Dearest Three-Year-Old Baxter,
In an effort to continue the tradition of writing a letter to you on each birthday, I am sitting here thinking over the past year, eager to share my thoughts about it. I am sorry that we didn’t write letters to you last year, but we’ll always do our best and I hope you’ll end up with more than 2!
When I think back one year ago to your second birthday, I am amazed by all the changes in you. Although you seemed so big to us then, now it feels like you were still a baby; this year you really are a big boy…a kid! And you are absolutely brimming over with personality, just as you have been since the day you were born!
This has been your first full year of living in San Francisco, at 1441 6th Avenue. You seem to really love city life: watching people and cars come and go out our front window, greeting neighbors on the sidewalks, stopping in at the corner store to say hello to Sam or Cathy as you pass by on your way to someplace fabulous. You love to ride the N-Judah train whenever you can, and walks through the neighborhood are always fun for you. Special events are going to Park Chow for a meal (or just hot cocoa!) and getting delicious scones and muffins at Arizmendi Bakery. You often think you want to walk when we go out but then ask to be carried, so we usually take you in the jogging stroller. I often think of you as a king in his chariot, being wheeled around the neighborhood!
It was a tough year for us in some ways, this being your official “Terrible Twos” Year; you are a very physical, headstrong and stubborn boy and often gave us a run for our money in the area of discipline! For the first half of this past year you were still doing a lot of hitting and pushing with other kids, but that gradually subsided as you got closer to three. Now you hardly do that at all, and Daddy and I are very happy about that! In the meantime you had a lot of time-outs, which none of us enjoyed! I often wish we had an indoor playground in the house because you always crave so much physical activity.
However, most of the time it was a very joyful year. You have continued to emerge as a very talkative, friendly, enthusiastic, and funny child who makes Daddy and me laugh and laugh and laugh! Almost every night when you go to bed, no matter how tough the day might have been with you, we sit down and tell our best stories about you from the day and just laugh ourselves silly. It is so much fun to watch how you learn about the world and what you think about what you see. You are so good at communicating your thoughts and ideas that we get a good picture of how you see things, which is always fascinating. Without a doubt, you are a very bright boy and you learn very quickly. As you are turning three, you’ve already nearly mastered a big 24-piece floor puzzle, you recognize some words when you see them, and you are very interested in numbers and counting (and adding!). You shock us with your wonderful memory – you can pull events and experiences out of your memory from a full year ago! You are always thinking, thinking, thinking. Oh, and did I mention that you ask a million questions a day?! It’s exhausting, but I’m proud of your endless curiosity. Here’s an example of a conversation with you right now:
Baxter, holding up a toy: Do you like this elephant, Mama?
Mama: Yes, I do!
Baxter: Which elephant?
Mama: The one you’re showing me, that you just asked me about!!
Baxter: Why DO you like it?
Mama: Because it’s big and gray and reminds me of the ones at the zoo.
Baxter: Which ones at the zoo? At the San Francisco Zoo?
Mama: Yes, that’s right.
Baxter: When DID we go to the zoo?
Mama: I don’t know, when did we?
Baxter: When did we? Was it tomorrow?
…and on and on and on…
You are a very good eater, and like a lot of fruits and some veggies now. You are also sleeping well, going to bed around 8 and getting up by 7. You still take a 2 1/2 hour nap each day and we thank you for that!
You have a great time with your friends these days, and you certainly have a lot of them! At UCSF preschool (where you just started in September), you love to play with Noga, Mateo, Ella, Hue-sin, Ben & Benjamin, and Zoe (among others!). At home, we see Jack all the time, in addition to Jake, Eliana, Lyle, Lucy, Isabella, Althea, Luzius, and lots of other buddies. We had your birthday party at Acrosports last weekend and today Daddy and I are bringing cupcakes for a party at preschool with your friends there. We’ll probably take you out for dinner afterwards, which you always enjoy!
I left my job at Oak Hill School in June so that I could stay home with you full-time. I was missing you so much when I was at work, and my job was taking up too much of our family time. So instead of Daddy and me both working part-time, now I’m home with you every day and Daddy works every day. I know you really miss Daddy and all the special time you had with him during the week, but you guys have a great time together in the morning and at night before bed. And you get loads of special time on the weekends. I feel so lucky to have this time with you; I tell everyone that you are a really fun kid to hang out with all week, and it’s certainly true. You and I do lots of fun things together, like going to the Zoo, the Discovery Museum, the Academy of Science, tons of parks and playgrounds, the Arboretum, and Sara’s story hour at the library. We are always social and playing with other kids and their parents during the week. When you don’t know the plan by breakfast time, you always come running into the kitchen, asking, “Mommy, what are we doing today?” You and I both love to be on the go and with other people – we’re a great pair!
It has been another fun year with all of your family as well. We see Nana and Papa often, and Uncle Dana and Auntie SJ are often stopping by and sometimes babysitting, too. We had a wonderful week-long trip to Libertyville to see Oma and Pops and all the rest of Daddy’s family there last July – you had an excellent time and said you didn’t want to come home to San Francisco! Oma and Pops came to visit us here in October and will be back for Thanksgiving; they love you so much and can hardly stand to wait for their visits with you. You are very excited that Cousin Billy was born this year and you were very sweet when you met him last summer. Auntie Crissy was just here with Katie – they came for your birthday party and you guys had a great time! You are such a lucky boy to have lots and lots of family who love you to pieces and do nice things for you all the time.
I just can’t believe you’re 3 years old already. I am really looking forward to sharing this year with you and watching as you learn and grow even more. I love that you are getting so big and can do so much, and I hope I never forget what a joy you have been as a baby and toddler.
I love you always, sweetheart,
[Original can be found in Baxter’s baby book; added to blog in 2013.]