Gwen - 11 years

Dear Gwenie - my Baby, 

Eleven feels so old to me, maybe because I can still remember vividly so many of the things that I felt and experienced in the days surrounding your birth. Maybe because I've been attending some births lately, and you are just so BIG compared to those little babies. A large part is just how much growth you've shown this year. 

This year brought an anxiety and depression diagnosis that knocked us all over, in addition to everything else that happened in this world (a pandemic! a very violent and charged election!)... but you! you managed to take those diagnoses and use them to grow. You handled them with more grace and fortitude then many adults could have. Learning what tools work for you to manage them, you turned them from a negative into just another part of the amazing you. To say I'm proud  (and impressed) would be an understatement.

Then there was that darn pandemic. We've spent more time at home in the past year then we probably have in all of the 4 previous years combined. Our big summer trip was cancelled, which was hard for us all. But we made it work. Thankfully we had snuck a ski trip in before everything shut down, so you got to see your cousin, Aunt, and Uncle, and had that fun... but it was hard for you not to head to the East Coast. 


That difficulty was nothing though next to virtual school. Oooo boy, was that a challenge! We made it work though, and I think after everything 2020 held, we became a much better team. Thankfully when this school year started (5th Grade! last year in Elementary School), they had all new plans in place, and most of the year has gotten to be in person... which a few weeks of much smoother and easier virtual in there.

We found new ways to have fun, spending lots of summer time outdoors, exploring our local trails. We took a really fun weekend to car camp at a nearby campground that we hadn't visited before, and it ended up being such fun! As it got cooler, we went on another camping trip with the three of us, and took drives into the mountains to see the colors. While we all missed our normal cross-country experience, we found safe ways to still get our adventuring in.

You spend this year working your way through Invisalign treatment, again, something that so many adults struggle through, and you just rocked it! Your adaptability will be one of your biggest strengths in life, and I hope you never lose that. And... treatment paid off! Not only do you have a lovely straight smile, but more importantly, first the first time since your first two loose teeth, you lost baby teeth without issue and had the adult teeth come in just as easily. What a win to NOT have to get teeth pulled.

Penny, our bubble family's baby, was born a month after your last birthday, and you have been so sweet to watch with her. You are playful and gentle, and no one (outside of her Mommy and Daddy) can get her to laugh they way she does for you. It's fun watching you play that big sister role. I think we've all wondered how you would feel in that role at times, and this has been the best of both worlds... getting to see you get to love on a "little sister", but then we all get to go home! 😁 Ha!

Many of your interests remain the same: you love fantasy and magic (Star Wars, Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings), reading (graphic novels especially - Lumberjanes and Last Kids on Earth are favs), drawing, travel and adventure, and music. You've found new ways to entertain them: recently you were taught how to play D&D, and boy did you love that! It's the perfect combination of fantasy, magic, creation, adventure... and thankfully for you, your Dad, Aunt Ffion, and Aunt Elise all love to play too! So you have enjoyed some amazing adventures and travel right in our living room! 

Which brings up a big, delightful change from this year: your Aunt Ffion and Aunt Elise moved here!! I always joked that Colorado would be perfect if only I could pick up my family and move them here. Well, that happened at least in part, this past year. You could not have been more excited, and we've joined them for appropriately masked and distanced walks and celebrations. Since your birthday and Ffion's birthday are less then 2 weeks apart we celebrated with a fun horseback trail ride with all of us. It was a beautiful day, and embodied some much of what I had wished and hoped for, for over 5 years now!

Your love of music has grown even deeper this year, as you've learned its value in helping to express emotions and handle hard moments. Its become a valuable tool, and some of your favorite songs are You Will Be Found (from the Dear Evan Hanson soundtrack) and This Is Me (from The Greatest Showman), but you enjoy just about any music. Recently you asked for some Heavy Metal, and then pulled up Five Finger Death Punch all on your own (you have the Pandora app on your phone).

You have such a deep and abiding love of animals... this isn't new, but maybe even more so this year. Your pup friends are some of your favorites. Daisy of course, but also Becca's dog Hank (who is the office dog!), James's dog Lilly, and then the friendly squirrels that come on our porch to say hi regularly.

Gwenie, my love, its so hard to sum up everything from this past year. Normally I write your letter slowly over a month or two, and I have lots of posts to look back on to help me remember; but this year is just so different then most. My own depression stole away much of my desire and ability to write posts, while the pandemic took away a lot of my normal material to write about. I'm writing this as we sit at home together, the day before your birthday. Celebration this year will be Chinese takeout (your choice) with Ffion and Elise, and a quiet day at home building Lego presents and reading new books. Its all so very different.

(One thing, thankfully the same... they found safe ways to reopen the slopes! And you are better then ever on the skis!)

For everything we've got through this past year, and everything new that's happened, one thing remains unchanged: I am so so damn grateful that I get to be your Mama, and that you love me so deeply. I love you my Babes, to the deepest depth of me. Thank you for being you.


Best Gwenie I ever had, 


11 and 10