Read my past letters here (includes birth and 1 YO) here (2 YO), here (3YO), and here (4YO). I’ve posted almost zero this year. Wow. Blogging in general has taken a backseat for many to social media such as Instagram, and I’m included in that number. Additionally, this spring I had my private Instagram account taken over, and it was very unsettling. After much effort, the account was taken down, and I’ve rejoined the service under a new name, but I’ve grown wary about sharing online. Here I go with a new post, though!
Tomorrow, you’ll turn five. Five feels special. It feels big (and you are! we had a well check today: 45″, 45 lbs). I just read my letter to you from a year ago, and I am amazed by how much you and I have changed this year.
Last year, I was worried about your schooling options. This year, we’ve settled into a preschool at home routine that seems to be working for us. On Monday, Wednesday, and Friday mornings, we spend 1-2 hours doing school. Baby X (now almost 3) participates readily as well. I gather the supplies, we sit together at the coffee table, and I light a candle and pray to start us off. You love marking off each completed activity on my list, though you can’t read what I’ve written just yet.
What is working well is the ritual of it, memorization, and reading aloud. I’m not sure why, but when I had the idea of lighting a candle to start school, that’s when I knew we could do this. Of course, you both love candles–watching me light them, looking at the wax drip, blowing them out. The candle also serves me as the teacher/mom. I stop my household activities, I put away my phone, and I focus on school time. We are using a curriculum called “The Peaceful Preschool,” and it follows the alphabet with simple read-alouds, gross and fine motor activities, weekly Bible verses, and art/activity suggestions. In addition, I read a Bible story, we sing a hymn, and we memorize poetry. Wow, I’m so impressed with your poetry memorization! You learn so quickly!
You also still love books. Your 3rd birthday party was a book-themed party, and you continue to sit for hours in a given week “reading” books on your own. This year, I’ve introduced chapter books. Wheee! It’s so fun! We’ve read the three stories of My Father’s Dragon, Stuart Little, Charlotte’s Web, two Pippi Longstocking books, and Strawberry Girl. I have to be careful because it’s hard to anticipate all the themes that will be introduced in a book that even I haven’t read, but so far, so good. (I’m also enjoying collecting and pre-reading some like “Number the Stars,” which I somehow never read in my school-aged life.)
A note about reading readiness and your journey: I’m curious when you’ll have a strong desire to read yourself, but thus far you’ve not shown interest beyond knowing letters and some letter sounds. I’m so ok with this! I’ve come across two ideas that support my stance of waiting to read. And, a bonus: I generally do not want to put you on a timeline. Baby X at almost 3 has no interest in the potty. Great! Fine! What’s the rush?
The first reason to allow you more time as a non-reader is that the world is a different place to a reader. Your brain begins to work differently, less sensory-oriented and more verbally-oriented. This is a precious time of you viewing the world uniquely.
The second reason to give plenty of space on reading is that listening to me read Charlotte’s Web is doing a lot more for you than reading “Fox on Box” to yourself. You’re hearing rich stories and expanding your vocabulary and attention span by listening beyond your reading level. Even once you learn to read, I hope to continue to read aloud, but for now it’s a beautiful part of our day for you to snuggle up and beg for “one more chapter!”
Last year, you asked for a fire truck-themed party. It was fun, complete with fire hats and a game of “putting out the fire” by throwing wet sponges at flames on a tarp. This year, you asked for an ambulance party. Hmmmm, that’s a little harder for mommy to wrap her head around, but we’re doing it! We’ve got a good group of friends set to attend, some yummy food planned, and activities I hope to pull off pending the weather forecast (right now 100% chance of rain…eek.).
I am enjoying recounting our typical activities these days as a reminder to our future selves what life was like in Nassau with two kids under 5. This fall has turned into a fairly full season for us. In addition to school time, you have gymnastics on Monday mornings, swimming lessons on Wednesdays, and soccer practice on Saturdays. Swimming and soccer have ended and may not restart, though you now really enjoy soccer time with daddy and neighbors in the yard. Next fall we’ll likely seek out a team for you to join. In gymnastics, you are the youngest of a group of 7-8 homeschooled children, and it’s SO fun to watch you get stronger and gain skills. You can climb up a rope on your own half-way already! (And you’ve coincidingly conquered the monkey bars on the playground.) At swimming, you progressed from being a strong get-around-the-pool swimmer to being able to side-breath in freestyle and do backstroke like a champ. How fun it is to live somewhere so warm where you can practice your skills every day!
In addition to the sports you’re enrolled in, we have nature time on Tuesdays with 2-5 other families. We rotate locations between Baha Mar trails, our own mini beach, and the South Shore. Highlights include lots of tree climbing, making friends with a raccoon, and helping our friends plant their garden (in October! planting seasons on the island are really different!).
As 2017 rolls into 2018, we are taking a break from most activities, celebrating Advent, looking forward to Christmas visitors, and, most of all, anticipating the birth of your next sibling, a little sister. You seem very excited to have a new baby in the house. I’ve been so happy to see you grow into a nurturing girl. You love to have our neighbor’s 1 year old over to watch, and you can be so sweet with littler kids. I pray that you and your sister will have a special relationship that lasts your whole life. My sisters are my best friends, and I pray that you and your siblings will enjoy a similar closeness.
I am 36 weeks along at this point, and we’re eager to know when the baby will come. You are a little miffed that Daddy and I won’t share the name with you, but we intend to tell you and Baby X the name before anyone else when you come to meet her in the hospital.
I end with the words of the first poem you memorized this fall.
As long as I live
I shall always be
My Self — and no other,
Like a tree.
Or cypress forlorn.
Like a flower,
For its hour
Or a violet —
Sunned by the sun,
And with dewdrops wet.
Always just me.