Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Happy Birthday, Jemma

Dear Jemma,

Yesterday, you turned four.  You popped out of your room at 7:00 a.m. sharp and wanted to show us how much taller you were, now that you were four.  You wanted to be measured on your growth chart.  So we marched upstairs and measured:  you are 38 inches tall, and you weigh about 28 pounds.  You are a little sprite of a four-year-old who loves to cuddle, sleep in, stay up late, swim, dance, draw, spell, write, and make snow angels.

You are in that bed right this minute, still awake, proclaiming that it is "too dark" in your room, despite the two night-lights and one glowing doll that you sleep with.  You are sweet, but you are stubborn, and when you insist on something, you won't be reasoned with the way your sister will.  You are still offended by the taste - the smell! - of certain foods, and while you will pretend to go along with our "no-thank-you bite," you have, if anything, shortened the list of foods you will eat over the course of the last year.  You love fruit, cheese, bread, and treats.  Not in that order.

For your birthday dinner, I let you choose the meal, just like my mom used to let me choose on my birthday.  You chose homemade macaroni and cheese, garlic bread, raspberries, and turkey sausage (for Annie, who is our carnivore).  We spent the day playing with all your new Christmas gifts, delivering thank-you's from your party, doing your kids' yoga DVD, building elaborate LEGO creations, traipsing around in the snow, and making your birthday cake.  I had spied a fancy pink cake on my favorite cooking website and thought you would love it, so our afternoon involved several cups of cake flour, sugar, and butter, plus three packages of cream cheese and a bunch of pureed strawberries.  Your face when you saw it in all its triple-layer-cream-cheese-frosted glory was priceless, as was the expression on it when you were trying to blow out your four candles.  Your favorite part of the dinner, though?  The ring pop you had been asking for all day.  We could have made Kraft macaroni and cheese, gotten a cake from a gas station, and let you have that damn ring pop, and you would have been just as birthday-happy.

I really, truly cannot believe that it was four years ago that we were getting to know you.  I can still picture almost every detail of those first blurry days - the orange knit hat you wore, the way your face was scrunched up just so, the way you sounded when you cried, the way you smelled all swaddled in a hospital blanket.  You're four, but you're still the baby, and so the fact that you can write your letters and spell actual words continues to shock me.  We are looking ahead to spring and summer, you and I, and you're already asking to sign up for things like dance, swimming lessons, and safety town, which in my mind Annie just did, and how is it possible that you are ready to do them, too?

For now, I am treasuring this year, complete with your senseless stubborn moments, when we are almost always still together.  I am already so proud of the you that you're becoming - polite, sweet, sensitive, fun-loving, brave, silly, thoughtful, curious, kind - that even as part of me wants to freeze you here at four, another part of me can't wait for the things I'll get to see you do in the next year's time.  Our family is so, so lucky to have you blessing us with your sweet silliness every day, and we love you so, so much.

Happy birthday, baby Jemma.

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