Wednesday, February 4, 2015

To my sweet Ovie Lou,

as I like to call you these days (and to which you adamantly protest almost every time - 'No, Mama - it's EHHH-vee, not OHH-vee!'),

You're three and your eyes are sparkling and face is all aglow. You've insisted on it being your birthday every day for months now, but today is the day. We woke you up with a 'Happy Birthday' this morning, which you said right back. You fail to understand the concept of the Happy Birthday phrase and see it more as a greeting like 'good morning' or 'have a good day.' All day you would spread your cheer with 'happy birthday' responses, making people chuckle. I made salisbury steak a few nights before your birthday and you were sure that I had lost it - brown gravy was all wrong. Where was the white gravy? Where were the muffins (biscuits)?! So I knew then that your birthday breakfast would be biscuits and gravy.

After biscuits and gravy, we went off to church. It seems that people (especially older people) think that children need treats, all the time, at every event, whenever possible. I usually don't mind much when you've had a few treats in church, but I didn't want it to spoil your birthday cake. I knew you'd appreciate it more if you hadn't been munching on sweets all morning, so we had a talk along the way about how to tell someone, 'No, thank you. I'm having birthday cake later.' To my surprise, you succeeded in our endeavor to practice self control. A toaster oven is the extent of my baking abilities these days, so I knew I wouldn't be able to bake you an actual cake - and as much as I hate to admit it, I can't let my knowledge of what terrible things store bought frosting is made of go even on holidays. So I picked out the healthiest boxed whole wheat brownies I could find and you picked out sprinkles and dinosaur birthday candles, and together we made magic. You helped me pour and mix and sprinkle and your face lit up. You loved every minute of it. I set my camera on my tripod and videoed your Papa and I singing Happy Birthday to you as you blew out your candles one by one throughout the song, finished by the end. I asked your Papa to light them a second time, so I could get some pictures too and he obliged, accompanied by eye rolls, but he obliged. You didn't seem to mind, but were concerned about the water (wax) dripping off the candles onto the cake. We probably ate a lot of wax with our brownies.

You've talked with Papa a lot about what he does each day and you ask each morning he has to go to work if you can come with to ride the big machines. He patiently explains each time that the Air Force doesn't like to share their toys and you nod and ask with hopeful eyes, 'Someday?' I was a shy little girl, but there was a time when I stood on a stage and proudly proclaimed to the audience that I would be 'a firefighter, just like my Daddy.' I see that same sparkle in your eyes, that same reverence for what your Papa does all day while he isn't with us, and it makes me proud. I hope someday that you can look back on my 'work' here with you with a form of admiration, but for now - I'm happy your Papa is in the spotlight. He needs that - taking care of a family can be hard. So I went out in search of a construction site for you and found a little set of machines. We filled a tub full of barley and rocks and you and Papa played for hours, while I was content to sit and watch. It was a simple birthday, but just like our Christmas, it's simplicity made it something beautiful that I'll never forget.

Three years seems like very little, but it has felt like a lifetime. You brought joy into our lives that wasn't there before, but once it entered our lives, it felt familiar. It felt like you had always been there, a little bit of yourself in each of us, and now those little pieces had all come together to finally bring you here. I imagined you a long time before you were born, even long before I ever met your Papa. Somehow you turned out to be brighter, wilder, more beautiful than I had ever imagined. You have a spirit unlike anyone I've ever met. It can be a challenge to remember the beauty of it when it's intermingled with parenting, but I hope to polish you, never tame you. You are wild and loving, free and forgiving. You are so excited about life - when you run, you can't help but skip in excitement every few steps. There's something about it that makes strangers pause to watch you. Often I'm reminded by watching you that magic is real after all.

I love you, Evangeline Idella - more than you'll ever know, maybe more than I'll ever even be able to comprehend. Keep skipping through life in wild abandonment and I'll keep running along ride beside you, astounded by your beauty.


P.S. Ev's first + second birthdays + our first clock picture (each year we take a picture in front of a clock at the time she was born - 7:35)



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