Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Christmas 2011

On Christmas Eve the girls went to a party with Nana and G-Daddy (and no parents!), welcomed Grammie Ellen and Uncle Scott to the house, had a lovely dinner, and then got into their new Christmas pajamas.  Since they ask for hot chocolate all the time we thought these were fitting holiday pajamas.
We had decided that the girls would each open three presents before bed, and Nana picked the ones that would be best to open and put them before the girls.
They loved all of their gifts - here are some exuberant thank-you hugs for G-Daddy and Nana.

But after they had opened their three gifts they got concerned that the adults hadn't opened any, and wanted to give out the gifts to everyone else.  It was so sweet that they weren't asking for more gifts, and just wanted to give to others, that we let them stay up for the adult portion of Christmas Eve and we all opened our gifts together.

They left out cookies for Santa and carrots for the reindeer and then went straight to sleep.  In the morning, Santa had arrived, leaving a note and more presents.

The stocking-opening was festive, the girls appreciated all of their new items, and we all had a nice time watching them, sipping coffee, and playing together.
Doctor dress-up sets from the stockings:
Pedicure set from Uncle Scott.
Elena with her new tag reader and tag book - she is loving "reading" her own books with this.
And Clara is, too:
Then we worked our way out of pajamas and into Christmas clothes.
Nana showed them a huge nutcracker she got at work - they thought it was a glittery, fantastic toy.
And then, the surprise of looking inside!  Treats, treats, and more treats.
We went over to see Nana Rose's family at Nanny's house, and had a fantastic time with family all around.  This is the "Rose" picture - Nana Rose, Aunt Rose, and Elena Ashley Rose.
At one point we found the girls hiding behind the sofa eating cookies - they hadn't eaten much actual food all day, so we re-directed the to some ham, veggies, and water before we let them back at the treats.
Here they are with cousin Rachel, who is their favorite!  She helped them find all of their presents under the tree at this house and let them start opening.
New Christmas view masters!  And of slides, and several other sweet gifts, too.
Such lucky little girls to be surrounded by so many people who adore them.  On the way home, driving through the desert in the sunset, Elena took this picture of Clara and a little bit of Christina in a Christmas glow.

And that about sums up the feeling of the day.  We hope you had a Merry Christmas, too!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Antics and anticipation

We've been having such a nice time in Arizona, soaking up the sun and company and getting ready for Christmas.   Nana Rose wanted to give cookies to her neighbors, so we set to work to make eight dozen for her (thank goodness the girls are experienced in this area already!).
Nana and G-Daddy reciprocated by taking us on a nighttime train ride at a park, where we had candycanes and hot chocolate and rode around under the stars.  (In this shot of Clara you can just see her shimmery "tinsel" that we had put it in her hair at the kid's salon for the holidays).
Elena on the train ride, looking where we're heading (and sporting a little tinsel shimmer herself) with Steve beside her and Nana and G-Daddy just a seat behind.
Because it was so dark out the pictures are wonky, but still oddly pretty!

Warp speed - now we're rolling!
Through the tunnel!
After the train ride G-Daddy coached the girls on their horse riding skills.  Then, since it was so late, it was off to bed.

The next day both girls indulged in their daily Arizona pasttime - hot-tubbing!  They want to go in the "hot pool" as often as possible, which we have decided is once a day.

Dreamy, relaxed girls...
On this day, they were pretending they were dolphins, which seemed to involve grooming themselves with their "fins."
It also involved being fed dolphin-fish-flakes (potato chips) by anyone who came by!
We put together one of the presents this year from Santa (somehow this is getting posted out of order, but pretend we've already shown you Christmas for a moment).  Elena and Christina tried doing it themselves, but Christina did assembly from inside the house, which resulted in her being unable to get out!  Elena had to rescue her by dragging over a chair she could use to climb out the top.  After that G-Daddy got involved, and we have the entire house assembled and ready to decorate another day.
Even before it was decorated it was fun to have parties inside it.  At one point Elena brought the girls' favorite Arizona doll (a cpr practice doll Rose has had for 20 years, called Resuci-baby, now called Big Baby a la Toy Story 3) out to "play."  She asked permission to take a picture of Baby playing in the house "cause she's so happy there."  When we saw this was her shot we were grateful that pictures are no longer developed on film - we'd hate to see the people at CVS have to report us for abandoning a clearly-neglected baby like this, no matter how "happy" she is!

Friday, December 23, 2011

The Zoo!

Clara and Elena went to the zoo with us once, when we were in Oregon and they were babies.  We were looking for something to do to keep us all occupied for a stretch of time, and they mostly slept in a stroller while we walked around.  We had passes to the Phoenix Zoo, and the girls were very excited about heading out.

One of the very fun things about the day as how much they loved the map of the zoo.  Clara liked pretending she was Dora, consulting the map and rolling it up to stick in her "backpack" (sweatshirt hood).  But soon both girls got very good at navigating with it.  The animals are illustrated as well as written in, so they could tell where we were and how to get where we wanted to go.
Our first stop was the giraffes.  When we got there it was about to be feeding time, and the ticket-taker told us the most worthwhile add-on to the zoo experience was feeding the giraffes.  We decided to go for it, taking the perfect timing as a sign.
It was SO much fun!  There is a big platform built up, and the zookeepers ring a bell and the giraffes, knowing snacks are in order, come gracefully strolling over.  They so gently use their L-O-N-G tongues and take the lettuce and pellets right out of your hand.

They are really such beautiful animals.  We thought so before, but it seems even more noticeable now that we've been up close and personal with them.

For Christina and Steve this was the high point of the zoo (though the rest was really fun, too).
We liked how the animals got to live together in habitats - in with the giraffes were some ostriches and gazelles.

NOT in with them, but nearby, was a tiger.  Here Elena is coaching Clara on how to call the tiger over, which she repeatedly tried with a series of growls, to no avail.  Both girls did say: "Pooh pooh!" (not in a potty-talk way, but in the Madeline way: "And to the tiger at the zoo, Madline just said Pooh pooh!").

The rhino had absolutely zero interest in us, but it was fun to watch him eating his hay, apparently happily.

The zoo high-point for Clara and Elena was seeing the camels, and getting to ride one!  (Christina was a little less thrilled about this - it's more fun to pay to give animals a treat than to make them work - but in fairness this camel didn't seem distressed, there were several to rotate through this chore, and everyone seemed very respectful to the camel).

Lunch time was a hit, what with the fact that it included hot dogs AND cheetos AND a rice krispie treat AND their own screw-cap bottles of milk.  Little girls in heaven:
We visited for quite a while with the orangutans - they are incredible creatures, and seemed very interactive.  One came over near the window to Clara and Elena, pulled up a mat, laid down, and stared at them.  We also had fun posing with the orangutan statue.
Elena's shot!
We stopped in to see the elephant, and the girls were convinced it was Kayla (from the second Curious George movie).  It was across the habitat when we first got there.
But then it came right up to the edge to see us, and to stick out its trunk!
We were at the zoo for four hours, and our girls were pretty much the only ones their age there not in a stroller.  They walked their little legs off (without complaint) and so when they asked for cotton candy as we were heading to the exit it was a treat to us to get to say yes to them.

It was a wonderful adventure - it's so nice to do things together now without having to worry about diapers, special foods, frequent meltdowns, etc.  They stayed in great spirits, and sang Christmas carols as we drove home.

Life won't always be this easy-going, but we're very, VERY grateful for this period of time where it so often is!