I can't believe how quickly this year is coming to an end. Our year ends with such a bang: holiday celebrations, a trip to visit my family, & your birthday. You remind us that you are turning four almost every day. We've had such an amazing year so far, & I thought now would be a good time to highlight your fourth year favorites.
I like to highlight each year's favorites so that the two people who read this blog have holiday gift ideas for any little loves around your age. But mostly, with how quickly the world & everything in it is changing, I think it will be fun for you to know when you are older what your favorite things were when you were three years old.
We're trying (& possibly failing) to instill in you that things are not what is important in life. We talk to you about family, friends, & love being most important. We've been talking to you about how holidays should be more about giving than receiving. One of the things I love about you & this age is that a day at the park or a trip to the library or a game of hide & seek are almost as exciting to you as a day at Disney. I say this, & yet, your room & our home are filled with things, & these things have brought smiles to your face & joy to our home. Finding a balance is something I struggle with sometimes & sometimes wonder if I'll always struggle with. Nonetheless, these are a few of our favorite things...
From your third year favorites, your little lamby is still your very best friend. We have multiple lambies in multiple houses & at school. You've begun to dress her up. Right now, she's in a fancy blue, princess dress "for Christmas." We still love to pull out magnatiles & play dough. Your towers have gotten taller, & your play dough figures are created more independently. You have surprised even yourself at how well you can maneuver your scooter. You're really starting to zoom on that thing, to the point where I think you're almost ready for the next step scooter. When we're at home & I need to get things done, one of the easiest things we can do is pull out your easel. You enjoy creating art while I have some moments of quiet. If we go to lazier route, movies will also keep you occupied. You typically have a favorite for a few months, begging to watch the same movie every time until then a new favorite takes over (your favorites have changed from Tangeled to Despicable Me to Wreck It Ralph to Lilo & Stitch). Your love for movies saves us during long car rides. You ask us how long it's going to take to get to North Carolina, & I tell you six movies.
There are also new things that you've grown to treasure this year. Santa brought you a cardboard castle last year (I think I bought it for $25 from Zulilly), & it seems to be the first spot your friends & our family have gone to since you've gotten it. You have colored & stickered the walls with our hand prints & sweet pictures. You store our camping lantern in it (honestly, we could probably list our camping lantern as one of your favorite things too) & play in it with your stuffed animals & baby dolls. When you're not pretending in it, it doubles as a terrific hide & seek hiding spot. It's larger than I thought it would be, & we're lucky that you have a large enough room to store it in. Otherwise, I don't think we would have been able to keep it out all year to watch it become one of your favorite things.
My sisters & I loved playing Barbies when we were younger. We would play all day long, but I don't remember ever having a dollhouse. I was thrilled when Nonnie & Papi gifted you your dollhouse last Christmas, along with the tons of Barbies that mostly came from Aunt Jennie & Uncle Nick. You also have horses & bikes & cars for your Barbies to ride. It seems like a lot...mostly because it is a lot. But your dollhouse & Barbies are probably your very favorite at this age (well probably tied for favorite with baby dolls). We've given up naps in favor of quiet time this year, & you'll sit your whole quiet time playing Barbies (sometimes creating our whole extended family).
It's kind of funny that you have your own iPod, because I was truly against you owning anything like that. I want you to experience playing real games & use your imagination rather than looking at a screen. But when Daddy & I upgraded our iPhones last year, Santa decided to give you my old phone in your Christmas stocking. Technically it's an iPhone but without any service so it acts as an iPod. It has music & cartoons you like, a few apps that you play with, a camera you love to take photos with, & you can watch Netflix using wifi. You don't use it all that often, but it is a real treat when you do. And since you like to wake up at 5am when you have a sleepover, we pack your iPod in your overnight bag in hopes you will watch cartoons in the morning instead of waking up the whole house.
Your Uncle Greg got you a funny little elf microphone for Christmas last year. You can sing on your own or it plays a few Christmas songs that you can sing along to. You have the option of projecting your regular voice or the microphone changes your voice to sound high like an elf's. You love to put on "performances." We announce "presenting Emma!" You run out with your microphone & put on a show. I have to say, Daddy & I have had some really good laughs watching you perform. I was at a work function when I received a video text from Daddy. It was you, standing in only your undies, singing your ABCs with your microphone. I could hear Daddy laughing in the background. I've saved the video & will pull it out & watch it if I need a smile.
Some of your dress-up clothes have been passed down from my sisters or my cousin. Some of them we've collected at events (we still have a ton of hula items from your luau birthday party). Some of the costumes were from Nonnie who finds super sales after Halloween has passed. You've pretty much dressed-up in all of them, although the Princess gowns are, of course, your favorite. We have hung the outfits on a rack in your room, & the shelves of the rack hold purses & hats & headbands & a ton of other accessories. Your dress-up rack almost always seems to be the first place you & your little friends go to play with when we have friends over. Sometimes I find you combining your favorites. Dress-up & babies & barbies, oh my!
Radio Flyer Steer & Stroll Trike
We bought this for you for Easter when you were one. You probably weren't quite ready for it yet, but I was excited to get outside & do things with you. The nice thing about this tricycle is that there is an attachment that made it so that we could push you & steer from behind. We spent a few years pushing & steering. You didn't like that much. You like to have control over where you go. It's just that you had a hard time getting the whole pedaling & steering thing down. After your daddy gave up & claimed you would never learn to ride a bike, you figured it out this year. Now, you love your little trike, but you're starting to get a little big for it. You might just see a big-girl bike under Grandma & Papa's Christmas tree this year, but I'll always fondly think of your very first tricycle that you learned to pedal & steer on.
We subscribed to once a month kiwi crates at our house, & they've quickly become a family favorite. We've made jelly fish, tied died paper, glow worms, puppets, rocket ships, and more. You love to color & build & create while spending time with Daddy & I. I love that we're doing something creative, you're learning while having fun, & it involves no shopping or creative thinking on my part. Daddy loves that it's an activity other than playing barbies. It's a win-win-win! I think you would rather do a Kiwi Crate than watch TV. This is a big thing, because while you don't watch a whole lot of TV (except maybe on football Sundays), it sometimes seems like it's your very favorite thing in the world (you can sing every line of the Doc McStuffins & Sofia the First theme songs). I see kiwi crates being something we continue to enjoy for a long time.
Adjustable Back Float
We've had you in pools since before you were one. Tears formed in my eyes the first time I saw you swimming on your own with arm swimmies. As time went on though, we noticed that the swimmies weren't really encouraging you to learn to swim. You could basically just float along. Even when you wanted to get somewhere, you didn't really need to paddle with your arms at all. Your cousin had an adjustable back float, & we loved it so much I ordered you one right away. With this float, you have to paddle your arms & kick your legs to get where you want to go. I feel like you're really learning to swim rather than just floating around. As you get stronger with your swimming, we can remove layers of the float until you're swimming all on your own.
We love having our friends over for game nights, but playing board games with you is something that Daddy & I just started this past year. You love it. Our favorites so far are the Lady Bug Game (which encourages counting & number recognition), Candy Land, Thin Ice, & Hello Kitty Bingo (which encourages matching patterns, counting, & letter recognition). We also bring Old Maid with us in the car & take it out to play when we're at restaurants & waiting for food. The only issue we've run into is your aversion to not winning. There have been a few meltdowns. We're working on the whole being a good sport & not being a sore loser thing, because you are super competitive. I'm hoping that will come in time.
Power Wheels Mustang Convertible
I can't tell you how much I wanted Power Wheels when I was younger. I kind of missed the boat. By the time my family got one, I was too big & had to sadly watch my siblings ride around. We were so excited to put a huge bow on your shiny, red convertible for your third birthday. Our excitement fizzled as we watched you immediately crash into a wall. We live on a cul de sac & figured it would be easy for you to drive around in a circle. We were wrong. Nothing was safe from your driving, not even my parked car. It actually took the patience of Nonnie & Papi to teach you how to turn, slow down, & watch where you're going. You've gotten a lot better (although, still nothing is safe), & we even made it so you can drive at the faster speed. One of my favorite spring/summer workouts is jogging next to your mustang while you drive.
Buckets & Shovels
Some of these things seem expensive & an awful lot...& some of them are. We're truly fortunate to have generous friends & family (& also to find really good deals...we purchased your Mustang Convertible using reward points). I'm a little worried that we've kid of spoiled you, but when it comes down to it, the littlest things make you really happy. I think one of your favorite things to do this year is play with a few buckets & shovels at the beach. Most of your beach toys could be found at the dollar store, but you treasure them. You could spend a whole day making sand castles, digging holes, bringing water back & forth, & collecting shells & rocks. You take after your Mommy that way.
So, I hoped you enjoyed some the highlight of some of your favorite things. I'm excited to see what you do with your favorites in the next year & what new favorites emerge.
I love you so,