**Baby girl, this is over a month late, but that's just how our life is these days. And, if it makes you feel any better, I haven't written Will's four-year-old letter yet, and I think I might have missed one for his third birthday, too. So, consider yourself ahead of the game.**
As always, I'm amazed at how quickly time passes and how you are growing up right before my eyes. I can't believe you're already two! But even more, I can't believe that you're the age Will was when you were born. In so many ways you are so "grown up," but in so many ways you are still a baby...my baby.
You are such a big personality. Often, when we hear words like "spirited" or "strong-willed" they're not meant in the best way, particularly for girls. Yet, I love that you are independent; I love that you know what you want and are not afraid to go after it. I hope those qualities will last because I believe they will serve you well later in life. Of course, the qualities I love the most are also the ones that can drive me the most crazy. It's easy to say that I admire your independence, but it's another thing altogether when you are constantly asserting that independence--constantly wanting to "do it myself," constantly getting into things you shouldn't, constantly testing limits to see exactly where the line is...and then choosing to step right over it. We're going through some bedtime battles with you right now, and while I'm somewhat sympathetic because you get genuinely upset, I'm also beyond frustrated that you make life (yours and ours) so difficult. You are just a child who has to do things the hard way.
Yet, you're also a very affectionate child. You've recently learned to say "I wuv you" and it melts my heart every time. You often like to go through a list..."I wuv Daddy! I wuv Mommy! Mommy wuv me!" You love to give kisses and hugs, you love to hold hands, you're always checking on people if you think they're sad, and you often request "I want hold you". But, despite being independent and wanting things your way, you also seem to want to be with us all the time and get upset when we're separated. This makes leaving you at daycare or with a babysitter REALLY fun, I tell ya. I finally had to teach you that "Mama always comes back" because you seem to think that might not be the case. And many times, when I see you after a day at school or a night when we've gone out, you exclaim with glee, "Mama come back!"
Physically, you can do almost anything you set your mind on. With an older brother to keep up with, you never want to be left behind. So, you're always running--you've gotten very fast--or dancing, playing, climbing, hopping, or jumping (well, you think you can jump, but you really just crouch down and then stand up really fast). For your birthdays, you and Will got a playset in the backyard. Based on your reaction, you would have thought we built you your own DisneyWorld. You LOVE to swing and get this blissed out look while you're flying through the air. You will swing as long as someone will push you. You call the playset "my own playground" and each morning when you get up, you ask, "I go my own playground?"
In addition to playing outside, you adore playing with baby dolls. It's so funny to see your nurturing side...you are so sweet and gentle to those babies. You love to rock them, give them a bottle, or wrap them up in a blanket. You also love animals--both toys and live animals. You want to pet almost any animal, and again are very gentle, and you had a blast riding a horse recently (twice!). Another favorite toy is your tea set that you got for your birthday. You set it up and will play quietly by yourself...putting the cups in place, stirring the tea, pouring the tea. It's rare to find something that will truly keep you occupied like that! You also love to read books, do stickers, and draw, but when we draw, you always want us to "draw your hand". I guess this is something you do at school, because you always request it. Of course, being the second child, you have access to lots of things that Will never had at your age. You know what the Wii is, you build with Legos, play with cars, and you've even started doing games on the iPad. But without a doubt, the toy that is always the most fun in your eyes is any toy your brother currently has.
Eating is not your strong suit, and lately, neither is sleeping. Like everything else, it's always on your terms. So, you may eat nothing for breakfast, but then go through an entire chicken breast for supper. Of course, they claim you eat fine at school, so maybe you just know that Mama and Daddy are pushovers and will eventually cave. For the most part, you eat pretty healthy foods--at home you're almost a vegetarian (by your own choice)--but you won't eat many things that I consider "toddler staples". You hate pasta, so that rules out mac and cheese or ravioli. You're fickle about chicken nuggets, won't touch a hamburger, and you're not fond of PB&J. However, you love almost all fruit (except you declare pineapple to be "too sour"), black beans, CHEESE, pizza, quesadillas, grilled chicken, hummus, bagels with cream cheese, cereal or granola bars, crackers...and that's about it. Well, except for treats, of course! This is another way that you benefit in being the second child...there is no shortage of popsicles in the house, especially after the hot summer we just had.
As for the sleeping, you just don't seem to need as much sleep as the average toddler. You've just about given up your nap (the recent move to a big-girl bed has really sealed nap's fate), and you often seem just fine without it. I sometimes call you the energizer bunny because I really can't figure out a way to wear you out. You're not bad, you're just beyond energetic. Even when we were at the beach playing, swimming, and running all day long, you still seemed to have energy to spare. By evening you might be dragging a little bit, but you never let on because you never want to miss anything.
And really, most of the time, we don't want you to miss anything either because we don't want to miss time with you. You add such a wonderful (albeit loud) dimension to our family and we love having you around--love hearing your sweet singing and watching your crazy dancing; love getting your perspective on things, since like your brother, you never stop talking; love watching your face light up when you smile; love watching your eyes sparkle while you admire your older brother; love the way you do your own thing, but know when to say "I need help!"; love how you run into my arms after a long day away.
Julia, I am SO proud of you and the person you are becoming. I am thankful for each day I have with you and couldn't love you any more. Thank you for being you and being such a light in our family.