Sunday, September 30, 2012

Stress

Early in the week a classmate handed me a stress ball - a ball that you squeeze to relieve stress. It had a little face on it, so I thought Avey might enjoy it. I gave it to her when I got home and explained its purpose. Avey's face lit up as she took it from my hand and began to squeeze. She exclaimed, "This [stress ball] will be perfect for me pretending to be a mom - like I'm stressed!"
video
Kira tries not to be so transparent, but I guess it leaks out sometimes. Perhaps more telling of our family dynamics is that Avey then proceeded to chuck the stress ball at me from across the room - apparently a preferred method for her to relieve stress.
Avey with Her Teacher, Ms. Melissa
Avey had the best day of her life this week too. No, I'm not referring to her birthday celebration - I'm talking about when the Border Patrol came to her preschool and gave a presentation with a robot! It was also the day she shared cupcakes with her classmates, but in describing the course of her day, the robot got nearly all of the attention, while the cupcakes got merely a word or two.
"To: Sis, From: Carver"
Avey was thrilled with all of her presents and cards. The theme of the day was Halloween; she requested several presents surrounding scary things, and requested to see the movie Hotel Transylvania with a few friends. She spent most of the afternoon building a foam haunted house Kira had bought in a kit.
Avey's Rainbow Cake Design
She wasn't all spooks and fright though. She requested a "rainbow" cake this year, and insisted that she help decorate. She's been slowly leaning away from pure green as her favorite color, and more toward "rainbow colors, turquoise, and pink". She still loves green, hence the large "5" on her cake, but she and green seem to have agreed to see other people for the time being.

It was a successful birthday, thanks to all the friends and family who helped to make it so. Avey is strutting around in her new dress from her Nana, has been reading books from her great auntie, has worked tirelessly on craft items from Grandma and Papa, loves the movie from her aunt and uncles, and so much more from everyone else. We only wish we could be with everyone to celebrate, but perhaps with the coming holiday season we will. 

Always more to come...

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Aging

Again, I am faced with the bittersweet time of year when I must acknowledge that my children are getting older. Avey's birthday is this week. I think perhaps I am less depressed about losing her 4-year-old self than I was about her 3-year-old self. This was a rather tempestuous age. She somehow figured out that she does not, in fact, have to do everything we ask of her. And we realized somewhere among all of the potty training, socializing, basically teaching herself to read, and her love of preschool that we are not the beginning and the end and everything in between. We are a very important part of the framework of her life, but no longer are we as present in all aspects of her life. She is slowly growing more independent with each year. 

I describe the process as "bittersweet" because, while it is difficult in some ways to see her grow, it also has its joys. It's always a joy to gain some insight into how she views the world. For example, this week Avey and I were discussing health and sickness, or something along those lines, when she looked at me, sighed, and said, "I don't want you to die until I don't care about you anymore." 
video
A few days before that, she was negotiating a dessert with Kira. Kira had set a criterion for Avey to meet in order to earn the treat after dinner. Avey didn't quite make it, and was naturally upset when she learned she had not earned the treat. She argued with Kira until it became clear that Avey had misunderstood the rules. Kira decided that she could offer a compromise. Avey wanted something big, Kira insisted it be small. Kira made her final offer - a chocolate chip - to which Avey tried to counter with her final offer: "Okay, how about this? One chocolate chip and the top of another chocolate chip." We both thought it was so funny, she got her 1.5 chocolate chips. 
Bath Time
And so, even though it is difficult to watch the years slip by, at least it is still endlessly entertaining to watch them get older. 

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Bravery

Avey prides herself in being "brave of scary things". This sometimes comes to an interesting conflict with her love of everything. Conquering fear of something, although in the same direction, is not exactly loving something - at least not immediately. For example, Avey found a snail shell stuck on the wall near her great grandmother's front door. She instinctively fell in love with the snail and asked if she could keep it. I saw no harm in it (except maybe for the snail), so we brought it along. She decided to name it Slimy, and set it on a little shelf in my dashboard, directly in front of her car seat so that she could keep an eye on it. I drove on, paying attention to traffic, when I was surprised by the shrieks of panic from Avey's side of the car. I looked over, and my daughter was screaming bloody murder. She was absolutely terrified. I quickly deduced the cause of her horror when I saw something like this staring at her from the dashboard:

One of Slimy's Relatives
Slimy had come out of his shell to see what was going on. I have never seen my daughter so shaken. If she could have gotten loose of her seat belt, I'm sure she would have jumped out of the moving vehicle to take her chances with the pavement and moving traffic. 

I tried reassuring her that Slimy could not hurt her, and that it would probably take a snail a whole day to even get to her. My attempts to comfort were like casting seed on concrete. The only solution I could see was to pull over and give Slimy a new place to live before we got home. I suggested such to Avey, who I thought would surely jump at the chance to be rid of her new found tormentor. To my surprise, she hesitated. She told me how she still wanted to keep the snail, even though she was scared of it. She explained that if we could just get it into her bug jar at home, she would endure his existence. We pressed forward, and safely contained Slimy in its prison, where it's been ever since. Avey's certainly less paralyzed by fear now that it's in the jar, although she still checks it out from across the room.
Partners in Crime
Avey also had a shot earlier this week, and understandably suffered some trepidation about it. After bearing it successfully, she told me about how there were two kinds of brave; the first is where one has no fear of the stimulus, and the other is where one is afraid, but does what must be done anyway. How right she is.

When I got her to dance class, however, some of the others noticed her bandage and asked about her shot. She explained the situation to them less eloquently, saying, "I was the scared kind of brave."

At least she has great insight.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Back to School

Lots going on this week. Firstly, Avey began pre-school this week, and absolutely loves it! When Kira went to pick her up on the first day, Avey didn't want to leave. Just yesterday she asked when she gets to go back because "it's been forever since [she] went!" She counts the days in between, and would probably sleep at school if we'd let her. 
Carver's Rocker Look
Carver has been sitting up all on his own, and drooling like he's got a fire hose on full blast inside of his mouth. Seriously, I had no idea the human body is capable of producing that amount of saliva, especially a body his size. I think if we were to sit him down outside for about an hour, all of Texas would be free of this drought problem.
Avey Pretending to be Squidward
I have been beyond swamped with everything I've got going on. I'm glad I wasn't this busy the semester Carver was born, or I might not have noticed he was even around! Labor Day was a welcome break from the routine. We spent it grabbing naps where we could, taking a failed trip to the mall (their fountain Avey planned to splash in has not been working for a while now), eating at a fast-food place, and most importantly, not going to campus!
Sitting Up
Kira is now officially off the hook as RS secretary! She begins teaching her class today, and is surprised at how excited she is. She's been putting in overtime with her work, but must be used to that because of her other two clients (Avey and Carver).

Avey's birthday is swiftly approaching, as she constantly reminds us. We wish we could be back home to celebrate!

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Discernment

We've found something strange happening over the last several weeks in our home. Kira and I often find scraps of paper lying around with odd sequences of letters and numbers, as if encoding some secret message. For example, the other day we discovered this sequence on the computer screen:

"Mi momouz neam iz kira le rix shez goT u fon nobr 2". 

After detailed analysis, we realized this was the first line of a song we've taught Avey, our daughter, to help her learn Kira's phone number in case of emergency: 

"My momma's name is Kira Lee Ricks - she's got a phone number too..."

It's now clear who has been leaving these notes. They appear to be some sort of primitive attempt at communication!

We're very impressed with her progress so far. She's known her letters for some time, and put some effort into reading, but I've not heard of children teaching themselves to write before really reading! I suppose the next logical step is to have her copy the complete works of Shakespeare. That should encourage her and not confuse her in any way, right?

We met her pre-K teacher this week, and toured her classroom. The teacher seems great, and her classmates were polite. She is so excited to start school, she can hardly stand it!