Saturday, December 31, 2011

'Tis Better to Give...

That's what I found out this year!

Since I'm a big kid at school all day, Nana and DD have less time to spend with me. Reese and Kate get to see them during the week sometimes, but I'm at school. So, when Christmas break rolled around, Nana and DD and I had a special day together.

Our day at the Galleria turned into a shopping spree for me! When we visited the new Disney Store, I got really excited about all of the gifts there were to choose from.... This one for Katie, this one for Mommy... and don't forget Uncle Trey! I found many gifts at The Disney Store but not everyone's... we had to visit the Lego store and a lotion place to finish off my list. And then... back at Nana and DD's house, I was allowed to wrap the presents!

I was so excited and kept dropping hints (but never gave away Mom or Dad's gifts) so Nana and DD decided this might be a new thing for our family. A few nights later, Kate, Nana and DD all snuck away to do their Christmas shopping as well. Nana said that Kate is a very decisive shopper... she knows who wants what! She was in the dog aisle and Nana asked, "Kate, do you want to buy presents for Oscar and Dottie?" Kate told her, "No. They only like chocolate and I don't see any chocolate here." True enough.

The best part of gift giving wasn't the shopping OR the wrapping... although that was amazing. The best part was when we gathered as a family and I got to watch everyone open their gifts! Legos for Trey, a back scratcher for David, mugs for Mom and Dad, lotion for Erin, Nana and Amanda, dolls for all of us girls. I giggled with glee as each person opened their present and told me how perfect they were.

I loved the presents I got this year, also. But I'd say this Christmas, it was better to give than to receive!


Monday, December 19, 2011

Christmas Love

Kate, after singing a completely original Christmas-ish song to me:

"Mommy, did you like my song? My heart gave it to my mouth and my mouth sang it to you!"

And then, this:

"When I get a present at Christmas, I will share it with Mia and Avery a'cuz Mia is my cousin and Avery is my friend and I want them to be happy."

Our Katie Beth, our little Christmas Love.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Happy Five Months, Reese!

Reese is 5 months old today. Highlights from the last month:

FIRST TOOTH! She's been trying to tell us that she's teething for a while now, but finally, a day before her 5 month birthday, a tooth appeared! It's the bottom center right tooth. Precious girl was pretty miserable and stayed up around the clock for about a week while it came out.

Eating and sleeping: Reese has moved herself to a 4 hour feeding schedule and has also been introduced to baby food. So far, she has tried (and loved): rice cereal, sweet potatoes, and carrots. The week that she was teething, she screamed nonstop for about an hour each afternoon, so I took the baby food away for a few days to see if that was the problem (it wasn't - the tooth was). She's gladly back to eating baby food twice a day. Aside from terrible sleep the week of the tooth, Reese sleeps really well, with a 5 am feeding to hold her over until she wakes up at 7 or 8.

Reese weighs 15 1/2 pounds according to our unofficial baby scale.

New tricks: Reese's accuracy with reaching, grabbing, and moving items to where she wants them has improved drastically in the last month. She can sit up with help from the boppy or a chair (but not yet on her own) and loves to do the plank - arms straight, head held high - when she is doing her tummy time.

Reese is totally over the bouncy chair and throws her weigh around until she has either rolled forward out of it or scooted herself off of the bottom of it. Luckily, this happened right in time for her to fall in love with her excersaucer, jumperoo, and even her high chair.

It's cliche but true: time goes by way too fast. This baby cannot possibly be almost half of the way done with her first year! But alas, it's true.

Luckily, every new stage of babyhood has been better than the last. We love you so, little Miss Ree. Happy 5 Months!

Monday, December 12, 2011

A Sister's Love Is A Dangerous Thing

Mom can't keep her eyes on me all the time. I get that. But there are times... a lot of times... when I wish she was just a bit faster to look over at me.

Big Sister Kate loves me so much. And she has some favorite ways of showing it.

Like doing a forward roll over my face.

Or climbing into a child-sized chair. While I'm already sitting in it.

Or hugging me to the point of suffocation.

Or spreading lip gloss all over her lips and then transferring it to my face via kisses.

Or setting our tent up on top of me and adding plenty of toys for us to play with.

Or deciding to start a band with me and trying to teach me to play the recorder by shoving it into my mouth over and over again.

Big Sister Kate is full of love. I only hope I can survive it!


Sunday, December 4, 2011


I'm not often left speechless. Words usually come easy for me.

But lately, there are so many moments when I get the fullness of one of these girls.

They give me a look or say something that I want to be etched into my very being so I won't forget it. Or maybe I drive past the hospital and realize how very blessed we are to have three healthy girls. Or I'll be walking to school and notice how easy it is for Avery to run ahead of me and then come back to hold my hand... she's not too old for me just yet.

There are so many reasons, so many unpredictable instances. They come upon me and my heart aches with joy and love deeper than I've previously understood. In a moment, I'm brought to my knees and tears well up.

And I have no words.

No way to tell the Lord the depth of my gratitude, no way to pass on to my girls that the very beating of my heart is theirs. I can't seem to figure out how to express what happens to me, but not for lack of trying.

Some things, it seems, are deeper than words.

And I am blessed.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Gobble, Gobble!

I've been trying to tell my mom for a few weeks now that I am hun-gry. And since she seemed unimpressed, and since Thanksgiving seems to have a lot to do with feasting, I decided it was time to up the ante.

In the last week, I've taken to lunging at food of all kinds. If it's on the table, I am going to get it. I am so over a liquid diet.

Mom may be slow on the uptake, but Nana and DD got me. As I was lunging for a dinner plate this week, Nana pulled out a box of rice cereal. I didn't know what it was; and I didn't care. It looked like food. Time to eat!

I gnawed on the box as if to say, "Yes! This! I'll take it!" ...And mom relented. Next thing I knew, I was getting spoonfuls of rice cereal. I heard that for most babies, a first feeding is like a learning experience - some of the food accidentally ends up being swallowed but most of it isn't. Not me! I wasn't going to let one precious drop of the cereal go to waste - I gobbled it right up.

So, as my family sat down around the table on Thanksgiving day and enjoyed the feast, I had a feast all my own. Sure, the sweet potatoes and turkey looked a lot tastier than my rice cereal, but a girl's gotta start somewhere!

Reese Gobbler McClinton

Monday, November 21, 2011


Ever since Baby Kyle was born, the three oldest granddaughters have spent a lot of time together. That's a lot of time to influence each other.

Amelia taught Kate and me, "Isa, Isa, turn the wheel..." - a song we like to sing on Nana's back swing set. It's from Dora. Then, in an act of true brilliance, Uncle David and Amelia taught us the song and dance to "I Like to Move It, Move It" from Madagascar (which previously I was way too afraid to watch but now I think I might like it, you know - since Amelia does). We danced and sang and jumped on Nana and DD's bed for a very long time to Move It.

We haven't left Amelia without new tricks, either. For one, Amelia has long refused to wear anything remotely dress-like and especially not dress-up clothes. Enter Princesses McClinton. A week with us and Amelia has a whole new appreciation for strutting her stuff in full princess garb. And, you know, make-up. But that goes without saying, doesn't it? If you're going to be a princess, you're going to be in make-up.

Kate also taught Amelia to announce loudly, "I'm all full!" anytime the food on her plate was unappetizing. A good trick, I must say.

And lastly, we taught Amelia about SUPER HIGHER. Super Higher is a phrase that must be yelled/sang while swinging. If the adult on swinging duty loses interest or doesn't give the push of the swing enough umph, we yell, "Super Higher!" - meaning, try harder. If the adult does a good job and we feel like we're flying, we yell, "Super Higher!" - meaning, "Great job!"

One night when we were all spending the night at Nana and DD's and we were supposed to be going to sleep, Nana walked in on Kate and Amelia laying in bed, their legs going up and then back down... up... and then back down. Nana asked what they were doing. "SUPER HIGHER!" But of course.

Influence is a powerful thing. Mom and Dad hope that it will always be innocent, beautiful things that we teach each other. But for better or for worse, we have a pretty sweet deal going on with such a special cousin.

And Aunt Amanda, if you ever find yourself wishing that Amelia wouldn't smear your make-up all over her face... remember, we've also been trying to influence Amelia towards potty training. Does that make up for it at all? :)

Avery Big Cousin... Big Influence McClinton

Monday, November 14, 2011

Cousin Kyle!

This week my new baby cousin was born! Kyle Jospeh was born on 11-7 and weighed 9 pounds 10 ounces!

Kyle was born amidst chaos: Nana had surgery last week from a broken arm and DD had a business trip he couldn't miss in Atlanta... not to mention the chaos that comes along with 4 grandchildren in the family already!

But Kyle said, "Ready or not, here I come!"

Avery had to go to big girl school, but Reese, Mommy and I headed out to The Woodlands to wait for the baby's arrival and to meet him. When I went into the room to meet Kyle, he was getting his first bath and I wasn't sure about all that crying. You'd think I'd be used to it with a new baby of my own, but crying babies are unnerving. Luckily, he's a mostly chill baby so I've had lots of chances to see him happy or sleeping since then.

DD got back in town the night after Kyle was born and Nanny came in town to play with Amelia and help out a bunch. Nana's arm is feeling better, too - and Avery and I took turns spending the night at Nana and DD's with Amelia to 'help'.

The party at Nana and DD's only gets rowdier and more fun when you add more grandkids! Christmas this year is expected to be a sugar-excitement-cousin raucous!

Cousin Kate

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Happy Four Months, Reese!

During the last month, I got a strong sense that Reese is going to grow up so quickly that I'm somehow going to miss the milestones while I'm focusing on another kid. As if she read my mind, the little angel waited until I was sitting on the floor with her to roll for the first time. It was such a blessing and a reassurance that although we're busy, Little Miss Ree is very much a part of our busy-ness and her milestones will be just as crucial and precious as the other girls'.

So, Reese currently rolls from her back to her front over her right shoulder. Occasionally, she'll roll back, but usually she just ends up stuck on her belly.

She is so much fun and such a classic baby. She hits milestones in exactly the way text books describe - she gurgles and coos and found her toes and this week she started batting at objects and grabbing them, and she does it every single time she sees something dangling above her.

Which leads me to: this is a frustrating phase for Ree. She grabs the objects on her mobile and then gets angry with it for not moving. She pulls her pacifier out of her mouth and then gets angry that it's gone. She rolls to her stomach and then yells for someone to roll her back to her front. Poor baby girl can't keep up!

We also laugh because it would seem that Reese is a 6 month old in her mind's eye. She tries to sit by crunching her stomach muscles but of course isn't able to yet... she throws herself towards the table for big person food... she's the size of a 6 month old...

At her doctor's appointment, Reese weighed 14 lb 8 oz (68th percentile) and was 24.25 inches long (48th %tile - although her head only measures in the 22nd %tile!). Everything looked great and she took the shots like a champ, although she was extra fussy for the rest of the week. I swear it's teething as well, but nothing has definitively popped out yet so I guess we'll wait and see.

And, going for an all-time low on nicknames added in any month, she's only accrued one more: Reetie (sometimes Reet).

Our little pile of rolls, giggles and smiles. We adore you, Reese Sue. Happy four months!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011


It was bound to happen. And it did. It's too hard for Mommy to get our names right every time she talks to us, so instead, Daddy has dubbed the three sisters "KAveReese". It works, too. A perfect mash-up.

Although it's hard to keep our names straight, God saw fit to give us each very different personalities, needs, and for now... worlds.

Take, for example, Avery. Her world right now consists of new friends, sight words, homework and new academic knowledge. The hat Mommy wears most often with Avery is Support. Support in volunteering at the school, helping with homework, and giving long hugs when Avery sometimes needs to feel safe and child-like in the midst of her big-girl world.

Avery keeps Mommy and Daddy on their toes with her quick wit, perceptive judgments and tender heart. Yesterday I heard her tell Mommy, "Mommy, I'm ready to start the ball."
"What ball?"
"You know, Mom, the ball."
..."Avery, I have no idea what you're talking about. Can you use different words to help me understand?"
"Mooooom. The ball. Like the soccer ball or the other kinds of ball."
Last night when we were setting out our clothes, Mommy found bobby pins and rubber bands lined up to spell "Love". And, as she tells us often, "Love is love. That means I love you more than love." Mommy and Daddy have taken to using her phrase. After all, love IS love.

For my part, Mommy wears her most often-used hat: Pre-School Mom. These years are the ones she's been Mom through most, and I fill her days with my world of pre-school, playgroup, gymnastics, and constant questions. Although Mom has done pre-school before, my pre-school world is all about squeaks, chirps, aggressive love for the baby, silliness, pushing boundaries and gentle redirection. I can't handle conflict (which comes up a lot with a strong willed big sister!), I can't handle stern words, and I don't like pressure. I either revert to silliness or I break down and cry until I've been held, comforted, and reassured. There's lots of hugging going around these days and I want in on as much of it as I can get! (Mom says I am not allowed to mislead: I still disobey plenty, it's just in a quieter, silent-stubborn way...)

Ree-Ree's world is not even on the same plane as our two worlds. Ree's world is about discovering her feet, batting objects with her hands, smiling, cooing, giggling and rolling. She doesn't like the car seat or the stroller and so Mom's Reese-hat is Carrier. Reese is mostly happy and only cries when she gets way too tired... or when I lay on her or poke her. Mom's not such a fan of my love when it wakes her up (always) or makes her cry (usually), but that Reese is just so chubby and happy that it's hard to resist. I call Reese Ree-Ree or Ree, Avery calls her Reesie Poo, Daddy calls her Reesie and Mommy calls her That Baby (as in, "I'm just going to eat That Baby up!"). Whatever we call her, she smiles and acts like she's just so thankful to be in our lives.

It's a good thing that we are all in such vastly different worlds. Mom says she's convinced that each of us doing different things and needing different types of love right now will help her rememberus individually once we're grown. What can I say? We aim to please!

Kate "Kavereese" McClinton

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Halloween 2011

Oh Halloween. I love it. Dressing up in fancy dresses is a part of my daily routine anyways, but when you add candy and parties and pumpkins - now that's what I call a good time!

The celebrating this year started with a playgroup party for my pals and me while Avery was at school. We listened to a story and then painted pumpkins. The mommies ate like queens. The joy of potluck parties.

Next came my school fall festival, which I enjoyed with Avery and Amelia. The best part was when we got to pick out the bake sale item. Nana, Amanda, Mommy and Daddy were eyeing the brownies or the cookies or the neatly decorated cake. But we found the greatest prize of all! Strawberry iced cupcakes! Never mind the icing was stuck to the saran wrap; never mind that other children had stuck their fingers into the saran wrap and left prints in the cupcakes; never mind that Amelia carried the cupcakes all around like they were a bag of apples. Those cupcakes were worth every penny!

For Daddy's birthday, I wanted to go to the Children's Museum. BUT we discovered that the whole place was turned into a Haunted Mansion and Daddy and Mommy decided a trip to Dewberry Farms would be more fun. It was! We love that Daddy, who willingly celebrates his birthday with kid-centered activities.

Avery had a costume parade at school and decided to be Pinkalicious (it had to be a character from a book). I was so jealous of her cool pink hair that Mommy said I could be Pinkalicious for Halloween trick or treating if I wanted. And I certainly wanted.

But first, we got to play at Avery's playgroup party. Thankfully, we agreed to wear our actual Halloween costumes and looked divine in our snow princess dresses. Avery picked her white costume out and when we couldn't find a white snow princess in my size, Mom explained that sometimes snow princesses wear pink.

On Halloween night, Avery and I both decided we needed to be Pinkalicious. We got to trick or treat with Nonnie and Daddy (who said only one person knew exactly what we were supposed to be). We got back to the house to help pass out candy, and you know what? That's almost as fun as trick or treating! (Avery said not to tell, but when Mom and Dad were handing out candy, she would grab handfuls and stuff them into her own pumpkin. Pretty clever if you ask me.)

Happy Halloween, everyone!
Pink-Snow-Princess-Pinkalicious Kate

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Formula for a Blissful Birthday

1 Castle...

+ a visit from Belle...+ several close friends...

+ the perfect cake...
+ Ariel cupcakes at Chuck E. Cheese...

+ a crown at school and Mommy as guest reader...
= Giddiness
Mommy says that for the rest of her life, her heart will warm when she thinks about the expression on my face when I saw Belle and how happy I was all weekend. What can I say? I exuded happiness because I had the best third birthday ever!

Click here for pictures

Kate Birthday Princess McClinton

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Howdy, Folks and Welcome... the State Fair of Texas!

Our family has a long standing (more than 50 years!) tradition of joining Big Tex at the State Fair of Texas each year. This year, I loved the petting zoo, the car show, fair food (funnel cake, salt water taffy, Fletcher's corny dog, and ice cream!), and using my special fair money to buy a very *life-like* sleeping kitty.

I heard all about Big Tex, and I loved him as much as I was afraid of him. When we first got to the fair, I had to talk all about Big Tex - if he could move around to come get me, if he was real... I had Daddy carry me to go see him - but not too close! Any time he came into sight, I clung to the nearest adult. He's pretty cool, but I don't plan on crossing him.

The fair is so much fun, but the best part of State Fair weekend is family. Amelia, Avery and I played for hours in our hotel room, I loved on Mimi and Gran every chance I got, I slept in Nana and DD's room, and I admired Mom's cousins.

There's so much to love about State Fair weekend. I love this tradition!

Kate 'Little Tex' McClinton

Friday, October 14, 2011

Watch DOGS: Heroes of the Hallways

One of the more enjoyable parts of elementary school is the volunteer programs we get to participate in. My personal favorite: Watch DOGS (Dads Of Great Students), a nationwide program that allows fathers to spend the day volunteering in their child's school in order to promote male role models and combat bullying.

Jordan's day as a Watch DOG was last Thursday. It started bright and early with a spot on morning announcements. Then, as he was "patrolling the hallways", he was pulled into a first grade classroom to cover for a teacher. She essentially tossed a book his way and wished him luck. He did great: read aloud and then talked about the book for a while until the teacher came back.

His next stop was Avery's room, where he assisted with learning centers and then, at the children's request, lead them in the morning message. I walked in to see him leading this and was highly impressed: the children dictated sentences to him and then he helped them sound out the sentences as he wrote them on the board. Avery beamed from ear to ear the entire time he was in the class.

After all of the teaching, he was given a cart full of lunches and backpacks to deliver around the school. And then came no less than three hours of lunchroom duty. During lunch duty, he handed out Watch DOG stickers to great students, helped a child who lost a tooth, witnessed a child buy 8 rice krispie treats instead of a tray lunch (and get corrected), and sat with Avery during her lunch time.

One of my favorite moments in lunch went like this:
Little Boy: Can I please have a sticker?
Jordan: Well, I can only give them to students who are doing a really good job. So do a really good job at lunch and then maybe I can give you one.
(Five minutes later)
Little Boy: I did something really great. I helped someone.
Jordan: Who?
Little Boy: That kid. I helped him eat his cookie.

I say give the kid a sticker for creativity.

After lunch duty, Jordan headed to 5th grade to assist in another classroom and checked in books at the library.

At the end of the day, I expected him to come home frazzled and exhausted. However, the day was really fun for him and he says if he'll sign up for another Watch DOG day without question.

And, most importantly, Avery was incredibly proud of her Daddy and walked around the school like a star in her Watch DOG shirt. Avery's school has done this program up right and we are all so proud of our resident Watch DOG.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Happy Three Months, Reese!

Reese is three months old today. Still chubby, still happy, still amazing.

She weighs 13 pounds 5 ounces!

She isn't yet rolling over (both of her sisters rolled front to back by 3 months), but we think this is because of the amount of time she spends in a sling, bouncy chair, or car seat. When we are at home, Reese strongly prefers her back. We've been trying to give her more tummy time this week so she'd have the opportunity to learn to roll over, but she says, "NO THANK YOU!" (She rolls about 1/4 of the way from her back to her side, but is just so content to lie, so there's no real urgency for her.)

For her three month birthday, Reese is getting evicted from her cradle in our room. Poor girl barely fits in it anymore because she's gotten so big, so Mama will be making the 3 am trek to her room every night from now on. I heard big babies sleep better, but Reese says big babies love milk too much to skip a feeding.

Reese's smiles are just about too much. They melt us. And she has a giggle, a chuckle, and a full on laugh that we can elicit. Laughing always leads to hiccups, but we all agree - it's worth it!

Happy three months, my happy, easy, lovable chunk!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Avery, Kindergarten Extraordinaire: 6 Weeks In

Roughly six weeks ago, Avery started Kindergarten. To call this a transition would be a huge understatement... for Mama and for Avery.

For a while, every night was wrought with Kindergartenness. Avery liked school fine, thought her teacher was great, even made friends fast and easily. It wasn't that Kindergarten wasn't a good move for her. It's just that it was We saw it in easy fits, easy tears, and sometimes blank stares at the wall. But little by little, as days turned to weeks, and more weeks, and more weeks... we've seen Avery blossom and grow into a capable, beautiful Kindergarten Girl.

Things about Avery, six weeks in:

*At her 5 year well child check-up, Avery failed her eye sight screen. We followed up with an eye doctor who specializes in children, and as it turns out, Avery's eye sight is almost perfect. She has the slightest astigmatism but the doc recommended that we do nothing about it for at least the next two years. Avery was so disappointed that she wasn't going to get glasses like Fancy Nancy, so we went to Target and bought her some sunglasses. She put them on and immediately cried out, "Mom! I can see so much better with these on!" Ah, the power of suggestion.

*Avery got to be Queen of the Jungle (basically Star of the Week) last week. She made a poster (my favorite 'all about me' moment: her three favorite places on earth were San Antonio, Lockhart, Texas, and Disney World). She also picked out two books to have Mom read to the class. After I talked her down from Barbie Goes to Princess Prep School, we chose The Halloweener and Shark Vs. Train. I had so much fun being back in a classroom and Avery was truly treated like royalty - she even got a book from her classmates in which each child drew a picture of something they'd like to do with her.

*Academically, socially, and behaviorally, Avery is right on track. It's not like we never experience hiccups or have very tired crying fits (or an occasional behavior blip at school), it is just that they seem to be getting fewer and farther between.

*My biggest fears sending Avery off to school were about her ability to make friends and not feel lonely at recess, in lunch, etc. It blesses my heart so to watch her interact with her new peers, to hear about how much she enjoys meeting new people, and to see genuine affection blossom for her new gal pals.

*I'm amazed at how quickly Avery is showing improvement with her fine motor skills. She doesn't love her handwriting homework, but within 3 weeks' time, she has grown to be able to complete the worksheet of handwriting in 15-20 minutes (without tears!) and draw the letters mostly correctly. Fine motor skills were an area that needed improvement all year last year, but this year, the daily practice is really paying off.

*One area where we haven't made headway just yet is lunch time. Avery doesn't seem bothered by it, but we absolutely cannot get her to eat her lunch. I've tried everything, but Big Girl comes home with an almost full lunch box every day. The library aide has even mentioned it to me, so it must be pretty obvious to the lunchroom helpers. I mean, she's not starving, but why would anyone turn down eating lunch?!

*For better of for worse, Avery is a very successful, mostly happy full-time Kindergartener now. One thing our family has found to be an enormous blessing from all of this is the appreciation for time spent together. Our family fun nights are far less extravagant than they used to be (no more long trips out of the house - there's homework to be done and bed times to respect!), but they have become so tender. We'll often just choose to read, or play a board game, or ride bikes in the front yard. But now that Avery is away from us for 8 hours every day, we are given a new appreciation for our time with her and for how quickly the other two will be full-timers as well.

*As you would guess, Jordan and I are in the school at every chance we get. This gets tricky with scheduling and child-care, but we've been so blessed with a willing Nana to keep Reese and Kate, and I have LOVED being an active member of the PTA, volunteering in the library, work room, and class, and just being a part of Avery's schooling in whatever ways I can. Jordan will be at the school all day next week as a participant in the Watch DOGS (Dads of Great Students) program. Rumor has it that Watch DOGS are celebrities at Stanley, and I am certain he'll be a hero in one very excited Kindergartener's eyes.

If I could go back in time 2 months, I'd tell myself: Yes, it will be hard. Yes, it is a bittersweet occasion. Yes, the tears are for good reason. But have faith in that Big Girl. She's resilient. She's smart. She's a natural born leader and she's good at making friends. She's going to rock Kinder and all you have to do is love her, support her, and pray her through. Exactly like every other year of her life... just slightly more intensified.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Birthdays, Birthdays!

During the months of August and September, we never have to wonder what we'll do with our free time... it's birthday season around here!

This birthday season, we had a great time celebrating each friend on their special day. The parties were each unique and perfectly fit the guest of honor. We splashed to Star Wars theme, spent tokens galore at Chuck E. Cheese, fed ducks and enjoyed the outdoors at Mary Jo Peckham, learned how to bowl all over again, ate as much sugar as we could handle, and basked in the glow of so much love for so many special friends.

Birthday season is a blast. And it's not quite over yet... this month, we celebrate Kate's big day and Daddy's as well! Kate is one smart chica - she was torn between a Belle party and a party at The Children's Museum. Her perfect solution, which she came up with completely on her own: Kate gets a Belle party and Daddy gets a Children's Museum party. Voila! Birthday party perfection!

Monday, September 26, 2011

Avery's Sonnet 43

How do my Nana and DD love me? Let me count the ways...

My Nana and DD's love is like lots of date nights for Mama and Daddy so their marriage can be blessed and I can be fully known by my grandparents.

My Nana and DD's love is like a 6 am wake up on a Saturday.

My DD's love is like driving through Whataburger on the way to a pizza joint so that everyone gets to eat their favorite meal.

My Nana's love is like a trip to Sam's to load up on snacks.

My DD's love is like a questionable nickname that stuck.

My Nana's love is like a big hug when no one else gets me.

My DD's love is like a castle... or wands... or anything mom or I dream up for birthday parties.

My Nana's love is like a swim in the middle of September when everyone else has said goodbye to summer but I just can't bear to yet.

My Nana and DD's love is like a date to the theatre to see Mary Poppins or Annie.

My Nana and DD's love is like a sick kid (or adult) that needs nursing back to health. Or a sickness that gets passed around because of all the cuddles and love.

My Nana and DD's love is like a band-aid on a make believe boo boo without question or doubt.

My DD's love is like hours of my favorite movies on repeat.

My Nana's love is like new literature, old favorite books, and the ones that she could read from memory.

My Nana and DD's love is extravagant, sacrificial, dependable attention, affection, and comfort.

And I am blessed by them!

Avery Blessed McClinton

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Happy Two Months, Reese!

Reese turned two months old on Tuesday. During the last month, she has been busy...

Between four and six weeks, she started really using her neck muscles and holding her head up to try to see the world.

At six weeks old, she began smiling at Mommy, and by the end of the week, she was blessing everyone with her smile. It is heart melting and so earnest. We are suckers for her smile.

Right now, Reese still takes a 3 am feeding (11 pm, 3 am, 7 am), but if she's realllllly tired she'll skip it from time to time - which gives this Mama lots of hope for the future!

That baby is the biggest McClinton baby by a long haul. She's already in 3-6 month clothes (it feels like she's trying to grow faster than even time dictates! And time already goes by too fast!) Her 2 month stats are: 11 lb 9 oz (68%tile), 22.75 inches long (63%tile). Reese was born into roughly the 50th percentile for weight and height but isn't following the average bell curve... she's jumping up to the heavy weight division. We're super glad that she's so healthy and so unique. Way to grow, Reesie!

Reese is an active girl, although she still lays flat on her back most of the time. The girls like to giggle when Reese flails her arms and legs and make up what they think she's doing. "Mommy, Reese is fighting with the air!" or "Mommy, now Reese is trying to ride a bike!" She's quite the mime.

Reese has earned herself even more nicknames. Kate's favorite is "Ree Hee Poo" (Reesie Poo), but Reese also goes by Ree Ree, Cheeks (sometimes Cheeks McGee), Pieces (yes, after Reese's Pieces) and sometimes even Piecie.

The most accurate nickname she's been given, though, comes from Nana. When we text about the kids, we always use their initials... "K had so much fun in the pool!" or whatever. Reese, on text, is "TGTBT". Too Good To Be True.

And she really, really is. She is an angel of a baby and goes along with whatever the family is doing. If an infant can learn to be a team player, then my kid has done it.

Reese, you bless us with your precious cheeks, your easy-going demeanor and your endearing coos and gurgles. You are pure, ridiculous cuteness and joy.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

While Big Sister's Away...

At first, when Avery went to Kindergarten I thought it was unfair. She went off to important big girl school every day and I was stuck at home...

But this week was different. I guess it just took a little while for my life to get exciting, too. Now, I go to big girl school twice a week, do gymnastics (which I keep calling ballet), and my playgroup even decided to start going on field trips this year! On Wednesday, we went on our first field trip of the season - to The Children's Museum. It was such a special time playing with my best pals and having Mommy focus more attention on me. I liked the Children's Museum so much that I wouldn't stop talking about it in front of Avery. Since she thought that was sort of unfair, we had an encore visit to the museum on Saturday. Tell me that isn't an extra bonus of having Avery in school!

Don't get me wrong... I miss Avery when she's gone. But a girl could get used to the extra attention and activities!

Kate My Turn McClinton

Monday, September 5, 2011

Epic Week

It was an epic week...!

On Sunday, Avery, Mommy, Daddy and DD all got to take a trip to the ER for a badly sprained ankle.

On Monday, Daddy wrapped a special brace on Avery's foot and she hobbled off to school. By midday, she felt fine and the brace came off.
On Monday, Kate also took her first gymnastics class (without Mommy) at Westwood. Nana came to watch (and to babysit afterwards), and Katie did pretty well... until one of the coaches tried to correct her stretch and startled her. Then she cried for the next 15 minutes, until Coach Nichole helped her feel better.

On Tuesday, we made preperations for someone special's big day.

On Wednesday, Avery turned 5! She celebrated with a cookie cake at school, a dinner with Nana, DD, and Nonnie, gifts, and a princess cake.

On Thursday, Kate went to her classroom's Meet the Teacher. She did amazingly well; while Mommy and Daddy were greeting other parents, Kate disappeared into the home center and played happily the entire time (in the same Belle dress that her sister used to wear in this class!).
On Thursday, Mommy also came down with a mean case of mastitis and Daddy played Mr. Mom and nurse on top of his other duties.

On Friday, Kate had her very first day in the Froggie Class at St. Peter's. She loved it! She practically skipped into the class and didn't cry a single time the whole day.
On Friday, Uncle Trey and Aunt Erin also came in town to meet Reese and spend some time with the family.

On Saturday, Nana and DD got their annual Mother's/Father's Day feast, put on by the entire Wales clan (and Mommy started feeling better!).

On Sunday and Monday, everyone enjoyed more time with Nana, DD, and the Lances and Wales IIIs.

It was a week full of fun and family. We're so blessed!

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Anecdotal Notes about Kindergarten

Sometimes things are so big and emotional that I just don't have words to say to put a succinct summary out there. This week was one of them. The transition to Kindergarten feels like the biggest thing I've ever personally experienced, and I know for a fact it is the biggest thing my tiny girl has encountered as well.

Avery has done amazingly well, once again showing me that she is far more resilient and capable than Mama Bear sometimes wants to believe. Sure, we have the crying fits or the overly excitable screeches in the evenings, but that is all normal for any almost-5-year-old going through such a big change. By and large, Avery has risen to the challenge and absolutely blown us away with her success. She loves her teacher, loves the reward system, retains so much of what she's learned each day, and has made friends with most of the girls in her class. At the end of every night, she shared her highs and lows with us and they really accurately summed up what we heard from her all week:

High: "Being at school! All of it!"
Low: "Being away from Kate"

High: "Coming home and seeing Mommy across the street at the walker area." (Mommy: "That was my high, too, baby! I love seeing you at the end of the day." Avery: "Mommy, is that why your voice always sounds so funny when you hug me?" ...Funny enough, I was just wondering how many days would have to pass before I stopped crying at the sight of that beautiful girl.)
Low: "Daddy being away at band practice"

High: "Coming home and playing with Kate"
Low: "Going to school. Because, I mean, it's okay. It's just not the best."

High: "Coming home and being with Mommy "
Low: "We didn't get to do anything in PE today. We just sat and waited."

High: "Coming home and being with Mommy" (I think she figured out that this gets a favorable response)
Low: "Dismissal. It just takes so long to get there."

In addition, there were some anecdotal notes from the rest of the week:

*Avery, telling me about lunch on the first day of school: "We don't even have to wait for everyone and we don't have to pray! We just get to eat when we sit down!"

*The first day of school, her class filled a bag with items to help them remember what is important in Kindergarten. In the bag: a Kleenex to remind them to help friends who are sad, a sticker to remind them to stick together, a cotton ball to remind them to use soft words, and my favorite, an eraser to remind them that we all make mistakes but that together they can erase them away.

*When we passed Stanley (her school) on Saturday: "Look! Even the teachers aren't there today!"

*On Tuesday, she began asking, "But when do I NOT go to school?"

*I pulled her hair back into it's usual style one morning and noticed that when I picked her up, she had taken the pony tail part out and was only wearing her bow. When I asked her about it, she skirted the issue ("Um, the pony tail holder just popped." "Well, it just sort of came out.") I assured her she wasn't in trouble and I was just curious, and finally it came out that no one in her class wears their hair like that. They all wear just bows or headbands, so she had to fix her hair once I was through with her. Isn't it something that I am already the uncool mom that Avery has to clean up after before she can hang with her pals... ;)

*And then Kate, who lost her best friend and had not yet started her weekly routines: On Monday after drop off, we made it about half way down the hall when Kate realized what had just happened. She threw herself onto the floor in tears because we were leaving Avery behind. Luckily, being the queen bee and a bit of retail therapy with Nana's exclusive attention helped *some*, although she also had to cry and be comforted when we got in the car and forgot her new water bottle (that matches Avery's). It seemed at first to Kate that Avery was on an incredible adventure with big, important things like water bottles, and she was left behind. The week got better and she's adjusting well to holding down the fort while Sister is away.

*And me. I think my sister expressed for me what I've been trying to pinpoint all week. This new phase of life makes me miss Avery with an ache all day long. It's actually very good for us, because I am able to appreciate the time we have together and make the most of it, but it is a new feeling for me. And, as Amanda put it, I think it is largely because, "I wanted to be with her today showing her that it's okay to do new things and guiding her through the transition. It was strange to walk away and make her face all that newness by herself when I'm mama, the one who makes it better."

Stanley Elementary, brace yourself for a year with the McClintons! Avery is going to rock it!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

The End of An Era

It seems fitting that the night before I send Avery to Kindergarten, the blog post would focus on her playgroup friends. Avery's past 5 years of growing all happened within the context of our precious group of friends. In many ways, they've helped carry us both through and prepared us for tomorrow.

These women and children have walked with me through the best era of my life: new motherhood. I think they've seen it all from me: my best, my worst, and especially those moments I wouldn't ever admit to had there not been witnesses. Sometimes we were on our game: we planned twice a week playdates and parties and crafts and snacks galore. Sometimes I couldn't wait to get to playgroup to share great news, fun events, and excitement over this phase of life. Other times we would show up at a location, collapse from motherhood-exhaustion, and chat while our kids ate goldfish off of the floor at Katy Mills (that may just have been me)... I cannot count the number of times I've arrived at playgroup disheveled or been at a loss as to how to best parent my child. Somehow, just being with these other moms made my outlook sunnier. And for all of the times that Avery expressed herself through hitting (and boy did she!), not one mom ever asked me to get my act together already. They were the supportive backdrop to my life as I learned what it was to be Avery's mom. These women collectively are my stay-at-home-mom support base, but individually are also some of the most wonderful and important women in my life.

While I found support and encouragement from the women in our playgroup, Avery was forming bonds of her own. What started as a group of infants has turned into a clan of 5 year old pals. It strikes me most when I look at the picture from our most recent camping trip: a bunch of kids, arms around each other, completely happy and comfortable with one another. And I am also struck with how much each of those kiddos means to me as well. I have loved watching them turn from babies to chubby little toddlers to pre-schoolers... to full-on kids.

Playgroup has been the most consistent thing on our calendar over the past 5 years. On Tuesday, we had a very upbeat celebration to close out this era of life. It was the perfect ending: instead of sadness over the end of an era, there were smiles, shared memories, a thoughtful memory book, story time about Dinos who go to Kindergarten, crafts... and pizza. It was such a good way to say goodbye - not to our friends, of course, but to the consistency and to this part of these kids' lives.

I am blessed, and Avery is blessed, by these amazing families.

Click here for pictures of the week (and a walk down memory lane)

Monday, August 15, 2011

It's Avery's Party (and I'll Cry If I Want To!)

This weekend, Avery celebrated her 5th birthday (a little early to make sure she has time to focus on Kindergarten later in the month). She had a Woodland Fairy party, complete with gnomes, elves, fairies, and an amazing cake by Miss Ella.

Avery's party was at Westwood Gymnastics, both of our favorite place. It was super fun for everyone for the first 30 minutes or so, but then... my elbow popped out of joint while I was playing in the pit. For the rest of the party, I moaned, cried, and refused to use my arm at all. Luckily, there were lots of people there to pass me and Reese around and still to take pictures and be there with Avery for her birthday.

After the party was over, I still wasn't acting any happier, so Mommy and Daddy decided it must be worth a trip to the ER to get it looked at (Daddy had figured out what was wrong but they felt better letting a doctor do the dirty work of popping the elbow back into joint). It was the shortest, easiest ER trip ever, and I was feeling back to 100% as soon as the doctor popped my arm back into place. I even got a popsicle. Now, whenever I have a boo boo, I ask Daddy to go see the doctor so that he can give me a popsicle to make me better. It's worth a try.

At Avery's 4th party, as you may remember, I tried to cause drama in the swimming pool. Mommy says next year, maybe I can come up with a less scary or painful way to make sure I get some attention! :)

Luckily, Avery still had a blast at her party and didn't seem to even notice my injury.

Happy Birthday (a little early), Avery Leigh!
Love, Katie Beth

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Happy One Month, Reesie!

At one month...

*You LOVE the vibrating bouncy chair and the sling.

*You're starting to have more awake time. We love 'Big Eyes'.

*Your sisters are absolutely enthralled with you.

*Sleep is still touch and go. Some nights are amazing (only two quick feedings in 12 hours!) and some nights you cry and can't seem to sleep. We still haven't figured out why.

*You weigh 9 pounds on the baby scale we have at home.

*You're the sweetest, easiest baby I've ever known. You roll with the punches and accept waiting without a fuss.

*When you eat, you gulp and sigh loudly. When you start getting upset, it sounds like either a mad cat or a hog snorting, depending on what you're trying to communicate. We love your little noises and think they're totally unique!

*We're still looking for a nickname that is as flattering as you deserve. We've nixed Reese the Beast (meant to be braggadocios because we're so proud of how you're growing, but it's somehow not flattering) and Reesie Bean the Spit-Up Queen (although Reesie-Bean the Patient Queen is still in the running). We love Reese-Sue and Avery's: "Reesie Poo We Love You" (said in one breath and meant as a name).

Reese Suzanne, you are so welcome in our little family. Happy One Month!

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Hyatt Hill Country Resort

This week, Daddy had a business retreat in San Antonio... but this time, it was a family business retreat, which meant that we all got to go along!

While Daddy and his colleagues worked the days away, Nana, Mommy, Kate, Reese and I enjoyed the Hyatt Hill Country Resort and all of it's offerings. Sometimes, we'd sleep in and have a leisurely breakfast in the room. Sometimes, we'd enjoy the Ramblin' River or the pool or the baby pool (Kate's choice). We also got our hair braided, played at the park, and enjoyed the big open areas where we played 'kitty' (a game that is exactly as it sounds).

At nights, when Daddy and DD were done with their work, we'd all get to play together. And for dinner every night, we got to eat big meals with all of Daddy's colleagues and their families, too. I especially liked my new friend Amara.

My favorite part of the whole trip was the Ramblin' River. I took everyone in my family on the river (minus Reese). The river was Daddy's favorite part, too. Kate's favorite part was swimming in the pool on the last day with Nana and DD. Mommy loved getting to experience a little bit more summer fun with us big girls (it's been since Reese was born that she's had a chance to be in on the summer fun) and this was such a great place to have one last summer time hurrah.

What a special trip. Daddy sure does work for an awesome company!

Avery Ramblin' McClinton

Monday, August 1, 2011

Life as Usual

There are details of life that currently seem as usual as breathing, but that will change or disappear without me even realizing it. I know this because when they brought Reese to me in the hospital, I was overcome with the smell of a new baby in a clean diaper... such a familiar smell and yet something I didn't even realize I'd forgotten along the way.

There are so many parts of life right now that make up life as usual. The good and the bad... I don't want any of it to get lost to my poor memory. To that end, here are a few details of life that will likely be foreign to me one day:

*The smell of Lavender Baby Bedtime lotion smeared all over a clean baby
*The sounds and smells of a newborn diaper that needs attention
*Nursing a baby and dressing a Barbie at the same time
*Finding lids from markers and Play-Doh containers all over the craft room floor
*The feel of a fat baby stomach to stomach with me while I watch tv
*Pulling a shirt from my drawer and finding a tiny sock or tiny undies stuck to it
*Smiling as I find glitter in my sheets because immediately after the latest craft project, it's time to feed the baby and that requires help from the big girls
*The grunts and gulps of Reese while nursing
*Forgetting that certain foods are on the 'do not eat while nursing' list and then apologizing to the baby later
*The way it feels to watch my girls interact, to see them all cuddled up with Daddy, and to feel surprise that I have the capacity to actually love them more every day when each day I already feel like my heart could explode

We are blessed beyond measure, and the work required of us has such immeasurable dividends!

Monday, July 25, 2011

Transitioning and Adjusting

There are two new buzz words in our house lately - transitioning and adjusting. Everyone who talks about the new baby ends up using one of those buzz words, and I get the sneaking suspicion they're talking about me.

I love that new baby. I squeal and get in her face and kiss her and sing to her and bring her toys. She's something special. BUT I also have been having a lot of bathrooming issues, whining issues, direct defiance moments (a first for me!), and a specific problem with keeping my bowel movements under control while I'm swimming...

When we pulled up to Mom and Dad's house one night, I told Nana, "This is where Mommy and Daddy and Baby Reese live!" and later, when it was time to decide if we were spending the night at home or at Nana's house, I told Mom, "I go to your house with you because I Reese's sister. And Eggie come too because she my sister too." Nana figured out that what I was really wondering about is if that baby took my place and if I was supposed to live at Nana's from now on. Once they explained things a bit more to me, I understood and things have been slowly getting better... especially if I get to be close to Reese. Mom's not the pull. Dad's not the pull. My house isn't the pull. It's that spectacular new sister that I miss when I'm away from her.

No one expects the two-almost-three year old to adjust perfectly right away, but I'm working on it, and it helps that life at Nana and DD's is so special - swimming in my jammies or princess dresses, breakfast by the pool, visitors (great-grandparents!), birthdays to celebrate, and lots of attention to go around.

Kate Transitioning McClinton

Monday, July 18, 2011

Introducing Reese Suzanne

Reese Suzanne McClinton
July 13, 2011
10:34 am
7 pounds, 12 ounces
18 inches

There is so much more to say, but I am staring at a blank computer screen, wondering what words are big enough and happy enough to share about our Baby Reese. It's humbling to have been given such a piece of heaven.

As the nurses were transferring me from the post-op room, one of them looked at me and said, "Well, if I've ever seen someone glowing before..." It's an odd thing, I think - aren't most new moms a bit euphoric from the drugs and the new baby happiness? But it was so true - in all of my life, I've never felt such a sense of peace, happiness, and completeness - I have three absolutely unique, perfect, healthy girls. I am unable to even describe the way Reese makes me feel. She is so wholly a McClinton and yet has such a uniquely Reese look to her. She is the missing puzzle piece to our family, and until we met her, we could only guess what it would be like. Now we can hold her and love her and know.

There are a lot of things I hope I remember later about Reese's birth:

*The week before my surgery, my doctor went into labor and had her baby. After a bit of scrambling, the practice assigned me a new doc to do my surgery. I'd heard good things about her, but was still a little unsure of how my nerves would go with a stranger in the OR with me. When we walked in on Wednesday morning, low and behold... in struts my doctor, 8 days post-partum, suited up for surgery and looking about as energetic and bright-eyed as ever. She completed my surgery beautifully (with another doctor in the room with her, I'm guessing as a precaution), although apparently I was concerned about her memory, because I found out later that I asked her three times if she was remembering to tie my tubes (she says she did).

*There is something very unsettling about voluntarily walking into an operating room, but the surgery was quicker and easier than even Kate's. I think I was in and out in 30 minutes flat, and I listened to my iPod during the second half of the procedure and was even able to sleep.

*Once Reese was cleaned up, her doctor noticed she grunted while she was breathing. To us, she looked like the most robust of the McClinton babies, but he was able to discern that her breathing was labored and kept her in the nursery for several hours to watch her. I've never had to wait to meet one of my babies (I met both of the other two in the recovery room), but I knew it happens from time to time. I started getting nervous, though, when we were rapidly approaching the 6 hour cut off. If Reese didn't self-correct her breathing in 6 hours' time, she would be taken to NICU to be intubated for at least 12 hours. Her long-term health was never called into question, but the sheer thought of sending her away before I ever met her and of pumping rather than nursing was more than I wanted to consider. At 4:15, 15 minutes before the cut off, I called down to the nursery. They said she hadn't shown any signs of improvement and were about to call her doctor to get the orders to transfer her to NICU. I texted a friend to pray for us, and she sent back a prayer immediately. Not 5 minutes later, the nurse walked in WITH MY BABY. While they were on the phone with the doctor, Reese's grunting completely disappeared. It is apparently somewhat common for babies to heal themselves after about 6 hours, but for us, it was nothing short of God's perfect timing and intervention.

*Recovery this time around has been a bit slower. Both times before, I felt completely normal within a day of the surgery. This time, on day two I started getting horrible tension headaches and my body reacted poorly to the pain medicine they gave me. I spent Thursday through Saturday in a fog. Luckily my parents and Jordan stepped in and required that I do very little but sleep and nurse the baby. I woke up Sunday morning feeling much better, but am still obeying the advice of those who love me not to do "too much" (what is "too much", anyways?:))

*The big sisters are amazing with Reese. Avery has stepped up to the challenge and I cannot even believe how well she is handling the whole event. Kate is a doll and loves her new sister but is having adjustment issues of her own. But that's a whole different story that I'll wait and tell another day...

Sunday, July 10, 2011

All About Eggie

Our precious Eggie (who does NOT prefer that nickname) is almost 5, will be starting Kindergarten in a short month, and is completely, whole-heartedly, unabashedly herself. The same feisty spirit we brought home from the hospital 5 years ago and the same nurturing gentleness that has played baby dolls since she was old enough to carry them around still reside in our growing girl. We adore our Avery and all of the many facets of her personality. A few favorites of Eggie as an almost-5-year-old:

*Avery as Daddy's Playmate and Counterpart

Jordan has finally found his buddy. I mean, he and I are best friends, but there are some things we've just accepted are never going to be common interests. Rough housing, bug-exploring, and excessive teasing, to name a few. But now that Avery is getting old enough to play, she and Jordan spend lots of time giggling over silly games they make up. She loves it when he dares her to do something (most recently: eat crickets), when he 'surprises' her with tickles and growls, and especially when he is her pool-time buddy. The two of them spend hours coming up with games like falling into the pool from a chair backwards, talking to each other from under water, and underwater chase. It brings me such joy to watch them interact. We've always teased Jordan that his middle name is Danger (maybe it'd be more accurate to call him Adventurous), and I'm pleased to say that Avery has certainly inherited this part of his personality.

*Avery as our Out-of-the-Box Thinker

It has been evident from a young age that Avery is not the classic textbook child. What works with other children usually does not work with her, and not only because she's a strong-willed child. When being disciplined, Avery has an uncanny ability to look at a situation in a unique way and explain why she is still right, or to come up with a way to show us that even if we've won the battle, she plans to win the war. She's kept us on our toes from the very beginning in terms of discipline, but now that she's older, we're getting to see the beautiful side to her out-of-the-box, creative, but somehow also analytical thinking as well. There are so many instances where we look at her and wonder, "Who taught you that? How could you have possibly deduced that?" But a favorite moment of late that highlights her unique perspective happened when my mom bought her a Kindergarten-readiness book. The book mostly is fun for her, but a few of the activities made her very indignant. The book required Avery to place events in order, and she absolutely could not see how there was any one right answer. Who is to say, she argued, that the story starts when the child in the images wakes up? What if it is night time? Then wouldn't the order go: sleep, wake, play? Who got to decide that the story started in the morning? Watching her argue her point with clarity and resolve made me think of all the teachers my parents had to meet with to explain why I answered questions the way I did. It's coming for us. And we're up for the challenge!

*Avery as our Social Butterfly

Our girl's love language could not be more clear: quality time. Avery would rather sit in the same room as me and watch me read or clean a room than find a way to play on her own. She loves loves loves her playgroup friends and is always thinking of a way to include more people in any activity.

*Avery as our Planner

In some ways, Avery is so much like her mother - whether because of Nature or Nurture, we don't know. But like Mother, like Daughter. She's already planned out her next 3 birthday parties (subject to change, of course) and loves to talk about the big activities we have coming up. We have a Family Fun Time every night and Avery finds incredible joy in planning the week's activities for us. She plans out playdates with a box of activities to go through. She loves to look forward to pretty much anything and to have an idea of what is coming her way.

*Avery as our Nurturer

Avery is primarily passionate, and it plays out so sweetly when it comes to others. She's able to turn her passion into compassion and love working itself out in helpfulness and nurturing. I love to marvel at her ability to turn it on. It's beautiful to know that inside that larger-than-life spirit, there is larger-than-life love and compassion.

Click here for pictures of the week, including an impromptu 4th of July trip to Lockhart with Nana and DD and Big Sibling class at the hospital

Monday, July 4, 2011

Regarding A-Little-Bit

Our Katie.

Kate has done so much growing and changing lately, and there are parts of her right now that I think I'll never forget because they are the essence of who she is... but the details of what makes Kate our Kitty Bit are so fleeting. I can't know when she's going to call her sister Eggie for the last time or tell us her name is NOT Peanut Butter McClinton. Here are things I don't want to forget about our Kate at 2 and 3/4 years old:

*A-Little-Bit (said: "Ah-Widdah-Bit")
Kate likes to play princesses. She usually comes downstairs dressed in a princess dress and then she tells us, "I Mulan!" or "I Pocahontas!" or "I Ariel (or Melody)!" It's a good thing she tells us, because the dress never matches the character.
When she's done playing, though, she lets us know by telling us, "I reg-er (regular) Kate." This is my favorite: if we catch her in that moment, we can ask her, "Are you Kate Peanut Butter McClinton?" And her response is priceless: "NO! I Kate A-Widdle-Bit Ah-Kwinton." I think I love it more than anything else about her right now. Whether she's trying to pronounce her middle name or whether she genuinely thinks her middle name is A-Little-Bit, I don't know. But hearing her state her name with such authority and certainty always gets a grin... usually a full-on laugh.

*Discipline, Laughter, and how personality plays into it
Which brings me to my next thought on Kit. It took Kate until she was 2 1/2 to realize she was two at all and to start acting out some. And even now, Jordan and I will often have to remind each other, "Avery would've gotten corrected for that behavior." Because when Kate does it, there is such a playful nature to her disobedience and it tends to throw us off. If we've asked her to do something, she will usually comply (which is still sort of shocking to us - children who obey with little correction? What is this?). But when she doesn't, she adds a little comic act to her disobedience - like sticking her tongue out and talking baby talk instead of responding appropriately or pinching our lips into funny shapes while we try to talk to her. We've always thought Kate had perfect comedic timing for such a little squirt, but the more she's grown, the more she's grown into it. There are instances when Jordan and I have to trade off on disciplining because we're having such a hard time keeping a straight face.

*More on Comedic Timing
Avery taught Kate recently how to hide when you know someone is coming. They laid under the sheets when they heard us, and sure enough, Jordan came in and rewarded them with tickles. Now, any time Kate knows someone might be coming, she hides under the blankets. Her patience with this game is remarkable. She was waiting in bed the other day for someone to bring her an Ooh Ooh, and a good 3-5 minutes had to have passed. When I walked in (too quietly for her to have heard me), I saw a little lump under the sheets... wiggling a good bit, but completely covered and hiding. There was no reason for her to expect me in that moment, so she must've committed herself to hiding until someone came, no matter how long it took. She is willing to go to some great lengths for a good laugh - her own and ours, too.

It's hard to believe that a few short months ago we started seeing our OT, Miss Darlene. Kate is our super-star eater these days (the weight gain doesn't always follow... but that's another story). We started rewarding the girls for trying new food items with temporary tattoos, and it is common for Kate to have roughly 4 tattoos on at any given time. She is completely open to new flavors now and recently devoured a raw orange bell pepper. Her favorite meals are at restaurants, when she can load up on critical calories from favorites like rice and beans, mac and cheese, onion rings, and of course, french fries. I'm constantly amazed at how far she's come in the eating department and how much she can fit into her tiny tot body when she's motivated.

*Loving Eggie
When the girls are having trouble getting along, it is a full-time task to correct and guide their play. But, most often, those two are inseparable. Kate is perfectly happy to play second fiddle to Avery's wild notions most of the time. The last time the girls spent the night with my parents, we got this message about bedtime: "After snuggling Avery off of the bed twice; Kate: 'But Eggie is my sweetheart!' Avery: 'I don't think this is going to go well!'" Yep, that just about sums it up.

*With Cousin Amelia
One of Kate's favorite people to spend time with is her cousin Amelia, and of late, the feeling has been mutual. Amelia (almost 2) calls Kate 'Keats' and asks her Mommy, "Keats...More?" Keats, for her part, loves to hug Amelia (sometimes a bit too much), nap with Amelia, and trade places with Amelia (it is often that the 2 year old acts more like a 3 year old and Keats takes on the role of Terrible 2 when the cousins are all together).

*Refusing to Be Forgotten
Kate may be about to take her very distinguished role as middle child, but she is not going to be forgotten there. Her gentle, unassuming personality has a very silly, assertive side to it. When she notices that she's not getting the full measure of attention she has deemed necessary, she'll break out in baby talk, in peek-a-boo with a napkin, or in a myriad of other adorable but demanding ways to clarify... it's as if she's saying, "I'm easy to get along with and generally fine with not being the Alpha, but I'm also not going to get walked over by anyone!" We're so glad, really, because one of her teacher's goals for us at the end of the last school year was for Kate to practice asserting herself more. She's gotten really good at that lately, and I love watching it because when she turns to share her boundaries with another child, it conjures up images of a chihuahua taking on a pit bull. No one tell that girl she's tiny... only Tiny but Mighty!

I could go on and on about this kid. She's my favorite anomaly to try to describe: shy but loves attention, tiny but ferocious in eating, fully two but somehow primarily obedient...

Kate A-Little-Bit McClinton, I could eat you up I love you so!