Sunday, July 26, 2009

Our Silly Girls

Today Julia and Evelyn were independently playing, and here's what they were up to. Julia was wearing one of Evelyn's Little Gym medals, and meanwhile she alternated between blowing on a bubble-making toy and chewing on a teether.
At the same time, Evelyn the Artist worked on her latest portrait - a garden landscape. Last week the theme at day camp was fairy tales, where Evelyn made a princess crown. Since princess crowns encourage you to be more creative, Evelyn wore this accessory while drawing.

Friday, July 24, 2009

I Thought You Were Done . . .

Lately, Julia has been letting us know when she has had enough to eat. She shakes her head, sometimes says (very clearly), "No," puts her hands up, and/or reaches to take her bib off. We get the message, and we excuse her from the table. Well, excusing a baby from the table looks like taking her bib off and setting her free from her high chair.

Last night, after Julia had let us know she didn't want any more macaroni and cheese, we let her loose. Evelyn, meanwhile, continued to eat her supper, and Troy and I stayed at the table to keep her company. After putzing around the kitchen for about five minutes, Julia circled back to the table. She probably wanted to see why everyone else was still sitting there. Ah, what's this? Big sister still had food? Well, maybe Julia wasn't finished after all. And maybe Evelyn was getting full. I snapped a picture to show the conclusion of this story:

Thursday, July 23, 2009


For the past several months, Evelyn has been inquiring about earrings. When can she have them? Does it hurt when you get them? How old do you have to be to have them? Some of her friends have earrings. Do babies get earrings?

Since I had to wait an insanely long time to get my ears pierced (13 years old!), I vowed never to make my daughter(s) wait that long. I always told Troy that whenever Evelyn really wanted earrings, I would give in to her request. Yesterday was the big day!

We went to Claire's in the mall for Evelyn's piercing. Here she is, holding the display case of the choice of earrings. Since my mom is allergic to anything but gold, and I had bad reactions with non-gold earrings early on, I narrowed Evelyn's choices to the 14K gold selection. She went with cute little pink stone flowers.
At first, Evelyn thought the stuffed bear was simply a cute prop. Later on, she discovered that this bear made an excellent buddy to help her out with the earring experience.

Evelyn got nervous when the lady used a marker to put dots on Evelyn's ear lobes. I was really beginning to wonder if my drama queen was going to make it . . .
One ear down, and one ear to go. I must admit that I'm really surprised Evelyn didn't completely bail after the first ear was pierced. She must have really wanted her earrings!
Five minutes after her earrings were in, Evelyn continued to look in the mirror to admire her newest accessories. She kept turning her head from side to side, getting a good look at them. Did I mention we did all of this while Troy was out of town? Well, we did. And he was completely fine with it. After all, I'm the one shouldering the responsibility of cleaning Evelyn's ears three times a day.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

More Baby Talk

Julia's vocabulary growth was very apparent today. While changing her diaper, Julia glanced over at a table with board books. Then she made the baby sign for "train" and said "booka booka booka booka" at the same time. I asked if she wanted her train book, grabbed it for her, and handed her the book. She smiled - that's exactly what she wanted.

Julia shared an avocado with me for lunch. Every time I gave her a bite of avocado, I said the word. After about five bites, Julia said "go" when she wanted another bite of avocado. She also baby signed "milk" when she wanted a drink. Her lunch consisted of an avocado, a muffin and milk. By baby signing and speaking aloud, it was easy for me to understand what she wanted to eat or drink next.

During lunch, Julia alerted me to when a bird landed on one of our feeders by making the baby sign. By following her lead, we were able to have a conversation about birds, even though I ended up saying a lot more than she did. Still, her comprehension and communication skills are growing by leaps and bounds.

Monday, July 20, 2009


Whenever we get home from an extended trip, I notice changes in the girls. This time - three weeks (mostly) in Nebraska - is no different.

Evelyn took private swimming lessons in Bellevue at one of the pools I used to lifeguard at. The main reason I wanted Evelyn to have lessons was to be weaned from her water wings. Because, wouldn't you know it, I accidentally left the water wings in Maryland. Oops. (Anyone sense the sarcasm?) By the end of our visit, Evelyn could float on her back, do the elementary backstroke, swim across the width of the pool without stopping and do front glides. It was amazing what all she learned in six lessons.

At the beginning of our trip, Julia decided she was ready to take only one afternoon nap per day. She is also mostly finished eating baby food - she prefers to eat real people food. In the gross motor skill area, Julia can independently climb up and down stairs. Her vocabulary has improved, as well.

All wonderfully fabulous changes in the girls!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Second Trip to the Zoo

We girls headed to Omaha's Henry Doorly Zoo again today. Our first stop was the butterfly building. Julia had a chance to walk (holding my hands, of course) and check out all the beautiful butterflies and hummingbirds that freely flew around us. I didn't have a chance to take a picture of Jules, since I was holding her, but I did get a shot of Evelyn. There's a butterfly in the bush on the right, but it's pretty hard to see it...

The Skyfari is a new ski-lift type ride at the zoo. Grandpa Luster hung out with Julia while Evelyn and I took a ride through the tree tops. It was so cool to see giraffes, cheetahs, ostriches, rhinos and other animals from the air. I never once mentioned to Evelyn that this might be something scary (fear of heights and so on), and she never hinted at being nervous.

We fed the fish from the bridge, Julia waved and said "Hi!" to people, we saw the baby sea lion, Julia waved and said "Hi!" to people, we ate lunch, Julia waved and said "Hi!" to people, we checked out the bears, Julia waved and said "Hi!" to get the picture. Julia made so many people laugh with her wave and "Hi!"

Julia caught on to what we were doing when we were feeding fish from the bridge. I had been giving her Goldfish crackers to snack on while we threw cat food type grub to the fish in the lake. Next thing I know, Julia was pushing her Goldfish through the fence in an attempt to feed the fish. Silly baby.

With Evelyn present, a zoo trip isn't complete without riding the train. Just like two weeks ago, Julia cuddled with me during the train ride, probably because the steam engine and train whistle is so loud. This time, however, Julia fell asleep on me! I think the heat and humidity simply wore her out. After our train ride, the engineers filled up the tender with water and diesel. Diesel fuel in a steam engine confused Evelyn, and she inched closer to the tender and locomotive for a closer look. The next thing we knew, one of the engineers was showing us around the engine, explaining that it's an oil-burning steam engine, here's where the fire box is, look inside to see the fire, and so on. Evelyn sure is a lucky little train girl.

We wrapped up today's visit at the petting zoo. Yes, goats tried to eat Julia and the stroller, but I just kept moving, and they eventually gave up.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Holdrege Visit

We headed east to visit Troy's family a few days ago, and this time we traveled west to visit my family. We girls drove out to Holdrege on Friday afternoon, and we stayed until Sunday afternoon.

We visited with Grandpa Leland several times while in Holdrege. In the picture below, Julia is trying to pick-pocket Grandpa's television remote. She is such a little opportunist.

Julia loved seeing Shania, Grandma Shirley's cat. Every time the cat walked into the room, Julia squealed, "Kitty!" and quickly crawled after her. Shania is a very easy-going cat and good with kids. She let both Julia and Evelyn lay on top of her several times.

Evelyn didn't want to leave Holdrege. There are so many relatives to see, farms to explore and toys to play with. Rest assured, we'll be back for more visits.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Pike County Visit

The main goal for our trip to Illinois was to visit family, and that mission was accomplished. We stayed at Aunt Becky's and Uncle Ralph's farm. Evelyn was so happy to see that Gracie Cat was still around, and the two of them played together quite a bit. See the stick in the picture below? Gracie would swat at it as Evelyn waved it around. Evelyn and I also went to the Pittsfield swimming pool for a couple of hours. Evelyn had so much fun practicing all the things she's learning from her swimming lessons - she did great!
Aunt Becky always has a blast with the girls, and this time was no different. Here's a picture of her with Julia, with an after dinner round of napkin peek-a-boo.
A summer trip to Pike County wouldn't be complete without visiting the Dairy Ripple. Lucky little Evelyn got to go twice! Dairy Ripple is where she had her first ice cream cone two years ago, so she was excited to go back there for some more yumminess.

Monday, July 6, 2009

7-Hour Road Trip

The Luster clan headed to Illinois today for a three-day trip to visit family. We made it there in seven hours, which isn't too bad. We had no idea how Julia would do on the trip, but she fared much better than we thought. Julia took both a morning and an afternoon nap. Otherwise she was content to snack or drink milk.

As for Evelyn, thank goodness for portable DVD players. Evelyn watched several episodes of Max and Ruby, as well as Thomas videos. Traveling is no big deal for Evelyn, so she did fine on the long road trip.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

4th of July 2009

We had planned to go swimming on the 4th of July, but Mother Nature had other plans for us in Nebraska. Today was cloudy, and the temperature never got above 68 degrees. Definitely NOT swimming weather! So we headed over to the pedestrian bridge that connects Omaha with Iowa. It's about a mile-long walk across the Missouri River, and even though the weather was a bit on the gloomy side, everyone seemed to have a good time.Later on, we joined Grandma Luster (aka Troy's mom) for a patriotic picnic dinner in Fontenelle Hills. Julia does not like the way grass feels, so we made an invisible fence by putting a blanket on the ground. Jules was perfectly content to sit on the blanket and play with her toys while waiting for supper. And speaking of supper, Julia ate macaroni salad, baked beans, a hot dog (don't worry - it was cut into very small pieces) and a hot dog bun, plus her sippy cup of milk. I am still amazed that this 14-month-old eats so much table food, since Evelyn was a completely different story when she was a baby.

Evelyn's Grandpa Luster custom-made a set of three golf clubs for her. She has a driver, an iron and a putter. Each club has a hickory shaft, and the grips are made with purple leather. Evelyn even has purple golf balls. By far the best set around for a certain 5-year-old who loves purple.
This is the first 4th of July holiday where Evelyn had a chance to light fireworks. Evelyn hasn't lived in a place where fireworks are legal, and we haven't been in Nebraska for the past two holidays. Evelyn liked the snappers right off the bat. It took her a little while to warm up to sparklers and the like, but by the end of the evening, she was loving all the sights and sounds of Independence Day.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Zoo Day Camps

Evelyn went to two day camps at the Henry Doorly Zoo - yesterday's theme was Big Cats, and today's theme was Penguins. This all-day event was an incredible amount of fun for Evelyn.

Some of the activities Evelyn did with the Big Cats were learning about where various cats live around the world, making chew toys for cubs to play with, decorating a plaster paw print, touching lion fur and touring the cat house. The packet she brought home included a picture of all the day camp kids in front of one of the white tigers' cage.

Today Evelyn learned about different kinds of penguins and various penguin behaviors, she made a couple of different penguin pieces of art, and, the BEST part of all, she actually got to touch a real, live penguin!

When asked which day camp she liked the most, Evelyn answer was, "Both!" Hopefully she can participate in the zoo's day camp next year.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Omaha's Zoo

We girls headed to the zoo with Grandma Linda and Grandpa Phil this morning. Evelyn's agenda was as follows: feed the fish, ride the carousel, ride the train, see the big cats, see the penguins, see the aquarium and go to the Desert Dome. If you have been to Omaha's Henry Doorly Zoo, you know this is quite a long list. Since we only had about three hours to spend at the zoo, we didn't make it to everything on Evelyn's list.

First we wandered down to the fish bridge, checking out some African animals along the way. Julia was especially interested in the giraffes. She kept pointing at them and her eyes got real big. Very exciting, indeed. Grandma Linda had popped a HUGE bag of popcorn, and we tossed all of it down to the fish from the bridge. I think we probably spent 20 or 30 minutes feeding the fish and looking at the monkeys on their island.
Then we headed over toward the carousel and the train. A train had just left, so we three girls rode the carousel first. Julia wasn't too sure about riding an animal that bounced up and down, so about halfway through the ride, I had to hold her. Evelyn ran over to see the polar bear real quick before the train pulled into the depot. Julia wasn't too keen about the steam engine, with all of its loud noises, so she cuddled with me when the train was in motion.
After the train ride, it was almost time to leave. We had several things on Evelyn's list that we still needed to see. I'm sure we'll be back at the zoo before we head back to Maryland, plus Evelyn goes back to the zoo tomorrow and Friday for day camps. So we zipped through the outdoor big cat exhibits before heading home.