year seven

Dear Olivia,

I want to say that it's hard to believe that another year has gone by, but I can't. The older you get the more time continues to do things like slip into the future or pass by like raindrops, and then you just end up yearning for the glory days of your youth while you tell stories about them to anyone who will listen. Somebody should really put these kinds of sentiments into songs, as I'm sure they'd be quite popular one day. 

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Not coincidentally, a year has passed since I've written anything for this blog. While you’ve certainly given me plenty of moments to write about, it just feels like that part of me hasn’t wanted to come out and play lately. I chalk it up to numerous things (a new position at work, jogging, Reese’s Outrageous candy bars), but mostly it’s a combination of laziness and fear of being judged by others for both my terrible writing style and my terrible parenting decisions. Thankfully I get healthy doses of self-doubt and loathing coupled with judgy memes and articles posted by family on social media which fill that void quite nicely. Yet today, instead of reading that article about the 72 things I need to say to you before you go to bed so that you won't turn into a horrible human being who always takes a penny but never leaves one for anybody else, I decided to write my annual birthday letter in accordance to the vow I took when I started this thing in the first place. You know, the one where I chronicle your early days, explain what I tried to do as a parent (yet glamorously failed to do it) and defend the realm against the White Walkers when winter finally arrives.

The past 12 months have been a blur, but they are speckled with memories and highlights. You worked through the rest of first grade while juggling your love for math and science with your hatred for writing long sentences that included 'and' or 'because' statements. After trying it out in a classmate's birthday party we enrolled you in a trial run of karate, which you loved. Then we switched you to a Tae Kwon Do class that was closer in proximity (and to our budget), but you hated it because the instructor had a gym full of kids and adults to teach and his yelling didn't suit you. Before the end of the school year we got you a haircut and, after sitting patiently in the chair for over 2 hours while discussing the greatest boxers of all time, you left with a fresh trim and an awesome purple stripe in your hair. People are still complimenting you for it, since somehow the color hasn't faded or washed out yet, however they're doubting whether you really know how old Joe Louis was when he came out of retirement to fight Rocky Marciano.

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First grade eventually came to a close and one of your best summers ever began. You and I traveled to Indiana for the first leg of your month long stay with family. There were swimming lessons followed by practice in Grandma & Grandpa's pool (and eventually the lake where Nana & Papa live), excursions to county fairs for rides, games, food and face painting, free Slurpee day and lots of time spent with family. Your mom and I both feel that it's important to not only visit with family regularly but to also experience what life in the Midwest has to offer. The pace is a bit slower, the air is cleaner, the people are a bit more polite and less likely to hurl an F-bomb at you if you stare at them for a second too long. And last, but not least, the sun doesn't start setting until close to 10 o'clock at night, which means putting you to bed with sunglasses and noise cancelling headphones on to dampen the sounds of older kids playing outside and all the people mowing their lawns at an ungodly hour.

Summer came to a close and second grade began, much to your dismay. You were under the impression that the summer break meant school was out forever and the building had been blown to pieces, but this wasn't the case. Eventually you adjusted back to the schedule, but the biggest hurdle was the homework. Not only did you have to write down the homework in your planner, which you and your classmates forgot or didn't take the time to do, but there was suddenly so much more of it to do. Math workbooks (you're currently working on multiplication (!!!)), spelling words, book reports, lightsaber training, journal entries. It has taken some time, but you're getting used to the workload and have even added an after school program (STEM!). It is amazing to see your mind expand and grow as you learn, and as always we will be there right by your side to help you on this journey, looking up Common Core math explanations on the internet and trying to figure it out for ourselves.


The past year has been filled with lots of questions and explanations, both from you and us. We want you to question everything you can to try and understand the world and the people, places and things in it (and all that is outside of it), especially if one day you still want to become the scientist/teacher/artist/astronaut/president/bad motherfucker you're working towards. Yet, I have to admit, you don't always need to know EVERYTHING that's going on. You don't need to know what your mom and I are talking about at all times, nor ask where one of us is if we're all at home (we live in a 2-bedroom apartment, so you don't have to look very hard). I appreciate your work on summarizing events that happen in your life, however you don't need to explain something to us that just happened 10 seconds ago when we were right there with you experiencing it at the same time. And while I know you need to go tell Mommy something urgent right this second, it seems to happen exactly when you're supposed to be doing something else like getting ready for school, doing chores or jumping into a pool

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This year we got to see your tastes change and develop. Some things got put on the backburner, like Star Wars, while other things became your main source of enjoyment, like Steven Universe. You've completely abandoned your bike and will only use your scooter when the weather is right and you're in the mood for adventure. You're playing less with action figures and Legos and more with dolls, dollhouses and Playmobil. Your drawing continues to improve, as well as your ability to make collages and objects out of scraps of paper and other items. Your reading has improved greatly, however you mostly only want to do as much as you're required to by your teacher. The only time of day where reading really piques your interest is right before bedtime, as I've started longer chapter books with you. It began with Charlotte's Web (followed by a viewing of the film), which changed your opinion on spiders from, "Eww, gross, keep them away!," to, "Keep them away, but let me look at them and thank them for eating all the gross bugs I don't want in my room." Our current book is 'Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH,' which you are enjoying quite a bit, however I remember the film being pretty dark and scary, so we'll see how that goes.

You've put a lot of work in this past year and, of course, there's more to be done. You still need to work on improving your time management, both at home and at school. You can get a bit distracted and veer off task, especially if there are friends around. We love that you have fun with your friends and like chitting and chatting with them, but too much of that can lead to things like you forgetting to write down all of your homework, not having enough time to eat a meal or losing an Infinity Stone to Star Lord during a dance off. Another challenge is your memory, which is still a bit selective. A while back you went to a weekend sleepover which also included a Halloween party. On the way home I asked what food (other than just candy) you had eaten for lunch and dinner. Your response was, "How am I supposed to know Daddy? That was yesterday!" I followed up by asking whether or not you had watched any television during the sleepover, to which you recalled 4 different shows and who some of the characters were. When I asked how you could remember all of that, since it also occurred the day before, you just gave me side eye and a smirk that said BUSTED. 

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All things considered, I'd say you had a pretty awesome 6th year on this planet. We did our best to give you plenty of time with family and friends, as well as experiences that you'll hopefully look back on with fondness when you're much older. You are an amazing combination of sweet/silly/shy/creativity/emotions and just plain awesome. On top of all that you must remember that you, much like the song insists, are made of love. The love your mother and I have for one another flows through you, and that love will never go away no matter what you do. No matter if you make mistakes, forget your homework, want to spend more time with your friends than us or eventually move out of the house. I'm getting ahead of myself and getting sad, which is a bad habit of mine, so I'll just end it there for now. Happy birthday, sweet girl. You're the best.



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