Thursday, June 15, 2006

June 15, 2006: A Year in Retrospect: Laurel

Laurel collage 06

My husband is very irritated that I haven’t blogged in several days, but it is really his fault. He has taught me the value of symmetry through the years, and now it is difficult for me to be asymmetrical. Therefore, it is necessary that I complete my collage retrospectives on each of the children before I blog about anything else. He said, half-heartedly, that I could just add “blog snippets” between retrospectives, but he knew even in saying so, deep-down, that the symmetry would be broken.

But I digress! This is about Laurel’s third-grade year, not about the need for order. Look at that girl’s beautiful smile! She has fun just about wherever she goes. She would definitely get high marks in “plays well with others.” Laurel loves to be wherever her friends will be. Every time we head out the door, she says, “Who will be there?” Chances are, “someone” is there. I love that Laurel is such good friend. I’ve never heard her being catty or making fun of anyone. She just wants to play dolls and have a good time; she’s not interested in all the drama involved in being a girl. That is so awesome, and my prayer is that she will continue to nurture her good heart and always be a supportive friend.

Laurel kicked off the year again with Upward soccer. Her good friends Caitlin F., Caitlin B., and Celia were on her team, and the four of them had a blast. There’s nothing quite like a crisp fall morning, good friends, and the smiling faces of four beautiful girls. She opted not to do Upward cheerleading this year in the winter, for which we were thankful. It was nice to have the winter off from weekday practices and Saturday morning games. (She’s already decided that this was just a temporary break, however; she has grand plans to cheer again next winter….) After taking a hiatus from Hebrew Dance in the fall, Laurel started back up again in January. She had a great time. It always thrills me to watch them dance at the finale. Their faces are just so perfectly jubilant.

And of course American Heritage Girls plays a huge part in Laurel’s life. This was her last year as a Tenderfoot, and she earned her Sacagewea Award in May and is now an Explorer. She was very excited to get to shed her red vest for the blue one. We did all sorts of fun activities outside of troop time as well this year: a family sunset hike on the Foothills Parkway, a family cook-out/campfire at Milne Farm, a Mother/Daughter/Grandmother Tea, and our traditional Mother/Daughter sleepover, Troop All-Skate, and Father/Daughter camp-out. She also got to ride a horse for the first time at our Horsemanship Camp. Laurel is my little sidekick, always there an hour or two early, helping us set-up and staying to help us clean. I am blessed that she’s such a content child.

This was Laurel’s first year of “official” piano lessons (i.e., with a teacher other than me), and I think she is fabulous. She really loves playing, and often drives her brothers crazy by hopping up and practicing while they’re in the middle of a movie. She had her first recital this spring at a nursing home, and we were so amazed and proud that our once-shy girl just hopped up there and played so confidently.

In the world of academia, Laurel made huge strides this year. She has been so different than Jesse, who was a voracious reader at age 7. She’s mostly just enjoyed flipping through magazines or scanning short books until this spring. And then suddenly: whoosh! She’s started flying through books! She’s been heard to beg, “Just one more chapter!” about every night, and she even carries a book with her to read in the car now. Phew! I was getting a little worried that I gave birth to an alien creature who does not consider books one of the main food groups! She was involved in two clubs that involved a lot of reading (although I read nearly all the books to her): American Girl and Chronicles of Narnia. I was so glad to get to read Narnia again, as it’s been a few years since we read them to Jesse. At home we studied World History (Story of the World, Volumes 1 and 2). Laurel’s basic comment to sum up the first several thousand years of history is: “Why are there always all these wars and fighting?” She was much more interested in hearing about some royal baby being born than about the Crusades. But she was soaking it all in, just the same. She breezed through math—Singapore 2a and 2b—although she often attempted a dramatic “I can’t do this!” Her spelling improved tremendously this year, as did her writing skills, correspondingly. I saw a huge leap in her skills this year, in every single area. She had a full schedule at our enrichment class program, as well: art, Hebrew dance, American Girl history, scrapbooking (she LOVED this!!), creative writing, and U.S. geography.

And so summer is upon us, and Laurel can do what she enjoys most of all: play. We are blessed to have a girl next door who is Laurel’s age, and they spend as much time together as possible. We are also doing Around the World camp here and Art camp with Miss Jennifer each Wednesday, and she’s just finishing up a week of chemistry camp at the Discovery Center. She’s swimming with the Flying Dolphins, the Maryville-Alcoa swim team, this summer and having a blast. And as soon as we “finished” school on May 31st, she proudly declared, “Hey, I’m in fourth grade now!” Man, that sounds old!

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