Monday, October 29, 2012

Weekend Away

We have something of a tradition in our group of friends of going somewhere together to celebrate 40th birthdays.  This fall it was our friend Eamon's 40th and we drove just a bit out of town to spend the weekend celebrating him.  It was a gorgeous location, but it was also during the worst wildfire season we've ever experienced out here, and it was very, very smokey!!
Far-away shot of Steve and the girls with some of our friends, exploring the river in this shallow part.
Trying to traverse the river bed.

Family in the waving wheat!
Steve showed the girls some strategies for getting across.

Clara, choosing Swedish Fish for her fishing experience of the weekend.
Elena helped Steve et ready for his choice of fishing experience - fly fishing with the other guys.
She will be so excited when she is old enough to go too!
We stayed behind this time and had a nail polish party with all of the kids.  We also occupied ourselves with beading, Shrinky Dinks, and the Air Bud movie line!
Eamon is kind of particular about food - he may not be big on cake, but he loves chocolate chip cookies!  Every family made a batch of their own kind of chocolate chip cookie, then we had a cookie buffet for him on this birthday night.  It was a fun, communal, relaxing weekend away!

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Birthday Party

For a good five months before their birthday both girls were clear on the kind of party they wanted - a basketball cheerleader party.
They never wavered, in all that time, to a different party theme.  So a basketball cheerleader party it was!
Clara's self-created cheerleader pose:
And Elena's own basketball styling:
We rented out a section of a local park so that the kids would have several basketball hoops to play on (as well as other things if they were not inclined towards the sports).  Clara and Elena took their jobs as hosts and sports-teachers very seriously!

Heading back to the party pavilion to rehydrate and refuel!
Annie, styling the sports lanyards and sporty bags we handed out as people arrived.
There was a spread of mostly healthy snacks (Pirate's Booty, baby carrots, blueberries) and some not so-healthy (locally created organic cotton candy!) but they never made it out of their transportation boxes because it was so windy.  The kids did not seem to care one bit.
Auntie Laura has done a version of this game at several parties, and assured us that kids love to punch through the board to get a prize.  She was right - the kids lined up to punch over and over again for sweat bands, whistles, and mini basketballs!

Then it was time for the cheering!  Clara wanted to lead a little clinic for those interested, so we got our poms and got to work.

Soon we evolved the cheering squad into group tag - one person is "it," and then when they catch someone they hold their hand and run together, so you end up in one big group (or blob, since it is sometimes called blob tag, too!).

Finally, we had one last vision of the girls' to fulfill.  They had this plan that there would be a parade at the party of all the kids lining up, and they would throw candy to them while walking down the parade route.  Clara was firm that she needed to stand on Steve's hands like a real "cheerlady."  So we made it happen!

Then it was cupcake time!  Everyone's favorite moment (even if they do have to have some patience while we sing twice in a row!).

Their friends were very generous and shared many lovely presents with them.  Though they loved them all they were especially wowed by Auntie Carna, Uncle Steve, and Charlie's gifts of handcuffs!  That was some good predicting -the girls adore them, play with them often still, and best of all they are not nearly as "real" as they look so no one gets trapped.
Beautiful Annie's card:
Super fun playdough ice cream set!

Rehydrating one last time before...

...taking Auntie Carna off to jail!

 These two didn't get jailed, but they were already dressed for it as the stripey twins!

 We are so grateful to everyone who came and had fun at the girls' unique party.  It was a blast!

Hiatus, Ponies, and Five-year-olds

It is no secret that we adored our time at the ocean this summer. Apparently, this love ran so deep that it gave Christina block from uploading anything after that fact, so that we could virtually stay at the shore for two months. We apologize for the hiatus here. Although we do not plan to continue this blog indefinitely we did not mean to stop so abruptly, nor quite yet. So - let us pick up with some of our life as we've lived it these last few months!

Shortly after we returned from Oregon it was Elena's and Clara's fifth birthday.  We celebrated the actual day of their birth much like we did last year - by going for private lessons at the local pony farm.  Suzy knows these girls so well by now - she set them each up with a favorite pony, and they got to groom the pony, pick its' hooves, and saddle it up.  Then, they hopped upon their steeds!

The first part of the ride involves a stop by the stable to see their reflection in the mirror - this was the first time they saw themselves be five!
Then they picked the path they wanted to take for their trail ride up the mountainside.
The big excitement this time was that Suzy decided that the girls were ready to learn rein work.  She had previously guided the horses along, but today the Clara and Elena learned the basics of commanding a pony/horse.
Have you ever seen such proud faces??

From that point on in the ride the girls were completely in charge of their ponies.  Suzy would tell them which direction to turn, and the girls reliably could move the ponies that way.  It was incredible to witness - our little babies, able to control and work with creatures of several hundred pounds!

There were many lessons along the ride - in terms of posture at first, then pacing with the other person. Suzy is grooming them to go to shows and do formation riding.

It was a wonderful, beautiful, awe-inspiring ride.  We were out for an hour and a half, and we really gave those ponies a workout! 
Back at the ranch it was time to thank those good ponies - and both girls have such an affinity for them that the ponies truly seemed to enjoy the thanks.

We were so darn proud of our five year olds!