Eleven.8

Have you ever seen a more fierce 11 year old girl?

Our Mongolian Warrior (lesson #5)

In case the photo above isn’t clear, Annabelle has found her “true life’s passion” – mounted archery! She took one lesson as part of “mama camp” and it was an instant two-way love affair. The coach (who is an international champion) said he’s never seen anyone pick it up so quickly, and Annabelle can’t get enough. I mean, what 11yo would beg to wake up before 6AM on Saturday AND Sunday to get in as much training time as possible? While it’s not especially convenient or practical and seems to have no potential for future scholarships, it’s tough to deny a kid who has fallen so deeply in love with an activity that has to improve strength, focus, confidence, and bravery – especially in a girl who is prone to anxiety and (scarily) began wasting away over the summer.

Learning to make tempura bananas – yum!

Annabelle’s springtime focus on healthier eating became fairly obsessive in the way that she tends to go deep into EVERYTHING that piques her interest, and suddenly with summer came a few inches growth along with surprising weight loss. Luckily we caught it right away and have been combatting it with the help of her pediatrician, encouraging her to cook (which she loves – she makes dinner as often as Marc and I do these days!), and reminding her about the importance of strengthening and fueling her body if she wants to become the warrior she plans to be.

Trying Salade Nicoise in Quebec

Along with Annabelle’s focus on health and transforming into a centaur before our eyes, she is gearing up for a successful 7th grade year. Her teachers and classes all seem great, but because she’s heard from so many people that 7th is the toughest year at Kealing, she equated it this week to “being told you’re going to get punched at some point during Christmas Day.” She’s enjoying her teachers, her friends, and everything else but is waiting for the work to pile up and overtake the joy. We’ve seen inklings of that anxiety creeping back in, but we’re cautiously optimistic that we can keep it at bay for as long as possible, ideally using mounted archery and cooking as a calming distraction when things heat up.

Driving the Duck boat in Boston Harbor

Annabelle is never easy to predict and rarely easy to parent, but never ceases to amaze us. So we’re just buckling up and seeing what this school year will bring. And beyond this school year. Like for instance, if there’s ever an apocalypse – she’s totally the one you want nearby if that happens!

Eight.8

Driving our Duck boat in Boston

I can’t get enough of this smile. And I am feeling so optimistic about the smiles ahead, now that she’s gone from such a tough 2nd grade school year to one that should be the complete opposite. To add insult to injury, Clem didn’t quite pass the 3rd grade test this summer, which means no skipping up like her big sis did. But aside from the unfortunate disappointment she felt, we are relieved on a few levels – namely (1) the 3rd grade teachers are FANTASTIC – and most importantly, are warm and encouraging and really like Clem, (2) being at the top of her class should get her self confidence back up where it was before the crappy last school year, (3) her living on ClemenTIME – namely, spending 20 and 30 minutes lost in her thoughts on a daily basis while she should be getting dressed, going to bed, following directions, etc… well, having another year to work on that before entering a less forgiving middle school environment probably won’t hurt! Plus, you know it’s going to be painful when she heads off to college, so another year of this face in our house is okay in my book!

High tea – a Mama Camp tradition

While Clem is starting to get back into the flow of the school year, she is having a fairly hard time coming off the high of such a fantastic summer. The dude ranch was magical, overnight camp was a total blast (she’s already in for next year), our Massachusetts and Canada adventures were fantastic, and the handful of weeks in between were spent in awesome camps, endless playdates, and a lot of late nights, lazy mornings and more sugar and fewer baths than would be advisable. That said, we’re about to start up ice skating again, have applied to the children’s business fair (Whatacorns again) and she has another audition (Willy Wonka!) in a few weeks, so while things won’t be lazy again for a while, they should be fun!

Brushing up on skating before the lessons start again

Ice skating, theater, piano, choir, and Whatacorns should keep Clem busy, which is especially good because when she isn’t busy, our sensitive girl tends to get a little depressed (is it called that when you are 8?). The other night, she cried to me about her friends who no longer attend her school, the fact that it’s impossible for her to impress her sister, and a concern that maybe we’re not even actually alive – we’re just characters in a story that an old man has thought up in a daydream… and as soon as he’s done, we’ll disappear. How does one respond to that, exactly? Some nights she tells me she really needs a good cry but can’t think of anything sad enough. It makes for tricky parenting, to say the least! Luckily, with sunrise comes more sweet smiles, like this one:

Enjoying Old Port of Montreal

I’m crossing fingers and toes that this school year will bring a happier and more confident school girl. A stretch goal would perhaps be a kiddo who doesn’t drift off into her own daydreams quite as often. Annabelle might throw in a goal to reduce her car puking tendencies and Marc would vote for faster, less picky eating. But in the end, we’ll take this girl any way she wants to be, because as Mary Poppins would say, we find her to be “practically perfect in every way.”