Dear Madeleine Noelle,
On Valentines Day you celebrated 61 months of life as my favorite little valentina. It is with great joy that we pass each new month, marveling over how you've grown and matured, laughing at your antics, being amazed by your smarty-pants-ness, and praying for your heart.
This picture says so much about how you are: confident, assertive, single-minded, tough, a real go-getter. In Muir Woods you ran from tree to tree, climbed steep dirt inclines, tried to get Johnny to follow you, and made us all wiser with your tree facts. I absolutely love and admire how confident you are, without being annoying or overbearing. You take life by the horns, running in with joy and great excitement, not held back by anything but your own enormous expectations. And that is where parenting your heart comes in. You hate to fail. You love to conquer. We lovingly remind you that your value is not in your ability to overcome, or your courage and willingness to try new things, but in being a loved daughter of the King. We want your confidence to be Godly, to be rooted in the love of your Father and the support of your family. So keep exploring and running ahead and taking on new adventures, but remember that whether you succeed greatly or fail horribly, you are unconditionally loved.
You and your brother take off on the greatest of adventures. One of our new favorite places to hang is the "tree fort," an exposed tangle of oak tree roots that provide hours of exploration and fun. Not even the clay-like mud can keep us away (though it certainly takes a while to clean off). One thing you've taught me, dear girl, is that the adventure is always worth the mess. We don't venture into the fort every day, but it is always fun and always messy. Life is messy. I wish as a young, first-time mom I would have been more accepting of this and less worried about the mud. :) A few weeks back, parents at the park watched in disgust as I let the two of you splash, run, and lay down in the large mud puddles. But I've learned to accept the mess and enjoy the adventure.
Case in point: clay mud balls!
You constantly surprise me. Just when I think you won't pose for a Valentines Day photo, you go and strike a beautiful ballerina pose, graceful, elegant and long-limbed. It seems that every time I look at you these days, I'm looking at someone who can't possibly be my baby girl. You are so grown up! As we sit down each day to read books, you amaze me with your ability to sound out short words and use the clues on the page to figure out the more difficult ones. Your face lights up with joy and pride as you discover new ways to use your brain and we couldn't be more pleased with how hard you work at sounding out words and spelling, too. (Though we do have to be careful with our own spelling, now, because you are Always. Listening.)
This weekend you've been running on fumes, having stayed up late many nights, woken up at regular morning hours, and foregone naps. Yet you are shining through, proving to be helpful and generous, kind and thoughtful. Just yesterday morning, functioning on less than 8 hours of nighttime sleep, you made me breakfast (peanut butter on toast) and cleaned up your own mess without being asked. I praised you like crazy and then you got to work, thinking up all kinds of things you could do to help me out. It was one of my favorite mornings yet. Then, yesterday afternoon, you slept from 2 to 5:45!!! Poor girl, catching up on your midday Zs! By the time you woke up, you were ravenous and in a fabulous, well-rested mood. We stayed up late, watching movies, eating leftover rice krispy treats, and just enjoying one another's company. It's so fun having you as company.
So as we embark on this next month in your fifth year, I pray you know how greatly you are loved, how proud we are of you, how capable you are of doing good things, and most importantly, we pray that you always rest in the love of your Heavenly Father, who couldn't possibly be more pleased with you than he already is. You are such a delight and a treasure. We love you, Maddie girl!