I thought we'd just completed your school project, the show-and-tell for your 2-year milestones last year.
And then, suddenly, you've turned 3.
It has been a year of change, and in fact not a smooth-sailing one at all.
We were also expecting the Terrible Twos, and for sure, there had been a few terrible moments.
But really, the year has turned out to be more Terrific than Terrible, because you've been such a sweet little trooper.
We started you on full-day school at the end of February.
We had to do that, because we wanted you to get used to it sooner rather than later, in case your Yaya decided not to continue working for us.
You were resistant to the idea at first, but you adapted to the new routine in almost no time at all.
You went for Big Girl swimming classes on your own in April, and swimming remains one of your favorite activities.
You might not be the fastest or strongest swimmer in class, but you always put in your 101% effort in every task your coach assigns to you, and have a lot of fun while at it.
We sent Yaya home, and went for nearly a month without a helper.
But we had your Wai-po, Ah-ah, Ah-gong, Wai-gong and Yi-yis chipping in to take care of you.
Some nights I felt so tired and sick because of the pregnancy, some nights I couldn't play with you because I had to wash the dishes and your bottles.
Those nights, you simply took your little chair to sit down and watch me from the kitchen entrance without kicking a fuss.
Your constipation woes started and got worse back then.
It was painful for you, and stressful for us.
But we've pulled through it.
You met your little sister at Dr Tham's clinic for the first time in May.
Though you were more interested in the toy cars and chocolate biscuit from the doctor's office.
But you soon got the idea of being Jiejie Clarissa and started embracing it.
You became the proud owner of your very own fire truck bed in July.
This is part of the plan as you become a big Jiejie.
"I sleep in the truck, Meimei sleep in the cot because she's small," you'd say.
You performed for the first time on a big stage, in front of a big audience.
Nervous and looking out for us at first, but you did all your moves and told me how you'd like to perform again next year.
Have I told you already, how proud I am of you?
We are so, so happy to see you enjoying and thriving in school.
One of the best moments this year has been hearing from your teachers, how much you have grown in the 6 months since you started full-day school, and how you are the most well-behaved student in class.
You've been a pretty awesome little traveller too!
You follow instructions and make the best out of plane rides.
You love taking care of our passports and have worked up the courage to say your name to the immigration officers.
You are always eager to start the day and everyday you'd ask us, "What are we doing today?"
We love how much you love adventures, how excited you are, zooming around new places, taking in new sights, and turning them into your own brand of fun.
Sometimes you'd ask Daddy, Daddy what is this?
And Daddy would answer, this is a xxx (depending on what it is).
You'd repeat his answer, MUMMY! This is xxx!
And run off to the next station before we can react.
You love staycations too!
In fact, after our ice-cream date yesterday, you asked us with a sparkle in your eyes, "Are we going to the hotel now?"
I guess there is something about the cozy rooms, unlimited access to the swimming pool, the possibility of having ice-cream, and spending time with us, that makes you love hotel stays.
You started asking tougher questions whenever Mummy went on business trips.
"Where are you Mummy?"
"Why are you working?"
"When are you coming home?"
Being away is always hard, but the photos from Daddy and video calls with you always make me smile.
Everyday we learn new things about you, and from you.
It's amazing to see so many sides of you.
Cheeky yet thoughtful.
Extroverted but shy.
Bossy, yet asks for permission and follows instructions.
Inquisitive, and observant.
Sometimes you speak like an adult, but at bedtime you become a little girl who wants to hold Daddy's or Mummy's hand to sleep.
Sometimes you really want to do certain things, but you always ask for permission, and more importantly you are able to take no for an answer.
And sometimes you would suggest "How about.." as an alternative solution or compromise, and take me by surprise.
Sometimes you pretend to cry and then burst out laughing and exclaiming, "Haha I so drama!"
Sometimes you make fun of your Meimei's name and allocate the back seat to her, but most of the time, you talk about how you are going to take care of her.
Like how you would sing to her and feed her dinner.
Or how you will push her around in the stroller because you are taller.
Or that you will feed her ginseng water before she goes for injections.
Or how you will ask Daddy to buy toys for her if she's a good girl.
Or how, when she becomes taller and taller, you will let her ride on your bicycle.
Even though you have taken over some of her toys for now and told us, "This is Meimei's toy but I play first." 😂😆
We've not really taught you what it takes to be a Jie-jie but it looks like you've already thought of all the possible scenarios and what you'd do.
I love how you say good morning to her or tell her "hello Meimei I'm back!" when you come home from school.
You'd tell her not to be naughty or to stop kicking Mummy when you see that I'm feeling uncomfortable.
I can't wait for the two of you girls to meet.
You make the best out of situations, such as putting on a scarf and telling us you are a pretty girl, when we were stuck in a 2-3 hour traffic jam, in between an angry Ah-gong, a grumpy Daddy and a very uncomfortable Mummy.
You love listening to stories and request for the same ones – Moana, Princess, Finding Dory, Let it go, Minions – over and over again.
You make up your own songs and laugh at them.
You pretend to make coffee, ice cream and dinner for us, using whatever surprise egg shell or minion figurine you have.
You love the 730pm show's theme song. Not only do you dance along to it, you can sing the entire song – in Chinese no less.
Watching YouTube videos (or Peppa pig) is almost a daily treat for you, but you always keep to your side of the promise and gladly return the tablet when you finish the 2 videos we've agreed upon.
You love having people over to spend time with you, and would often ask me, "Why nobody come to my place today?" Or wonder out loud, "What are my Yi-yis doing now?"
It's like you've suddenly become brave and gregarious, when just a few months ago you were so reserved and afraid of even looking at whoever you were afraid of (hint: your Xiao Gu-gu).
You never fail to surprise me.
One evening I took you out on my own to meet my friends, and not only did you behave well and answered all their questions (shyly), you also talked non-stop during the cab rides there and back.
I love listening to you talk about school.
Sometimes you tease me by telling me you've done nothing for the day.
Sometimes you tell me about a classmate who has been naughty and not listening to your teacher, and you sound so indignant about it.
Sometimes you tell me about your interaction with Ah-gong when he picks you up (and how exasperated you are with his impatience 😂).
As a mother there is so much I think I need to teach you, and I'm always worried about not being able to do it right, or to do the right things.
Yet sometimes, you turn out to be the one teaching me new things and making me see things in a new light.
Like how if you like something, it's ok to keep liking it, go for the same flavour and stick to it.
And that sharing it doubles the joy.
You define your own fun and play your own game, and you bask in it.
Sing like no one is listening,
Love like you’ve never been hurt.
Dance like nobody’s watching,
Live like it’s heaven on earth.
Thank you for showing me how simple it can be.
Thank you for reserving the brightest sparkle in your eyes and giving us your brightest smile whenever we pick you up from school, or return home after a long day at work.
Thank you for being so protective of me, and your Daddy, and the people and things you love.
Thank you for always holding my hand when you see that I need help.
Thank you for making me laugh, intentionally and unintentionally.
Thank you for being you.
And full of (your own) ideas and opinion.
Turning 4 is going to be equally fun and exciting and challenging as it has been turning 3.
There is so much for us to do.
Such as, weaning you off forlax, and seeing that you can poop properly on your own (Oh, the poop stories).
Such as, toilet training.
Such as, not getting up at 3am to come and sleep on Mummy's bed (hint: now). 😂
Such as, becoming Jiejie Clarissa.
I hope you continue to be the little explorer that you are.
Have your own opinion, while still listening to others.
Continue to love your waffles and ice-cream and fries.
(While also eating proper food, please.)
And never lose your sense of wonder and adventure.
Happy 3 years young to you, and to us.
We love you, very very much.