Monday, August 30, 2010

Cabin Weekend II

Two years ago our friends invited us out to their cabin right before school started. We might have scared them off last year with our two two-year-olds, but they invited us again this year and we were thrilled to go up for a last break before we started teaching.

If you go back and look at the time we did this two years ago (and you can do that by clicking HERE), you will definitely note two things.
1. They were TINY (Clara wasn't even walking)
2. They didn't DO much.

What a different trip it was this year! Christina and Steve got to do their own recreation (Christina went walking/running, Steve went biking and swimming - between the two of us it was our own triathlon!) and the girls got to do their thing too. Their favorite? BOATING!

The first day they stuck to the paddle boat. They loved paddling and steering. But more than anything else they loved life jackets!! This is pretty funny, as they hated wearing them so much this past winter that we bought them specialty life jackets for this summer that don't even go anywhere near their necks. But we forgot them this weekend, and they just would barely take off our friends' various life jackets. Crazy.

This year the girls also played way more with the other kids. This is probably a function of them getting older and more able to do things, and the other kids getting older and more nurturing of little kids.

Charlie, Clara, and Elena came up with a funny game where they pretended to be puppies and locked one another in this dog crate.
This was such a heartwarming sight to us - our own kids, at the kids table! Like real kids! Big kids! We couldn't get over it.

Another stunning change from last time is that the girls could stay up for fun way later than they did the last time we were at the cabin. They went out to the campfire, and were pros at eating s'mores.

The next morning, we could barely keep the girls inside past 7am - they had to get on their life jackets and go DO something. So we helped them fish again. Still not catching any fish (they don't know that this has something to do with the fact that they have neither hooks nor bait on their lines), but still having fun.
Around 8am Elena started hounding us that she wanted to go on the BIG boat.

Clara wasn't about to miss that action, either.
Steve went with them - and they shot right off. They don't call it a speed boat for nuthin'! Christina's heart was in her throat, but everyone came back safely the numerous times they all went out. Thanks to Steve and the generosity of our other friends, motion-sick Christina never had to set foot in that boat, and the girls were happily entertained by everyone else.
They started playing a funny trick on Christina, though. She wanted to get a picture of them side by side in their life jackets, and the girls thought it was hilarious to pose, then as soon as the photo was to be taken they would whip around and show only their backs. We can't count how many times they did it - it was a hysterical joke to them!
Our friends' son, Grant, was just the sweetest to our girls this year. He helped them, included them, and always explained things to them. Here he came up to the cabin specifically to get Clara because he thought she'd like to see a perch an some crawdads that he had caught - and he was right. She trotted right down the path with him to see them.
With Dad in his wet suit and Uncle Steve ready to take her on the boat, Clara couldn't be more thrilled here!
It felt like we were there much longer than we were (in the best possible way!) so that we could have a real little vacation together before schedules get busy again. Hooray for friends!

Posted by Picasa

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Endless Summer

Oh, how we only wish this summer would be endless! The title refers to a Beach Boys album, which we'll get to in a minute. For now, take a look at some beach girls, Elena and our friend Annie.
And some beach-ready (if not at the beach) grillers, Steve and Grammie Ellen.
Tonight we were inspired by THIS from a Sunset Magazine this summer:
To do this - host our own urban clam bake with some of our dear friends. On the grill now are sausages, mussels, clams, and the smoker box with apple wood chips. Waiting to be grilled are zucchini from Kate and Kevin's garden.

We dove in to the meal (augmented also by grilled corn and potatoes and lots of ramekins of melted butter!) and had our fill of summer deliciousness.

In the midst of our dinner, we heard the strains of some familiar music. It was the Beach Boys, playing live across the river! Sometimes the acoustics are great, and this is one of those nights - we heard several familiar and beautifully summery melodies from the Beach Boys as we enjoyed our urban clambake in messy splendor.

After the main course, the girls got some wiggles out. They showed us some of their "moves:"

They picked some carrots from the garden and pretended to be bunnies:

And they dove in the pool. It was 100 degrees today, and they took advantage of this being "just like a waterpark!" with the slide going into the pool and really went to town.

Then we brought out plum cake (doesn't this remind you of Little Jack Horner, who put in his thumb and pulled out a plum?) from our plum tree.
The sun set as the Beach Boys begin playing their finale.
On a bittersweet note, the sunset was made much more beautiful by the forest fires that must be going on locally - it was smokey tonight, and not just from our applewood!

As the evening was (regretfully) wearing down, out of nowhere Clara said "How bout we make popcorn, Mama?" And this Mama thought, "Why not?" It sounded delightful. So we took to the stovetop and shook up some kernels until they burst into puffy white clouds, and salted the life out of them and brought them out to our friends for a bit more partying.

Mid-popcorn feasting all three girls got into pajamas, ran around the soft green grass, and exhausted themselves on tricycles, scooters, and rolling telephone toys. It just epitomized what we want their summers to feel like, and we didn't put them to bed until they were almost falling down.

It was wonderful.

Monday, August 23, 2010

And now we are THREE!

Clara's and Elena's birthday dawned sunny and full of options for anything fun we wanted to do. We started the day with presents - so many family members and friends sent such lovely gifts, and we didn't get pictures of everything...look in mailboxes for thank you notes soon!

Then we moved on to birthday "cupcakes" - we made carrot-raisin muffins from carrots in our garden, with whole wheat and cornmeal, so they were actually (gasp!) relatively healthy - but we put candles in and it was definitely a good kick-off for a special birthday.
We spent most of the morning playing with the new presents (thank goodness the girls loved the dollhouse - Christina bought it when the girls were only six months old, and Grammie Ellen and Christina spent the night before putting it together - we were happy they liked it!) and then headed off to the park for a picnic and playtime outside before naps.

After nap we had another round of cupcake/muffins (okay, five more rounds - same cupcakes, but we just kept re-lighting and re-singing as long as the girls requested it!) and we baked a plum upside-down cake for dinner.
There was also a very special delivery -each girl got a long-stemmed rose and teddy bear (each in her favorite color) from birthmom Ashley, and her son (Gabe) and mom (Grandma Leann).
Grammie Ellen took the girls to pick out their own helium balloons (which we guarded oh-so-carefully) - Clara picked Pablo from the Backyardigans and Elena picked a big fire truck.

Then we went to a neighborhood dinner - our block gets together 1-2 times a year for a neighborhood dinner, and it's so fun. It was held in one neighbors' backyard, and they had fruit trees everywhere.

We had crackers and hummus and olives put on fingers....perfect kid appetizers.
Dad and his big girls - gosh, they just look so big!

But even bigger here!! Sweet sisters toasting to their joint birthday and their very precious relationship (or so we imagined).

To accompany our plum cake and a berry tart, we made whipped cream together. Everyone got in on it - here our friend Blake shows the girls how to work the hand-cranked beater.

And Mike takes a turn while the girls add in just a bit more sugar.
Yum, yum, yum.
A few gifts from our friend Linda (paper flowers, star candles on a cake for each girl, and these tattoos) and we were wiped out - such a fun, fun, day, and a perfectly sweet ending for it.

And now we are parents to three year olds!! We can't believe it, and just have never yet gotten over how lucky, blessed, special, and grateful we feel to be together. Here's to another wonderful year!