Somewhere along the way in the past month or two of craziness, this:

turned ten.

I have sat down multiple times to wax poetic on the subject, but somehow words or time, or both, always fail me.

How could that tiny baby that would not grow only a mere decade ago have turned into this brilliant, courageous, self-assured individual who no longer needs me to attend to her every need?

When I look at these photos, I feel a thousand years old. 

We marked her day well, by attending the Renaissance Fair yet another time (!) and getting chummy with all our favorite people there.

A couple of weeks ago I got a text from one of the employees of the Renaissance Fair asking if we wanted to hang out with her and her family after work - not asking if we were going to be there - just expecting it was so, like with all her other work friends.  I had to break the news that we didn't just automatically go to the Renaissance Fair every Saturday and we weren't actually going to be "on-shire" that weekend due to a wedding we were attending in a different direction on the Eastern Shore.  You know you've been to the Renaissance Fair too many times when....  there are so many ways I could finish that sentence, I don't know which to choose.

We also got her birthday gift at the Fair, a baby dragon.

She had fallen in love with green anoles last year at the fair and since the obsession hadn't subsided in over a year, we decided it was time.  That's how I gauge kidpresents these days.  When they see something on TV or hear from their friend that "Log" is "the most awesome toy in the history of toys and I could never live without Log and you must get me Log now or I shall surely expire from this earth mom, and Log mom, mommommmommom, pleeeeeeze Log?", I have learned to use a different tactic.  Instead of going on the immediate defensive and telling them why they can't have Log and how it's not necessarily awesome to have Log and you can find a hundred Logs in the woods behind our house for free and how real Logs are made of wood but this Log is made of plastic it'll probably break before you get it out of the box and if it doesn't you will spend one million dollars on a toy that you'll use at best, like twice...   I instead say, 

"Well... put it on your Birthday/Christmas/FarthestHolidayAway list."  

And that ends the discussion whining right there and then.   If they even remember that they still want Log by the time the next Birthday/Christmas/FarthestHolidayAway rolls around, they probably care about it enough that it might be a good present for them anyway.  Everything else will have fallen out of favor.

The green anole turned out to be exactly that and she has loved and cared for that lizard as if she were a great, green lizard monster herself. (I know that reference is about as esoteric as it gets, but I watched the mini-series V  as a kid in the 80s and have never forgotten it.  For me, all other reboots of this story have paled by comparison. If you don't share the experience, feel free to move right on.)

After the RenFair, we headed over to one of my favorite towns, Hershey, PA and stayed overnight because you know what hotels have? Pool!  Or rather, poolpoolpoolOMGPOOOOOL!  I'm told Hershey has other things to do and think about but I can't remember what.

We kicked around town the next day (you know, after we swam in the pool at 7:39 am) and made candy bars in the chocolate lab. Not all of us enjoyed the lecture about where cocoa beans are grown around the world.

 But everyone enjoyed the chocolate.

Gratuitous unflattering daddy picture:

What can I say about my ten-year adventure with this one?

There is not a day that goes by where she doesn't challenge everything I think I know about being a parent...  or about being a person, for that matter. There's not a day that I don't think I'm failing her in some way.  Not a day where I don't think I've been too hard on her or too easy on her.  Not a day where I don't worry about her.  Not a day where I don't acknowledge how much of a pain she can be sometimes.  She is exasperating, frustrating, demanding, and confrontational.  She is also brave, effulgent, good-hearted, fearless, and I wish I could exhibit even a part of the lust for life that she reminds me I need to have on a daily basis.  This is The Dormouse.  This is ten.  Oh, and did I mention?  I love ten.