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I'm Nadine. Thanks for stopping by. The floors are creaky, the kids are loud, but the door's always open and the coffee's always on.

Make yourself at home.

Three Years Old!

Three Years Old!

Dearest Ursula, You are (finally) three.

You’ve been waiting for this, eagerly anticipating your “birthday party in June” for months. You had it all planned out: we would have a cake with candles. You would blow them out after we sang “Happy Birthday”. We would clap.

When it came time to blow out the candle, however, you panicked and made Daddy and I do it for you. We offered to let you try again the next day, but you said, “No, thank you.”

Every year, I try to capture you with a few words, but it’s harder this year.

You’re…more. Of everything.

You’re cautious and adventurous and creative and a little shy.

You’re a bundle of hugs and cuddles and hide-and-seek in the kitchen. A cookie connoisseur with the desperate need to paint, make pasta out of Play-Doh, collect sticks and dig at weeds, and, most often “do something else…now!” when the rest of us are happy as we are.

Today you learned to whisk eggs.

You wish you lived at the park. You've mastered the big-kid ladders at the playground, and proudly proclaim that you’re “making friends” when other children take turns at the slide.

Yesterday you brought a stick to the park. Because there are bongo drums there and you needed a drumstick.

The easiest way to make your day: pack a picnic. Or just have one in the living room. Food tastes better on the ground.

Sometimes you walk confidently beside me, barely acknowledging my existence. Other times you hold my hand the whole way. But if you had your way, you'd always ride in the stroller. “Gibby in the carrier" you announce, bossing me around as only the eldest child can.

Last week, we were walking home from the park, hand-in-hand, when we approached a man walking a large dog. You were on my left, closest to the animal. Without either of us saying a word, you loosened your grip and I took a step ahead of you so you could slip behind me and take my right hand. We made the exchange without missing a beat — and kept walking home. I was so proud of us in that moment, Sully, of our unspoken understanding.

“I got you, babe.” No one says that sweeter than you do. I got you, too, babe.

At bedtime, after Daddy tucks you in, you wait patiently for me to finish putting your brother to bed. Eventually I knock on your door, then climb into bed beside you for “cuddles" and a song or two. Sometimes it’s “Jesus Loves Me.” Sometimes it’s the theme song to “True and the Rainbow Kingdom.” And then we tell each other that we love each other “this much,” starting with our fingers pressed together as if we don’t love each other at all, and expanding until our arms are outstretched as high as they’ll go…until one of us grabs one of those arms and pulls it down into a huge hug.

You understand “love cheese” — the slice of cheese you get from the person making dinner. “I love you!” you shout as you take your cheese and run into the living room, often with a spare slice to share with the parent who isn’t doing meal prep.

You have a stubborn streak and have perfected both the sulk and the scream. You can dissolve into tears over anything — but sometimes it’s a performance that stops as fast as it starts. (Daddy caught you crying in front of a mirror once. So there's that.)

Your timeout spot is at the bottom of the stairs. You sit there until you’re ready to apologize. You usually do so quickly and sweetly.

You cry when you think you’ve hurt your brother.

You tell me you’re “not happy” when you’re in the middle of tears. You often say “I’m tired” to justify the waterworks. If you’re scared or stressed in public or at someone’s house, you tell me you need to use the potty as your code for “get me out of here.”

I get it. I get you.

If I’m stressed, in tears, or sighing in frustration, you ask, “What’s wrong, Mommy?” in a sweet way that makes everything okay. And then you yell "Huggies!" and attack me with your unconditional love.

You get me.

You’re enamoured with the big girl down the street. You even invited her over one afternoon (without consulting me first, but whatever). You were so proud to show her your things.

You love pancakes, and expect them to be served with “cream and fruit.”

You finally own an umbrella. Rainy days are so much better now.

You make the best faces, nailing "surprised," "grumpy," "sad" and "happy" on demand.

You like our yellow front door and yell “our house!” whenever we get near.

You know where to get free stickers at the market. And the grocery store.

You think your brother is "so little and cute." You bring him toys when he's fussy and share your blueberries with him at breakfast.

You read the Canadian Tire catalogue like it’s Vogue. You're still not impressed with the lack of scooter in your life.

You have an impressive catch, throw and kick.

You love riding in the car carts at Lowe’s and Home Depot. So much so, that you sometimes cry if we’re not “going to buy hooks.”

You have three dresses and you wear them in very frequent rotation, especially the sweater dress that is way too warm for June. You covet jewelry. The peacock wings you got for your birthday were an immediate hit. And your favourite part of getting a haircut is the little "treasures" — combs and clips — that come home with you.

You've discovered nightgowns.

You wish you had Queen Elsa hair.

You picked out your princess helmet and love your new tricycle. You'll master pedalling soon, I'm sure of it.

Sometimes you interrupt dinner conversations with an aggressive “I love you!” targeted at your dad. It's the perfect interruption. We can't shut it down or ignore it. You win.

You once cried because “I don’t have guitar!” You have one now, child. I heard you playing an original tune about Gilbert this morning. “I make a song!”

In the car, you request “Disney music.” You shout out the name of the movie each song is from. If you don’t know the song, you ask which movie it’s from — and you remember what we tell you.

You know how to use the remote — and my phone — almost better than I do.

Lately you’ve been having nightmares. You calm down quickly, but it always breaks my heart to see you so upset and disoriented in the middle of the night.

This week, you went to the dentist for the first time. You climbed onto the chair, put on pink sunglasses, opened your mouth wide and let the dentist clean your teeth without making a peep. Then you gargled and spit out the toothpaste — since when?! — and thanked her for your new toy and "toothbrush treasure!" I was overwhelmed with pride, marvelling at the little woman you've become.

You can recognize your own name in print. You can count to (almost) 30. You know your shapes — "Octagon!" — and, at the breakfast table, know that K-A-S-H-I spells Kashi. "I love Kashi."

And you're right: sometimes eating pistachios in front of Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood really is the best way to spend a rainy afternoon.

We love you more than you'll ever know, baby girl. (Trust me. It's a lot.)

Enjoy three. And don't worry, you'll be four soon enough. And there will be more cake.

Related: Ursula at one. And two. And her birth story.

Weekend Reading Vol 16: Sleepless in Seattle Turns 25

Weekend Reading Vol 16: Sleepless in Seattle Turns 25