Dear Gwen:

Dear Gwen,
Tomorrow you turn Nine years old, and girl, I am both terrified and excited.

Scary Mommy put this age so well when she said,
"Nine is sneaky. Nine smuggles a flashlight into her room and secretly stays up for hours past her bedtime, doing god knows what. Nine wants to watch TV shows that are inappropriate for a child her age. When you tell her no, Nine will look them up on YouTube and watch them anyway. When you punish her and take away tablet and television privileges, Nine acts aloof. She doesn’t care because she knows you want her to. To be completely honest, Nine is a little bit of a sociopath. [...] Nine will push you to your breaking point. You will have heart-to-heart talks with Nine. You will discipline her, punish her appropriately when need be, and give her more love and support than humanly possible. You will think you are making tremendous headway with Nine, that you are finally getting through to her. You’re not. She’s still Nine."

You, are all this as you turn nine. But you are also the sweetest, kindest, most thoughtful kid. You offer genuine, heartfelt apologies, and truly see that your reactions are out of proportion with the offenses that caused them. It doesn't mean that you can control them, but you can at least recognize the reality of the situation afterward. You are sometimes brazen, often brash, but also empathetic and loving, curious and inquisitive.

You are happy, funny, smart (sometimes too smart for your own good), and loving. You enjoy math (and are great at it too!), love to read (especially graphic novels! Lumberjanes and Dog Man are some favs), and find really joy and awe in nature, animals, and science experiments (especially slime!). You still love Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit, and Star Wars (in all forms - book, movie, trivia!). LEGOs are still one of your favorite things, and you love games too.

You seem to love and hate school in equal measure right now. You long to have lazy days full of games, reading, and videos... but get antsy and miss your friends. You don't want to get out the door in the morning, often ranting about the unfairness of your responsibilities, but when the end of the day rolls around, the majority of the time you say that the day was good.

School *is* harder this year. Its more academic then previous years, and expectations are rising for what you are responsible for on your own - at school and at home. You want the freedoms, but don't love the requirements. Still, you've been adapting so well, working hard and excelling at school. You love GT (gifted and talented) best, as well as Math, specials, and Peak Academies (special once a week activities ranging from yoga to cooking to graphic novel design or MineCraft).

You started after school activities this year: Garden Club and Recycling Club; which is nice for both of us! You also started Girl Scouts this year, and we are knees deep in our first cookie season! You hit the ground running, and have impressed me with how much more confident you've already gotten with talking to people in a very mature way, handling money, and thanking people for buying or not.

You are wild and exuberant, excited and confident. You love to travel and explore, enjoy playing adventure games with your friends, and have mastered your bike. You are so understanding and accepting of people's differences, you give me hope for the future!

You exhaust me, but also fill me up and bring me more joy then almost anything else in this life.

Other then the pictures with Pumpkin the Dog, all of the pictures in this post were taken by Heather Gramm Photography this past summer. She captured the many sides of your personality so well!!

Baby, I love you so much, in ways that I can't even find the words for. I can't believe you are 9 years in our lives already. I cannot wait to see what this year brings for you.

You're the best Gwenie I ever had...
Love, Mama

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