What a blessing it is to see you, radiant with excitement, on your eighth birthday. Daddy and I can hardly believe we have an eight-year-old daughter. This past year with you has been so wonderful,
and these days are so full of excitement and delight. I wonder, could next year be as good as this? You show us again and again the wonderful blessing that it is to watch a child grow up. I am sure that this coming year will be filled with just as many blessings with you as this past year has been.
April....You look so lovely in your Easter dress and are so careful of your brothers' feelings during our morning egg hunt. At school as a Lunch Mom, I love getting to watch you in your element with your friends, and I treasure the hugs that you share with me before you head out for recess.
May....A big month of firsts for you, starting with your first lost tooth (a friend pulled it out for you on the playground). You also started piano lessons, a huge treat that was part of your birthday present. You are delighted with your lessons and can't wait to practice your new skills everyday. Daddy and I love hearing the sound of your music in the house. You set a new biking standard when you take off your training wheels, and E-Bear is soon right with you. You were so determined and brave teaching yourself how to ride your bike! Thank you for making the table for me for Mother's Day and for you beautiful gifts -- both firsts that made me feel so loved in return. You help Daddy and his friend take down our backyard hedge and then help Uncle S drive the bobcat to dig out the stumps. I am grateful for all your help! Finally, at the end of the month, you take your first ride on our new Mundo bike with Dad and love it. What a ride this month has been!
June....Biking and walking to school in the morning is a treat, even if we do have to wake up a few minutes earlier. You are feeling excited but a little nervous to leave First Grade and move on to Second, but I assure you that you will be ready when the time comes. You come to help E-Bear say good-bye to pre-K and Mrs. Rogers, like the loving, enthusiastic sister you are. Then, we miss your last day of school to head to Chicago with Daddy for a weekend away, where we celebrate with a Lego Land visit and Lego surprises on Pentecost. You are a fish at swimming lessons despite the cold, you try your first dives (that chin never quite gets down) and we are so proud of you progress. Our daily bike rides and evening chats with the Handmaids in the quad are a treat.
July....You have really helped Daddy with the lawn watering as we try to grow baby grass. We spend a happy Fourth of July at the cabin with a new playset and far away cousins, who all look up to you so much. I am proud of how kind and inclusive you are to everyone. We continue our weekly lunches with GG and Chick-fil-a, and our Sunday dinners on the patio at MoMo and Papa's. You are such a good buddy to E-Bear and Buddy Bear, and J-Bear loves to sit and listen as you read. One sad day, when we have to say good-bye to a little one that we never got to meet, you were so tender to give me hugs and hold my hand.
August....Our Hilton Head trip with the cousins was a hit. You didn't miss a beat picking up with your cousins right where you left off. You love to read together, swim together, make sand castles together on the beach, sit together at meals, sleep (or not) together in the loft room and make up talent show skits. It is so hard to say good-bye when it is time to leave. Lazy August days are wonderful: you are just as likely to be playing dress up with your brothers as you are to be sitting and reading, shucking corn for me on the back step, or leading an imaginary game in the sandbox.
September....We biked to the Fair this year, and you love waving to passers-by from your perch behind Dad. I loved watching you walk into the Fair, arm-in-arm with Buddy Bear and E-Bear. You were such a great sport when you were suddenly too big for things like the Little Farm tractors, and you were equally gracious and excited to get to choose your own rides at the KidWay (hooray for Bumper Boats!). We said good-bye to summer by taking GG up to the cabin for one last camp out. You were so excited to sleep with MoMo and Papa in the tent in the yard and you were a pro fishing off the end of the dock, rewarded for your patience and persistence with at least six fish. In your first weeks of school your favorites are spelling, writing stories, and the County Fair. When asked to fill a "Me Bag," you choose your piano book, a dress-up necklace, a bookmark, and a picture of our family. I think your Me Bag suits you perfectly.
October.....You help us celebrate the Feast of the Guardian Angels by teaching us the prayer you learned. We enjoy washing dishes together at the cabin (oh, the novelty!) and harvesting potatoes in our garden at home. The highlight of the month is certainly our trip to California, where you love Disney Land, time with the cousins, long drives in the car (as long as the A/C is on), the trees in Sequoia, throwing rocks in the rives in Yosemite, the beach in Carmel and your dress at Cousin B's wedding. You were so patient and helpful with all your little cousins at the wedding, leading them down the aisle. Afterwards, you miss your cousins tremendously for weeks, and I know just how you feel. You can hardly contain your excitement on Halloween in your SuperGirl costume as you run from house to house with your brothers. What a candy haul you brought home! We may never eat it all.
November....It is so nice to have another reader for our family feast day celebrations, as you help to lead our All Saints Day prayers. I am thankful for your loving notes and messages to me after we finish practicing homework each night. These days, our weeknights are full for you: spelling, math, reading, a homework page and a few minutes of piano, but by now we are getting into a routine without much complaint. We journeyed up to the cabin for Thanksgiving, where we played in the snow, on the play set, listened to family stories, watched Thanksgiving fireworks in town and ate lots of good food. We had to say good-bye to the cabin after Thanksgiving, which we were all really sad to do.
December....You were a big helper to Dad decorate the tree, even if you were standing on the radiator to do it. I loved the other festive Advent activities we got to do together, including decorating a great gingerbread house and cookies with neighbor Miss S. When we watch the St. Nicholas movie together, I know you get a little nervous at some parts, and I am thankful for your tenderness in how you think of others. At your Christmas music concert, you looked lovely in your new dress from MoMo, you sang so enthusiastically, and you played the glockenspiel so energetically, all of which made us very proud of all your hard work. I hope I never forget the beautiful view of you singing your heart out on the stage, concentrating so hard on both the songs and the motions that went along with them. We got to say good-bye to your front tooth right before Christmas in return for two shiny quarters. Then, Christmas was such a joyful time together away from the hustle of school. You were so excited to get the Frozen dolls and the Molly doll that you had wished for. I was so thrilled to see your joy on Christmas morning and all the fun you had playing and sledding with your cousins during break.
January....You rang in the New Year with a new pair of ice skates, and before I know it you are skating around the neighborhood rink out of sight. I love skating with you! You are such a good sport when you fall, which is why you are improving so quickly. We get to celebrate God's forgiveness with you at your First Reconciliation, which is a very special night filled with God's love and mercy. I am so excited and thrilled to see the way you are taking your faith on for yourself. Later in the month, we got to reunion with cousins and Nana in North Carolina to watch some ice skating. I loved watching you jump right in with your cousins again. You are traveling the world in your Second Grade unit, and I am enjoying all your stories about the places you are encountering in class. You love school, your teachers and your friends.
February....You have enjoyed the many snowy days at recess, our trips to the ice rinks and coming home to play in the yard with your brothers after school. Sometimes I look out while I am making dinner and see you just lying on your back in the snow, daydreaming, something I know I used to love to do too. Twice a week we are tackling swimming lessons at Foss Swim School, and you are improving by leaps and bounds. When I look at you in your new cap and goggles in the pool, I remember being a little girl in the pool myself. I am glad you are enjoying your lessons so much.
March....You perform beautifully at your first piano recital! You are also a huge help to me at the Family Service Morning, where you joined in at nearly all the stations. We had a wonderful time with Nana playing instruments and dancing at the Ordway Family Day, and you played a flute for the first time. Skiing in Lutsen was wonderful, especially because you improved so much that Daddy and I got to take you on the blue runs at Mystery Mountain. I can't believe I got to ski blue hills with my G-Bear! Back at home in our routine, J-Bear loves to pause near the fence as we pass the playground after picking up E-Bear from Kindergarten. We are always hoping to catch a glimpse of you, and we are so often rewarded by your big waves, blown kisses, and huge smile. We make spring snowmen together in the yard, you help us by reading for our Stations of the Cross as we near Holy Week, and you can hardly wait for Easter and your birthday, both on the same weekend this year.
With you, G-Bear, we are always looking forward to something. You have an enthusiasm that is contagious, and I am so thankful for that, because you are a great leader and example to your siblings in that way. I have loved watching you this year as you look forward to many things, especially your First Communion. I am grateful for the ways that you are taking your faith seriously and taking it on for your own. You are growing into a beautiful young woman, inside and out, gracious and compassionate toward your siblings, trying your best in all you do, willing to accept correction and try again when you fail, whether in your activities, at school, or in relationships with others. I know that in the coming year we have much to look forward to with you as well. Daddy and I are so proud of you, G-Bear, and we love you very much. Happy birthday, dear G-Bear, happy birthday to you!