Dear Beautiful Girl - Girl of Cardigan

Dear Beautiful Girl –

You became a child in the moments I wasn’t looking – while I slept, or wrote, or there were dishes to clean.  Otherwise, surely I would have seen the shadows of your baby self fluttering from your face, witnessed the shrinking of the infant creases in your wrists and the disappearance of dimples on your knuckles.  Surely I would have noticed the moment the top of your head began to smell of sunshine and wet soil and Playdoh and strawberries instead of that unnamable new baby perfume. I would have captured each fragile moment of your metamorphosis, frozen and kept them, written each of them down. Surely I must have been sleeping. Surely I must have been doing. Because look at you, beautiful magical child of a girl.

Look at you.

The Second Year - Girl of Cardigan

There is a core of fire that runs in you, a deep and profound confidence, a sureness of self that you wear in your eyes and your tiny new voice and your goofiest smile.  It is the thing that holds you, that stands you on your feet in rooms of strangers, meeting their eyes, holding their hands, singing them songs.  It is the vault of your secrets, the part of you that waits to reveal what you are learning, what you are seeing, what you know, until you have it all mastered and the moment is safe and specific and completely yours. You trust your own timing. You carve your own way. You meet strangers from a place within your spirit that knows its own worth and trusts the God-thing in new faces, the potential for love, the desire to play.

I envy this in you, the Fableness of you.  I watch it, and learn it, and let you teach it to me.

The Second Year - Girl of Cardigan

You, at two, are generous with kisses.  You are prone to spontaneous bursts of enthusiastic hugging.  You are fully convinced that life is not worth living unless we stop and dance whenever you feel the rumble of heavy bass.  You love your grandparents and aunts so passionately that occasionally, when they are not with you, we must yell their names in car at the top of our lungs, a lament to the heavens for the brutal injustice of their absence.  You are convinced that all food falls into one of two categories: soup or cake.  You prefer the latter.

And somewhere within you is a magic bit, a fiery core, a sureness.  I watch it, and learn it, and let you teach it to me.

The Second Year - Girl of Cardigan

You love Daniel Tiger with a love that borders on obsession.  You take fantastic care of your babies, kissing and wearing and tucking them in.  The sight of a bus sends you into literal spasms of joy.  You call all the trucks and trains and trolleys “Toot.”  You still laugh whenever the wind hits just right.  You still take my face in your hands like you’ve been trying and trying to tell me something I haven’t understood.  You still prefer to fall asleep on the back of my neck or lying with our noses touching, eye to eye.  Your feet no longer fit in the palms of my hands.  Your feet used to fit in the palms of my hands.

You are still the thing for which I am most profoundly grateful, still the someone who drives me to ground and renew and trust and seek after my maker, still my very best girl.

The Second Year - Girl of Cardigan

My promise to you, tiny beautiful magical child of a girl, is to name the sureness in you, to remind you of it, to feed it and nurture it and help it to grow.

Happy Birthday to you, my most beautiful girl.  I have loved every minute of your second year on earth, and I promise you that I will love every minute of every year with you that follows, even the hardest minutes, the angriest, the bleakest.  You and I will continue to work our way through our imperfect days – we will rely on grace, we will cling to each other, we will celebrate.

We will measure always, always, always in love.

The Second Year - Girl of Cardigan
image by Shannon Hannon Photography

Girl of Cardigan

A note to you, reader: Some day, our girl will come back and read these letters – I’d love for her to know the names of the friends and strangers who have watched her grow.  Now is the moment to let us know you’re here!  Please leave your wishes for Fabes in the comment section below, so I can share them with her, as I have shared her with you.  



  • Oma November 3, 2014 at 9:20 pm

    Sweetest wonder, we love you so much. You have grown up so fast, right before our eyes. Potty trained and talking and speaking with new words each time we see you.
    You are a delight. And I shed tears as I read what your devoted mama has written about you. You enchant us.

  • Jill Smyth November 3, 2014 at 9:29 pm

    Happy Birthday Fable Genevieve <3

    It was our pleasure and delight to spend this morning with you at the zoo, seeing the animals and watching you walk hand in hand with my own beautiful girl. Thank you for being the brave, beautiful being you are and for being right where you are in space and time. I feel so, so grateful to have you in our proximity little lady. xoxo.

  • Tehlor Kinney November 3, 2014 at 9:49 pm

    oh Fable! oh Karyn! how we have loved journeying this journey with you, even though we haven’t often done it in person (so far).

    thank you for inspiring these moments, for recording them, for so often saying the things I most need to hear. the things I wish I had said.

    you are both so strong and hopeful and brave and we appreciate you from afar all the time, though we hope to play in real life more during the third year than we did the second.

    happy birthday lovely girl, and happy birth-day lovely mama! here’s to another happy year 🙂

  • Kailani November 3, 2014 at 9:57 pm

    Oh Karyn, thank you for allowing us to witness and live valicariously through your beautiful words and gorgeous love.

    Fabes – You are one blessed little being and I cannot wait to see you again and enjoy the amazing little being you are.

    Much love!

  • Amma November 4, 2014 at 1:02 am

    Dearest Fable, there is no way to describe the joy that fills me each time I hear your sweet voice call out my very favorite name, the name you gave me. Amma. (I especially like the French version that comes out now and then – Am-MA!)
    The time between visits is too long – there are so many changes to catch up with each time we see you. You are such an amazing little person now!
    Your mother is creating such a beautiful gift for you as she writes these blogs. Through her gifted words we all get to experience a little glimpse of your fantastic journey.
    I can’t wait to share in all the adventures year 3 will bring! Love you bunches! Amma

  • ewwhitehead November 4, 2014 at 3:30 am

    Happy Birthday, Beautiful Girl!


    Eric, Kristin, and Taylor

  • Jess November 4, 2014 at 6:23 am

    Beautiful! My little girl will be 2 in March and this spoke to my heart and brought tears to my eyes. Thank you for sharing your precious girl and heartfelt words with us!

  • Jenna Lee November 4, 2014 at 8:08 am

    Beautiful Girl, these letters from your momma make me ache to have my own little girl, and they fill me with a teetering wonder. Will I be able to capture my own children the way your mother captures your essence, your Fableness? You’re lucky, so lucky to have the gift of your mother’s love in words.
    Happy Birthday!

  • Janice Christman November 4, 2014 at 8:39 am

    I would love to be there when Fable begins the wonderful journey of reading these wonderful tributes to her! What a loving and beautiful joy she will feel, I know that, because I feel it now!

  • Sonja November 4, 2014 at 9:13 am

    Happy Birthday, Beautiful Girl! I am a momma of a beautiful boy about 6 month younger than you. I am so thankful to have stumbled across your momma’s uncanny ability to transform the wonder of parenthood and babies into the written word. Her honesty, grace and candor about this journey has validated many of my own worries, squishy belly thoughts, triumphs, and parenting woes. Most frequently, the letters bring a smile to my face and a warmth to my heart as I know, while we are hundreds of miles apart and will likely never meet, we are all in it together. And as momma’s, and humans on this earth, the best thing we can do is support one another. Thanks to you, beautiful girl, for being the pivot point for this connection.

  • Kelley November 4, 2014 at 11:02 am

    Oh Fabes!

    How we all love you so much. Even though we only get to see you once a year, it is the best experience each time. From your beautiful mama’s belly to your gorgeous baby smile to recently seeing you run circles around my own 1-year-old son… are a bundle of pure joy! Both your mom & dad love and adore you more than can be said. And I can’t even begin to tell you how often I have sat with tears in my eyes & a huge smile on my face reading these wonderful blogs that your mom puts so much of her heart into. Always know that you will always be loved… by many, many people!

    Happy Birthday Beautiful Girl!

    Love, Auntie Kelley, Uncle Ben, & Baby Sean

  • Marie November 6, 2014 at 1:48 am

    I thought all of this as I watched my first daughter change. At 4 years old I search her face, her form, her voice for any trace of the baby she was. Those cheeks are still a little soft, but those long, lean legs negate the cheeks. She is wholly little girl. So when I look at my just-past-two year old, her babyness is such a precious contrast. Her legs still curl up when I throw her in the air. When she cuddles into my chest, there’s still a melting unlike her sister’s angles and individuality. At 2, Tara was a little girl, at 2 Samantha is my baby. I don’t mean to do this. And much of it is personality. Tara has always wanted to go, do, see, try, and DO IT MYSELF. Samantha is my cuddler. She wants to share. She is stubborn but sweet. The glory of motherhood is to simultaneously rejoice and mourn each minute transformation. To applaud and record and remember the firsts while at the same time almost wishing they hadn’t happened. Fable, your mama’s love is strong enough to help you grow into the woman who will read these words, but don’t forget, when you are that woman, to go back to her, sit on the couch, lean your head on her shoulder and give her the gift of your presence. And Karyn, thank you once again for putting my thoughts into the words I would use if I could. This year, this 2-3, is one of my very favourites. It’s so fun. You are in for some glorious times!

  • Karen November 6, 2014 at 8:00 am

    This: “Your feet used to fit in the palms of my hands.” So much, this. I have a little girl just a few months older than Fable and I cannot believe that her feet no longer fit in the palms of my hands. I honestly spend so much time thinking about this. Such a blur.

    Happy birthday, Fable! You babies grow up too quickly, but your mamas are all so happy to be part of it. Even if we can’t hold your feet in our hands anymore. 🙂

  • Aunt Nina November 19, 2014 at 8:13 pm


    You are such a special little person and I love to hear all the new words that you so recently discovered. You spent the night with me two weeks ago for the first time and we had a great time. You chased the cat around and petted him gently when he was cornered, we read lots of books and played with the barrel of monkeys. I love that you call animals by their sounds, not their names. Chickens are “clucks”, cats are “maows” and, my favorite, monkeys are, “oo oo ah”. When I say “waka waka!” you repeat it for as long as I’ll play. You hug with enthusiasm, smile enormously and have completely captured my heart. I love watching you grow!

    Aunt Nina

  • Bethany M. December 14, 2014 at 9:29 am

    This is so beautifully written, and so incredibly raw. Thank you for sharing with us all your beautiful writing style, and thoughts. Hope she had a wonderful Birthday!

  • Julia January 23, 2015 at 11:22 am

    I love and appreciate every word of this beautiful letter! My first grandchild is turning two today so I forwarded this letter to my daughter, her momma. Thank you for sharing your heart!