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.

Nine.3

We need to slow this girl down. She just got her third-quarter report card (all A’s, as usual) and I realized she only has one more year before heading off to middle school. Too fast! But man, is she growing up into an amazing young woman.

Annabelle’s version of heaven would involve gymnastics, archery, cheeseburgers (with onions), a pile of fantasy or “warrior” books (she snuck her way into the Hunger Games trilogy and is loving it), and her best girl friends. And man, she is putting in her 10,000 hours to be a master in all of those categories (okay maybe not the cheeseburgers). She is most often found upside down working on a new gymnastics move – only because we don’t have an archery range at home. And she lives for playdates – cannot get enough of her school besties Roisin, Charlotte, Indigo, and Adeline but is generally happy in any room with any kid within a couple years of her age. And even the most hard-to-befriend kids warm up to her – because how can you not be won over by Annabelle?

Annabelle is still forever dreaming up ideas and projects. On Sunday morning she woke us up by coming into our room and asking if I could help her sew a button because she was designing a wrist guard to wear while holding a shield in case someone’s shot (arrow? nerf bullet?) got around the shield and hit your arm.  And the number of times I’ll be in the middle of something and she’ll ask for twine, or a large adult sock, or a stiff piece of cardboard… it’s endless (and always entertaining). Very few of the ideas are “marketable” (“I want to make hand shoes for people who want to walk down rough terrain on their hands”), so Marc in particular is curious when the ideas will take a more… practical shape. But I figure practicality is easier to learn than creativity!

Speaking of creativity, Annabelle’s mile-a-minute mind is still causing some sleep problems. The other night, after having a funny conversation about data points that look similar but have nothing to do with each other (correlation vs. causality) that included extreme love of cheese with dying by being tangled in your bedsheets, AbCD got so worried about her cheese-loving sister Clementine that she was terrified she’d die that very night. We had to go together into Clem’s room and see her sleeping peacefully (and have another conversation about correlation vs. causality) to calm her anxious brain! Even she thinks her brain is funny sometimes (we can laugh together about the tricks it pulls on her) – even when she can’t control it – which to me is just so completely Annabelle and so completely Awesome. I wouldn’t change a thing (except how quick this childhood is whizzing by). Happy 9.25, sweet fantastic girl.

Six.3

Look at this six-and-a-quarter-year-old. While some of her behavior reflects her mother as well as these shades do, so much of Clementine is so uniquely Clementine. Mostly, the conversations. Tonight she was trying to work out how she could have a baby that’s “made from her” while still marrying her friend Emilia. I dodged the details, but this is what she thinks about before bed (when not going over every little detail of the latest Harry Potter chapter)! At dinner she talked about wanting to visit the Great Wall of China (but flying around the earth to get there, not digging through its core because that’d kill her), and at breakfast we discussed the differences between coincidence, correlation and causality. In other words, every conversation with this child is delightful. Which is not to say that SHE is always delightful – she still whines and blames and refuses to answer you when she wants to (after Spring Break she yelled at me, “WHY did you make us have such an adventurous trip, didn’t you KNOW that we were going to be EXHAUSTED when we got back?”).

In fact, this girl is reluctant to go to school any morning, but that’s just because she isn’t a morning person. It turns out that she’s quite the academic! This last report card was pretty awesome – all 4s (like A’s) in academics and all 4s except for a 3 on the behavior front! She got the 3 in “Respects self and others.” I’m just going to guess that it’s the “others” part that was lacking here, because Clementine has plenty of self-respect! Here she is learning to be a badass from an awesome book called, “Bedtime Stories for Rebel Girls”

Clementine continues to be more academic and artistic than she is athletic, although she continues to improve in swimming and is really enjoying the new little after school gymnastics program she and her sister have started going to. Her best moves are more theater than coordination, but it’s worth it to ask her to demonstrate her “flying butt slap” for you. Mostly, she’s active when it interests her. For example, she wept when we told her we had a steep mile hike out of Carlsbad Caverns (but then did great), but couldn’t get enough of running up and down the sand dunes at White Sands National Monument!

In general, Clementine is an absolute joy to be around… when things are the way she wants them. We’ve given up on forcing meat at dinner, for example, alternating between a cheese quesadilla and scrambled eggs (and lots of veggies) for her in the interest of a more peaceful evening. I even ordered special socks without seams so we could stop our daily 10 minute morning “my socks don’t feel right” ritual. We spent years trying to get her to bend to our will and improve her ability to “deal,” but frankly, life is a lot more fun and interesting now that we’ve started picking our battles more. She doesn’t get away with rudeness or leaving messes, but we’ve come to accept her quirks. The truth is, this kid is a natural born leader. And I look forward to the day when she is running the show and has actual hired help to scramble her eggs and remove all lumps and seams from her socks!

Nine.2

This kid blows me away nearly every day.

From her deep questions (in the car the other day, “Do you think humans will evolve into a more advanced species? How, and when?”) and thoughts (at breakfast, “I’m never going to be younger than I am right now. Or now. Or now! It’s amazing!”) to her surprise presentations (this week she sent Marc and me a powerpoint – which I didn’t even know she knew how to do – about why we should get her a dwarf hamster), I never know what she’ll come up with next. And I love it.

Annabelle had some big accomplishments the past couple months, like being one of only a few kids accepted into the Duke TIPS program for gifted children, to winning 4th grade gold at the school science fair (and going to her first regional fair), to making great strides with backbends and walkovers in gymnastics (both kids started gymnastics in January), to getting a couple of bullseyes in archery (her new favorite activity). That last piece is especially impressive since we recently took her to the eye doctor and found out her eyesight has deteriorated significantly since we got her new glasses in August. We can’t wait to see how she does with her new glasses at this weekend’s lesson!

Annabelle’s teacher conference a few weeks back was hilarious. We walked in and they immediately started laughing, “BOY do we have a lot to talk about,” they joked – and then went on to say that Annabelle is an absolute joy. She is clearly at a level of intelligence far beyond others, constantly participates (they often say, “does anyone other than Annabelle want to answer this?”) but never calls out the answer or is rude about her proficiency. She always helps others in class, and they generally just worry about how to challenge her. She rushes through work too quickly sometimes and could write with more detail, but all in all they couldn’t stop gushing. It was a pretty proud day for us parents J

Over the past couple months we’ve seen a little moodiness in Annabelle, especially when it comes to putting up with her sister and even in some instances with Diane (she knows she can get away with more with Diane vs. her parents). We hear this is very normal for tweens, and it is pretty minor in the grand scheme, but it serves as a bittersweet reminder that our little girl really is growing up. I can’t believe that we only have one more elementary school year after this one (and the only reason she’s not going to skip it, she told us, is because 5th grade has the best field trips). Also worth noting – according to her 9 year well check, that “growing up” will likely be all the way up to 6 feet – she is getting SO tall! We’re beyond curious and excited about the adult Annabelle will one day become, but it’s all happening WAY too fast for our liking.

Six.2

I don’t think I’ve known a six year old that was a bigger combination of sweet, smart and sass as our girl.

SWEET
All you need is a Clementine hug to know what I mean by this. But, for example, she also ALWAYS says “I’ll take the smaller half” when she splits things, even her favorite treats (chocolate, cookies, candy – a note that she still doesn’t like anything donut-related, not even Café du Monde beignets!). And when we told her a sitter was going to take care of her during the school day while she had the flu, her response was, “Yay I love Emily!” and then a second later, “But I’m really worried that I’m going to get her sick!”

SMART
Clementine is really starting to blow us away both in her math abilities (mental math that comes up in conversation as well as the Dreambox online math she does) and especially in her reading. Over the past couple months, she has become OBSESSED with Harry Potter. We read it together before bed, but she reads extra chapters after we tuck her in and has even started bringing it to school (her kinder teacher told us she has never had to say to a kindergartener during recess, “Put the book down and go play!”). We were skeptical that she was comprehending everything when she read on her own but she has proven it by telling us what happened in the parts we weren’t there for. Oh – she also got first place in her first science fair – her analysis of cat, dog and human hair of all ages was fantastic!

SASS
Let’s just say that the first couple weeks of January were… rough. That girl had more tantrums and meltdowns in a couple weeks than she’d had in the past 6 months! Luckily this appears to have been a short-lived phase (the bummer of getting back into the school year after too much winter vacation fun? She also shot up an inch or two in that time, so it could’ve been growth-spurt related). Now, to see her sass you just need to watch her walk. I don’t know where she got her little waggle, but I do know that neither Annabelle nor I (nor any of my sisters or my mom) have ever managed to pull it off!

To focus on one more “S” word, man is this kid special. It was so nice to hear her kindergarten teacher talking about her at our teacher conference a few weeks back. Ms. Dunbar kept using the word, “Amazing” to describe both her academics and the insightful participation she brings to class. She also said Clementine’s behavior & listening has improved considerably since the beginning of the year, which we were a little nervous about (we’re assured it is “age appropriate”)! She mentioned that once Clem matures a bit (like in the next year or two) she could ABSOLUTELY handle skipping up a grade like her sister, which is something we won’t push but will keep an eye out for in the future.