Friday, December 28, 2012

Christmas 2012

While we were in Arizona we got to see a lot of Steve's family, which is always a good time. This year the girls appreciated their pull as the first of their generation more strongly than they have before. They have realized that they can pretty  much get anyone to do anything they want, and this year they exercised that will by getting their great-uncles and grown-up cousins to put on a horse show for them.
Clara put them through their paces in a series of circles,
and Elena taught them how to do dressage.  It was so funny!
On Christmas Eve we made three batches of cookies, to make sure Santa would have something he liked.  Clara picked chocolate cookies with candy cane bits in them, so here she is crushing the candy canes to get them ready to stir in.
In addition to the cookies Grammie Ellen and Daddy got brave enough to try a gingerbread house requiring assembly.  It was from Ikea, and didn't come with anything with gingerbread, so that was quite a feat.
Christina put together an antipasti platter, as part of her Italian Christmas Eve contributions.
And by the time we got to dinner these two little girls sure were ready.
After dinner came the Christmas Eve presents - this shot is blurry and we're putting it up here anyway, because we think it's funny  how Clara is making Elena into a reindeer.
These little elves helped to sort all the presents into piles.
Then they went to bed.  While they were sleeping Rudolf decided to land on the gingerbread house (Nana and G-Daddy's house has no chimney, so when he saw the one on this house he couldn't resist!).
Santa left a note trying to explain what had happened, and ate up his cookies.  The other reindeer politely nibbled at their carrots.
And they left some fun things for Clara and Elena to enjoy when they woke up.
An understanding reaction to Rudolph's antics.
And although they were excited about all of their gifts we were kind of all excited about this Snoopy Sno-Cone maker - both Christina and Steve had wanted these as kids, and it's pretty cool that Elena has one now.
She will happily make a Sno-Cone for anyone in line.
The fun morning was followed up by a nap for Clara:
And chips and dip for Elena and the grownups.
And then the extended family arrived again!  Clara immediately latched on to "her boy" (Johnny) and he and his brother and cousins proceeded to tease Clara and Elena for the rest of the afternoon (much to their delight).
Christina loves the Yule Log on Netflix - she put it on for the party, and Auntie Jeannie came to warm her hands by the fire.
Since most of the extended family was all present there was a Wirth Family photo op.
And then there was a celebration of "Decade-ence" as we called it - this year we have/had celebrations of turning 40, 50, 60, and 80!
A piggyback ride from dad after pictures.
The cousins tattooed Clara and Elena all up their arms and legs with washable markers.  Clara had to come show her G'Pa, and they flashed their tats proudly to all of us.

It was, indeed, a very merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Snow Day

We finally got some real accumulation of snow, right before vacation. It probably made travel difficult for some people, but for us it came at just the right time to enjoy it. So with few extra words, here are some sweet girls in snow.


Perfect for setting a white Christmas in one's mind!

Just before we leave

It's no surprise to us by now that the weekend before we go out of town for the holidays gets packed with fun things to do. School is out, people are getting ready to celebrate, and lots of traditions come into play. Expecting that this is how it will go helps us really enjoy this time more- this year we had a great last weekend with friends before holiday travel. Though we didn't take pictures of everything, here are a few fun things we got to do.

1.  Annual cookie-decorating party with neighbors.  This year it included our temporary across the street neighbors Janie and Annie, who we adore.  They are living across the street while their house is getting renovated, and they are an excellent match for our girls.
Clara and Annie.
Elena and Janie.

2.  The Nutcracker Ballet.  We have gotten to go to this off and on since the girls were born, but this was the first year that we've stayed the entire time with the girls, and they had a fantastic time.  We had two friends in the ballet (Annie from up above and our friend Maeve) and Elena is hoping to be in it herself next year.
Pictures with Maeve (who was both an icicle and a flower at different times in the production).
3.  Visiting the Mo twins.  These twins (their last name starts with Mo) are four years younger than our twins, and Elena and Clara have each taken one under their wing since the day they were born.  This year Clara and Elena both got Barbie laptop computers for Christmas, and they decided they wanted to give the Mo twins their beloved "baby" computers.
Elena and Clara were all ready to teach the girls how to use them, but it turns out they were very able to figure it out on their own!

Here come the reindeer!

Between these and all the other fun engagements of the weekend we felt blessed and celebratory - we hope you felt the same!

Trixie's and Trees 2012

 We went on our annual tree-cutting expedition with our neighborhood, and as usual we went to Trixie's to eat before tromping through the woods.  Trixie's never changes - thank goodness!
 John pretending to be shocked, Steve obliging the photographer, and the rest of the table chatting.
 Our intrepid group - it was the warmest day we'd ever gone tree-hunting, but it had been pretty rainy earlier in the day and we were so happy to walk out of Trixie's and find things clearing up!
 We couldn't get all the cars up the hill, so we parked and hiked.
 Since we had not yet had any snow at home the girls were both outright thrilled to see even these few inches.  Clara laid herself right down to make snow angels!

 And pretended to fall asleep.
 Elena was slightly less goofy, but only slightly less!

 And Steve was ready to go and claim our tree.
 Elena was all muscles this year, helping Linda carry her tree out (and later helping Steve, too).
 We had some trouble selecting the tree this year.  We wanted to get one that stood tall as soon as we went in the forest, but the girls had other ideas.  After tromping through the forest for some time we realized we ALL wanted that first one, but we couldn't find it again!
 The tromping about was fun, though.
 And the girls discovered "baby trees" that they got to nestle and speak sweet words to.

 Eventually Clara ditched us to go back to the rest of the group with Linda.  It was our first taste of not being cool enough for us to hang out with (and Christina didn't take it all that well) but she later explained that she was just going back so she could get to the cookies early.
 Elena stuck with the quest until we found just the right tree.

 He hunted down a beauty!
 Christina chose to snuggle with a beauty instead.

 Here's the promised shot of Elena carrying half the tree out with Steve.

 Now, in fairness to Clara, the cookies and hot chocolate are worth rushing back out to.  Linda makes these wonderfully each year, and it is a welcome treat once we all get back together again from finding our trees.

 The view was beautiful from our cookie spot this year.

 We tried to take a family picture in front of it, but the girls were feeling pretty goofy, so it didn't end up quite as we imagined.
 One last slide on the snow before we left.
 And a check that we get the fire out before we try to dump the coals in the snow.

Though there are times when the trip is a bit, um, challenging for some of us it is still awesome to be with neighbors and to see a tree we found and cut down in our living room.  Here's to tradition!