Wednesday, March 15, 2017

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

Dear Ann Peyton,

I have lots to catch you up on this month! First, CHRISTMAS.

Our holidays did start off a little rocky. On Christmas Eve, you absolutely lost it because I insisted on washing your bedding after your "nature collection" spilled all over it. Then when I told you that you were about to loose your media time, Graves became very protective and told me to "stop threatening his sister" or he'd "call 911 and get the fire department over here". You had asked me not to vacuum because you don't like the sound or the smell and I told you that I'd wait until that night. You went outside and were just sitting in the van for an hour and I realized I had some extra time after I finished the dishes so I started vacuuming the den and kitchen. You came in and accused me of lying to you. Gratefully, the rest of our holiday celebrations went much more smoothly.

We had a great day celebrating at Mickey and Minnie's on Christmas Day and then at DeeDee's and Grandpa Randy's on the 26th.

You are so sweet and easy to please in some ways. One of your favorite random little presents was some moose slipper socks from Minnie.

Papa also got you and Graves each some candy at Walgreens for your stockings and made tickets for a movie, a restaurant visit, and a trip to the grocery store (for the grocery trip y'all each got $50 to spend in whatever you wanted wanted!).

You had saved up a good amount of money (I used to do the same thing- I wish I was more like you now- and Mickey told us over Christmas about how one time when I was a little older than you he snuck into my room and checked my concession stand style money box and there was $500 dollars in it). Anyway, we took you and Graves shopping one night and it was so unpredictable (which was so fun because you're typically anything but). You picked a Darth Vader toy that's a few inches taller than herself!

I will tell you that if your momma got the equivalent of a minor so she could teach social studies through twelfth grade and you're a pretty big geek yourself, the majority of your Christmas from your parents may be states-themed. I love it when I can buy homeschooling resources and count them as presents. We also got you a set of candy dominoes.

Speaking of school, second grade is still going great.

We had a huge homeschooling milestone- we finished the fourth and final level of the English curriculum we've been working on for two and a half years! I HATE phonics but Foundations has been one of the most fun things I've done in my life. I could not love Logic of English more and I don't think you could either.

Math has been a joy lately with you, which is nothing short of a Christmas miracle. I recently gave you a challenge problem and prepped you by saying it might be a little tough. You immediately told me the right answer without writing anything down. I asked you how you did it so quickly mentally and you told me that "an abacus just popped up in your head" and you figured it would be forty if she used ten eggs and then halved it. It felt VERY rewarding that I had gone with what I felt was best and used curriculums that encourage higher order thinking rather than worksheet based approaches that I know you would have preferred and would have been a much lighter burden on me. After that I taught you  the word "metacognition"- thinking about thinking- one of my favorite things I learned about in the School of Ed.

 I went to a funeral one morning and I left specific instructions on independent work you could complete without me. But I didn't tell Papa and you forgot about it. So I told you to go do it when I got home. You got to work but you missed my note and just started doing exercises in your textbook. You went through four lessons I hadn't taught and and finished the unit on multiplication and only missed a couple. I really don't want to hear any more about you not being good at math! And I noticed how you wrote "the study" for class and "homeschool" for school on the front of your book where there were blanks for each.

One of the pages in your BrainQuest book had you read recipes and make up a name for them. One of them was basically a peanut butter and banana sandwich and you titled it "Graves's Great Dish". The next day you came skipping into the room where I was and announced with quite an unusual amount of enthusiasm for you "We did it! We made the dish! We used a not-sharp knife and sliced the banana and spread the peanut butter and put the banana on the bread and (you finally took a breath) TA-DA!!!"

You've also gotten even more into writing and crafting.

For a weekend project recently, you made signs for the closet/reading nook. They said:
1. "Annie wants alone time" (pictured: you reading and Graves on the outside with a frowny face)
2. "Annie is not in" (pictured: again, Graves looks a bit unhappy as he knocks and there is just a pile of books on your chair on the inside)
3. "Come on in" (pictured: everyone is all smiles)
I was just telling someone that, while I truly feel like making you guys share a room from very early on (like Graves was an infant) is one of the best decisions, parenting or otherwise, I've ever made and I really think a lot of their closeness is based in sheer proximity, it's not always all sunshine and rainbows. Honestly, though, one of the most rewarding things about it has been watching you two be forced to be creative with their space. I really believe that to be a huge life skill.

Awhile back I told you that a friend of mine was coming over later to talk about our goals for 2017, so it might be fun for you to think of some for your (I had been meaning to talk to her about doing this). You came up with three big ones ("be more helthy", "play more bord games", and "don't forget to brush teeth"). I asked you if you could be more specific with "be more healthy" so you made another list:

how to be more healthy:
- don't eat as much treats and eat more fruits and veggies
- do daily exercises
- take more walks
You also told me "I did the little dots like you do. I think they help to avoid confusion." I love that you love a list like her momma!
Later that week, you made yet another list. This time you decided to make your bullet points bats and drew an owl at the top who supposedly swoops down to get them when she does one. This one was a list of activities for bedtime.
Things to do at night:
- sleep
- read
- play quietly
- clean up puzzles
- do activity books
- plan the next day
- read letters
- do school

Another day, you did your math with zero complaints and you asked me if you could do a craft. You got the big craft book and picked out this shoe box aquarium. It seemed a bit ambitious to me, but you gathered her supplies, followed the directions, and worked on different steps- painting the box, cutting and coloring the fish- throughout the day and we assembled it and added the plastic wrap after supper. After that, you thought to add pink pipe cleaner for an oxygen pump! You're like me in this too and enjoy a good project but the finished product doesn't always turn out well so I was skeptical. I think it ended up so cute, though!

The shoe box you used originally came with a pair of puppy dog shoes in it and it was designed to transform into a pet carrier. Midnight used it for quite some time and you made notes about her (she eats meat, doesn't chew, naps during the day, and is friends with Pig and Cat). But it was tearing up so I'm glad we could turn it into an aquarium. I almost think the $14 I payed for the shoes was worth it for the box!

You absolutely crack me up. Papa made greens one night and I had to forgo my serving because of the "rich flavor" (i.e. fat content). He really kind of overdid the bacon. You and Papa had this conversation later:

Papa: "The cornbread (had I made it tonight) was always used by Granny and Pop-pop to sop up the left-over juices. Really I guess that's what most people used the cornbread for in the past."
Annie: "Like the juices I just drank up?" (with a look of satisfaction)
Papa: "Yes, those."

Girl. You drank at least eight ounces of bacon fat, chicken broth, bacon fat, and bacon fat. Papa said that the look of shock on my face when he told me was priceless.

I've loved watching you warm up to Sallie a little more. Awhile back, Sallie was wearing some flower pjs and you told me "wow, I love Sallie's little outfit today". I asked you why and you said the pink and the flowers. You're clearly not a girly girl, so this sort of thing always takes me by surprise. Secretly, I think of Annie every time she wears those pjs because they remind me of how you wanted to name her "Daisy". Secretly, I hate that it didn't stick as a nickname. And secretly, I call her by it occasionally, especially when she wears floral things.

One thing I have been thinking about a lot- I have realized that I need to be more intentional with my boundaries as far as sharing (or not sharing) about your behavior on social media and my blog. You told me recently that you'd rather me not discuss some negative behavior of yours with a friend in front of you. Actually, I've always purposefully talked about it all in front of you (with people who love you, of course). Partly because that's just how I roll. And partly because we are all deeply flawed and also all stamped with the image of God. That's a huge part of how I view the world and I want you to grow up understanding that reality and not being afraid of it. That said, you to decide how I talk about you in front of you. I asked you if it embarrassed you and you said it did "like when papa tells everyone about your wrecks". I did make sure to tell you that sometimes I just needed to talk to someone but I tried to only do it with people who I knew love you and would never let it change their opinions of you (which is clearly not exactly the same on my blog). I also told you that I would try not to put you in that position again by doing it in front of you. You are much better at "putting on a show" in public than Graves is- he is very much what you see is what you get. So it's sometimes hard for me not to share your private moments in an effort to show people what you're really like. But I'm determined to be more careful about letting the decisions about what gets shared fall to you.

One Sunday, I put you in a  reversible jumper we're on our third Winter in and leggings because she you lost your solitary pair of church tights playing dress up in them. Nobody but me cares, and certainly nobody at Northside cares, but man, this stretched my creativity. [Also, you and Graves share a white turtleneck. White turtlenecks are clearly gender neutral and there are about six billion things I'd rather spend money on, I just have to plan accordingly in Saturday night to make sure only one outfit requires it. If that ain't Voluntary Simplicity, then I don't know what is.] You just looked so...little.  I forget sometimes that you really don't look like you'll be eight in a few months. You've still got the tiniest bit of baby in you and I'm ever so grateful.

We adore you, sweet Annie Girl.

Momma (and Papa)

P.S. Your Briarwood t-shirt is a youth large (it was mine) and your shorts are from soccer and are a medium (they are huge on you!). You decided you wanted to take your picture upside down this time!


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