To our peanut, who is now a full-fledged little girl:
How two and a half years have passed, I have no idea. You are a smiling, chatting, running, singing, dancing burst of sunshine. And you are the best - the very best - big sister.
Your favorite things include: Leo. Full stop. And baby Royce. And Bruno. Next come your babies, all of whom are named "Holly," your Elmo boots, party shoes (red sequined), and "fast" shoes (new balances), your panda and your elephant. And, let's be honest: Frozen, Dori and Nemo (thank you 17 hour plane flights to South Africa...).
You are running the show. You speak in full sentences and tell us absolutely everything about how you're feeling, how we're feeling, and what we need to be doing. Your brain emblazes memories that you repeat to us days later, in chronological order. After Royce was born, you told me the entire story of the 48 hours surrounding his birth a week later. "Mama go doctor. Dadda too. Harper go GoGos. Grambie. Harper Leo nigh night. Harper Leo Santa Clause! Grambie GoGo Maria Jon Tina Bob. Harper Leo PRESENTS! Harper doctor mama dadda baby Royce!"
You're learning that you can use your language skills to take advantage of any situation. You've perfected the art of a question phrased as a statement: "Mama, you take me nigh nigh? You take me nigh nigh." And you're increasingly michievous and clever... picking up my phone and when I start to say, "no," you bat your eye lashes and tell me emphatically, "I juus bringing it to you mama" (with that hint of a Spanish accent shining through). When you do something you're not supposed to do, and you're caught red handed, you quickly mimick my voice as if I'm comforting you..."it's ok mama!" It catches us off guard each and every time and we can't help but laugh. You win.
You are fiercely independent. And strong willed. And determined. And a long long list of other adjectives that will one day make you a great leader. For now, this means that you've learned to love some structure and some rules. You've internalized a lot about right and wrong since you turned two. Time outs are for biting, and hitting, and not listening. You make sure your babies get them too.
You will sit and work to solve a problem for what seems like an eternity in toddler minutes. This morning you worked at your train set to connect the tunnel pieces just right over and over and over again. You hardly rest to pat yourself on the bat to note your mission has been accomplished, always eyeing the next bigger, more complicated challenge.
You run and climb and jump and swing and climb some more. In South Africa, you went from dabbling with playgrounds to tackling them head-on as a full-fledged monkey. You are fearless. And bold. And adventurous. And will probably be the first in our family to insist on sky diving and bungee jumping and all of those other terrifying things.
The most amazing part is, we thought we knew you before. Before Royce. But we only knew a piece of you. Because you are, at your core, the most loving, doting, protective big sister. You ask for baby Royce the second you wake up and your eyes literally twinkle when you see him. Often if he's asleep, you come to pat his head and before I can jump in, you exclaim gleefully, "he's awake mama!!" ...as his eyes open to see what all the commotion is about. You put on your mama voice to calm him, using my exact words..."it's ok baby Royce. I here. I here....hello my boy! That's my smiley guy!" My heart literally explodes. And when he is unhappy, you will do anything to fix it. Today, you literally took your brand new Dora the Explorer yard gloves off your hands and said, "baby Royce wants the gloves. Here you go baby Royceee." I'll sometimes catch you looking at him and just giggling. So smitten and so pleased that he's yours.
On the one hand, it's going too fast, but on the other, it all just keeps getting better. We are getting to know the real you. And you are truly something.
And one of the very best parts of the last six months? Dadda taught you what to say when either of us whisper, "guess what?"
"I love you."