Tuesday, September 27, 2011

To Layla on her 4th Birthday

Four. How can that be? Four. It seems more like 4 months since the I remember finding out it would be the day that you were to be born. Wasn't it just yesterday that you snuggled up against me while we slept in bed all swaddled in your blankie with that pacifier rhythmically pulling in and out of your mouth as you sucked all.night.long. It seemed like such a long time before you would be four, then *bing* here it is. Four.

I sat on the floor with you once and tried over and over and over to get you to say "mama" and now you say my name just to say it. "mama", "mom", "allie", "mom", "Mom", "MOM", "mommy" until I want to scream, because you don't actually want anything… you just-can't-stop-talking. No really… you can't. You literally talk from when you wake up in the morning until you fall asleep. It is not uncommon for you to doze off in the dark mid sentence while I lay there and wonder if you are going to talk to me until midnight. You love to visit. I understand… you come from a long line of Big Fish Storytellers and it is going to serve you well one day. Until that day, Mommy and Daddy will try our best to be patient while you narrate every.single.thing that EVER happens. (this is not an exageration)

I remember when you used to co-sleep with us. Oh wait. That was earlier tonight. Nevermind. You still don't like to sleep alone so often before you doze off mid-sentence you come wandering across the hall in your pajamas holding Pandi the Panda Bear and crawl up into Daddy's side of the bed for a good snuggle. Once you're back asleep, Daddy has the pleasure of toting you back to your bed. I would tell you no… but there will come a day when I long for that snuggle time and so I let you crawl on in and steal all the pillows… because I remember so vividly the way you smelled as a baby snuggled between me and daddy and how quickly that all changed and so I am in no rush to kick you off to be a big girl yet.

In some ways though, you are ever the big girl. You, for the most part, dress yourself. You kinda struggle with jean zippers still… but in all fairness you prefer dresses and leggings so it's not like you get a lot of practice. You love story time at the library and bringing home books to read before nap time (which I force you to take still because for-the-love-of-God the silence is necessary during the all day talking spree). You love craft time, projects and being a helper… especially if that helping involves scissors, glue or making a mess in my kitchen. You love helping Daddy outside or bugging him while he works on things around the house.

Your tastes have changed a lot this year. While you still love being outside, you now like your outside time alone in the back yard. You still love games… but have recently discovered that losing is not-so-awesome, and really only want to play things you think you'll win. You love to cook and you're finally starting to try more new foods…unless that food contains a pea. There is no forgiving peas. You like to draw. You will write your name if we ask you to write it someplace other than on a lined piece of paper. In fact, until your recent discovery that you could write your name on a plastic cup with a marker, I wasn't entirely sure you could do it without Daddy or I walking you through it but you can… you just don't want to.

You can count to… well… honestly, I think you can probably count to 50…maybe 100. You can count to 20 in spanish. You can count to 5 in chinese. You know your whole alphabet, how to write your letters and most of your numbers. You know all your colors and shapes and you like to entertain yourself by learning. You especially like to spend time in the car looking for things "can you find a sign with a 3 on it?", "do you see a square?" and things like that. You're a very smart girl and sometimes your so logical that you give Daddy and I a lot of laughs. Last week you told Daddy that being able to eat cereal whenever he wants wasn't "part of being daddy" like he said… you insisted that "fingers, toes and hairy faces are parts of a daddy".

You love to tell jokes. Of course, you laugh so hard I have no idea what half the jokes are. My favorite is your only knock knock joke. "knock knock" "who's there" "orange you glad I said not a banana". Now, I know that there are more lines to that joke but usually your laughing so hard that I can't hear the rest. You also like to do silly dances, jump around and make faces at your sister to get her into a fit of giggles. You love being active, so any time you can work in a full dance number complete with a somersault you're totally game for that. Some of the funniest things you do, you don't do on purpose. For instance, "hang-a-burg-a-lur" is a way better word than hamburger…thusly, I have no intention of ever telling you that you do it wrong because darn it… I need the laugh. Also, the fact that you must shake your tushy whenever you see a mirror… adorable.

So your four years old, you like walks on the beach, talking on the phone with friends, bounce houses, Educational Television (Team UmiZoomi, Dora the Explorer, etc), Disney Junior, Duck Tales on DVD, My Lil Ponies, card games, electronic toys with lots of buttons, light up shoes, yogurt, chicken stars, carrots with extra extra extra ranch dressing, scrambling your own eggs, mud pies, chasing your sister around and making her squeel, making a mess, sorting things, road trips to anywhere, going to visit people, all dogs, most public events, library books, bath time, rides at the fair, going to Daddy's work for chocolate milk, running errands with Mommy, spending the night at Nannie & PopPop's house, the farmer's market/fruit stand, drawing paper and crayons or water color paints, play dough, any toy that involves physical activity and watching it rain. You dislike cats that make you itchy, people who smell like smoke (or as you call them stinky people), peas, strange textured foods, loud noises with no warning, socks without shoes, having your waist length hair brushed (not that you'll let me cut it off), nap time, water on your face in the bathtub, when people tell you no, when it's time to leave the park and little sisters who snatch your stuff when you're trying to play alone.

At four years old, you are suddenly your own little person. You've got likes and dislikes all your own. You have opinions. Oh good lord, the opinions. You know what you want, and you'll tell us *over and over and over*. There are some things about your personality that amaze me. You love every one. You love people with that Jesus Christ and the Apostles- I will always love you no matter what you are or what you do- sort of love which is AMAZING to watch. You have an epic ability to find a way to make people smile. You are mostly brave about the big things and mostly scared about the little things. You are a definite member of the no.one.picks.on.my.baby.sister.but. me club. and you tell Daddy and I all the time that "I've always wanted to love you"… which makes my heart happy.

Because you know what? I've always wanted to love you. I have always loved you. So has your Daddy. And we always will, whether your are 4 or 104… even if you never stop talking and that my dear… is saying something.

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