Friday, August 05, 2016

Serena's 7th Birthday Letter

Dear Serena-bambina,

I can tell you've been feeling very grown-up as this birthday has approached! You are trying so hard to be more mature in your interactions and reactions...with varied degrees of success! ;) Regardless, the effort has not gone unnoticed!

In this past year, you've become more of a true help to me! I love that you often come into the kitchen and ask me if you can help. (You even put that on your "To-Do" list..."Ask Mommy if I can help her.") You've learned to wield a kitchen knife with softer fruits/vegetables, you make hummingbird food all by yourself (measuring out water and sugar, and bringing it to a boil!), and you are a quick study in following recipes. Now, if we could just break the finger-licking habit.... Heehee! ;) One of our favorite times are right before bed, when I play with you and your stuffed animals for a bit. I make your bear Sarah do all sorts of silly things, and I love when you can't stop giggling over her antics! We talk about things that are going on, books you've been reading, and events coming up. You show me things that you've written. (I'm so glad that you like for me to read your things! They are too precious!) And you were such a tiny baby just a short time ago!

Daddy really loves cuddling you on the couch and hearing what you've been up to during the day. Sometimes you're too "busy" for cuddling and chats; and sometimes your cuddle sessions turn into tickle fights and trying-to-get-away-from-Daddy...but somehow he knows what to say to get you to come back for more!

He loves taking you on errands or down to Jason's for a training day; you act like such a big girl and make us very proud! You've been a great help with the dogs, especially this last litter of puppies that Breeze had. You worked so hard socializing them, taking them for walks, and checking their water. Daddy was trying to think of how to pay you in a way that would be a true reward for your efforts and responsibility, and then you asked him for dance lessons! It has become the perfect "own" your lessons, and take extra special good care of the puppies without any complaining, knowing that you are earning those lessons! Then, last week, you got some lotion for your birthday from Aunt Jessica. It's your first scented lotion all your own, and you love it so much! You mentioned that you might like to buy some more when this bottle is empty, and I said that you could certainly do that. You said, "Yes, it's nice that Daddy has a way for me to earn money. There's lots of things I'd like to buy." I love drawing out these kinds of conversations, so I said, "Oh really..." in a way that left it open for you to continue. "Yes, I really want a horse. So, of course I'll need to buy a barn, too. And I want a rabbit." I see more negotiations in our future! ;)
Your relationship with Bret and Cody has definitely changed over the past year. The boys are not really your "baby" brothers anymore, so those sweet motherly interactions you used to have are fading into memories. Now there are a lot more teasing/bugging interactions instead! ;P It's amazing how different your natural inclinations are from theirs! They can hardly go 10 minutes without jumping/throwing/wrestling/running or some other manifestation of masculine greatness, while you can spend an entire morning completely engrossed in your paper dolls. Every now and then, you convince the boys (or at least one of them, and the other goes along since they seem to see themselves as a package deal) to play dress-up or do a craft. You share your paper dolls and babies, and you've even taught the boys how to sew! But when it comes down to it, you really just want a sister. Whenever you have a bad day, if I sit and listen to you long enough, you'll finally tell me (with lots of drama) that anything and everything that is wrong in your life boils down to the fact that you don't have a sister. And couldn't we just adopt one?!

In spite of your lack of sisters, you really do have a pretty good life here as the only girl. You are Daddy's princess...or pumpkin, depending on his mood...and my sweet companion. About six months ago, you finally got your own room, and you're enjoying the little perks that go along with that (like staying up later than your brothers!). You love all things girly and still prefer to wear beautiful dresses every day, while your shorts and tops lay practically untouched in your drawers.

The other day, I found a list in your room (you're a great one for making lists...wonder where you got that? Haha!) entitled, "Things to be." On the list was store keeper, librarian, hymn writer, and doctor. For the last three or four years, you have been adamant about your intention to be a school teacher; but over the last few months, you've started to open your mind to other possibilities. Sometimes, you plan to be a school teacher and a doctor during the summers. Most recently, you have become completely obsessed with being a ballerina when you grow up!

Your love of reading has continued to blossom over the past year. You have read so many books; I can't even keep track! Some days, you read 100+ pages of a chapter book. Other days, you'll spend an hour or two reading picture books from our collection or that we've picked up at the library. Topic doesn't seem to matter to you; you find everything interesting. It's like you can't stand to have books in the house that you have not yet read. The boys generally pick out topical books at the library - butterflies, worms, trains, sharks, snakes, bmx, sports, etc. - and you read them all!

You love to play with your dolls. Grace, your American Girl Kirsten doll, is your "little sister" (except when you're sad about your sisterlessness, and then Grace is just a doll), and you usually get her up, feed her, and dress her most days. Your paper dolls get a lot of play too. On paper doll days, your room is a complete mess of paper dolls, clothes, and accessories strewn everywhere. I cannot imagine how you manage to keep track of it all! You are also enjoying Barbie dolls these days.

During the school year, you wanted to play school every day. You gave me a bell, and I had to play teacher while you did your actual schoolwork. Thankfully, you told me when to ring the bell...I'm not sure I could have remembered all the appropriate times to do so otherwise! ;) You'd do your little "chores" and then ride your "horse" (bike) to school (up and down the driveway twice). Some days you loved school; other days not so much. The hardest part was not that you didn't want to do it, but that the boys did not have to do it, and you really wanted them to play school with you. This was your first year of "real" school. For history and science, you read lots of non-fiction books (that I researched and put on hold at the library) on various topics, and then told me about them. You learned how to write in cursive. And you fell in love with math. You are on the threshold of mastering your times/division facts, and excelling at 3rd-4th grade geometry/pre-algebra/story problems/measurements and money concepts. Daddy and I are doing our best to keep up with you and your love for learning!

Busy at work in your first math book -- over 300 pages, completed in about a month! We could hardly get you to take a break!

All your reading has introduced you to some pretty fascinating people. When you find out about someone you think is interesting, we have to reserve (at the library) all the books we can about that person. You have been obsessed with Helen Keller for months on end now. Sometimes, we have to call you "Helen" and do our best to read your sign language (you're a little too fast!). We found a Braille primer at the library, and you often study Braille, and try to teach it to others. ;D Grandma gave you a book about Fanny Crosby, and that inspired you to start writing hymns. Oh, your hymns!! They are some of the most precious things I've ever read! In our homeschool co-op, you love getting up on stage and giving "presentations" in front of everyone. You did one about Helen Keller in which you "taught" the sign language alphabet; and you did another on Fanny Crosby, and shared a few of your songs.

Your love of getting up in front of people found a great outlet when Grandma and you started doing plays together. You love planning out parts and costumes, and acting out a story in front of an audience! I think that's part of why you've become so obsessed with ballet. You have read and studied several books from the library about ballet. You have learned the French words for different ballet positions and steps, and have begun studying about a couple of the great ballerinas. You listened to a CD with excerpts from famous ballets so much, that you can recognize and name them and what part of the ballet "story" they are from. It is really fun to see you pointing your toes and doing your ballet steps down the hall! I love it! :)
First ballet lesson! You were so, so excited!!!
Our Serena-ballerina! ;)

We are all so blessed by you each day, and thank God for giving you to us. You have such a sharp mind, a delightful imagination, a remarkable self-assurance, and a sweet love for Jesus. I see you working on keeping your passions under control and learning to live more self-lessly (aren't we all?), and it makes me proud to be your Mommy! I love you, my sweet Serena-bambina, more than you'll ever know!

Love, Mommy

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