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Kelly Clarkson is officially 35 – and off on a sweet girls trip. The actress was surprised by her friends with the early birthday present over the weekend, which she shared on Instagram. Clarkson's friends aren't the only ones celebrating the star for her big day, though. We're looking back – piece by piece – at the singer's over three decades on earth.
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A Star Is Born in the Lone Star State
Born and raised in Texas, Clarkson's family dynamic was rocked when her parents divorced when she was only 5. The star's estranged relationship with her father would later become the subject of hit song "Piece by Piece," an emotional track released in 2015. Clarkson told Glamour that year, "I don't know what my father went through as a child, and I don't know why he left and made the decisions he made, but everyone's human."
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Becoming an Idol
Clarkson was a standout contestant on the first season of American Idol in 2002, then a brand new reality TV singing competition. At the time, the star was a 20-year-old cocktail waitress just making ends meet – but she somehow managed to wow even tough-guy Simon Cowell, starting with her first Dallas audition, during which she sang "At Last."
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A Moment Like This
After weeks of tough competition, Clarkson made it to the final two on Idol, going up against Justin Guarini. The callers were on Clarkson's side, though: she was declared the first-ever winner of the long-running show, and performed her breakout single, "A Moment Like This" through tears. The prize? A recording contract.
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Going for Gold
Just a few years after her big Idol moment, Clarkson was a Grammy-winning artist. In 2006, she nabbed the best pop album and best female pop vocal performance golden grammaphones for album Breakaway and single "Since U Been Gone," respectively. Clarkson calls the evening her "worst-greatest day," however. On the morning of the ceremony, Clarkson got incorrect medical results which left her believing she had cancer. "It was very much a rollercoaster ride that day for me," she said earlier this year. "It was kind of unfortunate — a lot of the moments got stolen from that mishap. But hey, I didn't have cancer."
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Forever and Always
In the years that followed Clarkson's 2006 Grammy win, she continued to put out hits – from the Grammy-nominted "Don't You Wanna Stay" to "My Life Would Suck Without You." And, after countless career highlights, Clarkson met finally met her match: music manager Brandon Blackstock, who proposed in 2012. "I didn’t know life could be this happy," Clarkson told PEOPLE before the pair's 2013 Tennessee nuptials.
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River of Dreams
Though Blackstock was already a father to kids Savannah and Seth from a previous marriage, Clarkson couldn't wait to grow their mixed brood. "We're just excited," she gushed to PEOPLE at the time. Daughter River Rose arrived on June 12, 2014, and totally rocked the singer's world. "My whole life took a big 180," she told PEOPLE in 2015. "I never thought I was going to be a mom, so it's very much changed my world in the most awesome way."
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Then There Was Two
In April 2016, River Rose became a big sister: Clarkson welcomed her second child, son Remington Alexander. Earlier this month, the happy family celebrated Remy's first birthday with a special party – complete with a red rocking horse and yellow camping tent cake. Relishing in her family on Instagram in January, Clarkson simply gushed, "They’re all mine."