Oh, my sunny, funny little girl. I can’t believe you’ve been in our lives for two whole years! You bring more joy to us than we could have ever imagined, and with each passing day our love for you grows.
This past year has brought on so much change, little one! Thinking back to your first birthday, it’s like remembering an entirely different person! You took your very first steps ever that day, and now you run around like a crazy person all day everyday! You love to climb, and you have no fear. In fact, when I turned my back on you for like two seconds a few weeks ago at the park, you climbed up the big kid stairs to the tallest slide you could find and barreled down it, face first. (That didn’t end so well, BTW.) Your life is about exploring right now, whether it’s in our backyard or on our evening walks. Your imagination is so vivid right now, and I love secretly watching you play. There isn’t a toy that you can’t find fascination with, a doll you can’t play house with too much, or a book that you can’t “read” all by yourself. You love your baby dolls like you’re their little mommy, rocking them, feeding them and putting them night-night. (Not to mention doing all the same things with your real baby, Cricket!) You, in fact, love to put all of us to bed, playing “Night-night. Morning!” (which includes covering us up, listening as we fake snore a few times and then yelling, “MORNING!” so that we pop up awake). You also love the water, so everyday you shower with me, play in the kitchen sink while I do household chores, wade in the kiddie pool when it’s warm, and take a long bath — and you wouldn’t have you days any other way! You are my water baby. :)
However, E.V., your absolute favorite thing to do is art, and you beg to paint or color or draw with chalk constantly. You are an artist at heart, little lady, and you were born with that passion. I’m always trying to find artistic things to entertain you, but this year your favorite project has been your coloring box. After Christmas, I had a big box leftover, and so one day I stuck you in it with a box of crayons. From that moment on you’ve spent hours in that box, filling its surfaces up with drawings and scribbles straight out of your imagination. You also LOVE to have us trace your hands and feet, and occasionally you want to trace ours. :) And, once in a while, you’ve been known to color outside the lines, or rather outside the box — and onto the walls, the porch, yourself…you know, pretty much anywhere you can find a blank canvas.
Emma Vance, even at the young age of two, you also have a passion for music. Daddy is constantly telling me to stop singing to you because, well, I stink at singing and he’s afraid I’m turning you tone deaf, too! Haha! You are always making up little songs while you play, and your preschool teachers always report that music is your favorite activity. You can sing “Twinkle, Twinkle,” ” Happy Birthday,” our special night-night song and “Let It Go” all by heart. I’ve even caught you trying to sing along to the “Little Mermaid” and “Tangled” songs before, and you were doing great! In fact, you’re already a total Disney-ophile, with Tinker Bell as the clear front-runner to being your favorite this year. You are obsessed with her and have been for months. You’re just getting into princesses recently, and you LOVE Anna and Elsa from “Frozen” (your favorite non-fairy movie) and Ariel (or “mermaid” as you’re more likely to call her). Overall, you love all things girly, and I love that about you. In fact, you are slowly becoming the dress up diva around here, begging to wear my jewelry, stealing our shoes, and constantly asking, “Dress? Dress?” You pile clothes on the dogs and on your sister in an effort to get them to join in, and although they passively participate, you’re eager to have Kit grow up and really play with you ASAP.
Emma Vance, in addition to being so full of energy and imagination, you are SMART. Like, smart-beyond-your-years-smart. You can count (sort-of), and love numbering the stairs as you bound down them. You know your colors, but when we ask you what color something is, you always say blue no matter what. (It’s your little inside joke with us.) Most surprisingly, though, E.V., you already know your ABCs! And I don’t mean the song, I mean, the actual letters. You picked up on them while watching “Sesame Street” and “Super Why” and surprised us all! Plus, you’ve always been a talker, but your vocabulary is very extensive for your age. You pick up words quickly and are constantly asking, “What is?” :) Your favorite thing is to name animals and their sounds, but it gets awkward when an animal doesn’t have a sound. So we’re teaching you funny things like that a bunny says “hop hop,” a camel says “bump bump bump,” and a porcupine says “spiky spiky.” As for a giraffe? Well, we taught you to silently hold up your hand like the long-necked animal and pretend to eat leaves in lieu of making a sound. It’s pretty hilarious! (Although birds are by far your favorite animal, and you’re constantly trying to talk and catch them.) Your tiny little voice is so cute and cracks us up constantly. Every once in a while you’ll pick up on something we say and act like a little grown up, which is adorable. You yell at the dogs, “O-car! Stop bawking!” and tell us, “Here ya’ go!” when you hand us items. I die. For her first month here on earth, you refused to call your sister “Cricket,” but rather referred to her as “baby” and “buddy.” The first time you called her Cricket, I about melted. Now each morning you start the day off by hugging her and telling her, “Morning, Cricket! Miss you! Love you!” Sigh.
Speaking of love, you are such a social little butterfly! You love being around people just like your dad, and are definitely an extrovert. You make friends wherever you go, and there is not a shy bone in your tiny body! You especially love the Russian girls who live next door to us, and are always running outside or gazing out the window, looking for them constantly. This non-shyness also translates to your having absolutely ZERO separation anxiety. I know you love me, but it’s nice to have you happily send me off when you have a babysitter or are being dropped off at school. Despite all the friends you’ve already made in your big two years here in life, your best friend by far is Cricket. You are OBSESSED with her and have been since Day One. There hasn’t been even a moment of jealousy between the two of you, and I’m happy to say that she is equally enamored with you as well. I’m constantly worried that you’re going to smother her (literally) because you are so desperate to be close to her that you even like to lay on top of her! I often think that you believe that you are Cricket’s real mommy, as you’re constantly trying to feed her, clean her ears and dress her. (You even tried to nurse her once or twice, which put my into a fit of laughter!) You ask to “Hold her?” constantly and sleep soundest when curled up next to her. Your little fingers are constantly poking her eyes out, pulling her hair and pinching her, but it’s all so innocent. And, truthfully, she loves it. She would endure anything to have you play with her. Seeing your face brings an instant smile to hers, and I couldn’t be happier that the two of you were so perfectly made for one another.
Each evening when we put you to bed, we let you have a “bite-a-men” (vitamin), brush your teeth and help you say your prayers. Right now you have caught on to “Amen!” quite well and love to clap your hands as loudly as possible as an accompaniment. :) I’ve also taught you to do jazz hands and shout, “Yaaay, Jesus!” at the end for my own entertainment (and God’s too). Ha! Then we sing you our special night-night song and put you in your crib. Nighttimes have been such an up-and-down thing this year for us, and they often go in phases. You’ll have a month where we lay you down and you roll over and fall asleep quietly without a peep, and then the next month you cry and beg for things like, “A Mommy? A Daddy? A Cricket? A O-scar? A water? A cake? A bunny?,” running through the list of things that would make your bedtime better. Those cry-it-out nights are the hardest, especially because over time we’ve realized that those times often coincide with teething or sickness. The hardest part is that you’re so happy during the day most of the time that your nighttime cries of pain are unexpected. And, man, have you been sick this year! Whew! Starting in September, when you began going to preschool one day a week, along with your macaroni artwork, you brought home GERMS! You’ve had the stomach bug several times, a constantly-runny nose, croup and an ear infection this year. It seemed like every time we’d get you healthy, you’d go and get sick all over again! Yuck. I’m hoping this upcoming school year will be better since you’ve survived your first round of kid illnesses. ;) But back to the issue of sleep…You’ve always been an 11-hour a night kinda’ girl, and although teething, sickness and growth spurts seem to constantly plaguing your good nights of rest, you’re a pretty good sleeper overall. Of course, you’d prefer to be in our bed, snuggled up with us each night, but that can’t always be the case. Okay, truthfully, I’d love that. But I’d never get to sleep myself because for a little lady, man can you take up some space! Ha! This year has been one of transitions in terms of naps, and now that we’re in the one-nap-a-day phase, it’s awesome! You sleep from noon/1 until 3/3:30 every afternoon, and I love that golden hour of relief in my day!
Each morning you awake begging for food. In fact, it cracks me up because I’m the exact same way, whereas your dad could wait hours before needing to eat. But no matter what time of day, you love to eat and are constantly asking for strawberries, eggies, bunnies (Annie’s Cheddar bunnies) and “pock-a-boos” (popsicles). You love turkey and cheese, “e-nanas” (bananas), “uh-cados” (avocados) — and, of course, mac ‘n cheese, pizza, cookies and cake. We feed you lots of healthy foods and try to stick to organic stuff around the house, and then when we go out to eat, whatever we order is a big treat for you! (Hence the obsession with pizza.) You also LOVE “juice” (i.e. fruit smoothies from Robek’s), and we just don’t let you know how good they are for you. Shhh!
The jury is still out on whether you look like Mommy or Daddy. Your face seems to change with each emotion, and while sometimes I feel like I’m looking in a mirror, other times it’s like staring at your father. Your eyes are a beautiful brownish-caramel, your hair is dark and your skin is fair. Your little teeth are perfectly straight and (much to your daddy’s happiness) your hair is growing long and shiny. You are beautiful. Beautiful. There are even these moments when you sleep, when your whole face (which is usually curled up into some sort of enormous grin) relaxes and I get a glimpse of what you’ll look like as a grown up, and I can tell you are going to be so pretty. Not that looks matter, but God has graced you with beauty, so use it for His glory, little lady.
Emma Vance, I was looking back at a picture of you from a year ago while getting ready for your birthday this year, and although I can see you in that tiny baby, she is not you anymore. You are no longer an infant in any sense of the word. You are a kid in the making, and with each passing day, I see less and less of my little baby and more and more of my daughter. Although I’m desperate to hold onto my sweet little baby, I’m excited to get to know you as you, to watch you grow and learn and become.
Two years is such a short time, but in some ways it’s an eternity. In less than a thousand days you’ve gone from a tiny, pink bundle nestled in my arms to throwing your own arms around my legs with squeals of excitement when I walk into a room. I can’t imagine my life, our lives, without you. You are my sunny, funny tinker fairy, and I love you. We love you, Emma Vance.
Happy 2nd birthday!
Me (and Daddy and Cricket!)
P.S. This morning you knew it was your birthday, you smartie pants. You woke up, declared, “HAPPY BIRTHDAY!” and then used your cuteness and special day to your advantage by requesting Pirate Booty for breakfast…in bed…with Cricket at your side. And we obliged, because, well, it’s your day. :)