Late fall 2017. Shannon emailed me a copy of Landon’s tentative Pioneer basketball schedule after she got it from Tracey. This was Landon’s third year on varsity, and we hoped there was one-2 week window where neither week had Tuesday night games. There was. Good news for us. Now Hubs and I could schedule our winter getaway, missing the bare minimum of Landon’s (Drew to the rest of the world) games.
|Landon’s junior season at Pioneer, 2017-2018…|
This time frame though would prove dicey for a couple of reasons. Didn’t want to be gone from the daycare the same time as Michelle, who’s getting her masters degree and has to spend time at college out east. Not that my part-time worker status of being gone is a big deal like full-time, detail oriented, organized, multi-talented Michelle. But more than one of us gone at the same time is a strain on our crew and a bit stressful for the babies. The babies quickly grow accustomed to seeing the same faces everyday. They may not be able to vocalize this (but they can voice their displeasure when seeing new faces in the room-loudly), but continuity is of upmost importance in their young lives. Nope, Michelle’s time off was just before the 2 weeks I wanted.
|Our new minted 1 year old, Jovi, 2018…|
The other reasons were just as important. Usually, we would fly somewhere (lots warmer than blustery Michigan) on Saturday after Landon’s Friday game, but the most magnificent baby in the world turned 1 a couple days before we were leaving. Who could miss Jovi’s fabulous first One-der-ful Birthday Party which was going to be on Saturday, the 13th? Not us. So I started looking at flights to Arizona for Sunday, January 14th. I don’t know why I just skipped over Sunday and booked our flights on the 15th. Monday’s in the flying world is considered a business travel day. When I booked our flights, I don’t think Peyton’s pageant date had been finalized. Certainly Shannon world have mentioned or sent details to me as soon as she got them. However, we were still home on that Sunday. Which would prove to be huge and exciting.
|Peyton’s head shot for Jackson Crossroads Miss Outstanding Teen, 2018….|
The Friday night game was a disaster. Landon sprained his ankle near halftime and would miss the next 5 games while it healed and he did physical therapy. Jovi however was a shining star at her party. Just getting the hang of walking, she crawled-walked her way through her adoring fans, looking too cute in all her glory.
|Jovi’s Birthday Party, 2018…|
But that busy weekend belonged to Peyton. She owned it. Hook, line and sinker. She had entered a beauty/talent pageant, Jackson Crossroads Miss Outstanding Teen (2 different age groups, 2 title winners). The only part Peyton struggled with was choosing what to showcase during her talent section of the pageant. It’s not that she doesn’t have talent. Peyton oozes talent from every pore of her being. Beautiful, smart, engaging, she sings and dances far beyond her young age of 13 (14 in a couple weeks). She wanted to accompany her dance routine by singing a song, which is nearly impossible. Dancing takes an enormous amount of energy (lots of breathing), leaving her (and the rest of us) breathless. So she went to a studio, recorded her own singing part, then helped choreograph her dance routine. Oh my, this young lady! Is there anything she can’t accomplish?
|Peyton, stretching it out, wherever she is….|
Suffice it to say, Peyton won. (Easily, hands down, but this is her grandma doing the writing here). The gown she chose was tangerine and stunning. Simply exquisite. Her platform? Gateway Drugs. This summer she’ll compete for Miss Michigan Teen, the winner goes to the Miss America Pageant.
|She’s simply exquisite…|
About a month ago Peyton attended a weekend orientation for the Miss Michigan Teen Pageant on the west side of the state. All of the state’s winning contestants were there, getting acquainted, supporting each other and listening to an inspirational speech from Miss America, Cara Munn. How many 13 year olds get to meet and greet Miss America?
|Miss America Cara Munn and Peyton, February, 2018…|
During Peyton’s tenure as reigning Jackson Crossroads Outstanding Teen, she will attend events, serving as a role model to other young girls. One of the community service projects she’s chosen is reading stories to classrooms of elementary students all over Jackson. (Of course, she’s an avid, voracious reader like her Mom).
|Peyton getting crowned Miss Jackson Crossroad Outstanding Teen, January, 2018…|
Peyton texted me a couple weeks ago and asked if she could read where I work at Felician Children’s Center? I thought it was a fantastic idea, so I gave her my boss’s email address. Peyton and Tracy talked and Peyton was given permission to read to our classrooms, starting with the babies.
I asked Peyton if she needed to stop and change clothes (you know, gown type duds) before I picked her up from school early? No, she answered. (I was a little bit bummed. I thought she’d be all decked out in queen like clothes, but guess she’d be in normal school clothes). I went to the school office (getting buzzed in, I appreciated the security) waited for her so I could sign her out. In walks this regal young woman. Wearing a light mauve dress, heels and her CROWN. (I looked liked I had worked at waste management for a week straight standing next to her). We zipped down to my school, snapped a couple pictures outside before going in. Peyton had several books picked out for different age groups that we talked about on the ride over.
|Arriving at school for story time with Peyton, March, 2018…|
We stop and talked to Sister Vicky and Sister Carolyn, outlining where we were headed first. The infant room of course. Any jitters, they’re the easiest to please. Friday afternoon and it’s very quiet throughout the school. JPS had a half day, so they’re long gone. Peyton and I head to my stomping ground, which is pretty quiet. Peyton slips off her shoes, sits on the floor by 5 babies. Four of them are about 10 months old. What I wouldn’t give to have a little video of that reading. Let me set the stage. One of them is crying and immediately climbs on my lap. There, that’s better. But this is about 2 of the little guys. They’re sitting right next to each other, not 18 inches from Peyton. First thought that popped in my head is a Neil Diamond song, Desiree-revised a bit. The 2 boys are totally, I mean totally mesmerized with Peyton. As Neil would croon, “it wasn’t so much her words as such as-“WHO IS THAT? WHAT IS THAT SHINY THING ON HER HEAD? CAN YOU REACH IT? NO, I CAN’T MOVE A MUSCLE!” So stinking cute. Really.
|Peyton on left vying for Little Miss Michigan, several years ago…|
After 2 quick books, PJ and I move to the 1 year olds, who happen to be eating a snack. Pudding cups. Chocolate pudding. Everywhere. “Ah, is there at least one child semi-clean who can sit in the same vicinity as Peyton?” Nope, not at the moment. While they clean up kids, we walk down the hall when Sister Vicki mentions the 4 year olds will be gong outside soon, could we stop there and read to them before they go?
This turned out to be our best stop of the day. Those kids are a riot. Peyton sat in a low chair with a dozen kids crowding up to her, listening intently. After she read 2 stories, lead teacher Tonya pipes up, “anyone have any questions for Peyton?” Six or eight little arms fly up. The best question? “Can you say bad words when you’re wearing your crown?” Answer was an emphatic, “no, I don’t say bad words. With or without the crown.” Next best. “How long have you been dancing?” “Since I was 4.” I searched my phone and found the picture of Peyton at her first dance recital while the kids converged, “oohing and ahhing.” One little girl kept repeating, “I’m 4, I’m 4.” Like why haven’t I started dancing yet? They were polite, inquisitive, attentive and darling.
|Peyton’s first dance recital, 2008…|
We back tracked to the 3 year olds where one of my first babies from the infant room scooted as close to Peyton as she could. She was wearing hot pink rain boots, and had a couple of cute little smudges on her adorable face. These kids were inquisitive too, but quiet. Although their teacher Lindsay encouraged them, no one dared ask a question.
The 2 year olds room were just getting up from naps, ready for a snack, so Peyton sat at their long, low rectangular table with them. They were much more curious, getting up from the table to walk around by Peyton, touching her dress, or coming up to me as I sat by the window. You could certainly see the difference in their interest spans by their ages. Glenda and Robyn patiently sat most of them down several times, only to have them get right back up so they could walk around by Peyton again.
|Dad, Peyton and mom after she won the crown, 2018…|
Back to the One’s room, who were now in the process of getting bundled up in coats, mittens, hats, and boots for a stroller ride outside. It’s spring in Michigan after all. Guess we had gotten sidetracked too long with the older classes. But they were easily swayed (that crown seems to have some magical components) and approached Peyton eagerly, sans pudding. She read as they watched her intently. Just as soon as Peyton finished her last book, Autumn and Amanda quipped, “who’s ready to go outside”? A couple of fleeting glances towards Peyton as they marched into the hall, waiting their turn to be secured in the massive stroller. Story time was over, what’s next?
|Peyton 2nd from left with incoming winner and outgoing from last year…|
Peyton and I gathered our belongings, said thank you and goodbye to Sister Vicky, who insisted on getting pictures of us. (She’s a wonderful, patient Christian soul, but ruthless with her camera-always snapping pictures). I think Peyton was pleased with our afternoon at Felician’s Children’s Center. The babies through 4 year olds weren’t the only ones learning today. Peyton gained insight on the art of reading and storytelling when sharing books with others. It’s harder than it looks. You have all these words on pages, yet need to share the picture pages with the little folks sitting by you. Plus use expression and eye contact. And answer some quirky, sometimes inappropriate questions. Got to be fast on her feet. And smile, always smile.
While I was driving her home, we talked about some of these things because Peyton’s reading again next week at another elementary school. So the youngest group she will entertain is about the same age of the oldest group she worked with at my school. More complex books to practice during the week. Grandpa’s chaperoning her on that excursion.
|2018 Jackson Crossroads winners, Peyton & Alexus…|
As we walked into Peyton’s house, she thanked me several times for picking her up and going along with her. But of course, it was this gram who got the most out of our afternoon together. After her big win in January, I suggested she start journaling her year of wearing the crown. She might remember big moments, getting crowned, meeting Miss America. But the little moments will seep away after a few years, unless they’re written down. How she laughed when asked about saying bad words, the expressions on the babies faces as she read them stories. The coy fingers that darted and dared to touch her leg, arm or dress while she was reading. The 4 year olds fascination with Peyton when asked how long she’s been dancing. Hard to believe she’s been dancing her way through people’s hearts for a decade already. When you’re a grandma Peyton, you won’t remember the little stuff from way back. Write it down. Even the silly things. You’ll appreciate and enjoy it more than you realize when you’re older. Much older…
|Recital cutouts of Peyton from past years in various costumes…|