Sigh. I'm so behind... and blogging is just the last thing on the list to get done.
Seven sounds so much older than 6. I don't know why, but it feels like she is almost 10 now... not just a little over 5.
It was tough when I was talking to Brad about planting some trees in our yard and I said something about planting a tree that would be big enough for a treehouse right behind the kids' swingset... and he said, "By the time that the tree would get big enough, the kids will have outgrown treehouses and swingsets." The pit in my stomach got huge... and tears welled up just a little. Is that possible? Time has slipped that far away already?
It made me regret not planting those trees years ago... regret not realizing that the time was going faster than I wanted, even though I seemed to know that it was.
I can't believe how fast time has flown by since you were born. It seems like yesterday when you were kicking me in the ribs and then remaining completely still for hours, worrying me over and over. Then, I think about the past year, and I truly can't believe how fast it has gone by. It hasn't been the easiest year since your birth. As a matter of fact, it's been my favorite year, but also the hardest. First grade has just been rough. But, you're becoming so much more grown up.
You are so smart... we are so proud of how well you do at school. You love to learn, often surprising everyone with how well you read, with how many things you can remember (all 50 states, the Preamble of the Constitution, many of the Presidents of the United States, basic facts about random things, like fun facts about Helen Keller, President Reagan, and Anne Frank), and how you seem to have so much common sense about solving problems. You seem to remember everything anyone tells you and you love to make sure that we know what everyone has told you, too. You love to talk... sometimes completely wearing us out. But, you are beginning to understand when it is appropriate to talk about things and when you need to quiet down. I'm putting heavy emphasis on the "beginning" part of that sentence. :)
Over the past year, you've become more sensitive about things... more self-conscious. It's not something I love about watching you grow up. It is hard to see you worry about things. You have always been so confident... so sure of yourself. There have been times over the past year where I've seen you hold back... wring your shirt with nervousness... or ask me if I think you look pretty or are doing good at something. It's hard being a mom on those days. I hate the thought of you feeling like you are less than perfect. In my eyes, you couldn't be more perfect.
I have reminded you over the past year of all of my favorite things about you. I try to tell you everyday how beautiful you are and how smart and sweet you are. You are one of the most caring people I have ever met... you genuinely care about other people and spend so much time worrying about taking care of others that you often have to be reminded to take care of yourself. Sometimes it seems like you are being nosey or a little bit of a busy body, but mostly you are just wanting to be a part of everything and making sure to help your friends do everything "right."
I am so impressed by how happy you are almost all of the time. Every morning, you wake up with a smile on your face. Even on days when you are tired or not feeling great, you are smiling. You are happy with whatever the day will bring... it makes life so much better for me. I love that everyday, even when Jake is whining and yelling and crying about hating mornings and life altogether, you try to find the bright side of things and make him smile. You make me feel like a really crappy person, because you are always being so sweet and I'm ready to just karate chop Jake. :)
With that being said, you still have some bad moments. You'll snap at me or your dad or Jake over the smallest things sometimes. You tend to be a little more mouthy than I expected (I have no idea where you got it from haha) and sometimes we butt heads over EVERYTHING. It seems like there are days when we really just snap at each other over and over all day long. It is not perfect, I tell you. I am trying to learn to let you win a few battles here and there so that I don't break your spirit... but there's a fine line where I also want you to learn to respect me (and other adults). Thankfully, you don't seem to be so mouthy with others... just with us. lol
You haven't lost any of your zest and energy for life. You want to sign up for everything and be a part of everything. I can relate, as I often feel the same way. In the past year, you have been involved with Girl Scouts, soccer, t-ball, swimming, tennis, and you've taken several theatre and art classes. Every time we have to register for something, we have to have serious discussion about what you really want to do. It's not easy, because you really do want to do everything. With that being said, you seem to have found a real passion for swimming. You are growing into a very good swimmer and I'm very proud of how far you have come over the past couple of months. You have breezed through each lesson and moved up to the next level without any trouble. You were in one of the top classes during the last session, which is typically one that takes a little longer to progress through. I should have told you that beforehand, because when it came time to see who moved up, you were deeply upset by the fact that you didn't move up to the next level. You cried for over an hour, which I totally didn't expect. It was heartbreaking to watch you hurt, but I think I finally got through to you when we talked about how you have to work hard in everything and sometimes it takes longer than we want to accomplish our goals. The good thing to come from this is that we saw that you really had found a passion... something that you are dying to do every single day. We had hoped that we would "know" when we saw what you loved. I've often felt like we are just grasping at straws with different sports... trying things to see if you like them, but never "really" knowing if you love any of it. So, despite the fact that we had already signed you up for soccer for the spring, we are continuing with swimming lessons, too. So, our schedules are staying busy.
You love art. You love nature. You love to read. No one would believe that if they were around you on a regular basis, because you are so energetic. No one would guess that you can be calm and thoughtful, quiet almost, in thinking about all of the beauty of the world. I recently told your dad that I thought we were raising little tree-huggers, because we are always talking about waste, recycling, growing things, conserving water, etc. Later that very same day, we had planted some trees in the yard... you came out and said, "Oh... that tree is so cute. Can I just give it a hug?" I thought I'd fall over with laughter.
Physically, you have grown so much over the past year. It is that growth that often makes you kind of clumsy. I remember being just like you... growing a lot really early on, feeling clumsy all the time. The good news is that I stopped growing at about age 10, with the exception of about a half inch... so if you are like me, you'll be full grown in a couple of years. :) I can't promise that the clumsiness will go away... you are my daughter, after all. :)
I love that you still believe in things like Santa Claus, but you are very realistic about other things. You know the difference between most things fantasy and fiction. I hate that someone in a leadership role in your life told you that Rudolph wasn't real at Christmas time. You weren't sure what you should believe, but I was able to pull out a reason to keep you believing. I hate it that so many people want to rush you and the kids your age into growing up so soon. You are so smart and so mature, but you should get to enjoy just being a kid for a while. I am so hopeful that we will get to Disney this year... before you completely lose your love of fantasy. Oh, who am I kidding? I am still excited to get to see Cinderella's castle again... I guess you can't outgrow it. :)
I love that your friendships have become such a big part of your life. It seems like nearly every week you are either inviting someone over or being invited over to someone's home for a play date or a sleepover. I love the little girls that you are friends with... they are so sweet and fun... and you guys have so much fun together. I hope that they'll be lifelong friends for you and that you guys don't go through the mean girls phase.
Your friendship with me is one of my favorite things in the world. When we aren't arguing over something like you talking back or not cleaning up your room like I asked you to 500 times, we have a great time. We have a great time having girls' nights... and you love to help me do everything (except clean up your toys). We talk about everything and I love that you will ask me questions about anything and everything. I try really hard to answer any of your questions honestly and openly. They are getting tougher... so I'm wondering how I'm going to handle some of the questions that I'm sure will come over the next three years. It makes me appreciate this age even more. :)
Your relationship with your daddy cracks me up. You want him to baby you, but you are quick to ignore him or argue with him about anything and everything. You get frustrated with him when he doesn't do things as fast as you want, but you still want to crawl up in his lap like a little baby whenever you get a chance. It's quite funny to me to see you interact... it reminds me a lot of my relationship with my daddy... except that my daddy wasn't as big of a pushover as yours is. :) Well... maybe... :)
And, probably my favorite relationship you have is the one you have with Jake. I don't think I've ever met a little girl who loves her brother as much as you do. Jake recently had stitches and you were more worried about him than anything. You were so sweet... so worried. The entire way to the ER, you were watching Jake like a hawk. I think you thought he was going to pass out or something. Of course, he didn't... but you didn't take your eyes off of him.
Bailey, even if you weren't my daughter, I would think you are the coolest little girl in the world. I love your sweetness and spunk. Your frilly girl style and your tomboy toughness. Your personality is amazing... you can make anyone feel like they are the center of the world. I don't really enjoy certain phases that you go through... the know-it-all-ness and the mouthiness. But, at the same time, I love your strength and passion and I would not trade you for anyone in this world. I hope that you remain strong, both physically and mentally, and that you always do everything with kindness in your heart. I hope that as you grow, you find the perfect balance in everything... because I think that's the key to happiness. If I had any advice to give you at this point in your life, it would be to act. Do all the things you love. Don't worry about what anyone else in the world thinks or likes. Be you... because there isn't anyone else that could be more perfect.
I love you more than the world itself! Happy birthday, baby girl.