30 March 2013

Updating ~ What's up with these kids of ours: Mary Michelle

The French equivalent of the name Mary is Marie... which I hear often and which almost always brings a certain song from The Sound of Music to mind...

How do you solve a problem like Maria?
How do you catch a cloud and pin it down?
How do you find a word that means Maria?
A flibbertijibbet! A will-o'-the wisp! A clown!

Many a thing you know you'd like to tell her
Many a thing she ought to understand
But how do you make her stay
And listen to all you say
How do you keep a wave upon the sand

Oh, how do you solve a problem like Maria?
How do you hold a moonbeam in your hand?

And those words so accurately describe my sentiments about our littlest one... our only one not yet in school... Most days I don't know whether its best to cry, pull out my hair or simply laugh. Most days I end up doing all three and loving every second with this little imp!

It is hard to believe she's only four because she has the air of an older child. It is equally hard to believe she's not still that silvery-haired baby who was the most traumatic for me to birth (not sure if that was because I had to shovel the driveway to get to the hospital, because she couldn't make up her mind if she was ready to brave an Michigan winter on the exterior, because I had to go through it all with Tim on the other side of the Atlantic, or because she is the most recent and so I remember her arrival a bit more clearly).

She's convinced that everything her siblings do, she can do as well... bigger and better, of course. If she thought she could exist on peanut butter alone, she'd do it. She is offended by the fact that she's the only one who doesn't go to school at least for a little while every day and has threatened to hold her breath until Elsie Mae gets home again. And boy, does she have some opinions that - good or bad, nonsense or valid - she'll defend them until it is easier to plop in a Dora video and distract her from the discussion at hand.

Are four year olds supposed to be like that?

She supplies those of us with Facebook accounts an abundant supply of status updates that are sure to garner lots of likes.

She wants to do everything all by herself (except snuggle at night - then she has to be "pinching Mama's face."). She dresses herself, starts the videos herself, feeds the goats and lets them out of their cage herself, puts away her laundry herself, washes dishes herself, dries (sorta) the dishes herself, brushes her own hair and gets her own snack out of the refrigerator - almost always all by herself. Unless, of course, I'm in the middle of something (kneading doughnut dough or something along those lines) and I really can't help her immediately. 

Maybe that's my fault because I taught her that she couldn't climb trees until she could climb up and down all by herself... and she simply expanded that thought figuring she was allowed to do anything she wanted to do as long as she could to it herself!

Yeah! She's a bit of an independent bugger that one.


She loves to smile. That's a good thing because it has quite possibly saved her life so many times! She plays hard to get - and of course that makes people work all the harder to win her over. She likes to be the one in control of her relationships. She's very cat-like, that way. But you'd never think it to look at her. The blond hair, bright blue eyes, mischievously darling smile... and two super extroverted siblings right before her... It is easy to assume that she's ready to be friends with anyone and everyone at the drop of a hat.

She prefers to watch people for awhile, until she feels safe with the other person... or until she decides that being friends with their kids makes Mary Michelle-initiated interaction worth the risk.

She's a living, breathing oxymoron... 
  • courageous and cautious
  • a deadly serious comedienne
  • cuddly and prickly all at once
  • fastidiously messy... as in "Don't mess with her mess! She's got it just like she wants it!"
  • quietly always having something to say
  • timidly unafraid
  • too-big-for-her-britches half-pint
  • malleable while not budging an inch
  • enticingly ornery
  • irresistibly frustrating
  • stubbornly teachable
  • a terrifying source of tremendous joy
It's cliché, but: we can't live her and we can't live without her!

She and Nadia have been enjoying Spring Break together: Nadia has been working with her on her phonics sounds and her letters and her numbers. Our little M&M is clearly ready for school and I've been working on and off with her throughout this school year. I'm quite sure that if I'd been more consistent, she'd about be reading short vowel words by now! She's loving all the attention from Nadia.

She is a huge Dora and Diego fan. She also really likes Dr. Quinn, Cars, Spirit, Ice Age 4 and The Hunchback of Notre Dame. She has quite an eclectic taste in movie/tv shows.

She does have a clear and distinct style and taste when it comes to clothing - and her idea of matching doesn't necessarily agree with mine. More often than not, she puts her clothes on wrong side out - on purpose - and wears unmatched shoes - by choice. I think it is because she thinks the more pieces and accessories she can add, the better the outfit.

Her favorite food is the drinkable yogurt you can buy just about anywhere... we've finally convinced her to ask for "Solanis" instead of for "Fulanis." (Yes, a bit of W. African humor and yes, you can thank her daddy for encouraging that little mix up.)

She is also a baguette+peanut butter-aholic. Her eyes literally fill with tears on those few days the peanut butter jar is empty. Peanuts will do in a fix. As will doughnuts... but she might ask if she can dip them in peanut butter.

She also loves munching on carrots and cucumbers with her baguette and peanut butter for breakfast. I've seen her plunge carrots into the peanut butter. Apparently cukes are good enough all on their own. She told me the other day that she prefers her cukes with a little bit of pepper.

She likes to help make pizza - spreading out the dough and helping with the toppings. Like all of her siblings before her, she's also discovered the joy of helping Madame Safana make bread: given a tiny ball she'll knead it, let it rise, squish it (the "bestest bit!"), knead a bit more, form it, let it rise again and then set in directly on the rack when the rest of the bread goes in the oven. And beware to any sibling tempted to steal her tiny morsel of bread!

Elsie Mae is her favorite playmate. They dig out in the sand, climb trees, create places for their animals to live and play and work and be. It is so much fun to pretend to read a book and listen to their conversations as they are wrapped up in these imaginary games. She's been known to pray that Elsie Mae would get a little sick so that she could stay home from school to play with her. So, it really doesn't need saying that she's loving Easter Break!

She's a fish... although her sisters claim she swims more like a frog. I think she looks like a puppy trying not to drown. She is up and down and all over the pool - meaning I'm needing to be pretty vigilant, especially when there are lots of folks jumping and playing around her. She is the only one of our kids who makes regular use of resting on her back and just floating when she gets tired. Have you seen those videos on YouTube of the baby who falls in the pool and knows how to turn over and float spread eagle on its back until someone comes to help him out. I never taught her that... I'm wondering which sister did or if she came up with it all on her own. Both possibilities are highly likely.

She told Tim the other day that she knew who she was going to marry when she grew up. Hmmmmmm.... Tim didn't say too much about that.

Her petite size, blonde, blonde hair, bright blue eyes and timid, almost reluctantly reticent smile gives her a pixie quality that many of our African friends find a challenge. They just have to see if they can get "little-miss-playing-hard-to-get." Even the military dudes bearing large arms would wave and smile at her when I'd let her tag along while transporting Anna to and from school.

She's already informed me she wants a tatoo someday - and regularly reminds me by creating designs with a Sharpie marker. She loves to wear earrings - when I take the time to put them in. The only problem is that our pixie sprite also tires of them fairly quickly and takes them out herself - never to be seen again.

She keeps me busy, this Mary Michelle girl... I wonder if she's going to grow up to be a blonde version of Anne of Green Gables...???

And so I'm back to that song I mentioned at the beginning...

Oh, how do you solve a problem like Maria?
How do you hold a moonbeam in your hand?

I don't think I want to solve this little M&M problem we've been gifted...

Life would be so much less entertaining, interesting, exciting and simply...? Wonderful!
And that little moonbeam - I think I'll just hold her with my heart and watch her shine.

She's sure to... beautifully and brilliantly!

Which brings me to some specific ways you can pray for our munchkin M&M:

  1. Pray for her health. She struggles with health issues more than many of our other kids. We went through much of this past year sick for a couple of weeks, well for a few days and then be sick again. It has been exhausting for both her and I. Changing climates, traveling lots ('cause that is what furloughing missionaries do), meeting tons of new people, being in a new home AND starting school, I'm hoping and praying we don't have a similar year this year as well.
  2. Pray for our introverted, more reticient around new people child. Bunches of new people, in the past, have been quite intimidating to her. 
  3. Pray she takes her cues off of how her siblings are behaving as we reintroduce our family to many people of whom she has independent-of-pictures-or-stories memories... and that includes grandparents and cousins and close friends, people who really love and feel like they know her a bit because they do have memories of her.
  4. Pray that she enjoys our vacation on the way home and that it is restful for her.
  5. Pray that I'm able to update her immunizations prior to leaving - I'm thankful she's been healthy for a chunk of time and I need to take advantage of that and see if I can locate those immunizations in the pharmacy.
  6. And... I know this sounds kinda funny, but pray that she adjusts to wearing clothes every day, most of the time. She doesn't do that a lot, here... and she does, in fact, very much like the fact that she wears mostly nothing most of the time. :-)
  7. She has been asking lots of questions about God and Jesus... pray as we disciple her through what has proven to be a tender age for all of our children relative to spiritual issues.

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