Saturday, September 26, 2009

A snapshot of September

Okay - this is for all the previous days in September that I missed that we weren't celebrating Gracie's birthday!

On the first - my birthday! We had a fun day at home - lots of great presents, plum cake and being with my husband and kiddos.


The girls were so excited about the gift they had picked out for me (a yoga workout "kit" - video, mat, etc).


John Michael couldn't resist the lure of the wrapping paper.


He was sure Daddy had bought the MP3 player for him. I'm sure he would have gotten it working if he could have gotten it out of the plastic! He is crazy for all things with buttons!


Look at how many candles on the cake - I'm not old after all!

So after the birthday celebration we had a few good days and then we got the first round of sickness for Gracie. Clara was pretty lucky and didn't catch whatever the bug was, but she did have to get a flu shot when we took Gracie in to the dr. Clara didn't think that was too fair!


My poor sick girl - she hated having that high fever. I'm thankful we had movies and audio books to amuse her - she wasn't interested in doing much other than lying in bed.


And just because it always cracks me up - I had to show how Clara likes to make her bed after we've just put new sheets on it. All the animals are precisely arranged, the quilt has to be tucked in just so (I think it has already come undone in this picture). And she'll play in there for quite a while, making up stories about her stuffed animals. She's showing off her bunny in this picture - she's loving all her bunnies lately!

Next up in September - more work on the bathroom. The front bathroom this time, although the back bathroom was still not completed.


We tried several different greens on the wall and finally found the right one. So we started in on the painting. But I think all the wallpaper removal and cleaning the walls and fixing the bad spots wore us out (Mike & me).



The girls were ready to go on the painting, especially Clara.


I think she would have painted all day if we had let her. She kept moving on to a new section once she finished everything she could reach.


Unfortunately, we haven't painted since that day. I think school, work, and sickness took over. Maybe I'll be able to post completed pictures soon!!

And that just about sums up September - at least so far.
So here's the little guy (since he didn't make it into too many of the previous photos), riding off into the sunset ... or something like that!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Take 2 - Gracie gets a memory stick for her camera

I messed the video up the first time, so if you couldn't make sense of it, try watching now!

video

Big Changes for Little Ones

So we've had lots of changes in the last month - Clara turned 4, Gracie started kindergarten, Clara started preschool, John Michael started music class (the first time in his own class, not just his sisters' classes) and Gracie turned 6!

Some changes have gone smoother than others. While kindergarten is a big change for Gracie, she is really enjoying it. I think her tendency to try and follow everything the teacher says exactly is wearing her out a little bit, but I'm hoping she will start to learn how to sort out which of those things are most important and which are maybe just suggestions that she doesn't neccesarily have to follow.

John Michael was a little confused in his first music class and he seems to be more interested in what all the other kids are doing than the music. Which is really funny considering how excited he is by music. But it has made me realize that he really hasn't spent much time around other children his age. And he still gets to go to his sisters' music class on Tuesday afternoon and that's when he seems to get to focus on the music more (for the 15 minutes that the parents and younger siblings stay in the class).

Clara hasn't had such an easy time with all the transitions. I knew she was worried about turning 4, so I was thankful when we got past that hurdle. And I knew she was a little worried/scared about starting school. But the first day of preschool arrived and she seemed okay, quiet and a little worried, but she wasn't crying and seemed fine when I picked her up. I noticed when I was dropping her off in the mornings that she wouldn't talk to me once we went into her classroom - it was as if she was on overload and couldn't focus on anything else. And she didn't really seem to know what to do with those first 15 minutes of "play" time. She just seemed to stand in the room and look around. I still thought it would get better, but by the third week, nothing had really changed and we were having lots of issues at home. She wanted a sippy cup, she wouldn't dress herself anymore and she was clinging to me at night time and bedtime had become a big fight (and it hadn't been for almost a year or so).

Anyhow, Mike & I talked about it, talked to her teacher, some other teachers, and lots of parents and decided to take her out of preschool for a week and see how it went. She only goes for 3 hours, 3 days a week so missing a week wouldn't be too hard if she went back the following week. Well, we weren't sure how she would react to it, but she was quite happy to not be going to school. When we talked with her about it, we found out that she had been unhappy and hadn't been saying anything. She had wanted to come home while she was at school and she wasn't having much fun. She really only liked the work, not the playtime. So even though she seemed okay with staying at home, we knew that actually staying at home with me and JM and dropping Gracie off in the mornings would be the real test.

That was last week and it all went well. She's much happier with the stress of school removed. We don't want to teach her to quit, but we also know that she's only 4 and everything we were seeing at home said this was too big a step for her right now.

So, we'll wait to start her in preschool next year, when she will be better able to handle it. For now, we are going to let her take Little Gym dance class. She really wanted to do this and we think it will be a good chance for her to do something on her own. She has never really gotten to do something that Gracie hasn't previously done and this will be all her own thing.

Hopefully that is the last of the big changes around here for awhile. I think we are all worn out!!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

She's Six AND Well!

So it was a much happier, healthier day for our Gracie-bear today! We started off the day with cake and ice cream. Yes, that's right, for breakfast. We made John Michael's healthier by adding a banana...


She looks awfully serious in this picture, but I think she was just concentrating on that special
wish she was about to make!




Stabbing that cake is quite a challenge (and it's smart not to get dressed until *after* you have chocolate cake first thing in the morning)


The other "fairy princess"

After the breakfast of champions, we were off to the great outdoors to try out one of Gigi's new presents.


Slugger #1


Slugger #2


Slugger #3 - except he just wanted to sit in the wagon or jogging stroller (and no, he's not sick!)

Then it was off to enjoy the rest of Gracie's birthday presents. They loved the punch balloons - I missed getting a picture of all 3 of them, but JM had one too and thought it was a blast!


And finally, a sweet picture of my six year old, looking truly happy and well!

What's New?


JM can do so many things now ... (other than just look so darn cute!)

Some of his latest favorites are brushing his teeth (and yes, he went to the dentist and tried to bite her just like he does to his parents!), playing outside, playing outside on the slide (see picture below),







trying to get involved in whatever Clara is doing just to drive her crazy (and oh it really does! Here he swooped in on a Barbie session),



getting out a "snack" bowl and heading to the pantry to see what he can find to put in it, shrieking at the top of his lungs for no particular reason (apparently those were his first words ... sounds?... for Mike this morning), making the noise eee oooohh eeee ooooh (maybe a siren?), riding in his new "backpack" (the first and only thing Mike has ever requested that I buy at my JBF sale)



lying down on soft surfaces (like our bed when it was on the floor before we got our new carpet - oh yes, an unanticipated part of our bathroom remodel)



having his hair brushed just like his big sisters (I guess I should switch to something other than the big pink brush for him...)



and finally, writing on the dry erase board (and I hope no where else!) with dry erase markers!


He's standing on a stool for extra height, another favorite thing to do!

Those are all of the latest tricks I can think of right now- I'm sure I'm missing plenty. It's hard to keep up with all the changes these days!

Oh - one more! He started riding his tike bike a few weeks ago. I've got a video I'll try to get up soon.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

She's Six! Alternate Title: She's Sick


And this is how the day started off for our now six year old! Unfortunately, that wasn't the plan. We were supposed to be at a 1 mile fun run that we always go to and Gracie loves. But she went to bed with a little bit of a fever and woke up with a 101 degree temperature. Thanks to all the out of town folks who had sent presents - they were a great distraction from the disappointment of not attending the race.


She loves those butterfly sheets, Aunt Camille!


Admiring the fancy Gymboree clothes from Aunt Sue & Uncle Todd. Gracie's friend in kindergarten got the same denim jacket for her birthday and Gracie is excited that they will match.

After opening the morning presents, it seemed like Gracie might recover pretty quickly. JM had run a fever a few days ago and he had recovered in a day and a half so we had hopes that Gracie might do the same.

So next we decided to work on the Mickey Mouse napkins that are part of the party favors for the Little Gym party she was having tomorrow. Here she is ironing (first time to do that!). I think that task must have done her in because she headed to bed next and took a nap for a few hours. But I was glad she was resting and was hoping it would help her get better quickly.

She woke up from her nap and seemed better, but when I checked her temperature it was up to 102.5. So we decided we needed to reschedule her Little Gym party (until the following Sunday). Mike & I were worried about telling her but she just mumbled okay, which gives you an idea of how bad she felt.

Gracie perked up again a little later (Aunt C had arrived and that helped, too!) and helped out with her cake. I did the icing (yikes!) and she did the sprinkles:



Then she headed off to rest more until it was time to open presents. We finally got organized and had her open presents around five o'clock. She finally got the bat and ball she has been wanting - yeah!




Then we sat down to her birthday dinner (steak, pasta, sugar snap peas and fruit salad - yum!), but she was so worn out that she headed to bed. Here she is having a pop and a little dinner in bed.


And sadly, she didn't even feel well enough to come out for cake, so I told her we will have birthday cake for breakfast if she feels better. I think she was really beyond caring. So, I hope I get to post pictures tomorrow morning of her blowing out her six candles, but we will see.

She did love all her birthday phone calls and her Aunt C being able to come over. She just used up what little energy she had to get all those great presents opened up.

Finally, here's the substitute for birthday cake if you are too sick to get out of bed - Blue Bell ice cream in the little containers!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Clara's Birthday


So Clara had a blast on her 4th birthday! She was very excited but also a little apprehensive about the big day, so I was glad when the day finally arrived.

We spent the day hanging out at home, playing and putting the cake together. Growing up, the design on the cake had always been a surprise for the birthday girl, but Clara (and Gracie) have always been adamant about wanting to ice their own cakes. Clara has been cooking and baking a lot with me lately, so I know she was really excited about helping.



We had made the (vanilla) cake in the morning, so when John Michael was napping, we just had to frost it. Clara decided on pink frosting (big surprise) and then she wanted sprinkles on top of that (blue and yellow) and finally, yellow icing for decorating. She was in charge of drawing the picture, but I had to push the plunger for the icing decorator. So she guided my hand around the cake to draw a big "person." A big head, with arms and legs coming directly off of that. We added some curly hair, her name and age around the edges and it was all done.

Mimi & Pap were able to come over that night, so Clara got an extra special party! We had artichokes and pot roast for dinner (her choices) and then opened presents.

Not everybody was as excited about the present opening ...


I think he was being told not to touch "sissee's" presents.


Very excited about this gift!

There seemed to be a mountain of things to open, but Clara made short work of them! And even let some "helpers" participate in the opening, too.



Arrrggghhh - that ribbon is on there tight! Good thing Gracie's got the scissors!


Then we finished up with cake, and Clara scrambled to play with as many of the toys as she could before it was bedtime.


She took a few minutes out from playing with her new 3D chalk to say goodbye to Mimi & Pap.

Bedtime wasn't even too terrible, thanks to Aunt Camille who made it special with those new Tinkerbell sheets. Just what was needed for a very, very tired 4 year old that night!

Sunday, September 6, 2009

JM - An Update

Okay, these aren't new activites, just some that I forgot to include on the list last time:

Signing, signing, signing - more, dog, duck/bird, bath

Getting up on his rocking horse by himself. But those darn buttons on the ears that make the horsey noises are just too tricky!

Sitting in Uncle Scott's rocking chair & rocking, rocking, rocking (the ottoman is great for tummy sliding onto the rocker, too).

Cruising around on the tike bike and actually kind of steering and of course, making car noises.

Since of course we *never* feed him, helping himself to a snack from the pantry. He gets the goldfish (in a plastic container with a flip-top lid), a bowl from the tupperware drawer & fills up. Or, if he's in a hurry, just grabs a goldfish straight from the container & pops it in his mouth. I think this must be third child, I don't have time for Mommy & Daddy to get me what I need behavior. I don't remember Gracie or Clara ever doing this!

Last (at least of the things I've noticed today), he's a huge fan of sitting in our wicker basket that we use for recycling. Today he took his apple over to the basket and sat in it for snack time.

And because I haven't posted pictures in a while, here's one I like. It's about a month old. This is while we are waiting for Gracie to finish her swim lesson. You can see that Clara is all ready to jump in to the pool!



And John Michael might have been ready for her to jump in the pool, too...

Saturday, September 5, 2009

What I know / What I can do

First, John Michael's latest "achievements":

Swinging by himself in the regular swing (okay, you have to be right next to him, but he does no to hold on with both hands ... most of the time)

Climbing up and rocking on the seesaw by himself

Recording a new answering machine message

An ongoing process - trying to change our passwords on our computer

Climbing onto any chair/surface in the house. First, get a stool if you are not tall enough to even get a leg near the seat of the chair/desired surface for climbing. Second, fling your body onto the chair/surface and hang their like a beached whale. When you've rested, struggle for as long as required and finally get one leg onto chair/surface and then the second leg. Success! You are up in the forbidden chair/surface!!! Really, a foolproof method (unless there is a pesky grown-up that catches you in the act).

****************
Clara:

She's my little baker/chef lately. Just this morning she flipped all of the pancakes off the griddle after making the batter with me. The other day she measured almost all of the ingredients for her birthday cake and then helped me when it came to icing the cake (pictures & post coming...)

****************
Gracie:

In the car the other day, she made a comment about how John Michael "translated" a word into a particular sound. Then Clara asked what "translate" meant. After explaining (trying to explain), I complimented Gracie, "You have a good vocabulary."

Gracie responded, "What does vocabulary mean?"