To my sweetie belle,

(I'm not usually the type to call anyone "sweetie belle." After all, I am from Iowa, not Texas, but you bring out the softy in me. That's what a baby girl will do.)

Happy 4th Birthday!
On the morning of May 23rd, as we were driving to preschool with chocolate chip mini muffins for all of your friends, out of the blue from the backseat you said, "I don't feel like I'm four."

Now if that isn't the cutest thing to say I don't know what is, but you don't like to be called cute so I couldn't say that. However I could tell you'd been waiting to feel different from the moment you woke up and when it didn't happen, you were disappointed and confused. Well, sweetheart, I don't feel like I'm 34 either. I know what you're going through waiting for your birthday to make you feel older, but it usually never does. It's in the little moments that you really, truly grow up. We've experienced many of them this year...from you reading a billboard that says "zoo," making besties in Penelope, Maisie and Decker at preschool, your legs hanging over the carseat longer than I remember the day before...they all add up. And it's those snapshots that remind me you are getting older, so don't worry, it's happening. Far faster than I'd like.

But back to your birthday. At home you had a princess-themed party.

And at school your teachers and friends sang to you at exactly 9:43 a.m., the time you were born, which made me smile to know that you were showered with love by them. Your teachers Miss Jamie and Miss Justice care about you so much, and for good reason.

(Sidenote: while this blog seems like I am bragging to others since you can't quite read...and we haven't shared the wi-fi password with you yet this letter is truly for you so I'm not holding back on how wonderful you are, with a few "truths" sprinkled in.)

Your teachers like you because you're a good listener. You have an incredibly long attention span and general curiosity about life. Just try sitting next to you on movie night. 20 questions...just in the first five minutes. I've been accused of asking too many questions too, so I find it endearing and think you may end up a journalist, though you are firm in that you simply want to be "a mom." You'll make a great one, and your children will appreciate your sense of humor, though hopefully by then you've moved on from the three knock-knock jokes you know currently. #Interruptingcow

With more time to yourselves since Calvin came along, you and your sister fight constantly, and because she's bigger and stronger than you, you fight back with high-pitched screams, yelling her name and middle initial (FAITHY J!), and phrases such as "I don't like you anymore, "or "I'm telling, mom." However, big sis is also the only one who can make you belly laugh the hardest. Can't live with her, can't live without her.

Another thing I love about you is your love for music. Now that we have Sirius XM in the car, we listen to the top 40 hits on repeat. You can name most songs in approximately three notes and Imagine Dragons "Believer" is your favorite, followed closely by Ed Sheeran's "Castle on the Hill." When I see you singing the words in the review mirror while you gaze out the window, it stops me cold. You're beautiful.

With Calvin being a newborn and you turning four all at once, I find I have more patience with his sleeplessness and need to nurse constantly, all because it seems as though we were just there with you.

One more year and you're going off to Kindergarten. While Faith never looked back, I think you and me will have a harder time. You are my mommy's girl, though watching you ride on your dad's shoulders while you pet his head would say otherwise. I feel like I baby you sometimes, and maybe take your side more often than not during those sibling rivalries because you'll always be my baby girl. (By the way, don't let Faith read this lest she be vindicated.)

We were shopping at K-Mart the other day when you asked if you could have some candy out of the machine. I of course said no, since you didn't need it and I had no change, but then I looked at the floor and there was a shiny quarter just waiting to be found. I told you it was your lucky day and then let you purchase some likely-expired, rock hard Skittles. You were so excited and told everyone who would listen about your "lucky day." It's the little things that kids seem to remember most. Remember that when you're a mom.

I've never met anyone who loves the water more than you. At the splash pad, you run with abandon. Even when the water is frigid and you're shivering, you won't admit to being cold because it would mean having to sit on your towel. My hope is that your zest for the water is every indication of your zest for life. Though I wish you had a zest for mornings, you are more of a night owl. You proved that when you stayed up until 11 o'clock on Memorial Day weekend and had more energy than the rest of the family combined.

And I'm not sure which you love more: cake pops or screen time. I wish I could say you like to read the encyclopedia or something, but you prefer a good episode of PJ Masks (this cartoon is terrible by the way -- really, go back and watch it when you're older). You constantly ask to play on my phone and have Snapchatted more of my friends than I have simply because I still haven't fully figured out how to use the app. I have more pictures and 4-second videos taken by you on my phone than there's room for on the cloud, but that's for another post.

Though you're small in stature, you have one big personality. And it's mom and dad's pleasure to watch you grow. Happy birthday, babe! Here's to never feeling, or acting, your age.

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