Friday, January 24, 2014

A Letter to My Daughter

Dear M,
You turned five last month. 

Kinda blows my mind, actually.  I mean, five is a big deal. Your life will change quite a bit over the next year.  "Big school" is next. :)

You've had a pretty fun year. You're already referring to past events (those as recent as a couple of months ago) as "Mommy, remember when I was four years old..."  Ha!

Here are a few cool things that happened "when you were four years old..." 

You enjoyed the Miami sun.

You got stitches for the first (last?) time.

You learned to swim.

And you even met the President.

I hope you remember some of these cool things.  But if not, that's the purpose of this letter.

So who are you at this age?

Well, I could use a lot of words to describe you:  you're silly, talkative (very talkative), inquisitive, stubborn, persistent, sweet...all these things rolled up in one.  You're a lot of fun, that's for sure.

Some random things about you right now:

Your FAVORITE FOODS are pizza, spaghetti, broccoli cheddar soup, and pancakes. You hate French fries, mashed potatoes, and chocolate. You still eat the same oatmeal for breakfast that you started eating at six months old!  It's so bland (has nothing but oats and tiny fruit flakes in it), but you ask for it every morning.

Your FAVORITE TOYS are animals of all kinds - stuffed, plastic, etc. - and you have a gazillion of them. You rarely play with dolls -- you'd rather have snakes, lizards, and dinosaurs. Tickles me.

The toy you picked out on your birthday: marine life squirt toys for the tub (shark, whale, stingray, etc.)

PHYSICALLY you're still on the tall/average side. You are in the 75th percentile for height, and the 50th percentile for weight. I look at your legs sometimes and wonder if you were switched at birth -- they're so long.  You'll be taller than me by the time you're eight years old. 

SCHOOL (preschool) is very interesting for us right now - and not always the good kind of interesting. You're the class clown and social butterfly rolled in one.  You care more about chatting with your friends than giving your teachers your full attention. That lands you "in trouble" a few times a week, but we are working on it.

Thankfully it hasn't impacted your learning.  You don't miss a beat. Your school once told me that even if you talk or do your own thing during a lesson, and they ask you a question, you always know the answer.  As a teacher, I know that's as much a bad thing as it is good. While you may know what the teacher is teaching, the friend that you're entertaining may not. *sigh* We're working on it.

You're doing an amazing job reading. I predicted you'd enjoy reading because of your early interest in books, but your progress still kinda blows my mind. I bought you a few first-level reading books for Christmas, thinking they'd be great practice for you through Spring Break, but you zoomed right through those. Now you're picking up your Junie B. Jones books, and reading CHAPTERS with little to no help from me. Thankfully you still want me to read to you at times. I'm not ready to give that up.  Not. Ready.

You're doing great in math, too, though I can tell you don't love it as much as reading. It's my job to be sure that doesn't turn into a dislike for math (the way I felt about math all my life), so we do fun math stuff at home. So far so good.

While it appears right now that you will have an easy time in school, as an educator, I know this may not always be the case. So if you're reading this 10 years from now and you're struggling in geometry or chemistry or world history or whatever, we'll work through it. No worries. All I care is that you give it your 100%.  

As I mentioned, you're pretty SOCIAL.  You'll go up to any kid and ask them to play (even if they're bigger than you). You can be a tad bossy, but I'm hoping that means you won't ever be a follower. I may have been a bossy child, but my mom has always said that she's never worried about me in that way -- that I was never a follower. With age, I've learned when to follow and when to lead, and my hopes for you are the same.

I love that you are outgoing, and I hope you can continue to flourish in this way.

You have your FAVORITE PEOPLE - relatives you adore, many you wish you could spend more time with. You continue to say your best friend is your PaPa (DK's dad). I'm pretty sure you love him more than any of us. And always have - ha!

When we're home, it's more complicated. 

You like to SAY your daddy is your favorite, but your actions speak differently. I'm the one the one you want at night at bedtime, I'm the one you like to crawl next to in bed, and I'm one you like to wake up bright and early on weekend mornings asking for breakfast.  Wait...ha!

You're still pretty dependent on us at BED TIME. Every night, I'll sit by your bed as you go to sleep. Sometimes we'll talk in the dark, sometimes you'll tell me something you forgot to tell me about your day, and sometimes I'll just hold your hand.  Most nights, though, you just want to know I'm near.  So I'll do some reading on my iPad until you fall asleep. It's a sweet part of my day that I will cherish as long as you want it. Because I know 10 years from now, you will not even want me in your room. :)  You also crawl in bed with us in the middle of the night every night.  I know some frown upon the whole family bed thing, but I know you won't come crawl in bed with us 10 years from now, so I've chosen to cherish it today.

Last, but not least, your PERSONALITY is probably the most interesting thing about you.  You're a bit of a perfectionist, but you're learning to be patient with yourself and others.You love to laugh and sing and play. You're actually like your daddy in a way that when I'm upset with you, you make me laugh. And just like with your father, I have to fight the smile to prove my point. You're just a happy kid, and I love that. 

Please remember that we will never expect you to be perfect, but will always expect you to be kind and to always give your best.   And don't forget these three things I wrote you last year
  1. "If you keep God in your heart, there is nothing that will come into your life that you won't be able to handle." (Author Unknown)
  2. Be kind, smile, and treat people right. 
  3. "Wherever you go, no matter the weather, always bring your own sunshine." (Anthony J. D'Angelo)

We love you today and every day, Baby Cakes. You will always be my SUNSHINE


Friday, January 3, 2014

GROW! Plus a Playdate with Friends...

Hey, good people.  Hope the first few days of the new year have been good to you.  I've enjoyed seeing all the resolutions on Facebook and Twitter.  I've also enjoyed seeing folks ridicule the whole resolutions thing - haha!  I'm kind of on both sides of the fence here. The new year does give me a sense of ambition...but I'm also someone who believes that you've got to DO better to BE better. Goals without work, I agree, are ridiculous.

I've set goals in previous years -- some I've accomplished, some I haven't.  This year, my goal is simple.  It's one word, actually: GROW.  

Or continue to grow.  

2013 was an eye-opening year for me in many ways. It wasn't an easy year, to say the least, but it made me smarter and stronger.  I've done a bit of a SWOT analysis on myself -- and recognized those things that were holding me back (mostly things that were created in my own mind).  And these last few months, I've been building on strengths and opportunities.

I'm a naturally positive person who can find the good in anything (sometimes to a fault).  My husband sometimes tells me I'm too free-spirited, and that I live in LaLa Land.  He's right in some ways. 

But in some ways, I'm not free spirited enough - like professionally.  

I didn't start off that way, though. I recall how brave I was when I quit my first job out of college, dropped out of an MBA program, and enrolled in a masters program to get an education degree. I look back on that and am actually proud of how crazy I was to do that.  As a recent business graduate, I was working at a small medical equipment company. I was making a modest wage, but had great opportunity to grow in the company.  The problem was I hated it.  I hated sitting at that desk all day.  I hated working with the same two or three people every day.  I hated the monotony of my position. I knew many jobs in industry were just like that. I wanted something different, though: to get up and move and be creative and interact with people all day.  So I did something about it.  I made the necessary moves and ending up discovering my calling.

Which brings me to today -- my eighth year of teaching. I am SO blessed to be doing what I love. And while I am always trying to be better at what I do, I still have so much room to grow -- in AND outside my profession.

Which is why these past few months I've been working at building my professional learning network and deepening my understanding of the world around me.  I never plan to go back to school, but I DO plan to take advantage of the knowledge and opportunities that are out there. I've always played it very "safe" professionally -- followed all the rules, asked for permission, waited for the "right time" for opportunities. While I still plan to follow the rules (for the most part), all that waiting for opportunities and permission is OUT.  No more. This is my life -- my career -- and I'm about to take it to new levels.  Get out of my comfort zone. Unlock the potential. I'm going to take risks.  I'm going to fail.  I'm going to dance through the fire if I need to. I'm going to get back up and try again. I'm going to learn. I'm going to grow.  And I'm going to enjoy the journey.

I ran across a New Year's resolution on Facebook the other day posted by a blogger buddy of mine. Alicia at Mommy Delicious is someone I've admired for years, so I wasn't surprised when her New Year's Day post was the best of the day for me. It's like she read my mind:

Yes. Yes. Yes.

I copied the whole thread because I noticed that all the women whose name appear in this screenshot (from the "likes" and comments) are women who have influenced me in some way. We all have different occupations, situations, and goals, but these women are awesome.

So yes, GROW is my word this year! I've got some work to do, and I'm gonna have fun doing it!

I'm enjoying the last few days of my holiday break.  While I'm actually looking forward to going back to work Monday (got some great things happening this semester), I have tried to make good use of my time off. I've done things around the house, spent time with loved ones, gotten away, and even been lazy. It's been a good break.

Speaking of loved ones, M and I met up with my college roomie, T, yesterday.  She and her son were home for the holidays.  T is the one I spent a little time with in Virginia a few months ago, but forgot to get pictures.  Not this time.

We met up and took the kids to a children's museum:

The smaller boys is hers; the bigger boy is her nephew.

They had a blast.

T happens to be another woman I admire.  She's done great things in her career -- moved to places where she knew no one, voluntarily worked overseas for weeks at a time, etc. -- all while being a great mom. I'm very proud of her.

We enjoyed spending a few hours with them.  Hopefully our kids won't be teenagers the next time we get them together!

I'm going to enjoy what's left of my break - work a little and play a lot.  Have a great weekend,  y'all.


PS - I recently deleted my domain name,, as I'm in the process of getting it transferred.  Therefore, the links to older posts (below) may not work. Use this method to get to any old post:

Hope it makes sense!

Stuff I Talk About

2011 30 day shred age update AKA animals anniversary appreciation aquarium around the house art museum Atlanta baby/toddler sleep issues baking bama football beach birthday birthday party blog awards blog buddies blogher books camping causes celebrations celebrities cheer days childhood children's museum children's theater Christmas christmas card class reunion college days concert conference cousins crafts dance date night dating days deals decluttering dentist Disney dk easter engagement facebook faith fall fun family family fun fashion father's day favorite blogs field trip field trips football friday flashback friends fun event funny pic Gaylord Opryland genealogy girl scouts goals god grad school grateful graves' disease Halloween health holidays Hollywood honeymoon instagram Iron Bowl key west kindermusik learning letter to my daughter library Los Angeles m me miami mlk day morgan is three museum Nashville national championship game natural hair nature new look new orleans New Years nyc out on the town parks parties phone fun pinterest play days at home playdate playground action pregnancy professional development Race for the Cure raleigh ramblings reading Recipes relay for life school program shows singing skating snow soccer social networking sorority spring break spring fun stress summer summer fun summer reading summer to do list teacher life technical difficulties terrible twos Thanksgiving the girls the park theme park thomas and friends three thyroid tragedy trains traveling tricycle trips twitter valentine's day video walk for autism water play we love being outside wedding wordless wednesday work wrapup Yo Gabba Gabba zoo
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