Today, you are seven years old. It doesn't seem like so terribly long ago that I woke up thinking I was just having stomach pain when I was actually in labor with you. From the very beginning, you have been a force to be reckoned with.
You are growing so much each and every day. I feel like we are at the shoe store getting your feet measured every other month, and I am always looking for new shirts to fit your strong body that is growing so tall. Emotionally, you are making leaps and bounds into maturity with a few forays back to being a little girl. You're extremely independent and ready to do things your own way in your own time. Lately, my favorite time of day with you is just before bed: I call it "truth time" because that seems to be when all of your questions or fears or observations on life seem to blossom out of you. We cuddle and talk and laugh and talk about when you were a baby. Sometimes, if someone at school has hurt your feelings, the only thing I can do is hold you, reassure you, and feel my own heart break.
The other night you were bouncing around the house after dinner. I heard Dad say, "Lottie, I love how much you love life." I thought that was the perfect way to describe you. Even at the age of seven, you inhale life: You eat in up in big, lusty gulps and then ask for dessert. (Literally. I have never known anyone who loves sweets as much as you do.) But as you're squeezing every drop of juice out of your day, you never fail to look around to be sure everyone is included. If it's one thing you can't stand, it's seeing someone being left out...of anything. You are truly an advocate for the underdog, and you always give someone a chance or two or thirteen. No one will ever be lonely on your watch.
Your physical energy is a marvel to me. From the minute you bound out of bed in the morning until the minute you fall asleep at night, you are in motion. If we're reading a book or watching a movie, you're twitching. When you tell us stories about your day at school, they are accompanied by huge gestures and dramatic interpretations. Whether it's 95 degrees or -13 degrees, you NEED to be outside. You're happy doing your own thing in the snow or just walking around our yard looking for adventure. You often come in covered in sand, mud, rain, or sweat, and that's how I know you have had a wonderful time. You're physically fearless, as well. When we went to Winter Wonderfest in Chicago with Dallas's school, you did the zip line, the highest slides, and even talked me into doing the hang gliding ride with you. The only thing I have seen you not enjoy was Rock 'N' Roller Coaster at Disney's Hollywood Studios. You absolutely begged me to take you on that ride, and you cried within the first sixty seconds. Lesson learned. However, the giant hill on Splash Mountain is one of your favorite things in the world and the World. I went on it with you twice last time, so from now on, I'm letting Daddy take you. You climb trees, you run, you jump, you make up obstacle courses, you chase, you hang, you fly. When you do fall asleep at night, you're out fast and hard. Woe be to the person who wakes you up in the night.
You have made great strides with your school work in first grade. I know that it's not as easy as Kindergarten was and I know you miss your teacher from last year. You love your teacher this year, so that's a bonus, but the work is more of a challenge. Dad and I are so proud and impressed with how much your reading and math have improved. I can't describe how much joy I feel when you read to me or casually toss out a multiplication fact. Sitting still and staying focused isn't easy for you, but I'm really pleased with the effort you're putting into your work.
Thank you for reminding me what is important: kindness, love, memories, joy, laughing, and dessert. I often wonder how we got so lucky with you, but I don't question it too much because I'm grateful that you are ours for as long as you'll have us.
You are my best, best girl. I love you oodles!