I'd like to be as brave and athletic as you are. You do cartwheels and handsprings flawlessly, grinning after you're right side up. You do fancy (and frightening!) stunts on your bike, riding without hands, sitting up on your handlebars, doing wheelies like nobody's business. You can cross the monkey bars with playground prowess, your muscles flexing. In the pool, you somersault, dive, flip, and go down way down deep. At the school 5k, you run with steady determination, your legs pumping, your heart beating - not in the halfhearted sprint-and-then-walk way of children, but in an I'm-all-in kind of way. "Does she play club sports?" a dad recently asked while watching you kick a soccer ball across a grassy field. You've actually never played formal sports at all (until this past spring when you did a 5-week volleyball season with the YMCA for the first time). You're just amazingly coordinated - and very, very bold. You'll watch someone flying down a mountain on skis, balancing on a surf board, doing stunts on a skateboard, or jumping off hills on a mountain bike - and then turn to us to say, "I want to do that." ATHLETE could be your middle name.
Your favorite class in school this year was violin (you had a wonderful teacher) - but you performed well in all of your classes - Saxon 6/5, Literature & Word Studies, Grammar & Composition, Latin, Art, Science, and History. I especially loved watching you take on extra Amare projects and coming up with creative ideas. For example, you built a treehouse with your great uncle and grandma. For another project, you drew a "longest picture in the world" (Ramona Quimby style). For still another, you dressed up in medieval attire and performed a skit about medical practices in the Middle Ages wherein you made a model and demonstrated blood-letting techniques. This skit was very fitting since you have always (since about age 3!) had the unwavering interest in becoming a doctor.
You have now added "vet" and "writer" to your list of career options - which would also suit you well. After all, you were the sole instigator behind our decision to get a dog and you love to scratch her tummy, chase her around the yard, and take her on camping trips.
Another of your future ambitions is to be a mother and, when asked how many children you might like to have eventually, you usually say a high number - at least 6 - "as long as we can still go on lots of trips." You will be a wonderful, caring mother and I can picture you running around the yard with your kids and then cooking up a big meal for everyone to enjoy around the table.
As far as hobbies are concerned, you love riding your bike (and performing aforementioned scary tricks), spending time with friends, playing board games (you are always looking for willing players), reading books, writing letters to penpals, and going to restaurants. Aside from active pursuits, in fact, you are probably most happy when you have a hearty meal before you. Your favorite foods include steak, masked potatoes, and corn on the cob - but you are not picky and will try almost any new dish. At meals, you are the first to pull out the TableTopics cards to jumpstart conversations and you are constantly begging us to share childhood stories. Someday I will write them down for you.
As you enter double digits, I hope you know how remarkable you are - how you are "God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for you to do" (Ephesians 2:10). Your dad and I are so very proud of the young woman you are becoming.
With love always,
* I write letters to each of my children on their birthdays so that they will remember and I won’t forget. As Sheldon Vanauken so aptly put it, “Writing has something of the timeless about it – a breath of eternity.”