Dear Ava M,
The day you have long awaited has finally come - one of the challenges of being August born is all your friends hit the milestone long before you do! You are eight - EIGHT! Eight years since we became parents, eight years since we started this huge adventure of being Mama and Papa to you and all your little siblings. We are so thankful for you every day, and we truly do love being your Mama and Papa!
This year has felt like a milestone in so many ways... little steps of independence have begun and its fascinating and exciting to watch you adapt and change. Long gone is the little cheeky, smiley faced girl with golden ringlets and in her place and growing and maturing little lady with opinions and interests and a fun-loving, adventurous, loyal and trustworthy character.
You are a book-lover... to be honest, that phrase doesn't do justice to the ferocity with which you devour books - once you're involved in a story, there is no retrieving you! You love classical fiction, but are very happy with your nose in a non-fiction book too. The library is your weekly haunt and you completed their entire summer reading challenge within three days. There truly is no stopping you when it comes to reading! I love reading with you and Heidi every evening... there has been something so lovely about sharing all my own childhood book loves with you both! Sitting down with you both at night is one of my favourite parts of the day, and a tradition I hope we'll keep up for many years to come!
You continue to be the most wonderful big sister. Yes, you know how to wind up like the best of them and miraculously always come out looking like the innocent party (classic eldest siblings trait!), but you truly love our little people and are the most amazing support and help in the home. You regularly make breakfast for your siblings, help brush teeth and put on shoes, you know how to empty the dishwasher and dust a room (though bizarrely never remember to make your own bed!) and you are wonderfully organised and self-motivated. I always say you are a dangerous firstborn for us - and lull us into a false sense of expection.
You and your sister continue to be as thick as thieves. Towards the end of the summer term, the bickering had upped a notch and I was feeling pretty worn with the frequency of needed intervention - but then came the summer, and you two having time with each other, space and freedom has just been the most wonderful thing to watch unfold. You are closer than ever right now, and while that doesn't mean you don't know how to get each other into trouble, you have made some amazing memories together this summer... from your crazy poolside dance moves, to your secret hideout, to Chinese Checkers and making your own church building (which they have named Blessing Church! Heidi's the preacher!)
The boys adore you... they are very fortunate (most of the time) to have three Mamas clucking around them. They love it when you invite them to join your games and will look to you if they are feeling sad or hurt. You really are a little tribe of four, and I love watching you all troop off together to immerse yourselves in some kind of game!
One of the things we have loved watching this year is your interest in sports... you are a team player, love watching and playing any kind of team sport, and this summer showed a real nack for tennis as well. In athletics you aren't fast, but you have a stamina which means you 'just keep swimming' and watching you pace round that long distance course is pretty impressive. For now, swimming is where you are focussing most of your effort, and I've loved Monday afternoons watching you improve in the pool to the point where you are a confident and able swimmer.
The other big milestone for you this year was being away from us overnight... both school camp and church camp swung by, and while I was a ball of nerves - you were cool as a cucumber and had an amazing time at both!
Mostly I have loved watching you learn and grow and see new truths about Jesus. We rejoice that you are growing in character and love your confidence and joy in life, but most of all love seeing you grappling with faith, asking big questions and growing in your understanding of the truth of the gospel. We continue to pray that you will anchor your life in the Lord Jesus, dig down deep roots that will hold you firm through whatever life throws at you in the years to come... and that you will continue to delight in the joy of knowing Jesus as your Saviour.
We love you Ava M and thank God for the privilege of walking with you!
Happy birthday sweet girl!
Wir haben Dich so Lieb,
Mama und Papa xx