July 15, 2003

A full birthday...Today was a wonderful, though exhausting day, and it is still not over yet! Our daughter turned four today and we pretty much gave her control of the day - which started just before 7am this morning. We began the day with some special storytime - just mommy and her (while her brother still slept), then it was time to make some breakfast (she requested hard boiled eggs). We opened her first present of the day, from one set of grandparents - chompo bar (this makes sense to anyone who has read A Birthday for Frances , some tights and a check for upcoming dance lessons. She immediately asked for a bite of the chompo (candy bar) and even though it was before breakfast I conceded. Then her uncle who is here visiting woke up as did her brother and we headed out for a breakfast treat up at the local bakery - so far we have had a cupcake and bite of candy bar (is this my child? - well it is her birthday) she decided against finishing the cupcake and asked for her eggs instead (now that sounds more like her!) and a pile of presents from her three uncles and grandparents came out of a bag and were set on the table - where she worked through them throughout the day, opening one and then playing for awhile with that. Her uncle worked with our son on a new bunch of flash cards including identifying sea creatures, colors, numbers, shapes and other miscellaneous items. We sat and worked together on another quiet activity that is escaping me right now.

A change of pace came around 10am when some friends came over to play, a family from our homeschool group - with children similar ages and the same gender, they are also due a few weeks behind me. We played in our basement until the kids could no longer use inside voices - then we were outside to burn some energy and play in the pool (while dodging the bugs). They did this until shortly before the family had to leave - at which point more gifts were opened (including a handpainted wrapping paper one that contained paint supplies - hooray!) and snacks were had (tofu and pretzels with juice) and then goodbyes. I think the girls were sad to go, but the boys were probably ready to be apart - our son was quite ready for a nap.

Lunchtime, really an extension of snack time, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches were added to the tofu and pretzels remaining on the plate. Then it was off for our sons nap - while our daughter finished her lunch and decided to have some quiet time with God, she sat in my bed and prayed after she finished while she waited for me to be done. This was the first time she has done something like this and it was amazing and beautiful to me. Once he fell asleep I went to her and asked what she wanted to do. She asked for school time, I let her pick what she wanted to do. We began with a felt set in progress on "Brown Bear, Brown Bear What Do You Hear?" She would pick up the pieces one by one and recite the story from memory (not sure if it was in order - but that really did not matter). Then we talked about the life cycle of a butterfly (butterflies are the theme for her birthday this year) and she put some flash cards in the proper order of the life cycle. Then we moved on to file folder games - we worked on rhyming words and then sounding out words to match to the pictures. We did three sets and then called it a lesson.

We moved out to the living room where we proceeded to read about 10 stories quietly together on the couch. Then it was time to open another present in her mind. She received a Cinderella doll (NOT a barbie) birthday set and she wanted me to play pretend with her and cinderella. We did this until her brother woke up. Then all of us made a cake together - they were very excited to get to use the measuring cups and electric mixer (though they were disappointed I would not let them crack the eggs) while the cake cooked we went back into the living room and worked on a wooden puzzle together. A dress up the bears puzzle with a family of bears (mother, father and son) we would each dress one up and then take turns telling stories about the bears and what they were doing now. It was a lot of fun. The kids played quiely together while I cleaned up from lunch and baking and then we had some more storytime all together.

Another present was opened, this time a Disney version of the boardgame "Sorry" and we had to immediately play. Though it is much more challenging to play this game with a two year old and four year old than I would have thought. Our two year old eventually just had run of the pieces and soon became interested in some other flash cards and a magna doodle type thing that allowed us to finish the game - I lost of course. I suddenly ran out of energy completely and we all climbed into bed with a big stack of alphabet books that our son received today and worked our way through the alphabet - reading the uppercase letter, the four pictures and the lower case letter for each. Then we began to play flash card games, I was playing two at the same time, one was a version of the card game war, with Dinosaur pictures - which she really enjoyed. The other was simply helping our son name each thing on the cards as he flew through them and of course preventing him from ripping the boxes apart or bending and eating the cards! They did amazingly well staying in bed with me for awhile.

Then daddy returned home with some beautiful flowers for the birthday girl and we all were reenergized to have him home. Daddy and daughter headed to the store for some last minute treats and neccessities while we made dinner and then played some computer games (working on shapes, letters and mouse coordination) and of course spent some time at the Bob the Builder website. It is always nice to get some one on one time with him. Then it was dinner, presents and cake. Serona actually cut a sheet cake into the shape of a beautiful butterfly and decorated it wonderfully. While he was doing all the hardwork I was playing with her new gifts with her. We read another book (can't even count how many today) called Quick as a Cricket that we gave her today and then worked through her new My First Spanish Picture Dictionary care of her aunt, uncle and cousin in California. Then we did a puzzle of the life cycle of a butterfly - four seperate puzzles that you put together in stages to form the whole lifecycle. She wanted to do it again and we did. Then the cake was done and we sang Happy Birthday and enjoyed cake. Then it was outside for some Fireworks!!!! Serona put on a wonderful show for her big day (leftovers we put aside at the 4th for the occasion) and we braved the bugs (which truly were terrible - but worth it) and then in for baths, bedtime routine and a chapter from A Horse and His Boy. I think they have finally fallen asleep while I write this. I am off the finish laundry, take a shower and get to bed.


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