Saturday, August 27, 2011

Carnival Birthday Party

This year for Clara and Elena's birthday we decided to make them up a carnival.   We loaded it with some carnival classics (peanuts and popcorn) and although we hoped to serve pink lemonade the yellowjackets swarming around crushed that idea, so we served cucumber-mint water instead.
We had several different kinds of games set up.

We decorated all around the yard.  You might remember that since the girls' second birthday we have bought these mylar number balloons - on both their second and third birthday, they flew away.  Clara had a plan this year - she said: "We'll tie them, tape them, and staple them!"  So we did.
Some of Steve's family was in town to help celebrate - here are Nana Rose and Grammie Ellen taking a break after helping with setup.
Our first games centered on balloons.  First, we took long balloons and blew them up, then had each child release them to see how far/fast/high they would go.  Steve gave out tickets that varied in number depending on how impressed he was.

Then we did the Balloon Bug Stomp.  We pretended these water balloons were bugs, and we'd put several out on the lawn and give the kids five seconds to squash them.  They got tickets roughly based on how many they popped.
We also had face painting!
Our friend Maeve was hired for the day to draw on the kids' faces, and she did a great job.

We had a ring toss - Clara got a little close (as did all the kids!) and thus stretched the title of "toss" a bit, but they had a good time.
In the duck pond there ducks who had numbers written on them - the object was to have them "catch" the two ducks in a net that had matching numbers.

All of our party guests were special, but the girls were especially happy to see that two of their kid-less friends, Rachel and Liz, took them up on their invitations to come to the party.  Here's Elena with Rachel, the girls' first babysitter and now friend.
After playing the games and winning tickets, the kids turned the tickets in for goody boxes.
Even the adults had fun with these - who doesn't love animal crackers?
Or a clown nose?
Or love someone WHILE wearing a clown nose?
This is a shot of the girls as they wait for their cakes to be brought out.
And, here they go!
Dad helping blow out the candles.
Grammie Ellen decorated these cakes, and the bundt pan to make them was lent to us by a dear friend's mother.  Clara cracked all 12 eggs it took to make these two cakes, and Elena stirred up all the bittersweet and dutch chocolate. They were a real community effort!

Later on in the party the dads brought out heavy-duty bike pumps and started blowing the balloons up as high as they could get, and shooting them off - all the kids clamored for them to do more, more more!

Towards the end of the party it got very, very windy.  We joked that it was our party of Hurricane Irene, but the only casualty we were really worried about were the wildly flipping four balloons!
So we took them inside to safety, and we can now say we finally had a birthday party without the number balloon flying away.  (We hedged our bets and bought TWO four balloons, so we can actually say that two of the number balloons we've ever purchased have made it!).
It was a wonderful day to celebrate the birth of two wonderful girls - we're grateful to all our friends and family who helped us celebrate, and missed everyone who couldn't be here!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Happy Birthday Pony Day!

For the girls' fourth birthday we had a total horse/pony day - they love the equine more than anything else.

Christina sewed the girls saddles and bridles for their Rody horses, we bought them an antique tin barn with fences, animals, and hay, but the BIG thing we did was get them a half day at the pony farm.

They got to learn how to take care of the ponies by brushing and combing them:

They learned how to clean their hooves with a pick:

They learned how to move safely around the ponies:

They picked out saddles and cinched them on:

And then they went off on an hour ride through the forest.

Steve and Christina hiked behind, on foot - that was a labor of love, because it was a HOT day!  We ended up at an old forest service cabin in the woods.

They had such a wonderful time, and were so proud of themselves.  There wasn't a better gift we could get for these two big girls!

We love Oregon

As a family, our favorite state has got to be Oregon.  We love Montana, we have great affinity for California and New York and Arizona and Massachusetts, but we are passionate about western Oregon.  After Steve's triathlon in Portland, we got to have a bit of fun out there.
We went to some of the requisite downtown places in Portland, like the Pearl District (with a fantastic dinner at Oba and another at Habibi), and also Voodoo Donuts and Stumptown Coffee.
Voodoo Donuts is really funny to see - and this is the right age to take the girls, because some of their donut names (not to mention combinations!) are a little out there once they can pick up on innuendo (and outright hilarity).

On both our way into Portland and our way out we stopped at Hood River - we brought out our donut leftovers to Doppio, a wonderful coffeeshop.

We traveled a bit along the Fruit Loop and stopped at our very favorite farm:

We swung on swings, visited pigs and goats, ate drippy yummy peaches, and brought home a huge boxful of those and some blueberries.

We also visited the White House flower farm - we were saying how we wanted to have one of the girl's weddings there, and asked Elena if she'd like that.  When she said no, we foisted our plan on the sleeping-at-the-time Clara, so we'll spring that plan on her at just the right time (probably when she's asking for money for her wedding!).

The rest of the ride home was LONG and we didn't get home until very late, but the girls were absolutely lovely about traveling around with us pretty non-stop these past two weeks, and we're so proud of them.

On the way home we watched a fire climbing a mountain right outside of Missoula - a beautiful but terrifying sight.  Elena remembered a book from the library we got out about fires, and was quick to tell us that the animals would have run away, and after the fire new things will grow.  The memory these girls have at this age is amazing!