Letters to My Children – April 2021

Dear Ariya

I can’t believe you’ve turned 8. You’re such a big girl, and have grown so much within the past year. We have had to encounter a lot of disappointments this year. COVID and missing your friends has been a huge thing. Homeschooling was not what you (or I) thought it was be. But wow, you have turned into such an amazing big girl. Sometimes I feel like I can see into the future and see what you’ll be like as a teenager. So much sass. And a little bit of attitude. But generally, just the sweetest girl I know.

You’ve turned into quite the reader. You are now obsessed with anything Rick Riordan. You’ve read the first book in the Aru Shah series. We gave you the Kane Chronicles for your birthday, which is all about Egyptian Mythology. You also got a copy of the Land of Stories series, and have already re-read the series again a few more times.

April was full of fun things. Anytime the weather turned warm, we hit the road and took an adventure. The bluebells bloomed, so we went for a hike on the BlueBell trail at Shenandoah River State Park. You bought your science journal, drew a few observations, walked along the river, saw frogs mating…It was a very interesting day. I think you could have spent all day along the river.

We went down to Richmond to celebrate your birthday with family. Uncle Eric, Uncle Kashiff, Auntie Anjuanette, Grandma and the cousins came along, as well as Nani and Nanu. Daddy made sure you had a piñata, and a bubble blower. We celebrated at Deep Run Park, where you ran around and played on the playground and danced with your cousins. I’d say it was a good day.

We also made the drive out to Burnside Farms. A farm filled with tulips, a bounce house, farm animals and lots of photo opportunities. Yes, I couldn’t resist. We go every year and we couldn’t go last year because of COVID. I felt like we needed a pick me up so off we went! You’re a pro at picking tulips by the bulb.

I promised you a horse riding birthday party this year, so that’s what we did. We invited a few of your closest friends and went to this new farm called DeVaux Farms. They taught you how to groom the horse, you made a craft, and then you all got a horse riding lesson. Cupcakes shaped like horses topped it off. I’d call it a success.

The Apple Blossom fair came to town, and we were all so excited! We couldn’t go last year, so we more than made up for it this year. Lots of rides, lots of cotton candy, lots of games. I think you and Asha were obsessed with this gravity ride that spun really fast in the air.

Ballet changed from zoom to in person and man were you excited! You had to wear your mask and keep your distance, but man was it great being in the building with everyone else.

Dear Asha,

April has been a weird month. I think you’re starting to miss your friends, miss school. Seeing Ms Mary every week is nice, but it’s not the same thing as going to school 4 or 5 days a week in preschool. You still zoom your ballet classes and I think you’re starting to lose focus on it. Again, it’s no fun when you’re not there in person.

The bluebell trail was so much fun. You were fascinated with the frogs and their really cool sounds. You saw a few frogs on top of each other, giving each other a piggy back ride, haha. I think you could have stayed at the river all day.

For homeschooling, you asked to raise caterpillars and see them transform into butterflies. I think you were fascinated with the whole process. You watched them every day, you were concerned when you thought they were hurt, shaking as a chrysalis. I had to google to make sure everything was ok. When they were ready to be released, we went to the Museum of the Shenandoah Valley because they had some pretty flowers blooming, and we thought the butterflies would make a good home there. You had fun releasing them, and one even landed on your hand! I couldn’t get a picture of that, the butterflies moved too fast! But it was still a good day roaming around the grounds.

Ariya’s birthday celebrations were great as well. It’s always fun when you have cake and family and horse riding. At Deep Run, you were the one that broke the piñata and got all of the candy out! Well, you knocked the piñata off the string, saw the opening where the candy was and then dumped it out for everyone. So smart. And as for the horse riding party, you couldn’t wait for your own turn to ride the horse. I was so proud of your patience! You ask about your own horse riding lessons all the time. But it was definitely fun times for everyone.

Dear Anika,

What can I say. You are getting bigger and bigger and bigger. You’re following your sisters everywhere. You were able to walk the bluebell trail for so long, and you didn’t need much picking up. You loved picking up sticks just like your sister, playing in the water just like them. You’re watching everyone and everything.

You had so much fun at Ariya’s birthday party at the park. I think it was the first time I put you in a swing and you were in heaven. You had fun with the family, as long as they had cake for you. You were dancing up a storm with your sisters and cousins. It was lots of fun.

Your first trip to Burnside Farms! I was happy to get pictures of you in a field of tulips. and you had so much fun. You tried to pick flowers, but it was more like picking the flower petals. But you still had a good time.

And you visited the fair for the first time! You didn’t get to ride as many rides as the big girls, but you still had a great time. You ate a lot of cotton candy and junk food. You tried to play at the games, but you ended up just picking the prize. That’s the way to do it.

The butterflies had you curious. You wanted to get close to it like Asha, but we were worried that you would get too rough. When we went to the MSV, after we released the butterflies, you had fun walking through the gardens though, exploring, playing with the girls. It’s been a pretty good month for all of us.

Letters to My Children – March 2021

Dear Ariya,

Another month of homeschooling. We made more of an effort to get outside more, now that the weather was warming up. We met up with friends a few times, went for walks and hikes outside. We tried to switch it up, but it really was us doing the same thing every day. I did ask your ballet teacher, who is also a Montessori teacher and taught school online if she would tutor you in math. You had such a love/hate relationship with Beast Academy and the thought that math brought you to tears makes me so sad. I get that you’re frustrated, and I know I’m not a teacher, so I thought that tutoring with Ms Abby online would help. And she is amazing. I could always hear you laughing on your zoom calls with Ms Abby, which was really great.

Nothing else much changed. We didn’t have an “official” spring break. We just chose the week that Daddy was off, and had some adventures. It gave you a break, it gave all of us a break, and I think we really needed it. Is it summer vacation yet?

Dear Asha,

Another month of doing the same thing. You did have way more play time than Ariya did, and you waited around a lot for her to be done with her school. You did enjoy playing with Anika but it wasn’t the same. Anika grabs all of the toys you’re playing with. And you do the same (huh, I wonder where she learned it from?) You are always in competition with Ariya. You’ve started reading those BOB books, and man, you are so smart! You’re still doing tutoring with Ms Mary, but you don’t understand why you can’t have tutoring with Ms Abby like Ariya does. And you’re still doing ballet, although I think you’re pretty much over ballet on zoom. You miss seeing your friends and can’t wait to be there in person. You’re in luck! I just registered you for Kindergarten, so in a few short months, you will be in school, riding the school bus with your sister, and in a new classroom and making new friends. I know you can’t wait!

Dear Anika,

Stop time, please stop. My baby, you just keep growing and growing. You’re obsessed with my phone, pushing buttons, dragging and dropping, playing with filters on Instagram. I gotta hide my phone from you now, because you’re always changing things on my phone!

When we went on our hikes, you did not like staying in the ergo carrier. Funny, I remember looking back at the time when Asha was your age, she would actually nap in the ergo, no problem. Not you. You want to get down, you want to walk for a little bit, and when you get tired, you want to be held, but you do NOT want to be in the ergo, or be worn. Girl, my arms are tired of carrying you when we’re hiking! Also, you won’t stay in your stroller when the girls are riding their bikes. You don’t understand why you’re not riding a bike with them. It’s kinda cute, and kinda funny, but also frustrating, because you just want to do your own thing. That’s ok, Anika, you keep doing you.

Letters to My Children – February 2021

Dear Ariya,

Another month of school. Another month of winter. I know, it feels like the longest winter ever. Still homeschooling, and just plugging along. We have our good days and bad. But we’re just counting down the days till school is over for the year.

I think we had 3 snow storms and the snow lasted for days. You and Asha, and even Anika had a great time using the hill behind our house to go sledding. We even called up our neighbors and some friends to come over. So that was fun.

You had an appointment with Ms Olivia to get your hair done. I think you were just really tired of washing and brushing all that hair, so you did get maybe 4-5 inches cut off. It’s still long, but way more manageable. And you love getting your hair blown out, at least once a year.

You had your first horse riding lesson! After earning 50 stars on your rewards chart, you were able to take your first horse riding lesson at Magic Mountain! And how much fun it was! What wasn’t fun was waiting for Asha to be done with hers. You just couldn’t wait for your lesson, and were not very patient. And then when it was your turn, Asha didn’t want to get off her horse and pretty much cried the rest of the time. But from what I heard, you had a great time.

You had so much fun riding that you wanted to celebrate your birthday riding. So, in April, that’s what we’ll do. You and a few friends, plus Asha will get to ride on a new horse at a new horse farm. I’m sure you’ll have a blast!

You’ve become OBSESSED with Percy Jackson. When I can’t find you, I always know you’re in your room, reading.

We did go down to Richmond for a long weekend.  We did get to spend time with Auntie Anjuanette, Uncle Kashiff, Uncle Eric, Mekhai and Jayden. We went to the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, which was pretty cool. We saw Faberge eggs, and pretty paintings, and lots of cool sculptures. You were very concerned when I set off an alarm for getting too close to a painting. It wasn’t my fault, I swear!

Dear Asha,

You are hilarious. You were obsessed with the snow. You were also obsessed with getting run over by the other kids sledding straight for you. I have never seen anyone purposely step in the way of a moving target. I think one time, our friend Asher sled right towards you, and you seriously were thrown up in the air and back down. I thought you would have learned your lesson, but nope, you kept trying to do it again and again. Sorry Asha, but after the 2nd time, I had to put a stop to that. It terrified me that you might hurt yourself getting thrown like that.

Your friend Clara invited you to her birthday party, which was really just a 1 hour horse riding lesson at Magic Mountain. Your horse was named Dandy, and he was a beautiful little horse. You both had a ball, and were all about getting your first horse riding lesson. We had been talking about it for a while, and you’ve been working on your rewards chart to build up to it. So a few weeks later, you had your first official horse riding lesson with Clara. You learned to brush the horse, saddle your horse and ride! You did a great job of saying woah and pulling on the reins when you wanted to slow down. You were really great with steering and you paid attention. What wasn’t great was when your lesson ended and you realized that you would have to wait for your next lesson. Yeah, that was not fun at all. I think you cried for at least 45 minutes. It made me realize that maybe you weren’t ready emotionally for this. So, in the meantime, you’re still working on your rewards chart, and hoping to earn another lesson. And in April, Ariya decided she wanted a horse riding lesson for her birthday too, so we’re going to check out another horse farm called DeVaux Farms. So, at least you’ll get your chance to ride again.

You lost your 2nd tooth! And you were so excited to get another visit from the tooth fairy. So far you’ve lost 2 front bottom teeth and you think you are so grown now.

Your hair has gotten so long, and girl, it has been a pain to brush. I don’t know what it is, you must have a really sensitive head, but you are not a fan of brushing out those tangles. So, you finally made the decision that you no longer want to grow your hair like Rapunzel, and you want to cut your hair. I feel like this happens every year. Because last year, you had a major hair cut as well. It’s above your shoulders and, it is so much easier to brush your hair now! The problem is that it’s still in your face, but we just use a lot of headbands and do half ponytails now. But thankfully it is easy to manage and you now love brushing your hair.

Dear Anika,

You loved putting on your snow suit and getting strapped into your sled. I think that was the best fun you’ve had. On the days where there was no snow, you would still point to the sled and ask to be strapped in. But on those snow days, you would hold your hand out on the snow, you would eat the snow and you would be content.

You’re 19 months now. And you are just trying to keep up with your big sisters. Everywhere they go, you want to go. Whatever they do, you try and do. You see them ride on their scooters, and you try to ride on their scooter too. You’ve discovered their old pink radio flyer tricycle, and you love to be pushed around in that. But there are some moments where you want me to let go, and think you can do it yourself. But sweetheart, your feet don’t even reach the pedals. You kind of need me to push you. You are stubborn though, and you push my hands away every time.

You discovered Asha’s old baby shark fishing game, and it is on. You can’t stop singing do do do do do. I sing “baby shark” and you sing the dos. The cutest thing. until it gets annoying. Because you won’t stop playing the game and singing the song.

You also love reading in your corner full of books. You’ll pull book after book down, until there’s a big pile around you. I can always find you looking at pictures, and pretending to read.

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.