Saturday, June 30, 2012


We went over to play with some friends this afternoon/evening.  They had kiddie pools, water toys, a water table and bubbles set up in the backyard, and the girls had a blast.  Here are some of my favorite pictures...

I love how Julia is packin' the heat!

Strong Storms

Last night we had quite the line of storms roll through.  The storms were 250 north-to-south, and they traveled a total of 600 miles.  At the front of the storm, winds were estimated to be 70-80 mph.  So when we saw that headed our way at about 10:00 last night, we were on alert.

I think we lucked out in that we didn't get the strongest winds where we live.  We also lucked out because we didn't lose power (amazing!).  This morning we went on a walk around our neighborhood to see the damage...and there really wasn't much to see.  Within a two-block radius of our house, we found three larger branches down, plus twigs and leaves were scattered all over.

Based on what we have seen on the news, we got lucky here in Germantown.  It looks like closer to DC and down in Virginia, they had stronger winds which knocked down huge trees.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Speed Bump

While making dinner tonight, this speed bump in the kitchen was slowing things down a bit.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Black Hill Boat Ride

We girls went to Black Hill this afternoon for the bald eagle boat ride program.  The weather wasn't as humid today as it has been recently, so we actually had a pleasant boat ride.
 Julia swore her binoculars didn't work with the smaller end at her eyes, and she saw so much better the other way.  Whatever floats her boat, I suppose...
 Even though we did not see any eagles this afternoon, we were able to learn about eagles and hold some replicated artifacts.  Here's Evelyn with a life-sized (fake) eagle egg...
 ...and here's Julia with a replica of an adult eagle's talon.  It's pretty big!
 Evelyn tried on a pair of eagle wings, to get an idea of their wingspan (seven feet!).  All in all, it was a fun, one-hour program.  Hopefully we can squeeze in one more program before the summer is over.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Evelyn's Magazine Publication

Evelyn received a BIG manila envelope in the mail yesterday.  I recognized the return address as the publishing company of Evelyn and Julia's Thomas & Friends magazine.  Why would they send the magazine in an envelope?

Because Evelyn's drawing was published in the magazine!  She is now a published artist!  Her picture is on the right-hand page, in the middle.
Over the past couple years, Evelyn has submitted three or four pictures a year to the magazine.  So when we asked Evelyn when she drew this picture of Emily, she said she honestly couldn't remember.  In addition to the magazine, Evelyn was also given a certificate of congratulations and a choose-your-own-adventure Thomas book.  We are so proud of our talented and persistent Evelyn!

Friday, June 22, 2012

Georgetown Cupcake

A former student from Texas planned a trip up here with her mom this weekend.  They emailed me last week, wanting to see me, and they asked me to pick the place.  Since it has been SO hot and muggy lately, outdoor venues were out.  "How about Georgetown Cupcake?" I suggested.  I swear I could see their smiles of approval all the way from the lone star state.

We agreed to meet at 10:00 this morning, right when Georgetown Cupcake opens.  I personally haven't watched the TV show, but hearing about the show is what made me curious about this cupcakery.  I figured it would be busy, since it's the summer tourist season in DC.  I was right - there was already a line at 9:50 a.m.

Evelyn and I got in line, with our order in hand.  The lady at the door (the one who ensures the door stays closed and lets people inside) told us the wait in yesterday's line was nearly two hours long.  What?!?  We only stood in line for about 15 minutes...and we were in!  Look at all those delectable desserts.....
We found a table tucked back in the corner of the bakery and sat down to eat and catch up.  Evelyn chose this table because she could watch the bakers and decorators work.  She loved watching them roll and cut fondant (front left in the picture), and she was amazed at how quickly they frost the cupcakes (back right).  Quite honestly, we were all mesmerized by the workers' efficiency and skill.
The burning question is, of are the cupcakes?  Totally worth it.  I have eaten cupcakes from two other cupcake stores in the area, and they don't even come close to these.  You can tell the cakes are made with high-quality ingredients, and they are uber-moist.  The frosting is flavored to perfectly compliment the cake.  I had a coconut cupcake this morning, which was fantastic.  This evening I splurged and ate two different custard-filled cupcakes - Boston cream (which tasted just like Boston cream pie) and lava fudge (a chocolate cupcake with a fudge core and vanilla frosting).  I can't wait to sample some of the other cupcakes I brought home!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Stream Splash

Today's high was 92 degrees.  The dewpoint was 70 degrees all day, making the heat index come close to 100 degrees.  Usually with weather like that, you'll find us Luster girls at the pool.  But not today!  Evelyn and Julia were registered for the Stream Splash "class" at Black Hill Regional Park - so we donned stream-friendly attire (who knew that Crocs make great wading shoes?) and set off for the program.
 The goal of the stream splash is to collect critters (preferably living) from the stream.  The kids were given nets and set loose.  Julia first tried the small net, but she only caught pebbles and rocks.
 Then she traded Evelyn for a big net, but that was pretty tough to maneuver.  Even though she didn't catch any fish or bugs, she still had fun splashing around in the stream.  Who wouldn't?
 Evelyn investigated this log for evidence of beavers - they have chewed the bark from the underside of the fallen tree.  And, for the record, beavers did not fell this tree.  This was one of several trees along the creek that were victims to the heavy rains that accompanied two tropical storms last September.
 Evelyn was really patient, trying to catch fish, but they refused to cooperate with her.  She did, however, catch a couple of water striders, which is pretty tricky since they are speedy little fellows.
 One last picture of Julia - I'm not sure what she's reaching for.  But she had fun at today's two-hour program, nonetheless.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Butterflies at Brookside Gardens

A week ago, as part of her preschool program, Julia had a chance to see the butterfly exhibit at Brookside Gardens.  Julia has day camp in the morning this week, which gives Evelyn and me time to do things together.  Seeing the butterflies at Brookside Gardens was at the top of our list.  The butterfly atrium can get uncomfortably warm when it's sunny.  Today's forecast was cloudy, rainy and maybe 70 degrees.  That's the perfect weather to visit the butterflies, so we headed right over to Rockville this morning.

I took a bazillion pictures of butterflies this morning.  In the picture below, there's a zebra longwing in the foreground and a monarch in the background.
 I captured three butterflies in this picture!  There's a queen in the back, a Sara's longwing on the right, and a pipevine swallowtail on the bottom left.
 Here's my favorite - a blue morpho.  These guys are HUGE.  Its wingspan is about five inches across.  When these guys are flying around the atrium, you really notice them.
 I love how the banded orange butterflies stand out from the flowers and foliage.
 This is a tricky one for you.  There's a clearwing in the foreground, hanging out on a zinnia bud.  Its camouflage is that it has clear wings - that makes it easy to blend with any kind of background.  (There's also a blue and white longwing in the background, on the right.)
 Since the temperature was quite comfortable in the butterfly atrium this morning, Evelyn and I sat on a bench for about half an hour, just watching the butterflies zip around.  This is also when she and I had a couple of blue morphos land on us.  In all, five blue morphos landed on Evelyn.  Here's my favorite picture of her - when one landed on her head.
 Evelyn told me she wore yellow today to attract the butterflies.  Looks like her plan worked!

Sunday, June 17, 2012

America's Oldest Zoo

Today we headed up to Philadelphia with Kat and Ross to visit America's first zoo.  Who was excited to see the animals?  Well, Julia's attitude turned around after she got her hands on the zoo map - that's when she became our guide, leading us to the giraffes.
On the way to see the giraffes, we stopped to see a few other animals.  We also stumbled across this Exploration Station, where the girls were asked to look at pictures and find various animals camouflaged in their habitats.
And here we are, at Julia's giraffes.  I'm not sure how long she would have stayed there if we hadn't moved her along.  Clearly the giraffes were Julia's favorite animal of the day.
Can you guess who's who in the picture below?
At an orangutan Exploration Station, Evelyn tried on a sweater with arms that were seven feet wide.  When her arms were down, the sleeves touched the ground.  It gave us all a good idea of how long orangutans' arms really are!
After eating our picnic lunch, the girls were able to choose a ride.  I don't know what it is about carousels, but the girls went nuts when they found out the Philadelphia Zoo had a carousel.  They both enjoyed their ride (and wanted to go again and again).
As usual, I played with the zoom on my camera and got some good shots of animals.  It was also cloudy most of the day, so the colors were really vibrant.
I didn't know until after I took this picture that the little joey was laughing at me!

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Last Day of 2nd Grade

Here's our little Peanut (with her sidekick, Sunshine) on the first day of 2nd grade . . . and on the last day of 2nd grade.
And, just like she did in Kindergarten, Evelyn had perfect attendance this year.  That's pretty amazing!  Way to go, Evelyn!

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Rock the Mall

Since I'm still not up to walking and standing for very long, Troy escorted Evelyn to Washington, D.C. today for the Girl Scouts Rock the Mall celebration.  (Look - my t-shirt even fit Troy!)
From what I understand, the gist of Rock the Mall is for Girl Scouts from all over the country (and the world) to get together and sing songs.  There were about 250,000 people at today's event.  Troy tried to capture the crowd with some pictures . . .
. . . but he said these shots don't do justice to how it looked in person.
Girl Scouts trade SWAPs (Something With A Pin) at events such as this, and here's the loot Evelyn brought home.  Each little token had the troop number and/or state that the Girl Scout was from.  Evelyn enjoyed seeing where other Girl Scouts were from:  several were (understandably) from Virginia, Pennsylvania and Maryland; her favorite (a teeny-tiny bottle filled with sand) was from Florida; others were from Vermont, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York, Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin, Alabama, North Carolina and even Colorado.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Evelyn's Little Gym Show Day

Today it was Evelyn's turn to show off at Little Gym.  She performed three gymnastics routines - floor, bar and balance beam.  Naturally, she did great with all of her routines.  I'm always amazed at Evelyn's abdominal strength, as demonstrated in the picture below.
Evelyn's favorite "event" is still the balance beam.  She loves all the tricks she can do on a four-inch wide beam, three feet off the floor.
It's tough to capture the exact moment Evelyn does a feet-together-handstand, but this picture came pretty close.  Oh, and notice the feet.  Our little Peanut always points her toes!