Category Archives: JBelle

Nine

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Last night, before we put JBelle to bed, DB was asking her what she’ll remember about being eight. She was tired and little punchy so she kept rattling off holidays and such but as I laid there listening to her, I knew exactly what I would remember about her being eight years old:

  • her first week at a sleep away camp
  • shopping with her for her first articles of a significant piece of underclothing & the physical changes in her that I’ve witnessed all year long
  • she still believed in Santa Claus
  • her first choral concerts
  • the way her passion for books & reading really took off
  • her love for her school teacher & how much she missed the teacher when she had to go on maternity leave
  • the year she became a vegetarian & how she’s remained committed to that choice
  • she still played with dolls (absolutely adores her American Girl Doll, Kit)
  • how her independence & responsibilities grew but she still needed hugs and reassurance and “the soft place to land” of her home environment to steady her

I don’t know what nine will bring. I know she’ll continue to grow and change and it will be just as exciting and fun to witness and participate in as eight was. Each year is a big year in it’s own way and nine will be no different. It’s her last year of elementary school. Last of year in the single digit age numbers. But there will be many first as well like her first time she’ll get to go to church camp.

IMG_3295aSo, my dearest JBelle, while I’ll miss many of the aspects of eight, I look forward to seeing what nine will bring. I look forward to seeing you grow and mature and learn many exciting new things. May your wonder and curiosity never be satisfied. I’ve watched as you’ve learned to keep those friends who treat you well closest to you and I hope you always show such discernment for the company you keep. I know many of the things about this world don’t make a whole lot of sense. Why people say the things they say and act the way they do. Your innocence is so precious right now and while I’d like to shield you from much of the ugliness, I know you’ll encounter it eventually. So when you do, I hope you always remember that I’m here to answer your questions and hold you whenever you need it.

And finally, I hope you’ll remember that if I’m not here to listen to you, answer your questions and hold you, God will be.

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Another interview with a child

img_2548JBelle – age 8

1. What is something mom always says to you? – I don’t know (that’s what she said though ironically, I do say, “I don’t know.” fairly often when she asks me questions!)

2. What makes mom happy? – I don’t know

3. What makes mom sad? – Um, um, um, ummmmmmm (she doesn’t know)

4. How does your mom make you laugh? – Um, um, um, ummmmmmm, uh (she’s doesn’t know this one either)

5. What did your mom like to do when she was a child? – I don’t know

6. How old is your mom? – 34? (close)

7. How tall is your mom? – I don’t know exactly

8. What is her favorite thing to do? – be with us? I guess?

9. What does your mom do when you’re not around? – I don’t know, I’m not around (cheeky monkey)

10. If your mom becomes famous, what will it be for? – writing a book?

11. What is your mom really good at? – typing

12. What is your mom not very good at? – I don’t know

13. What does your mom do for her job? – you don’t really have a job (touché)

14. What is your mom’s favorite food? – salad (interestingly enough, she said the same thing when asked this question when she was 3 years old!)

15. What makes you proud of your mom? that you’re my mom

16. If your mom were a cartoon character, who would she be? –  a cook (like in Ratatouille?)

17. What do you and your mom do together? – lots of stuff

18. How are you and your mom the same? – we looked the same when we were both in 3rd grade except for the red hair

19. How are you and your mom different? – I’m a vegetarian and you’re not

20. How do you know your mom loves you? – you say so

21. What does your mom like most about your dad? – I don’t know

22. Where is your mom’s favorite place to go? – out somewhere, I don’t really know

OK, not quite as insightful as her brother’s inteview, but we’ll go with it!

Thanks, again, to Sarah and Kat for this interview!

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Dear Mr. President,

I think children 8 and older should have the right to vote. I also want you to know that it would be wise to bring the troops out of Iraq. I also think you should lower taxes. I’ve been honored to speak to you through this letter and I hope you take my ideas and make them a benefit for all of us.

Sincerely,

JBelle, age 8
3rd grade

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Not Ready

glamour MaliaWhen your babies are babies there are times when they seemingly change right before your eyes. I think I remember reading, when my firstborn was an infant, that babies grow at a faster rate that first year of life than at any other time. It’s simultaneously thrilling and disheartening to see them change so fast. But the growth does eventually slow down and weeks even months can go by without any discernable differences in their growth or appearance.

Enter pre-puberty.

At the beginning of the summer, I noticed some physical changes beginning in JBelle. To protect her privacy and save her from any potential embarrassment, I’m not going to describe the changes. Suffice it to say, my baby girl is growing up. And since the day that I first noticed these changes it’s as if they become more pronounced and obvious with each passing day. Just like the days of her babyhood, she’s changing right before my eyes.

And I’m not ready for it!

I thought I had more time. I didn’t expect to be dealing with these changes at this stage of her life. Thankfully, for the most part, the changes are pretty much just physical. We do deal with some attitude and surliness but for the most part, she’s still a very sweet child. She loves playing with her American Girl doll. She still likes to wear dresses. She even still digs in the dirt on occasion.

For all the child that’s in her though, the innocence of youth is hovering precariously close to ruin. I’m even less ready for that inevitability.

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First Day of 3rd Grade

Here’s our traditional front porch picture for first day of school. We’re very excited about third grade! JBelle has the same teacher this year that she had last year (called “looping”). We’re quite pleased with that. The class is in a different room though. This is a good thing because their classroom last year was on the Kindergarten hall (long story). This year they are in the third grade wing close to and next to other third grade classes. From looking at the class roster it looks like about 60% of last year’s students have returned to this teacher’s class. A few chose to have a different teacher and a couple others have gone to different schools.

We have a third grader!

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Birthday Blessing

On JBelle’s birthday, DB and I came up with several “Irish blessing” type sayings to bless JBelle. We handed them out to everyone at the party, then all stood in a circle and recited each blessing to her. Here’s how she was blessed:

  • May you live to 108
  • May you serve God with all your strenghts and weaknesses all the days of your long life
  • May you know the sting of failure and the thrill of success
  • May you be the first woman President of the United States
  • May you know the deep love of another
  • May you be an Olympic swimmer
  • May you always have a book in your hand, a dream in your heart and a plan in your head
  • May you always be surrounded by family and friends
  • May you never stop being curious
  • May you never have any regrets
  • May you inherit your father’s coordination but your mother’s ability to drive
  • May you never be without a song in your heart or a tune on your lips
  • May you find friendships that never fade or fail
  • May you always be willing to lend a helping hand to those around you
  • May you give generously from the bounty God has bestowed upon you
  • May you find laughter in each day
  • May you see beauty in all of God’s creation, including in yourself
  • May you always find reason to say, “TA-DA!”

It was a special time and she is a special girl. I hope one she can look back on this list and see that they have all come true.

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Summer Camp & Letting Go

Last Sunday we took JBelle to Girl Scout camp. It was her first experience in being away from home for an extended period of time. She, of course, was just fine. I, on the other hand, was a complete and total wreck! The drop-off process went smoothly enough. She seemed excited, a bit nervous but she didn’t beg us to stay, she didn’t cry and cling. In fact, she was quite nonchalant about it. When we decided to go, she hugged us and turned back to the table of girls in her “house”. I purposefully stayed calm and didn’t cry or linger too long. And even on the drive back home, I was fine. It was after we arrived at home that I started freaking out.

“We don’t even know anyone at that camp!”

“We left our first born with total strangers!”

“Who does that?”

“What have we done?”

I kept my phone beside me the rest of the day. I just knew she was going to call crying and saying she was homesick and upset because someone looked at her cross-eyed.

The call never came.

Because she was fine.

That night I sobbed in DB’s arms. Letting go is so hard. But as her wonderful Daddy gently reminded me, our job is to raise her to be a responsible adult and that means we can’t always be in control of everything she experiences. And he reminded me that even in the 8 short years she’s been with us, those times when we’ve been apart from her she’s has shown tremendous growth, learning and maturity. It’s true and I knew it. Still, a knot settled into the pit of my stomach.

Monday I was still freaking out.

Tuesday I accepted that the knot in my stomach would not go away until I picked my little girl up from camp.

By Wednesday I had calmed down significantly and best of all, we got a letter in the mail from JBelle! A letter than simply told us that the food was good, they would be taking their swimming test that day and that they were 13 girls in her cabin. Short and sweet and not one mention of being miserable or longing for home.

Sigh.

My little girl is growing up.

And I can’t get this song out of my head

Wide Open Spaces
by The Dixie Chicks

Who doesn’t know what I’m talking about
Who’s never left home, who’s never struck out
To find a dream and a life of their own
A place in the clouds, a foundation of stone

Many precede and many will follow
A young girl’s dream no longer hollow
It takes the shape of a place out west
But what it holds for her, she hasn’t yet guessed

She needs wide open spaces
Room to make her big mistakes
She needs new faces
She knows the high stakes

She traveled this road as a child
Wide eyed and grinning, she never tired
But now she won’t be coming back with the rest
If these are life’s lessons, she’ll take this test

She needs wide open spaces
Room to make her big mistakes
She needs new faces
She knows the high stakes

As her folks drive away, her dad yells, “Check the oil!”
Mom stares out the window and says, “I’m leaving my girl”
She said, “It didn’t seem like that long ago”
When she stood there and let her own folks know

She needs wide open spaces
Room to make her big mistakes
She needs new faces
She knows the high stakes

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Both

my faceHere’s another JBelle story.

Back when JBelle was in preschool, there was a gas station/convenience store across the street from her school. It was affectionately known to the preschool and Kindergarten kids as, “The Purple Cow”. (There’s a long history to that name that I don’t know enough of to reiterate here.) The Purple Cow was a popular afterschool hang-out for the five and under crowd because it sold the preschooler cocktail of choice, The Icee. The rule in our family was, “one Purple Cow stop a week.” When she was in two day preschool, that usually ended up being Thursdays and during three day preschool years and Kindergarten, it was our Friday afternoon treat. We would head in with Icees on the brain only to be waylayed by Krispy Kreme donuts. The Purple Cow got a delivery of Krispy Kreme donuts every morning and they were set out just in front of the Icee machine. There were usually a few left by the time the kids were let out from school. Now my preschooler had a rather serious dilemma. Icee or donut? At first, I made her choose. “You can have one or the other but not both”, I would tell her. Then one day I guess I was feeling free-spirited and generous and I let her get both. Well, that decision proved difficult the reverse and also put a crimp in my pocketbook. From there on out she would say, “We’re going to The Purple Cow and I’m going to get both!” And so she did.

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The Moat Trolls

my faceEvery house has them you know. I would suspect that most houses have at least two and depending on your preferences you probably have several of them. They’re small and bumpy and usually not terribly colorful though some are known to sport the occasional red or green or blue bump. They like to hide, mostly between seat cushions but have also been spotted under furniture, in cabinets, on the bathroom counter and even in the refrigerator. They have a very specific function and really can not be used for anything else though I dare you to try explaining that to a three year old! When they do their jobs correctly, we ignore them. We don’t thank them or give them raises or comp time. When they get lax, which they claim is due to an insufficient power source, we curse them, throw them and hit them against our palms or legs. And yet they are as loyal as dogs and keep on keepin’ on. Due to our constant use and, ahem, abuse of them, they often break, especially in one vital area. But no worries! That’s why we have tape!

So? Have you figured it out? How many moat trolls live in your house?

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All Skate

oc-christmas-025_crop2.jpgJBelle went to her first skating party on Saturday. She’s never skated before. Ever. Well…sort of. She has a pair of in-line skates that were handed down to her from one of her cousins. She shuffles around in them in the house and a little bit outside. I don’t let her go on the wood floors, not really because of her safety but because I don’t want deep gouges in the floors from her shuffling back and forth!

So…back to the party. At the skate center you get regular ole roller skates. I’d explained the concept of them to her beforehand. Y’all, she was mess! And I felt so guilty! Why had I not given her a pair of skates two years ago and taught her how to rollerskate? By the time I was her age, I was a roller skating fiend! (Well, in that I could hold my own on a pair of skates and skate around the rink with everyone else. I never got into doing tricks or fancy footwork.) And skating parties were “all the rage” when I was kid. Everyone had skating parties.

Again, I digress. I told JBelle not to be afraid of falling. You’re going to fall, it’s OK. Look, lots of other kids are falling. I helped her out onto the rink. She fell. She didn’t cry, though. At least, not the first time. She shuffled her feet back and forth, didn’t get too far, fell down. By about the third or fourth fall she started to get frustrated and was crying. She even ended up falling in such a way, one time, that one of her skates hit her in the face just under her eye. Later that night she looked like she’d been in a fist fight!

I ended up staying the entire time with her. Walking the rink with her, helping her up when she fell. She was a lot more confident by the end of our time there. She was still shuffling, I never could get her to really lift her feet off the floor and glide. But she wasn’t falling as much and she could get herself up when she fell.

As a result, I’ve promised myself that she will learn to skate. I’m going to take her skating in the next several months and by her birthday…that new pair of skates she’s going to get will be put to good use!

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