2. You're in your eighth grade year at school and I sense a subtle shift in your attitude towards academics. You've always been an excellent student but I just feel you putting more into it this year. Perhaps it's that you like certain subjects more than others. Or maybe you know that your chosen path for high school is rigorous and you are preparing yourself the best that you can.
3. You've always just somehow known that hard work pays off. See number two above. And look back at letters I've written you in the past and a recurring theme is your hard work and determination. It's just in you.
4. Mario. You're obsessed. I think it all started when your sister was gone for a few weeks this summer and you played one day. I say obsessed but I think that's a bit dramatic. It's more accurate to say that you get hooked on it for a few days and then go weeks or months before playing again. You especially like to laugh at me or your dad when we agree to play with you. How on earth do you keep from falling off the edge of anything? Never mind the fireballs, lava clouds or snapping flowers.
5. Our whole family had such a memorable vacation this summer to Boundary Waters Canoe Area but, I dare say, you had the most fun. You paddled like a champ, stood on the dock for as long as it took to catch a fish, giggled that the solar shower spot was open and exposed to the world on one side, chased the sun as it set each day via paddle board, jumped off the rock into chilly water and encouraged the gang to run off the dock countless times. I found myself watching you during the trip and wanting to be just like you.
6. We dropped you off at camp for a week this summer. You were my first child I left knowing that I wouldn't talk to until I picked you up a week later. Gear bin dropped off. Counselors met. Health check complete. And then you walked down the hill and out of site. Seven days later you walked back up that hill into my arms with stories to tell for days. I missed you like crazy.
7. Often times you put your wet hair into a single braid down your back and go to bed.
8. And your effortless messy bun is enviable.
9. Pasta! You can smell it from a mile away and always slip your fingers sneakily into the colander before the hot noodles have even been rinsed.
10. Most mornings if I can't find you, I know that I can open the mudroom door and you will be using a wet paper towel to clean your sneakers.
11. You like to sing. The same line. From the same song. Over and over and over. (Until I wail, "Go to the next verse or find a new song!!!")
12. You receive flack for doing lots of standing around when we are all cleaning up the kitchen after dinner. Truth be told, however, you're not just standing around. You are also telling jokes and stories (or perfecting dance moves) that make the daily clean up lighter, funnier and more enjoyable.
13. You love my sugar cookies.
14. And I think this year I'm going to have some Nutella on hand when I make them. I can only imagine how big your eyes will get after meticulously spreading a perfect layer of the cholately goodness over top your favorite cookie and taking a bite.
Happy birthday sweet girl. I love you so much.