Dear Eden-

I still struggle to comprehend that you are FIVE. Wasn't it just yesterday I went into labor while eating dinner at the Olive Garden, then just 6 hours later you were in my arms in the birthing pool in our living room? I beheld your little wrinkly self and cone-shaped head, bleary-eyed and thinking you looked a little weird but I was truly happy to meet you and hold you despite how overwhelmingly exhausted I was. How can that have been five years ago?

Truth be told, I'm still bleary-eyed and exhausted. And you've definitely given me a run for my money the past couple of years. They have not been easy, and yet... I still have so much to joyfully look back upon. Watching you grow has been such a delight. Seeing your mind and heart and imagination bloom is such a gift. Your love for learning is boundless and you're so intelligent - enough to pretend not to be at times, and drive me crazy! You get so excited watching letters come to life for you and just beginning to put them together to make words... a whole new world is about to open up for you, and you've loved books since you were a baby. Watching you narrate books to yourself has been so precious, and to see you approaching the moment when you'll be able to begin truly reading them... it's pure magic. I can't wait.

The worlds you get lost in within your imagination are boundless. Your energy and joy are infectious. You have the absolute best dance moves - I wish I was as cool as you are! You have mama's big, big feelings... so you love hard, and you also get mad so hard and say and do things you regret. We'll keep working on that together so you don't make the same mistakes I have. You learned to ride a bike this year, and thanks to Tutu's balance bike gift when you were younger, you were able to skip the training wheels! I love your wonder at the little things in life, your excitement over the mundane, how a "cool car" to you might be a 20-year old Toyota Corolla, but who cares because it's shiny red and you like it?!

You're like me, and so different from me, all at once. You're definitely my mini, but the things I tend to keep inside, you blast outside for the whole world to see. You are your own very independent little person who likes to get up and start the morning with the radio, a snack (usually an orange), and play time all before mama is ever out of bed. You're very confident in who you are and yet already so worried about what people will think about you - where did that even come from? What you pick up from the world around you always surprises me. Ever since you were a baby, you've been so observant, always more than I can realize in the moment.

You keep being you, baby girl - God made you just right. He loves you so much and so do I. Keep being the lively, passionate person you are and continue to love playing, reading, learning, dancing, and so much more. I love you with all my heart.

Love, Mama