As I said when wrapping up your last letter, one of your Christmas gifts from us was a trip to Disney World. The trip was something we'd been planning for quite a while because I was running a race there. But also as part of your gift, we signed you up for a Disney kid race too.
When I ran my first half-marathon last fall, you were very supportive during my training - except you kept hoping I'd come in first. I had to keep reinforcing that crossing the finish line was the same as winning for me, because no way was mama coming in first! Once that sank in, you tried to console me and said, "Mama, I wish the winner was the one who ran the slowest. Then you could win!"
You were very excited for me on that November race day until our post-race reunion when you spied the finisher's medal around my neck. You wanted me to give it you - not to share it with you or let you wear it (which I did), but to let it be yours (which I did not). Sorry babe - I'm willing to give you lots of things but I worked hard for that bling!
So when we were planning our Disney trip, I was delighted to discover that there were kid races that same weekend - kid races with medals for all finishers!
Our first day at Disney was race day. You proudly donned your new running outfit, and I squealed when we picked up your race bib and I saw it had your name printed on the front. So exciting!
We arrived early enough for you to get in a warm-up run. Your Daddy and I assumed you were just going to do a couple of quick sprints, so we didn't follow when you took off down the track. Our mistake, because we watched in surprise as you kept going and going until you were a tiny speck.
As you rounded the track back toward us, I realized you were a tiny-and-tearful speck because you'd run so far away that you couldn't find us.
We recovered from that initial upset and it was finally time for your 200-meter race. Your Daddy ran with you and I positioned myself near the finish line with my camera. I was so proud of your great effort, and you were thrilled to finally have a finisher's medal of your own - with Mickey on it no less!
To celebrate, we had lunch at our favorite restaurant - T-Rex in Downtown Disney. You were excited to bring your beloved apatosaurus, Pinky, who you got at that restaurant last year. You introduced her to some of her long-necked family members and then took her with you on a dino dig.
During our trip we managed to hit all four parks. They were still decorated for Christmas making them even more spectacular than usual - a real treat.
Highlights included our favorite rides from Magic Kingdom like Dumbo and It's a Small World. You were immensely proud of yourself for braving the "scary" Lilo and Stitch ride this time and you loved it.
We loved the Toy Story ride at Hollywood Studios and the 3D Muppet movie, although your favorite ride was the Star Tours ride (much to your Daddy's delight).
Lunch at Hollywood Studios was a super fun meal at the Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater, where we were seated in classic cars and entertained by old, horrible movies that were supposed to be scary but were really funny. You threw your arm around your Dad and loved the whole thing.
One of the nights, I went to bed early to get ready for my race while you and your Daddy headed to Epcot for the evening. You toured the aquarium and saw a Nemo show. In comparison with some of our other adventures it doesn't sound like a lot, but when anyone asks you which park was your favorite, you say Epcot. I think you felt like a very big girl getting to stay up past your bedtime and be in the parks after dark with your Daddy.
Animal Kingdom was a lot of fun and was where you picked out your souvenir from the trip - a stuffed flying fox bat named Foxy. You proudly flew her all around the park, and I'd hear people around us remark, "Of all the things she could've picked - what IS that thing?" Part of me wanted to shoot them dirty looks because I hoped they weren't making you feel badly for having unusual (and adorable) tastes in toys. I happen to love this about you. But you seemed to enjoy the extra attention you got for having chosen something unique, so all was well.
Animal Kingdom has an area called DinoLand USA which was right up your alley. You loved the triceratops ride and the corythosaurus playground area.
But you were stunned, absolutely stunned to see this giant T-Rex fossil statue which is a replica of your beloved Sue, the T-Rex at the Field Museum in Chicago. The look on your face says it all - this dinosaur is your Justin Bieber.
I hope you will be able to remember this trip as you grow older. I know these are special memories I will always treasure.
I love you very much sweet girl.