I wish I could have been with my family for her birthday party. Apparently she wore a black velvet outfit I bought for her last winter -- but I'm not a very observant uncle, so it didn't fit her until this year. I tried to make plans to drive out to Iowa to be there, but scheduling was difficult -- and I'll be there in a few weeks for Thanksgiving anyway. I can't wait!
While she's certainly not conversational, she's a good mimic -- and, with a little prompting, she was able to say "thank you" and "outfit" and "I love you" to me on the phone this evening. I was grinning so loud she could probably hear it.
Anyway, it's hard to imagine there are children in this world who are more loved than my niece and nephew. Those lucky little kids have the constant attention of a patient stay-at-home mommy, grandparents who would do anything for them (and who live only four blocks away, so they're often called upon to do that anything) and an extended-family network of love that stretches from the Pacific to Lake Michigan.