Sloane is 7!

What a 7 year old she is! Sloane has been learning and growing so much this year. She is measuring just under 48 inches. She will ride her bike with Adam on his runs and can easily go up to 6.5 miles. It makes Adam have to run faster down the hills and occasionally work harder to give her boost up hills.

Sloane loves listening to podcasts while she is playing, eating, bathing, and even reading. Her favorites right now are Wow in the World, Melon’s House Party, and What if World. Her favorite book series include Star Friends (a birthday present this year), Dory Fantasmagory (a Christmas gift this year), My Furry Foster Family, and Dragon Masters. Sloane has read Dory Fantasmogory to herself a couple times and I haven’t read it yet. It is a strange shift to not read a book to her. She has also remarked that it is good she can read well now so she can point out the mistakes I make when I read.

Sloane loves first grade and is doing really well. Her teacher told us during the Zoom conference that Sloane could probably be the substitute teacher if the teacher was out. Sloane remembers the schedule and reminds her teacher when she forgets to do an activity. Sloane has also been asked to help a classmate who joins them for PE and music. At first, I was concerned that Sloane would be missing out on things, but it became clear during her conference that Sloane can hear the instructions once and understand them. She is there to help her classmate who struggles to understand the instructions at times. Sloane produces massive quantities of art work and drawings, including the one below with all the characters from Doc McStuffins and writing out numbers and equations. She drew the self portrait below with things she loves in each quadrant- nature, family, animals, and friends.

Sloane loves to act out books/stories and sing; ultimately she is a performer. She has even writes musical notes and lyrics down as well. I’ve mentioned it before and it continues to be true-she narrates our life in song. She will make us all tickets and have us sit to watch her movie, play, or music performance. This fall she took a theater class. It was a two hour class for 4 weeks. She missed one when she was sick, but on that day one of the instructors turned out to have COVID, so it was a lucky miss for us. Sloane went right into the class on the first day without any tears or fears. There was no performance at the end- it was just a class to do acting practice and games. The best part I heard was that they asked everyone to introduce themselves the first day including telling everyone their pronouns!

Sloane was very excited to be fully vaccinated. We talked about the two doses and the time between them. After her first dose, she set up a clinic at our house to vaccinate her dolls. She made them vaccine cards with their names, date of birth, and lot number for the vaccine. The vaccine clinic took quite some time because of all the dolls to vaccinate.

We went to the Nutcracker the day after Sloane’s birthday. And it was when she was officially fully vaccinated. We brought our vaccine cards, masked up, and enjoyed the show. Our friends Andrea, Moria, and Elyan came too. We were in the first row and the kids needed booster seats to see over the lip of the stage. Sloane still struggled to see, so I sat in the booster and Sloane sat in my lap! I highly recommend the booster for anyone under 5’5″.

Sloane and Soren fight quite well, but also play very well. They are very loving with each other. They show generosity and caring to each other mixed in with the grabbing and screaming. Sloane lets Soren share her nightgowns and Soren shares his airdough clay. Sloane can convince Soren to share bites of his dessert when she has finished hers first.

Sloane is working on her cartwheel skills. She struggles to land on her feet instead of her knees. Mia’s glare in the background is pretty typical. With almost 2 years of pandemic struggles, we are lucky to have her entertaining us, making us laugh, and keeping us on our toes (such as not skipping words in books!).

Two front teeth!

Sloane’s top front teeth have been wiggly since September. I thought they would be out by my birthday, then by Halloween. They were still hanging on at Thanksgiving though. On December 7th, she lost the top left one. Then for 4 days, the right one was hanging a little crooked! She lost the other one on December 11th while sleeping over at Nini and Papa2.

All I want for Christmas is my 2 front teeth is on loop at our house, and now it will be in yours as well…….

Getting in the Christmas spirit

We have been enjoying preparing and doing Christmas-y things this year. We went to cut down our Christmas tree the first weekend in December. It was the day after Sloane’s second COVID vaccine and she was wiped out. We got her to rally to go pick out a tree. We went to a farm with animals and even a Santa to take pictures with. But the trees weren’t our style, so we dragged the kids to a second farm. We appeased them by letting them carry the electric chain saw. Their sound effects were spot on!

We decorated the tree and the house. This includes our manger that plays Away in a Manger and our humming elf puppet. Sloane and I tied wreaths with Rach, Bennett, and B’s two grandmas. Sloane was enamored by the three dogs there and both B and Sloane were super helpful making little green bundles for the wreaths.

Sloane and I watched a youtube instructional video on drawing Santa and Rudolf. Soren was in my lap with a piece of paper and marker as well. After a few minutes, we looked down and realized Soren was following along as well. I was super impressed with his Santa! Sloane’s Santa was cute too- I love how his beard is a chin strap.

We’ve been in our house for 3.5 years now. One of our favorite activities has been nightly walks to a house 2 blocks away that is over the top with decorations- as in they store the decorations in a POD because it is so much. Right before Thanksgiving, a for sale sign went up in their yard and no decorations are up this year. I got a little teary eyed because it was so exciting for the kids. We have branched out and are now enjoying other houses.

We baked a few types of cookies this year- gingerbread (which Adam had to rescue after I messed up!), peanut butter crinkles, and triple ginger crinkles. We made it through all three batches with only one person crying, and it was me. Decorating was fun and there were even sprinkles without corn and soy that we could use. Luckily Adam’s family is coming to town to help eat all these cookies.

Halloween 2021

Well- really it is more of an October 2021 post.

We went to the pumpkin patch on Adam’s birthday this year. It was a beautiful sunny day and the patch was a bit crowded. We wore our masks and still managed to have fun.

This year we managed a few festive crafts as well. The kids and I made colorful bats with fun faces. Adam and Soren made a milk jug skeleton. It took 6 milk jugs and a few pipe cleaners. Soren was disappointed it wasn’t fully anatomically correct, but we convinced him skeletons are just bones. We also carved our pumpkins and both kids did not enjoy the feeling of the insides.

On Friday the 29th, Sloane’s school had a dress up day. The theme was your favorite character in a book or movie. Sloane chose to be Ana from the Dragon Masters book series. It was fun to watch her put the costume together. She picked out a pink fleece/down vest for the costume and wanted to wear some of her pink leggings. I pointed out that Ana wears loose pants and a short vest, to which Sloane replied it just needed to be close, not exact. An excellent point by the 6 year old. We found a necklace of mine for her to wear as her dragon stone and a crystal to hang from her forehead. She loved it!

On Halloween, Sloane had a runny nose and was a little run down. She rallied and we went to our neighborhood parade with some friends all masked up. Sloane dressed up as “Sloane the magical fairy” which meant she wore all her sparkly clothing and made a pink wand. Soren requested to be a gila monster this year. After an initial rejection of the idea, I decided to go for it. With a black hoodie, pants, and some scraps, I used templates from brown paper bags and sprayed the items with bleach. Soren LOVED it! Luckily it was a dry day because Soren wanted a long tail and it dragged behind him. We did some trick or treating in the evening. Soren would ask if each house was ‘a go or a no go’ based on if they had lights on. With piles of candy, it was a success all around.

Soren is 4 years old!

This kiddo came tumbling into our lives 4 years ago. He has been getting more adorable each year and I would say he has melted Adam’s, Sloane’s, and my hearts.

Soren has continued his game of pretending to be a character for hours or even days at a time. His current favorites are Duffy the gibbon (after a gibbon at the Oregon Zoo), Timbee the wolverine kit, and an iguanodon. He will still come up to ask us the extensional question “who am I?” Sloane and Soren also have a new favorite show- Bluey. It is about a blue heeler dog family. It is Australian and has made for some cute pronunciations and vocabulary- to-mah-toe; cheeky; and dearie. They also play a game the dog children play called ‘the grannies’ in which they wrap blankets around their heads, slowly walk around causing mischievous, and call themselves Rita and Janet. It is one of my favorites that they play.

Helping in the kitchen is one of his favorite things to do. Thank goodness Pa made us two Shaker stools because we need one for each kiddo. Soren is really good at measuring and mixing. Opening cans is still a bit tricky, but we have such a strange can opener, I took me a few years to perfect it!

Sloane and Soren have been sleeping in Soren’s room together for the past three months. We have been working hard for the past three weeks on the kids not needing us through the night. We tried not to say sleep through the night, but just that they might wake up and not call for us unless they really needed something. They are doing so great, but Soren still pops awake most mornings at 6:15. Though he is awake, he is not bright eyed! He doesn’t like lights on or the blinds open.

When I was back in NH, my dad gave me a hat of his that was a little too small. I did not think that it would fit but it has been a big hit with Soren. He even slept with it on for the first few nights. He is a bit of a hat kid and he gives them great names. There is helmet hat, cousin Dinky hat, toucan hat.

He is getting super strong too. He likes to hang and can even hang on by one hand. He’s been riding Sloane’s old bike with training wheels and getting around so well on the strider/balance bike. The other day, he did this lean back move on the swing. I think it is also a good pic of his fashion sense. His current favorite look is red leggings with a neon green dry fit shirt with a bear on it.

He is also a complete goof ball, very giggly and silly. I put Sloane’s hair in pig tails for school one day and he wanted them too. The little puffs of curls were adorable, but the best part was he couldn’t stop laughing and smiling at himself. He also does little dances and tricks for us.

He is just so loveable. Here is a few more pics.

Soren starts pre-K

After much deliberation, we had Soren start preschool at Clark College this fall. We were so excited to have him start going to school for socializing and learning. About a month before we started him, they (thankfully!) changed their mask policy to all children over the age of 2 required to wear masks. He started on 9/13, and leading up to that was lots of tears. He kept telling us he didn’t want to meet his teacher or any new friends.

Soren likes to use the hairbrush to ‘style’ his own hair

The first morning he cried most of the way through the morning routine. He told me he didn’t want to bring figgy bar snacks because his teachers don’t know about them, but he could bring blueberries because his teachers do know about them. We had to pry his arms off my neck to get him into his car seat. Drop off was quite sad, but we heard from his teachers that he recovered. When I picked him up, it was quiet time. In all of our discussion of school, we forgot to talk about quiet time. He had told his teacher he didn’t sleep on a mat, he slept on a bed. Then he told me he didn’t like the tall ceilings of his classroom.

The rest of the week slowly improved. It really had no where to go but up after the second morning when he told me that he would ask Adam to put his lunch box up so high I couldn’t reach it. Week 2 had started off much better- he actually had good things to say about school when we were chatting at dinner. He likes the fish tank and that he even got to feed them once. Sloane has been super understanding and patient with Soren- like giving him her last strawberry at breakfast the first day because he wanted more, and reading him a story in the morning to distract him. Having an older sibling going to school has been a good example and helps him feel like he is growing up too.

Extra park time on the weekends helps with the school schedule

Sloane’s in 1st grade

We have started this year with full time in person school for Sloane. She was very excited to get back to school and see her friends there, but was concerned about being away from home for so much of the week. There were a couple of sad chats we had- Sloane crying and me explaining that she would have more time to learn and be with her friends. Through her tears she told me that those things weren’t important and that we (her family) were the most important. I am stashing the memory for when she doesn’t want to be seen in public with me as a teen.

The first day of school was 8/31 and right after I came back from NH. We walked to school together and she was very brave walking to her classroom. This year her room is around the back of the school. We have to drop her off at the sidewalk and she walks down along the school, disappearing around the corner. The goodbye was hardest on Soren- he shed some tears after she left. They have been buddies this summer and it was going to be long days without her. There is a state wide mask mandate (which we are really grateful for!) and that makes it easy to see in her eyes how she is a little nervous.

Sloane’s teacher is Mrs. Demert and so far it has been great. There was a little incident of another 1st grader yelling at Sloane that she was not allowed to play because Sloane wanted to include the boys and girls. Things have settled and she has found a fun group to play with through the day. Though we worked a little over the summer, being back in school has dramatically increased her reading ability. The other day she started reading me facts about random birds from our bird book. She also made some math problems for herself over the summer and has been enjoying that work in school

Sloane had some homework the first night! There were questions to answer about herself. She wrote that her favorite places were Nini and Papa’s; and G and Pa’s. Sloane wanted to add Camp Echo Rock as her favorite, but thought that was too much to write down. Also, she wanted to write Burgerville burgers were her favorite food, but decided on pancakes because it was shorter. While working on the sheet, she put her pencil behind her ear and requested a photo because she looked like Pa.

Sloane learned a breathing posture to relax in school and taught it to Soren. It was quite an amusing for me especially because we were on the side of the road doing it. Sloane also helped me slice her roll up sandwich. Packing lunches 5 days a week is a new skill for us all. We have been working on Sloane’s hair-do to make sure her fringe doesn’t fall into her face. The up front pigtails has been a hit, plus Sloane can make the shadow that she calls her ‘alien’ pose.

4th of July 2021

We had our Bramble extended family gathering over the 4th again this year. We camped for 4 nights at Cape Lookout, thanks to Uncle Zach’s planning 6 months in advance. Morgan arrived a day early and the kids were instantly attached to her. Adam said no one else could talk for about 20 minutes while Soren went on and on.

Once we packed up everything under the sun, we were on our way on 7/2. Sloane insisted on wearing her best dress so that she would look fancy to see the Zip cousins for the first time in 11 months. Darby instantly gave us the best hand-me-downs for camping- fleece animal onesies. Not only were they cute, but they were warm and kept the bugs off their skins! Soren originally said he was a red panda, but changed his mind to be a Northern Raccoon (he added the Northern himself to be like a Northern Flicker woodpecker). He proceeded to tell anyone walking by the campsite that was what he was.

We could walk to the beach from the campsite. We had some cooler temperatures in the mornings and took a few walks/hikes. We took more band album cover photos of all the cousins together. And we saw the largest waterfall in OR while eating salmon berries all the way.

We ate like camping royalty (primarily thanks to Nini’s planning and prep)- steaks, Otto’s brats, fresh caught crab, and local oysters! Plus Adam made mallow bars, which are like a bar form of smores. We can’t find a marshmallow Soren can eat, so Adam made them.

The ocean water was not like ice picks this time. We ran and splash, but the prize for best auntie of the trip was a tie between Morgan and Darby!

Soren was so cuddly on the trip- for many reasons- wanting to be close to people, needing love from falls/injuries, and to get warm and cozy. I liked having him in my lap in his Northern raccoon suit for the extra warmth.

For Donna

I do this blog for family and friends, especially those out of town. My Aunt Donna has been so wonderful to my kids- sending them cards and gifts. We send thank you notes but I think this video captures how much the kids love her gifts. Some time over the pandemic, she sent out a couple scarves. Soren picked the blue one with little coins attached. He loves it tied around his neck as a cape. We had the box fan set up for a while during our heat wave and Soren turned it into his superhero wind machine.

We love you, Donna!

Kindergarten done!

Her kindergarten year was not like anything we could have predicted- remote for a month, small group (2 hours twice a week) for 3 months, and hybrid (2 full days per week) for 6 months. She learned to read (100% of credit to her teacher), loved helping her teacher, played fun imagination games with friends, and made some amazing projects. Her final project was an animal research project. She chose the cheetah and made her first poster board. She brought it home along with a pile of projects.

Sloane’s last in person day was Tuesday 6/15 and they had an indoor camp out. Sloane brought a flashlight, a book (Sisters a graphic novel), and a blanket (crocheted one from Jesse). They had marshmallows and made crowns with their camp names on it. Sloane was a fairy princess, of course.

On Wednesday we went to a picnic at her school with all her classmates (include the other half that went on the opposite days!) We were able to see Sloane run around (with masks) with her classmates. She really loved her classmates Snow and Emma. Soren was trailing behind them and having a ball. Plus there were popsicles and ice cream! We even got a picture of Sloane with her teacher Mrs. Morrison without masks on.

Sloane told us in the weeks leading up to the end of school that she wanted to go to kindergarten all summer. She didn’t want the year to end. Since having school end, she has been loving vacation- bike rides, new playgrounds, Camp WeWow podcasts, and trips to the beach!