Five.11 and Eight.11

Look at these girls, swinging into their next birthdays as the world seems to turn faster and faster each year.

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I thought things would slow down, but they still seem to be changing in leaps and bounds. Take this kid, for example:

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The grown-up haircut isn’t helping matters, and neither are the HILARIOUS one-liners that come out of her mouth. While her emotions are still wildly age appropriate (in that they vary WILDLY, in any given hour), her insights are so smart and spot on that Marc and I are constantly giving each other “did you hear what she just said” eyes. And… then she turns into a Kindergartener again, doing things like re-learning how to ride a bike (success!), smothering the dog with love, refusing any foods that are mixed together in any way, thinking it’s perfectly reasonable to wear earmuffs to school in 70 degree weather, etc.

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There are other aspects to Clem that are so undeniably HER that they were her as a toddler and will undoubtedly be part of her as an adult. First, she has a generous heart. When we talked about selling our used books to Half Price Books, she suggested donating them instead to people who need them, because we really don’t need the money. And on Thanksgiving, while Annabelle opted to get some pre-feast exercise with her dad instead, Clementine was all about scootering over to “Operation Turkey” to make (and decorate) plates of food for the homeless.

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Clementine is also incredibly focused when it comes to anything art-related. She can’t seem to sit still in her chair for more than 30 seconds unless she is drawing, coloring, stamping, writing, etc. She does this work incredibly slowly and carefully, almost never scribbling or taking shortcuts. You should have seen the care she took to stick all of our holiday card stamps on perfectly… even if she had the wrong corner!

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It’s these moments that give me hope that one day, she’ll make it all the way through dinner without falling off her chair or spilling anything. A girl can dream! But truthfully, it’s a small price to pay for getting to interact with the awesomely beautiful (inside and out) little girl before us!

And then there’s this beauty:

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That bright face and even brighter mind is so “big kid” now. She still has her silly, loving, giggling moments, but more and more we are seeing more subdued, older behavior. While we know this is also perfectly age appropriate, it’s a little bittersweet! At the same time, she’s still the creative, always-with-a-plan kid she’s been from the start. Her plans usually extend to what she wants to do/bring/show/share with her friends at recess, which cause her backpack to weigh as much as she does (I remember my mom saying the same thing about mine!). Lately, the most common activity is Pokemon, which Marc and I find mind-numbing – but appreciate that it’s a non-screentime, interact-with-others activity that is generally positive!

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Whether studying Pokemon card collections, challenging friends to a drawing contest (she’s been practicing endlessly and has gotten SO MUCH better in the past few months!), or telling us about tests and assignments at school, one change we’ve seen in Annabelle lately is that she’s become incredibly competitive. While of course this can be taken too far, we are happy to see her pushing herself and noticing that whipping through things is not always the answer. We think skipping up a grade caused this change – suddenly there are actually other kids who are sometimes sort of close to her level! She can’t have that 🙂 Thankfully she doesn’t seem to be cut-throat about it with her friends, who still love her beyond words.

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We love the new, more grown up Annabelle, even if she is a little harder to read, a little less goofy, and a little more opinionated. She has always been complex, and now we are starting to see how her complexity is unfolding into (gasp) young womanhood. A lot of the energy she used to use up on making fairy houses and stuffed animal schools (though she can still be convinced to jump back in with her sister) is used working on her favorite piano songs (like the theme song to Harry Potter) or rereading her favorite books (mainly Rick Riordan or JK Rowling) to dig deeper.

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It’s amazing to watch the little changes, and it’s helpful to reflect on them monthly in the blog. Plus, it’s a good excuse to post photos that show how ridiculously sparkly and amazing they are!

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Five.10 and Eight.8

It’s a good time to be a smart, strong girl with big dreams – at least, we hope it is (the girls helped me push the ballot buttons and we’ll find out for sure in less than a week – come on, Hillary!!). And at nearly 6 and nearly 9, I think we can say with full confidence that this house is lousy with smart, strong, big-dreaming girls!

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Clementine, nearly 6:

This child – so much sass, sensitivity and smarts in one little package! We had her teacher conference and got her report card, which verified what we knew – she is among the (if not THE) most advanced in her class academically, but needs to still work hard on listening, paying attention, keeping her emotions in check, and keeping her hands to herself. On that last point, we knew she was an enthusiastic (bordering on aggressive?) hugger at a very early age (I saw it as a positive trait!). Sadly, this is not appreciated in public school! And especially not appreciated with lice going around the kindergarten class. See this photo of her and her kinder bestie Kosmo? Those little heads passed lice to each other just last week – woohoo!

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Less obvious from a young age, Clem is also a worrier. She had a nightmare that she swallowed gum (screaming, crying herself awake), burst into tears because she let a toy fall down the sink drain (what if it clogs our water and we can’t brush our teeth and we all get terrible cavities and our teeth fall out?), and often takes little concerns to the nth degree to show how a small action can create big problems. We love what an empath she is… and hope that one day that empathy will extend to her teacher and parents, who are sometimes at our wits end dealing with her disinterest in listening to us and doing what we ask her to do! To her credit, whenever we lose our cool, she gives us big hugs and tells us she WANTS to make us happy… she just forgets sometimes. OH Clementine, you are going to make an incredible adult if we survive raising you over the next decade or two!

Annabelle, nearly 9

This child is half smarts, half social chair. She prefers to spend ALL waking moments with her close girl friends (and seems to be the leader of the pack in many ways – organizing activities, influencing group Halloween costumes, participating actively at school and being a huge asset to every team, according to her teacher).

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And you should have seen her leading her sister and bestie Roisin at the Children’s Business Fair. Our previously shy girl was SUCH a salesperson, pushing past any social discomfort in the interest of PROFIT! (and it was worth it – they sold >$250 of “Cutie Pooch” dog accessories!):

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One thing I love is that her smarts actually make Annabelle MORE popular at school. She has been helping friends out in math (there’s only 1 other kid in the 4th grade who she competes against academically in math, with the others far behind – impressive considering she skipped a grade!), and her buddy Adeline declared that she’s “full of brains from the tip of her toes to the top of her head.” And it’s nothing but a positive thing! The only subject she could use a boost in is Spanish, where she is understandably behind others in her grade since she’s had 1 less year of immersion than they have.  Honestly the only negative in Annabelle’s world right now is her continued night wakings and sleepwalking. Last night she woke up crying, walked downstairs, used the in-fridge water dispenser to spray water on the floor…. twice… and then went back upstairs to bed! Luckily this doesn’t seem to affect her days in any way – she has just as much energy as everyone else, even on days she’s depended on by her soccer team, the fire foxes:

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These girls continue to blow me away on a daily basis. Sure, some parenting days are easier than others, and I could stand to never have to use a lice comb again… but I can’t help but burst with pride about the young women they are (too quickly) becoming!