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Willa arrives

Willa decides that 3 days post dates is too long, and so, much to mom’s relief, pokes a hole in amniotic sac as mom and dad walk through Cherry Creek Arts Festival and into the Tattered Cover. She arrives in our lives in 2004 in the early morning hours following Independence Day.

Willa is in no rush

Willa does things at her own pace, taking her time to sit-up, crawl, walk, talk, and even to grow teeth. She often finds it more interesting to sit in her highchair, watching the silly adults or turning her attention to an art project.

Baby sister Harper arrives

Baby sister Harper is a pretty neat addition, although a little less so when she is able to reach and claim surrounding objects. Willa decides that Harper is worthy of her prized possession, baby doll “bubby.” To this day, Harper separates herself from Bubby only on rare occasions.

Willa Shows Harper table manners

We’re not sure where she got it from, but Willa likes everything “just so” on her plate and at the table. Napkins are essential, and hands must not get sticky. Each section of the plate is meant to be filled with a different food item. Unimaginably, at times maple syrup on french toast is turned away, as the hands cannot get sticky.

Harper has a different perspective on family dinners

Short on words but strong on opinions, Harper shows disapproval by hurling food, plates, and reachable objects. Bad behavior deserves consequences, but, like Willa, we sometimes find it hard to suppress a giggle.

Willa’s sense of style

A “wife-beater” tank top to start, followed by arm warmers, leg warmers, bright colored garments, more than 1 necklace, maybe some lip gloss and sprinkles for the face, and, of course, some sort of hat. Toughest job for dad: finding a mutually acceptable outfit and arriving to pre-school on time.

Show me a beach without sand and water

Grandma Sony watches Harper in Denver, while Willa (age 2 and ½) heads to the Mayan Riviera beach with mom and dad. At first she likes everything, except for being anywhere near sand or water. By the end, things have changed: mom and dad have to draw straws to see who will take Willa “again” into the frigid pool.

Willa travels with her entourage

Willa comforts and prepares her companions for their trips to Children’s Hospital. Receptionist Gail makes Willa and her friends feel at ease by giving name tags to her babies, Oscar and Oscar’s twin sister, Frank, Sarafina Peccala, Julie, and the many others. Being ill is stressful, but Willa skillfully dresses Oscar’s wounds, accesses his port, and knows just what to say to calm him.

Friends and family celebrate Willa’s courage at her Hero’s Party

In recent months Willa takes on various personae from her stories and assigns identities to the people around her, often in rapid succession. Harper is at times baffled. Willa decides that people should really come in Disney costume to make it a true Hero’s Party. Princesses and princes, creatures from Alice’s Wonderland, and an impressive array of characters arrive at the ball. Mid-party, Harper seizes the moment, stripping off her shirt and insisting that the face painter decorate her belly. Willa glows in Mom’s arms as the crowd honors her with one of her favorites, “For she’s a jolly good fellow.”

Disney Land: a dream come true

Make a Wish Foundation chauffers Willa to Disney Land where princesses fawn over her. It is a land of endless possibilities where (isn’t this everyone’s experience?) amusement rides have no lines; turkey legs are as big as Harper; and popcorn and cotton candy flow freely (although dad has trouble locating a beer). Willa chooses to extend the first day to 11 pm to see the Parade of Lights. She tries all rides in the Magic Kingdom, including the roller coaster and braves the ever-so “scary eyes” in Snow White’s Crazy Adventure. Cinderella’s Wicked Stepmother tries to stay stern when Willa asks her in her dreamy, innocent voice “Do you have any chores for me?”

Water submersion and yoga in Hawaii: it doesn’t get much better

No longer afraid of sand or water, Willa dons flippers, fins, and a mask, and rarely leaves (i.e. is pried away from) the ocean, beach, and water. Willa has always been up for trying new yoga poses, but naturally sits in Hero’s Pose when she plops down in the sand. Cousins and family add to the excitement, and we occasionally come up for air, food, and sleep.

Willa stays in our hearts forever

“Where’s Willa?” Harper often asks. In fact, Willa’s spirit surrounds us every day. We feel her presence when a little girl strolls by in candy-cane leg warmers; when we treat ourselves to popcorn and a video; when the yoga class takes Hero’s Pose; or when we find ourselves engrossed in a tale. Willa stays in our hearts and warms our souls forever.

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