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Serenity is 8 years old!

by Chrissie Wainright on July 18th, 2016

Serenity’s Birthday Update

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Serenity is 8 years old!  She is growing into such a kind, thoughtful, amazing girl.  I am so lucky to be her Mama.  She is also growing REALLY tall.  Combined with getting several adult teeth, she’s looking so grown up!  But she still snuggles in bed with me every morning when she wakes up, and cuddles in my rocking chair sometimes too.  She reads books that I enjoy reading too, and she gets so lost in them Eric laughs and says “Earth to Serenity,” which is just what my family would say to me when I was reading in my own little world.  She loves to tell silly jokes, make up songs, and loves nature, fairies, and swinging.  Telling Stories. Asking questions.  Doing math with Daddy, including multi-variable algebra and multiplication tables.  There are so many wonderful things about her it’s hard to know where to start!  But I like to keep a record of her favorite things, so I will try =)
She really enjoys computer games.  It’s fun to watch when one captures her focus.  She finds something interesting and zooms in on it, and lives and breathes it for awhile, until she finds her next challenge.  Her favorite computer game this year was definitely Animal Jam, hence her birthday party.  She especially likes Overflow and Pest Control of the mini-games on Animal Jam.  They are logic and strategy games.  But she also spent a lot of time on different apps, like tunnel town and nibblers.  She also played Skylanders.

Serenity loves nature.  She will collect rocks or leaves or just revel in being outside.  She will slip outside and swing in the swing and enjoy the breeze.  When we were in Tahoe, she made a nature club in our yard, collecting lots of goodies and arranging them in pretty designs.  When we visited Abbey she and Maggie made homes by their pond with big sticks and branches.  She loves hiking on Turkey Mountain, and told me that when the trees touch overhead it’s like a doorway into fairyland.  I love listening to her stories =)

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The last pictures of her in her peach tree =)

The last pictures of her in her peach tree =)

Sliding down boulders with Maia on the beach

Sliding down boulders with Maia on the beach

Swinging jumps =)

Swinging jumps =)

Fairy doorways

Fairy doorways

Climbing girl =)

Climbing girl =)

Releasing butterflies =)

Releasing butterflies =)

Serenity still loves reading.  Rainbow Magic Fairies are still one of her favorites, although she finishes them very quickly. She was a Nora the Arctic Fox Fairy for Halloween.  A new author we discovered this year was Jessica Day George (Tuesdays in the Castle and Dragon Slipper). She and I both loved those!  She also read The Hobbit.  That little adventure began after we played our Lord of the Rings board game.  Serenity and Donovan wanted to know the whole story, so Eric and I gave them a very abbreviated version during a road trip to OKC.  After we got back we went straight to the book store so she could get The Hobbit.  I admit I wasn’t sure if she’d read it all the way through alone, she still sometimes gets nervous at things that are tense and dramatic, but she loved it.  And Eric occasionally read aloud to all of us, and his Gollum voice is excellent.  She also loves animal adventures like Starfire, in which all the characters are pegasi. Oooh, she also loves the Sisters 8.  She still reads non-fiction books, like her Atlases and space encyclopedias.  At one point she was very into Pokemon, and she asked me to get her the Pokemon handbook from the book fair.  I was a bit skeptical, since she didn’t actually play the card game, but I bought the book and she read it cover to cover. This was months before Pokemon Go, but she may find all that research handy now =) She also read Skylander handbooks.

Christmas gifts =)  Her new fairy wing pillow, snuggled up reading a new book =)

Christmas gifts =) Her new fairy wing pillow, snuggled up reading a new book =)

reading big books =)

reading big books =)

Rainbow magic fairy =)  7th birthday

Rainbow magic fairy =) 7th birthday

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Serenity loves school.  She even enjoys homework still.  The things I heard the most about this year were all the grammar jingles Mrs. Hovenesian taught her.  They were fun little songs to teach her what verbs or other parts of speech are.  She also loved her math homework, and all the books they read.

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Working on her Country in a Can project for school

Working on her Country in a Can project for school

In extra-curricular activities, Serenity was in Girl Scouts this year, and I was her troop leader.  That was a challenge, but so very fun to get to spend time with Serenity and nearly all the girls in her class.  She loves Girl Scouts, from the crafts, to the service projects, and spending time with friends.  She also took ballet.  She is very flexible and graceful, and she definitely preferred the lyrical music of ballet.  She got to do a butterfly dance for her recital, and it was beautiful to watch.  She enjoys ballet, but she’s not serious about it, so we are moving on to piano now.

Holding a bird during a birding activity for Girl Scouts

Holding a bird during a birding activity for Girl Scouts

Tie Dye party for Daisies =)

Tie Dye party for Daisies =)

With Liz =)

With Liz =)

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She plays games, but prefers the cooperative games like Forbidden Desert.  She  sometimes prefers to watch games, kibitzing and reading the rules.

She and Donovan are best friends. They are always coming up with their own games, pretending to be tigers, or pets.  They make their own little hideaways, often in my closet.  She often climbs up to the top shelf in my closet and just lays there, enjoying a little solitude and being up high.

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She loves swimming!  She’s pretty confident of her skills, and hangs out at the deep end, diving to the bottom of the pool and swimming all the way across it.  We took the year off of swim lessons, but we are going back next year so she can work on her form and just enjoy being in the water after our neighborhood pool closes.  She also loves riding around on her scooter.  She has a new bike, but is still pretty hesitant about actually using it, but she loves going fast on the scooter.  She will ride around and around the living room on the indoor one, and sometimes on the plasma car.

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Jumping rope was a big favorite this year

Jumping rope was a big favorite this year

She loves our tire swing =)

She loves our tire swing =)

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She likes to play dress-up, especially during Game Nights or when friends visit.  Her closet always looks like a tornado hit it, since they go through lots of outfits.  Her favorite of the dresses is probably the Snow White costume she got from Raegan.

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And the month by month photos =)

July 2015

July 2015

August 2015

August 2015

September 2015, school pic

September 2015, school pic

She sewed this dress for McKenna (now Maria)

She sewed this dress for McKenna (now Maria)

October 2015

October 2015

Halloween 2015

Halloween 2015

November 2015 (I love snowy with the baby, and her unicorn with baby)

November 2015 (I love snowy with the baby, and her unicorn with baby)

December.  Pure Bliss at Christmas =)

December. Pure Bliss at Christmas =)

January 2015

January 2015

January 2015. She uses the yoga swing a lot =)

January 2015. She uses the yoga swing a lot =)

February 2016

February 2016

March 2016.  She was Nefertiti in the class play

March 2016. She was Nefertiti in the class play

March 2016, coloring with sidewalk chalk from Easter.  I love this fairy =)

March 2016, coloring with sidewalk chalk from Easter. I love this fairy =)

April 2016

April 2016

May 2016 Fairy doorways

May 2016 Fairy doorways

June 2016.  Serenity created the Violet Thunderbolt as her superhero costume for DZ's birthday

June 2016. Serenity created the Violet Thunderbolt as her superhero costume for DZ’s birthday

June 2016 American Girl Doll Camp

June 2016 American Girl Doll Camp

June 2016.  Girl loves snow cones =)

June 2016. Girl loves snow cones =)

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July 2016.  We had a family birthday party at Cherry Berry =)

July 2016. We had a family birthday party at Cherry Berry =)

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Serenity’s 8th Birthday: Sleepover in Jamaa =)

by Chrissie Wainright on July 17th, 2016

Serenity’s Animal Jam Birthday Party

Serenity is 8 years old!  So hard to believe!  The theme for her party this year was Animal Jam =)  She’s been an Animal Jam member for over a year now, and she still absolutely loves it.  You get to create animal avatars and journey around the world of Jamaa, playing mini-games and learning random animal trivia.  You collect gems and diamonds, and can use them to buy more animals, pets, dens for the animals to live in, and things to decorate the dens and for the animals and pets to wear.  It’s a lot of fun, and a nice intro to online gaming.  It’s run by National Geographic.

Serenity the koala in her beach house den =)

Serenity the koala in her beach house den =)

Anyway, we kept circling how to actually translate the game to a birthday party, and finally I asked her if she wanted to actually play the game on the computer during her party.  She thought that sounded like fun, but since we could just scrounge up 6 computers that did limit the guest list a lot.  Since we were just inviting 4 people (she insisted that DZ get a computer during the party, and that he be included in the sleepover, she is SUCH a great sister =), I realized we could actually do a slumber party too!  That led to Animal Jam Live!

So we turned our lego room into Jamaa!  With shops and everything.  All the kids received gems as they arrived, and they went upstairs to spend them buying a den to sleep in.  In the den shop we had three A frame tents, Maia’s lace tent, two crazy fort castles, and a cardboard house to use as bases for whatever den they wanted to build.  Then I had all my fancy fabrics, cushions, and the entire contents of my linen closet out for them to use to decorate the dens.  They built really creative and amazing dens!  Serenity chose the cardboard house, and turned it into a Beach House Den.  She used satin fabric in yellow and blue for sand and water, and a hula skirt for the roof.  Donovan made Cosmos Den, sort of a jungle feeling den using the a-frame tent and a green mesh camouflage netting.  Lillyan picked a Gingerbread House den, so she used the crazy fort pink castle and added lanterns and pinwheels for candy.  Abby made Peck’s den, using an a-frame tent and lots of different purple fabrics.  Liz made a Haunted Pet den. She used an a-frame tent, grey tablecloths, and the castle wall fabric.  I had to get out the Halloween tub so she could buy some cobwebs, bats and spiders.  It was such a surprise!  She wanted it to be spooky, and it did turn out cool! =)  Anika didn’t spend the night, but she still built a Snow Fort, which was beautiful!

You can see the paintings I did of the Temple of Zios, Bahari Bay, and Crystal Sands behind the dens. =) Serenity chose her favorite lands and I painted them on butcher paper using a projector to trace the outlines. It was SO much fun =)

You can see the paintings I did of the Temple of Zios, Bahari Bay, and Crystal Sands behind the dens. =) Serenity chose her favorite lands and I painted them on butcher paper using a projector to trace the outlines. It was SO much fun =)

Behind Abby's excellent Peck's den and her wolf mask, are the paintings of Mt. Shiveer, Appondale, and Sarepia Forest.

Behind Abby’s excellent Peck’s den and her wolf mask, are the paintings of Mt. Shiveer, Appondale, and Sarepia Forest.

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Cosmos' tree house den =)

Cosmos’ tree house den =)

beach house in Bahari Bay =)

beach house in Bahari Bay =)

Liz made a haunted pet den. I got out all the Halloween goodies so she could buy webs, spiders and bats to decorate it =)

Liz made a haunted pet den. I got out all the Halloween goodies so she could buy webs, spiders and bats to decorate it =)

Passing out gem bags and getting ready for the first Hourly Spin!

Passing out gem bags and getting ready for the first Hourly Spin!

The dens cost 25 gems, and they started with around 30.  The kids spent a few gems on plushies in the plushie shop. We pulled all the stuffed animals and arranged them on the shelf by size, and charged 1 gem for small, 2 for medium, and 3 for large.  Serenity bought Snowy right away, that was very important.  Eric set up an hourly spin for them to get more gems. (You get a daily spin on Animal Jam, and the kids always ask to at least get enough time on the computer for their spin because if you go every day the multiplier for the spin goes up.  So we knew we needed to have spins at the party =)  The kids LOVED this.  After the den shop emptied, I put out the furniture shop with lots of decoration, pillows and blankets for them to spend their gems on.  They bought lots of silk flowers, scarves, leftover party decorations from old parties, all kinds of things to make their dens really cool!  And at bedtime, Eric had a “Midnight Sale.”  He sold them glow sticks and flashlights to enjoy in their dens at night.  I’m fairly sure they did not get a lot of sleep.  DZ maybe crashed a bit after ten, and they were fairly quiet by 11, but at midnight Abby and Lillyan ran down the stairs to tell me Serenity hit her head and was crying.  She and Liz had moved into Anika’s Snow Fort, and there wasn’t space for them both so she rolled into the little bench which was the only thing we left in that room when we turned it into Jamaa.  I put them back in their original dens, and didn’t hear any more from them till morning.  Morning came REALLY early, before 7am.  So in true slumber party tradition there was very little slumbering.

Eric said I should be in a picture, but I didn't actually sleep there =)

Eric said I should be in a picture, but I didn’t actually sleep there =)

Setting up for a midnight glow stick sale so the kids could spend their last gems =)

Setting up for a midnight glow stick sale so the kids could spend their last gems =)

Besides decorating their den, we also had an Animal Jam photo booth.  They have one in the actual game too =)  I put out all the dress up supplies, and if you’ve ever been to our house you know we have lots of dress up stuff.  I made each Animal Jammer a new felt mask too, designed to look more like the animals in Animal Jam.  So Serenity got a purple koala with aqua blue swirls, DZ got a snow leopard in black and red with red flames, Anika got a white arctic wolf with yellow lightning bolts, Liz got a cat (actually an arctic fox since the game doesn’t have a cat, but it looked the most like a cat) in pink and blue.  Abby got a wolf in lavender, and blue with black moons, and Lillyan got an otter in green and pink with stars.  They were fun to make, I kind of want to make more in more colors, but I resisted making extra choices.  Oh, I did have on extra Snow Leopard that was my first attempt at a mask.  Eric claimed it =)

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The girls had plenty of time on the computer too!  And Samantha, our friend from Texas, met them online!  That was a fun twist we could have with a LAN party.  The cool thing about having your animal jam buddies in the same room with you is that they could go on adventures and work together more easily!  So Serenity got to do the Lost Desert adventure with people she actually knew, and they could get much further than when you are playing with random people.  And Lillyan cured Serenity of her fear of phantoms.  Phantoms are little black and purple bad guys, and they show up in a lot of the adventures, so Serenity hadn’t played those kinds of adventures much.  Lillyan helped her get over her fear and she has been loving all the adventures since.  Like the Search for Greely and The Hive.  Fun stuff!!!  And it was so cute listening to Lillyan encourage her, she is so sweet!  But after an hour or two on the computer they left to go back to Animal Jam live!  Made me so happy =)

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Playing the Hidden Desert =)

Playing the Forgotten Desert =)

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Lillyan helped Serenity be less scared of phantoms, and now she loves Animal Jam even more!! She's been playing adventures all week =)

Lillyan helped Serenity be less scared of phantoms, and now she loves Animal Jam even more!! She’s been playing adventures all week =)

I also set up a pet shop with the brilliant idea that the kids could choose their own fabric and I would make them a pet to their specifications, just like they do in the game.  I bought a pattern from ikatbag.com, Menagerie.  It’s a great pattern, very simple, and with minor modifications can be used for a wide variety of animals.  And that’s how I stayed up until two a.m. on my sewing machine after the Animal Jammers were tucked into their dens.  Lol.  I am nuts.  It was really fun though.  I managed to get Anika’s done just before she went home.  She wanted an arctic wolf to match her mask, and she chose a pretty blue pattern with solid blue accent.  I used the fox design from the pattern mostly and just changed the nose a bit.  Then Lillyan and Abby came to the pet shop, and they wanted a Sugar Glider.  Well, of course the pattern didn’t come with a sugar glider, so I combined Kangaroo and part Dragon with much bigger ears.  They turned out cute and crazy, in a rainbow pattern for Lillyan  and black and pink spots for Abby.  They look just a little alien though.  Liz wanted a cat, which was way easier.  I made that in the morning, so it was a good thing they got up so early.  Serenity wanted a fox with a blue zebra print and yellow accents.  I just finished hers two days after the party, but she loves her.  She is even making her accessories all on her own!  And she tucked her into her den tonight. =)  I love it, my kids so rarely play with stuffed animals it’s particularly happy.  Donovan originally wanted a turtle, in phantom colors (purple and black).  Then he wanted to have one exactly like Abby and Lillyan.  So I switched his animal to another Sugar Glider, but I talked him into keeping it phantom colored because I didn’t want to make exactly the same thing again, and that was what he picked when he was not copying the big kids =)  He loves the loooong tail he can swing his sugar glider by =)  And then he made her a jet pack!  He got toilet paper rolls and some strips of fabric, tied it to her back, and stuffed colorful fabric inside for fire.  I LOVE it!

Serenity made Sunnywind a crown =)

Serenity made Sunnywind a crown =)

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Donuts.  Of course =)  OK Country Donuts outdid themselves this time, making bunnies, koalas and tigers in wild colors, just perfect for Animal Jam.

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It was a great party!  Serenity’s first words to me in the morning were, “I love my party Mama.”  And DZ asked if we could have Animal Jam all week.  So, success!  They have made new dens every night, and are thoroughly enjoying Jamaa and their new pets.

The kids have made new dens nearly every night this week =) DZ made this volcano den =)

The kids have made new dens nearly every night this week =) DZ made this volcano den =)

Serenity made this snow palace.

Serenity made this winter palace.

Big group hug after presents. So sweet! =)

Big group hug after presents. So sweet! =)

The felt masks I made =) Originally I was going to make a bunch of animals in different colors, but then I texted to see if the girls could tell me what animal/color combinations they actually liked, so I made one for each person. =)

The felt masks I made =) Originally I was going to make a bunch of animals in different colors, but then I texted to see if the girls could tell me what animal/color combinations they actually liked, so I made one for each person. =)

Our tech master getting it all set up =)

Our tech master getting it all set up =)

Jammart Clothing =) I sorted out accessories into the blue cabinet.

Jammart Clothing =) I sorted out accessories into the blue cabinet.

Here we have the masks, hats, tails, wings, capes, and extra animal ears. You can buy all those things in animal jam, so of course they were necessary for the party. I loved that we got to use things I'd made for years, and they all played with them! So fun!

Here we have the masks, hats, tails, wings, capes, and extra animal ears. You can buy all those things in animal jam, so of course they were necessary for the party. I loved that we got to use things I’d made for years, and they all played with them! So fun!

She put on her unicorn horn from her 6th birthday, wings from her 7th, and the mask from her 8th. LOVE!!!!

She put on her unicorn horn from her 6th birthday, wings from her 7th, and the mask from her 8th. LOVE!!!!

Maia in June

by Chrissie Wainright on July 16th, 2016

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Maia in June!

 

Maia has discovered the fun of the Little Computer, or ipad.  She is completely addicted.  She mostly plays Super Why letter games, and the Endless Alphabet game.  The added bonus of that is she says and recognizes words like Scrumptious, which is pretty much adorable.  She is still very letter focused.  She can list multiple words for each letter, and she’s even starting to take words and identify their starting letter, which I hadn’t even started asking her, she just started doing it.  =)  She has played a little cookie doodle… but all her cookies are letter shaped so it’s basically just another way to feed her letter fixation.

 

She has a big girl bed now, and even seems to sleep in it!  It’s so nice to not hit her with the door when I go in to check on her in the mornings =)  She sleeps on a pillow and with covers even!  Too cute =)  It makes it a challenge on Eric though, as he is tasked with checking to see if she stripped off her diaper in the night, and now he has to use all his ninja skills to figure that out without waking her.  Her bedtime routine with Daddy involves snuggling in the bed and hearing songs.  She usually fusses some still after he leaves, turning on her light and crying by the door (for better acoustics).  But when she’s ready to sleep she turns off her own light, gets in bed and pulls up her covers.  The other night I was doing her bedtime routine, and after I sang Twinkle I started reciting Pete the Cat and his White Shoes from memory.  She LOVED it.  She totally rocked out to all the songs (so probably not the best bedtime story choice).  And anytime I stopped she would supply the next lines of the story, so I got to hear her say things like “GROOVY” and “It’s Aaaallll Good.”  Oh, and “Rock and Roll!”  it’s too cute.  We may be having a Pete the Cat birthday this year =)

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She loves music class and the library.  She runs to the car with no hesitation if those are our destinations =)  We also signed Maia and DZ up for gymnastics classes… which she doesn’t seem to like as much.  Mostly she doesn’t want to get dressed and get in the car to go… I think she has fun there so maybe she will resist getting ready less now that she knows what it is.  They have a foam letter puzzle mat that she has to explore, which means she doesn’t really listen to the teacher.  And she could care less about stretching.  The first lesson though she LOVED jumping in the marshmallow pit!  And she enjoys the trampoline a little and she tried the balance beam today.  So we will see.

She especially loves music class when Serenity joins us after piano lessons!

She especially loves music class when Serenity joins us after piano lessons!

She loves her brother!

She loves her brother!

She really likes going to the library now, and even sits and reads herself books =)

She really likes going to the library now, and even sits and reads herself books =)

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Her favorite part of gymnastics class =)

Her favorite part of gymnastics class =)

Maia loves the pool =)  She loves riding around on Daddy’s back while swimming, and she loves playing on the steps, and the ladder.  She rides around in the little mesh blow up chair we have.  Her favorite pool toys are the eggs Ann and John got her.  They have little turtles inside, and she loves seeing what’s inside when she gets the egg!  It’s adorable, and actually all the kids in the neighborhood love playing with them too, so they are very popular =)

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