Seven.2 and Ten.2

The Davis Daughters (and their parents) have been busy as ever this past month! Here’s the update:

No major surprises from this love bug, but she is growing into her older self so beautifully. Her teacher conference was adorable this month. Ms. Nuncio basically started laughing about how wonderful she is. She’s about 3 grades ahead of the next-nearest 1st grader in Math, and is even doing really well in her Spanish reading and writing. When we mentioned that Clementine was a little bummed she hasn’t yet won a “super citizen” award, the teacher laughed – the problem is that Ms. Nuncio tends to award that prize to a kid who is uncharacteristically great one week and Clementine is ALWAYS great. When we asked Clem if she wanted us to discuss anything specific at her conference, she told us that her worksheets are way too easy and she’d like harder ones, but she understands “Ms. Nuncio has a LOT of kids to work with so I don’t want to make extra work for her – you can tell her not to worry about it.” Ms. Nuncio laughed even harder at this – she’s just so aware of and empathetic toward those around her. And ethical! The other day she told me, “Mama, Diane told me not to tell you something but I just CAN’T keep it from you – we always get hot cocoa while Annabelle’s at her Hebrew lesson.” Not the best secret keeper, but an A for honesty!

Of course, Clementine isn’t ALL roses. She still gets bored and impatient when we’re doing something she isn’t keen on (like staying at a restaurant when she’s done eating), especially if she’s tired. There is only one brand of socks and shoes that doesn’t drive her crazy, and lots of clothes are too scratchy for her to wear. And she still is terrible about trying new foods (or any foods mixed with other foods, or involving a condiment of any kind), which gets annoying. And she still gets distracted SO easily when you ask her to complete a task. If I didn’t call up “Almost ready?” 3+ times while she’s getting ready for bed, she would spent an hour doing everything BUT get ready, forgetting that this was the task at hand.

But all in all… she’s the best 🙂

And then there’s this one:

Annabelle’s teacher conference was equally, comically wonderful. Same thing – Mr. Bustillos laughing, saying there’s really nothing negative he can say about her. Other parents telling me they spent a long time talking about Annabelle at THEIR conference, as a role model for their children. At school she is a leader, a participator, a great friend, a top student, and just FUN. She’s still not the empath that her sister is (she is SO stuck in her own head), but she gets better at this each year.

Annabelle always dives deep into her interests, and lately the top two (while gymnastics and reading are still up there) are fashion design and archery. She finally took a 2-part tunic-making class at JoAnn fabrics and learned everything that actually goes into garment making. It was humbling (I think she had to create and scrap her collar piece 4 times and needed a LOT of instructor help), but it did not discourage her – she’s sewing more than ever now!

In Archery, being “in her own head” has definitely been a great thing, as she advanced into the 18 meter class last week – indoor tournament distance. This is actually a really big deal according to others at the club. She is one of the youngest ever to make it to this distance (you’re not allowed to even start archery till age 8), and the coaches are very excited about her progress and potential. They think if she’s really serious, she could work toward a national ranking, want us to get her a good bow, want her to start coming 3-4 days/week, and want her to enter her first tournament in November! Of course, this is all exciting, but also expensive and logistically challenging. So we’ve been talking with her about it – does she like it more than all of her other activities? Does she really WANT to put in that time? Is she ready to be as patient as you need to be at this level? We’re giving her a few months to figure this out before we start investing too much time and money…. so stay tuned!


This next month should be a big one Chez Davis. On Saturday we’ll take the kids to Mexico City for spring break – their first international trip. And by the time we get back, Annabelle will have heard from the middle schools she applied to! Stay tuned…

Seven.1 and Ten.1

I’m a day late and a dollar short (or at least, only offering a short blog post since last month’s were big) but at long last, here is a monthly for both of our astounding children! In good news, the wait means you get actual DATA about these girls, since today was their Well Child Checkup. As per usual, Annabelle is off the charts for height (~98th percentile) and Clementine is at the 80th percentile, and they both are at a healthy weight.


The things that come out of this girl’s mouth. I’m going to just copy/paste a couple that Marc recently put on Facebook, but there are dozens more to choose from:

Clem (after hearing Siri completely botch adding dish detergent to my shopping list): “I bet we’ll be dead by the time robots destroy the world.”

Clem: “I never thought I’d say this, but I don’t like these French fries.”
Me (not really thinking): “OK, eat 3 more and you can be done.”
Clem: “and I never thought YOU would ever say that!”

The quick wittedness was born in her, but it has to be helped by the reading. We now have to force Clem to go to bed ~3 hours after we tuck her in because she cannot stop devouring books. Getting her an online subscription to the Austin Library (the girls’ favorite place) means she can download books at any hour, and she does. We’re hoping soon she’ll learn how to gauge when she is tired, because there have been some ZOMBIE mornings after reading marathons (that we only discover the next morning because WE’VE gone to bed).

Reading is clearly Clem’s superpower (like her sister), but she seems good at just about everything in school. She won the Science Fair (1st grade) by a landslide (“Turbo Taters: How many potatoes would it take to power a car?”), and here she was proudly displaying her mid-year “Star Student” award – given to the top 2 kids in each class:


I got a call from the principal the other day – Annabelle had invented a game called “Humanback riding” at recess and had dozens of kids participating (even boys!), which her old teacher didn’t mind. Well, her new teacher apparently found the activity dangerous and told the kids they had to stop “because if you get hurt your parents will think it’s my fault.” Annabelle decided to “fix” this problem by creating forms parents could sign saying it wouldn’t be Ms. Salinas’s fault if something happened. Frankly if I’d thought about it, I would have asked more questions before signing the form (there was a lot going on that day – it was also science fair, work was crazy, Grammagarmpacharlie were visiting, etc.) but I just went ahead and signed it and next thing I knew, the principal was asking me to “please respect the teacher’s wishes.” Oops.

Along with Humanback riding, Annabelle has been even more gung ho about fashion design lately.  I helped her rearrange her room to turn her nook into a sewing studio, and she has already made herself some clothes (including a neoprene cape she wore to school). She is very reluctant to use a pattern (much like she usually refuses to bake with a recipe) but we are forcing her to take a class at JoAnn Fabrics in a few weekends, to save her from herself (we try to explain that she needs to know the basics before improvising, but this is not in her personality).

Annabelle also continues to rise to the top of her class (5th grade version of Star Student is A Honor Roll). In about 6 weeks. we’ll know whether all of this excelling gets her into one of her top choice magnet schools. Applications are in, so now we just wait!

Time seems to be flying by as these girls are in such a beautiful age sweet spot. Funny and fun and interesting and loving, and very rarely challenging. It feels like they are growing up fast, though. The other day, they wanted to hold a meeting – because booking one of the state-of-the-art meeting rooms was one of the few things they HADN’T taken advantage of in the new library. So Annabelle booked the room but I had a surprise for them – an actual topic to meet about:

“Where should we go for Spring Break?”

The day before, we’d had a surprise – our house was booked for 4 days of SXSW (which meant we both have the budget to travel and are required to vacate). With March coming up soon, all flights booked or crazy expensive out of Austin, and limited budget/time to do something interesting, Marc and I figured out 3 options that we posed to the girls – see the Texas sites (NASA museum in Houston, Doseum in San Antonio, etc.), visit Uncle Robbie in LA, or take our first international trip to Mexico City (flying out of Houston). Marc projected images as I explained – LA would not include Disney (budget!), and Mexico would have to be a real “big kid” trip – seeing the stuff we ALL wanted to see, not going to trampoline parks and pools and zoos for kids). Texas would include staying at fun hotels with pools.

To our surprise, they dismissed us as they discussed amongst themselves (Gramma & Grampa Charlie got to be flies on the wall). When we returned, they’d written up their own questions on the whiteboard – “What will Clem eat?” for example. The whole process was adorably grown up, and we were thrilled when they decided on Mexico City. And even more, we are thrilled that our kids are at an age where an adventurous trip somewhere only Annabelle speaks the language feels totally manageable! Clementine will probably spend 4 days eating nothing but tortillas, but that’s part of the adventure 🙂


Annabelle is TEN

We blinked and this happened:

I can hardly believe that Annabelle is a decade old – though she has long been the most responsible person in our house! At 10, she has really come into her own as a leader and loyal friend in her beloved group of 5th grade girls (impressive since she is younger than all of them). She’ll do anything for these kids – and has been less focused on academics lately because of it – but we don’t mind (grades slipping more toward A- than A; she’ll survive). These girls are some of the kindest, brightest and most interesting we’ve met, and shockingly all get along without drama, push each other to achieve (they all want to go to the coveted magnet middle schools together!), and introduce each other to new adventures on a daily basis. It will be so bittersweet when the gang “breaks up” for middle school, though we are hoping at least a handful will end up wherever Annabelle does.

Speaking of middle school, we’re about ready to turn in her applications to Kealing (the most academically rigorous), Ann Richards (a girls’ leadership academy) and Fulmore (continuing Spanish immersion and studying humanities and law). She’ll be thrilled to get into Kealing or Ann Richards. We’ll know in March (she still needs to do testing, interviews, and in-school essays) and once we do, I’ll post her application essay here for posterity.

When Annabelle isn’t at school, doing her two favorite activities of archery and gymnastics, or playing with friends, she is always working on her latest idea. She wants to be an inventor and entrepreneur when she grows up, and is constantly taping / gluing/ sewing/ planning her next product, completely trashing her room in the process. We got her a dress form for her birthday because her favorite show is Project Runway and we couldn’t take another day of recycled pastry container / cardboard box / metal tubing mannequins. Speaking of which, when I asked her what she wanted to work on as a 10yo, she replied, “Neatness.” But when I asked what skill she’d ask for if she could have any, she replied that she’d like to be “the smartest and most cunning person in the world – and also the tallest Olympic gymnast in history.” I love her answers to my questions almost as much as I love the questions she asks me. Since she could talk, she’s hit us with “What’s your 3rd favorite animal” or “Would you rather have no teeth or one arm” or “What is your ideal biome to live in?”

Despite my occasional exasperation over the nonstop talking and gigantic messes, I hope Annabelle never stops asking questions, dreaming up ideas, or making messes full of inventions or projects. I don’t think we need to worry – it’s pretty clear that this first decade was simply a warm-up for what’s to come. And while I don’t want to rush a single second of it, I can’t wait to see what happens next because I have no doubt it will be spectacular!

Happy decade day to the one-of-a-kind, beautiful, bright Annabelle Claire!



Clementine is Seven

We blinked and this happened:
Seven-year-old Clementine is so fantastic. She is wise beyond her years, with a keen observation just when you think she isn’t listening. She is incredibly aware of those around her and their emotions, often pointing out to us when a friend (or more often, her sister) is feeling something or acting in a way we didn’t realize. She lets friends get the last word (or bigger half of the cookie) because she doesn’t really care and it’s important to them. But she points out things that ARE important to her (and are our fault) so we’ll learn from them – like admonishing me for letting her read in the car after it made her puke last week!

She is also hilariously witty, with a zinger that will get you every time! When Marco (bringer of after-school treats) came over with a bruise on his face, explaining how he’d tripped running an errand, she sized him up and asked, “Well – did it knock the candy out of you?” And when a sales person (on December 30th) presented her with an ornament as a special “gift with purchase,” she replied with a raised eyebrow and a “isn’t it a little late for that?” without missing a beat.

Clementine’s sharpness overflows into her academic work, where she’s somewhere between a 3rd and 4th grade level in math and flies through chapter books every few days (current favorite author: Erin Hunter). Her favorite subject in school is science, and we encourage it whenever we can (her birthday present this year – a rock tumbler). But she isn’t showy about it or “known” for her academics in school (other than her top notch report cards) – instead she’s known in school as being the best hugger around.

When I asked Clementine what she was going to work on as a 7yo, in fact, she told me she was going to try to tone down her hugging. She really has no understanding of personal space, which tends to either instantly endear or annoy anyone she is with. We’re hoping her general social awareness will soon start to work its way into her physical awareness and she’ll get the hang of when NOT to hang on a friend or relative (or relative stranger, for that matter). In general, Clem has a lot of habits that lean toward annoying – like making little animal noises or speaking in crazy voices, constantly hopping and fidgeting and reacting – but we’ve been making her more aware (it’s about acting more like a “big kid”) and they seem to be subsiding. For the most part, she can charm just about anyone she decides to, wrapping them around her little finger before they even see it coming.

Clementine is more of a homebody than an adventurer. Annabelle can get her out exploring, but if you ask what she wants to do, an art/lego/building project, book or board game often beats outdoor play or athletic adventures (though she does enjoy gymnastics and riding her bike), pasta & red peppers always beats out a restaurant, and she opts for a playdate at her house if she can help it (though sleepovers are preferred at Charlie’s because his mom makes better breakfasts). We’re hoping she’ll get a *bit* more adventurous this year – especially in the area of eating (maybe she’ll start to mix foods? Or not rebel against sauces? Or stick her nose up at any fruit of vegetable that doesn’t look perfect?). But since the 12 foods she eats are actually pretty healthy (fruits, raw veggies, eggs, cheeses, yogurts), we aren’t too worried.

Clem still says she’d like to be a marine biologist when she grows up, but I think she says it out of habit (we explained the profession to her a few years ago when she was obsessed with sea creatures). At this point, I have no idea what her future holds. But I know that with her wisdom and wit, awareness and charm (not to mention that face!), she’s going to do just fine.

Happy SEVEN to my “toonts,” Marc’s “pea,” and Annabelle’s Clem – our lovely Clementine Jane!


Six.11 and Nine.11


I can’t believe these girls are on the brink of 7 and 10! It’s been a very busy time to say the least (prepping for the holidays, Marc spending time with Grampa Skip in Ithaca as he recovers from his stroke, me organizing an “adopt a family” program for 50 families at the school, some giant Kinsa projects and new Moment cars to tackle, etc.). So I’m going to keep this one short and save the rest for the big birthday notes J

Clementine at Six.11 is a reading machine! She walks around, up and down stairs and crossing streets (yes we’re working on this) with her nose in a book all the time, and is often found simply sitting on her bed to take on another chapter. This month her favorites were Erin Hunter’s “Warriors” books. Clem also said goodbye (with a little help from us) to two more teeth this month! This is especially good because she was growing “shark teeth” behind them. I was SURE she was going to follow in my footsteps and need all her baby teeth pulled, and am so glad she hasn’t had to yet.

Annabelle at Nine.11 has finally found her groove with her 5th grade teachers and has been killing it academically, often being the only one in class to pull off 100’s on big tests. We think she feels the heat of middle school magnet applications (we’ve now visited all the ones she’s applying to and she’ll complete the applications over winter break) and is really rising to the occasion. She also continues to amaze us with her daily (at least!) projects. Examples: I refused to buy an advent calendar (this Jew has to draw the line somewhere!) so she made an advent totem pole. I dragged her to Clem’s 30 minute swim lesson and she used it to create a lego stop motion animation. She really wanted a Santa hat so she made it herself out of paper, cotton balls, hot glue and a headband between dinner and bedtime.

These girls are on the brink of so much. It’s sort of unfathomable to me how big (and incredible) they are getting, but I’ll leave the sap till next month! For now, happy “almosts” to our two favorite humans on earth!


Nine and three quarters and already SO grown up! I mean, she even wore a blazer to school the other day as she wowed the crowd giving her student council election speech. That’s right, this girl apparently won the School Historian position (yes, we didn’t know that was a thing either) by a landslide!

Annabelle continues to blow us away all the time. Of course, this is an important time for her to be blowing EVERYONE away, as these coming months (and applications which are due in Jan/Feb) will determine if she gets into the very competitive magnet middle school programs she’s been gunning for from the start. She has her heart set on either The Ann Richards School (for Future Female Leaders) or Kealing, the most rigorous math & science magnet, and it’s pretty cutthroat but we’re confident she’ll do well.

Annabelle’s sleep hasn’t really improved at home, though she’s gotten much better at other places, having survived several sleepovers in the past month. This week will be the ultimate test as the 5th graders take their long anticipated “senior trip” to Camp Champions – which will include 2 nights away from home with only friends and teachers. She is “slightly terrified” in her words, but excited too. She just needs to channel her inner Katniss Everdeen and she’ll do great!

(adorable Lady Liberty thrown in to show that BOTH our girls were determine to dress as strong women this Halloween – which we loved).

Nothing else is new in Annabelle’s world – still obsessed with her friends, gymnastics, and archery, and reading as always. Still tough and confident on the outside (you should have seen her pitching at the Business fair – she was shockingly good!) while anxious on the inside.  A little happier with her teachers than she was at first, but they won’t be ranking in her Travis Heights favorites list. Still strong and tall, though at a year younger than her friends, we’re starting to see her fall a little behind as the girls tiptoe into puberty (must admit I’m glad we’re a little behind on this one). Still SO messy. And still a phenomenal kid, with a phenomenal way at looking at the world that makes us proud every day.


Six and three quarters is looking pretty good on this strong, sweet girl!

Clementine has made it through her first teacher conference and first report card with flying colors – it seems she is really getting the hang of this school thing (aside from being smart as a whip, which we already knew). She spends most of her time giving us this view of her, having devoured another Harry Potter book along with two other series (Dragonsdale and the start of Warriors). Most impressive is her retention – Marc needed a refresher on the LAST Harry Potter book and she gave him the full story! Not bad for a girl who used to tell us she doesn’t have a very good memory.

In general, Clem is really enjoying her academics – especially math. She doesn’t have a lot of patience for her “easy” homework but loves moving ahead on the advanced work she does online. She’s also loving her friends, having formed a pretty tight click with buddies  Stella (the bestie), Micah (who is also in Sunday School) and Poppy (whom she also takes gymnastics with). I’m so curious whether she’ll stay with those girls till the end of her Travis Heights career! Of course, she is eager to follow in Annabelle’s footsteps, which involves also skipping up a year, so that could throw a wrench in the clique.

Clementine especially impressed us this past weekend at the Children’s Business Fair, where she took on all of the booth design and also manned the booth, giving pitches if Annabelle wasn’t available to, and doing a ton of impressive math in her head. And the hard work paid off! The girls made over $300, which means even after paying back supply and booth costs, they are each netting >$70! This is more cash than Clem has ever had, and she is determined to spend it quickly (yes, she is the opposite of her saver sister on this one):

We do love watching how similar (with the reading and the academics) and different (with the spending and the general innate empathy) Clem is from Annabelle. We found it especially funny to listen to their teachers at the recent conferences. While both reviews were glowing, Annabelle’s one area for improvement (other than punctuation) was in trying to be more thorough and not rush through, whereas Clem’s was to try to speed up and get things done instead of focusing on slowly making them PERFECT. Of course, we think everything about this girl is damn near perfect…


Six.8 and Nine.8

Here we are – 1st and 5th grade!

The girls have had a pretty good start to the school year. It began with a solar eclipse on the first day of school (does it get better than that?)  but then wasn’t without its bumps and bruises, with Hurricane Harvey throwing us for a loop including 18 hours of no power and a 2-hour-start delay. Of course we certainly can’t complain about that, given what our poor neighbors in Houston and the coast have gone through.  But also, the teacher situation has been a little tough – Annabelle says her teacher (new to the school this year) “has no sense of humor” and Clementine’s teacher’s mother died right before school started, leaving Clem with a substitute for the first 8 days. Still – they are happy to be back in school, happy to be back with their friends (even more friends, now that the Thornburgh boys have joined Travis Heights!), and starting to get back into the swing of things.

#1 Clementine Update: We’ve finally lost that narwhal tooth!

You can see from the tear that it was slightly traumatic, involving Annabelle’s knee and a whole lot of blood… but she was thrilled with the end result (including $5 bucks from a certain fairy) and her big tooth is already on its way down like a giant iceberg in her little mouth full of chiclets!

#1 Annabelle Update:

Despite complaints about teachers and slight regression on the sleep front (poor kid – this is never going to be easy, is it?), Annabelle has already won the first “Super Citizen Award” of the year (“for her wonderful focus in the classroom”) and has already had something like 6 playdates in 10 school days:

But this month, the biggest update of all is not about a Davis Daughter at all – it’s about the Dada they are extra proud of because he has officially launched his new business!

We celebrated properly at hot rod night at the Top Notch, filling ourselves with milkshakes and fried pies and rockabilly music amid throngs of old, smelly gas guzzling cars.

All in all, the girls are doing as well as ever, excited about all of the fun of fall – picking out Halloween costumes (Clem is pretty firm on a wolf, but Annabelle is fluctuating between an eagle and Katniss Everdeen) and getting back into their favorite activities (including adding Hebrew for Annabelle since she has decided she’d like a bat mitzvah). When they have free time, they spend it building legos or magnatile villages for their stuffies, or reading as usual (Clem just finished Mrs. Frisby and the rats of NIMH; the school librarian has found a new stack for Annabelle), They’ve already planned their joint birthday party (a Project Runway theme where Annabelle’s friends are the designers and Clem’s friends are the models), and have already started lobbying for a pet hamster for Christmas. In other words, things are as crazy as ever at the Davis house, which is perfectly fine with us!


This girl! Fun, Fearless* (*except at night), and Flexible! Case in point – this is her getting comfortable on the couch:

In fact, this girl is so flexible… and strong… and hard working, that we just got word that she passed another level of gymnastics! The instructors at the gym are pretty blown away – most kids spend at least a year in each level and Annabelle has blown through two in half that time. And the skills are legit – like front and back handsprings, big moves on the bars, etc! I don’t know where this is going (especially when she really starts growing) but for now, it’s really great for her body, her mind, her confidence… just maybe not her hair (always tangled) or our living room (constantly strewn with mats and makeshift bars and beams). One direction I’m excited for her to take it (she is very interested) is yoga! While her sleep has much improved – she doesn’t need us upstairs to fall asleep, has survived a couple babysitter experiences and even a nearby sleepover – her therapist thinks yoga could be a great way to calm her mind before bed. In the meantime, Eddie continues to take his job as “bed therapy dog” very seriously. (I know, it’s not an Annabelle pic but I couldn’t resist! Poor Eddie never gets posts)

Along with advancements in sleep/anxiety (though we’ve still definitely got room for improvement) and gymnastics have come some pretty great strides in archery – her other favorite activity! The beginner bow she got as a gift (that started all this) no longer works at her level (since you can’t attach a sight or stabilizer to it) and she has advanced to 13.5 meters, from 9. I’ve advanced along with her, and we have been having a really fun time making this our special Mama-Annabelle activity:

In other words, sometimes it seems like there’s nothing this kid can’t do. With her anxiety (and still some room for improvement on the empathy scale – she is still SO in her own head!) as her only Achilles Heel, she seems to be leaping through life, narrowing her interests in the most interesting ways. For example, now she wants to be a military and spy fashion designer as her future career – designing non-obvious armor and weaponry. She thinks it’s the perfect combination of her warrior nature and her love of inventing/designing/building. In some ways I can’t believe that our little warrior will be starting her final year of elementary school in less than a month, but in others I feel like she is moving so fast, her actual age barely has time to catch up! All I know for sure is we love every bubbly bit of her!


This girl. So delicious. As delicious as a giant ice cream cone on a 106 degree day! (That is no exaggeration. Holy summer, Austin!). But somewhat more manageable:

The heat was pretty rough, but luckily we opted for indoor camps in July – gymnastics camp, Summer Wonders (the camp for gifted kids where Clementine studied textiles and songwriting), and art camp. She liked them all, but art camp was the favorite of the month – she LOVES getting to dig into art projects and take her time carefully coloring and constructing!

One of Clementine’s personal themes, in general, is taking her time. She is not a good hurrier, and really doesn’t like it. Even in school, she does phenomenally on every single test/assignment/etc. except for the one math level-tester where the goal is to complete as many math problems as possible in the time allotted. She gets it all right… but only gets to about half of it. She can get caught up on a drawing, lego project or book for hours on end. In fact, over the past month she decided that E.B. White was her favorite author and devoured Stuart Little, Charlotte’s Webb and Trumpet of the Swan in a matter of days!! I love that she read the old Stuart Little that I read growing up. It fell apart by the end but served its duty 🙂

Clementine came out with so many thoughtful statements this month (both true and untrue), I really need to write them down. She told me that chickens can’t lay eggs unless they’re married, for example. And I love the big words she uses, especially when she uses them wrong (last night she told me what “expires” her to create the runway looks she sketches while watching her new favorite show, Project Runway Junior). And when I was shocked walking into the bathroom after she controlled her own bubble bath, she gave me this matter-of-fact “It’s soap and water, it’s not like you need to clean it up” statement that was, well, good perspective at that moment:

Plus – just – that face! I can’t take it! We truly cannot get enough of this kid.