To Alice the Adventurer | Happy 2nd Birthday!

Little One, you're not so little anymore. Instead of being a Peanut, you would be more aptly named "a sack of peanuts." You have legs for days, doe eyes, an easy smile, and wispy blond hair like your daddy. Your knees are always scratched and it seems like there will forever be peach juice on the neckline of your shirts or raspberry stains on the corners of your mouth. But I suppose that's just Summer Alice. You are happiest these days in a skirt, wellie boots, a pearl necklace, floral sunhat, and shades.

You are such a little person! You are a do-er. A maker. An explorer. A sweeper. A biker (motorcyclist according to you). A climber. A ham. A Popsicle enthusiast. You cheerfully exclaim "hello, Neighbor!" to strangers on the street while giving them a wave and smile. You catch lightning bugs like a pro - seriously, I've never seen someone catch a bug so fast. You have a jar you keep them in for the night and then you let them "go home" in the morning. You're a dancer - at the slightest provocation or faintest song, you begin to move and spin and twirl. Your pink tutu skirt has been in steady rotation for the last 3 days and is badly in need of a wash. Your empathy at this age amazes me - if I cough or drop something, I immediately hear your sweet, concerned little voice asking "are you okay, mommy?" or "do you need to drink some water?" Oh, you melt my heart!

You fly like fairies and love love love Tinker Bell. On a whim at the library, I picked up a Tink movie (your Grandma Linda likes her and I thought it would be cute for you two to have a "special thing") and as it turns out, I love her as much as you do! She's a tinker - a maker, creator, designer, engineer. She's independent and has her own ideas. She's intuitive and caring and those are all things I want for you, too, and things I think you already are at some level. You love to sprinkle pretend pixie dust on yourself and fly. Do you know what's funny? One of my earliest memories was of your Gramma Jo taking me to the mall (which was a rare treat) and we walked by the Disney store. Oh, the Disney store! Someday we will go there, but not til I'm ready to have the upcoming episode repeated by you. Guess what they had on display in the middle like a mecca to fairy-lovers? Tinker Bell's Magic Pixie Dust. I capitalize it because it was just that awesome. I could fly. I could fly! If only my mom would buy it for me. But, alas, my mother, who knew that it wouldn't really make me fly and that it probably boasted a hefty little price tag, denied my ardent begging (probably more like demanding and shrieking). I remember throwing a momentous tantrum right then and there upon realizing that my dreams of flying were forever shattered. Oh, the agony! It was angst, I tell you. Pure toddler angst. Now that I'm the mother, I get why she didn't buy me pixie dust. And I know I can't buy you lots of things, nor do you need lots of things, nor do I want you to grow up believing you are entitled to lots of things, but I hope I can give you your dreams in a different - more realistic - way. One of these days I'm going to make you pixie dust - maybe it will be baking soda we sprinkle on the carpet and vacuum, or maybe it will be a pinch of salt here and there. (It will never, ever, be glitter. Not happenin'.) But I want to make magic real for you in some way. We'll have to get creative. I love seeing your face light up when I pretend to sprinkle you with yellow pixie dust (which according to you, only Papa Bear makes). The other day I made you a "Tinker Bell Bag" with a little leather case I found at a garage sale and I tied a purple ribbon on for a strap and filled it with "lost things" - a little magnifying glass, some flower memory cards, a purple pipe cleaner, and a bow. Odds and ends from around the house. I can't wait for you to start gathering your own lost things and making them found :)

You are an expert gardener, carefully stepping on the stones laid out in the garden beds for just such a purpose, and pulling weeds with us at night. You chase bunnies and proudly announce that you "took one for a ride." If you want to go out, you put your boots, flower hat, and sunglasses on before you even ask. I love to see you run around between the tomatoes, herbs and sugar snap peas, examining bugs and rocks and anything else that catches your interest. You usually have a special find to show me when you come in, along with a boot full of rocks and dirt between your fingers. Sometimes I catch you taking your boots off and digging your toes into the pea gravel and your face says "this feels so good." It's kind of magical watching you learn. If there is ever a ripe berry to be picked, you devour it before anyone else does. Really, even before it's ripe. It could be pink instead of red and it's in your mouth quick as candy. In fact, I don't know that I've seen a red one yet. They disappear every morning before I can see them with my own eyes :) You have a little yellow watering can we fill every day, and you water daddy's pots of sage, cilantro, oregano, and basil on the deck. As you walk across, you slosh and spill a third before you get to the plants, but you don't seem to mind. You just bring it back for another round. I have a little plot of earth for you to tend next year. We're preparing it now, laying down compost and mulch and weeding it so the soil is good and ready. I'm excited for you to get to pick out what you want to plant, take care of it, and watch it grow. Alice the Gardener. That's you, too.

You love it when I "paint" your face, whether with a brush, a feather, or more often than not, my hair. You sit perfectly still, close your eyes - mouth slightly open - and wait for me to trace soft lines around your face, swirling around your eyes, down your nose, above your lips, over your cheeks, under that spot just below your ears, and then under your chin. Your face tells me you're in total bliss. I love to see you learning with your senses. I do the same thing with my hair - chronic hair-twirler since I could wrap a strand around my finger. Once you grow hair, I have a feeling you'll be the same way.

You love coffee. We go to Starbucks and Scooters a few times a month - it's kind of our family thing. You know The Mermaid logo better than Disney's. You will drink and enjoy everything from daddy's straight up espresso to my frappucinos to the little cup of whipped cream the barista gives you. You know the drill: find the Alice-chair, wheel it over to our spot, climb in, contentedly consume your treat, make eyes at all the other customers, chat non-stop, give everyone a whipped-cream smeared smile. We love taking you with us. You're a hoot :)

You are a talker. I am not over-exaggerating when I say you know at least 1,000 words and use them all. Your sentences are clear, even enunciating your "r"s. You still like to substitute "h" for "s" at the beginning of a word, like "smash" becomes "hmash" and "snake" becomes "hnake." Not sure where you picked that one up, but we think it's cute. I am amazed at your comprehension - I could be talking about something with another adult and you interject once in a while to contribute your two-cents. For example, at our dinner party the other night, Gramma Jo was talking about how you do not like car washes. As soon as she recounted the story of how terrified you were of it, you looked up and said "I cried. I don't like car washes" while shaking your head seriously. Ha! You really get what we say! I know everyone thinks their kid is brilliant, but Alice, you really are a smart little cookie. I love talking to you and listening to you throughout the day. There's no one else I'd rather spend all my days with.

You love my stories. If you're hurt and having a hard time getting over it, or if you're trying to stretch out your bedtime with one more book (we read so. many. books.), I offer to tell you story to which you sit up with a smile on your face and rapt attention while I spin you a tale. More often than not it starts with "once upon a time..." which is something you picked up on and now like to start all of your stories in the same way. Except you get as far as those first four words, pause for a moment, and say "Mama, I need help." Then, after encouraging you to try, you usually create something that is a conglomeration of mine. I tell you stories of Tinker Bell visiting you and sprinkling you with pixie dust in your crib so you can fly and go on adventures together. I tell you stories of how your daddy and I wanted a baby and my belly grew bigger and bigger until we popped a baby out and we loved her and named her Alice. And now, I tell you stories of how we love you so much we want to give you someone to play with and take care of so we are growing Milo in my belly and he, too, will pop out like you did. At this point, you give me a kiss on the belly and hug Milo for all you're worth. It the sweetest thing. You are going to love him and he will adore you. I am so excited to see you together.

If you couldn't guess it, I kind of love you. Like, a lot. I even share my ice cream with you. Heck, I like to share my ice cream with you. You're pretty special.

You're a lot of things to us. You're our daughter. Our firstborn. Our entertainment. Our joy.

You are Alice the Adventurer.

Happy Birthday, Alice. We love you.