* Avery, you are so full of love. Literally. You stop us a hundred times a day, saying 'Hiiiii!' with a big wave (inches from our face) - sometimes it's more of a 'Haaaa!' though - which I will admit I love more than a HI, because you're a southern gal, and HA is really the proper pronunciation. When we say hi back (you'll keep waving and repeating yourself if we are preoccupied and don't reciprocate immediately) you'll blow us a kiss, and then say LOVE-YEW! It's not LOVE YOU, it's a definite YEW... it's the drawl, and the big pouty lips you make when you say it, pretty much the cutest thing ever. Your brother never went around saying I love you, so this little nuance is 100% yours. It's too easy to get caught up in the 'oh yeah, sure, he went around blowing kisses/etc back in the day'... but your daily LOVE YEW handouts are all you.
* Avery, you are also so full of rage. As much rage as an 18 month can have about life, at least. We are pretty sure it's the fact that you've been in a constant state of multiple painful teeth popping through for many months (because you were VERY delayed with getting any teeth at all), but hell, it could just be you. You could just be a fiery female, for all we know. And ok. That would be fine. It's how you were made, and we're given the privilege of taming those fires.. HOW FUN. You shriek at the top of your lungs if you think I'm leaving, like say when I need to go put something in the garage, requiring me to open the door and LEAP in the garage and be back in 4.2 seconds. (yes, I leap, because I gird my loins for the shriek I know is coming). I always try to be very verbal, very descriptive with you. Saying exactly what I'm doing, when I'll be back (4.2 seconds from now, sweet child o mine). But you give me the rod and continue to shriek. It's ok. I know this clingy short leash you have me on will fade over time. But my ears, they ring.
* Andrew, this is the Christmas with you we've been waiting for as parents. Sure, last year, you had true-blue awe over things, especially Christmas lights, which you would say so very cutely - that I can't even type to explain - but this year? It is SO ON. Your age, 4.5, is just really the best. You're so reasonable! So rational! Such a little grown up. But with the added amazing bonus of loving every square inch of all of life's goodness. Complete with hopping up and down with glee and squealing and doubled over laughing and nonstop chatter about whatever it is for days to come. It's awesome. We put up Christmas lights on the house. Every year we do outside lights the weekend before Thanksgiving, and then inside decorations the weekend of Thanksgiving, or one after. When we first inflated this giant yard-balloon, I thought you were going to implode with joy. You were laughing so hard and jumping so high, and it was just so great. Over a balloon! This balloon reminds of a point I want to make, to you and your sister, for someday whenever you have your own rugrats. You'll have many thoughts about what you will or won't do, prior to kids. You'll say many 'I'll never's..' Everyone does. But you'll get put in your place like everyone else, you should know this. I vividly remember around Christmastime, when you were around 1 year old, telling your father that we'll NEVER buy those huge inflatable Christmas yard-balloons. They're hideous. They ruin Christmas's beauty. They're ugly commercialized YARD BALLOONS for craps sake! Then you turned a giddy little 3 year old and we realized it would make you squeal with joy. So we buy it, it's just what you do. When your kid nearly implodes with happiness over something, and it's within your means to buy it, you buy it. It's just what you doooo.
* Andrew, you've always sweat a lot. (stick with me, I'm going somewhere very significant here) Your head sweats buckets after you've been running around a short time. You look like you've just gotten out of the shower, basically. Recently your preschool teacher took me aside and said her and the other teacher were a little concerned over it, because you would sweat buckets when NONE of the other kids were, say in music class, running around playing. I've always been a little concerned over your sweating, in the back of my mine, my hyper-nervous mother self wanting to know if it indicated something more serious. I guess your teacher saying something to me (when they're usually too busy to say much more than hi and bye on normal days) just fanned those flames. I scheduled an appt for you the very next day, and your doctor said they could do bloodwork to rule out the serious things, such as diabetes or hyperthyroidism. As much as I hated the idea, I knew ruling things out was most important. Here's where I get very braggy.... you owned that blood-draw. You requested to watch Strawberry Shortcake (see below), and you laid on that table and barely made a peep. You gasped when the needle went in, but the 3 (!) nurses in the room, ready to hold down a typically wild 4 year old were unnecessary. They all just sort of stared and smiled at you, in awe at your zen-ness. When it was over, roughly 6 minutes of you laying there because your veins are so tiny, they all gushed praise over you. They sent you to the special-prize-drawer, just for blood-draw patients. Even as we left, another nurse stopped and told me to thank the Lord for you, which I do! I got you 2 balloons at Tom Thumb on the way home, a Starbucks lemonade, and the honors of choosing where we picked up dinner, which blew your mind. You wanted Joe's pizza. Tests came back and all was normal, you're just an extremely active sweater, like your mom/aunty/grandpa were as kids too I'm realizing. I hate it that you had to endure that for no apparent reason, but it was the right call to rule out serious things. I'm just grateful that all you'll hopefully remember is getting a half dozen fake tattoos and stickers and your very own cheese pizza.
* So, Strawberry Shortcake. You saw the brightly colored pink and blue thumbnail picture on Netflix one day and asked to watch it. Your mother had Strawberry Shortcake CURTAINS and matching bedspread as a kid, so of course I complied. Who am I to deny you of the joy I once knew??? Gender be damned. You LOVE it. LOVE. With all caps love. And who wouldn't?? It rains cookies and snows cupcakes in Berry-Land, for goodness sake! Your father is thankfully evolved enough to not throw a fit over the fact that you love this. However, I don't think he's evolved enough to be okay if I bought you a Barbie one day. (but I'm pretty sure you'll enjoy playing dolls someday, to make Avery happy of course) He simply gave me a 'really?' look, and went about his business. Good man. So, yes. Strawberry Shortcake kept your rapt attention while the nurses drew your blood, for which I am very thankful and happy.
* Avery, you love to run. You don't really watch where you're going, or plan out your path ahead of time. You simply throw your arms out and barrel ahead, full steam ahead, with your method of brakes simply being to crash into whatever's in your way. Makes for fun times. It will be a miracle if you make it to 3 without some major injury, but I'm trying to be optimistic. I've been buying more band-aids/antiseptic spray/gauze when I'm out and about and see it on sale. Something I never really thought to do when your bro was a reckless toddler, because no. Your brother did not barrel. He stepped lightly and carefully and with great method. A sort of game we play in the half hour before bedtime, when it's too dark to play outside like we normally would, is simply you (and sometimes Andrew) running full-speed between your father and I. We'll sit with our arms and legs open and waiting on opposite ends on the room and you'll run back and forth, shrieking and ecstatic. Your daddy will catch you and flail backwards, you'll scream with happiness, and he'll send you back to me. I'll catch you lightly and give you kisses and hugs and send you back to him. We each have our thing. Your bro is usually playing Chutes & Ladders by himself (a current obsession) or building/flying Lego airplanes, until he comes and joins in on the chaos. So yeah. Life's good.