Friday, December 28, 2012

Christmas is Special Because...

"'s Jesus' birthday." - Kate
"...we get presents!  Especially my ponies." - Kate
"...when I get to go to Nana and Popi and Aunt Jen's house." - Kate

"...we get presents!  Especially my DSi" - Avery
"'s also when we get to have some fun with our family, like going to the Kids' Crazy Christmas Show!" - Avery
"'s when we eat lots of yummy treats and stay up late." - Avery
"'s when Angel (our elf on the shelf) flies and makes snow angels on the table out of sugar... and when Josh licks the snow angel off the table!" - Avery

Merry Christmas!

Click here for pictures

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Peter Pan

Sometimes, the coolest things just work themselves out.  Like Peter Pan.  
Avery's Girl Scout troop had a workshop at Theater Under The Stars.  They got a behind-the-scenes tour of the musical Peter Pan, including a chance to gather Pixie Dust off of the stage.  They also learned to sing and dance to "I Wont Grow Up".  

The next weekend, Nana and D had two extra tickets to see the performance of Peter Pan, so they took some very lucky ladies.  The girls ate at their all-time favorite restaurant, rode over to the theater in a horse-drawn carriage, sang and watched Peter Pan fly all over the stage, and had a magical evening.  At intermission, Nana noticed Kate had been a little quiet, so she checked in with her.  "Nana, that lady that is Peter Pan... did she know how to fly already when she was in gymnastics when she was a little girl?"  Sweet Kate was trying to figure out if flying is a learned skill or a gift from birth. 

Here is what the girls dictated to me about their experience:

Our troop went to Peter Pan practice.  We also got to go backstage.  We saw all of the stuff that they use and we saw their dressing rooms.  The next weekend, we saw Peter Pan.  We rode in a carriage pulled by a horse to get there.  My favorite part of the play was when Peter Pan sang at the very end.  When it was all done, it was almost midnight.   - Avery

The pirates were funny.  My favorite part was when Peter Pan flew across the audience.  I liked having Nana and DD as my special dates and getting Coke at the half part. - Kate

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

If You Give a Reese a Cookie...

If you give a Reese a cookie, she's going to guard it with her life.  She might not even let you help her put icing on it.

But then, she'll look around and notice what the big girls are doing.  Then, she'll let you ice her cookie and she'll add sprinkles just like a big kid.

When she's finished adding sprinkles, she'll want to eat a cookie, so you'll tell her that's fine.

Eating the cookie will make her thirsty, so she'll wander over to the ice chest.

When she notices the ice in the ice chest, she'll want to play in it.  She might even invite all of her friends to splash around in the ice with her.

Playing in the ice will make her soggy.  She'll want to change clothes.  So you'll pack her up and get ready to go so you can change.

But then she'll remember her cookies.  And she will insist that she carries the cookies to the car.

While she is carrying the cookies to the car, she will drop them on the concrete about 3 times.  When she drops them, she'll call out to you and you will have to stop to clean them up with her.

Once her cookies are finally safe in the car, she'll notice the bring sprinkles on them.  And if she notices the bring sprinkles on them, chances are, she'll want to eat one.

Click here for pictures

McClinton Family Definitions

Compliance (n.) - The action of complying with a wish or a command; or: Kate with Santa

Terror (n.) - Extreme fear; or: Reese with Santa

Tolerate (v.) - Allow the occurrance of something that someone does not necessarily like without interference; or: Avery with Santa and Reese

Hilarity (n.) - Extreme amusement; or: taking the McClinton clan to meet Santa, and finding out afterwards that the baby's face isn't even in the picture

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Conflict Resolution

One night, Kate was feeling particularly left out from a playtime with Avery and some friends.  This not being uncommon, I gave both girls the usual talks and life moved on.

The next morning in bed, the sisters huddled together and whispered intently about something.  A few minutes later, they were very busy in the craft room.  After they'd both left for school, I found a note left on the floor.  In Avery's handwriting, the note said:

"Dear (child's name),
I didn't like it when you played puppies with Avery and not me.  Next time we play, can I have the brown puppy and not you?
Love, Kate"

I thought it was cute and put it aside.

Two nights later, the same group of girls was playing and Kate was sitting alone, looking defeated.  When I asked why, she told me she couldn't find the note she'd written.

We grabbed the note, Kate took it to the group of kids, the child received it and clung to it like it was a special treat, and suddenly all of the children were playing happily again, Kate right in the middle of things.

Conflict resolution at its finest.

Click here for pictures from the week

Little Turkey

Our Ree is 16 months and in some ways is her usual self: observant, silly and happy.  But she's also growing into quite a character.  She spent November acting like a little turkey, showing her new skills and becoming more and more like a little person rather than a baby.

Ree loves to climb.  There is absolutely no area in home that she can't get to.  Usually, this means a good amount of premeditation: where the chair needs to be moved, how to maneuver exactly so... when the end goal is in sight, she is not easily distracted.

Currently, the end goal is almost always a marker, an open cup of milk left behind by sister, or a wallet.  I'm beginning to wonder if we will ever be able to keep markers in our house again.

Her very favorite treat of all is to climb up on the kitchen table and sip Mommy's coffee.  Most of the time, if she's gone silent for more than 2 minutes, I know where to find her: drinking my coffee.

Turkey Bird is also in the middle of a communication explosion.  It's not all verbal, but something clicked with her that she can tell us what she wants with select words (uh-uh, shish (shoes), aack (snack) and nulk (milk)), and with many hand motions, some of which are actual sign language and some are her own creation.  It's fun and often funny to watch her wheels turning as she figures out how to tell us what we need to know.

Reese is still our little mess.  She is usually covered in something sticky and then rolled in dirt, crumbs, or something similar.  She's a Breaded Turkey.  And in that same vein, her favorite toy is an apple.  She loves to tuck it under her arm, snack on it, throw it and retrieve it, and snack on it some more.

Our Turkey is also ridiculously observant and clever.  She knows where her diapers are kept and brings me a new one whenever she decides it is time to be changed.  She listens to our conversations and often acts on them as if we were talking to her.  One day, I told the older girls to get their shoes on and wait for me by the door.  Reese hopped up, ran to the shoe basket by the front door, grabbed shoes (not her size) and stood at the front door.

And my very favorite thing about Ree right now is the way she stands.  When she is waiting for her turn or when she is listening intently, she folds her hands together right on the small of her back.  It's melt-worthy.

We adore this little Turkey!

Click here for pictures of the week

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Field Trip Frenzy

Last week, Avery went on two back-to-back field trips for school.

On Wednesday, she and her Daddy loaded up and headed to the Houston Zoo.  Not only did he serve the usual chaperone duties, but he also served as Chief Fact-Corrector and Informant.  I heard after the trip that "Daddy knew so much about the animals and everyone was impressed."

According to Jordan, there were several scenes like this:
Child, walking up to a Gila Monster: "Mom!  Look!  An alligator!"
Mother, distracted: "Wow!  It sure is!"
Jordan would lean over and tell his group of kids, "That's actually a Gila Monster.  And here are all the ways you can tell the difference..."

Avery was impressed with her Daddy's knowledge, and Jordan did his part to keep confusion of animal species at bay.

On Thursday, Mama took a turn with the Stanley GT kids at the Outdoor Learning Center.  All grade levels (1st-5th) went on the field trip together, and the theme of the trip was Katy Prairies.  The kids made mud balls with wildflower seeds, played migration games, and learned all about the tall grasses that used to grow on the Katy Prairie.  I was highly entertained the entire time with the very GT, very out-of-the-box thinking that the kids were using.

For example, we arrived at a new learning station and stood among mock cows, sheep, and horses, all with lassos attached to them.  The speaker held up some of the 8-foot prairie grass and posed the question, "If you came to Katy when it was covered with these tall grasses, and you knew you couldn't get anything else to grow because it is so wet here, what could you do to make money using the tall grasses?"
One hand shot up: "Clear the land and build a settlement!  Sell the houses and buildings!"
Another hand: "Pull the grasses and use the roots to weave something since they're so fibrous!"
The speaker tried to lead them a bit more: "Well, those are good ideas.  But I'm thinking we'd use this grass to give it to something and then sell that something..."
Another hand: "Sell the grass to a medicine man so he can make medicine!"
And another: "Sell it to Native Americans so they can weave baskets!"

Click here for pictures from the field trips

Monday, November 12, 2012

The House, A Timeline

Thursday, November 1st, 1:00 pm - Kiss Daddy goodbye and wish him well on his camping trip

Friday, November 2nd, 6:00 pm - In an unusual burst of energy, decide to traipse through the grocery store, everyone in tow, to pick out tonight's dinner.  All get shoes on and head out.

6:30 pm - In aisle 10 of 20, Kate covers her mouth, shocked and terrified, and yells, "Mommy, I broke the sink!"  Respond in a bored voice, "It'll be fine, Kate.  Daddy will fix it when he gets home."

6:50 pm - Wrap up the little grocery excursion, healthy meal to be fixed in hand, and head home.

7:10 pm - Open the front door of our house.  Hear waterfalls.  Notice water pouring out of the recessed lighting in the kitchen.  Temporarily freeze.  While frozen, the girls run into the front yard, screaming to our neighbors, "The house is broken!  It's ruined!"

7:13 pm - Get my wits about me.  Realize Kate meant that she clogged the sink and forgot to turn off the water in the upstairs sink when she confessed at the store.  Send Avery upstairs to turn off sink.  Find my phone.  Call Jordan.  "Um... hon?  I really really hope you don't have to come home, but our house is flooding... can you tell me what to do?"

7:14 pm - Chase Reese out of the street.  In the chaos, the front door remains open and the baby went out to play with the neighbors.

7:15 pm - Console Kate.  Poor thing is in fetal position, in the middle of the rainstorm that is our kitchen, crying and terrified.  "It's all my fault!  Is the house ruined forever?  Is it going to fall apart?"

7:18 pm - Praise Avery.  She behaves like an all-star.  She turns off water, sops up the standing inch or two of water in the upstairs bathroom with towels, hoists them over the edge, and comes downstairs with a calm, collected demeanor.

7:19 pm - Scrap healthy meal from grocery store.  Feed the kids microwaved chicken nuggets and chips for dinner.

7:20 pm - Sop up standing water in kitchen.  Start load of towels for round two of cleaning.

7:25 pm - Wonder why the wood floors sound like sponges and water seeps up between the boards... the standing water never made it out of the kitchen...

Alternate for the rest of the evening between trying to clean up, texting with Jordan regarding the state of things, sitting around relaxing because - why not? - and finally calling it a night.

Saturday, November 3rd, 3:00 am - Kate comes down stairs.  Her tummy hurts.  "Why, baby?"  "Because I feel scared and sorry."  Console Kate again.  Cuddle the rest of the night.

Saturday, November 3rd, 3:00 pm - Kate marches into Nana's house: "Nana!  Our house is flooded and we don't know how it happened!  We don't know who did it!"  Apparently she has forgiven... and forgotten... her little mishap.

The story gets less interesting from there.  In summary:

Monday, November 5th - Finally get a hold of insurance.  Thankful for their incredible help.  Also shocked at the deductible.

Tuesday, November 6th through Friday, November 9th - Drying crew comes and leaves 15 fans, 4 dehumidifiers, and unbelievable noise.  The damage is more than we suspected: every room except the master and Reese's will be somehow impacted.  Wood floors torn up.  Cabinets and sink relocated to the garage.  

And that's where we stand.  The fans and dehumidifier are gone, praise the Lord.  We wait on insurance to approve the restoration amount and they're hoping work can begin the week of Thanksgiving.  In the meantime, the girls are camping out in the game room, the guest bathroom is serving as our kitchen sink,  and we're all sharing the master bath.  It's an adventure, and at times I have to remember James 1: "Consider it joy whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.  Allow perseverance to complete its work in you, so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything."  It's not coincidence that God had us memorizing that text this semester.  It's come to mind and ministered to me more than once this week.

But also, this is such small potatoes in the grand scheme of the world.  We're blessed.  We have a home and an amazing support system.  And that's more than 90% of  the world.  May we never forget that in the momentary inconveniences!

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Keeping it Real (Halloween 2012)

A friend recently told me that one day, my children would look back on the glowing photos and sweet smiles and think our life was picturesque.  Apparently, the day-to-day chaos that pervades our lives isn't always evident in photos.  And, to keep it real for my grown kids, I present:

Keeping it Real; a letter to my adult children:

Dear Adult Avery, Kate and Reese,

Sure, you guys pose sweetly for pictures.  And yep, Mom has a fairly nice camera that makes things look really great.

Also, it is true.  We have a mostly amazing life.  You love trick-or-treating, playing with friends, parties and festivities... and one or both of your doting parents are there to share the fun.

Those parts of your life, I hope, are what you think back on and remember fondly.  They're the parts we work pretty hard to make fun, special, and full of our own traditions.

But, I hope you don't ever confuse the fact that we had lots of fun and got lots of cute pictures with the fact that Mom was painfully and laughably human.  Like, the messy kind.  And the forgetful kind.  And the brush-it-off and keep moving forward kind.

Exhibit A: Candy Apples
Sweet.  Traditional.  Kid-centered.

Oh yeah, and the first three attempts at doing them had to be postponed because someone wasn't watching the baby and she ate several bites out of every apple.  So much so that we finally decided, on the third bunch of apples, just to cover the bite marks with caramel and go for it anyways.

Exhibit B:  Trick or Treating
Three Little Kittens.  Ahhhh, preciousness.

Nevermind that while Kitty A and Kitty K were trick-or-treating, Kitty R got a Ring Pop stuck in her "fur" and became so sticky that she had to be stripped.  So, the rest of the night, a toddler in a diaper handed out candy.  Well-meaning people would ask, "What is she supposed to be?" as they took candy from a naked child with a kitty face on.  Mom would answer, "She's a cat that has a Ring Pop stuck in her fur."  Isn't it obvious?

Exhibit C: The Halloween Party
Pumpkin decorating, food galore, homemade Jello worms with Mom...

Oh, yeah - and the part where Reese fell in the pool.

Exhibit D: Reese's Halloween Party
Tons of Toddlers.  Lots of them in Matching Super Hero costumes.  Precious Reese, Wonder Woman cape flapping.
And Wonder Woman screaming.  And dealing with a medicine allergy.  And trying, desperately, to communicate to Mommy that something is wrong.  But Mommy, for all of her efforts, cannot seem to understand what happened to this baby, and why she isn't happy, and what am I supposed to do again when a kid cries?

Exhibit E: Our Pumpkin Patch
A sweet collection of pumpkins in our front yard

And the sprouts from the pumpkin that decayed, leaving its innards to grow into seedlings.

So, my adult children, please do smile warmly at the nostalgia you feel when you look back on this time of your life.  And then laugh along with me as we remember that the pressure's off.  Life was fun, but it couldn't pretend not to also be messy!

Click here for pictures


Friday, November 2, 2012

The Week Reese Went Missing

Reese the Happy (who was known far and wide as a silly, happy girl) spent her days playing, eating, and getting into mischief of one kind and another.

That is, until the day Reese the Happy went missing.  She was taken away by an evil Strep Monster and Reese the Happy was, sadly, swapped for Reese the Sick.  Now, this is a sad tale, to be sure, but Reese the Sick was still a trooper.  Crying from discomfort during the night, she'd sleep when she could by day, drink lots of fluids, and do her best to perk up for a few hours each day.

Doctor prescribed some meds to subdue the Strep Monster with the expectation that Reese the Happy would be returned to her loving family.  However, what happened next was confusing.

Reese the Sick was not swapped for Reese the Happy.  Instead, Reese the Screamer took her place.  Reese the Screamer was not like any other baby the family had seen before.  
Playgroups and Little Gym outings went... well, screamishly bad.  When she wasn't crying in a puddle on the floor, she was clinging to the Mama, whimpering and burying her head.

Mommy was not sure what to do.  What happened to Reese the Happy?  Should we send out a search party?  Should we try to subdue Reese the Screamer?  Will Reese the Happy ever come home, or do we need to figure out how to deal with Reese the Screamer?

The easy answer was that maybe this was still Reese the Sick.  But, no fever, no symptoms... just a screamy baby.

Until the rash.  One week in, Reese developed a rash and so it was back to the doctor for us.  The rash, as it turns out, explained the mystery of where Reese the Happy had been.  Apparently Strep Monster is only rivaled by Allergic-to-Antibiotics Monster.

New antibiotics and 12 hours later, Reese the Happy was home at long last.  Alternating between picking on her big sisters with a mischievous giggle and smiling while playing, Reese the Happy has been welcomed back into the family with sighs of relief.

The moral of this story?  A happy baby doesn't just turn screamy and needy ... check the meds!

Click here for pictures

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Birthday Jitters

It's my birthday week, which means it's party time!  I love parties, but when I'm going to be the one in the center of all the attention, sometimes I feel a little nervous.

All week I told Mom not to let the people sing "Happy Birthday" to me.  And then, on Sunday, I couldn't eat lunch because I was starting to feel a little nervous about all of the attention people were going to give me at my party that night.

My party finally came, and I love love loved the animals, the pink pony, my outfit, the cupcakes... it was almost a perfect party.  Almost.  Except I looked around Clay's and noticed a bunch of people I didn't know!  I pulled Nana aside and asked her, "Why did Mommy inbite people I don't know?"  I was already a little unsure with some of my friends being there to celebrate me, and the thought of Mommy adding a lot of people to the invite list was just too much!  Mommy came over and explained that those extra people were just at Clay's to eat, but they wouldn't come sing to me or look at me at my party.  I was relieved!

When cake time came, I decided that I would let everyone sing to me and I'd blow out my candles *if* Macy would stand with me and help me.  And you know what...?  It wasn't so bad after all.

I had a super time at my party and it turns out that my Birthday Jitters didn't take any fun away.

Also for my birthday, I got to celebrate in chapel at school and have a family member come eat lunch with me.  No surprise, I picked Nana, although Mom decided to come along as well.  For my actual birthday dinner, we planned to go to the Downtown Aquarium, but Ree Ree came down with strep the day before and wasn't up to a trip.  So instead, I picked any dinner I wanted to eat, any cake I wanted from the bakery, any ice cream from Ritter's, and a hot tub swim!  It wasn't a bad replacement at all, and I felt happy, important, and very loved on my big day.

Click here for pictures from the week


Kate Beth, 4 year old!

Monday, October 15, 2012

Party Guest for Hire

This weekend, my Uncle Sean married Aunt Jen.  Avery and I got to be flower girls and Daddy served as Best Man.  Even though Mommy forgot to get us shoes and a hair appointment until the last minute, and even though Mommy got us lost on the way to the chapel and then realized we had to go back home for our dresses, and even though Mommy rushed us in the door 10 minutes before the wedding started, it turned out to be a picture perfect event and we were angelic as flower girls.  

Watching Aunt Jen and her beautiful bridesmaids was special.  Dancing in the garden among the flowers in our fancy dresses was special.  Being with so many family members who love my hugs was special.  But most special of all was the dancing at the reception.

After Aunt Jen and Uncle Sean said "I do", most people wanted to eat and chat for a while, but Avery and I are never slow to use an opportunity to dance!  We spun all around the floor.  We did the Minnie Mouse dance.  We got dipped by Mommy.  

After the cake was cut and the toasts were given, the DJ turned the music up and the lights down and everyone started dancing.  Avery thought the music was too loud and cuddled Aunt Suzy, but I was in my element!  I danced with anyone who would ask me.  I jumped around like a kangaroo, I danced in people's arms, I danced on my own, weaving in and out of groups of people.  The style of music didn't matter to me; I'd tear up the dance floor no matter what was played.  

At 10 pm, the party was winding down and Mom and Dad started packing up.  Although I could barely keep my head upright, I still begged to stay and keep dancing with Aunt Jen and her friends.  I could've danced all night!

It was a beautiful wedding and I'm so glad I got to be a part of it!

Kate Beth, Party Guest for Hire

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

State Fair 2012

Every year we go to the State Fair and every year something makes it unique and special just for that year.  This year, the State Fair served as an experiment in bravery.

All of the cousins started out timid about their relatives... but as the weekend progressed, somehow unfamiliar faces turned into welcoming arms and strong shoulders for carrying, hugging, and sharing.

Kate thought she might be afraid of Big Tex but was also really, really interested in him.   Reese thought she was scared of the animals at the petting zoo, but with a little security from family, she quickly became so brave that she was straining to get into the cages with the animals.  Avery bravely decided to ride a Midway ride for the first time, and at first Kate was sure she wanted to ride too.  She paid her tickets, marched along the ride to the seat she wanted, and then completely shut down.  Waaaay too scary to actually climb onto the ride...!

Other things that made this year special and unique included having the Californians in town, fried Girl Scout Cookies, a hands-on farming experience, meeting the showcase dancers and watching them perform, and a special Sunday visit to the Dallas World Aquarium.

The State Fair of Texas... a Wales Family Tradition!

Click here for pictures from the week

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

What the Toddler Does...

While life swirls around her, Reese keeps busy.  Third child syndrome, distracted parents syndrome, active-stage-of-childhood syndrome... whatever the case may be, Reese is our very busy, very silly toddler baby.

A handful of things Reese does:

-Roughly three times a day, sneaks out the doggie door, climbs the ladder up the fort, and then yells for Mama to come get her down.

-Strolls around the house with her play stroller, collecting things that matter to her: DVDs, shoes, necklaces...

-Ends up naked at most social outings because she manages to spill/pour dirt on herself/eat a marker; and Mama has forgotten a change of clothes... again

-Climbs on the kitchen table scavenging for leftovers several - SEVERAL - times a day

-Points randomly and asks, "What's that?"  Sometimes followed by, "Brroom, brrooom" in case there might've been an airplane

-Steals markers from Sisters' projects and sucks the ink out and bites the tip off

-Hates wearing clothes, LOVES wearing shoes

-Watches Baby Noah on DVD with squeals, giggles, and lots of "What's That?"s

-Waits until her dirty diaper has been removed and then sprints away, giggling and tripping over herself at the sheer joy of the game of chase

-Entertains and delights every last member of her family.  We're all head over heels for this silly, happy, active girl.

Click here for pictures of the week

Thursday, September 27, 2012


The leaves on the trees may not be changing and shorts and a tank may still be the best choice of clothing, but autumn is slowly making its way into our lives.

For one, everyone wears maroon and wonders how Mom could forget that Saturdays are Game Days for our dear ole Texas Aggies.  Planning activities during games... unthinkable!

Time outside is becoming more and more pleasant: picnic dinners at the park, playgrounds, and lots of neighbor fun in the front yard.

Another small sign is the goose bumps on our arms when we still insist on swimming.  It may not be miserable enough to stay out of the pool, but it's just cool enough to make us shiver.

And since Labor Day has come and gone, Mom cleaned our closets out of all summery stuff and pulled out the fall wear.  I've refused to wear anything but long sleeves all week, but cry and complain about how hot I am once I've left the house.  I got some special new boots, too.  Ree, for her part, is wearing the fall fashions handed down to her with style.  Mom keeps telling her she's a vision.  I think she's a stinker.  But that's another topic for another time.

Last, fall time means baking!  We made some homemade donuts today to cure the common heartache over missing Nana.  I miss her often (even though I also see her often) and sometimes the only cure for that kind of hurt is sugar.  With sprinkles!

Click here for pictures of the week

Kate Beth

Monday, September 17, 2012

A Week in Photos

 The girls enjoyed Avery's presents.  Here is what it looks like for Avery and Kate to enjoy chalk.

And Reese enjoying chalk:

Last Tuesday, this precious angel started Pre-School.  She was all smiles, all excitement, and all chatty both at drop off and pick up.  

The cat needed a haircut.  So we shaved her.

Not bad.

Then we loaded up our Ark of Animals and headed to Nana and D's to watch their animals.  

Mitzi and Lucy were instant friends.  Lucy and her sister Ethyl could not stand the sight of each other.  Go figure.

While we were there, it rained and got cooler.
So we played in the rain.

And amazingly, three little girls still fit in several swims, most of which were impromptu.

As did the Water Dog.

There may have been a few tears about the temperature drop.

The girls had a beauty spa day and then posed like models for the camera.

The girls celebrated birthdays.  We love birthdays.

On a train at a party.

Reese got stuck in the caboose.

But made the most of it.

And that was our week in photos.  

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

In Keeping with the Theme... was a Dolphin Party!  Dolphins and swimming... the perfect combination.

This year, I made my own artwork for decorations, added the finishing touches to the cupcakes, and even 'helped' by serving Mom and Dad water while they worked on the dolphin cake.

I was certain of what I wanted - friends, sugar, swimming at Nana and D's house, and dolphins.  Lots of dolphins.  After a Kate-fiasco at the last two birthday parties I had (she was rescued from the bottom of the pool on my 4th birthday and had a nursemaid's elbow at my 5th party), Mom took the safe route and hired lifeguards to watch us swim.  Kate did have to be rescued at one point, but only because she was starting to wear out while treading water in a big group... and besides that one rescue, everyone was all smiles!

The party happened in perfect time also... the night after our party was over, autumn blew in with lower temps.  One of the many gifts God gave me for my 6th birthday was perfect swimming weather.  Yes and Amen!

The best part of the party is that it isn't really over for good... the large blow up dolphins we got for decorations are going to be transformed into costumes so Kate and I can be Winter the Dolphin for Halloween.  Oh yes, dolphin mania lives on!

Click here for pictures of the party

Avery Dolphin McClinton

Monday, September 3, 2012

Really Big Week

It was a really big week.

Avery's first week of 1st grade - So far, she says it's "thumbs middle".  She likes her teacher, she likes her friends, she just says, "it's hard for me to work."  Kate, for her part, hardly knows what to do with herself during Avery's absence each day.  School will start soon for her but in the meantime, Mommy finally got wise and is scheduling playdates to help with the loneliness.

Reese's first day at Little Gym - As one might expect from Reese, she was either happily observant or happily participating through the whole class.  Occasionally, she'd stop and look around and smile, like she couldn't imagine a world that revolved around kids her age.  We happen to think that The Little Gym is like Disney World for 1 year olds.

Kate and Avery's first dance class - Both girls were ecstatic about this.  The dance company is very age-appropriate and focuses on the enjoyment of dance as well as the technical stuff, so the girls came out beaming and showing off their new moves.

Avery's 6th birthday - Big girl celebrated on Friday at school on morning announcements, sharing a cookie cake with her class, being sung to ("my cheeks turned red while they were singing"), and a spend the night at Nana and D's house (her choice - no sister for a buddy, just her).  When she was given the option of any food in the whole world for her birthday dinner, big girl picked noodles with butter and cheese.

Celebrating Avery's 6th birthday with family - In true Avery form, she picked celebrating her birthday meal at the Galleria.  She likes to eat at The Cheesecake Factory and stop in at her two favorite stores; Disney Store and Lego Store.  The girl has really good taste.

Avery's baptism - On Sunday, Avery got baptized.  Over the summer, at our church's Splash Camp, she decided to become a Christian and was tentative about getting baptized in front of a bunch of people but was resolute on following through with her decision.  It helped that Daddy was the one who baptized her.  We're so proud of her for doing something intimidating out of her own desire to obey God.

And a teething, grumpy baby - enough said.

Click here for pictures of the week

Monday, August 27, 2012

Contrasting Means of Coping with Change

We all cope with change, even good change, in different ways.  Some examples:

Avery, demonstrating the "Fit It All In" Approach:

"What?  There's a week left of summer?!?  Let's fill it!  Fill it!  How many playdates can we get on the calendar?  And do you think we have time to make it back to that awesome pool one more time?  And maybe one more trip to our neighborhood pool?  And maybe we can make cupcakes to take to the teacher?  Oh, and let's campout in the backyard for our very last night of summer!"  

Kate, the "Quiet, Thoughtful... but Accepting" Approach:

At our first playgroup without big sister, after picking out her snack, she stands and looks around with a lost expression on her face.  "Mommy?  Where's Avery?"  Mommy tells her Avery isn't here, but look at all of the friends who are here... "Then, Mommy?  Where do I sit?"  Without her BFF and boss, Kate felt a bit misplaced, but quietly found a spot and life continued without tears.

And on the way home from dropping Avery off on the first day of school, she called out, "Avery, look at...!" and then realized her Avery girl was gone.  Again, no tears, just quiet acceptance.

Reese, the "Let It All Out" Approach:

After Avery was picked up for a big girl playdate with a school friend last week, Reese stood at the door and cried for a good 5 minutes at her sister's absence.

First grade has begun, and it is exciting and natural for Avery girl.  It's easier on Mommy than last year, when everything was new.  And it is very, very good for all three girls: Avery craves the challenges and creativity that school allows her; Kate comes alive with a bit more space to think, talk and play; and Reese gets just a bit more attention when there's one less child around during the day.  Transitions and changes are inevitable, and not half bad, really.

So long, Summer 2012!  Click here for pictures

Friday, August 24, 2012

Clearwater, Florida

Clearwater, Florida, as told by Avery:

"We saw Winter the Dolphin and we stayed in a really nice hotel.  I liked the sand also, it was so soft.  I got to touch one of Winter's tails.  We rode on a trolley.  We found lots of shells."

Clearwater, Florida, by Kate (who wanted to actually type hers rather than dictate it):

nngbmgdzzzzzzzxsagggggggggggg;'jkkliiuvgdwSDVH ZZZZXSDEWRTAWQ bcbkhgthhhyugvxddsdeqrklmhxsdxsdbejhwwjkdrk.4tkly6k5ilkjhgjhkfgjjtgjjjffffjjjjjjjjjjjjftgjjjjjjjjjjjjjfbtkjlgktgggljgktjgjyueedjdhjnhvffhvhfsjdjjjjvvvvvvddf

"Dear Winter,

I love you and it is so wonderful to play with you.  I love how wonderful your life is.  To go to see you was fun.  I love when we swimmed inside a salt water pool - how fun was that?  Very fun!

Love, Kate"

Click here for pictures of the week