My dearest Julie;

You turn 8 years old today. You’re getting so grown up and so smart! Today (and every day) I want you to know how much I love you and how proud I am of you. I’m so glad you’re my daughter. I’m so glad God made you and that he gave me the privilege of being your Mom. I’m a lucky, lucky woman.

Eight years ago, you entered our family. We were so excited to see you. You were beautiful right from the start. We were happy to see your red hair. I love red hair, and so did your Grandpa. He always wanted a red-headed granddaughter. I’m sure he’s watching you grow from heaven and he’s very proud of you, his Red Bowler.

You were a real treat as a baby – so easy to look after. You didn’t need too much – as long as you got fed and cared for, you didn’t demand too much more attention. Your big sister Nikki was quite curious about this new person Mommy and Daddy brought home. She wanted to play with you and cuddle you. (I know she doesn’t want to cuddle you much now, but she used to!)

We knew from an early age that you were special. You learned to talk at a really early age – earlier than most kids. When you weren’t even 3 years old (younger than Maddie is now), the day care teachers told me that, when you saw 2 kids arguing, you suggested that they should compromise. They were amazed that you’d use such big words even though you were still pretty small. You kept learning and kept amazing the grown-ups with how many words you knew.

This carried on when you started going to school. You hardly took any time to learn to read. It seemed like one day you didn’t know how to read, and then suddenly the next day you did. Before long, you were reading chapter books. And now, 2 days before your 8th birthday, you finished the 4th Harry Potter book. Wow! Not too many kids read that much before they’re eight! I hope you keep it up because a love for books is a really valuable thing to have. It opens up the world for you – shows you all kinds of interesting things and teaches you to think.

You learned other things quickly too. Before you even started kindergarten, you wanted to know how many halves were in a certain number. “Mom,” you’d say, “how many halves are there in eight?” I’d tell you to guess, and you were usually right. That was one of your favourite games for awhile.

You’ve always been my most cuddly kid. I can usually count on you to crawl up into my lap and sit with me. You give great hugs. One of my favourite parts of the day is when I get off the bus after work and you come running down the sidewalk and throw your arms around me. It makes me feel special.

I love your sense of humour. You like making people laugh. When I was in the hospital with Matthew, you came into my room and hopped like a bunny because you wanted to see me smile. You still do things to try to make me smile. I love to see the twinkle in your eye because it usually means you’re playing tricks on me or thinking of things that will make me laugh.

I love to see determination in your face. When you make up your mind to do something, you usually figure out a way to do it, even when other people don’t think you’ll be able to. When you decide to bake, you want to do it YOUR way. When you want to learn to ride your bike, you want to figure it out YOUR way. Sometimes I argue with you, because I’m a lot like you and I like to do it MY way, but most of the time, when I just let you figure it out for yourself, you find a way. I was so proud of you when you learned to ride a bike – you made up your mind to do it, and you tried and tried until it worked. Now I love to go for bike rides with you. We have great conversations, and you’re not afraid to try new things.

You are a very compassionate girl. Often, when you have a treat that Maddie doesn’t have, I don’t even need to ask you to share because you think of it yourself. You like to make other people happy, and often that means sharing what you have with them. You even buy other people Slurpees sometimes because you don’t want to be the only one enjoying a treat.

I was so proud of you at your piano recital last night. You’ve been learning piano as quickly as you learn so many other things in your life. Keep it up, and soon you’ll get to learn to play drums, just like you want to. I’m glad you want to be unique and learn a different instrument. I know you’ll do well.

You’re a fun, interesting, smart, kind, beautiful girl. You make my life better. You bring something very special to our family. God made you unique – different from anyone else. He gave you special gifts and talents and you’ll find great ways of using them. I know you will always make people smile, you will show kindness to a lot of people, and you’ll continue to love learning just like you do now.

Thank you for being my beautiful daughter. I love you. Happy Birthday!

Love Mom.

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