Dear YaYa, (my Ladybug)

So, it's three days past your birthday and I'm finally getting around to writing you your birthday letter. Which is okay since you seem to believe that it still is your birthday and you scream in eye-bulging fury when your brother, who is cultivating a love of teasing you, sings Happy Birthday to anyone else. "YAYA BURPAY," you shriek right before our ears start bleeding.

Part of the reason it's taken me so long is because your birthday party itself was so much for me to prepare for. Even considering the fact that the only kids there were yourself, your big brother, and the infamous Jed. Oh, and Frannie Rannie, but she's six months old and she doesn't eat cake yet, so she doesn't count due to the lack of a sugar rush.

Speaking of sugar rushes. You all had 'em. The boys especially were mad with adrenaline, and we had to hold them back while you opened your presents. Pretty much every other word was "BOYS". As in, "BOYS, GIVE HER SOME SPACE." And "BOYS, YOU MAY NOT RUN AWAY WITH HER TOY." and "BOYS, LET HER OPEN IT." You were so sweet, though. I love two-year-olds on their birthdays, all wide-eyed wonder and so very "For me? Really? You shouldn't have." But you, Kenya, you were the best. I loved watching you open your presents, loved how you got confused when you heard that a present was from Frannie Rannie, thinking it was for her, and you ran over to her to give it to her. I loved how you sang Happy Birthday to yourself after you blew out the candles, and I loved how easily you shared with the bigger boys who grabbed presents out of your hands and basically took over. You had this air of sweet confusion, thinking you were in the mix without really understanding, and although they plow you over sometimes, you still always have this sweet dignity.

It's the way you've always been, since the very beginning when you emerged covered in amniotic fluid and we saw right away a quiet elegance in you. When you were a baby you always held your hands up in the air like a queen, and sucked your fingers quietly to calm yourself. Now you have the longest fingers I've ever seen on a girl your age, and you are the loveliest person in my life.

I've always thought that it's a good thing that you are a tomboy. That elegance could be snooty, but isn't, in someone whose favorite activities are wrestling and climbing.

Right now your sentences are getting longer with more words in them. Your pronunciation is slowly getting better, with a few consonants thrown in with all your vowels once in a while. Not always the right consonants, mind you, but consonants none the less. You must have heard me ordering Kai to do things right now, (Kai, put your clothes on RIGHT NOW) because every time you say the word "now", it has the word "right" before it. It makes you sound like you're being incredibly demanding all the time, when nothing could be further from the truth.

You love your babies, stuffed animals, books, Little People, and most of all in the whole wide world you love your blankie. You call it your "Bindy", like the decorative jewel in the center of an Indian woman's forehead. If you could have one thing on a desert island it would be your blankie, even if it was really really hot. I never would have imagined that I would have Linus as a daughter. It's my fault, really, I always gave it to you for every nap, and said, "Here's your special blankie, YaYa," because I wanted you to have tools for good sleep. It really worked. You love sleep and you love your blankie. I tried the same thing with Kid A, though, and really, he couldn't care less.

You have the most acute sense of when something is shameful. Once I told you to keep your knee away from the baby's head, and Kid A asked me why, so I thoughtlessly said, "Because she bonked him in the head with it," in a kind of exasperated voice. You must have cried for half an hour, you were so embarrassed. I don't know if that's the right word, actually, it's more like you felt badly and didn't want me to talk about it. We have to be really careful, you pick up slight changes in our tone or the emphasis we put on certain words, and you may become convinced that something is embarrassing and be crushed.

You love to draw and color and you love beautiful things. Once I held you up to the mirror to show you what you looked like and I caught a moment of pure delight as you saw yourself and the dress you were wearing and you liked what you saw. It was so childlike and simple. You can sit for forty-five minutes working on a drawing.

And, of course, I shouldn't leave out the fact that you have the strongest will I've ever encountered. I don't think that I've met anyone so ferocious. Your temper is a thing to be feared, and a different person looks out through your face when you're throwing a fit. This is balanced by the fact that you're more cuddly than a newborn seal most of the time.

I overheard some people talking about you the other day. They said that you were an amazing little girl, that you have such a beautiful spirit. You do, my ladybug girl. Your heart warms people, and there is something so soothing and inviting about you. There's nothing better than when you're looking around the room for me and then you see me. You run over to me and touch my face and I think, maybe I'm not doing so badly after all.