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Oh, Pittsburgh.

As she moves closer and closer to Five, I loosen my grip on the chains that hold her close to me.

A dose of common sense has settled under her skin, and with it comes a healthy fear of cars and the understanding that wandering too far would be problematic.

So, I let her freely explore as I stand back and watch.

At first she doesn't know where to start her adventure as she is overwhelmed by all of the sights and sounds that envelop her.

Then, with a grin, she belts out, "I LOVE PITTSBURGH!" She stretches her arms out wide and gives her city a hug.

Is it genetic? Or does her love of the city that holds my heart come from experience? Is it that it's inevitable to love Pittsburgh once you've set eyes on it and allowed it into your soul?

She doesn't care. All she knows is that there is an ice rink RIGHT THERE and she wants to skate.

We have arrived at the rink unprepared, so I promise her that we will return another day to skate. For now, we'll just have to explore what's around the ice.

She is unfazed by the restriction as there is a plethora of sights and sounds and things to love. And, "LOOK! PENGUINS!" she declares before darting off to another part of the square.

Her heart is a song, music courses through her veins, and in that moment of silence and freedom, she lets the rhythm of her soul take over. Right then, right there, she breaks into dance.

Wild, reckless, uninhibited dance.

People stop what they are doing to watch her, perhaps admiring her freedom and awkward beauty.

She pays them no mind, instead pausing to fuss at a button on her sweater.

In a blink, the moment of calm is gone and she is off running, chasing new heights.

She finds a bench and declares it her stage, once again resuming her wild and crazy dance.

She wiggles and shakes, clearly enjoying the little spotlight she has cast on herself. She grins at strangers who have stopped to watch her show, even posing as one photographs her.

"I'm Four," she tells the woman with the blue coat.

"Not for long, my dear, not for long," I think.

She finishes her performance with a flourish, a giant leap and a "TA-DAAAH!" off the bench.

And she's done. She has worked up an appetite and says her belly thinks dinner needs to happen RIGHT NOW.

"Can I take one more picture?" I ask. I want to remember that I was here, too.

She obliges with a flourish.

And off we go, hand-in-hand, breathlessly talking about the city we love.

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Reader Comments (33)

Your daughter is a DIVA-in-training! She is too adorable!!! Love the pics =)

January 4, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterVivian

Michelle, this is really beautiful. You have the heart of a poet.

January 4, 2011 | Unregistered Commentertiffany harkleroad


I love you both. I can't wait for our two to enjoy a day together.

January 4, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterFireMom

This is potentially my favorite of any of your posts. You were definitely inspired, and it is easy to see why! It gave me chills! bravo bravo bravo :)

January 4, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterBurghLiving

Is it possible to love a child you've never met, of a mother you've never met? Yes. Yes it is. This is a spectacular post about a spectacular girl!! Love to you both!!

January 4, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJill

She gets more beautiful (inside and out) every day!

January 4, 2011 | Unregistered Commentertehamy

She is so awesome.

January 4, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJen

Beautiful post. I get like that about Pittsburgh sometimes, too. :-)

January 4, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterkdiddy

This is why I've always loved A and you. Such a beautiful post. She's going to be a great, beautiful, strong girl as she grows up. I'm so happy to call A and you my friends. So glad she's out of that shy thing... Now to think of a birthday present I can make for her... Hmmmm...

January 4, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterClaire

Great storyline in this post, it was a pleasure to follow along. And the range of emotions she went through (and you caught) was pretty cool too. I do worry a tad about the bench dancing though ;)

January 4, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMirth

I forgot to add that the dress A is wearing is gorgeous. I want one for myself and Little C. And then we'll have a big party. Somewhere in between. A fancy dress party... (dreams, I haz them)

January 4, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterClaire

OMw how special are these photos!! Hope you're going to frame some of them

January 5, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJeanette Verster

This was awesome. She is awesome. And you are awesome for just letting her be herself.

January 5, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterLisa J.

Picture #9 is perfection. Love this post, and I plan to take Dylan skating. Do you know how long the tree will be up?

January 5, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJen

I love PPG at Christmas. I didn't get down there this year, even though I was nagged repeatedly to take the boys to the glass castle. There is something thoroughly magical about that space when the tree and rink is up. I completely understand the dancing.

January 5, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterScully

She gets more beautiful every day -- inside AND out. You're doing good, lady.

January 5, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMadame Queen

She is fantastic. But then, you already knew that! Thanks for sharing it with the rest of us.

And, you've inspired me to start bringing my GOOD camera everywhere.

January 5, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterRobyn

I love, love, LOVE this post.

Emily loves the city and is always asking me to take her. We're going to a show in a couple of weeks and I have been considering getting a hotel room (her most requested city activity is to get a hotel room & spend the night downtown). I think this post just convinced me I have to.

January 5, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterGina

What a tremendous post! Looks like The Shy is long gone.

PPG Plaza totally knocks me out, and I'm a grownup. (sort of) One can only imagine how magical it appears to a child. Well... I guess we don't have to imagine... we can see it right here.

January 5, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterbluzdude

Wonderful! She is truly a Burgh Baby! You are such a great mom.

January 5, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMia

Those pictures of her are divine. I'm guessing they depict her personality spot-on!

January 5, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterpatois

Such an amazing post. Meeting the both of you was one of the major highlights of my Winter Classic weekend.

January 5, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterKylie

I'm in love with the picture of her fussing with her sweater. She may be turning five, but she still looks so little among her surroundings! Really great post!

January 5, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterEmily

Please remember to archive this post in your "Best Of" section.

January 5, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterScott

I hope she never loses sight of all that's special about her. And if she does, I hope she has the wherewithall to look back on these posts and remember herself. Because obviously, she is someone AMAZING, becoming ever more Alexis-y every day.

January 5, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterKatie in MA

I LOVE you.

And? I totally want to come to Pittsburgh and love your city. I'm thinking I'll need a guide. Care to take the position? ;)

January 5, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterKellie

i love her.

and i adore you.

and i loved pittsburgh too.

the end.

January 5, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterthe planet of janet

Years ago I had a little dancer just like Alexis. She grew up dancing and attending Point Park as a dance major. Thanks so much for sharing your dancer and Pittsburgh sights with me.
I love Pittsburgh, too!!!

January 5, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterBette's Bags

This was such a sweet posting! And it didn't hurt that I am an ardent Penguin fan!

January 5, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterSusan

This post made me tear up. Partially because I LOVE that kids are so uninhibited. I love that they aren't self conscious. And I hate that that will come to an end all too soon. And partially because it reminded me that I will likely not be able to share my love that the city (or any city since we dwell in suburb land) very fully with my girls. It is a fabulous city.

January 5, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMichelle Smiles

This might be my favorite post since I found your blog. The photos....oh my. You've captured such a mixture of little girl and, dare I say it, young lady. She has come a long way from The Shy!

Good job, Mom!

January 6, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterLeslie

You are brilliant. I think I love you. I am so with you on the ways that we choose to look at life. I am SO glad that THIS is the life you choose. I couldn't see you raising her any other way.

January 6, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterDina

This post is full of so much awesome. And she is beautiful. I love the storytelling style of this post, and all that the story conveys.

Definitely a "Best Of."

January 12, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterDave (Scrumpy Daddy)
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