Child DevelopmentDear AdriLettersParenting

A Letter to my Daughter on her 5th Birthday

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Photo copyright SarahJane Photography www.sarahjanemphotography.com
Photo copyright SarahJane Photography www.sarahjanemphotography.com

Dear Adri,

Today you are 5 and I have so many mixed feelings about this I don’t know where to start!

5 years ago we knew you were very sick, but didn’t know what was wrong with you. We didn’t know if you would live through surgery, let alone survive and thrive! You have blown away all odds, surpassed all expectations and exceeded every milestone. You are exceptional in every way and I am so blessed to be your mommy. You continually demonstrate how brave and mature you are beyond your 5 years with health challenges popping up from time to time. While we have been thrown for a loop by continuing migraines and never-ending dental work to fix a myriad of tooth issues, we are eternally grateful that your heart continues to beat strongly with no lingering issues. Every single cardiologist, technician, dentist, doctor, pediatrician, occupational therapist, physical therapist, psychiatrist, neurologist, surgeon, child life specialist and nurse who has ever met you remarks on how calm and well behaved you are, how patient and well adjusted – even more so that many of their adult patients. Through every echo, ECG, x-ray, CT scan, MRI, cavity fillings and needles, every IQ and emotional intelligence test, gross and fine motor test, and everything in between you have shown just how capable and special you are and have taught me countless lessons in the process.

I am proud of how strong you are physically despite your rocky start. You started gymnastics for the first time and blew away your instructors with your strength and abilities. Your favourite teacher Jenna said that you are the strongest girl she’s ever taught, both in body and in spirit and she was spot on! You quickly mastered the bars and worked hard until you could do the balance beam unassisted. You also tried rock climbing for the first time and put Spider-Man to shame. You snowboarded for the first time and rode a horse too, much to your delight. Whether at Gymboree or the park down the street you are busy swinging on the monkey bars and sliding down (or climbing up) the fire pole. I am constantly amazed at how well you know your body and what it can do. You are the only 4 year old (now 5 year old) I know with defined abs!! It is my hope that you are always so active and enjoy staying fit and having fun outdoors and in.

Adri enjoying a wide variety of activity - the firepole at the park, rock climbing, gymnastics, snowboarding and horseback riding
Adri enjoying a wide variety of activity – the firepole at the park, rock climbing, gymnastics, snowboarding and horseback riding

In this past year we moved for the 3rd time in your short life, got a new car (you cried when we left the old car behind), and got you into a big girl loft bed all in anticipation of the biggest transition – welcoming your baby sister in March! We wondered how you would do with this huge transition, but you have embraced it with the same warmth and love that you do all things. You fiercely love your little sister, and that remains unchanged, even though the novelty has started to wear off! You protect her, play with her and smother her with affection. You love teaching her and celebrate each milestone she reaches with the genuine pride and excitement that we do. It is an indescribably moving, touching thing to see the love and unbreakable bond between the 2 of you and I am so thankful every day that I get to witness it. You are by far the best big sister a mommy and little sister could ask for.

Adri is the best big sister to baby Aven. Photo copyright SarahJane Photography    www.sarahjanemphotography.com
Adri is the best big sister to baby Aven. Photo copyright SarahJane Photography www.sarahjanemphotography.com

Shortly after your sister was born you graduated the Montessori Preschool you had been attending since you were 2 1/2! It was a moment that brought tears to my eyes as you said goodbye to your good friends and got ready for your next adventure – Kindergarten! Your Daddy and I deliberated long and hard about the best choice in schooling for you, considering how advanced you are and how much schooling you already had under your belt at the tender age of 4 1/2! After much debate, we settled on the public French Immersion school system. Your first day of kindie came much quicker then I could have ever imagined! I think it was more overwhelming for me than for you. I was worried about one more life altering change in a string of life altering changes. How would you do without a chance to rest (my champion napper). How would you get along given that you are the youngest, physically the smallest and often very quiet and reserved in new and unfamiliar settings. I was afraid you would be swallowed whole by the larger class setting, bigger school setting with not only your immediate peers being so much bigger and older, but with the huge wide age range that comes with elementary school! Again my fears proved unfounded. You have the most amazing teacher and your classmates are the kindest and friendliest bunch I have ever met. You have made some great friends and while you are still shy and reserved on the playground especially, you are very slowly learning to find your voice and use your words. This is one of the things that I am most proud of. Most everything seems to come very naturally and easily to you, but this is a struggle and a challenge and to watch you learn to overcome is amazing. You have the most incredible little French accent and your vocabulary is growing at an astonishing rate. I’m so happy that we made the right choice for you and look forward to seeing what you do next!

Preschool Graduation and First Day of Kindergarten 2013
Preschool Graduation and First Day of Kindergarten 2013

Given all these big changes it was important to me to try to spend as much one on one time together as possible. In the summer before you went to kindergarten we started a Friday Mommy Date tradition that, while no longer weekly, still continues on. Our excursions have ranged from mani-pedi spa dates to trampolining to PlayLand to a movie or quiet coffee date and I have treasured each one. I believe that it has helped ease you through these big transitions and our bond is as strong as ever despite less time together. I love how you know when our relationship needs some extra TLC and will ask if we can have a Mommy Date. I treasure this time together and look forward to so many more adventures!

Mommy Dates At Extreme Air Indoor Trampoline Park, PlayLand and getting pedicures
Mommy Dates At Extreme Air Indoor Trampoline Park, PlayLand and getting pedicures

This year brought a lot of fun holiday celebrations. Parades are one of your favourite things, and Canada day did not disappoint. Halloween was a blast even though the amazing fuzzy warm kitty costume we found for a steal at value village got stolen with our luggage. You bounced right back, picked out a hilarious Frankenstein costume and rocked it like a pro. Our back to back Sinterklaas and Christmas celebrations were memorable too. I loved the way you helped your sister open all her presents and then bounced across the room squealing “I love everything I got!!” You have such a joy and genuine appreciation for the gifts that are given and I hope you pass this on to your sister. Holidays with you are so special!

Celebrating Canada Day, Halloween, Sinterklaas and Christmas in Style
Celebrating Canada Day, Halloween, Sinterklaas and Christmas in Style

We had so much fun celebrating your birthday this year! 12 little mermaids splashed around in West Van Pool, took photos in the mermaid lagoon and then towelled off to decorate photo frames and chow down on yummy food and yummier cake. It was a special celebration that took a lot of planning and work to execute but was worth every minute!!!

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Adri’s Mermaid Pool Party

Adri it has been an incredible 5 years, and a whirlwind especially in the last 12 months. Incredible highs and some very tough lows, but I am so very thankful for each moment with you. I work incredibly hard to not take any of it for granted and can only imagine what the next 12 months will bring. I love you more then words can describe!

Love Mommy

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