Weather Chickens

If this week has taught us anything, Austinites are chickens when it comes to cold weather! On Friday, after Annabelle had slaved for weeks on her AWESOME science fair project:

IMG_0869School was cancelled and she could not learn the results. It was cancelled for THIS MUCH SNOW:

IMG_9115Once Marc and I finished griping and negotiating with each other over which portion of the day we’d each handle/cancel our work plans… and even relied on the kindness of neighbors to take the girls for an un-cancellable hour… we got over our busy selves and enjoyed watching the Davis Daughters trying hard to take advantage of the “blizzard.”

IMG_0876Within about 20 minutes, they gave up and watched movies, drank cocoa, baked muffins, and brought treats, balloons, flowers and handmade cards over to surprise world’s best nanny Diane, who was celebrating a serious milestone birthday!

By Saturday, Austin had warmed back up into the 70’s, so we continued on our Springtime adventure, checking out baby chick breeds and buying ourselves an awesome new chicken coop!

IMG_9122Between our excitement about the coop and a rare TWO nights with sitters (we had dinner AND concert plans set up months ago), we had thoroughly recovered from our snow day craziness. All was back to normal by Monday (except the blog, which wasn’t working – sorry for the delayed post!)… normal enough for our girl to take home FIRST PRIZE!

IMG_0891And all was right with the world… until they cancelled school AGAIN today!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Keeping Busy

For once, we had an in-town, no-guests, no-parties Austin weekend, and it was great. Which is not to say that it was boring! Friday morning Annabelle and I attended a beautiful memorial assembly for her beloved math teacher and math pentathlon coach, who unexpectedly passed away last week.

IMG_0788

Friday evening, Marc and I got to check out a fabulous new restaurant and catch up with the Roystons, who we hadn’t seen in months. It was a great grown-up evening to enjoy before Saturday morning’s event:  The girls were THRILLED, thanks to some generous gift cards, with their first Build-a-Bear (or as Marc called it, Build-a-crossdressing-snowman-or-sparkle-horse) experience. Marc and I had to admit, that place was pretty genius – both in their process and in the way they can get parents unable to say “no” to a $40 “Frosty the Showman.”

IMG_9066

After a morning at the mall, we were thrilled to get some fresh air Saturday afternoon, not to mention work out some energy dancing at the Broken Spoke to Marco’s band, the Melancholy Ramblers (sorry I didn’t have photos – the girls tore it up, and especially loved that they each got a $1 tip for passing around the tip jar).

IMG_0825

Sunday morning Marc killed it – came in 314th place in the Austin half-marathon (out of over 4263). We didn’t get up early to cheer him on, but the girls set him up a breakfast throne for when he got back.

IMG_0834

While Marc was running 13 miles, Annabelle and I got cracking on her science fair project, which is already looking great and will surely be awesome by Thursday’s fair. She learned a ton about surveys and charts, and especially how to work as much glitter as possible into a serious science fair project.

IMG_0838

In the afternoon, the family embarked on some research we’re doing for our own major project… keeping chickens! After looking at several models and buying a book on the topic, we have picked out a 4-chicken coop we should have in our yard by next weekend (next project – choosing our chickens). And then Annabelle cooked us all dinner – personal English muffin pizzas.

IMG_0840

Clementine had her own projects this weekend, including making a lot of clay caterpillars and starting to draw her letters (me in purple, her in pink). She was especially proud of her M. I remember Annabelle’s E looking exactly the same at this age and I love it!

IMG_0845

It was a refreshingly “normal” family weekend, and I have to say it was really nice. I know it all goes in phases, but there seems to be a new level of peace in the Davis house lately. I think Clementine is starting to grow out of her tantrums, and Annabelle is starting to realize how much fun her sister is. Two telling recent quotes include (from Clem) “I haven’t been naughty at ALL this weekend!” and (from Annabelle) “Mama – Clementine and I actually like each other now!”

Ranch Hands

Given all of the over-achievement of last week, we decided to slow things down a bit this week. Which is not to say we didn’t continue to put together 6 billion different Ikea pieces:

IMG_0670And take two kids to the dentist and one to the doc (all teeth and bodies look healthy and strong!):

IMG_8820Oh, and of course win a couple of mid-year achievement awards:

IMG_0699But… once we got done with all that (and a birthday party for good measure):

IMG_0709We got out to one of our favorite getaways – the Jobe family’s Rainbow Ranch:

IMG_0739We hiked, we ran, we climbed, we shot (both marshmallow-filled and regular) weapons:

IMG_0777We even slept in teepees (inside of rooms with comfy beds).

IMG_0769The air was fresh, the distractions were at a minimum, and the scenery (at the heart of 500 nearly empty acres) was beautiful.

IMG_8860It was a weekend to remember how lucky we are to live in Texas (especially in January) – which we hopefully conveyed to our Philadelphia cousins, who sent their buddy Flat Stanley to check it out himself:

IMG_0733

Overachievers

This may go down as the most productive week the Davis house has seen. Since last Sunday, we have:

Traveled home from Newark/Ithaca/Philly/York/Philly/Newark:

IMG_0475

Got together with three different great sets of friends to celebrate New Year’s:

IMG_8153

Unpacked and put away all the Christmas stuff, got back into exercise (Marc back running long and me back at boot camp), Threw an Aquarium Birthday Party for Clementine:

IMG_8575

Threw a Horse Birthday Party for Annabelle:

IMG_8747 2

Checked out the new Thinkery (Amazing!!):

IMG_8594

Bought and put together $1000 worth of Ikea flat-pack — two chairs, three desks, two lockers, two bookshelves, two end tables, and countless bins and organizers:

IMG_8814

I don’t want to jinx us, but 5 days in to 2014, we are BRINGING IT!

IMG_0568

SIX!

Six sounds so much older than five. And it is. But while it has been a tremendous growth year for Annabelle, part of me sees the amazing, unique, sensitive, sweet, silly and complex girl before me and knows that she has been like this from the start.

IMG_8159

Annabelle is such a kindergartener! She loves her three best school friends, her nurturing and energetic teacher, anything pink and princessy, anything magical (especially if it has to do with Harry Potter) and especially anything having to do with horses. She alternates on what she wants to be when she grows up, but has mentioned such options as cowboy, president and Costco sample lady. She wants riding lessons more than anything (and has for a year), which we will probably start this year despite it being the most expensive, inconvenient and unsafe hobby around.

IMG_7921

In so many ways, Annabelle is the easiest child in the world to parent. She almost never disobeys or gets into trouble, she’s blow-you-away smart (we especially appreciate that she taught herself to read, for example), she does her homework and practices piano daily on her own, she is enthusiastic about almost anything you put in front of her, and she freely gives us love and thoughtful gifts she has made herself. That said, she is so completely stuck in her own head that sometimes Marc and I have a hard time understanding her.

photo 4

For example, she’ll decide she wants to surprise you, or create a complex pretend world, and if it doesn’t go exactly as planned, she’ll burst into tears. If she wants to tell you a joke or do a magic trick she’s already shared with you, she will get downright angry if you don’t pretend you’ve never seen/heard it before, as she’s requested. And some of her make-pretend stories are so slightly not-real that they are hard to keep up with (“No mom, remember Clementine is 4 and I’m 8 and we’re in a forest, not a field.”). She is also so “in her own head” that she has trouble with empathy. Some of this may be anxiety (she doesn’t know how to respond to people who are in pain or upset – and she will freeze when she panics). Some is, according to a psychologist I described this to, logic skills that are far beyond her age level (“well the reason she hurt herself is because she was running in the street, which you aren’t supposed to do”), and some seems to be a lack of awareness about the world OUTSIDE of her head (e.g. Clem turned the bath faucet on too hard and started to cry because it scared her – Annabelle just looked at her, wondering why it was scary, instead of turning it off or running for a parent).

IMG_0534

All that said, sometimes it’s even more fun parenting such an incredible person because we don’t know what will happen next! While language continues to be Annabelle’s superpower (which we are feeding through her Spanish immersion curriculum at school), she has just completed 2nd grade math and is on an after-school Math Pentathlon team. She is not naturally coordinated (darn genetics!), but through intense focus, has mastered monkey bars, hanging upside down, and all kinds of other playground tricks (as with hula hoop, snapping and countless other things, she seems to always be the SECOND one in her class to master these skills). She seems to really enjoy piano and drawing, and definitely wants to do the business fair again next year.

IMG_0223

It’s so hard to predict how all of these skills, talents, preferences and challenges will grow as Annabelle gets older. All we know for now is that we are beyond lucky that we get to be her partners in crime through it all!

IMG_7331

Three!

Marc picked up our baby girl on her birthday with a, “My GOODNESS you are getting SO BIG,” to which she replied in an itty bitty whisper – “It’s ’cause I’m three.”

IMG_0113Her rascally little grin, her sparkly, stormy eyes, her requirements of at least some purple, velvet and sparkle in every outfit, and that raspy little voice… she has us all, and several friends, neighbors and strangers who have come upon her, completely wrapped.
IMG_9889
She can drive us so crazy with her mood swings and completely irrational demands! I’m not proud of the fact that I’ve actually responded to her with “We don’t negotiate with terrorists” on multiple accounts.
IMG_7591
But that said, it’s like there’s a light that shines from inside of her – a warmth that can melt almost anything. She is charming and disarming, and knows just what you need as soon as you need it in a way that is so not-three. Three is self-centered. Clementine is demanding, but always aware.
IMG_0126We don’t have Clem’s 3 year stats yet, so I’ll give you my own for her. She is starting to put letters together into words, loves puzzles and matching games, and was a teacher’s favorite in both dance and gymnastics. She seems to be very coordinated and dextrous, which is odd for our group – and is proud that she can now open her own clementines:
IMG_0228Clementine is like her sister in that she’s extremely well-spoken for her age, although we love that she still can’t pull off a “th” sound (“sumpity sump sump” is how Frosty the Snowman goes, and her age is “free”). Her preschool teacher finds her to be incredibly insightful and observant, often as one of very few kids in the class that pick up on details – from bits of a story to emotions of classmates and even adults.
IMG_0098
While in the past, friends have seen her as a future sorority “rush chair” – socially “in charge,” and not necessarily in a good way… this trait seems to be evolving. Lately we hear more about her being “mayor,” as she works through a crowd hugging everyone in her wake. She is beginning to truly understand her power, and is thankfully (usually) steering it toward good.
IMG_7843

East Coast Holiday

In ten marvelously family-and-old-friend-filled days on the east coast, we accomplished a LOT.

There was the skating

IMG_7212

The sledding

IMG_0256

The little cousin time

IMG_7451

The big cousin time

IMG_7251

The old friend time

IMG_7668

The birthday cousin time

IMG_0426

The Please Touch Museum

IMG_7673

The horse riding

IMG_7946And so much more. We cut down our own tree, put on a Christmas play (Annabelle directed and starred), hung with the Wocjiks and Levines, had SO much fun doing Christmas with Marc’s Aunt Brenda, Uncle Eddy, Melissa, Robin and Parker, got tons of Julian snuggle time, played a rousing game of Potsy-Bouncy with the Arbittiers, spent an evening in York and introduced the girls to Cracker Barrel with their “big cousins,” ate way too much chocolate and ice cream, rode Grampa Skip’s elevator 600 times, and watched the snow come down. If it hadn’t been for poor Great Gram’s hip (okay, and a few nasty winter colds), it would have been damn near perfect:

IMG_7620I could probably write a book on our ten day trip alone. Thankfully, most of the blog readers were a part of the festivities! Needless to say, we are counting the months till we can be up north again. For sure, we are planning on a major summer excursion (our toes should thaw by then).

Happy holidays!