Well baby girl, another year has gone by and you’re no longer much of a baby (although you will always be my baby girl, just so you knowJ). Instead, you have grown into this beautiful little lady. Even though you are only turning three this year, I can already see the woman you’ll become some day shining through. It amazes me that someone so young can show such love, compassion, intelligence, and insight. Your mommy couldn’t be more proud of you, and there is no one in this world that I love more.
This year has been a busy one, full of laughter, love, and hope. Now that you are getting older and more active, we have been taking full advantage of every spare moment together. I have loved watching you grow this year and viewing the world through your eyes. We have done many activities together that were certainly old news to me, but you made me look at them with the fresh excitement of childhood.
One of my favorite memories this year with you was our vacation to Pensacola, Florida in June. You, being my little spitfire with a mind of her own, insisted that we go to the beach because you wanted to see a crab. Next thing I know, we had a vacation planned with your MawMaw, Papa, and B! The first morning there, I took you down to the beach as soon as we woke up. We didn’t have time to play in it then, but I just couldn’t wait to see your face. You certainly didn’t disappoint because your eyes lit up like a Christmas tree. Later, I got to take you into the ocean for the first time. Just like your mom, you LOVE the water. No matter how long I live, I will never forget that first moment in the ocean. Part of me was terrified to take you out there. No matter how big you are getting, you are still my little girl, and you can’t swim quite yet. However, my fears melted away as the first wave hit our backs. I hugged you tightly, and you held me back. As each wave met us, you started giggling uncontrollably. In case you don’t know, I will tell you that you have the most contagious laughter. As your giggling turned into big belly laughs, I found myself laughing with you. We laughed so hard that tears streamed down our faces. It was a beautiful moment.
Along with our vacation, I have also enjoyed watching you get involved in various activities this year. Starting this past summer, you became involved in both swimming and dance. You also continued with the library program.
In July, you started swimming lessons. While you’ve had lessons before, this was the first time that I wasn’t allowed in the pool with you. I was nervous that you would be scared, but I have no idea why. You are one of the bravest people I know. Instead of fear, you found joy in the water. In fact, you loved it so much that you have been continuing with lessons through the fall. Just last week, I got to watch you swim by yourself several times!!! It scared you the first time. Then, I saw you look up out of the water when the teacher caught you. You didn’t look at her though. You searched for my face. Instantly, you calmed down. My heart melted that I could do that for you, that I could make you feel secure even when I wasn’t right there beside you. Later in the lesson, I got to watch you jump into the deep end for the first time!! Once again, I was worried you would be scared. Once again, you surpassed all my expectations (which are already high!). You fearlessly jumped off the edge with your arms spread wide and a smile on your face. And, when you got out of the pool, I was waiting right there for you. I hugged you tight despite the fact that you were sopping wet. J
Also this summer, you became involved in gymnastics and dance. You have started a class at Turner’s Tumbling called Gym and Jam, where you do half an hour of gymnastics and half an hour of dance. I love watching you in your adorable leotard flipping and dancing.
Finally, you continued with the program at the library. Before the summer, you went to Toddler Time each month. Then, you did the summer reading program. At each session, you made crafts, sang songs, and read books. We also read all the time at home. I’m so glad that you’re just as voracious of a reader as you were as a toddler. Now- you get to start going to Preschool Hour later this month!
Among many other activities this year, we have also spent hours and hours at the St. Louis Zoo. You love the bears and carousel best! And- you touched the sting rays for the first time! We went to the Science Center for the first time and saw the Egyptian exhibit, where you insisted on me taking your picture on a life-sized camelJ Your Aunt B and I took you to the Magic House, and you and B got to touch the big ball to make your hair stand on end with electricity! Your MawMaw and I took you to your first movie at the theater. We went to see Turbo (a Disney movie about a snail) in 3D. We’ve also spent hours in the back yard playing on your swing-set and in the new sandbox Daddy bought you. Inside, your favorite activity is playing with your baby dolls and pretending to be a mommy. However, you also love to make crafts with me, read, and color. And- you’ve become interested in taking pictures! (Since you can’t read this yet, I don’t mind telling you that I bought you your first camera for your birthday! I can’t WAIT for you to open it!!!)
While I know it is the beginning of you spending less time with your mom, I have been so happy that you have been making so many friends. You have been so excited this year as you’ve grown up with your friends at daycare. You have gone to lots of fun birthday parties and had a blast on playdates. You even had your first sleepover this year!! You, Regan, and Leah had so much fun playing princesses, putting on my make-up, eating LOTS of snacks, and watching Beauty and the Beast.
Among so many other things about you, I am so proud of all that you have learned this year. You talk like a tiny grown-up. You have learned to spell your name, mommy, and daddy. You have learned your shapes, ABCs, and can count to twenty easily by yourself and to 100 with a little help! You know all of your colors. I’m probably most impressed by how musical you are! You are always singing songs and you know all the words after only hearing a song once or twice! One favorite moment was when you sang “Amazing Grace” to me in church so sweetly I cried in the middle of mass!
Well, tootsie, I hope you have had as much fun with me this year as I have had with you. As always, you are my life and my love. You take such good care of me and always know what I need. I love how close we are and how much we love each other. Despite our age difference, you are my best friend and partner-in-crime. I’m so proud to be your mom, and everything I do in my life, I do with you in mind. I want to always be someone that you are proud to call Mom. Just remember, like we talk about—Mommy will always be here for you, no matter how old you get. You can always call Mommy if you need her. No matter what the problem, I’ll be here. I will be here to kiss your boo boos away. I will be here to mend your broken heart when you’re sad. I will be here to hug you and take care of you when you don’t feel well. I will be on the sidelines as you continue to grow in your sports, and I will be your biggest fan and cheerleader. I will wake up in the middle of the night to calm your fears when you have a nightmare, or even if you just need a drink of water. I will be here to answer all of your questions about how the world works. I will be here to hold your hand. I will be here to attack you with “mommy kisses” until your big belly laughs ring through the house. I will be here to play with you, laugh with you, read to you, and sing with you. I love you so much, Grace. Happy 3rd Birthday!!