...It just went so fast.
Saturday afternoon, Braz came over to help Matt fix our grill. Since he had the girls with him, the kids played and they stayed for dinner.
And while the boys were out getting replacement parts, Penny's teacher called to give me her end-of-year summary of Penny's progress. The summary of the summary: awesome. Penny's reading on a fourth-grade level, with comprehension on the second or third grade level (she said it was normal for comprehension to lag behind a bit), and her only real difficulty is that she's sometimes very easily distracted. Her math abilities aren't quite as solid as her reading, but she's not lagging behind the pack there, either. Her teacher said the best improvement was actually in her writing -- somewhere around late winter, something finally clicked and she started throwing out fantastically imaginative sentences and stories. Matt and I had noticed this ourselves at home -- Penny took pride in telling me the silly and descriptive sentences she came up with for her spelling notebook. So though there's another week of school left to go, she's pretty much finished first grade and Matt and I can feel proud of her for her growth and accomplishments.
Sunday, I took Penny to Chuck-E-Cheese for a classmate's birthday party. We wound up being half an hour early (I tend to overcompensate for traffic when I'm taking the interstate, and then there wound up being none) so we walked two doors down to the bookstore. I found the next few books in the How To Train Your Dragon series, which Penny's really enjoyed, and she browsed for a bit, herself.
Then we went over to the party. I haven't been in a Chuck-E-Cheese since I was ten, I think, and Penny's never been to one. She was a little worried, at first, that she wouldn't know how to play the games, but she got sucked right into the hamster-tube tunnels, and then completely lost her little mind when she was given her share of game tokens and realized that the tickets the machine was spitting out could be exchanged for STUFF. It was a little like watching a documentary: Evolution of a Casino Zombie.
We did something a little different for her food, there, too. Like most kids' birthday venues, they served pizza. I was bracing myself for a 24-48 period of high blood sugars when a friend at work mentioned to me that she really liked the cotton candy at Chuck-E-Cheese. And I got to thinking -- this party was 2:30-4:30, right across snacktime and in no way anywhere near an actual mealtime. So why not see if she'd be willing to trade pizza for cotton candy? Cotton candy, being pure sugar, would hit her blood sugar hard -- but it wouldn't linger in her system for a day or longer, the way pizza does. I ran it by Matt, and he agreed. I offered the deal to Penny, and she took it: she gets cotton candy far less often than she gets pizza. And even better, when I actually got the cotton candy, it came in a huge single-serving bag (volume is nice -- it meant she didn't have to feel cheated) and had nutrition information already printed on it. One slice of pizza: about 45g of carbohydrates. Huge bag of cotton candy: 15g. Yeah, I think this was a good deal.
While we were at the party, Matt took Alex over to Braz's to swim, and then afterward, everyone came back to our house for the cookout. By the time Penny and I got home, everyone was in full swing.
Braz made brazburgers and stuffed chicken with cheese and apples, and we had chips and baked beans and corn on the cob and ice cream. I'd bought a watermelon, too, but everyone was too stuffed to want any.
You'd think that having that many kids together would turn things into an incredible mess, but I think there's an upper limit on the amount of mess you can achieve as the number of kids goes up. And having so many kids helping to clean up made it go much faster. And as a bonus, since all the kids had someone to play with, the adults actually got to talk to each other in more than ten-second bursts! (Which is not to say that we weren't frequently interrupted. But I think the average got dialed back to every 30 seconds instead of every 10.)
You know what's really awesome, though? The sight of four girls, ages four through eight, all curled up on the couch with books.
And the boys looking like they'd really like to join them.