The Inner Poet.

My daughter is the epitome of a cheerful optimist.

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She is nearly always happy, always pointing out the beautiful and amazing things around her, and is constantly looking to thank me for something or state how much she enjoys whatever it is we’re doing right then.

“Thanks for taking us on this run, Mom. I love running!”

“Doing laundry is the best, Mom. Thanks for letting me do it!”

“Thank you for allowing me to clean this toilet, mom. It’s so fantastic!”

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Although I appreciate her enthusiasm, because I’m a cynic at heart, I sometimes suspect that her cheery disposition is actually rooted deeply in her people-pleasing-oldest-child-personality and then multiplied by opportunism to capitalize on her little brother’s general lack of cheery disposition (and his being told to quit whining and/or arguing approximately once a second) in order to differentiate herself as The Favorite Child.

I believe this because the whinier he is, the cheerier she is. The more he says he hates something, the more she says she loves it.

It’s as if he left his lunch money in her room and she’s perfectly happy to collect interest on it.

But maybe I’m reading too much into her personality. Maybe she somehow missed all of my genetics and is genuinely the nicest person that ever lived.

Or maybe, deep down, she’s as cynical as I am. And is just WERKING it.

“Thanks for this English assignment, Mom. I LOVE writing acrostic poetry!”

Those are words that Ali spoke last week. Those words definitely never came out of my mouth, as I despise all forced attempts at rhyming or rhythm, mainly because I’m absolutely horrible at it. Like seriously – cannot write a rhyming verse to save my life. Additionally, I hated every English book and class that I ever knew. One time I loathed my English book so badly that I asked my Mom if I could finish the entire book that day and not do English for the rest of the year. She said yes, and I happily obliged.

(I didn’t learn much English that year, but I’ve managed to figure out the basics of the language in spite of my self-administered mini-term.)

But Chris is an excellent song-writer, so I thought that perhaps Ali has her father’s talent and love for the art.

She handed me her poem with excitement and glow.

“I wrote my acrostic poem about winter! Don’t you love it? It was fun to try and start all the lines with the letters W-I-N-T-E-R.”

I read her poem.

I giggled.

I read it again.

I giggled some more.

“It’s amazing, honey. Simply. Amazing.”

And at that moment I knew, deep down, in the places she doesn’t like to talk about, Ali had a hidden dark side, just like her mother.

Because Ali’s poem sounded just like April Ludgate had written it, and is best read with her fantastic monotone delivery.

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You go, Ali.

Keep being sunshiny and positive on the outside, but enjoy your Inner Evil Poet as well.

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The Politics of Poop.

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Noah has decided, with certainty, that he is a once-a-week pooper. He informs people this at random, and they are more educated for it.

But when that once a week time slot comes along, he’s as dramatic as 100 senators complaining about each other.

“I’m gonna need twenty minutes. Do we have twenty minutes?”

“No – we have to leave in 15 minutes.”

“That’s not gonna work!!!!”

Then when he’s in there…

“UUUUUUUUUGH!!!! AAAAAAAAAARGH!!! EEEEEEEEEEEEEEERN!!!”

And toward the end….

“I HAAAAATE WIPING. WHY WON’T YOU WIPE FOR ME ANYMORE???”

Growing up is the worst.

But Tuesday night he launched his most comprehensive bathroom campaign yet.

Of course the urge hit him up right in the middle of dinner, right after he’d finished eating everything he wanted to eat and right before he was forced to eat what he didn’t want to eat. His need to pass a new bill showed up just in time to conveniently filibuster dinner.

He disappeared to the bathroom, and we had time to finish our dinner, explain to Ali a full understanding of the three branches of government, watch the pre-show, the SCOTUS pick, and the post-show, all while Noah was commode camping.

(With various yells, groans, and sounds from the senate chamber interspersed into our dialogue.)

At 37 minutes, Chris got a bit fed up.

“What are you DOING in there??”

“What I always do in here…”

“What’s taking so long?”

“Pooping…”

“Did you actually poop or are you just sitting there?”

“I pooped…but it’s taking FOREVER to wipe.”

“You need to hurry up – you still have to eat your dinner!”

“Okay…”

“You’re wasting all your playtime in there – you know that, right?”

“Okay…”

Chris went upstairs to get a shower. Ali went upstairs to read Harry Potter.

At the 60 minute mark, Noah emerged with a deep sigh.

“Where did everyone go? To bed? Is it bedtime??”

“Go eat your dinner.”

A Life of Adventure.

Yesterday, Ali turned 10 years old.

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Double digits.

Officially a Tween.

(I’ve been calling her a tween since she turned 9 but she is very insistent that tween only refers to double digits that don’t end in a teen. So at least we can put that argument behind us.)

When I started this blog, she was this size:

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And now she’s this size.

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Over the past year, her face, her poise, and her interests have transitioned from a kid to a young lady. She has grown and matured, so far without losing her unwavering kindness and compassion for others. We’ve had many preparatory talks about what is to come in the next couple years – what she can expect and what she can keep in mind as her hormones mutiny. She says the part that scares her the most is not liking us anymore. So maybe that’s a good sign that she’ll remember it’s just the hormones making her want to hate us.

(We shall see.)

I took this picture on her ninth birthday,

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And here she is the day before her tenth birthday:

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Above all other things this year, Ali has had a zeal for adventure and the outdoors – something I very much appreciate. Here are the highlights from her year of exploration in loose chronological order, with a few notes mixed in…

She was up for my snowchasing adventures last January,

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And she’s always excited for a hike – especially with friends.

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Rock jumping…

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And visiting the Ministry of Magic.

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She’s the kindest big sister that ever existed, giving Noah way more patience than he deserves (or than he receives from me.)

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One of my favorite photos from this year was completely set up by Ali. She told me where to stand to get the picture and how she was going to pose. I didn’t even see the face in the clouds behind her. When I asked her about it the next day (after someone else pointed it out to me), she said “Of course I saw the face. That’s why I wanted you to take the picture.

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She was willing to jettison small parts of her rule-following obsession this year..

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And has developed a love and fascination for all animals, and misses no opportunity to tell me how much she needs one of her very own. Except it can’t bite. Which, thankfully for me, rules out all animals.

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Our Alabama History field trips have only added a love of learning to her adventurous spirit. And also a good dose of pretending to live long, long ago.

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About halfway through the year, she got brave enough to go all the way across the “broken bridge” at my parent’s house. I have not personally attempted it.

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Now she does it with ease and speed that might make a mother nervous, if she weren’t so excited about photographing it.

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She’s still kid enough to fully enjoy dressing up, and not at all minding being the biggest kid on the block.

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She’s interested in gymnastics and maybe learning yoga and possibly basketball, now that she knows she’s going to be super tall and so will not practically be able to go to the Olympics in gymnastics.

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She’s always willing to pick up a new skill and work hard to improve at it – even the ancient atlatl.

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I don’t know what the next year will bring, but whatever it is, I know it will include plenty of adventure.

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Happy Birthday, Ali.

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