Sunday, June 30, 2013


We took off camping for one night this weekend, and it was the easiest camping trip we've ever had as a family.  Finally, some of this camping-since-they-were-infants work seems to be paying off, and Clara and Elena are feeling more autonomous and entertained on these trips. Whew!
We drove just about an hour away from home and stumbled upon a perfect site for about a dozen of us to hang out at together.  In the end we set up at least seven tents on this one spot, but it worked out great.
Steve got straight to work with the hatchet, not even pausing to smile in his quest to get Christina enough firewood to begin the evening meal (which was going to take a good two hours to cook, so it's a good thing he didn't waste any time!).
Clara headed right off to her favorite camping activity - remember what elicits this kind of smile?
Butterfly catching!  We don't know what kind of butterflies these were, but there were also caterpillars everywhere that were also pretty fun to play with.  At one point the girls had made a "kingdom" for the four caterpillars that they found, complete with a corral, a bathtub, a sandbox, and plenty of snack options.
Christina's campfire experiment - the foil packets are new potatoes in olive oil, with garlic and chives, and they just hung out in the coals for about an hour and a half.  The peppers and Walla Walla sweet onions went right in coals that had been burning for an hour - they got turned every ten minutes, and then you slip them right out of the charred skins and have a deliciously cooked vegetable in the end (it worked!).  We also grilled eggplant and zucchini on the grate above some more active flames.
Somehow, we forgot plates and cups.  Luckily, our children are good at scavenging and our friends are good at sharing.
Steve, getting ready to head out to fish - and Elena and Sylvie carbo loading on pretzels.
Some of the finished food - other people brought lots of great additions as well, and we were very well-fed campers.
And as the sun set, we all knew what it was time for...
...s'mores!  We decided to try some variations.  This one Christina made with thin almond crackers, and a Ghiradelli caramel-filled chocolate, and the marshmallow. 
 We brought variations with dark chocolate, and the hershey's and graham crackers were the usual hit, too.
There was some thunder and lightening and just a bit of rain in the night, but we awoke to that famous big sky, blue and beautiful.  We hung out at the creek and played before heading home to catch our first baseball game of the season.  This is truly the season to be a Montanan.

Happy Adoption Day

June 17 is the anniversary of Clara and Elena's adoption at the courthouse, and we like to commemorate the day every year.  It has been the tradition to do this through talking about the day we met them, the day we adopted them nearly one year later, and all the people who have helped us become a family. 

It has been our tradition each year to celebrate with cupcakes - the girls pick fun ones out of a book we have and then Christina helps them make them.  There are usually LOTS of sweets involved.  But this year our kitchen was out of order due to new floors being put in.  So Christina took the girls to a local bakery instead, and they had their pick of those cupcakes.

They do not appear disappointed, right?  Then we took the opportunity to take them overnight to a local hotel that has a big waterpark inside.  We were going for wow factor, and it worked - they spent hours and hours in the pool, going down the three-story water slides, and making up a game in this mushroom thing called "Crocodiles and Mermaids."  (We still don't really know how to play).

It was a fun day, with so much to be thankful for.  And the next day, we came home to this!  New tile floor.  Now Clara and Elena play jumping from tile to tile - much more fun than linoleum.  Christina and Steve are pretty fond of it, too.

Father's Day 2013

We celebrated Steve this year mainly through food and words.  Christina interviewed the girls and had them share their thoughts of Steve, including what they would buy him if they had all the money in the world (Elena would buy him underwear, Clara would buy him a fishing rod) and what he is best at making (breakfast burritos, in a united consensus).  They also drew pictures and made cards, and were so happy to get to explain each piece of these gifts to him.

Then we took him out for coffee and pastries, and sent him on his way for an afternoon of fishing with his friend.
When he came back we went out for dinner, complete with pizza roll-ups, burgers, and silliness.
Happy Father's Day, Steve!

Saturday, June 15, 2013


We started this Saturday as we usually do,at the Farmer's Market.
It's getting good - we are moving on from the early spring crops into the early summer crops.  We are also part of a CSA so we have more greens than we can handle at the moment, but we went to the market anyway just to pick up a few things and to enjoy the scene.
A great part of the scene, in the girls' minds, is the grassy open area next to where the farmers set up.  There are fish sculptures, and rocks that are great for climbing (or defying gravity, as Clara appears to be doing).
And away she goes!

Elena was happy to bask in the sun from the top of the sculpture for a long time (she was probably worried about losing her place there).

But eventually she got in on the fun jumping, too.
And then we ran into our friends with twins just about to turn two!  You may remember them from earlier posts on the blog.  They are getting so brave - check out Lucie on the rock with the big girls (and how is it possible that OUR girls are the big girls??).

Clara and Elena really enjoyed being in a mentorship role (though we had to redirect when Clara's modeling of how to stand up on the rocks was compelling enough that she tried it, too, and she has a bit too little balance yet for that maneuver!).
Lucie and Amelia, offering some carrots and water to Clara and Elena. 
Then we went home to work on various home improvement tasks that we have before us.  The one the girls have been most excited for is redoing this cedar kid's picnic table a friend gave us.  Clara really did use the electric sander to help get it ready, though this is just a re-enactment for reasons of both safety and shyness.
There was a great debate on some paint colors, but in the end we decided to put tape down the middle and let them each choose a color - we got kind of lucky that they went together as well as they did.
Laboring away.  This is about as long as Elena labored - she got this part done, and a little of her bench, and then told Christina that she could "help" finish.
Clara, on the other hand, was in it almost the entire time, working really carefully.  She would even say that: "I like to take my time.  I want to do a careful job."  She had some real pride in working well.

Elena, for her part, supported her sister by popping little cookies into her mouth when she was too busy painting to stop for her own snack.
It was actually a pretty quick project, and by the evening meal the paint had dried enough on the table for them to sit at it to eat.  And oh, they were so excited to do that.  They were very into making the rules at their own table.  For instance, "At our table, the rule is you can bring toys to the table!"
"At our table, we play with our food!" (hence, the corncob holder placement on Elena's corn).

There were some other rules (one involving them getting eat before Steve and I instead of waiting for everyone to come to the table).  You might guess that each of these rules runs in opposition to our typical table rules.  Steve and Christina ate out on the patio and were not so terribly disappointed to be missing out on the kid-table-dining.  Those girls were doing just fine by themselves.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Last Day of School

Ah, the last day of school.  It feels like just yesterday that we were posting about the first day of school!  Oh, er...hmm.  Well, time flew, that's for sure.  Here is the gang at the busstop (there are two boys and an older girl who also wait with us, but they weren't feeling the whole photo-documentation thing we had going on).

 We went to see Clara and Elena read their books to the class on "Kindergarten is the best because..."
Especially charming in Clara's book was that "we get to read with Mom" was in there (so she noticed that volunteer time!) and "I get to be with my sister" (confirming some of our decision to keep them in the same classroom together next year).
Elena's book featured Gus the Plus and Linus the Minus.  Very notable for her was her reading enthusiasm - some kids chose not to read, and Elena has sometimes been self conscious about her reading skills.  But she seems to not be concerned now, and was so proud to read her book! 
 Clara got her certificate of achievement for finishing kindergarten.
 Elena basking in Mrs. Malchi's love and her certificate of achievement:

And here the bus rumbles down the block at the end of the day, bringing them home for the very last day as kindergarteners.

We decided to have a celebration to mark the last day of school - can you guess what we thought might be a fun way to work off some of the excess energy of the last-day excitement?
Not a hard guess, huh?  Pinata time!
The role of hitting and the role of raising/lowering the pinata were equally coveted.  Joining us were Moana (the best friend of both girls, met just on the first day of school, who was in the same class with them all year and who happily lives just down the block) and her mom, Casey.

All the girls stuck with this for much longer than we would have thought - this pinata was pretty impenetrable!
But success was finally ours (after Casey swung the bat for a few well-aimed bashes):

Then there was reveling in the parent-approved snacks from the pinata (fruit snacks and oreo crackers) and Zimorino's pizza.  Yum!

And we topped off the party playing with these foam pellets - they are essentially vibrantly dyed packing peanuts.  You dab a side of them with a wet paper towel, and when you put another pellet against it they stick!  And when you're done you dump water on them and they dissolve. 
Clara's creation - a bird.  Can you see it?

And no "last of" post is complete without a little retrospective.  So first day is on the left, last day is on the right - that's a year of kindergarten right there.  It's not the physical growing that is really notable, but it is incredible how their minds have developed this year.  Kindergarten rocks!