Today you are three years old. As I put you to bed tonight, I kept searching for traces of the baby we brought into the world three years ago...
But I'm afraid you're not a baby anymore. How did this happen??
The past year has brought so many changes, and you've proven time and again that you are even more extraordinary than I give you credit for. When I got pregnant with Avery, I had a list of things that I hoped you'd accomplish before the baby was born, including: potty training, sleeping in a big girl bed, giving up your pacifier, climbing into your carseat by yourself, etc. I told people I'd be happy if I could check just one of those things off the list, but you handily conquered everything on it and more. In many ways, you are a typical first child and seem to master just about everything with little effort. You continue to amaze us with your intelligence, creativity, humor, and overall positive attitude.
For all the growing up you've done this year, nothing has moved me more than watching you become a big sister. You welcomed Avery into the family without batting an eye and have blown us away with your love and acceptance of her. You tend to be a bit bossy with other kids and Avery is no exception. But you also protect and watch over her, doing your best to make her smile and laugh. I have no doubt that you will be her hero for years to come.
Your personality. Where do I even start? You are my shining light. You have boundless energy and a thirst for life that just can't be quenched. Everything is exciting and interesting to you. I could tell you we were going to get a root canal and you'd get a gleam in your eye and exclaim, "Guess what, Avery?! We get to go see the DENTIST!" Physically, you're a force of nature. You're still a bit clumsy, mostly because you want to move faster than your feet will let you. You love to dance, laugh, run, swim, jump, spin, bounce, and basically move in any way possible. People often ask me incredulously, "Is she always like that?" Yep.
You also have a quiet side. You continue to love reading books and coloring, and have recently started drawing and writing more. You love to listen to stories. Every night after we read you your books, you ask for a story. These are usually just retellings of our day or a recent event, but you drink them in like bestselling fiction, grinning in anticipation as I start out each one with "Once upon a time, there was a little girl named Marla, who lived with her mama and daddy and little sister, Avery." (Have I mentioned that you're easy to please?)
You are sassy and full of attitude, but the temper tantrums of a year ago have subsided considerably. It's impossible to stay mad at you for anything. One of my favorite recent Marla-isms is when you say something along the lines of "I don't like you," I respond by saying it's not nice to say that, and you pause and say, "I don't like you, please??" You have a sense of order and like to be in control. You line up and arrange your toys and stuffed animals and collect things from around the house to carry around with you everywhere. You often order others around without feeling the need to follow the rules yourself, but we're working on that.
You LOVE to accessorize. First thing in the morning, you put on necklaces, bracelets, rings, a headband, sunglasses, and a tutu. Getting you out the door takes an extra ten minutes because we have to negotiate with you to take off all your bling before leaving, only for you to put it all back on when we get home. In fact, it's hard to find a picture of you in the last year where you're not wearing at least one accessory. So, in closing, I'm including this picture, which captures the very essence of you, Miss Marla. You are my dazzling, lively, clever, happy little girl, and I couldn't be prouder to be your mom. I love you.