Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Dinosaurs at the Children's Museum

Yesterday Evelyn went to the Omaha Children's Museum with Troy and me . . . mostly to see their dinosaur exhibit one last time. She saw this exhibit last summer, and I told her we could see it when we came to Nebraska in the winter. Naturally, Evelyn didn't forget!

We spent about an hour at the special exhibit. She dug for dinosaur bones with Daddy, played on the playground equipment (especially rock climbing), visited all of the different dinosaur robots, watched a bit of the movie, and talked to her favorite dinosaur, the T-Rex. Since she is so in to dinosaurs right now, Evelyn had tons of fun!

Let's not forget to mention that we had lunch at Runza on the way home. Every time Troy and Evelyn come back to Nebraska, they have to have a Runza sandwich. :)

Monday, December 29, 2008

Snow Fun!

Bellevue (Nebraska) had a lot of snow before we arrived, and Evelyn was itching to get outside and play in it. First, she ventured out with her Grandma Linda a couple of times on Wednesday, December 24th, to make snow angels and ride in the sled. Evelyn got spoiled both times after all that play outside, when Grandma Linda gave Evelyn hot chocolate with marshmallows.

Then, on Christmas Day, Evelyn had more fun in the snow with her Daddy and Uncle Matt. It wasn't warm enough to build a snowman, but Evelyn was still able to make plenty of snow angels and sled down the hill in the backyard. There were a couple of exciting moments . . . The sled went right over some snow angels, which was quite traumatic for Evelyn (until she made some more). Then, on one trip down the hill, Evelyn's sled went right past Troy (who was supposed to catch/stop her) and almost went over a steep, stony slope into the neighbor's yard. But all ended well - more hot chocolate!

The pictures below were taken on Christmas Day at Evelyn's Grandma and Grandpa Luster's house.

Evelyn's (Fifth) Christmas

Evelyn had a good combination of fun stuff and necessities as far as Christmas presents go. In Maryland, she got some fuzzy Crocs (purple!), a dance leotard (purple!), some dresses and leggings, plus a HUGE dinosaur puzzle.

Evelyn's family in Nebraska knows exactly what she likes: Thomas the train. Not only did she get some new cars and "destinations" for her train set at home, but she also got the feature-length movie "The Great Discovery." I'm not sure how many times she's already watched that movie . . . She also got a couple of music CDs she's been wanting and some princess sets, all courtesy of Disney. Lots of good stuff!

Julia's First Christmas

Julia made out pretty well for her first Christmas. Before leaving for Nebraska, we had a small present-opening at our house in Maryland. Julia got two small noise-making toys plus something she's always wanted: a new stroller! Well, maybe this is something I wanted for Julia, but just the same, she'll be the one riding in it. The stroller is a nicer umbrella-style, perfect for wandering aimlessly around airports.

In Nebraska, Julia got a few more shake, rattle, and roll toys, plus a new shopping cart cover. Now, I wonder what Julia will do with her Christmas money from her grandparents and great-grandparents? Hmmm . . . I'm sure we'll find something . . .

Evelyn's Gingerbread House

As part of Evelyn's preschool holiday party festivities (way back on Friday, December 19th), the kids made gingerbread houses. Well, the houses were really made from graham crackers, but that's okay. I'm glad I was able to join in on the fun because Evelyn needed help spreading the frosting for the base of her house and building the walls and roof of her house. When it came to decorating her house, however, Evelyn needed no help. She was a pro.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Adventure in Chicago

In the days leading up to our trip to Nebraska, we closely watched Chicago's weather forecast. The closer we got to Tuesday the 23rd, the more worried we became. As it turns out, rightfully so.

We girls were on American Airlines flights (using up frequent flyer miles), and Troy was on United flights (cheapest tickets). Even though we had completely different intineraries, we were all flying out of Baltimore, making a connection at Chicago O'Hare, and ending up in Omaha. We were scheduled to land within 20 minutes of each other in Omaha.

Our adventure began at 3:30 a.m., when we left our home. We girls left Baltimore only 15 minutes after our scheduled 6:00 departure. Julia slept most of the flight, and Evelyn watched DVDs and napped a bit. We landed in Chicago around 8:20, which gave us two and a half hours to mess around before catching our plane to Omaha. With plenty of time to kill, we headed over to the United section of O'Hare and met Troy as he got off his plane. We could only chat for a few minutes because Troy had a shorter connection time with quite a ways to walk.

As we headed back to the American Airlines terminal, we girls stopped at the play area so Evelyn could run around and have fun for about 45 mintues. According to our boarding passes, our plane was to start boarding at 9:40 for the 10:10 flight, and we arrived at our gate at about 9:45. I couldn't help but notice there wasn't a plane already at our gate - first bad sign. While waiting, I visited with an older couple, Evelyn laid down on her coat on the floor, and I pushed Julia back and forth, trying to console her fussiness. The schedule board at our gate then showed the departure at 10:20 - second bad sign. I chatted a bit longer with the fellow Omaha-bound people, but when the departure changed to 10:40, I had to say good-bye. Julia needed to be fed, and pronto.

We girls found some chairs to camp out in. Evelyn continued laying on the floor while I fed Julia. Not having any idea what time it was (day? night?), Julia started fussing again. I figured the poor girl was tired, so I stood and held her and bounced her while reading Evelyn one of her magazines (multitasking is my middle name). All the while checking the departure board near us - which told me the flight would be at 10:50 . . . 11:00 . . . 11:05 . . . 11:10. I don't think anyone knew when our flight was leaving.

Shortly after 11:00, they announced that our planewas boarding, so we jumped up and headed to the gate. It was snowing pretty heavily at that point, but I figured somebody must have a plan to get our plane out of there before the weather got too bad. (Did I mention that the afternoon Omaha flight had already been cancelled?) Should I stop and buy lunch for Evelyn and me? No - not if we'll be in Omaha by 1:00 and especially since they're boarding the plane right now. So we girls boarded the plane and settled into our seats . . . for a LONG wait.

I'll share the details of our three-hour wait on the plane at the gate later if you want to hear them, but the gist of it is we couldn't leave because of heavy snow showers. Julia was able to have her lunch because I had more than enough baby necessities. I gave Evelyn the last two granola bars and orange juice. Myself? I decided to go on a one-day diet. Eating is over-rated, right?

Meanwhile, even though Troy's plane originally was delayed due to mechanical problems, he took off around 11:00 (right before the weather got really bad) and landed in Omaha around 12:30. He was only about an hour late overall.

Thankfully our plane was able to leave around 2:00, during a quiet spell in the weather. We landed in Omaha around 3:30, tired, hungry, and cranky. But we made it, albeit four hours late. Every once in a while I need to be reminded why I prefer nonstop flights when traveling with children. I got that reminder yesterday. Now, what does January 5th in Chicago have in store for us?

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Bubble Bath

Julia has gained more control over her legs while sitting in her bubble bath, so these pictures don't show her legs floating (like I had mentioned previously). But these are still some cute pictures of the baby in her inflatable ducky bath tub!

Monday, December 15, 2008

Julia's First Little Gym Experience

This morning Julia and I headed over to the Little Gym for a parent/child play date. Even though Julia isn't in a class right now, she can go to this open-gym event since Evelyn is a member.

True, Julia can't do much in the way of moving. But she sure enjoyed playing with the hand-held jingle bells! Even though she would've liked to sit and play (i.e. chew) with the bells the entire time she was there, I made Julia have a couple of minutes of tummy time. There was so much going on around her (other babies playing with their moms and dads) that she didn't mind her tummy time as much as she usually does.

This is an activity that the Little Gym hosts twice a month. Maybe going to this, combined with Julia's gymnastics class that will start the end of January, will help the little bug start rolling or crawling.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Nutcracker Ballet

This afternoon Evelyn and I saw a Nutcracker ballet performance put on by the Metropolitan Ballet Theatre. This is a dance studio that emphasizes authentic performances instead of recitals, and they put on two shows a year. I had looked into this ballet studio for Evelyn, but the creative movement class didn't work with Evelyn's preschool schedule.

Last year, Evelyn and I went to see the ballet in Fort Worth, where we had front-row seats. Evelyn could look into the orchestra pit to see the musicians playing their instruments, and you can't beat watching the ballet from the front row! This year's show was more low-key, but still good. Even though there wasn't an orchestra pit, the costumes were amazing. Oh, and you can't beat fake snow falling during Waltz of the Snowflakes!

To help prepare a three-year-old for the Nutcracker ballet (last year), I bought Evelyn a Nutcracker picture book by Susan Jeffers and a CD with the music. The book is perfect - fabulous illustrations and the story line is the basic Nutcracker tale. This year's ballet had some new characters and a few twists, but Evelyn still seemed to understand what was going on.

The most interesting part about attending the Nutcracker this year was how well Evelyn picked up on the dancers' specific poses and movements. Since she's been taking ballet for a year and a half, now, she knew quite a few of the positions and techniques. During intermission, Evelyn made up her own dance, consisting of passes, arabesques, and reverences.

Friday, December 12, 2008

What Julia's Been Up To

No, Julia still won't roll over, but she can do other cute baby things. When she has a toy in her hand, she likes to hammer it on the floor or the table. If she wants to take a break from playing with her toys, Julia will simply clap her hands.

Julia has abandoned the monster-yell, thank goodness. Now she's trying out different sounds like "hey" or "baba." Sometimes at the dinner table, it's a contest to see who talks more: Evelyn or Julia. (And sometimes we don't know what either of them is talking about!)

When it comes to reading books, Julia likes to turn the pages herself, thank you very much. At times there's a struggle between Julia and Evelyn to turn the pages of a board book - thankfully board books are sturdy! Finally, Julia has taking a liking to her Baby Einstein videos (as pictured below). Her favorites right now are Baby Galileo and World Animals.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008


For the past week and a half, Julia has played during her bath time. She loves splashing around in the water and curiously watches the bubbles collect on her hands and arms. But there is one problem with sitting in sudsy water: her legs float. Julia is such a little chunk that if there is too much water in the ducky tub, her legs float, and she can't sit. It is cute to see her little toes poking up through the bubbles in her bath. However, I lower the level of the water by draining some of it, and then Julia is able to sit and play comfortably. (One of these days I'll remember to bring the camera with me for Julia's bath time, and then I can post a picture.)

Monday, December 8, 2008


When we moved to Maryland almost a year ago, Evelyn wanted to feed squirrels. I bought some plain, unsalted peanuts, tossed a few onto the deck, and we waited. And waited . . . and waited. The only reason those peanuts finally disappeared was because we got tired of looking at them and threw them away.

This morning I noticed a lot of squirrel activity in the back yard. Since I still had those peanuts from January, I thought I'd put some on the deck to see if we could get any takers. I tried this in the morning, while Evelyn was at preschool, to see if any critters would come before getting Evelyn excited about it. This time the squirrels found our peanuts - they were gone in less than ten minutes.

While Evelyn ate her post-preschool snack at the kitchen table this afternoon, every now and then she would shout, "Customers!" That's her way of saying squirrels were eating our peanuts. Evelyn was just as captivated with the squirrels on our deck as she is watching TV - that's saying something!

As a side note, I know at least one of these squirrels isn't new to the game of begging from humans. Shortly after the peanut supply ran out, it was tapping at our sliding glass door with its paws.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Early December Update

Not too much has been going on in the Luster household this past week. Well, I've been sick, then got better, then sick, then better. And Julia had a horrible diaper rash that is MUCH better now.

Troy and Evelyn put together a wish-list of Christmas goodies, and since I've recently been feeling better, Evelyn and I have been baking and making yummy treats. Last Thursday we made what Troy calls Christmas brownies (layered mint brownies). I don't think they'll last very long because they are so irresistible. Yesterday we made peanut butter bon bons. I made smaller bon bons this year so we have more (44!). Today Evelyn and I are working on frosted sugar cookies. We made the dough and baked the cookies this morning, and we'll frost and decorate them after her nap this afternoon. We plan to make fudge and Russian tea cakes either Monday or Tuesday.

It's much more fun making Christmas sweets this year since we're all together as a family. I can't help reflecting back to last December, when Troy was already in Maryland for his new job (living in a big, empty townhouse all by himself) and Evelyn and I were still in Dallas. The holiday season is just so much better when we're together!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

What Makes Julia Laugh?

The answer to that question: Evelyn! Check out the video - Evelyn hides behind the kitchen counter, then runs out and "peeps" at Julia.