Monday, July 6, 2015

My Gifted Girls...Part 2

When I was little, my mom had a pocket-sized photo album.  Each page was a plastic sleeve that would fit a square Polaroid picture.  We didn't have a Polaroid camera, so she gave the little book to me to keep my drawings.  True to the '70s, it had an avocado-green cover with a floral design stamped in gold surrounding the title, "Mom's Brag Book".  As a child, I couldn't understand why my mom would have owned a book about bragging when she often told me not to brag or tattle.  Thirty-ish years later, I have my pocket-sized device, in a green protective case, which I can whip out at any point to brag about my children.  The younger ones, especially, fill my photo app with selfies--so I don't always know what I'm going to pull up when someone asks to see a picture of my kids.  Often we will find something like the following left by #3 or #4.

Yes, #4 is inspired by several YouTubers, but especially Miranda Sings.  If you haven't seen a Miranda video before, I can predict that your reaction will be along the lines of wondering why you just wasted 2 minutes and 24 seconds of your life, and then you'll watch another, and another, picking up more chuckles as you go.  #4 has seen this magic work in her own life, and now spreads the love by doing Miranda imitations quite frequently.  Like her older sister and younger brother (and Miranda), #4 has also started a YouTube channel.
Working on a video.  I guess this is her thinking cap?
During the summer, my children get to add one hour of education time to their Monday-Friday routines.  They can study whatever interests them.  #4 spends much of her education time learning how to film, edit, and upload videos.  She has figured out how to add graphics and links and audio--she quickly passed my YouTubing abilities.  (It's pretty awesome when your 11-yr-old is smarter than you at something!)  She is so super excited every time someone subscribes to her channel, especially strangers--so go tell your friends to check her out.  If you're friend or family, maybe subscribe under someone else's name.  (Just kidding.  She'll accept your subscription too.  She just won't be super excited about it.)

#4 sometimes uses her hour of education to practice violin.  She started learning this instrument in an after-school strings group two years ago.  She is the only child I know who will go practice because she simply enjoys it.  I never have to ask her to practice, but I often hear the music coming from her bedroom, or even the front porch.  I, of course, think she has a natural gift for the violin, and I'm trying to convince her to take private lessons so she can advance as quickly as she likes.


Each school year and summer, the kids also get to choose an extracurricular activity to try out.  Throughout fifth grade, while she was in her strings group, #4 was adamant that her summertime activity would be gymnastics instead of violin.  When it came down to picking a class at the dance studio, she went with contemporary dance instead.  As part of her tween contrary phase, she finds something to complain about her dance class each week, but I think she actually enjoys going.  She drops comments about her friends at dance (they don't want her to cut her hair), and she sometimes will show a few steps from a combination they've learned (provided I haven't already asked to see it).  I still hope she'll accept private violin lessons, but I am proud of her for expanding her interests and making some friends in the process.

#4 is also my crafter.  When I enter our home office/craft room and find a mess of used paintbrushes, or cut-up scrapbook paper, or a cooling glue gun left beside a bedazzled Popsicle-stick structure, I know #4 has been at work.  She spends her own money buying nail art applicators and patterned duct tape.  It's fun to see her creations decorating her bedroom and school locker.
#4 chose paint-your-own ceramics for her birthday date this year.
One of my favorite things about #4 is that she is funny even when she's not trying to be.  She often surprises us with a gesture or phrase that seems too old for her--too old for most generations--and so we laugh.  For example, she is the only elementary-aged child that I've ever seen become a knee slapper.  She doesn't do it often now, but for awhile, when she had a good laugh about something, #4 would throw back her head, raise her hand in the air, and bring it down slowly to tap it on her knee while she sucked in air laughing.  It's sad to see her outgrow that one.  Her new one is to raise her shoulders to her ears, give a little jump, and squeak, "Eek!" when something slightly scares her.  Really!  Do you know any other 11-yr-olds using "Eek!" these days?
Omelets at the hospital.  Provo people, you should look into this.
#3 is #4's greatest competition for humor.  While #4 often asks, "Today, which of the children you've given birth to is your favorite?", #3 asserts, "I'm the funny one in the family again, right?"  Luckily for them--and for the rest of us--we have room for several comedians in our family.  #3 likes to go with the weird factor, and often physical comedy comes into the mix.

#3 also likes to dance, but this past year she focused on flexibility, with the goal of being able to do the splits.  Her weekly class paid off.  This summer she is also taking a hip hop class on the Thursdays that she's not traveling--I think she's been to class thrice, maybe.  In her eleven weeks away from school, she will spend seven of them away from home.  From riding horses and four-wheelers in Canada to camping with the Young Women to working on a farm in Idaho to painting orphanages in Mexico, she will have a lot to tell her friends about her summer vacation.

She acts like that doesn't hurt!

Kayaking at camp
#3 is not a YouTuber like her siblings.  However, she is the only one of them to earn money from her video work.  Last year, at the age of 12, she filmed and edited a 2-min. feature film for Provo's Freedom Festival video contest: They Came to America.  The contest's organizers never pronounced a 2014 winner, so she entered the same video in this year's contest...and she won  first place!  In addition to the $350 cash prize, she also got a chance to ride in the Grand Parade on the Fourth of July.  Between rides with Pappy (when he was a Utah County Commissioner), and multiple wins in the festivals' contests, we have a nice series of photos of #3 in the parade.
Age 4.  (All my kiddos wore homemade firecracker hats that year.)
Age 10 as the elementary winner of the essay contest.  (She's the arm sticking up.)
Age 13, back of the truck, as the jr. winner of the video contest.  (Arm and body this time!)
For her education this summer, #3 is working through a math textbook so she can skip a math level.  Math has always come easily to her, as do most subjects in school.  Here's a story for contrast:  Last year, #4 put hours of work into her science fair experiment, starting months before it was due and finishing her display ahead of the due date.  She made it past her grade science fair, but didn't advance out of the school fair.  Then there's #3.  For her sixth-grade science fair project, she started working on her experiment the afternoon before the due date.  She did all the testing in a couple hours.  Right before I went to bed that evening, while #3 was just starting her display board, I emailed her teacher telling her that #3 had finally done herself in.  I asked the teacher to not go easy on #3 if she came to school with a sob story about not having enough time or materials or whatever to finish the assignment.  I wanted #3 to learn a lesson about procrastination and the value of work versus relying on talent, and I figured sixth grade was a safe place to learn that painful lesson.  I happened to be one of two judges for her class' projects the next day, so when I sat down with the other mom to question the students and award points on the judging rubric, I realized that despite her last-minute efforts, #3 still had one of the best projects in her class.  The teacher also realized this.  #3 did a great job...and took her last-minute project all the way to the state science fair.  Last year (7th grade) she was sick on the day of class judging, but her teacher advanced her to the school science fair based just on the display board...and she took first place.  Math and science and even robotics come easily to her.  However, her passion is developing in the arts.

Testing robots they designed, built, and programmed.

A sketch
A self-portrait of sorts
A cell phone cover design

#3 took a required art class at school this year, and did some really good work.  She hasn't shaken her procrastination or slow pacing, but her art teacher was happy to stay after school while Andrya finished up assignments.  At the end of the year, her teacher invited #3 to join a somewhat exclusive, after-school art club for 2015-16, which #3 is eagerly anticipating.  Seventh grade also let #3 branch into auditioning with the school choir, paying her own fees to join an after-school dance club, and twice-per-week guitar lessons from a classmate.  Another teacher has asked her to help start a ballroom dance group at the school next year.  #3 also found literary success in the class where she struggled for A's last year.  Her procrastination finally caught up to her, but it didn't bother her because she knew she was a good writer.  She would often get this type of comment from her English teacher:  "B- for turning in late.  This is excellent writing.  You are one of my top three student writers ever."  That comment came in response to an assignment to write three versions of the same story.  #3 went beyond the requisite one page and basically wrote the beginning of a good novel.  The reason that #3 procrastinates is that she is very detail oriented, tending toward perfectionism.  It may lead to missed deadlines and poor grades, but she eventually turns out excellent work in whatever she puts her mind to.  Now I have to admit that procrastination and talent are serving her well.

#3 is our only child who has tried out less-conservative fashion trends, such as wearing an ear cuff connected by a chain to an earring stud, or dying her hair unnatural colors.  She plans her summer hair color for months as the school year winds down.  Last summer it was pink.  This summer she got a bleached blonde melt with a blue dye melt added at the ends of her long hair.  It reminds me of a mermaid, but it does look pretty cool.  #3 is a sweet, creative, smart, easy-going and hard-working girl--and she might be the funniest in the family.

It is fun to see both these girls develop so many interests and grow into their personalities.  They bring much joy and laughter to our home.  Writing this has made me realize how quickly they are growing up.  I am glad to have chosen motherhood so I can watch their transformation as the amazing young women that they are.
Sister workout: abs and flabs