oh elle.

To the average person, these pictures might seem a bit redundant. I get that. But not to me. In each picture, I notice something special and unique to my Elle Belle. There's the way one eye squints more than the other when she smiles so big. Or the way her body seems so compact--like it is just waiting for a growth spurt. Or the way she was so excited when I grabbed those blue balloons out of the van and she wanted to hold them up to the light to see heaven shine through them. And once she saw heaven, well, then she had to twirl. (We both twirled because heaven is worth twirling for.) And finally, there's the way she rests her hands on her hips as if she's sixteen. Sometimes I swear she is 3 going on 16. She has enough personality for ten girls. 

Elle is three today. Three years ago, I quietly held her alone in my hospital room in Wisconsin, and I sang to her. She seemed to love music from the beginning. I soaked in every last ounce of her sweet newborn smell before they made me go home and mix her smell with the smell of two other children. I can remember how sweet her skin smelled. It was different than the other girls. I also remember watching her almond-shaped eyes try and open over and over again, but then she'd give in to sleep, and she'd sleep for hours. I loved her that day. 

But I love her more now. She is quite a girl. For months now, she has rehearsed exactly what she wanted for her birthday every night before bed. "I want Mickey letters, Mickey cupcakes, Mickey ba-woons, donuts and brownies, and a Mickey watch." I'd laugh each night as she screamed her wishes at me as I tried to close the door. I was never allowed to close the door before acknowledging that I'd actually agree to her wishes. I believe I made everything happen just as she hoped for, everything except the brownies. I just couldn't make one more batch of anything by the time Sunday evening came, but she forgave me. 

I wish everyone could know Elle. I think that about all my children. My girls are pretty spectacular. They each bring a new dimension into my life, and I can't imagine life without them. Elle, in particular, is my most polite child. She is so grateful for everything she receives in life. She is constantly thanking me for the simplest things: thank you mommy for washing my panties, thank you for picking up my room, thank you for giving me one extra piece of cheese, thank you for buckling my seatbelt, thank you for my sissies, thank you for being my best friend, thank you for reading the baby mickey book, etc. It seems her gratitude knows no bounds, and as a mother who rarely feels acknowledged from the other girls, she makes me feel loved all the time. She must know one of my love languages is words of affirmation. 

Aside from being extremely grateful and conscious of the things she is given in life, she is also very particular. She must have at least 1 or 2 purses/wallets with her at all times. And if she has a wallet, it must have money in it. If it doesn't, she loses her mind. She is a hoarder. I'm not sure if she's afraid the other girls will steal all her belongings, but I always find her stuffing the strangest things in corners of her bed or under the clothes in her drawers. You can only imagine what happens when she forgets where she put something and I have no idea where she put it. To put it lightly, don't knock on my door that day because she will be an absolute terror. 

She is a lover of snacks. Tim and I believe she survives off crackers. She will not eat vegetables and only tolerates apples. I can't get her to try anything else. She also loves salt. I find her licking the salt off of crackers and tossing the crackers into the trash all the time. 

I think my favorite thing about Elle is that when she is sad, she instantly reaches up with stretched out arms for me to comfort her. She allows me to hug her when she's upset. The other girls run away from me. She actually needs me, and I love being a source of comfort. We hug a lot. I also kiss her sweet cheeks more than I probably should, but she loves it. 

I love my little Elle Belle. I am honored to be her mother. She is whipping me into shape, and most days, it is really hard because I will always maintain that being three is waaaaaay harder than being 2, but if I let her, I know she'll help me to become the most patient person on the planet. At least that's my hopeful reward after all the tantrums I endure. 

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"Be kind and considerate with your criticism... It's just as hard to write a bad book as it is to write a good book." Malcolm Cowley