Wednesday, June 22, 2016


For Clara's 5th birthday, her Kayli sent her a butterfly hatching kit.  It was the perfect gift for our little nature-obsessed girl.  Five caterpillars ere shipped to us in the mail and we watched them grow inside a little jar for about 10 days before they got super active one day and crawled to the top of the lid to form chrysalises hanging off the lid.  It was so interesting watching the change take place and after 3 days in their chrysalises, we very carefully moved them into the mesh hatching container.  

The only bummer part is that we didn't actually see them come out of their chrysalises.  We thought that we had plenty of time to get back to them from our camping trip based on the timeline they came with but apparently their metamorphosis happened faster than normal because by the time we got home they had all come out of their cocoons and were fluttering around inside their cage.  Clara was thrilled and didn't even care that we weren't there to witness it happen so I guess it's not a big deal (and frankly, they could have done it in the middle of the night and we wouldn't have seen anyway) but still, I would have liked to have seen that.

We kept the butterflies for about a week, feeding them on nectarines and sugar water, per their care and feeding instructions.  Clara and Rose wanted to sit and gaze at them first thing every morning and Clara named  most of them (Rey (from Star Wars) was her favorite, but there was also Rebecca and Brynn.  The other two didn't get names, I guess.).  But finally it was time to release them into the wild.  

Clara was afraid to hold them at first.  She really wanted to, but kept getting nervous and juts asking to touch their wings and have us help them flutter away.  A couple of the butterflies flew off immediately, but two others were really mellow and just hung out on our fingers, letting us transfer them around.  I'm glad that Clara finally found her courage because she was very much in awe of them and it was fun to see her hold them.  Rose gently stroked wings, but that was it.  She's still a little afraid of bugs and screams when her big sister does things like hold out worms to her.

Every time we are outside now she wonders aloud where "Rey" is and she gets really excited when she sees butterflies in our neighborhood because she believes that they are the ones that we raised.  Thanks, Kayli, for such a perfect 5-year old birthday gift!

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Tiny Dancer

A friend told me about a girl in another ward in our stake who does dance classes out of her home for girls ages 3-8.  We got lucky and there was actually a spot open in the 4-5 year old class when there is usually a wait list, so Clara got to do a ballet/jazz dance class this spring and they had their recital the same day as Clara's preschool graduation.  

Clara says that she doesn't want to do dance anymore and she always grumbled about going, but every time I picked her up she was so happy and told me how much fun she had and how much she loved it.  By the end of the season, her attitude had somewhat moderated and she didn't complain as much about it but still says that even though she had fun she doesn't think she wants to do the Christmas show.  I wish she would because I can tell that she loves it - I think what she doesn't really like is that it is more disciplined than gymnastics where she still gets to kind of do her own thing and there isn't a memorization component with repetition yet.  But man, when she got on stage for her recital, she just shone (says her mom with stars in her eyes).  For reals though, her smile was so big and genuine and you could just tell she was eating it up performing on stage.  Which we really weren't sure whether she would enjoy or not - I was even prepared for her to get nervous and decide not to go on stage last minute, but she was totally comfortable and went right up.

Afterwards she got purple flowers (she was thrilled!) and we took her picture with a friend from church who is a little older than Clara and who Clara really looks up to.  

And then a week after her recital, we got an email that Clara's dance teacher had learned that there was a spot open to perform at the Alameda County Fair and wondered whether the dancers would be interested.  So she got to dance one more time on an even bigger stage with probably twice the amount of people in the audience.  It took me WAY back to my days in a kids performing group called Showbiz Singers when I was in probably 5th grade through 7th grade.  Again, she had a great time and had a huge smile the whole time she was on stage, and not just a performing smile - like a real, genuine, "i'm-loving-this!" kind of a smile.

Afterwards we took advantage of our free admission and free parking and bought a few tickets to go on some of the rides (the girls were in heaven) and get cotton candy.  Then we ended by walking around the animal stalls to see the cows, sheep, goats, and pigs.  It's a decent fair, but so expensive if you have to pay for the ticket and parking too!  (Adults are $12 each and parking is $10!)

And now, for your viewing pleasure, a video of each of Clara's numbers in her dance recital.  I think you will be able to pick her out but she is on the far right in the front in the first dance (Somewhere Over the Rainbow - she runs up at 00:12 seconds into the video), she is on the far right in the back row in the second song (When Will My Life Begin - she leads her row in at 3:41) and she is in the back right in the finale number with all three classes (When Can I See You Again - she gets to her spot a little bit late around 5:35 and she is right next to the blond Annie dancer.  I die over her cute hip sways in this routine, which was her favorite of the three.).

Clara's Dance Recital June 2016 from Amy Nash on Vimeo.

Lake Siskiyou

Early this year, Paul planned a June camping and fly-fishing trip with a buddy from his previous law firm.  They made packing lists and purchased fly-fishing supplies and were set to go.  Except the week before the trip, his friend had a project come up at work that he couldn't get out of.  Which was sort of a bummer for Paul, but lucky for me and the girls because it meant that we got to go with Paul instead.  He didn't get nearly as much fishing in, but I think he still had fun.

We stayed at an amazing camping (really "glamping") resort beneath Mt. Shasta at Lake Siskiyou.  It was awesome and we are already planning on going back again in future years.  There were lots of campsites for tent camping only and they were spread out enough that you didn't feel like you were on top of your neighbors (we ended up in site 64 after scouting out the best sites).  Which, we didn't even have any neighbors the first night and even the second and third days only brought a handful more people who were at least a campsite or two away from ours.  

The lake is absolutely beautiful and the resort has boats and paddleboards and kayaks that you can rent to go out on the water.  But the girls loved wading as much as anything.  We just rolled up pants legs and didn't worry about them getting wet.  Clara is all about family bike rides these days (we're hoping she can give up her training wheels this summer) so we rode all over that place and down to the lake every day, which is why her helmet is on in most of the wading pictures.  They threw rocks into the lake and dragged sticks to float or stir the water with and never seemed affected by the temperature at all.  It was brisk, but not freezing water, so that was nice too.  The resort even has a bunch of inflatable slides and such just off a beach that you can use (for a fee).  We didn't try it because the girls aren't big enough but once they are older it would be so much fun.

On our last day there, we put on our swimsuits and went down to the lake for a swim.  I ended up deciding to just wade because it was colder than I wanted to immerse in, but Paul and the girls had a blast.  They laughed and kicked and swam their hearts out until their teeth were chattering from the cold.  Rose was absolutely FURIOUS when we dragged her out of the water and told her it was time to go.

The hardest part about camping is still nighttime when it gets chilly and the girls little bodies just can't handle the cold temperatures very well.  Clara ended up in our sleeping bags both nights and I snuggled Rose on her mattress to keep her warm (we had room in the minivan so we just tossed in her crib mattress from her toddler bed, which actually worked out pretty well).  They did okay falling asleep each night around 8 or 8:30, which was later than normal for them, but we wanted to let them stay up by the fire for a bit since the sun was still so high and there was so much light that we knew they wouldn't sleep anyway even if we tried to put them down.  

Rose loved playing house inside our tent.  Whenever we were at camp, Clara would be off gathering sticks or swinging in the hammock while Rose would zip open a slit in the tent to crawl inside and play all by herself, putting her bunny and bobcat to bed over and over and rearranging pillows and blankets.  It was fun seeing the girls be so independent in this setting.  They would hop on their scooter (for Rose) and bike (for Clara) and zip around in front of our campsite like it was no big deal, then park and find something else to entertain them like the water spigot where they could wash their hands or brush teeth.

Clara was a great little helper gathering sticks for the fire whenever we asked her to. But she hated the smoke.  Paul came up with the idea of letting her wear my sunglasses to keep the smoke out of her eyes and that helped her enjoy it a little bit more, I think.  But anytime it wafted her way she got grumpy.

We roasted marshmallows and hot dogs and ate our first s'mores of summer.  Which I think are every bit as magical as the first snow of winter.

Paul has two hammocks that he strung up between trees next to our tent and they got a lot of good use this trip.  Mostly for swinging, but also for some relaxing and snuggling.  I was over at the picnic table next to my camera when I saw Rose begging Paul to get up with him and I am so glad I was able to catch these moments between the two of them.

We love camping breakfasts of bacon, scrambled eggs, and flapjacks.  Food always tastes so good when you are outdoors.

We rented a fishing boat to go out on the lake one morning to do some bait fishing.  Clara has no problem handling the huge nightcrawlers that Paul bought to use on our hooks (so gross! even I won't do that!).  We didn't have much luck - Paul caught 2 little ones and that was it, but it was fun just puttering around on the water.  And the best part was that we saw two bald eagles flying around.  

And we spent some time down on the river watching Paul do some fly-fishing.  He went back again later in the afternoon and stayed until dark while the girls and I rode bikes, got pizza, and watched an outdoor movie (also put on by the resort).  He said there were a number of other fishermen and not a single person caught a fish or even saw any rising, which really was too bad since that was the whole reason he had wanted to go and the fishing is supposed to be very good there.  But at least the scenery was beautiful.

We drove about an hour to Burney Falls, which we actually visited back in 2013 when Clara was just a little younger than Rose is right now.  The falls aren't huge but they are so beautiful.  the bigger ones come from the river above the falls that is spring fed so they flow all year long.  But the smaller ones that spread across the rock face are from water that seeps down through porous rock as runoff from Mt. Shasta.  It is just a really pretty place.  And the hike down once side of the river to a bridge and then back up the other side is only a little over a mile roundtrip so it is perfect for the girls.

They have one of the best visitors centers I have ever seen, too.  It's tiny but there is a cool LED display of the wet and dry season at the falls and how the water flows through the river and rocks to create the falls (the girls were fascinated watching the blue LED lights).  And there are all these stations for identifying animals, looking through microscopes at slides, guessing games about animal scat or hoofprints, etc.  They loved it.

It wasn't the trip that Paul had planned, but we are certainly glad it worked out that we got to go camping as a family for the first time this summer since we didn't even go once next year.  And the girls did about as well as we could have expected them to.  So we are already looking forward to our next camping trip in late July when we go to Yellowstone!