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Happy 4th birthday, Maddie!

March 15th, 2012

Finally! I’ve been working on this letter to Maddie since her birthday. I think I made a mistake only doing these every 6 months now. I had quite a bit to cover. You might want to skim the photos and call it a day.

Dear Maddie,

As I’m thinking about writing this letter celebrating your 4th birthday, I’m starting to regret the decision to do these letters every 6 months now. I have so much to tell you. I think you are going to enjoy reading these letters someday. Last night before bed, I told you a little bit about the day you were born and our anticipation of meeting you. You wanted to hear us tell you several times. Tonight before bedtime, you asked us to tell you again. I think you especially liked the part where you were very quiet on your first day but then screamed for the next 5 months. You loved how the nurse said, “wow, you have a loud one! Congratulations!” Of course, it’s hard to say whether you were more interested in the story or in delaying your bedtime! Either way, it’s sweet to see your reactions to stories about you as a baby.

You and your brother shared a Mickey and Minnie themed birthday party this year. As I mentioned in my last letter, you decided probably 8 months ago that your birthday party theme was going to be Minnie. I love how you make up your mind about things! It makes it easier to plan your party in advance or buy your Halloween costume while you can still get a good deal. You happily agreed to have a “joint birthday” with your brother. We had a small party at home, and I made a Mickey cake with cute, colorful cupcakes. You had fun watching me tint the icing, helping me decide on the colors, and watching me create the swirls on top of the cupcakes.

I look forward to decorating cakes together! We made a cake together for Cullen’s “actual” birthday (not to be confused with the day of your party or your “actual” birthday, as you have been saying). You spread the icing with a little help and put the sprinkles on top. You have tried your hand at sprinkle decorating on several cakes for family and friends.

Yesterday, we had a fun family day, similar to what we did on Cullen’s birthday in January. We started with breakfast at our favorite breakfast restaurant. You were excited about having plain pancakes, though I think you ate more of Daddy’s special red velvet pancakes. As Daddy said, it’s a little like cake for breakfast. When we went there for Cullen’s birthday, you and Cullen ate quite a bit of my gingerbread pancakes. Maybe next time, we’ll get you two the special pancakes instead of the plain ones!

We then went to Target where you were allowed to pick out anything you wanted. This was the highlight of your day and the thing you were looking most forward to doing. For weeks, you have been saying that you’re going to pick out a new game, and you did! You got Zingo for Christmas and love it, so you picked out Zingo 1-2-3. You’ve already played it a few times, and you love it, too. I’m thrilled that you are getting excited about games! You play Go Away Monster (your brother especially loves that one), Kids of Carcassonne, Pooh’s Heffalump Game, Hissss, Candyland, and Five Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed. I’m so excited about how well you’re doing with taking turns and grasping the rules.

We have board games “nights” with friends about once a month. Until recently, it’s been an afternoon of games for the adults and a play date for you and your friends. It’s fun that you’re able to start playing board games on these days, too. It’s still mostly a play date, but I can see many family board game nights in our future!

In addition to the game, you got a couple preschool workbooks. One has letters and the other has mazes. They are both reusable with dry erase markers, so the combination of your love of mazes and the novelty of erasable markers has you excited about the new books. You have been doing a great job with your letters. You’ve been working on your penmanship, and you even write your own thank you notes now! They are short and sweet, and you aren’t always in the mood to write them, but you are doing them. Of course we have to tell you which letter comes next. You still have a few left to do from your birthday party a few weeks ago. You also created valentines for all of your classmates that said, “XOXO,” had stickers decorating them, and said “FROM MADDIE” at the bottom. I gave you some choices of what to write on the cards. I thought it was smart to choose “FROM MADDIE” instead of “LOVE, MADDIE.”

You have recently started working on your lowercase letters. You have shown some interest in reading and know the phonics for most of the letters. You went through a short phase where you wanted to work on those skills, but lately you have been more interested in other things. We have some early reader books ready for you when you decide that’s what you want to do again!

You have rekindled your love for jigsaw puzzles. You received a 100-piece puzzle of the solar system at your birthday party, and we were impressed with how quickly you put it together. The first time you put it together, you got a few pointers. You can do it by yourself now. You usually will put it together in one sitting which is much faster than I could, I’m sure. One of the things you wanted to get yesterday was another puzzle, specifically one with horses. I think that Grandma might have given you that idea when she was visiting. Fortunately, we found the perfect 100-piece puzzle with ponies yesterday. You’ve already put it together once, and you started to put it together another time. I’m impressed with your jigsaw puzzle skills!

Part of our special day was a haircut for you. The stylist cut a bit more than I intended, but you look adorable. You like having your hair cut short. You often refuse to have pigtails or hair bows. You just don’t want to take time out of your busy play schedule for hair dos. I can understand. Shorter hair tends to stay out of your way (and has a better chance of staying neat and tidy). It always makes you look a bit older when you get a haircut!

And I guess you really are getting to be such a big girl. It won’t be long before you’re a “graduate” at your school. This means you’ll get special privileges like weekly French lessons. You’re already talking about how you’re going to go to kindergarten when you graduate from Children’s House. You’ve been learning so many things at school. You no longer make bracelets and necklaces every day, but you bring home lots of papers with scribbles and meticulously colored pages (often with all of your coloring within the lines). You went through a phase where you drew our family often and wrote our names (Maddie, Cullen, Mom, and Dad). Drawing our family is still one of your favorite things to draw. I loved when you learned how to write all of our names! You also love to scribble random shapes on the paper and call it a map, and sometimes you’ll roll it up like a treasure map from Jake and the Neverland Pirates. Sometimes you’ll draw random squiggles and call it a maze.

You’ve started to get interested in math. You are great at counting objects, and recently you’ve started asking me to quiz you on addition problems. You use your left hand for one number and your right for the other, and then count the fingers to give me the sum. I asked you to add 6 plus 2 the other day, and you said, “I can’t! It has to fit on my hand.” Maybe I’ll get you to start using your toes, too. One of the new lessons you had last week involved counting farm animals and making a bar chart! This was particularly exciting for me since it is directly related to my job as a software developer (creating graph components). You’ve been bringing home quite a few “pin punch” shapes, and you’ve been working on your scissor skills at home. You’re a great worker both at school and at home, though sometimes you’re just not in the mood for learning and practicing your skills. When you’re not in the mood, you just act like you don’t know how to do anything and whine rather than tell us you don’t want to do it. I have a feeling that you may not always demonstrate your abilities to your teachers, due to your stubbornness and, at times, your shyness.

You also still often like to observe new things and take in all the information before you act. You participated in more ballet classes, this time with the same instructor through a program at my work. It was nice to be able to get you from school and walk you over to the gym for the ballet class. I’m not sure that ballet is going to be your passion. I don’t think that grace and agility runs in your genes. You were easily swayed by your friend for a few classes. She kept trying to get you to do “something different” and not listen to the teacher. For a class or two, you succumbed to peer pressure and did not listen very much to instruction. We had a few talks before your last two classes, warning you that we wouldn’t be going to dinner with your friends if you didn’t listen to the teacher. That seemed to motivate you to pay better attention. You had fun in the classes with your friends from school, but after about 8 ballet classes, we’re ready for a break. We hope to sign you up for some swimming classes this summer.

You had a few more new cultural experiences since my last letter. You attended your first play in October. The Mermaid Theatre of Nova Scotia performed stage adaptations of Runaway Bunny and Goodnight Moon with puppets and black lights and glowing props. You seemed to really enjoy it! You got a bit restless towards the end, along with the rest of the audience. I think your favorite part was probably the cookies and juice afterward!

We attended a Sugar Plum Fairy Tea with Sophie, Sophie’s Mommy (Marie), Keira, Keira’s Mommy (Shannon), Aunt Heidi, Grandma, and Great Grandma Scotty. Heidi, Grandma, Great Grandma, and Dylan visited us for a few days in November. We had a lovely brunch and then attended the Sugar Plum Fairy Tea festivities where we had cookies and chocolate. We saw performances by ballerinas, and you had the opportunity to meet the ballerinas. It was a very special holiday event that we were excited to share with friends and family.

The holidays were wonderful this year but very busy since we had a vacation in December. You were very into the idea of Santa this year, and you even wrote him a few notes letting him know what you and your brother wanted. You and Cullen went to see Santa, and he asked Cullen what he wanted. Cullen was a bit timid about Santa, so Santa was trying to make Cullen more comfortable. He asked if Cullen might like a new truck. I told Santa that Cullen actually was asking for dolls like yours, and you chimed in, “oh, I want a truck!” You asked Santa in your note to him later for a truck, a Mickey Mouse, and an airplane set. Santa did bring you all of those things, though you did say, “Cullen’s airplane set is better than mine!” Your biggest gift from Santa this year was a Leapfrog LeapPad Tablet, which is like your very own kid iPad. You have several learning games and some interactive books on it so far. Other big things you received were a dollhouse from Nana and Papa and a kitchen for you and Cullen from Kristin and Chad.

Santa sent you a personalized video on Christmas Eve, and it was so cute to watch you watch his message. You were so excited, and you listened to him very carefully and seriously. You were very certain to get into bed on time that night. You didn’t want Santa to skip our house!

On Christmas morning, you saw the presents that Santa left “under” the tree and right away started saying, “Cullen, look! Santa brought you your dolls, Cullen! Cullen, you have a new stroller for your dolls!” You were so excited about what Cullen was getting. It was so very sweet. When you were opening your stockings, you had a doll outfit in your stocking. You said, “Cullen, look, you can have these doll clothes since your dolls don’t have very many clothes.” I love seeing the two of you play together, especially when you are so sweet!

You and Cullen love each other so much and are really playing together well. You engage him with your imagination (“Cullen, you be Jake and I’ll be the pirate princess!”) and suggest activities (“Cullen, let’s run away from the monster! Brudder, let’s play a game where you run and try to catch me! Try to catch me! That’s the name of the game! You’ll never catch me!”). One of your favorite things to do is to turn your Anywhere Chairs upside down and make a fort with a blanket across the top. The two of you call this “jail” for whatever reason.

You don’t call him “baby” or “my baby” or “baby brother” very much these days. You call him “Brudder” quite a bit. Due to this, Cullen insisted for a while that his last name was “Brudder.” The other day I said that I liked how you call him “brother,” and you asked why. I said it was sweet. You replied, “Sometimes I call him ‘brud.’” As far as I know, you had never called him “brud” before, but you called him that for the rest of the evening and the first thing the next morning.

You play together nicely every day, but you also have your fair share of squabbles every day. Cullen learned at any early age how to tease you. You are always fighting to be first. “I’m going to be first” is often your mantra. Since Cullen hasn’t demanded to be first too often, you typically get to be put in the car first or are first to sit at the dinner table. Cullen learned early that he just had to say, “Me first” and it would irritate you to no end. You’d cry and whine and say, “Cullen said he’s first!!!!! But he wasn’t first! I was first!!!!” We have told you over and over that it doesn’t matter that Cullen is saying he’s first. We have tried to get you to ignore your brother in times like this, but it still gets under your skin. You are listening, though. The other day, Cullen was telling us that he didn’t like something. You said, “we don’t care what Cullen says, right?” Um. Wait, that’s not exactly what we were trying to say.

You often get into screeching matches in the car. Actually, typically you will say something like, “I see a schoolbus!” Cullen will then say, “No, I see a schoolbus!” You’ll argue back, “NO, I SAW THE SCHOOLBUS,” and then Cullen will screech it back at you. You guys will cry and whine and screech until you just about drive your mother crazy. I can’t tell you how many times a day I say things like, “It’s not a competition. You can both see the school bus.”

Your brother has added some conflict at times, but I think overall you have more good times than bad. You were sick a few times since the last letter, including one time where you were miserable in the middle of the night with a 104 degree fever. You’ve always run high fevers, so we don’t get too alarmed when you do. We took you to the doctor, of course. You woke up in the middle of the night crying that you were “burning hot” and that “Cullen got [you] sick.” He had been sick a few days earlier, and we tried to keep you two separated to avoid spreading germs. You were also upset that being sick meant you would have to be separate from Cullen. We are not typically successful when trying to keep you separated. You insist on being together whenever possible, and it seems inevitable that everyone in the household is going to be exposed anyway. I love how you both want to sit next to each other at the dinner table!

You had a routine appointment with your orthopaedist to check on your little foot. He didn’t seem to have any concerns. It had been two years since our last visit with him. They did x-rays and examined your foot. This is the first time that he mentioned that your high arches could cause issues later, though that doesn’t concern me too much since I also have very high arches. The doctor wanted to see you back in a year. The biggest concern with your feet continues to be finding shoes that fit. Your left foot is about a 7.5 and your right foot is about a 9. We have one pair of shoes that is a 7.5 and a 9.5, so it really depends on the shoe. The problem right now is that your left foot is solidly in the toddler shoe sizes and your right foot is solidly in the preschooler shoe sizes. Few styles are in both sizes, so our choices are quite limited. We still manage to find shoes for you, but it can be frustrating at times. We often stop at one of the Stride Rite outlets on our trips to Atlanta.

We took two trips to Atlanta since my last letter and an almost trip. The almost trip was in January. We made it to the Stride Rite outlet near Gaffney, and we decided to turn around and go back home. Daddy and Cullen had a stomach bug, so we didn’t want to expose everyone else to our germs. You and I caught the bug, too, though you had the mildest case of it, thankfully. We took a scheduled trip to Atlanta over Labor Day weekend. On that trip, we stayed in a suite with a separate living room and bedroom. This was the first time that we tried to put both of you in the same room for sleeping. We had mixed results! You took turns keeping each other awake, but you were both happy. We over heard you saying to Cullen, “don’t go to sleep, baby!” and Cullen would lean over the pack and play and look at you and say, “wake up!” You must have been tired the second night because you guys went to sleep pretty well that night.

A few weeks later, we tried again when we went to That Board Gaming Thing. We stayed in the hotel several nights, and one of those nights Aunt Kristin came to babysit. She reported to us that you two were keeping each other awake, and that you kept getting out of your bed. Kristin had to go in and tell you two to go to sleep and get back in bed. After one such time, you said to Cullen, “Cullen, we can’t let her come back in and see us!”

We made an unscheduled trip to Atlanta in November when Great Grandpa passed away. You understood that Great Grandpa had died and that you would not be able to see him anymore. I was sad to explain this to you, and you missed seeing him during our visit. He was extremely proud of you and Cullen and was just amazed at all the things that you two can do. I don’t think that there has ever been a prouder Great Grandpa. The first time you met him will always be one of the highlights of my life. Great Grandpa wanted to hold you as much as possible. He loved you so very much. We will be sure to tell you stories and show you pictures in the hopes that you will continue to hold onto your memories of him. The night that we told you about Great Grandpa, I was putting you to bed and you said, “Great people live in Atlanta, right?” You’re absolutely right, sweet, little girl.

Your bedtime routine remains about the same. You go to bed around 8pm. If it’s a bath night, you and Cullen share a bath. You two love playing in the water, squirting each other, and pretending to be fish. After bath, you sometimes get a little play time with us or some time playing your LeapPad, the iPhone, or your DS games. You are doing very well with your electronic games, and your favorite game on the iPhone is Monkey Lunchbox. You also like Angry Birds, Siege Hero (which you call the “knock it down game”), and Fruit Ninja (which you call “Fruit Ninjer”). Sometimes we play board games together after Cullen goes to bed or you work your puzzles or you practice writing your letters. You are always trying to get more time before going to bed, so we started setting a timer on the iPhone. We call this the “duck timer” since it quacks when your time is up. This works pretty well, though sometimes you ask for “bonus time” after the timer is up.

You then get into your pajamas (if you aren’t already) and brush your teeth. If we forget to brush your teeth, you will come out of your room 15 minutes later in a panic! You do not like to forget to brush your teeth. Of course, I’m not sure if you’re more concerned about your dental hygiene or whether you just love getting every minute you can where you’re not in bed. You often ask for a glass of water or beg for orange juice before brushing your teeth. You’re a master at delaying the inevitable. We read you stories, and the books that we read have become more involved. Currently, you are very into the Magic Treehouse series. This is the first set of books that we have read to you that we read a few chapters at a time. You now have a bookmark that we can use to mark your place. When we’re done reading, you then ask for us to lay with you “for just a couple minutes” and to “tickle your back” (rub your back). If we stop rubbing your back for a second, you wiggle and whisper “tickle me!” You mostly sleep through the night, but fairly frequently you scream for us in the middle of the night and want someone to fix your covers. Sometimes you “forget” to go to the potty just before bed so that you can come out in 15 minutes to say you need to potty.

You haven’t had very many potty accidents since the last letter. You were in a phase around that time, which I assume was related to the big changes moving up to preschool. You also don’t like using the potty at school if you can help it. I think you get that from your Mommy as well. I have been told that I wouldn’t go to the potty the entire day I was at school, so I can relate.

You take naps at school more often than you do at home, though that isn’t saying much since you almost never take naps at home. I need naps more often than you seem to! You have been pretty good at having some quiet time in your room where you will play quietly with your dollhouse or play your electronic games or hang out in your closet reading books. We try to keep you to quiet activities while Cullen is napping. You use this time to work on your puzzles and often get a little bonus television time. Your parents need this midday downtime, too!

Your favorite TV show these days is Jake and the Neverland Pirates. You also still enjoy the Mickey Mouse Clubhouse. You have seen a few new movies since our last letter, including Puss in Boots in the theater. We watched Shrek quite a bit for a little while in preparation for the character meet and greets on our cruise. You were introduced to The Lion King while you were sick, though I talked you through the intense moments since I wasn’t sure how you would react. You haven’t been watching movies as often lately. When we watch TV, it’s usually 20-30 minutes of Jake or Mickey Mouse.

We met Shrek, Fiona, and Puss in Boots (from Shrek) and Penguins, Gloria, King Julian, and Alex the Lion from Madagascar while on our cruise in December. We also spotted Po from Kung Fu Panda and characters from How to Train Your Dragon. We went to three character breakfasts (which to your delight were also chocolate breakfasts with bonus chocolate pastries) and numerous meet and greets. I loved seeing your reaction to meeting these characters! You especially loved the penguins and Fiona. One of my favorites moments from the cruise was when you danced in the Royal Promenade with Fiona! You were so sweet and so excited afterward. You danced with King Julian when you first met him, too.

In addition to the character breakfasts and meet and greets, they had shows and parades. We saw one parade from a prime spot in the promenade and the second from our cabin window overlooking the promenade. While we were on the ship, you saw several shows. Your favorite show was probably the How to Train Your Dragon Ice show, though you enjoyed both ice shows. Both you and Cullen especially loved seeing the dragons! The DreamWorks water show was cancelled, unfortunately, due to rocky seas. We were disappointed about that, as I’m sure you and Cullen would have loved it!

You have now been on the largest cruise ship in the world! The Allure of the Seas had so much to offer for young kids! You loved meeting these characters, but your favorite part of the cruise was either the carousel or swimming pool. When I asked you your favorite part of the cruise, you went back and forth between these two answers most of the time. You spent quite a bit of time riding the carousel! I am pretty sure you rode every animal on the carousel (and on the last day realized you hadn’t taken a ride on the sleigh, so you tried that one out, too). You were a little timid of the swimming pool at first, but you requested to go back several times. We were concerned when you accidentally walked from the 3 inch section into the 2.5 foot deep section. You disappeared completely under the water, and you were understandably a little upset after Daddy pulled you out. I’m glad that didn’t keep you from the water. I think your favorite was the “family hot tub,” kept at a lower temperature than a normal hot tub. I don’t blame you as the water in the rest of the pools was quite cold!

You have now been to The Bahamas, St. Martin/St. Maarten, and St. Thomas. We visited beaches in Ft. Lauderdale (our origination port), St. Maarten, and St. Thomas. You’ve decided that you actually do like the beach, finally. Our previous beach trips haven’t gone very well, so we were thrilled that you enjoyed it. You mostly liked playing in the sand, building sand castles with your brother. You had fun putting your feet in the water at Ft. Lauderdale and St. Thomas, but the beach at St. Maarten had seaweed and you weren’t a fan of that! We did get a really neat doll from St. Maarten that you took to school for show and tell. The doll has a skirt that can be flipped back and forth showing a girl from the French side or a girl from the Dutch side.

We went on this trip with Nana, Papa, Grandma, Grandpa, Melissa, Jason, and Melissa’s parents. You enjoyed all the attention you got from everyone! We joked that Jason kept trying to steal you and Cullen from us. At one such moment, Jason took you over to trivia while Melissa and I visited the restroom. When I got there, I found out that the waitress had visited and offered to bring you a Shirley Temple. I don’t think that they see too many little ones in the Schooner Bar! I wasn’t sure I wanted you to have a carbonated, sugary beverage (though I was glad it was made with a caffeine free soda, Sprite). I figured that there wouldn’t be any harm in letting you try it. You took a sip and got this panicked look on your face! You were NOT a fan of the carbonation! I was glad and ordered a special orange juice for you instead. I’m glad that you weren’t a fan of your first taste of soda.

You loved having so many special people with us on the trip. You particularly were attached to Grandma which was wonderful for her as well. You insisted on sitting next to Grandma at every meal possible. Grandma was thrilled to be your best buddy.

The last six months have been very full. The cruise made the holiday season quite hectic, but we still managed to make and decorate sugar cookies and build gingerbread houses. We did these things together as a family on Christmas Eve. We also had to make chex mix (for the reindeer, of course). I love our holiday traditions!

We are forming so many great family traditions in the fall. You and Cullen made up your minds (well, rather, you made up your mind for both of you) to be Minnie and Mickey for Halloween. You were the cutest pair! I know we probably won’t have too many years of coordinating costumes, but I have been enjoying the extra cuteness!

You participated in your first “fall parade” at school, though you looked absolutely miserable the whole time. You aren’t a big fan of being out in the cold, and it was a bit chilly that morning. When we asked you if you had fun, though, you claimed that you had a great time. It’s so hard to tell with you sometimes! We had a great time on Halloween evening trick-or-treating despite the rain. Melissa and Jason came over, and they helped us give out candy so that both Mommy and Daddy could go with you two gathering candy. We ended up carrying you both quite a bit with the rain!

We gave you the option to keep all of your candy or to choose your favorite 10 pieces and give the rest to the “Halloween Witch.” We heard that the Halloween Witch takes baskets of candy and exchanges them for small gifts. You choose to give the majority of your candy to the witch. It was fun to see which pieces of candy you wanted to keep and which ones you wanted to give to the witch. You slipped a few to Daddy as well. Once you got to your 10 pieces, you traded a few for tastier morsels. You kept every single lollipop. That was your top priority! The Halloween Witch brought you and Cullen each a small Minnie Mouse and a small Nala “buddy” (you still call all stuffed animals “buddies”).

We went to the same pumpkin patch this year, this time with Aunt Kristin, and you had even more fun than last year. They had a new addition this year with a giant “pillow” that was somewhat like the bouncy houses without walls. You were in heaven jumping on that thing! You went down the giant slide all by yourself. I was worried about you, especially when you came flying out of the tube with your limbs flailing everywhere. You had the biggest smile on your face when you picked yourself up off the ground. That’s my girl!

You seem to have a bit of a daredevil nature in you, and I’m sure you get that from your roller coaster loving Mommy. You and I joined friends at the State Fair, and we rode lots of rides. We both learned that spinny rides aren’t really our thing, but you absolutely LOVED your first roller coaster ride. The carousel was your second favorite ride. We had a wonderful day while Daddy was working and Cullen was at daycare. I can’t wait to see how much you will enjoy Disney World when we take you later this year.

We have had other fun excursions in the past 6 months. We went to the zoo with Sophie and Keira’s families. This was your first trip to the zoo, and we all had a great time. It was difficult to cover much ground with four kiddos under 4! We visited several museums since my last letter. We renewed our membership at the Museum of Life and Science and visited twice already. We went once with Nana and Papa when they were visiting for Christmas so we could see their holiday model train display. Papa is quite the train fanatic, so this was a neat display to see with him! You and I spent a day in January at the Museum of Life and Science with Sophie, Keira, and their mommies. We always have fun there! I’m sure we will make a few more visits this year with the membership!

We went to our local children’s museum for a birthday party and the new children’s museum near Nana and Papa’s house. We had been wanting to go there for a while and combined that with our trip to Davidson for Thanksgiving. We celebrated Thanksgiving with Nana, Papa, Kristin, and Chad where we had the traditional Thanksgiving feast with turkey, country ham, stuffing, cranberry sauce, steamed veggies, bread, and sweet potatoes.

You are a decent eater these days, though you have a fairly limited set of things that you prefer. Chicken fingers is your favorite. You will eat some veggies, and you claim that carrots are your favorite food. Daddy and I sometimes pick you up from school and take you to the cafe, and this is a very special privilege of being at Children’s House! We love having that special time with our special girl.

At school, you had another bike day in October. We debated which bike or scooter to bring, and you decided you wanted to ride your tricycle. You were almost too big for it, so we’re pretty sure that was the last time on the trike! Many of the bigger kids have training wheels, but you have become pretty good on your balance bike since then. You want to ride your balance bike at the next bike day! We are still hoping that you can go straight from the balance bike to a bike without training wheels, so we will see how that goes. You’re getting great at picking up speed and coasting. Our mild NC winter this year has allowed you to get some extra practice.

You’re getting great at your balance bike, but somehow you manage to fall out of your chair at dinner almost once a week. You cannot sit still! I don’t know how often I have to say, “please sit on your bottom” and “sit in your chair, please.” Sometimes when you’re especially wiggly, we make you stand for the rest of the meal. You don’t like that much, but I’m not sure how effective it is. I’m just not sure you can sit still. I think you get this from Daddy! He gets antsy if he has to sit still for too long.

On the other hand, you get your love of talking from me. When you’re at home or in the car, you’re talking non-stop! Your brother seems to be the same way now that he’s talking in complete sentences. It’s a good thing that he’s talking in more complete sentences now, because you started to develop a habit of talking in fragments like a baby or toddler. Now you have regular conversations together, and these are often quite amusing! I’m not sure how he gets in a word edgewise, but he has managed to figure out how to hold his own. You are quite a bit shy in new situations and around people that you don’t know well. That’s just about the only time that you stop talking!

A month or two after my last letter, you and I did a little project where you illustrated and narrated a little book. We never quite finished it, but it was quite entertaining. I highly enjoyed hearing you tell the stories, even if you didn’t spend much time illustrating it. You called it “The Conkatee,” and it seems to be a cautionary tale filled with pages that described various places. “This is a very, very fiery place. You should never go there.” and “This is the place with a smiley face and yucky mud. You should never, ever go there.” You’re a funny girl!

You love picking out your own clothes, and you’ll often pick out dresses and skirts. You do a fairly good job with matching your clothes, though you often pick out crazy socks because they have a little bit of the same color or pattern. You’ll say, “See? They match because my shirt has dots and these have dots!” One day, you picked out a shirt that said, “Peace, Love, and Rock & Roll” and said, “Look, it has a heart and a pretzel!”

You’re a big fan of pretzels, chips, cookies, cake, and especially chocolate. Daddy and I decided that you could eat whatever you wanted, within reason, on Christmas. It didn’t take you long to figure out what was going on. You asked me if you could have a lollipop, and I said sure! You went running to Daddy, “Daddy! Daddy! Mommy let me have a lollipop!” Daddy replied that it must be a special day. Your answer was, “Yeah! You can have candy whenever you want!” I wonder if maybe we’re a little too restrictive on a normal day, ha!

You are still a Daddy’s girl, but you’re my sweet little girl, too. When you are upset, you always cry for Daddy (even if he is nowhere in sight). I think it’s almost like saying “ouch” or “help me” now. You prefer Daddy in most situations, but I know you still love me big bunches, too. You are such a wonderful and amazing four year old. I love you more and more every day.

Love, Mommy

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