If I were to describe you to a friend in one sentence, I would say, "she is a girl of deep character, quiet goodness, and genuine humility."
You are remarkably selfless for a child (or an adult, for that matter). Whenever ice cream or cake is served, you wait to be the last to take a plate. At school, you let others nudge in front of you in line. You are always ready to give up your seat or your last piece of candy, but without any pomp or parade. You give generously with gentle sincerity, not expecting or desiring praise.
For example, you took 1st place at your school's 5k this year in your age group, but you did so in a very under-the-radar and unassuming way. I never heard you boast (or even mention it) to anyone. You just quietly did your best. About a week after the race, I asked you, "Were you tired after the race?" You looked incredulous and then very seriously stated, "I could have run at least eight more miles." Strangely, I believe you. You have a natural runner's gait, it's true - but you also have the other traits of successful athletes: perseverance, determination, and focus. When the going gets tough, you lift up your chin and concentrate. Complaining isn't your style.
The same goes for when you get hurt. You'll fly off your bike or hurtle down a cliff when hiking - and stand up again without flinching. Even with blood trickling down your knees or elbows, you'll say resolutely, "I'm fine" (that's your signature line). Tears? No way. You've got this.
Last semester, you took ballet at school - but running, hiking, rambling, bike-riding, and exploring are more your speed. In fact, your teacher even wrote on your report card that you can "outrun all of the boys" (shhh). That being said, you were a lovely dancer too. Dressed in a golden tutu with your hair in a graceful bun, you bounced your way through the recital.
Every morning, you're the first to wake up in our family. Some might say you are an early bird, but you're also a night owl. You are one of those very fortunate people who excel on small amounts of sleep. Your creativity and kindness abound at all hours of the day and night.
I also have noticed a leaning toward creating order in your personality. You choose one stuffed animal or doll for each day to intentionally care for - "from youngest to oldest." You are reading through the bookshelf from left to right. Etcetera.
As far as academics go, you are bright and hardworking. Intelligent, but not flashy. You especially like to do your work outside or while running around the table.
Other things about you: your siblings love you and each has a special relationship with you.
At home and away from home, you root for the underdog (code name: "protector") and intentionally strive for peace.
You are a non-picky and thankful eater (always have been). When I asked you to name your favorite foods, you said, "don't ask me such hard questions." You and me both, kid. For your birthday dinner, you requested steak, mashed potatoes, corn on the cob, and cheesecake.
Today we celebrate your heart of gold, your daring hope, and your never-give-up attitude. You are something else, AJ. You add boundless joy to our family and the world is a better place with you in it.