Mari girl,

As I sit here in a quiet living room among some of your favorite things leftover from a full day of play, after a very full celebratory weekend, it finally hits me that just last night, four years ago, your dad and I checked into the hospital. We spent our last several hours as a twosome anxiously awaiting your arrival, riding through waves of adrenaline, exhaustion, pain and hope.

Through most of your long labor, we watched soccer on the television. Women's soccer, to be exact.

Four years ago was of course 2011, and it was Women's World Cup time. I was comforted by the very familiar sounds of play-by-play of girls playing the game we love so much. Which, is something you can say to a four year old like you, and you understand. This summer, for the first time, you really rooted for girls. You waved the American flag with cheer. You told me you like watching girls play more than the boys, and that someday, you want to be like those courageous champions.

You have dreams. And, maybe they do change by the minute, but you have them. And that, my four year old, makes your mother's heart smile.

As for your kind and caring heart, you are something amazing. I beam the most when I watch you with your sister. When you ask me repeatedly, "can I wake Jenna up, is it time?" Or when without having to even ask, you bring your best friend her lovie when she needs it most. It's like you're inside her head, or mine, for that matter, and you are always there when we need you.

I'm grateful that when you are so, so, so tired, you will still fall asleep on me. And that you save certain moments just for your dad, like bike rides and breakfast at your favorite spot. And that you love some things with all your heart, like hearts and rainbows, living room dance parties and ice cream.

You are my sweet girl who has given me more joy than you will ever know.

I love you more than the moon and the stars and the sea.

I love you more than all three, my big four year old.

Happy birthday.