Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Letter to (Six Year and Seven Month Old) Ann Peyton

Dear Ann Peyton,

You had your first soccer game and you had so much fun.

You also had your yearly check up and and no surprise, our babies are amazing (like didn't blink at the shots amazing), but...we're back to every few month weight checks for you and Graves. I had sort of forgotten just HOW tiny you guys are. Papa said it would be obvious at your soccer game (he had been taking you to practices). Um, yep. [All the other parents call you the MVP because you're such a spaz and skip all over the place and have your head in the clouds and your coach was constantly yelling "ANN PEYTON, stay on your man". Red team = the best team.]

 Papa took y'all on a few nature hikes, complete with binoculars and colored pencils for sketching. And then we took a whirlwind trip to North Mississippi. We left one morning, drove up the beautiful Natchez Trace, meet my aunt and uncle for lunch and enjoyed a bit of Main Street in New Albany, drove by my grandmother's old house and laughed out loud thinking of her, then checked into our cabin at Tishomingo State Park and, with just enough daylight left, went on a gorgeous two mile hike including this swinging bridge we all loved. We ate a frozen pizza and enjoyed the cottage with no Internet and no neighbors to have to alter our night party routine for (I told Papa that was a huge benefit to a hotel and you said "or an apartment!"). The next morning we got up and drove to Oxford to meet our friends who were in town from Chicago. We ate a wonderful lunch at Ajax and spent a little time on the square and headed home around four thirty. It was such a great little trip and I think you thoroughly enjoyed yourself.

We also had a fun Halloween. Graves was a knight, you were a dragon, Papa was Wicked Witch again (which you loved), and I was Jane Goodall (which you also loved).

You certainly still love your books. You told me "Sometimes, I want to save some of my Sea Creatures book for later, but then I just get too excited". I asked you if you'd be very sad when it was over and you said "Nope, I can just read it again and again all over again, because I own this book".

And then you did finish it! Over the last year and a half or so, I've read so many of this type of informational book to you, cover to cover, omitting nothing. I've learned a lot myself and I'd never say it's been entirely unenjoyable. But like so much of motherhood, and teaching, and life, it's been tedious work. Which is all the more reason why I'm SO proud of you for reading this book- eighty pages- cover to cover. Although, I don't think it was tedious at all for you. I think it was pure joy. You would decide each day the number of pages (or a specific section) you wanted to finish that day, and then you'd do it. Every day for weeks. You intentionally slowed down to savor it toward the end. Your love of knowledge inspires me!  

Also, we had to get you a brand new (to you) 600 page (and $.01 Amazon used book) animal encyclopedia. You legitimately have trouble dragging it around.

One of my great pleasures of late is watching you rediscover the books you loved as a toddler and a preschooler and seeing you read them to yourself (and your brother) countless times.

 I talk a lot about your reading because it's been amazing to watch one of my great joys become one of your great joys. But I don't want you to think it's all sunshine. And honestly, in two years when I'm doing this again with Graves, I want to look and remind myself it wasn't. So...math has been horrible lately. So many tears. Such stubbornness. I love the program we use and how it's very hands on, uses few worksheets, and has a focus on understanding rather than rote; but it's time intensive and doesn't come as easily for you as some other things. So we're indulging in the Perks of Homeschooling and doing it in our cheetah jams in the peddle car sometimes. Which is hopelessly inefficient when dealing with the abacus, but more efficient than the alternative.

We had been using a devotion I LOVED as part of "morning school", but it's honestly always been way over Graves's head and lately it got to be a bit much for you. Obviously, I think you're very bright but you're also very concrete. It was abstract but also very focused on detail and it got confusing for you. I heard about this one year curriculum for first graders and, after reading some of the book that explains the whole program, I took the plunge. After the first week, y'all both seem a lot more engaged. You said you loved that part of school the first day. The first week we spent reading about the parable of the lost coin. One day we searched for numbered/lettered coins in sand to help us figure out the answer to an important question. And we listed to a little Rain for Roots (per your suggestion). It's been really low pressure-- I get the whole week to talk about how much that coin meant to the woman and how that's just a small picture of how much you guys mean to God. That's all. That's all I want you to learn and I want it to be y'alls favorite part of the day. Some Rain for Roots lyrics I love: "Say you had ten silver coins and one silver coin got lost. Your treasure, your wealth; in the cracks, in the filth...light the lamp, sweep the floors; then call up all your friends, Rejoice with me, I've for my silver coin again! // If God had a child who wandered far astray...He'd say, go get the lost one, he's who I came to see, he thought he was an orphan, but he's coming home to me...the angels are rejoicing, the sinner is my friend, Rejoice with me, my child is coming home again!"

We had these old Babies R Us gift cards (probably from when Graves was born) and so we took the y'all to Toys R Us and picked out some fun games they can both play. We got three for about $30 (the value on the gift cards almost exactly). Your favorite is "Guess Who".

You make me laugh so often. You asked me recently if I knew what was Peace Bear's favorite part of church. Passing the peace, of course. Wonder if he spent a few of his formative years as a Methodist/Episcopalian.

Another day, I was in a light fleece and you were in a sleeveless Tinkerbell dress. I asked if you wanted to come in to do math, since the temperature was dropping and I was getting cold. You shook her head and said "Just get a stronger jacket".

It's been interesting and different lately since we found out we were expecting a new baby. You guys have enjoyed many an evening full of Planet Earth (hey, at least y'alls excess of screen time consists of large portions of a five hundred and eighty minute long BBC bird docu).

One night I threw the you guys in your room and got in bed myself, so sick, by about 8:30. Then I heard the most perfect bit of Ordinary Wonder to end my long day. You have started reading to Graves in bed more and more and I just closed my eyes and really listened. You read him his tiny set of Maurice Sendak books that he's come to love so much. Your little voice was so soft and soothing but I could tell every time there was an exclamation point by how it raised a bit higher. Y'alls giggles were such sweet music. Sometimes, when I feel like everything is crashing down around me God whispers to me through your little voices.  

You are our little pragmatist. I was telling Graves he's going to have to start being more careful and not being so rough so he won't kick my tummy. He asked why and before I could answer you go "Well Graaaves, it would be just like kicking a very young baby. Does that sound like a good idea to you??"

Speaking of you and Graves, one night Graves got banished to his bed for the duration of the night. He became thirsty and we observed you wetting and rewetting a single piece of dental floss and bringing it to his bedside to soothe him. Guys, we allow y'all cups.

Papa found this "party light" (disco light) online for $4 and night parties just kicked it up a notch. Actually, unsurprisingly, Graves is obsessed with the rave scene in his room but it gave you a little bit of anxiety.

Also, here's a little conversation I recently overheard between you two:
(9:45PM National Geographic World Atlas for Young Explorers quiz)
You: "Is this a gulf?"
G: "No"
You: "Is this a gulf?"
G: "No"
You: "Actually, that *was* a gulf"

Follow up:
AP: "Is this a wiver (how Graves STILL pronounces river)?"
Look, he may need speech or something but plans are in place to have him start kindergarten at a fourth grade geography level.

And then this:
"Hold it by your trunk and then put it on"-- in the day's adventures of Elephant and Elephant Trainer, Graves was teaching you to dress yourself.

Or this:
Graves: "Hey Momma, come look! I put my dinosaur to sleep!" (I found you in dress up clothes pretending to be asleep in the bathroom cabinet).

And speaking of nighttime, I have to tell you that one night I woke you up at two in the morning to ask if I could use your "special honey" from yourr special bee adventure for a recipe I needed for the next morning.

You are such a sweet girl. I told Papa that our house was so cold. You overheard and said "Just put on some warm pjs, then". "No sympathy from that one," Papa said and I agreed. But a few minutes later you returned with your own favorite leopard jammies. I hugged you and said they might be a little small. "But they're the biggest ones I have," you responded.
This is such a sweet spot in so many ways. You  now quiz Graves on the BrainQuest cards yourself. And you totally get his active learning style and just follow him around the house doing it.

You love leaving little notes around and this was possibly the sweetest to date:
You told me you picked the M&Ms out of your Halloween treats because they are my favorite (and that you wrote the word "green" because it's my favorite color). I've had quite a few challenges with you lately and you're not our child whom sharing comes easily for, so it makes these small acts of kindness and generosity all the more special.

I love you so very, very much, Annie.

Momma (and Papa)

P.S. Your owl pjs are a 5T, as are nearly all you jammies.

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