Saturday, January 31, 2009

So This is Winter

So far this winter here at home, it has either been too frigid to take the girls to play outside, or it has been warm enough without any snow on the ground. Yesterday we lucked out with a day in the 40's that loosened up some of the icy snow, and the sunshine made it an inviting day to go outside. We suited the girls up (sidenote - they love wearing these snowsuits inside, too - it's quite the fascination they have!) and noticed that they have no winter boots. Guess we didn't think they'd be walking so much when we got ready for this winter, so we'll have to fix that.

Then, as we headed outside, the girls grabbed some of their beach toys, which we thought made great snow toys - we just wouldn't have thought of it ourselves!

Clara, who loves mittens, has to take these off to really get some scooping action:
Elena surveys her options (but her face is too pretty not to do a close-up on, so you don't get to see anything she's surveying here!):

Hmm...that beach crab doesn't seem too happy about all this snow:
Elena takes a pail to see if it will scoop the snow any better than the shovels:
Just look at Clara's expression here - she is so funny with all of her faces:

Christina, Clara, and Elena were building a snowman when who pulled into the driveway but Steve! The girls were thrilled to have Dad home, and he came over for an improptu lesson in snowman care - the patting move:
Clara readily took to patting the snowman (she'll pat just about anything) but it was more loving than a packing-down-pat. Elena wasn't having any of it.
Results of our little snow day:

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Food is Fun...

...and full of surprises. It comes in all colors and flavors and sizes." Yes, we read the "Food is Fun" book around here enough to have it committed to memory. But we aren't always having a lot of fun with food - in fact, sometimes, we wonder what on earth we are supposed to be feeding these children that is a) sufficiently nutritious, b) sufficiently diverse from day to day, and c) sufficiently enticing to the children.

So, over the weekend we caved and bought the "Deceptively Delicous" book by Jessica Seinfeld. The idea is that you "hide" veggies in food so kids don't mind eating them. Our girls don't mind eating vegetables at all, and so they don't really need to be hidden. But we are in desperate need of fun new recipes, and luckily that is included here, too.

The results of our new "fun" experimentation? Here's Elena:

She contemplates the spinach covered tofu blocks, gives them a taste...

And voila! Is that fun, or what? She loved these, and ate four of them for lunch.

Now, we'll check on Clara. She takes a bite of the tofu block...
Whoops! That doesn't look like fun!

Luckily, she was mostly joking.

This grin show how hilarious she though hamming it up for the camera was. In all honesty, she wasn't as wowed by the tofu blocks as Elena, and Elena in fact ended up eating most of Clara's. But Clara did eat spinach, rice, and squash for lunch anyway, so as we said, it's not as if she's lacking in nutrients.
Further evidence - see how morose this girl can look even drinking milk? And she loves milk!
You may notice in this food update several landmarks. One, the girls eat off of plates now, not just the tray! (We're getting so fancy around here). They are also able to use forks and spoons pretty well on their own (not that they needed them for the tofu blocks, but they are on the trays for the other foods, which they WERE used for).

The girls just grow more and more in terms of both skills and size every day, and we love watching them.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Three Arizona Adventures

Here's a sampling of a few of the things we did while in Arizona.

First up, a visit to the Rainforest Cafe - a fun place to eat that is filled with animatronic jungle animals who move and simulated rainstorms every few minutes. The girls loved it -we were proud of them for enjoying it despite the unexpected noise and movement, which seemed to scare some of the other kids we saw there.

Clara and Nana Rose by the aquarium, looking over to the gorilla show going on:
Both girls are doing so much better eating and drinking on their own than they were before we left for this trip. Here, Clara shows her prowess with a big girl cup and straw:
Elena and Christina share a laugh:
Steve and Clara up at the 'bar' - they loved the bubbles beneath the bar and the chairs with tails, but it was hard to get good pictures there with the neon.

A second, ongoing adventure was Nana Rose and G-Daddy's back yard. It is landscaped mostly with rock and safe plants, and the girls loved playing there. They scooped with shovels and buckets, and played in the hammock and with wind chimes.

They also loved the swing- Grammy Ellen helps Clara get in:

Then Elena takes a minute to cuddle with Grammy Ellen and her soft dog.

Grammy Ellen really won Clara's heart over when she brought out the technology. She showed her a cell phone, and as always, Clara was facinated:

Finally, in a stark contrast to their fun in the snow, the girls had a few adventures in Nana Rose and G-Daddy's pool. In January!! They are really quite skilled in the water for being so young. They blow bubbles in the water, kick their feet, and Elena even ducked her head under the water.

That concludes our catch-up on posting from our time away. We're all safely back home now,and we'll resume our regular sporadic posting schedule. :) Thanks to everyone who made our time away from home so full of love and memories.

Back in Arizona

After our family-filled but blustery time in New York, we were lucky enough to go back to Arizona for a little more time in the sun and a little more time with Steve's family.

Very sadly, we seem to have had some sort of downloading problem, and we've lost some pictures of opening presents with them and of the girls going to get a super-fancy haircut at a kid's hair salon. We're really bummed out that we don't get to share those memories with you in photos, but we still do treasure them.

We do have pictures of some other fun moments while we were in the sunshine, though. One day we took the girls to the park that Steve played in when he was young, and the girls had a great time playing with their dad there:

They look like a little mirror, don't they?

Then, we went across the street to feed the ducks:

Christina was on camera-duty and also on stomp-away-the-pigeons duty (they were trying to steal from the ducks!).

We also took the girls to the Arizona State University campus, where Christina and Steve met and where we both got our degrees.

There was a really hilarious and touching game the girls came up with while we were on campus. Elena would run down the sidewalk, and Christina would help Clara run "fast" so she could catch up. When she caught up, the girls would spontaneously hug and hug, and then they'd run again. It was beautiful to watch them at this:

Our good friend Brian took some pictures of us with Steve's family while we were in town. Even though the girls were absolutely, positively NOT in the mood for pictures, he still made the photo shoot work. Here are some of our favorites:

Clara and Uncle Scott (whom she called "Sott" and whom she adored - she followed him from room to room saying "Hi. Hi.")
This seems like a fast-forward into teenagehood for Elena - look at her slouching in the background! Clara is being the picture of toddler adorable-ness.
The whole crew (G-Daddy, Elena, Christina, Clara, Steve, Nana Rose, and Uncle Scott):
Clara taking a walk with G-Daddy and Nana Rose by the lake:

So there's a sampling of our fun in the sun!

Monday, January 5, 2009

Dinners at Grandpa and Grandma Mary's

As we said in our last post, this visit to New York was the first for the girls to meet their Grandpa and Grandma Mary. We tried to spend lots of time with them, and we went down to their house for dinner twice while we were there. Sadly, the girls hated the hour drive down to the house, but happily they loved the time they spent there.

We were joined there by the Auntie Melissa/Uncle Jeff/Calynn trio and Auntie Cyndie. One time we attempted a sisters with sisters picture on the steps (excuse Christina and Elena in this shot with their goofball smiles - we were being silly):
Grandpa scored big points by showing the girls his snowglobes. They adore snowglobes:

Grandpa also took the girls to the big mirror in the living room to show them their reflections. Clara happily poses:

But Elena poses with a pout - we have to watch out for this little attitude!

But the girls didn't come all that way to pose. Oh, no. They were there to WORK. First, they helped inside the house. Clara helps load the dishwasher:

And Elena helps out with the oven:

Grandpa and Grandma Mary own a vineyard, and one day we told the girls we'll take them out their for a picking and pressing of the grape harvest. But they weren't content to wait, and got right down to busy cleaning up the wine room and inspecting this year's vintage:

Afraid of violating child labor laws, we took the girls back inside and they had another round of stocking-opening. But these had a unique twist - CANDY! The girls have rarely ever had candy, and never any wrapped up as gold coins or foil-covered Santas. But don't let this look fool you:

Elena somehow knew that these foil-wrapped beauties were going to be tasty, and she ripped the foil and ate the heads off of both her Santa and her sister's Santa.

Then she started on the candy canes:

Clara didn't seem to get the candy aspect at first, and was happy with her toothpaste and orange:

But soon, she figured out what Elena was on to, and then she jumped right on that bandwagon.

We had an idea that it would be fun to get a shot of our little family up on the hill where Grandpa and Grandma Mary live. Usually, this might have worked fine. But enter in two children hopped up on sugar and one dog running around everywhere BUT near the photographer, and you get something like this:

Even when the dog had gone away, the pouts had set in, and this is the best we got:

Alas, family portraits are elusive. We'll keep trying!