Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Evening Stroll

We had a very hot and humid June, which prevented us from going on evening neighborhood walks that we enjoy so much.

The weather finally gave us a break today. The humidity was gone, and the high was 80 degrees. Evelyn busted out her scooter, and Julia was itching to get on her tricycle. Troy and I helped the girls with their helmets, and we were off on an evening stroll.

It's a good thing Julia's tricycle has a long push-handle. She's nowhere near pedaling on her own, but she does keep her feet on the pedals most of the time. Her favorite part of the trike? The bell.
Evelyn scoots really well on her pink "Razor." Practice makes perfect when it comes to balancing on one of these.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Change of Pace

Last week, Evelyn went to a ballet day camp. Evelyn's hair needed to be up in a bun, and she had to wear a ballet leotard, pink tights and pink ballet shoes. The theme was princesses, so the crafts consisted of making tutus, tiaras and wands. Did Evelyn enjoy herself? Absolutely!

This week, Evelyn is going to a nature day camp. It doesn't matter how Evelyn does her hair as long as she can wear a hat. Why a hat? Because during the nature hikes, she needs to keep ticks out of her hair. She also needs to get lathered up in sunscreen and bug spray every morning. Evelyn is learning about various habitats by observing them first-hand: a meadow, a forest and the water/lake. Does Evelyn like this week's day camp? Again, absolutely!

Two completely different day camps that are right up Evelyn's alley.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Another Train Lover

Evelyn has passed down her love of trains to Julia. This is apparent almost every day, when she makes up new stories with the trains.

In today's episode, all the trains were buffered up to each other, on their way to get ice cream and Julia's spoon (on the Island of Sodor, naturally). Henry had some problems puffing smoke, but Gordon helped him out. Once the trains all had their ice cream, they parked at Tidmouth Sheds.

That really, truly is the story Julia told while pushing the trains around the living room and kitchen. She has quite the imagination!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Summer Days

We seem to have fallen into a summer routine.

Evelyn has morning day camps both this week and next week. What this means for Evelyn is she gets to dance ballet and do princess-y stuff this week and hike around nature and learn about habitats at a state park next week. What this means for Julia is she gets to have me all to herself in the mornings, just like when Evelyn has school.

After eating lunch and putting Julia down for her afternoon nap, Evelyn and I work on schoolwork. I know, I know, we didn't have that when we were growing up, but times have changed. Quite honestly, I'm glad I have something educational and productive to do with Evelyn while Julia naps. I've come up with a theme for each day of the week:
Math Monday
Thomas Tuesday
Wright Brothers Wednesday
Reading Thursday
Fun-Writing Friday
Thomas Tuesday translates into doing activities in old Thomas the Tank Engine magazines. Wright Brothers Wednesday means reading about Orville and Wilbur and doing various flying experiments. Today we made a pencil-propeller that actually flew, and then Evelyn journaled about all of our hits and misses.

After naptime, weather permitting, we girls head to the community pool for a couple of hours. Both Julia and Evelyn continue to enjoy playing in the water, and we usually run into neighborhood friends, too.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Gymnastics Show Day

Evelyn's gymnastics class has been working on skills and routines for the floor, the balance beam and the bars all semester, and today was the day for the girls to show what they've been learning. Evelyn did really well, demonstrating a variety of skills. In the pictures below, Evelyn is doing a handstand (with assistance) on the vault, an arabesque on the balance beam, a handstand on the floor and goofy swing on the uneven bars. Evelyn is looking forward to more gymnastics classes this summer.

Berry Picking

We girls went berry picking at Larriland Farm in Woodbine, Maryland this morning. It was quite a ways north of where we live, but well worth the drive. After Julia and Evelyn were each given a small basket, we all headed off into the strawberry patch. Julia didn't know quite what to think of the whole situation, so she mostly looked around for the first 10-15 minutes.

Evelyn, on the other hand, knew exactly what to do, and she dove right in. She did an excellent job of choosing ripe, red strawberries. After filling up her little basket, she would dump her berry collection into my cardboard box.
Julia had a different system. She "picked" the strawberries out of my box and then put them into her basket. Silly girl!
Overall, we had a great time berry picking. The weather was absolutely beautiful, and we came home with enough strawberries for two or three different desserts. Who's ready for apple-strawberry pie?

Wednesday, June 16, 2010


As the saying goes, a picture is worth a thousand words:
Evelyn never missed a single day of Kindergarten, thus earning the perfect attendance award. Somehow she avoided germs and the sickies all year. There were a couple of times where we could have taken Evelyn out of school for "extracurricular" activities, but we didn't. Perfect attendance is quite an accomplishment, and we are incredibly proud of our Kindergarten graduate upon attaining this award.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Swimming 2010

When it comes to swimming, both Julia and Evelyn have grown by leaps and bounds over the past year. All last summer, Julia wanted nothing to do with getting into the water. She was perfectly content to wander around the pool deck, playing with her toys on dry land and eating snacks. Last year, Evelyn started the swimming season wearing water wings and being afraid to go into the three-feet-deep area of the pool. Not so this year.
Evelyn swims the front crawl stroke with ease, and she really moves through the water. She enjoys floating on both her stomach and her back. Evelyn has just learned how to do handstands in the water. And she prefers to swim in the "deep" end, (also known as the three-foot area).

Julia loves the zero-depth-entry at our community pool. She can play with her toys on the edge of the pool while being in as much water as she wants. Julia likes to retrieve sunken toys in the shallow water. She has even started to lay on her belly in the shallowest part of the pool - something she wouldn't do in swimming lessons this spring.
Julia has been trained to know that when the lifeguards blow the whistle, it's time to get out and lay on her towel. Why?
Because it's snack time! Some things never change . . .

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Our Villa

The villa we rented on St. John was called "La Dolce Vita." It was located near the eastern town of Coral Bay, and the property was on the water. Every morning of our trip, we awoke to this magnificent view:
Troy has never had a better view while grilling than this:

There were several decks all around the house, each one offering great views of the island and the bay. We didn't spend much time on the deck in this picture since it never had any shade, but it made for a great photo op.
A self-portrait just outside our room on the last morning of the trip. We will really miss the view!

Friday, June 11, 2010

Beach Hopping

Today's agenda consisted of two beaches: Salomon Bay and Hawksnest Bay. Salomon Bay is a bit of a hike (literally), so we went there first. From where we parked the car off of North Shore Road, we descended a rocky, half-mile trail to get to the beach. We almost took a wrong turn twice, but I had the National Parks map with me, so we figured out which way to go.

Because of its solitary location, Salomon Bay rated as one of my favorite beaches on St. John. The beach was pristine, the snorkeling fantastic (Kat saw an octopus!) and we could see the two islands we had kayaked - in the picture above, Lovango Cay is the big island on the left, and Henley Cay is the small island on the right. While snorkeling, in addition to the abundant colorful fish, we saw a resident sting ray that cruised along the shore several times, a small conch and a live sand dollar. We spent about four hours there, swimming, snorkeling, eating lunch and just plain hanging out. Then we packed up our things and hiked uphill to get back to the car.
After visiting serene Salomon Bay, Hawksnest (below) was a bit of a shock to the system. Even though we got there late in the afternoon, it was very busy. The beach itself was beautiful, as the shore was devoid of rocks. We only snorkeled around the small coral reef that extends perpendicularly from the beach, but we saw lots of cool fish and many different kinds of coral. After spending about an hour at Hawksnest, we called it a day and headed back "home."

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Maho Bay

After yesterday's kayaking trip, Troy and I decided to take it easy today. This morning we did some shopping in Cruz Bay - where I found a fabulous sea turtle bracelet - and then we headed over to Maho Bay in the afternoon.

We got to Maho Bay around 4:00, and we were practically the only ones there. This beach was almost as beautiful as Trunk Bay, except for a few underwater rocks close to the shore. We didn't bring any snorkeling equipment this time. We simply wanted to swim, lounge, read and enjoy the view.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

All-Day Kayak Tour

Today Troy and I signed up for an all-day kayaking and snorkeling tour through Arawak Expeditions. Our group left Cruz Bay around 10:00 this morning, and we headed over to Honeymoon Beach for our first snorkeling stop. You can only get to this beach via boat or hiking trail, so there weren't many people there. The coral reef that we snorkeled is the dark area in the picture below:
Next, we headed north of St. John to Henley Cay. This island is completely surrounded by coral reef, but it is much bigger than Waterlemon Cay (the island we explored on Monday). Therefore, we only swam and snorkeled just past the rocky point you see in the picture below before heading back to the beach where our kayaks were parked. After two rounds of kayaking and snorkeling, it was time to re-fuel with lunch.

After lunch, we headed out on a 30-minute kayak jaunt to the north side of Lovango Cay. It was here that we spent the most time snorkeling. We took our time, swimming along the coral reef at the edge of the island, checking out all the different kinds of fish and coral. It's a good thing we didn't overexert ourselves snorkeling - the most challenging leg of the day's kayaking was paddling from Lovango Cay back to Cruz Bay. We cruised for an hour and fifteen minutes straight, completing the day's seven-mile loop. Upon our 4:00 arrival in Cruz Bay, we were ready to call it a day. But we would highly recommend going on this all-day tour, kayaking to deserted beaches and coral reefs.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Trunk Bay

Today we headed off - bright and early - for Trunk Bay. According to several resources, this beach is one of the best in the world. We wanted to get there as soon as possible to avoid the crowds, and we did just that.
As we drove along the North Shore Road from Cruz Bay to Trunk Bay, we stopped at a lookout for some photo ops. Then it only took us a few minutes to drive from the scenic overlook down to the beach. When we got there around 9:00 a.m., there was plenty of parking available. The beach was mostly empty, which allowed us to set our gear wherever we wanted.

Before too many other vacationers arrived, Troy and I took a stroll along the beach. The sand was soft and pristine, the water crystal-clear. Pictures don't do justice to the amazing beauty of this place.
If it weren't for the islands in the background, you would almost swear I was sitting in a swimming pool instead of at a beach:
We hung out at Trunk Bay for several hours today, swimming, snorkeling, eating lunch, dodging a few afternoon raindrops, then swimming and snorkeling some more. Whereas yesterday's turtle experience was very exciting, spending the day at Trunk Bay was incredibly tranquilizing.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Leinster Bay and Waterlemon Cay

Today we ventured to a bay and cay off the beaten path. So far off the beaten path that you have to hike 0.8 miles from the parking lot just to get to Leinster Bay. The trail was very rocky, but it wasn't hilly. Most of the hike was in the shade, which was a blessing since there wasn't much wind today. The beach is in the far, far distance here:
After we unloaded all of our stuff, we headed straight into the water to cool off, and we hung out there to do a bit of snorkeling before lunch. There wasn't much to see right away in this bay, but patience is a virtue.

In the picture below, Waterlemon Cay is the island on the right. You could either swim out to the cay from the beach, or you could hike most of the way and then swim out to the cay. After lunch (also known as fuel), we went for the second option and hiked around the eastern edge of the bay for a shorter swim to Waterlemon Cay.

The snorkeling at Waterlemon Cay was truly awesome. A coral reef surrounds the entire island, and it was teeming with all sorts of fish. We took our time cruising around the island, and we eventually made our way to the trailhead to hike back to the Leinster Bay beach. This is when things got really exciting - a hawksbill turtle was grazing in the shallow waters just off the beach. I floated above this magnificent reptile for over 20 minutes, just watching it nibble on the sea grass. I could have watched the turtle for the rest of the afternoon.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Salt Pond Bay

We were slow to get up this morning, especially after all of the hullabaloo we went through yesterday to get to St. John. Troy took the island bus over to the town of Cruz Bay to get a different rental car (with a working battery), and once he got back to the house, we packed up for an afternoon at the beach.

As we drove from the house to Salt Pond Bay, we stopped at "Miss Lucy's" for brunch. We all ate scrumptious breakfast delicacies, which gave us energy for an afternoon of swimming and snorkeling.
After parking at the trail head, we hiked half a mile to get to the beach. We then hung out at Salt Pond Bay for a couple of hours, snorkeling around the many different coral reefs. We saw all sorts of colorful fish swimming around the coral. A stingray and sea turtle were also hanging out in the bay.

Here's a view of the beach, with Kat standing on the left and me laying down in a chair.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Getting to St. John

Our plane was supposed to leave the Dulles airport at 9:45 this morning. We were supposed to land on St. Thomas at 1:30 this afternoon. Then, after securing our rental car, we were supposed to get to our St. John villa by dinner time.

Did any of that happen? Nope.

Our flight was delayed seven and a half hours. We spent the afternoon in the airport, reading books and magazines, listening to music on Kat's laptop and snacking on Starbucks food. When the plane finally took off at 4:15, we could hardly believe it.

But the adventure wasn't over, yet. After catching the 8:00 p.m. ferry from St. Thomas to St. John, we found our rental car had a dead battery. The rental company was closed, so the owner of our villa came to the rescue. She picked us up at 10:00 and made the 30-minute drive across the island to the house. Upon arriving at the house, we all dropped dead.