Saturday, December 01, 2007

Our Christmas Letter - Part Brynn

Brynn is five! I can't believe it's been five years since her first Christmas and sometimes it makes me sad that the only memories I have of those early months are the ones I took photos of. It's all kind of a blur now.

Brynn is growing into a pretty amazing girl. I guess if you've read the post about her birthday (My Hero's 5th Birthday), you know part of why I think she's amazing. I love watching Brynn play with her friends and with her sister. She seems to be a natural leader. Not in all situations, but definitely in small-group situations. She is great at delegating and assigning tasks to the kids around her. In addition to her social skills, she is doing extraordinarily well in school. She is one of the oldest kids in her class - she missed the kindergarten cut by about a month and a half. When school started this fall, her reading and writing skills were probably equal to or better than most of the kids who were starting kindergarten at the same time, but not because I've tried to foster that in her. She's good at it because she likes it. At this point, she's not spelling things right, but she definitely knows what sounds that the letters make. Of course, she has written letters that were totally illegible and impossible to make sense of - that's what happens when I tell her to write a card and she would prefer to be doing something else. But, in general, her writing skills are well above average when compared to her peers. Near the end of September she started planning her birthday party and spent an entire afternoon writing cards for all of her guests. They said something like this:

Dear (insert name here):
I wud luv it if you could come
to my birday pardy.
Luv, Brynn

Okay, so I had to give her some guidance on how to spell a few words and I left a few words alone, but I only had to tell her once and then she looked back at the first card to be sure she was spelling the words right on all the rest of the cards. Along with the writing, she drew a picture on each card of herself with the kid whom she was inviting - usually doing something that they do together like dressing up, swimming, or going to school. Very cute and very self-motivated.

Brynn is in preschool five days a week now from about 8:20-1pm most days. Her class has a really interesting makeup. There are several special needs kids in her class, which I love. I'm so glad that Brynn is being exposed to kids who don't learn or behave exactly like she does. There are also a bunch of kids who are of other races - three African American girls, an Indian boy and an Asian girl. That is something that I never really expected to find in this city but I'm so glad that Brynn has an opportunity to be around kids who are different from her at such a young and impressionable age. Her preschool leads directly into an elementary school that runs the International Baccalaureate curriculum including a French language immersion program. We haven't decided yet whether we'll put Brynn in that program or bring her back to our walking-distance neighborhood school for kindergarten. We've got to make that decision by January, I think, and it's proving to be a tough one. Both are great schools, but one is convenient and the other has an amazing language opportunity. I'll keep you posted on that...

Brynn and Callie are getting along better and better every day. Callie's gotten to the age where she and Brynn can play together easily. They have the same interests (although Callie doesn't sit anywhere long enough to write or draw) and Callie doesn't mind always being the daughter/dog/boy in their imaginary playtime. At least, she doesn't mind yet. What's best is that, at this point, Brynn and Callie seem to really like each other. Whenever Brynn does artwork at school she always puts her sister's name on it, too. And if somebody gives Brynn a sticker or piece of candy, she requests one for Callie, too. It's the kind of sister relationship I hoped my girls would have, and now I just hope that they can maintain it as they get older and sisterhood gets more challenging.

When Brynn isn't at school or at home drawing she loves to go to her ballet/tap class. She is naturally quite graceful (despite her initial large size - remember she was born 9lb 14oz), but she avoids socializing with the other girls in her class. This about her reminds me a lot of myself - I still don't really feel comfortable socializing with a large group of girls. I think that's why I always preferred swimming over any other sport or activity - it was completely individual. Brynn is getting pretty enthusiastic about swimming. I was really impressed with how her swimming skills improved this summer and I was ecstatic when she started to get excited about swimming in races. I've been trying so hard not to push her into swimming, but inside I would love nothing more than to see her be a kick-butt swimmer. Kids in this city don't usually start racing until age 8 or so, but Brynn may be ready a year or maybe two years before that (and I can't wait to watch).

We tried soccer this spring with Brynn (and Scott got sucked into coaching) and it was pretty miserable. Not only was it cold and sometimes snowing, but Brynn spent most of the time walking around the field complaining that she never got the ball. She did score one goal (or so she thinks - it actually passed outside of the goal post) and was pretty excited about it. But, we won't be going back to soccer for another year or two. In addition to soccer, Brynn has a few other areas to work on. She's a really messy eater (especially when it comes to eating something with crumbs) and she changes clothes several times per day and leaves all of the clean but previously worn outfits lying around on the floor of her room. And she sometimes colors on the walls and furniture...sometimes with sharpies that she finds hidden from her. I guess those complaints are pretty small compared to the craziness that can come with raising a five year old. Overall she's a sweet, loving, enthusiastic, bright little girl and Scott and I are enjoying the priviledge that it is to raise her.

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