Thursday, January 29, 2009

Checkup, Chili, Chess and Checkers

Julia went in for her 9-month checkup yesterday afternoon. I'm sure everyone is waiting on pins and needles for her measurements, so without further ado, here they are: 28 1/2 inches long; 21 pounds, 6 ounces. Just like at her previous checkup, Julia matches Evelyn's 9-month length exactly. However, Julia weighs four more pounds than Evelyn did at 9 months. That's a significant amount for a baby!

Yesterday I made chili for supper. I should've mentioned to Evelyn that it was normal, red chili made with ground beef and kidney beans. A week or so ago I made white chicken chili, and it was way too zippy for Evelyn's palate. So last night Evelyn looked suspiciously at her bowl of chili. After a bit of persuasion, Evelyn finally tried one teeny-tiny bite of chili . . . and remembered that she does like that kind of chili. Whew! I wasn't pulling a fast one on her after all!

One of the games in our board game collection is chess. Evelyn has admired the chess game for months, asking us when she can play. We've been telling her that it's complicated, and all the pieces have different rules. That didn't matter - Evelyn wanted to learn how to play. As Troy set up all the pieces on the board, he told Evelyn what their names were. Then Troy and Evelyn started their game. I have to give Evelyn credit because I think she lasted for five whole minutes. Then she said, "This is too hard!" and the game was over. Troy suggested checkers, which was a good call. Evelyn understood the concept of that game well enough to play an entire game. And she (accidentally) made some pretty strategic moves!

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Maryland Snow

We waited all last winter, and nothing happened. We've been waiting all this winter, and it finally happened - significant snow! Well, by Evelyn's standards, "significant" is at least one inch of snow that sticks around for more than a couple hours.

We woke up to the white stuff, and it snowed most of the day. It only snowed lightly, but Evelyn will take anything she can get. She was able to play outside two different times - during Julia's morning nap and then during Julia's afternoon nap. Clearly, there's nothing for a 9-month-old to do out in the snow, so I worked Evelyn's outdoor play around the baby's nap schedule.

Evelyn's favorite thing to do in the snow is make snow angels. Since we live in a townhouse (and not an end unit), we are very limited when it comes to a yard. In addition to making two snow angels in our little patches of grass, she also managed to make angels on the sidewalk (before I shoveled) and in Troy's parking space. When I noticed Evelyn's cheeks and nose turning pink, we came inside for hot chocolate with marshmallows.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Book Worms

We all know how much Evelyn loves to read. It's hard to keep track of how many books or magazines she reads each day. The book listed under "Books We're Reading" for Evelyn is usually just one of many that she has read in the past week or so.

That said, it seems that Julia is following in her big sister's footsteps. Yesterday morning, both girls were in the 2nd-floor hallway, reading books. Julia was enthralled with her cloth Sesame Street book, and Evelyn was naming various dinosaurs in a book from her personal collection.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Show Week

This week was Show Week at the Little Gym for Evelyn. Since she was enrolled in two different classes for the semester, she performed in a gymnastics show and a dance show.

Tuesday was gymnastics. Evelyn performed three routines - floor, bars and balance beam. She really likes doing front supports on the bar (in the first picture below), but it seems her favorite is making up her own routine for the balance beam. Naturally, for Tuesday's show, she did the required beam routine. But I've seen her put together various skills to make her own routine.

Thursday's dance class was quite a show-stopper. The class demonstrated their tap dancing skills, and then it was time for ballet. At the moment, Evelyn is more interested in tap than ballet . . . but her preference changes frequently. After dancing to two songs, the girls performed their balance beam routine. This was the same routine from gymnastics, so Evelyn had it down-pat.

At the end of each class, Evelyn received a medal for all of her hard work over the past 20 weeks. For the next semester, Evelyn is only enrolled in the Little Gym's dance class; however, in addition to 15 minutes each of tap and ballet, the combination class includes 30 minutes of gymnastics. So Evelyn will be able to continue putting together balance beam routines.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Sweet Dreams

The other night I had a chance to snap some pictures of Julia and Evelyn while they were sleeping. Evelyn loves it when I do this. The following morning, usually at breakfast, I'll tell Evelyn I want to show her something on the camera. She gets this little smirk on her face as she looks at the pictures from the night before. Naturally she doesn't know I was in her room, let alone taking pictures. I am also amazed that the girls don't wake up when the flash goes off. Sweet dreams, little ones!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Visit to the Dentist

Yesterday, Evelyn went to the dentist for the first time. Over the past couple of weeks, we've talked to her about the upcoming appointment so it wouldn't catch her off guard. It's a good thing we did that - when we first told her about her checkup, she was very nervous. But when yesterday morning rolled around, she seemed to be looking forward to it.

Troy took her, so my report isn't first-hand. The pediatric clinic Evelyn went to was incredibly kid-friendly according to both Troy and (more importantly) Evelyn. Evelyn played with toys in the waiting room, the dental hygenist commented on how well Evelyn behaved and how brave she was, and the dentist was both thorough and gentle. When Evelyn came home, all she could talk about was how fun it was going to the dentist. That's good - we wanted her first time to be a positive experience.

The dentist made some suggestions for Evelyn's brushing and flossing routines . . . and then came the bad news: (1) The little sweetheart has a cavity in one of her lower molars. (2) She needs to stop sucking her thumb. Amazingly enough, Evelyn's thumb-sucking seems to have stopped immediately. I had a feeling this would happen because one of Evelyn's friends, Olivia, went through the exact same thing - a trip to the dentist ended thumb-sucking. This morning Evelyn proudly reported that she didn't suck her thumb at all last night - let's hope it keeps up! As for the cavity, we're not sure what to do. She is scheduled to have another checkup in July, and we're tempted to wait until after that appointment. Evelyn will probably freak out if her second visit to the dentist involves a shot and drilling in her mouth. We'll see.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Hide and Seek

Here's a story that shows Julia's recognition of Mommy, Daddy and Evelyn. And proof that the baby knows which name belongs to which person.

Tonight before bedtime, we played one of Evelyn's favorite games: hide and seek. For the first round, I counted and Evelyn hid. Troy and Julia sat out this game but watched us play. After slowly counting to ten and saying, "Ready or not, here I come!" I looked around the bedroom.

Evelyn is getting better at playing this game, and she was hiding well enough that I couldn't see her. I decided to try something sneaky. I looked at Julia and asked, "Where's Evelyn?" Julia's head instantly turned toward the doorway. Sure enough, Evelyn was hiding just around the corner.

Okay, so it was a pretty dirty way to play hide and seek, but I couldn't help it. I wanted to see if the baby could help me out - turns out she did!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Lunch Dilemma!

Now a post from Evelyn's point-of-view:

Daddy forgot his lunch today! After saying good-bye to Daddy this morning, I went into the kitchen for breakfast. What did I find? Daddy's apple and (peanut butter and jelly) sandwich sitting on the counter! Oh, no!

Since it takes a little while for Daddy to get to work, Mommy insisted that I eat my breakfast before calling him. As soon as I put my dishes in the sink, I was on the phone, telling Daddy my plan to save him from starving at lunch-time today: we would bring his lunch to him. See, we were going over near Daddy's work for a penny theater show at the library anyway, so it made perfect sense.

Did I mention that Mommy and I baked chocolate chip cookies this morning? Well, we did. Today is the last day I will see Miss Amber, one of my favorite teachers at the Little Gym. So we made some cookies to bring to her as a good-bye gift. Naturally, we had to put a freshly-baked cookie in Daddy's lunch!

Just as planned, we drove to Daddy's work on our way to the library. When we pulled up to the front of his office, Daddy came out to meet us in the car. I handed Daddy his lunch and gave him a kiss on the cheek. Yippee! Now Daddy has his lunch for today! Disaster averted!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Diary of an 8-Month-Old

Today's post is from Julia's point-of-view:

I scared someone today! I was at the gym (in the kids' area, of course), having fun, playing with toys, and the next thing I know, the baby girl next to me started crying. I heard the teachers tell Mommy that I was too loud. Oops. I just have a lot on my mind, and I want to make sure everyone hears what I have to say!

Walking to the grocery store was a new adventure. I got stuffed into that front-carrier. Then Mommy put her coat on and zipped me up inside like a cocoon. A pink hat and scarf completed my ensemble, and we were out the door. Walk to the store, loaded up on more squash and bananas (for me!), then back home. All the while strangers kept saying how cute I was. How do they know? All they could see was my face! (Did I mention the wind chill was 18 at the time?)

After we picked up Evelyn from that crazy, chaotic place called "preschool," I played on the kitchen floor while Evelyn had a snack at the table. Evelyn can't resist me, so she kept running over to me to kiss me on the head or give me a hug. The next thing I know, Mommy's got the camera, and she's taking pictures.

Ah, now for my adventures at the restaurant. Evelyn loves this IHOP place for their pancakes and butter pecan syrup. Me, I had the usual: rice cereal and butternut squash. I'm not sure if I like the squash, but I eat it. Heck, I'll eat anything right now!

After a long, busy day, I wound down by watching American Idol. Actually, it got me a little fired up. But that's alright. Daddy put me in my crib, where I have my rattle-bear and lambie to help me fall asleep. Night, night!

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Solid Food

Since Julia is getting older, it's time for her to try new (real) foods, right? The other day, we gave Julia some sweet potato puffs (they look like cereal, but quickly soften in baby's mouth). She had fun playing with them, but she never attempted to put them in her mouth.

Later on, we gave Julia some pieces of soft, home-made bread. She was fascinated that the bread stuck to her fingers. But, just like the sweet potato puffs, she only played with the bread. As of now, the only food Julia puts in her mouth is biter biscuits - which she only gets on bath nights because she still makes an awful mess of herself.

Friday, January 9, 2009

How Fast Does Julia Eat?

Julia is on the opposite end of the eating spectrum from Evelyn. Which do you suppose is faster - microwaving a Lean Cuisine frozen meal or Julia eating 2/3 of a cup of rice cereal? Julia eating her cereal is the winner. My new lunch-time routine is to feed Julia her cereal while heating up my lunch. This baby doesn't mess around when it comes to food!

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Purple Nail Polish

Evelyn is all things purple. Case in point: Today when Evelyn left the house for dance she wore a purple leotard, purple Crocs, a purple coat, and the bag for her dance shoes was . . . you guessed it . . . purple! So it came as no surprise to me that Evelyn requested her toenails be painted purple. (She likes to show off her painted toenails to her gymnastics and dance teachers, in case you're wondering why she wants painted toenails in winter.)

When I wasn't looking, somebody grabbed the bottle of nail polish . . . Julia had so much fun with the purple nail polish, I let her play with it for a bit. Her expression when I took this picture seems to say, "Why can't I have purple nails, too?"

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Traveling Back to Maryland

Thankfully our trip back to Maryland wasn't as eventful as the trip to Nebraska. Our flight from Omaha was delayed by an hour, but we had a long layover scheduled in Chicago, so I wasn't too worried about missing our connecting flight.

On the Omaha-to-Chicago flight, Julia was a little comedian. I was keeping her occupied with one of the airline's magazines, and Evelyn had a couple of vanilla cookies in her lap to nibble on. After awhile, the magazine wasn't holding her attention any more. Julia put the magazine on Evelyn's lap and reached for a cookie. Evelyn got all excited about Julia potentially stealing a cookie, so I held the baby at bay and gave her the magazine. Didn't work. Julia was persistant in her quest to trade a magazine for a cookie. She must've tried nearly a dozen times to make the trade, but Evelyn wouldn't give. Eventually, Julia gave up, but she had Evelyn and I laughing!

Once we landed in Chicago, Evelyn noticed flurries falling from the sky. Immediately she commented, "I'll bet they'll have to de-ice our plane." Thinking back to Chicago's forecast for the day (cloudy with a 10% chance of snow), I disagreed. But guess what? After we spent nearly two hours at O'Hare - about an hour of that playing in their kids' play zone - thick snowflakes were falling from the sky. Evelyn was absolutely right. Our plane did need to be de-iced before taking off for Washington.

Planes never leave Chicago on time, and today was no exception. We were only delayed by about 30 minutes, which is nothing compared to our most recent trip. The girls were home and tucked in their beds by 9:00 local time. Nothing helps you adjust from Central to Eastern time like a long day of travel.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Zoo Time

Evelyn headed to Omaha's Henry Doorly Zoo this afternoon with her Grandma and Grandpa Luster. Since it wasn't very warm (barely in the 30's), they visited the indoor exhibits near the entrance of the zoo - the jungle, the aquarium, the desert dome, and the "Base Camp." Julia and I didn't go since it would interfere with Julia's afternoon nap.

Since Evelyn couldn't stop talking about the stingrays, I would guess the aquarium was her favorite part. When in the shark tunnel, the stingrays (and other marine animals) swim right over your head. Grandma Luster commented that Evelyn did not like the bugs . . . sounds a lot like me!

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Museum & Lunch

This morning Evelyn and I headed over to Council Bluffs, Iowa to check out their Union Pacific Railroad Museum. Thankfully Evelyn has been to enough train museums to know that each museum is different, and some don't have locomotives to climb around . . . this museum is strictly indoors. The closest Evelyn got to being on a real train today was climbing on a section of an observation car and sitting in a replica of a cab, where she pretended to drive the train.

But that's not to say that we didn't have fun! Today was the last day of a model train display, and Evelyn took in both N-scale and H-scale layouts. Even though there are several artifacts detailing the history of the Union Pacific railroad in the museum, we mostly hung out around the models.

After seeing all there was to see (for a four-year-old), we headed back to Omaha to enjoy lunch at the Bohemian Cafe. Evelyn ate her favorite: rye bread and a liver dumpling. I never know what Evelyn's "meal" will cost there. Sometimes we get charge 50 cents for a dumpling, sometimes a quarter. Today was a pleasant surprise . . . free! So, with the museum's free admission, Evelyn had great fun at no expense.

Friday, January 2, 2009

There Is No Place Like Nebraska

Yesterday when Evelyn and I were running errands, we happened across a Starbucks inside a grocery store. Naturally, Evelyn requested some vanilla milk, which comes in a shiny box (similar to a juice box). I was shocked that her usual $1.50 treat was only $1.00 here! That's crazy!

Julia had no choice but to watch the Huskers play in the Gator Bowl. She only lasted through the first half, though, before succombing to her afternoon nap. Here are some pictures of Julia with her Grandpa Phil while watching the game on TV. You can make up your own captions . . .