Friday, February 26, 2016

Lucky # 7 for Beautiful Andrea the Second!

As of 5:29 PM today, Andrea is officially 7 years old and celebrating day 2,557 of life! She is 45 inches tall, and weighs 43.7  pounds, or 19,822 grams.  I wonder at what age she’s going to insist I stop posting her weight.

As you can see from her outfit above, Andrea continues to explore her personal sense of style. Generally, if she is dressed appropriately for the weather, we leave her to her own devices. I need to teach her to do her own hair - she's still dependent on me for pony tails, pig tails or braids. Ken has just about mastered the pony tail.

We have had a blissfully average year. Andrea finished Kindergarten in the local public school, still without any modifications or accommodations to her curriculum.  She played softball on the Livingston Ladybugs team, which is designed just for Kindergarten girls.  She played with some friends from school, but also made new friends. Ken was one of the coaches, which made him happy as well.  Unlike when Kenny was young, the girls don’t use a T… they start right off hitting pitched balls.  She’s already registered for this season, but now we’re on to real “Little League”. We’ll see how she does.

Over the summer, Andrea attended day camp at a local college. Kenny George went for years, and now goes back as a volunteer, (until he’s old enough to work there) so he was around to keep an eye on her.  On the second day of camp, she lost her first tooth. (While trying to open a Pringles can with her teeth!)  The tooth fairy paid a visit and left $5 – which is actually pretty low by local standards, according to Andrea’s friends.  The best thing to come out of camp, from my point of view, was she really learned to swim.  We’d had her take lessons at the local Y for a few seasons, but she never got over her fear of the water.  Well, in camp it finally clicked. She became like a fish – she goes under water, jumps in from the sides, doggy paddles around and generally wears us out.  Gone are my days of watching her in the baby pool and staying dry.

Also in camp, Andrea got to attend her first Broadway musical. They saw Aladdin, which she enjoyed. They also took trips to the local zoo, Medieval Times, and the Intrepid Museum in NYC.  Every other week, she was on stage for the camp productions, where she sang and danced with her group.  When Andrea was a toddler and we’d watch Kenny in the shows, I knew I’d lose it when she finally made it onto the stage.  And I was right.  The music started and the tears followed.

After camp ended, we were off for a family vacation to Busch Gardens and Colonial Williamsburg.  We’d gone there when she was 2, and it was amazing to make a trip back with her so much older and bigger.  She has mostly inherited Kenny’s fearlessness…. She went on every ride she was tall enough for, and cried over the ones that she couldn’t try. That’s not to say she loved them all – Escape from Pompeii really freaked her out (there’s fire and brimstone all over the place) – but she tried everything out.  We spent a day at Water Country USA, which gave Andrea another opportunity to demonstrate how fearless she is. She went on as many water slides as she could. We tried taking her in some of the “playground” areas, but I think she generally found them too tame.

The condo we stayed at had a pond right outside our unit, and every morning Andrea started the day feeding the ducks.  (Despite all the “Please do not feed the ducks” signs) It was so funny to watch - she’d open the sliding doors and the flock of ducks would come waddling up the grass.  They were SO noisy!  In typical Andrea fashion, she was very worried about the ducks when we left. After all, who would feed them now that she was gone?

In September, Andrea began first grade. She has a wonderful teacher, and we continue to love her school. She’s working hard, and really has a love of writing.  She writes constantly and prolifically.  A thank you note will go on for pages.  She writes stories about her stuffed animals, vacations she’s taken and places she’s going in the future. More often than not, her writing is accompanied by illustrations. The detail she puts into things in pretty impressive for a 7-year-old.

Her teacher mentioned that she seemed to have trouble reading, and she often puts her face close to her books.  We had her eyes checked by the nurse several times last year and this, and there was never an identifiable issue.  We finally took her for a proper eye exam with an optometrist.  He was able to diagnose an issue with the muscles in her eyes, so we’re going to begin treatment with another doctor, who will teach her exercises to strengthen the muscles. Hopefully, that will make it easier for her to focus, and she won’t struggle so much with reading.   Her school also screens all first graders for gross motor deficiencies.  In the fall, Andrea was screened along with all her classmates and found to have a weakness in her ability to throw overhand and dribble a ball.  She was given the opportunity to have a developmental physical education class once a week, so we signed her up.  She goes before school in a group of 8 kids and the PE teachers work on her skills.  Two of the kids with her are her friends and full-term babies, so it’s possible that this has nothing to do with her dramatic start in life.  She just has fun running around with her friends.

For Halloween, Andrea was a tiger - she wore a costume I’d made for Kenny when he was four - an indication of either how big he was for his age, or how small she still is, compared to her peers.  She’s not the smallest kid in the class, but she’s not at the top, either. She sort of hovers around the middle of the pack.   We spent Thanksgiving with Aunt Arlene and Uncle Mike at the NJ shore. Andrea loves time with them - especially because Uncle Mike is ever ready to make something fun out of food.  This year, they made a vegetable platter shaped like a turkey.  Andrea repeated her usual role of “angel” in the church Christmas pageant.  She’s beginning to know the songs and is better able to sing along.  We spent Christmas evening  at cousin Corin’s house, where Andrea got to play with the Lindsley cousins.  Since Ken’s niece and nephews have children younger than Andrea, she gets her chance to be “the big kid”, in a way that doesn't happen with the Zimmermans.  She almost made it to midnight on New Year’s Eve. She gave up around 10:30, which was impressive. I was probably 16 before I made it to midnight, and even now I’d rather be sleeping than waiting for the ball to drop.

Andrea loves to play outside, and has been disappointed by our lack of snow this year.  She did get out after the big East Coast blizzard, which made her happy. She and Kenny built a snowman and Kenny made an igloo for them too.  As much as she likes the snow, I know she’s looking forward to the spring coming. We’re hoping to help her master bike riding, something she still struggles with.

It's interesting to see how Andrea's interests are developing. She is learning to sew with Pa, who has more patience for her than I do. She loves to cook and bake with me, and even enjoys making breaded chicken. She won't eat it, but she likes to coat the pieces. She writes all the time, making up and illustrating her own stories.

Thank you for continuing to follow Andrea’s story.  We are so lucky in her, our families and friends who have shared this journey with us.

There are no mistakes, no coincidences, all events are blessings given to us to learn from.  ~ Eisabeth Kubler-Ross