My niece @rebeccaja is as good as it gets. She makes me so proud.
  1. 1.
    Her sense of humor. From practically the day she could talk, this kid's been funny and sly and a genuinely good hang. She is hands-down one of my favorite people to be with.
    To wit, this list of hers: People I saw today tubing
  2. 2.
    Her independent thinking. In middle school, she marched up to the principal to ask him why there were no menorahs or Kwanzaa decorations even though there was a Christmas tree up at school. And she confronted a teacher who was derogatory about disabled people.
  3. 3.
    Her sense of adventure. She is champing at the bit for new experiences.
  4. 4.
    Her fierceness. As with all women in our family, DO NOT CROSS HER. (But the fierceness applies to her loyalty too. If she's on your side, she is ON YOUR SIDE.)
  5. 5.
    She's an amazing travel partner. Even when she was eight and Chris and I took her to Scotland to see her great-grandma, she was a blast. Last October, we got to watch her fall in love with Northern California the way we have and it was one of the best trips of my life. (This is her not wanting to go home.)
  6. 6.
    Her focus. When this kid wants something, nothing's going to get in her way.
  7. 7.
    Her photography. She has a beautiful natural eye and being able to share this hobby with her means the world to me.
  8. 8.
    Her brain. She's a smart, smart cookie.
  9. 9.
    Her work ethic. She works her ass off at a car wash after school and on the weekends. Helps that she likes the benjamins.
  10. 10.
    Her kindness and compassion. She roots for the underdog like nobody's business.
  11. 11.
    The way she rolls her eyes when you try to snuggle with her but then, sometimes, when you least expect it, comes and curls up next to you.
  12. 12.
    Her community service through clubs at school. She's been volunteering for years.
  13. 13.
    Her sense of herself. She knows who she is wayyyyy more than I did at that age.
  14. 14.
    Getting to watch HER become someone's awesome aunt.
  15. 15.
    Her convictions. Watching a person figure out what they believe in life, what's worth fighting for, is a privilege beyond words.
  16. 16.
    Her deep-seated and abiding appreciation for food and, especially, trying new things.
  17. 17.
    I mean, the hair.
  18. 18.
    Her future which, by definition, isn't here yet but looks full of promise and excitement.