Tuesday, May 31, 2011

It Says . . .

Julia helped me at the grocery store this evening. Part of her check-out lane routine is taking candy bars from their spots and putting them back where they belong (for the most part). After a long day of subbing and going to the pool in the sweltering heat, I didn't have much patience for Julia's game today. I told her to pick/put away two more candy bars, and that would be the end.

She did as she was told, and then she stood there, hands clasped behind her back. Julia was still looking at the candy bars, and after a few moments, she blurted out, "It says Kat!" She pointed to the Kit Kat bar right in front of her, and repeated, "Kat!" Since this is not one of the names we practice reading at home, I would consider this the first word Julia read. She has seen Kat's name here and there, and somehow she put it together (out of context, nonetheless!) that the same name/word was on the candy bar wrapper. Quite the little genius!

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Wedding Fun

Both girls did a great job with their flower girl duties at the wedding this afternoon. Evelyn not only made it down the aisle, sprinkling her flower petals as she went, but she also stood up at the front with the bridesmaids for the entire ceremony. Here she is, eating a well-deserved snack at the reception.Julia did better than we thought she would. She walked with Evelyn down the aisle, dropping flower petals as she went (not dumping her entire basket like yesterday). The plan was for her to sit with Troy when she was done. Naturally, Julia had another idea. She turned toward the back of the church (where I was standing) and said, "Look, Mommy! I dropped all my flowers!" Then she came running back to me - which was totally fine, since we could sneak into the sanctuary from a side door. Why do you suppose Julia did such a good job? She knew there would be snacks and punch when she was done!
Mmmmm...tasty cupcake...
Even though there wasn't a formal dance following the wedding, Julia and Evelyn still had fun twirling and dancing in their dresses. The girls love music, so they made up their own tunes to jam to.
The girls did a great job, and they had a great time at Brooke's wedding. We are all so happy we were part of her special day!

Flower Girl Time!

The moment the girls have been waiting for finally arrived today - cousin Brooke's wedding! Julia and Evelyn donned their dresses and petticoats and shoes and headbands this morning for the wedding pictures. I was much luckier than the professional photographer. Julia hardly smiled for any of the formal wedding pictures, but she did give me a couple of cute grins.Here's another shot of Julia, waiting for another round of wedding party pictures.
Evelyn doesn't mind hamming it up for the camera, and she smiled for everyone.
I'm not sure what the girls are doing, here, but they seem to be having fun!

Friday, May 27, 2011

Flower Girl Rehearsal

This evening was cousin Brooke's wedding rehearsal. Julia and Evelyn took full advantage of practicing their flower girl duties. Brooke had fake rose petals in the girls' baskets, so they practiced dropping flowers a couple of times.
On their first trial run, both Julia and Evelyn did a great job of sprinkling their flower petals. Evelyn also did a great job on the second and third practice. Julia, however, made it clear that one walk down the aisle was enough. Julia protested the second run-through by standing stone-still in the back of the church while Evelyn dropped her flower petals. On the third time, as Evelyn made her way down the aisle, Julia stood rooted to the spot and proceeded to dump all the petals out of the basket. Point taken - we let the girls know we were finished rehearsing.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Julia and Rosie

These pictures don't need a narrative. You can make up your own story:

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Pet Rock Craft - Part II

With the paint dry, Julia and Evelyn were ready to decorate their pet rocks. Evelyn's first priority was gluing eyes on each animal.
Next, Evelyn put on various pieces of felt and feathers to make a penguin, a giraffe, a butterfly, a cardinal and a polar bear.
Julia never let us know which animals she made, but she had fun gluing on the craft materials!

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Pet Rock Craft - Part I

Evelyn and Julia got some pet rock craft kits for their birthdays. Today was a perfect day to do the first step: paint the rocks!Troy helped Julia mix paints and make new colors. He was also doing water-control, so that her paint wouldn't get to watery after she cleaned the brush.
As artistic as Evelyn is, she didn't need any help mixing colors or cleaning her brush. She simply got right to work. While painting, she told us which rock would be which kind of animal. Tomorrow (after the paint has dried) the girls can decorate their pet rocks - stay tuned!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Boat-on-the-Lake Story Time

Even though it was raining this morning, Julia and I still headed out to Black Hill Regional Park for their boat ride and story time. Today's theme was dragonflies . . . but we didn't see any. Why? Well, dragonflies are most active when the sun is shining, and the sun was definitely not shining this morning. So, after we learned about dragonflies and listened to a story about dragonflies, we went around the lake to see what other critters were active.Birds don't mind wet weather, and we saw several different kinds. We saw bluebirds and swallows flying around the lake, swooping and diving, catching some bugs for a mid-morning snack. We saw a couple of different kinds of ducks and geese - Julia insisted that I take a picture of this daddy mallard:
We also saw about four or five great blue herons. I was able to snap this picture before the heron flew off. Julia enjoyed mimicking how the herons soar through the air - she stretched her arms out as wide as she could and slowly walked around the boat.
After about 45 minutes of cruising around the lake in the rain, our boat ride was over. Julia enjoyed catching the rain by the edge of the boat as we headed back to the dock. Even though it was a wet outing, we still had fun.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Ballerina Evelyn

Today was Evelyn's last day of ballet for first-grade, and friends and family were invited to watch her class. Since we only see her three times throughout the year, we notice improvements each time. Evelyn had most of the warm-up exercises memorized this time, so she didn't need to watch her teacher as much. Here she is, doing a plie in first position:Compared to last year, Evelyn is a lot more focused during her ballet class. You can see the look of concentration in the picture below - she takes her lessons very seriously, and she wants to do the exercises and routines properly. So long, ballet, and we'll see you again in September!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Bluebird Festival

Black Hill Regional Park hosted a Bluebird Festival this afternoon, and the rain clouds stayed away just long enough for us to attend.

The girls played a food-sorting game - fruit and berries in the fall/winter; insects in the spring/summer. After sorting the bluebird food, they each got a bluebird Peep (which were so cute!).

Then Julia and Evelyn made bluebird collages on paper plates. Evelyn's bird is flying to its nest, while it appears that Julia's tree and leaves are flying toward the bird...
We listened to some informative picture books about bluebirds, and the girls learned quite a bit about hatchlings changing into fledglings. After story time, we headed back to the craft table. Julia and Evelyn made bluebird nests complete with a momma bird and some (candy) eggs. Evelyn made her bird totally on her own, while Julia needed quite a bit of assistance.

We wrapped up the afternoon by going on a short hike to visit some of the bluebird houses around the nature center. The first birdhouse had tree swallow eggs in it, which was pretty neat. But the main attraction was the second bluebird box - there were baby birds it! The naturalist leading the hike actually took one of the babies out of the nest so we could see it up close. (Meanwhile, the mommy and daddy bluebirds were flying around, keeping an eye on us humans.)

We had a great time at the bluebird festival today. Hopefully we will come back next year!

Friday, May 13, 2011

Pinkalicious (and Purplicious) Cupcakes

For the past couple of weeks, Julia has been completely engrossed in the Pinkalicious books. What does she like best about these picture books? Well, the main character's favorite color is Julia's favorite color . . . pink!

In the first, original book, Pinkalicious, the little girl eats too many pink cupcakes and turns pink. Julia wanted to test the theory of pink-ness today, and she suggest we make pink cupcakes. We tinted both the cupcakes and the frosting pink for Julia, plus we made purple cupcakes with purple frosting for Evelyn.
Mmmmm . . . pinkalicious and delicious!
Miss Purple devoured her purplicious cupcake in no time. Now, the question is - will the girls be pink and purple in the morning?

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Bees and Strawberries Field Trip

Julia and I were invited to join some friends for a homeschool field trip this morning at Butler's Orchard. This is the same working farm we visit in the fall to get our pumpkins, but we have never gone to the orchard in the spring. The focus of today's excursion was bees and strawberries - all very fascinating for me, but some of the information was a little over Julia's head.

We went to four different stations during our two-hour visit. First, we walked through a small cherry orchard to get to a cluster of bee hives. We didn't get too close to the hives, so I'm not convinced that Julia was able to see the bees going in and out of the hives. But she did see a bee crawling on the ground in front of her, which captured her attention for a minute or two.
On our way back through the orchard, Julia closely inspected a cherry tree and its dead blossoms and green blobs (which will soon turn into bright red cherries).
Next it was story time. Julia listened to a felt-board story about how strawberries grow and produce fruit. I'm not sure how much information she remembers from the presentation, but she did sit still and listen for the entire ten minutes.
After learning about the life cycle of a strawberry plant, it was time to get our own plants. No matter how hard I tried, Julia kept putting her plant in the cup upside-down. She got a little annoyed with me when I planted it right-side up, but I'm sure she'll be happy once the little guy is growing and thriving.
Our last activity was a tractor-pulled cart ride through the farm. We drove past two strawberry patches, which will be ready to pick in a couple of weeks. I'm sure we'll return in June to pick some fresh strawberries!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Word Recognition

Last night, we went out for dinner. The kids' menus/placemats had the typical coloring page on one side, and the other side was blank. After Julia had had enough of coloring and scribbling on the pictures, I flipped the paper over to the blank side.

I wrote Julia and asked her whose name it was. She blurted out, "Julia!" Next, I wrote Evelyn. Before I could even say a word, Julia shouted, "Evelyn!" Then she identified Mommy and Daddy after I wrote them. Rosie stumped her the first time I wrote it, but she recognized it after that.

I also asked Julia to point to different names, and she found all of them. This name-game is something we have played with Julia for quite awhile, and it seems that now she can actually read the names. Amazing!

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Baltimore Zoo Revisited

During the months of April and May, our B&O Railroad Museum membership pass is reciprocal with the Maryland Zoo in Baltimore. So, just like last year, we waited for a weekend with favorable weather to take advantage of free admission to the zoo.There are three main sections of the zoo, and last year we only had time for two of them (African Journey and Polar Bear Watch). This morning our priority was to check out the area we missed, Maryland Wilderness featuring The Children's Zoo. They aren't kidding when they say it's a children's zoo - there were so many cool things for the girls to explore! In the Marsh Aviary, Julia and Evelyn pretended they were birds and sat in an over-sized heron nest (shown below) and oriole nest. While we wandered around, in addition to birds, we also saw several snakes in and around the stream that runs through the aviary.
While in the aviary, we came across some kid-sized lily pads. I think Evelyn could have walked, hopped and danced on these forever. Julia, on the other hand, wanted nothing to do with them.
We continued our stroll through the Maryland Wilderness, where we saw otters and a red fox, we went inside a cave, and we walked through the trunk of a "tree" that housed native reptiles and amphibians. An added bonus here was a giant slide, which Evelyn loved. Not far from the tree slide were spinning turtle shells. Kids can climb inside these shells, and someone else can spin the shells. Evelyn barely fit inside this shell, but she had a blast once there (with Troy spinning her around and around).
The last two exhibits in the Children's Zoo were the eastern box turtles and the farmyard. The turtles were camouflaged in fallen leaves on the ground, so it was kind of like playing "Where's Waldo?" to see how many turtles we could find. We breezed past the farm animals on our way to the goat yard petting area. The girls were able to use plastic brushes to groom the goats. If we had more time, I think Julia would have used every single brush on every single goat - she was having that much fun!
With the farmyard our last stop in the Maryland Wilderness and Children's Zoo, it was time for lunch. After lunch, we walked through the African section, revisiting popular animals like chimps, elephants, penguins, cheetahs and leopards. We spent five hours at the zoo today, seeing all we could before the girls were plumb tuckered out. And we are already looking forward to next year's trip!

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Scutes and Scales Birthday Party

We went to Meadowside Nature Center this morning for Evelyn's kids' party. It was one of the best birthday parties we have ever been to - it was educational, captivating and fun. The program started off with learning about and meeting some of the reptiles and amphibians that reside at the nature center. The teacher explained the differences between the two groups of animals, and then she showed the kids a frog (below), a five-stripe skink, a corn snake and a box turtle.
After learning about reptiles and amphibians, we headed off on a nature hike to see if we could find any critters around the pond. We found a group of toad tadpoles in the water, a couple of (big!) slider turtles in the pond and green herons were flying around the trees. We saw all that with 20 people traipsing along the trail - that's how quiet the kids were on the hike!
Then it was back inside the nature center to work on a craft. Each kid painted a wiggly wooden snake to their liking. Julia got creative with mixing the paints and making up her own colors for her snake.
Cake time! A friend of mine made Evelyn's turtle cake, which was both beautiful . . .
. . . and delicious! Julia's expression sums up the morning: a good time was had by all.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Happy 7th Birthday, Evelyn!

Evelyn celebrated her birthday with the family tonight. Three things highlighted the evening: Chick Fil-A, presents and cake. What more could a (new) 7-year-old want? Clearly, judging by the picture below, the "Tangled" movie.Here's the birthday girl with her balloon bouquet and chocolate Dairy Queen ice cream cake.
Evelyn's name, all aglow . . .
. . . which needed two puffs to blow out. I wonder what she wished for?
The cake was just what Evelyn had hoped for - loads and loads of chocolate ice cream with a layer of chocolate fudge in the middle. Happy, happy birthday, little Peanut!