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!