Thursday, December 27, 2012

Merry Christmas!

Oh, this poor neglected family blog.  Will it ever see regular posting again?

Merry Christmas to you and yours!
Our first Christmas back in the States was celebrated with Mimi!  Hooray!  Mimi drove over from Virginia on Saturday and staying through Christmas morning, wanting to be here when the girls opened their gifts...and such a mountain of gifts there were!  My goodness, we are all very spoiled this year.

Christmas loot

Ellie is such an avid reader (she devours books like they are going out of style), so her favorite gifts were books (naturally).  She received 10 and has read them all already.  Luckily, she loves to read the same books over and over, so the reading has only just begun.  Mimi gave the girls some awesome Playmobil sets (a zoo and a stable, as well as some smaller sets), and Ellie has really enjoyed those too, particularly the zoo.  It was such a favorite that Papa allowed it to stay set up in the middle of the living room floor for three days before he just couldn't handle the disorder anymore and it went to the playroom (where she resumed playing with it).

Christmas Playmobil

Stephanie received many beautiful presents, but thus far, her undeniable favorites are Ruthie the Deer from Mama and a musical Christmas card from Grandmary.  She has carried both items around almost constantly since Christmas morning.  Ruthie the Deer is her new best friend.  She has been with Stephanie non-stop, even sleeping with her at night which is very unusual (Stephanie often finds sleeping with toys disturbs her rest).

Stephanie and Ruthie

Alas, Markus and Stephanie both woke up sick with colds on Christmas morning.  Papa was rather cranky about it, and Stephanie just sounds poorly.  Both of them are coughing and exhausted and occasionally feverish, though now we're on day 3 and are slowly getting better.  Unfortunately, we had planned a trip to visit friends in North Carolina that we have had to cancel since Papa and Stephanie were too sick.  The weather has also been rather wintry (a winter storm strong enough to be named like a hurricane would be in summer), and the airports are a mess.  We will try to meet up with them sometime in the spring.

On Boxing Day, we woke to grey skies with a predicted snowfall of 4-6 inches between 10am and 2:30pm.  We didn't believe it.  We should have!  It started snowing at 9:40am and didn't stop until the afternoon.  It was so cold out that the snow stuck.  Markus could not be stopped from shoveling and salting the driveway before dark.  

  snowball headed my way

Now, he and Ellie are outside throwing snowballs near each other.  He has lugged at few at the glass door right in front of me since he can see me inside on the computer.  Stinker.

Winter wonderland

snowy cuddle

Despite two of us having bad colds, there was no resisting a morning walk into the village to get bagels.  A little bit of Sewickley in the snow for you to see...

Sewickley village

snowball hit!


It has been hard seeing so much fun snow and being too sick to get out and play in it.

this little elf has a cold

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Winter solstice

pretty little snowflakes

The first day of winter.  Naturally, it snowed.
It was just a little snow, but it was enough to satisfy the hungry heart of our Ellie, who was thrilled.  When we told her the weather forecast, she simply shrugged, saying "Of course it will snow!  It is the first day of winter!" as if we really were too simple-minded for words.

When we awoke the next morning to a thin layer of snow blanketing our world, she was over the moon.  She ran into our room before dawn, begging to go out and build a snowman.  She couldn't wait another second, so she dressed quickly and was outside in her snowsuit before we had even budged from bed.  We could hear her delighted cry (something like "Hee-hoo!" packed with as much pure delight as you can imagine), and that brought us to the window to watch her.  After breakfast, Papa and Stephanie joined her outside.  It took almost every bit of snow in our yard (front and back), but with Papa's help, they did build a snowman/snow Gruffalo/ "Rudolf the Red-Nosed Reindeer Snowman".

getting the snowman started

snow Gruffalo or reindeer or whatever he is

A bit later, we all walked into the village and went to Starbucks for their ever-popular-with-our-girls donuts, and people couldn't seem to believe our girls were wearing snowsuits in the 2 inches on the ground.  We encountered no other kids, so it was funny to realize that ours were the only kids out and they had been out for hours.

little snow fight

Several weeks of winter ahead.  We look forward to many more snow days of joy to come!

Tuesday, December 04, 2012

Big girl milestone!

After weeks (months? years?) of requesting, the parents finally agreed that it was time for ear piercing.  I had always told the girls that they needed to be 7 years old, but the closer she got to her 7th birthday, the less Ellie asked.  I thought she was waiting, but she was changing her mind.  By the time she did turn 7, she insisted she needed to be older, perhaps 9 or 10.

Stephanie, however, was more than ready to get hers pierced.  Someone was 7, so why wait?  The urgency increased dramatically when one of the girls in her class got her ears pierced.  Two other girls had theirs pierced as babies, leaving only Stephanie and one other girl without pierced ears.  She just couldn't accept that.  She began asking up to five times a day until finally over Thanksgiving holiday, Papa and Mama agreed it was time.  We managed to get to her wait until the day everyone went back to school and the mall was empty again.  I took Stephanie to get her ears pierced last Tuesday.

Stephanie gets her ears pierced

Stephanie gets her ears pierced

She is sooooo proud!  We have shown these earrings to everyone we can.  Although she's still too shy to talk to people she doesn't know, she does insist I talk to people we don't know so I can tell them about her getting her ears pierced: people in shops, other moms at school, big kids at Ellie's school, people in line at the grocery store as well as the check-out person...everyone needs to know!  Without fail, everyone asks if she cried or if it hurt, but she proudly answers no to both.  To my amazement, she didn't even flinch when the woman at the mall pierced her ears one at a time.  Cool as a cucumber.  I told her she is a tough little nut, which she also proudly repeats to anyone who listens.

Naturally, the questions from all these people flowed back to Ellie.  Why don't you have your ears pierced?  Don't you want them?  Honestly, I'm not sure Ellie was ready.  She was still feeling quite anxious...but one cannot have one's little sister upstaging oneself for long.  On Saturday afternoon, Ellie got her ears pierced too.  Papa came along this time to witness the milestone.

Ellie gets her ears pierced

Two big girls with their ears pierced!  Amazing.
(although in this photo, I still really see the baby her isn't gone quite yet...)

  baby cheeks on our big girl