Oh, my sweet girl.
How are you already halfway to being an adult? Yowza!!!
We love you SO MUCH.
And we are so so grateful to be your mommy and daddy.
You know what, Sierra?
You are a good kid.
You really are.
You're sweet and you're kind (well, except to your brother sometimes. But in all fairness, he sometimes makes it pretty hard to love him, what with all the piss and vinegar he throws in your general direction).
And you're one of the bravest kids I know.
You're not afraid - of anything. (well, except spiders and bugs, but that's really just self preservation and good common sense to be scared of those suckers. You won't find me holding that against you.)
But you're not scared of LIFE and that's what we love so much about you.
We have this picture of you from your third birthday party, which totally encapsulates EVERYTHING about who you are. Messy, sweet and OH SO EXCITED.
You dive in feet first, screaming in excitement. Whether it is ballet, or swimming, or going somewhere new, all I have to say is "hey, do you want to try - " and your answer is an emphatic "YES!!!" before I've even completed my sentence. And whatever it is we end up doing, you always have so much fun.
That is such a gift, baby girl. Because someday God will speak deep into your heart, and He will call you to go somewhere scary, somewhere uncomfortable, for His sake. And, with every beat of your excited heart, you'll jump to say "YES, Lord! Send me! I can't wait!" (and I'll be scared to death, but oh, so proud, of you.) Don't ever lose that love of adventure, of life, of looking expectantly down the lane at what's coming next, just knowing it will be good. It will make your life so amazing.
I know our life has been tough, but even through it, you have prevailed. You have kept pushing on, over the obstacles and the hurtles. Eight was a bittersweet year for you. It saw your best friend move away, with a little bit of your heart (and mine) with her. But it also saw so much good. Learning to play the clarinet, an exponential increase in your reading and writing abilities, an increased self confidence in your ability to handle stressful situations, and a newfound love of spelling lists, Nancy Drew and karate.
We have loved watching you grow. The past 9 years have been amazing. We've watched you learn to talk, to crawl, to walk, to read and write. We've helped you learn math and social studies (and sometimes science, but, well, let's just say that's not really our forte in the Bennett household).
But the next 9 will bring so much more.
Tonight, we snuggled and I stroked your hair as we talked of what the next 9 years will bring - boys (eeeeek!!! I'm not gonna lie - that was a sigh of relief you heard come out of my mouth when you swore you'd never marry and that boys were kinda icky), learning so.much.more, driving a car, going to high school and picking a college.
All of these are such wonderful things, but my heart is already a little sad in anticipation of the natural separation you'll start to have from us as you grow. So I'm milking this time for all it's worth - extra snuggles, extra reading, extra talks. Just extra "us" time. Now. You know, when you still think we're cool.
So many fun adventures ahead. We're so grateful to be here with you, watching you start to spread your wings and grow.
We love you, girlie. Every last fearless inch of you.
Happy 9th birthday.
Mommy & Daddy (& Bodie, who adores you even if it doesn't always seem like it)
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