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Happy 3rd birthday, Maddie!

February 28th, 2011

Wow!!!! Maddie is THREE! I can’t believe all the things that she is doing these days. With Children’s House in her near future, she will be seeing lots of changes soon. I can’t wait to see what the next few months will bring! Time for the 3-year old edition of letters to Maddie. Um, it appears to be a long one (no wonder it took me so long to finish).

Dear Madeline,

I know I keep saying this in my letters, but I can’t believe how quickly the time has passed. You have really grown in leaps and bounds in many ways. You are no longer a baby or even a toddler, though you will always be my little girl! You do remind me that you are not a baby when I slip and call you “my baby girl.”

It’s hard to know where to begin when writing you these letters. So much always happens between each letter. Your language skills continue to impress (and amuse) us. The other day, Daddy said, “Maddie, you crack me up.” You looked at him and said, “Daddy, you’re not broken. You don’t have any cracks.” That same day, you told Daddy your full name and then said that your “empty” name was Maddie. While you didn’t get the concept quite right, I’m proud of your reasoning skills. I may be a little biased as your Mommy, but I’m pretty sure that your communication skills are advanced for your age. You are constantly talking. Sometimes you require feedback from us, and other times you’ll just chatter away to yourself or to your dolls.

You only asked for a few things for Christmas last year. When we visited Santa, you asked for cars and a doll with hair. Santa brought you TWO dolls with hair (the bitty twins, Annabelle and Henry) and several cars. You were pretty patient about Christmas. You knew that you were getting dolls with hair and cars. The only time that you got upset is when we went to see Santa at the mall and we left the mall without your dolls or cars. We had to explain to you that Santa was going to leave these things at our house in a few weeks. Your visit with Santa was a success. You sat on his lap, unafraid, and told him what you wanted for Christmas.

You saw Santa again a few days later when you experienced your first train ride. Once again, you let him know that you wanted cars and a doll with hair. The train ride was fun, but it was a very cold day! We were in open air train cars, so we had to be quite bundled to enjoy the ride. I think it made an impression on you as you have created “train rides” in the house by putting a couple of chairs behind one another.

We made a gingerbread train together. This was such a fun project! I think Daddy laughed a little about our gingerbread train, but I think it turned out pretty well. You and I had so much fun with baking projects at Christmas. Keira’s family gave you a cute apron as a gift, and you were so cute in it! We made sugar cookies, ginger snaps, cake pops, and truffles.

You are often using your imagination these days. Sometimes you even use your imagination to manipulate us into doing things like accompanying you into the next room. “There’s a wolf in the room! Please come with me! There’s a wolf! Protect me from the wolf!” I think you’re so convincing that you really believe that you need to be saved from the wolf in the next room.

Annabelle, Henry, and Baby are often included in your adventures around the house as well as various scenarios that you have experienced yourself. Baby was neglected a little bit after the Bitty Twins arrived at Christmas, but she has since been upgraded to “the Bitty Twins’ baby sister.” The dolls must not be excluded when talking about our family. You do know that our family is Daddy, Mommy, Maddie, and Cullen, but in certain situations you make sure that we do not leave out Annabelle, Henry, and Baby. If I say, “it’s just us girls!” when running errands with you, you’ll say, “all of us girls except for Annabelle and Baby.” The other day, you told one of the teachers in the building that baby Cullen was your brother and that your other siblings were the bitty twins. We had to quickly explain that you were referring to your dolls and not near future real-life siblings.

You put the dolls to bed, feed them a variety of nutritious foods, change their clothes constantly, and even send them to time out. They go to time out for 3 minutes for offenses such as having a potty mouth, acting like a kitty, and hitting their sibling. It’s interesting to watch you discipline your dolls and makes me think about what we often say to you. One day after we put you in bed, you called for Daddy. When he got there, you asked him to bring you Annabelle and Henry since you had forgotten them downstairs. You explained, “it’s dangerous for the dolls to be downstairs by themselves. They were probably crying.”

Today, we had a very big day for you, Annabelle, and Henry. We went to the American Girl store in Atlanta and were joined by Grandma, Nana, Great Grandma, and Great Aunt Frances. We had a wonderful meal. You were so excited! Two of your favorite parts of the meal were the pink lemonade and the cake (you LOVE cake, which is a “special treat” in our house). Your dolls had special high chairs at the table with their own tiny tea cups, saucers, and pitcher. The store is quite the place. I think everyone was impressed, and we found out just what happens when you bring along Grandmas to the American Girl store. Annabelle and Henry left the store with a new music table and chairs, a birthday party accessory set, soccer outfits, a soccer accessory set, pajamas, and a Hawaiian shorts outfit for Henry. Henry is the most excited about the new items as he went from having just one outfit to FOUR outfits (five, if you count the fact that the two soccer outfits can be worn by either doll). You loved every minute of the experience. It is difficult to say who was the most excited by the store, as the adults thoroughly enjoyed the visit as well.

We spent your birthday weekend in Atlanta where we visited with your great grandparents. Nana and Papa came down at the same time, and Grandma joined us as well. I think it was pretty neat to have so much of your family together in one place. You started calling Grandma, “Regular Grandma” so that she wouldn’t be confused with Great Grandma. I wonder how long you will call her Regular Grandma. Will Grandpa become Regular Grandpa as well?

We had beautiful weather all weekend, and we decided to give you your main birthday present a little early. You now have a Strider balance bike. You were very excited to try it out in Great Grandma and Great Grandpa’s neighborhood. It has only two wheels with no training wheels or pedals. You are going to need some practice, I think, but I’m sure you will get the hang of it.

When we asked you this weekend what it meant to be 3, you replied, “I go to Children’s House!” We haven’t heard the official word, but we are expecting to hear the news of your new teachers at preschool soon. You’ll be moving to a new building for the first time, and I can’t wait to see what kind of adventures that you have in Children’s House. I know you are excited about it. You and Maria turned in your paperwork for Children’s House a few weeks ago. Daddy and I toured the preschool about a month ago. We were impressed with your new school! You will love all the many options of activities to do around the classroom. In addition to your regular activities, they have more structured lessons such as soccer, art, music, science, and French (when you’re a little older). It’s an amazing place.

I’m sure you are going to learn so much after moving up to the preschool. You can already count to at least 20 or so (though you sometimes skip a few) and identify your letters. You are not quite writing your letters, though sometimes you are able to copy when we write them. I’m sure you’ll be writing your name before we know it. Your art has been evolving lately. When you color, you fill in each object with different colors and fill in between the lines more fully. Of course, you still color outside of the lines, but it’s looking more like actual coloring and less like random scribbles. Last week, you drew our family for the first time. It was awesome! I have a little video of you narrating each part of the drawing. You drew Daddy, Mommy, Maddie, and Cullen each in our own color. You drew our heads with eyes, nose, mouth, and lips. I’m not sure why the lips were a separate line, but that’s how you represented us! You then drew four lines around our heads – one on each side for our cheeks, one on top for our hair, and one at the bottom for our body. You talked continuously while drawing the picture. We are all happy. This Cullen can walk, but in the picture he’s swimming. You created Valentines for all of your friends. In most of the drawings, you drew yourself and your friend and I wrote below them what you said about the picture. I think that they turned out pretty well!

You love books. You continue to be interested in ones that are a bit longer, and you have many of your favorite books memorized. Recently, you have been into Madeline’s Rescue, Amelia Bedelia, Because a Little Bug Went Ka-Choo, Cars and Trucks and Things That Go, and If You Give a Mouse a Cookie…. We usually read your books word for word, but occasionally we’ll do a little editing if we don’t feel like the material is age appropriate. Madeline’s Rescue is one of those books that has a small part about Madeline falling into the river. A dog rescues Madeline and pulls her out of the “watery grave.” Your daddy edited that part once to say that the dog pulled her out of the “watery doom.” This is the version that you chose to memorize. It is funny to hear you say “watery doom!” A few weeks ago, you were “reading” Amelia Bedelia (by Peggy Parish). You said, “Amelia Bedelia by Pinkie Parish.” Daddy said, “I think it’s Peggy Parish.” You replied, “No, I think it’s Pinkie Parish.” A few minutes later, you started the book again and said, “Amelia Bedelia by Pinkie Toeish.” Too funny! In Cars and Trucks and Things That Go, you love looking for Goldbug, something I did when I was a little girl.

You are growing up so fast and becoming so independent. You only use a booster seat sometimes when sitting at the table. Most of the time, you sit on your knees in a regular chair. Sometimes, you still prefer to sit in the booster seat and even prefer to be buckled in. We don’t argue against that since it keeps you confined. You are the wiggliest kid ever! We are constantly having to remind you to “sit straight in your chair” and “eat your dinner.” You almost never stop moving. I think you get that from your Daddy. He’s always bouncing his leg or tapping his toes. You go up and down the stairs without your parents hovering behind you. We finally have two-step stools so that you can wash your hands without us lifting you up to the sink (which was an uncomfortable process for both of us, I’m sure).

You now sleep in your “big, big girl bed.” Your mattress is no longer on the floor but a real twin bed with a headboard (and a bed rail to keep you safe). This was yet another exciting transition for you, and you did so well with it. It makes your room look much more complete. Your new bed did not guarantee awesome sleeping patterns, unfortunately. Shortly after my last letter, your sleep schedule was awful. You were refusing to go to sleep until 10 or 11 at night for probably close to 2 months. I think that all the traveling we did in the evenings contributed to this regression. It took some work, but you are finally back to going to bed between 8pm and 9pm. The only good thing about your regression was that you would sleep past 8am some days. This was previously a very, very rare occurrence! Unfortunately, for all of us, we are unable to sleep past 8am as our daily work and daycare schedule does not allow for such luxuries. I’m a little concerned about how your sleep will be after this trip. It does seem like traveling throws off our schedule and routine a bit, and it takes us a while to get back into the swing of things.

You wake in the middle of the night almost every night and cry for 10-30 minutes. I hope to talk to your pediatrician about this at your 3-year old appointment on Friday. You sometimes seem to be awake and alert as you will ask for specific things like your Daddy to fix your covers or for a glass of water. Nothing consoles you. Daddy can be right next to you, and you’ll be crying because you want your Daddy. I feel awful that we can’t help you, but at 2am, I’m also annoyed. I’m sorry to say that, but it’s true! I wish that I could help you and make you feel better, but these days I’d also love some quality, uninterrupted sleep.

Your naps on the weekends have been hit or miss, and you’ve skipped about 3 naps at school. The process of weaning yourself from naps has begun. We will often put you into your bed for “quiet time,” if you refuse to take a nap. The quiet time is good for you and it’s good for your parents. A couple of times recently, you have napped in the “big, big, big bed” otherwise known as “Mommy and Daddy’s bed.” Once, you and I napped together in your twin bed. More than half of the time that you’re at home, you won’t nap at all. It’s nice to have the added flexibility, though sometimes you aren’t a happy camper by about dinnertime.

Part of your evening routine now includes an episode of Mickey Mouse Clubhouse. This is what you request the most on television at the moment. As far as kids’ shows go, it’s not too bad at all. I like that some of the music is done by They Might Be Giants, and I enjoy the “Hot Dog Dance” at the end of the show. Sometimes the whole family gets up and dances. It’s a highlight in our day! You have recently gotten into Toy Story. I’m excited about introducing you to all of my favorite Pixar films. So far, you seem most interested in Toy Story and Cars. You have also seen A Bug’s Life, Finding Nemo, and Monsters, Inc.

You are able to quote some of these shows and movies since you have seen them so many times. Mickey Mouse Clubhouse is interactive, so it is fun to hear you answer the questions and solve the puzzles. When they get a “mousekatool,” you are enthusiastic about calling for Toodles. You pretend that your toys need fixing when you’re not watching the show, and it’s cute to see you call Toodles and use your mousekatool. In addition to quoting your shows and movies, you’re starting to sing more lyrics to your favorite songs. You are still singing Christmas carols, especially Frosty the Snowman which we watched over and over and over! You LOVED that movie. I have no idea how many times you watched it in the weeks leading up to Christmas (and a few weeks after that as well).

You were excited when it snowed quite a bit the day after Christmas. I would guess we had at least 8″ of snow, which is a lot for our area! We built a snowman and called him Frosty (and Pokey as he was decorated with poker chips). You thought the snow was fun for the first 15 minutes or so and then you decided it was cold. We don’t like cold very much. You did love the snowman! It was fun watching him melt over the next few days until he collapsed in the yard.

You have become more affectionate and giving with your hugs and kisses. Until more recently, you almost never gave away kisses. Now, you give sweet “purple” and “green” kisses. I’m not sure what makes them purple and green, but I love it! You give great squeezy hugs as well. Most of the time, you are very willing to give hugs and kisses when requested. You will even give kisses and hugs to other family members. Grandma is particularly fond of your hugs and your purple, green, and pink kisses. You are a sweet, sweet girl.

Daddy had to take a business trip for a few days in December. We all missed him very much (and your mommy especially missed him!). You handled it pretty well. You asked for Daddy a few times, but I explained when you would be back. You would tell me that Daddy was going to give you hugs and kisses when he returned. You also said that Daddy would tell you that he loves you big bunches…and that he was going to bring you a present. You also added that Cullen wanted a present, too. Fortunately, Daddy did return with a couple of books and trolley cars from San Francisco for you kiddos. We had a few rough spots with Daddy out of town, but we survived and we were so happy to have him back home.

We’ve had a rough start to 2011 with quite a bit of illnesses in our family. We haven’t had anything too major, but the stomach bug was brutal and affected everyone. We also have had colds. You were the only one in the family who got pink eye. You still talk about your “pink eyes” and “goopy eyes.” You unfortunately shared your pink and goopy eyes with your buddy Maggie.

You and Maggie play together all day, mostly in the housekeeping section of the classroom. Every day, you spent hours and hours with the baby doll. You tell us many stories about the things that you and Maggie did and the adventures of that baby. Every day on the way home from school, I ask you who you played with and what you did. The answers are almost always the same. You and Maggie played together, and you played with the baby doll. For a while, your answer to what you did at school was, “I didn’t do puzzles.” I think you started a fashion trend at one point in your classroom with your three ponytails. When I ask you in the morning how many ponytails you want in your hair, you usually reply one or two. Sometimes you want three, so I put one on each side and one straight out the back of your head. Some of the other girls in your class have requested that your teacher fix their hair with three ponytails as well.

You are often sweet with your brother. He is fascinated by everything you do, and he loves your toys. Most of the time, you don’t want him to get anywhere near your toys. Sometimes, you’ll share toys with him or go out of your way to bring him a toy you think he will like. When he’s crying, sometimes you react with a loving, “it’s ok, Cullen. It will be ok!” Other times, you react by whining and crying, “I don’t like that noise!!!” Sometimes when Cullen gets in your way, you will hit him or push him. This is what earns you the most amount of time in time out. You have to go to a corner in the dining room for 3 minutes. Afterward, you apologize to the person you wronged (usually Cullen) and explain what positive things you can do instead. If you push your brother, you tell us what things you can push instead (your shopping cart, a stroller). I feel like maybe you’ve been going to time out less often lately. It’s hard to say if that disciplinary tactic is working or not. I guess it’s all a part of growing up and another developmental phase as you go from being a toddler to preschooler.

Wow, Maddie, you’re about to be a preschooler! It’s hard to believe. We are having a big birthday party for you next week with your friends from school. You were very specific and consistent about who you wanted to invite to your party. Your party is going to be at the Museum of Life and Science in Durham with a Winnie the Pooh theme. You’ve requested that I make a purple cake in addition to the Winnie the Pooh cake. I’m excited about making your cakes for the party!

We have a very good life, little girl. You make us laugh and smile every day. The other day, you asked me what would make me feel better and assured me that “the kiddos will make you feel better, Mommy.” Right you are, little one. Right you are. I love you so much, sweet pea. I look forward to seeing what changes the next few months will bring, especially with your big move to Children’s House.

Love,
Mommy

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