Saturday, February 27, 2010

Purim and Hamentashen

This one's for you, Auntie Laura! We know how you love your hamentashen. :)

So although we are not Jewish, our whole family has a love of so much having to do with Jewish culture, and so we begged a few friends of ours in town to let us celebrate Purim with them. But, because we're Catholic, we had to atone first for straying, so we had the girls wash the kitchen floor with toothbrushes before we left for our celebration.

Joking! The girls obviously did wash the floor with toothbrushes, but that was their own choice of a fun activity this morning. Side note - before going to celebrate Purim Christina asked the girls how they wanted their hair done today. Elena chose mouse ears (you'll see this look better in some later pictures) and Clara chose Nutcracker. That girl keeps us on our toes. Christina went with many braids, to simulate Clara in the Nutcracker's look - because really, how do you make a girl look like a Nutcracker with only a hairstyle to work with???

Okay - so off we went to the party. Sylvie (1 year old friend and daughter of our Purim-celebrating friends) gave the girls each a headband as they walked in the door. Elena felt this was a festive look:
The girls tried to concentrate on rolling out the dough for hamentashen cookies into a big circle.
Sylvie kept rolling her fingers underneath and into the dough - every time. A bit sad, but also really funny!

Elena tried to be patient while it wasn't her turn, but it's clear that was a tall order:
Some dough-tasting had to be done, as a reward for all that patience!
Then came the cutting of the dough into circles:
And then the filling was brought out - it was dried plums and nuts, and the girls could not stop eating dried plums by the handful!

Clara turned out to be a hamentashen making genius. She was really good at getting the filling in, and she filled and folded these cookies long after the other girls had moved on.
Elena mostly liked tasting the filling!
Folding the dough into triangle turned out to be a bit tricky - even for the Christina and Steve. These were some pretty funny-looking hamentashen.

While the cookies were baking, we did some aspect of the traditional dressing-up for Purim by doing face paints. Sylvie REALLY got into the paints!
Elena went with an all-pink motif:
Christina painted a cat face on Clara, and then Clara sweetly painted Christina - "I hold you throat, you no move." Felt sweeter than it sounds, evidently!
Then we took turns saying "Haman!" (the name of the "bad guy" of the Purim tale) which was the cue for everyone to make lots of noise to drown out the sound of his name!

It was a bit loud for Elena, but Clara and Sylvie loved it.

Then, time to try the fruits of our labors. Those hamentashen were delicious!

Clara and Sylvie would have no part of it, but Elena decided to take our friend Jessica's suggestion that they dress up like Esther, the "hero" of Purim. She quite liked it!
Our best shot of all three girls together.

Jessica, Matt, and Sylvie - thanks for letting us crash Purim and for teaching us how to make hamentashen! We had a wonderful time.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

I would've baked a cake...

Today, Steve asked for a chocolate Bundt cake and it was also cousin Grace's birthday, so the day definitely called for a cake. Granted, cousin Grace lives too far away to EAT our cake, but we definitely talked about making it for her, and for Daddy.

The girls are so lucky that so many people have supported their baking habit - they have gotten cooking gear from Grandpa and Grandma Mary, Grandma, Nana and G-Daddy, and just recently, Steve's Aunt Pat. Today the girls asked to wear her aprons to cook. I just love in this set of pictures how you see them checking each other out, to see how they are smiling!

We are going to call this our very best suggestion for kid friendly baking. It is the absolute easiest cake, and requires lots of stirring and not much precision. It's pretty moist - I'm not sure a Bundt pan is the easiest form, and next time we'll be putting this batter in cupcake pans for the VERY most fun kid recipe of all time. But for now, if you want it, click HERE for the cake.

Bonus of this cake - it didn't take long at all to get from this kind of diligence... this kind of reward!

Happy Birthday, Grace! Happy chocolate bundt day, Daddy! Happy Sweet Friday dessert tomorrow, Kate/Kevin/Annie!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Grateful for Tuesday

We don't usually mind Mondays much over here, but this particular Monday was a tough one. Elena woke up at 4am with a fever, and was really uncomfortable. That meant that Christina, Steve, and Elena were all up pretty early, and all pretty unhappy. We just wanted Elena to feel better, and even being in bed with Mom and Dad helped only marginally. Clara joined us at 7, and we tried to start the day. Elena just had a really hard day feeling lousy the whole day through. So, were we ever glad to wake up to a sunny and perfectly fine Elena this morning! We are VERY grateful it is Tuesday!

Here is Clara, early in the morning, telling Christina: "No Mom, I no need THAT help!" as she was trying to help her get dressed.
But once she realized her picture was being taken, she got very cutesy:
And then decided to take two pictures on her own. Christina is honored to be one of the favored subjects (the other was her blanket!). Funny Clara story - even though Elena felt lousy on Monday, Clara was full of pep. When Christina went to get her from her crib in the morning, she said: "Mama, you no working? You here?" and Christina assured her that she was here, she didn't go to work yet. And then Clara said, "Oh, I lost you." It seemed to us the first evidence of her having had a dream she could tell us about, since Christina does not, nor has she ever, worked a night shift.
Lately the girls have been pretty insatiable - they are hungry all the time. Steve has started them on some pretty full breakfasts, which they will help get ready by listing what they want. This morning Elena said: "I want eggs, a toast, a peana budder, juice, a Caillou!" So that is what she got. Why does the girl look so dubious when she got everything her heart desired?

Next week the girls start their first real gymnastics class. They've been going to "open gym" for a little over a year now, and they get to do tumbling kinds of things, which they really like. Oh, and jumping things, which they love! But this class will teach them some of the basics of gymnastics, particularly how to use their legs, arms, and overall core to balance and compensate as they're doing the jumping. Elena already taught herself to pull up on a parallel bar and pull her feet up between her hands, hanging (and one time flipping!) upside down. We love her confidence, but want them both to know how to fall properly, and how to watch out for those little backs and necks!
So Christina took them to get gymnastics clothes today. Really, they just needed tight-fitting pants/leggings, but they saw these shirts and said they needed them for "gymastics," too. So, monkeys for our little monkeys!
Clara is explaining that her bear, JoJo, is "a bit shy."
While Elena shares that her JoJo (previously known as Honey!) can hold Soft Dog, by himself!

A simple, but happy Tuesday. Hope yours was, too!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

A spot of tea

We have a book from Steve's childhood - Baby Bear's Happy Day. It was well-loved when we got it, and it has seen a lot of love from the girls in their short lives. Today, we did another patch job (sadly, it is out of print and we can't get a new copy!) and Elena read the book to Clara.

Elena just made Baby Bear fall - they have fun making him do things he's not "supposed" to be doing.
The Clara gets a turn "reading" about Baby Bear.

It's just too much fun to put him in all the little slots in the book!

Later in the afternoon, spurred by an episode of Caillou, the girls decided they wanted to have a tea party. We absolutely recommend this White August "kid" tea. It's a loose tea of pretty flowers and dried strawberries, it's a bit sweet just on its own, and it pours out pink!
We dressed for the occasion today, mostly by donning boas.
We practiced manners, and asking people how they are doing.

And of course, we had to do "cheers:"
Christina was really surprised that the girls could pour on their own. This is Christina's real teapot, from Grandma Mary and Grandpa, and it's kind of heavy. Christina was helping them pour, but they insisted they could do it on their own. After some spotting, Christina became convinced they really could!
Such sophisticated little girls!