Or “phree,” as you might say, holding your three fingers high in the air, as if to warn the world before you, “I’m coming!” And the world ought to prepare, Olive, for what’s stirring up and forming in your tiny 25 pound self.  I remember when you started doing v-sits sometime around 2 months old, holding your head and legs off the floor for several minutes at a time, relaxing, then starting over again. I should have known then: you were quietly and sweetly observing the world around you and “training,” as Kristen says, for toddler-hood. You could sit up by 4 months old, catching yourself when you accidentally slipped (opposed to falling on your face like most infants). Then, at some point around 12-13 months, you began hanging from the bars on the bunk bed and swinging your feet up to your hands; this has since evolved to countertop edges and rings on the playground. You spent most of your two-year-old-year running. And climbing. And singing or screaming. Usually barefoot, in a dress or swimsuit or “pee-jamas” (which I can’t manage to keep you out of during the day), hunting for lip gloss or gum or a “[s]nack.” This translates to nap time, for you and me, and while I imagine at some point in this next year I’ll have to let those naps go, not yet. Not. Yet.

Olive, if it isn’t obvious yet, let me say this now: you are fearlessly independent (hence the self-portrait above and Burke’s picture of you swinging in your swimsuit alone). Maybe your fearlessness stems from your youngest position in the family, or maybe it’s simply your natural temperament; either way, this is what I love most about you, but also what can make you so challenging to parent. On one hand, your silly, gregarious nature draws everyone around you to you, both adults and children alike, unless of course you’ve stolen something from them (I refer you back to “lip gloss, gum, and [s]nack” above). You also pretty much potty-trained yourself at two and a half after you found a pair of toddler underwear and decided you wanted to wear them. With a few weeks of reinforcement, you rid yourself of diapers, just like that (a triumphant parting for our family indeed). Although, yesterday you did announce you couldn’t flush the toilet because you had duck hands, a great tragedy for you. “What?” I asked you.  “You know, duck hands. Quack, quack. So I’m sorry I can’t flush the toilet today” you replied and promptly left the bathroom.  Of course, this independent, free-spirited nature comes with many tears and tantrums at the age of two because you are just that — two.  Not twelve. Not twenty. But now three. And you still won’t always be allowed to do as you will, a very hard lesson for you I’m afraid, but I am optimistic we’ll have less of those moments this year. Optimistic. Regardless, I do love you, little Olive, and your tangled mess of a self wrapped up in a princess costume (or pee-jamas). I’m so thankful for your little lisp and eye-making facial humor that keeps me laughing, even when I’m angry; your snuggles because it’s rare for you to slow down long enough for them; and of course your truly sweet, sensitive heart buried beneath it all.

This morning you woke up with a room full of balloons and presents on the kitchen table: a Rapunzel doll and costume; a new, bright pink tutu dress from Nina and Papa; and a new book from Pam and Michael. You did ask me as I tucked you in tonight, “Mom, will I be two again tomorrow?” “No,” I assured, “you’ll never be two again. So happy birthday, sweet one; today, I celebrate you!”