Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Birthdays

Milagro is a child who knows her own mind. She knows what she wants and what she likes. In many ways she is spoiled in the manner of youngest children. In other ways she is neglected because she has a maturity beyond her years and always seems to be fine when the older children need more attention. She is the only one of our children who can entertain herself for long periods of time without engaging in destructive or unsafe behaviors. So when she asked for a "Fairy Birthday Party" I wholeheartedly embraced the idea and set out to plan one. As the weeks passed she articulated her desires for such a birthday--tutus, fairy wings, fairy dust, fairy foods ("ALL sweets ands sugar mom!!!"), and lots of fairies and fairy music. Her only birthday present request was the same as every year--a green bike! Would this be the year?

At the same time Pollito asked for another Dinosaur cake.  Anyone who knows me knows I am NOT the cake-baking type. I am good at lots of things. Making and decorating cakes isn't one of them as my first attempt for his 3rd birthday would clearly illustrate. At first I tried to merge the dinosaur birthday theme with the fairy theme. ("Why could he have chosen dragons?" I asked myself.) Then I realized that maybe it was time for them to have separate birthday celebrations. Their birthdays are 7 days apart right at the end of the summer/beginning of school. With the temperatures in Texas reaching well over 100 degrees each day and all the other things going on at this time of year it is always easier to plan a joint celebration. Against my own instincts I broached the question to Pollito. "Would you like to have your birthday party with Milagro or separately?" His response, "My own. ... and can I wear a tutu and fairy wings for Milagro's party?"

Tortuga, Corazon and I set out to plan their celebrations. As part of our summer schooling Tortuga and Corazon were given the tasks of planning fairy and dinosaur related activities. They engaged in learning about these creatures, planning out games, finding books to read to the littles, and driving me nuts for weeks as supplies were found and activities were planned. All in all I am so proud of these two. They struggle mightily with need for attention (being the center of it) and jealousy. Yet, they threw themselves wholeheartedly into planning, learning, and teaching the littles about fairies and dinosaurs. Their knowledge about fairies and dinosaurs continues to astound me. Milagro and Pollito had memorable birthdays and even more than a week later, Milagro will crawl into my lap, give me a hug and tell me "thank you mom, that was the best-est birthday ever!"

Monday, August 29, 2011

Pollito turns 7!

Dear Pollito,

My beautiful boy you are growing up so fast. I cannot believe you are now 7 years old! When I look at you I still picture that 2 and 1/2 year old toddler with a head of curly hair. Your hair is not as curly and we keep it cut short so the curls only make an appearance to let us know we should cut your hair soon. Although if you had your druthers you would like to grow it long like your sister Corazon. I am afraid your hair would likely grow up but not necessarily down. You still ask for barrettes and bows in your hair and we do try to accommodate you. 

This year you have grown by leaps and bounds in every way although you are still a "little guy." You just made the weight requirement to move out of a booster seat, with harness, and that makes you very happy. However, the rest of us prefer the harness because keeping still and to yourself in the car is a major challenge. You have earned the nickname "annoying little brother" from everyone and while trying at times, your annoyances are generally intended to make people laugh. You demand attention at every turn and will do anything to get a laugh--dance, sing, make funny faces, etc. You are a performer and even though mama and I get frustrated with your behaviors we have to work hard to keep from laughing out loud when we are redirecting you. You ARE FUNNY! You also have a knack for pushing everyone's buttons, including ours.

You have enjoyed a year of ballet, tap and hip hop classes. You LOVE these although you always approach them with a tentativeness and hesitation that makes your teachers wonder if you are enjoying yourself. They don't realize that from the minute you get home until the next class we are entertained by your demonstrations of all that you learned in this week's classes. Anytime good music comes on, your hips and your shoulders start to move and you couldn't stop yourself from dancing if you tried. You are also trying out soccer for the first time and we think you are a natural. Your coaches would agree and even after just 2 sessions they have already commented that they are ready for you to "explode" on the field. You haven't hit your stride in this yet but it is coming. You also started piano this year and while I cannot tell if you really like it or not I think it is helping you in other areas, such as reading.

Reading has been an incredible challenge for you but mostly because you are barely interested in it. You love books and listening to stories but you aren't yet interested in reading the books yourself. You have all the building blocks for reading but you don't usually try to read. I think something clicked for you with music though because it was soon after starting piano that you read your first book out loud. You worked hard at it and were very proud of yourself. Since then you have read about 7 books and then announced you didn't want to learn to read yet. As with other things, we aren't worried. We know you will get there when you are ready and I secretly think that will be very soon.

You still love trains and this year we saw you develop a new "eye" in your ability to set up trains. You build elaborate scenes with your tracks and trains and your attention to detail is incredible. None of your siblings can do this. You are also able to do this with your dinosaurs, cars, block, and other animals and can entertain your sisters for long periods of time as you narrate what you are doing. You are still prone to take things apart and "destroy" things (sometimes deliberately) but you are getting better at putting them together again.

You are our most affectionate child and if we let you, you would spend a good chuck of time on our laps or sitting right next to us. Your favorite place to be is still right next to me or at my feet. Speaking of feet, you give the best foot rubs of anyone in this family and you are the only kid I know who gets upset when I turn down an offer for a foot massage.

Your creative abilities have also grown tremendously this year. Your drawings show wonderful use of color and detail--way more than even 6 months ago. It feels as though you opened your eyes and saw a brand new world filled with color recently. We used to wonder if you were color-blind or simply didn't like color (beyond orange, pink and red) but clearly that isn't the case.  You make at least 2 drawings a day (one for me and one for mama) and we are running out of places to keep them.

You still have many fears--the dark, loud sounds, dogs, being alone, quiet, Elmo(I think he is creepy too)--but your ability to handle these has improved a great deal. I am relieved that you have finally stopped having nightly nightmares AND night terrors! Your body seems more relaxed when you sleep and this is a huge change from even last year. You still want to be cuddled at night and I will be one very sad mom when you decide you are too "old" for this. I am hoping it will be many, many years from now before this happens.

I enjoy our conversations when we have "coffee" together in the mornings. Usually we can only manage to do this a couple of times each week where it is just the two of us. Don't tell any of your siblings but those are my absolutely favorite mornings because you come up with such insightful observations and thoughtful questions. I often marvel at how rarely you let any of us in to hear those ideas of yours.

Never doubt how much we have loved you since the first day we set eyes on you. You are a sensitive soul but also so much stronger than you know. I have so many other things I could say when I think of this past year but I will stop. You are a sensitive, smart, silly, funny, bright, caring, and fun child who brings a smile to my face every single day. I thank the Creator each day for bringing you into my life. Happy Birthday, Pollito, and I hope you will always know how much I love you.


Monday, August 22, 2011

Milagro is Four!

Dearest Milagro,

I cannot believe you are four years old today! The time has passed so quickly. You are such an incredibly joy and every day I feel such gratitude for the gift that you are.

You are the child of my soul. Sometimes it feels like you are years wiser than your young age and your sensitivity to those around you is impressive. You are definitely a night owl and even though I deny it and complain when you keep me up at night with your constant chatter, I secretly love it. We share this in common and often stay up together well after everyone else has gone to sleep. Sometimes we make up stories and our current series features "Queen Meridian" (our oldest cat) and all of her helpful antics around the house. 

Your heart is so great and each time I think you cannot get any sweeter you surprise me.  You are fiercely loyal and protective of your siblings and I hope someday they realize how much your love has helped them heal. You have loved them unconditionally from day one and even though you now get into tiffs with them you still are their greatest fan. If Pollito gets in trouble you jump to his defense. You will even go and sit with him in time-out and reassure him that he is ok. You do this even when the reason he is in trouble is for hitting/being mean to you. When Corazon gets upset or angry you work your hardest to make her laugh. Your current strategy is to sing Beyonce's "Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)." Every night you crawl into my lap and tell me how much you love us. It usually starts with "I'm gonna love you forever and ever and ever and ever." The we trade "I love you mores" and you run through the litany of your favorites-strawberries, peanut butter, cheese, ritz crackers, mac&cheese, blueberries, popsicles, ice cream, etc.. Then we culminate with "I love you more than rice and beans AND EVERYTHING!" You say "I love you" at least a dozen times each day to me and Mama and I pray that this never changes.

You are a quirky kid and come up with some funny ideas. You call Corazon "Twin" these days and recently someone asked you why. You explained that one day she dressed like you and you told her she looked like your twin. So you decided to call her twin. You both do it now and sometimes in public one of you will exclaim "Twin!" and the other responds "Twin!" leave everyone around wondering what is going on between you. You have a special bond with Corazon and want to do everything she does. You are so lucky that she will drop everything to play with you. I hope someday you realize how lucky you are to have your 11 year old sister truly enjoy spending time with you. She indulges you and caters to you and loves you more than either of you realize.  

Your current favorite song is Lady Gaga's "Telephone" and as tired as I am of hearing it I will put in on in the car the minute you ask because hearing you sing ALL the words always brings a smile to my face. Your bedtime teeth-brushing routine is would make any dentist proud and makes us wonder about your future profession. You currently own 7 toothbrushes and you use all of them (not every night.) We must sound ridiculous when we try to talk you OUT of brushing your teeth on the nights we forget and you remember after we have tucked you in. We have even bribed you into not brushing your teeth a few times and I hope you don't hold that against us in the future. You are all about whales and Scooby Doo these days. You and your siblings make up Scooby and "the gang" mysteries and have gotten several of the neighborhood preschoolers coming over here daily to play "Scooby" with you. Mama's desk is littered with "clues" that you have collected throughout your day. Each time you find a "clue" you get so excited and your face lights up. Speaking of collections, you are still into collecting "special" rocks, sticks, leaves, and other garden treasures. We have a shoebox that is about to reach capacity and even though I sneak some out and put them back I swear you find the same exact ones and return them.  You also like to bring me flowers. When you and Mama go for a walk or do the grocery run I usually end up on the receive end of a beautiful bouquet or the sweetest single flower you have managed to find even when nothing seems to be blooming around here. Don't tell anyone but I have pressed quite a few of these small blossoms in my monthly planner and they make me smile each time I come across one.

This year you took dance classes--ballet and tap--for the first time. I will have to admit that we chuckle at your lack of grace we are greatly impressed by the seriousness and commitment with which you tackle every class. You LOVE dance class and have begged to take another one this Fall. You tell anyone who asks that you will be taking hip hop too because you want to do everything Pollito does. You have also taken a tremendous interest in school and reading. You can count to 29 easily and you know all your letters and recognize most of them in print. You will even make the letter sounds for many of them when you read your books. It sometimes frustrates you that you cannot read yet but you use that to your advantage whenever you want us to read you a book. When you ask us to read you a story and we encourage you to read to yourself  you make us feel guilty by saying "but I can't read!" then you turn each page and say "blah, blah, blah.... SEE! I can't read." It works almost every time and guilts us into reading to you. You are a smart one!

You are truly struggling with becoming a "big kid." You have wanted this for a long time and lamented the fact that you are "too little" and "can't do anything." However you aren't ready to be a big kid and lately you have started talking in what you call a "baby voice" so that we "don't forget I'm your baby." We could never forget. Nonetheless we cannot convince you of that. Mama and I laugh because you never had a "baby voice." In fact, when you are in classes or groups where adults use that "sing-song" voice that many people use when talking to kids your age you ask why they "speak funny"? You don't understand why they won't speak "regular" and why they are talking to you like a "baby." You have taken to telling us that you don't ever want to get big and that you want to "stay little for a long, long, long time." Even so, you are growing up and you are wise beyond your years.

I could go on and on about who you are and who you are becoming but I will pause here to say that you are a happy, healthy, caring, joyous, thoughtful, and loving little girl who makes me feel like the luckiest mom in the world. Happy Birthday sweet child. Thank you for being you.


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