Friday, November 30, 2012

Nutcracker Showtime!

Evelyn has been preparing for the Nutcracker ballet since September.  Auditions were held then, and she was cast as a soldier.  After several weeks of rehearsals, including a late-night dress rehearsal this past Wednesday, our budding ballerina is ready to hit the stage.  Tonight is the first of ten performances - she has five performances this weekend, and there are five more performances next weekend.
 Evelyn is required to wear specific seamed pink tights with her pink ballet shoes.  However, since she her soldier costume consists of several layers of clothing, she could wear any color and style of leotard.
 Covering up her tights and leotard is a requirement as she goes from the parking lot to the performing arts center.  For pants, she chose a new pair of Christmas kitty pajama bottoms.  (Since it's cold out, a jacket and/or coat does the job for covering up her leotard.)
 This year's hair is easy:  a bun.  Well, it was a little tricky since Evelyn's hair is so short.  I used a LOT of hair gel and several bobby pins to keep her hair in place throughout the performance.  Here's what Evelyn looks like, all ready for the ballet.  She will complete the transformation - with costume and makeup - after she gets to the theater.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Trimming the Tree

With Thanksgiving behind us, we decorated the house for Christmas today.  While Troy put up the (artificial) tree, we girls emptied the ornament box and sorted everything out.  Well, I should say Evelyn and I did the organizing...Julia played with the ornaments.
 Since Evelyn's vertical reach is even higher this year, and she has a good aesthetic eye, I really didn't need to help much with hanging the ornaments.  Julia couldn't quite get the hang of securing the decorations on the tree, so she told me where she wanted her ornaments and I hung them for her.
 After all was said and done, the girls wanted to lay under the tree and look up at all the lights and ornaments.  They also gave me some good, festive smiles.

Friday, November 23, 2012

USS Constellation

While in Baltimore, my parents also wanted to see the ships on display in the Inner Harbor.  After looking at all of them, we decided to go on just one - the USS Constellation.  See the red flag in the lower right-hand corner?  That means there's ammunition on board; we witnessed the firing of a gun, which was pretty exciting.
 Here are the girls, standing in front of the gun that was fired.  There was a huge crowd during the presentation, which quickly dissipated once the show was over.  We hung around, checking out the gun, and then the tour guide (the guy in black in the background) asked for volunteers to help move the gun.  The girls and my mom jumped at the chance and got in line at the rope.
 At the tour guide's command, they got ready with the rope...
 ...and then they pulled!  There were about ten people on both sides of the gun pulling the rope, which moved it quickly to the front of the sloop.
 By the time we were done touring all of the levels inside the ship, the sun was starting to set.  That provided the perfect lighting for a picture of Evelyn with the Constellation.

Fort McHenry

Even though Fort McHenry was on my parents' bucket list, we all wanted to go there with them.  This is where the War of 1812 finally came to an end (in 1814, mind you), and this is where the inspiration for the "Star Spangled Banner" came from.
 We explored the visitor's center before venturing outside.  We were able to walk through many different areas of the fort, like the bombproof.
 The girls willingly got locked up in a jail cell...looks like one is enjoying it and the other wants out.
 The size of the flag that is flown depends on the day's weather.  Since a gentle breeze was blowing today, the 30x42 feet was flying today.
 As with most National Parks we visit, the girls worked on their Junior Ranger badges today.  We spent about three hours at the fort today, and it was pretty challenging to complete the Junior Ranger booklets within that time frame...but they did it!  We really enjoyed our day at Fort McHenry, and we learned a LOT about the little-known War of 1812.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving!  Evelyn started the day off by snapping a picture of Rosie, looking all festive and cute, sitting next to the pumpkins.
As we got closer to dinnertime, both Evelyn and Julia stepped in to make the casseroles.  Julia is getting ready to make a green bean casserole, and Evelyn is making.....
.....her infamous corn casserole!
Here's the spread, with everyone ready to dig in.  Delish!
 After pigging out on dinner and pie, Julia and I settled in to watch some football.  All in all, it was a wonderful holiday!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Thanksgiving Feast Prep

Julia stepped in this week as my sous chef, prepping for Thursday's Thanksgiving dinner.  Yesterday she helped make dinner rolls - she did a great job rolling the dough into crescent shapes, all by herself.
 This morning we made a pecan pie.  The recipe is so easy, Julia could recite all five ingredients from memory.
 While the pie was baking, we whipped up raspberry/applesauce Jello.  Julia had a lot of fun helping make the Jello, but she said she wouldn't eat it.
 And finally, we dry-brined the turkey.  Julia was all smiles before I opened the can of brine spices - she said it was too spicy-smelling for her.
Now we've completed all of the feast prep...the rest will be made tomorrow.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Preschool Thanksgiving Feast

Julia's preschool celebrated Thanksgiving today with a feast, preschool-style.  Julia's plate was filled with popcorn, applesauce, carrot slices, a dinner roll and sugar cookies.
 Here's a picture of Julia's class, chowing down.
 Naturally, my little carb-lover went for the dinner roll first, followed by her cookies and applesauce.
 Happy Thanksgiving, Sunshine!

Friday, November 16, 2012

Rosie's Pick

It was bedtime, and the girls had just finished getting ready for bed.  Where was Rosie hiding?
In Julia's bed!  This prompted Julia to ask Rosie, "Why do you like me?  Is it because I pull your tail and cuddle you too much?"

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Julia's Ballet

Because of its close proximity to our house, Julia takes ballet at a different studio than her sister.  She loves going to ballet at every Thursday afternoon - she wishes she could go more often than once a week.

Today was parent/visitor watch week, and I took advantage of several photo ops...
 ...working on the barre...
 ...preparing for exercises on the floor...

 ...and giving me a big grin.
 Here's Julia performing part of her winter revue routine.  She's really looking forward to her performance on December 14th, and we can't wait to see her up on the stage!

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Mount Vernon

Mount Vernon has been on our Washington, D.C. bucket list for quite some time, but we didn't want to go there until the crowds were gone (in other words, not summer).  Several of the exhibits and activities are only available March through October, so we didn't get to experience everything Mount Vernon has to offer.  However, we were there for six hours, and we ran out of time before running out of things to see.

First up was a tour of the house.  Julia kept getting Washington's house confused with Jefferson's house...I thought this might happen, since we visited Monticello only a couple of weeks ago.  Evelyn liked this house tour better than Monticello because we got to see both levels (and most of the rooms) of the house.
 The blacksmith's shop was up and running today, where we saw a door hinge being made.  I think the girls could have watched this guy all day, making the iron hot with the bellows, then hammering it into the right shape.
 After prying the girls away from the blacksmith's shop, we headed to the east side of the house.  (The picture below is a view of the north side of the house.)
 I strategically took this picture of the girls in front of the house so that I wouldn't get any other visitors in my shot - there's a line of people waiting to go into the house for a tour, but they're hidden by the hill.
 We three girls, hanging out on the porch on the east side of the house.
 After lunch, we joined the "Dinner for the Washingtons" walking tour.  We learned about the fruits, vegetables and herbs in the garden; we saw the smoke house; we got a peek at the basement under the house (where food was stored and rat terriers kept vermin away); and the tour ended with some apple cider in the greenhouse.
 We had heard how impressive Martha Washington was, and she did not disappoint.  This lady knows everything, and I mean everything, about Mount Vernon and the Washingtons.  She stays in character and doesn't miss a beat when asked questions.  Evelyn asked her where George Washington was, and the first lady's reply was that he was overseeing the building of the new President's House in D.C.  Evelyn also wanted to know what Mrs. Washington's favorite vegetable was...she said she had two:  asparagus and artichokes.
We really enjoyed our day at Mount Vernon, and we highly recommend this historical site.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Winter Bird

We know the weather has gotten colder when we start seeing a red-tailed hawk in the forest across the street.  It made his first appearance (that we could see) yesterday afternoon.....
 .....and it was hanging out in the forest this morning, all puffed up and cold.  These pictures were taken from Evelyn's and Julia's bedroom windows, up on the second story, which gives us the best view of the hawk(s).

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Evelyn's Ballet Fall 2012

Today was parent-watch day at Evelyn's ballet studio.  As usual, Evelyn was very focused throughout class, and her posture was spot-on.
Since I don't have a background in ballet, I don't know the terms for all the positions Evelyn did in class this one...
...but I know this is an arabesque.  Look at that straight leg and pointed toe - nice work, Evelyn!
Here's a beautiful tendu to the back -
One of the stretches Evelyn did was a "frog."  She had to hold this stretch for about two minutes, with her legs and feet flat on the floor.  We are very proud of how hard Evelyn works in ballet - keep up the good work, Peanut!