Ever since your birthday on May 9th, you look so big to me. It's like overnight, my little squishy baby girl has vanished. Now, I know that's not the case, but prior to your third birthday, you still seemed to me like a toddler... You were still loving Dora, still needed help with your shoes, and didn't go to the potty all by yourself. You turned three, and overnight, it's like BAM! Here's this little girl that tells me stories and runs around and goes pee all alone and can put on her OWN shoes (all the while asking "are these the right feet, Momma?") and is actually BIGGER than some of the other kids, and shows them how to play and much prefers Chowder to Dora (oh thank GOD! I like Chowder, and those freakin' Dora songs were getting really old). She helps with the dog, she doesn't like brushing her teeth or hair (don't worry hon, we make you do it anyway... pure torture, I know), and she has LOTS and LOTS of opinions about everything and isn't afraid to express them. You are becoming a girl.
It breaks my heart and makes me proud and shakes me to the core than I helped create this AWEsome (in the true sense of the word, not like the, "totally, cool man" way) person that I just know will keep blowing me away as the years go on. You are so beautiful, ridiculously smart, and a hilarious little joke-cracker. You are incredibly empathetic and sensitive at times... You can always tell when me or your Daddy is feeling down in the dumps and you never fail to find a way to make it better, whether it be with a hug or a compliment ("Daddy, you're a good guy"... "You're so BEAUTIFUL Mommy!") or just a snuggle and a big belly laugh. It's so odd to be in this position; I feel like I'm mourning the loss of my little baby, and YET, and yet... I want to freeze you in time today, because what you are today is more amazing than I could have ever hoped... And YET, again, I can't wait to see what you will become. I just know that as the years go by, you're going to keep surprising me and making me feel like the luckiest Momma around.
You love playing at the park, running around outside, watching movies, your doggie Deuce dingle (or as you call him, "Buddy"), your family, your cupcake blankie, and shopping (just like your mom...). You aren't afraid to approach any and everyone you meet, so you make friends pretty much wherever we go. You have an elephant's memory (something Cey-Cey used to always say to me when I was little!!) and can recall even the smallest details about things we did months ago. You pick up colloquialisms from us very easily and will pull them out at the most unexpected times for a good laugh ("Mommy, why do some dogs poop?" ... "All dogs poop, honey, just like people." ..."You're KIDDING me, Momma! You're just joking!" as you wave your hand in a dismissive manner)... We've been really careful what we say around you lately because you're SO verbal and smart that I know if we slip up, you'll be dropping an F-bomb at a really inconvenient time!
Lately, you've been going through a phase where it seems like every. little. thing. is a battle. You HAVE to argue about what you wear, how long we play outside, whether or not you go to daycare, when you go to bed, whether you shower or not, brushing your hair/ teeth, what we listen to in the car, etc. etc. You yell at the top of your lungs whenever I'm on the phone in the car (simply because you don't like that I'm not paying attention to YOU right then) and you screech when we sing a song you don't like. Everyone always talks about the "terrible twos" but you were a peach when you were two... I can tell our real challenge is going to be this year of three- now that you know what you want and you want it NOW and you are willing to fight for it. It's exhausting, and I feel like some days, all I say is "No!", "Not now..." "Stop that!" or "Come here Ilyana!" which makes me feel like the evil Mom of the year... But in truth, even on days when I heave a big sigh of relief at your bedtime, I'm still so proud that you are growing into an independent, crazy-haired smart little cookie. I wouldn't trade your strong will or fiery nature for anything- it's who you are and even when it's hard, I love you for it. I want you to know that every day, I wake up and thank my lucky stars that I have this healthy, gorgeous, loving little girl to call my own. When you were in my belly, I never could have imagined just how much you'd change our lives and make us grow, or just how much I could possibly love you. I thought I loved you then, before you were born... And I know I did, but it baffles me that the love I felt could just grow and grow and grow over these past three years. How is that possible? I don't know what I would do without you, my little princess, Bendy Ruggle, Lulu the ladybug, snug-bug-rugg, widgeon, noodle nose, pinchy-bum girl. Thanks for being in my life, and for making me so proud. I never could have hoped for more.
Just a family of three (four if you count Deuce dingle!) enjoying life, learning, laughing and overcoming every obstacle life throws at us. As the great Dr. Seuss said- "I have heard there are troubles of more than one kind. Some come from ahead and some come from behind. But I've bought a big bat. I'm all ready you see. Now my troubles are going to have troubles with me!”