“It’s been 84 Years…”

Not quite that long, but it surely feels like it’s been 84 years since my last post. It’s really only been just over a year. (Can anyone identify the source of that quotation, by the way? Chelsea, are you reading?) My excuse? I forgot my password. I feel really sheepish saying that. Passwords are recoverable. However, I have a separate email account associated with this blog and I forgot the password for that as well… so… Anyway! Now I’m back.

So much has happened over the past year. We’ve added a new family member, our little Sugar Plum, who is five months old today. Monkey Man is almost four years old; Hula Girl just turned six recently. We completed our first year of real homeschooling. We’ve added new chickens to our flock. And all sorts of other things in between.

I wanted to get back to blogging because I don’t really keep track of our lives in any other organized way. All my kids’ baby pictures can be found on Facebook, but nowhere else. I want a place to store all our memories again!

I’m just going to jump right into writing about what happened today. I’ll go back and fill in details as needed, but I don’t really want to try to recap more than I already have.

This week Hula Girl has been taking a ballet class at dance camp. The funny thing is, she has the same ballet teacher she had waaaaay back when she first started dance. She quit dancing back then because she was just too shy to continue on. However, she started back up two years ago, and she has flourished. Hula Girl does so well with dance. She has beautiful feet, she takes corrections well and applies them consistently from the first time they’re given, and she observes her teachers carefully so she rarely misses a step. I know that all moms whose daughters dance think their daughters are just the most beautiful little ballerinas they’ve ever seen. I am no exception. Hula Girl astounds me with her grace and self-assurance when she dances. We plan for her to take separate tap and ballet classes in the fall.

Another funny thing about Hula Girl’s dance class is her reaction to a new girl in her class who has Down syndrome. Hula Girl loves kids with Down syndrome, especially if they’re of Asian descent. She once told me she wants to be Chinese and have Down syndrome, because she loves her friends who have Down syndrome SO MUCH. (Some of her favorite Sunday school friends have Down syndrome. Two of them are adorable Chinese girls.) The new girl in her ballet class has a darker complexion as well. I was SURE she would come home talking about the new girl with Down syndrome. I was half right. She DID come home talking about the girl. She said the girl is new to dance and that she is excited to see the girl trying so hard when it is something she has never done before. She said she is proud of the girl for doing her best. I asked her if she noticed anything else about the girl, and she thought for a minute before answering, “I really liked the way she had her hair braided!” It is such a rewarding experience for me to see my daughter being so accepting and encouraging of children with all abilities and skin tones. I want to impress on my children that NO ONE is better than anyone else, for any reason. I want them to learn to love and appreciate everyone, and to find ways to encourage everyone. Hula Girl is doing these things, and it makes my heart so thankful.

Monkey Man has a lot of fun at Hula Girl’s dance classes. He stands in the corner and does all the steps along with the dancers. We actually planned to have him take a rhythm and movement class this summer, but he backed out of it. I think it’s so interesting because he loves getting everyone’s attention– he is always walking through stores saying hi to everyone– but he doesn’t want to participate in dance class because he’s afraid people will watch him! We aren’t pushing the issue with him. Jonathan danced and we would love it if Monkey Man wanted to try it out, too, but we will leave it up to him to decide whether he wants to do it, and when. He knows the option is open to him.

Both children are also interested in taking gymnastics classes and joining a soccer team. They are both very athletic, and Jonathan and I are all for them trying out as many different activities as they’d like to try while they’re young.  We are also planning to start music lessons soon. I never learned to read music (I have tried, but it befuddles my mind),  and I feel such a sense of loss over this that I refuse to let my kids feel it too! So we will start piano lessons soon. I am certain that music lessons will be fun for Monkey Man. He is introverted, and he has always had an extra measure of musicality.

And now for a bit about our little Sugar Plum. She is just the easiest, sweetest baby you could imagine. She only ever cries if she is extremely overtired, extremely hungry (has only happened once in her life), or cold. Otherwise, she is just all around mellow. Nothing makes her smile more than seeing someone she loves; eliciting a laugh takes herculean effort. Most of the time she can be seen just gazing around the room and quietly taking it all in. She hasn’t rolled yet, but she is trying very hard. I am certain she will be rolling within a week or two. She looks much more like Monkey Man and Jonathan than she does like Hula Girl and me. However, she has red eyebrows, which leads me to believe she *might* have my red hair. So far she is taking after her siblings by growing superfine, uncertain-colored hair all over her giant head.

Jonathan and I are doing well. Just keepin’ on keepin’ on. I’ll let you know if anything specific happens. Haha.

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She Dances!

Hula Girl started pre-ballet in June, when she turned three. She attends once weekly, on Thursday mornings. Her teacher is a wonderfully patient woman who just loves teaching ballet. She is so very kind to the girls in the class.

There are three little girls in the class- A, B, and Hula Girl. B is exactly a year older than Hula Girl, which means Hula Girl is the youngest in the class by at least a year. This is not a bad thing. Hula Girl is quite tall for her age, so she is just barely shorter than the other two girls. She is less talkative than the other girls. Some would call her shy, but I say she’s slow to warm up. She and I talk about how she feels nervous sometimes and it’s okay, but she does need to say hi to her teacher and her friends in class. She does this well now.

Hula Girl is great at listening and following directions. She keenly observes everything Miss S. does, and tries hard to do the same thing, even to the point where Miss S. puts on her glasses and Hula Girl mimes the same movements. Hula Girl hasn’t quite figured out how to put her hands on her hips. They end up wrapping around her little belly most of the time. It’s pretty cute.

She is very serious about her dance and tells me that she adores ballet all the time. (She uses the word “adore” because she has heard it in Fancy Nancy books. Love those books.) Her love of dance is apparent. She spends at least an hour a day practicing, singing the songs from class, and insisting that Jonathan and I watch her doing the same steps over and over. Of course, her little 3-year-old body is nowhere near perfect when it comes to technical skills yet, but she really knows what she wants to accomplish and she is dedicated. What I love most, however, is the way she lets dance invade her life at all times. For example, we were walking through the mall the other day and she cried out, “Mommy! Stop!” I thought something was wrong. I asked her if she was okay, and she said, “I just need to practice my demi-plié.” Then she put her little hands on the sides of her tummy, shuffled her Crocs into first position, and opened her knees into the telltale diamond of a demi-plié. Once she did it a few times, she said, “Okay, we can go now.” Well, there ya go.

Beyond the technical skills of dance, pre-ballet has its benefits for a very sheltered daughter of a crazy stay-at-home-mom like me. Hula Girl has had to experience being under the direction of a teacher and has had to listen to a different voice of authority for the first time in her life. Her previous storytime and swimming lessons experiences still involved parents as authority figures; this summer Mommy has been on the sidelines. It was terrifying for her at first. But today she took Miss S.’s hand and walked right into the studio without even a backward glance. I am glad I’m homeschooling so I can smile at this blossoming independence rather than feeling like it’s the beginning of a new era!

Socially, Hula Girl is still a bit awkward. Part of it is her age. A year is still a big gap at 3-4 years of age. The other girls are much more interested in each other than Hula Girl is. She looks at them like they’re crazy when they have trouble following Miss S.’s directions perfectly the first time. I know that part of this is that she’s very obedient by nature, but it cracks me up to watch her silently scolding her friends (she would never dare to speak out of turn in ballet!!). She is also meek and therefore loses out to the louder, more opinionated voices of the other girls. For example, today she arrived first and Miss S. seated her on the middle tape mark. B arrived last, and was therefore placed on the end. When I peeked into the class midway through, B had taken over Hula Girl’s tape spot, and Hula Girl was standing behind her, silently willing her to move over so she could get back to the place assigned by Miss S. Finally B turned to her, pointed to her old spot on the end, and said, “I’m here now. You can go to my old place.” Hula Girl obliged because a new dance was starting and she wanted to participate in their “ballet marches, right in place!” I am very interested to see how her social skills develop as we continue on with dance!

I wasn’t sure we’d be continuing with dance past the summer, but Hula Girl really loves it. I did not expect to find something she loved this much until a bit later in life, and I don’t expect it to be a lasting love, but as long as she is interested, I will keep taking her. She has also expressed an interest in gymnastics, but those classes are offered at 2:30 on Fridays (in the middle of naptime!) so we will be holding off on those until next summer at least. We will be adding real swimming lessons (with an instructor, not Mommy or Daddy) this fall or winter. This is not something she has really expressed interest in yet, but I want to feel more comfortable taking both kids to the pool now that Gelato is walking. I will need to be VERY attuned to him, and I want to know she could make it to the edge if she needed to.

Anyway. I couldn’t be more proud of my beautiful little ballerina. Seeing her dressed up in her pale pink leotard, tights, skirt, and shoes, with her wispy blondie hair up in a special ballet bun (reserved for Thursdays), makes my heart swell with happiness for her every single week. I just know she’s doing something she loves, something which makes her feel proud of herself, and something she can use throughout her life.

And you guys. I do NOT want to be a “Dance Mom” ever, but if this is her dream, you know I’m buying a Bedazzler.

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