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Friday, October 31, 2008

Halloween!

Trick-or-treating was great this year! The weather was as good as we could hope for - upper 50s, no wind, no rain. I put a long-sleeved t-shirt under Evelyn's Dorothy dress, and she was quite comfortable. Evelyn got several comments on her shoes - those sparkly red ones glistened in the night.

Evelyn lasted an hour and fifteen minutes, so she made quite a haul with candy. There are two reasons why our Germantown neighborhood is much better than where we lived in Dallas: townhomes and more porch lights. When you live in an area saturated with townhouses like we do here, it doesn't take long to get loads of candy. Plus, a lot more homes had their porch lights on than where we used to live.

Julia did get dressed up in her pea pod costume for the excursion through the neighborhood. After about 50 minutes of walking, she insisted on going home, where she changed back into her festive purple witch outfit. After Evelyn got back with Troy, Julia helped go through the loot in the candy bucket. Evelyn's favorite? Skittles. Julia's favorite? Crinkling a bag of M&Ms.

Angry Pug

video

Here's a video of Julia's latest thing, which we call "angry pug." She scrunches her face up and breathes loudly through her nose. I've been trying for over a week to get this on video, and she finally cooperated this morning.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Pumpkin Carving

I had planned to help Evelyn carve her pumpkin tonight, but she couldn't wait. So we made that our craft of the morning.

This year, we got pumpkin carving software on a CD, so Evelyn designed her own jack-o-lantern by choosing the eyes, nose, and mouth. (She is currently of the opinion that a pumpkin must be turned into a jack-o-lantern with a face.) We used the pumpkin that was already hollowed-out from Sunday's party, so today's project went pretty quickly.

Evelyn helped me tape the pattern onto the pumpkin, then we traced the pattern with the puncher. Evelyn watched me carve out the eyes and the nose, but then she lost interest while I worked on the mouth. Attention spans of four-year-olds are short, so I'm glad we made an easy face. The finished product looks pretty cute!


Tuesday, October 28, 2008

From Evelyn

Yesterday, Evelyn grabbed the camera to take pictures around the house. She's been doing this for at least a year, now. The usual subjects of her photographs are her toys, the floor, furniture, the wall, and Julia.

After taking a picture of herself, she said, "We should put this on the blog!" So here it is:

Monday, October 27, 2008

Halloween Party

Whew! Last night was the Halloween party, and we all survived. It's funny how weeks of planning and preparation result in an hour-and-a-half frenzy of fun and excitement.

All 13 of the little friends who RSVP'ed came. Some showed up after we had taken the group picture, and some were too shy to get in the picture.

After decorating treat bags and taking a picture of the kids, we headed outside for a bone hunt. Fifty bones were scattered around the front yard, and every single bone was found. The prize? One lollipop for each discovered bone. After playing a round of tossing candy in the pumpkin (easy for some, a bit challenging for others), the kids enjoyed hot dogs, chips, apples, and juice boxes.

Then the fun really got started. The kids played a cupcake walk game - they danced around to the music, when the music stopped, they stood on a number, and if their number was called, they got a cupcake. Now, this was a party with mostly 3- and 4-year-olds, so you know we played until everyone got a cupcake. The last game of the night was pin the nose on the pumpkin. The party wrapped up with announcing winners for the costume contest, guessing the amount of M&Ms in a cup, and guessing how much the pumpkin weighed.

The funniest comment came from a dad at the end of the party. He told me I should consider becoming a teacher. Too funny!

I think everyone had a fun time, and before we knew it, the party was over. Even though Julia hung out upstairs in the kitchen helping with the food prep all evening, having 30+ people in her house tuckered her out.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Update

So many cute and funny things lately, but let's see if I can remember any of them . . .

I asked for Evelyn's help choosing pumpkins at the grocery store by crawling on the pallets and moving the pumpkins around. I knew she'd had enough when she went into a scarecrow pose - stood in the middle of the pumpkins, arms out-stretched, head hanging limply to the side. A younger couple got quite a chuckle out of seeing her and told Evelyn she made a very good scarecrow.

At Julia's 6-month portrait session at Target, Evelyn made her laugh and laugh. How? Simply by throwing a stuffed animal into the air. I can't wait to get those pictures back - it was a really good photo session.

Julia has settled into a daily routine of napping in the morning, eating cereal early afternoon, napping in the afternoon, and eating more cereal following supper-time. She is also getting the hang of swallowing cereal better. I don't have to re-scoop as many bites into her mouth.

Below, pictures taken tonight while making biscuits for supper. One girl thoroughly bored (or making up a new yoga pose?), one thoroughly enjoying herself. When Troy saw what we were up to, he quietly slipped out of the kitchen. What fun is making biscuits from scratch if you can't get messy? :)

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

While Evelyn Ate Her Lunch

While Evelyn ate her lunch . . .

I made my lunch,
I made a teeny bowl of rice cereal for Julia,
I fed Julia her cereal,
I ate my lunch,
I hand-washed a load of dishes,
I cleaned the countertops in the kitchen,
I washed a head of lettuce for supper tonight,
I loaded the dishwasher,
I folded a load of laundry,
I took an armful of stuff to the basement.

I love my pokey little puppy, even though it takes her forever to eat!

Monday, October 20, 2008

Happy 6-Month Birthday!

Today is Julia's 6-month birthday! She recently met two milestones: eating cereal and taking a bath in the inflatable duck. Julia can almost sit unsupported, which meant she was ready for both transitions.

Her first solids feeding went better than we thought it would. Most of the rice cereal made it to her belly instead of on her bib. They aren't substantial feedings, but she has taken to eating with a spoon pretty quickly.

Her checkup isn't for another couple of weeks, so we don't have official numbers for her height and weight. We guess she's close to 19 pounds, though. And for sleeping through the night . . . she usually does that about once or twice a week.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Our Favorite Hiking Spot

Today's crisp, fall weather lured us to Sugarloaf Mountain. We did what has become a routine: picnic lunch at the east lookout, hike on the west side of the mountain. As I've mentioned before, the trail on the west side makes for an easier trek to the top.

Evelyn's quote for the day: "It's a good thing Daddy's here to help me." She had a bit of trouble coming down the mountain - fallen leaves make a rocky trail that much trickier. Unlike last time, Julia stayed awake for the entire hike today.

We were a little early for the prettiest fall colors, but we did see bright and beautiful colors on some of the trees. We might head somewhere a little further from home in a couple of weeks to see more fall colors.


Friday, October 17, 2008

Who IS That?

Troy watched the girls while I went out for a hair cut this evening. Like normal, the stylist blow-dried my hair straight. I never take the time to straighten my hair at home (too time-consuming), but it's fun to have someone else do it. Evelyn loves this because then my hair looks like hers. She just giggles and touches my hair when I come home - very cute.

Tonight we all learned that Julia not only recognizes me, but she also has come to expect me, Mommy, to have curly hair. Plus, she has her own opinion of me with straight hair: she hates it. When Julia saw me after I got home from my appointment, she looked confused. As I started to talk to her, Julia's bottom lip quivered, and out came the most sorrowful cry. Troy was holding her, and Julia buried her face in his shoulder, crying. She stopped crying, looked up at me, I said something again, and she repeated the confused/sad crying scenario. Poor girl! I like to keep my straight hair for a couple of days, but I just might have to go back to curly tomorrow for Julia's sake.

Evelyn in the Kitchen

Evelyn is the sous-chef in our kitchen, and lately she's been helping with a lot of baking. Besides stirring, Evelyn can now successfully - and without making too much of a mess - measure ingredients like vanilla extract, baking soda or powder, plus she can crack eggs. Naturally, all this makes Troy nervous, so we usually make a mess of the kitchen when he's a work. :)

On Wednesday, we whipped up a new batch of monkey muffins (per Evelyn's request - they are so yummy!), and this morning we made some amazing cookies. The flavor reminds me of thin mints Girl Scout cookies. Here's the recipe:

Chocolate Mint Cookies
1 1/2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips, divided
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon mint extract
2 eggs
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup chopped nuts
Melt 3/4 cup chocolate chips; set aside. Cream together butter, sugars and extracts. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in melted chocolate. Gradually beat in flour, baking soda and salt. Stir in remaining 3/4 cup chocolate chips and nuts. Drop dough by rounded tablespoons onto ungreased baking sheets.
Bake at 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes, until sides are set but centers are still soft. Let stand for 2 minutes, then remove to cooling racks. Makes about 30 cookies.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Little Yogi

Julia has gotten an early start with practicing yoga. She is a natural when it comes to the "happy baby" pose. She has been doing this pose for a couple of months, but I couldn't snap a picture of her doing it until last night. Since Julia is fascinated with her toes, she usually progresses from happy baby to a toes-in-mouth pose. As you can see from the picture, Julia truly is a happy baby when she's in this position!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Butler's Orchard

Even though Evelyn went to Butler's Orchard on a field trip this past Wednesday, we had always planned to go there as a family this fall. Since the weather couldn't have been more perfect (sunny, low 70s), we headed over there this afternoon.

Before I go on, I need to mention how our family misses two October events from Dallas: the Arboretum and the State Fair. We were members of the Arboretum, and we went there several times in the fall - photo ops of Evelyn, the pumpkin patch, evening concerts etc. If you have ever been to Texas' state fair, it goes without saying why we miss that. Going to Butler's Orchard this afternoon helped us feel a little less homesick for those Texas fall festivities.

Our first stop was the "hay loft" - a farm building filled with loose hay and bales of hay. After getting over the initial feel of hay on her skin, Evelyn was cooperative enough to take this picture with Julia.
Evelyn went down a giant slide twice - once with Mommy and once with Daddy. Daddy got the hang of using the burlap sack better than Mommy, so Evelyn enjoyed that ride more. Then we ate our picnic lunch in the shade of a tree. Since we were right next to the corn maze, it only made sense to do that next. Evelyn had us going all over the place, probably because she couldn't see the flag in the middle of the maze (the goal). Since Evelyn loves to run, she loved the corn maze! Eventually, we made it to the middle of the maze.

Our next stops were jumping in a bounce house, checking out farm animals like chickens and pigs, running (yes! more running!) through a hay maze, and, finally, a tractor ride out to the pumpkin patch and back. It didn't take Evelyn long to find a pumpkin for us to take home. She is picky when it comes to finding a pumpkin, and, as expected, she chose wisely again this year. While there, the only times we sat down were during lunch and the tractor ride, so three of us were completely exhausted after three hours. Can you guess who was still kicking (literally) as we headed to our car? Yep - that would be Julia.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Little Houdini

Julia - our Little Houdini - has been doing some crafty baby tricks lately. She knows how to use her legs to unlatch the tray of her baby swing, thus making it mandatory that we strap her in. She can somehow maneuver the plastic parts of her toys to unhook them. And - every baby's favorite - Julia can perform the toy disappearing act. One minute she has a toy, the next minute nobody knows where it has gone. We're anxious to see what other tricks Julia has up her sleeve.....

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Evelyn's Turn

Evelyn went on her first field trip today - very exciting! What made it even more exciting was that she shared this adventure with her "favorite friend" from preschool, AJ. The class went to Butler's Orchard, which is a very popular place in the fall. Evelyn was completely exhausted from all the fun she had this morning - going on a tractor ride, choosing a pumpkin from the pumpkin patch, and playing with her friends. She can hardly wait to carve the pumpkin she brought home.

On another note, Evelyn had a very creative stalling strategy for bedtime tonight. While Evelyn brushed her teeth, I slipped into her bathroom to grab the fingernail clippers. Evelyn doesn't miss a thing, so she asked what I was doing with the clippers. I replied that I needed to trim Julia's nails. About twenty minutes after Troy had tucked Evelyn into bed, she came out of her room. Mark this as the first time she requested that I trim her fingernails. She's never done that before, and we know the only reason she did it tonight was to stall going to bed.

Monday, October 6, 2008

It's Off!

I think I've mentioned how Julia likes playing with her hands and feet. Well, she is also becoming quite the Houdini with getting her socks off. Until today, her preferred method was kicking her feet together until one or both of her socks came off. This afternoon she found a quicker way - just pull it off with her hand!

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Steam Engine Day

Since Evelyn is the four-year-old authority on trains, especially steam engines, we headed to the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad Museum for their "Steam Engine Days" festivities today. We have visited the museum earlier this year, so today we focused on today's special activities, plus we visited old favorites inside the roundhouse.

We arrived at the museum shortly after they opened at 10:00. At 11:00, we rode in a coach behind the #4 St. Elizabeth (the engine in the first and last pictures below). While on that train ride, the #25 William Mason pulled up on a track alongside our coach. The William Mason is the green train pictured below, and it was built in 1851. Evelyn already knew that steam engines run on coal, like the St. Elizabeth. But she was amazed to find out that they also run on wood, which is what fuels the William Mason.

After our train ride, we wandered around outdoor exhibits, such as the model train display and the kids' play area. When we knew it was time for the steam engines to depart again, Evelyn and I headed back over to the platform to watch. With the loud whistles, bells, and steam sounds, Evelyn covered her ears . . . while Troy walked with Julia away from all the action.

Before we knew it, the time was 1:30, and we were all hungry for lunch. So we said our goodbyes to the St. Elizabeth and the William Mason. It was a beautiful day, and fun was had by all!



Friday, October 3, 2008

Copying Big Sister

Everyone knows that Evelyn is a die-hard thumb-sucker. She really wanted to give it up when she turned four, but she couldn't get to sleep without her thumb. She has passed this habit on to Julia. Julia was never interested in taking a pacifier - it would make matters worse when we tried giving her one. Over the course of the past week, Julia has been playing around with getting her thumb in her mouth . . . and today she finally figured out how to do it. It looks like Julia will suck her right thumb, just like her big sister.