It's my favorite post of the year - the one where I look back at the past year and reflect on how my girls have changed, using links to previous blog posts to shed more light on the events that have shaped them into who they are (you can read last year's post here). This year it's Joelle's turn to go first:
This beautiful blonde girl started the year 2011 out as a seven-year-old who was excelling in her grade 2 class and blossoming with new-found confidence, and she is embarking on the year 2012 as an eight-year-old who is continuing to explore said confidence as well as remaining an excellent student, now in Grade 3. Her teachers always have nothing but good things to say about her and she is well-liked among her peers.
She still continues to amaze me from time to time with how socially confident she has become. It doesn't seem like that long ago to me when she would hide behind me if an adult (especially one she didn't know very well) would talk to her. Now she goofs around with some of my uncles at extended family gatherings, makes easy small-talk with waitresses at restaurants and makes solid eye contact with pretty much everybody she's having a conversation with. She also is getting more comfortable with talking in front of her class of peers as she has sometimes brought a story she has written to school asking her teacher if she can read it to everyone.
One of the areas Joelle struggles with is her fears. This is not unlike her Mother, so she comes by it very honestly, but it's something that I wish she didn't have to deal with on such a severe level. This child will take something small and it will plant a seed in her mind that she just can't seem to shake. And she will over-think and over-think and over-think it until she just about drives herself insane with fear. Things that seem completely unrealistic (and other things that are realistic) take this hold on her and completely control her mind. Along with a chart of things to help distract her that we made for her to keep beside her bed, she has also started to turn to prayer - all on her own - when she's struggling with some of these fears at night. I hope and continue to pray that she gets a handle on this sooner rather than later, as - speaking from experience - it's not a pleasant way to live.
Joelle experienced some pretty big 'firsts' this year. One of them was that she had her very first job! It was feeding her Grade 2 teacher's pets for a week (together with one of her best friends) and it was pretty cool to see how seriously she took the responsibility - and watching her split a tiny bit of money with her little sister who came along to help every time was extra special to witness!
But probably the biggest thing that happened to this child this past year was that she went away to summer camp for the very first time! One of her BFF's invited her and it was with much hesitation that I was okay with letting her fly away. Afterall, it was for FOUR NIGHTS and she would be in a completely strange environment more than an hour away from me. But she surprised me with her bravery in taking on this new adventure. It was the most amazing experience for her and she will no doubt go again this year...sigh.
Joelle is continuing to take piano lessons (from dear ol' Mom), and while she gets frustrated easily if she can't play a new song perfectly the first few times, she is doing very well. Just a few weeks ago we played our second duet in church and she played to absolute perfection! I'm hoping next year will bring about her first solo performance!
Joelle has continued to have a lot of friends, and this fall she went on her first playdate to a boy's house! This 'young man' has been one of her good friends ever since Kindergarten and it's sweet to see them continue their friendship. Even when some kids in their class were teasing them about their upcoming playdate (apparently it created quite the buzz), she never wavered about going over to his house and they had the most excellent time! I know all too soon it won't be as appropriate or innocent for her to have boy-girl playdates, but for now I think it's nothing but sweet.
On the same lines of friendship, one of her BFF's (the one who invited her to camp) moved 2 hours away. This has been difficult for Joelle as this is another friend who has been close to her since Kindergarten. She has dealt with it well though and for now, at least, they continue to keep in touch with a bit of letter-writing.
But no matter how many friends she has, or which ones move away, she'll always have her live-in BFF - her little sister. The bond that these two girls continue to have is something that is oh-so-special to watch. The fighting goes without saying, but not all sisters love each other in between the battles the way these two do. Joelle can be so nurturing to Malia, it almost brings tears to my eyes. The way she encourages Malia in her progress of reading, spelling and even coloring with her words of praise go far to boost Malia's confidence.
Joelle, you are a beautiful child. I look forward to seeing the things that are in store for you in the year 2012 and I wonder what I will be looking back on in a year from now. I know one thing is for certain - my love for you will only be stronger.
My Little Miss Malia entered 2011 as a 5-year-old with budding maturity and is leaving the same year as a 6-year-old with something to prove! As last year's new year's entry stated, Malia was not enjoying kindergarten and was not looking forward to going back after the Christmas break. However, when the time came, she took it on like a pro and the complaints about having to go to school all but stopped. And when she started Grade 1 this fall she gave it all she got and has truly amazed me with her determination. I have witnessed her growing leaps and bounds with her reading abilities and it makes me nothing but proud to see where she has come from and where she is going to continue to go with her hard work and positive attitude.
Her teachers also have very good things to say about her - especially in the areas of her attitude and personality. She has made a lot of friends (the number of birthday parties she was invited to last year was astounding!) and is just an all-around fun girl to be around.
Her goofy attitude is still going strong and I hope it's something that will stick around for the long haul (which I'm pretty sure it will)! She is a wonderfully bubbly girl whose giggles are contagious.
As silly and goofy as this child can be, she has also shown this year that she isn't a little girl anymore; she's definitely growing up. With dangly earrings, losing teeth (don't forget to check out this video if you haven't already seen it) and a more mature wardrobe style, she's definitely showing us that things are changing - ready or not!
This past summer Malia took a stab at soccer for the first time - and it seemed that she had really found her niche. The energy this girl possessed on the field was astounding and it was fun watching her excel out there. Something else new for this child this year is that she figured out how to braid her hair! You should've seen how proud of herself she was when she showed me her first real braid (rather than just a two-stranded 'twist').
Malia also has a strong love of music. No piano lessons for this girl (not yet anyway), but she can constantly be found singing & dancing. She's got some pretty fun dance moves and she also seems to have pretty good rhythm. It's a great way for her to burn off some of her non-stop energy!!
As energetic as this 6-year-old girl is, she is just as cuddly. She is the one in this house who gives (and asks for) the most hugs and kisses. She will sit and cuddle on your lap and just really dole out the love. She even went through a phase where she would come to me in the middle of the night (almost every night) just to get a quick cuddle before scurrying back off to bed. She actually did this to me just the other night again after a long hiatus, and it sure felt sweet!
Another way she shows this lovey-dovey side is with babies and toddlers. Sure, she will often over-do it with a youngster by getting in their face a bit too much - but it's all because she just loves SO much. This is especially evident in how she loves on her 18-month-old cousin Sawyer. She just can not get enough of her and would spend every single minute with her when we're together if she could. She just wants to hold her, walk with her, baby-talk with her, hug her, play with her...just love her. It's a very appealing character trait and I love watching this in her.
As for the sister bond my two daughters share, Malia plays just as much a part in it as Joelle does. Just the other day when Joelle was at the doctor's office (finding out that she had strep throat), Malia had prepared a little 'care package' for her sister to give to her upon her return - a pack of fuzzy peaches from her Halloween stash and a balloon, together with a note that said "Joelle, I hope you feel better soon. Love Malia." She will also often give things of hers to Joelle if she's having a rough day, just to make her feel better - like an extra blanket to sleep with or a stuffed animal to cuddle with.
Malia, God has wonderful things planned for you in the days, months and years to come. I am excited to see the way He will use your spunk and contagious joy in the world. I love you, sweet child.