Monday, August 30, 2010

Evelyn's First Day of 1st Grade

Evelyn has been excited about starting first grade since . . . well, I suppose since school got out last June. After meeting her teacher at open house last week and finding out she has several friends in her class, she anticipated the first day of school even more.

It didn't take much convincing to get Evelyn ready this morning. She chowed down on Rice Chex and apple juice for breakfast, put on her favorite (purple!) dress and brushed her teeth and hair. Add her purple school shoes and her purple backpack, and Evelyn was all ready to go! Well, we had to pause for the traditional photo in front of the house before walking to school.
The walk to school takes us over a branch of Great Seneca Creek, where the landscape doesn't look like we're in an urban setting at all. It also makes for a great photo-op, with Evelyn's school - appropriately named Great Seneca Creek Elementary - in the background.

When I asked Evelyn what she did in school today, her first response was, "A lot of coloring." She pulled out some work from her backpack, and I could see she did some getting-to-know-her-classmates and classroom-rules activities. She also let me know that her lunch of grilled cheese sandwich, tater tots and chocolate milk was pretty tasty. Recess was hot, in Evelyn's opinion. Actually, I thought it was hot, too - sunny and 90 degrees when Evelyn was outside at 1:00 this afternoon.
After school, Evelyn had some down-time with Rosie, while watching a little TV. What a perfect way to end the first day of 1st grade.

Julia's Take on the First Day of School

So, at breakfast this morning, Mommy completely took me by surprise when she told me that Evelyn was going to school today. I just stared at her like, "Whaaaat? You must be joking." Both Evelyn and Mommy responded to my look of disbelief with upbeat things like, "It's my first day of first grade!" and "Evelyn can't wait to see her friends!" Hmpf.

I did get all excited, though, when it was time to put on our shoes and head out the door. The morning walk to school! With friends! Yippee! But wait, what's this? Stopping for pictures before getting in the stroller? Well, okay, I suppose I'll smile for the camera, too. Cheese!
I was awfully quiet on the walk to school. I had to mull this over . . . did I want Evelyn to be gone all day? I wasn't sure. However, once we got home - without my big sister - I got so engrossed with my toys (all mine!!!) that I completely forgot about the school thing.

After finishing my lunch, I asked Mommy, "Go get Evelyn now?" She said no, it wasn't time, yet. Apparently we would get Evelyn after my nap. Oh. Okay. I was tired after playing all morning, so I caved for my naptime routine. After my nap, the first question I asked Mommy was, "Go get Evelyn?" She actually said yes! Alright! Let's get this show on the road! We got our shoes on, headed out the door and got loaded into the car.

Mommy's knee surgery won't let her walk to school in the afternoon this week, but that's okay. That means I get to watch videos in the car while we wait to pick up Evelyn from school. After waiting in the car pool line for awhile, and asking Mommy where Evelyn was quite a few times, my big sister finally made her appearance! She was all smiles after her first day of school, and I was all smiles after finally being reunited with my Evelyn.

But wait, do we have to do this all over again tomorrow?

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Smart Baby

Julia continues to amaze us with how smart she is. She knows all of the following colors: white, pink, red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple, brown, gray black. If you ask her where a color is, she will tell you; she will also point to objects and name the color. She knows the difference between a circle, a triangle and a square. Most recently, Julia has correctly counted from one to ten. The only thing with numbers is, she can count from one to ten verbally, but she cannot count how many objects are in a set. Such a smart little Sunshine!

Saturday, August 28, 2010

The Best Cat

I know I have mentioned this before, but I'll say it again - Rosie is such a good fit for our family. As I type this, Julia is (gently) pulling on Rosie's whiskers. Rosie's reaction? She simply sits there.

Rosie runs around the house like a crazy nut, chasing the girls and egging them on to chase her. Rosie cuddles with Evelyn in the afternoon when Evelyn watches TV. Rosie patiently lets Julia lay on her belly, even if it interrupts one of her naps. Evelyn loves pulling a shoe string around for Rosie to pounce on. In the evenings, after the girls have gone to bed, Rosie hangs out with Troy and me, dozing on the floor close to us.

We feel pretty lucky to have chosen such a sweet, mild-mannered and playful kitten from the Humane Society last fall. You never know what a cat's personality will be like, and it seems we hit the jackpot!

Friday, August 27, 2010

Summer Schedule

We girls had a great daily schedule this summer. Our weekdays would usually go something like this:
* breakfast
* play time
* lunch
* Julia nap/Evelyn homework
* pool
* supper

Sometimes Evelyn would go to gymnastics day camp in the morning. But I especially liked the unorganized play time the girls would have in the mornings. Kids need to have time to be creative on their own, making up their own stories while playing with toys. Julia and Evelyn would commonly play together in the basement, having tea parties or running trains around the tracks.

Evelyn actually looked forward to doing homework in the afternoons during Julia's naps. No matter if it was reading, writing or math, Evelyn would be excited about the afternoon's "lessons." I attribute Evelyn's significant growth in reading to her consistency in working with words all throughout the summer. I'm really curious to see what her reading level is at the start of first grade.

For weekday suppers, I would plan on either warming up leftovers or making quick meals so we could stay at the pool until 6:00. Going to the pool helped with Evelyn's baths/showers - she hardly took any baths at home this summer because she would shower at the pool. And I would usually throw Julia into the tub right when we got home from the pool. The girls would be all cleaned up before eating supper, making for a more relaxing evening.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Lellow Aminals

Julia speaks very clearly for a two-year-old, but there are two words that don't come out quite right.

Instead of "yellow," Julia says "lellow." If you try to correct her, she will argue her case over and over. "No, it's LELLOW!"

When it comes to "animals," Julia mixes up the m and the n. In Julia-speak, it comes out as "aminals." So cute!

Friday, August 13, 2010

Last Day at the Beach

The waves in the ocean were between five and seven feet high all day today. Combined with high tide at 11:00 a.m., and that made for a potentially flooded beach. There was no way we were going to set up our things until after lunch, when we would know where our stuff could stay dry. So, we ended up taking a walk on the beach this morning to check out the big waves. The beach pictures below were taken at 9:00 this morning, about two hours before high tide.

After our morning walk along the beach, the girls hung out on the condo patio, checking out all the seashells they've found over the past couple of days. After they tired of that, we headed a few miles up the road to Bethany Beach and strolled along the boardwalk there. Then we grabbed a bite to eat at Mango's on the boardwalk - they really catered to kids and the food was fantabulous. We will definitely return to that restaraunt next year!

Turns out the water did come up the beach quite a ways. After Julia's nap, we set up our beach equipment close to the sand dune. Evelyn had fun playing in a big puddle left by the high tide, and Julia was content to play in the dry sand next to the dune. It wasn't quite the day we had hoped for as our last day of vacation, but we had fun nonetheless.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Let's Dig

After buying a pair of decent-sized shovels this afternoon, the girls had fun digging on the beach. Evelyn got side-tracked with making buildings.
This picture makes it look like Julia dug that mound of sand all by herself, doesn't it?

Julia needed to inspect the hole that everyone else dug.
It met her criteria - she could take sand from the sides of the hole and throw it.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Critter Cruise

Today's adventure involved going on a boat ride, with the hopes of seeing various animals. We boarded the Assateague Adventure for the 9:00 tour. We headed south of Ocean City, Maryland, cruising in the Sinepuxent Bay. We first saw several clamming and fishing boats in the bay, unloading cargo.

Then we docked at the northern end of Assateague Island. We were encouraged to take fishing nets and wade through both the marsh and bay waters, looking for marine life to catch.
Troy and Julia cornered some small fish in a marshy area, where they caught three fish in their net. Evelyn then grabbed them with her bare hands. Troy almost caught a small blue crab, but the crab was too speedy and got away.

How did we convince a squeamish Julia to walk through the water? We mandated that she keep her Keen sandals on. She then had no problem walking through the grassy waters of the marsh and the bay.
On the ride back to the Ocean City dock, kids were invited to show marine animals to all the guests aboard the boat. Evelyn was asked to carry a starfish around the boat. She was beyond excited to hold a real, live starfish.
The boat's guide carried the horseshoe crab around to show everyone. Evelyn was brave enough to touch its underside.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

More Beach Time

After yesterday's road trip, we stayed close to "home" today. We pretty much repeated Sunday's beach schedule, playing on the beach both in the morning and in the afternoon. Julia found a few new beach activities like playing in a hole . . .
. . . and playing with a bucket of water. Since she doesn't want to go to the ocean for water, we brought some of the ocean to her.

Here we girls are, hanging out in the shade of the umbrella.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Assateague Island National Seashore

We deviated from our beach routine and headed south today. At the moment, Evelyn's bedtime novel is the 1947 children's book, Misty of Chincoteague, and she wanted to see the Assateague ponies first-hand. Assateague Island National Seashore was our destination . . . both the Maryland and Virginia sides.

We initially planned to hike two of the three short Maryland trails in the morning. However, there were WAY too many mosquitoes on the Life of the Forest Trail (even 40% Deet bug spray didn't keep them away), and it was too hot and sunny for the Life of the Sand Dunes Trail. We started out on both trails, but we bailed about five minutes into each one. Here is the only shade we found on the sand dunes trail; the girls didn't want to leave this sun shield.
As we drove out of the Maryland section of the park, Evelyn saw her beloved ponies. She was able to pick out the stallion (on the far left), the foal (scratching its head on the tree) and two of the stallion's mares. She particularly liked the mare with white patches.

We drove an hour and fifteen minutes further south to get into the Virginia side of Assateague Island National Seashore, which is right next to the town of Chincoteague. Shortly after entering the park, we saw a group of ponies. We pulled over to the side of the road to get a better look at the horses. If you look closely, in addition to the horses in the grass, you can also see horses in the trees on the right. These ponies were too far away for Evelyn to pick out the stallion and mares. However, she remembered that Pony Penning Day had occurred only two weeks ago, which meant we wouldn't see many foals on Chincoteague.
In addition to all of our pony sight-seeing, we stopped to check out the Assateague Lighthouse. After a short hike (through trees that weren't mosquito-infested), we wandered around the base of the lighthouse.

Knowing that Julia couldn't care less about going to the top of the lighthouse, Evelyn and I made the trek up 198 stairs to the top. This picture was taken looking east, toward the Atlantic Ocean.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Beach Play Time

We spent the entire day at the beach today. Our routine went something like this: beach, lunch, rest (Julia nap), beach, swimming pool, baths/showers, supper, bedtime. Julia spent her time near "camp." Her favorite activities were transferring sand from one container to another and making Dairy Queen ice cream cones.
Meanwhile, Troy convinced Evelyn to go out into the water. Unlike last year, they didn't get knocked over by the waves. But they certainly got splashed by some doozies!

How many juice boxes can a toddler drink in a day? When she's at the beach, nobody keeps track. We just wanted our little Sunshine to stay hydrated, so we gave into her many juice box requests.
Finish this sentence: The state bug of Delaware is the ________. If you answered ladybug, you're right! After finding this ladybug, Evelyn made a home for it in a bucket, complete with sand, seashells and a miniature swimming pool. Just like any responsible nature-lover, Evelyn let the ladybug go when we it was time to head inside.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Back to Delaware

Today we headed to Fenwick Island, Delaware for our week-long beach vacation. Our home base was the same condo complex we stayed at last year, Fenwick Towers. We love the location of this complex, with it being right on an uncrowded beach. Load up your beach gear, walk across the sand dune, and you've got plenty of space to spread out. And plenty of room to run along the shore.
Julia didn't want to get anywhere near the ocean, but she was all over playing in the sand.

Too much digging in the sand can wear a little one out. Julia had to take a break from shoveling to chill in a beach chair.
Here are Troy and Evelyn pretending to be sandpipers, running away from the approaching water.
And how were the girls by the end of the day? Out like a light.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Julia's New Dress

This past Spring, I chose a pattern and some cute material to make a summer dress for Julia. Procrastination is the reason her dress wasn't finished until today, months after I started the project. It wasn't that difficult of a pattern, except for one part of the bodice that my mom had to help me with. My motivation for finishing? If I waited any longer, summer would be over, and Julia wouldn't be able to wear it!

Julia accessorized her new dress with Silly Bandz and some purple sunglasses. She is one stylin' little toddler.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Cherry Chocolate Cake

My Grandma Miller's recipe for cherry chocolate cake is so simple. Here are the ingredients for the cake:

With an electric mixer, blend those ingredients for two minutes. Then bake the 9x13 cake for 35 minutes at 350 degrees.

After the cake has cooled, I like to make chocolate frosting using 1/4 cup softened butter, 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, 4 cups powdered sugar and 1/2 cup milk.

So simple, yet so delicious!