Dear Eva (9 Years)

Dearest Eva,

Happy birthday to our exceptional nine-year-old!  What a delight to celebrate you today!  As you continue to grow and develop, we are amazed to see God shine so brightly through you.  Your name means bearer of good news, and your depth of expression and kindness and sensitivity and your deep love for people extravagantly express the good news of the glory of our God!

This has been a significant year of growth and development for you in so many ways.  Firstly, school.  You completed 2nd grade well, and at some point during the first semester of third grade, you had a huge leap in development and really took off with your reading and math skills.  You love to stay up a little later at night and read.  Favorite books are: Die Schule der magischen Tiere, Hexe Lilli, Ostwind, Hanni und Nanni, and so many others!  You have begun to step a little into reading in English as well, although that has not been an emphasis this year.  You continue to meet with Christine, your trainer to help with dyslexia struggles, and you have made huge progress this year.  We are proud of your perseverance with this as we know the challenges with dyslexia are really difficult sometimes.  Your teacher Caro enjoys having you in class, and she longs for you to be braver with your voice, to speak up loudly and confidently.  We are excited to see you grow more in this in the coming year.  You gave your first presentation this year on pandas, and you did an incredible job preparing and practicing and presenting!  Your ability to do difficult math problems amazes us, and it is fun to see you enjoy your math homework!  All of this despite another year of pandemic schooling!  Amazing!

We have seen you grow significantly in your friendships as well.  You continue to be good friends with Adele and Eliza in your class, getting together with them sometimes out of school.  Your five-day class trip to the pony farm in Styria was definitely a wonderful experience for you to bond with your classmates in a special way!  We are soooo thankful you all got to go and that the pandemic had lightened just enough by the beginning of May!  In October, your best friend Mario from school and kindergarten moved over an hour outside of Vienna, and that was understandably a difficult and sad adjustment for you.  Your friendships at church have taken off incredibly in the last few months!  You have bonded significantly with Charlotte and Julia and Emma and enjoyed time with Anna and Frieda and Mario as well.  Attending Jungschar meetings monthly has been so much fun for you.  The church retreat in Neutal was incredible!  You showed us your incredible independence and responsibility there, both areas you have grown leaps and bounds in the last year!  You value inclusion highly, both being included and including others, and you bring that strength and need into your friendships, something we admire about you.

You and Dad and Nath connected quite a bit through ice skating this year, and you were really picking it up well with Nath and Dad as your teachers!  Our family finally got to go on a ski trip!  We visited Hochrindl, and you learned to ski well in your three morning classes, even skiing down to class from our hotel on the third morning!  And swimming!  You are a swimmer now!  You finally were able to have swim class at Amalienbad, and you picked it up quickly and well!  Of course, being in the class with Nath was really special as well, and he was a great encouragement to you!

Thankfully, although still significantly affected by the pandemic, this year allowed for more experiences with friends and family.  Grandpa and Grandma were able to visit in June and then again just in April, and Jacob Coon stayed for a week in November.  Our big family vacation last summer was going back to Turracher Höhe and staying at a family hotel which had a club for the kids. You made friends quickly and loved participating in the club activities every day!  Highlights for you were the alpine slide and hikes with our family and boat rides together on the lake!  And lots of swimming!  Oh, and the food there was so awesome.  What great family memories we made together there!  Christmas markets finally opened again last year, and we had fun visiting a few together.  We made a trip to Family Park last summer, and the thrill of roller coasters and such was a delight to you!  We visited Baden as a family in January, staying at a hotel attached to the Therme and going to the Greek restaurant all together!  We visited Jufa Neutal three times, once with the grandparents, once with the GEM Austria field, and once with our church.

You still love all things cats and horses and are unsure about dogs.  Crafts and creating remain at the top of your list of favorite activities, and your wardrobe and drawers are exploding with craft projects!  Your food preferences haven't changed much; you still love schnitzel and friends, Palatschinken with Nutella, Extrawurstsemmel and Käseleberkäsesemmel!  You completed the advanced ballet class last school year and remained in the same class this year but this time with girls your age joining you!  You had so much fun being one of the ‘’advanced’’ students in the group, and we were blessed to watch you perform some of the pieces you had learned a few weeks ago!  Your delight in dancing is evident, and you bring smiles to many faces when you dance!  Your interest in style and clothes, makeup and jewelry has grown quite a bit this year. In fact, you have become Mom’s style advisor, and anytime you give her advice, people comment on her good style!

We love you deeply, our dearest Evangeline Elif.  What an honor it is for us to share life with you!  Happy Birthday!

Your mommy and daddy

9-Year-Old Eva

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