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the second birthday letter

Hello My Beanie Girl!

Happy Birthday! Today you turn TWO years old. Cliche as it sounds, my love, I am absolutely astounded that this day has arrived as quickly has it has. I can STILL remember your precious first days as if they were just last week, and your first birthday must have been this morning! I look at you, though, and there stands a little girl where once lay a tiny fragile newborn, and I know that time has fooled me; you have done so much growing and learning and changing since your birth I can't imagine how you've squeezed it all into just two short years.

You are upstairs right now with Daddy. He is giving you a bath, and you are talking away to him about your cup and your book and your bubbles. I can smell your bath water from where I sit, and I know without seeing you that you are rosy from the warmth of it, and dotted with little blobs of foam from head to toe. Beautiful clean, pink baby... Oh wait! As I typed that, you appeared at the bottom of the steps still damp and sparkling, then streaked into the kitchen wearing absolutely nothing but your way-too-big black rain boots. You posed quite fetchingly for a few pictures and then wanted to see them, proclaiming proudly, "That's Bean. With her boots!" This is actually quite a comprehensive little portrait of who you have become this year... beautiful, sweet and charming, combined with spontaneous, silly and brilliant. Thanks for writing my second paragraph for me, my little Squirty McGirt!

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Anyway, it's birthday #2 today! A year ago, we were at the beach with Nana and Poppa. Since then, we've had a whirlwind of activity! Just a week after you turned one, the same unseasonably chilly day we drove up into the North Georgia mountains to a pumpkin farm and went on a hayride and got pumpkins, you took your first steps. We were watching It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown when it happened. It was very exciting for all of us. Within a few weeks, you were walking almost exclusively... You even showed off your walking skills to Nathan and Julie, who came to visit us on Halloween Day.

Daddy got a new job with the bank in October, and began travelling quite a lot to Chicago starting in November while we'd stay home in Alpharetta (Georgia). Some weeks he'd be gone all week and would just come home on the weekends. You and I spent our weeks together and we both missed Daddy a lot. You would ask for him especially at bedtime and first thing in the morning. At that time, you still called him Da-da. I would tell you that Da-da was gone to work, but he would be home soon, and you would usually be okay with that answer.

Your teeth came in quickly over the next few months and you had all of the ones you have now well before you were 18 months old. You were still very small for your age back then, as I suspect you are now. In the 15th percentile for height and weight. A tiny little beautiful faerie, as you were from day one.

In November, for Thanksgiving, we went down to the beach again with Nana and Poppa and GA Joy and her whole family, and Gee Gee and Grandaddy, too. But the best part of the trip was that your Sissy and Buddy came, too! You were walking so well then, and you delighted in following them around at a trot on the beach, on walks around the island, and in our little beach house! They played with your toys with you, pulled you around in a big cardboard box they named "The SS Bean," and laughed as you fed yourself finger foods at the table. You had a cold and a stomach bug for part of the trip, so we had some rough nights, but during the days you stayed very active and happy and enjoyed eating turkey and gravy and all of the trimmings on Thanksgiving Day. You had begun talking quite a bit by then, too, and you called Sissy Tissy and Buddy Bubby. They loved you, and you were wild about them.

In December, we took you to a Rotary Christmas party that was supposed to be for adults only. I wasn't ready to leave you with anyone yet, so you went with us, wearing an adorable pink cashmere sweater suit with a gingerbread boy on the front. Everyone admired your outfit and your behavior, and you actually were the life of the party. Daddy and you and I spent Christmas Day just the three of us together. You loved your new wagon, and wooden blocks, dress-up dolly and four little kittens in their pink house. You also enjoyed the raisins in your stocking and the candy canes on the Christmas tree. We took a million pictures of you in a little pink Santa hat you picked out at the dollar store. You wore it with some white pajamas and a little pink and blue sweater, and we completed the ensemble with your little pink "Smurf" slippers. Daddy called you his little elf. You were adorable!

In January, we had your baptism at the Roswell Presbyterian Church. Nana came down and stayed with us, and so many of your friends and "family" were there with us on that crisp, sunny morning! Aunt Marie came with Topher, and Courtney, and Carole and Susanne and Janet. Eric, Sandra and Annabelle, and Uncle Marquis and his whole family and even Uncle Pete! We all had lunch together at Alpha Soda, and Twylia (our favorite server and a good friend, too) was our server. You were really beginning to bloom socially by then, and you held court at the end of our table as everyone admired you. It was a special day for you, Daddy and me. I was very pleased and moved to be able to show God how much I loved you, and how much I want you to be HIS child, too.

March marked the second of nearly three whole months that Daddy went to Chicago every week, leaving you and me at home alone except on the weekends. We did okay... I felt blessed to have you because you were so funny and sweet and easy-going. We continued to explore finger foods and solids, and you and I frequently at the same things at meals, which we both enjoyed. You were a great companion to me during those lonely months apart from Daddy, with your beautiful smile and your silly antics. You are so much like Daddy, you see. I felt like I had a little miniature Daddy with me even though he was far away. Along came spring and we spent afernoons at the little playground in our subdivision, where we met your first little friend, Audrey. You loved Audrey and talked about her at home quite a bit. Even now, when we see a picture of a little girl with dark hair, you say she's Audrey. She is a few months older than you... and she was much taller and stronger, too. But you loved to see her coming to the playground with her Mama, and you would run to her saying, "Audey! Audey!" She loved you back, too!

In April we spent loads of time outside in the sunshine, walking, playing on the school playground or our playground. We also had some playdates with Annabelle and her Mama, Sandra. You started watching "Sesame Street" regularly and fell in love with Elmo, whom you called "La-la," I think because his theme song was "La la la LA, la la la LA, Elmo's world..." You also discovered BALLOONS, which you called (and still call) "loonas" because the store personnel at our favorite supermarket always gave you one as we were leaving. In May, we made our big move to our new home here on the prairie in Illinois. You were so excited when we came for the walk-through in our new house! You scurried around the empty rooms shouting and listening to the echos. We moved in the next day and you were just thrilled with your new bedroom. We also found the local park, less than three blocks away, and you have loved playing there ever since. If we walk even close to the park now on our daily walks, you gleefully ask me, "Wanna go paygwown, Mama? Pleeeeeease?" You met all of our neighbors and their kids, falling madly in love with Nicki from across the street first. You are slowly adapting to being around many many boisterous children! Mostly even now you prefer to watch their antics from my lap while sucking your fingers. You are so much like Daddy AND like me in that you are shy most of the time, but given the right circumstances, you gladly take the spotlight and put on quite a show, talking and smiling and being charming. People stop us constantly when we are out with you to gush over how beautiful, sweet and well-behaved you are! Everyone notices your wild little curls and your clear, nearly glowing eyes. Bean, you are beautiful. There is no doubt about that... You are picture perfect, physically. Even now, I still spend looooooong moments just gazing at you and drinking you in as you play or sleep. BUT, what I love more deeply about you is WHO you are... my funny, bright, compassionate, sweet and loving daughter. God gave you pretty wrappings, but it is your insides that are the real treasure, to me.

The summer months FLEW by! We spent our afternoons outside with the neighbors... swimming, eating popsicles, playing in the Bagg's sandbox, talking long walks and going to the park. Sissy and Buddy came in August and we had a ball with them - we went to the zoo, to several parks, we made icecream and played miniature golf... several days they played with you in your kiddie water playmat. We watched movies and ate POCKORN galore, and Charlee and AJ and you were inseparable. Their leaving was very sad, but within a few days, you and I hopped on a plane down South to stay with Nana and Poppa for 18 days. We had fun there and stayed busy with Nana, going shopping and walking and to Clemson to play at the Ornamental Gardens and so on. Then we spent a few days in Atlanta visiting Sandra and Eric and Annabelle and had lunches with Courtney, Niki and Carole. It was a wonderful trip, and you were an angel on all of our flights and the whole time we were gone, although there were a few days when you were pretty miserable because you had an ear infection. When we flew home, Daddy met us at the airport, and I have never seen you so happy in your whole life! In fact, still, a couple of months later, whenever you see an airplane you say, "An now airpline go down down down and we see DADDEEEEEEE!" You LOVE your Daddy so so sooooooo much.

This month we've had a lot of fun with fall activities. We found a little playroom set up in a local elementary school, and we go play there once a week, at least. We go to KidRock, too, which is a highlight of your week each week.

The best thing about this year, by far, has been watching you and listening to you as you learn to talk. You seem pretty advanced for your age, in terms of talking and understanding, which doesn't really surprise me. You just seem very capable in that area as you have since you were very young. I often wonder to myself and aloud to Daddy just when every word out of your mouth will cease to be the cutest thing I have ever heard! I just love your sweet voice and the thoughts you express make me smile and laugh inside. You pick up everything so quickly... the good AND the bad: You say, "Bye bye, be carefoo, I luhyeeooou, dwive safeweee" every morning as Daddy leaves, which is just precious, but you also say, "OH MY GOSH WHAT HAPPENED?!" whenever you see anything out of place. I am learning that I have some pretty bad habits in speech and you are actually breaking ME of some of them!

Around your first birthday I was lamenting your growing up so quickly and wishing you could be my little baby for awhile longer. But this amazing year of your life has shown me that watching you grow up makes every single day feel like Christmas to me. Every morning you call to us in your sweet little sleepy voice, "Mama? Daddy?" and from that moment, nearly every second of the day is filled with the pure joy and magic of you, as you discover your world. Your Daddy told me that this year would be one of the best we'd have with you as parents. Looking back, I am overwhelmed by all of your changes - walking, talking, having your own desires and opinions, meeting new people and making friends... You are a real little person now, and I'd be willing to say that Daddy was 100% right in his predictions, except that knowing you as well as I do, I believe the year to come will be every bit as miraculous as the one that ends today.

I love you, my sweet two-year-old. I adore you with every part of me ... out to the edges of myself ... every second of every day, and I will forever. You can count on that, lovey. You have filled my life and my heart with love and joy that I didn't know a person could feel on earth. I thank God every day for His gift; my tiny, sparkly, precious Carrie Alexis. My Bean.

Love, Mama

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(Lyrics to Summer's Here by James Taylor.)

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