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Maddie is 6.5

September 21st, 2014

I always have a tough time getting myself organized for Maddie’s letters since they are “due” less than a month after Cullen’s. Here it is…Maddie’s 6.5 year old letter, a little over a month late.

Dear Maddie,

Today, you are six and a half! Considering that you just asked me yesterday whether you were six and a half yet, I think that half is pretty important to you. And judging by the number of things that have happened in the past 6 months, I would say that half a year is quite significant.

You are growing up so fast. Sometimes when I look over at you, I’m just amazed at how grown up you suddenly look. You’ve been a first grader for over a month, and you’ve quickly adjusted to the new classroom and challenges. Your teacher just graduated from college, and she is enthusiastic and full of energy and new ideas. I think that this classroom is a good fit for you! It helps that many of your friends from kindergarten are in the same class. Some tracks have only one class and mostly have the same kids each year, but our track has two classrooms. I think it’s good that the classrooms have a little mixing with enough familiarity to make you comfortable.

You started bringing home reports of bad behavior and notes from your kindergarten teacher, so we’re glad for the change of pace. Sometimes, you were making bad choices at school, and other times we feel like your teacher was mistaking anxiety behavior for stubbornness. We had some struggles, so it’s nice to start with a fresh, new slate. I’m relieved by the good reports that you’ve been getting in first grade so far!

We’re both learning common core math. The way that they teach math now is completely different from how your dad and I learned it! I’ve been having to watch videos so that we can help you with homework. Speaking of homework, you have homework every day now (well, Monday through Thursday). Your teacher assigns a packet of work on Monday, and you turn in your assignments on Friday. You also have a reading log and need to read 15 minutes a day. So far, you haven’t figured out that this is something that you should hate. I hope that lasts a while! You enjoy doing your homework most nights. I think you probably enjoy it because you get extra attention from your parents, especially when you read to us at bedtime.

You often read more than 20 minutes a day, and you’re doing great at decoding unfamiliar words. You love getting books from the library, and lately you’ve been getting Arthur books. Some of them are picture books and others are 3rd grade level chapter books. We can tell that reading to us every day makes a big difference. We still read stories to you, too. You like stories about My Little Ponies, Ramona, and Frozen.

Speaking of Frozen, you love anything related to that movie! You want to be Elsa for Halloween (and I finally was able to find an Elsa dress for you!). You even want to grow your hair out now so that you can have “Elsa braids.” We saw the sing-a-long version while we were on the cruise ship, and you were able to meet Anna. That was a very sweet moment as you showed Anna the little Elsa and Anna figures that you brought with you on the cruise. She had great interaction. When asked what you want for Christmas this year, you always mention that you want a Frozen castle playset.

You have gotten really into My Little Ponies and have many of the small, colorful ponies. You have been able to pick out some small rewards from the toy store, and most of the time you pick out new My Little Ponies. I am sure you would pick Frozen things, but Frozen items are usually sold out everywhere. It’s been incredibly popular!

You attended a Frozen themed slumber party, though you didn’t spend the night. You enjoyed most of the festivities with a makeover and fashion show (with the help of an older sister), blue junk food, and a viewing of Frozen (of course!). It was cute to hear all of the 6-year olds singing “Let It Go,” the most popular song from the movie. I took you home at about the time that the girls settled down to go to sleep. You’ve been to several other friends’ birthday parties, including one where you rode a full sized horse for the first time.

You had a painting party with fancy art themed cupcakes this year. You were able to pick which painting that everyone would try, and you picked a birthday cake painting. You invited some family friends, preschool buddies, and new kindergarten friends. It was a couple weeks after your birthday so your birthday was during track out (and we were heading to our cruise!).

As I mentioned in my last letter, we were traveling on your birthday to Florida to debark on our first Disney cruise adventure! Grandma and Grandpa joined us for the trip, and this was your fourth cruise. We left on the Disney Fantasy from Port Canaveral and visited St. Thomas, St. Maarten, and Castaway Cay. All of us had visited St. Thomas and St. Maarten on the previous cruise, but Castaway Cay, Disney’s private island, was new. We had a wonderful time, and we understand why so many people were repeat Disney cruisers!

We met so many characters on the cruise. Some of the characters we met many times, in different outfits. My favorite was pirate night when we met almost all of the classic characters in their pirate costumes. Throughout the cruise, we met Minnie (including Princess Minnie), Mickey, Cinderella, Sofia the First, Belle, Daisy, Anna (from Frozen), Pluto, Snow White, Tiana, Aladdin, Peter Pan, Smee, Hook, Jake (from Jake and the Neverland Pirates), Captain Jack Sparrow, Goofy, the Genie (from Aladdin), Pinnochio, Dopey (the dwarf), Stitch, Tinkerbell, and Donald. Your favorites were Minnie, Mickey, Sofia the First, Anna (of course), and Stitch. I’m not sure what it is about Stitch that intrigues you and Cullen, but you love him. The two of you watched different Stitch movies in our stateroom (where we could watch any Disney movie for free).

You even had the opportunity to meet Sofia the First in your Sofia dress and Mickey in your Minnie dress. You still resisted being called a princess most of the time, but you didn’t mind it some of the time. You were even able to meet Jake in your Izzy costume. It was fun to be able to reuse the last several years of Halloween costumes! I loved pirate night. The characters in their pirate costumes were so fun, and Disney is the only cruiseline that has a fireworks show at sea. You are a big fan of fireworks!

One of your favorite parts of cruising is all the tasty treats that you were able to get every day. We had chocolate, ice cream, and Mickey waffles. We had dessert at almost every lunch and dinner! You had a Mickey ice cream bar with dinner every night. Another highlight of the cruise for you was the Aquaduck. You rode it the most out of anyone in the family! It is a long waterslide/tube ride on the top deck. You love thrill rides. I know you and your brother wish that we had spent more time in the pools. We all had fun hanging out in the family hot tub and the Mickey pool. We just had so many options of things to do on the ship!

You and Cullen only spent a short time in the kids’ club. We heard from so many families that the kids’ club was the highlight of the cruise for their kids, but I think you guys were a little overwhelmed and intimidated by it. Maybe you’ll enjoy it more next time. We enjoyed our family time and did most activities all together. You and Cullen liked doing the Midship Detective, which takes you all over the ship with a special badge that activates certain paintings which are interactive and give you clues. It was a neat game.

Our best day at port was on St. Thomas. We took a boat over to a beautiful beach at St. John. We had so much fun building sandcastles and playing in the crystal clear water. We were looking forward to repeating some of that experience at Castaway Cay, but the weather did not cooperate that day. It didn’t spoil our good time, but it was a bit cold and rainy. We went back to the ship after lunch and played in the Mickey pool for a bit after “roughing it” at the chilly beach.

We had a few other trips since my last letter. Since you and Cullen had so much fun on the cruise, we knew that you would love Great Wolf Lodge. We spent one night at Great Wolf Lodge in Concord, NC during your week off between kindergarten and first grade. Melissa and Jason joined us, and we had a great time splashing in the pools, playing in waves, getting water dumped on us by giant buckets, and riding waterslides. You especially loved the water slides and rode everything except the one you weren’t tall enough to ride. We also ran all around the hotel playing MagiQuest, which was similar to the Midship Detective except you had magic wands that you used to find clues. We are looking forward to going to a different Great Wolf Lodge this fall with family!

Also during the break, we went with Jason and Melissa to Edisto Beach in South Carolina. You and Cullen absolutely love the beach. I loved watching you spin around on the sand, make sand angels, collect shells, create sand castles, and play in the water. It is definitely your happy place! Melissa is an expert shark tooth finder, and you and Cullen thought that was cool! We saw some neat shells at Botany Bay. We picked yummy fresh blueberries at their house. We can’t wait to return to Edisto, and we’re looking forward to another beach trip over Labor Day weekend to Ocean Isle, North Carolina.

In May, we headed in the opposite direction to the mountains with Earl and Michelle. We spent a long weekend in a mountain side cabin surrounded by beautiful views. We had some yummy foods and all especially enjoyed the Dan’l Boone Inn. While we were there, we went to Tweetsie Railroad which is a cheesy mountain theme park. I remembered visiting the park as a child, and our expectations were low. We were all surprised by how much fun we had that day! You rode almost all the rides, including the higher thrill rides. You’re definitely my girl!

We have a lot of flexibility with family vacations with year round school. I love that we have breaks throughout the year. We take those opportunities to take big and small trips. The rest of the time, you spend in track out camps. Since my last letter, you went to the drama camp twice. You love that one, but they recently moved so that they are about 40 minutes from our house. I don’t think that it’s going to be feasible to go to that camp unless they reopen the location closer to our house again!

You tried a new art camp, and you attended your usual art camp several times. Art is still your passion. This week, you’re trying a brand new camp…science camp! I wasn’t sure how you would enjoy it, but you’re loving it! Your friend Sophie is in the camp with you, so that definitely helps. You do two major experiments a day plus make fun snacks. This week you’re making a camera, a pressure car, spy equipment, bubble slime, and other fun stuff. You are already talking about going to science camp again sometime! I’m so glad that you are having a great time!

You’ve delved into some other extracurricular activities. You started taking gymnastics in March, and I think you had fun while you were there. You took these classes with Sophie, too. Sophie started complaining about gymnastics classes, and I think that rubbed off on you. When you first started gymnastics, you talked about how you wanted to continue for a long time so you could learn how to do the uneven bars like the older girls in the gym. By the end of the summer, you were ready to quit. I’m not sure whether you’ll want to try again sometime or not, but we just started piano lessons. I hope you’ll like it, because the program you are in will last through the (traditional) school year. You’re always nervous when you start something new, so it’s hard to tell how it will go. You have been taking swimming lessons once a week for a few months, and next month we’re going to do swimming twice a week. You’re getting more and more confident in the water! You haven’t complained about it, and you have even said that you wish you could do swimming lessons every day. We’ll have to see how you do at the swimming pool at the beach in a couple weeks!

You are getting more creative with your drawings and craft projects. You have started making paper shoes, mostly for yourself. One day, you experimented with face “paint” and colored your face. We didn’t know you had markers in your room or what you were doing up there! Fortunately, you used washable markers, so it wasn’t too difficult to get it washed off. We are still getting our month kiwi crates, and you and Cullen love doing the crafts. We had one that involved making a little garden and planting seeds. You’ve definitely shown an interest in growing things lately. You have been begging to plant some sunflower seeds that you received more than a year ago from your preschool class. You and Daddy planted them early this summer, and they were beautiful! We had them planted in the front of the house, so we loved seeing them every time we went in or out of the driveway.

You are still participating in your kids’ book club, though busy elementary school schedules are keeping us from meeting as often as we would like. Sophie’s mom does such a great job with the activities at the meetings, and everyone has a great time. We had a magic theme and a rainforest theme. Several of the kids learned magic tricks and performed them in a show. We read Magic at the Bed and Biscuit for that one. Just before that meeting, I took you and Cullen to Krispy Kreme for “hot now” donuts. You guys were very excited about that treat! The rainforest book club meeting was at a local museum, something we should do more often! It was fun to tour the rainforest exhibit with friends.

Cullen now attends the book club with you. I know I mention this in all my letters, but you and your brother really are best friends. I love your relationship. Sometimes you fight, of course, but you can also play happily together for long stretches of time. Our house is a loud place when you’re both home, and you seem even louder together in the car. You are constantly making up stories together. It’s almost like pretend play where you assume roles, but you just go back and forth telling a story instead of acting it out. It’s an interesting game that the two of you play! You still insist that if you must get married, then you want to marry your brother. I have reassured you many times that you do not have to get married if you do not want to.

You love having us come out to your school to volunteer and for other parent activities. We had many opportunities for this towards the end of the school year. I went to your classroom for Muffins for Mom for Mother’s Day, and Daddy enjoyed Donuts for Dad for Father’s Day. I chaperoned your field trip to the kids’ museum. I was nervous, once again, about losing kindergarteners. Your group was pretty good about staying together and negotiating together what we did next. I have been volunteering every opportunity that I can. I love it, and you are over the moon when one of us is there. I know that you’ll be embarrassed by your parents soon enough, so I should enjoy the opportunities while I still can!

The kindergarteners put on a very cute show with various songs for an end of year kindergarten celebration. You sang some sweet songs about kindergarten coming to an end as well as some super silly songs with accompanying motions. We then went back to your classroom to watch a special slideshow of photos presented by your teacher and a picnic. That week was full of fun activities for your class. I volunteered again for a Summer Fun Day where you and your classmates could spend pennies that you’ve earned for different carnival style activities and prizes. That was a very fun day, and I got some excellent photos of you and your classmates. The face painting station was especially popular. This was the first time that you’ve wanted to get your face painted.

The day you were looking forward to the most was pajama day which was also the last day of kindergarten. Everyone wore pajamas, and you got to watch movies and have popcorn in the classroom. The same week you had super centers and a board game day. I’m glad that kindergarten ended with a flurry of fun activities. Kindergarten is a lot more work than it was when I was a kid, and it was nice to see you get to play and have fun!

I plan to continue to volunteer this year with your classroom, though I imagine that the opportunities will become fewer and fewer as the years go by. I know that you only have one field trip, which is in the spring, so that’s already less than last year. I have signed up as a reader in your classroom, and hopefully I will be able to come in several times to read.

You still love your stuffed animals, and the current favorite is your panda bear that you sometimes call Pandy. Her name is unclear. Snowy was your favorite for a long time, but recently you’ve transitioned to Pandy. When we went to the mountains with Earl and Michelle, you were either carsick on the way out of the mountains or you had a tummy bug. Whatever the case, you vomited in the car then. A week or two later, you got sick in the middle of the night. Since then, you were afraid to have your buddies in your bed because you were afraid you might barf on them. Recently, you’ve started sleeping with Pandy again, so I’m glad that you’re back to cuddling with your buddies!

You have a renewed interest in Legos lately. We had a few sets from Christmas and your birthday that you hadn’t wanted to do for a while, but all of the sets have been assembled at least once now. We set up a Lego village in the bonus room. You were pretty excited about doing that! You wanted to add a whole bunch of newer Friends sets to your wishlist, and you are interested in going to a Lego track out camp in a few months. I’m glad that you’re getting more comfortable about trying different track out camps, because we have so many fun camps to choose from in our area!

We have had some fun experiences in the past few months. You and Cullen experienced the hibachi grill type restaurant for the first time. You were concerned about the volcano fire portion, but otherwise you loved everything. You made sure that the chef made your chicken and rice as plain as possible. Afterward, we took you and Cullen to Build-a-Bear for the first time. You picked out a giant My Little Pony and wanted the rollerskates and leash. It was pretty cute. We went to a Durham Bulls game. You had fun playing with our friends and drawing, but you didn’t pay too much attention to the game. I don’t blame you. I didn’t pay much attention to the game either. Our favorite part was the fireworks show. That was fantastic! I loved seeing your face during the show. You were so happy.

Melissa invited us to join her for some pampering at a local spa for her birthday. I got a manicure, and you got your first mani-pedi. The nail polish didn’t last very long, but you loved it for the few days that you had it. She put a cute little flower on your big toenails, and you had some jewels on some of your fingernails. That was a fun and special experience!

You are doing so many amazing things. It’s rewarding to be your mom, and I’m so proud of you every day. I tell you that I love you often, and I love to hear you say the same to me. You are developing into such a sweet, intelligent, beautiful girl. I look forward to more adventures with you in the next six months as you navigate new challenges in first grade. I love you more than you can possibly imagine.

Love,
Mommy

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