My sweet girl,
You are four years old.
We have learned a lot about you in the last year that we didn't understand before.
In July, you were screened for diabetes and celiac. Mommy and Daddy were delighted to hear that you were not at high risk for diabetes, but the celiac results we received in August were quite the shock. You were finally officially diagnosed in September and have been gluten-free ever since. You are doing great and only occasionally slip up. You announced the other day at breakfast, out of nowhere, "Gluten makes me sick." Yes, it does. You're getting it. Whew.
|If I can get you to sit still for a photo, it's usually for a silly face.|
You keep us on our toes and we are constantly learning how best to help you navigate the big, wide world. We've learned that your tendency to go wild in certain environments (restaurants, exhibit halls, public places, social events) is not because you're excited to be there, but because you're overwhelmed. We didn't understand, but we do now, and we promise that we will help you learn how to deal with your social anxieties.
|You and Daddy enjoyed the gardens outside the Gluten Free Expo|
after we needed to step away from the crowds and decompress.
|You love to swim.|
Disney Cruise Line took impeccable care of your dietary needs and was also understanding of your comfort level with the different children's environments, letting you come to the nursery with Dibbs where you could play alone in a much less crowded, much less stimulating space and letting you run wild in the older kid spaces like Andy's Room when you wanted to climb and play.
|Up the ladder, in the Crow's Nest, at the park.|
Your favorite activities that aren't climbing- or bouncing-related are playing with your Lalaloopsy mini dolls and watching Pixar movies. You love Woody and Jessie. You dislike villains in all forms. You're always rooting for the hero and you adore comic sidekicks.
You love your little brother. You make sure he always has toys to play with and he copies everything you do. You like making him laugh. You also like your cousins, and though they are older boys who don't talk back to you much, they are the only kids you'll actually try to chat up, as you prefer to play alone when among your peers.
You are highly observant and quite smart, able to spell and rhyme and play math games. You are also crazy loud. You never stop moving and you're determined to explore the world. Your memory impresses me, as does your creativity. You help me imagine plot turns to our ongoing bedtime saga that we tell together about the adventures of Princess Monkeyboodles and her purple dragon Noshi. One time you had Noshi burn the toast with his fiery breath.
I hope that our next year together sees us overcome some of your struggles and celebrate your many strengths - your empathy, your energy, your imagination. You are the heroine of your own adventure and you are my daily comic sidekick.
|"Jessie never gives up! Jessie finds a way!"|
"Mom, you're my best friend with diabetes," you just told me. "Sweetie, you're my best friend in the whole world," I told you back.
|"Happy birthday to you!"|