Nine.9

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.9

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!

Nine.7

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!

Six.7

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.

Nine and a Half

At 9.5 years old, this kid has it all….

… but what’s it all about? After a month of working with an awesome therapist on what we thought was just sleep issues, it’s been confirmed that she is having a bit of an existential crisis. Her anxious mind races at night thinking about the fact that at some point, everybody dies, etc. In good news, this seems to be improving… and in better news, she is happy as a lark by day!

Annabelle has had the most fantastic first month of summer. Each week, each camp has been her favorite, and she’s been loving them all! She moved up to the more advanced riding group at her Rio Vista Farm camp and even secured a 1st place medal in the end-of-week show:

And her experience at the camp she’d been begging to go to for years (it starts at age 9)- Camp Halfblood, a literally camp based on the Percy Jackson series of books – was beyond her wildest dreams!

When not at camp, she is totally thrilled as long as she is concocting some scientific slime, coming up with a wild plan, practicing strength training (for gymnastics or to get on her favorite TV show – American Ninja Warrior, tied with Cupcake Wars), or building her latest version of a fort (this was how she watched a movie the other night):

She is also as committed to her friends as ever, and her ability to hang with kids of any age has maybe only grown stronger! While she will forever choose her 9 and 10 year old buds, she jumps at the chance to play with two of her biggest neighbor fans, Travis (age 5) and William (4). She was in heaven (as was he) when William asked to come to her horse show, cheered her on like crazy and even brought flowers:

What a cool age this is. Annabelle is still happy doing little kid stuff, but with such big thoughts. She has one more year in elementary school, but she is also chomping at the bit to attend her first place middle school, Kealing (crossing fingers and toes she gets in – that process starts in 6 months). She has narrowed down her zillion top interests to archery and gymnastics, where she told me her goal is “to graduate from the recreational level to the competitive level one day” (challenging but realistic). She is a shrewd savor and money maker, but she saves up for things like magnetic dart boards, not makeup (and first tries to build one herself). Her fashion sense is a combination of “warrior” and “comfortable” – and has NOTHING to do with brands or labels. And she’s lost all but 3 of her baby teeth… but isn’t quite ready to sport the middle school braces look. Her months as a kid (and not a tween & beyond) are numbered… and we’re savoring every minute of them.

Six and a Half

Here’s our wise, empathetic, snuggly but fierce little soul, halfway through 6!She is having the time of her life this summer – from our awesome Key West trip (where she bravely snorkeled, kayaked, and sampled many different key lime pies) to Tinkering camp (she loves using power tools!), Nature camp (dinosaurs!), and Adventure Camp (picture daily trips to water parks, natural caves and bouncy houses). I mean, who wouldn’t be happy with that schedule?

The only bad part? Required sunscreen. Here’s hoping that by 7 she’ll master both standing still during application, and self-re-application halfway through camp (her poor little under-eyes are so red!):

Clementine is loving a less academic summer, but is still occasionally practicing her math, and of course reading nonstop. She’s on Book 5 of Harry Potter, but taking occasional breaks for other, shorter books (loving Island of the Blue Dolphins right now) and to read to her stuffies (this is how I found her the other morning):

She has also gotten even more into Hamilton (if that’s possible) so I’ve been teaching her a bit about that time in the country’s history between songs (“What DID happen in the room where it happened?”). If Hamilton isn’t available, she’ll readily sing, dance and jump around to any music that is – she is SUCH a music kid! We’ve stopped piano due to our crazy summer schedule but she is excited to get back into it – we weren’t sure if she would be since Annabelle has decided to quit, but we’re so glad she is!

As for the summer activities we have been continuing (and she still loves), swimming and gymnastics have been great for her, especially to build up strength in that little body of hers. Her dream is to be able to bike to school in the fall, so we’ve been practicing a lot. Her only challenge at this point is getting up hills, so we are working on building up those leggies!

That smile pretty much sums up the joy in this girl that has us all so smitten. She remains deeply empathetic, forgiving (because parents screw up things like forgetting snack in camp bags, or bringing a gymnastics leotard to swim lessons on occasion) and thoughtful, while also being full of energy and actively engaged in every experience and conversation. She still occasionally digs her heels in and gets frustrated with the world, but she’s remarkably reasonable these days – a trait that has come with maturity. After all, she is six and a HALF.

Six.5 and Nine.5

On the cusp of their half-birthdays, these girls have finished up two excellent school years! They are so bright, talented, sociable and fun, we just can’t get enough:

Clementine:

This girl lives in the moment, and her instantaneous ideas and reactions are SO SPOT ON! Her first year at Travis Heights was fantastic in every way. She got top academic marks the whole way, but her behavior went from pretty mediocre (“age appropriate” according to her teacher) to exemplary, improving every quarter. At the very end she started getting in trouble a bit for shenanigans with her bestie Stella, until we had a chat about it, she wrote down on her “to do” list “Be good at school” – and rocked the final weeks of the semester. And then celebrated with Stella and her other favorite new buddies (left to right – Rose, Poppy, Stella and Micah)!

By the end of the year she KNEW she rocked it. Before walking into her awards ceremony, she told us in a matter-of-fact but non-braggy way, “You know, I’m so good at every subject that I hope they just give me the Star Student Award – since I’m running out of bulletin board space.” Sure enough, she got it. She also, after NOT receiving a perfect attendance medal, turned to us and exclaimed, “I think they should do away with those medals. I mean, if you miss school you are already feeling bad because you are sick – why do they need to remind you about it?” And I have to agree with her!

At the end of Kindergarten here’s what we know about Clementine:

  • She loves doing well in class. She tends to get everything right but does NOT like to rush, so the only tests she falls short on are timed speed-tests.
  • She loves music. She plays it constantly, still loves piano (unlike her sister), turns on music the second she gets home from school, and sings along without a hint of embarrassment.
  • She is terrible at saving money. I think right now there’s nobody in this house she DOESN’T owe money to. She loves getting “stuff,” although she isn’t very sentimental about giving or throwing it away when she is done.
  • Speaking of “stuff,” she begs to bring something along with her everywhere – to school, in the car, on an errand, etc. Usually it’s a little stuffy or mini figure of some sort but she’s not discriminating. When we were late to school one day and she BEGGED to grab something I gave her a tiny bottle of Purell that was lying around and she played with it like it was a story character on the playground! She always wants to be able to play some sort of make-believe game, and needs something to direct.
  • Her “meltdown” phase has really completely subsided. She can still huff a little, but is generally quite reasonable and accommodating to others.
  • Still so snuggly!!
Annabelle:
She finished up her first full year with the higher grade and I think it was the best year for her yet. She rocked it at school (A Honor Roll – the big kid version of Star Student), has worked her tail off in gymnastics (passed the “Blue Frog” level in record time due to nonstop home practice!) and archery (has managed to break 200 points with 30 arrows), is obsessed with the Hamilton Soundtrack (as is her sister – they can perform some songs from it, which are hilarious), and is as in love with her friends as always (pictured here are her two besties, Charlotte left and Roisin center):
Despite the soccer pic, Annabelle has decided to hang up her cleats AND her piano books in favor of her new beloved hobbies, as well as a new one that I wasn’t sure she would go for – learning Hebrew! She has decided she’d like to be bat mitzvah’ed, so it’s time to start learning her letters. I think in general Annabelle has “come into her own” quite a bit this year, which seems to be age appropriate. She is putting her foot down on certain subjects (like stopping piano and explaining to people that ask for a hug that she does not like to hug) and also showing a tiny bit of pre-teen attitude here and there (barely noticeable to the outside world, but I’m trying to prepare myself because I know it’ll grow over time!). At the end of 4th grade, here’s more about Annabelle:
  • She is a leader. She doesn’t like to be “on stage” but DOES like running the show and telling people what to do. And most feel very comfortable listening to her.
  • She is still *mostly* a goody two-shoes but not quite as much as before. At the end of the school year, she hid a boy’s toy to punish him from tormenting her and her friends. She got in trouble from the teacher and it left a (barely noticeable) mark on her otherwise perfect report card. She was in pieces, upset that this one act would stop her from getting into her chosen middle school, high school and college (which she chose in 2nd grade), so the good news is that she doesn’t really require any outside discipline!
  • Her fierceness by day has grown stronger, but so has her weakness at night. She now has a fairly severe phobia about being by herself in her room at night, which we’ve just started to tackle with an awesome therapist who is very confident she can help. Some nights she’ll spend up to 4 hours trying to fall asleep – luckily she doesn’t seem to need as much as others her age and handles herself just fine the next day.
  • She is still such a creator. Whether it’s a stop-motion animation of the musical Hamilton but with hamsters instead of people (Hamsterton) or cardboard swords and shields, she is constantly making something (and always making a mess).
  • Not so snuggly. But still so loving and still every bit our little girl.

Nine.4

This girl. There is nothing she cannot do. Except for sleep. Poor kid was falling back into rough sleep patterns at my last update, and got worse before what *hopefully* seems to be slowly getting better the past few days. She simply cannot turn off her brain, especially the scared part that can’t bare the thought of being the last person awake in the house. We’ve been working our way through a highly recommended sleep workbook, and I’ve even donated Eddie to the cause…

The good news is that the lack of sleep doesn’t seem to be affecting her physically – she is CRUSHING it at gymnastics, and has never been stronger! She can now do beautiful one handed cartwheels, 30+ second handstands (and even handstand-pushups against a wall), front and back handsprings and more. She has decided that this will be her last soccer season so she can focus more on her two favorite activities – gymnastics and archery (plus we’ve asked her to keep going on piano a little longer). I’m a huge fan of archery (since I get to shoot with her) and have even dusted off some very old basic gymnastics skills in support, much to her surprise!

Annabelle’s lack of sleep also hasn’t affected her mentally. In any given day she comes up with so many awesome ideas that I forget 90% of them, but just today she hit me with a really good group-texting app idea, a gum dispenser that comes with its own used-gum receptacle, and milk-cubes to cool off but not water down milk, to name a few. I saw her with a hot glue gun, some velcro, cut off ends of too-small tights, a muffin tin and 5 various-sized balls today, too, but there’s nothing strange about that when you live with Annabelle. I think as part of our continuing education this summer I’m going to have to teach her how to file a provisional patent. Between her ideas and Clementine’s potential for charming the VC community, I’m feeling more and more optimistic about Marc and my future 🙂

Six.4

The number of people who come up to me to just to tell me they can’t get enough of this child. About half the time I offer her to them, free of charge, because her charm is nearly equalled by her ability to get on your every nerve… but then she squeezes me tight, sings me a song with feeling or best yet, pinky promises me that she’s going to try to behave. Or she just slays me with the wisest, most insightful comments… that I fall for her all over again.

Last weekend in the midst of what can only be called a disastrous trip to the Texas coast (picture vomiting, sand fleas, loud rednecks speeding through the sand in pick-ups…), at one point we had retreated to the pool and Clementine had to go potty. I went with her, standing by her bathroom door while still watching Annabelle play in the pool only 30 feet away. Clem declared instantly that she “could tell this one was gonna take a while” and decided she could hold it because she didn’t want Annabelle to feel “unprotected” at the pool. I assured her that Annabelle was in full view AND is a great swimmer and Clem replied that while she knew Annabelle was safe, she might not *feel* safe, and since Annabelle gets nervous sometimes she didn’t want to be the cause of that. My sweet empath.

With only a month left in school, Clementine has become very close with another smart, sassy force of a 6-year-old, Stella. Their nonstop plotting and giggling has led to a few disciplinary actions, and has also led to some challenges with other kids. Clem told me recently that she loves Stella and Micah and they love her but Micah and Stella don’t love each other – she told me it’s tough to be in the middle of a “love triangle.” 

It’s the stuff of a pop song, and Clem would know, because she plays music CONSTANTLY. She has built a 35 song playlist that she puts on nonstop unless we forbid it, and while I”m sick of every single song on there I’m impressed with its variety – everything from Taylor Swift and Katy Perry to Florence and the Machine, the Hamilton soundtrack, Hedwig’s theme (classical), reggae, and some terrible kids’ songs she learned for the school concert. Speaking of which, I wouldn’t be surprised if we’re watching Clem on stage regularly once she gets to middle & high school. While Annabelle prefers to be behind the curtain, Clementine’s artistic talent, passable singing voice and general charm seem perfect for school theater – and I cannot wait to watch her shine.