Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Rosie's Pick

This evening when we went upstairs to put the girls to bed, Rosie was sleeping on Julia's bed. That was a first for her. Does that mean Julia's mellowing out? Or is Rosie more tolerant of a three-year-old?

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Museum of American History

With nothing on the schedule today, we decided to visit a new-to-us Smithsonian museum in Washington, D.C. Our pick? The National Museum of American History. When reading about it online, two things piqued the girls' interest: the Woolworth lunch counter (for Evelyn) and Dorothy's ruby red slippers (for Julia).

We first saw part of the original Woolworth lunch counter from Greensboro, North Carolina. Evelyn has recently been reading, over and over again, a nonfiction picture book about the lunch counter sit-ins that happened in the 1960s - Sit-In: How Four Friends Stood Up by Sitting Down by Andrea Davis Pinkney. It was pretty awesome for Evelyn to see the real lunch counter and stools that her book is based on.
Next we headed to the part of the museum where Dorothy's ruby red slippers should have been...but all we could find were the scarecrow's hat and boots. We learned that Dorothy's shoes were off display because they were being cleaned. Julia was pretty bummed about that, and she was rather mellow the rest of the afternoon. But a bonus was seeing the scarecrow's things - these artifacts are rarely on display. Evelyn (who was the scarecrow for Halloween this past fall) was thrilled to see the hat and boots that were in the real "Wizard of Oz" movie.
Julia and Evelyn were disappointed that this enormous dollhouse was behind glass - they wanted to play with it! There were so many pets, people, toys and furniture, I'm sure the girls could have played with this dollhouse for days on end!
The transportation exhibits held our attention for the rest of the afternoon. Here's Julia, in front of a Southern Railway locomotive. The trains in this museum were so well-preserved, they were spotless. The girls also enjoyed seeing old trolleys, cars, motorcycles and trucks.
And what happened on the Metro ride home that evening? After several hours of wandering around the museum (and snacking on ice cream!), both girls took naps on the train ride home. We'll have to go back to the American History museum again because we only saw about half of the exhibits...and Julia needs to see Dorothy's shoes.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Duck Pin Bowling!

Evelyn went bowling - for the first time! - at a friend's birthday party this morning. The invitation said "Duck Pin Bowling," but I didn't realize what that meant until we got there. Duck pin bowling means you play with smaller balls (without finger holes) and knock down shorter pins. It's just right for kids.
Thankfully the gutter guards were in place for the kids so they had a better chance at knocking down the pins. Everyone got three tries to knock down all ten pins. Evelyn was the only one in her foursome to not get a strike or spare (poor girl). But the other three kids on her team were such good sports and so encouraging that Evelyn didn't get upset.
Here are the final scores for the second-graders in Lane 3. Not too shabby!
And here's the little bowler on our way home from the party - all tuckered out.

Cookies for Sale!

Evelyn sold Girl Scout cookies at a local grocery store this morning. Her work shift was from 9:00 to 10:00, and traffic was slow at the beginning. But by the end of her shift, people were buying so many cookies, she lost count of how many customers she helped. At the end of her hour, as we left the store, Evelyn was grinning from ear to ear, saying how much fun she had selling cookies. Good - she will get to do it again in March!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Silly Girl

Julia + glamour glasses = silliness

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Science Expo

Evelyn participated in her elementary school's 2nd Annual Science Expo this evening. Well, she has actually been working on this project for about a month, but tonight was the culmination of all of her hard work.

Evelyn wanted to do a project on crystals, which was fine. However, she needed a question and hypothesis, which made things a little difficult. Thanks to Troy and me brainstorming questions to test, we suggested Evelyn try growing salt crystals in warm and cold temperatures - Evelyn liked the idea, and we were off. Her hypothesis? The cold crystals would grow faster.

In the small plate below, is a mixture of 3 tablespoons ammonia, 3 tablespoons Mrs. Stewart's liquid bluing and 1 tablespoon table salt. Put a paper tube in the middle of the concoction, put one set of the experiment inside, put the other set of the experiment outside (the garage)...and let the observations begin.
After 48 hours, here is what the indoor experiment looked like:
And here is what the outdoor experiment looked like after 48 hours:
Needless to say, the salt crystals in the warmer temperatures grew much faster than the salt crystals out in the garage (which was about 45 degrees, on average). Since the experiment was fragile, we couldn't bring the actual crystals to school. Instead we took pictures and mounted them to Evelyn's display. Even though Evelyn's hypothesis was wrong, she had a lot of fun observing three rounds of indoor/outdoor salt crystals, as well as putting the data on a table and a double-line graph. We're proud of our little scientist!

Ballet Update

Friends and family were invited to watch classes at Evelyn's ballet studio today. As always, I was amazed at all of the new things Evelyn has learned since the last time I saw her in November.
The teacher asked the dancers to do several positions - in French terms - and Evelyn knew exactly what to do. I was impressed!
Something that Evelyn prides herself on is how well she points her toes. She always pays close attention to that detail, which makes her overall dancing look so precise.
What did the Little Sister think of Evelyn's hour-long class? Well, it wasn't too terribly exciting, so Julia decided to take a rest on the floor.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Mardi Gras King Cake

No, we're not Catholic. And no, we're not from New Orleans. However, since Julia's preschool theme tomorrow is Fat Tuesday (because it is Fat Tuesday), I thought I'd try my hand at making a King Cake...or two. I made one for the preschoolers' snack tomorrow morning, and the other is for our family to eat.I found the recipe on someone's blog. A King Cake is basically a cinnamon roll recipe, but instead of slicing individual rolls, you shape the dough into a circle. Top the baked cake with icing and colored sugar (purple, green and yellow, in true Mardi Gras fashion), and voila!

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Sidewalk February!

We are in the middle of a ridiculously mild winter. It has snowed three times (including the snow we had at the end of October), and none of those snows totaled more than an inch. Today was another warm day, prompting Julia to draw with sidewalk chalk while Troy did some yard work. Later in the afternoon, when the temperature was around 57 degrees, Troy took the girls to the castle park for an hour. Evelyn really wishes we would get a big snowstorm, but Julia and I are loving the warmth!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Two of Everything

This afternoon Julia attended a "Penny Theater" production at the local library. This program is led by library volunteers once a month, who use paper cut-outs from picture books to perform a play on a small stage. One of the stories that was presented today was Two of Everything by Lily Toy Hong. This book has been a favorite of both girls for years, and Julia was very excited to watch the show on the Penny Theater stage.

There are always two stories at each Penny Theater, with an intermission to allow for the volunteers to set up the second story/play. During the intermission, one of the volunteers leads the kids through a series of finger plays and songs. Today, since the kids had just seen Two of Everything, the volunteer asked the kids what, on their bodies, they had two of. The usual answers were offered, such as hands, eyes and ears. Then Julia was called on. Her answer? Well, she turned around and pointed to her two butt cheeks. The volunteer was practically speechless, saying she had never gotten that response before. And I was almost crying, I was laughing so hard!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Evelyn's Valentine's Day Party

After partying it up at Julia's preschool this morning, it was time for me to head to Evelyn's school to lead the Valentine's Day festivities.First, all the students decorated paper bags using foamy stickers, heart cut-outs and markers. After everyone had finished decorating their bags, mayhem ensued as the kids passed out their Valentines. Ten minutes later the dust had settled, and the class was ready for the next activity.
Next on the agenda was BINGO, with Valentines tattoos as prizes.
And, naturally, conversation hearts were used as the markers.
The kids enjoyed a sweet snack of donuts (decorated with red, pink and white sprinkles!) and lemonade juice boxes. Since there was a little extra time at the end of the day, the students decorated paper doilies to make Valentines. It was a whirlwind of an hour, but I think the kids had fun!

Julia's Valentine's Day Party

Julia had a Valentine's Day party at preschool this morning, which was full of sweets and treats. After the class found seats at their table, they couldn't wait to dive into all the yummy-ness that awaited them.How does Julia frost a cookie? By scraping the extra off of the cookie and eating it, while holding a cupcake in the other hand.
Who, me? Like sweets?
Seriously, though, Julia did a nice job spreading the frosting around her cookie. The cookie was WAY too big for her to eat, though, and she only ate about a third of it.
At the end of the party, the kids passed out their Valentines. They only wrote their names in the "From" space, making it easier to put into their friends' pouches. Julia had a great time at the party!

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Turntable Demonstration Day

We girls headed up to Baltimore for the day to see the turntable demonstrations at the B&O Railroad Museum. We got to the museum just in time to see the first demonstration at 11:30. The first locomotive to take a spin on the turntable was the "Atlantic," which is a replica of an 1832 grasshopper locomotive. While the museum staff moved this train on and off the turntable, we could see the vertical pistons pumping, just like the legs of a grasshopper. Evelyn has read about grasshoppers, and seen them (stationary) in the museum, but she had never seen one move - so that was pretty cool!Next up on the turntable was the Lafayette, which the girls have nicknamed the ornery little engine - this trickster is temperamental whenever asked to run during Steam Days. This locomotive is a replica of an 1837 steam engine by the same name.
While the turntable was taking a break, we girls ate lunch and then headed to the North Car Shop, where the BIG locomotives are on display. Evelyn and Julia played inside the cab of their favorite engine, the Allegheny 1604. It's nearly impossible to get the entire locomotive in a picture since it's so long.
Then we went back inside the roundhouse for the 1:30 demonstrations. Here's Evelyn, sitting in front of the open trap door that leads underneath the turntable. The museum has an "armstrong turntable," which means it takes a strong arm to move it (i.e., a human's strength).
The first locomotive to ride on the turntable this afternoon was a replica of the Tom Thumb. This engine has one vertical piston, and, as the Tom Thumb was pushed onto the turntable, the girls enjoyed seeing its piston move up and down (kind of like a single-legged grasshopper). A caboose was the last piece that got to ride on the turntable. We rounded out our day at the museum by walking through the Civil War exhibits and hanging out in the kids' play area.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Wood Floors

We all have different reasons for loving the wood floors in our new house. Here's the list:

Rosie - She can bat her toys around, and they zip and scoot all over the place. That means independent play time for the feline.

Julia and Evelyn - The girls love putting on their ballet shoes and dancing around the main level of the house.

Valerie - I can do yoga in the living room without my yoga mat bunching up and moving all over the place (like it does on carpet).

Troy - He just likes the way they look.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Evening Story Time

Julia loves having books read to her, and this evening she cuddled up with Troy for about 30 minutes of story time. The only reason we had to stop reading was because it was bed time. Otherwise, who knows how long Troy and Julia would have sat there reading!

Monday, February 6, 2012

Super Bowl Spread

Last night we hosted a small Super Bowl party, and we had quite the smorgasbord of food. I made turkey chili, hot Parmesan/artichoke dip with beer bread and cake pops. Since the New England Patriots were playing the New York Giants, I used red velvet cake inside the cake pops, and I decorated them with red, white and blue candy and sprinkles.

Kat and Ross added to the appetizers by bringing a cool dip and hot queso, lots of different chips and Pimm's cup ingredients. Evelyn did a decent job of eating a somewhat balanced meal of chips and dip, chili and a cake pop. Julia, on the other hand, only ate beer bread, tortilla chips and one cake pop. (She wanted more cake pops, but I held her to one.)

Our former next-door-neighbors, Linda and Quentin, came over for the first half of the game and helped us eat some of the food. I don't know about everyone else, but food is the number one reason why I like football get-togethers!

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Julia's Second Hair Cut

Once upon a time, way back in July of 2010, Julia had her first hair cut. She was only two years old, and she was very nervous about the whole experience. Fast-forward to today, Julia's second hair cut. It goes without saying that she needed her hair trimmed and evened out. I wasn't sure how she would react to getting a trim, since she doesn't remember much from her first experience. But the pictures say it all - she had a blast! She let the stylist wash her hair......Julia sat very still while the stylist trimmed her hair...
...and she even posed for a picture!
Then came the blow-drying and curling of the hair...
...and voila! Julia is all trimmed and dolled up!

Friday, February 3, 2012

Cutting Queen

Julia's scissors skills are through the roof. It seems like not long ago Julia was just playing with scissors, mostly making fringe on the edges of paper. And now look at what she can do - she cut all six of the squares in the project below all by herself. Nice work, Julia!

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Happy Groundhog Day!

Julia went to a Groundhog Day program at Black Hill this afternoon. She learned about the tradition of the groundhog looking for its shadow, predicting an early or late spring. She also learned that one of the groundhog's nicknames is a "whistle pig." (Julia thought that was pretty funny.)After learning about groundhogs, Julia made a paper-sack puppet. She did all of the work herself - coloring the picture, cutting it out and then gluing it onto the paper sack.
After making puppets, the group went on a short walk outside, looking for groundhog holes. Groundhogs hibernate, so we didn't see any of the rodents today, but we know where to look for them once the weather gets warmer. The program finished up with a picture book. As usual, Julia thoroughly enjoyed the activity at Black Hill!

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Lemon Buttercream Frosting

One of Troy's favorite desserts is lemon cake with lemon frosting. I wanted to forgo the store-bought can of frosting (with mystery ingredients that I don't know how to pronounce) and make my own. I came across a recipe for lemon buttercream frosting, and it pairs perfectly with lemon cake. The best part? It only has four ingredients, all of which I can pronounce.

1/2 cup butter (softened)
4 cups powdered sugar
1 lemon (to make 3 Tablespoons juice and about 1/4 teaspoon zest)
1 Tablespoon milk

Cream butter. Add 2 cups powdered sugar, mix well. Add 2 Tablespoons lemon juice, mix well. Add remaining 2 cups powdered sugar, mix well. Add remaining 1 Tablespoon lemon juice and 1 Tablespoon milk, mix well. Frosting will be stiff; you can add more lemon juice or milk for thinner consistency. Frosts one 9x13-inch cake.