Sunday, May 20, 2012

Sunny Days, and a correction

We have been lucky enough to have an early start on summer here (well, by Montana standards - we usually don't get warm sunshine until June!).

We've been taking full advantage of that sun and having lots of fun outside.  For Mother's Day the girls and Steve took me to Benson's, our local gardening store, and let me pick out beautiful flowers.
Elena gave Christina a flower she found all by herself (they just love finding those dandelions!).
And they indulged us in posing by the bear-who-looks-less-like-a-bear-every-year to show us how much they've grown.  They are really starting to look like big kids to us!
This week Christina started her new program to become a family counselor.  It will mean sacrifice from all of us, since going back to grad school is no small matter, but the sacrifice Steve and the girls made this week was to do without Christina from 8-5 every day from Monday to Friday.  Always one to seize an opportunity, Steve decided that if he was going to be solo with the girls he'd be solo somewhere fun, so the three of them took off camping!
They had so very much fun - Christina really missed out on a great time.
They were almost the only ones at the lake, and had a great time cooking on our new camp stove, making s'mores, and cuddling up together.
Camping pros!
The lake they went to was Salmon lake - they enjoyed getting to play in the water and with all the rocks on the shore.
Sisters, off on an adventure together.
This weekend Christina was thrilled to be back in the family fold, and took the girls to an equestrian expedition in town.  The girls got to practice their steer roping, their course work (on a course with hobby horses), and go on a ride in a horse-drawn carriage.  They even met Miss Rodeo Montana (who is a previous student of Christina's and Steve's).  There was a drawing for Breyer horse toys, and Elena and Clara both won!  They took them home and immediately we set up a horse-washing station with the toys Grandpa and Grandma Mary got them for Christmas.

It was some hard work!
But on a day like this:

How can you help but look like this?

So, we're having a great time.  And now, for our correction.  Two posts ago we got all excited because Blogger and alerted us that we had reached our 1000th post.  It turns out, however, that Blogger counts a lot of things other than the published posts, and that we're really closer to 500 posts.  So, don't get too excited about how prolific we are - we are just bad at counting!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012


Christina ran her first 5K race a few weeks ago, and the whole family was so supportive.  Clara even accompanied her in running across the finish line!  To celebrate and thank them Christina took Clara and Elena for their first professional pedicures.  (Never mind that she never had one until grad school when Steve's mom introduced her to them - these girls are getting started early!).
We've painted nails at home for a few years, but the idea of having them done like "big girls" was a pretty big deal to them.  Clara was honored to be the first one to get hers done.
It tickles!  Elena watches on, barely able to wait in her seat.
Clara's sparkly golden toes.
And it's Elena's turn!  She chatted up the esthetician the whole time, like a pro.
Elena shared the drying station with a new friend, who also had twin girls and is Japanese-American.  What a great new friend for us to find!
Elena's sparkly blue toes.
The esthetician was really worried the girls were going to mess up their nails, and wanted them to stay and dry their nails for a bit so she could be sure they were perfect.  It didn't take much to convince Clara and Elena to stay - they loved playing through the drying station.
As an added bonus, Christina was able to get her toes done, too!

Unrelated, but worth mentioning, is a new love the girls have for storytelling. Dinnertime is usually filled with stories of our days, but lately the girls want to know about our pasts.  They especially like to ask Steve about when he did "bad behavior!" which they always shout out with their hands waggling beside their heads, jazz-hands style (we do not know why!).  They mostly ask Christina to tell stories about people getting hurt (like when she hit Aunt Melissa with a rock or when Aunt Cyndie fell off the rocking horse).  They can tell these stories themselves now, and it is really hilarious to hear your own history narrated back like that!

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Such great heights

 We climbed literal great heights this week, which we'll post about in a minute.

But even more amazing were the symbolic heights Elena and Clara reached this week.  It was their last week of preschool, and they graduated (the first of many graduations we hope to witness!) from their very first school.

The kids could choose to either shake hands or hug their teacher, Miss Karen, when they got their diploma.  Here's Clara going in for the hug.
She proudly totes away her diploma (and a sweet gift from her teacher).
And then, with the help of Miss Kelsey, she leaps into the future!
Elena also opted for a big hug (we are so lucky that both girls loved their teachers so much).
And then she bounds off, confidently, to her future.
Their preschool class of 2012 (with four of the other kids they originally started out with and a few new additions this year).

Clara and Elena capped off their preschool experience by previewing their kindergarten adventure.  They got to go to "kindergarten roundup," where all the soon-to-be kindergarteners head to school and meet the teachers, scope out the classrooms, and do some activities.  Our girls both literally skipped in to school, were excited about all of it, and left not really ready to wait a whole summer before they get to start kindergarten!  

To wrap up that time in their lives, here is a collage of their first day of preschool ever (in 2010, top), their first day this year (2011, middle) and then their last day (2012, bottom).
 Sadly, Elena was really not into taking the end-of-school picture this year - but that shift in attitude of catering to our photo-desiring whims shows as much about her growth as the physical growth could have, had she stood up!

Back again to the literal heights now - one of the last things the girls did at their preschool was go on a hike to the "M." (photo borrowed from here).
The M sits above the university on a mountain, and the preschool shares the campus and the view of the M.  Their teachers thought they should hike up the mountain, which is no small feat!  It's 1.5 miles to get up and back, and has a stunning elevation gain of 620 feet (from 3,200 feet to 3,820).
The views are pretty incredible all the way up - on this day it was fun not just to see the campus and town beneath us, but also to watch all the preschoolers making their way up the mountain.
Here are the girls halfway up - spirits high, despite the wind and cold on this day.
We took advantage of a few of the benches at the edges of the switchbacks to gear up - here the girls are taking a breather with their friend, Lucy Mae.
And here they are at the top!  Elena had been up once before with Grammie Ellen and Steve, but Clara has never made it all the way up before to sit on the "M" and she was SO proud of herself!
It was a blast - Christina was happy she got to join in on this field trip.
In addition to these accomplishments, this blog post marks an accomplishment on its own that we just wanted to note.  This is our 1000th blog post.  It's a bit shocking to recognize, especially as Christina (our family's main blog poster) realized that at about 30 minutes a post (to take the pictures, upload them, and narrate them before publishing) she has spent 500 hours (or 20 full days!) blogging about our lives together.  It's also amazing when you consider picture we started this post with and then realize the one below is the photo that kicked off our first blog post - what growth! (Clara is on the left and Elena is on the right in both pictures).
We've made each year of this blog into a book for both girls (with one copy for ourselves) so this blog has really been baby books and family year books rolled into one.  Without you all as an "audience" for the blog we certainly wouldn't have recorded all of these moments and photos - thank you for being a part of this journey with us!