Monday, May 26, 2014

Kate's Metamorphosis

Kate started pre-school timid and tearful:
Kate's First Day of Pre-School 2010 - too shy to look at the camera

Even as she progressed through school, she kept a bashful, apprehensive spirit about her.  And there was always the issue Kate's health.  A little small for her age, consistent eating issues, and a reoccurring stomach ache that doctors couldn't seem to diagnose.  Really, in the grand scheme of life, they were small issues... but they were still there, in the background of Kate's days.
Most of the time Kate would enjoy herself at school, despite all of this - and it appeared that Kate's personality was extra quiet.  Throughout her pre-school years, her teachers have been excellent and have allowed Kate to grow at her own pace and to participate on the level she felt comfortable.

And then along came Mrs. Archambault and Mrs. Miller.  They have been Kate's teachers for the last 9 months.  Mrs. Archambault knew Kate for about a month when she had Kate figured out.  She pulled me aside one day and told me: "Kate is shy and needs some time to adjust and come out of her shell, but she's got a really strong personality under that timid demeanor.  I've decided to give her space and room to grow and to let her come into her own without making an issue out of it."  Mrs. Archambault spent the year letting Kate be herself and making mental notes about Kate's growth, but never spoke with Kate about her eating choices, her moments of shyness... or any of it.  In Mrs. Archambault's estimation, Kate gained power and confidence when her behaviors were treated like non-issues and when no one made a fuss about Kate deciding to participate mid-game or needing a few extra minutes at the door in the morning.

The year started like any other: Kate felt timid about going into the classroom but seemed to bounce back each day once the transition was over.  On her first day to have a turn being Star of the Day, Kate felt particularly shy.  Mrs. Archambault handled it like any other day and neither gave Kate extra attention for being Star of the Day nor tried to push her into "enjoying" the extra attention.  Mrs. Miller, her other teacher, caught me on my way to my car: "Kate's so much like me," she said, "I feel that way sometimes too.  And when I have a chance to warm up on my own, I usually can start to enjoy the special treatment by the end of the day.  We'll watch what Kate needs today to be able to enjoy her turn as Star of the Day and make sure it's a good day for her."

Sure enough, when I picked Kate up that afternoon, she didn't mention feeling shy or embarrassed.  All she remembered was the show and tell circle and the lack of pressure she felt.

The strategy wasn't revolutionary, and it's not like we'd never used it before.  But somehow, this year, under the wisdom and care of Kate's teachers, something clicked.  As the year went on, Kate had less and less days that looked embarrassed and quiet and more and more days of skipping down the hall towards her class ahead of the rest of us.

Mrs. Archambault measured Kate's confidence using the playground as a litmus test: at the beginning of the year, Kate huddled near the entrance to the playground, barely feeling brave enough to venture out to the rest of the play area.  As friends began asking her to play during the year, she'd slowly come out from her safety spot a little more quickly each time.  At our end of the year conference, Mrs. Archambault told me that Kate now is the one leading games on the playground and it seems as though she doesn't even remember she had a safety spot!

Kate turned a corner this year.  She grew into a school child, confident and excited to learn.  She no longer deals with consistent stomach issues (a doctor finally diagnosed her with Situational Stomach Disorder and prescribed less chaos and more calm for the fix).  Although her eating is always progressing, she is not the smallest child in her class anymore - not even the second smallest!  She still has a sweet, gentle (often quiet and shy) demeanor, but the strong personality and the confidence show themselves a bit more readily in all areas.
Last Day of St. Peters!  May 2014

Truly, Kate's last year in pre-school has been her best.  And it has prepared her for big school next year better than I could've imagined.  Watch out world, my Kate Beth is headed your way!

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Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Mayfest 2014

In 2011, Avery showed off her skills for Mayfest.
In 2012, Kate took a turn.
In 2013, Avery was slated to show off at Mayfest but she broke her arm instead.
This year, though, this year was a trifecta!

Avery, Kate and Reese all took turns performing at Mayfest.

For Avery, the skill she enjoyed performing most was the straddle jump into the pit.
For Kate, she said her best skill was the dive roll.
For Reese, for the very first time ever, she landed a seat-drop jump on the trampoline.

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Friday, May 16, 2014

Mother's Day Flower and Bake Sale

Avery had an idea early in the year: she decided to host a bake sale and make $1 million so that she could help all of the people in the world who needed homes.

I waited to see if she'd forget the idea, but she held onto the idea and continued to ask when we could host her bake sale.  Since I didn't know how many sales we would make on our cul-de-sac, our Children's Ministry at church offered to partner with her and host a flower-and-bake sale for Mother's Day.  Our family pastor helped Avery make a more concrete goal: earn $2,000 to help fund a mission trip to Guatemala that our church would be going on later this year.

$2,000 in profit meant we would need to sell 150 flowers and baked goods, and on the day of the sale, we had only sold 85 in pre-orders.  Avery prayed and asked God to help her reach her goal.  And He did.

Avery had her hands in every part of the bake sale: advertising, signage, baking, flower care, clean-up, and counting money.  After the bake sale, we had made an astonishing $1,600 in profits - so close!  God showed up through very generous donations from people in our community and church, and we were just a little jump away from the final goal.

And that's when Kate got an idea - she had been hearing everyone talk about all of the hard work Avery had done, and she decided she'd do a little selling of her own.  She called her Nana and DD and offered to sell them 3 pieces of artwork.  She took her efforts very seriously and her hard work, along with the hard work Avery put into the bake sale, equaled exactly $2,000 in profits!

Avery helped count the money one last time and then turned it into the church to "help people who need water".  I couldn't have asked for a better Mother's Day gift than watching my girl give out of the kindness of her heart and seeing God come through for her in a big way.

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Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Oh, Reese!

The little one keeps us laughing.  About a hundred times a week, we laugh with her and then smile and say, "Oh, Reese!"  Seems like that's the best response we've got to her antics.

For example, every night the girls pick a book.  We kept telling Reese to go get her book and she kept telling us she already had.  She held out her hand to show us a stack of plastic Barbie-sized books meant for play.  "Itsy Bitsy Spider!" she told us.  So, we held the toy books, which would not open, and sang Itsy Bitsy Spider as if we were reading it.

Reese was playing with Kate this week and was trying to carry a trophy in her mouth.  Jordan heard her dropping it over and over and told her not to carry the trophy in her mouth so it wouldn't break.  "But Daddy, I horse!"  Um... huh?  "Daddy, I horse.  I not have hands."  The rules of imaginary play are strict and unwavering.

Many weeks ago, Reese heard the ice cream truck and told her sisters she would treat them (they obviously had a hand in planting the idea that Reese use her money to buy all of the ice cream, but she was happy to oblige).  She ran inside and got her $0.79 and sprinted back out.  It wasn't enough, sadly, and we didn't have any cash on us.  Well, for Easter Reese got more money, and her sisters reminded her of the ice cream deal.  Ever since then, Reese would run downstairs, hands in her ears, yelling, "You heard that?  You hear that truck?" every time the music from the truck would come.  For many nights, we'd hear the truck but could not find the truck.  Finally, at long last, we heard the truck, grabbed Reese's money, and made it to the front yard in time.  It was just too much... Reese danced and jumped and yelled, "I love that ice cream truck!" while her sisters made their selections.  And then she proudly paid for the whole experience.  Worth it for sure.

When Jordan travels, the first few days he is back in town, there is a traveling tax that he must pay: every time he sits on the floor, he is tackled by either Reese or Josh.  Reese smashes her face into his as hard as she can and leans into him with great passion and force.

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