Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Vanessa turns 4

Wow, 4 years old seems like more than a year older than 3, somehow... Vanessa is getting to be just such a little lady. We had the opportunity to spend her birthday with so many of our family and friends.

The week before Vanessa's birthday, we were so lucky to have my sister Hannah come stay with us. She helped get our house more organized and helped the girls (and ME!) have a blast in the process. Hannah and I played Nancy Drew computer games at night and organized and traveled around during the day -- to the pool, park, and zoo!

The girls have never before had their nails painted, so Hannah brought fingernail polish. She also brought all kinds of dress-up clothes and accessories. Elizabeth's favorite things were the shiny red shoes!

Vanessa also got in on the dress-up fun. She liked the pink puff-ball shoes best. I guess my girls like shoes! Thanks to Hannah for providing so much great stuff.

Hannah also brought a bunch of sombreros and other hats. Elizabeth tried out a cowgirl hat with her cowgirl boots. She looks pretty rootin' tootin' to me.

Grandma K, Grandpa K, Vanessa, and Elizabeth all don't seem to mind being a little goofy and trying on some rather large hats!

Hannah was still around on Friday when the craziness started -- Vanessa's birthday party! This was Vanessa's first party with several of her friends over. You can kind of see Vanessa, showing how excited she is to be the birthday girl and getting to see her friends.

Paige, Susan, and Vanessa got the castle first.

Elizabeth, Tess, and Kai got it next. I think in this picture, Elizabeth is reminding Paige that she already had a turn... She can have another turn, Elizabeth!

Well, Elizabeth was really good about sharing her kitchen stuff with (from left to right), Paige, Grace, and Susan. After the party, she told me she did a good job sharing, and to her credit, she did!

Craft time! We had glow-in-the-dark stars, glitter glue, and sparkly outer-space foam shapes. James prepared the food and the crafts -- and he was home from work and taking pictures of the party. Hmm... there must have been something I was doing at the party... I guess I couldn't have asked for a more helpful husband.

Here's another craft-table picture.

Then on to cupcakes! We are "limiting food coloring" in our diets at the moment, but you would never know from looking at how colorful the sprinkles were that we were putting on our cupcakes! Oh well, birthdays are days for exceptions to certain rules...

Rules like not licking knives...

(Here's another look at those blue cupcakes. VERY blue.)

Or rules like cleaning your child's face before taking a picture!

Then on to opening presents! She got all really, really great ones.

And she also really enjoyed opening the cards, too!

On our last full day with Hannah, we did some bowling followed by a visit to Aunt Heather's and Uncle Terry's house. I didn't get any pictures of Aunt Heather and Uncle Terry's house this time, for some reason, but we all did have a great time. Anyway, I did get some pictures of the girls' first bowling experience (in a real bowling alley, that is).

Thank goodness for bumper lanes. Not only did they artificially inflate my own score (what fun!) but they also allowed almost every ball rolled to actually knock over some pins. (I say almost every ball, because there were a few times when the ball was rolled so slowly that it stopped before making it to the pins.)

I think this one might juuusssst make it.

We also had a party for Vanessa actually on her birthday (whereas the little kids' birthday party was a few days before). Here is my attempt at a cake for her. It was decorated, of course, at the very last minute, after the guests had arrived (thank goodness the guests were James's parents, and quite understanding!)

Well, Vanessa seemed pleased with it in any case. She blew out the candles, no problem!

The birthday party! The girls were so happy to see their Nana and Grandpa.

Vanessa wanted the number 4, of course, especially because it was purple. Elizabeth, on the other hand, insisted on having the frosting writing of Vanessa's name!

Vanessa used her fork, and you can see how Elizabeth ate her cake...
Cake was followed by ice cream, which seems to be one of the primary reasons for having a birthday, in Vanessa's mind.

Where was Daddy? Well, he got to see Vanessa on the morning of her birthday, but then he had to go away on a business trip. BUT, the cool thing is, he got to see our nieces in Texas and this was especially cool because it was actually very close to Katelyn's 16th birthday.

We were also very excited to get a visit from Uncle Brian and to-be-very-soon-Aunt Joanna. They are so busy preparing for their wedding this Saturday, but they were able to come by and just play with us! James and I and Grandpa spent the whole weekend blowing cellulose fiber insulation into the attic and cleaning up afterwards, so the girls were especially starved for attention. Then to get all those hugs from Brian and Joanna -- ah, heaven.

Here is Elizabeth's 2 and 1/4 year-old picture with her Dee-Dee doll. She also seemed to remember that her bunny belongs in these photos sometimes (although I can't remember him making an appearance since she was a very tiny baby). Elizabeth has recently dubbed this bunny Knuffle Bunny, after the bunny in the Mo Willems book.

Here's Vanessa in her 4-year-old pic with her Miss Dee doll. Vanessa was 40 inches tall, 37 pounds, and really brave at her 4-year appointment at the pediatrician's. She got a vision test, a hearing test, and six vaccines I think. She really does seem so grown up. She reads fluently, and usually in her head, and she writes or types a lot of thoughts every day. She can count to 100, and does (frequently when stalling on something, but what the hey). She can read the beginning piano lesson book we bought for her, so she'll practice lessons from it entirely on her own. She knows how to pump her legs on the swing, she can get dressed without sitting or holding onto anything for balance, she is getting pretty good on her strider bike, and she can get from one side of the pool to the other with flotation (although she still isn't too comfortable getting her face wet). I'm also really proud of how she can actually talk to people she has just met now, without being overly shy. Go Vanessa! You have officially left toddler-hood and you are now a big girl!

And here are the girls together!