Baby girl … another trip around the sun…
The more you change, the more you stay the same. It is incredible. As I reflect on the past 8 years I am certain of one thing, you are incredibly you. I see you. I see your heart and your soul so clearly most days. The core of who you are is sweet, kind, genuine and vibrant.
You have this spirit about you. It’s quirky and fun and full of life. It’s spontaneous yet tethered to home. It’s fierce and fiery. It’s independent. It’s curled into a cuddle. You are quite literally all the things.
What I love most about you is the fact that you are so deeply loving. It is not overt most of the time. I cannot remember the last time you said I love you. I also cannot remember the last time you gave or returned a kiss. But, your hugs, oh your hugs say it all. They are strong and long lasting and confident. They show love deeply and seek love too. It’s in the way you snuggle into someone while watching a movie, or the way you grab a hand while walking down the sidewalk. It’s in the way you seek to find us for affirmation or the smiles of pride and joy you send in our direction. It’s in the way you run towards us after a few days apart and how you simply just settle into being when you are around us.
There is a confidence in the love you give. There is a confidence in the love you receive. My sweet girl it is evident that you know without a shadow of a doubt just how loved you are.
This past year brought a lot of new experiences into your life as well. New adventures and a love for travel were further solidified. You traveled with us as we ran our marathon in Washington D.C. During this journey it was obvious just how much you love exploring, history and the experience of travel. It was apparent that seeing the world brings you joy. And it was incredible to revisit the trip with you weeks later and see that the lessons learned and the history experienced stuck with you.
If I give you one gift in your life (aside from showing kindness always, using manners consistently, understanding the giving and earning of respect, having an unwavering self-respect and knowing that you are my whole world, but the world does not revolve around you) I hope it is a love for travel and a deep wanderlust. The more I travel the more I learn that the world may be big, that cultures may be vastly different, but that us as humans are completely connected in our core values – love for family, career ambition, desire for happiness and joy. Simply, we are all more similar than different and in the long run, honor that in others even when you don’t agree with how they behave or live.
You also tried new things. You road a pony. You joined a swim team and competed. You stepped outside of your comfort zone many times. And every single time you stepped, the reward was greater than the risk or your fear of what you were risking.
In riding a pony, we saw your tender animal loving heart. We saw how you could get lost in a moment and fall in love with an animal. We watched your ambition to try and your joy to succeed. You were brave and excited, conscious and tender with the pony. It was a very neat experience watching you blossom and watching your confidence grow while you road Sudsy.
Experiencing a swim meet was an entirely different experience. It reminded us of your timid heart and your shy nature. It reminded us that for you, trying new things that include a lot of people is intimidating and can best be handled with a little preparation. Watching and observing first, experiencing second. Once you saw the in’s and out’s of a swim meet you were more than interested in participating. You were competitive and after a few meets, you were pulling in second and third place ribbons.
In both instances, you were you and truer than true to yourself. And in both instances, the reward for stepping outside of your comfort zone was big. Riding a pony and earning ribbons.
Of course, in your world, some things stayed the same. Our families love for hockey. Hockey nights in our household remained consistent and this season we got to enjoy an ice cream sundae any time we liked. It’s truly the little things.
While we’re talking about food, let’s address your palate. Macaroni and cheese still tops your list, but we’ve removed it for the most part. I don’t know the last time I intentionally served you mac and cheese. And we may all be better for it because now you eat a whole lot more. You love chicken. Chicken in any form, but certainly your favorite form is Chick-fil-A nuggets. You love broccoli. Steamed and covered with butter, but you’re eating a vegetable so, win. You like green beans and oranges. Mini bagels with cream cheese, french toast, mini chocolate pancakes and protein shakes are your favorite breakfast foods. Lunch is a crap shoot, but usually there is a rolled meat (turkey or bologna), some crackers and cheese, maybe a yogurt and sometimes we even throw in a veggie. Dinner has expanded to burritos, taquitos, chicken (again, in any form) and pizza. All I can say is we may not be where we want to be, but we are making progress.
You have a tender introverted heart. You love simplicity in most things and could stay home all day, every day. You love your sisters and wish they were around more. You love J. The two of you are serious buds. You love your grandma and would most likely prefer time with her over all others. You love your pups and often play wildly with Duke. You and me, we love one another too. In the way only a mom and daughter can. Wildly. Fiercely. With sugar and spice.
You my dear are dreamy. This years biggest changes come in the form of maturity and wit. You roll through frustrations far more quickly these days. Anger and anxiety seem to pass more quickly and embarrassment doesn’t leave a lingering stain like it used to. Your big emotions are finding their outlets too. No longer are you quick to melt down, hurry to hit or easy to throw a tantrum. Now you feel, you share, you move forward. I love how you’ve grown in this area. It’s watching you navigate the big feels that fills my heart. We all have big ugly feels, and all of us struggle with how to manage those feels, watching you learn you and honor your feelings is a beautiful thing.
There’s this witty side of you too. This side is incredible. More often than not we are left looking at one another and shaking our heads in amusement after one of your quick witty quips. Your mind is so quick. It is so funny. It is so genuine in its humor. And it is incredible to see just how smart you are. Whatever you do, keep this beautifully magical part of you.
Doodle bug, you are now 8, that means big things. It means a new school this coming school year. It means chores. It means less whining. It means more expectations. It means you are closing in on double digits. It means that life passes far too quickly for my comfort.
I am not certain how we are already here… 8! Nope, I still see you as the sweet baby I adored snuggling. The sweet toddler I loved playing with. The sweet little girl who has me wrapped around her snuggly finger. But, you my love, are a girl. A wonderful, beautiful girl. I thank God for you every single day!
Now that you’re at an age where we can easily communicate and we talk often about all things in life, I have a few questions for you:
- What are your favorites (color, food, holiday, book, toy, song)?
Mac & cheese (duh)
My Razor scooter
You & Me (Descendants 2 soundtrack)
- If you could travel anywhere, where would you travel? Why?
Chicago. Because it is a pretty background.
- What are you looking forward to at your new school?
- What will you miss about your old elementary school?
- What is your favorite thing about our family?
- What do you want to be when you grow up? Why?
Veterinarian. Because I can help pets and any animal and some of them are cute and I actually want to help them.
- What is your favorite activity?
Art. Because you can do cool things.
- What is your favorite show?
Henry Danger. Because it’s funny.
- What do you love most about summer?
That we can go swimming.
- What is something you need to become better at?
- What makes a good friend?
They are nice.
- What quality do you like most about yourself?
That I am athletic. Swimming. Sports.
- What did you learn this past year that you loved learning?
- What do you dream about?
- What do you love about yourself?
That I do sports and I get stronger
- What are you grateful for?
- What three words would you use to describe yourself?
Cute. Funny. Smart.
- What are three goals you have for this coming year of your life?
– Keep swimming competitively and get 1st place
– Eat more ice cream
– Learn how to paint emojis
Happy Birthday my sweet, incredible girl. You are a light in our lives and we are so happy you are ours. I hope you make 8 great this year!