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Leaping into life: Woman with special birthday is a kid at heart
Desiree Lopez giggled like a schoolgirl at the thought of being a mother before her 5th birthday.
Girls her age are in kindergarten, not married and starting families of their own.
The curious looks she gets when she tells people her "leap year" age are all part of the fun of being born on Feb. 29 - a day that only pops up once every four years.
Lopez, who actually turned 20 today, looks forward to her odd birthday much like a child who awaits Christmas Eve.
It's what sets her apart and makes her feel special, she said.
"I love my birthday to death!" said Lopez as she cuddled with her son, 7-month-old Jodee.
Yep, one day he'll be older than his mom.
Lopez was born 26 minutes after midnight in 1984. She was over a month ahead of schedule, but still healthy.
Finding significance in it all, Lopez is a self-professed kid at heart.
The Kofa High School graduate, who works as a caregiver for the elderly, still loves playing ball with her younger siblings. She always wanted the kid roles in drama class because she could easily relate to them, she said.
She's told her bubbly personality makes her seem younger than her years.
"I don't let my mind just stop and say, 'You're too old for this,'' she said.
One year, classmates made a video about the occasion. They let her go first in the lunch line. She soon realized how everyone seemed to notice it was little Desiree's birthday.
And she still relishes the attention, she said.
Most years she shares her birthday with her mother-in-law on the 28th, but she can still finagle a little light-hearted sympathy all month for not really having a day to call her own. (To make matters easier, her driver's license expires on the 28th.)
Lopez admits her leap-year birthdays are truly memorable.
They include big family gatherings and extra candles on the cake to mark her different ages.
But this year Lopez said she will miss her husband, Patrick Lopez, an Army soldier currently stationed in Fort Knox, Ky.
She will soon join him in either Texas or Germany, both places where he could be reassigned for several years.
He recently joked about buying her a present, but having to shop in the kid's section.
Lopez doesn't tire of the leap year humor.
After all, she's got to act her age.
When most people her age hit retirement, "I'll barely be getting my driver's license," she said with a laugh.