Today is your second birthday and this is your first birthday letter. Sorry it's late. It's earlier than your brothers', however. I can hear them in the future, bemoaning that you got more than they did because I just began this tradition. Go ahead and tell them that there are perks and drawbacks to being the baby of the family. This happens to be one of the perks.
You have been a ray of sunshine since you were born. You did everything early: smiling, rolling over, giggling, crawling, walking. Everything but talking. You and I have entirely wordless conversations. You gesture and emote and I'll answer you, "No, you cannot have another popsicle." "You're looking for blanket?" Your great Aunt Marjorie, who we saw this summer when we went up to the River, said, "She says so much without words, no wonder she's not talking yet. I understand her perfectly without them." You do say a few words: you practically sing when you say the word "happy," you hold the long e at the end as long as you can. You love to say "baby" with the same long e. Sometimes you add the long e to new words you're trying to learn. You have a wide cheesy smile when you do this.
You're the most daring child I've had yet, probably because you see your brothers climbing and jumping and wrestling and you want in on the action. That's how you began crawling just before 6 months old, following them room to room.
You and Connor have a particularly fond relationship. He has a silly high-pitched voice he does for you, he calls himself "Big bah-bah" and does a silly dance when he wants your attention. For a while, you called him this, now he call him "Bappi," which is also what we call him when you're around. I finally understand why we call my Great Uncle Ralph, Great Gramma Minnich's brother, "Boopsie." His older sisters called him "Boo-boo" when he was a baby, while they tended to the the farm house and minded him. Somehow, this morphed into "Boopsie" and eighty-odd years later, it stuck.
We call you all manner of pet names, mostly Jojo. Sometimes Bobo, Hobo Jo, Josie-Rosie-Toesie, Josephine-Jellybean. If we still call you any of these names when you are 80, rest assured, it was unintentional and meant affectionately.
We named you Josie Clara because before we had you we lost a baby we named Rosie and I don't know that I've ever been so sad not to meet someone. Your first name, Josie, means "God will add, God will increase." And he did when he gave us you. Clara came from one of my childhood heroes: Clara Barton. She was a Civil War nurse who founded the American branch of the Red Cross in a time when it was unheard of for a woman to be on the battlefield, let alone establish an international aid organization. The name itself means "bright or clear."
We want your name to be a promise for your life: that God will always add. His resources are inexhaustible. We want you to remember that you must shine your light brightly and clearly, fearlessly, hopefully, like a city on a hill. Know that no matter what, determination can overcome many obstacles and setbacks. Armed with this, you will accomplish much, whatever He's called you to.
You aren't lacking in determination. You try new skills again and again and again until you master them. All babies are fearless in this way, but your determination seems especially singular to you, like it won't leave you, like it's core to who you are.
You are sweet and silly too. You have a funny little dance you do, you wiggle your hips back and forth and back and forth. You love it when Daddy gets on the floor with you. You just learned how to somersault and jump. You and Daddy enjoy each other immensely, after dinner when Daddy comes home from a long, demanding day, you'll dance together. He'll say, "yeah girl!" and "git it, girl!" You'll smile so big, I'm afraid your face might break.
Finnly loves you too, of course, but as you supplanted him, and as you can be extremely disruptive to his Lego builds, he mostly regards you with cool indifference. Don't worry, as you grow in words and in deeds, he'll come around and I'm sure you'll goad each other on into many shenanigans that I won't hear about till you're older and out of the house.
You have a tuft of dirty blonde curls at the back of your head that I love to twirl around my fingers, when you let me, which isn't often. You're very busy.
Suffice to say, little one, you are adored from almost every angle. We can't imagine our lives without you. We love watching you grow.
Happy birthday, Jojo.
Mommy & Daddy