Thursday, January 31, 2013

Boo and a Book is all you need

This past week we realized it was time for Catherine to drop her pacifier.  Though Catherine really only gets it during road trips and in the crib, I've been putting this off for too long even though she's shown a few times she could fall asleep without it.  One afternoon, someone came in and "broke" all the pacifiers in the house by clipping off the tips.  Catherine was none too pleased about this and I spent much of the first night and next afternoon in her room rocking and holding:
Luckily she has become attached to this ridiculous dog from Uncle Matt :-)  Uncle Matt picked it out because it was cute and later found out it was "Boo, the Cutest Dog in the World" according to YouTube.  Catherine's pretty territorial about Boo but he definitely helped the no pacifier transition.  After a rough 24 hours or so she adapted quickly and now gets Boo and book and she's (most of the time) ready to sleep.  She still needs rocked sometimes, but considering how quickly she's growing, that's okay by me.  
Boo, also went to Yellowstone with us, which of course meant that Matthew decided he needed to bring Ellie, which then meant we spent the entire drive there listening to "Here Catherine, you can have Ellie, give me Boo."  Of course, that also meant James spent a lot of time retrieving animals from between the two back seats that didn't quite make the trade.  However, Boo is far easier to find than a flung pacifier.  
And we owe Uncle Matt doubly because he also got Catherine the seahorse that has become integral to the bedtime/nap routine.  It plays a series of "soft classical lullabies" if you want to stretch the definition of some of those words, including Pachbel's Canon.  After a few rounds it feels like you are waiting for the world's latest wedding to start, but it works so it got to go to Yellowstone too.  
Speaking of growing up, she got herself ready to go the other morning :-)  Luckily Catherine rarely *knock on wood* loses mittens when we are out and about but her current fashion stylings sometimes mean that single boots and mittens travel far throughout the house.  

We've been quite busy out and about with friends and while I have lots of great pictures of the kids' friends, I have very few of mine because they have been stuck to my legs it seems.  Both are going through a clingy, shy phase, but I'm glad a friend at least got this one of us from lunch the other day:
Meanwhile around the house the kids continue to test the boundaries of the sibling relationship.  Here is Catherine doing her "sassy" walk where she puts her hands behind her (to balance out the toddler lead-with-tummy walk?) and stomps around giggling and following Matthew:
These wild antics have become an integral part of our bedtime routine, if only because it's fun for James and I to watch!
Though sometimes their running around and making noise time looks like this when hats are added:
Then of course, there are the big hugs the kiddos insist on giving each other before naps and bed:
But everyone's favorite part is always story time:
Including Matthew who has started "reading along" as we say the words and reading (memorizing/using context clues to read) quite a few stories on his own:
Matthew's still enamored with his snowshoes so we try and make it outside every day.  When Catherine puts her hat on she always starts to do this, possibly because Matthew has convinced her she's a "flower monster": 
Catherine's still hit or miss about the whole experience.  She loves eating the snow:
And I just can't get enough of her in this hat!
While Matthew likes to take flying leaps at me:
One of the key benefits of these awesome hats from Teta Sharon (aside from their cuteness) is the large fleece neck collects all the snow that they don't end up eating and keeps it from going down their shirts/jackets.  Win-win!

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Winter Adventures in Yellowstone

After some previous weekends of cross country skiing fun, this weekend we decided to get serious about it all and took some leftover Christmas money and combined it with some new and used mid-winter gear sales to get ourselves outfitted for both cross country skiing and snowshoeing.  Thanks Mas and Pas, hope we took enough pictures for you!

As the kiddos and I headed around town looking at gear Matthew was super interested in it all.  I wasn't really planning to get him gear this year, but when I saw the basket of cheap kids snowshoes and when he was so excited about it, I decided he needed a pair. (Maybe they strategically placed them next to the kid backpacks as a gentle reminder of how nice it'd be to not have to carry a preschooler on your back!)  Matthew could hardly wait to practice and we stayed out front until the sun set "running" in our snowshoes:

Catherine got snowshoes too but she needs to get more comfortable walking in just boots before she tries them out.  Oh yeah, and she needs to leave her mittens (well, and boots as you'll see) on!!

With a pretty great forecast on deck we decided there was no better place to test everything out than Yellowstone.  Since Mammoth is normally the last place we visit and breeze through, we thought it would be fun to spend a bit more time there.   As we entered the park, we saw this sheep silhouetted against the sky.   He was on quite the peak:

Not a bad start for the trip, considering we had many bad memories from our last "winter" trip in the park.  While thankfully we didn't crack an oil pan (or worse) this time, we did have a close call with this guy.  He stepped out right in front of me from behind a bush!  I'm pretty certain he scared me more than I scared him, but after a short stare down he did turn around instead of crossing.

Once we got in the park, we headed out on snowshoes as we had promised Matthew.  He wants to wear his snowshoes all the time thankfully as we are eager to have him do more walking/hiking independently.
Catherine meanwhile took the easy way out!  We had borrowed our neighbor's DIY pulk set-up which worked out really great.  We just strapped Catherine's carseat on and clipped the poles to my belt.  She was pretty content about it.  
On the trail:
 Canary Spring:

 The kiddos checking out the springs and the bison that were hanging out below:
Unfortunately, on our return from the springs, Matthew started to get sled envy, so we snowshoed back to the car and put on our skis.
Once we configured the sled for an additional passenger, we were ready to go, though Catherine was none too happy about sharing her carriage with someone else.  We did a nice 1.4 mile loop around the Upper Terraces at Mammoth.  There was a pretty steep stretch in the beginning but after that it was a nice ski and we had the trail mostly to ourselves.  Pulling the sled was definitely an experience as every time I started to get going, it felt like something was trying to push me down!  Luckily, the sled only tried to pass me once or twice on the downhill, which Matthew thought was awesome.  Me? Not so much.

There were a few sections of the trail where the ground was too warm for snow.  Hazards of skiing in a geothermal area I suppose :-)
Hanging out with a geyser:
 Matthew took a break from the sled to run down the hill instead.  This was great for all of us as it made the sled much easier to pull and Matthew seemed to enjoy it!
And sneaking up on Catherine.
Catherine decided her boots were undesireable at some point so we took them off.  It also kept her from kicking Matthew in the head with them and with wool socks under her pj legs she stayed toasty warm.  Of course, the kids were super excited to get back for hot cocoa and especially lunch since we ended up out way past lunch/nap.
We had left our plans pretty loose contingent upon weather but with clear roads and clear skies to the East we had lunch in the car and headed to the Lamar Valley which is a) the only part of the park open to cars in the winter and b) a section of the park we'd never visited.It was our lucky day because a few miles out we (along with many others) spotted these two bull elk:
And, on our way to take some pictures, spotted this moose down near the stream.

The moose moved up the hill and eventually on his way:
But these two kept posing:

And then a sweet old lady offered to take a picture while we posed:

We then put the kids back in the car with the plan of driving out to Lamar Valley and back while they napped and then we'd do a bit more exploring near Mammoth.  HA!  In the kids ever-present love/hate relationship they kept "talking" to each other, making faces and trading loveys.  We did see this guy:
And made it to Cooke City which was both underwhelming and pretty much closed, including the visitor center, though at least they kept the bathroom open and Matthew rather enjoyed this statue:
 Oh yeah, and the views weren't half bad!
Catherine finally fell asleep just before we got back to Mammoth, thankfully sleeping through our first Bison Jam:

Since she was out cold so we decided to just head home under a big, cloudy sky.

A winter storm warming was set to start at 5pm but we lucked out with dry roads the whole way home and woke up to a nice blanket of snow.  Matthew's already been out in his snowshoes again. I think we've created a monster!  

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

The day to day

This past week we stayed busy with preschool and hanging out with friends old and new.  We also ran a few errands and picked up our tickets to the kids concert.  I should have run this errand solo as now Matthew asks every day when we are going to go see "Dr. Noise crash into the Symphony."  I guessed at the number but it's about 19 sleeps as he likes to remind me.  Needless to say, they were excited about this errand.  Matthew has also declared it "his favorite" already, though I think that is because of the robot in the ad.
 And *knock on wood* the kids have stayed healthy through this whole cold/flu explosion around us.  However, with play dates etc. I've been slightly paranoid about us having it and sharing it with others so the thermometer's been floating around the house.  Matthew was using it the other day because "I'm just fixin my head because it is lumpy"
And speaking of health and hygiene, the kiddos being cute and brushing teeth:
 And it is completely lost in this photo due to some creepy motion blur, but this is Matthew working on his computer.  He likes to lean the cover of a book against his turtle to make a "laptop" and go to work typing away.
 This past weekend I took a much needed and awesome trip to West Yellowstone with some friends for a girls weekend.  Lots and lots of fun, some skiing, some girly movies and a gorgeous sunset off our balcony.  One can't ask for much more!
 When I got back I had a birthday celebration for a friend to attend, but it appears the kiddos and James had a pretty good weekend:

 And now we're hosting another week of preschool, hanging out with friends and trying to avoid the ickies floating around.  Matthew has been watching daddy pack his lunches as he snagged these from the cabinet and announced "this is for my lunch to take to work."  Whatever work he's going off to, he must be anticipating severe hunger:
 This week has also led to the introduction of the Gunny Bag from our preschool curriculum.  It's been working really well to keep the toys in order, though Matthew has a weird fear that requires him to be kept hidden when he's not eating toys and Matthew asks about him a lot.
Part of our preschool lessons this week have been about order and responsibility so we've been practicing putting on all our snow gear by ourselves as well.  Matthew is rocking it but Catherine is excessively uncooperative.  We've had quite a few bad (read: lots of screaming for seemingly no reason) trips out in the snow over the week, but today she was willing to hang out for quite some time.  
 I love these monkeys!

Five on Friday

1.  Look at these winter white legs out enjoying the sunshine at the dino park.  Spring has FINALLY sprung! These boys went from winter di...