Sep 30, 2013

A Cheetah Girl turns 12

Oh, Jen. How in the world can you be 12 years old? How is it possible that yesterday, I was just carrying you around on my hip, and today, you and I are nearly the same height? How is it, that when you need a pair of jeans, you steal mine, or that I often catch you wearing my favorite t-shirt? I feel that you should still be in the toddler section, grabbing every single piece of cheetah or leopard-print fabric you can, begging, "Mommy! PEESE!! It's cheetah!" Time has gone by way, WAY too quickly.

This year, you have outdone yourself--and exceeded our expectations of you--again and again. You were so proud of yourself when you achieved your Bronze Award in Girl Scouts with your Junior troop. You love Girl Scouts so very much, and I'm so glad that you do! You bridged to Cadettes, and the smile on your face when you crossed that bridge was huge. You met your hero, Dr. Laurie Marker, and that moment remains a highlight in your life thus far. After talking with Dr. Marker, you decided to take action to help your beloved cheetahs in a bigger way--particularly after the Cheetah Conservation Fund named you 'Student Ambassador.' You contacted the National Girl Scout Council and talked with them about creating a patch to help the Cheetah Conservation Fund. You obtained approval from the CCF and the Girl Scout Council and designed a patch. I did my part by finding someone to create the patches, and right now, as I type this, the CCF is getting funding to print these patches so they will be available TO EVERY SCOUT IN THE WORLD. Each patch will come with a bundle of information on how to save the cheetahs. Jenna, you are amazing, and soon, scouts all over the world will have the opportunity to learn more about the Cheetah Conservation Fund and how to save your favorite animal. To you, it doesn't seem like a big deal--but it IS, Jen. For you, it's all about the cheetahs.

For the past 2 weeks, you've also been volunteering your time at a community theatre. Every Monday and Wednesday, you intern from 5-7pm, helping with classes. I have to admit--I didn't know how well you'd do, but you have done amazing! I have been told by the teachers that they love having you, and that you're doing a great job. That makes my heart so happy. I'm hoping that this exposes you to new things--things that you don't know you're capable of. Again, I'm so proud of you.

School is going well for you, but you're finding it somewhat difficult because it's CHALLENGING. You told/whined to me the other day, "But this is was never this hhhaaarrrrddddd!!!" Guess what--it's because school has never challenged you before. Your school work challenges ME, and there's a lot of work to be had in this curriculum. Your favorite, so far, is Art History. You loved your studies on the Cubi Series, the drawings in the caves of Lascaux, and cuneiform. In fact, you've been working on your cuneiform project for the last week. You've decided to take the Mesopotamian epic of the creation of the gods Apsu and Timat, tell it in your own words (take it out of cuneiform and write it in English), and create illustrations. Your drawings are so good, and the way you've told your story is even better! You definitely have a gift for narrative storytelling.

You're loving Literature, and your assigned book (which makes me happy)! Your book is titled, A Year of Impossible Goodbyes, and it details one family's struggle during the Korean War. You're very emotional towards the characters and their plight, and the essays you've written in reference to this book have been wonderful! I'm so proud of your writing skills, Jenna. They're excellent, when you WANT them to be. Academically, this year is going to be an overall struggle for you--simply because you're expected to do a lot of work, and manage your time with that work appropriately. Anyone who knows you understands that you + time management = lackadaisical. This past week, you did much better, so i'm hoping that we see continuous improvement. We know you can do it, and we know that you're more than capable!

You were booked for your first modeling job this year, too! You did a shoot for Academy, and you loved it! You are to be paid a pretty penny for it, and you have decided to give a quarter of it to the CCF. The rest, will go to Monster High dolls, i'm sure. And yes, I still can't believe you love these dolls so. BUT, i'm not complaining. As much as I tire of hearing about Monster High, I encourage you to be a child as long as possible. 12 is still so, so young, and you have a life ahead of you--play with the damn dolls, kid, and love every-freaking minute of it. You don't give a rat's ass if other girls make fun of you, and THAT makes me happy. You don't compare yourself to anyone else, you don't try to act or 'fit-in' in any specific area--and THAT makes me even HAPPIER. You are YOU. There is something to be said for young ladies that don't care if they're 'different,' that don't care about what brand of clothes they wear, that don't think they need makeup to look 'pretty,' that don't care what boys think of them--Girls like that grow up to be strong, independent, happy, secure women. And really...what mother doesn't want that for their child?

Do you realize how freaking awesome you are? I kind of hope you don't. Because one day, when you're in the back of a truck in Namibia, with your crazy hair in a pile on the top of your head, with comfortably torn jeans, a dusty shirt, and nasty gloves from throwing raw meat out to a snarling cheetah, I want you to be able to take a deep breath, look at that African sunset and have a revelation: "Holy shit. I am amazingly awesome."

I love you, Jenna. I love you more than I can ever tell you. I love you all the spots.
Happy 12th birthday, my amazing, beautiful, cheetah-hearted baby,

Sep 24, 2013

Bedtime tidbits

Sometimes, Jen and The Munch sleep in the same room. Okay, not 'sometimes,' but maybe 50% of the time. Alright, I can't lie--it's more like 95% of the time. Yes, they have their own rooms, with their own very comfy beds, but they always end up in the same one.

Last night, it was Jenna's room. Jen was in her twin-sized bed, and the trundle was pulled out for The Munch. It was about 930, and I was lying in bed with Jen, with my left leg hanging over the edge of the bed onto the trundle. Munch was hugging my leg. Every once in a while, she'd kiss my foot or my ankle and whisper, "I love you, mommy..." whilst rubbing my leg. This kid--no boundaries.

Out of the blue, Jenna asks, "Mom, what does my name mean?"
"Little bird," I answer.
"What does Clairey's name mean?"
"'Claire?' She's named after County Clare in Ireland."
"But does it MEAN anything?"
"Yeah, I can't remember...I think it means 'beautiful*' in French."

Then, from the depths of the trundle bed, in a raspy little whisper, we hear:


(*It actually means "Bright")

Sep 10, 2013

The Munch is 10!

My Sweet Munch,
I feel like I start off each of these birthday letters the same: I can't believe you're fill in the blank with your age. But really...this year...I seriously can't believe it. TEN. Jeez, girl. TEN.  I really don't know what to say, that hasn't already been said before.
You are such an amazing kid, Munch. You are an athlete, an actress, a snuggler, a singer, a mommy's-girl, and a dreamer. You are everything because you believe you are. Your smile is contagious, your laughter is infectious, and you--just YOU--can melt even the coldest heart. People don't just like you--they LOVE you. You adopt people as your own. You have your 'favorite' people that you deem siblings. You have extra brothers (Josh and Evan), and extra sisters (Morgan, Brendis, all the 'big' girls on your gym team...). You just invite people in, and attach yourself--no  one is safe! :) Munch, you have such a big heart--I hope it just keeps on growing.

You're working so hard at gym, and it shows through the drastic changes we've seen in the past 5 months. You don't even look like the same kid! When you came to this new gym, your old gym was set to have you compete as a new Level 4 this season---you've worked your way up to a Level 6. You've picked up so many new skills in just a few short months--I think all you needed was an extra push and some tough love. It was a good move for you, and I'm so proud that you saw the need to be pushed harder and asked to change gyms. I also know that it was hard for you to leave Coach Briana--I know you love her so very much. But that's what makes you so mature--you didn't want to leave her, but you knew that you needed a different style of coaching and a different gym environment to excel. And you got it in your new set of coaches. You're wise beyond your years, kid. And I honestly believe that Coach Briana would be so proud of you if she could see how far you've come.
You're also a force to be reckoned with when it comes to theatre. Because of your gym schedule, you don't get to do near as much theatre as you'd like--but you do what you can. You were cast in your first main-stage musical (Annie), and your second (Fiddler on the Roof); you were an extra in a feature film, and filmed a pilot for a t.v. show! And through all of this, you remained just as happy-go-lucky as always. You absolutely shined in "Annie" and proved to everyone that you were worth being cast when we got a call at 1030 in the morning (before a 3 o'clock show) asking if you knew Molly's lines. You were not cast as Molly's understudy, but when Molly was sick, they realized that the girl they DID cast as the understudy was just too tall to be a believable Molly. So they called you. You ran through Molly's scenes before the show opened, and that night, you didn't miss a single line or stage direction. You nailed it! In "Fiddler on the Roof," you didn't get the part you wanted, but that didn't stop you from being the best babushka-wearing Munch there ever was! You danced and sang your heart out in every show, and even though your part was small, after each show, people would come up to you and say, "We couldn't stop watching you!" Sweetpea, you have a HUGE presence in whatever you do!
I am so proud of you, Munch. You are the most loving, caring, precious, hard-working little kid I know. You really are such a good girl--we're all very lucky to have you. I love you so very much. Each little freckle. Each little hair on your head. Every bit of you. I adore you!!
I love you all the stars! Happy Birthday, my baby!
Mommy xoxoxo