Our beautiful girl. Ten years old. (And a half, because Mommy is late with your letter. But better late than not at all.)
I'm not going to do a run down of everything you have done and seen and accomplished in the past 18 months. But there's been a bunch - you've continued to travel the world, try new things, and make new friends. You've added soccer, ballet, jazz and playing the french horn to your list of activities.
What I most want to remember about you at 10 is how much you seem to be enjoying your life right now. You had such a rough go in Year 4, trying to find your place and get comfortable in your own skin. But now your wings are really spreading. You and your friends at school have founded a club, The Lady Bug Rescue Center (LBRC), and I've loved seeing much energy and love you've poured into it.
You still love most of all to be curled up with a book, but you're starting to explore beyond the safe confines of their covers. In fact, one day recently you got so involved with your friends that you actually lost a brand new book that you were in the middle of (don't worry - you found it again a few days later)! A year ago, you would never have done that. It's a sign that you're growing up and your priorities are changing.
Mommy and Daddy are so proud of you, and we can't wait to see what the future has in store for you. Keep being the best version of you that you can be. You have such a good and generous heart. Keep that, always. It's the best part of you.
My sweet LilyBug,
You started this year in 2nd grade, in Raleigh, North Carolina. And now here you are, 9-years-old, in Year 4, in Sydney, Australia. To say that you've grown and changed this past year would be quite the understatement.
It's been an interesting year, a challenging year, and an amazing year. And through it all you have smiled, you have laughed, you have made memories, and you have bloomed. Mommy & Daddy are so proud of you!
We spent the first few months of this year trying to fit in all of our favorites and "lasts", filling up our memories of home. There were your last few days at York Elementary, a place that gave you the best beginning to your education I could imagine. A place where you grew and learned and developed confidence and discipline, and where you made friends and memories.
And then we started on the most epic summer of all time!!!
First, a trip to the American Girl Store with Grammy.
Then, a trip to Disney World with Grammy & Bumpa, Auntie, Grandpa Charlie, Auntie Melissa, Uncle Eric and Evan & Megan.
More fun was packed into these 3 days than I thought possible.
We took one last trip to the beach with ALL the cousins!
And we had a whole fabulous summer at the pool, with our friends and Auntie!
We ended it all with an incredible going away party with our friends in Raleigh who have become a family to us.
And then it was moving day... Time to say good bye to the only home you've ever known.
Time to pack our lives into a million suitcases, and cry a million tears at the airport.
And to fly away...
And start a new adventure in a brand new place.
And oh, what an amazing job you've done. You have handled these enormous changes with so much grace, and such strength. You've continued to look at this as one big adventure, and to always find the bright side. Even if that meant being excited about "camping out" in your new room while we waited for our furniture to arrive.
And getting excited about school uniforms.
Or riding public transit to school while Mommy was too scared to learn to drive on the other side of the road.
You have taken every challenge thrown at you this year and just figured it out. You've made new friends.
Tried new things.
And explored as much as possible. From the Opera House...
To art museums...
To the Pacific Ocean. (This was the first time you ever saw it, at Manly Beach.)
I think it's safe to say that your favorite thing about Australia is the wildlife. (Some things never change!)
You got to spend a week in Fiji!
Where you learned that you love to snorkel!
You handled a summer-time Christmas, away from home and family, with your typical open-heart and joy.
You'll notice that most of the pictures I've chosen are of you and Rory together, because I think that's what I will remember most about this year. You two have grown even closer. You are each other's best friend. You have done such a good job of looking out for her, and helping her. You are the best big sister she could have, and I'm so thankful that you two have each other. When Auntie and I were growing up, Grammy used to tell us all the time that we were the only sisters we would ever have and that we should appreciate each other. But you two seem to already have that figured out.
It hasn't always been easy. You've been homesick and sad sometimes too. But I am amazed at your ability to wake up every day and just start over. You still greet every day with a smile and with the hope that it could be the best day ever. Your optimism and joy make me smile every day.
I read somewhere recently that this is our "halftime" ... Because we're halfway through our time with you living at home. And that is heartbreaking. And, honestly, unbelievable, because really, how did NINE years go by so fast?!?! But if the happiness and hope and love you've brought to our lives these past nine years, and this year especially, are an indication of what the future holds, then I look forward to the next nine.
You continue to teach me, and challenge me, and inspire me every single day. I am so incredibly proud to be your Mommy. I am so thankful for you... our sweet, loving, amazing, clever, funny, adventurous, full-of-awesome little book-worm! You are the best Valentine anyone ever got.
So, my birthday wish to you this year is that all YOUR wishes come true. Because you deserve it.