Sunday, October 31, 2010

Trick or Treat!

Julia the blue fairy . . .
. . . and Evelyn the purple fairy . . .

. . . were all ready for a night of trick-or-treating, complete with wings and magic wands. We added leggings and jackets to their costumes to keep them warm, and then off we went, in search of candy.
Julia totally knew what to do this year. She said, "Trick or treat!" and "Thank you!" and "Can I have some candy?" Evelyn wished the candy-givers a Happy Halloween as she left their porches. We stayed close to home, only visiting houses in our immediate neighborhood for an hour and a half. The result? Ten pounds of candy! These girls made quite a haul!

Pumpkin Carving 2010

Evelyn picked out her 16-pound beauty a couple of weeks ago, and today was the day to carve it.
Looking at the web of seeds and pumpkin strings never ceases to amaze Evelyn. But she always lets me do the dirty work and scoop it all out.

After showing Evelyn how to punch out the picture of the face (an original Evelyn design), she did most of the punching by herself. She even did a little bit of the carving on her own, with the miniature carving saw/knife.
After working on their pumpkins for about an hour, voila! Both Eric and Evelyn had created jack-o-lantern masterpieces.
We waited until dark, lit a candle in each pumpkin . . . and we had the perfect Halloween decorations.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Western Maryland Scenic Railroad

Today's sight-seeing adventure found us in Allegany County, Maryland, home of the Western Maryland Scenic Railroad. We had reservations for the 11:30 train ride, which was right on time. We boarded our train in Cumberland, found some seats on the right-hand side of the train, and enjoyed the fall foliage along the 16-mile train ride up to Frostburg (while eating our sack lunches).
Once in Frostburg, we had a chance to admire the 2-8-0 steam engine, Mountain Thunder, up close. Look how small Evelyn is, standing next to this 1916 locomotive!

We promptly made our way up a hill so we could get a good look at the steam engine taking a spin on the turntable. This is the biggest (working) steam engine we have ever seen.
Our excursion wouldn't be complete without ice cream. Evelyn got her sweet treat just before boarding the train for the return trip.
Once we were back at the Cumberland station, we wandered around the box car and caboose on display. Today's train trip was well worth the drive - we plan to come back again for another ride through the beautiful mountains of western Maryland.

Friday, October 29, 2010

1st Grade Halloween Party

This year's Halloween class party consisted of the usual activities: a parade around the school (the brisk weather forced our Evelyn-fairy into a jacket), yummy snacks, four different stations with crafts and games, and reading Halloween picture books. Evelyn's favorite part of the shin-dig? All four activity stations.
Here she is, about to dig into her snack.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Favorite Picture

I snapped the best picture of Julia tonight. She was helping me assemble a lasagna, and I was trying to convince her to smile. Somehow I got lucky and captured this sweet, genuine smile. At the moment, this is my favorite picture of Julia.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Harpers Ferry Railfanning

As we drove to Harpers Ferry this morning, a CSX freight train was on the tracks next to the highway. That was just the beginning of our railfanning for the day.

Right before we ate lunch, the Amtrak made a stop at the Harpers Ferry station to let passengers off. That was train number two.

We heard the third train's horns after we had finished walking across the pedestrian bridge. Not wanting to miss seeing a train, Evelyn and I hurried back up to the bridge. Turns out we didn't need to rush. This loaded coal train had stop on the bridge and wait for another train to come through the tunnel.
By the time the fourth train (an empty coal train) came through the tunnel, we had hiked up a hill to see the town church. We had a perfect view of the train activity from up there.

This empty coal train was on the tracks that are on Virginius Island - where we had hiked just a few hours earlier.
Now the loaded coal train could finally go through the tunnel.
But wait! There's more! While the loaded coal train was going through the tunnel, a CSX with autorack cars came through on the other side (train number five for us).
The sixth train rolled through town while we were visiting some shops, so we only caught glimpses of it. That was the most exciting and eventful railfanning day Evelyn has ever had - and we didn't even know we would see that many trains in Harpers Ferry.

Harpers Ferry Hiking

Today's sight-seeing excursion took us to Harpers Ferry, West Virginia. We hoped to do some hiking, grab lunch in town and learn some history. As luck would have it, we accomplished all three.

After arriving at the National Historic Park visitor's center and learning a little more about the area, we hiked along the Virginius Island trail. The first thing we saw on our hike was the remains of a pulp mill. This mill was in operation until 1936, which explains why the walls for all five sluiceways are still standing. Evelyn is such the thrill-seeker, she wanted to stand in this doorway; we wouldn't let her, since there was about a 25-foot drop to the canal below.
The trail is no longer on an island - you know how rivers have a way of changing over the years - but we did get up close and personal with the Shenandoah River. Evelyn found several freshwater clam shells along the shore, and she also enjoyed floating leaves in the water.

Farther along, near the foundation of a house, we came across an old millstone. To give you an idea of how huge this millstone was, Troy, his parents and Evelyn all climbed on top of it for a photo op.
After hiking for about an hour and a half, we headed into town for lunch. With lunch and ice cream in our tummies, we were ready to walk across the Potomac River via a pedestrian bridge that runs right alongside (active) train tracks. The girls loved walking so high above the river and being so close to the tracks. (Our train adventures were so exciting, I had to write a separate post.)
"The Point" provides a fabulous backdrop for taking pictures. This is where both the Shenandoah River and the Potomac River converge. If you hike through town and up a steep hill to Jefferson's Rock, you (apparently) get an even better view of the river valleys. We'll have to do that another day - we were all too tuckered out this time around. Another hike we are saving for next time is the Murphy Farm trail, which (we hear) also yields some gorgeous views.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

New Camera!

Out with the old . . .
. . . and in with the new!

Old camera = 4x optical zoom
New camera = 35x optical zoom (!)

Old camera = 6.0 mega pixels
New camera = 14.1 mega pixels

I can't wait to take more pictures with our new Canon!

From 24 Pieces to 3

I have pared down the number of pieces for Julia's costume from 24 to 3. I basically have two steps left - sew the skirt sections to the bodice and insert elastic around the waist. Julia's blue fairy costume is nearly complete.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Rosie's Checkup

Rosie had a checkup with her vet this afternoon, and she passed with flying colors. At (approximately) one year and four months of age, Rosie is as tall/long as she will get. Now, we just have to keep her at her good weight of 8 1/2 pounds. She eats three ounces of canned food and about 1/3 cup of dry food every day, which the vet said is a good amount to maintain her healthy weight. Chasing the girls around the house should keep her trim, too.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Steam Days 2010

Evelyn lost her third tooth at Kat and Ross's house this morning! She had bumped her chin with her knee while putting on socks, and her top middle-left tooth fell right out. She is so excited for the tooth fairy to pay her a visit tonight.

After all that excitement, we girls headed to Baltimore to go to "Steam Days" at the B&O Railroad Museum. The star of the show is #25, the William Mason. It's one of Evelyn's favorite locomotives at the museum, and she is so happy that he gets to come out of the roundhouse to ride the rails once a year. Oh, and are steamies loud? Judging by this picture, I would say yes.
We watched the two steam engines depart at 12:00 (the #4 St. Elizabeth was the coal-burning tank engine that hauled the coach cars). Then we headed to over to the Trackside Snax shop for lunch. We got back to the loading platform in time to go on the 1:00 train ride. Julia thoroughly enjoyed the train ride, especially with the added bonus of watching the William Mason ride alongside us for a little bit.

The museum had a blacksmith demonstration going on, complete with a hands-on activity for kids. Using wooden tools on a piece of clay, Evelyn made a smiling face. She is all about creating things and being artsy, so this was right up her alley.
One of the best parts about going to Steam Days? It's not a big draw for families with kids, so the kiddie play structures and rides are practically deserted. The girls loved driving this wooden train . . .
. . . and they also had a blast riding this model train through a miniature town. Steam Days was a big hit for us this year, and I'm sure we'll be back next year, too!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Morning Story Time

Even though we had to get ready for school this morning, the girls still managed to find time to read a book together. Evelyn read this book flawlessly, and Julia hung on every word.

Later today, I found Julia leafing through the book. She was re-telling the story, using the names of the characters and describing what was happening on each page. Not too shabby for a two-and-a-half-year-old.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

The Next Costume Puzzle

Here are the puzzle pieces for Julia's blue fairy costume. She is so excited that I am working on her costume, now. She keeps telling me to hold up different pieces to her, and then she asks, "What is it?" Since the girls' costumes are similar, and Evelyn's is (mostly) complete, I'm hoping the assembly of this one will go quickly and smoothly.

Monday, October 11, 2010

On the Home Stretch

The majority of Evelyn's costume is finished - which means the dress is complete. Now all that needs to be sewn is the belt. We're nearly there!

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Butler's Orchard 2010

In staying with tradition, we went to Butler's Orchard for their fall festivities this morning. It was a beautiful day - sunny and warm - and perfect for enjoying all of their outdoor activities. We got there right when they opened at 10:00 and promptly hopped on the tractor-pulled hay-rack ride that took us to the pumpkin patch.
So many pumpkins to choose from! Evelyn fell in love with just about every pumpkin she saw.

Somehow we managed to convince Evelyn we only needed four pumpkins, one for each of us. Julia didn't mind sharing the wheelbarrow with the pumpkins - she actually requested to ride with them!
Here are the girls, bumping and bouncing along on the hay-rack ride back.
After bringing our pumpkins back to the car, we checked out some of the other attractions - the big slides, the corn maze, the combine slide, the hay maze and several small farm animals. After two-and-a-half hours, both girls were completely spent. Another fabulous autumn day at the pumpkin patch was in the books.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Warm Fuzzy

While folding laundry in our bedroom, I heard thumping on the washing machine. I figured Julia was putting toys on top of the closed lid. Nope - it was Rosie scrambling to get up into the warm dryer. She's all nice and toasty in there.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

1st Grade Math Homework

I expected the first-grade curriculum to be more difficult than Kindergarten, but I didn't think I would see algebra this early in the year. This was Evelyn's Math homework today. Evelyn read the problem on her own, and then she solved it without any help at all. We're so proud of her!

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Sleeping on the Job

After pinning the skirt to the bodice of Evelyn's fairy costume, I set it down on the back of the couch. Always on the lookout for a soft spot, Rosie promptly curled up for a cat nap. She's such a big help . . .

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Troy's Birthday

We presented Troy's birthday cake this afternoon, and it seemed to be a big hit with everyone. Troy and the girls pretended to grab the football cake . . .
Then we sang the "Happy Birthday" song and dug into the cake.

Mmmmm . . . red velvet cake with cream cheese and chocolate frosting!