Monday, November 8, 2010

Anna's Windy Leaf Dance

This was such a moment of joyful free expression for Anna that I couldn't pass up the opportunity to try to capture it and pass it on to you. It's never quite the same on video as it is in person, but this gives you a glimpse of how her spirit moves.

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She is so alive, living in the moment, reveling in the wind and blowing leaves around her.

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I love how she moves, how free she is to express what she is feeling with her whole body and embrace the world around her in all its raw glory and life with all of who she is. I can't tell you how long she stayed outside, dancing barefoot in the blowing leaves and the first drops of rain that were starting to come down. But she did eventually get cold and come inside for some warm Stone Soup that we'd made for lunch.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Leaves

It makes me so happy to look around these days and see the incredible colors on all the trees. Well, not all. Some of them have already lost all their leaves. But some of my favorite trees are at the height of their glory right now, this Oak tree included, with my favorite three little girls walking underneath it.Silly girls.

Spunky girls.


'So cute you want to eat them up' girls.



Grinning in the leaf pile.


Buried in the leaf pile.


Rolling in the leaf pile.


Throwing the leaf pile.





Jumping in the leaf pile.


Even Mama buried her bare feet in the crunchy leaves.
Making gravel and leaf angels-as opposed to snow angels in the winter.


Can you see it?

The play never stops. It just changes.
Anna swinging standing up, a video per her request:
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These girls play together. All. The. Time.

Can you believe, with all the Fall colors and frost we've had, that this is still what it looks like in our herb garden on the south side of our house? It is November, after all.
Enjoy every moment of this glorious Fall right now.

Halloween

This year we actually let the girls dress up for Halloween, went to a party at a friend's house and went trick-or-treating! I know, I know, that sounds funny, we let the girls dress up. When do we not let the girls dress up? They dress up everyday, a couple of different times! But we're not so into Halloween. We've always avoided it. But this year the girls had been asked at least once a day by everybody they know for probably the last 3 months what they were going to be for Halloween, so they came up with an answer. Mitch and I are not so into the true meaning of Halloween, nor are we into the girls consuming unlimited amounts of candy, so we've always just tried to make it a special day in other ways and had fun connecting as a family. But this year we did it all! We had a fun time.
Ruthie was the cutest giraffe I have ever seen (stated by a totally unprejudiced mama).

Then we had a Sugar Plum Fairy (who had wings on some of the time), and Snow White.
Here they are watching a dry ice bubble form. Pretty fascinating. Drop some dry ice in a bucket of water, get a wet, long strip of rag really soapy, run it around the edge of the bucket and then, holding it stretched out tight in your hands, run it over the top of the bucket from from one end across to the other, leaving a soap sheet behind covering the opening. Then watch! The active dry ice in the bucket releases air bubbles that push up your soap bubble and a huge soap bubble is formed! Watch closely because pretty soon (especially if you're watching so closely you're breathing on it)...
POP!


Even though Anna was expecting it, she jumped every time:)

Monday, October 25, 2010

Our Days...

...have been oh so full around here. Here's a glimpse of a few of our highlights.
Another birthday, Mitch turned 1:We had neighbors over to celebrate with pumpkin pie.

Sweet Josie napping on the couch in her new dress made by Mema. I love how this little one falls asleep in the middle of whatever she is quietly doing during her rest time, never one to actually put down her book and decide to sleep.


Josie's leaf pile, leaves that she collected on our walk this evening. All three girls brought back so many colorful leaves. We are absolutely loving all the colors that are on the trees and carpeting the ground and filling the air. My favorite fall moment happened the other day when it was quite blustery out and colorful leaves were literally raining out of the trees in our courtyard, filling the air with color. All the kids started running through them as they fell, screaming and laughing, caught up in the excitement of running through a downpour of leaves. It was a moment I think I will remember my whole life and will always bring a smile to my face.



Puzzles. All three girls at different levels working on and succeeding in doing puzzles, and then doing them again, and then again, and then again. I love watching them learn the skills needed for doing a puzzle and I love their excitement when they succeed. The whole family joined in a rousing "hip-hip-hooray!" for Ruthie when she finished hers for the first time.
Anna is making such incredible strides in her reading skills these days. She's actually starting to blend together the sounds of the letters she sees and has randomly read words on signs as we drive or walk around. So exciting! Such a huge life skill unfolding before our eyes.



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Here's one more video I took this morning before ballet class, because Anna asked me to "take a video of us and post it on the blog!" These kiddos always make me laugh, they are so silly in such an impromptu and unselfconscious way.

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Monday, October 18, 2010

We Did Make Space

Everyone we talked to about getting a piano laughed at us and asked where the heck we thought we were going to put a piano in our house.
We did make space! It fits in nicely and doesn't make anything feel crowded, quite a feat in our little place. It required a lot of cleaning out and getting rid of in the rest of the house, a chore that lasted for a couple of weeks but was finally finished this week (if such a thing is ever really finished). Fall cleaning, we called it. Necessary even if we weren't getting a piano. Everyone loves it! The girls, for the most part, play gently and 'professionally' and tell us what song they are practising while they play:)
It makes the whole house feel new and fresh, spaces cleaned out and decluttered, extra furniture gone, new pictures on the walls... Besides the piano space, which is new and exciting in and of itself, my favorite new space is my 'studio', which is now in our bedroom. My own space for all my sewing and other crafts. I'm not showing you a picture of that yet, because I haven't really finished setting it up. That'll take a little while, but even the process is fun!
Now to find Anna a piano teacher...

Friday, October 15, 2010

5 Year Old Birthday Princess

Half a decade old, my little Anna girl, so grown up, so confident and kind- two characteristics that can be hard to find in the same person. She knows her mind. I wasn't kidding when I told you this little girl loves to be fancy! She wanted me to put her hair in rag curlers the night before her party.
I love watching her walk when she feels beautiful. So poised and graceful (for a five year old), she holds her head high with a sparkle in her eye.
She and her daddy went on a date in the morning and returned with donuts for all of us for breakfast.

She loves her new roller skates! I love that her fancy dress doesn't ever stop her from being completely herself and doing crazy Anna things, like roller skating or climbing trees or playing in the mud.

For her birthday this year Anna wanted to invite two special friends, Nam and Sophie June, to a swim party at the rec center, and then home for games, dinner, and birthday cupcakes. A perfect choice. Our rec center has a zero entry pool where the girls can touch everywhere complete with a small and large slide and other water fountain like amenities. One of Anna's favorite places to go and safe enough for Mitch and I to watch 5 crazy girls. They had a ball. Sorry, I didn't take the camera with me. At a pool I definitely need to focus on watching the girls and making sure they are safe:)
When we got home they all dressed up like princesses and played a rousing game of hide-and-seek while Daddy fixed dinner.
Oh where, oh where has that Anna girl gone?

There she is!


The three princesses, with crowns, high-heeled shoes, fancy dresses, and bouquets of flowers.


Anna's dinner request was pesto pasta, oven fried chicken and salad. Yummy choice, Anna!


Zucchini chocolate chip chocolate cupcakes with coconut cream cheese frosting. Where does a five year old come up with a combination like that? But the birthday girl gets to choose, and I must say they turned out pretty darn tasty.

My spunky, feisty, social little Anna girl, growing up so fast.
Happy Birthday, Anna. We love you.

And one last picture, just for good measure, of Miss Josie Joy trying out the roller skates in her pajamas.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Birthday Dinner

Yup, its that time of year again, the birthday month in the Clement household. Tonight was my turn, and your turn in this household means you get to choose your birthday meals.


Have you ever made Sushi Rolls? Or Nori Wraps or California Rolls, whatever name you want to call them by they're pretty darn tasty! Don't worry, we didn't have any raw seafood in these. Just chop up your favorite colorful vegetables (bell pepper, carrot, avocado and cucumber here), cut cream cheese into slices- or mini (cooked) shrimp- cook the sushi rice according to the directions on the package.

Spread a thin layer of rice on most of the Sushi Nori wrap, leaving an inch at the top uncovered so it will stick to itself when rolled. Spread your desired toppings in a thin line towards the bottom of the wrap. Dampen the last uncovered inch of the wrap so it will seal when rolled and then roll it tightly from the bottom up.

Slice it, like so:
Dip it in tamari/soy sauce and wasabi if you like, and enjoy!


These girls loved it! They were eating them as fast as I could roll them!
This is one of my favorite potluck meals. The host provides the wraps and the rice and each guest brings a favorite topping or two. Mmm mmm mmm!





Mitch, the chef extraordinaire tonight, outdid himself with dessert, a delicious chocolate cake made from scratch, Texas Sheet Cake.

My favorite chocolate cake ever because it always turns out so moist.
If you're looking for a never-fail chocolate cake recipe, try this one out. I've even made it with 100% whole wheat pastry flour and it was still incredible.
Texas Sheet Cake
2 c flour
2 c sugar
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 c butter
1/3 c unsweetened cocoa powder
2 eggs
1/2 c buttermilk (or sour milk)
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
1 recipe Chocolate-Buttermilk Frosting
Mix first four ingredients. Melt butter in a small saucepan, add cocoa powder and 1 c water. Bring mixture just to boiling, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Add cocoa mixture to flour mixture, add eggs, buttermilk and vanilla. Pour into greased 9x13 pan. 350 degrees for 35 min. Pour warm Chocolate-Buttermilk Frosting over warm cake.
Chocolate Buttermilk Frosting: Combine 1/4 c butter, 3 T cocoa powder, and 3 T buttermilk in a saucepan. Bring to boiling, remove from heat. Add 2 1/4 c powdered sugar, beat until smooth. Add a smidge more milk to reach desired spreading consistency if necessary.

Family Art Night

It just happened tonight, and we all loved it. Sitting around the table, drawing, talking, laughing, being together as a family. Don't get me wrong, this doesn't mean that all the dishes were done or toys picked up or clean laundry put away or even that all the dirty laundry was washed. But we were able to carve out a space for us tonight and enjoy time drawing as a family, being creative together, loving being in each others presence.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Repurposing

So many definitions of that word float around our society today.

But let me tell you, these creative little girls are unconsciously masters of it. Childhood. The freedom, unconstrained by what is proper and right, to use whatever items you want to create your own little imaginative world, mimicking the world around you.

Cloth napkins and bandannas become beds for dolls.

So proud of what they have made.

Purely for your viewing pleasure, this picture is of Ruthie walking around in Anna's boots, carrying her backpack with her own creative flare and telling me over and over "I'm Grandma Jo! Lookit me! I'm Grandma Jo!" and laughing with delight at her own silliness.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Crab Apple Jelly

My friend Amelia came over to make Crab Apple Jelly with us the other day.
The girls are showing you all the crab apples they picked. They couldn't reach many off the tree, but Amelia and I would shake the tree and crab apples would come raining down for the girls to pick up. Then Amelia and I would keep picking all we could reach from standing on the crate and chair.The girls did all the washing:

Amelia and I cut them in half and removed the stems.


Then we cooked them (2 c water to each lb of apple) and removed the pulp, leaving just the juice.

Add sugar (lots!), cook it until reduced by half, and there's your Crab Apple Jelly! Pour it into jars, give it a hot water bath for 5 minutes (at our elevation I do 15), and let it sit on the shelf until it thickens up.
Crab apples are high in pectin so you don't need to add anything to thicken it up.
In our neighborhood the sidewalks are littered with crab apples this time of year. I love finding a use for something that otherwise would just go to waste. Crab apples, if you've ever tried one, tend to be pretty tart and not very good to eat plain. But made into jelly it can't get tastier!