We have an 11 year old. Not a teenager, not a kid, but a middle schooler who is making middle school seem WAY better than I remember it. She’s got great friends, deep passions, killer grades (straight A+) at a phenomenal school, big goals and an aura around her that just makes people want to stick close.

Annabelle is fairly self-aware these days, so I’ll jump to the part where I tell you what SHE told me today, 1 day into being 11:

  • Favorite food: Chinese
  • Favorite animal: horse, alpaca
  • Best friend: Ava
  • Favorite hobby: Archery
  • Favorite thing to play: legos, hobby horsing
  • Favorite school subject: Math
  • Biggest fears: Heights, vomiting
  • Capability she’s most proud of: Leadership
  • Thing she needs to work on: Compassion
  • Favorite song/movie/etc: Hamilton
  • Favorite color: Maroon
  • What she wants to be when she grows up: Mounted archer entrepreneur
  • Place she wants to visit: Costa Rica
  • Thing she wants to achieve this year: High score at Archery Nationals

On my end, really I just hope I get another year of this sweet girl who is still more kid than teen (boys are still gross, pretend play is still fun, Santa is still out there) – not yet moody, sad, angry and generally a mess like I hear she’ll become soon enough. Here she is rolling her eyes, but we honestly don’t see a lot of it yet (and it’s mainly directed at her sister):

I also hope Annabelle continues to want to work hard in archery, because I love this unusual passion of hers where she strives to achieve something that requires incredible focus and work ethic. And I hope she really will grow her empathy and compassion – she tries (and doesn’t have an attitude about it when we call her out) but it really isn’t easy for her because she is always stuck in her own head (much like her dad, he’ll admit). But mainly, I hope Annabelle continues to do whatever she is doing, because I am blown away by just about everything about her, daily.

Happy birthday, my beautiful tween!


I can’t believe my youngest child is 8. Seriously! Today we swung by Ikea and I bought new daily kid drinking cups that were GLASS instead of colorful plastic. That’s how old my kids are. But let’s speak specifically about this fantastically wonderful eight year old:

I remember when I used to think she’d be my less complicated one. I should’ve figured that her compassion – compassion that started out with extreme hugging before she could walk or talk – and her wisdom (early on in the form of “zingers” out of nowhere that made you laugh and think) were coming from a deep, complex little heart and mind. And here she is. As complex and deep as they come, I think, especially at age 8.

I like to get the facts from my girls around their birthdays – the things that are important to them. So, since I’ve already talked for months about Clem’s worries, her academic achievements, her talents and her “areas for improvement” – I’m going to turn it over to her for this post. I interviewed her this morning and here’s what I got:

  • Favorite food: bell pepper
  • Favorite animal: Panda, white tiger, platypus, dog, llama
  • Best friend: Charlie
  • Favorite hobby: reading
  • Favorite thing to play: legos/reading
  • Favorite school subject: math
  • Biggest fear: Darkness and accidentally swallowing something
  • Think she’s most proud of: compassion
  • Thing she wants to work on: worrying too much
  • Favorite music/movie/etc: Hamilton
  • Favorite color: periwinkle
  • What she wants to be when she grows up: A marine biologist with 1000 pets
  • Place she wants to visit: Japan because they treat dogs like gods there
  • Goal for this year: Get over carsickness

Now – if you were to ask ME about my hopes for Clementine in her 8-year-old year (aside from my cornerstone “happy and healthy” wishes), here are my top 3:

  • I hope we can sort out school for her. She’s an outlier compared to her peers, is not especially challenged, is not happy with her teachers (her favorite teacher left in November), and the new principal isn’t as tuned in to her and flexible in making school work for her as the past one was for both her and Annabelle. She’ll be doing this hybrid half 3rd/half 2nd grade experiment starting next week and I just worry that she’ll fall through the cracks and/or miss some key 3rd grade elements that will set her up for success as she finishes up elementary school. I can’t help feeling guilty that Annabelle’s elementary education worked out so perfectly, and things started falling apart right when it mattered for Clem.
  • I hope she can get a handle on her sadness and worries. Tonight she told me she was reading an awesome book (5000 Amazing Facts!) but accidentally started reading a page about tapeworms and now can think of nothing else. And she slammed the book shut as soon as she got to the page titled “diseases.” I hate that our once easy going girl is now so delicate and sensitive. I vacillate between wanting desperately to protect her and needing to thicken her skin.
  • I hope she finds/nurtures a passion or slice of life that is only hers. So much of what Clem does feels like it is somewhat in Annabelle’s shadow. She seems to really enjoy music and has been composing little songs on the keyboard we got her for Christmas, but there’s nothing she’d do all day if she could (other than possibly reading). I am excited that Clem is going to overnight camp this summer – something A has never been brave enough to do. I love that she won’t be “Annabelle’s little sis” at camp.

Is that so much to ask for the most perfect 8 year old on earth (what bias?)? I don’t think so. Happy birthday to my sweetest toontsie, our heartbreakingly wonderful, beautiful Clem de la Clem!