Friday, August 26, 2016

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

Dear Ann Peyton,

Well, once again this letter was due over two months ago. But having a third baby has really slowed things down. Anyway, better late than never and by the time you read these, if you ever do, it won't matter at all.

Looking back, we did so many fun things. We went camping at Granny's one night (well, you guys and Papa camped; I slept on her sofa!).

We also had our last Sunday at Northside for a bit because I didn't want your baby sister to come while Papa was in Clinton and we had the car here. That Sunday happened to be one where the children were singing and you did so great. You were by far the tiniest and you were so adorable. I had previously heard you practicing with some action figures and then serving them communion).

And one evening my sweet friend Ashby came over for a visit and to cook is dinner. She even got you and Graves in on the cooking. It was such a fun night!

We had the swim team kick off and started practices.

The biggest event, though, was yours and Graves's joint birthday party. Y'all chose The Jungle Book as the theme. 

When I asked you told me that your favorite thing was the food ("like gorilla grapes and that kind of thing"- you live for themed stuff like that and you helped me plan the whole thing) and playing with you friends. "Whiiiiiich was pretty much the whole party" you told me. I'm glad you and Bud are both so easily satisfied. I was telling Papa that I hope y'all don't outgrow these backyard family parties (as in not drop offs because y'alls friends parents are our friends anyway so it's a good excuse to all get together). And I hope y'alls friends don't get bored with them. It works so well since y'all are not in school and your friends spread a pretty wide range of ages. I really like uncomplicated things.

We had pizza and some fun themed snacks that were super easy and I made a cookie cake. I ran out of time to ice/decorate it but I managed to do it on about ten minutes during the party and then you arranged some plastic animals on it. It turned out pretty cute, actually!

I've never had activities before and we kept it SUPER low key- chalk, bubbles, a sticker craft I ordered for less than $5 for twelve, some fresh sand for the box, and these fun elephant stilts I made. I think it was plenty and SO easy! Oh, and you kept her friends entertained by reading aloud to them- first a new book about the weather from your cousins and then a book about the jungle (always on theme)!

You spilled some water on your quilt recently when you were soaking rose petals on yourr windowsill (???) and it wouldn't come out. I was planning to wait a bit longer but I decided this would actually be a great time to get the bedspread out of the attic that I got when you were tiny because *I* loved bird prints. I didn't realize I got a full set (instead of a twin) but I did a bunch of tucking and made it work! I also love how well it coordinated with most of the stuff we already had on your side of the room and of course you loved the birds.

We also got the crib set up and a lot of other stuff done in y'alls room. One day Papa took Graves to a doctor's appointment, a movie, and to get them both haircuts and you helped me SO much all day. I asked you if I could hand her some (very light) baskets from the attic. You said of course but first you had to get dressed. (the attic stuff makes you itchy and you insists on being covered head to toe, including wearing socks on your hands.)

You guys have also caught several lizards lately. The conversations about them were just the best, for some reason. You told me that y'all were "SO lucky to have found such an easy catch lizard."

Then I overheard Graves talking to you: "ANNIE! This lizard could have DIED. He was left alone in the treehouse." (About five minutes later) "Annie, I have a plan. You have to stay up all night and watch him. I have to get some sleep."

 You actually ended up with one in a little cage in your bed one night! The set up you made for him was taking up about a quarter of your space. Also, this conversation made me laugh:
Annie: "let's name her Lizzie"
Graves: "let's name her Bagel Bite"
Annie: "that's a horrible name, let's name her Lizzie"
Graves: "THAT'S a horrible name"
Annie: "let's name her Liz"
Graves: "you got it, Dude!"

Y'all are absolutely ridiculous.

 Papa replanted a tree in the front yard and he broke the roots on accident and said it'd probably die. So you and Graves took it upon yourselves to take the doctor'a kit outside and take its temperature, deliver it three cups of water, and wrap some toilet paper around it.

You and Graves are so good at watering the yard. There's been more than one season where Papa asked me to do this while he was at work and I just didn't make it happen.  This Summer, I've just sat on the porch and y'all have literally done everything. Newborn snuggles are great, but Seven and Five are so amazing.

Another day, I explained that new life began when the algae started producing oxygen. You said "wait, there's oxygen in the sea?" I told you yes and you asked why people couldn't breath under water if there was oxygen. I said because the water would get into your body and choke you if you breathed it in. You wanted to know why someone hasn't invented a device that traps the liquid but let's the oxygen through. I love your little mind and it's SUCH a privilege to be your teacher.

You have these neat books you really like and you are super into the human body one and Graves really loves the mythology. And y'all both like reading about the individual states and deciding which y'all would like to visit! (You told me that once Sister Baby ("Daisy") is two or three months old she'll be ready for our trip to the Smokey Mountains, ha!). 

You have turned into my favorite version of a tomboy- a phrase I don't love and Papa hates- not the truly sporty kind, but the blue jean shorts/little boy muscle tee kind that reminds me of Joey Potter and Vada Sultenfuss and Roberta from Now and Then and is a bit of a throw back. I LOVE it (But I'm glad you still love sweet, fun dresses for Sundays and special occasions, too.)

Your style has changed a lot and we had so much fun working together to create your Summer "capsule".  You had other things that fit from last year, but we bought a few things. SO different from previous years.Your Summer uniform basically consisted of:
- four t-shirts
- three pairs of shorts
- two new church dresses and quite a few from previous years that still fit
- three swimsuits (plus one worn out one for the yard)- a buzzy bee one, a flamingo one, and a watermelon one
(re: yard work bathing suit.- the bottom is as thin as tissue paper. Entirely inappropriate for anything else.) 
- Saltwaters for church and athletic sandals for play
- several rompers and dressier shorts sets also from previous years and a couple of things I got her at the Brooklyn Flea

We picked it all out together this time. So fun to give her some autonomy and watch her take ownership.

 Another fun quirk: we buy ten pound bags of sausage at the meat outlet because you love meat so much!

I have to share this recent conservation with Papa"
Papa: "Ok y'all, I've been with you since you woke up this morning playing and enjoying the day, right? I'm going to take my bath and do some things to get this day going"
AP: "No, that isn't true, you pottied without us!"
What followed was a discussion about boundaries and the need for personal time/space...a discussion I seems to have with y'all every few days (I.E. "yes, I will homeschool you. No, I will not be with you ever waking minute of your day.")

You are still so very stubborn and we've had a few standoffs. Your stubbornness is really probably the part of parenting that exhausts me the most. The day to day (and minute to minute) correcting and disciplining Graves over and over about the same thing doesn't cause me to become near as weary. Papa feels exactly opposite, which is so nice, and in my opinion, God's grace to us.
The other day it was the gravel mound in Mickey and Minnie's driveway. It has red clay in it and you did not want to change out of the nicer play dress you had on into an inexpensive mildly tacky Walmart outfit that had actually already had the bottoms stained by the aforementioned clay at a visit approximately forty eight hours earlier. You fussed and told me basically that it was too much effort to change and would "take too long", ironically for about forty five minutes. I FINALLY got it out of you that you didn't want to get the top stained and I allowed you to wear your pajama top I had also packed and wear the beloved shirt post shower in lieu of pajamas. It was a hard won victory (for the both of us).
Then the next day you got so upset because I deviated from the usual order of our day and decided rest time should be earlier. After a lot of no's from me and a lot of tears from you over the unmet requests you were making you finally settled yourself enough to ask if I'd just play animals for ten minutes. I did and you were completely content for the next two hours. I hope you can channel this intensity for good.
This is your last letter before your baby sister made her appearance. When I was newly pregnant Papa joked that we could "give the baby to someone else". You nonchalantly said "that'd be fine". I reminded you that you had said something similar about Graves after he was born and how special he is to you now. You told me "it takes awhile-- they have to grow up a little". We discussed further and you admitted that you think they get fun between two and three years. You have also, over the years, told me that "your husband" will stay at home with your babies and that when they're old enough you will wake them up to bird watch with you. But there at the very end you started hugging my tummy so often and saying "love that baby". I was so, so happy about that. To be fair, people like you and Papa don't get enough credit. I myself have, at times, inadvertently shamed you two because y'all aren't super into babies, particularly our own babies. But I know a lot of people who would take a perpetual four month old and significantly less people who would take a perpetual two year old. 

I think most people worried about Graves's transition (because he'd been the baby so long, because he'd be the middle child, because he's the only boy) but I really thought that, for a number of reasons, it'd be harder on Annie. For one thing you're just not as go with the flow. You had a HARD time when Graves was born. Of course you were two. But your personality is still largely the same. And the fact that babies aren't you thing. And the fact that you'd be getting less attention (which Graves just often sort of demands) and more responsibility (which Graves just often sort of refuses). In the end, I knew you'd and it'd be so great for all of us and (spoiler alert!) I couldn't have been more right!

Annie, we love you so much and are so very proud of you!

Momma (and Papa)

P.S. Your pjs are a 5T and you were pretending to be Robin in the picture!

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