Monday, June 19, 2017

Last Day and Birthday

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.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017


I don't look at Facebook much anymore, but I happened to log on a few weeks ago. I saw one of those posts where Facebook likes to remind you that you are getting old by showing you one of your previous posts. This one was a picture of Clare as a baby, fast asleep in my arms while we were at a Brewers' game. It made me sad to see it actually, because she is definitely no longer that little baby. Then I remembered what she is: a smart, funny, active KID. As much as I miss snuggling with that little baby sometimes, five has been so much better in so many ways.

And five really was a pretty good year. We had some moments, of course. She went through a stage where she would yell and me and give me grief quite frequently. That has stopped, though. We've been in a good place for awhile now. We can have conversations about so many different topics. Clare likes to plan, like me, so we have a lot of fun talking about what is coming up in our schedule. (Insert eye roll from Ben here.) After her swimming lessons, she and I would go to Starbucks for a treat and a chat. Clare always has lots to say. I love hearing her logical observations on the world. She has stumped me more times than I care to admit with her questions. Thank goodness for Google.

Clare has had a busy year, with kindergarten, gymnastics, swimming, soccer, running club, ice skating, and just being a kid and playing. She still loves being outside and being in the water. She has yet to go under, but I am hoping we'll finally reach that milestone this summer.

She has lots of friends, including her best friends from school, Chloe and Keira, her secret best friend Will, and outside of school friends Nora, Henry, Benjamin, James, Simon and Brendon.  (Clare told me that she and Will are secret best friends so that when the teacher says not to talk to your friends, they can still talk to each other. They are thinkers.)

Clare is still a picky eater, but she has expanded her horizons a bit. She is actually willing to eat spaghetti with sauce on it. She has also been willing to at least try things when I make something for dinner. Surprisingly, she was willing to eat hot lunch at school, but only if they were serving chicken nuggets, pasta or pancakes. Baby baby steps with the food.

She still plans to be on American Ninja Warrior when she grows up. She is begging me to take her to a Ninja gym as soon as possible (you have to be 6). She has also been watching a lot of My Little Pony. I dragged me feet on My Little Pony for a long time, but it is actually not that bad. Her other favorite show is Elena of Avalor. Her latest favorite movies are Trolls and Moana. She has declared Cinderella and Tangled to be "boring." She still gets her princess fix from Frozen.  She and Christopher both love Mary Poppins, but they do not love it when I recite all of the dialogue and sing along to the songs.

She is reading on her own, and doing well with it. She can read short chapter books. I am looking forward to reading to her a bit more this summer. We are currently reading Beezus and Ramona. It is so fun to read her the books I loved as a kid.

Clare has started playing Minecraft and is SUPER into it. This is not something I can relate to, so I am glad I married a techie type person. She also still likes Legos, and will be getting several new sets for her birthday. She does not build creatively, though. She follows the directions precisely.

Clare knows the value of money, and has not been shy about asking family members to give her gift cards to the American Girl Doll Store for her birthday.  She asked my mom specifically for a $60 gift card, so we had a little chat about why that is not polite. (She is trying to save $60 for a Bitty Baby doll from the store. My suggestion that she could buy a much cheaper baby doll at Target fell on deaf ears.)

She is still my little rule follower. We went to Will's birthday party at Pump it Up last weekend, and during the safety video the kids were told to cross their arms as they slid down the inflatable slide. I glanced at Clare. She was practicing. And she followed the rules each and every time she went down the slide. (You can imagine what all of the other kids were doing. Yes, there was more than one bleeding child by the end of the party.)

A few other favorite things: art projects, especially clay and paint, swinging at the park (which she can finally do by herself), riding her bike (a two wheeler, no training wheels), gardening with Ben, making pancakes with Ben, and spending time with her grandparents.

We are going to Snuffy's Malt Shop for her birthday dinner, where she wants to order a lime-flavored shake. My guess is she will not like it, but it is her birthday, so it is her choice.

Six! Wow. And with kindergarten almost finished, a first grader.

Happy birthday to my best girl!