Winter turned the big 5 at the end of February and I’m just now getting around to documenting it.  Life has been crazy town with a whole bunch of sickness coupled with spring break.  We are all pretty thrilled school starts back today and we can settle back into our normal routine.

Winter turning five felt important and big and special.  We’ve celebrated every birthday with her, but this one was her first as a legal Kelley.  As always we let the birthday kid take the reigns and plan away.  I love letting their minds and imaginations run wild dreaming up their perfect day and Winter did not disappoint.  She has been making birthday requests for at least the last 6 months.  It became an on going joke among our family how Winter was making yet another birthday plan and we were all anxious to see what would make the final cut on her actual birthday.  Josh Kelley and I started taking bets. 🙂

The basics she covered quickly…donuts for breakfast, pizza for lunch and Arbys for dinner.  She was very excited about our new confetti cannon tradition, but we wouldn’t tell her when it would happen.  As soon as she blew out her candles that morning Josh shot it off and it was hysterical.  She didn’t see it coming at all.  We also brought back our birthday door tradition just for Winter.  A rainbow streamer door greeted her first thing on her birthday morning.

The details were much harder for her to nail down.  She chose 1000 different birthday party themes.  Several months ago I bought her a cute brown skinned mermaid at Target and she was smitten.  She’s never seen The Little Mermaid, but it was instant love with this mermaid.  Representation matters and Winter is the perfect example of why.  She notices skin color and hair color all the time.  When she sees a doll or toy or book that reflects her she always tells me in an excited tone, “They have brown skin just like me.”  She notices and I always want to make sure she finds herself in books and movies and toys and in her surroundings and everywhere.  All thanks to that beautiful brown skinned mermaid doll she finally decided on a mermaid party.

I wanted mermaid party supplies that reflected Winter too.  I was bummed to search and search the internet to find very little available.  And then Target went and did it again making the sweetest mermaid party supplies with a brown skinned mermaid.  Winter went crazy upon seeing the fun supplies.  We had a big mermaid balloon too, but it popped before it made it home.  Alas.

Our family gathered along with one of Winter’s favorite neighborhood friends and celebrated our girl.  Her birthmom was unable to make it this year, but we facetimed with her later and Winter spared her no detail and showed her all the fun things she was gifted.

There was pizza and veggies and fruit and candy and cookies and funfetti cake and ice-cream.  She opened presents and played her heart out.  All the laughter and all the fun.  And Josh Kelley stealthfully snuck another confetti cannon into the kitchen and when we finished singing happy birthday to Winter in our dining room he shot it off again scaring most of the adults and a good chunk of the children nearly to death.  I laughed so hard I cried.  He is my favorite dad around.

She was celebrated so well by all those who love her.  Despite yucky rainy weather our people showed up to love on our girl.  And she felt it.  One of Winter’s love languages is time and touch.  Her love tank was filled right up with all the time spent with her and all the snuggles and hugs she received.

For a special birthday snack for her class she asked for chocolate cupcakes and mermaid tale rings.  Thank you Amazon for always having those semi quirky items.  Mermaid tale rings it was.  Anything for the birthday girl.

After everyone left she played with all her fun new toys and we got Arbys for dinner.  As we all ate together Winter found a fry that looked just like a lower case “e” and we all breathed in a deep breath and talked about Everett.  No matter the occasion…no matter how joyful the day is…we are carrying him, missing him and longing for him.  Our grief is always there…maybe not at the forefront of every single special day, but at some point on these extra important days it will come out and we will all recognize it…see it…affirm it in each other.  No matter how alone we feel in our grief some days, we always know we understand each other in our little family.  “Me too.” is exchanged a lot among us and our sadness.

This kid.  I just don’t have all the words for her.  She is the fiercest child I have ever met.  She is strong and fiery and the most loving all rolled into one little human body.  She has experienced so much loss and heartache and yet lends her love to anyone who needs it.  She is loved by so many and I know some of the best parts of her come straight from her beautiful birthparents.  She lacks zero in the self-confidence department and I adore that about her.  She is beautiful and tough and she believes this about herself…I hope she never loses that.  Winter went and made our family better…yet again.

Gosh, we just love her to absolute pieces.  We celebrated the heck out of this kid because she is worth every ounce of celebrating.  Happy 5th birthday Winter Lee!  Thank you for making us the luckiest.


  1. Happy (late) Birthday, beautiful Winter! It looks like you had a magnificent celebration May you always find something to celebrate in life ❤️

  2. BarB cole says:

    LOVE!!!! I always look forward to your posts. Your fierce love for each other and your celebrations melt my heart. Winter is getting SO tall, please tell her Happy Birthday from West Virginia. Your family is thought of often and Everett is missed; every time I see a rainbow or rainbow item, I think of him and your family. Thanks for sharing. You are all AWESOME!

  3. Heather n says:

    What a wonderful day. Happy Birthday.

  4. Happy belated birthday to Winter! I enjoyed meeting her in Pre-K and will see her there again soon. Love that girl!

  5. Happy Birthday Winter….you have the most beautiful smile!!! x

  6. Heather Herman says:

    My face is so so beautiful. What a blessing! Happy Birthday, Winter! Your mermaid cookies & other goodies are so pretty!

  7. Lisa Russell says:

    Happy birthday Winter! Wish I had a party like that!! You Kelley’s are the best!!

  8. Toni :0) says:

    Y’all know how to celebrate birthdays in style. Winter is beautiful and I can tell she is a blessing to your family. Cheers to being a whole hand Winter!

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