Sunday, November 16, 2014

Secora's Birthday

Secora is still Secora.  Being around groups of people stresses her out and is not fun.  It's her birthday and it should be a fun day for her.  So we asked her what she wanted to do and quickly realized there's NOT really anything for her to do here in town.  Movies are too loud, arcades are too chaotic, ice skating is too different, it's too cold to be out at the park.  She said she either wanted to go to the zoo or the McKenna Children's Museum.  Because we were getting another big cold snap last week, we went with the children's museum.  We needed to make this work on a weekday because she would not have enjoyed it with a weekend crowd, so that was a little bit of trouble, but in the end it worked out.

So the morning of her birthday, we had donuts for breakfast, then loaded up for the long drive.  We stopped along the way for Chick-Fil-A, then we were there right after lunch.  She immediately took off to enjoy all the activities




On the way out, she got to spend some birthday money she'd gotten in the gift shop.  There's a pack of fancy notebooks she's been eyeing and as soon as she found out she could buy something, she went straight to them.  We had skipped afternoon snack and everyone was ready for dinner, so we stopped at Cracker Barrel, where she could have one of her favorite meals (pancakes with peaches).  We had brought her cake with us, but decided to just eat and have cake and presents when we got back home.   I told her we were going to be home after her bedtime and asked if she wanted to do that when we got home or just go to bed and do it first thing in the morning.  She told me, "well, I'm gonna rest and take a nap in the car, then we can have cake and presents when we get home".  Sure enough, she slept most of the way home and as soon as we hit town, she opened her eyes and blearily said, "I can't wait for cake and presents!"

The cake was definitely a cake wreck.  She wanted Daniel Tiger and Thomas on a cake.  I found myself decorating cake at 9pm on a Tuesday night and had the brilliant idea that I could just freehand Daniel and Thomas.  No, no I cannot.  Thankfully, she's only four, so her standards are pretty low and she was still thrilled. 

She let us sing the birthday song this year.  She really hates the birthday song, but she said we could whisper it (I think it helped that it was just us).  So we did, and she was happy and she blew out candles.
Or tried to blow out candles, anyway.  They weren't really cooperating.  At one point she just stopped trying and stared down that last candle like, "listen, I'm done with your **** and it's time to go out now".

Candles were quickly forgotten when it was time to open presents though.

She told us she wanted an elephant for her birthday.  A real one.  This was the best we could manage

Dum-dums!  She loves suckers.  Josh decided she needed a bag of 300 dum-dums.
Her aunt and uncle got her a toddler sized bistro table, which she wanted to set up immediately and eat cake at.  So that's just what we did. 
After a very long day and staying up hours past bedtime, I figured she'd sleep in the next morning.  Of course not!  We had cleaned up all the birthday mayhem, so she was up at 7am asking us where her presents were so she could start playing.  She had lots of fun.  She's already told me four is so much fun that she's going to miss it when she has a birthday again.  Now she's moved on to asking us every morning if it's Christmas yet, bring on the holidays!

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

FOUR!!

Secora is turning four today!  For several weeks she tried to convince us she was going to be some other age, usually 6.  She finally accepted the fact that she has to go through four first though. 
She's talking constantly about "getting bigger", she has hit that, "I am not a baby, I do it my ownself" stage. 
She's been doing speech and feeding therapy for the last 18 months and made great strides on speech.  Feeding is a bit of a different story, she made progress for a while then started dropping foods like crazy.  Her speech therapist suggested we take her to clinic in Dallas that incorporates speech, OT, psych and dietician.  She has her evaluation there in December and we'll see what their suggestions are. 
She is really wanting to learn her letters, constantly asking me what sounds different letters make and asking me to help her write certain letters.  It's very similar to Sierra at that age.  She likes counting too, but I think we probably have another big reader on our hands. 
She says her favorite color is orange.  Her favorite TV shows are Daniel Tiger, Thomas and Curious George.  Her favorite food is dried mangos.  After about a year of trying, she has gotten comfortable with the neighbor kids and likes to go out and throw the ball them.  She's comfortable with Walter now even though he's still 3 times her size.  The gym her sisters take gymnastics at starts classes at 4 years old and she's considering signing up in the spring.  She likes to run "weawy fast" and practice hopping on one foot.  She wants to do what's asked of her and generally listens the first time you tell her to do something, but always as soon as you say her name sternly and give her the "momma look".
She seems not quite full-fledged "fearsome four" at the moment (four totally beats out "terrible two") and I'm a bit hopeful it's going to stay that way, but I'm not holding my breath.  The good news is the flipside of those four year old tantrums is a cutie pie snuggle bug.

Happy 4th Birthday Big Girl!!

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Halloween!

Lots of Halloween fun around here yesterday! 

All three of the girls are not fans of scooping pumpkin guts, so they decided a couple of years ago that it's much more fun to paint pumpkins.  Works for me, less work and less clean-up. Secora still goes with the "fit as much paint as possible on the pumpkin" method:
Sierra divided her pumpkin into three sections and painted a different theme on each side:
Sedona went with a scary face:
The day of Halloween, we skipped our regular seat work for school and spent the day on hands on activities.  First, it was the "microwave a bar of Ivory soap" trick.  This is old news on the internet, but something we hadn't tried yet.  It was just as impressive as expected, getting lots of oohs and ahhs from the girls.
This is what it looked like after it was partially done (and also starting to deflate).  I took the fluffy part off the plate and microwaved what was left of the bar to get another piece about this same size.
Then we mixed the microwaved soap, some warm water and toilet paper to make "ghost mud".  This was actually intended to be a sensory activity geared toward Secora, but she didn't like the smell of the soap and refused to come anywhere near it.  Oh well, you win some, you lose some.
Then it was time for a Halloween tea time. We've been eating the last of our Girl Scout cookies for tea time, but I made pumpkin scones for this one.  We had also been doing lemonade lately and they're really glad it's cool enough for hot drinks now because they love picking their tea, hot chocolate or apple cider to make. 
After tea time, we made flying ghosts with tea bags.  These are an easy, neat trick.  You start with a higher quality tea bag (we used Tazo brand tea) and cut the top off and pour the tea out.  Then cut the bag in half so you have a short cylinder open at both ends.  Set it on a plate and light the top on fire
As the bag burns down, it flies into the air!  Word of warning, I had the plate sitting on the table at first and the tea bags fly pretty high.  A still flaming bag may have gone all the way to the ceiling and stuck there (no worries, nothing burned).  All subsequent bags were started on the floor, which worked fine.   This little trick works because the flame heats the air inside the cylinder, which makes the air molecules move faster and spread out until the air inside the cylinder is less dense.  Warmer, less dense air (inside) is lighter than cooler, more dense air (outside), and the last bit of the tea bag is light, so the difference is enough to push it into the air.
We also did a little "candy chromatography" by putting Nerds on a coffee filter, then slowly dripping water on the candy to dissolve it.  Surprisingly, this was a really calming activity for all of them. 

The many faces of Sedona:
Secora using too much water for the chromatography part to really work right, but she got some excellent fine motor practice:
Sierra's was working out the best.  It takes a while, but you eventually see the colors separate out on the filter.
For dinner, they've come to expect special pancakes on Halloween.  I did plenty of jack-o-lanterns and things like that, but at some point Sedona asked for a bat because she was going to dress up as a bat.  I ended up doing a personalized plate for each of them.  Secora got a monster:
Sierra got a trident because she was going as a character from Percy Jackson
And Sedona got her bat
They got in their costumes so we could head to a Halloween festival in town.   Secora looked at several costumes in the store and decided to just stick with her monster from last year.  Sedona decided to be a vampire fruit bat, a creature that exists on My Little Pony.  Sierra went as Annabeth Chase, daughter of Athena from the Percy Jackson books.  Sierra's costume was all homemade and she was really proud of it.  The New York Yankees cap (which makes Annabeth invisible in the books) is just a plain black (we couldn't find blue) cap and she cut out the NY logo and glued it on.  I made the t-shirt for her and it turned out better than I expected.
The shirt was actually really easy.  I printed the image on freezer paper and cut it out with an xacto knife.  After ironing the freezer paper to the shirt, I painted over it with acrylic paint mixed with fabric medium and peeled the paper off.  Definitely a technique we'll be using again in the future.

While we were getting out of the car, someone drove by and yelled out the window at us.  It was my brother and his family!  We hadn't planned to meet up, so it was a nice coincidence that the kids were happy about.  Here's Sierra and my nephew
And Sedona with him.  I don't think they were nearly as scared of the scary clown as he was hoping. 
The festival in town was a total bust.  Ended up walking a LONG way to find out there weren't all that many activities, but everyone in town had shown up and the lines were really long. We decided to go back to our neighborhood to trick-or-treat instead.  Unfortunately, not as many people were participating this year as last year, so not all that much candy was collected.  We did let them keep going until they said they were ready to be done and they all seem happy, no complaints of too little candy.  I was very pleasantly surprised that Secora did not need to be carried around this year, she willingly walked up to doors with her sisters and cousins while we waited at the curb.  She also said trick-or-treat and thank you loud enough to be heard.  At the end of the night she said, "I proud of myself".  Me too!
At home, the girls all traded to get their favorite candies.  The big girls were particularly gracious in trading Secora so she'd end up with only things she'll eat without just giving away her candy.  Sedona was thrilled to end up with nine snickers bars when it was all said and done because neither of her sisters will eat them.  Another one of her highlights of the night was when she asked if we had any water with us because she was thirsty, then the very next house we went to was giving out juice boxes. 
I think Sierra was steadily eating as she was sorting, trying to fit in as much candy before bedtime as possible.

They all went straight to bed without fuss and fell right asleep.  Saturday morning Secora asked if it was her birthday (she knows it comes after Halloween, but she's got a couple weeks to wait).  The day was spent eating leftover scones, playing a new game we got while we were in San Antonio and watching Elf.  Bring on the holiday season!


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