Sunday, May 31, 2009

Susquehanna State Park

Today we headed up to northern Maryland to hang out with Kat and Ross for the day. First we ate some yummy baked ziti with grilled eggplant for lunch. I'm sure you could have guessed, but I'll say it anyway - Julia loved both the pasta and the eggplant.

Then we were off to Susquehanna State Park, near Havre de Grace, Maryland. Our first stop was the 200-year-old working grist mill. The water wheel was spinning, and we went inside the mill to see the stones grinding kernels of corn into corn meal. Well, Julia stayed outside with Kat, since there wasn't much in the way of excitement for Jules inside the mill.

Then we drove to the head of the green trail. It took us about two hours to hike the 2-mile trail. It got tricky a couple of times when there were forks in the trail. Thankfully Kat and Ross had a trail map to help us out. As you can see, Julia got plumb tuckered out, riding in the baby carrier. It's a lot of work being jostled around on Daddy's back!

Toward the end of the trail, we came to a tree with branches low enough and big enough to climb on. Evelyn couldn't pass up climbing the tree, so Ross helped her up, and then he climbed up there himself.

Let's not forget the ice cream! After hiking, we drove to Broom's Bloom Dairy for some delicious ice cream. Evelyn went with traditional chocolate (which, she claims, was the best she's ever had), Julia and I shared "Charlotte's Web" (vanilla ice cream with fudge and caramel swirls), Troy got red raspberry, Ross got rice pudding and Kat got chocolate covered pretzels with peanuts. A very sweet ending to a picture-perfect day.

Friday, May 29, 2009

What's Wrong Here?

Julia tried and tried and tried to get something to come out of the doll bottles this afternoon, but to no avail. She worked on them for over ten minutes! Here's a short clip of her switching between the orange juice and milk bottles:

Monday, May 25, 2009

C & O Canal National Historic Park

Last year, on Memorial Day weekend, we Lusters were super-adventurous. We took on one of the steepest and rockiest trails on Sugarloaf Mountain, 1-month-old Julia riding in the front-body carrier. It was quite an experience. One that we have yet to do again, it was so harrowing.

This time around, Julia's nap schedule and the weather cooperated so we could go on another Memorial Day picnic and hiking adventure. However, today we decided to try something new - Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historic Park. The Great Falls, Maryland site was only a 40-minute drive from our house, and Evelyn got a stamp in her National Parks passport book for visiting the park.

We found a picnic table next to the canal for our lunch. As you can see in the pictures, everyone enjoyed their fine dining experience in their own special way.

After lunch, we strapped Julia into the baby carrier, and off we went. We hiked a trail that took us onto Olmsted Island. There were several bridges along the way that provided amazing views of the waterfalls in the Potomac River.

I mean, can you believe this is the Potomac River? I never thought it would look like this. (Click on the picture to enlarge it to get the full effect.)

Our initial goal was to hike two different trails, but the sun and humidity really got to Julia, so we were only able to walk the island trail. The next time we visit this park, we plan to hike the Overlook Trail, which is just under one mile round-trip.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Back at the Pool

The pool opened today - something Evelyn has been anticipating for a long time. Our community pool is just a few blocks away from our house, and it only takes a quick, five minutes to walk there. We slathered sunscreen on the girls, got their swimming suits on and headed to the pool.

It was sunny and in the mid-80's, so the girls didn't seem to mind the frigid pool water. Evelyn played in both the really shallow part of the pool and the 3-feet area. She picked up right where she left off last year with swimming around, jumping in from the side and dunking her head under the water. Julia spent the first hour sitting in the 6-inch part of the pool, playing with toys. During the second hour, Julia crawled back and forth in the water. She also practiced standing while holding onto the side of the pool.

After spending two hours at the pool (and another hour, previously, at the park), it didn't take long for the girls to fall asleep tonight.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Three Teeth!

Julia has three teeth! Yippee! All the don't-want-to-go-to-sleep fussing and runny noses last week finally paid off. Her top left tooth broke through this morning. How long will it be before the top right tooth makes its appearance?

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Baby Physical Therapy

At Julia's 9-month checkup, she was sitting. Any other gross motor movements? No, I told the doctor. Not to worry. Kids develop at their own pace.

Fast-forward to Julia's 12-month checkup last month. She sits. Any other gross motor movements? The answer was still no. This time the doctor was concerned, especially when Julia wouldn't put any weight on her legs at the appointment. He referred me to the county's infant and toddler program, which evaluates little ones in various areas of development. If there is a gap of more than 25%, the baby/toddler qualifies for assistance.

Julia's evaluation was last week. She tested at 15-16 months for all developmental areas except . . . gross motor skills. At the time of the evaluation, she was crawling. This, combined with a few other skills, put her at 8 months. Therefore, the little Sunshine qualified for the physical therapy program. More than likely, there are two reasons for Julia's delay in developing her gross motor skills: (1) She has low muscle tone; (2) She has a laid-back personality.

Today was Julia's first appointment. The therapist came to our house, and it's a free service (thanks to NCLB). Julia was such a good sport for her first session. She worked incredibly hard for about 50 minutes straight. The therapist assisted Julia with standing, pulling up to standing, lowering to sitting from standing and walking along furniture. The poor baby was so fatigued at the end of the session that her little legs were shaking from all the exercise.

You can tell that Julia is ready to learn all of these new skills. She was in a good mood, and she fully cooperated. It will be interesting to see how far she will progress by next week's appointment.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Evelyn on the Rings

One of Evelyn's favorite pieces of equipment at the Little Gym is the rings. About two weeks ago, Evelyn learned how to do a flip on the rings. However, the rings aren't available every week. Evelyn was in luck today because . . . the rings were out! Here is a video of Evelyn doing a backwards flip on the rings.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Return to Sugarloaf Mountain

We're baaaack! It's been awhile since we've hiked at Sugarloaf Mountain. Not because of the weather. It has been a rainy spring, but there have been nice weekends now and then. With my ankle surgery three months ago, it's been too risky for me to take on climbing a (small) mountain. But I finally felt up to par, and today's rain stayed away long enough for us to fit in a hike to the summit. Plus Kat and Ross were able to join us!

Julia has a new mode of transportation for hikes - the back carrier. Even though I felt up to hiking, I'm not quite ready to haul Julia. So Troy took over my job this time. Maybe I'll resume my role for the next hike.
Today's forecast for a 50% chance of rain kept the crowds away. Once we reached the top of the mountain, we pretty much had the place to ourselves. It was great hanging out at the top, checking out the view, having a family picture taken, just taking it easy.

Julia found a great little perch on a rock. She seemed to know that this wasn't exactly the best place to crawl around, so she was content to sit with me and check out the scenery.

Evelyn, meanwhile, was all about climbing rocks and looking for caterpillars. She just loves hiking and climbing and rocks and critters (and anything outdoors!), so she had a blast. Kat and Troy kept a watchful eye on her to make sure she didn't get too close to the edge of the mountain while exploring.

Like I said, Evelyn loves climbing on rocks. She found a more creative way to scale down the mountain, and it did not involve walking the trail. This time, Kat and Ross helped Evelyn navigate the steep descent.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Baby Robins

One of our neighbors has a robin's nest under their deck. Since the family knows about Evelyn's interest in all things nature, including birds, they invited us to come over and see the baby birds yesterday. The way the robins built the nest made for excellent viewing - we looked through the slats in the deck flooring for an overhead view of the nest and the babies.

It's a good thing we saw the baby birds when we did because they left the nest today. Also, while we were on our evening walk tonight, Evelyn found a robin's egg on the ground. Combine that with the bird book and birdwatching journal Evelyn received for her birthday, she is completely immersed in the world of birds right now.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Telephone, Bath

This afternoon when the phone rang, Julia immediately put her fist to the temple of her head. This is the baby sign for telephone. She completely initiated the sign on her own, which I think is amazing.

After supper, as I carried Julia up the stairs, I told her it was time for her bath. Right away she started rubbing her fists in circles on her chest. That is the baby sign for bath. It's been a couple of days since she has seen that sign, so it's pretty cool that she remembered it.

Outdoor Soccer

Evelyn is back in the world of soccer for another 8-week session. With the wet and rainy spring we've had this year, it's been a little tricky getting on the real grass field for her classes. However, the soccer complex has outdoor turf fields that the kiddos can play on. Today was the third week they have played on the turf.

This morning the weather was absolutely beautiful - sunny, warm and a light breeze. I brought the camera along to practice, and I got some great pictures of the Peanut. In the pics below, she dribbled the ball to cones and bowling pins, and then she knocked them down.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Popular Name?

Last weekend, Evelyn went to a birthday party. There were about 20 kids at the shin-dig. I was surprised that another girl was named Evelyn. This afternoon we girls went to the mall for some shopping and playing. While in the kids' play area, I overheard another mom call to her daughter, "Evelyn!"

Back when Troy and I chose Evelyn's name, we were certain of two things: (1) We wanted a name that wasn't very popular; (2) The baby's middle name would be Lucille. Evelyn worked perfectly. It paired up with Lucille nicely, and it was ranked 88th on the 2003 Social Security list of baby names.

After the two episodes mentioned above, I got curious enough to look up the popularity of Evelyn's name since 2003. Here are the years and the popularity ranks:
2004 - 84th
2005 - 71st
2006 - 65th
2007 - 55th
2008 - 54th
I guess it's no wonder I've been hearing Evelyn's name more often. (In 2001, her name wasn't even in the top 100.)

I won't completely omit Julia from this post. Julia's name was ranked 40th in 2008. The popularity of her name actually went down last year. It had been holding strong in the 30's for the past decade.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Evelyn's 5th Birthday

Evelyn had a day-long birthday celebration today. It all started in preschool, where she had a small "party" with her little friends. The party was very simple. The class sang "Happy Birthday" to Evelyn, and then everyone had brownies, ice cream and lemonade. Julia wasn't interested in the brownie, but she ate a healthy serving of vanilla ice cream.

Lucky for Evelyn, Wednesday is her gymnastics day. Evelyn insisted that we bring cupcakes and princess rings for the three other girls in her class to celebrate her birthday. Can you guess what color the frosting the cupcakes had? Yup - purple. The girls loved their rings and devoured the cupcakes.

Evelyn chose to have her birthday dinner at IHOP, where she had her favorite meal of baby cakes (with butter pecan syrup) and sausage. Then it was time for presents and birthday cake at home. Evelyn's presents seemed to have a purple theme this year - lots of purple clothes, toys and wrapping paper. The little bookworm also got several books. Evelyn requested a chocolate train cake with a purple locomotive and tender. The number on the tender was a 5, of course.

Since Julia had a long day with no afternoon nap, she went to bed during the opening of the presents and completely missed out on cake and ice cream. That's okay - there are plenty of leftovers!

Monday, May 4, 2009

A New Way to Eat Supper

As the day goes on, Evelyn eats less and less at her meals. For breakfast, Evelyn eats like gang-busters. She has a morning snack, and she usually eats most of her lunch. She heartily eats her afternoon snack, but by the time supper rolls around, she's pretty much done for the day. I feel like I'm serving a bird with the small amount of food I put on her plate for dinner.

Tonight we had leftovers, and Evelyn gets pretty picky about leftovers. I decided to avoid a food battle and serve up something I knew Evelyn would eat: a slice of cheese, butterfly crackers and cinnamon applesauce. True, Evelyn ate this "meal" more heartily than she would have the leftovers Troy and I were eating. But! She found a new way to get rid of the food on her plate - Julia. It all started when Evelyn said, "Can Julia eat cheese?" Before we knew it, Evelyn continued giving Julia nibbles of her supper, and Julia kept scarfing the nibbles down. As I've mentioned before, Julia is not one to turn down food, and table food appears to be no exception. Plus, now Evelyn has a new way to clean her plate - give her food to her sister.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Goosing Strangers

Today was the day the whole family was supposed to see a Cardinals baseball game in D.C. The weather simply did not want to cooperate, though. It has been a very rainy spring, and today was no different. However, Troy and I thought we saw a break in the weather that might last long enough to get the game in. We packed up the girls and their belongings, and then we headed for the Metro station.

The train ride to the stadium was uneventful. When we stepped off the train, though, we noticed several baseball fans waiting for the train to take them home. Not a good sign. We went up to street level to see what the weather was doing . . . raining. And there were lots of people walking to the Metro station from the baseball stadium. We decided to join the crowd and headed back to the trains.

The train for the ride home was packed. Julia was in her stroller, which was in the aisle. Like I said, the train was very full, and there was a man standing with his back to Julia's stroller. It wasn't long before Julia reached up under his jacket to touch him. It looked like she was trying to goose him! Oh, it was a long train ride, trying to keep Julia from touching that guy. Eventually the crowd thinned out, and we didn't have to force Julia to keep her hands to herself.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

New Foods

As a 12-month old, Julia is venturing into the world of new foods. Her doctor recommended giving her the same things we eat, as long as they are conducive to a little one who needs to gum her food. Julia still only has two teeth, so there's a lot of gumming going on.

In the past week, some of the new foods Julia has tried are crackers, bread, banana and avocado. Her entire meal is not table food - most of her breakfast, lunch and dinner is baby cereal and mushed-up baby food. However, she is definitely tackling new tastes and textures. The only new food that she hasn't made a face at is avocado. My guess is because avocados are, for the most part, tasteless.

Julia is also slowly transitioning from formula to whole milk. Like everything else that has to do with food, she has no complaints. The only problem is when I try to give Julia whole milk in a sippy cup. It's time to wean her from the bottle, and she has made it very clear to me that she prefers bottles. Introducing new foods is going smoothly, but the sippy cup will be more of a battle.