Saturday, January 30, 2010

Do You See Any Kids in This Picture?

That's because they weren't here tonight!
Yes, folks, Mitch and I had a bonafide date tonight, complete with candlelight dinner.
It is a crazy semester (in case you were wondering) with Mitch taking 6 classes, but he was able to set aside his schoolwork for a little while tonight. The neighbors invited all 3 girls over for a birthday party without mom and dad, and even Ruthie did great!
Thank you Mariah and Pete.
It was good to sit down to a meal just the two of us, in our own home; good to have uninterrupted conversation and focus on each other for a little while. Fun to get out my place mats and matching dishes and light all the candles with no fear that anyone might burn themselves or the house down.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Sometimes Cooking With Your Kids Can Mean...

broken dishes: or flour everywhere, or little fingers wanting a little pinch of this and a little pinch of that... But in the end, it's all worth it. A small sacrifice in the big picture of getting to spend quality time with my girls, them feeling like a useful part of our family and learning skills and passions that will follow them for a lifetime. I do love their help in the kitchen (most of the time).

What were we making in the kitchen before the dish crashed and broke? That little dish was the lid to our sourdough pot. Josie was feeding the sourdough (adding flour and water and stirring it) because we used almost all of our starter tonight to make pizza dough!

Turned out pretty yummy.

The other part of our meal was eggplant. These girls go wild for eggplant!

Honestly. I took that picture as Josie was saying "Yes, I do love eggplant!"
If you don't think you like eggplant, you should try this simple way of preparing it, and I promise, your family will love it!
Slice the eggplant. Grease a cookie sheet with olive oil. Lay the eggplant circles on the cookie sheet, turning once as you lay each piece down to coat both sides with a little bit of oil. Sprinkle with salt, parmesan and basil. Bake in a 450 oven for about 10 min. Who wouldn't like something that has those ingredients on top?!!!
Kid tip: slice your kid's pieces. Although the eggplant itself is soft, I have had a little one choke on a piece of skin.

Here's little Ruthie eating her pizza. Nope, she's not a baby anymore, my almost 14 month old little talker!

Friday, January 22, 2010

Josie's Sewing Project

Not to be outdone by her sister, Josie wanted to have a sewing project of her own. So we made a little doll quilt. She chose the material, I cut out squares, she helped me sew them all together to make the quilt top and helped me iron it, then I cut out the backing and binding and she helped me quilt it all together.

Here we are, sewing as a team:

We put the machine down on the coffee table, just like with Anna, so it was at her level. I think that was the most exciting part for her! Something that had always been off limits was suddenly presented to her for her own use! When I was ready Josie would push down on the sewing pedal with both feet. And away we sewed! Fast! Sometimes I had a hard time keeping up. No dawdling about this girl. She's always been a go getter, marching straight ahead with a purpose, and that was definitely how she sewed. She had fun experimenting with the pedal and making the machine run faster or slower, but mostly she just went fast.

Here we are ironing the seams:
Josie's finished nine patch doll quilt-she took this picture herself:

Baked Playdough Creations

Our neighbors invited us over for a playdate yesterday and the mom, Mariah, made a playdough that you can make creations out of and then bake it and paint it. We used rolling pins, cookie cutters, butter knives and toothpicks to shape and form the dough. Lots of fun for creative kiddos!

Anna, rolling out dough:
The recipe? Super easy.
5 cups of flour, 2 cups of salt, add enough water to make it a good playdough consistency!
Bake your creations at 300 degrees for ~1 hr, depending on how thick they are.
Then have fun painting!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Dress-up Tuesday

Cool Jo:

I don't know what you'd call this costume, but Anna sure was having fun!

Cool dog:

Even Ruthie wanted to join the dress-up fun and put a hat on her head:

Costume change! Snow Anna White:

Snow White talking to her Daddy on the phone this afternoon:

Jo-Jo with her flower in her hair (she really wanted to show that to you, Nona and Grandpa!) on the other phone talking to Daddy:

And last but not least, this is how the littlest munchkin, Snow White and the Cool Cat helped Mommy do dishes this evening:
Just a few pictures to give you a taste of how these girls spend their indoor winter afternoons.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Snapshots of our California Christmas

Nothing can every fully encapsulate a time in our lives, there is no way I can share with you completely about our time in California over Christmas. But I wanted to share with you a glimpse into our fun times, memories and bonds we made that will last a lifetime.
Our little family was in need of some times of connection and rest, time to remember what we care about, who we care about, time to feel alive and around family we love again.

Our time staying at my sister's house was definitely full of all of those things.

What can be more relaxing than spending time in a hot tub? Spending time with 5 little kids in a hot tub! Here's Mitch with all 5 cousins:
I can't even count for you how many good meals we ate, gourmet meals Uncle Trace cooked and we enjoyed. Family and friends gathered around a full table, good conversation, lots of laughter, eating to our hearts content. The center of life.
We went on many hikes with all 5 cousins and Grandma Jo on the trails in the woods around my sister's house, following Jack-the-fearless-leader: lots of identifying trees, stomping down the frost heave icicles, playing in the mud, counting rings on tree stumps to see how old they were, listening to the birds, being outdoors in my native Sierra Nevada mountains, the essence of peace for me.

4 of the cousins eating their snack on a log, a break in our hike:
(l-r:Caroline, Jack, Anna, Josie)

Reading books with Uncle Trace: Josie reading with her Papa, my Dad.

Jack and Anna enjoy a game of Candyland:
Downtime activities. Let your hair down, make yourself at home, be yourself.

Three sisters and our Mama! Together at last!
Life is made up of a series of so many special moments.

We even took a day and went to the beach! Our girls had never seen the ocean (well, Anna had but she was only 6 months old the last time). Here we all are out on the Marin Headlands, you can see the Golden Gate Bridge in the background:
Yes, it was a chilly, January day. Don't let the next pictures deceive you.

My beautiful sister Becky and my beautiful niece, Caroline:

Daddy'O, Anna and Josie, dipping their toes in the ocean water for the first time:
I love when my girls have such special times with their Daddy.

Run! The waves are coming!

Remember that picture of us all in wool sweaters and hats? Now look at Anna and Jack and Caroline! Anyone else for a dip in the ocean in January? We were on a beach at Point Reyes National Seashore just north of San Fransisco. Yes, there were other people there, but we couldn't figure out why none of them were in the water, too.

Little Ruthie played in the sand to her heart's content:

And got all covered with it! Look at that smile!

This is one of my favorite beach pictures, it says so much about who each person is. Jack, leaping into the cold waves laughing and exhilarated, all boy. Anna and Caroline, a bit more timid, holding Mitch's hands, yet out there in the water playing the whole afternoon, running, jumping, dunking under the water and screaming with delight:
I loved getting to know Jack and Caroline (my nephew and niece) better, getting to spend so much time with them and watching them play with Anna and Josie and Ruthie. Two kindhearted souls who love life, love the people they are surrounded by and seem so mature and self-confident for their age.

Another highlight of our trip was taking the girls on a little hike up Sugarloaf Mt in Nevada City to show them where Mitch and I got engaged.
Fun to share with them a little piece of our history, a little spot on this earth that is dear to our hearts. Not that you can see it in this picture, but we had a view out over the Sacramento Valley all the way to the coastal mountain range despite the overcast skies and the rain that was beginning to fall as we hiked down.

And the Beltrans!
What trip home would be complete without getting to see my dear friend Lupe and her family?
(l-r: Ben, Lupe, Andrea & Ben -we didn't get to see Carolina)
The girls had a lot of fun playing with every member of the Beltran family, and Mitch and I always love hanging out with our good friends.
Here we are, the Clement clan after we returned home:
(picture take by Grandma Judy Clement)

Thank you, Holly and Trace, for hosting us and giving us such a wonderful space in your home to relax and enjoy the company of all the people around us. Thank you for making us feel at home in your home.

It was a time that truly exemplified the essence of what Christmas is all about to me: giving, sharing, loving, accepting... God among us.

I hope each of you were able to experience a piece of the same this Christmas season.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Anna's Pillowcase

Anna got a sewing kit to make a pillowcase for Christmas from her Aunt Holly. She has asked me if we can work on it every day since, and finally yesterday I told her yes.
We worked on all of it together, ironing, measuring, cutting out the pieces, pinning and finally sewing! She enjoyed it every step of the way.
Ironing the material: I put the sewing machine down on the coffee table so she could run it herself, with a lot of assistance from mom:

As soon as it was finished she wanted to get inside of it:

So proud:

And happy:

The Projects

For Christmas presents this year I made "art-on-the-go" bags: Drawstring backpacks that contained a sketch pad and a felt pencil role.
I got the idea and the pattern for the felt pencil roles from Amanda Blake Soule's book "The Creative Family". I made 6 of these, all a bit different, one each for Anna and Josie and their 4 older cousins. Sorry Maia Sage and Ruthie, I didn't think you two were old enough yet.
So for those of you who were curious, now you know what all of my sewing was leading up to Christmas.
The sketch books for Anna and Josie, by the way, have cover art drawn by Mitch, he is the artist of the family, not me. Anna and Josie themselves did the front and back cover art for their cousins' books. Yes, they watched the making of the bags and participated in much of it, not knowing that any of it was for themselves. I love the innocence of childhood and their joy in making and giving gifts to their cousins without a thought for themselves.
I hope you all enjoy using your art bags as much as we loved making them for you, Jack and Caroline, Maryn and Landry! We love you!