Kate is eight, and she loves everything about the fact that her age now rhymes with her name, but mostly that she’s now a year older, while I’m left wondering where the time went. Eight years ago, we were in our first house in Iowa, Jack was finishing up his schooling, and we were getting ready to move to Indiana for his first fulltime job. She grew up through our first Indiana fixer-upper home but by the time she was only a little girl, we were on to our second. Through all this change, some things remain constant, like our love for Kate.
As always, it is nearly impossible to summarize anyone into words, especially when I try to describe my own children. It wouldn’t be an accurate description of Kate without acknowledging her good humor and when it boils down to it, her goofiness. She rarely eats a meal without making a game of it, she is forever trying to tickle me when I tuck her in bed, and she laughs at her own jokes, even if it gets her sent to timeout for being a touch naughty.
She is the sort of person who is aware of others and does her absolute best to include them, even if it means more work for her. She has never left a younger sibling behind, whether it’s climbing trees or visiting the animals or reading.
Having so many children, it’s been fun to see what kind of combination of traits each of our kids has gotten. Kate obviously gets a lot from Jack–dark hair and eyes, rail-thin, but some characteristics have come out of left-field. Her flexibility, for one. That girl can turn herself into a pretzel without even trying.
Which is probably part of the reason she enjoys ballet so much. It has been a little over a year since she started lessons at a small studio nearby, and she looks forward to it every week. She twists and bends and leaps…and a lot of times ends up on the ground. Along with her flexibility, she is easily the clumsiest in the family and has been known to trip over nothing. Even though she is like a puppy whose paws are too big, she laughs it off and gets right back up. Sometimes, when I watch her dance, I catch glimpses of how graceful she is going to be.
Kate feels the same way about horses as she does dogs. She’s the first to offer to go feed them, and I catch her between playing to stop by and give them a handful of grass outside the pasture. She has great ambitions for being a proficient, independent rider someday, and as she gains strength and her legs grow, I think she will.
Even though she has her favorites, in truth, she hasn’t met one she hasn’t liked yet, whether it’s the cats, or the bunny that’s been rescued from the mouth of said cats.
And, as much as she might scold the cats for catching all those cute, fuzzy little critters (hey, they’re just doing their job), she doesn’t hold their natures against them. She’ll cuddle right up with them and enjoy a nice long read with them purring from the crook of her arm.
There’s rarely a time that I’m in the kitchen that Kate doesn’t pop in to see if she can help. She is becoming a fantastic sous chef, and like Evelyn, she may take over as head chef, while I go relax and write a book. If I promised to clean up the dishes, I imagine she’d cook every night.
Kate is a healthy eater, and always has been. She loves vegetables, and would eat chicken salad for the rest of her life if I let her.
She balances it with a very, very healthy and vibrant sweet tooth.
As for teeth? She’s at the age where they’re falling out left and right, and not because of sugar. It’s hilarious hearing her pronounce words with half the teeth at the front of her mouth missing. Let’s just say, the last six months, The Tooth Fairy has been extremely busy because of her.
Kate’s one of those people who hasn’t met a thing she doesn’t like to climb. She doesn’t necessarily want to go very high but there’s something about a tree, a person, a structure, a car, a ladder, etc that she can scale up that appeals to her. Our house is full of foot and handprints all along the hallways because she likes to wedge herself between two walls and “walk” along above the ground.
Seriously, the strength in her spindly little arms is astounding. Of course, it’s a lot easier to support your own weight when you weigh next to nothing.
When Kate’s big day finally came, all her great anticipation was rewarded. Lucky for her, her birthday landed on a Saturday, which meant A) no school (although she loves school, so that’s not a big deal) and B) no Saturday chores, which she kept boasting about to her siblings, who didn’t think it was fair that their birthdays aren’t also on a Saturday. Kate wanted to be in the middle of all the action, so she helped decorate, make her cake, and would have wrapped her own presents if I’d let her.
Having mastered riding her bike over this past year, she loves to go on bike rides with me and her older sisters. She can still be a bit wobbly but the nice thing about the back country roads is that there’s plenty of space to get your balance and not that many cars.
The weather for it was absolutely perfect, and the trees were just starting to change their colors. I’m always happy to go on rides with them, especially when we manage to make it up all the hills, and we make it home without any major mishaps or injuries (even counting when Evelyn’s brakes popped off and she flew into a ditch, she popped right up and declared she was fine).
Next, she wanted to go riding, which meant everyone else wanted to go riding, too. Stoney didn’t mind one bit. he is always up for a thorough grooming session and stood patiently while he was brushed, combed, sprayed, and polished.
Since it was her birthday, Kate obviously got to go first. She worked on using her aids and posting the trot, but mostly is just content sitting atop Stoney. It’s always a good day when I get to watch the horse who taught me to ride teach my children, too.
Shortly before we were going to sit down for dinner, Jack saw a post on social media about a festival at a nearby park, and convinced everyone to go…except Kate. She pouted and sulked about not opening her presents when planned, while Jack promised we wouldn’t stay long because it was almost ending, and that she’d have fun. She cracked a smile when she started looking at the old timey, pioneer displays, and when Jack sat everyone down with a helping of fried foods, she was sold.
We looked around a little more, until we found a stone carving tent and Jack decided it was a good skill for the kids to learn. So, Kate spent a good portion of her birthday carving Indiana limestone into a pretty little horse.
|Ah, always the jokester.
When we finally did make it home for dinner, it was taco stew, fruit salad, and–you guessed it–chicken salad for her special meal. Claire was not pleased with Kate’s choices, and is planning a revenge birthday dinner in December with foods Kate doesn’t particularly like. She’s not serious but she also kind of is. That’s a sister for you.
Since every birthday seems to be bigger and better than the last, Kate requested an ice cream cake (long gone are the days of simple iced boxed cake). It wasn’t terrible to put together but it was a bit of a beast to store, and even harder to serve. Still, she was so happy with it, and it was delicious. Fifty pounds of ice cream, chocolate, and candy lasted us about three days, which may be a record for birthday cake. After, she tore through her presents, ooo-ing and aww-ing what she’d gotten. Thankfully, she’s not hard to please and loved it all, from clothes to books to a new stuffed dog to add to her already ridiculously large collection.
Like all our kids, we can’t imagine what life would be without them. Kate adds so much to our family with her humor, intuitiveness, sensitivity, kindness, and patience, that we are all better because of her. She is bursting with potential and is so modest about it. She’s the best kind of friend anyone could wish for, and takes everything in stride that she rarely is overwhelmed and when she is, it may take a good cry and a little time alone, but then she blows her nose, and is right back on top. We are so grateful for all she adds, and can’t wait to see where life takes her, because she is always up for an adventure.
Happy birthday, Darling Kate! We love you!