My dearest Emma,
I laid my seat back to take a nap on our way home from Kentucky at Christmastime, and you instantly stuck your little hand inside mine as it dangled over the seat. I clutched it inside my fingers and was mesmerized at how tiny and delicate your hand felt. I have held that same hand hundreds of times, but it never struck me how little it was until that moment. My arm soon fell asleep and began to ache, but I still held you hand until you finally pulled it away...I didn't want to let go as I realized that there will be a day when you stop putting your hand in mine "just because". You will never remember those few moments we shared hand in hand, but it was branded in my mind. I can still feel your tiny hand in mine.
You had to grow up a lot this year. As I gathered the photos together over the last year, I realized that you look a lot older than you did this time last year, but your physical features pale in comparison to how you had to grow up emotionally over the past 12 months. You went from being the baby of the family to the big sister; the one who never left our sides to being tossed around to many different babysitters nearly every week for a while. I am still amazed at how well you adapted to these new roles.
Your personality really came out this year. You are hilarious! We are constantly laughing at whatever witty statement you are saying or crazy antics you are showing. You seem to "get" how to make people laugh. But just as much as you are funny, you are just as much ornery, sassy, and just an all-around stinker-dink. You are in trouble about as much as you are behaving, and you always keep us on our toes on new ways to figure out how to discipline and teach you about having a "good heart". Oh, Em...you are a handful, to be exact. I pray for you often...mostly, I pray for guidance in how to deal with you, and I also pray that your difficult shenanigans are completely temporary and something we can chalk up to being a toddler...albeit, a toddler going on 15.
All of that being said, you are still such a joy! Your smile is gorgeous, and your laugh is priceless. We love hearing the little lisp you have acquired, and I almost hate to teach you the right way to say words you routinely mispronounce because I love hearing the flubbed versions come out of your mouth so much. You are so cute, I can't stand it. I love the fact that you still love to "snuggle, snuggle, snuggle" as you tuck your tiny body into our arms and just melt into us. You've always been my little snugglebug, and I hope that continues for many years to come.
Bear-Bear is still your very best friend in the entire world. We have had many "Bear-Bear search parties" this year, but they have always come as a success...sometimes hours later, but he has always made it back into your beloved arms. We have found Bear-Bear in your Daddy's t-shirt drawer (taking a nap, of course, while you were using the drawer as his bed and forgot about it), in the refrigerator (beside the chocolate syrup), in dirty clothes bins, in the bathtub, behind beds, etc etc etc. Each time we lose him, I feel like I almost miss him as much as you do. He has become such a permanent attachment to this family that he's almost like a son to me. A stinky, worn-out, tattered son whose bright pink nose routinely falls off. I don't know when you will give Bear-Bear up, but I can assure you that if I am able, I will keep him in our family for many years. I might even consider giving him back to you in my will.
You have such a love-hate relationship with Abby and Nathan. A quintessential "can't live with 'em, can't live without 'em" type of relationship. Honestly, I don't know how you are going to react when Abby goes to school in a few months. You two are inseparable day in and day out, and you are completely heartbroken that you can not be in the same class as Abby in kindergarten. I think you will enjoy the added attention you will get when she is away, but I do think it will take some time for you to get used to losing your playmate. In the meantime, you are learning to play with Nathan better without pestering him so much or carrying him around by his head. Hopefully, you two will learn to rely on each other more for company over the next few months.
My little Emma, I love you darling. You have been such an incredible blessing in our lives over the past 3 years, and we are so very thankful for you. You bring laughter and love and joy into our family each and every day. Happy Birthday, my sweetheart. I love you, Emma Elizabeth.