Monday, August 31, 2009

First Day of Kindergarten!

For the past 18 days, Evelyn has been counting down to the start of Kindergarten. A paper chain helped out with the count-down; Evelyn took a paper link off of the chain each morning. Guess what? Today we took off the last link!
We joined the "8:30 Club" to walk to school this morning. Including Evelyn, five neighborhood kids leave at 8:30 to make the trek to school. Our walk goes past a marsh, where ducks and beavers live. Here's a picture of Evelyn (with one of her friends) looking for critters in the marsh. Her school, Great Seneca Creek Elementary, is at the top of the hill.

Today we were able to walk Evelyn all the way to her classroom. You can tell that her smile has changed from the picture that was taken in front of our house to the one below, where she is standing outside her classroom door. She never cried (neither did I), but you could tell Evelyn was a bit apprehensive. We said our goodbyes, and Evelyn joined her classmates on the floor in front of Miss Armstrong, the teacher.
After school, I asked Evelyn about her day. It seems that she had one or two recesses, she enjoyed her snack bar at snack time, there were LOTS of Kindergarteners in the cafeteria at lunch time (a little over 100, actually), she ate her lunch without needing any assistance, Miss Armstrong read a story, she drew a picture of monkeys climbing in the jungle, and she went to the bathroom. I'm looking forward to the parent information night next week, when I will get a better idea of what our little Peanut does every day at school.
I made a special dessert for Evelyn: cream-filled chocolate cupcakes. Naturally, I had to make purple frosting. It looks like Evelyn enjoyed her treat!

Friday, August 28, 2009

Making Messes . . . When Daddy Isn't Around

I have a policy: make messes when Daddy isn't around. Evelyn and I typically make the messiest desserts when Troy is at work. We make a mess of our white kitchen, bake our goodies, clean up . . . and when Troy gets home, all he knows is that we made some delicious treats.

This afternoon, I let Julia have some fun with the sidewalk chalk. As you can see in the picture below, Julia has chalk on her shirt, on her pants, on her shoes, and of course all over her hands. By the time Troy came home from work, Julia was mostly cleaned up, with just a little orange chalk on her pants. Troy was none the wiser, mostly because he knew Evelyn drew all the eggs.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Pool Preference

All summer, we have been trying to convince Julia to enjoy her visits to the pool. When we go to the pool, we are usually there for about two hours. For the first ten minutes, Julia is happy to play with her toys in the beach-entry area of the shallow end. Then I try to help make her content to hang out with me (I'm carrying her or she's in her floaty) while we follow Evelyn around the pool. Break time is a cinch because she knows that means snack time. Otherwise, Julia does not seem happy about our trips to the pool.

Julia has recently developed a preference while at the pool - walking. She wants me to hold both of her hands and help her walk around the pool deck. This is fabulous, considering she didn't want anything to do with walking a week and a half ago.

Friday, August 21, 2009

She Stands Alone

Julia has been standing on her own for a couple of weeks now. Usually she would stand so close to something that it was hard to tell whether or not she was touching the chair or table in front of her. Also, she wouldn't realize she was standing unassisted because she was so engrossed with playing.

Julia learned a new trick today: standing all by herself. Instead of being close to a wall or a piece of furniture, she is in the middle of the kitchen or the living room, in a squatting position, and stands completely on her own. The rest of the family gets so excited when she stands up that we clap and cheer. So now, whenever Julia stands up by herself, she claps and smiles.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Beach Trip Day 4

Sadly, today was our last day at the beach. We loved the condo we were staying in - it was a great place to stay with nice accomodations and super-easy access to the beach. Julia liked exploring all the different places at the condo, including the built-in television cabinet. It was a great hiding place for the Little Bug.
This morning we didn't have time to lounge and play on the beach like we did the previous three days, but we did go for a walk along the shore. Julia finally warmed up to the sights and sounds of the ocean, and she couldn't wait to walk in the sand with the rest of us. Sometimes she would stray off course and head toward the water. A crashing wave would remind her how close she was to the ocean, and then she would head the other direction.

Evelyn's favorite part of going to the beach was finding seashells. The shells on this beach were smaller than she had expected, but Evelyn still made quite a haul. If we hadn't made her turn around, I'm sure Evelyn would've kept walking and walking, searching for more seashells.
Here's one last look at Julia and me walking on the beach, with our condo in the background. We had a great time at Fenwick Island, and hopefully we'll be back next summer!

Monday, August 17, 2009

Beach Trip Day 3

Are you ready for some big waves? Well, that's what we got today! The waves were much higher today compared to the last two days. Amazingly enough, today is the day that Evelyn decided she wanted Troy to hold/carry her while venturing out into the surf.

There's a story to go along with the first picture below - This was one of the first waves that splashed Troy and Evelyn . . . it not only splashed them, it completely knocked them down! Troy did a great job of keeping Evelyn from crashing onto the sand. We couldn't believe it when she wanted to keep going into the water, after being bowled over by a huge wave.
I didn't feel up to riding any waves this morning since they were so big. But I did want to go into the water. Kat joined me, and we were gabbing away like girls will do, when what should sneak up on us? Yep, one of those monstrous waves. We weren't looking, and it took us completely by surprise. So much for keeping our hair dry!

After braving the high seas, I took a break. Here I am, chillin' with my baby, while the guys toughed it out in the water. (It wasn't until the end of the day that I realized that I didn't take any pictures of Troy riding the wake board - oops!)

And here are Ross and Kat, hanging out with Baby J.
Following her afternoon nap, Julia was back out on the beach, ready for more sand play time. Oh, and snacks, of course. There were always snacks and milk on hand for the Baby Beach Bum.
And here's Beach Bum Number Two, building a forest behind her sand castle. It's a little difficult to see in the picture, but Evelyn decorated her sand castle with seaweed and seashells, which is something she has been talking about all summer. The forest idea came to her as she continued to find reed stalks all over the beach.

Once again, we ended our day by eating a picnic supper. Julia and I went on a pizza run, thus giving Evelyn as much beach play time as possible.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Beach Trip Day 2

It only took us one day to get into a routine: breakfast, beach, lunch, naptime/pool, beach, supper, bedtime. That schedule seemed to work well for everyone. (I'm sure you could have guessed, but Julia took a nap, and Evelyn went to the pool.) Kat and Ross joined us for most of the time we were vacationing at the beach, and they joined us for beach time and supper.

Last night, someone told us that pods of dolphins frequently swim up and down the coast in the morning. Sure enough, that's the first thing we saw today. The dolphins were swimming in the ocean for about two hours this morning. You can see one in the picture below, off in the distance.
We found a new way to keep Julia interested in playing under the beach umbrella: a bucket of water. Now she could dip her toys into the water, put sand in the water, fling water all over the place, dump water onto the sand, and on and on. Here's our little "sugar-coated donut" baby, playing in the shade of the umbrella this morning:

And to give you an idea of what our home base looked like . . .
Evelyn loved using the slope of the beach to practice her handstands. She got into a rhythm while playing by the shore: she would run out to the water as the waves receded, dip her hands into the water, run away from the incoming waves and do a handstand. She would repeat this routine over and over.
When we came back to the beach for round two, I decided to try riding the waves on a wake board. It's a little tricky to time the waves right, especially for a newbie like myself, but I still had fun. Well, I mostly had fun. Being tossed about and thrown on the jagged seashells isn't exactly comfortable, but the element of surprise sure is exciting!
We ended our day by having a picnic-style supper outside. Our condo had a deck with a few large picnic tables on the east side of the building, which meant it was completely in the shade in the evening. The deck was on the first floor, our condo was on the first floor. It was super simple to take our meal outside and dine al fresco, listening to the waves crashing on the beach. Plus we didn't care if Evelyn and Julia made a mess!

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Beach Trip Day 1

We headed out to Fenwick Island, Delaware this morning for our much-anticipated trip to the beach. We arrived at our condo on the beach around 3:30, and it didn't take us long to set up camp on the sand.

Julia, being the little adventurer that she is, literally dug right in to the sand. She loved playing with all the different beach toys. She also thoroughly enjoyed tossing sand in the air, where some of it landed in her hair. It didn't seem to bother her, so we let her continue to explore. Look closely at the picture below, and you will see sand on Julia's face, in her hair, on her hands, and all over her legs and feet.

We only had a little over an hour to explore the beach on this first day before it was time to grill burgers for supper. But we all had a great start to our vacation!

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Julia's First Concert

Let's not forget about little Julia and how she felt about the concert. She's a go-with-the-flow kind of baby, so she is usually up for anything. Going to a concert was no different. And this was her first concert, ever!

Julia likes music, and she had a blast dancing (wiggling her hips) and clapping along to the music. However, the witching hour approached shortly after 8:00. That's when she turned to me, made the baby sign for "all done," and started crying. Thankfully Kat helped out and took Julia for a walk through the gardens for the last 20 minutes of the concert. All in all, though, I think Julia did pretty well for an evening concert.

Ralph's World

Back in May, my friend Kat gave me a brochure about Longwood Gardens. From the looks of the brochure, the Gardens seemed to be a lot like the Dallas Arboretum, complete with outdoor summer concerts. One of the concerts that caught my eye was Ralph's World on August 7th.

Yesterday we Luster girls headed to Longwood Gardens (in Pennsylvania) to see Ralph's World. We have been listening to four of Ralph's CDs in the car, so we were all ready to sing along. Here's Evelyn dancing and shaking her hips to one of the songs -

After about two or three songs, Ralph invited the kids to come up right in front of the stage to dance. Evelyn didn't need to be told twice to join the kiddie mosh pit, and she stayed up there for most of the concert.
For the very last song, Ralph asked anyone and everyone in the audience to come up on the stage. Evelyn didn't even think to ask permission - she just followed the crowd up to the stage. If you look closely in the picture below, you can see Evelyn on the left, admiring her (now) favorite singer.

After the concert, kids lined up for pictures and autographs. Here is Evelyn with Ralph, right after he autographed her concert ticket.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Julia's New Toy

Once upon a time, Julia received a Toys R Us gift card for her birthday from her Uncle Matt and Aunt Taylor. We hadn't used it, yet, because we were waiting to see what Julia might need. We have several baby toys, so we wanted to wait until Julia was a bit older and more mobile before adding to our collection of toys.

At Julia's physical therapy session last week, the therapist suggested that we get a toy shopping cart for Julia to push around. Perfect! Now we could use the gift card! We went to the toy store last night and bought Jules her new wheels.

The therapist advised we put heavy cans of food in the cart to help weigh it down. That way Julia wouldn't be as likely to tip it over while trying to walk. Just moments after we had assembled the shopping cart and filled it with canned goods, Julia was off. Check out the video of her zipping through the house with her new toy. Listen for Julia's giggle at the very end, after she falls down.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Word List

Julia's baby sign vocabulary seems to have reached a plateau. Julia's verbal vocabulary, on the other hand, continues to grow. Here is a list of the 21 words that Julia can say aloud now:

woof woof
go (avocado)
shh (fish)

Julia comes pretty close to the actual pronunciations of those words.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Day Camp

For the past two weeks, Evelyn went to a "Little People" day camp. It was held from 9:00 a.m. until 1:00 p.m. at an elementary school about 10 minutes from our house. Evelyn went to the same kind of two-week day camp last summer, only it was at a different school. She absolutely loved it, so there was no question in my mind that Evelyn would attend the same program this year.

For the first week, the theme was fairy tales; the second week's theme was super heroes. The kids read stories, made crafts, had snacks, tie-dyed t-shirts, ate lunch, dressed up as super heroes, and had outdoor water play with sprinklers and wading pools. Lots of fun activities crammed into four hours! The two weeks of day camp went by way too quickly for Evelyn. Luckily for her, I have signed her up for a few ballet and gymnastics day camps throughout the month of August.