"You are? How come??"
"Well, tomorrow is my birfday! and I am going to be FIVE!"
"No! Are you sure? I think you might be too little to be five."
She laughs and twists a curl around her finger. "No, Mommy, I really am! I'm big now."
I look at her. And smile at her. Those blue eyes of hers are crinkling up with joy... which makes me crinkle with joy, even as I say, "But I didn't say you could turn five, you know."
Another tinkly laugh. "Silly mommy! it just... well, it just happens."
How right you are, my dear girl. It does just happen. In the blink of an eye, it seems. It seems like you were a bald little baby not that long ago, and now you are a lithe little girl, all arms and legs and curly hair. Now, our darling Annabelle Grace, you are five.
You are our unique middle child... both big AND little sister. You look up to Emma and want to be with her whenever you can. You adore Rosalie and love to love on her... sometimes too much, and we have to tell you to just leave her be.
You literally dance through life. Always, always on your tip-toes, always jumping up and down, always prancing around. I literally cannot remember the last time I saw you simply walk from room to room.
You radiate joy when you are happy, from the tips of your dancing toes to the wrinkle in your nose because your smile is so big. Even your hair, which is a wonder in and of itself, seems to be joyful.
Just as you light up when you are joyful, you exhibit anger and frustration and sadness with the same transparency and commitment. If something doesn't go your way, you crumple. Many are the fits you've thrown over something that seems like no big deal. You dissolve into tears more easily than anyone... when I make soup for dinner (you HATE soup), when the timer goes off and your room is not picked up yet, when Rosalie touches something that is yours, when Emma picks a different movie than you wanted. In short, you are an emotional and ultra-sensitive little creature, which can be a challenge for me and Daddy, but we know it's also something that makes you who you are. We pray that God will use your gift of emotion and sensitivity someday to bless others in wonderful ways.
You're such a pixie, so skinny and petite. This is probably because you are such a picky eater... oh, the struggles we have at mealtime. Tears and gagging and high drama. I have high hopes that you're getting less picky though! Oh, I hope. :)
You do funny things like try to catch raindrops on your tongue.
You love music and dancing, fairies and princesses, books and stories, drawing and painting... I can't wait to see what talents and loves come forth in your personality as you continue to grow.
You are a klutz. Yes, it's true, my love. I've seen you fall off a chair when you were simply sitting there, trip over your own two feet and fall head over heels, walk right into corners and doorframes... sigh. Poor Annabellesie-boo.
You are silly. SO silly. You embrace the silliness completely and utterly, and I always hear you and Emma cracking each other up, mostly over goofily random things. Your laugh is so infectious, and even though the silliness between you two can drive me crazy
You're such a unique and quirky little person. I'm so thankful God made you exactly the way He did... you're just such a gift, Annabelle, and even though I lose patience with you sometimes, I wouldn't have you any other way.
Now that you are five, and I'm realizing again just how quickly you're changing and growing up right before our eyes, I would freeze you right here at this age for just a wee little bit if I could....
but since I can't, here are a few things I don't ever want to forget about you at five years old.
-your voice. It's so... well, it's just you. I could listen to it all day long. (I'll try to get a good video of her sometime soon and post it here for all of you to enjoy. It's so cute I could just die.)
-how you love to snuggle. You come to us and give us hugs at random times, and you love nothing more than grabbing a big blankie and cuddling up with me or Daddy on the couch.
-your hair. It's so blonde, SO curly, so unruly, so fluffy and so pretty. I think it perfectly matches your flighty personality. Someday, you might hate it and find a way to tame it, but until then I'm going to savor every moment of your wild-and-fluffy-headed goodness.
-the high-pitched voice you use to talk to your little sister. You've done this since she was born, and I'm so glad you've kept it up. I think it's special. "Oh, Rosalie, you're just the best baby in the world, yeah you are!"
-your unique fashion sense. It's not unusual for you to come out of your room attired in something like a leopard-print hoodie, pink polka-dot pants, and a green shirt. You're unabashedly mismatched, and sometimes rather disheveled, with buttons all askew and one pant leg tucked into your boot, and I rather love it.
-how you nearly always sing or hum. It's a constant sound around here. Sometimes you sound lovely, and sometimes you reach a pitch that should really only be heard when trying to summon small dogs. It's funny.
-the way you smile when you give someone a hug. It's like your love for that person is written on your face... you're so unreserved and open.
-everything. I wish I could remember everything. I'm going to try. :)
It's the 23rd of December, morning, and I am woken up by the birthday girl, her face shining above her red flannel nightgown. "It's my birfday! I'm five now!"
I scoop her up for a big birthday hug, and feel her hair, always a wild halo in the morning, brush and tickle across my cheek. "Oh my goodness, you're SO BIG now! I'd better give you your birthday kisses before you get any bigger!"
She giggles and squeals, and I kiss, kiss, kiss her.
"Happy birthday, Annabellesie-boo, I love you!"
All pictures by Lorie Chambless.