Wednesday, January 8, 2014

6 Years

6 years.  That's how long we have been parents.  That's how long we have been Samantha's parents.  In some ways that's nearly impossible to believe, how has it been 6 years since she changed our lives so completely?!  In other ways, it seems hard to believe she hasn't always been part of our life.

April 2013 PK class pictures

At 6 years old, Samantha is 46 inches tall and weighs 43.6 pounds.  She wears size 5 pants (occasionally a pair of VERY cinched up size 6 pants or a pair of 3T shorts!),  size 5 or 6 shirts, size 6 dresses and size 12.5 shoes.  Her walking problem is completely resolved and she runs all over with her friends.

Field trip to Dinosaur Valley

Her favorite color is purple, her favorite food is sausage pizza and cheese pizza, and some others that she likes a lot are spaghetti, strawberries, clementines, cooked (not raw) broccoli, and berry French toast bake.  Her favorite thing to do right now is play with Legos, especially Lego friends.  She got three Lego friends sets for Christmas and built them all in less than a week, completely by herself.  Her favorite game is Labyrinth, which was also a Christmas gift.  Other games she enjoys playing are Candy Land, Guess Who, Clue Jr and Catan Jr.
May 2013

Samantha likes Fancy Nancy, Lalaloopsy, Littlest Pet Shop and dress up.  She chooses to wear dresses very frequently, but she also loves to dig in the dirt and climb trees in our back yard.  She plays with her baby dolls, especially her bitty twin, Sarah. 

Her absolute favorite activity, though, is reading.  Anytime she is very quiet and we don't see her, she is snuggled in somewhere reading a book.  She reads everything she can get her hands on, even reading Magic Tree House books in an afternoon.  She will often tell me something and when I ask her how she knew that, she tells me that she read it.  She has known the difference between fiction and non-fiction for quite some time as a result.  We have also had discussions about the fact that just because something is non-fiction does not always mean that it is might be someone's opinion or the author might be mistaken about something, so we have also learned to look at multiple sources about something before trying to decide if it is REALLY true.

She finished preschool in May and the kids all dressed up as what they want to be when they grow up.  She chose to be a mail carrier and the postal employees here let us borrow a hat and mail bag for her to use during her PK graduation.  That was wonderful!  She just told me though, as she read this, that she doesn't want to be a mail carrier anymore.  She isn't sure what she wants to do, but said that she might want to do what I do.  Aaawww :)
Samantha and Emory at PK graduation May 2013

 She started kindergarten this year and we are homeschooling.  She is reading somewhere around a 2nd-3rd grade level and she loves doing math.  Handwriting is her nemesis.  We do that first, find creative ways to sneak it in to other things, and do math her reward for doing everything else.  Whatever works, right?

1st day of Kinder August 2013

Samantha loves drawing, painting and just about any type of art project.  As long as it is one that she gets to do what she wants rather than follow directions.  She would much rather do her own thing.

Playing with Jacob - April 2013
June 2013 Watching a butterfly as its wings dried from emerging from its chrysalis

She loves her brother and plays very well with him...most of the time.  She never leaves him out, even when her friends are over, he is always welcome to least as long as he is following her rules.  Yes, she is a little, or a lot, bossy.  We are working on that.  Another thing we are working on is honesty.  For the longest time, we could depend on her to always tell the truth when she was questioned about something.  Then she started lying when she thought she would be in trouble.  We have had many talks about her needing to always tell the truth.  She is sad when we don't believe her but she will tell us that if she always told the truth we would always believe her.  So she is starting to understand.  And the lying is MUCH less frequent than it was.

At her 5th birthday party in late Jan 2013

She has a silly language that she speaks with her brother, and it even has grammar rules.  For example, one day she was telling me that a word in silly language meant one thing, I don't remember exactly what, then a few minutes later she said another silly language word meant the same thing.  At least that's what I thought.  She corrected me.  The first word was singular, the second word was the plural.  And they were similar words, I could definitely see how the second was a form of the first.

Mrs. Josie and Samantha Feb 2013
Eden and Samantha Feb 2013
At the beginning of the year, Samantha would have replied without any hesitation, that Eden was her best friend.  She was very sad when Eden's family moved away at the beginning of March, and she still misses Eden.  She surprises me by bringing her name up or suddenly bursting into tears about missing Eden when it has been a month or more since she last mentioned her to me.  She has drawn pictures for her, though, and lately has been asking me when we can go to Abilene to visit Eden.
Sarah T and Samantha Feb 2013

Now, Samantha has two best friends, Jocelyn and Sarah T.  She loves to spend time with them, as well as her other friends, Rebekah, Ruthie, Emory, Sarah S., Phoebe and Luke G.  Her favorite days are our monthly park days when she gets to be with almost all of those aforementioned friends plus many others.

Getting ready for the dance recital
She still takes tap and ballet class and she told me that her second favorite day each month is the day she has dance class.  She had her second dance recital in May and she looked so grown up!  Something funny about the week of her recital was a conversation we had when we were on the way to her dress rehearsal.  As we got in the car, she told me that she was almost like a ballerina.  I told her that she is a ballerina because ballerinas dance ballet and she dances ballet.  She said that she isn't, that she almost looks like one, but she doesn't really look like one.  I tried to tell her that it isn't about how she looks, but she would not listen to me at all.  When we got to the dance studio, I told her teacher what she had said.  Her teacher agreed that being a ballerina is not about how she looks but about what she does, dance ballet.  She also told her that she looks beautiful in her costume and with her hair up in a bun.  When she got home, she told her Daddy that she is a ballerina, that her teacher said so.  Good grief!  At least she finally got it, even if she didn't believe me about it.

For Halloween this year, she decided very early, I think in July, what she wanted to be and there was no question in her mind.  She never wavered, she was going to be Wonder Woman.  So we searched and searched until we finally found a Wonder Woman costume in her size online.  She was so excited when it came!

Samantha is so much fun to be around most of the time.  She has a lovely smile and an infectious giggle.  There is a lot of laughter at our house most days.  She isn't much of a snuggler, except at bedtime, and when I am snuggling her in her bed, we often have some really good conversations.  She really does think things through and I am sometimes surprised by her insight.  She has always been and will always be God's gift, God's grace,  to us and we continue to remain grateful for her.

August 2013

Monday, January 6, 2014

Catching up with Samantha Pt 2

FYI:  This was written in January 2013...just a couple days after the post about her walking problems.  It has been sitting here for a year, just waiting for me to put pictures into it before hitting publish, and since she's about to have another birthday, I decided I needed to get busy! Now on to the post:

So in other news about Samantha's last 18 months...she was finally potty trained in August 2011, at the ripe old age of 3.5.  She's ahead of the game on many things, but that just was not one of them. 

We moved into our new house in October 2011, and she loved having her own room...for the first week.  Then she and Jacob both cried for each other every night for about 2 weeks before they got used to sleeping in their own rooms.  She had a tea party for her 4th  birthday and this was the first time that she got to invite more than one friend.  She LOVED it and told me that she always wanted to have a tea party for the rest of her birthdays.  Of course, she has changed her mind since then, but that doesn't matter at all. 

In February 2012, she started ballet and tap class.  She has been dancing around at least as long as we have lived in Clifton and she watched the Nutcracker over and over after Brent recorded it for her.  She would tell us to look at her doing her ballet.  So we decided it was time to let her try a class.  And she loved it!  She also made some new friends.  She had her first recital in May and looked absolutely adorable in her costume.  And the most surprising part was that my shy little girl did not act shy at all when she was on that stage.  After all the kids danced, they all went back on stage and were called to the front individually to receive their awards.  Samantha went right up to the teacher and then waved at the audience just like a little queen.  It was adorable! 

She and Jacob both took private swim lessons in June and she really was swimming on her own at the end of the week.  She would do everything she could to not take a breath until she got where she was going, but she could take a breath and keep on swimming.  I hope to have her in swim lessons again in the next month or so through the YMCA in Waco to give her a refresher before summer comes.

Shortly after she turned 3, Samantha was talking about the sounds letter makes and figuring out, on her own, what letter a word started with.  So we started working on learning to read.  She loves it and whizzes through the lessons.  We did the first pre-K workbook, skipped the second one, finished the first Kindergarten book and have made it quite a few lessons into the second Kinder book.  We don't have any kind of schedule set for when we specifically work on it, we just kind of let the mood strike, but she will do between 2 and 4 lessons in a sitting.  Since that is working, I'm not worrying about setting a schedule, at least for now.  And she is sounding out words that are far beyond the ones she is learning to read right now. 

She is also apparently a math whiz.  I was putting some things away in Jacob's room one day this past fall and she came up to me and said "Mommy, 8 plus 7 take away 2 is 13."  I had to think for a second before I could tell her that she was right.  She got that completely on her own, it is NOT something we have worked on. Oh, and add to that, I was sitting beside her as she slept when we made an emergency room trip in December, and I heard her doing math problems in her sleep.   It makes me a little afraid.

Samantha started preschool at the end of August 2012.  We decided to have her go two days a week rather than 3 or 5.  I just wasn't sure how she was going to do, and it's not like I'm anxious to have her out of the house or anything.  She was a little timid the first few days, but then she absolutely loved it.  She did great at school and had no problems there, but the afternoons were pretty rough at home for a while.  I don't know if it was because of getting used to a new schedule, because of being worn out from getting up earlier, because she has trouble adjusting to change, or if she was holding any frustration in until she got home, or a combination of the above, but I was glad when everything started getting back to normal.  She started asking to go to school every day about 6 weeks after school started, but by then, all the other spots were full, so we didn't even have to worry about trying to make that decision. 

We missed the registration week for dance in the fall and by the time we realized that it was already started, we were seeing her problems at home after school, so we decided to just let it go for a while and consider putting her back in once the spring semester started.  She didn't say anything about it until just after New Years, when she asked "When am I going to go to dance class again?"  I was glad to be able to say with a big smile, "Next week, honey."  So now she is dancing again and has moved up to the older class of 5-7 year olds.  And she comes home and teaches Jacob her ballet steps, so now he goes through the house showing us Echeppe...although from both children it seems to be separated into 2 words...A ... Shappe, and quite honestly, from watching her dance class, I thought it was two words, and two separate moves myself.

For her 5th birthday, she received a bicycle from us.  And when we went to get it, we discovered that she fit just fine on an 18 inch bike.  Yes, my barely 5 year old has an 18 inch bike!  She has only been able to ride it once so far, though, because the tube went flat at the end of her first 5 minutes of riding and we haven't remembered to get another one when we have been in Waco.  She has already discovered, though, that it is much harder to ride on a chip seal street than it is to ride on a smooth concrete floor in a store.

At 5 years old, Samantha is 43.75 inches tall and weighs 36 pounds.  Her younger brother weighs more, but she is almost 3 inches taller...for now.  She wears size 12 shoes, 5 shirts, 6 dresses and 5 or 5T pants (adjustable waist and cinched almost all the way in.)  She tells me that her best friend is Eden, and Eden is the first person she chooses to invite to anything, but she also is very good friends with Sarah, Rebekah and Jocelyn.  Emory is a new friend she met at school this year, and I think that if Emory and Samantha have anything to say about it, we will be seeing a lot more of Emory as well.  This past fall, Samantha had her first sleepovers, both with a friend staying at our house and with Samantha sleeping at a friends house.  The friend is Jocelyn in both cases, and Jocelyn spends Saturday night at our house most of the time now, then goes to church with us on Sunday morning.  The girls finally stopped counting sleepovers once we got past 5. 

She loves to dance, sing, read and play with her baby doll. She enjoys school, playing board games and playing outside with her friends. She is loving but bossy to her brother and gets quite upset when he doesn't want to follow her directions. We do have to work with her regularly on recognizing that other people don't have to do things her way.  She is usually honest when confronted, but we have had some issues lately with not always telling the truth the first time she is asked.  We are working hard on nipping that in the bud.  She is a sweet girl who is concerned about how other people feel and will try to help us feel better with hugs and kisses.  She is learning to think about how her actions make other people feel.  She is a joy to have in our life and I am so glad God chose me to be her mom!

4 Years Old

August 2013

Our baby boy is 4 years old as of a few weeks ago...and he's still as sweet as he can be!  But he is also very good at the fine art of temper tantrums when he doesn't get his way...especially when he's tired.  He gives the best hugs and kisses and he gives them all the time.  He is definitely still a snuggler and there is little (actually no) doubt in my mind that his primary love language is physical touch.  He asks me to snuggle him every night when he is going to bed and many times throughout the day. He is usually quite easy going and will go along with what his sister or parents suggest, BUT if he makes up his mind, there is no changing it!

January 2013

I think that he will be an engineer when he is grown.  He is constantly touching things, seeing how it works, taking it apart and exploring everything with his hands.  I hear from his Daddy that Daddy was like that as a child as well.  It makes Jacob happy to hear he is like Daddy.  He is trying harder and harder to be like him and he wants to spend more and more time with him. He even threw a fit the morning that Daddy had to go back to work after being home for Christmas because he just wanted to be with his Daddy.

February 2013
He is also a climber.  That one can probably be blamed on me since I climbed everything as a child.  I caught him climbing the shelves in the linen closet one day.  He got the pillows off the very top shelf.  The same shelf that I have to use a ladder to get to.  And he has gotten things off the top shelf of the pantry.  The child has no fear of doing anything physically.  It scares me quite frequently, but I try to stand back and be calm while still setting limits for him.

Falling asleep on his chair after insisting he was not ready for a nap. August 2013 
His 4 year well check isn't scheduled until February, but thanks to the flu, we went to the doctor the week after his birthday and got his official height and weight.  He is 44 inches tall and weighs 46.6 pounds.  He wears size 5T pants and shirts, although he can wear size 6 shirts sometimes and his 5T pants are getting a little snug around the waist.  He wears size 12.5W shoes.  He is definitely a big boy now!

Sleeping in the car after church. June 2013
In the past year, Jacob went on two trips to San Angelo without a parent, but with his sister.  The first time was during spring break and the second was the end of June/ beginning of July.  My parents were here for the first weekend of spring break and when they were getting ready to go back to San Angelo, Kathy asked if Jacob and Samantha wanted to go to her house and have her bring them back to me the following weekend.  Samantha immediately said yes, but Jacob had a hard time deciding.  He wanted to go but he didn't want to be away from me at night.  He finally decided that he would go.  So I waved goodbye to my babies when I waved goodbye to my parents and they were so excited to be going on a trip.  This was the first time I had been away from the kids at night since Samantha was born and it was definitely a little strange for me.  I was worried that Jacob would have a very hard time, especially at bedtime, but there were very few tears and that was only for the first day or two.  He stayed at Aunt Kathy's house and Grandma and Benjamin took care of the kids when Aunt Kathy was at work.  They had a wonderful time!  In fact, they had so much fun, that they day before it was time to come home, Jacob said he didn't want to come home!  But once they got back home, he hugged and hugged me and didn't want to let go.

Making sun bread as part of our sun unit. September 2013

He keeps up with his sister in almost everything, and they are the best of friends.  He is so sweet, loving and tenderhearted nearly all the time.  He is concerned when his sister (or anyone else, for that matter) is upset.  If she has been hurt, he comes to give her kisses and hugs and will often bring Mr. Puppy for her to snuggle to help her feel better.  One time when we were leaving the grocery store and Samantha was throwing a fit on the floor rather than walking out the door with me, he went back to her, put his arm around her and helped her to stand up and then supported her to walk out the door.

First day of kindergarten for Samantha. August 2013

His favorite foods are spaghetti and "all the pizzas."  He will try almost anything and likes most foods.  His favorite color is least today, in a few days, it might be green, purple or pink, which are his other answers when you ask what his favorite color is.  He likes to play games including Chutes and Ladders, Guess Who, Candy Land, Blokus, and Chinese Checkers.  He loves to run and dig outside, play on the teeter totter airplane, "read" books, especially the "Things to Spot" books and mazes, build with blocks, duplos and regular legos...although he still needs quite a bit of help with the legos since his fine motor skills aren't quite good enough for those tiny blocks, and he is good at working puzzles.  He tells me, without any hesitation, that his best friend is Luke G. and his other best friend is Luke B.

Dino valley with Samantha and Luke G - December 2013

Mr. Puppy is still his favorite, his comfort object.  There was a 2 week period in September when Mr. Puppy was lost.  Samantha thought he was left outside and blew away in the wind. I knew that he wouldn't have blown away, and didn't think he had been taken outside, but I was concerned that if he had been left outside, an animal had dragged him off because he was NOT there any longer. And the longer he was missing, the more I was worried that was what happened. Jacob was getting more and more concerned as time went on, even getting up to look for him several hours after being put to bed, so I started looking to see if we could find a new one.    It was not easy to find since we got Mr. Puppy when Samantha was a baby. If I had known then that several years later Jacob would choose it as his favorite, I would have bought two to begin with!

  I found a new one on Amazon for a ridiculously high price. I found a used one on eBay for half that, but still ridiculously priced. They agreed to come down to a little less than half of their list price and shipping was free. Thanks to a fabulous auntie and uncle who suggested that they pitch in to help pay for it, we went ahead and ordered a new Mr. Puppy.  Jacob came in and saw the picture on the computer and commented that it was Mr. Puppy when he was new. I asked him if he would like Mr. Puppy to be new again and he said "YES!" So I told him that auntie and uncle were helping to pay for Mr. Puppy to be new again and he would be coming in the mail. He was excited and kept asking when he was coming and if the mailman had Mr. Puppy yet. So then, one afternoon, the kids came running out of Samantha's room yelling "We found Mr. Puppy!" and smiling like you wouldn't believe. An hour later the new Mr. Puppy came in the mail.  We had one happy little boy!  And he asked me to take lots of pictures of both Mr. Puppies.  For a while he called them Mr. Puppy and Mr. Puppy Too.  Then he called them Old Mr. Puppy and New Mr. Puppy, but he has recently changed the new one's name to Mrs. Puppy and the old one is Mr. Puppy again.


Jacob had a monster birthday party for his 4th birthday.  I talked him into it because I wanted to make fleece monster pillows for a craft and had a really cute cake I wanted to make.  However, when I was showing him the cake I was going to try to make, he saw a different one and insisted that the other one was the cake he wanted.  He would not change his mind, so I changed my plans and ended up constructing a VERY tall cake.  This was the first birthday party that Jacob invited friends to rather than just having family.  Luke G and Luke B were his choices, along with his sister and Luke B's sisters.  The kids had a great time eating monster eyeballs (grapes), making monster masks, magnets and fleece monster pillows.  We were worried about whether the party would actually happen because a crazy ice storm came in the day before and many people were stuck in their homes, but fortunately, his friends were still able to come.

At City Park - May 2013

Samantha started kindergarten this year and we are homeschooling.  Jacob wants to have school most of the time when Samantha does, so he is often at the table doing his "work" while Samantha does hers.  Sometimes it's the same stuff she's doing, sometimes it's a preschool workbook while she does something else, and sometimes it's alphabet bingo.  Thanks to his sister's schoolwork, Jacob now knows almost all of his upper and lowercase alphabet and knows about half of the alphabet sounds.  He also counts beyond 20 and understands what 20 of something is.  He loves to listen to me read and brings books for me to read to him all the time.  He is a wiggly little boy, though, so he is frequently turning himself upside down on the couch while he listens to his story.  He isn't really showing signs of being ready to start learning to read yet and he isn't asking to learn, so we haven't started that yet.  He has plenty of time in the future to start reading.

pictures at his sister's preschool in April
Running in the rain September 2013

He has also been part of all the read-alouds and Bible study that we have done with Samantha.  Every six days we have a phrase of words to remember.  One unit was "I don't quit, I persevere."  A couple weeks after that unit, around Thanksgiving, I had put Jacob to bed and he called to me a little while later "Mommy!  Mommy!"  I said "Yes, Jacob?"  Mommy!  I'm purse-of-the-yearing!"  I smiled as I walked to his room and asked him, "What are you persevering about, Jacob?"  He replied, "Waiting for you to snuggle me."  My Mommy heart smiles at things like that, not only because he is so precious and loving, but because I am so grateful for the lessons that his heart is absorbing.

Dressed as a "skeleton rocker" for Halloween

He is such a sweet blessing in our lives. He makes me smile and he makes me want to scream in frustration, sometimes within almost the same heartbeat.  He frightens me and he melts my heart.  I am so grateful for the awesome privilege of being his mom and look forward to seeing how he grows and changes in the next year.

Digging in the backyard, one of his favorite pastimes - August 2013