Tuesday, July 27, 2010

New York fun part 4

This is our last set of pictures from our trip to the East coast, and we really can't believe the trip is over. It had its challenges, but we love remembering all the sweet and wonderful moments the trip brought, as well.

We stayed the week in NY with Aunt Lissa and Uncle Jeff, but we were often running around and didn't see them as much as we wished we could have. We had fun helping out here and there with the kids Aunt Lissa was watching at her daycare, but we loved having that family all to ourselves the most!

Early one morning, Melissa had a tea party with the girls. They were delighted that she would get right into the mix with them.

"Pretending" to eat the tea party food by touching it to their chins.
Playing with the vacuum (they won't go near the real ones, mind you, but loved this pretend one!).
Clara favored the fire fighters cap.

Later that morning, Christina walked in and found the girls with Aunt Melissa like this. They were so interested in their aunt's pregnant belly, and talking about the little boy they would meet next time they visited. Here they were feeling him kick, and were just amazed. Elena now often sits down, pats her belly, and tells us there is a baby in there. She wants us to feel it kick. No amount of explaining so far has deterred her from believing she might have a baby in her belly, too.
We had mixed weather in Saratoga - one day we wanted to go shopping downtown, and were met with decidedly wet weather. We persevered in the drizzle, which was even fun at first.
But soon we were taking shelter under trees as we walked down the street. Still fun, but in a very dodge-the-raindrops and hurry along kind of way! Not exactly window-shopping weather.
All that stopping for shelter did give us plenty of cuddle time, though- and who could resist that?

Luckily, the days were not all like that. A new day dawned bright and sunny, and we went out with Melissa, Calynn, and Jeff for the opening weekend of the horse races.

The lobster lollipops made a reappearance for Calynn, but little did we know, she is not quite up to lollipop level. After some fun looking at it and then biting it, she moved on to ice cream while the girls got gooey and red with their lobster pops.

This was our attempt at a cousins shot - they were HOT and it was humid and they hadn't really seen any horse action yet...and apparently this is how they felt about it.
Lemonades seemed to revive them a bit...

As did studying up on the ponies and placing our bets on a box trifecta (we didn't win, but watching the races sure was exciting - Clara especially would clap and clap!)
A little lemonade moment with Clara and Mom.
Walking off to find amusements between the horse races...this included pretzels and MANY trips up and down the escalator (always a treat for our girls).
Calynn and Auntie Lissa:

Christina had to get some cuddles and tickles in with Calynn, too - she was in a great mood once she had her lemonade and ice cream, and was a bundle of fun.

A view of the races, over Clara's head:

Going to the horse races was fun, hectic, and exciting. Much like the big cousin get-together we had up in Saratoga, as well! Christina's siblings (minus Dominic in Japan and Cyndie in California) and then three of her cousins all met up and brought their children. That resulted in 12 kids 5 and under, and it was a madhouse!
Amazingly, the kids did very well with very little fighting - a credit to their good natures and Melissa and Jeff's awesome playroom. We are foregoing official titles of seconds and removed and calling everyone aunties and cousins. Here, Aunt Amy counsels Clara in her building technique, while Zithembe, Sibonelo, and Thabi play in the background - Melissa looks on, bemused.
Aunt Amy and Aunt April with Clara, Elena and April's children Nelo and Thabi.
Aunt April and Aunt Amy (Christina's cousins) are twins, and so we had to get a twins with twins picture.
Loralei and Steve play tug of war with an absolutely delighted Clara.

Rose is a big family name on Christina's side - it was her grandmother's name, and is the middle name of all the sweet girls pictured here - Dawn Rose (Christina's cousin), her daughter Gianna Rose, and our sweet Elena Ashley Rose.

Credit goes to Auntie Laura for this photo -both for arranging it, and for taking it! Here we have all of Christina's siblings' kids in attendance - Lucas, Calynn, Elena, Kate, Clara, Grace, Loralei, and Suki.

She also took this shot of all 12 kids - rather than trying to get them in one place and still, she got a group shot while they were all playing - and did a great job at it!

And with that, we have uploaded all the pictures of our trip, and preserved memories of a time we wouldn't ever want to forget. We are happy to be home - both girls entered the house crying out "My house! My house!" - but we miss everyone so much!!

New York fun part 3

In addition to group get-togethers with family, we got to spend some good time together in smaller family settings. We went up to visit Grandpa and Grandma Mary again, and we got to visit the new chicken coop getting built, trim the bottoms of the grape vines, and (of course) ride the tractors again!

After dinner, the girls asked Grandpa to play ring around the rosie with them - it was so sweet to see him happily oblige them. For people who get together infrequently, they got along so well!

We also got to spend some fun times with Grandma. First, we played at her house, where she generously let the girls pull out her yarn and play "fishing" with it.
Such silly girls - this was the big fish Christina caught.

Then she took us to a park by the river. The girls loved it, although the day didn't cooperate much with it being so hot and muggy. Here, Clara is playing her bridge game with Grandma. In a take-off from Dora the Explorer, she will chant "No one can cross my bridge, no one no one no one, unless you solve my riddle." Her riddle will then be the beginning of a nursery rhyme (usually Twinkle Twinkle Little Star) which you have to finish before she lets you pass.
Swinging together- Clara was having a blast, but was being very serious about learning how to "pump" on the swing.
Grandma helping Elena across the monkey bars.
Elena, doing her own version of the bridge game (on a real bridge, this time!).

The girls also spent some time playing their favorite "throwing rocks" game with Daddy.
The next day we got some time alone with Laura and her girls. We met up in Congress Park to feed the ducks.
It starts out mildly enough, with all girls tossing bread.
But these were the most insistent ducks we have ever seen - they walk right up to your feet to wait for their bread! This went over better with some of our crew than it did with others, but in the end everyone had a fine time.

Clara and Elena especially liked the baby ducklings who came up for scraps of bread.
Then we rode the carousel in the park (we really never pass up a carousel) and the girls all clamored around Auntie Laura for entertainment as they waited in line.
Happy, happy, happy girls when they get to ride their ponies.

The results of a camera-shooting standoff between Christina and Laura.
Silly Aunt Laura, who was bobbing up and down like the ponies to entertain our crew as the ride slowed to a stop.
Then it was off to lunch at a sandwich place up the street. A rousing "Cheers!" with their smoothies and PB&Js, and then it was each girl on her own as they refueled for the afternoon.

We wish the girls got to see family more often - they are just having such a wonderful time being part of a big mix and being enveloped by so many people who love them.