I might not have done the best job of keeping track of everything that happened this past year, but I have no doubt that this one will go down in history as one with incredible highs and lows. This past year you became a big sister and, after waiting so patiently for his arrival, you were the picture of grace when you learned that James was born, shouting in the middle of the hallway of your school, "he's here, he's here, I can't believe it". And when you saw him for the first time you realized what all of the fuss was about and your heart was so full of love and pride. I saw it all and made a memory which is tucked away in the not-so-far recesses of my brain and when I need to smile I bring it back and I feel good.
You also lost a grandparent this year and, though I worried a great deal about how to act and what to say, you made my job easy because it seemed as if you understood what they say about what awaits us upon death. You were not disturbed by my tears and you were sympathetic about my broken heart. You reminded me about what is high up in the sky and the angels and the beauty of heaven and I felt comforted. I know you will remember your grandfather, not so much because you remember things that happened to you when you were eighteen months old, but because you were his favorite person in the world and I am certain that he left his mark. I am looking forward to telling you about the time you spent together and explaining the hundreds of pictures I have of you next to him. There is a beautiful story in each one.
Despite the deep swings and having to reckon with life being so bittersweet, you continued to grow and thrive and captivate me. A few times over this past year I was struck with the feeling that you grew. I would look away and then look back and your legs seemed longer and suddenly your p.j.'s didn't fit and I had to let the hem out of your dresses and you needed a haircut. I started to hear your opinions more, about how you don't like peanut butter and how orange really isn't your favorite color anymore and why I should buy Oxy Clean (because it gets your stains out). The most annoying thing you started doing this year is making plans with your friends without informing either me or your friends' parents. Occasionally your father or I would show up at school and Aleaya and/or Devyln would be standing next to you, bag in hand, ready to come over. When we explained that we hadn't talked to their parents and it just 'didn't quite work that way' you flipped out. In the middle of your school. I think you sort of understand the concept of a play date now, barely.
You are still clumsy with crayons and have trouble writing your name, but you have small fingers and your father and I do not do enough to help improve your fine motor skills. We should spend more time making you color, write letters, use stickers, string beads and perform whatever other tasks will help you get better control and coordination of your hands. I know you would benefit if we turned the t.v. off more frequently but, honestly, after a long, hot day at camp or school I can understand that you want to veg out and watch some old Loony Tunes, who wouldn't.
So you haven't mastered writing your name yet, you have learned how to do quite a few things. You can jump, ride your bike and your scooter (okay, sort of) and you have even started to climb on furniture. I can tell you are nervous about it, but I have seen you jump from sofa to table to bed and back. You also learned to love the beach this year. While we were in Florida you ran in the sand, built sandcastles and searched for crabs and seashells. You love to swim and, at last, can do so with a bit of confidence, jumping into the pool unassisted and swimming from side to side.
You have a big imagination and love to create stories. You recently figured out that if you don't like the way your 'story' is playing out, you can stop and start all over with a new, more exciting theme. This happens most frequently when I am losing interest in whatever 'story' I am caught in the middle of. I usually end up having to play the role of the school teacher or the family pet and, I promise, it gets old. You still love dress-up and princesses and books and movies. You still suck your thumb and sleep with your bun-bun and want to talk about your friends and the day's events before you drift off to sleep and every now and then when this happens you are in my arms, reminding me of the very first time you were there and how I almost couldn't take how heavy me heart was when I finally understood what my incredible love for you meant.
Happy Birthday Baby Girl, I love you.