Thursday, April 26, 2012

April, lovely April

Spring has been flying right by, and we find ourselves at the end of April only having posted once!  We have odds and ends to post, starting with the girls hamming it up in front of some of our emerging Montana greenery.  They are posed up on top of the Honda to show off the Vans shoes that our friends brought them from California.

 Clara was trying to entertain us with a funny face, and Elena was pointing out "one of Clara's crow friends" behind us.  Both girls are convinced that Clara is friends with every crow we see - Clara believes she talks to them.
 Just this week we got the final word that Christina has been awarded tenure.  Putting that together with her promotion to Associate Professor that started taking effect April 1st made us pretty darn happy, and we went out to dinner to celebrate.
 Not that the news was that exciting to Clara and Elena - but the free dough to play with certainly was!

Clara called this her "gentle puncher."  We politely declined getting gently punched.
Clara, hard at work making Mom a celebratory rainbow and note.

Such sweet faces. 
 These last few pictures are of the face painting the girls had done last week at a gymnastics celebration.  Clara asked for Ariel (we're going to have to let her watch that movie soon so she knows who she is talking about!). 
Elena, as a departure from her usual preferences, chose a black and blue cat.

We can't wait to see what May brings us!

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Easter 2012

Another Easter, another round of us battling the effects of sugar, of managing our expectations and (truly, very often) enjoying one another's company.  It started out at 6am when we woke the girls to see if the Easter Bunny had come.  He had, and this year he left quite a mess!
Elena was repeatedly surprised at what had been left for her, and made this hysterical face over and over.
It was like, "Chocolate peep?  What on earth?"
One of the favorite things the Easter Bunny left was superhero costumes.  These are terrible morning shots with flash and shadows, but they loved these so much and put them on right away.  Clara has long been Spiderman:
And Elena has steadfastly been Firestar.  Sadly there are no costumes marketed for Firestar (apparently she fizzled out in the 70's) but lucky for the Easter Bunny she has a pretty simple costume.
An hour, some bagels and bacon, and some primping later we were ready to head out to 8am mass.
Look at these little sweethearts!
(This is going to happen throughout this post - multiple pictures of pretty much the same pose because Clara and Elena looked SO. DARN. CUTE!
At church we were happy to get to see Clara and Elena's little charges (when we are together ours are the Yo twins and theirs are the Mo twins, as these are the first two letters of our last names).
After we got home it was time for the egg hunt!

Elena's funny face continues - this appears to be a new expression of surprise that is sticking with her.
Cracking the eggs was an especially fun part - confetti, little surprises, and jellybeans came out.  And then the girls took turns stomping on the eggshells for some extra emphasis.

We had a lovely Easter lunch with Grammie Ellen, then headed out to take our Easter family photo.

We sort of, a little bit bribed the girls that if they took some nice pictures with us we would let them use the auto timer to take pictures of whatever they wanted.  We ended up getting really funny pictures of them in the course of this.

We'll leave you with a collage of our family on Easter over the years, because it just feels fun to look back and see the changes.  The first two years we didn't all get in on the picture, but we're going to try to every year from here on out.  Happy Easter - we hope yours was just as lovely.

Chico Hot Springs

This is the Paradise Valley.  It is the home of Chico Hot Springs, and we took Clara and Elena here for the first time last fall.  They have been talking about it ever since.  When we decided (three months ago) to go back for our spring break they stepped up the talk and referenced it at least several times a week discussing what we'd do, who would share a bed with whom, how we'd drive there, etc.
As we drove down to Chico the girls asked over and over if we could get in the hot spring pool as soon as we got there, and we had to tell them over and over that it would be the first thing we did after check-in.
Clara has been practicing dunking underwater (she says for six minutes, which isn't entirely accurate, but she does stay under a few seconds!).  Unfortunately, it was hard to do while wearing swimmies!
Elena, ready to go.
Each time we went in the pool we stayed in until the girls' fingers were so pruney they looked like they were turning inside out - it was a good cue to get out of the water!
We went to the little library in the lodge for the first time, and all picked out books to read.  We liked them so much that when we got home we ordered them online or bought them in a bookstore so we could have them for our own!  Clara especially fell in love with One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue fish, which she could recite partially from memory already from having read it in school.
Instead of staying in the main lodge this time we stayed in the Fisherman's Lodge, just up a little hill.  Our rooms overlooked the stable and pasture, which was perfect placement for our little horse-loving girls.
We walked down as the moon was rising to visit the horses before they went to bed.

In the Granato family we have a family myth that if you sprinkle salt on a bird's tail it will stay as your pet and not fly away. Although Christina has not yet shared this myth with the girls it seems Clara would be a good candidate - she was so anxious to get to this bird and get it to perch on her finger!
 (Needless to say, this did not happen).
Night falling in Paradise Valley - and we all fell into an early and deep sleep.
First thing in the morning we hiked down to the hot spring again, grabbed our coffees, and were in the pool by 7am.
After we got dressed we went to visit the horses again and both girls got a ride around the property on Tarzan (a very generous 21 year old horse).

Then we headed out to breakfast at the nearby saloon.
Other than an old gentleman at the bar we were the only ones there, and it was a very cozy (very filling!) breakfast.  But what was even more enticing than the food was the decor.
We try to get the girls to avoid potty talk and jokes about body parts (though using the names for any body part is fair game if you are TALKING about that body part, we aren't fans of calling people names or shouting out the body part names just for effect).  Still, when we saw this picture of the "Butt Sisters" we had to take a picture to remember it - the girls thought it was just absolutely hilarious (and "scandalous," a new word Grammie Ellen taught them).
The rest of the saloon was pretty fun to look at, too.

After breakfast we headed to Yellowstone National Park.  It's such a treasure of a spot - there is always something new to see or notice.  Please just scroll past if scenery and animals isn't your thing.

It was Grammie Ellen's first time at the park, so she needed the obligatory picture at the arch as you enter.
Soon after we entered the park we were greeted by a herd of antelope.
The Yoshimura family at the 45th parallel.

Elena and Clara working on their park maps - they needed to cross off various animals and birds as they saw them, and were so enthusiastic to do so!  It's a good day if you cross off at least 7, and we crossed off 9 (including a coyote devouring some prey, a bald eagle (or "bog eagle" as the girls called it), and a strikingly blue mountain bluebird).
Mammoth Hot Springs - always a fun sight.
This was the first of many herds of bison we saw.
Christina was taking a picture of the scenery here and spotted a rare green and blond animal that wasn't on the map!  She was quickly making her getaway out of the left side of the picture.

This buffalo was so close to the road that Clara was afraid it was going to come into the car.  Luckily, it chose not to.

New growth after the fire in 1988.

We headed back to Chico to soak, have an amazing dinner in the lodge, and sleep.  When we awoke the next morning it was to Clara and Elena shouting about snow!  Sure enough, there was a fine blanket of snow on the ground and more coming down.
The girls thought it would be very fun to walk down to the hot springs in the snow, so Christina did that with them while Steve and Ellen drove down.  After one last soak we were back on the road to head back home - but it was such a lovely, restorative vacation!