Tess turned 11 yesterday!  Eleven.  I have no idea how my beautiful, perfect, amazing, funny, loving, adorable little girl turned 11.  I remember when the ultrasound tech told me I was expecting a girl, I’d gone in all alone, my husband wasn’t in state, my mother was watching Cole, the big boys were in school, and the tech says “girl”.

Girl!  Ooooo how I love my boys, how much just a healthy baby was all I wanted, how much only one baby was all I wanted.  And then to hear girl.  I was stunned.  I didn’t think Dave & I had it in us to create a girl.  I drove home through streets sparkling with freshly fallen snow, we were stationed in Minnesota back then, day dreaming.  The sparkles off the snow just reinforced how different my life was about to become.

And different it became!  While, like me, Tess is a rough&tough&tumble kind of girl (with 5 brothers, she has to be) she is also soft, feminine and so sparkly.  From the moment she could crawl, everything sparkly and shiny found it’s way into her treasure trove.  She squirreled away jewelry, shiny bits, sparkly bits, even left-over aluminum foil, wherever she could.  Taking out her treasures in private to oooh & aaah over, just like Ariel (the little mermaid) or, sigh, Gollum.

For her birthday she wanted nothing more than to swim with dolphins.  Unfortunately, in Europe, this isn’t done.  The Dolphinarium, in Hardewijk, Holland, does let you get in wetsuit, get in the water and train, feed and pet the dolphins.  Unfortunately again, you must be fluent in Dutch to do this.  Just having Mom translate didn’t do the trick.  They will put on an English-only, or German-only program for us but we must fill all 6 spots.  At  €150 per spot, it’s a little out of our price range to do all six.  Hopefully we’ll get another family to come with us and take 2-3 of the spots and Tess can still do this before summer’s end.

In the meantime, her birthday was still pretty awesome!She got her long-awaited wave board (skateboard gone dangerous) and all the accompanying protective gear.  She treated at school, and at sport, and then we rode the train into Stuttgart for a little shopping and sushi.  It’s getting long, but I have to say, a sunny, warm, early summer evening is gorgeous in Stuttgart!  The Schloßplatz was filled, but not crowded with people, and lots of fun extra booths.  Tess & Dane both got temporary tattoo’s (Tess a dolphin, Dane superman).  We saw a stunning piece of sidewalk art-in-progress, and listen to a fun, adorable, boy band, Epic Holiday, jamming on the street.  As Tess said, it was a “perfect birthday”.