Matty Man,

Rather than get overly sentimental (because you know I can in a split second), I wanted to celebrate all of the amazing things you did this year. You accomplished a lot!

You learned to recognize almost all of your letters and so many numbers.

You learned to write your name (yes, I cried).

You fell in love with, and learned the lyrics to, two Tom Petty songs (RIP Tom) and memorized one badass Kesha song that you sing perfectly (Mom and Dad are both proud).

You showcased your innate sense of rhythm (I will never tire of watching you dance).

You took a very intense interest in River Monsters which helped foster another (probably inevitable) interest in fishing (Dad is so excited).

You started tee-ball (you and I both glow with pride after every game).

You fell in love with the Hawkeyes (YES), rode the Hawkeye train and met Kirk Ferentz (legend) but, even more importantly, you met and had a very awesome non-verbal discussion with Herky (am I right?!)!

You showed your brother kindness — time and time again — when he deserved to get pummeled (smart choice in the long run, though, because he is for sure going to beat someone up in your defense someday).

You always thought of your friends — whether it was insisting we save William a donut on Sunday morning (even though we had no idea when we’d see him next) or mistaking your brother’s four-wheeler for William’s when you got them for Christmas.

You hugged with your whole heart.

You snuggled away the frustrations of a long day.

You debated — and won!

You compromised.

You negotiated.

You lit up our home and our lives (more times than I can count).

You made me laugh when no one else could have.

You made me cry — only happy tears.

You made me laugh until I cried.

And you kept us all sane.

You were, and have been, the cornerstone of our lives (all three of ours) for as long as we’ve known you.

You were and are the best big guy I could imagine calling mine.

You’re so excited to turn four and while it’s making my transition into our fourth chapter that much harder, it’s also making it that much more exciting.

Happy birthday. Here’s to another year of adventuring and learning with you. Please don’t ever change.

Your #1 fan,