Archive for the ‘Birthday Letters’ Category

Dear Sophie

My princess ladybug,

At the moment I’m sitting on my bed, trying to think of how to condense your last year into a reasonable-sized letter, while you are crying in your room because your big sister indicated that she might try to play with some of your new toys in the morning. This has not been the first princess-moment of your day (every time your Minnie Mouse ears slipped off, for example, there was much wailing and gnashing of teeth) and it very well might not be the last, depending on your level of exhaustion verses your level of irritation at whatever may arise before sleep comes.

The nickname of Princess is a term of endearment, but I must admit that it has always been a bit tongue-in-cheek. Yes, you do love dresses and skirts – the idea of wearing pants is usually met with horror and dismay that I would torture you so – and you love sparkly, pink anything. You are constantly toting around as many plastic princess figurines as your little hands can carry (4 is reasonable, but I’ve seen as many as 6) and insist on sleeping with at least 2, despite my warnings that rolling over them during the night will not be pleasant. And a few weeks ago, when we took you to see Enoch and Zach perform in the play, Cinderella, you sat the entire 2 1/2 hours in complete wonderment, ooohing over the best parts and clambering to stand on my lap in order to get a better look at the fancy ballgown. However, the reason your nickname stuck was due to the Attitude that one could only attach to a Girl of Privilege who gets what she wants, when she wants it. Where you got this sense of entitlement, I’m not quite sure, but it certainly has not faded over the course of 3 years, and I’m guessing is something I will be writing about for years to come.

The years go by so fast for me now that I sometimes think that not much could have changed in just 12 short months. And yet instead of my chubby-cheeked just-barely-not-a-baby, I now have a beautiful little girl who has grown much too fast in 4 seasons past. Your dad and I beg you to eat as we see all of your baby fat disappear into a slim frame that bears no resemblance to a baby, no matter how much I’d like to deny it. Your hair….oh my goodness…this is the hair that I have dreamed of having my entire life. It has gone from shoulder-blade length to grazing your waist, and miraculously, even with all that length, has held on to the most perfect soft curls. You still have words that you adorably mispronounce (anyone who has the chance to hear “Rapunzel” before it gets self-corrected should – I tell you – this stuff is more powerful for warm fuzzies than watching kittens) and yet you also speak in complete, understandable sentences, making conversation less frustrating and much more entertaining. Being able to see you think something over, and then clearly ask about whatever curiosity was mulling around in your brain – it is spectacular to behold and I relish this fantastic stage of learning new, wonderful things every day.

Of course some things never change. You are very smart and even though your dad and I are fully aware of this, you still surprise us on a regular basis with questions, comments, or finding loopholes to what we are certain is perfect reasoning for a toddler. You still love, love, love music and even though your tastes are varied, I can’t help but smile to see you seemingly involuntarily start to dance and bop your head when alternative or hard rock music is played. You will always be my hardcore princess if the level at which you belt out White Stripes tunes is any indication. And as any child of mine must be – you hold a special place in your heart for two of my true loves – shoes, and books (in no particular order). I almost never deny the opportunity to sit down for a story or to watch the parade of you and your sister trying on the highest, prettiest heels in my closet. My daughters should always be able to appreciate the finer things in life and if I can’t get you to try my risotto (yet – I’m still determined!) then I will gladly teach you the name “Steve Madden” right alongside “Hamlet.”

As I read your letter from last year, my heart ached over one particular change. No longer am I allowed to rock you to sleep at night – something I foolishly resisted in the beginning – and sing lullabies softly in to your ear. Instead, you listen to cds and mp3s, and the head that used to rest against my chest now barely touches me in a quick hug before running away to plead that Daddy be the one to escort you to your room. When it was time for your birth story tonight it took a little too much convincing (for my comfort at least) to get you to sit on my lap in that now abandoned rocking chair. Once you finally agreed, you gave me your complete attention and inserted some very appropriately placed “wow”s into the storyline. Daddy was there this time, which might have bothered me considering this has been my special birthday moment with both of my girls since you were each born, except that having him act out the doctor pulling you out by the feet was very well received with a requested (and granted) encore.

Today was such a busy day, even without birthday things added, and yet when I picked you up from your nap and you were still tired, I quietly carried you in to my room and sat in my bed with you still sleeping against my chest, where you now barely fit. If these are the only cuddling moments that I have left with my much-too-grown-up girl, then I will pray to every god that has ever existed that they last as long as possible.



(Photo by Enoch)


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Dear Ella

My bella Ella,

As I read through your birthday letter from last year, it’s hard to see much difference in the months since. You had already lost most of your baby fat and the changes in your face are now subtle. And you had the unfortunate luck to receive my height genes – your little sister is now only a size smaller than you in clothes, despite the difference of two years in age.  And of course there are things that I know will never change – your stubbornness, your thirst for knowledge, and your brain that works much too well for a child your age – a very clever brain that seems to outwit adults on a regular basis.

There are two things that I was wondering about last year, regarding longevity – your duel obsession with zombies and the Wizard of Oz. Four year olds don’t have the greatest attention span – surely you would find a new obsession within a few months? Except at this moment I am listening to the soundtrack from Wicked blare from a speaker that happens to be emblazoned with your own Zombie Dorothy drawing, and I know that you have not one, but two zombie dolls currently tucked in your bed, keeping you company at night. Earlier this week you donned a Zombie Dorothy costume for various Halloween activities – that was a costume I never thought I would need to make for my little blonde-haired, angel-faced daughter.  After your dad and I saw Wicked in New York City, we brought the CD home for you and you are now equally obsessed with the witches as you have been with Dorothy – so things seem to be going strong with both of your favorite things, and I have no intention of discouraging either.

You started your second year of pre-school in September and I have really noticed a difference over last year, when you struggled with the idea of conforming to a structured schedule. I rarely get pulled aside for negative reports now, and mostly get a thumbs up from your teacher. You certainly have never stopped loving school, whatever issues may occur there – the day we had a school cancellation from hurricane weather you cried and argued with us – trying to make a reasonable case for why the school should stay open. I had to admit it was compelling, but nonetheless you were forced to stay home, and you let us know exactly how unhappy you were with your trademark stamp of your foot and folding of your arms, all topped off with a defiant HUFF. It was adorable.

If you aren’t in school, you are trying to learn something. Anything. Mommy, why does it rain? Can we test this ball for elasticity (true story)? How do you spell “strawberry shortcake?” And if Daddy or I aren’t available to tell you the answers, you’ll do your best to figure it out by yourself. Lately, you will come find me, usually after quiet time or when I’m making dinner, to give me a gift. A drawing with a message, carefully sounded out in your head for your best attempt at spelling. And I am amazed at how good you are at it and how often you get the word right, or almost so. Of course I shouldn’t be surprised – Daddy and I read to you every day, and Daddy especially likes to point out each word, asking you to jump in every now and then. It’s as though I can see all the gears in your brain cranking and churning while a giant sponge soaks everything in.

We started a new reward system this year and my already helpful girl can now earn plastic diamonds to trade in for rewards. You have always been eager to do things like grab an extra diaper for Sophie, or throw something away for me, but it has also really helped cut down on the tantrums. If I ask you to do something and you immediately answer, “Yes Mommy!” you are rewarded and oh my – do I love hearing those words! And I love seeing the smile on your face as you count those diamonds, planning what you will spend them on. The whole system has also greatly improved our relationship, with less fighting and stubborn standoffs, and I can’t tell you how happy that makes me.

You have never been a kid that loves being held, hugged, snuggled, etc. – you told me tonight, as I tried to hug you after the telling of your birth story that you prefer softer hugs, please, while squirming away from me. This is definitely one of your father’s traits as my family are huggers and kissers – but it makes any unsolicited hug from you unparalleled. I know that it’s a genuine outpouring of love – a stalwart child caught up in a moment of joy, forgetting herself and throwing her arms around my neck? I can not imagine anything better and look forward to each and every one.

I love you little bird – infinity. Plus one.




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I Heart You III

My bella Ella,

Your entire life has been chock-full of big changes. I’m hoping that things settle down now for awhile, but this last year was no different than the past two. We moved in to a house, and you got a shiny new Baby Sister. The house was no big deal for you. You loved the process of looking and once we made the final decision, you couldn’t wait to move in and explore. Compared to our apartment, this was a palace, and the novelty of having our own yard again was a natural high.

We made sure your new room was YOUR room. You were kind enough to approve all my choices regarding paint and decor, including your own little flock of birds, to keep you company. And when we decided to switch you into a twin-size bed, in order to move the crib into the nursery? No problem! Bring on the change! You slept in that bed the very first night and haven’t looked back since.

We were really hoping that attitude would prevail with the addition of your new baby sister. That you’d accept the changes and roll with the punches. All in all, I think you’ve been more than accommodating. After all, this new person did demand lots of time from not just Mommy, but Daddy as well. You did ask several times when Sophie was going back to the hospital – mostly when Daddy was holding her, but you finally accepted that she was here to stay. And you’ve taken your duties as Big Sister very seriously. You’re vigilant in showing her new signs for words like “more” and “all done.” You’re a pro at rolling-over-instruction, dance lessons, and even help with feedings.

Your love for your little sister really gets me. The way you play with her, just to get her to giggle, could melt even the Grinch’s heart. I get all veklempt when I see you put your arm around her and say, “love you, Soph.” I know, as a sister myself, that those days will most likely disappear for awhile when she attempts to borrow your favorite shirt or throws an ice skate at you – and sometimes I wonder if you’re trying to be sneaky and smother her with your intense hugs – so I’m enjoying this time for as long as it lasts.

Some days I wish I could see in to your brain. It must be working constantly, at a million miles a minute. There are times when you tell me something that I know we haven’t talked about in over a month, but you repeat it like it was yesterday. Despite the fact that 99% of your time-outs are for NOT LISTENING, you have an increasingly freakish memory. This has really manifested itself in your love of music. You are very quiet when we introduce a new song, absorbing it all until you can repeat it back. Sometimes I wonder if you just zone out, thinking about Dora this and Diego that, and then you’ll start singing the words to Sound of Silence – in key, of course.

And speaking of Dora and Diego – you LOVE LOVE LOVE those shows. I wasn’t all too happy about this (I much prefer Yo Gabba Gabba or Sesame Street) but then one day you turned to us at dinner time and counted to 10, IN SPANISH. Dad and I just sat there in stunned silence until you repeated it again, holding up your fingers as if to say – duh! – I was COUNTING, people – pay attention! You’ve also started watching Ni Hao Kai Lan, and who am I to stand in the way of you speaking English, Spanish AND Mandarin? We do still limit your TV-time but I’ve stopped complaining about your choices – if hearing that inane backpack over and over again helps you become multilingual, than so be it.

I enrolled you in a class at our local rec center this year, in an attempt for both of us to hopefully find friends. Luckily, it worked. You have now had a handful of successful play-dates with your new BFF and I have a fellow mom to commiserate with on the ups and downs of Life With a Toddler. I’m hoping that this continues because it’s made our new home feel more like, well – home.

Tonight I tucked you in and told you the story of your birth. 3 years ago today, you were handed to me and instantly turned my life upside down. As I gave you your final goodnight hug, I started to cry, and trying to hold it in, made a pathetic, whimpering sound. You gently patted my back and said, “Excuse you Momma. Excuse you.” Then you smiled that bewitching smile, gave me a kiss on the cheek, and asked if I could please leave the door open on my way out. I walked out of your room, where you lay, tucked in to your big-girl-bed (safety rail down and all) with your flashlight and books. As I sat down on the living room couch, I let the last 3 years wash over me, and I cried – something that I’m certain I’ll do again and will also, in the future, certainly embarrass you. But I promise that if you are privileged enough to have children of your own, you’ll understand and maybe even forgive me for that time I wept in front of your prom date, while taking a million holographic (because that’s totally the next new thing) pictures of my “birdie girl.”



Birdie 3

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