Category Archives: Bean

6 and 4

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After one of the craziest, most fun, busiest summers ever, we’re firmly back into the fall routine. The kids are happy with their teachers, school is going well and we have a nice rhythm going on. This is actually our quietest time of the year with minimal after school activities and I’m enjoying every.single.second of the peace – because you know it won’t last long.

So, the summer. We did a lot – we visited Lady Liberty…

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Saw a professional ballgame (or 3 – baseball was big this summer)…

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Visited with hundreds of our friends at a local music fest…

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Spent The Best Week Ever in the Outer Banks with family…

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Visited a Fort…

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And drove a dragon in a Harbor.

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The kids went to different camps each week- school camps, nature camps, sports camps. The Bean learned to sail a boat and Scorch got to hang with friends. In short, the summer was really just about perfect and I was beyond sad to see it go. But you know was solves your dread of summer being over? Having your kids home for 2.5 weeks before school starts while you’re working full time. Trust me, that’ll teach you to embrace a schedule.

So- 6th grade and 4th grade.

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This picture of their feet makes me laugh every time I see it because it captures them perfectly. Scorch will stand still and do what’s asked of him because it’s easier and he likes to please. Bean is literally trying to back away out of the picture as quickly as possible because she wants no part in following an order and cooperating. His feet are 2.5 sizes bigger than mine and she’s still obsessed with all things gold.

I love those freaking kids so much and I’m so very excited to see how they grow this school years. But honestly- I’m even more excited for next summer, because summers are the best.

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9.

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Dearest Bean-

As has been my habit lately, I’m writing this horribly late. I’m so sorry about that, but we’ve had such a full, fun summer that writing has taken a backseat to living. If it makes you feel any better (because I know you pay attention to these things), Scorch’s birthday post was just as late.

So you, my darling funny face turned 9 over the summer. 8 was a fun age, but 9? At 9, I expect you to soar. I like you at 9- the age suits you.  You have turned into this long legged, tanned spitfire- still so much a child, but I’m starting to see the hints of the amazing young woman you’re growing into and I’m in awe.

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8 was the year you continued to figure out who are you. When you were 7, you bloomed and at 8 you continued to shine. You have always had a huge sense of self, but 8 is when you started to sink into your own skin in the best way possible. We had countless conversations this year about friendships and what they mean and what they look like and how I expect you to treat others. Not because you were doing anything wrong, but because everyone around you is growing up and sometimes the world around you doesn’t always seem stable.

But we’ll always be that stable home base. Your touchstone where you can be you- which ever you you decide to be that day. Some days it’s the quiet, laid back you, content to curl up on the couch. Other days it is the touchy, miserable child who spends more time spitting fire than speaking. Some days – heck, some minutes- it’s both. And we’ll always love you no matter what.

Parenting you is my biggest joy and my biggest challenge. Scorch and I are on the same wave length, but you and I? Well, we’re different. You don’t let your true self shine around a lot of people- most often, you’re reserved and quiet. Standing out in front of a crowd of people you’re not close to is pretty much your worst nightmare. The fact that I call you one of your numerous nicknames, frequently hug you or play with your hair or – some days – even talk to you at all in public is infuriating to you. You hiss at me to call you by your real name and to stop touching you. You’re not a baby, darn it! <insert literal foot stomp here>.

So I have to temper my natural inclination to be loud, to overshare and to run my fingers through your hair. I want you to be more flexible and less worried about what others think, but I also want to be respectful of the person you are today and the amazing person I know you’ll grow to be.

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So, for your 9th birthday, I have some wishes for you:

> I wish you fearlessness. I hope the child we see at home starts to explore the world more and makes her presence know. “Quiet as a church mouse” isn’t a phrase I ever want to hear again.

> I wish you joy. Joy in your friendships, joy in your family and joy in what ever pursuits you decide to try. Nothing warms my heart more than hearing your belly laugh.

> I wish you strife. Not a lot of it, obviously, but I feel like you’re on the edge- where life is going to start to get more complicated and, sadly, you’re going to have to learn how to deal with it. So I wish you small fights and sorrows today so you are better prepared to deal with the bigger ones down the road. No one’s life is sunshine and roses all the time and knowing how to be resilient will serve you well.

> I wish you friendship. I’m still friends with many of the people I knew in 4th grade. I wish you those friendships that stretch and grow with you as you make your way in the this world.

> I wish you confidence. You, child, will move mountains one day. Hold on to that knowledge, keep it close to your heart and never stop listening to the voice in your head that tells you right from wrong. It will take you exactly where you’re supposed to be.

> I wish you love. May you always have it overflowing in your life- the love of friends, of lovers, of family. A love of something- books, a sport, a hobby, a passion.

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Raising you is one of the biggest privileges in my life and I’m thankful each and every day that you’re mine. I can’t wait to see what 9 brings for you, Smooch- I know you’re going to rock it!

All my love,

Mom

Dear Neglected Blog…

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Dear Neglected Blog,

It’s not you, it’s me. Or more specifically, it’s the kids. They have taken over everything. I don’t know who allowed that to happen, but here we are. The end of March through now has been lost in a haze of baseball, lacrosse, concerts, birthdays and other things I can’t remember. It’s all been amazing and fun, but it’s been a time suck to the nth degree.  Hence, our temporary breakup.

Let’s see- what did you miss. Scorch turned 11 a month ago. We just held his birthday party this past weekend because it was the first day that didn’t involve multiple kids needing to be in multiple places in for-freaking-ever. Back in May, he and I traveled to NJ together for a baseball tournament and that 1:1 time was truly the best gift I received this year- we had a freaking blast.

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We got our first taste of travel baseball and tournament play and it was such a great, positive experience. I don’t want to face the fact that my baby boy is growing up, but he is- and it’s a joy to watch. I promise to post about his 11th birthday before he turns 12.

Beaner tackled some pretty big demons and played in not one but two concerts this spring. Getting this child to put herself out there like that was a huge hurdle and she rocked it. Literally.  She got dragged to more baseball games this spring then she ever had and only lost her mind once, bless her sweet heart. Thankfully s’mores fixed that up quickly for her. Now her lacrosse season started so the tables are turned.

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The Hubs traveled two weeks in a row for work and my job recently changed. All good stuff- but one more thing keeping us busy. I saw Rusted Root in concert two weeks ago and then Neil Diamond the next week. I’m sorry blog, but live music comes before you any day of the week. #sorrynotsorry

School ends next week and I want to tell you I’ll be back more, blog- but that may be a lie. Regular baseball season turns into All-Stars and lacrosse gets into full swing. Camps start up in earnest and life will continue to fly by. And I wouldn’t have this wickedly crazy awesome life work any other way.

Be back soon….

 

Bless me, Father…

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On the way home from school today, the kids and I did a quick review of what we were doing that night. The boys had baseball and the Bean and I were going to a Lenten Penance Service. For the non-Catholics out there, a Penance Service is an abbreviated Mass followed by numerous priests taking everyone’s confession. Scorch went to confession last week so he gave the Bean some tips on what to expect and what to do. Then, they started listing out possible sins for her to confess to.

They both agreed that she had to include that she calls her brother names, but a big debate started on whether or not she should share what names she calls her brother. The verdict? It was OK to share “moron” with the priest, but not OK to share “ball sack.” (Don’t judge us- it’s a whole new world when you raise an older son and younger daughter who talk about everything.)

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Our gorgeous church

Confessions can be done one of two ways in our church. You can opt to have a privacy screen up between you and the priest or you can sit in a little room face to face. The Bean was adamant that the only way she’d give her confession is if the privacy screen was up. I explained to her that while I’d do everything I could to make that happen, she may have to speak to the priest face to face. She thought about this for a second and asked if I’d go in the room with her if that was the case. I agreed and told her I’d plug my ears so her conversation could be private between her, the priest and God.

Why? You’ve yelled at me for all these sins, so it’s not like they’ll be a surprise to you.”

Good point, kiddo- good point.

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When it was my turn, I opted to sit face to face with our priest. We had a great conversation after he heard my confession and, as we were winding down, he reached his hand out to me, looking like he wanted to shake hands. At the last minute, he raised his hand slightly, so his palm was up, facing me. I was super confused so when he started talking, I admit, I didn’t pay any attention to what he was saying because I was trying to figure out what the heck I was supposed to do with my hands and what the heck he was doing with his. It was super awkward, so I didn’t really think- I just reacted.

I high-fived him.

After I did it, I started listening to what he was saying and realized he was giving me absolution and praying over me and I high-fived him in the  middle of that. He wasn’t raising his hand for a slap, he was raising his hand to give me a blessing.

So I looked at him and he looked at me and we both started cracking up because clearly I am the biggest idiot he’ll see all day long.

 

To My Badass Bean on International Women’s Day

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Dearest Bean-

Today’s International Women’s Day and, until the past few years,  I hadn’t heard much about this day. Started in 1908, the day was created to mark the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. Back when it was started, women couldn’t vote. They couldn’t hold most jobs. They couldn’t be whomever they wanted to be. For you and me- white, solidly middle class women living in the Northeast- that’s pretty unimaginable.

Over the past year, we’ve seen women start to roar, loudly and with purpose. You and I and Scorch watched live feeds of Susan B. Anthony’s grave on election day. We marveled at pictures and videos during the Woman’s March on DC. We blasted Beyonce’s Run the World and we read Rebel Girls nightly. We talk about what it means to be a woman today and how the sky is the limit.

But I have something to confess—until I started educating myself, I didn’t know why this was so important. I have never thought I was less than because of my gender. I have never been assaulted. I have never been harassed. I was raised to know my self worth and even at my lowest, I have never, ever doubted that I am worthy of as much respect as a man. Nana and Papa never made me feel less than my brother. I have been very, very blessed- as are you.

But a lot of women aren’t as blessed. There are a countless issues women face world-wide and million reasons why a Woman’s Day is needed, but let’s talk about something you can relate to for a second. Did you know that nearly half a billion women cannot read and 62 million girls are denied an education world-wide? People are not taught to read or allowed go to school simply because they were born with a vagina instead of a penis. Girls are more likely to have to stay at home and tend younger siblings and other household chores; ensuring education falls way down the priority list.

As a result, 1 in 3 girls in the developing world are married before the age of 18. Any chance of living a good life is tied to the men in their life—fathers, brothers, husbands and sons. If they marry into poverty or to an abusive spouse, a woman’s options for getting out and moving up are next to none without an education and marketable skills.

Yeah, yeah—I know a lot of that doesn’t mean a lot to you here and now. Child marriages and abuse is as foreign to you as walking on Mars and for that, darling girl, I’m so thankful. But it’s because we’re so blessed—because we do have it so good—that we need to work even harder for those who don’t.

I don’t know what the means for you—hell, I don’t know what it means for me. All I know is that this year, I’ve been inspired to find out how I can give back. Right now that’s been monetary through donations, but I hope to figure out a way to take action and you can bet I’ll be dragging you and Scorch along with me.

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I saw this picture earlier today and gasped. The bull has been a fixture on Wall Street since 1989 and last night, the little badass girl showed up. Her name is Fearless Girl and when I look at her, I see you. You, child, are my  prickly pear. You’re my kid who doesn’t like hugs and who suffers through inane small talk. You keep your tribe small and tight and you hate when you don’t know what to expect or what to do. You are equal parts sass and stubbornness with a side of humor and grace that I marvel at daily.

When you decide to stand for something, you plant both feet firmly and you don’t give up and you don’t care who is in your way. Often times, this makes me crazy—but little girl, you will move mountains. You will vanquish giants and you will always stand up for yourself and I couldn’t be more proud.

So today on International Women’s Day I honor the women who have come before me, I celebrate with the women who fight today and I wait with eagerness and hope to see how you change the world.

I love you, my fearless girl.

-Mom

Rebel Girls

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The interesting part, at least for me, in raising both a boy and a girl is ensuring both my children understand their importance. I want to fully elevate my daughter- I want her to know down to her marrow that she is worthy, intelligent and as capable as any man out there. Period. But, I don’t want to do this at the expense of my son because he is just as worthy, intelligent and capable as any person out there. I struggle with the stereotypes of men as bumbling idiots or hostile assholes only out for one thing just as much as I struggle with any stereotypes of women. They aren’t true and falling back on them is harmful to everyone. I will always support female empowerment, but I firmly believe that empowering women doesn’t mean dragging men down (see the infuriating trend in young girls clothing to promote girls while dragging down boys).

My job, as a parent, is to raise my kids to be empathetic, kind, caring individuals who kick ass and take names at whatever they set out to do.

And yet, girls don’t always feel that way. Did you know that by age 6, most girls feel less smart than boys? At 5, when boys and girls are told a story about a super smart, high achieving person and then asked to share if they think the main character is a boy or a girl, boys picked boy and girls picked girl. At 6, girls thought the main character was a boy because only boys could do those super smart things.

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My kids read in fits and starts, each preferring different genres. But one series they have both have consistently loved over the years is the Who Was? series– biographies on everyone from George Washington to Walt Disney and Harriet Tubman to Sally Ride. Scorch owns a few of these and even now, when he’s between the latest James Patterson book for tweens, he’ll pick one up.

When I first learned about the book Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls from a blog I frequent, I was intrigued. A book filled with 100 stories about women in all walks of life—inventors, doctors, dancers, pilots, protestors, abolitionists, writers, artists—complete with illustrations, sounded perfect for my kids. So I ordered them a copy and the book arrived this week.

You guys, I went from intrigued to in love. First, this book is gorgeous. From cover to cover, it’s visually lovely, with a butter soft cover. The stories are short—only a page long per person. I have read some complaints about that, but for me and the kids, it’s the perfect glimpse into each woman’s life, allowing us the freedom to do more research as we see fit. For example, after reading the article on Amelia Earhart we looked up more about her—how she got into flying, what she ate on her flights, how she disappeared and on and on.

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Every night before bed, the Bean reads about 3 or 4 women to Scorch and me. I truly, truly cannot recommend this book enough. It sits in the living room now and I find each kid thumbing through it at least once a day, stopping to read a story when a name or an illustration catches their eye.  I love that the kids are getting exposed to women who have changed the world in such a captivating way—proving in a subtle way that girls are just as smart and capable of just as much.

If you have  grade school aged child in your life- boy or girl- this book is a must.

 

Life According to Bean

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A few weeks back, the Bean and I dropped Scorch off at his basketball practice then had an hour to kill before we had to go to our PTA meeting. My girl is hot chocolate obsessed, so we went to a local coffee shop to pass the time. We got our drinks and sat in the chairs outside the shop, inside the mall, to chat and enjoy our goodies.

During the 45 minutes we sat there, 5 people we knew came in and out, so we got to catch up with quite a few friends. To me, this is one of the greatest joys of small town living- you literally can’t go anywhere without knowing someone. While I wouldn’t consider myself a full-blown extrovert, when I’m out and about there is nothing I enjoy more than random meetings and quick chitchat. By the time we left, I was tickled at the chat the Bean and I had and all the friends we saw.

“When you get older, I hope you live in a place surrounded by friends and people you love. We are so lucky to know so many great people!”

“Mom, can I tell you something?” she asked. “I really don’t like people. I just want my good friends and family around me and that’s all- all that talking is exhausting.”

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Puberty is a big topic around my house. With a 10 year old boy and an 8 year old girl, both of which have friends in various stages of development, it’s hard to avoid. Scorch knows more than the Bean as he’s older, but she knows that she will one day get her period. What she didn’t know is why.

The kids didn’t have school on Monday, so they pulled out the Care and Keeping of You books I have (girls book / boys book). The Bean flipped to a page in the girls book that had a diagram of the uterus, ovaries and fallopian tubes. So I explained what she was seeing – how once a girl hits puberty, once a month her ovaries will release an egg that will travel down one of her tubes and, if she isn’t going to have a baby, come out when her body menstruates.

Shortly there after, the Hubs came home. Without even saying hello, she runs to the top of the stairs and yells down to him: “Once a month, I’m going to lay an egg. Just call me a chicken!

Clearly, I’m killing it at this parenting game!

 

 

 

Thankfulness: The Green Genie & Butt-hole

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We had the kid’s parent-teacher conferences today. I admit that I geek out over these. We’re super lucky that my kid’s teachers are always accessible but I love having a set time twice a year to sit down and talk about how my child is doing. I talk to the kids at length ahead of time to see if they have any thoughts or worries that I should discuss, we review their report cards, talk about what they like and don’t like about class so I go in prepared.

Scorch is one of the lucky ones- school, both academically and socially, comes easy for him. He pulls in stellar grades, gets along with everyone and is generally a delight (his teacher’s words, not mine- although I agree).  His conferences tend to be quick and easy.

It’s not secret here that the Bean tends to be the more spirited of my kids, so you never quite know what you’re walking into. Her report card was amazing and she’s loving 3rd grade, so I wasn’t expecting anything of note. The only question mark on her report card was her writing- her grades weren’t as high as I would have thought they would be. I mean- girlfriend can write.  For example, here’s a gem from a few week back:

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You have to hear her read it to get the full experience- but this makes me laugh each and every time I read it. She wrote Part 2 and it’s even more disturbing/funny/demented.

So, her writing grade didn’t make much sense to me until her teacher pulled out a recent in-class assignment. The class was asked to write about finding a genie in a bottle- what would the genie look like? What wishes would he grant? Would he be successful? Her story- word for word:

“I found a genie in a bottle. He was green. He let me wish to be rich. It worked.”

*snort*

Ah, the joys of raising/teaching a child who, when she’s game, is 100% committed, but when she’s not? Well, you get a green genie who makes you rich.

The Pen is Mightier

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16 years ago, the Hubs (then the Boyfriend) and I were on vacation with my extended family at one of my favorite places on earth. He and I had been living together for 8 months and even though we were young (I had just turned 22), we knew we were going to get married. We had looked at rings a month or so before because he didn’t want to pick one out that I hated. We narrowed it down to 3 choices and I told him that was all I wanted to know- I didn’t want to know which one he picked, I didn’t want to know when he was going to propose -the rest should be a surprise.

And even thought I said that- and I meant it – I was really, really hoping he would propose on this vacation. We lived in DC at the time, but we were on vacation with my family and were going to see his family on our way back home, so the timing couldn’t have been more perfect. The Hubs knew this, so the very first day of vacation he pulled me aside and told me that it wasn’t happening. He couldn’t secure financing or a loan (remember, we were babies fresh out of college) and he wanted to let me know that upfront so I didn’t spend all vacation waiting for him to get down on bent knee.

So we went on to have a great vacation and I didn’t give it any thought. On our very last night, the whole extended gang of us on vacation went out to dinner. While there, unbeknownst to me, the Hubs asked for my Father’s permission while grabbing a drink at the bar and then asked me to go out on the docks to watch the sunset. While out there, he did get down on one knee and he asked me to marry him with the most perfect ring.

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Where we got engaged, 16 years later.

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That night, after we celebrated by passing a single bottle of champagne around the campfire for 15+ people to share, we talked about the life we were going to build. That life included our own home (check), kids (check), animals (check) and jobs we love (check 85% of the time).

What it did not include was the nitty gritty details. Like what happens when your kids find both the boy and girl version of “The Care and Keeping of You” books on puberty and then proceed to swap books and read them out loud to each other while crying with laughter. When the poor Bean read “penis” as “pen is”* I truly thought Scorch was going to hurt himself he was laughing so hard. And when we got to erections and periods? Forget it. Game over.

The crazy thing is the exactly the life we pictured and I’m so damn happy to be living it.

*I looked EVERYWHERE for the SNL “The Pen is Mightier” Jeopardy skit with Darrell Hammond as Sean Connery and I could not find it. Let me know if you do!

 

Eight.

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Dear Bean-

You turned 8. Your brother turned 10 in May and you turned 8 and my head is whirling from all that. But I’m really not that sad because 8 is actually one of my favorite ages. I love just about everything about 8 and I’m so excited to go through this age with you. But first, 7.

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7 was SUCH a great year for you. You blossomed at school this year. First grade was rough, but second grade?? You simply shined. Probably more than you should have given the amount of times we heard you were a bit too chatty in class, but I’d so much rather that Bean show up in school every day than the nervous, shy, anxious child we saw in first grade. While confidence at home has never been your problem, we all loved seeing you let that same confidence shine through at school and socially.  And this summer? Forget it- you’re killing it. You’ve gone to two camps already this summer without Scorch- something that would have been unheard of last year.

You, my funny girl, are 85% delight, 15% she-devil and 100% perfect. You can be sweet, loving, funny and a cuddle bug when you want to (which, thankfully is most of the time). You are the perfect mother’s helper and it’s a blast watching little kids flock to you. You adore playing school and your trusty white board is your all time favorite toy/tool/companion. Shopping for gifts for you is crazy hard simply because you want so little. You’re into experiences and going places and really don’t care much for things. You believe in quality over quantity when it comes to your friends and definitely inherited your father’s introverted side. Our house is one of your favorite places on earth- preferable with the cat on your lap and Netflix blazing.

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You have always known what you want, when you want it and have the biggest sense of self of anyone I know. While you’re definitely more courageous and brave this year, you simply won’t be pushed past your limits- big or small. Out of all your personality traits, this is the one I hope you fiercely hold on to. It’s maddening (MADDENING) to fight with you 10 minutes before we have to go to Church when you want to wear your leopard leggings with a tye-dye t-shirt but child, this ability to know what you want and have a single-mindedness about it will allow you to move mountains as you get older.

Here are my birthday wishes for you:
1) I wish you self-confidence. I hope as you continue to grow, you see how amazing you are and hold on to that feeling no matter what is raging on around you.
2) I wish you the joy of good friends. You are surrounded by some of the kindest, sweetest kids. I know that “girl drama” is supposed to come in to play soon- but resist it. Be a friend to those that deserve it, be kind to all- but don’t get sucked into drama and fights. You and your friends are better than that.
3) I wish you continued love of learning. Keep rocking that white board. Keep teaching your baby dolls what you learned at school. (But please Lord- read a whole chapter book. Your jumping from book to book is making me crazy.)
4) I wish you a sense of discovery. You haven’t found anything you’re really passionate about and that’s fine- you’re only 8 for goodness sake. But keep trying things. Sports, clubs, instruments- I don’t care what it is, but expand your horizons.
5) I wish the knowledge that you’re loved. Hormones are going to start sooner or later, which means things may go a little haywire with your emotions. Know that we will always be your safe place to land.
6) I wish you courage. Baby girl, this world is a nutty place and you’ll hear about a lot of bad things as you get older. Have the courage to know that the good way outweighs the bad. Have the courage to speak up when you see something you don’t like. Have the courage to be true to yourself.

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My fierce, funny, feisty, perfect child- I wish you nothing by good things during this year. And when bad things do happen- because they will- we’ll be here to get through it together.

All my love,
Mom