Happy 12th Birthday, Hadley!

Dear Hadley,

Turning 12 is a big year! You will be leaving Primary (the children’s organization at church) and joining the ranks of Young Women as you start start middle school in a completely new state. This isn’t for the faint of heart but if you’ve shown me anything during sixth grade, it’s that you will prevail. Following your hellacious year of minimal learning at your previous school, you have risen to the challenge with your awesomely supportive teacher, Mrs. McLean. You started in the lowest reading group and rose to the highest, something your teacher says has never seen happen.

During our latest parent-teacher, I wish I could have recorded her glowing report of your fun personality, your growth in learning the computer, becoming a beautiful writer, improving your spelling and how you’ve become a sponge for learning. She pulled you aside to tell you that you are the most improved in writing and reading in the class and maybe even your whole grade.  Sure, you’ll always struggle in certain areas (MATH) but my gosh, you’ve proven when you set your mind to something, you can do it! You’re fun, well-liked but not caught up in the girl drama at school so here’s for hoping you stay far, far away from that.

Sixth grade was the year of climbing and conquering mountains–and I’m not just talking about  Mount Sherman, your first 14er last summer. You have the most wonderful friends while making new ones along the way. Last summer, you thrived at Camp Chief Ouray, learned to surf at the lakehouse in B.C., skied your first double-black diamond run at Sunlight Mountain Resort and had the time of your life at Outdoor Lab Windy Peak for a week with your class. You were nominated by your teachers to attend High Achieving Week for the arts at Mount Evans Outdoor Lab in June and you are thrilled to share that incredible experience with two of your besties, Alex and Ellie.


Our obsession with The Broadmoor continues and you fell in love with Falconry as well as conquered their zipline course at Seven Falls while channeling your inner Merida in archery.  We are thrilled to be able to spend Memorial Day there and I’m sure you will out-eat us all at their famous brunch. You are a girl of many talents and carb-stuffing without gaining weight is one of yours (embrace that gift while you have it).

I’m so proud you finished your Faith in God award in Primary and will attend not one but two Young Women Girl’s Camps this summer: One in Colorado and the other in our new ward.  Though you were sad when we told you about our move to Midway, you have fully embraced this new adventure and are designing your new room. During our visit to Midway over Spring Break, you were fortunate to be able to meet the girls during a YW sleepover and fit right in. You were hopeful our move meant you could finally quit piano (nice job on your first duet with your brother) so I had a good laugh when, upon meeting our new neighbor, we learned she would be delighted to teach piano. You call that being cursed. I call that serendipity!

You continue to grow in the arts and you can make anything beautiful. You love painting with acrylic paints on canvas and your new hobby is an expensive one. Fortunately now that you’re 12 you can start babysitting, an occupation not exactly endearing to you because, like me, you’re “not exactly a baby person.” But don’t worry–there are plenty of babysitting opps without babies and I have no doubt once you get paid for the first time, you’ll never look back. And neither will your painting obsession.

Today is the last day of school and you are delighted to spend the morning in the park with your sixth grade friends playing games and signing yearbooks. This afternoon, we will have a Gallery on the Go painting party and your main gift that you requested is a pair of UGGS. And by main, I mean only. Have you seen the cost of those things?

I’m more of an “experience” giver vs. material possessions so as a special birthday experience, I pulled you out of school early last week to go to the Ritz-Carlton Denver where you were delighted to indulge in your first ever spa day, complete with a facial, mani and pedi. I had to stifle my laughter during your facial because you take after your dad who relishes every blissful moment when he gets a massage. When I asked what you thought of your first facial as you still relaxed on the massage table, you groggily announced, ”I feel heavy.” I replied, ”Heavy? Do you mean from all the blankets?” ”No, Mom. Heavy like gravity is pulling me down telling me not to move ever again.” My apologies to your future husband that your spa obsession started at such an early age.

First 14er!

We’ve had plenty of amazing adventures this year: Previewing “Season of the Force” at Disneyland, doing the Kids Adventure Games where you were a mountain biking, rappelling, ziplining, slip ‘n sliding fool, countless hikes and awesome local roadtrips. Though you resist going on our regular hikes and walks (it’s a tween thing?) you are the one who gets lost in the wonder of it all the moment you set foot on the trail.  I hope you’ll always love the outdoors and know that your Heavenly Father loves you and that with His help, you can accomplish anything.

In sixth grade, every child is spotlighted during a week of the year. As a part of that, parents are given the option to write a letter to be read aloud in class, the prospect of which mortified you but further solidified my resolve to do it.

March 17, 2016

Dear Hadley,

Despite the fact that you threatened me if I dared submit a letter in honor of your shining star, here I am because I am a risk taker.

Sixth grade has been wonderful as you transferred back to Vanderhoof, had the best teacher ever (wink, wink) and made some awesome friends. I’ve admired your hard work in so many areas–from getting caught up on your schoolwork to climbing your first 14,000-foot peak to skiing your first double-black diamond run to finally landing a front flip on the trampoline (this is such a relief after we’ve all endured many years of your sorry-excuse-for-a-somersault).

As you know, I have been writing you a letter on every birthday since you were born. Now that you’re in sixth grade, I thought I’d highlight a few of my favorite moments from your earlier years that I documented in those letters.

Pre-birth. You have been controlling us from the womb. It was 10 days before my due date and Dad was stressed about work. He told you “Hadley, if you’re born tomorrow, I will buy you a car on your 16th birthday.” The next morning, I went into early labor, you made my water break in very public Booth No. 3 at Einstein Bros. Bagels at noon (thanks for that) and you were born that night by 11 p.m.

Age 2. You were a child prodigy when it came to dancing and singing at story-time at the library. Your favorites included “Shake Your Sillies Out” and “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star,” the latter of which you knew by heart. The younger children watched you in awe and just to be nice, you often went over and forcibly “helped” them do the actions. Because they were obviously too dumb to figure it out for themselves.

Age 4. You have a bright, spirited personality and keep us laughing every single day. You are beloved by your preschool teachers and would have had an incident-free year if you had not tackled your classmate Cooper a few weeks ago, who in your defense, hit you over the head with a large loaf of plastic bread. This was your first look at how carbs can be dangerous.

9News Segment

Age 6. One of my very favorite memories of you ever was on our mother-daughter trip to Puerto Rico. In the evenings at our hotel, you loved to hit the dance floor. You’ve inherited my lack of rhythm but that did not hold you back. Hair and arms flailing, you rocked out to the music, causing everyone around you to stop and marvel.

Another mom on the trip tried to urge her reluctant daughter to join you. “But I can never look as good as Hadley out there!” she protested. I looked at her incredulously. She obviously wasn’t really seeing you.

Or was she?

Through her eyes, you were a self-confident, hilarious and fearless girl who didn’t care what you looked like or what anyone thought of you. You were simply lost in the moment and living it to the very fullest you knew how. This quality is what makes you special…and unstoppable. Whether you someday conquer Everest or if you’re dancing by yourself, one thing is certain: you will always fly.

Muzz Buzz Buzzy Buzz Buzzy Buzz Boo

P.S. For a stroll down memory lane, read letters for your 11th birthday10th, 9th 8th7th6th5th4th3rd2nd and your birth story.

Summiting strenuous Ha Ling

Kids Adventure Games

Camping at Brainard Lake

Halloween Party

Maxwell Falls hike

Lake Louise, Canada

Waterton Lakes National Park


First place!

12th Birthday Spa Day at the Ritz

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