Dear Beth

My darling little Beth,
I am seriously crushing on you all the time. I fall for you a million times a day, and am amazed that each time your impish little smile has such a hold on my heart. Every morning I am lucky enough to hear your sprightly voice calling for me, so patiently, never yelling or angry, just a simple "Maaa-maaa." as if to tell me you are awake. If I don't come fast enough you will knock on the wall, call for me, and wait patiently. Your brother and sister love to go in and get you up in the mornings, and although you love them, in the morning you want nothing to do with them. As soon as you are pulled out of your crib, you hit the ground running. Running into my bedroom, your arms stretched wide, a dawn breaking smile peeking behind your binki, and an exuberant "Mommy!" bursts from your lips as you hit the side of my bed with all the force of a baby cannonball. I love watching you squirm and scramble until you are on the bed with me, and then you claim your place. It doesn't matter if your daddy, brother, sister, or cat are cuddling with me, you will squeeze and squiggle, twist and wriggle until you are right next to me, on my right side. It doesn't even matter if my left side is vacant, you have to be on the right side, right next to me, your hair tickling my nose and your hands patting my cheeks. I love our morning cuddle so much. You climb into bed with me, and we just lay there, cuddling, talking, and enjoying the moment. I love how well you can communicate with the few words you know. You are following Faye's example and becoming quite the talker, and I love every word that comes out of your mouth. We usually lay conspiring in the morning hours far too long, and then have to rush to get the carpool to school on time, but it is always worth every moment of tranquility and joy that we spend together, welcoming the morning.

I love that you are unequivocally my shadow. You love to help me clean, grabbing wet wipes and washing the floor, chair, wall, or whatever happens to be within your reach.  Your favorite job is laundry, which is convenient as it is one of my least favorite. You love emptying the washer as I am trying to load it, insisting that the dirty clothes go in the drier first, or I am putting the wrong load in. Sometimes if I am very lucky we will be on the same page and we then make an unstoppable team of laundry loading. You love to help me bake bread, insisting on sampling each batch before I put the loaves in their pans for the oven. I bought you and Faye a little rolling pin and tiny bread pans so that you can make your own while I am making mine. The delight that shines from your face when you are helping me makes me go weak in the knees. I really wish that your enthusiasm and example for helping will rub off on your sister, but so far she is stubbornly sticking to preferring to play over doing her jobs. 

You have made showering nearly impossible, though. Because the bathroom door doesn't latch when it closes, all you have to do is give it a slight push and it opens. Which is wonderful for you, because that means you get to climb into the shower. If I am fast, I can get your clothes off before you climb in, but if I am washing my hair or not paying attention to every slight sound, I will hear a splash, a laugh, and open my eyes to see you fully clothed, laughing and soaking up the steam and balmy water.

Because of this, I have to either shower before you wake up in the mornings, which would be hard as your saccharine voice is my morning alarm, or I have to shower while you are sleeping, but that is usually when I am trying to help Faye with her homework, or am in the process of actually getting things done, and stopping in the middle is very counter-productive as I have a hard time getting started again once I stop, or I can shower when your daddy gets home, but because he is so focused on school right now, that is always a gamble. Because of all of this, I consider myself very lucky if I get more than two showers a week. Regardless of all of that inconvenience, I always laugh and let you join me if you have succeeded in passing all the booby traps I attempt to set up to keep you out of the bathroom. You really are a clever girl, you know.

Your personality is really beginning to shine through, and you are a clown, pure and simple. You love to tease Keith. The other day he was sitting on the couch trying to do his homework and you climbed up next to him and said over and over "Keithy, Keithy, Keithy, Keithy..." never raising your voice, very calmly, you called him over and over for nearly two minutes. When he finally turned to look at you and said, a little exasperatedly, "What?!" you simply grinned at him. And what a grin you have! I have yet to catch it on camera, but oh my goodness, your grin is both comical and invigorating at the same time. You have recently learned the art of the knock knock joke, and think yours are the funniest in the world. 

"Knock knock" you demand
"Whose there?" is dutifully answered.
"Baa baa!" you exclaim, and then burst out laughing at the hilarity of your joke. If someone dares ask  "Baa baa who?" you stop mid laugh and simply glare at them for daring to ruin your joke.

You are also learning the fine art of pestering your older siblings. Saturday I was sitting with Faye on the couch, reading with her. You saw us happily cuddled together, and you saw your chance. You scampered down the hall, into Faye's room and found her most treasured item; her orange baby blanket. You gathered it into your little chubby arms as best you could and carefully carried it, trailing behind you, into the living room, and stopped right in front of Faye and me. You waited until Faye was looking at you before you shouted, "Mine!" and ran away down the hall, laughing hysterically as Faye, angrier than a hive of tormented wasps, tore after you. Later that same morning we were in Keith' room. I was reading Tom Sawyer to him and he was arranging his Pokemon cards. You slinked over to him, crouched down on your haunches and waited until he glanced away. Seizing the opportunity, you grabbed a handful of the carefully arranged cards, and ran out of his room shouting, "Mine! Mine! Mine!" and erupting a squeal like a mad scientist. You did this three or four times until I finally convinced Keith to trust me and to stop chasing you down as you would soon get bored. You tried twice more to get a response from him and when none came, you grudgingly gave up and settled in my lap to interrupt the reading by spreading your hands over the page, turning the pages of the book, or simply closing it if I didn't have a firm enough grip on it. And the thing is, despite all the teasing you do, I just laugh. I laugh at your brother and sister, chasing you down. I laugh as you collapse your little body over the much coveted item that you decided to steal. I laugh as you cling to it for dear life as your older siblings frantically try to retrieve their treasures from you, and I laugh once they succeed and you just lay on the floor, breathing deeply, recovering from the belly aching laughter you had just emitted. I especially laugh as I recognize that sly grin and the glint in your eye which tells me you have just decided upon another course of action to torture Keith and Faye. I really probably shouldn't laugh, but I simply cannot help myself.

You are now putting two words together. Not surprising, your first two words together were "I do." meaning, "I can do it," or "I don't need your help, I want to do it on my own." I was trying to buckle you into your high chair, because you refuse to sit there until the clasps are done, and you would have none of it. You pushed my meddling hands away a few times, and then you covered the buckle defiantly and announced "I do!" Who can argue with that?

We go on walks quite often simply because you insist. Every time we walk outside you make a beeline for the stroller, climb up into it and demand we stop what we are doing, and go for a walk. When we are on a walk, however, you require the right to climb in and out of the stroller at will.  Thank heavens for the sit and stand which makes that a whole lot easier! You love to examine the little bugs and budding plants, taste testing whichever ones strike your fancy. You chew sand. Really chew it, which makes a horrid grinding sound that reduces everyone nearby into a huddled mass of shudders just to hear it. 

You love shoes. You contend that you must wear them at all times. It is one of the first things you ask me about in the mornings, your shoes. You love to get ready for the day, too, which I love. You let me dress you still, which is a far cry from Keith, who was adamant about his fashion choices by your age. You love to climb into my lap and watch a show on my phone while I fix your hair. You also have a hard time giving that spot up when it is time to fix Faye's hair. But Faye usually doesn't mind, because she would rather be outside climbing trees than sitting still and getting her hair fixed.

You love your family so much. You always do a check, every day, to make sure we are all here. If anyone is missing, you will immediately ask about them. You notice their absence immediately. Dropping Keith off for school in the mornings is hard for you because you love to have him near you. You follow him around almost as much as you follow me. You love to hear him read you stories, and to sit by you and cuddle with you. You love when he lets you play in his room, and you are so careful to imitate his play. This morning while we were looking for Faye's hat before she left for preschool, we went into Keith's room because I remembered seeing it in his closet. While we were in there, you found a dimetrodon dinosaur and instantly adopted it. You carried it with you, sneaking up on your victims, growling and making it bite us. It was the funniest thing to see you burst out from behind a corner with the dimetrodon held out in front of you, your face twisted into an adorable growl all the while charging at one of us or the cat. Tylee didn't quite know what to make of you! 

You love babies more than anything else. You carry your babies around with you, everywhere you go. The other day I had the chance to babysit a little girl and her baby sister who is about 5 months old. I asked you if you wanted to hold her, and you stood in front of my, positively vibrating with excitement! Once I had you on my lap, supporting you and the baby, you sat still for nearly 10 minutes, loving that baby, talking softly to her, and beaming with joy and pride that you were holding a real live baby. You quite often ask where she is now. One tactic I have learned to help you stay quiet at church is to ask you to find the babies. When you find one that is sleeping, it is so nice to tell you we have to be quiet or we will wake the baby, and then you whisper for the rest of the meeting. Gold!

Bethy, you are my sunshine. I am so happy you are a part of our little family and I simply love you to pieces! Thank you for always making me laugh.




Crystal Collier said…
Oh my goodness! She is so precious. How did she get to be so old already? I'm glad you've recorded all these memories. The kids sit down frequently and ask me things about when they were babies or toddlers--now that we have a new baby. The memories are priceless. Way to live the rich life!

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