Monday, August 18, 2014

Dear Annabel

My sweet girl,

Happy 3rd Birthday!  I said it before and I'll say it again:  I can't believe how fast this past year has gone.  It seems like you've learned a million things since you turned two - so many new words, how to write an A, how to sweet talk Tommy into helping you get what you want - and I'm sure that in the year ahead you'll learn a million more.  Your personality and preferences continue to surprise me just about every day.  One minute you're pretending to change your baby's diaper and the next you're zooming around the house as the Joker with Batman hot on your heels in the Batmobile.  One minute you're putting your dolls to bed in your dollhouse and the next you're racing cars around the rug in the playroom.  You're totally predictable and massively unpredictable at the same time.  You're incredible sensitive and hilariously funny.  You're sweet and sassy.  You're shy and the life of the party.  It's exhausting and thrilling to watch you live life on any given day.

This past year has brought so much change for our family.  Although they are all, in the end, really good changes, sometimes it's been tough or sad or frustrating and I've felt bad about having to explain to you why we're moving or why some of your toys have to be put in boxes or why we're not going to see Miss Tami and Ellie and Rachel on Sunday mornings anymore.  And although there have been difficult nights and some confusion about what happened to our house, looking back, I'm really amazed at how well you've handled all these changes.  You definitely have your own opinions about how things should happen, but when it comes down to it, when we're in the moment, you're adaptable.  I think that's a pretty big accomplishment for such a small girl.

After watching you this last year, one thing has been cemented in my mind over and over again:  you are determined.  And while there are so many examples and much evidence of your determination, there are two things that really stick out in my mind.  1) You are determined to keep up with Tommy.  Not only have you learned the names and faces of many a superhero, you're more than willing to be the bad guy just so you can chase Tommy around and try to take him down with your sword.  (A word of advice my dear girl:  if you're going to tell me that no, you really didn't hit Tommy in the back with the sword that's still in your hand, you at least need to hit him a little softer so there's not a massive red line across his shoulders.  And also...drop the sword.)   And who could forget your insistent take-over of Tommy's old bike pretty much the minute he got his new one.  You asked for the training wheels and the second they were on, you donned your helmet, looked over your shoulder at me with that now-famous sideways glance, and took off.  You could say that I was surprised, but that would be an understatement.  And 2) You are determined to make everyone laugh at the dinner table.  Whether it's by making strange noises while you chew or shoving way too much food into your mouth and then giving me a sideways glance before spitting it all back out (I probably shouldn't laugh at that but sometimes there's no helping it) or making a choice comment about the size of your daddy's belly after he finishes his dinner ten minutes before everyone else, you are always coming up with a way to get us laughing.  Tommy usually gives in first and then gets completely hysterical, but sometimes we all lose it and when I should be telling you that whatever you just did really isn't polite manners at the table, I just sit and look at you and laugh right along with the boys.  None of us can get enough of your great sense of humor.

Photo by my amazing friend, Kerri Thauby.

Recently you've gotten into a new bedtime routine with me.  After you take your bath, brush your teeth and we read a few books, you always insist that you're not tired and we should read just one more book.  And after I tell you that no, we're not reading anymore books because it's time for bed, you roll around and do a little fake crying for a few minutes before you settle down, turn to look at me with your sweet blue eyes right up in my face and you say, "Mama, I want you."  And after I tell you that I'm right here and we can't possibly get any closer to each other than we are right now, you then bat your sweet little eyelashes at me and say, "Mama, I want a-hold your hand."  And since I'm a sucker for those blue eyes, and that sweet little voice, and that adorable smile, I give you my hand and lay next to you until you fall asleep.  And although there are nights that I complain about how long it takes, there's just as many that I'm happy to have an excuse to lay close to you, to watch you settle down, to pray for you and for us.  I will always be willing to hold your hand.

These next few weeks are going to be a little tough for me as I get ready to take you to your first day of preschool.  We've had three whole years of playing and learning together every single day, and I've so loved having that time with you.  From the playdates to the mornings at the playground to the books we've read and so many other things, it's been one of the greatest pleasures of my life to be home with you for the first three years of yours.  I hope you've enjoyed it as much as I have.    

My sweet pea, you continue to amaze me every single day.  I love watching you play with Tommy.  I love seeing you snuggle up with your daddy.  I love when you come ask me, "My help you make dinner, Mama?"  or "My hold your hand, Mama?"  I love seeing who you're becoming each day.  As I look ahead to the coming year, I can't help but wonder what new accomplishment you'll chase after next.  Taking the training wheels off your bike?  Learning to spell your name?  Swimming underwater?  Even when you insist on "my do it myself, Mama" or when you give me yet another sideways glance as I try to hold on to you for just a second more, know that I'll always be right behind you, ready to grab your hand if you need me.  Keep trying new things and hold on to your determined spirit.  Those two things alone will take you far.  

Annabel, you're my most favorite girl in the whole world, and I love you to the moon and back.  To the moon and back.

Your Mama


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