Madeline’s Top 10

Tune into my monthly Relevant Radio interview tomorrow (4/20/15) at 8:30 am EST. (You can listen online.) I’ll be talking about decluttering and mentioning the book that everyone seems to be reading these days. Now it’s time to talk about this girl of mine:

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Time to dust off this old blog of mine. Can you believe I started Momopoly in 2005? I’ve been at this blogging gig for a decade. Once I wrote my book I was advised to turn my rambling headquarters into something a little more professional – hence, the boring KateWicker.com URL. I am honestly getting a little tired of all the brown and looking at my picture in the left-hand corner and want to give it a facelift without spending too much moula so if anyone wants to talk about a possible design project, shoot me an email.

This week I have plans to post some belated birthday letters. I have had a child enter the double digits (um, almost six months ago. Just call me Slacker Mom) and one of my littles also celebrated another birthday. On one hand, it’s been such a delight to watch my firstborn grow into such a fun young lady. But there will always be that part of me that wants to make these walking timepieces slow their constant ticking down. Don’t grow up so quickly, kiddos. Life’s short, so why don’t you stay short? That’s not happening with my Madeline. She gets her height from her daddy. She can wear some of my tops now, and her feet are bigger than mine. She’s 10, and she’s inching very close to being as tall as I am.

Thankfully, she still looks like my baby girl when she sleeps.

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Madeline makes me laugh all the time, and she is an eternal optimist who is such a good reminder for me to not turn into a frazzled stress ball or to not beat myself up for failures. She’s fun and sweet and 10 going on 30. A friend of mine has said she’s an old soul trapped in little body. She makes me proud every single day.

Of course, like most children – at least children who are not boring (I always tell myself that my kids are feisty because of their big personalities) she can also drive me to the brink of having a nervous breakdown (what we refer to as tsumommy instead of tsunami). Her chosen weapon of mass mommy destruction is leaving a trail of kid detritus all over the house. Her room’s a mess; dresser drawers are always open, shreds of paper are ubiquitous, and there are piles of books everywhere. Beyond her bedroom door, soccer cleats and athletic socks frequently litter our floors. I have to remind her 17 times – give or take – to put her dirty clothes in the laundry basket (and there’s a laundry basket in three out of four bedrooms in our house and one in the basement laundry room, so NO EXCUSE!).

But then I get to school, and her teachers talk about her work ethic, her positivity, her leadership, her organization skills (I admit that one confounds me a bit), and how she’s nice to all of the kids, and I remind myself to choose my battles. This is a lovely, fun kid. So I’ve told her she can have a little more leeway with the state of her room, but she needs to respect the rest of us and not not leave dirty socks or anything of hers in our rooms or the kitchen, living room, basement, bathroom, etc. Sure, it’s my job to help mold her into a responsible person and to cultivate good habits, but I also have to learn to accept her for who she is. She is fond of sentimental clutter. She has taped up myriad pictures her sisters have gifted her with upon her walls. She doesn’t mind dresser drawers yawning wide at all hours of the day. Sometimes all I see are the messes instead of the young woman behind them. She is happy and kind and doesn’t take herself – or obviously her bedroom – too seriously. She’s so accepting of me and all of my flaws; I need to reciprocate this compassionate acceptance.

Recently, my mom and dad had her over to spend the night, and my mom texted me, “Madeline adores you. It’s very sweet. You were the center of conversation after Mass last night.” This made my day. And my month. And quite possibly my year.

There have been occasional eye-rolls since she turned 10 (she comes by most of these less than desirable traits honestly; I was an eye-roller and apparently, her daddy’s room looked like a war zone when he was her age), but she still looks up to me. She adores me. I adore her. I can’t wait to see what the next decade holds for my sweet girl and me.

Now presenting her very, very belated birthday letter (for those of you new-ish to my blog I write a birthday letter for each of my kids every year. I plan on printing them all out and binding them and giving a “birthday letter book” to them before they leave the nest. Sniff, sniff.):

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Dear Madeline,

I am way overdue in writing your birthday letter celebrating your first decade of life. I won’t tell you just how late but knowing you, if I did, you’d smile and tell me not to worry. That’s how just how you are. You rarely sweat the small stuff. You give your best, but you don’t expect perfection from yourself – or from others. I have often watched the way you have navigated a certain situation – like how you were before you assisted at Mass as an altar server for the first time – and been in awe of your quiet confidence. I was no way near as self-possessed as you are at the ripe, old age of 10.

Madeline first time altar servingFrom my Instagram account. Follow along over there because that’s where I spend most of my social media hours these days. :-)

When we arrived at church, I helped you slip into the white robe and whispered, “Are you nervous?”

“Nah,” you said. “I can always just wing it.”

Now I know this was your way of telling me not to worry. You weren’t undermining the importance of your role as an altar server, and you rarely “just wing” anything. Everyone from your teachers to your soccer or basketball coach always comment on your maturity, your unselfishness, and your leadership. God blessed you with so many talents, but He also blessed you with a heart that cares and reaches out to others. That’s what really makes me proud. Now if we could only get you to keep that room of yours clean and have you remember to not leave a trail of shoes, soccer cleats, sketches, socks, and hair ties throughout the house but as you remind me, day after day, no one is perfect. You’re willing to try new things and to have fun without caving under pressure. You’re already wise enough to know that setting “perfect” as your bar only sets you up for failure.

You’re still a sports fanatic. When I volunteer for recess duty, you’re out there with all the boys playing football. Once I saw them picking teams, and two boys were arguing over having you on your team because apparently you have one of the best arms. You could play sports all day. I’m not sure I could have handled the kind of practice schedule you do, but you thrive on the activity and always keep smiling – win or lose.

You love being around people almost as much as you love playing sports. You only wish you could play every sport every season. Oh, and you’d like to audition for plays and write a book on the side. Keeping busy keeps you happy.

There’s so much I could write about because at the age of 10 you are such an interesting person. I’m not suggesting you weren’t interesting when you were younger, but it’s such a joy to see you grow up and bake banana bread for the family, enjoy sushi, and have great and sometimes even intellectual conversations. I’ve decided to do a top 10 sort of list of ten highlights I remember from the past year. Consider this an inadequate recap because there’s just no way I can recapture all the wonderful moments and gifts you have blessed me with in the past 365 days and in the time I’ve had you in my life! Oh, my first baby girl! I’ll never ever forget the day I first held you in my arms or all those nights we both spent wakeful with you wiggling around. You still wiggle a lot just before you succumb to sleep!

Without further ado, Madeline Top 10 List (listed in no particular order):

10. I love what a great big sister you are. Sure, you fight with your siblings some and there are times when you are trying so hard to lead and organize that your sheep lash out at you and go a little bezerk, but you have such a nurturing soul. You like to sleep with Thomas when you can and on nights when Daddy is working, you’re always such a big help with Mary Elizabeth at bedtime. You can’t wait to be able to babysit, and you’re amazing with your two baby cousins. You truly love little ones and will make a great mother someday!

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You and baby cousin Elly

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Meeting baby cousin Annie for the first time

 

9. Your dry sense of humor is priceless. The things you come up with never fail to make me laugh like how you provide memorable commentary such as, “Fang [our cat] is a geek cat for a geek family.” Or, “I wish there were more people my age on our street. It would be dream to have kids knocking at my door all the time to play. Instead, I’ve got old ladies. But nothing against old people.”

One of my favorite funny moments is when you became interested in breaking a world record. You decided you could wear the most underwear at once, but unfortunately you ran into some logistical challenges because you told me, “I think I could put on more than 36 pairs of underwear [the current world record apparently]. I got to 26, but then I ran out of underwear.”

Keep laughing and not taking yourself too seriously. Oh, that reminds me of something else. At a soccer game recently, you kicked the ball with the wrong part of your foot so that it spun but didn’t really go anywhere. You immediately chuckled at yourself and then went after the ball again with more tenacity. You can laugh at yourself, but you also give your best.

8. You really do seem comfortable in your own skin. Not too long ago, I discovered you examining yourself in the mirror and I panicked as the relics of my eating disorder came crashing down in an avalanche of regretful remembrances. I thought, “Oh no! It’s starting already. She’s looking in the mirror and picking apart her body and failing to see just how strong and beautiful she is.”

Well, I could not have been more wrong.

I gently asked, “What are you thinking, Madeline?”

You grinned broadly at me and said, “I was looking at how strong my butt is. Feel it. It’s so hard, but unfortunately a strong butt won’t get you all that far in life.”

Not surprisingly, I had to gulp down my giggles, but I was also so grateful that you see yourself as being strong and that you already seem to know that you have a lot to offer the world (aside from a strong bum!). Always believe that, my love. You are beautiful just the way you are. Don’t let anyone or any disappointment or heartbreak convince you differently.

7. Watching you play sports has become one of my favorite pastimes. I admit that all the schlepping to games and practices is sometimes tough on me and the littles, but when I see you come alive on the field, head a soccer ball into the goal (but be careful with that brilliant mind of yours!), rebound a basketball, make a smart pass to a teammate, smile after a game whether you’ve won or loss, I know that all the sweat and miles covered in the car is so worth it. You are quite the athlete, and I love watching you play. The school’s athletic director had to twist my arm to allow you to play your inaugural season of basketball. I literally said no to her three times, but I finally relented. I am so glad I did. It was so thrilling to watch you play basketball, and you were a natural. Your team made it to the championship and nearly beat a team that hadn’t lost in years. At the end of the game, the coach presented the big trophy to you to take to the school because he was so proud of your leadership and positive attitude despite the disappointing loss.

You also ran your first 5K this year and came in second place just a few seconds behind first place for your age group! (Little Rachel came in third, and Mommy came in first in her age group, so now we’re all excited about racing together.) As I tell you before almost every game, “Play hard and have fun!” in all the games you find yourself in during this active life of yours!

6. You’re still quite the artist. This year you drew a picture for the yearbook cover contest and won! You’re so excited to see your artwork featured on the cover. You have a creative spirit and enjoy drawing, painting, making bracelets, learning how to knit with your Nana, baking, writing stories or plays, etc. Keep on creating!

5. You’re getting a little more in touch with your feminine side. This isn’t to say you used to be all boy, but you never were much of a girly-girl. When you were young, we had pirate and dinosaur parties. Later you fell in love with Star Wars. And, of course, we all know that first of only a handful of ballet classes is what clued me in to your propensity for sports. I’ll never forget watching you pick wedgies out of your pink leotard in between sprints across the dance floor as the other little girls gracefully twirled about! After a few classes, you started crying telling me you didn’t want to go, so we signed you up for soccer. And, well, you know the story #15 soccer knocker! Ironically, you recently had a performance at school and busted a move, and several people commented on your great dancing. You were quite the ham up there! But what I mean by this girl stuff, is that you like to wear cute clothes and dress up for church. You spend more time brushing that thick, beautiful hair of yours. Thank goodness! I hated dealing with those huge nests that would form in your hair. But you’ll still wear mismatched shoes and prefer to be in athletic shorts and a t-shirt. You’re such a good combination between having a dash of sugar spice but not being afraid to pick up a football or play in the dirt.

4. You possess a quiet faith. You’re not overly flashy about it, but you’ve told on more than one occasion that you pray every night (even when I don’t happen to pray with you because I’ve fallen asleep with one of the littles after a long, tiring day). Just today I joked with you because I saw some writing on your wrist, “Where’d you get the tat?”

“It’s highlighter,” you told me, and there on your wrist in neon pink you’d written, “WWJD?”

You’re also the one who asked me if you could train to be an altar server. It was all you taking the initiative. This faith of yours will be your greatest gift. Keep the faith. It won’t always be easy. Trust me. I’ve got a lot of Doubting Thomas in me, but I am also stubborn and so are you, so I hope we’ll both keep showing up at Mass.

3. You are an extreme extrovert. You get so much joy out of activity and being around other people. While some of us in the family need to rest our minds and be still and alone to refuel, you are energized by doing things with other people.

2. While you love to be active, you also remain a bibliophile and an artist. You enjoy doodling, painting, and just creating. You’re not as into the Rainbow Loom these days, but you have started weaving words together to create stories, and you use some great adjectives. And you love to read. Some of your favorite books recently include The Penderwicks: A Summer Tale of Four Sisters, Two Rabbits, and a Very Interesting Boy, The Penderwicks on Gardam Street, Hatchet, The White Giraffe, Wonder (me, too! I loved this one.), and 13 Gifts.

1. When you were in utero, I used to joke that you must be a Tae Bo enthusiast because it felt like you were constantly jabbing me and doing what felt like somersaults. You were born very alert. Everyone – from your proud grandparents to the nurses – commented on your attentive eyes and how you seemed to be taking everything in around you. You were baptized when you were just two months old, but people thought you were at least four months old because you were awake for the entire ceremony and looking around curiously. You didn’t sleep much. I was exhausted, but you were thankfully a happy insomniac. You just didn’t need a lot of sleep, and you didn’t want to miss anything. You’re the same way now. You saw a shirt that said, “I’ll sleep when I’m dead,” and you told me that’s how you feel, although you do need more sleep these days and like to sleep in on a rare morning when we don’t have to rush out the door. You’re a night owl though, and you love life so much you don’t want to waste anytime being horizontal. I love your fervor, your tenacious optimism, your sweetness… Right now my primary job is to be your parent. I’ve told you I’m not here for you to be your friendly pal. I’ll enforce rules you don’t like, and you probably won’t even always like me. But I know we will always love each other very much, and I can see that one day when you’re a grown woman and I don’t have to raise you any longer we are going to be great friends, and you’ll still be making me laugh and reminding me that the glass is always half-full and life is even fuller. When you’re all grown up, I envision us laughing together, going on long walks (or maybe runs?), and soaking up this beautiful life together.

I’ve listed my top 10, but there’s so much more I could write about you. One thought just popped into my head and can’t possibly pass unspoken. When I’m having a rough day and getting all weepy, you’re the first one to pat me on the back and to encourage me. “You’re the best mom in the world,” you’ll tell me with your signature assertiveness. Thank you for your compassion. Thank you for your love. Thank you for being amazing YOU. This last decade has blessed me beyond measure. I know I’m sounding like a Hallmark card, but I can’t imagine my life without you and all of your energy and effervescence. Keep being lovely you. I love you just the way you are.

Happy 10th birthday, my sweet, sweet girl!

Love,

Mommy

 

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A very belated birthday letter to my little man

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Dear Thomas,

My sweet boy, you are most definitely the fourth child in a very busy family. Gone are the days when I would spend hours a week writing love notes to my children in their own keepsake journals, reflecting on the smallest of milestones. These days, I do my best to jot down a quick quote in my Mom’s One Line a Day: A Five-Year Memory Book (that was the perfect gift from Daddy last Christmas!). So here’s a very belated attempt at composing the perfect birthday letter. (To be fair on your poor, overwhelmed Mommy, I did start writing this the week of your actual birthday, but it’s been a long work in progress.)

Happy, happy third birthday to my superhero-loving-but-not-afraid-to-dress-up-in-a-princess-dress-if-that’s-what-playtime-with-M.E.-dictates, energetic, outdoorsy, imaginative, expressive, strong, bulldozer of a boy!

You keep me busy, little man. You really are like a bulldozer, plowing into me and into life with a whole lot of masculine energy. You roar like a tiger. You butt your head into me like a bull. You eat like a man. My, you can put down food. Oh, but you also cuddle and hug me and scream with delight when you see me. You make my heart melt. You also make me very tired with your strength and shall we say stamina. Not that you’re always on the go. As your personality emerges, I see that you need quiet, alone time. It’s your reset button (it’s mine, too). We were recently at Madeline’s soccer game, and all of the siblings of the other players were playing together, but you and Rachel regularly took breaks from the crowd to just sit alone. Meanwhile, Mary Elizabeth was the social butterfly fluttering from friend to friend. It’s such a wonderful (and sometimes challenging!) gift to have four unique children with such different personalities!

I’ve also noticed that when we go somewhere where there are a lot of people, you have to come up to me every few minutes just to check in and to be reassured. Sometimes you’ll just peek over at me and wave. Other times, you’ll run to me and hug my legs before returning to the crowd. I love that about you – how you’re always on the lookout for Mommy, making sure I’m not too far away.

You want to check to be sure that everyone else and even every thing has a mommy and daddy nearby, too. We will be reading a book about a dog, and you’ll ask where his mommy is. Sometimes you ask where his daddy is as well. We were at a fall festival recently, and you got to meet Hairy Dawg. You asked right away about his mommy and daddy. I told you he was probably the daddy rather than the puppy given his size. He was very big and towered over you, so that seemed to satisfy you. You just want to ensure everyone is taken care of.

Let’s see what else is happening with you these days. You love for me to read you books. Some of your current favorites are: I Love You, Stinky Face, Over and Over (which we, not surprisingly, read over and over), Where the Wild Things Are(you are my little wild thing), and Harry the Dirty Dog. (In fact, you thought UGA’s “Hairy” was Harry the Dirty Dog at first). You’re also starting to like longer books and will actually curl into me and listen intently. You’re into knights right now, and Saint George and the Dragon enchants you. We’re trying to teach you to use all that fierce, boy energy to do good and to protect your sisters rather than wrestle them to the ground or pull out fistfuls of their sunshine-kissed hair. Not that my sweet boy has ever been guilty of that. Ahem.

You also love The Oak Inside the Acorn. You ask a lot of questions about why little acorn had to let go and where his mommy is. The thought of being separate and independent from me both thrills and delights you. That’s par for the course. Fortunately for me, you never stray too far, you love for me to put you to bed, and don’t want me to ever leave your side, and you give me lots of big, strong hugs. I’m one lucky mommy.

You like to play with cars and to be outside. You and Mary Elizabeth play “Mommy & Daddy” quite a bit. She’s the mommy; you’re the daddy. The other day you pretended to get married. She, not surprisingly, got really into dressing up for the part – white cloak and makeup, the whole bridal shebang. You, on the other hand just did what you were told, although you’re frequently not so compliant. You have a mind of your own, and boy, do you sometimes have a temper. I took a bite of your snack (I should have asked, but you should have been kinder about sharing), and your face crumpled up in anger and you roared at me, “You’re a meanie, Mommy!”

You love Curious George (the books and the show). You also love Little Bear, which you discovered at Nana and Pop’s. You’re extremely imaginative. Sometimes you’ll lose yourself in your play, and I love listening to what you’re saying. Before bed you always tell stories aloud to yourself as we rest in the darkness together. Like I wrote earlier, you’re very concerned that everyone – including spiders and characters in books – has a mommy and daddy. You’re extremely animated, and those bright, brown eyes of yours will widen as you tell me something.

At bedtime, you’ll sometimes say, “I want to sleep with Daddy,” but almost without fail, you change your mind at the last minute and say, “Actually, I want to sleep with Mommy.”

You have told me – out of the blue – that I am pretty, and it makes my heart melt more than I could have ever imagined.

I heard you telling Ms. Shelby recently that when you were a little boy, you liked Elmo. As if you’re not still little and a closet Elmo lover. You like to think of yourself as a big boy, but you still need to feel little, too. You’re very curious, and you ask a lot of questions.

I was making you a sandwich for lunch and when I got out some lettuce to put on it, you said, “I don’t want salad on my sandwich, but I do want turquoise.”

“Turquoise?”

“Turquoise!!!” you said, pointing to the mayonnaise. ☺

Every day you say something cute and quotable. You make me laugh. Your bright brown, expressive eyes have a heart-constricting power over me. You have a power over me!

Happy very belated third birthday! I love you so very much, and I can’t wait to see what the next year has in store for you!

Love,

Mommy

 

It's not always easy being 3, but we'll get through this together.

It’s not always easy being 3, but we’ll get through this together.

7th Heaven

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Dear Rachel,

Happy 7th birthday! As Madeline is fond of writing in kids’ birthday cards these days, seven is such a big number. Indeed it is. Where did our Baby Rae run off to?

My sweet Rachel, you are growing into such a lovely, little lady. You just ran into my bedroom with a tower of books stacked in your arms and are repositioning pillows on my bed as I type your birthday letter (a few days late, mind you, such is life these days).

“Whew! That was hard work,” you say, heaving the books onto the bed.

You’re preparing to engage in a few of your very favorite activities: Reading, savoring silence, and cuddling beside me. I love our quiet time together. It’s a rare gift these days since we’re always so busy and because I often find my only quiet time to involve me attempting to cajole Thomas to be still for at least 30 minutes. But when we are able carve out a corner of calm together, it is always special.

You’re very good at slowing down, being still, and finding contentment in just being rather than doing. I love that (as well as many other things!) about you!

I love your sensitive soul – how your eyes fill with tears when you think someone else has been wounded – even if that someone else is a cartoon character. There’s a scene in Despicable Me 2 in which Gru has a flashback where a girl he planned to give a flower to spurns him, and upon watching it you had to blink away the tears.

“It makes me sad, too,” I told you.

But you became embarrassed and refused to admit the scene had stirred so much empathy in you. You do that quite often. I’ll notice that you’re on the brink of crying, reach out to comfort you, and you’ll brush me aside. “My eyes are just watering,” you’ll insist. Yes, sometimes you want to keep your big feelings to yourself, and I need to learn to respect that and give you your space.

However, other times you’re an effusion of emotion. When you’re happy, you’re gleeful, although just because you aren’t always all grins doesn’t mean you’re not happy. Recently, you remarked, “People think I’m not happy because I don’t smile all of the time, but that’s not true.”

Your Daddy nodded. “I’m the same way.”

But there’s no mistaking it when you think something is funny. When you laugh, you burst into infectious giggles and we can’t help but join in. You also happen to have a great sense of humor and regularly make me laugh with your jokes and witty and spot-on observations about life.

When you’re angry, you share your mama’s passion, and people better watch out and just leave you alone. You’re so full of fervency and feeling. You’re going to experience life in Technicolor because of that.

Of course, I fear you’ll also experience heartaches more deeply than others (um, like someone else I know), but I’ll understand because I am the same way. Don’t you worry. But let’s not think about all that right now. Currently and quite fortunately, the worst pain you generally experience is hurt feelings (you are sensitive, so you do sometimes sweat the small stuff as they say) and an ache or two when Thomas unleashes his inner Todzilla, or you and one of your sisters engage in a girl fight. (Your extroverted siblings need to learn to respect your reserved nature, and you, my dear, need to learn to cut them some slack when they don’t.)

Now let’s talk about your current interests. Turquoise or aqua (you go back and forth) are your favorite colors. You’ve been asking to take gymnastics, so we finally agreed and I am so proud of how hard you work at class. Even though it’s a beginner’s class, all the other girls can do cartwheels, etc. and have clearly been at it for longer than you, but that doesn’t keep you from going out there and giving your best. You and I are a lot of like in many ways, but I know I sadly would have wanted to quit if I saw that others could do more than I could. That’s probably why I never learned to do a cartwheel. But not you. You’re having fun and seem to have embraced the challenge. You don’t compare yourself to others in the class. You’re only focused on your own skill development. That makes me so very proud.

You are a real bookworm and won the “Top Reader” award for the first grade this past spring. You’re still reading beside me, in fact. When you go MIA, I can usually find you curled up in a bed somewhere with a book. You’re an early bird and seem to have trouble sleeping in even when you’re up past your bedtime (I can relate!).

You love animals and frequently give Layla [our dog] belly rubs. You want to be a vet when you grow up. You have an ear for music and have taught yourself a few songs on the piano. We hope to get you enrolled in piano lessons soon. Your face is dusted with freckles, and I always tell you a face without freckles is like a sky without stars, and you smile ever so shyly.

You like to draw, but you’re always anxious that your work isn’t good enough. Think of gymnastics and how you just focus on what you’re working on and do your best. Keep drawing. Art is very subjective any way, and I love your doodles of cats and flowers.

You’re in the process of constructing an elaborate fairy house beneath our Japanese Maple. The dwelling already boasts a swing, a slide, a bed laden with flower petals, and a long table adorned with a bowl (half a pecan shell from our pecan tree) filled with peas (tiny green seeds you foraged from the yard).

You love horses and you just told me that you wished Daddy wasn’t a doctor [who sees injuries from horseback riding frequently] so he would let you ride more often. You do have a horse camp coming up in July, and you can’t wait.

You’re a carnivore and love to eat Daddy’s ribs. You also love shrimp. You’re not as in to traditional cake, so we made a big batch of blondies for your family birthday and then snowmen Oreo and pudding cakes for your birthday party with friends (you tasted the cake and said it was the best ever, but aesthetically Daddy and I felt like it would make a good Pinterest fail. Whatever. Cake is for eating.)

You’re very in to Frozen (along with every other little girl) right now, and one of my favorite things to watch is to see you sing (and act out!) “In Summer.” You make an adorable Olaf. You wanted a Frozen birthday party with your friends. We typically do small scale, family parties around here but when I tried to encourage you to do this, your eyes filled with tears. “I want a friend party,” you said.

I agreed but said we would demand that no presents be bought (after a big purge this spring, the last thing we needed is 15 or so more toys to infiltrate our home). “That’s fine!” you quickly agreed. “I just want to see my friends.”

It was so lovely to watch how your friends adore you and how you’re so sweet to them all. You’re quiet, but not too quiet, and your face was beaming the entire party. Friends were constantly showering you with hugs and calling your name. “Rachel! Rachel!”

One friend didn’t know any of the other girls, and you went out of your way to make sure she was included. At one point, I rushed back into the kitchen because one of our guests needed something else, and you came in and said, “Mommy, I know this is a lot of work for you.”

Oh, Rachel, what 7-year-old has the presence of mind to notice that her mom is working hard during her own birthday party? You’re the same child who writes me the most beautiful “just because” notes and really seems to appreciate when I do the same for you. I think I’ve found my “words of affirmation” bosom buddy.

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Like me, you also seem to need more affirmation – in whatever form – than the average person, and anything remotely negative seems to weigh on you.

Well, let me tell you this, and then it’s your job to believe it: I love you just the way you are! You are a kind, funny, sweet, beautiful, clever, determined, sensitive, lovely, young lady, and I love being with you and watching you grow. Don’t let anyone – especially your own self – convince you of anything otherwise. Like your first grade teacher told me this year, God has great plans for you.

Happy, happy birthday, my beautiful Rae-Rae! I am so honored to be your mom!

Love,

Mommy (you recently decided you were going to start calling me Mom, but you have forgotten and keep calling out, “Mommy.” I’m glad. ;-))

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You enjoyed a

You enjoyed a “pin the carrot nose on Olaf” game at your party. Madeline drew Olaf for you.

We served lots of Frozen-themed food like Sven's carrots, Olaf's summer flowers, and a blue snowball punch.

We served lots of Frozen-themed food like Sven’s carrots, Olaf’s summer flowers, and a blue snowball punch.

Okay, so this is probably the worst cake I've ever made. The Snowman looks like he's ready to eat small children. Madeline said,

Okay, so this is probably the worst cake I’ve ever made. The Snowman looks like he’s ready to eat small children. Madeline said, “That’s definitely not your best work,” and Daddy said I should share a picture of Psycho Snowman on a Pinterest-fail website. Fortunately, you took one bite of the Oreo-cookie-pudding-cake and said, “This is the best cake ever.” Thank you, sweet girl.

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We had a snowman-making contest, using toilet paper and streamers. This was a big hit.

Your mom can't stop coloring. It's kind of her therapy since she's suffering from injured runner's affective disorder. :-) Thanks for being born, so I have a good excuse to make lots of colorful signs.

Your mom can’t stop coloring. It’s kind of her therapy since she’s suffering from injured runner’s affective disorder. :-) Thanks for being born, so I have a good excuse to make lots of colorful signs.

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