It's some ways it's hard for me to believe Avvie is four, but in other ways, I can't believe we just left three behind. Avonlea is extremely independent and was an early and excellent speaker so I've often treated her as older than she is. She spoke more clearly at two than many four year olds I've met. And while she can be quite obstinate, overall she's pretty easygoing as long as her primary needs (food and sleep) are met so I can generally reason with her making her seem quite mature (except when I can't reason with her and then she doesn't seem mature at all!). When I think back to Maddie turning four I felt like we were leaving behind toddlerhood and embarking on a new phase. Honestly, I felt that way for Avvie at three! I'm sure some of it has to do with the fact that she works hard to keep up with her big sister. When Maddie has friends over, Avvie is always in the thick of it. The other day Maddie had a couple of friends over and was reduced to tears because she felt the friends preferred Avvie to her and were spending more time with Avvie. I don't think they preferred Avvie to her, but I will say that Avonlea is a natural born leader in some respects and has a confidence with other kids that tends to gain her followers. So Maddie's friends, despite being big, cool kindergarteners, were more than happy to follow Avvie's lead and play her made up games and do her bidding.
Avvie's confidence translates to her time at school as well. As I've mentioned before, she isn't earnest about academic learning in the same way Maddie is. (This is not to say she doesn't like to learn, but she doesn't feel compelled to strive to meet milestones or please teachers.) That said, she is doing well and meeting all age appropriate milestones (writing her name, counting, color identification, beginning to identify letters, drawing people who consist of circles with stick arms and legs jutting out). She has a best friend at school who we see frequently for play dates (I grew up with her friend's mother so it's a nice match!) and the two of them seem to be the queen bees in their class. We've had a lot of talks about kindness and including others and I have to say, I think it's made an impression. At least I hope so!
(Populating Avvie's art farm, a Christmas gift from Uncle Tim and Aunt Jessie. When Andy dropped the ants all over the counter there was complete hysteria from Madeleine and excited mock-hysteria from Avonlea.)
Avonlea shares Maddie's love for imaginative play. I watch countless puppet shows and it's common for me to find both girls, or even Avvie alone, sitting in front of the dollhouse making up elaborate scenarios for the dolls. Like Maddie she shares a love of doing projects, but unlike Maddie her work is not meticulous! For her, the joy is in getting messy. She will recklessly scribble pictures, barely looking at them and hand them off saying this is for you, it's, uh, [insert some spontaneously thought of object/person].
As is well-documented on this blog, Avonlea is a foodie. She is game to try pretty much anything I serve or order when we're out and 90% of the time almost as soon as the taste hits her tongue she'll exclaim "I like it!" I told Andy the other day that recently I've had to radically shift my meal-planning. Whereas I used to make a dinner and typically it would be enough for about four servings meaning we could eek out a night of leftovers (or maybe use it for lunch), since Avvie and Lucy are both such good eaters in that they'll eat what we eat and full portions, there are no more leftovers! (Maddie usually has something else, lots of turkey sandwiches and carrots in her diet. We're working on it but as long as she has a veggie and lean protein that I don't need to separately prepare, it's not a battle I'm fighting now!) Andy and I changed how we eat a lot over the last several months (lots more vegetables, some more fruit and focus on lean proteins) and now we're working on doing the same for the girls. Avvie has been great about it and appreciates a good piece of fruit or well-seasoned turkey chili as much as fries or dessert. It's a satisfying feeling to prepare her plate and see her relish it. She also has a fun new habit of drinking milky tea sweetened with honey. Her British roots are shining through!
(Korean BBQ for lunch--yum!)
(As a treat one day I got the younger two french fries--Maddie was at a Friday evening pizza playdate, lots of jealousy from Avonlea--and there was an epic battle between my two hungry girls.)
(In a rare "stand-down" moment, Avonlea let Lucy have the box of fries and would just sneak them when she was distracted.)
(Avonlea requested a pear on a day she knew I was going to Wegman's. I got a Bosc pear which she patiently waited for to ripen. She relished eating it when it was finally ripe--guess I need to add them to my weekly list!)
Personality-wise Avvie is a spitfire. As I mentioned, if her needs are met, she generally goes with the flow. But when she chooses to dig her heels in, it's epic. If she's in a mood, she'll be contrary to me about anything (the sky is blue. NO IT'S NOT MOMMA!). Fortunately that's not her baseline. And Avonlea is quite independent. She has never had a moment's hesitation about running into school, Sunday School, etc. The other day she had a performance for school and she was by far the boldest, belting out the songs. Around when Lucy was born I felt a little bit like Avvie didn't need me as intensely as Maddie and was a bit disconnected from me. But, once she settled into being the middle/big sister, that feeling faded and I definitely made a point to give her lots of personal attention. She is still independent and confident (which I think is great!) but comes to me for comfort and sometimes even just for snuggles. I don't want to squelch her confidence or independence once bit, but I just want to make sure that she is equally confident in me (and her daddy) as her primary confidantes and teachers (at least at this tender age we should be!).
(Sleeping with beloved "PoPo" on her. Avonlea has a deep and abiding love for stuffed animals and each day she usually selects one who will accompany her everywhere and sleep with her in addition to a few standby favorites such as ET, Pluto and PoPo. One lady at church makes a point every week of checking in with Avvie to see who she has brought with her.)
I think that's enough for now! I hope to be back sooner than I was this last time!