[Technically the birthday girl celebrated her big day on June 28, but were enjoying a fun-filled day with cousins for a sweet niece’s baptism. I’m still drunk on chrism.]

My sweet Clare Bear. Boy, have you earned that name.

Eight years ago you entered our life a month early, technically a preemie, and with much fanfare, smack dab in the middle of Vacation Bible School. While I was in labor, I drove myself to the hospital (long story) and a few hours later, you arrived.

If there’s a love note tucked away in a drawer, behind a pillow, in someone’s suitcase, stuck to the kitchen cabinet or affixed to my steering wheel, there’s about a 165% chance it was you. It’s pretty awesome that love is not lost on you. No doubt that your love language is words of affirmation.

You are the most sensitive of the bunch which, most days, is the very best trait of yours. There are times when there is high drama, but it is almost always cured with a hug and a tickle.

“Can I hold Gigi now?” are words I hear approximately ten times a day. About five minutes later I hear, “Can someone please take her. She’s heavy!” You do so love your baby sister and very much look up to your big one. It must be a beautiful thing to be sandwiched in between that love.

Every time we ask what you want to be when you grow up, your reply is “a Sister,” as in Dominican. Only God knows. But, if it is the path you choose, that’s one blessed order. You did tell me the other day you would be quite happy to live by yourself because “changing diapers is gross” and it “would be so much quieter.” HA! I hear ya, sister.

With each passing year, I notice how easily entertained you are by yourself, perfectly content to color in peace, create an art project or read a book. I sometimes catch you dancing and singing in front of your mirror. You’re not one for big crowds or being singled out. You much prefer the easy pace of playing with friends, giggling about a joke, doodling with sidewalk chalk in the driveway or swinging on the play set outside.

You know what surprised us most about this year? Your daredevil streak. On our recent vacation to Disney we learned you are one serious adrenaline junkie. You rode every roller coaster (some twice!) and begged to go back for more. Who woulda thunk it? That zest took us all completely by surprise.

As the fourth, you have learned how to sneak out of cleaning the gameroom or picking up your mess, not because you’re sneaky, but because there’s so much to dream about and it has nothing to do with picking up messes. We also call you the house hoarder. I find more trinkets, candy wrappers, lone socks, pink tutu’s, art pencils and love notes crammed in the oddest places than I thought possible. It’s pretty hilarious, most of the time.

Our life is happier, funnier and more laid back because of your sweet presence. You are everyone’s friend, the ultimate peace keeper and eternal optimist. Happy birthday to our ray of sunshine. We love you, Clare Bear!

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Love,

Mom

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