Livy, my love:
Happy 4th Birthday, girlfriend. You are so big and so little, so independent and still so unsure. You are on the verge of finding your confidence and being more fearless, and I’m so happy I get to be with you on that journey. In fact I think you are teaching me to be more of those things as well.
This past year has been both amazing and tough for our whole family, but I think most especially for you. We packed up our lives last summer and relocated from our house in Edinboro to central Pennsylvania. We settled into a little neighborhood in Mechanicsburg, PA just in time for you and Hank to start school. It was a hard transition for you. A new school that was big and noisy with tons of strange people (overwhelming for my little introvert, you kept asking to go back to “Miss Anne’s” school in Edinboro which felt more like home to you). You had a new bedroom and house to get used to feeling safe and comfortable in (you declared that you “don’t like the stairs” in our three-level townhome, can’t say I disagree with you). And you had to get used to being away from people you love that you used to see all the time. Because of all of that, nearly every morning when I dropped you off at school it was an emotional roller coaster. You clung to me and refused to let go. I’d go out to the car and sob. And while your teachers texted me that you were fine and happily playing within minutes, I’d sometimes need an hour to recover emotionally. What helped the most was showering you with love and empathy. Letting you sleep in our bed at night when you wanted to. Lots of hugs and conversations and understanding that sometimes, we all need to cry and feel frustrated. It took about a month to settle in and find our stride, and now we are enjoying the spoils of all of that hard work: summer vacation with no school (just one of the reasons Daddy wanted to become a teacher, so he could spend summers with you).
Your personality is infectious and interesting, and it can light up an entire room. Your imagination — the way you see things that aren't there, the way you create little worlds around you without any input at all — it floors me on an almost daily basis. Your mind inspires and invigorates me to be better, to see better, and to pay attention. You love to dance and sing, tell stories and take care of things (I find “blankets” on toys and stuffed animals all the time). You love crafts and painting and coloring and cutting things (mostly paper, sometimes other stuff). You also love to bake and cook, and one of your favorite things to do is play restaurant and wait on people and watch them eat your delicious food.
It's hard to get you to wear anything but a dress. Bonus points if it sparkles or twirls or hits the floor. And you asked for a Princess Party for your birthday, so we delivered. Everybody dressed up like a princess. Except you! You don’t like being the center of attention. But when you feel safe and comfortable you transform into a very dramatic, very theatrical little girl who performs and entertains. You love gesturing and telling stories with your whole self. When we’re out in the world, you tend to hide behind my leg or refuse to talk to people. Sometimes I wish everybody could see the amazing little girl I see everyday, but I’ve learned that you have every right to be shy and cautious and I just count myself lucky that I get to know you the way I do.
You’ve been taking swim lessons this year and we are so blown away at how far you’ve come in just a few short months. We have a pool in our neighborhood that we visit frequently, which has helped your confidence in the water a lot. In a couple of months, you’ll be trying out some dance classes as well. You have a natural love of dancing and music, so Aunt Cris and Uncle Rob gifted you some dance lessons and ballet and tap shoes (and some tights and leotards) for your birthday. You are so excited to learn but get really nervous about going to a class with other people. I’m hoping you give it a chance, because I know once you make some friends and get to know the teachers you will thrive!
You are also sporting a super stylish haircut — a bob with bangs — that you picked out yourself. It suits you perfectly, and goes so well with your sparkly personality. You love playing salon and pretending to be a stylist, so anytime we go for a haircut you sit super still and pay close attention to everything they do.
My favorite things about you are how smart and funny you are. Your comedic timing and intuition are hilarious. And my absolute favorite thing is how we snuggle together when you sneak into our room in the wee hours of the morning. You usually don't say a word and just fall asleep quietly snuggled up against my back for a few more hours of sleep. I know that someday I will look back and remember those quiet moments with you as pure heaven.
Here’s to your next trip around the sun being full of interesting and exciting new things, my brave girl.
All my love,