Dear O, 8 Years Old

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At approximately 6:45am, you bounced into our room. Fully dressed in jeans and a plaid shirt, you pronounced, "We're going horseback riding!"

You've been our horse girl for years now so it seemed a very fitting way to celebrate. Tim drove you to a coffeeshop, where you sipped on dark coffee as a special treat, and then you went riding at the El Conquistador Stables. The sun on your shoulders and the reins in your hands, you guided the horse with gentle determination and confidence.

When you got home, we dropped you off for Poetry Club at Sarah Kate's house. Ever since you could put a pencil to paper, you've been writing your own poems (the most recent two that you left on my desk were about "apples" and "coffee"). You have a knack for selecting words, crafting titles, and - especially - reciting pieces with dramatic expression.

As is our tradition, we let you choose the dinner menu. You chose fruit ("just fruit!") so we served an assortment of apples, oranges, strawberries, and cantaloupe. Dessert was homemade creamy new york cheesecake with crumbly graham cracker crust - your request!

A bit about you at age eight.

Dear O, 8 Years Old 1

You love to read. In addition to Little House, Baby Island, and Mr. Popper's Penguins, you've enjoyed the Magic Tree House series (I believe you are on book #18), Nancy Drew, and the Mercy Watson books by Kate DiCamillo. There are many-a-nights when we call you to dinner and you come to the table with a book in your nose.

On days when you are discouraged or if you are scolded, we often find you curled up in bed under the covers with your Bible open. Soaking in the Word of God. May you always find solace and strength in those pages.

In truth, you're a bit of an academic. I wouldn't be at all surprised if you pursue your PhD someday. When school is over, you relax by...reading and writing some more.

You like to run (and you're fast), to hike (you're not one to grow weary), and to play tag (probably because no one can catch you).

You still play dress-up and make-believe with your younger sister, which I am glad about. Depending on the day, you two transform into princesses, doctors, explorers, detectives, horse trainers, or police officers.

When you get dressed for the day, you almost always pull on your favorite appaman blue jeans - but you also like to wear dresses and skirts. You are very concerned about "matching" and you have an excellent sense of style. Hats and headbands are something you don on most days.

When you grow up, you want to own a horse of your very own. Your career ambitions have stayed pretty steady, but writer and poet are at the top of the list as of late.

You recently told me that you are glad that your birthday is in spring because you prefer warm weather.

Things I appreciate you - you are a very encouraging person (our neighbor told me that she thinks you have the gift of encouragement and I concur). You are brave and eager to try new things. You are outdoorsy and strong - you'd much rather be out in the stables than at a nail salon or (shudder) the mall. You and me both, kid.

Sometimes you wish that you could stay little forever - but I'm glad you are turning eight. Growing up is hard to do, but you are doing it gracefully. You'll always be our green-eyed girl. No matter what.

Dear O, 8 Years Old 2
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