Today you turned 4 years old! I still remember the day you were born. It was the day you made me a Mama and it was truly one of the happiest days of my life (tied only with the day I married your Daddy, and the day Zachary was born). You've grown so much in the past four years. Sometimes its hard to believe you're already so old. And sometimes, those days of when you were a teeny, tiny baby seem like forever ago.
But, you're certainly not that teeny tiny baby any more. You're such a big boy now, and you've really grown in the past year. You became a big brother, you started pre-school, you went down the "big-drop slide" at Great Wolf, you can put your shoes on all by yourself, just to name a few of your big milestones and greatest moments of the past year.
Speaking of becoming a big brother, you're a great big brother. But, as you like to say, "Having a baby brother is hard sometimes." Yes, it is hard sometimes, especially when Zach wants to play with your favorite toys. But Zachary watches everything you do, and he loves you so much, even if he annoys you sometimes. I know you love him so much, too. I can tell by the way you're always looking out for him, making sure he isn't putting things in his mouth that he shouldn't, or trying to catch him when he falls. You give him big hugs and you love to try and wrestle with him, even if he is still a bit too small for this. You always want to share food with him and when we stop at Dunkin' Donuts and I ask if you want a munchkin you always say, "I want two. One for me, and one for Zachary." Throughout your life you and Zachary are going to annoy each other. You're going to get frustrated. You're going to say mean things sometimes. But I hope you always cherish the special relationship you share as brothers. It is a relationship unlike any other you will ever have in your life and I hope you one day recognize it as the greatest gift Daddy and I ever gave you.
This year was a huge year also because you started pre-school. On your first day you went with no problem at all. Daddy joined you and you were as happy as a clam. But, for the next few weeks after that you had a bit of a rough time. No matter how much fun you had, or how much you told me you liked your teacher, Mrs. Hammer, you still sobbed every day that you went. You said ridiculously cute and sad things like, "I like school, but I just love you soooooo much!" or "I just wanna stay home with you and Zachary. I don't need to go to school." But as much as you cried, you still always knew you had to go. And you didn't fight it. You were just really sad about it. But then, after a couple weeks, you stopped crying, and you just got excited about school every Tuesday and Thursday. You love the arts and crafts you do. You report holding hands and sitting next to your buddy Rosalind almost daily, and you beam with pride when you sing a new song you learned. Daddy and I are so proud of you. We hope this first year of pre-school instills in you a love of learning that will last a lifetime.
Other high-lights of the year were our family vacation to Great Wolf Lodge and Sky Top Lodge in the Poconos, going to the Howard County fair with Uncle Chris and Saoirse, Family parties with your best buddies (and cousins) Caitlin & Julia, Autine Cindy, Uncle John, Auntie Catharine, Uncle Mark, NeeNee & Pop-Pop, the Pumpkin Festival at Butler's Orchard, trick-or-treating as Peso from Octonauts, going to the train garden at Homestead Gardens, and of course Christmas! You find such joy and excitement in relatively simple adventures. You love being with the people you love and doing fun things. You talk about each of these "high-lights" with such enthusiasm and excitement that it's contagious. You have a joyful spirit that makes doing anything with you a tremendously fun and memorable experience.
Ryan, you are a kind, sensitive, honest, smart, loving, enthusiastic, inquisitive, and out-going little boy. You observe the world with such a keen eye and ask excellent questions. You find joy in such simple pleasures. One day while riding with me to my office, which required driving in a part of Baltimore you had never seen before you said, "Wow! Everything in Baltimore is AWESOME!" Coming down MLK Blvd, seeing the stadiums, the round house in the distance, and Mommy's office was pretty awesome. I'd never appreciated it in that way before. Ryan, you open my eyes to the world in a way that makes each day happier and more full of joy. You make me a better person and kinder soul.
Thank you Ryan for being my son, for sharing your joy, your hugs (you give the BEST Monkey hugs!), and your love with me. Being your Mama is a privilege and one I will never take for granted.
Happy 4th birthday, sweet boy!