Monday, February 9, 2015

Happy 5th Birthday, Riley!

My dear little girl,

I cannot believe you are 5 years old. How did this happen? Each year it amazes me how much you grow and this year was no exception. Here are a few things I want to remember about you.

What you like: Books, art, princesses, singing all the time, making up stories... While you love to read your books word for word, you also like to "read it differently". I'm always entertained on how you change the story, how creative you are, and how fast you come up with new stories. My brain does not work this way so I find it pretty fascinating. Every day we hear "do you want to hear a song?", but you really don't need to ask because you just sing all the time anyway. You can't carry a tune, which you probably get from me, but you get huge points for creativity. We often hear from your teachers how you sang all day or how you like to sing in the bathroom (they think it's because of the acoustics in there). Oh, you also like to use a baby voice and squeak a lot. We're working on using our words and our big girl voice.

What you don't like so much: Trying new foods, the unknown/new things, loud noises. When you were younger you ate a much larger range of food and now, not so much. It's been a struggle to get you to try new things, but I think you are finally starting to warm up to at least trying a bite of an unknown food so I hope you will soon expand your food options. You actually got really excited to try a kidney bean the other day, but it was no surprise that you didn't like it. You can be on the shy/timid side, but so was I at your age. I'm not sure how to encourage you to be more open to more situations so we try to gently encourage you while respecting that some things are just scary or uncomfortable for you. Some things you seem to come around to on your own and sometimes it's more a matter of your mood that day. Loud noises still seem to be an issue, although not nearly as scary as they once were for you.

Speaking of food: You like tortillas, rice, plain noodles, carrots, cucumbers, soynut butter and banana sandwiches, apples, grapes, cereal, french toast/pancakes/waffles, Jimmy John's slim 5, cheese pizza, cheese sticks, cheese sticks, and more cheese sticks. You like a lot of plain food, fruit, some veggies (you LOVE carrots and could eat them as your only veggie option), and you really dig cheese. We've tried to give you red sauce with your noodles in the past, but you weren't having it. This year you heard about spaghetti and meatballs and begged to have it, but once you found out about the red sauce we had to make an alteration to plain noodles and meatballs. Oh, and you finally agreed to eat noodles other than angel hair this year so that widened our options of food to feed you ever so slightly.

What you like to read: Everything and anything. Last year at Christmas we got you some sight words DVD's and you loved them. You asked to watch them all the time and to practice with the flash cards that came with them. By the end of January you read your first book on your own (Are you my Mother?) although I'm guessing some of it was just from memory. Your teacher called me one day when you brought one of your books in to let me know that during free time all the kids gathered around you while you read your book.Over the year I've been able to see you grow in your reading and now know that you can actually read each word (and it's not just memorization of the story). You sometimes ask for me to help you with the 'hard words', but mostly know you just try to say them and most the time you are pretty close. You've really blown us away with how you've taken to reading and we love that you love it so much. We go to Goodwill on a regular basis to buy new (to us) books and also visit the library.

What you are writing: You have a number of words down that you know how to write (and don't ask for help). You like to practice a lot, whether that is on paper or 'writing sentences' on the computer. You will often ask if you can practice your sentences on the computer and will proceed to make up an entire story. Much of the time I think you want us to just tell you the letters that make up a word, but we encourage you to sound words out. When you do this it turns out that you often can figure the word out on your own which seems to make you pretty proud of yourself, and it should.

What you create: Drawing, singing, telling made up stories. You come home from school with so much art work every day and then proceed to make more at home. You love to draw people and if they are princesses they usually have elaborate crowns. Other favorites are rainbows, nature scenes, roads, and your family. There's so much art that I hate to say we can't keep it all (some becomes my work scrap paper and it always brings a smile to my face when I pull out a new sheet), but I definitely have a large pile of my favorites that are keepers.

What you wear: You still don't have a huge preference of what you wear. Sometimes you make a request and that often is a dress, but day to day you usually wear what your dad and I set out. Some days you pick out your shirt, socks, and underwear, but on those other days you don't seem to care that you didn't get to. You sometimes like to dress up around the house and have a number of tutu's, an Arial dress, an Anna dress, and a Cinderella crown... plus a whole bunch of jewelry.

What you like to watch: You have a number of shows you like to watch, but right now you are all about the Octonauts. We also have movie night each Friday so sometimes you will watch that movie on repeat throughout the week when allowed. Recent favorites are How to Train your Dragon (the original and 2), Cloudy with a side of Meatballs (again, the original and 2), and The Incredibles. I find it interesting how much TV has changed since I was a kid and how you pretty much never watch network TV and instead know how to navigate Netflix and Plex for the shows you want to watch.

How you are sleeping: For the most part you sleep great. After reading a book together, your dad or I leave your room around 7:30. Depending on your day (and if you took a nap or not) you will fall asleep (usually) anywhere between 8:00 and 9:00. You stay in bed until your clock says 6:00 which we had to implement this year after too many early wake ups (I only wish we enforced a later time, but after so many 5:30 wake ups 6:00 was a glorious sleep in). You went through a stage where you slept until 7, but most often you wake up between 6 and 6:30. Your clock started running a little fast so we may or may not have reset it 9 minutes behind the actual time. (It may not seem like much, but those 9 extra minutes are huge to me.

Who are your friends: This year you transitioned from one pre-school room to the year before kindergarten (YBK) room and luckily your friends Sarah, Amelia, and Reyah were moved to the same room. You still run into some of the kids that are still in the old courseroom and invited some to your birthday party, but you've also made some new friends in your current courseroom. You adore Sylvia and always talk about how small and cute she is. Whenever you see a picture of a horse you announce that horses are Alexa's favorite animal. And recently you shared that Keegan is your boyfriend. I knew you were fond of him, but I wasn't sure how much until recently. I think you mostly think of him as a friend that's a boy that you just really dig, but he certainly stands out above the rest.

Thoughts about your family: You have a huge family, but spend most of it with your dad and I, your papa Frank, and grandma Suzie and grandpa Michael. We've been trying to spend more time with papa and recently have been going out to lunch with him whenever we can. You also adore spending time at grandma and grandpa's house especially if you get to spend the night. You ask about uncle Richie, auntie Susee, and your cousins, Mason and Cade, on a regular basis and, like you, your dad and I wish they were closer. You get to see your aunts, uncles, and cousins at family gatherings and  have had a couple occasions this year where we've been able to see my birth family. You are sometimes shy with the extended family, but usually warm up and end up offering up hugs by the end of the visit.

Where you traveled: This was a big year of travel for you and included your first plane ride. It happened to be a big flight as we took you to Luxembourg to see uncle Richie and family. You amazed your dad and I with how well you did on all the flights (regardless of the 1 hour of sleep whimpering in the middle of the night). We also traveled to southern Minnesota for a long weekend which was a change from our usual of heading north.

Your personality: You are certainly your own person, but I definitely see bits of your dad and I in you. It's been fun watching the person you've become and I wonder how you will grow. While you can be reserved, I trust that you will find your voice as you get older (I did, so I'm sure you will too). You are very compassionate and show your concerns for others often. You've made it clear that you don't like the rough, wild kids and you are learning how to deal with those sorts of kids (it's a work in progress). I love how silly and sweet you are. You melt my heart all the time.

I love you bunches and bunches and am so glad I get to call myself your mom. Thanks for being just who you are.




  1. It's mind boggling to me that we sat in that birthing class over 5 years ago and just had no idea who these girls were going to be - and now they are actual people! Happy birthday to Riley!

    1. I told myself I was going to be better about responding to comments... and here I am a month later. Better late than never.

      Seriously, who knew those bumps would become the little girls they are now. I was thinking this same thing when I took Riley to her wellness check on her birthday. I remember bringing her in trying to figure out that colic thing and just hoping we would get past it. So grateful she turned into such a fun and happy kid.


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