She opened her door and the balloons flooded her room as choruses of "Happy Birthday!" rang out from her daddy, momma, and big brother. A big smile quickly spread across her face as she picked up two balloons and asked, "Hey! Is I'm three, now?!?"
We lead her to the guest room, all the while continuing our jubilant cheers of "Happy Birthday!" She pranced into the room and immediately broke into a sprint as she spotted her gifts: a singing-and-light-up Elsa dress and wig, a stack of bubble gum, and three individually wrapped gifts, one of which contained a tea cup to add to the eclectic birthday collection I started for her last year. "Whoa!" she whispered, spying her gifts and taking it all in.
She immediately tried on her new dress and wig. She kept stroking her Elsa braid and just couldn't seem to get over how beautiful she looked dressed as her favorite queen. Her expression was one her daddy and I will never forget: She was so excited, so very thrilled, that she became speechless. She just stroked that braid and kept staring at her crystal blue gown. I was in tears while taking in her reaction of pure, sweet, innocent joy.
And then, her daddy whisked her away for a special breakfast date, just him and his best girl. I'm told she ate a mound of pancakes, her favorite. :)
We watched "Frozen," sang songs, chewed gum, did manicures, played with her new Disney figurines, ate more pancakes for lunch, chewed more gum, delved into her homemade frilly cake, and then chewed even more gum.
And then, her momma whisked her away for a special Momma Date: an afternoon tea at the American Girl Bistro. We had reservations at 4:15 pm sharp and were treated to an array of cucumber sandwiches, BLTs, veggie burger sliders, fruit, yogurt and muffins, pink cupcakes, chocolate mousse, and chocolate chip cookies. And hot chocolate. Let's not forget the hot chocolate, which she delicately fed to the dolls who had accompanied us. The two moments I'll never forget, aside from the whole beautiful experience itself: In the middle of our tea party, she suddenly said, "I wish Daddy and Banks and Harrison were here, too." Oh my girl and her family-loving heart. <3 And second, that she was just so over-the-moon excited to throw a coin, and make a wish, in the "mountain." She told me her wish, but her secret's safe with me.
We put her brothers to bed a little early and let her stay up a little late, sitting between her momma and daddy, alone, and finishing watching her most favorite movie for the second time that day. We told her again and again how much we loved her, how special she is. We made certain she knew: she's our one and only girl. And we love her so.
This weekend, we will celebrate our sweet Raleigh once more with a special, extra girly party of her very own. An intimate affair, with just five other 3-year-olds making up the guest list. But. I have a feeling it'll be a special occasion for our Raleigh Jane. <3
Raleigh, you are so very special to us, and we are so proud of you! We feel like you grew up overnight. You are such a big girl! You potty trained yourself for day back in August and potty trained yourself for night just a few months later. That's right--no more diapers for you, you independent soul. You are definitely quite the combination of sugar and spice: you can be just as sweet as can be. You are constantly saying, "You are beautiful!" to me, as well as family and friends alike, often multiple times per day. You adore being a big sister to our little Harrison and still absolutely love when you get to hold him and make him smile. You and Banks are the best of friends, playing together every single day, and you both get so excited when you see each other at school. You can often be found in your Clemson cheerleading uniform, cheering on your favorite Clemson football player in the comforts of our playroom. However, this is also where the spice comes in: you sure know how to push buttons! You are often slow to listen and will frequently do exactly the opposite of what we ask. You know how to get under your big brother's skin and make sure to do it at least once a day. Nonetheless, he loves you so! And you, him! You go to pre-school two half-days a week and are one smart cookie. You often need about 10 minutes to warm up to a situation, but then, as though a switch flips, you are good to go and don't look back. You are coordinated, agile, and flexible, and are the girliest tomboy I know! I have no doubt you'll excel at both the teeball you'll be playing this Spring as well as the dance classes you'll begin next Fall. I can't wait to watch you soar!
Edit. My hub just pointed out that says "RALEIGH: 2 YEARS" above. Oops. I'm too tired to correct it right now. One day I will. But. Not today. I assure you, our Raleigh is most definitely 3.
You are my best pal, and I have no doubt we'll have quite a year together, my sugar-and-spiced three-nager. I love you with all my heart. <3