Elsa, age 3.

Elsa, you are 3.

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We had such a fun year together.  In many ways, you are the same.

You still…

Love ice cream.

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And prefer your birthday suit over any other outfit.

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You still love being outside the house and busy.  We took several trips this year to the botanic gardens, the zoo and all the Denver museums (Children’s, Art, Science and Butterfly Pavilion.)

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Your dad and I also tried getting you accustomed to hiking.  You’re too big for the carrier now, which means you have to walk.  Let’s just say you have room for improvement in that area.

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You are still my little water baby. In the spring we took an incredible trip to Cabo with friends Tim & Kathy and their daughter Sophia. We didn’t leave the resort the entire week and spent the days swimming, eating, drinking (your parents) and more swimming (you).

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Another guest at the resort dubbed you “The Floating Strawberry.”

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Later in the summer, we took a road trip to visit your dad’s side of the family in Chicago.  Your Uncle Dave & Aunt Erin own a little beach house in Indiana and we spent some very relaxing days there.

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Back in Denver, we enjoyed summer days at Water World and running through various free fountains and water parks throughout the city.

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That last photo has a big story behind it, one I’d prefer to forget.  It was the day I lost you. We were visiting a new free park south of the city and it was very crowded that day.  I turned from you briefly to throw away a diaper in a trash can about 10 feet from where you were playing.  When I turned back, you were gone.  At first, I just circled slowly and calmly looked for you, but as the minutes ticked by I became more and more panicked.  My walk got faster and faster and soon I was running through the park, screaming your name.  I couldn’t find you anywhere.  I ran to the parking lot and then back through the park.  You were gone.  Just..gone.  I called your father because I didn’t know what else to do.  He later said he couldn’t understand a thing I was screaming.

Finally three women made me stand on top of a hill in case you were looking for me.  They asked what you were wearing and I gave a brief description.  They fanned out into the park and suddenly I saw one burst through the crowd holding you in her arms.  She found you  playing with some other kids behind some playground equipment.  You were happy as a clam, had no idea I was looking for you or didn’t hear me calling.  Elsa, I have never been more relieved and thankful.  Those 15 minutes were truly the worst moments of my entire life.  I thought you were gone.  I thought I had lost you forever.  I feared that someone had taken you, that you were in someone’s car, that you were scared and that I would never see you again.  When I told the story to other moms, almost all were able to share their own lost-child story and all agree it’s the most horrifying feeling. I’ve heard a saying that when you have a child, it is like letting your heart walk around outside of your body and I think I understand this feeling now.  I’m just so thankful that the other mom found you and so glad you were safe.  PLEASE DON’T SCARE ME LIKE THAT AGAIN. I’m not sure that my poor heart can take it.

On to lighter subjects…

Favorite foods: Milk, Ice cream, yogurt, fruit, crackers, pancakes.  We still struggle to get meat and veggies into you, but I do my best.

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Favorite toys: Still loving your animals. Snoopy, Lion (Coco), Flamingo, Pink baby and baby doll.  Jacques and Dragon have sadly fallen out of favor these days.  Also very into your new balance bike, marble maze and wooden blocks.

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Other likes: Amanda (your baby sitter), Tinkerbell, Octonauts.

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Dislikes: “Endings” (Going home after any activity, the end of movies, going to bed at night), Santa Claus, when there is a small piece of dirt floating in the bathtub, using the potty.

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Speaking of…

That happy guy in the picture above is Smiley Potty, a fixture in our bathroom. Smiley Potty is not to be confused with Froggy Potty, who lives in the back of our car.  Smiley came to live with us in July.  Six months later, your relationship with him is still…complicated.  Elsa, what can I say?  You’ve always been a kid who does things when she’s ready.  Your strong will is a trait that will serve you well as an adult. I promise to try my best as a parent to help you develop and channel it.

Just like last year, it has been an amazing privilege to watch you grow and change.

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At age 2, you were working with a physical therapist and wore ankle braces.  Now you run and play like any other kid and look totally at home in your gymnastics and soccer classes.

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Your speech gets better and better, but my favorite thing about the last few months has been a total explosion in your imagination and sense of humor.

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You make me laugh every day, several times a day.  Sometimes on purpose, but usually not.  This morning, you woke up very confused because you couldn’t find your tail.  It was pretty cute watching you turn groggily in a circle, trying to look at your own backside.  “Where is it? Mommy, where’d my tail go?”

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You’re still very passionate and very much a social butterfly.  You love to play with other kids and adults. In fall 2015, you will start preschool and I’m so excited for you. This will open up a brand new world of experiences and friendship.

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I can’t wait for all of our adventures this year.  I love you, little bear.

Love, Mama

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