Letters to My Children – January 2021

Dear Ariya,

January was a tough month, easing back into school.  I think we are all hitting that wall of just being tired of being in the house.  This winter is the longest, and being homeschooled just feels monotonous.  Ground hog day all day every day.  The only thing that you have going on is ballet and you started art back up with Ms Erica.  And you still have tutoring with Ms Mary, which helps breaking up learning from only me.  I know you miss your teachers, and you miss your friends.  But at least you have Asha, and you get to play a LOT.  And we have a new babysitter that you absolutely love.  Her name is Hannah and she’s a teenager in high school, and she is just the best.

We did have a few snow days which helped break up the school work and monotony.  And Daddy was off, so we got to have some fun with him too.  A few of our friends came over, and we all sledded on our big hill, which was pretty great.

Dear Asha,

What can I say?  You are just living your best life.  You don’t have as much school work as Ariya, so you get to play….a lot.  And you love it.  You only miss out when Ariya can’t play. But you’re learning to play by yourself.  You take FOREVER to get ready, put some clothes on and brush your teeth.  When I come up to check on you, you’re just playing by yourself, creating games with your legos and your pokemon figures, or you’re looking at your books.  You’ve started learning to read, and it amazes me how much you’re reading!  I’m so proud of you!  Your hands still get tired from coloring, and you don’t like practicing writing over and over again, but you’re doing an amazing job.  I just know you’ll be ready for kindergarten!

Dear Anika,

My sweet 18 month old girl.  My last baby.  You are getting better at walking, following your big sisters everywhere.  You are an awesome sleeper, except when you’re teething.  Your great at napping, but you’ve had a few off days.  You hate spending too much time in the car seat, you would much rather be on the move.  You loved the snow days, and tried to eat the snow.  But you loved hanging out on your sled and being pulled everywhere.  It amazes me how much you’ve grown.  I look at older pictures of you when you were just a baby, and I miss when you were so little.  Since I know you’re my last baby, I just want to keep you little forever.  I’m not ready for you to grow up.  That’s the thing about time though.  I can’t freeze it, even though I wish I could.

Letters to My Children – December 2020

Dear Ariya,

We had a few good weeks of homeschooling in between moments of panic for me.  But I think you’re learning a lot of cool stuff, watching some cool videos.  I also signed you and Asha up for Epic, Kodable and Beast Academy online, because sometimes, being online is fun.  So now we have Tech Fridays, where you can do some of your schooling online.

We also started a rewards chart because getting you and Asha to get dressed or have a nice bedtime has been kind of tough.  But what’s great is that when you reach 50 stars, YOU GET A HORSERIDING LESSON.  You are so close!

We have been going to the library a lot, because you’ve become obsessed with this book series called Land of Stories.  You stay up late to read through it, you bring the books with you everywhere, you’ve even said that when you’re done with the book, you want to start the series all over again.  I think I read somewhere that they might make it into a tv or movie series, how cool would that be?

We had a pretty nice snow storm, and was able to discover that there’s a HUGE hill in our backyard.  It’s pretty epic for sledding.  We had a few friends over, and you all just went back and forth, up the hill and back.  it was pretty fun!

An early Christmas present was going to the Sweet and Sassy salon in Leesburg to get your ears pierced.  You were so nervous, but so brave.  You saw that Asha had her ears pierced for her birthday and you had to get your ears pierced too.  You shed a few tears, but the pain wore off and you were so happy to get it done!

For Christmas, Nani and Nanu came to visit.  It was so nice to see them.  We listened to Christmas carols on our new sound system, decorated gingerbread houses, decorated cookies, drank eggnog.  And we had a great Christmas.  Your grandmother and Nani and Nanu spoiled you!  I think you squealed when you opened your present and there was a sewing machine there!  I think I want to learn how to sew too!  Maybe it’s something we can do together.

You also got a lot of games too, mostly educational 🙂  Gotta get some learning in while it’s fun you know?

Daddy also got these pretty awesome bean bags for the theater room, so now we can be comfortable and watch movies in there.

After Christmas Nani and Nanu left, and then Grandma, Auntie Carmen, Auntie Anjuanette and Uncle Kashiff, Uncle Eric, Jayden, Mekai and Phelix came for New Year’s Eve.  Uncle Eric even brought his dog Blue with him!  We boarded Emmy and Charlie because we could not have a dog fight, plus the dogs never got used to Daddy’s family, except for Grandma.

We had a fun little party for New Year’s Eve, even in the time of COVID.  We were very lucky that no one got sick.  It was a risk, but we missed seeing our family.  You stayed up all the way to midnight, which was great.  I made it to midnight and them promptly fell asleep haha.

Dear Asha,

You are doing so awesome with school work, that I haven’t had to really push a school schedule on you.  You learn when Ariya’s learning, you watch the educational videos that she watches, you practice your writing and reading, and have started doing some basic addition.  But when you take forever getting dressed (which you do), I don’t push it, because you are getting the quiet time that you need but so rarely take for yourself.  We did start a rewards chart because it was tough getting you to go to bed.  Man, was it tough.  Or getting you to do things that we needed you to do, like make your bed, get dressed, do your school work, etc.  But, because you want to be just like Ariya, you chose a horse riding lesson as well, when you hit 50 stars.  Let’s hope you get it, you’re almost there!

You turned 5 years old!  Oh my goodness, where did the time go?  We had a birthday party for you at a really cool salon made just for little girls, called Sweet and Sassy in Leesburg.  Your friend Clara came, and Ariya’s friends Skylar and Claire came as well.  There was a princess theme, so you got to dress up in a Cinderella dress, and you all had your hair done in pretty french braids with glitter and smell good hairspray.  You had your makeup done and nail polish done.  And then you had a dance party!  And the cupcakes were delicious! After the party was done, one of your birthday presents was to get your ears pierced!  And you were such a brave girl, you did it!  Everyone watched, but you did not cry at all!  You were kind of shocked when they pierced your ears but then you ran to the mirror and was so excited to see your pretty sparkly earrings.

Ariya watched you get your ears pierced, and when she got home, she said “i’m jealous, I want to get my ears pierced too”.

You are FEARLESS.  Sledding down this major hill, catching air on some of the bumps, it was crazy!  But you had a blast.  Snowballs were made, a snowman was made, it was pretty cool.

Christmas was nice, we watched a lot of holiday movies like Home Alone and the Polar Express.  You loved the giant white tiger stuffed animal that Santa brought you.  And you got a few lego sets that you are so excited about.  You were sad that you couldn’t have a sewing machine like Ariya, but we had to remind you that Ariya didn’t start learning to sew until she was 6 and you JUST turned 5!

Dear Anika,

You are 17 months old.  Still crawling on your knees, and it’s driving me crazy!  I know you’re so close!  You want to hold my hand every time when you try to walk.  So I KNOW you can walk.  But you’re not confident to walk by yourself yet.  You make a lot of noises.  you mimic my sounds when I talk to you.  You love chasing after the girls on your knees, and you squeal a lot as a way of communicating.  The play room is the best place every for you. When your big sisters are playing, you follow along.  You are in their every game.  At first, they think it’s cute.  I have a feeling it might get old soon.

You were fascinated with the snow.  You would stick your tongue out, or try to touch the snow with your hands.  We buckled you into your baby sled and dragged you along.  But you developed the strangest rash on your cheeks and chin, I think the cold really chapped your face.  I think you enjoyed the snow though.

You had a great Christmas.  And Nani and Nanu had so much fun holding you, and holding your finger as you tried to walk with them.  You got a lot of new books and new toys for Christmas.  I think you had more fun playing with the wrapping paper than anything else!  Please stop growing up too fast.  My last baby.

 

 

Letters to Our Children – November 2020

Dear Ariya,

It’s November, and the quarter is ending.  You’ve done some benchmarking at school, and wow, you’re such a smart girl.  You’re reading at a 6th grade level!  I think you impressed your teacher.  Your report card showed A+s all around.  Pretty amazing stuff.  But i think we realized that being tied to your laptop from 9am – 1pm every day was pretty draining.  Plus the assignments on top of that, on your laptop.  There were days you would be on your chromebook all day.  So we bit the bullet.  I put in a request to homeschool and away we went.

You were very excited to start homeschooling.  But there have been some trying moments.  You are a very good writer, but you really don’t like writing.  I feel like it’s because you have so many thoughts running through your head that you can’t write fast enough, and your hand gets so tired.  But you have to practice, and you do not want to listen to me when I say you have to practice.

We had a great first day, going on a hike outside, journalling, reading tall tales, trying out a new math program with Beast Academy.  You really don’t like to be challenged.  And Beast Academy is really challenging you.  You’re a smart girl.  And you understand this stuff.  Math doesn’t come as easy as reading does, but you get it, it just takes a little time. This isn’t a competition, this isn’t a race.  But sometimes you just want to get it over with so you can play.  Oh, it’s going to be a long school year.

But you still see Ms. Mary, you still have art with Ms. Erica, you still do ballet with Ms. Abby, and jazz with Ms Alyssa.  So there’s a little bit of fun there. 🙂

In times of COVID, it’s tough being able to see family safely and feeling comfortable doing it.  We headed down to Richmond while there were a ton of contractors at the house doing work.  And as soon as I got home, l got hit with a fever and chills.  It was not fun.  We were visiting with Nani and Nanu, and you all were looking forward to spending time with them.  But with my fever, I had a major scare, thinking that I was COVID positive.  We wore masks, I drove all over Richmond trying to find a COVID test.  We ended up having to come home the next day, just so I could get a COVID test at the local hospital.  Thankfully I was negative.

The next week was Thanksgiving.  We came down to Richmond again.  We spent the night with Nani and Nanu, and then for Thanksgiving day, we headed to Auntie Anjuanette and Uncle Kashiff’s house.  It was so great to see them, I think we haven’t seen everyone since before COVID hit.  Grandma was there, Phelix, Auntie Carmen, Uncle Eric.  And of course Mekhai and Jayden were there.  And you got to meet Uncle Eric’s dog, Blue.  What a sweet pittbull.  The day was great, but we were all sad to leave that night.  We wanted to keep the trip short and minimize any risk.  So back to Winchester we went.

And now the countdown to Christmas starts.

Dear Asha,

Things haven’t changed much for you.  We do pre-school/kindergarten work with you.  We color, try to practice our letters.  You are reading a lot of beginner books, like those BOB books.  You are so smart.  We still see Ms Mary, she is a pretty awesome pre-k teacher/tutor.  Otherwise, you’re just tagging along Ariya’s learning, watching science videos, learning about plants and cells, etc.  I signed you up for Epic and we started playing games online through ABC-ya.  I think you feel good about that, doing the same things that Ariya does.  You never want to be left out.  The problem is always that when you have too much screen time, the meltdowns increase.  So, it’s all about always trying to find that balance.

Dear Anika,

Not much has changed from last month.  You’re still crawling, still walking on your knees,  still kinda walking.  You always want to hold our hands, but you don’t walk by yourself much as well.

When we went down to Richmond, you got to spend a lot of quality time with Nani and Nanu, which was nice.  You got to explore their house and played with them, and they loved it.  Ariya and Asha loved playing with my old toys and you did too.

You also got to see Grandma and all of your cousins and aunties and uncles for Thanksgiving.  I think because you’re so used to not seeing people during this pandemic, that it’s been weird for you.  You are definitely more cautious and take more time warming up to people.  Your uncle’s dog was dying to lick your face and you were definitely not a fan of that!  But it was a great visit, seeing all of our family, especially in times like these.  It may not have been the smartest thing to do during this pandemic, but thankfully we are all safe.

Letters to My Children – October 2020

Dear Ariya,

Another month of virtual learning.  Another month of technical difficulties.  Another month of trying to keep up with all of the assignments without falling behind.  Man, it is tough.  Especially when you’re on the chromebook for what feels like all day. (not really, you’re only on it from 9-1 with an hour lunch in between.  And I figured out how to print your assignments, so I’ve been printing them out so you can practice your handwriting).  You’ve taken a few assessments, and your scores are so high!  You’re reading at a 6th grade level!!  So I can see where sometimes you zone out, because you get the material so quickly and are ready to move on.  I’m worried that you aren’t being challenged enough.  And there’s no way around it, except to try and supplement.  Or withdraw you from public school for the year and try my hand at homeschooling.  We’ll see.  But, there is a bright side to all fo this.  We finally moved into our new house!  You have a new bunk bed to sleep in.  There are boxes everywhere.  We’re still waiting on a few more things to make the home really feel like a home, and to really unpack the way we want to.  But we are getting there!

You were invited to your good friend Skylar’s birthday party, at this really cute salon, Sweet and Sassy.  It’s a salon catered to little girls in Leesburg.  I was nervous because I wanted to be careful, but everyone had their masks on and had their temperature checked.  It was so cute.  You were so shy because you didn’t know anyone but the birthday girl, but you got to get your hair done in braids, with glitter that smelled like watermelon.  There was a fashion show and a photo shoot.  You got to eat cupcakes and sandwiches and then go for a LIMO RIDE while listening to kidz bop.  That was pretty amazing.  I think we’ve decided that we should take Asha there for her birthday in December, she would love it. They do manicures and pedicures there, and they have an ear piercing station where 2 people pierce each ear at the same time.  Genius!  I’m not sure if you’re sold on piercing your ears yet, but I know Asha wants to.  I just hope she’s responsible enough to take care of it. 

The only other exciting thing that has happened (besides moving in) was Halloween!  You were a peacock for Halloween and got to wear your costume for school, and for the Book or Treat drive thru event that your school held.  I didn’t feel comfortable taking you trick or treating with COVID cases on the rise, but we did invite close friends of the family over to have dinner.  You and Asha had a ball with Skylar. Good food, decorating cookies, making candied apples, the movie Witches (the old version, not the new version on HBOMax).  It wasn’t our usual Halloween tradition, but it was fun, and we were comfortable. 

Dear Asha,

Finally, you can sleep in your own bed in your own room!  You’re missing having someone to sleep with, and you want to cuddle super long at night.  But I think we’ve figured out a workaround, when you wake up in the morning, you crawl into our bed and cuddle until it’s time to get Anika.  And I’m ok with that, because it’s a nice way to wake up, with cuddles from my Asha basha.

You’re still seeing Ms Mary for tutoring.  And I’ve realized that I have to step my homeschooling up, BECAUSE YOU ARE READING!!!  You have started reading BOB books, and my gosh, you are kicking butt!  Every time you see Ariya doing school work, you say “what about me?!?!”  You are doing kindergarten level work, and it amazes me.  You and your sister are so smart! 

You were a mermaid for Halloween.  You loved your dress, it was strappy and had a tight stretchy mermaid style skirt.  Lots of glitter, lots of tulle.  I think you were a fan.  you had a great time playing with Skylar which was nice.  You love keeping up with the big girls.  

Dear Anika,

What can I say.  You are trying so hard to walk.  You’re standing up on your own.  And when we hold your hands, you are walking everywhere.  But by yourself, not yet.  I did hear you call out Mama once to get my attention…but did I imagine it?  Because I haven’t heard you say Mama again.  I think you also know how to say “nana” for banana.  Because you do love bananas! 

I think we are all happy that you have your own room!  You do share a bathroom with Asha, and Asha can be a little loud when she goes to bed, so there has been a growing pain of figuring out how to get you ready for bed and get Asha ready for bed without her winding you up, or keeping you awake.  But it’s ok, a new routine is born.  You have phased out your second nap, and oh man, how I miss that second nap.  But, I guess it had to happen.  

You were a unicorn for Halloween.  The cutest unicorn.  I tried to get a decent picture of you, but you were not a fan of the costume.  You just wanted to be comfortable, and I get it.  Girl, I get it.  That’s ok, I think we all had fun where it counted.

 

Letters to My Children – September 2020

Dear Ariya,

Summer vacation is officially over.  School started after labor day and you are learning virtually.  It’s been….interesting.  There have been a lot of moments where we have had to just roll with it.  Technology can be a pain.  Having 16 kids in a virtual class can be tough.  I could see your frustration when you raised your hand and the kids would talk over you.  Or  when you would get through the material really fast but had to wait for everyone to catch up.  It’s been an interesting month of trying to figure out what would work to keep you engaged.  I bought a bunch of homeschooling material that looked pretty interesting and fun.  You’ve enjoyed a lot of the stories that we’ve gone through.  And we’ve also signed up for virtual art lessons, virtual ballet and even trying something new, like virtual Jazz.  This school year looks very weird.  There have been a lot of tears but we’re going to get through it.

We’ve had a few adventures, like going to the State Arboretum, the Museum of the Shenandoah Valley to see the Bugs Exhibit or Harper’s Ferry.  Harper’s Ferry with daddy was quite the hike.  We didn’t go as far as we could have, but man, we were all wiped.  And with the dogs too, who don’t care for strangers.  Charlie had his muzzle on the whole time.  And Emmy tried to drag me down a few trails.  I had to hand the leash over to Daddy.  I think he has a calming effect on the dogs.  And you loved playing in the river, checking out the little fish.

Our home renovations are still in progress.  You’re still sharing a room with Asha, and it’s tough.  She wants to keep playing, you want to keep reading.  She wakes up early and is ready to play, and you take a little time to wake up.  You can’t wait until we can move into the new house.  Your new bedroom is waiting, your new bunk bed.  I know.  I can’t wait either.

Dear Asha,

It’s so weird not going to your pre-school for your last year of pre-K.  I’m so bummed that this year is so different and you can’t experience it all like Ariya did.  But, the person who would have been your teacher for pre-K offered to tutor you on her front porch outside, so that was really nice.  you still get your lessons, and we have material to work with. Ariya gets to take lessons with her too, but it’s more like science experiments and more hands on learning that she doesn’t get with virtual.

I also got some homeschooling stuff for you.  I think you liked some of the subjects we covered, but it’s very nature based, and I think you just want to do what Ariya does.  You are working on writing and doing a ton of worksheets.  You’re not a fan of coloring as much, unless I’m coloring with you.

And you like to play, a lot.  Your voice only knows one volume.  Oh man, you love to make Anika laugh so much.  You fight with Ariya a lot, but I think it’s because you love her so much.  You want to do anything that she does, you look up to her so much.  I understand that feeling, I used to look up to my brother so much too.  It’s so tough being in such a small place.  You want to be loud and wild and free.  But Anika naps upstairs once or twice a day, and Ariya is doing virtual learning all morning. It’s time for us to get out of this townhouse!

We got out and had fun in nature, that’s for sure.  Man, you both have been riding your bike like crazy in our little parking lot.  And the hike to Harper’s ferry, wow, you made it!  I am so proud of you! The bugs exhibit at the Museum of the Shenandoah Valley was great.  I think your favorite part were the gardens, and all the bees, and the bamboo forest.  Yeah, the bamboo forest and the Japanese Garden was pretty cool for sure.

But, in the meantime, you are ALSO doing art with Ariya, and ballet, and tutoring with your pre-K teacher.  So that’s nice, having things to look forward to. you’re learning so much, that’s for sure.

Dear Anika,

Anika.  What can I say.  You are now 14 months old and you’re crawling up a storm.  You’ve learned to crawl up and down the stairs in our town house.  You follow your sisters around everywhere.  You’re into anything and everything.  When you get tired, you start crawling back and forth, doing laps around the town house.  Then you start crawling in circles and shaking your head back and forth.  That’s when we know you’re delirious.   And you love your “dada”.  You still have yet to say mama and it is killing me.  But that’s ok, I know you love me 🙂

 

Letters to My Children – August 2020

Dear Ariya,

We started the beginning of August at Nani and Nanu’s house in Richmond.  It’s been nice hanging out at my old house, with you and Asha playing with my old toys.  Especially my old barbies.  Nani saved up all these old fabrics and ribbons and just basically everything that I would have thrown away, for you to create dresses and outfits for your barbies.  Nani found a few old sewing machines that she and Nanu thought they could resurrect for you, but no go.  That’s ok, you still had a blast trying to create outfits for your dolls and stuffed animals.

We had so much Indian food, khakra and mango for breakfast, pav bhaji, rice and chole for dinner.  lunch would always be a sandwich or takeout.  But we had desert every day.  I know I gained 5 lbs.  But it was worth it.

Daddy came a few days later.  It was great having him here, even for a few days.  We hung out, enjoyed spending time with each other, taking walks in the neighborhood.  We went down to Monument Ave, a street that your daddy and I used to spend a lot of time together when we were at VCU and MCV.  It’s this street that has all of these monuments of confederate soldiers and generals.  It’s a piece of history that people love to glorify.  Well, we had quite a time trying to explain what’s happening to people that look like us, what police brutality is for, why there is graffiti all over the confederate statues.  It’s pretty deep and hard to realize that the world sees us differently.  How do we prepare you for the rude awakening that we are sure you will have when you face your first moment of racism?    When will that moment be?  We want you to be prepared.  We want you to believe so hard in yourself that no one will be able to tear you down.

Halfway through the month, we came back to Winchester and moved into a temporary rental, a 2 bedroom townhouse.  It’s been interesting.  You still have to share a room with Asha.  The dogs are with us and they are aware of every single thing.  They are very excited (and not in a good way) that there are neighbors and other dogs and cats around. You had a meet and greet at your school using a drive through.  We received your chromebook, your books and some supplies.  We met your teacher through google meet up and that was pretty cool.  Can’t believe summer is ending.

Dear Asha,

Aren’t you a lucky girl, you have been sharing a room with Ariya for the whole month.  You always wanted a sleepover, you’ve asked for it all the time, and now you get it.  But man.  You just won’t let each other sleep.  All you want to do is play play play.  And fight fight fight.  Fight over my old barbie dolls, fight over all of my old stuffed animals.  It’s a struggle.  You have these big feelings, big emotions, and it’s so hard to translate them into words.  You want what you want, and you have a hard time sharing.  But you still have so much fun with together.  You ran through sprinklers, and played with the garden hose.  You made mud pies and helped Nanu wash the cars.

Then we came back to Winchester.  We tried to get as much pool time in as possible.  It’s kind of tough when the contractors are working on the house every day.  But we made it work, and we had fun.

The realization that summer is coming to an end is hitting pretty hard.  I think the realization that your school is closed for the fall/winter is hitting pretty hard too.  Especially when Ariya got her chromebook, you said “what about me?”  I told you that you have to learn to read first.  So now you’re motivated.  You saw Ariya meet her teacher on google meet up.  And then you said “what about me?”  I was able to get your pre-school teacher to tutor you.  At least you get a break from me trying to teach you, and you have a real teacher teaching you some pretty cool things.  I think we’re going to be ok.  You are a smart, motivated girl that always needs to be challenged.  I bought a lot of homeschooling stuff for this year, I think we are going to have a great time.

Dear Anika,

Anika, you are a trooper.  You have been sleeping in a pack n play for the past month and you are amazing.  I remember traveling with Ariya and Asha when they were babies, and they HATED sleeping in the pack n play.  I don’t know what happened, was it the sleep consultant, was it just your personality?  I don’t know, but man, as long as you have your crib or pack n play, and we try to stick to your nap schedule, you are good.  Daddy and I have to share a room with you, and as long as we are quiet, you pretty much stay asleep.  It’s pretty amazing.  Or maybe we just know better this time around.

This was your first time at Nani and nanu’s house.  You had so much fun crawling all over the place.  And Nani and Nanu loved holding you and playing with you.  You started to crawl up the stairs, it’s only a matter of time before you start crawling up the stairs.

You have a 5th tooth growing in.  And honestly, I don’t think there was ever an issue.  I haven’t noticed you being more fussy or sleeping less or anything.  You’ve just been having a ball, playing in the grass, following your sisters, playing with all of your sisters old baby toys at Nani and nanu’s house, and basically just living your best life ever. 13 months old.  Wow, you are 13 months old and you just keep growing and growing.

 

Letters to My Children – July 2020

Dear Ariya,

The countdown is on.  We have been packing packing packing.  The offer on the house is in, we need to get the house inspected, and we need to go go go.  In the middle of the chaos, you had a few summer camps on zoom.  You did Storybook Ballet with SCAA.  That was a pretty fun week.  Your teacher had an activity planned every day.  You had story time and you did arts and crafts, along with a dance learned.  What a fun thing to do, even if it was through zoom.  You also had ballet once a week for the rest of the month. On top of that, we wrapped up your swim lessons.  You are getting better and better each time.  Once things go back to normal, we can look into joining a swim team, because I really think you’d enjoy it!

Grandma came to visit and help us pack the house up.  It was so great to have her here and you got to spend all of your time with her.  Asha and Anika loved their time with Grandma too.  And even Charlie and Emmy loved her attention and missed her when she left.

By the end of the month, we had the house cleared out, the movers came, and we tried to say goodbye.  It felt so rushed.  We drove down to Richmond to stay with Nani and Nanu for the next 2 weeks before our townhouse was available for rent.  No, our house is not done with renovations.  They are still working on it, and it should be another month or two before we can move in.  So Ariya, you’re going to have to get used to sharing a bed room with Asha.  It’s going to be tough, living out of a suitcase.  Hopefully we can get through this.

Dear Asha,

You had your own summer camp too, the Art Start Carnival, with SCAA.  You had the same activities as Ariya had.  But your story books were different and your dances were different.  We just love SCAA and our teacher, she is the best!  You got to see your friends on zoom, you got to dance and be silly.

You also had ballet once a week, which I’m so glad that you’re doing.  It’s nice to have activities just like your big sister.

You have made SO MUCH PROGRESS with swimming!  I was amazed to see you jump off the diving board into the deep end and SWIM.  I’m so proud of you.  And now I don’t have to worry about you as much.  You are still very fearless.  And you still make me worry.  Just not as much.

It’s funny, when we said goodbye to our house, I didn’t realize that you all wouldn’t be as sad as I was.  I know it’s just a house, but you and your sisters were just excited to be on the road, to spend time with Nani and Nanu.  I guess this was great planning on our parts, to have something exciting to look forward to.  Lots of Indian food, lots of hanging out with Nani and Nanu, lots of playing with Anika and showing her the ropes with all the toys that you have saved up at their house.

Dear Anika,

Oh my gosh, in the middle of all of this chaos, YOU TURNED ONE!!!  I am bawling my eyes out on the inside, because my baby, my last baby, is one.  You stopped nursing, you transitioned to a bottle, we went through all of the frozen breastmilk that I had saved up, now you’re drinking whole milk, and eating lots of different foods.  And you had cake!  Like your older sisters, I scheduled a cake smash for you.  And you were not a fan.  All the tears.  It didn’t help that the photographer, a good friend of mine, had to wear a mask.  And you couldn’t see our faces.  Everything was just weird.  The texture of the cake, the icing was different.  The whole experience.  It was interesting.  But really, I think you were just hungry for something you were comfortable with, and you were tired.

We had a pool party for you.  Grandma was here, and we had a few close friends over that we trust.  The kids had a blast.  You got to eat some pizza and then had some of that famous cake.  And you LOVED it.  It was a baby shark theme.  I couldn’t go all out like I wanted, but it was important that we were together with friends and family, and we were all happy and healthy and safe.

You became more and more comfortable in the water, which was awesome.  I think for our next session, we may have to learn survival just for water safety.  You haven’t started walking yet, but you’re still a crawling machine, and I’m worried that you’ll fall in and not know how to float.  So that’s next on our list of things to do.

We said goodbye to your room.  And it made me so sad.  You won’t remember anything except for the pictures we show you.  The backyard that we loved to hang out in, watch the dogs run around, watch the girls do their arts and crafts outside.  The kitchen where you pulled out all of the spices and would use them as shakers.  The tupperware that you would bang together in in the kitchen while I cooked dinner.  The basement where the big girls played and created jumbo castles made out of legos and then put you in.  The family room where the girls would watch tv and you would just play with all of your baby toys.  The bedroom where you would pull all the books off the bookshelves while I put away your laundry.  The driveway and front yard where we would just hang while the girls rode their bikes.  Man, we are going to miss this house.

But we’re going to see Nani and Nanu!!!  You haven’t seen them since February, and I don’t think you’ve ever been to their house.  So this will be nice.  So much Indian food to stuff your face with.  So many different toys to play with.  So much quality time with Nani and Nanu.  It’s going to be great!

Letters to My Children – April 2020

Dear Ariya,

We are going through week 4, 5, 6, and 7 of quarantine.  And you are missing school so hard.  You turned 7 on a Saturday, the day before Easter.  It was tough.  It was so tough.  I tried to make it special for you.  I asked all of our friends and family to send me a video clip for you, wishing you a happy birthday.  And man, that video was 14 minutes long.  So many people love and care for you.  And even though Daddy was working so much, I tried so hard to make it special for you.  I ordered a peacock cake from Crumbs and Crumbles. I decorated the eat in table with peacock colors, balloons and streamers.  I tried not to go overboard with the presents, but I think you favorite present was a new bike.  A NEW BIKE.  To celebrate your new skills.  You are 7!!  Where did the time go?

Dear Asha,

It’s crazy not having a regular schedule.  Ariya has her school work to do, and we try to do school work, “fun sheets” for you.  There are times when you say “what can i do?!?!”  We color.  we do crafts.  We paint.  You ride your bike and scooter with Ariya.  You have your zoom ballet lessons just like Ariya.  And it’s been tough while we’re trying to get this house ready to sell.  We had to move a lot of the toys.  Your stuff is packed up, in storage, in the other house.  You just want things to go back to normal.  You just want to see and play with your friends.  You just want to go to the park and swing on the swing set, or slide down the slides.  Sorry, sweetie, there are still too many unknowns.  But we’ll figure it out, I promise.  In the meantime, you are so great with baby Anika.  You love to make her laugh and you play with her, with her toys.

Dear Anika,

You’re 9 months old!!  And you started crawling!  Stop growing so fast.  It happened all of a sudden.  One minute you were on your hands and knees.  The next, you were rocking back and forth. And then you were off!  I still can’t believe it.

What can I say?  You love saying da da da da, ba ba ba ba.  You love playing with your toys.  But really, you love following your sisters around everywhere.  Whatever they are doing, you want to do too.  If they are cuddled on a blanket, you want to play with that blanket.  If they are sitting down, you’ll crawl into their lap.  They love you so much.

As we’re getting the house ready to put on the market, I have so many mixed feelings.  This was the house that we brought all of you home to.  Ariya and Asha had so many firsts in this house.  So many memories.  And I’m sad that we won’t have those memories for you.  But I’m trying to focus on the present.  And I’m trying to take as many pictures as I can, to try and remember everything.