Nine.2 and Twelve.2

The past two months flew by in the blink of an eye! And yet, these phenomenal girls managed to accomplish so much!

Clementine:

Oompa Loompa #3 with two of her biggest fans – Micah and Travis

Clementine was disappointed in the fall when, after she was shockingly cast as Jane Banks in Mary Poppins for her first ever theater performance, she got the part of “Oompa Loompa #3” instead of Charlie in “Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.” But after a few tears, she completely got over it and took on that role with gusto, having a wonderful time and (grandparents in attendance will confirm) becoming the most adorable darn Oompa that has ever Loompa’ed.

Our skater girl, with the adorable Tversky “Tvins” Hazel and Leo

Clem’s other extra-curricular passion continues to be figure skating, where she made another big leap over the past couple months! She worked hard at new skills such as bunny hops and spirals and ended up passing out of the entire “Basic” program at the rink (one of only a handful of kids who passed through so quickly), which means things are about to get much more challenging and more fun. Starting next week, she’ll get to participate in multiple lessons, including training that will improve her strength and endurance.

School days with some besties Leo and Darley (and Eddie & Leo’s dog)

With all that focus on the extra-curricular, Clem isn’t letting school slip. She had a beautiful teacher conference that confirmed she is not only doing incredibly well academically (it turns our our modest little brainiac is halfway through 7th grade math as a 3rd grader!), she’s a leader, excellent participant, extremely inclusive of others and just an all-around awesome student.

Time for the tooth fairy!

And she’s down a tooth! After a long hiatus, it seems the next round of teeth are on their way out. And we confirmed everything else is on track for this girl health-wise. At her 9yo check up she remained in the shrimpy 80-85th percentile (well, shrimpy for a Davis). Emotionally, she still struggles with getting distracted (we set a lot of timers these days) and letting big feelings overcome her (the latest: she feels SO guilty for being jealous of kids who are better than her at something. And it’s not the jealousy but the guilt that is eating her up inside), but over all she is truly having a wonderful year – which we feel extremely lucky and grateful for.

Annabelle:

Starbucks, her guilty pleasure on the way to Mounted Archery

Isn’t it crazy how old this girl is? She is a true tween, going between extreme maturity and being our little girl, but the maturity is starting to win out. She has been managing her (intense) school work beautifully (latest report cards are straight A+ at the hardest middle school in Austin) without nearly as much stress as last year, has started taking on more responsibility such as cooking us gourmet dinners several time, and has been working on building strength and skill with archery at home during the week so her weekly mounted practices continue to improve.

Photo Credit: Grampa Charlie

In fact, you are looking at a girl who will be the youngest mounted archer to compete as part of the U.S. Cultural Heritage Team in the Texas International Archery Festival in April! It’s going to be a very tough event (especially since it’ll be her first competition) but she is very, very excited and her coach continues to be amazed at the rate she is improving.

Hello Fresh meal kit for dinner

Annabelle’s focus on health and nutrition has deepened, but in a healthy way. She makes herself gourmet breakfasts each morning (think: acai bowls with fruit and seeds), batch cooks her school lunches (example: pork bibimbap) and, as I mentioned, cooks us dinner often. She is always experimenting, too – this week she made several attempts at boba tea, with some very odd boba results… but she gets credit for effort! Not nearly as much effort for tidying up the kitchen after, but messy has never been/will never be her strong suit

All in all, we are feeling really thankful for the year both of these girls seem to be having, and how much we’re enjoying not just raising them, but spending time with them. As we’ve encountered an uptick in friends and family dealing with tough stuff lately (not to mention the scariness of the political climate, Coronavirus, etc.), we are trying to be present, embrace opportunities (how do I not have pics of Mardi Gras from last month – we all had a blast!! Perhaps part of my goal of being present instead of just photodocumenting?) and not take life too seriously. And occasionally blog about it for the 3 of you that still check this thing 🙂

Twelve and Nine

Holy moly, our tiny girls are now 12 and 9, and how spectacular they are! Because I am either too busy or too lazy or both, I’m going to borrow some already-created content rather than attack the challenge that is summing up these incredible humans from scratch.

First I’ll “borrow” the social media posts I used:

9 years ago, this amazing presence completed our family. She shows us the beauty in the tiniest details, teaches us the power of fierce compassion, and helps a family of rushers slow down. She is wise in a way that catches you off guard, and when she grabs your hand or holds you tight, you realize you must be special. Happy birthday, Clementine Jane. We are so lucky you are ours!

12 years ago this sweet face started sizing up the world and decided that anything is possible, and she has been working hard to turn possibility into reality ever since! The world needs more Annabelles, but there is only one and we are so lucky she is ours. Happy birthday to our brave, brainy, beautiful, funny, focused and fierce @horse_warrior !

Then I will add this video where they tell us about themselves in their own words for a change. Yes, perhaps this is the easy route but I’ve also realized lately that we’ve all but stopped taking videos of these girls other than to record their various ice skating spins or mounted archery runs – maybe the occasional award ceremony or musical performance – but nothing that will make us laugh and tear up about what they sounded like and acted like and felt like at every age. Without further ado:

They were a little low energy after a night of partying till past midnight to ring in the new decade, but I won’t hold it against them.

Eight.10

I’m a little delayed on the update for this girl, but it just means she’s been able to accomplish even more. Like making it to the next level in ice skating! She’s now in “Basic 5” which involves crossovers, lunges, hockey stops and more. It is so much fun being able to help her improve and more importantly, share this love with my little girl! She’s even having an ice skating birthday this year – something I distinctly remember choosing myself (having flashbacks to the best day ever, when I had an ice skating birthday party AND got a cabbage patch kid)…

She passed on her first try!

Clem is also doing the children’s theater, though she was disappointed to get the role of Oompa Loompa #3 in Willy Wonka when she was going for Charlie. She got over it quick, though, especially when she became besties with O.L.#2. And she’s had enough to do with the business fair (Whatacorn made nearly $400 this year!!), her piano lessons (she’s working hard on Kasey Muskgraves’ “Rainbow” currently), and her various other projects, which mostly involve coloring, reading and writing her own little books.

3rd grade school photo. She threw on the peacock feather fascinator at the last minute

At school, Clem is doing great. She lost her core group of friends to private school, so she doesn’t have a “posse,” but she has lots of close friends and is always inviting different ones (often boys) over for playdates. At her parent teacher conference, her teachers said she’s doing great – A+ grades across the board, lots of friends, and just a lovely kid. They said she has the same challenge focusing that we see at home, which we should watch over time, but it isn’t impeding her ability to do great and have fun so we’re not too worried for now.

First classic Halloween costumer in a while – though she switched out her black dress for a swimsuit at the school carnival and came as a “sand witch”

All in all, Clem’s school year has been smooth and supportive – just what she needed after last year. She is getting sad FAR less often (although as an extreme empath, sad things in the world hit her hard). Her only (mild, quiet) complaint is that she seems to be living in her sister’s shadow these days — everyone wants to hear about Mounted Archery, the reality TV show Annabelle was cast on (more on that later), etc. But we gently reminded her that the spotlight will shift again… and again and again… whether it’s about Willy Wonka or Whatacorns or Whatever the next exciting adventure holds. And she seems pretty okay with that. Because, you know, she’s the best.

Annabelle: 11 and a HALF

This face! If this is her awkward stage…

What a summer this girl is having! After 3 weeks of horse camp, she set off for the dude ranch and came back a western rider – the whole experience was “life changing” and her big goal now is to ride enough to become a junior wrangler at the CM ranch when she turns 16. It seems far fetched, but this girl is nothing if not goal oriented! She is also continuing to grow – up, not out. She has a newfound focus on eating healthy and exercising which I’m watching carefully (since these days, eating disorders are not uncommon at this age), but so far, she seems to just want to be as fit as one needs to be to wrangle, among other things…

Long, tall Texans… in Colorado

Annabelle took a long break from archery with all of our summer adventures, but seems interested in keeping up the hard work and staying on course for her 2028 Olympic dreams (you won’t ever accuse her for thinking small). I like to think archery has a calming effect on her, which will be important as she tackles 7th grade. She has already had a few minor anxiety moments where she’s gotten nervous about her summer homework and her upcoming year of algebra (a high school level class, as an 11yo – daunting). I do love that limiting her screen time seems to have rekindled her love of baking (you should see her most recent “sushi cake” – and the 48 chocolate chip cookies she baked for our beach trip) and reading – both calming hobbies for sure.

Lounging, reading, relaxing – a good break for our girl in motion.

This should be an interesting year in general for Annabelle. We’re already seeing the beginnings of puberty, so I’m guessing she might look a bit different by this time next year. Hopefully the hormones won’t kick in too hard and we won’t have too much in the way of mood swings beyond her current occasional sullen, short answers. She can be a tough nut to crack without any of that (unlike her open book sister), so my goal for the year is simply to be around, ready and willing to talk about anything and everything without scaring her away. Simple, right?

Clementine: 8 and a HALF

Dude ranching

What a month this girl has had! Out of the grip of her challenging school situation, she has had a fantastic summer of camps (wet & wild adventure camp! horse camp! ice skating camp!) and a week with her cousins at a Wyoming dude ranch that she described as “heaven on earth.” She has been an absolute joy, while also staying on top of basic math and social studies (and reading a book a day at least!) so she’ll be prepared for her grade-skipping test that happens next week.

Hanging with a suffragist at the Colorado History Museum

It was hilarious hearing about Clementine from Nichole and Glenn, who’d never spent so much time with her. They learned quickly about “ClemenTIME”, e.g., after 20 minutes of showing, they asked how she was doing and she mentioned that she didn’t have any soap or shampoo. By the end of the dude ranch week they were waking her up 30 minutes before everybody else, moving her showers to the final slot, and generally alotting for plenty of daydreaming interludes. This girl does not know what it means to be in a rush, which drives us up a wall but is a small price to pay for all the care she takes to love everyone in her life.

Swimming with Dada in South Padre

Clem’s latest camp is far away and picks up at rush hour so we have plenty of chatting time. I think of it as “filling up on her” before she heads to overnight camp in a couple weeks. Yesterday she told me she feels bad for mail carriers because most people don’t talk to them, and they must get lonely. “I try to talk to every mail carrier I see,” she told me. That’s just Clem.

Summer is flying by (which I hate) but I am excited for what the next half-year will bring for our little girl. Will she be in 3rd or 4th grade, for starters (we probably won’t hear until right before school starts). Will she make a new friend group at school since so many of her besties have left? She wants to try out for her next musical production – Willy Wonka. Will she nail her second audition and get another big part or will she learn the fun of the ensemble? And will she continue with ice skating (she is HOOKED) and piano (less so these days) throughout the school year? All of those answers will be so obvious in the blink of an eye – I’m just glad that no matter how much she grows as time speeds ahead, she’ll always be our baby.

Big and little and a Texas Coast sunset

Eleven.5

Riding her bike to school on the last day

It feels like yesterday that Annabelle was embarking on her first year of middle school, nervous and wide eyed and seemingly less prepared than the kids who got into her fantastic magnet program from more academically rigorous elementary schools. But here we are with our newly minted rising 7thgrader, and she absolutely killed it! Annabelle’s final grades were laughably great – her lowest one being a 97 in Science. She has also made a group of wonderful, funny, quirky, sweet and brilliant friends whom I hope will remain as her “pack” through middle and high school. And she is now shooting archery six days per week, has become a major fitness enthusiast (you should see her nose-to-ground push-ups), and loves playing her trombone in the middle school band, cooking and baking (this week: perfecting salt water taffy), reading, trying to train the dog, and more.

Taffy takes muscles and she’s been working on both!

Sure, she can be a very age-appropriate tween, sneaking screen time (something we never had to worry about before, but now have strict rules around), giving sullen one-word answers to her parents and nanny on occasion, blowing off her adoring little sister, and hanging out in her room more than with us. But most of the time, she remains joyful and interested in interacting with all – a guest whom parents always tell us they LOVE having over.

Such a great set of girlfriends!

Annabelle’s bout with anxiety back in January was scary, but it has now been under control for a while (she sees the therapist occasionally for help). She seems to be managing her stress smartly, such as agreeing to the major challenge of taking High School Algebra next year in 7thgrade (you have to be invited by the teacher, but with a 99 for the year, that wasn’t tough), but asking the band director to put her in the least advanced band group next year so she won’t be required to stay and practice after school, and taking French instead of Spanish, which she hears is an easier language at Kealing.

Convincing both of her siblings to get their fitness on at the park

Annabelle is SO excited for this summer, which she will spend primarily on horseback (a month’s worth of riding camp + her trip with Clem and her cousins to a dude ranch). She is also looking forward to tons of friend time – she spent her first 3 nights after school ended at various sleepovers and headed out at nearly 9PM last night for a night swim at Barton Springs with another friend. She’ll keep up with her archery and has a decent amount of summer homework (to prep for Algebra and keep reading and writing for language arts) but she isn’t worried about it. Kealing is so rigorous that she is mostly looking forward to some brain rest and carefree fun. And I’m thrilled to be off of work so I can enjoy a lot of it with her! Her bouts of tweeniness can be annoying, but they never come out when we are on an adventure together (even if that adventure is going shopping or cooking fried rice together) and I want to fit in as many of those moments as possible with this joyful, quick-witted and quirky girl!

Annabelle making everyone laugh in San Antonio (our Hamilton trip)

Eight.5

Walking to the school – the final week!

The best part about being Eight.5 for Clementine is that she has finished up what has been a really challenging school year. I’ve alluded to it before, but her favorite teacher (who adored her) left and the teacher she was left with was extremely challenging for a bunch of reasons – to all of the kids. In fact, there are 7 classmates of Clem’s that are not coming back to our school next year (including many of her besties such as Charlie, Micah, Stella and Kosmo)! But for whatever reason, Clementine got the brunt of her teacher’s frustrations. I won’t go into the details here, but the situation was so bad that other parents noticed, and Clem came home many days absolutely crushed. There was only so much we could do, fighting a brand new Principal and Assistant Principal in a situation where they were in over their heads – although with much pushing they allowed her to spend half her days in 3rdgrade due to her advanced academics. 

Stage makeup – getting ready for her theatrical debut

But here’s the thing: through all of it, Clementine never told us she didn’t want to go to school, always worked her hardest (her report card was perfect), and kept her head up, counting down the days and making the most of what she could control (and loving her time spent in the grade above). It was heartbreaking and inspiring and I don’t think I’ve ever been more proud of her. We spoke about the characteristics that were getting her through – perseverance and grit, which would come in even handier in life than the big brain she was gifted with. We talked about the fact that there would be challenging situations and people in her future (there always are) and she was lucky to learn how to deal with those situations at such a young age. And we showered her with love and extracurricular fun and a wonderful therapist… and the combination seems to have worked out fine.In fact, this past month was more than fine on the extracurricular front! Clementine passed into Intermediate ice skating (and is still loving every minute of it) and did a fantastic job singing, dancing and acting her way through her theatrical debut as Jane in Mary Poppins! She was so adorable to watch – the youngest one on stage – feeding lines and stage cues to the bigger kids who weren’t as on top of it as she was.

So many adoring fans

And now she is so excited for a fun summer full of her favorite camps – ice skating, tinkering, horseback riding, “wet and wild” (where they go to a different waterpark each day) and her first stint at overnight camp! Three months of so much fun, with the added bonus (for both of us) that I won’t be working and can spend more time with her between all of those activities. We’ve already snuck a little bit of extra time (this is my last week of work) putting together puzzles and playing Boggle and laying together reading and chatting and singing, and I am soaking up every single second of this special time with this special girl. She is an absolute gift.

First official day of summer = morning at Big Stacy Pool

Eight.4 and Eleven.4

Short, joint post alert! Just a quick check-in to tell you that:

A) Clementine is now a full time glasses wearer and practically doesn’t remember life without them, and

B) Annabelle is currently growing at an alarming rate. 5’4.5″ in February, 5’6″ today!

While this is usually the part of the year where we’re all limping across the school-end finish line, barely doing what we need to get by (and, for the record, Annabelle’s socks don’t match and she’s lost 2 water bottles this week alone), the energy is different in our house than usual!

First of all, there was the addition of this brilliant piece of furniture – my “graduation gift” to myself as I near the end of my 4 year “term” running marketing for Kinsa (last day: May 31):

With that one piece of furniture, we’ve turned the least used room in our house into one of the most-used and it’s glorious! I’m sure our enthusiasm will wane as the days hit triple digits this summer, but for now it’s rare that only one of us is in the hammock at a time, and I’m especially loving the conversations I’m having with these girls as we gently rock and relax. Eddie seems to be enjoying the fresh air too and is out there any chance he gets, now that we’ve gotten him some cushion for the slate sunporch floor.

Second, both kids are doing much better with their anxiety/worries/etc. We know by now that these things ebb and flow, and this school year was especially tough with both girls dealing with some challenges (Clem’s extreme empathy exacerbated by a bad 2nd grade teacher situation, Annabelle’s anxieties just rearing their head as they do every few years).

These days, we’re all getting our work done (including Marc, who is pushing through big challenges and exciting opportunities at Moment), Clem is loving ice skating and preparing for her big Mary Poppins debut, and Annabelle is all about horses and archery. That is, when we’re not having fun with our visitors (HURRAY FOR THE WINTERS VISITING!!) or visiting ourselves (Marc is off to Jazzfest this weekend – his happy place).

Most of all, I can’t believe that by the next time I write, it will be SUMMER – and ALL THREE OF US GIRLS WILL BE OFF! We are literally counting the days.

Eight.3 and Eleven.3

After some coaxing, I’ve decided to keep this blog going for a while longer with a to-do to figure out better password protecting in the future. So now I have a little catching up to do!

Clementine:
This girl has had a couple months of “wins” at a time when she really needed them. She passed out of the “blue frogs” in gymnastics (with some impressive backbend-kickover moves!), passed into the second level of her new love, figure skating (I must admit I’m a proud mom here!), got the lead role of Jane Banks in the children’s theater production of Mary Poppins, and even “passed” out of going to therapy with Dr. Laura to talk about her sadness and worries! Which is not to say that she is sadness/worry free – but she is doing a lot better at coping with those big feelings (animal hugs always help, for example):

Clementine is now 8 and a quarter, and she continues to get more complex. She gets completely wrapped up in books and artwork and music, but has trouble focusing at school sometimes (her behavior isn’t always stellar for this reason). And she cringes at the thought of upsetting or disappointing anyone, but then makes a giant mess and forgets to clean it up, or doesn’t complete a task no matter how many times you remind her. Going camping with friends last week, we’d often find her digging alone in the dirt or mixing up pretend concoctions, sort of forgetting that she was there with a friend who wanted to interact with her.

Clementine continues to excel academically (quote from the latest report card: “Clementine continues to perform well in all academic areas, is always attentive, and her contributions are accurate, enthusiastic and frequent”), especially in the areas she’s allowed to do with the 3rdgraders, and still wants to try to skip a grade this summer, but I’m torn because I think maturity-wise, she is pretty age-appropriate. That said, it seems she acts MORE mature when hanging with older kids, so perhaps that’s still the right answer. We’ll see in a few months when it’s time for her to take those district tests (and she’ll see those tests better with these new glasses!)

In the mean time we’ve figured out other ways to challenge Clementine – like her big Whatacorn.com launch this past month! She has learned so much about revenue, expenses and profits and is determined to raise money for charity with this endeavor. And her commitment to quality in everything she does is shining through as it always does (funny watching her scold her employee Annabelle when big sis’s work isn’t up to snuff) – she is determined to sell a high quality product and make her customers happy!

Annabelle:
At 11.25, the anxiety is still pretty strong with this girl, and she has taken over Clem’s weekly appointments with Dr. Laura. But she continues to excel in school (all A+ grades), have many friends, and (when the anxiety doesn’t rear) and continue her joyful, creative and fun way of tackling everything head on! She’s constantly getting friends and neighbors in on her plans, whether it’s a slime-making extravaganza, a fake horse supply catalog, or Whatacorn’s social media presence. Yesterday, no joke, she said, “I have an awesome idea. Let’s make a family-wide banana challenge. We’ll see who can go the longest having ONLY bananas as food.”

In more serious challenges, Annabelle’s archery coach finally gave her a very specific training plan and the kiddo got Marc to make room for garage shooting, so now she is pushing herself there 6 days a week, too. She has a color coded 10 year plan in place to get to the 2028 Los Angeles Olympics, which she will gladly show you. In other words, Annabelle is “killing it” at life… when her anxiety isn’t making her sure she’s going to pick the wrong foreign language to take next year which will no doubt result in the earth stopping spinning.

One more thing to note about Annabelle – she is suddenly TALL. She measured 5’4.5 in February and I’m pretty sure that spurt was just the beginning. She wears a 9.5 shoe, and while we’ve still been shopping for her in kids’ sections (except for shoes), I think this is about to end (tricky because she is still mostly shaped like a kid). I wouldn’t be surprised if by this time next year, she is 5’8. And stunning. At least, when she remembers to shower or at least brush her hair. She does seem to need a larger pony to ride (especially according to the current pony)

All in all, the girls are doing really well. They are counting the weeks till summer vacation – 8 more! – but I love how much they’ve fallen in love with passions outside of school in the meantime (Clem: acting & ice skating; Annabelle: archery & horses). And with only 9 more weeks of work on my end before I take the summer off and then re-start Alkali Marketing, I might be the most excited of all. I can’t wait to have more time with these kiddos while they still like having their mama around!

Checking in with our adoring fans…

Hello family! As you know, I’ve been using this site partially to connect with family and partially as my own personal “baby book” about the girls as they grow up each month. But they’ve been getting older and more complex, and I’ve been getting a little more concerned about sharing their “big kid/tween” lives in such a public way (despite the fact that we have maybe 3 readers, this site can be found). Plus, I’m able to share a lot these days on Instagram and Facebook, so I’m not sure these blog posts are as necessary.

So I think I’ll either archive this blog (and just keep some journal notes for myself) or keep writing, but password-protect it. If you wouldn’t mind, please email me to let me know if you still love reading it and want a password, or if you think it’s okay to let this one slide as the girls are hitting an age where their inner lives should be more private.

Thanks so much for the loyal following – we love you!

Lauren

UPDATE! Getting some mixed response so I asked Annabelle if she cared and she said she did not. So I might not be AS regular, and I’m going to figure out a way to password protect it, but the blog will go on for now. If you are a reader, let me know so I can get you a password!