Saturday, February 18, 2017

Brianna is 7 Years Old!

Today, our precious oldest daughter turns SEVEN years old! I feel like this is a very special birthday for her because the number seven seems to be significant in her life. It was seven years from the time we started trying to have a baby until we welcomed her in our arms. She was born seven days early, weighing seven pounds and seven ounces. She is the seventh grandchild on my side of the family. It's so hard to believe that our spirited, bubbly, loving, little ray of sunshine has been bringing joy into our world for seven years!

Brianna has always been our average-sized child. When I was pregnant with her, we had some legitimate concerns about her size and specifically for her head circumference. We are so grateful that none of these things have ever been a concern since she's been born! At her seven year old well check with our pediatrician, she weighed 50.7 pounds (51st percentile), was 48.5 inches tall (59th percentile), and had a BMI of 15.2 (42nd percentile). Overall, she is a very healthy little girl!

In clothing, Brianna has always worn the size that corresponds to her age. When she was 6 months old, she wore 6 month size clothing. When she was 2 years old, she wore 2T size clothing. It comes as no surprise that at 7 years old, she wears size 6/7 shirts and dresses. In pants, she currently wears both size 6 and size 7, but her size 6 pants are quickly becoming too short. She wears a size 1 shoe. You might notice that these sizes are just barely bigger than what Brenson is wearing right now!

Brianna loves to pick out her own clothes, and most of the time she does a really good job. She has always loved accessorizing and that has not changed! Wearing dresses are her favorite, and she kind of hates wearing jeans (although she looks so cute in them!)

Sometimes, Brianna will still pick outfits that are a little wild for my taste. She loves pattern mixing, haha! Since she started school, I have picked out five outfits each week, and in the morning she just chooses from one of those five outfits. It's a system that works really well for us, although she is definitely becoming more opinionated about what she prefers to wear.

Brianna's Meme gave her a bunch of clip-on earrings, and Bri wears them all the time! Her favorite pair is almost as big as her ear. Of course :-).

Daddy drives Brianna to school two mornings a week. Apparently, it was extra chilly this morning, so she commandeered Daddy's scarf and hat!

Bri loves to fix her own hair, and generally does a good job. She's slightly obsessed with playing with hair and does it a lot with her friends at school. She pretty much never comes home with the same hair style that she went to school with. 

She's also recently learned to braid, so she's constantly braiding and unbraiding her dolls' hair. She's even tried to braid Brooke and Brecklyn's hair, but they don't sit still enough for her to do it very well yet.

Brianna really loves to have her nails painted (both her fingernails and her "feet nails").

I've taken her with me to get a pedicure several times, and she just eats it up. 

So excited to have her "feet nails" looking pretty!

Getting pedicures is something we really enjoy doing, and since the place I go only charges me $5 to cut, file, and paint Bri's toenails, the price is right!

When Brianna was a baby and young toddler, she had very blue eyes. However, around the time she was three years old, her eyes changed to green. They often have just a hint of hazel in them, as well. She has natural blond highlights in her hair, beautiful eyelashes, and so many funny and cute expressions. It always makes me laugh when she raises one eyebrow at me! I've always wanted to be able to do that, but I can't!

You'll notice that in some of these photos, Brianna has significantly more teeth than in other photos! Bri lost her first tooth in April of 2016. She pulled it out herself, and has since pulled 5 more! She has lost her two front teeth on the top and bottom, as well as the tooth on either side of her front teeth on the bottom.

After losing her first tooth

The second tooth she lost was her other bottom front tooth. She pulled it at school in May 2016, and was so excited because she got to go to the office AND pick out a little treasure box for her tooth!

She pulled her top two front teeth before I felt like they were ready to come out, and I finally had to tell her to STOP pulling her teeth out, haha!

Another one of the bottom teeth Bri lost was also pulled at school just a few months ago. That day, four kids in her class (counting her) lost teeth at school!

Bri does great with getting her teeth cleaned. The last several times I've taken her, I've also taken Bren to have his teeth cleaned at the same time. Brianna goes to a room by herself with the hygienist and gets her teeth cleaned like a champ. I just pop in once in a while to check on her (I have to stay with Bren as he struggles with it more). Her teeth have always had an issue with plaque build up and discoloration even though we brush faithfully, she doesn't eat junk food or drink sugary drinks, and we have them cleaned every six months. Though her teeth are healthy and she's never had a cavity, they just get a yucky looking build up on them. Our dentist suggested that we have them cleaned every three months instead of six, so we've been doing that for about a year.

Just like all of our other kids, Brianna also sees a chiropractor at least once a month for an adjustment. We started doing this just before she turned four years old because we were having a problem with ear infections. She hasn't had an ear infection since we started getting her adjusted three years ago! We've seen several benefits from chiropractic care. Plus, she loves getting adjusted!

This girl is the easily excitable and enthusiastic about life! 

She is so much fun to share things with because her excitement is contagious!

I've always said Brianna is our spunky girl, and I think that side of her really shows in some of these photos! She is silly, playful, and just full of energy all the time! There are certainly times when she struggles to demonstrate self control, but she has grown SO MUCH in this area.

My parents watched my kiddos for a few nights back in the fall. Brianna is never nervous or scared to spend the night at someone else's house (she's always up for an adventure). At one point I had texted my mom to ask how things were going, and she sent me this pic. I took one look at Brianna and thought, "Yep, everything is normal." Haha!

In addition to being full of energy, Brianna tends to be a bit of a mess much of the time, haha. Her room is messy, her clothes are often messy, and her hair is seems to be messy no matter how much we brush it. She's hard on clothes and shoes, for sure, but that's the price you pay for being adventurous :-). This dress was a hand-me-down (I think Bri was actually the third child to wear it), but it wasn't all that surprising when she managed to pull the flower off of it on her first wear. Sigh.

Part of the reason Bri is hard on clothes and shoes is because she's a bit on the clumsy side, just like her Momma. This girl will randomly fall and leave us all wondering how she managed to do it, but like I said, she comes by it honest! 

She went door knocking last summer to invite people in the community to our church VBS and fell in a mud puddle. I had to laugh when she came back to me looking like this:

We have bar stools (with backs) here at our new house, and one day Brianna fell off of one stool into the stool next to it. It seemed like she was sitting still, so who knows how it happened?!? She did bang her face pretty good, though :-(.

Thankfully, she's tough and doesn't often cry when she gets hurt. She definitely had a bruise and a big swollen spot on her cheek after this incident. 

Not too long after Brianna turned six, she was invited to a birthday party for a girl in her Kindergarten class named Bella. The party was at the local skating rink. Brianna had never roller skated before, but she was SO EXCITED to try. I was waaaaay more apprehensive about it than she was, for sure! It ended up being kind of a disaster as Brianna struggled to keep her limbs under control enough to balance on the skates. I kept trying to help her (I was not wearing skates, thankfully), but every time she tried to move, her legs and arms would just flail in every direction, haha. She never gave up, though! She just kept on falling and getting up and trying again. By the end of the night, my poor feet were bruised up from her running over them, but I do think she did get slightly better at skating as the night went on. She was all smiles despite the constant falls (while many of the kids were in tears). I pray that her perseverance and good attitude are something she works hard to keep as she gets older. 

Brianna is pretty adventurous when it comes to trying new things, and this applies to her eating, as well. She's always been a fantastic eater . . . not picky at all and enjoys many healthy foods. She really spoiled us by being such an easy eater because several of her younger siblings (two in particular) are much more challenging at the dinner table. She has a hearty appetite, and sometimes it surprises us how much food she can put away!

There are very few foods she doesn't like (crescent rolls are one), and sweets are not a big temptation for her. She loves ham and pork of many varieties, okra, broccoli, most fruits, meatloaf, chicken, mashed potatoes, Mexican food, and shrimp! Chris gets a dish at our local Mexican restaurant that has shrimp in it, and Brianna always bums some of the shrimp from him. One night, he decided to order her her own plate of shrimp. She gobbled it up!

Brianna doesn't like to just be in the kitchen for eating . . . she loves to help cook, as well! She is really a great helper to me in the kitchen, and her happy attitude makes it that much more enjoyable for us to cook together. 

This year, we've started allowing her to cook at the stove (with our supervision) and even put things in the oven for us. 

We also have a set of kitchen knives that are made specifically for kids to use. They are sharp enough to cut through many things, but it would be difficult to cut a finger badly with them. Brianna uses them to help us cut up fruit (and some veggies). She is my official cheese grater when I need that done, and she loves rolling out dough when we makes sugar cookies.

She's gotten really good at helping mix things without making a huge mess.

Cooking with her Daddy is one of her favorite things to do.

In addition to helping us cook, Brianna is very helpful to us in many other ways. She often sets the table before mealtimes, helps me pick up the house every afternoon, switches the laundry for me, helps fold and put away laundry, makes her bed, and even loads the dishwasher. Once in a while, she will forget to have a happy heart while helping, but those moments are generally very short-lived and almost always due to her being tired.

She is also a HUGE help to me with her sisters. Brianna loves her sisters so very much, and she's willing to do just about anything I ask her to do to help with them.

She works with them on their letters, 

reads to them, 

and even loves to dress them for me!

She also loves to pick out their clothes (they are like real-life baby dolls to her), and will always dress them matching or coordinated. She helps me hold their hands when we're walking into stores, helps me keep them out of trouble while I'm trying to cook or use the restroom or whatever, and even sometimes fixes them drinks and snacks when they need it. 

Brooke isn't much smaller than Brianna, but Bri loves to carry her around. She's definitely a little momma to them!

Brecklyn rarely lets "Anna" carry her, but she does love to play and read with her. 

That's not to say that Brianna never gets frustrated with her sisters because she certainly does. Sometimes, Bri will ask to play in her room with the door locked so they can't come barging in on her, and sometimes she struggles to use kind words or speak in a kind way when they are bothering her. However, she truly is a great big sister to ALL her siblings, and I love how much she loves them.

Brenson and Brianna have a special bond as the "big kids", and they are very close, as well. Brenson really misses her while she's at school, and always has a lot to say to her the minute we pick her up. And, she's always ready to hear what he has to tell her!

She is a really great encourager to Brenson,

and these two can giggle together for days!

They definitely bicker and fight sometimes, but those fights never last for long. In fact, if they are bickering and we tell them they aren't allowed to play together for a period of time, they will both cry and be upset! Many of their fights are due to Brianna trying to mother Bren and be up in his business when she doesn't need to be. She's a classic oldest child in that she has a tendency to be bossy!

Brianna and Brenson balance each other really well as Bren's reluctance to partake in certain activities helps Brianna think twice and be less impulsive, 

and her free spirit really helps him loosen up and "let down his hair" a bit. 

Brianna certainly loves her siblings, but her very favorite person is her Daddy. These two have a very similar personality, and I think that gives them an extra-special bond. They just really "get" each other. 

This girl thinks her Daddy hung the moon, and isn't that how it should be? He does so much for her, and she just adores him. 

She loves writing him special notes and making him little drawings and cards. 

And I think he loves getting them as much as she loves making them for him. 

Brenson gets to go with Daddy to work fairly often, but because Brianna is in school, she doesn't. She does go with him every once in a while, and she just loves those days. She enjoys typing on his computer, organizing his paperwork, using his office supplies, and wearing his headset! But most of all, she just loves spending the day with her Daddy!

Daddy may be her favorite person, but she and I love spending time together, as well.

She keeps me laughing allllllllll the time!

Sometimes I call Brianna "my sunshine girl" because she just brings a happiness and energy into the room. 

I also love her little hand made cards and gifts!

I miss her so much when she's at school during the day! I think I like school breaks and summer more than she does :-).

One day last fall, Brianna went with me to a Ladies' Day at a church about an hour away. She was the youngest little girl there, but she did so well! She paid attention and took notes, and just really enjoyed herself. 

She is attentive in Bible class and generally pays attention really well in worship service. She has weekly memory verses that we work on, although we don't really have to work too hard because scripture memorization comes easy to her. We encourage her to take notes during the sermon, and I love seeing her take-aways from the lesson. . 

Brianna is a very loving little girl. She loves to give hugs and snuggles, and physical touch is probably her number one love language. She still enjoys sitting on our laps, and loves it when we lay in bed with her and snuggle or read. There are a couple teachers at school (her classroom teacher and her PE teacher) that she hugs on every day. She's not shy at all about giving hugs and loving on people.

Hugging Grandma

Loving on G-Jo

She also adores babies and is very good with them since she has so much experience!

Baby Annie gets lots of Brianna love when they see each other.

Brianna has several friends at school that she talks about and plays with every day, but her "BFF" is her cousin, Chloe Jo.

Brianna just adores Chloe Jo, and often CJ becomes the golden standard for things Brianna does or doesn't like. I remind Brianna often that just because Chloe Jo doesn't like something, doesn't mean she can't like it. 

Chloe Jo is a repeat recipient of Brianna's hugs!

Chloe Jo is the one friend that we've allowed Brianna to have sleepovers with (mostly because she's a cousin). After having a sleepover, the girls can sometimes be a bit cranky the next day due to lack of sleep. Chloe Jo always says that it's because Brianna wouldn't quit talking and go to sleep. Brianna agrees :-). They are sometimes good to let Bren play with them and sometimes not, so we have to remind and encourage them to include "little brother" in on the fun.

As I mentioned above, Brianna can sometimes get a little cranky if she's not getting enough sleep. She is a child who needs her sleep and will still take a nap two or three days a week. She typically naps on Wednesdays after school (since we're out late for Bible study that evening), and on either Saturday or Sunday. Her naps aren't long, but they do wonders to improve her attitude. Brianna rarely cries except when she's really tired. Crying is a tell-tale sign that she needs more sleep! She is a great sleeper except during storms . . . she does get easily scared and will sleep in our closet when it storms.

Brianna generally goes to bed between 7:30 and 7:45 on school nights because she gets up at 6:30am to get ready for school. She wakes happily most mornings because she loves going to school! It's been amazing for me to watch her learn and develop so quickly, especially with her reading. At the end of Kindergarten, she tested a little bit above level with her reading. We were good to work on it every evening!

She had homework three nights a week in Kinder, but it was fast and easy to complete. 

At the end of her Kindergarten year, she also earned her first running medal. She earned it for running a total of 25 miles throughout the school year, and we were so proud of her for setting a goal and reaching it. She was pretty proud of it, too! So far this year, she has been working to earn another medal, but probably won't get it until the very end of the year again. She's a little more interested in playing than running laps most days.

I was so emotional when she graduated form Kindergarten!

I couldn't believe how much my baby girl had grown between the first and last day of Kindergarten!

Bri was super excited to start first grade this year!

We both love her teacher, Mrs. L!

First day of first grade

Brianna does well in school for the most part. At the beginning of her first grade year, she tested a little low in reading. I discussed it with her teacher who told me she was not concerned about the test score as what she observed from Brianna in class was not reflected in the test. I was probably more worried about it than I should have been as Brianna is doing great with her reading!

We practice, practice, practice every night!

Reading to Granny Tiger and Brooke

Reading a new chapter book she got for Christmas

Our biggest challenge academically with Brianna is keeping her focused. She has timed math tests at school and recently brought one home where she completed less than half of the test. She is more than capable of completing the test, but she had written all of her test answers in curly, scripty numbers. Obviously, writing curly, scripty numbers is not conducive to finishing a timed test within the time constraints, so we had a big talk about using discretion. Her numbers on the timed test were very pretty, but obviously she needed to understand when using those types of numbers is and is not appropriate.

First grade has also brought with it spelling tests! Brianna did great on her first five or so spelling tests!
However, as time went on, she lost interest in spelling tests and practicing spelling words. I had to get a little more creative with how we practiced the words. Once she was more interested in practicing the words again, she started making good spelling test scores again, too!

Writing spelling words in shaving cream (of course, if Bri got to play in shaving cream, everyone wanted to do it!)

Some of her little journal pages she's brought home have made me laugh! This one says, "At home I have to do laundry" hahaha. She brought this paper home at the very beginning of first grade, and it's incredible how much her writing has developed since then.

I love this paper from around Christmastime. It say, "Mr. Grinch please don't take my family." 

Her prediction for 2017 is that it's going to be amazing, fun, wonderful, spectacular, and great fun! 

Another new thing for us recently is doing homework on the computer!

Her class has already had their turn hosting Rise and Shine once (they will again before the year is over), and Brianna did great with her speaking part. She's just not intimidated at all by being up in front of the whole school! She did not get that from her mother.

Brianna was just recently the Star Student of the Week in her class. She filled out this all-about-me paper to share with her class, and got to do some other special things throughout the week. 

She also did this paper with her teacher in front of her class. It made me laugh a little when I read it because I don't know when she's ever played Minecraft, and I had no idea that basketball was a hobby of hers :-).

Brianna loves having visitors at school. She was thrilled when her grandparents were able to join her for Grandparent's Day.

All smiles :-)

And, she gets suuuuper excited anytime we visit her classroom. 

Despite the look on Brooke Ellie's face, they love visiting Bri at school, too!

It's very interesting to me to observe Bri at school because she's much more reserved than she is at home. She's not overly quiet or shy, but she certainly isn't all wild and crazy, either. Mrs. L told me that Brianna does a great job of being under control in the classroom and doing what she's supposed to be doing. On the playground, however, she can get pretty wild and can be a little more bossy with the other kids. Hearing that actually made me feel better about what I had observed. I didn't like the idea that Brianna wasn't acting like herself at school, but I don't think that's the case. I think she just works really hard to channel her energy and exercise self control in the classroom. 

Which leads me to a story . . . a little over a month ago (on January 9th), I received a phone call from Mrs. S, the principal of Brianna's school. I was doing lunch with the kids and didn't make it to my phone in time. Mrs. S left me a message saying that everything is fine but that Brianna was in her office for an incident that happened on the playground. Of course, my heart sank when I heard the message, and I immediately called Mrs. S back. She shared with me that a boy had been chasing and bothering Brianna on the playground. Brianna didn't like it so she got "verbally aggressive" with the boy, telling him to stop. In response, the boy grabbed Brianna's finger and bent it back, so Brianna kicked him and hit his privates. Both the boy and Brianna were sent to the principal's office following the incident.

As a bit of a backstory, a new boy named G came to Brianna's class last November. From the first day he was in her class, she has been complaining that he pesters her. I listen to what she has to say about him, but I haven't really thought it was a big deal. He's not bullying or being mean, and I think the pestering has gone both ways on many occasions. Although Mrs. S didn't say who the boy was that she kicked on the playground, I suspected that it was G.

After Mrs. S finished telling me what happened, she let me talk to Bri on the phone. I immediately asked if it was G, and Bri said yes. She wasn't crying or upset, but her answers were very short. I asked her if she was scared (I would have been terrified to be sent to the principal's office in grade school!), and she said no. I told her to go back to class, make good choices, and we'd talk about the incident when she got home.

I picked her up from school that afternoon and sat down to talk with her after we got home. She was very matter-of-factly that he didn't stop after she asked him to multiple times and then he bent her finger back. I could tell that she felt completely justified in kicking him. She even said, "I was just tired of him bugging me!" As parents, we felt really torn on what to do. The school's "punishment" was that they weren't allowed to play together for a week. Chris and I didn't feel like she really needed to be punished because honestly we felt like she was justified, as well. We want her to learn to be strong and stand up for herself. On the other hand, we want her to be kind and compassionate, and she has to know that she can't just go around kicking someone when they bug her. It was a tough call for us.

We finally decided to tell her she had to run laps during recess (earning laps toward that medal!) for a few days and think about how she could have better and more lovingly handled the situation. Interestingly, since that incident, she and G have gotten along really well. I think he knows not to mess with her too much now :-).

When Brianna's not at school, she has lots of things that keep her entertained at home. Ever since she was about a year old, she's had a favorite baby doll that she has with her most of the time. That favorite doll has changed over the years, but she still has a doll she loves to play with and take with her everywhere. Right now, she loves her American Girl Dolls (she got a new one for Christmas so now she has two), although hers are actually the My Life Doll sold by Walmart. She has the best time dressing and accessorizing Natalie,

and Meg! They are very loved little dolls, for sure!

Natalie even came with us to the ballet last Christmas :-). 

Brianna also has little easy-clip princesses, My Little Ponies, Littlest Pet Shop, Snap-n-Style Girls, and Barbies that she enjoys. She has really outgrown most of these except the Littlest Pet Shop and Barbies, but we're keeping them for the little girls to have when they are old enough, so once in a while I will find her playing with them. 

All the girls got a Barbie Dream House to share for their birthday. Right now, Brianna plays with it most of all (and it gets some serious play time!).

Brianna loves dressing her Barbies, playing with their hair, and setting them up in little scenes.

Music is something that Brianna enjoys and wants to have going ALL the time. She loves to sing, dance, and perform with her siblings, and I think that music just really speaks to her. We do let her play music in her room sometimes, as long as it's something that we approve, of course. 

I'm surprised I don't have any photos of this, but Brianna also really loves playing with her Lego Friends Legos. We participate in a monthly Lego Club at our local library, and Bri enjoys that, as well. She typically spends most of her time digging through the Legos just looking at all the neat pieces. She rarely builds much, haha. 

In addition to Lego Club which meets year round, Brianna also likes going to our library during the summertime to check out books and participate in the summer reading program. During the school year, we always go during the day while she's at school, so she misses out on it. 

The summer reading program has a weekly presentation that is always interesting. One week, a visitor from the zoo came with live and not-so-alive animals. 

Another week, local firefighters did a presentation and let all the children climb through their firetruck. 

Yet another week brought presenters who taught the children how to spin plates,

and juggle with scarves. Bri did great with the spinning plates, but found the juggling scarves to be much more frustrating. 

Most of the time, however, Brianna would prefer to play outside if given the choice. My kids just LOVE being outside! There are days that Brianna comes home from school, drops her backpack where ever it may fall, and runs straight out the back door. The minute she gets outside, she's screaming, running full-tilt, and waving her hands all crazy in the air! It's like she works so hard to be under control at school that she comes homes and just lets loose!

She loves going on walks and bike rides, visiting our local splash pad,

checking out our neighborhood pond and even doing a bit of fishing,

playing on any kind of play set, 

playing in our playhouse,

and being crazy on our swing set!

Happy birthday to our precious, helpful, spunky, smiley big girl! Words cannot express how thankful we are that God gave us YOU!

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