Saturday, April 30, 2011

Planting Flowers

We usually plant flowers in our front yard on Mother's Day. But the weather was picture-perfect today, and we should be safe from freezing temperatures from now on, so we spruced up our yard today.

Here is the before picture, complete with a shaggy bush, droopy tulips and daffodils (that never bloomed...?) and weeds under the holly tree. Look closely at the window, and you'll see little Julia.
Here is the after picture. Troy trimmed the bush, which evened out all the new growth. Evelyn pulled the tulip and daffodil leaves, and I pulled the weeds under the holly tree. Next, Evelyn helped me plant 30 impatiens. We put 12 lavender impatiens under the small bushes at the very front of our yard (which you cannot see in this picture). Then we planted the remaining 18 impatiens - 12 red and 6 pink - in front of the big bush. I put down a nice, thick layer of mulch around all of the flowers and...voila! A much cleaner front yard! (Oh, and just wait 'til you see how big these impatiens will get. Much bigger than their normal 8-10 inches.)

School Clean-up

This morning Evelyn's school held its annual clean-up day. Julia is old enough, now, to help out with picking up trash, so the whole family went. We Lusters picked up garbage around the creek that runs right behind Evelyn's school, and we filled up one large trash bag. After cleaning up for about 45 minutes, we headed home...with another (empty) trash bag. In this picture, the girls are sitting with all the trash we collected on the 0.4-mile walk from the school to our house. Seeing all this trash made the girls realize - even more - how important it is not to litter.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Backyard Birds

This evening, we were hanging out on the deck, waiting for the grill to heat up, when we had some feathered friends stop by for their dinner. Evelyn was so excited to get really close to these birds - she was standing about a foot away from the feeders when this goldfinch and chickadee landed on the feeders.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Big Girl Bed

For the past couple of weeks, we (Troy, Evelyn, Julia and myself) have been talking about converting Julia's crib to a day bed. Ever since we got home from North Carolina, Julia has been asking me when Daddy was going to take off the front of her crib. Combine her wanting a big-girl bed with her taking naps on a regular basis, and we figured it was the perfect time.

Troy took off the front of Julia's crib before bedtime tonight. She seemed really excited about going to sleep in a bed she could get in and out of by herself. This made us wonder how many times she would come out of her room before falling asleep. She surprised us by not coming out of her room at all. I guess the real test will be nap time tomorrow - here's hoping she doesn't get too ornery!

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Outer Banks Day 6

Making the most of our last day on the Outer Banks, I closely watched the weather as the day progressed. I wanted to make sure we went to the beach at the warmest and sunniest time of day. I didn't want a repeat of yesterday! Even though it meant that Julia wouldn't get a nap today, we girls headed to the beach around 2:30 - that's when the sun finally came out.

Here is a first for Julia: getting close to the ocean on her own. She is very leery of the ocean and its loud, crashing waves. When I took this picture, Julia was telling the ocean to stay away.
A kite was one of the best souvenirs we bought on this trip. Evelyn didn't have much luck flying the kite today because we didn't have constant wind. The poor kite took a dip in the ocean two times. It's a good thing the kite was a durable nylon one!
Sweet sisters, winding down after three hours of play.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Outer Banks Day 5

Today wasn't near as warm or sunny as it has been. But that didn't keep us away from the beach. Upon arriving at the windy beach, Evelyn found a sea urchin; I know you can't see it in her hand, but here's the brave girl, holding it in her outstretched hand.While Evelyn played on the beach, Julia and I hunkered down under a towel. I knew Evelyn was having fun, so I tried to keep us warm as long as possible.
How did Evelyn stay warm for 30 minutes on this brisk day? She played in a huge hole someone had previously dug. Staying out of the wind, Evelyn built a little city in the sand crater. But this is all Julia and I let Evelyn do...we had to go back to the beach house and warm up.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Outer Banks Day 4 - Lighthouse Tour

Today was lighthouse day. It took us 11 hours to drive (and ride a ferry) 160 miles round-trip to see three lighthouses. Our first stop was Bodie Island Lighthouse (pronounced "body"). Built in 1872, it is 156 feet tall with 214 stairs to the top. We weren't able to climb this lighthouse because it is currently undergoing renovations. We took an easy hike on a boardwalk that wound through the marsh, where saw several kinds of birds. The marsh lookout also provided the perfect spot to snap a picture.Next stop: Cape Hatteras Lighthouse. This is America's tallest lighthouse at 198 feet, and it is the world's tallest brick lighthouse. It was built in 1870. It used to be right by the ocean, but it was moved to its current location in 1999 to avoid being swallowed up by the sea. We personally weren't able to climb Cape Hatteras because Julia is too little - you need to be able to ascend and descend the lighthouse on your own, and I'm quite certain 257 steps is too much for our Sunshine. You can tell by the giddy smile on Julia's face that she really enjoyed our lighthouse tour, with the National Parks passports in hand. Cape Hatteras was Evelyn's favorite.
In order to get from Cape Hatteras Island to Ocracoke Island, you need to hitch a ride on a ferry. Julia thought we were talking about a fairy, and she honestly couldn't figure out why Evelyn and I said the ferry was a boat with white and yellow stripes. Poor thing, she was so confused! While on the ferry, I had to take a picture of my GPS, with my car in the middle of the water.
Our last stop was Ocracoke Island Lighthouse, which is the second-oldest lighthouse in the United States (built in 1823). This was the shortest lighthouse we saw today, only 65 feet tall. this lighthouse is not open to the public - too bad, because Julia might be able to climb this one. Julia picked Ocracoke as her favorite lighthouse. If you look closely at the base of the lighthouse on the left, you can see the girls peeking over the fence.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Julia's 3rd Birthday

Julia had a simple birthday party at the beach house - pizza, pinata and cake. Julia took several good swings at her pinata. After a few more kids had their turn, the candy spilled out onto the ground.
Julia loved being the center of attention this evening. Here she is with her cake, waiting for everyone to sing "Happy Birthday" to her.
Just like last weekend, Julia only needed one huff to blow out her candle.
Woo hoo - more chocolate cake with pink frosting!

Outer Banks Day 3

We spent about three hours at the beach this morning. Evelyn had fun running......and jumping in the water.
Julia was eyeing the ocean, but she stayed up on the beach with her toys today.
Our little Peanut...
...and a group shot!

Birthday at the Beach

Hollywood is sunscreened and sporting sunglasses. Beach, anyone?Julia had asked me to fly the kite. What did she do once I was distracted? She rummaged through the beach bag until she found her Goldfish, and then she stole my lounge chair. Julia is quite the opportunist!
Look! A seashell!
One of Julia's favorite sayings today: Mommy, can you go get more ocean water in my bucket?
Birthday Girl posing with her big sis. What a way for Julia to spend her 3rd birthday!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Outer Banks Day 2

Evelyn wanted to go to the sand dunes today (also known as Jockey Ridge State Park). It was a sunny morning with just the right amount of wind (not too much!), so we loaded up on sunscreen and headed out to play in the sand. Here's a shot of Evelyn climbing a ridiculously steep sand dune. Julia and I climbed it, too, also on our hands and knees. Evelyn climbed this hill five or six times, but Julia and I had had enough after one ascent.Once at the top, you just see rolling hills of sand all around. The girls took a break from all the walking and climbing we had done by digging and playing in the soft sand.
Julia discovered she could bury her feet in the sand...and when she kicked up her feet, sand went flying everywhere. She thought this was the funniest thing, and she did this over and over again.
My rule for Evelyn was for her to make sure she could always see me. I reminded her that, if she could see me, then I could also see her. I let her roam where she wanted to since she was much quicker than Julia. (Evelyn is the small dot in the middle of the picture, with Julia looking on.)
It's hard to see in this picture, but both girls are completely covered with sand. It's amazing they didn't get any sand in their eyes because it was all over their faces. After spending over an hour at the sand dunes, we called it a day.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Outer Banks Day 1

We arrived at the beach house pretty late, around bedtime, so we weren't able to do any touristy things. But this morning, we kicked off our vacation with Duck Donuts. Both Evelyn and Julia requested going there for breakfast. How can you go wrong with hot, fresh, made-to-order donuts?An added bonus to eating at Duck Donuts is the osprey nest in the sound, a few feet from the boardwalk. We watched the daddy osprey (pictured below) fly around while the mommy stayed in the nest (you can't see her - she's down in the nest).
After getting our fill of donuts, we slathered on sunscreen and headed to the beach. Both girls played and played and played in the sand. Evelyn built sand cities while Julia moved sand from one container to another.
Evelyn also took a few splash breaks in the ocean. That water was freezing cold, but she didn't care.
Here's a group shot of us girls. We beach bums spent close to five hours at the beach today - with the weather absolutely beautiful, we couldn't resist.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Julia's Happy Birthday Song

Julia's Family Birthday Celebration

Since Troy won't be with us next week in North Carolina when we celebrate Julia's real birthday, we had a small get-together this evening. Kat and Ross came down for the festivities, too. After supper, Julia opened presents . . . most of which were wrapped in princess paper.

Evelyn gave Julia a Sleeping Beauty play set complete with the prince and a horse and carriage. Julia couldn't wait to play with her new dollies, and she convinced Kat to join her.
And then it was time for cupcakes! Per the birthday girl's request, she had chocolate cake with pink frosting. Can you tell that Julia is excited about her birthday treats?
Even though she had asked for chocolate cake, Julia only ate the frosting. Silly girl!

Friday, April 15, 2011

Flower Girl Dresses

Evelyn's and Julia's flower girl dresses arrived this morning. Evelyn was so excited after school when she saw the box, she just had to try it on. Not wanting to be left out, Julia had to put on her dress, too. After I took this picture, the girls practiced dropping flowers in the living room.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Julia the Fortune-Teller

Julia was spot-on when it came to predicting a couple of her activities today.

As we drove to the library this morning, I asked Julia what she thought story time would be about today. I reminded her that last week the focus was on bunnies and rabbits, so what did she think the theme would be today? "Ducks!" came her reply from the back seat. Imagine my surprise when we walked into the children's room to discover that today's story time was all about . . . ducks. Julia was so excited that she was right!

After story time, I needed to get a few things from the local mall. I hadn't told Julia that we needed to run errands, including a lunch break at McDonald's. As we drove down the interstate, Julia asked, "Can we have lunch at Old McDonald's?" Well, yes, as a matter of fact, that sounded like a good idea. (How did she know?)

For the rest of the day, I kept waiting for Julia to make one more spot-on prediction, but it didn't happen. However, Julia did impress me with her clairvoyance early in the day.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Play Doh Play

It's been awhile since Julia has played with Play Doh, so when I suggested getting the box of Play Doh out, she couldn't wait. She spent the first 30 minutes cutting . . . . . . and she spent at least another 30 minutes making all sorts of other creations. Fun stuff!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Belated April 5th Picture

With our resident photographer - aka Troy - in Florida yesterday, we couldn't have our April 5th picture taken until today. Here we are, on the deck behind our house, with one of the backyard trees in bloom: