I’ve been describing Hailey as a teenager for a long time, but today the calendar finally agrees with me. Here are a baker’s dozen things to know about my oldest daughter. At 9 pounds, she was my biggest baby. In fact, she broke her collar bone on her rush to get here — which broke my 25-year-old heart. Now that I’ve known Hailey for 13 years, it’s obvious to me she tipped the scales to accommodate the size of her heart. She gives coins to the homeless, thinks every toddler she sees is “the cutest,” and cries at movies that involve animals or Captain America. Hailey wishes her full name was Hailey Belle Bennett. (She asked for a legal name change as a birthday present.) We don’t name our children until we meet them, and then we write a short list on the hospital white board. On March 15, 2000, our list included Hailey, Hallie and Belle. The latter was the one we used most often in utero, even though Grandpa Bennett said it was a “cow name.” (He used to own a dairy farm.) In the end, we leaned away from the risky and simply wrote down Hailey Bennett on the birth certificate. But Belle stuck as an honorary middle name. “Good morning, Hailey Belle!” “Hailey Belle, you can only put on one play per family party!” “Will you finally try your very first hamburger, Hailey Belle?” (The last one happened last week.) Yes, Hailey’s menu is short. She doesn’t put sauce on her noodles. She dines on peanuts and fries at Five Guys Burgers. When we go to Cafe Rio, she ONLY orders a side of steak in a styrofoam dish. (Believe me, I’ve told her hamburger and steak come from the same animal. She doesn’t care.) One of Hailey’s nicknames is “Lashes.” She has incredibly long eyelashes and has a future in mascara modeling but not sunglasses modeling. The lashes get stuck as she blinks. A few days ago, we took a call from her principal at Mountain Ridge Junior High. That’s never good. But never say never because Mr. Whitaker was calling to say Hailey has been selected as THE 7th grade girl from her school to receive the “Great Kid” award from the Utah Valley Chamber of Commerce. She’ll receive the honor at a banquet next month, and I’m thinking about switching my business cards to say “Hailey’s mom” — my true claim to fame. Hailey is never afraid to host a party. (This did not come from my genetic code.) On the last day of fifth grade, Hailey told her entire grade she was hosting a party at the park down the street. She told me the news right before friends were to arrive. My non-party self flew into panic mode. What will you serve — are they expecting lunch? Will kids need rides? Have you reserved the pavilion? What’s the itinerary? What supplies are needed? Hailey hadn’t thought of any of these questions and didn’t want to be bothered by the details. Parents began pulling up and asking me questions about the shindig, which left me shaking in my non-party shoes and muttering to Hailey. Luckily she didn’t listen and continues to throw events together at the last minute. A non-stressed host equals non-stressed attendees. (But not a non-stressed parent, I must admit.)7) Hailey is a drama queen, but not the kind they make movies about. Rather, she wants to star on the big screen. When she was nursery age, one of our favorite party tricks was to ask Hailey to: “Show us surprised! Show us sad. Show us angry! Show us shy. Show us excited!” Her eyes and body language told the story, and everyone in the room showed us “entertained.” Hailey has been in the children’s version of “The Christmas Carol” at Hale Center Theater Orem for four years. She also played Captain Hook in her elementary school’s production of “Peter Pan.” When she was 11, she insisted on riding a shuttle home from Yellowstone so she wouldn’t miss a performance. She loves being center stage and center of attention, and she centers her future plans on the word “Broadway.” Hailey takes voice lessons and used to take piano lessons. When she was 4, she also took violin lessons — mostly to fulfill a dream I have of playing the strings. We practiced, cried, begged and struggled for a handful of months before she stood up at her first violin recital and played just two lines of “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star.” We quit the next day.9) What Hailey hasn’t given up is her love of creating. She has a whole line of Duct Tape products, including shoes, hats, belts, wallets and accessories. My older sister hired Hailey to teach Duct Tape crafts to her elementary class, and Rachelle’s students asked her back for an encore. Hailey also owns the only sewing machine in the house and attends craft fairs and paper-making classes with Aunt Diana. Hailey doesn’t ask for my help on creative school projects because she doesn’t want me to mess it up with questions and details.10) We call Hailey a triplet because two other Bennett cousins were born within three weeks. She was the first to arrive and is still the tallest of the bunch. The triplets shared a birth announcement and a baptism. If anyone can coordinate a three-way high school graduation across state lines, it might be Hailey. Check back in five years. What?? Five years??11) For seven years, Hailey left daily notes on my pillow and annually asked Santa for a puppy. I was adamant we were a furless home. She made more promises and tearful requests. She would bathe him, walk him, love him, feed him and clean up after him when she fed him too much bacon. For her 9th birthday, I had a moment of weakness — or some might say love — and we surprised her with a toy poodle. Hailey has kept every promise and gets emotional when I threaten to give him away. (I’m still not groomed to prefer fur.)Hailey has always had strong opinions about what she wears. Right now she loves bright colors and unique designs. When she was younger, she went through a “pink sweat pants” phase and a “dresses or skirts only” phase. I trust her fashion sense and often have her help me pick between “belt or no belt” or “boots or flats.” I picture her working at Dear Lizzie one day and confidently helping women put outfits together. But I might not let her work there because I’ll want her confidently designing ads, writing articles or selling for our magazines. “Show me ‘hard worker,’ Hailey!” Hailey = happy. She loves every store clerk, neighbor, cousin, animal, movie, vacation idea and day on the calendar. So it’s only fitting we celebrate her today — when her age catches up with her outlook. Happy birthday, Hailey (Belle) Bennett! I love you!(Her Beehive class decorated our front door this morning. So fun! I can’t figure out how to turn this photo, so let’s just call it a creative angle on a creative angel.) P.S. The editor in me cringes at the missing letter in the top photo, but Hailey is teaching me to loosen up!
It’s been 365 happy days since I became a momma for the fifth time. I spent today snapping birthday pics (including the one above while waiting for Kneaders cupcakes), cuddling my four-toothed wonder and getting choked up thinking about how a year ago I looked like this.Luckily this was the last time my bump bumped my MacBook Pro.The next morning my sleep ended abruptly when my water broke — which led to a movie-like script of me waking up my bewildered husband with the good news. Lola Fern made her debut that afternoon (March 11, 2012) after I abandoned my plans for natural childbirth but held onto my vow to soak up every minute.My other four children came racing down the hospital hall to greet their yet-to-be-officially-named sibling. I could hear Hailey dramatically leading the pack, which was appropriate since her dream nine months previously about a baby sister coincided with my experience predicting the same outcome. This was our baby girl, our Lola Fern.Twelve months later, my oldest and youngest daughters — who are 12 years apart — have a year of memories and laughs under their matching belts.Lola’s life is full of siblings, basketball games, naps in the car and time at the office — she headed back to work when she was only 8 days old. The staff gathered to welcome our new mascot, and I got emotional watching my friends fall in love with my headliner.A year later, they still enjoy her even though she’s a wrecking ball when it comes to post-it pads and rechargeable camera batteries.Lola has spent very little time in a quiet house being glided to sleep. She has flown to California and to Phoenix. She has slept nearby during BusinessQ roundtables. She has posed for her magazine debut and previewed every layout from her lapside view. Being a Bennett baby in 2013 is a full-time job in imperfect circumstances. Tonight, her two teenage siblings planned Instagram posts about their baby sister’s birthday. I love that my children — spanning nearly 15 years — are proud to share a last name and a first birthday with a baby whose first words were “thank you.” I’m thankful I gave life to these five. But more importantly they give life to my days and meaning to my minutes. They give me plenty to write about and no time to do it.However, I did manage to write a song for Lola during our first night together when I stared in wonder at my 8 pounds and 14 ounces of miracle. (It was my feeble attempt to create a new Lola tune to edge out the Barry Manilow number and the Broadway hit about whatever Lola wants, Lola gets … )”Who are you? You’re my Lola Fern. Who are you? You’ve got lots to learn. Who are you? You’re from up above. Who are you? You came full of love. Who are you? You’re my baby girl. Who are you? You’ve changed my world. Who are you? Lo ….. la ….. Fern …” (The song’s ending still needs a little work.) Lola has reminded me who I am — a mother with a full heart and full hands. While I’ve been writing this post, she talked me into retrieving her from the crib and snuggling her while typing. It’s a position the two of us have mastered in the past 12 months. After all, we’re all for ONE.