Armchair Travelers

The Little Women’s newest hobby is “visiting” places around the world through Google Maps.


Clara and Nicolyn claim that this hasn’t whetted their appetite for real travel, except for visiting Disneyland and Antarctica.

A Gingerbread Neighborhood

Due to popular demand, the Little Women got to decorate gingerbread houses last week before Christmas.  This year Jenelle baked all of the gingerbread from scratch.

This first picture shows Clara’s “house”.  It looks like a diabetic nightmare, but it’s really a nativity scene.  The stable collapsed before she could get started, leaving only the figures. Finding Waldo Baby Jesus is left as an exercise for the reader.


This is Annika’s castle.  (Why stop at a house?) Note the drawbridge and the coat-of-arms over the portal.

_DSC4241This is the house that Jonathan built (or decorated, anyway). _DSC4245And this is Nicolyn’s house, which she didn’t finish in time for the photo shoot._DSC4248Jenelle topped everyone this year with her Swiss-style, two-story house. _DSC4256Note the attention to detail and the tasteful use of red M&Ms. _DSC4257

The Dancing Little Women

Just in time for Nutcracker season, Clara and Nicolyn had their first dance recital yesterday. Their number was 13th on the program and just a few minutes long, but they lit up the stage in the way that only six-year-olds can.  Here are some pictures for our readers who couldn’t be there.



_DSC4210In true dancing form:_DSC4221Here they are in action.  Clara is second from the left, Nicolyn is on the far right._DSC4229The big finish.  Clara is standing in the center, Nicolyn is standing on the far right._DSC4234

Finding Satisfaction at Cape Disappointment

With Clara and Nicolyn having finished their stint in summer school, the Little Women were ready to once again brave the Great Outdoors.  They knew that the perfect place was Cape Disappointment State Park, on the southern tip of the Washington coast.  The place name came from a disgruntled 18th-century explorer who missed the entrance to the Columbia River, but that didn’t worry the Little Women.  After all, there was so much else to do at the Park, like . . .


The Little Women Camp Dish CrewHunting for shells on the beach!Looking for Shells at Cape DisappointmentSand sculptures!

Detail of the Sand TurtleOne of the highlights of the three-day visit was a hike in a nearby forest.  There the Little Women saw their first banana slug, in all its slimy-yellow glory.  This proved to be just the first of many banana slugs on the hike, and they made a lasting impression.  By the end of the hike, Nicolyn was singing her self-composed song about how she had kissed eight banana slugs.

And thus the Little Women learned that the secret to finding satisfaction at Cape Disappointment is to look for banana slugs, not the mouth of the Columbia River.

More photos are here.

Grand Teton National Park

To celebrate their tenth anniversary, Jenelle and Jonathan spent three days enjoying Grand Teton National Park (by themselves).

Grand TetonsThey enjoyed hiking and photographing the local wildflowers.  Also, Jenelle measured the park’s magnetic pull on tourists by tracking the different license plates that they saw: 40 different US states, plus three Canadian provinces and the District of Columbia.

More pictures are here.

Little Women of the Woods

To celebrate Memorial Day, Jenelle and Jonathan thought would be a great idea to escape the city and enjoy the great outdoors.  To do this, they took the Little Women for a hike to Franklin Falls, on a trail that turned out to have about a thousand other people.

Fortunately, there were enough snacks to keep the three girls happy.

Clara’s First Fish

Earlier this year, Clara decided that she absolutely needed to go fishing.  It’s not clear where she got this idea, but she told her parents repeatedly that fishing was on her mind.

Last Friday, on the shores of Lake Nahwatzel in western Washington, Clara got her big chance.  She wasted no time: her first cast snagged a trout right away.  Her second cast also hooked a fish, but the line broke before she could reel it in.  She caught an additional trout before long.

Clara's First FishNicolyn joined her later, and Nicolyn also caught a fish (but she was too cool to be photographed with a dead animal).


The Michelangelos of Cardboard

Clara and Nicolyn have been diligently honing their cardboard-crafting skills, with much to show for their efforts.

Last month Clara learned a song at school about five little pumpkins sitting on a fence.  This inspired her to make her own fence and pumpkins.


Nicolyn built a little person out of cardboard boxes, complete with hair and arms.


“Every piece of cardboard has an artwork inside it, and it is the task of the five-year-old to discover it.” — Clara and Nicolyn Vance

Braving the Wilderness for Seashells

One of the things the Vances missed during their time in Switzerland was camping.  So, at the end of the summer, the Little Women decided to take their parents into the wilderness and see how it compared to their last camping trip.

They found a lovely spot at a campground near the southern Washington coast. Most of the other campers were there to dig clams and oysters for eating, but the Little Women were happy to just take their shells.

Nicolyn's Shells

Highlights from the trip included playing in the sand, cooking over an open fire, and sleeping thru the night even though the whole family shared one tent.

Clara Makes a "Sand Angel" on the Beach

Jenelle's Sandals

More pictures are here.