Sunday, January 30, 2011

Train Table - Part I

We have been thinking and thinking about what to do for Evelyn's train table for over a month, and we finally came up with a solution. I have a rectangular kitchen table that I used in my Nebraska and Texas classrooms, which was collecting dust in our utility room. It's not quite large to hold all of Evelyn's train tracks. But! If we secure a larger piece of plywood to the top of the table, it will be perfect - Evelyn will paint grass and water onto the plywood.

Evelyn and I got right to work on the table this afternoon. First, we cleared out the area where her train table will go. Then we put the legs on the table. Here are a couple of shots of Evelyn securing the table legs -
Once she got the hang of how to use a wrench, Evelyn was a happy camper.

After assembling the table, Evelyn and I headed over to Lowe's. We bought a 4x8-foot piece of plywood (which was cut down to a 42x68-inch piece) and three colors of paint - dark green for grass, dark blue for water and light green for the table legs. It's Evelyn's table, so I didn't ask questions about that last color. I knew she was pleased with her choice because, as she was painting the table legs, she kept saying, "It's the perfect color!"

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Two Little Girls

I'm not sure what got into Rosie this afternoon, but she decided to cuddle with Julia and me. We were watching a (Thomas) movie, and Rosie sauntered over to us and plopped down. She didn't leave until Julia got restless at the end of the movie. I'm always amazed at how much Rosie trusts/likes Julia, an unpredictable 2 1/2-year-old.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Snow Adventure

It started snowing Wednesday afternoon around 4:00. By the time it stopped around 10:00 p.m., we had about eight inches of heavy, wet snow on the ground. It was snowing about two inches per hour, which made the evening commute pretty messy. Troy left work at 4:30 (to drive 6 miles, which usually takes 15 minutes), and he didn't get home until 7:45. Once home, Troy had to scoop out his parking space, otherwise his car would've gotten high-centered.

We lost power Thursday at 2:00 a.m., about four hours after the snow had stopped. Once everyone was up and at 'em Thursday morning, we went outside. Troy and I scooped out our cars, and the girls played in the piles of snow.Julia didn't last very long outside, but she still had fun digging around in the snow.

The temperature inside the house got down to 56 degrees. Since it got dark so early and it was so cold in the house, we girls went a friend's house for the night. Troy didn't join us - he stayed at work late, went to the gym, and then went home to sleep. Evelyn and Julia thought it was so exciting to spend the night at a friend's house, and I was thankful that we had a warm place to eat dinner and sleep.

This morning, Troy called to let me know our power came back on at 2:00 a.m. Evelyn played in the snow with her friends for over an hour (Julia watched from the warmth of our friend's house), and then we all enjoyed some home-made hot cocoa. I packed up the car, and we were home in time for lunch. We like the snow, but we could certainly do without the power outages that seem to accompany snowstorms.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Happy Australia Day!

Guess what? January 26th is Australia Day! I only knew that because I saw it on Evelyn's Thomas the Tank Engine calendar. With today being a snow day, I put together some Australia Day activities for Evelyn to do while she was at home. Curious little Julia listened to everything Evelyn was doing. Since we were talking about koalas, Julia had to get her koala pillow pet to read alongside her.
Evelyn made koala origami, found Australian animals in a wordsearch, colored an emu (with hidden Australian images), learned about the seven Australian territories and found 20 hidden koalas (in the picture below). We girls also researched some Australian animals we hadn't heard of - wombat, echidna, dingo, kookaburra, platypus and bandicoot. Who knew a snow day would be so cultural?

Dollhouse Cat

Somehow Rosie managed to crawl into the girls' dollhouse this morning. Both Julia and Evelyn asked, "How did you fit in there?!"

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Blue Frosting

The other day, we made cupcakes with blue frosting. Light blue frosting was out of the question. We had to have really dark blue frosting. If only you could see Julia's tongue - it was blue, too! (By the way, Julia is pretending to be a triceratops.)

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Sleeping Sentry

The scene outside the girls' doors tonight:

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Meatball Chili

This recipe caught my eye because it said it was "family-pleasing." This chili was really delicious, and Evelyn couldn't get enough.

1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 green pepper, chopped
Cook onion and pepper in oil for 7-8 minutes.

Add in . . .
2-3 cloves garlic, pressed
1 tablespoon chili powder
2 teaspoons cumin
. . . and stir until fragrant, about 1 minute.

Next, stir in . . .
2 cans (14.5 ounces each) stewed tomatoes, undrained and chopped
1 can (15 ounces) tomato sauce
1 can (16 ounces) kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 1/2 cups water
. . . and simmer for about 15 minutes .

1 egg
2 tablespoons milk
2 1/2 cups Fritos (finely crushed to make 1 cup crumbs)
1-2 cloves garlic, pressed
2 teaspoons chili powder
1 teaspoon cumin
1 pound ground beef
Form into 48 small meatballs. Bake at 425-degrees for 8-9 minutes

Add baked meatballs to soup. Continue to simmer 10-15 minutes, until meatballs are tender. Serve with cheddar cheese and extra Fritos chips. (8 servings)

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Little Gym Show Week

This week marked the end of Little Gym's first semester, and the kids celebrated by showing off their moves to friends and family. Evelyn did floor exercises and routines on the bars and balance beam.
Evelyn's strength is still the balance beam. Focusing on the precision of moves fits Evelyn's personality, which is probably why she does so well with the beam exercises. Taking ballet also helps with her form.

And . . . here's our gymnast!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Julia's Chocolate Chip Cookies

We got about 0.3 of an inch of freezing rain/ice last night, which closed the schools today. What to do, what to do on an unexpected day off . . . bake chocolate chip cookies with Julia!

We started with 3/4 cup butter (melted).
Then we added:
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 whole egg
1 egg yolk
Julia is pretty good at cracking the eggs by herself. As you can tell by her expression, it's serious business.
Julia helped mix all of those ingredients together.

Then we mixed in:
2 cups plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
Before we could stir in the chocolate chips, Julia had to snitch "just one more." I honestly don't know how many chocolate chips she ate, but there were still plenty in the cookies.
The cookies baked at 325-degrees for 12 minutes. Here's Julia with her 56 cookies!

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Evelyn's Sixth Lost Tooth

Yesterday morning, Evelyn complained that it was hard to brush her teeth because her loose tooth was sticking out weird. I asked if she wanted me to pull it out for her, and she said yes.

I asked her to wiggle the tooth, so I could see exactly how loose it was. It didn't move as much as I thought it would. I asked her to wiggle it again, and it was clear to me that not all of the roots were dissolved, which meant I would have to give the tooth a good tug. I didn't mention that to Evelyn because I knew she would back out.

I asked her to hug Snowman tightly, and I yanked that tooth right out. The tooth put up a fight, but Evelyn was none the wiser. Now she has $30 in "gold" dollar coins from the six teeth she has lost - the tooth fairy is making Evelyn rich!

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Flying Squirrels

This evening, Evelyn and I headed out to Brookside Nature Center for a flying squirrel program. First, we learned about the animals - they usually live in the same area as grey squirrels (which we have plenty of in Maryland), they are about 8-9 inches long (including their tails), they weigh about 3 ounces, and they eat mostly seeds and nuts. Then we headed outside to check on the nature center's flying squirrel feeders.

After waiting for a couple of minutes, one little squirrel climbed down the tree closest to us to check out the feeder. He quickly ran back up the tree, and then we didn't see anything for about five minutes. But then - wow! - we saw several squirrels eating at all three feeders. We saw them gliding from the tops of the trees and scampering all over the place. They were really fun to watch - they're so cute!
PS - I wish I could take credit for this photograph, but I can't. I got it online.


I had no say in what Julia wore today (I went to a morning spinning class). So, after breakfast, when Troy asked her what she wanted to wear, she picked out this dress and these leggings. When I came home from the gym and saw Julia's outfit, all I could say was, "Wow. That's . . . bright."

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Morning Snow Play

School was delayed two hours this morning, on account of two inches of snow we got last night. Evelyn was up and at 'em bright and early, as usual. So, when Troy went outside at 7:45 to scoop the sidewalk and clean the snow off the cars, Evelyn went out to play in the snow. The snow was very fluffy, and it was hard to get her sled going down the hill, but she still had fun during her 20 minutes of snow play time (followed by hot chocolate, of course).

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Menu Planning

I have been menu planning our dinners for over ten years. A day or two before going grocery shopping, I think about any upcoming afternoon/evening activities and then plan a week of meals.

I didn't realize it until looking at the entire menu, but (judging by our dinners) we are pretty busy this week:
Friday 1/7 - chicken & pasta
Saturday 1/8 - leftovers
Sunday 1/9 - tacos
Monday 1/10 - frozen pizza
Tuesday 1/11 - soup & grilled cheese
Wednesday 1/12 - Chick Fil-A (spirit night for Evelyn's school)
Thursday 1/13 - leftover tacos
Friday 1/14 - cinnamon crescent rolls & eggs

Each meal on that menu is quick, taking less than 30 minutes to prepare. I'll have to see if I have time next week to whip up something a little more complex.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Speaking Up for Herself

While playing at a mall children's area today, a little boy (younger than Julia) walked right up to Julia and pushed her squarely in the chest. Then he stared at her, daring her to do something about it. Julia pointed her finger at the boy and shouted, "HEY!" She followed that up with, "Do NOT push me in the chest." Then she calmly walked away.

Is our Julia assertive? Just a little bit.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

A Walk in the Woods

This morning we woke up to an inch of snow on the ground. That didn't deter us from heading to Brookside Nature Center this afternoon for a children's program. Today's theme was woodpeckers. After a brief discussion about the six different kinds of woodpeckers that live in eastern Maryland, we headed into the woods for a short hike. I'm not sure if Julia saw any of the woodpeckers, but Evelyn and I saw three of them:

Downy woodpecker

Hairy Woodpecker

Red-Bellied Woodpecker

As we walked through the forest, we saw holes in the trees that woodpeckers had made. Some were low enough for Julia to see. We also saw bird tracks in the snow. The girls had a blast, and we're looking forward to our next program there.

Sunday, January 2, 2011


After a two-month hiatus, the tooth fairy will be, once again, gracing Evelyn with her presence tonight - Evelyn lost her fifth tooth. While brushing her teeth this morning, Evelyn bumped her tooth just right, and it was sticking out at an odd angle. She asked Troy to pull it, and he barely had to tug to get it out.

She has had two wiggly teeth for about six weeks. Tooth "Q" is out, and tooth "N" should come out any day now (check out this teeth numbering chart). I'll post pictures after the next tooth jumps out.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Glowing Alien Blood

The science kit Evelyn got for Christmas has yielded some good experiments. This afternoon, Troy and Evelyn made glowing alien blood - a mixture of glow powder (included with the kit), corn syrup, baking soda and green food coloring. Troy put this on Evelyn's hand and then added some vinegar to make the blood fizz.
Not wanting to miss out, Julia donned an apron and joined Evelyn at the sink. She was perfectly content to have the goo smeared on her hand, and then she anxiously awaited the fizzing agent.

Aaack! Green blood is oozing and fizzing from my baby's hand!