prayed so hard for a larger group of friends for Grace because she needs more peer interaction than what she had last year.  She needed to feel included in a group, loved on and appreciated for all her gifts and quirks.  This group gets her, gets her in a way that makes you think they have known each other a long time instead of just 9 months.  They had dinner, cake, and watched a movie, Once I Was A Beehive.  I hid away upstairs and smiled every time I heard them laugh.

Sunday concluded birthday week with dinner at my parent's house where gifts were given to both Lilah and Grace.   Grace is now the proud owner of a ukulele and has learned all of Grace Van der Walde's songs.  We love her but she might be driving us a bit nuts......

And like the blink of an eye my babies are now taller than me.  They are lovely young ladies.  They are my everything.  Sixteen, the start to what I hope will be a very, very good year._


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