The Calkins Family has been Busy

It has been almost a month since I last posted and for good reason: Team Calkins has been very busy. Ever since the girls got back to Arizona after New Year’s, our weeknight and weekend schedules have been full of activities. As I have stated before, when it comes to prioritizing whether I spend more time with the girls or write about what we have done, I am always going to choose the former. So needless to say, I am pretty far behind right now with what I want to write about. Hopefully, this post catches you all up to what the Calkins Family has been up to for the past month, even though almost each topic could warrant their own post.

Do you wanna build a snowman?

With school starting up for both the girls and I, it was bound to be a busy month. Between reading, homework assignments, and essays (just me; the girls thankfully have a few more years until this), our weeknights are pretty much shot. But getting it done means we are all improving our skills at our respective grade levels. I am also trying to get my article on single parenting and the military published, so that is an ongoing effort, but one that is looking promising.

It is crazy how early we need to start working on their college entrance essays…

Gabriella has been doing great in school and continues to excel. Right now, we are working on her first sight words and Elaina is doing an excellent job of trying to help out her sister. While math is still her specialty, Gabriella is making me very proud with her performance in every subject.

One of her assignments was to read a book while drinking hot chocolate; needless to say, she aced that one.

While Elaina has struggled for most of the year, she has really turned it around in the past month. She now actually enjoys reading and sees it much less of a chore than a month ago. It is still difficult to get her to do her computer assignments without complaining, but it is a work in progress. Either way, she is back on track and the future is looking bright again.

Combining reading and princess training… well played.

Since Gabriella is starting to read and Elaina is now enjoying it, we have been going to bookstore in Tucson almost every weekend. While I comb through the cookbooks (yes, I have a problem… but as you will see later, at least we are getting use out of them), the girls have been enjoying taking their time reading and picking out books in the kid’s section. The girls just love getting new books too. As I told Elaina, I have no problem spending money on items that they enjoy and contribute to their education.

Should I be concerned that all of Gabriella’s friends are boys?

They have also had a two playdates in the past few weeks. Elaina and Gabriella each had one of their friends over to the house and both had a blast (even though each of them tried to monopolize the other’s friend’s time during the playdate).

Dr. Elaina Calkins, Archaeologist… I like the sound of that.

Digging for dinosaur fossils continues to be a big hit with the girls and their friends, with the girls really appreciating that I got them the 12-pack of eggs. I swear this is not an attempt to get them to like something that I am into (as I was a huge dinosaur fanatic when I was a kid); it did not work with Star Wars, so I am pretty sure it would not work here.

Ouch… that hurt… but good arm and aim, Elaina.

The Snow Day in late January was particularly exciting. Driving the girls back from Texas after New Year’s, we briefly stopped to play in some snow on the side of the road in West Texas. It was not much, but it looked like the only snow we were going to see all winter. I was very wrong. We got a small batch of snow on Monday, which left the girls pretty disappointed, but the motherload came on Tuesday which cancelled both school and work.

Snow Days are terrible… said no one ever!

Aside from mealtimes and heading inside to get warm, we spent all day outside playing in the snow. Building a snowman, throwing snowballs at one another, and making snow angels; we did it all. An absolutely great time that was much needed by everyone on Fort Huachuca after the stress of the holidays.

So many activities… do these girls ever get tired?

Aside from major events, we kept busy with routine activities the rest of the time. Making glue, playing games or puzzles, counting hours spent coloring, and riding their new scooters all over the house and the neighborhood. Never a dull moment in this family.

I only cut out and glued on the felt; the girls did all the rest.

The girls also celebrated their 100th day of school at Colonel Johnston Elementary School and we made the annual 100th Day t-shirts together. The girls chose to put a hundred butterflies and flowers on their shirts this year, and, as always, Hobby Lobby came through with exactly what the girls wanted.

The girls “helping” no longer means “getting in my way.”

Aside from the Snow Day, the best activity has been cooking and baking together. My plan to use our cookbooks more and to increase the variety of our meals has been very successful, as we have tried two to three new meals a week (with the measure of success being if the girls eat them or not). I found out Elaina is a huge fan of casseroles, as every one I have made for her was quickly devoured as she asked for more. And they are getting a lot better at cooking and baking. Gabriella is now an expert at stirring up meat and vegetable in the skillet while Elaina can roll and cut out cookies on her own. Very proud of how far they have come.

It was a very yummy month.

Breakfast was covered by adding French Toast Casserole, Quiche Cupcakes, homemade Biscuits to the rotation while the Snickerdoodles and Blondies were met with moderate success (at least to the girls; I thought they were amazing). And while Coffee Cake does not include coffee (you see, Elaina, Dad was right for once), it did not mean she enjoyed it any more, so it was a swing and a miss with the girls. Gabriella, as per usual, did not really try anything that we cooked or baked together, beyond making a “yuck” face before barely licking an item.

Fact: I did not make a single dumpling; the girls made them all.

The highlight of our recent cooking experience was making pork / chicken and cabbage dumplings from scratch. I made the dough and the filling, but the girls, using empanada molds, put together all the dumplings themselves before I steamed them. It was a really fun time, even though Elaina only ate a few of the dumplings (Gabriella did not even try them… *tear*). I was surprised at how much the girls enjoyed putting the dumplings together and how they did not even get bored. Sometimes it really is about the journey and not the destination.

Gabriella is getting much better at her handwriting. Next stop: Cursive!

The girls had a great time creating their Valentine’s Day mailboxes this year as well as writing cards to their classmates. Much to my surprise, Elaina knocked out hers in about 20 minutes while Gabriella completed hers over 24 hours. I think they just got really excited about getting cards and candy in return.

Who can ask for a better Valentine’s Day than an evening with my niñas eating chocolate fondue and watching Wreck-It Ralph?

We also had a perfect Valentine’s Day together. The girls chose to have chocolate fondue for dessert following our gourmet dinner of Pork and Green Chiles Casserole. Followed by a movie and cuddling with the niñas, it was the best Valentine’s Day I could have asked for. As you could see, it was a pretty busy month for us and it is only going to get busier. The girls are going to close out first grade and kindergarten while my classes are only going to get harder. We are going to continue at this pace until Summer, but we will sure to keep you posted on what Team Calkins is up to.

The cats, on the other hand, have been pretty lazy (yet cuddly) for the past month

Thanks for checking in on us. Cheers!

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