Happy Birthday Lizzie! As of 1:26PM you’re officially four years old. You’ve translated my life in all sorts of ways, turning it upside down and inside out, deepening my thought and sending it off in entirely new directions, opening up a world that, before, was entirely invisible to me, and turning me into an incorrigible kid and bowl of jello that can’t help but completely regress to childhood as we explore the world together. But, above all, you’ve introduced a telos into my life that has no other aim, purpose, or goal beyond the simple aim of growing together, that is without condition or demand, and that is as basic and unquestionable as oxygen and water. Last weekend your mother and I were privileged with the envious joy of watching you and your friends bounce madly and with abandon and endless energy in the bounce house in the backyard. Today we shared a quiet day together, opening presents, singing songs, drawing, telling stories, and doing crafts. We’ve watched you grow into an architect and an engineer, an artist, a story teller, a dancer, a prankster and a joker, someone who perpetually thinks about others and strives to treat them with dignity and love, a ballerina, a princess (I don’t approve), a musician, a lover of pink and yellow, an unrepentant cuddler, occasionally a tickle zombie, and a lover of bugs, mud, puddles, snow and snowballs, and froggy boots. You are the real, that which I could have never anticipated and which I can never mold or define. Even when you came into the world you kept me up for three days straight as I awaited your arrival such that when you finally arrived the world was all a glorious blur of absolute exhaustion and I still found myself absolutely surprised and filled with wonder at this strange and beautiful personality– and it was there from the very beginning, from the very first gesture –that had joined my world. We love you and love sharing the adventure of our lives with you.

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