Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Annie is 8!

Annie is getting to be such a big kid. It's hard to believe she was just the baby sister when I started this blog and look her now, big sister to two brothers -- one who is pretty much her nemesis and the other whom she dotes on constantly and pines for when they're apart. Any idea which is which? Haha. Tim likes to say to Joey, "One day she's gonna turn on you." I like to think that will never happen.

I haven't dedicated too much of this blog to Annie of late, but she's enjoying a heyday this month. So, what can I tell you about her?..
She's an outstanding student; her teachers have always raved about her. I have a story I'll try to tell quickly: The day we left for Cincinnati last week, Tim and I went to the kids' schools to pick them up. We wanted them to get at least a half day in because we'd had them miss more than a few days already this semester. Annie's teacher, Mrs. G, had texted me the night before to ask how long Annie would be in school that day. I told her until right after lunch because that was what Tim and I had discussed. Then Tim got antsy and wanted to get me to the airport sooner, and although I tried to hold him back we ended up getting them well before lunch was over. When Tim came out of the school with Annie and Timmy he also had a cupcake which he said was for Delaney. Mrs. G had brought them to school, planning to celebrate Annie's birthday with the class after lunch. When Tim told me this it made me sad that we had sabotaged Mrs. G's plan to sing happy birthday to Annie with the whole class. It also occurred to me that Annie hadn't told me to tell her she didn't want her birthday celebrated at school. For the first time since Pre-K, she might have been comfortable with it, and that would have been special. I just hadn't given the issue any thought at all as we got ready to take off on a trip that happened to coincide with her birthday. So I texted Mrs. G while I sat in the car, apologizing and thanking her for her thoughtfulness. This is in part what she replied: "She is so well worth the efforts made for her. I really do love her. She excels!!!!! And the class loves her too!" Then a little while later, "Let me clarify .. she really is the sweetest but it is so wonderful that she excels as well." We're very proud of her.
She finally has her front two bottom permanent teeth, but all the rest are still baby teeth.

She's growing her hair super long and takes pretty good care of it. She likes fixing it different ways, braids, buns and bows and head bands. Sometimes she asks me to straighten or curl it or do French braids. On Grace's wedding day she opted to spend the day with me, my sisters and Grace's kids while we had our hair and makeup done. It was nice having her around for a whole day of beautification, and I helped her fix her hair and painted her fingernails and toenails more than once since she can't seem to let them dry without damaging them somehow. Oh, and on the subject of nails: she quit biting them cold turkey several months ago. I was so impressed to see her nails growing and I asked her how she did it. I know how hard it is to break a nail-biting habit. She said, "I just didn't like it anymore."

She likes clothes and puts together really cute outfits, and I like seeing that since being put together is a good thing. I should try it more often.

She's very generous with her siblings, even Timmy. Just recently she bought them all books at the book fair. I love that it comes so naturally to her to share, and hope she always remains a generous giver. There have been times we've worried about her being too generous, like the time a friend messaged me asking if I was really OK with Annie giving her daughter a really nice bracelet. To this day I don't know what bracelet it was. It couldn't have been that expensive because not even I own a bracelet that costs more than $20! I still wondered, but if it was hers to give, it was hers to give.

Of all the kids, she conks out the fastest at bedtime and is up and at 'em in the morning with no prodding needed.

She remains our most dependable helper with Joe. She loves playing on the playground with him, and she even taught him how to go down the twisty slide feet first a few months ago. She likes playing music and dancing with him, chasing him around the house, and really anything. Most importantly to us, when we ask her to keep an eye on him for a few minutes, she has the attention span to do so.
Since reading The Temperament God Gave Your Kids by Art and Laraine Bennett, I've been into assigning temperaments to my kids. I've mentioned Timmy is a sanguine and Delaney is phlegmatic. I'm not sure about Joey yet, but I'm leaning toward choleric. I'd classify Annie as mainly melancholic, with a dash of choleric that she displays only inside her comfort zone (with us at home). The Bennetts say melancholics are "mysterious as a smooth stone on the sand -- impenetrable, dark, pressing into the ground -- concealing beneath its surface something precious. Melancholics are deep, serious and idealistic." (I like this description because I'm always thinking Annie is an enigma to me in many ways.) They like to observe more so than interact, and for this reason often appear aloof. They are slow to warm up in new situations and love routine. For example, Annie always sees the things written on my menu or the white board (agenda) in the kitchen as etched in stone, and doesn't like it when I change them on the fly. She also likes for snacks and meals to happen at a set time. Melancholics are serious and quiet, rarely speaking up in class. They are refreshed by activities like crafts, art or sewing, that allow them to focus and just be inside their own heads. That would definitely be Annie. She has mentioned she'd like a sewing machine, but I'd like her to be a little older when she gets one. Melancholics have a keen sense of fairness, like Annie who keeps score and expects 100% fairness and equality no matter how many times we tell her how unrealistic that expectation is. They are also known for their attention to detail, which Annie displayed in a picture she drew recently of her grandma that amazed me for its accuracy. Even though it was clearly a kid's drawing, the outfit she'd drawn for her grandmother was spot on. It was like seeing her through Annie's eyes.
She shows her choleric side when she bosses Timmy around and acts as the enforcer of rules. I am pretty sure this is a side of her never seen by people outside our family.

Not only has the book helped me identify our kids' temperaments and what their strengths and weaknesses tend to be; it also offers practical advice on how best to talk to them, discipline and motivate them. In the case of Annie, there are tips for helping her out of her shell and preparing her for changes. I'm finding it very helpful to flip through again and again. I'd also be interested to read The Temperament God Gave You, even though I have a good hunch that I'm a melancholic too.
It occurs to me that I've discussed how Annie gets along with Timmy and with Joey, but not with Delaney. She and Delaney get along well, rarely fighting or arguing. They've shared a room for years together without incident, and now they ride the bus together, playing with the stuffed animals they've filled their enormous LL Bean backpacks with. Since they're only 22 months apart, I've treated them like twins in many ways. I've bought clothes for them both to share since they've been the same size since they were 3 and 5, they nighttime potty trained together, and they tend to stick together wherever we go. It makes me happy that although making friends doesn't always come easily to either of them, they each have a lifelong friend in the other. I wasn't thinking about that at all back when I had one baby and was itching to have another before the first was even a year old, but I am very grateful for that.

We celebrated Annie's birthday twice -- once with her grandma and grandpa (Tim's parents) here, and again  in Cincinnati the day after Grace's wedding at Scotty and Faith's. I think she had a very happy birthday and I look forward to seeing everything age 8 holds for her.

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