Tuesday, May 19, 2015

On Your 6th Birthday (A Letter to Meridian)

Happy 6th birthday to our ringlet curled, wide-eyed, quiet, plays by herself, sweet with a bit of spunk, dreamer, and snuggle bug Meridian Piper.

Oh my goodness, how in the world are you 6 years old?!? It seem unfathomable to me that the same little baby who came so quickly and unexpectedly into this world is becoming a little girl rather than the baby you once were. I remember so many nights and days walking countless hours trying to get you to sleep. I guess some things don't change being that you were our earliest one to quit napping and you still ask that daddy snuggle with you each night. I'm pretty sure daddy wouldn't have it any other way as all too soon you will be too grown up for snuggles. It doesn't happen as often anymore, but sometimes you come to our bed in the middle of the night, just to snuggle your daddy and mama. You LOVE snuggling and you are the best at finding me during the day just to get a little snuggle, or to give me a kiss and then you go back to playing. You have even nicknamed yourself the kissie monster.

This year you have started copying everything Zoelle does. When Zoelle requested eggs, hashbrowns, and bacon for her birthday breakfast, you requested the same. We were finally able to convince you to try something different, so this morning we enjoyed French Toast Bake with you. Zoelle got to go out to eat for her birthday, so you have to go out to eat for your birthday too. Sometimes I wish your birthday was just a little further apart from Zoelle's so you felt the freedom to do your own thing. I'm sure that will come in time. You have yet to lose a tooth and Zoelle already had by now, so you think you should too.

This past year you have done Kindergarten in homeschool. It has been slow going because you are such a dreamer and sometimes school is hard to do with a little sister around. The main thing you have wanted to learn this year is how to read. You were getting a little sad a few months ago that you hadn't read like Zoelle yet. I decided to let you try Bob books and you were amazed and so proud of yourself that you could actually read! My plan is to work a little more diligently on reading with you this summer. Being in Kindergarten meant that you got to be a part of our local community choir. Most of your concert was spent staring at other kids and when I asked you if you sing pretty during your class, you told me, "Well sometimes I just stare out the window at the trees mama and forget all about singing." That describes you so perfectly I had to laugh! Always my dreamer. You love playing piano and I was surprised at how natural it has come to you. You sit down and practice and remind me to always give you a piano lesson. You also quietly sing through each song you play. Speaking of singing, it seems that is something that just comes naturally to you. You aren't loud, but you listen and I often catch your eye in the car as you sing along to a song on the radio.

At 6, purple is still your favorite color! You still care about every single outfit you wear. Whether that be a play outfit, or a good outfit, you have to pick it out. This year seems to be the year of the dresses. If it isn't a fancy dress, you pout and argue with me to get your way. Sometimes I'm convinced this little side of you comes out just so we can notice you. Being in the middle is hard especially when you are naturally laid back. I often tell daddy how thankful I am for my Meridian in the middle. No matter what, you are calm and quiet. We aren't sure but your eyes may just be turning green, or maybe hazel like daddy's. You have a love for your ringlet curls and take pride in them. Your biggest worry is that someone will cut them off, but I can assure you sweetie that mama will not do that as I love them too. Your favorite food is pizza. You love playing with Lego Friends. You love to use your imagination and I often find you quietly using your imagination to play. You can play for hours by yourself, or you can play nicely with others. That is a good trait to have sweetie.  This year you and Xiomara have become buddies and play together constantly. There are sometimes fights, but most of the time you two are best friends. During Xiomara's naptime, you love to talk to our chickens. You take them on walks through the woods and talk quietly to them the whole time. When you grow up you want to be a nurse and help other people.

I have this vivid memory from a few hours after your birth in which daddy had gone out for breakfast and it was just you and I. We snuggled and I remember you just stared at me while I cooed to you and told you how much I loved you. This past year, I felt that same connection with you again. You have always been a daddy's little girl and I've always felt a bit sad that you didn't want to spend as much time with mama as you did daddy. However, sending Zoelle to school and being home with me helped me connect with you. I love sitting together and snuggling. I love watching you use your imagination as you play. You give the best backrubs ever! My favorite time spent with you Rinnie is in all the little moments put together. You ooze sweetness in everything you do and I love that sweet spirit in you. I love hearing your little scratchy laugh, and the "Uh huh" you answer in a cute little voice. The joy in my day is when you tell me, "I love my mama" and then go on to the rest of your day. Goodness, sweet little girl you melt my heart and I love you!! Please don't grow up too fast this year. Happy 6th birthday!

Monday, May 18, 2015

On Your 8th Birthday (A Letter to Zoelle)

Happy 8th Birthday to our blue-eyed, blonde hair, kind, hilarious, it has to be fair, passionate, and sensitive Zoelle Grace!

You are 8 today! 8 years ago you were this teeny tiny baby in my arms and we were learning how this whole parenting thing worked, while you were figuring out how this whole world thing worked. Kind of crazy isn't it? You will always hold a special place in my heart as the girl who made me mama. I'm convinced God specifically gave us the middle name of Grace to give to you because you are one of the most gracious, kind, forgiving little girls I know. Being you are our first, we've made a thousand mistakes with you, but you are always willing to extend grace. I love that about you.

This year is the first year you won't be home with mama on your birthday. You looked at the calendar months in advance to figure that out and there were tears shed from both of us when we realized your birthday fell on a Monday. The awesome thing is I get to take you to lunch, and I'm going to pick you up from school because I want to spend every second of your birthday with you that I can! I'm bummed it will be cold and rainy, but we will still have fun.

Zoelle made this in school a few months ago and it perfectly describes her!

This past year I've watched you change into less of a little girl and more into the pre-teen you are soon to be. Instead of that making me sad, I'm super proud of you. While I know you miss me each and everyday, you have really enjoyed going to school and it has helped you become "you" outside of who you are with mama. The kids at school love you and often wait for you in the morning to go into the classroom. You have a confidence about who you are that I hope you never lose. Most of all you treat others with kindness. I'm not sure I've seen a more empathetic and kind heart than yours. I think it is often your sensitive spirit that gives you such a kindness in your heart.

Each day you come home and spend hours curled up on the couch reading. Reading is still definitely your thing. You love to sing and play piano. In fact, we often find hidden videos on our phone of your sweet crystal clear voice singing a song just for us. When you get caught, you just giggle. You have the best giggle. Oh goodness, it makes me smile. You love to make people laugh and so you often tease me, or tell me jokes and I love hearing you laugh and laughing with you. What a joy it is to be your mama. You still take violin lessons but you aren't sure you want to take them next year because violin is hard work and it can be frustrating. I sure do love listening to you play so I'm hoping I can keep you interested still next year. You have your sights set on trying gymnastics this coming year and go around the house doing cartwheels whenever you can.

At 8, you have definitely chosen green to be your favorite color, but you still assure me that you like blue too. Your favorite food is pizza because "Mmmm, pizza is sooooo good mom!". You love to play outside, especially if I play with you too. The trampoline is a favorite of yours. Last summer you were a little fish and swam every second you could. You sometimes like to play with your sisters, but most of the time they just get in your stuff and make you mad. Your favorite thing to do is doing science experiments and you beg me each day to make a mess at the kitchen table just so you can learn more (I need to get better at saying yes to them as I love watching you learn). You like to help cook and bake. Sometime in February of this year, we noticed your hair went from wavy to curly and you aren't sure you like it that way because it is now easily knotted in the back. When you grow up you want to be a doctor, but you aren't exactly sure which kind yet. I always tease you that you would make a great lawyer as you fight for what is fair. Keep fighting for justice sweetheart because you will do great things.

My favorite moments spent with you Z are late at night when you sneak into our room because you just couldn't sleep, or you have me curl up next to you in your bed and we just talk. You LOVE to talk! I could listen to you for hours. You are expressive and I love watching your beautiful eyes light up as you tell me a story. Tonight, I snuggled into you as you read just one more chapter before it was bedtime, and I just watched you. I asked you, "Zoelle will you snuggle me like this when you are 18?" "Yes, of course I will mama", you say. "How about when you are 30?" I ask, and you answer, "I will probably always want to snuggle you and play with your hair mama." You always can sweet girl, you always can.

You are beautiful little girl, on the inside and out. I am so proud of you. I can't wait for the years to come with you, but for now I'll enjoy you still as my little 8 year old girl. Happy birthday sweetie!

Monday, May 4, 2015

End of the School Year

We are finally in the final countdown of school days. I believe we are somewhere in the teens now as far as number of school days left. That made me realize that I never did an update on how my precious big girl is doing in public school this year.

If you remember, this year we decided to send Zoelle to public school rather than homeschool her. I still am homeschooling the two younger girls. The little girls (as I like to call them) deserve their own post on homeschooling, so this post is just an update on Zoelle only.

After much prayer we decided to send Zoelle to public school this year. It was an extremely difficult decision and one that put me into a bit of a depression. I missed my big girl! I missed her asking me a thousand questions, snuggling up to me as we read a book, and I even missed her fighting either with me or the little girls. :) I especially missed teaching her. That was an incredibly hard part of sending her to school that I was not expecting.

Zoelle has seemingly adjusted well to school. She had a hard first few days in which leaving me was very tough, especially with the girls still here. Her least favorite thing is to ride the bus home. I don't really care for it either, but living out in the country, and having a little one who takes a nap each day, I don't really have another option. After a little bus mishap on the first day in which she was SO quiet the bus driver missed her stop and didn't drop her off until an hour later, all has gone well. It is a long ride, but she has started to bring books with on her ride and she LOVES to read and has told me many times she has almost missed her stop just from getting lost in a book.

Neither she or I are huge fans of test days! In fact today is one of them, and I had a little girl who was nervous all weekend for this huge state test today and Wednesday of this week. Z is a bit of a perfectionist and tends to naturally want to please people, so tests are very important to her. We have worked very hard on not emphasizing the test part, but rather just reminding her to work her very hardest. In fact, in all past tests, she has done completely fine and really has nothing to worry about. The only other thing I don't care for is the amount of papers that come home with Z each day. This isn't homework, but rather class work they have done. I am convinced they could save 1,000 trees per kid with the amount of paper that comes home!

One of my biggest concerns sending her was my own personal worry that I somehow failed her as a mom/teacher and that she wouldn't be caught up with her class. However, my worry was also unnecessary as she has done completely fine. Her strong suites are math and reading, which always were strong at home. She could work on her artistic side a bit, and her handwriting (both things I struggle with too).

The only other thing that I miss her being able to do, is study wholeheartedly whatever comes to her mind. In the past, Zoelle would read something or hear about something and decide she wanted to study it in detail. I LOVED doing that with her and I LOVED how much she learned from studying something she wanted to learn about. While she doesn't get the chance to really do much of that at school, we do try and study as much as we can at home if there is something she is wanting to learn about.

I have had zero complaints about sending her this year. I think in large part that has to do with her amazing teacher! She has been so good for Zoelle and has a perfect balance of knowing when to push her a bit more and when to offer grace. One of Zoelle's biggest fears in going to school is her intolerance of gluten to the point where she breaks out or struggles to breathe if she has had it. Her teacher has been more than willing to work with me and Zoelle and it has relieved a lot of stress for both of us.

Going to school has also helped Zoelle come out of her shell a bit. This isn't to bring up the debate of homeschoolers and lack of socialization. My kids are very well socialized as we attend a number of things such as choir, violin, library time, church, etc. each week. Instead, this has helped Zoelle become her own person apart from me or her sisters. She used to solely rely on me or her sisters while in public, but now willingly talks to people. It has been very fun for me to see her become this strong, confident, young lady.

One of the greatest compliments came to me when I was taking her to school one morning instead of her dad (side note: why is it that anytime I take her to school, I tear up as I drop her off?). One of the school employees stopped me to tell me how incredibly kind, sweet, and respectful Zoelle is to other people each day. She made my day. While I want my kiddos to be smart, up to par with others, etc. more than anything else I want them to treat others with love and respect.

So with all that said, we will for sure be sending Zoelle to school next year, right? Actually, I'm not sure. We have committed each year to take it on a year by year basis and pray about it before we make any decisions. So we will do just that! If you ask Z, she will tell you she wants to be homeschooled. She missed me and it isn't fair the girls get to be home and she doesn't (her exact words). However, she will then tell you she kind of wants to go to school too and she likes the constant learning and schedule (she thrives on schedule). So there you go! I fully believe God will give us an answer in the correct time!

P.S. I was playing around with my camera one day while Z hung out with me and I was able to get all these sweet pictures of my girl. I just love her eyes!