I grew up in a small white house on five acres of open land. A long driveway off a street that wasn't traveled often and next door neighbors that owned john deere tractors. The first born of high school sweethearts, in a small three bedroom house. Eighteen months later and I had a sister. We were best friends from the start. We went to school in our sundresses and tennis shoes. We played barbies, rode our bikes up dirt hills, and climbed trees together. Equally girly girls and tomboys.
In kindergarten, I began going to a small private school and that winter my first baby brother was born. For Christmas we braved the snowy roads two days in a row and drove to our grandparents' homes. Including annual cookie bakes with the cousins and sledding down hills in the backyard. In the summer we visited the farm next door to my mom's parents' house and fed the horses and went on bike rides to the park.
For Easter, we alternated each year with which grandma and grandpa we would get to see. There were easter egg hunts, frilly dresses, and new white shoes. Occasionally my parents would brave the crying pictures with the easter bunny and too much chocolate. Before church, we woke up early and looked around the house for our Easter baskets.
When I was seven, my little sister Laura Grace was born sleeping and went to heaven in May. Every year we celebrate her birth and go see her beautiful stone at the cemetery. Full of releasing balloons into the sky and planting new flowers. The only thing I remember from her funeral was singing Jesus Loves Me and watching my family cry. I was still too young to understand everything.
Through the years, both of my siblings joined me at the private school. We had our favorite teachers and the school lunches were actually good. Our classes had less than fifteen kids in them and we all grew up together. The boys ran from the girls because they had cooties. We raced on the swings to see who get the highest. Every Wednesday we had chapel and in class we had coloring contests. Twice a year we had a musical and performed for family & friends.
By the time I was nine, my second baby brother was born. Mom & dad and four kids. We went on camping trips, saw fireworks on the fourth of July, and went to the beach in the summer. When school started in the fall we took "first day" pictures and mom drove us in the suburban. We raked leaves piles and jumped in them. In the winter we drove snowmobiles and went ice-skating in our backyard.
After a few years of trying to homeschool and eventually switching to a charter school, we adopted from Ethiopia, Africa when I was thirteen. Adding a fifth to the bunch just made life more beautiful and messy. We moved from our childhood home and took our swing set with us. Youth group trips, family trips to the big city, growing up, and moving again.
Seven. Together we live this life. We navigate the ups and downs. Whether it's dirt roads or a college campus. 8 years old or 18 years old. Living a small town life is what we know. We learn, we grow, we live.