I meant to write this post a week ago, but then we got swept up in the first week of summer. This year's transition has been much easier than past years, but it always takes a few weeks to find our new routine.
Anyway, Clare's birthday falling during the last week of school means there are is always a lot of excitement that week. This year, we also had kindergarten graduation on top of everything else. It was very sweet. I may have cried. They also make a big deal at Clare's school about "stepping up" to the next grade. (Actually, the next three grades. She graduated from Children's House and is now in Elementary 1 or E1, where she will be with the same teacher for first, second and third grade. Luckily, we are absolutely thrilled with her new teacher. He was a semifinalist for Minnesota Teacher of the Year this year, and is just amazing. He is the teacher everyone wants, so I am feeling very lucky. But I digress.)
Clare had a good last day of school, and I know she is sad about leaving the teacher she's had for the past two years. She had a great year in kindergarten. She did well academically, and had a lot of lessons on how to get along with other kids. (I am actually relieved that none of the girls she was friends with are in her class next year. That sounds bad, but they were a lot of strong personalities that didn't seem to mesh well. I am disappointed that secret friend Will is not in her class, though. She does have two friends in her class that she knows from the bus, which is great, because they live in our neighborhood.)
We had two separate parties for Clare's birthday this year. The first one was at the American Girl Bistro at the Mall of America. Clare invited two friends, Nora and Henry. (Nora and Henry are siblings.) My mom, Katie, and my mother-in-law were also there. (Christopher didn't seem to notice or care that he wasn't included. Clare felt bad that he wasn't invited, which was sweet, but I just did not want to deal with him there.) We had a lunch, complete with cake and gift bags for the kids. Nora and Henry gave Clare the same presents I had given her, so she had fun choosing different gifts to exchange the originals for after the party. We also had all three dolls hair styled at the hair salon. The kids had a lot of fun. (I am close friends with Nora and Henry's mom, and we had a good laugh about how we picked the same two things out of the thousands of things at that store.)
After the American Girl extravaganza, we had a cookout at our house that included all four grandparents, Christopher, cousin Josie, Uncle Andy and Aunt Meg, and Great Aunt Sally. Ben's good friend Brian was also there for part of the fun. I made a homemade strawberry cake and we grilled brats. Clare opened her presents, which included lots of books and a gift certificate to the American Girl store, as well as some cash. She was pretty thrilled, especially once she added her money to her life savings and realized she has enough to buy a new American Girl doll. Which she did the next day.
It was a good start to the summer, and a good last week of school. Now we are moving full speed ahead with summer vacation, including Clare's first day of Summer Blast today and our first camping trip this weekend.
|With Ms. Angela after kindergarten graduation. She had her for pre-k and kindergarten.|
|Can we take a normal picture?|
|The new first grader next to our peony, which blooms around Clare's birthday every year.|
|You can't tell here, but Henry's Samantha is missing all of her fingers on one hand.|
|Other special guests.|
|Birthday girl with her cake.|
|Watching the dolls get their hair styled. Clare's poor Samantha wasn't helped much. She can't help it, she is almost 30 years old.|
|Clare's new doll, Tenney. Her hair is much better, but I don't think that will last long.|