(how old Nikolai will say he is if we coach him--if we ask him point blank, he says he's "forty-nine-six," whatever that means!)
It is somewhat shocking to think that, three years ago today, we had only just met you! Well, I had sort-of-kind-of known you for a little while, kicking around (and hiccuping a ton) in my belly for 9 months, but getting to meet you face to face was something completely different.
That first day, we had no idea what the future had in store for us: not how little (or how poorly) we'd sleep for the next 6 months, nor how your every accomplishment, from smiling to rolling over to sitting on your own, would fill our hearts to bursting with pride. And that was just the beginning!
In the last three years, we've dealt with more poop and cracker crumbs than I think we could have ever imagined, as well as enough laughter to lift our jaded adult hearts and remind us of how much joy and goodness there is in this world.
And this last year, Nikolai? This last year has been practically magical! Sure, you've started to learn some independence, which has come with its share of temper tantrums (both yours and mine!), but for the first time this year you also told me "I wuv you too!"--and then repeated it day in and day out, to my constant joy.
You have a tender and perceptive heart and a desire to make others happy that has lifted me out of a sad mood on many occasions. When you see that I'm sad or dad is stressed, you always come over, put your hand on our knee, and say, "You ok mama/dada?"
Those moments make me realize: we're all doing this together. We care about you and you care about us, and we're going on this big adventure that we call "family" together!
Thanks for being our boy, Nikolai! We love you so much!