Sunday, November 9, 2014

The little one is now five.

Dear Reagan,

     Oh my, little one. This day F.I.N.A.L.L.Y. came. The anticipation for this birthday has been building since the day after the last one. From November to about June multiple times a day you would say, "can you get me this for my birthday?" Regarding about everything you saw, from a pack of gum to cars that were colors you liked. My favorite was when you asked for lots of money for your birthday, you said, "what is the biggest number?" Hudson told you infinity and so you said, "Yeah, that is the amount of money I want."  Then you mostly stopped asking for things, I think with the excitement of summer and your siblings being around all day. But then, around the beginning of October someone told you that your birthday was coming. Since then we have been counting down and you thought it was taking an absolute eternity. On Sunday last week you had a bit of a meltdown because we wouldn't change your birthday to, "a quicker coming day." You exploded into our room yesterday morning at 5:15 a.m. announcing, "TOMORROW IS MY BIRTHDAY!" We were frightened about what that meant for what time you would wake up today, but you gave us a blessed gift and slept today until 6:45. Thank you so much for that.

     We were thrilled that you didn't have a meltdown today about not getting the two things you have been asking for over the last month, a pony and baby cheetahs. You have it all figured out, half of the greenway will be for the pony, the other half for the baby cheetahs. At first you would say, "which one is real again, ponies or unicorns?" You couldn't remember which one, it was super cute. You now have it figured out, ponies are real, but you still aren't getting one. We had tears over it a few times because I kept telling you that you weren't getting them, I figured tears before your birthday was better than major disappointment on your birthday. That seems to have worked. 
     The birthday person always gets to pick what is for breakfast and dinner. It started out that people would ask for homemade cinnamon rolls, and occasionally deviate to chocolate chip pancakes. You really moved from that and instead asked for chocolate cereal, and everyone gets TWO bowls. We rarely have cereal, and if we do it is just one bowl that goes with a banana and maybe eggs. So this was a big treat. For your birthday dinner you have chosen lasagna and broccoli. You love roasted broccoli with olive oil and sea salt. You are such a good eater. You recently said to me,  "You know what I haven't tried? Eating fish and also eating the bones out of the meat." I'm going to have to let you try some fish beyond tuna, but bones aren't happening.
     This afternoon as Daddy and I were chuckling together about your friend party today, he said that I needed to mention in this letter that you are your own person. I think I should go far beyond mentioning it, and make it the theme of this year. You are very much your own person. You and your three older siblings are definitely a little unit. Our family is a great little team. But you don't blend in, you are a very distinct, important member of everything. With older siblings that have very strong personalities, it would be easy to just go along with the flow. That is not what you do. You hold your own, and make your opinion known.

    One of the best examples of how you have your own plan is your Halloween costume. This year you have loved the movie Frozen. Princess Elsa mesmerizes you. The song, "Let it Go," has been played and sung in our house so many times it is emblazoned into all of our heads. So you absolutely wanted to be Elsa for Halloween. However, you planned your own little tweak on the costume. Your plan all along was to wear a pirate hat and a pirate eye patch with the costume. I thought this was awesome, Daddy was a bit horrified. When the church Harvest Party rolled around a few days before halloween however, you discovered it didn't work to wear the pirate hat with a tiara. After studying them both for a little bit, you exclaimed that it is more important to be pretty than it is to be cool and scary, so you were wearing the tiara.
Trick-or-treating in Daddy's classroom.

     You are a very fun kid to parent. You are clever, articulate, mostly obedient, and downright adorable. It is fun to take you places and you love school. The biggest thing I would say about this year is that you have become very social and want a friend to play with all the time. You enjoy other kids, and make friends easily. We carpool to preschool with Claire Totten, and every day I struggle to get you both in the car, because as much as you like school you would love to just stay and play here together. After school you want to play together almost every day. You are both adorable together and love each other so much. You have also gotten to know a little girl in our neighborhood, Isabel. Isabel is a first grader, and so she is just amazing to you. This summer you wanted to play with her all the time. You also love playing with Evelyn from church. Evelyn just had a baby sister last month, so that has made you curious about babies. You told us on a bike ride a few weeks ago that we need a baby. I said a baby what. You said a baby girl. I said sorry, you are the baby girl. That was not really what you were looking for as an answer. You are the perfect baby of a family, and despite an interest in babies, I don't think you would like giving up that title.

     Your birthday party today, your first friend party, was attended by these three little girls. After much debate about what type of party to have, you settled on a craft party, with decorations from Frozen, of course. But again adding your own little twist, you also wanted to play zombie tag. That was influenced by your brother's end of summer party where we played tag with glow in the dark bracelets. So we made crowns, painted, decorated things with stickers, and played zombie tag. You loved every minute.

     Your little voice is still adorable. We are down to just one thing that you say wrong, hamburgers. You say, "hang-ga-burs." I have threatened your siblings within an inch of their lives that they are not to teach you how to say it correctly. It is too cute, and our last mispronunciation and I want to hear it as long as possible. The other thing that I love that you say is, "I mean." You use, "I mean" the same way people say, "ummm." It is just a filler for you. It is so cute. Every third sentence, or so, will start with, "I mean." I love it.

     This year you learned how to ride a bike. At Christmas Grandma and Grandpa Seaquist got you a balance bike. It was a cute little pink bike with no pedals. It took you a little while to catch on, but it was amazing. After learning how to balance on it, we just moved straight to a real bike, without training wheels. You just took right off riding it. It was so fun to have all our kids able to ride a bike. We went to Sunriver this summer and we could go on family bike rides! This all came to a screeching halt the week after Sunriver when you were biking in our neighborhood with Hudson and Zech and Zech was worried that you were going too fast down a little hill. You evidently wouldn't stop so he decided to ride in front of you to help you stop. Unfortunately, you fell and despite not having a scratch on you, you broke your elbow. The first set of x-rays weren't super clear about the break, so he put a splint on it and we came back in three weeks. Those x-rays were clear that it was definitely broken badly. You ended up having to have the splint on for 10 weeks total. We feel very blessed that you didn't have to have surgery on it, he told us there was about a 50% chance we would need that. You were awesome about the whole thing, hardly ever complaining about your arm. 

     Despite the whole broken arm part, you learning how to ride a bike has been a great metaphor for how our family is changing. You are becoming a big kid, and consequently our family is in a place we have never been in since we first had children. This summer we were able to go on hikes, go places without worrying about someone needing a nap, and in general travel more lightly because we don't have "littles" anymore. This is a bit sad for a mom who loves babies, but also really fun for our family. You can keep up with everyone, and now we can do so many more things. The best part is how much fun you bring to everything you do. You love being a big kid and doing what everyone else is doing.
This is you running, in the pouring rain, at the jog-a-thon. You ran twice, once with Camden's group. And again when Ainsley and Hudson ran. You were awesome and ran hard! It was so cute.

     Every day for the past five years Reagan Joy, you have been an absolute delight. You make us laugh harder and love more than we would without you. There are many transition ages in childhood. Becoming a five-year-old is becoming a school-aged kid. You still have the rest of this year in preschool, but we are watching you change out of a little preschooler. You are in the process of a new step away from us, you are very interested in your own little social network. Deuteronomy 30:16 is the verse that comes to mind for you this year. As you start (or really continue) the process of making your own way I will be praying in all times in your life you live this: "For I command you today to love the Lord your God, to walk in obedience to him, and to keep his commands, decrees and laws; then you will live and increase, and the Lord your God will bless you in the land you are entering to possess." -Deut 30:16

     Happy Birthday sweet Reagan Joy. Ainsley, Hudson, Camden, Daddy, and I couldn't love you one drop more. You are such a precious blessing.

Love, Mom


Sunday, April 13, 2014

The Era of Teenagers... AKA Ainsley turns 13!

Dear Ainsley,

Happy Birthday my sweet girl. I wrote a facebook post sometime last year that said, "when it comes to the age of my daughter, the number of her age should be pronounced "twelveteen." So although we have had glimpses of "teenager-ness," today it is official.

You are a lovely teenager. You are sweet, kind, smart, compassionate, and you have in the past year become quite witty. You have gone from the kid, "we are laughing at your silly, kid-ness" to, "we are laughing at the things you say because you are actually funny." Of course as I sit down to write this none of these come to mind, but in recent months there have been many times when you pop off with a hilarious little comment. It is very entertaining to watch your more grown-up humor develop.

As Camden commented a few months ago, 7th grade is the middle of middle school. It is. And this fall it felt like full-on middle school. We had some drama-moments with you. It was probably about other Things, but it came out as drama about math. Specifically algebra. You had some learning about math to do, we had some learning about parenting to do. And about how to step back, and let you do what you were going to do. We had lots of talks about high expectations, and why we have them. As we have told you countless times, there is nothing you could or couldn't do that would make us love you one ounce less. Yet we are going to expect you to do your best, and there will be consequences when you don't. Not because we love you less, but because it is our job to make decisions for you on stuff that doesn't make sense to someone who only has 13 years of experience on the planet. As we were battling over school a bit, the possibility existed that you would have 3 "B"'s on your report card. When I pointed out that a GPA with 3 B's would mean you didn't make honor roll suddenly it kicked in for you. You said, "I can't sit up in the bleachers (instead of with the honor roll kids in chairs) during the assembly!" Almost by magic, that GPA skyrocketed. Last semester, you are back up to straight A's.

Overall, you are totally spoiling us as a teenager, and we know it. You work hard, are sweet and kind, and your siblings love you. Hero-worship is what Reagan has with you. What is also so cute is how much her friends all adore you as well. Getting to go in your bedroom is magical for the 4-year-old set. Probably part of that magical draw is the over 100 bottles of finger nail polish you own. You are a nail-art master.

Today, along with both sets of grandparents, we got you new furniture for your bedroom. I was worried you wouldn't be super excited about it, but you were overjoyed. You are so excited to reorganize your room. Something that totally overjoys me! But along with that came little pangs in both daddy and my heart. You went through and took out all the things off your shelves you didn't want. That included all your trophies, (you kept your math medal and medal from winning a tennis tournament last year), baby pictures, about 30 books that you decided were too young, and (gulp-little tear) a framed picture of dad and I that you used to pack and take with you places. Earlier this fall you brought out a big basket of all your Adventures in Odyssey CD's and told us you didn't want them anymore. I'm sitting here writing this next to these things stacked on the desk, physical evidence that you aren't a little kid anymore. I'm loving the young lady you are becoming, but I so loved the little girl you once were and it is hard not to mourn that being gone. I'm just going to keep looking forward to how awesome you are and praying for your exciting future.

Notable things about your year are that you got braces (and you are the absolute best about taking care of them and wearing rubber bands), started going to youth group at Cornerstone (which has been awesome), went to Trout Creek Bible Camp again (one of your favorite places on earth), have become a powerful little tennis player (delighting your father to no end), and went with our family to San Diego (helping me navigate the first day without dad and with all four of you). This year you have really stepped up and it feels like having another adult in the house, which is awesome.(Audrey Hepburn  in Breakfast At Tiffany's for Halloween)

There are countless little steps through childhood where you separate from your parents and become your own person. Or at least that is what the world tells us. Ainsley, I want you to grow up and be whatever you want to be. However, I don't want you to, "become your own person." I want you to be God's person. I want you to fully and completely embrace the view that you are living your life entirely to please God. The teenage years are hard because you are so focused on what others think of you. But nothing could be better for you than to just focus on what God thinks of you. He loves you so intensely that He died for you. Rose for you. Wants you to live forever with, and for Him. Grasping that reality will elevate you above every ounce of the teenager-garbage that the world thinks is inevitable.

In these years you are being assaulted with so much absolute rubbish. Proverbs 4:23 says, "Above all else, guard your  heart, for everything you do flows from it." You must intensely guard your heart by filling your heart with Jesus. Nothing else you do on earth will compare to the joy you will find in your savior.

So that is how I will leave you as we enter into the beginning of 16 straight years of having a teenager in the Pate household. (many of those years there will be two, and a few with three!) As a teenager, (and always) guard your heart. Fill it with Christ. We will be here, praying for you and cheering you on.

I love you so much my Ainsley Grace.