Dear Hannah,

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Exactly 21 days ago, you turned 11.  

And exactly 21 days ago, you asked me with pleading eyes if I would please please PLEASE! write a blog post for your birthday.

I am so sorry it has taken me this long.  I know you understand that our lives are insanely busy and full right now, what with the move happening in seven days, but I cannot let another day pass by without fulfilling your birthday wish.  One that warmed my heart and made me so glad I have not yet given up on this blog.

It is THAT reason, and that reason alone, that will keep me writing here for a long time.

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Right now, you are standing in the doorway between two worlds.  You are on the cusp of entering that big, vast teenage place, yet still teetering on the little girl side of the fence.  At times, I marvel at your wisdom and maturity.  At other times, I laugh and say a prayer of gratitude for your child-like innocence.

I would love to freeze time, just for a bit, to savor the amazing joy this phase of life brings to me.  I want you to grow and taste all the good that life has to offer, but I also want to keep you all to myself.  I don't want to share you just yet.  

I know the world will eventually draw your eye and lead you to amazing things, but I cherish our time together.  

I love that you still want to sleep with me when Daddy is out of town.  I love that your small hands run through my hair as you absentmindedly tell me about your day.  I love the freckles multiplying on your cheeks as we speak.  I love your happy banter with the boys, and the bear hugs you give every night before bed.

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Hannah, you are truly the most organized and neat person I have ever met.  I love that you set out your clothes and your accessories EVERY. SINGLE. NIGHT.  I love that you decide on a hairstyle the night before.  Do you know why I love this?  It's not because I seldom have to clean up after you.  Or trip over your shoes, airsoft guns, backpacks, and [INSERT EVERY POSSESSION OF YOUR BROTHERS HERE].    It's because it tells me that you have a plan.  That you are thinking ahead and making the most of your life.  You are taking what choices you have at this point in your life and doing as much as you can with them.

I can see you years from now -- organizing your work space or sprucing up your kids' bedrooms -- and I feel so secure in knowing that you will always be in charge of your own destiny.   You will not live in chaos.

And that gives me immense joy for you because mine is a brain that also requires order and direction.  You are my people.  I get you.  And I know that you get me, too.

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You are now, and always have been, a very social creature.  You have been fortunate enough to have made friends with some of the most amazing girls I have ever known.  I quite honestly don't know how we're going to leave them behind, and I worry for you when the reality of that happens.    This move is going to be a tough one.

But I also know that it will be so good for you.  You will learn to use muscles you didn't know you had.  You will find the courage to not be shy and introduce yourself on the first day of school.  You will learn a new school, a new neighborhood, and find new friends.  You will forever be changed, and always watch out for the new girl, because you will remember exactly what it felt like to be her.  

While my heart aches for the lonely feeling inside, I know that the strengths you will gain from that loneliness will serve you for your entire life.

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Hannah, I am so proud to be your mom.  You are an amazing girl.  You are a ball of laughter, creativity, and joy.  You brought so much happiness to our family when you came to us.  We had no idea what was missing.  We had two pretty great little boys and all of a sudden, in a whirlwind of pink ruffles, our lives were turned upside down.  And we've never been the same since. 

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You are kind, thoughtful, and generous with your affection.  You love others around you with a fierce loyalty.  You are always happy (except for that teensy bit first thing in the morning some days).  But hey.  I am the same, so I feel you, sister.

You make our lives richer with your sunshine and joy.  You make being a parent easy and oh, so much fun.  You are beautiful.  Inside and out.

I love you.