Dear Merritt,

Tonight we bid adieu to 2013 with one of your favorite meals (BRINNER!) and tomorrow we'll wake up and begin 2014 together. Because let's be honest: We're not staying up to ring it in because you'll be awake mere hours after midnight.

Hopefully we won't have a repeat of Christmas, where you came to our room at 1:45 a.m. and whispered-yelled, "MOMMA, I'M DOIN' THE PLAN!" The "plan" involved coming straight to our room when you woke up in the morning. We forgot to mention that "morning" meant "daylight." I don't know why we even made a plan; you always come straight to our room in the morning.

Here's a toast to that. To you continuing to crawl into bed with us every morning. To spending the first hour (usually more) of every day just hanging out. Snuggling. Heaping all of your love on top of our heads.

Here's a toast to you learning to snap! And spelling your full name! And becoming the proud owner of a stuffed carrot ("Carrot") and a stuffed broccoli ("Broccoli") and determining that they are twin brothers! And for boldly taking Carrot to school on picture day and convincing the photographer to let you snap what is probably our favorite picture of this year!

Here's a toast to your "Southern accident." You destroy us when you start talkin' with that liltin' drawl of yours, like when you announce, "I'm gonna rahd mah bahk." You know you can get pretty much anything you want (bike rides included) when you bust out that accent.

Here's a toast to your verb conjugation. We passed a car on the road recently and you exclaimed, "We beated it!" And then you paused for a second and corrected yourself. "We bot it?" You'll get there, Bud. You'll getted there before we know it.

Speaking of cars and your vocabulary, here's a toast to your ability to express yourself when you walk out of the library and take a big whiff of the air and then gag and say, "It stinks! P.U.!" And when I ask what it smells like, you casually say, "Car breath." Ah, all that exhaust around us, yes.

Heck, here's a toast to your ability to express yourself ALL THE TIME, and with the best words. 

"I didn't like that story much, but I loved it a little." 

Here's to you thinking that a camel is called a "canimal," but also to your profound understanding of a large percentage of the rest of our language. 

"Well, he's small compared to me!" 

"This won't be an ordinary bath!" 

"Momma, can you make me something unusual out of this balloon?"

"Can you help me defeat this?"

Here's a toast to you talking for the rest of forever. Monologues and soliloquies. Dinner conversations. Sleep talks. Toilet talks. Car talks. Whisper-yells. Deep Thoughts with Merritt Handey.

A toast to never hushing.

Here's a toast to another year full of your curiosity and insights, your exuberance, your made-up dances and games and words, your revelry, your tenderness and wildness, your sense of adventure, your sense of calm, your sass and your spunk, your capacity to live succulently, your magnificent you-ness, and your heart-filling-to-the-point-of-exploding love.


We love you,

Momma & Mommy

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