I have a five year old!  How is that even possible?  We celebrated with grandparents, aunts and cousins.  Her “big” gift was her new bike.  But it wasn’t much of a surprise because you never surprise a serious cyclist with a new bike.  These are very personal things.  She’d seen it at the bike shop, and had tried it out.  But she didn’t think she’d be getting it until summer, so she was surprised to see it when she woke up that morning.  She tells me her favorite present was the Paw Patrol suitcase I gave her.  I almost didn’t give it to her as a gift.  She goes back and forth between our house and my parents’ frequently.  We had been carrying stuff in bags, so I got her a suitcase.  I almost just gave it to here, but then wrapped it up with the other gifts.

We’ve developed a few birthday traditions.  We do a birthday countdown, where she takes a ring off a chain each day.  We started it on New Years.  It was a nice way to deal with the post holiday let down.  It gives her something to look forward to.  We bake cupcakes together on the day before her birthday and then I bake a cake to surprise her with.  This year she requested that I surprise her with a dinosaur cake.  And then after all the celebrating is done mark off her height.  I made a board while we were in Virginia to mark her growth.  That way we could take it with us if/when we moved.  I’m glad I did that.  I would hate for those first marks to be left on a door frame in a house we left behind.


Every year on her birthday we conduct a little interview that I record.  It’s interesting to see how she changes each year.  Unfortunately unless I want to upgrade this account I can’t post videos.  But here is this year’s list of what she’s up to.

Annelise at five…

  • she’s about 41 inches tall and 36 lbs.
  • wears size 5t (still has some 4t) and her shoes are a size 8 (still, but I’m buying 9s now)
  • had her first hair cut this year
  • we ended afternoon naps this summer, although she sometimes falls asleep during rest time at school.  (we did moved bedtime up by an hour)
  • she is in PreK at Sparta schools.  She loves school.
  • she has several school friends.  I hear about Silas, Alondra, and Naomi about everyday. She loves playing with her cousins Lincoln, Henry, and Miles and lately shes been getting to spend more time with Carson and Alison.  John Henry is still her BFF.  And after a year and a half she still asks about Heys.
  • Her stuffed animals are still her favorite things.  The menagerie has grown.  Lately her favorite thing is to create a “nest” to cuddle with them. Basically she takes all the blanket and pillows and makes a nest for them.
  • She’s into Paw Patrol right now.  She takes them with her in a back pack.  She also always keeps a little stuffed dog with her that is “baby Izzy.”
  • She still has a “boo” but she doesn’t carry it with her anymore.  It stays at home, but while we’re home its always with her.
  • Her favorite TV shows are Paw Patrol, Dinosaur train, WordWorld, and The Cat in the Hat.
  • I don’t know how high she can count.  We get stuck at 30, but only because she struggles with the “th” sound so it turns into “f” which then skips us to 40.  But she has a general concept of how counting and numbers work.
  • She’s starting to do basic math.  She can add and subtract numbers less than 10.  And can do 10 + (any single digit number).
  • She knows all the letters both upper and lower case.  Knows their sounds and is starting to identify letters that thing start with.  She can identify several sight words.  She loves letters and words and wants desperately to be able to read and write.  She follows me around with a magnadoodle writing letters and trying to link them into words; constantly asking, “does (series of letters) spell anything?”
  • She loves to “read.”  She’s memorized several of her favorite books and will recite them to her puppies.  She loves to read anything Paw Patrol or anything about Christmas.  I read Rudolph to her year round.
  • She can write her first and last name.  Sometimes she can write my name, but the “u” tends to throw her off.
  • Her speech has become an issue again.  I’ve gotten a call from her school and they are going to have her evaluated by a speech therapist.  Initially they thought it might just be that she was trying to say words that were beyond the normal scope of a preschooler.  But we knew when she completed therapy before that she may need to revisit it when she’s older.
  • We still have regular game and puzzle nights.  The games are getting more advanced and the puzzles are getting more pieces.
  • Lately she’s been into making “art.”  She has a collection of craft supplies and will spend hours cutting, glueing, stamping, and coloring.
  • Still not into dolls or barbies.  She will occasionally play with her doll, but she prefers her stuffed animals.
  • She wants to be a Paleontologist and a farmer when she grows up.  She says she doesn’t want to get married or have kids.  She wants me to live on her farm with her and help with the animals while she is digging up fossils.
  • She still rides her bike with the Dirt Dawgs.
  • She started taking dance.  Loves it.
  • Her favorite colors are red and blue.
  • She still doesn’t like to wear dresses.  And now she doesn’t like jeans or anything with buttons, zippers or snaps.  She’s happiest in basic cotton outfits, yoga pants, tee shirts and sweatshirts.
  • Her goals for this next year are to play with her racoon and to have dinner at the Brown Bear.  (I think we can make that happen).

Headed into 2017

When I took down the Christmas decorations this year, I wrote a letter to myself and tucked it in with the decorations to be read next year when I haul all that stuff out again.  I got the idea from a post on Facebook, and since the putting up and taking down of the holiday decorations frames my year and causes me to reflect I thought it would be interesting next year to see what was going on in my life and how I was feeling.  It’s the unfiltered, not safe for the internet version and I keep thinking that if something happens to me this year, whoever ends up with the Christmas boxes is going to be in for an earful.

The overall state of our country and the world in general has me feeling very pessimistic about the coming year, but on a personal note I’m feeling slightly optimistic about our future.  I am slowly inching my way through school.  Each semester brings me a little closer to being done.  I’m narrowing down the choices for finishing and I think once I have a definite start and finish date for nursing school I feel a little less anxious about it.

Over Christmas break we went to Virginia and while I was there I visited Jefferson College of Health Sciences with the intention of applying and starting their second degree BSN program.  While I would love to go that route I also realized that it would be next to impossible to do.  The program would cost me $45,000, and I wouldn’t receive aid because I would technically be coming from out of state.  I could move to Virginia work for a year to (re)establish my residency and then start.  But the job prospects just aren’t there.   So while I would love to be back in Virginia as soon as possible, the right decision appears to be staying in Michigan, finishing school here and then moving back.

Right now I am focusing on the Associate degree program at MCC, but still considering the second degree BSN program from GVSU as an option.  Later this week I’m meeting with an adviser at MCC, hopefully after that I will have a better idea of when I can start the program.  If it’s going to be a year or more out I may use that time to focus on the GVSU program.  And then the other day I got this crazy idea.  I’d focus on the MCC program, and then as soon as I finish start working as an RN.  Not getting my BSN is not an option so even if I do go the route of ADN first, I’ll start on an RN to BSN program as soon as I can.  The crazy idea part is that at the same time I do that I’ll finish off a second degree in either Biomedical Sciences or Medical Laboratory Sciences.  I know, kind of crazy but not impossible.  The “why” of the second degree goes beyond the scope of this blog post, so I’ll table it and maybe come back to it another day.

So anyway… 2017 looks like the year I’ll figure out which nursing program I’m doing and hopefully maybe even start.

For the first time in a number of years I made several New Year’s Resolutions.  I typically make some sort of general resolutions of things I would like to focus on in the coming year, but this year I made concrete, measurable goals.  I had Annelise do the same only for her they are more like a list of things she wants to do this year.  We put them in our memory jar for 2017, so when we empty it out on New Year’s Eve this year we’ll see if we accomplished our goals.

Last year was the first year we did a memory jar (another idea I pulled off of Facebook).  Every Sunday night we sit down together and write our favorite memory from that week and then put it in a jar.  I also had her write her name on each of hers so I could see how much her hand writing improved over the year.  We had fun opening the jar on New Year’s Eve and recalling all of our favorite times.  We had a very laid back New Years.  It’s kind of like that now.  I think Annelise’s first NYE was the only one we did anything for.  Now if I do something its earlier in the evening and we’re home and at least she’s in bed long before midnight.  I think next year I may let her stay up until midnight and celebrate the actual event.

Our Christmas was also low key and very lovely.  It was the first Christmas it was just Annelise and I for Christmas Eve and Christmas morning.  I was nervous that it might feel kind of lonely but it was actually really nice.  My parents,  sister and nephews joined us for dinner so we did have some extended family time and then the day after Christmas we got together with all of my sisters and their families.

One of my resolutions was to blog more frequently.  I initially set a goal of every week, then decided that every other week was more practical but seeing as it’s the third week of the year and I’m just now getting out a post I obviously have some work to do.

Hopefully you all had a great Holiday Season and I look forward to sharing 2017 with you.