Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Clara's Birthday (as told by Clara)

"This is my first party at the beach. It was really fun.  And I played in the sand.  I saw Aunt Sue go outside while I was blowing out the candles, I thought she was setting off the smoke alarm!"  (Note: Mommy accidentally bought the relighting candles, which turned out to be quite funny, but a little frustrating).

"When I opened my sister's present, I was sooooo happy, happy, happy!  She gave me a Webkinz and I named it Snow Bear.  And the other presents were fun, too." 

 "I was really lucky on my birthday because I got lots of presents and I whacked the pinata down (Note: the pinata was a last-minute homemade by Gracie deal.  Clara reallly, really wanted one, so Gracie fashioned one out of 3 old party hats & we filled it from the candy bowl and hung it from the basketball goal.)
 "I was so happy when I opened Gracie's present.  And it was an Amazing Hamster."
" When I was icing my cake, I thought it was going to be really yummy.  I made Curious George's striped ball.  And it was a good birthday after all."

 "When I opened Sorry I was really amazed that I got a Sorry.  And it was brand-new.  Nobody touched it.  I was sooo, sooo, happy. " (Note: I think the brand-new might be a comment on so many things coming from JBF!)

 "Daddy put together my Hot Wheels and the Hot Wheels really did work, but not when I had it by myself.  But then Mommy found a better Hot Wheels." (Note: She really wanted to include this picture because "I love my Daddy!")

"John Michael is really silly.  He took black pictures when he was using the camera and when he was one year old."  
"Gracie was really silly.  She ate with her hands and she made that face.  She's a really good sister!"


Tuesday, October 12, 2010

As promised long ago & since I haven't mailed the b-day presents yet ...

Well Sue, here it is.  The requested in jest, but I took it seriously "All-Sue/Aunt Sue Ocean Post."  Oh wait, did we go to the ocean the first week in August?  Is it fall now, too cold for the ocean?  Well, at least it's not snowing.

[Oh, and if anybody out there is reading these things, you should let me know with a comment every now and then.  Just so I don't start thinking my blog is similar to my life at home - tell somebody something ("kids, clean up those toys!") and have them pay no attention whatsoever!]

On to the ocean, the Atlantic Ocean at Rehoboth Beach, Delaware in a house large enough to hold us all (13-9 adults, 4 kids) just one block from the boardwalk.  The first time we have been on vacation with all of my family in a long time (since before any kids, I think). 

 So here is Aunt Sue, on the first day we (the Schwinds) arrived at the beach.  JM stayed behind at the house with his beloved Mimi, but the girls couldn't wait to get their first glimpse of the Atlantic!

We talked about putting swimsuits on, but it was late in the day & the kids assured us that they wouldn't get wet. Ha, ha, what were we thinking!  I think Aunt Sue got the fun of helping to hose them down once we got back to the house.

It was lazy mornings around the house, most of the time.  Aunt Sue was up & out for a run most mornings, but I must have caught her on a late morning hanging with Gracie at the breakfast table.  I think Uncle Todd might have roped her into a long bike ride on this day. 

Lots of days I didn't get pictures of Aunt Sue, or she wouldn't be a huge fan of the pictures I got, because they were shockingly, in a bathing suit! (can you imagine, at the ocean?).  Anyhow, here's a modest photo:

Good thing for her I decided against the videos that I shot a little later on this day - the modesty towel was gone and Gracie was being threatened with a toss into the ocean & Alex was being threatened with a toss into "The Pit."  "The Pit" was quite a fascination for all of the kids (big - Mike& Jamie!- and little).  Each day at the beach, they worked on digging a big, deep sand pit.  Alex, Clara & Gracie loved to come back later that day or early the next and see if it was still there or if it had been washed away.  They also loved running & jumping into it ("Geronimo" was the war cry) and also pretending to be walking along and "fall" into it.

We had a little birthday celebration for Clara (her birthday was just a week later) and it was fun to have all of my family there for her party!  Here are Uncle "Togg" and Aunt Sue looking on.   

Later that night ended up being game night.   Gracie must have snuck out of bed and stayed up late that night - I really don't remember.  But I do remember loving Todd's version of Go Fish.  According to his rules, you can just ask for any card you want - you don't even have to have it in your hand.  Hmmmm.... got to watch out for that Uncle Togg!

And on the last day at the beach, we all headed down to the arcade/fun land.  It was crowded, but we got in a little bit of Skee Ball.  Aunt C was the real pro, but notice Aunt Sue is in there, too.  
 After Skee Ball, apparently Uncle Todd and Aunt Sue were giving lessons to Alex on how to get more money out of his parents for the arcade, or ice cream, or whatever.    "Now first, you hold out your hand like this ...(Uncle Todd's advice).  "Then you give them the squinty eye like this... (Aunt Sue's advice). 

Look, it's Sue with her 3 sisters!

And the last day - "Please Aunt Sue, we'll fit in your suitcase just like this... And we'll keep you warm snuggling you like this in all that fog & rain in CA...

Hope my hard-working Sis enjoyed her post.  She's got a big trial coming up in a few days (last I heard) and I know she's been super busy, so I thought she might get a kick out of my silly post!

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Clara & School

The only complaint I've gotten about school so far is why we have to wait until the afternoon to go.  Clara loves it so much that it is hard to wait until noon to go everyday!

She started off the year a little uncertain about things.  Unlike Gracie, she's not a big fan of change or new things.  So even though Gracie was in Mrs. Matejka's class last year and Clara spent a fair amount of time in the kindergarten room (I think they have parties almost every month!), it was still nerve-wracking for her.  She loves it now and even last week when she said her throat was hurting, she didn't want to miss a day.  I think she still must worry a little though, because every day on the way there she says we can do drop-off (at the front door) instead of walking her into the classroom.  And every day, I check again when we get to the school and the answer always changes to "mmmmmm... walk me in!"

But she's definitely over most of her worries about school and nothing can deter her from her beloved kindergarten.  In fact, two weeks ago, we got the special treat of having Mimi at our house for the day.  And Mimi got to walk Clara in to kindergarten that day.  Well, she was so excited, but as soon as she got there, quickly showed Mimi her table and her cubby, she was ready to get to work in her "center" (different areas where they play for the first 10-15 minutes of class).  I had to remind her to tell Mimi good-bye! 

Here are a few of the "special moments" so far of kindergarten: 

 Mrs. Matejka at our house, reading stories with Clara & tucking her in.  She takes the time to visit all of her students at their house in the evening, read them a bedtime story, pray with them and tuck them in.  Gracie got to enjoy it last year and this year, Clara just loved it.  In fact, Clara talked Mrs. Matejka into 3 stories somehow.  And it was Mrs. Matejka's birthday the night she came to our house, so we got to make her some homemade caramel popcorn and a homemade, rainbow-striped duct tape bag.  I didn't get a picture (what was I thinking?), but it turned out really neat!!

The next big event for kindergarten was the circus!  Clara's first plan was to be a lion, since one of her buddy's at school (Byron!) was going to be the lion tamer.  But during the practice the day before the circus, she decided to be an acrobat.  "Because," she informed me, "I'm the only one that can do a cartwheel, and an acrobat *has* to do cartwheels."  I was relieved, just because I didn't know what kind of lion costume I was going to come up with in a few hours, but I was curious to see how these "cartwheels" were going to come out, because she really hasn't mastered that skill yet!  But she did a great job & it was fun to see her having so much fun.  And her big sister got to be in the room watching as well (she's in the 2nd picture below).

They've also made rice babies (fill a sock with your birth weight of rice - Clara was 9lbs6oz - that was a lot of rice!).  Of course I forgot my camera on that day, but we've got "Clara" at home now, so I'll get a picture of her and Clara's Bag Buddy ("Rose") that they made in the same week.  The week they called "Meology."  

I was really surprised on the day of the creation of the rice babies by Clara's reaction.  Mrs. Matejka has a rocking chair in her room and for all of the kids, she holds the rice baby (after they've been stuffed, decorated with eyes, paci's, belly buttons and swaddled in a blanket), talks about how the babies came to be with their parents and then hands the baby to the student.  When it came to Clara's turn (we were last - we had the most rice to get into that sock!), she was almost crying when Mrs. Matejka handed her the baby.  I don't know what made her so emotional, but I hope it was happy emotions!  And maybe, the goal of the lesson just really hit home with her - to realize how special it is to have that little baby in your arms. 

Of course, there are all of the other academic things that are happening for Clara in school.  She's officially learning all of her consonant and vowel sounds and applying those to her rapidly improving reading skills (she's really reading lots of things these days - as long as she doesn't get too intimidated).  She's writing her first and last name with the correct lower and upper case, and they aren't really doing any math yet, but she's got a workbook at home and was busy at it tonight.  Coming back to ask me about "seven take away five, is two?"  Yes, yes, Clara. 

And the Ranger Rick "Just For Fun" puzzle magazine that Mimi & Pap sent and Mimi thought might be too hard?  She's been working away on a fill in the word puzzle (12 sentences all with one incomplete word.  The incomplete word has the letters "rat" in it, but has other letters missing.  You have a list of 15 possible words you can use.)   I didn't realize it until tonight, but she's been working on it over a few days and has five of them done!  I was impressed.  Although I suggested that "My sister takes --rat- lessons" might not be "My sister takes 'pirate' lessons."

Latest & Greatest

Of course it's impossible to catch up on what has happened in the last two months in one post, but I'll try.  No wait .... I mean, I won't *even* try. 

Here's what the kids look like, in case you've forgotten:

And many, many thanks for all of the lovely birthday presents (for Clara, myself and Gracie), for the support of the girls' Read-a-thon and the great summer trips, especially the ocean trip!

I want to blog about all of these things (birthdays, school happenings & summer trips), but I'm sure it will take me awhile to catch up.  But I'm back on the blog-wagon, so check in every now & then and I'll try to have new posts.