30 December 2010

Laaaaaaaa! (Angelic chorus)

Okay, so this morning, we were AWASH in Christmas gifts: they were littering our living room, strewn across our kitchen table, piled in our garage, and still waiting in my trunk. This afternoon, the floor is clear! I SEE CARPET! And I got Claire's closet organized for the first time basically since she was born. This took a large Rubbermaid tower of drawers (why was the only color at Wal-Mart a hideous orange?), two packs of plastic snap boxes (these were very cool and sturdy and even had label slots), a heap of cardboard recycling and one bag of trash.

Here is her closet (and there's even some clothes in it!):


As I said on facebook, it is not a pottery barn organization job; it's a hand-me-down and Wal-Mart one that took creativity and resourcefulness, and I am quite proud of it! On the left-hand door, you will notice an afghan filled with bows and below that, hooks holding purses. The biggest purse is holding an assortment of small toys. One drawer in the orange monstrosity is holding nothing but markers, crayons, colored pencils, and coloring books, both of which she got several new for Christmas. Claire's kid fishing tackle box was put to good use there.



Doll bed moved to a more useful location, so that new dolls will be tended to more regularly.



New CD player on its own shelf with the kid CDs I dug up around the house. New dolly corner with stroller, bag (dolls ride inside when Claire is on the go), and basket of dolly supplies. New playhut and tunnel folded behind dolly stuff. New rocking horse for Anna, and several new sets on the bottom shelf of the bookcase. Fancy Nancy in the foreground has been a tea party regular since last Christmas.

Our living room!! Ready to relax in, without having to kick anything out of your way!


Anna's new b-ball goal (okay, so maybe you would have to kick it), Elmo (he won't stay there long, but believe me, the Tickle Me X-Treme Elmo is good family entertainment, at least for now) and some sad-looking Christmas decorations.

The toy section: a computer for each girl (but I'm sure Anna will still go for Claire's), a Sing-a-Ma-Jig, Mrs. Potato Head, and a home for Claire's puzzles, which had to move out of the game cabinet to make room for Uno Moo.

And this is my beautiful kid bookshelf, formerly a very messy kid book basket on the floor. There's a side for Claire books and a side for Anna's. Laaaaaaaaa! (This is the angels' favorite part!). The basket in the middle is holding one of Claire's fave presents, a Strawberry Shortcake remote control car.



07 December 2010

Bit of a break in the madness


Thanksgiving recap: First, Claire's Thursday School Thanksgiving program:

Those kind ladies prepare a big Thanksgiving dinner for us and the kids sing a couple songs.

On to Thanksgiving week: We left Wednesday about 1 p.m. for Kansas...and didn't get very far. We had to stop in Mead (about ten minutes from our house) to check on the house Jay is working on, and then we had to stop at the Burger Shoppe (ten more minutes down the road) for lunch, where we ran into Preston and had to talk for a while. After eating our fill of chicken strips, beans, and sweet tea, we were finally on the road! Six hours later, we made it to Don and Archie's house in time for dinner!

We headed over to Jay's cousin Tracy's house, where she, along with husband Kourt and sons Drew and Dylan, are kind enough to host us for the weekend. The next day, we had Thanksgiving lunch (and dinner) at Don and Archie's house--pic of all grandkids present for lunch below. (Drew and Dylan are at their other grandma's house for lunch, and aren't in it. We were also missing one family for the whole weekend, Jay's cousin Keith, his wife Jen, and their kids Logan and Quinn moved to Singapore over the summer for Keith's job.)


Abby Rose and Anna Jae!



We're missing four cousins in this pic:


Claire and Katelyn ride the buckin' bronc called Uncle Ron.
Aside from eating and watching our kids, much of Thursday is spent planning our Friday shopping and riding four-wheelers. (I think there are seven or eight four-wheelers total, and lots of trails.)

Claire got to spend the night at Grandma Winnie's Thursday night with her cousins Carson and Kerrigan so that I wouldn't have to wake her up when I left to go shopping. Anna Jae tagged along with us and was really good, having bites of yogurt and pears in her carseat in between stores. We have lunch together Friday, and then the afternoon is spent hunting, napping, or four-wheeling. Friday night is always steak night, with some of the best steak I eat all year, along with baked potatoes, Kansas corn, homemade bread, and salad.

While we were in Kansas, Anna had several milestones: she started walking really well (so at about 10 months), she had her first tooth come through, and she started clapping and waving.

Usually the Paul Mauck contingent is gone by Saturday morning, but we actually stayed through Saturday lunch this year so Jay could get in one more morning hunting. Alas, no deer to report of!

I'm now in finals week, and I'm in a lull between grading final essays (DONE-hurray!) and grading final portfolios (due Thursday) and calculating final grades (due Monday). After that, I'll be in full-on Christmas mode.

28 October 2010

It's beginning to look a lot like...

Halloween! We decorated pumpkins the other day at our house, and an attempt to get pictures of both girls with the pumpkins went something like this...

Uh-oh, Anna's not having it! Let's try the table; maybe that will be fun for her...

Tyler steadies Anna, but Claire's getting tired of this...Let's see a pretty smile with teeth, Claire!



Okay, not bad, but how about Anna...

Anna's inner monologue: Seriously? You guys think this is what I look like?

And this one, from the next day at Mom's house, was just too funny...Tyler cannot STAND to be left out of any photo op...

11 October 2010

First 5K, Coleman Octoberfest




A bit belated, but here's my report on my first 5K. When I first thought about running this thing, I thought it seemed a little extreme to call preparing to run 3.2 miles "training." I mean, how hard could that be? Well, if I was 17, I'm sure it wouldn't be that tough, but this mom of two definitely had to train to be able to actually run this race! My workout buddy and I switched from P90 to running in her church gym during the super-hot weather, and then we ran outside the last four or five runs before the race, letting our hubbies watch the kids in the evenings. I never thought I would actually enjoy running, but I actually did enjoy the couple runs where we beat a personal record. The day of the race, the energy was so exhilarating! It was better than a competition-type energy, because that always includes a note of anxiety, at least for me. This was just camaraderie, anticipation, excitement. There were high school track runners and college guys, but also middle-aged professionals and young kids. There weren't many people in their 20s, Ashley and I noticed, and started to get our hopes up to take home medals! Sure enough, our wish came true: when the announcer finally called the winners for the 20-29-year-old women, I was second and Ashley first! There was no third place, so that means Ashley and I were indeed the only two runners in that category! Ha, we were proud nonetheless: we got our best-ever time and had a great time being outside in God's creation, pushing the bodies He made to do their best!

Anna demolished a peach and had a great time! She gets SO intrigued and excited if you give her an entire piece of fruit--we've tried both peaches and pears, and she lays waste to them!

We went to Coleman's second annual town festival last weekend, and were happy to see Uncle Matt, Aunt Michelle, and Holly, Jenny, and Mattie there. Amanda also came down and brought her boyfriend James, and we got to see several other aunts, uncles, cousins, and other old friends and family members. Of course, I never think to get big-picture photos of floats or the event; I just glance up at my girls and go, "Oh that's a good picture!" and then go on talking and looking around.


Amanda holds Anna, Jenny holds Claire, and Mattie, geared up for Ranger baseball. Jenny did a great job babysitting Claire--taking her to the bounce house and following her around.


Claire enjoys the view from Uncle Matt's shoulders.


Mom and Ty prepped and rode in the 4-H float; Claire just hopped up there before the parade.

13 September 2010

Labor Day, Milestones





Okay, I know I'm a little behind, but here are some pics anyway of our Labor Day weekend! Some of my faithful readers might have already seen these on fb, as my photog-SIL posted a bunch of great ones there. We had a great time riding four-wheelers, wading in Blue River, and having a weenie roast at my Uncle Gary's beautiful ranch.

This pic below is hilarious I think; it's six people on a four-wheeler: Paul, Diane, Claire, Kerrigan, me, and Anna! We had 11 people on three four-wheelers, although four of the people were six and under. And I can now say that I have nursed a baby while on the back of a moving four-wheeler (not in this picture). As my BIL Kyle said, Anna was getting a milkshake!! Hey, you gotta do what you gotta do.



Carson helps the girls get to the rock. The water was rushing pretty quickly in spots.


I'm smiling, but my bottom is in for a world of hurt in just a second!!


Anna loved it!! But she did wish she could get down and crawl around. She's getting to be quite the wiggleworm, making church tough at times! I must also mention that her hair is very reddish in sunlight, but more of a golden red inside. We get tons of comments on her being a redhead. We'll see!




Anna loves getting to gum on a whole piece of fruit!! This is Diane feeding her a peach. Right now, AJ will eat chunks of very soft fruit, puffs, rice rusks, and teething biscuits. She has yet to warm up to any veggies very much, although she'll occasionally take a few bites of sweet potato or carrots.



Also, in the milestone department, Anna is now cruising! Big Sis helped her on this one, I think, as Claire has been pushing her on her walker for a couple weeks now. Now, Anna moves right along on it, or along the couch or bathtub. She is thrilled with herself.

03 September 2010

MAMA!

At seven and a half months, Anna is saying Mama! She makes the sound "mom" a lot while she's focusing on getting somewhere, but sometimes when she's actually trying to get to ME, she says "Mama!" It's so sweet.

And Claire is saying all kinds of crazy stuff! Today, we were driving, and she said, "I saw one cow, Mom." (She has recently switched to calling Jay and me Dad and Mom instead of Daddy and Mommy.) I said, "Just one cow all by itself?" and she said, "Yes. I guess his other cows must have gone up to heaven!"

19 August 2010

A note for Mama

Claire is big into writing notes, in which she scribbles ciphers onto a piece of notebook paper, and then tells me what she's written. The other day, I could have burst with pride when she showed me a note she'd written to mommy that said "Claire will obey, be patient, not tell lies, and not throw fits." I had not given her a list like this or a lecture or anything! But we've really been working on her behavior these past couple weeks; I'm reading a book called Training Up a Child: Following God's Plan, and it is so refreshingly old-school. I get so used to reading all this psycho-babble about child-rearing that it is so nice to hear a lady say that a woman has to be a good helpmeet to her husband to be a good mother. It's so true! I've gotten a major attitude adjustment, and I hope it sticks: I'm trying to fix Jay's lunches for him before he leaves, show interest in his jobs, get the house cleaned up for when he comes home, and in general let him do his job of being the leader around here!

But anyway, this book has a very old-school take on discipline and chores, too: the author says nothing will sweeten an attitude faster than a good old-fashioned spanking--with a rod! She actually recommends going to a tree and getting a thin, flexible branch, since that's what the Bible says parents should use on a child! We're still sticking with the hand for now. We're working on making "obeying Mama" a very important thing, or else she can expect a march to another room and a spanking she will remember. We've also started doing a chore chart and allowance for Claire (a nickel per chore per day), and it's amazing how willing she is to be a good helper, even with things that aren't on her chore chart! With this focus on being a helper and obeying Mama, she's also become much more willing to leave when I say it's time to go, which has always been a point of difficulty for her. I've been trying to do a better job of communicating to her the plan for when we go somewhere ("I'm going to feed Anna, and then we're leaving Mamaw's house."), and then she'll repeat it back to me, just as proud as can be. It's seems like if I find the right balance of respect and firmness to address her with, she really responds to it, like she feels like she's part of the team, and is willing to do her job or face the consequences.

Claire also brought a note to me the other day that she said was a letter to Santa that said, "I love you, Santa." I said, "That's nice that you didn't ask for anything; you just told him you love him." Then she said, "And I drew two mean ghosts." ???

As for Anna: she's seven months old, still a totally breastfed baby, and loves to watch her big sis, pull herself up and shout for joy, and grab stuff. It's great to have two different stages of kids! I love that Anna requires no complicated explanations, but I also love that Claire likes to have things explained. Life is good.

17 August 2010

First day of school!

We're enjoying our first school day here at the Mauck house. I love my schedule: my first class is at 9:30, so I have to leave by 8:50 to get the girls to Calera and back to SE with a few minutes to park and hike through parking lots and upstairs to my office, where I prep for a couple minutes. Then I have two sections of Comp 1 back-to-back, BOTH in a smart classroom this year, which I'm super-psyched about. That way I don't have to make so many copies of handouts or activities; I just pull them up on the computer and let everyone look on the projector screen. I'm back to P&D's house by 12:30. On Thursdays, I'll take Anna to their house and then take Claire to Thursday School before I go on to the college, so I have to leave a tad earlier.

The girls both had a great time with Mamaw and Papaw this morning: Diane pretends they're having school, and they do arts and crafts, recess, and storytime before lunch. Anna ate a rice rusk with some carrots and then took a nap, and was still asleep when I got back!

In other news, I've started running with a friend; we were doing a workout video three mornings a week at her house, but got bored with that and decided to run instead. While it's so hot, we're running at the church gym, but hopefully by the time it cools off, we'll both have secured jogging strollers and can run at the park. We're planning on doing a 5k in Caddo in October.

Speaking of Caddo, I have five former Caddo students in my classes this year! I suppose that's a compliment that they chose to come back for more!

31 July 2010

Anna's pulling up!

Wow, Anna's balance has gotten much better in the past few days! Watching our baby grow and change is a daily blessing. At six months and 12 days, she's pulling up to standing really confidently, and does it every chance she gets! The other day, she crawled from the living room to where I was standing at the kitchen sink doing dishes, and pulled herself up on my legs! In the past couple days, she's gotten really close to "cruising," moving her hands from one thing to another to keep balance, and maybe moving her feet a little, but not really taking a step.

She's still adamantly refusing food of any kind. For the past two weeks, I've been giving her cereal, applesauce, or bananas (progressively), and she does one of three things: 1) clamps her mouth shut when she sees the spoon coming, 2) allows a bite, but then shudders and gags and sticks out her tongue until the offending food is on her chin or bib, or 3) allows a bite, but immediately zerbets it back it out, spraying her and me both. Fun! She must take the bottle or food before I go back to school in a little over two weeks, b/c I'll be gone for about five hours at a time this semester. I'm trying to be positive and relaxed about her food experience, so she doesn't start to hate it, but I feel like I need to be diligent, too!

Hey, if you haven't already, go check out the brand-new site I've been writing for like crazy for the past few weeks, Katharos NOW. It's for Christian teen girls, run by a friend of mine, Lauren Bookout, and is funded by the church where her husband Travis is the preacher. Once again, my lack of paid writing assignments means that I have time to pursue my Christian writing pursuits. God is good.

28 July 2010

Scooting and Hopping

Here's how my girls are movin' and shakin' this summer. Anna is scooting all over the place. I've even been putting her in knotty legs or pants, as she gets onto the tile floor and her legs get so cold! A baby blanket is now futile; she goes all over. Her favorite destination is Claire's little chair, which she pulls herself up to standing and pushes the chair a few steps before she falls down.


video

And Claire and I have been hopscotching it up. She hasn't mastered the one-foot jump yet, but I think it's pretty cute how she's figured out a way around that.

video

20 July 2010

Summer



Wow, six months has definitely brought mobility for our little Anne! She is army-crawling like crazy, sitting up on her own, and can even pull herself up to sitting and standing! She makes right for Claire's little chair usually, because she likes to try to pull herself up on it and grab the stuffed animal or doll that's sitting there. She has also started squawking to demand things or just express happiness or excitement. We've definitely reached the stage where we sometimes have to take her out of church just because she's wiggling like crazy to get down, or because she's making too much noise--not fussy noise, just noise! And she is way more of a mama's girl than I remember Claire being. If she can't see me or hear my voice, she can get frantic, unless she's intent on a toy. If someone else is holding her and she sees me, she often starts making this pathetic little whimper for me. We have yet to get her to take a bottle, but I haven't tried since the intense, unsuccessful, extremely frustrating sessions leading up to Wicked. Instead, I'm focusing on getting her to take cereal mixed with breast milk. We've done it for about the last week, and it's hit and miss: sometimes she spits most of it out and begins the "you're torturing me" back-arching and leg-kicking after just a few spoonfuls.

The top picture is of Claire and her friend Kadence at VBS at our church last week. It was a "Joseph journey in Egypt" theme, so the kids made jeweled collars and beaded headbands, and the adults wore those too, along with linen togas and belts. We also had a make-up booth every night, so the kids could get eyeliner and eyeshadow done (the boys got scratch marks or a play shave). Kadence and Claire are both wearing make-up in that pic. Claire is doing VBS again this week at 7th and Beech! It's the same church where she goes to Thursday School, so thankfully I can leave her there and come home and get a few things done!

Recent Claire quotes:
While playing with the cowboy and horse in her Lincoln Logs, in a deep voice I assume belongs to the horse: "Ow! You hurt me! I'm going to the hospital!"

"What kind of sno-cone do you want?" (She's making them out of Play-Doh) Me: "Silver fox." C: "We don't have that; we have raspberry yummy-goody cake."

12 July 2010

Maucks on Texoma 2010

My seventh year spending a week on Lake Texoma with the Maucks is over, and it was a fun time full of great food, family time, and swimming and fishing. Traditions include Friday night steak dinner, Saturday fish fry, early-morning fishing trips, and outdoor worship on Sunday morning. A newer tradition for the kids is jumping/wrestling on the water trampoline anchored in the inlet.

This year actually brought us cooler temperatures than we're accustomed to, and rain, too. It worked out fine though: we had a couple rainy afternoons in the camper, and dinners under the pavilion instead of open air, but other than that, we enjoyed the coolness the rain brought us. However, I know a couple boats were caught out in a couple rainstorms while fishing, and the rain wasn't entirely welcome to them.

Unfortunately, I have no boat pics to share this year: it's not exactly the best place for a baby! I ended up staying in the camper to let Anna get her nap when others went out tubing or fishing. Claire tubed for the first time--but neither Jay nor I were on the boat to see her, sadly! She rode with her beloved cousin Abby, and enjoyed it immensely, from all accounts. But here are some pics of the other ways the kids have a great time. Of course, there are no mommy pics, as is usually the case with me.


The kids love riding their bikes on the road! Claire and Kerrigan have matching Barbie Big Wheels, and Katelyn is borrowing Kerrigan's in these pics.


Count on Mamaw to whip out giant coloring pages and markers for the kids!


A flock of geese were crossing by, and Kyle and some of the kids fed them some old bread.
Abby, Kerrigan, and Claire play with one of the kids' favorite toys at the lake: a kid fishing rode with a rubber fish attached to the end. They would cast this thing over and over, and reel it in through the dead leaves!

Fish fry!! Notice Jay's cousin Tracy at the end of the table holding a sleeping Anna! She will never go to sleep like that on my shoulder--no paci or anything!

Love this pic of Claire hitching a ride on a cooler full of fish! She wasn't on the boat; just saw Daddy carrying this up the hill, along with cousin-in-law John, and ran and hopped on!

22 June 2010

While both our neighbors have pools...


...this is what we do for fun on hot summer days. This isn't until 6:30, but it was still 98 degrees outside!! We barely even venture out of doors during the day anymore! While poor Jay is working outside for the majority of 12-hour work days! One of the guys who works for him got sick from working too hard in the heat today. Poor Juan!

Anyway, this evening, Anna and I sat in the shade and blew bubbles for Claire while she went crazy. She was out like a light at 9 p.m., did not get out of bed a single time after I put her down--we'll have to start doing this every night! We had a really fun summer day today: Tyler came and stayed at our house for a couple hours while Mom and Grant went to a funeral, and we made Play-Doh and played games. Then this afternoon we did the letter E; Claire is learning how to write her letters this summer, and we're doing a big alphabet wall project. I'll post a pic when it's finished!



This is Anna doing her new funny sound, zerbets! She makes very few noises except laughing and crying, and now these spitting noises! It's funny. She's also becoming very mobile, scooting all over the place, and is very close to sitting up on her own!

Mom and I went and saw Wicked the musical in Dallas Sunday night, and unfortunately had to take Anna with us! She is adamantly refusing the bottle! We've tried everything; it is so frustrating! The really frustrating thing is that Diane got her to drink about 4 oz from a bottle back during the school year ONE TIME, but we haven't been able to get her to drink anything since! Anyway, the musical was awesome, but Mom and I had to take turns watching it in the lobby on the screen, b/c Anna would not go to sleep inside; it was too loud--even louder than Iron Man 2!

13 June 2010

Celebrating Six Years!



Last night, Jay and I went out for our six-year anniversary to the steakhouse in the Choctaw Casino--it is so fancy and delicious! Great fun to get dressed up and then go to a great restaurant only 10 minutes from our house! My mom came to our house and kept the girls--we love Grandmom! By the way, see any resemblance between Jay and his namesake girl? Their baby pics look very much alike, and people have told us a lot that Anna favors her daddy.

Of course, I had to do something celebrating our relationship, even though six isn't really much of a milestone, and I wanted to prove to Jay that I'm not all about material gifts, so I wrote a poem! Don't think this was any kind of exercise in rhythm, scansion, or even rhyme--I wrote it as a spinoff of the poem that Jay wrote me to propose, back in 2002! Except this time, I made it a metaphor between the challenges and rewards of fishing and hunting, and the challenges and rewards of marriage (or I tried to anyway)! I clipped out phrases from Jay's Bassmasters and Outdoor Oklahoma magazines, and cut out pics, and made it a collage. It was so fun, and it was funny to compare the ways we were romantic as a dating couple to how it is as a married couple with two young kids.

Here are the words (the bolded ones are the ones I clipped from magazines):

June 12, 2010, with the Bassmaster who reeled me in
A night we've been flippin' and pitchin' since last night after we tucked the girls in.

Many times I've asked God why this crankbait comes in so late,
Then he blesses me with an unplanned family swim or a yummy breakfast date.

It can be tough, getting to church on time, or connecting at the dinner table,
But if we work as a team, we can tackle anything, I know we are able.

My favorite times are the ones we share together,
A Day on the Lake with my hubby is as good as a Collectible Bass Lure.

I made it through so many deer seasons and spring spawns,
I'll make it through many more, even though I hate when you're gone.

A lot has changed since you wrote me that sweet poem that changed my world,
You've bought tons of New Lures, but stuck with the same girl.

You're my Biggest Bass, the best lure in my Tacklebox,
Eight years after you saw that girl in red, I hope you can still say I knock of your socks!

My Oklahoma hunter takes aim at projects all over southern Oklahoma,
You work hard, and I get to take care of our beautiful girls and manage our home-a.

Fishing and huntin' are always a challenge--try different Lures and Reels, trees or arrows,
Our marriage is a challenge, too, but it's worth the trophy moments we share like pros.

Doggerel, I know, but from the heart! I also had us write down six things we love about each other, and two things for both of us to work on to make our relationship better. We wrote them on these little door-hanger things I scrapbooked, and hung them on our closet doors.

06 June 2010

Summertime is Sleepover Time!



We're just finishing up another weekend with another sleepover for Claire! She is loving spending the night with Mamaw and Papaw and with Grandmom and Papa. Her cousins Zach and Abby are down for a few days, so she was thrilled to get to spend some extra time with them and Mamaw and Papaw last night. She also spent the night with Grandmom last week when my cousins Holly, Jenny, and Mattie were in--you may have seen pics of that sleepover on Facebook. She's had at least a sleepover a week for the past three weeks!

The pic above is from yesterday morning; Claire and I had a lazy morning in our pj's, and she wrote her name all by herself for the first time!

My goal this week for Anna is to give her a bottle a day--she's not so into taking them when Mamaw gives them to her, and mine and Jay's six-year anniversary is this weekend, and we don't want to have to rush home b/c Anna won't take her bottle! That little girl is rolling and scooting all over the place--she'll cross the living room in just a few minutes, by doing a combination of lifting her bottom with her feet and shoving her nose into the carpet, and rolling. She's about to start sitting up on her own, too--so fun to watch her grow!

03 June 2010

Recent Claire Quotes

Claire said she was going to tell Daddy she was sorry for...(some long made-up story about daddy leaving Pony outside). My response: "You're going to tell him you're sorry for that?" Claire: "I'm sorry is French for thank you!"

She now has an imaginary friend, Pony, a little girl. She was playing with her friend Sam, and asked me, "Can you open the garage door?" Me: "Why?" C: "Sam and me need to go save Pony!" I told her no one could go outside with them right then, so she'd have to pretend Pony was inside. She said, "No, Pony is outside! I don't know what to do now." Then she looked down at Sam's shoes--Crocs--and said, "I guess I need to put my Crocs on." Reset inside playing!

While we're eating lunch together: Claire: "While you were vacuuming, I said, 'I don't like you.'" Me: "That hurts my feelings, Claire! I like you very much!" Puts her foot on the table, and says, "This toe likes you." Me: "I want all you to like me, not just your smelly toe!" C: "Just this toe!"

Me: "Your teacher Miss Erron is going to have a baby!" Claire (half stricken, half sulky): "I don't want Miss Erron to have a baby!" Me: "Why not?" C: "Because she lives at Thursday School!"

24 May 2010

23 May 2010

Claire's Thursday School graduation


This was actually a couple weeks ago, but better late than never! Claire had a great first year at Thursday School. It's held at the other church of Christ in town, and it's a great introductory school experience: it's three hours long, with a two-year-old, three-year-old, and four-year-old class, with only six to eight kids and two teachers in each one. The whole day is divided into 15-minute blocks, with time for a Bible story, arts and crafts, library, snacks, and lunch. The teachers are awesome, and they're all volunteers! This year, she had her first field trip (to the fire station), her first school Christmas party, and first school program. They also had a Halloween carnival, Easter egg hunt, Valentine's card exchange, and Thanksgiving dinner and program.She also bought her first lunch box, as they eat box lunches everyday. Claire's usual lunch was ham and cheese rolls (a slice of ham wrapped around a cheese stick and cut into small pieces), carrots and Ranch (without me prodding her, she would usually only eat one or two of these), whatever fruit we have on hand, and some sort of treat, like marshmallows or mini cookies.

I usually ask Claire what Bible story she learned every time I pick her up, and at the beginning of the year, her answer was always "I don't know..." because I suspect, from what my cousin Kim told me, that she spent most of Bible story time sharing a mat with Kim's daughter Katelyn and being silly. Toward the middle of the year, a Bible story finally registered, and she started to answer, "About Jesus crossing on the river." I'm not sure if this was Jesus walking on water, or Moses crossing the Red Sea, because she would respond positively to details from both stories. She used this confusing answer for several weeks, and toward the end of the year, she finally started to respond with an actual Bible story! She would say "Daniel in the lions' den" or "Jesus making a man feel better." It's so exciting to see my daughter learning the Bible, both at home and in school with other kids.

At the program, all the kids sang a couple songs of course, and they also did a slide show of pictures from the year. Mom, Grant, and Ty got to be there, and they haven't ever seen where Claire goes to school, so it was really neat for them to see what a great program it is and how much Claire enjoys her friends and all the things they do.

Anyway, a tradition they have at the Thursday School graduation is to give each child a chance to say something into the microphone. They tell the kids and parents on the day of the graduation that they will all have a the chance to sing a song or say hi to their parents, or whatever. Some kids clam up, get red, and shake their heads no, some kids grab the mic, jump up and sing a song, and some kids say, "Hi Mommy and Daddy, I love you!" This is where the program gets very unpredictable and amusing, as you can imagine. Case in point with Claire. I had talked to her about what she would say into the microphone that afternoon, and I'd said, "You can sing a song, or say hi to mommy and daddy--what would you like to do?" The first time, she answered "Sing the ABC's," but then every other time I asked her, she said she would say hi to mommy and daddy. So I had her practice, Jay had her practice, and we practiced on the way over in the car. What does she do when Miss Amy hands her the microphone? Starts singing the ABCs, and turning slowly around so that by the time she's on G, she's got her back to the audience, but is still singing, at a level just above a whisper. She sang the whole thing, but I could barely hear her for trying to smother my laughter.