Happy Birthday A

I have an ELEVEN YEAR OLD. In FIFTH GRADE. How crazy is that? It seems like a lifetime ago that I was in New Market, Maryland, pregnant with my little girl. I had gotten laid off from my job a few months earlier, so to kill time until the baby was born I was working at Joann's in their framing department. I remember I was very good with the customers, picking out just the right combinations of mats, frames, fillets, etc. but mostly I loved building frames. And my discount. What I didn't love was wearing stupid khakis (I am a jeans-only kind of person) or standing on that cement floor for hours at a time. I worked there as long as my back could stand it, and then I quit and stayed home waiting... and waiting some more... and waiting some more.
On the morning of September 11th I was at home watching the news (probably Katie Couric (sp?) ) when the attacks happened. I'm not sure if I had already quit Joann's by then or not. I do remember wondering how we could possibly bring a child into this awful, dangerous world.
I was due on September 22nd. My SIL Tracie flew out a couple of days after that, and we spent the weekend walking our feet off around New Market, in all the antique shops, the general store... I think we drove down to Virginia for something?? We were desperately trying to get my baby here!
Finally, after more than a week my doctor finally agreed to induce me (sheesh!) and the next day we waited, drugged, walked around the hospital, tried to read, ALL DAY until something finally started happening at 3pm. A was finally born at 8:43pm on the evening of October 2nd. 10 days late. I remember being grossed out when they held her up (SO not like it is on TV or in movies) because she was all bloody... I made them clean her up before they handed her to me (I'm a nice mom, eh?)
Trace extended her stay a couple of days so she could spend time with the 10-day-overdue baby and me, thank goodness. I believe I finally learned to cook that week she stayed with me. My mom ditched her mission in Independence for a few days to come to Maryland too, and then when she left my MIL Brooke came out and stayed a good 2-3 weeks. It was great, but I remember being totally inept and overwhelmed once everybody left because they'd done everything for me for a month!
A week after A was born we received a phone call from the state health department - in the initial tests they do on every infant they found that her thyroid levels were way off... turns out my perfect baby was born with "congenital hypothyroidism" - without a thyroid gland - and would need medicine for the rest of her life. We were so blessed to live in Maryland when A was a baby because we lived 45 minutes from Baltimore... and our specialist at Johns Hopkins was probably the premiere pediatric endocrinologist in the country. Every couple of months we had an appointment and our doctor very precisely measured our baby, checked and triple-checked her levels to make sure all was good. That was a hard couple of years to have blood drawn all the time, because A was an especially hard stick, and many times we had to have multiple needle sticks to try and get her blood draw. I remember going to the lab and waiting for a specific phlebotomist because she (?) was the only one who could get it right.
Time flies. We had another baby, moved to Show Low Arizona, moved again to Eagar, moved again to South Phoenix, had another baby, and moved again ... and now we find ourselves settled in Mesa with three kids.
• A is a tween for sure. She loves singing at the top of her lungs to her Ipod in her ears as she wanders around the house. (mostly in tune) I believe she knows every word to every Adele song. She loves to make up little dance-slash-gymnastics routines.
 • Her favorite color is purple. She prefers to wear jeans and tennis shoes over shorts and flip flops, crazy girl, even when it's 100 plus crazy degrees outside. She is NOT a skirt wearer.
• She is a creator of all things colorful. She LOVES to sort things into rainbow colors. Right now in my front room is a setup of a "teacher's desk" and student desks with notebooks and pencils and colored pencils all lined up perfectly. Don't know if she will actually ever PLAY school, I think she likes the setup part the best. Both my girls love making little "clubs" but I think A is the instigator most of the time. Careful of any open space... my girls will take it over and make a club or store or something in it in no time.
• She is still as picky as ever with her eating. I stopped stressing out about it years ago. If she doesn't like what I cook then she makes herself something else. I don't care anymore. I do try to insist that she eat bananas every couple of days. Veggies I don't even bother with, except the occasional chicken divan casserole that includes broccoli - which she's loved since she was a baby. I do sneak healthy things into waffles or french toast or pancakes when I make them. We're doing good at not missing her synthroid pill daily. What she does have going for her and her teeth is that she doesn't drink soda... and hasn't... ever.  Her favorite food is pizza. Favorite candy = Nerds. She loves to get the frozen drinks at QT. And go out for yogurt. She's addicted to chocolate, but rather it come out of a package (like one that says O-R-E-O) than something fancy that mommy bakes at home.
• A is doing very well at piano. She and M both struggle with timing, but A is progressing pretty well. We try our best to get 20 minutes of practice in every day. Last week one of her songs was "Once upon a snowman" from the Primary Songbook which she did great with, chords and accidentals and left hand and all. : )
• Chores are not A's favorite thing. She tends to make messes and have clothes strewn everywhere in her room. Many times when I ask her to do or clean something she wanders over to the piano and starts playing, because she knows I won't stop her. Sneaky girl.
• This is A's second year in orchestra, where she plays the violin. I wish we had the time/money to do private lessons as well, but for now I think she's doing well, and likes it a lot. She doesn't even mind having to be at school an hour early 2x a week.
• She is also in gymnastics, in level 3, which she loves, all except the last 10 minutes each week when they have to do crunches and planks and pushups - ha! She is a monkey on the big rope, I love to watch her shimmy all the way up to the roof on that thing.
• This girl is a READER. And she got just the right teacher this year to encourage and promote that. She flies through books and is testing at an 11.8 grade reading level - by far the highest in her class. She often reads books that are way below her level just because she likes to read FAST and wants to be able to finish a book in an afternoon. For her birthday yesterday I got her the new Rick Riordan book "Mark of Athena" and she's already knee-deep into that. She needs to hurry and finish it so I can read it...
• She is doing the "Battle of the Books" at school this year and I'm super excited. 3 or 4 times this year they have a contest and go head-to-head with other teams answering trivia questions on a set of books. They have to know them backward and forward, which will be great for A to prepare for, since usually she skims books so fast I question how much she actually absorbs.
• A has lots of friends, including some I wouldn't necessarily expect. I want her to be besties with the girl down the street who's just a month younger than her, and instead she hangs out with the brother who's 8. Go figure.
• She would love to do science projects and read and watch Disney shows on the Ipad all day long, but unfortunately there's places to be and a million chores to be done at home all the time. Bummer.

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