Karis has not been the easiest of toddlers so far. She has a very strong will. She’s my first kid who has been a hitter- if she wants something, she’s not afraid to bonk a sibling on the head for it. She is determined to do everything that her brothers and sisters are doing, even if it means taking 20 minutes to strap herself into her carseat, and there is great risk of screaming and wailing if I try to help. She doesn’t want to be carried, doesn’t want to sit in the stroller, and she certainly doesn’t want to sit and cuddle with her mama. She is on the move. Her strong will and fierce independence have created some tension in our house (tension is my nice way of saying that she really, really exhausts me). But on our weekend away in Palm Springs, I feel like I finally caught a glimpse of the pay-off of all of this grit and determination. It dawned on me: she’s just a cool kid. A bad-ass. And in Palm Springs, it was like we learned to finally appreciate it. She absolutely loved going hiking. She refused to hold my hand and instead walked with the assistance of her “walking stick” that didn’t even touch the ground. She believes that hiking means climbing on rocks, so even when there was a clear path to walk on, she chose instead to walk up the rock embankment on the border of the trail. When her sister India got tired and begged to be carried, Karis trudged on. At one point, Karis fell and really skinned her knee. It was bleeding all down her leg. Did she care? Not so much. I’m hiking. When we found the snow, she pummeled snowballs at her brothers. When the boys got hot and took their shirts off, she did, too. Are the boys hanging dead-weight from a rail? I can do that. Swimming? Not a problem. Petting an animal with ferocious horns aimed at my head? Sure. Peeing on the side of a tree like my brothers do? Okay, that one she might have had a problem with. Still, it was cute to watch her try.