To the girl who hits the ground running every morning (by way of a dead sprint into our room), your enthusiasm is infectious. At the end of each movie we watch, you're the first one off the couch and on your feet, dancing through the credits. You know the words to a staggering amount of classic rock songs and hearing you belt out lyrics to Van Halen in the car never fails to impress me. Your excitement for just about everything, whether it's a spontaneous trip out for dinner, a fact you've learned at school, or a fresh box of crayons, makes you a joy to be around. You often pretend you're me, clomping around in my heels, but you don't realize how much I also aspire to be like you.
Yesterday we threw you a birthday party outside and it was perfect. There was an ice cream truck with pink balloons and I loved watching you run around with all your friends. But perhaps the thing that stood out the most was what I kept hearing from nearly every parent - that you're the sweetest kid. You make me proud constantly, but knowing your compassion and empathy extends beyond our house to those around you, makes me swell with pride. Plus, it sort of balances out the times I've been mentioned unfavorably in your diary.
To my favorite pancake sous chef, hiking buddy, and watercolor partner, I hope this year brings you joy, good health, and plenty of challenges to overcome. As your parent, I've always wanted to protect you from any sort of discomfort, but I've learned to have confidence that you can figure things out on your own. You're no longer as worried to make mistakes, realizing that practice makes progress, most recently with a new interest in basketball. I initially worried that two badly jammed fingers would hold you back from continuing to play (perhaps because you'd also talked about "the horrors you'd been through"), but to my delight, you were back outside later that day, shooting hoops. You can do anything you put your mind to, it all comes down to believing in yourself. I most certainly do. I love you more than the sun, the moon, and the stars.