You are 2 years and 7 months old. I have never wanted anyone to slow down aging as much as I have wanted it with you. Not even myself- I will embrace all the eye wrinkles if you will just stop it. I've always loved each step towards big kidhood, and I have no doubt you will be as fun a big kid as your big siblings are, but your babyhood, and now your toddlerhood, have been some of the most joyful years of my life and I already want to press pause and do it over again a few times before I can allow you to move on.
From the day you were born you became the happy heart and very center of our family. I'm not sure any baby has been so adored- if nothing else it gives me comfort to know we soaked up every single second with you at every phase. And I know you felt all the love sent your way- it showed in the way you soaked it all in and then sent it back out to us. You've been a ball of joy since day 1, so much so that I've struggled with writing your letters. It's hard to put feelings this strong- and a personality so big- into something so black and white and limiting as words. I think because of the timing of your arrival- when we were fairly settled in this new life in Fort Worth, a life with free time and autonomy, with big kids who were easy and wonderful and self sufficient and SO EXCITED to have a little sister, you just came at a time when we could really appreciate and enjoy you. And enjoy you we have.
And 2.5(ish) you are BRIMMING with personality. It was big before, but it's multi-dimensional now. Your biggest emotions remains love and joy. When any of us walk in the door- whether we've been gone for 10 minutes or several hours, you lose your mind with the screaming and hugs and repeated vigorous huggy screaming. You frequently and joyfully exclaim our names throughout the day and randomly run over for big hugs. You love quite fiercely, little one.
You are brave and adventurous. You are quite confident that you can do anything the big kids can, and for the most part, you're right. People are constantly gasping around us at your antics, but we're used to your exploits and know your capabilities exceed your tiny body. You crawled early, walked early, jumped on a scooter and took off cruising before you really knew what a scooter was. You're obsessed with Landon's old tricycle and demand "Hel-met, mama, hel-met." so you can bike around like you own the road.
You don't seem to fear much of anything- not storms, loud noises, jumps too tall for you to take, movies (you saw Zootopia in theaters a few weeks ago and LOVED the whole experience), or water. Now that daddy teaches your swim lessons in our pool in the evenings you are OBSESSED. As soon as we get home at the end of the day you run up to me with a diaper and a "shoo suit" and beg to be suited up. You wait patiently for daddy to get home- sometimes waiting an hour or more, playing nicely on your steps, and then he pulls up and you scream and run and hug and drag him to the pool. He dunks you, floats you, and makes you kick to the wall and climb out on your own and you LOVE it. At the end he always asks if you want to play and you say "more sweemming lesson, daddy. sweemming." And so you do more of that.
You are tremendously busy, yet also completely content. You are industrious- always cleaning or stacking or putting things in bins. You are active- flitting between big siblingss, your dad, and me- joining in whatever we're doing for a little while and then heading off to do something important on your own, before sliding back in to "help" with whatever we're working on. You can, and do, play on your own for long periods of time. And you sing. You sing constantly. Frozen, nursery rhymes, and tunes entirely of your own making (or that we just aren't understanding)- you are always making music.
Your imagination has taken off. You frequently bake treats for us in your kitchen and set the playroom table with place settings for all. Your new favorite game involves randomly stopping whatever you're doing, turning behind you with a look of fear, and yelling, "A TIGER COMIN!!". Then we have to run away or stand our ground and snarl at the tiger. He hasn't eaten us yet.
You are quite particular about your clothing. Choosing which pj set to wear can be agonizing and selecting the right tutu with the right animal shirt is a process that cannot be rushed. You're obsessed with shoes and prefer your white high heels to be worn with all outfits, including pj's, but will settle for any other shoe in the shade of purple if necessary. You delight in your accessories- a purse is always required and sometimes only four will do. You like sunglasses, but only to carry around, rarely to wear. If you do wear them, they are always upside down and you find it offensive if we attempt to correct you.
You are so proud of your new ability to wear a pony tail and run up to me every morning before work with a brush and tiny elastic band in your hand, "Purple pony, Mama. Purple pony PEASE."
Today we managed two ponies and you were delighted. Then we had to go march around the front yard for some ring-around-the-rosie in celebration.
You are talking up a storm. After many months of pointing, you decided a few months ago to use English and now I can't believe there was a time you didn't keep a running monologue going at all times. You have very strong feelings about other people's possessions. If I sit in daddy's chair at the table I'm immediately informed of my error. You don't like it when we park in the wrong spots on our driveway. You IMMEDIATELY let anyone know if anyone is touching anything that doesn't belong to them and you make sure the true owner has given permission to the thief before you stop yelling at us about it. Interestingly, these rules of ownership don't apply to you in any way.
You are inquisitive- always trying to figure out how and why things work the way they do. You repeat things I say over and over, with a firm nod of the head, as if to convince yourself of the facts. You mimic Claire constantly. Her mannerisms, the tilt of her head, her very words... you want so much to be like her. And to her unending credit, Claire takes your painstaking mimicry for the compliment it is. She is a tremendously generous and patient big sister to you- you steal everything she owns and she takes pride in it. She got that from her big brother and both of you little sisters are lucky indeed.
Your relationship with your big siblings is one of the great joys of my life. Tonight you three were playing a complicated game involving the industrial gymnastics mat I bought of our neighborhood buy/sell page, a large pink ball, two fuzzy blankets, and a lot of happy screaming. You were in the mix and thrilled to be there. You always are. When I pick you up from school your fist question is always, "Where my Nanat and Yaya go?" If they happen to be in the car, your screams are deafening. If they aren't, we have to discuss their whereabouts and their expected return for the rest of the drive home. You wait for them diligently, peaking out the windows and doors until they're home. If we go on a walk before they're back, you call their names as you pedal your tricycle, as if you might find them behind a bush up ahead. You love them so much, and they continue to delight in your every new word and skill.
Day-to-day you love school and run into your classroom cheerfully with barely a wave goodbye. Your teachers tell us you are SO busy and you love all your work. At home you are constantly busy. You always hug but rarely cuddle. You LOVE sleep and luxuriate in 5 hour naps on the weekends. You've started waking up earlier in the morning so we've been cropping your naps and for at least an hour after we force you up, you sigh repeatedly and rest your sweet round cheek on your hand and clearly long for bed. You go down at 8:00 with your big sister. Your nighttime routine consists of a book, now often read by your Yaya, and then plopping you in your crib- which you never fail to seem delighted to see again- giving you a hug and kiss, turning off the light and on the sound machine, and closing the door. You cheerfully tell us to "have good sleep!" as we walk away and at 8:02 we're on the couch and off duty until we hear you telling Yaya to wake up 11 hours later.
You eat politely with your grown-up utensils and cup and have for months. You eat everything we do, except you weirdly hate fruit. You love sauces and strong flavors and will dip your chips into the spiciest of salsas. When I ask what you want to eat you always chant, "Umm, tortillas, beans, av-cado, turkey, CHEESE!". Black beans are your favorite food, possibly second only to sweet potatoes and avocado. You love identifying colors and purple seems to be your favorite. You say, "oh goodness gracious" anytime something surprising or upsetting happens. You are incredibly patient- you are dragged on so much and always act like whatever it is you're doing (long car rides, hikes, swim meets, school events) is precisely where you want to be.
At 2.5 you have spent more time in timeout than either of your big siblings, but you are also better behaved while you are in there. You always say thank you and generally say please. Saying sorry is not your favorite. You are delighted by zebras and most other wild animals. You are fierce with your affections, opinions, and infectious joy. You are the heart of our house, Ra-ra, and you couldn't be more loved or seem any happier to be here.