Friday, December 30, 2011

Goin' to the Zoo, Zoo, Zoo

We had a busy day in the city - lunch, some shopping, Rachel's check-up with the ear doctor (her hearing is perfectly fine, so the constant "what?" comments are just to be annoying), and dinner at Steve's uncle's surprise 60th birthday party.  Oh, and in the middle of it all we went to the zoo!  The weather was gorgeous - 63 degrees on December 30th!
Lions
and tigers
and bears - oh my!
I'd brought snacks, including some cute little lollipops the girls got in their Christmas stockings.  (Yeah, I was planning the photo shoot...)
Happy New Year!





Thursday, December 29, 2011

Sisterhood

People often ask Katherine if she likes having a sister.
Kate never quite knows how to respond.  It's really a rather complicated question.  She usually answers "Sometimes."  She loves Rachel (more than she would probably admit).  She likes being her teacher and protector and sometimes friend.  And bossing her around, of course.
But there are times when I'm pretty sure she wishes Rachel would just go away.

No one ever asks Rachel is she likes having a sister.  But she would know how to respond.  YES!!
Rachel adores Katherine.  She follows her around.  She seeks out her attention.  She endures her endless bossing and directing.  She wants to be just like her big sister.  Even when they are fighting (which happens a lot), it is clear that Rachel enjoys the interaction.
Rachel refers to Katherine as "my sister".  As in "Where is my sister?"  Or "My sister gave this to me."  Sometimes she even calls Kate "sister."  "Sister, where are you?"
Rae knows that I have a sister and that Granny has a sister.  She loves it when all of the sisters are together.  Once she asked about Daddy's sister and I explained that Daddy didn't have a sister, only brothers.  "No sister?" she asked sadly and her eyes teared up.  Sisters are important.
The girls are each other's best friend and worst enemy.  Sisters, in every sense.  Despite the seemingly endless bickering, they have an undeniable bond with each other.  They are true sisters.  And sisterhood is powerful.






Sunday, December 25, 2011

It's Christmas!

Merry Christmas!  Rachel expended so much energy anticipating Christmas yesterday that she wore herself out.  Katherine had to wake her up to open presents this morning!  It has been a busy, family-filled day.

Christmas, Part 1
Santa came and left a letter for Katherine and Rachel.
Santa also left scooters!
The four of us emptied our stockings and opened gifts and I took some awful, blurry pictures.  Then the girls had to go try out their scooters.

Christmas, Part 2
We went to Granny and Poppy's for brunch and then opened more gifts.  Can you tell that Rachel is excited?
Katherine got an interesting doll that comes with information and on-line games about girls in Laos.  Kate has never been much of a doll kid, but she was really interested in learning about real girls in other countries.
Rachel and Granny both got dolls, too.  Rachel's doll has a "little hand", just like hers!  (Thanks, Granny!)
We played some new games (Sneaky Squirrel is quite entertaining!) and had our traditional Christmas dinner - homemade pizza.

Christmas, Part 3
We went to Steve's brother's house for Christmas with the other half of the family.  Katherine, who appreciates all things "old", got DVDs of 9 different Shirley Temple movies. 
Rachel was pleased with a Hello Kitty backpack and pink snow boots, but her last gift was beyond her wildest dreams - 7 princess dolls!
More princesses than she could hold!
The three youngest cousins all received matching jackets and finally agreed to pose in them.
Then it was time for games, more food, and watching The Christmas Story.
We came back home, tired and filled with family (Rachel still clutching her princesses). It was a delightful day!







Saturday, December 24, 2011

We're Ready...

...for Christmas to arrive!  We have been to Christmas Eve services (and were awed by the candlelight, as always).
We've opened one present - pajamas.  (Okay, not much of a surprise, but fun anyway.)
We've left milk and cookies and Good Deeds for Santa.  (Katherine even left tiny cookies for all the reindeer, although she debated about whether or not they should eat sprinkles!)
Katherine even added a personal letter to Santa.
We are ready!


Friday, December 23, 2011

Good Deeds

We have been busy around here doing Good Deeds.
   I started the Good Deeds project last Christmas.  Every day in December, each girl drew out a slip of paper with a "good deed" on it.  Once she finished the deed, the slip of paper went into a special box.  On Christmas Eve, we left the box full of good deeds for Santa.  It was a lot of fun and really helped reinforce the concept of giving at Christmas time. 
   When I dug out the Christmas decorations this year, Katherine immediately asked if we were going to do Good Deeds again.  So our project is now officially a tradition, and one I love.  The girls are excited every day to what their next deed will be.  Some days we don't have time to do it all, so the deed slip waits in front of Baby Jesus until we are finished, little reminders of how to honor Him. 
   Since the girls are only 4 and 7, the good deeds are simple.  Send a card to someone.  Put money in a Salvation Army Bucket.  Make a Christmas craft for someone.
   A lot of the good deeds are little chores to be done around the house.  The girls actually think cleaning is fun, and I am always happy to have someone tidy up our (usually cluttered and slightly grubby) house.  Mop the kitchen floor.  Clean the front door.  Scrub the fronts of the oven and dishwasher.
  Today we tackeled Make Christmas goodies and deliver them to the neighbors.
We're down to one more Good Deed.  Our special box is getting full.
I'm pretty sure Santa will be pleased.


Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Illuminations

Tonight we went to the botanical gardens to see their amazing light displays.  What fun!  There were lights EVERYWHERE, including some that were set to music and binked off and on in patterns to the beat of Christmas songs.  It was fabulous!  We got really cold, but had a great time.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Violin Dreams

Katherine has been begging to play the violin for months, more than a year.  When she hears music with violin parts she comments on it.  When we watch orchestras play, her eyes are riveted on the violin section.  She even loves pictures of violins.  It is evident that Katherine has a deep love of music and it is time to feed her passion.  Today, I took her to be fitted for a violin.
Our local orchestra teacher measured her arm length and fitted her with a 1/4 size violin (which is adorable!).  The she gave Kate her first lesson in how to hold the violin, how to care for it, and how to "piccata" or pluck the strings one at a time.
Katherine practically glowed with pleasure.  Kate's teacher will be a high school violinist who has taken on students of her own and we are still arranging lessons.  But I know one girl who can't wait to play.

I love birthdays!

the ladybug cake

The Ladybug Sisters

Sisters

Sisters
Jie Jie and Mei Mei

Park Pictures

Park Pictures
Peeking through the windows

Park Pictures

Park Pictures
Katherine and her toothless smile

Park Pictures

Park Pictures
The little one leads the way