Sunday, January 31, 2010

Girls and Dolls (and olives)

After nap today, Clara asked us to bring her "1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10 babies!" So Elena and Christina went downstairs to get an assortment, and we presented her with the 10. She and Elena immediately wanted to get settled in on the couch with their babies.

Here's Clara and her United Nations of dolls (these are three of her four favorites at the moment - far left if Baby Blue, middle is Baby Zoe, and far right is Baby M&M (she was originally named Emily, but Clara has gone through a recent re-naming of that particular doll). Her missing favorite is the Raggedy Ann Christina's mom made when Christina was young - she was further down on the couch. Clara calls her "Mommy Baby" - she loves it way more than the Raggedy Ann Christina made for Clara.
But, Elena is appreciative of the Raggedy Ann Christina made for her! This and one other doll (Baby Pink) are the only ones she really plays with. Here, Steve sat the doll on her lap, then put the doll's arm behind Elena's head - at one point Elena wouldn't move a muscle because she loved that her doll was "hugging" her and she didn't want to jostle it away!

We're still on and off here with feeling well - to keep morale high, Steve brought up some huge (colossal!) olives for the girls to wear/eat.

Here's hoping for a better week than last week! We're hoping to finally kick this bug and get back to normal.

Friday, January 29, 2010

On the mend

We have had almost a full week of sickness over here, with temperatures in the upper 103s, lethargy, coughing, restlessness, and just a full spectrum of miserableness. Elena is now about 95% all better, and Clara is at about 75% - so we are working our way out of this, at least!

Elena asked me to take a video of her with her "Bear Bottoms" on - so we did. You don't get a very good view of them, despite the showing-off, but most of the Gap Kids tights have a bear face right on the behind section of the tights, and the girls love them.

In this video, you can note two skills. First, Clara's great ability to follow directions. Even though at one point I ask Elena to lift up her hand so we can see her bum, it's Clara who follows through lifting her hand high above her head for most of the video! Second, note Elena's uncanny ability to snap. Christina didn't gain this skill until about 6 or 7 years old, but because the girls love the "snapping song" we play in the car ("My Girl") they love the idea of snapping, and it turns out that Elena turned herself into a snapping prodigy, as evidenced in the video. We hope you can hear that she really is snapping!

Monday, January 18, 2010

Weekend Away

This weekend we participated in a surprise for a friend's birthday - her husband got us all to book a weekend away together near Yellowstone to surprise her, and she only found out when they pulled up to the 6-bedroom cabin we'd rented and saw us all standing there. It was such anticipation and tiptoeing to be part of such a surprise, but all good fun.

Lots of the crew there (12 adults and 8 kids) went skiing, and Sylvie here shows off her goggles to Clara. But Christina and the girls opted for winter fun right outside the cabin, and lots of fun inside it.
We had planned for a few months to arrange all the food, drinks, and entertainment we'd have at the cabin. But we forgot ice! Luckily, there was plenty of pristine snow piled high outside. Eamon (husband of the birthday girl) made the kids these slushies with lemonade and snow (margarita versions for the adults were delicious, too!).

The girls definitely had their moments on this trip (sleep regression and some sustained whining) but they had many more moments where they were just little sunshines.

Here's a shot Clara took of Steve and Elena playing one evening.
Elena LOVED this backpack she swiped while another friend (Scott) was out skiing - I think one of her own is in her near future (not for school, just because both girls really, REALLY like walking around with them on!).

Lots of games ensued - many new, but also plenty of old ones. Twister! Christina bought this to teach the girls body parts, right/left, and color - but it is definitely still a crowd-pleaser.

Steve is pretty clear about his aversion to board games - so how sweet it was that he played several with the girls, anyway?

Jessica (below) initiated the "everybody watch the kid near you" rule, and it worked pretty well this weekend. We had one teen, and two maybe-tweens, but the rest were pretty much still little ones who were apt to get into mischief at any turn. Or, as evidenced below, get into sweetness, too.
One day Christina stayed behind with the four littlest while most of the others went off to ski - we had apples and peanut butter, colored in a calendar from Auntie Lissa, played in the snow, discovered icicles (first time for the three littlest) and tried to watch "Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs." Charlie LOVES it, none of the girls was too keen on that much tv and just wanted to move onto the next adventure.

Leni loved this lamp - it had flickering "candles" inside.
Caryn challenged Maeve (our group's biggest performer) to a wide-eye-off - alluring, no?

It was a birthday celebration, so there HAD to be cake. Christina and Caryn made enough cake for about triple the number of people there - and we picked at it all weekend long.

The girls with Maeve - they adore all the older kids, but have a special spot for Maeve. They were very disappointed to realize when we left today that Maeve wouldn't be returning home with us.
Peek-a-boo! This house was BIG and laid out so long that we were often losing ourselves (and one another) in it. It was a great house for hide and seek (which Clara and Elena learned about for the first time).
Another big crowd-pleaser for the younger set was this set of stairs - they loved sliding down them (little ones on the belly, bigger ones on their behinds, and although no one did it, there was lots of talk of sliding down them in sleeping bags!). Not pictured was the very favorite feature of the house - the laundry chute, which carried many a stuffed animal, doll, and sets of clean pajamas this weekend from the upper floor to the lower (over and over again).

Much of the weekend took place in the kitchen - here is a sweet moment with Caryn and Clara - two peas in a pod, telling secrets.

And here's the crew - the "Five Families" as Caryn called it. We're so lucky to have these people in our lives, and lucky to have had a weekend away together.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Mini Golf!

One of the last outdoor excursions we had in Arizona before we came back to Montana was taking Elena and Clara for their very first mini-golf experience. Christina is very, very fond of the game (despite lack of skill) and Steve graciously goes along with it. He took the time to show the girls the "right" way to putt.

Although they liked the lesson, they loved running around with the balls more. Oh, and examining the course. These definitely trumped actually hitting the ball with the putter (which really surprised us - we thought they'd like to whack at things!).

Christina tried to share some strategy, but it seems the girls didn't quite take to it... the few times they did hit the ball it went quite wildly off and around the course. Christina had to retrieve one ball that was headed merrily down a stream, as it had gone not only off the course but also out of the little pond that traps the ball for you - it was definitely a rogue ball.
We thought the girls would enjoy the mini-golf scenery, and it turned out we were right on that one - the decorations were a big hit.

But getting them to look at US for a picture while among the scenery was mainly a lost cause - they couldn't take their eyes off of the door that would open and close, open and close.
Also unexpected (but not really surprising) was that Clara really wanted to go IN the 'baby house.' Trying to explain that the house was only for the balls didn't really work - clearly this house is bigger than a ball, and could fit a girl! It took a long time to persuade her away from this one.
All in all, it was a really fun round of golf, if not precisely for the actual golfing. We ended with an Icee to top the whole experience off. Definitely Arizona fun...even just looking at the pictures brings us a little warmth now that we're back in the cold. Sun, warmth, fun....ah, it will come back to Montana someday.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Big girls - huge!

We've been saying since we got here that we think the girls are growing before our eyes - we're pretty confident that Elena has grown at least an inch and several pounds in the last month, and even Clara isn't as itsy-bitsy as she was just this fall. It's amazing. So here are pictures of the girls doing things we wouldn't have fathomed even six months ago.

Climbing trees! Okay, they didn't actually climb up themselves, but they asked to go up the trees, were able to with some assistance, and sat on their own.

And they've started ASKING for haircuts! We know lots of kids who are afraid of them, but this was their pick of something fun to do, and they had a blast.

It doesn't hurt that haircuts usually end with lollipops!

And today we were able to take the girls to their first amusement park! Nana Rose had the idea to take the girls to Encanto park, which is a park in the middle of Phoenix that has a small (little-kid-oriented) amusement park that Nana Rose, G-Daddy, and Steve all went to when they were young. This carousel has been on the property since 1948 - and the girls were happy to join the generations of people who have enjoyed these "neighs!"

So, okay, they've been on carousels before. But on this trip they have taken a liking to boats. They want to ride G-Daddy's boat that sits on its trailer out in the garage, and were taken on a ride around the lake to look at Christmas lights. Christina wasn't sure they were ready for something like this on their own, but look how they took to driving their OWN boats!

They were thrilled. Special thanks to Glenn, the attendant who pretended not to notice Christina's crazy overbearingness (yes, that's her down below standing INSIDE the ride the whole time the girls were there!) and who walks through pushing the boats around so the kids don't get stuck (didn't you always hate being the one in the corner in bumper cars?).

And if you can ride a horse and drive a boat, you can pilot a helicopter, right? Of course right!

Finally, big girls need a big girl car - check out this hotrod the girls picked on their own to drive.

All told, the girls each rode three horses, drove a car, piloted a helicopter, and steered a boat. And then, they got their faces painted with the picture of their choice.

We were so, so happy!

It was a wonderful day! And even though you can see from the chart below that the girls might still be wee in the general measurements of the world, they are getting so so big in our eyes! Thanks G-Daddy and Nana, for so many fun new experiences.