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!