Saturday, December 13, 2008

Merry Christmas (oh so early)!

Today we celebrated our little family Christmas together, since we'll be celebrating with others for the rest of the season (and we can't wait!).

Christina's gift today was a new camera lens - and oh, it is a beauty. You might notice a difference in some of the close-ups today, if you're into that sort of thing.

The girls have been getting their Christmas gifts at regular intervals since October. Christina has a serious problem keeping secrets/waiting to give gifts. But today, Elena and Clara got their big gift for this year, a play kitchen with fruits, vegetables, and bread that you can cut with a toy knife. They had so much fun exploring this today, and we had so much fun watching them.

These aren't the best shots, but we wanted to post them to show off the girls' dresses. They are lucky enough to have several Christmas dresses each this year, thanks to family and friends, so we decided to start in on the several-days-of-dresses.

We posted a video last year of the girls making Christmas cookies, but this year we have a series of pictures to share, from the annual Christmas-cookie-baking-party over at our neighbor's house. It's so funny to contrast the girls making cookies today with the babies rolling around on a blanket "baking' with us last year!
A blurry shot, but the best we got of the three girls starting out their baking:

Clara prepares some dough:
And Elena sidles up to Linda to figure out how you make the sugar cookies into chocolate sugar cookies:

Clara really loved wielding the spatula:

And Elena LOVED shaking out sugar and sprinkles:

One of our works-in-progress (it's an upside down reindeer, in case you can't figure that part out!

Clara SO wanted to sample the dough - it was really tough keeping her from it, because she had her eye on it all of the time.

Busy little bakers:
Elena tries to figure out the rolling pin:
And decides to stamp out a star, instead:

Clara, finally able to try one of those delicious cookies. Look at this face!

Of course Elena ate her share (3!) of cookies as well:

What a fun day, and a wonderful way to kick off the holidays. We wish you all a very warm and wonderful holiday season!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

What do you think?

Well, here is our surprise! If you're not seeing the surprise, you're probably viewing this blog through a feed, and you should click on over.

Although Steve and Christina love to make things, blog design is not really our forte, so we enlisted the help of the talented Jennisa ( and she designed all of this for us. We hope you like it - we really do!

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Lost tree pictures

Something so odd is happening with the post below - pictures keep disappearing! In case these aren't showing up for you below, here are some more tree pictures; this time of Christina and Elena, and one more of Steve and Clara.

Posted by Picasa

Trixi's and Christmas Trees

Today was our neighborhood's annual Christmas-tree cutting trip, and we were so excited that this year the girls would actually get a bit more out of the experience than an extended nap in the car.

As usual, our first stop is Trixi's, a somewhat-historic cafe/bar near the forest where we hike to cut trees. Trixi was a wild woman, and so the decor in her bar is nothing less. The posters, the stuffed animals on the walls, and the photos of Trixi all add to the atmosphere.

Here, Elena enjoys a lunch of grilled cheese and tater tots - lately, her favorite part of a meal like this is dipping everything in ketchup. Today, even pickles were fair game for dipping.

Clara held court at the other end of the table. She got a grilled cheese and tots, too, but had more fun with the mayo packets our friend Emma kept handing her.

There was a little stage in one area of Trixi's that was decorated for Christmas - Neither Clara nor Elena could believe this indoor snow globe!

Standing under the moose head - last year, the girls just lay in our arms, but this year they were reaching the entire time - up to the moose, over to the arcade, down to something on the floor - they almost don't care where, but they are eager to point and direct you at this age. I think they like the power!

Elena got her way - over to the arcade, where she wished she was just a bit taller.

Clara decided to try her hand at foosball instead:

Back at the little stage, the girls couldn't resist clowning around and putting on a show for everyone:

But then it was off to Christmas tree cutting! We headed up to our favorite spot, where it had just started snowing. Just for the little trip up the hill, we put some people from a car without four wheel drive in the back of the truck.

We hiked just a little bit up the hill, and were able to find a beautiful grove of trees. We found a tree we loved. We've decided not to bring a tree home this year, so we just had fun visiting it in the forest.

We almost forgot that this would be the first time the girls had really seen snow and understood that this was something different. Clara especially seemed really excited, pointing at it and wanting to get down in it. Future ski bunny?

Clara keeps watch over the boughs we decided to bring home:

Then, back at the cars we have our usual hot chocolate and cookies. Some of the cookies the girls and Christina made with Aunt Cyndie made it to the party - but the big hit for Elena was the hot chocolate:
Clara thinks she needs another cookie:

And now, we present the cutest girls in the universe:

They were really happy on the tailgate together:

That is, until Clara figured out that Elena had a candy cane. And wait - Clara didn't!

We thought getting Clara one would solve the problem:

But Elena had apparently had it with sitting on the tailgate. So Clara got a little snug spot all to herself:

Worried about the after-effects of that sugar? Well, in Elena's case you'd be right - she was antsy the whole drive home. Clara, well, that's a different matter. In the last few weeks Clara has become very interested in texture. She loves things that are soft (or as she pronounces it, "saft"). She'll often find something she likes and stroke it, saying "Saft, saft!" This mitten is a prime example. She loves these mittens Grandpa and Grandma Mary gave her last year, and once she had this with her, she snuggled up and went straight to sleep for the whole ride home.

As we were leaving our Christmas-tree spot, we saw this cane hanging from the fence. Miracle on 34th Street, anyone? Are we meant to move in over here?

Finally, even though it didn't turn out too well, we had to include a picture of the four of us together...

To contrast with THIS from last year. Amazing!