Thursday, February 28, 2013

Sick Julia

Julia came down with something nasty earlier this week, and she is still recovering.  This afternoon when Julia settled down on the couch for a nap, Rosie curled up with her.  Clearly she's trying to pass on some healing kitty vibes...let's hope it works!

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Baby Rosie

Blanket + Rosie + Evelyn = Evelyn carrying a baby Rosie.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Winter Swimming Lessons

Today was the last day of the girls' winter swimming lesson session.  Both girls came a long way in their six weeks of lessons.

Evelyn is usually the fastest swimmer in her lesson group, zipping way ahead of the other kids in both backstroke...
 ...and freestyle.  She was recommended to move up to the next level, which involves swimming longer distances.  She is more than ready for that!
 The biggest obstacle Julia had to overcome was going under water.  She finally went completely under today.  Here she is, taking a big breath...
 ...then she went totally under water...
 ...and emerged with a smile on her face.  She was so proud of herself!
 Both girls really love swimming, and we have been fortunate to take lessons at a fabulous indoor facility just minutes from our house.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Girl Scout Cookie Time!

Evelyn has been selling Girl Scout cookies to friends and neighbors for several weeks.  But today was the first day she sold cookies outside a grocery store.  It sounds like she had fun, selling cookies to many customers.  That's good because she has two more cookie booths to attend in March!

Fun in a Box

Since the house will go on the market in two weeks, it's time to start sorting through closets and packing up stuff.  I got a wardrobe box to hold costumes and flower girl dresses.  But before I could start filling up the box with clothes...
 ...the girls turned the box on its side and made it a play box.  Look closely at the picture below, and you'll see that even Rosie got in on the fun!

Friday, February 22, 2013

Bookstore Day

Evelyn had a schedule early-release day at school today, so we headed over to Barnes and Noble for treats and books.  The girls chose a sweet treat from the in-store Starbucks.
 Then we headed over to the kids' section, where the girls browsed through several books.  What a lovely way to spend an afternoon with my girls!

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Penny Theater

When Evelyn was three- and four-years-old, she went to see the Penny Theater productions at the Quince Orchard library.  Guess what Julia has been doing the past two years?  Going to see Penny Theater shows at the Quince Orchard library.  
 The Penny Theater is held on a very small stage.  The stories come from picture books, and all of the characters and scenes have been cut out from picture books.  The narration and music is played on a CD while two volunteers move the story's characters around.

Both girls love(d) watching Penny Theater shows.  We're so lucky to have library volunteers put on these productions!

My Little Shopper

Julia helped me shop at Giant this afternoon.  The little cart was just the right size for the things on my short list...and Julia's teddy bear.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

3rd Annual Science Expo

Once upon a time, Evelyn came up with a plant experiment to do for her school's Science Expo.  When she tried growing her bean seeds in different soils, however, the seeds got moldy and didn't grow.

Time for Plan B!  Evelyn decided to do a baking experiment to test leavening ingredients in muffins.  The question she wanted to answer was:  How does baking powder and baking soda change muffin height?

Evelyn's control recipe was maple muffins made with one teaspoon of baking powder (as per the recipe).  She made two other batches of muffins - one batch with one teaspoon of baking powder and one batch with no leavening ingredients.  Evelyn's prediction was that the muffins with baking powder would be the tallest, followed by baking soda and nothing added.

The results?  In this recipe, the muffins with baking soda were the tallest (5.4 cm), the baking powder muffins came in second (4.8 cm), and the muffins with nothing added were the shortest (3.5 cm).

Even though she couldn't do the plant experiment she originally planned, Evelyn had a lot of fun baking muffins and gathering data.  She wrote and arranged everything on her display board, and she also took all of the pictures.  She was one proud third-grader at tonight's Science Expo!

Evelyn's Ballet Spring 2013

Today was parent-watch day at Evelyn's ballet.  I know I say this every time I see Evelyn in class, but I'm still amazed at how much she has learned and how well she does.
 Evelyn really seems to enjoy the tranquility that comes with ballet.  She likes the precise movements, positions and exercises that are required.
 Hopefully Evelyn will continue with ballet once we move to Boston - it sure seems to agree with her!

Julia's Last Day of Indoor Soccer

Julia has been going to soccer since September, for a total of three 7-week sessions.  The first session was outside, and the last two sessions have been inside.  The first two sessions were so-so for Julia; she would go back and forth with liking it.  The third session, however, went really well.  She really seemed to understand how to do the skills, and she enjoyed herself.  In the picture below, she is switching her feet to tap the ball.
 Since today marked the end of the session, there was a medal presentation at the end of class.  Here's our little soccer player by herself...
 ...and here she is with two of her friends, Jade and Ella.  I know having friends in her class certainly helped make soccer more fun for Julia.  When the next outdoor sessions starts up in April, maybe the girls can be together again.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Insulation Experiment

As part of this week's science homework, Evelyn had to use five different materials to insulate a piece of ice.  Her materials were...nothing, aluminum foil, cloth, paper towel and paper.  She wrapped an ice cube in each of the four materials (placed inside a Ziploc bag) and let them sit on the counter for an hour.

Evelyn predicted that the foil would have the largest ice cube after an hour, meaning it would melt the least.  Her prediction was completely wrong - the ice cube wrapped in foil melted first!  She was really surprised at the outcome, which is pictured below.  (The ice cube wrapped in nothing and the ice cube wrapped in foil had completely melted, so they aren't in the picture).  But you can see that the ice wrapped in normal paper melted the least, followed by the paper towel and the cloth.  This lead to a great discussion with Evelyn about conductors and insulators.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Boston Bound

Troy has been looking for a job since last September.  His prospects included Philadelphia, Houston, Seattle, New York City, Boston and Gaithersburg (here).  We really didn't know where we would end up living next.

At the end of January, Troy was offered a position with Dana-Farber in Boston (an affiliate of Harvard).  Troy also had an interview lined up with a local pharmaceutical company, not even ten minutes from where we currently live, at the end of January.  Before telling the Boston company yea or nay, he wanted to see what whether or not the local company would offer him a position.

Today was the day - the local company let Troy know they were not interested in him.  So that means we Lusters will be headed to Boston, where Troy will start his new job March 18th.  The sale of our townhouse will determine when we girls will move up north.  Even though we know where we are moving to, we still don't know a definite timeline for moving.  Stay tuned!

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Class Parties

Julia's preschool party was quite simple:  eat yummy snacks.  The kids in her class frosted and decorated sugar cookies, and they also had strawberries and lollipops to snack on.  All very festive for heart day.
 This afternoon I lead the festivities for Evelyn's class party.  I read a picture book to the class while the other parents set up the crafts.
 Then the kids decorated their valentines bags, and they also made pencil toppers and scratch-art decorations.  Passing out valentines took up about ten minutes, which left just enough time to eat Dunkin Donuts (with valentines sprinkles, of course).  I don't know about the girls, but I am all partied out!

Valentine's Day Prep

Last night I packed my bags for the girls' school parties...
 ...and this morning I wrote a list to keep everything straight today.  The gist of today is, there are two class parties and two ballet classes for the girls.  It's a busy holiday day!

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Valentines Sweets

Georgetown cupcakes were at the top of my wish-list for Valentine's Day.  Since we are really busy tomorrow, the actual holiday, we picked up our order this afternoon.  I can't wait to dig into these delectable sugar bombs.
 While Evelyn was at ballet this evening, Julia and I whipped up a batch of heart-shaped sugar cookies.  She will bring half of them to her preschool party tomorrow...
 ...and we get the rest!

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

American Girl Lunch

Once upon a time, I promised Julia I would take her to lunch at the American Girl doll store in Tysons Corner.  I had intended our lunch date to be in January, but the bistro was closed for two weeks for remodeling.  Today was finally the day for my little redhead to bring her little redhead, Rebecca, to lunch.
 Julia loved having Rebecca sit in her own little chair.  She kept moving it all around the table, trying to find just the right spot for her doll.
Julia and I both had a delicious lunch (you can probably guess who had the hot dog and who had the salmon), followed by scrumptious desserts.  Rebecca had chocolate milk and a grape; she has a small tummy, so she didn't want to eat very much.
 After lunch, we wandered around both levels of the store, admiring the merchandise.  We picked up a souvenir t-shirt for Rebecca and a chapter book for Evelyn.  Rebecca also had her hair done in the doll salon - a half-ponytail braid.  You can tell by the smiles on Julia's face that she had a blast...and will definitely want to come back again!

Fat Tuesday King Cake

Happy Fat Tuesday!  Teddy Bear is ready to gobble up the king cake we made for Julia's preschool.  (We made a second one for us to eat, of course!)

Monday, February 11, 2013

February Flower Buds Program

The theme of Brookside Garden's preschool program today was love.  We read stories about Valentine's Day, and the kids made pop-up cards with flowers inside (look at that writing!).
 We also went on a scavenger hunt around the gardens and in the conservatory, looking for red things.  Julia liked these pinkish-red plants and flowers.
 The only thing she didn't find on her scavenger hunt list was a red living animal, like a cardinal.  Ah, well, you never know what living creatures you'll see on any given day!

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Gluten-Free Cake Pops

Evelyn's 3rd-grade teacher has a daughter with a gluten allergy.  Up to this point, Evelyn hasn't brought in any baked treats because the teacher wouldn't be able to share them with everyone in her family (Evelyn's words/idea).  

After doing lots of research and asking Evelyn's teacher about specific ingredients, I made a batch of gluten-free cake pops.  There are three basic ingredients for these homemade treats:  gluten-free cake mix (I used Betty Crocker), Betty Crocker frosting and Wilton's candy melts.  Honestly, these came out better than my normal cake pops - everyone thought they tasted better and I didn't have as many cake pops crack when the candy coating had hardened.  Evelyn can't wait to bring these to her teacher for Valentine's Day!

Writing and Making Valentines

We girls blocked off an hour this afternoon to write out valentines.  Evelyn decided to give Fun Dip valentines to her 3rd-grade class.  I love the goofy smile on Evelyn's face in this picture:
 Julia chose crafty bear valentines for her preschool classmates.  She had a great time putting them all together and then signing her name.
 Then all three of us girls got busy writing cards for family, friends and teachers.  Good times!

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Girl Scout Cookie Time!

It's that time of year we all love to hate...Girl Scout cookie time!  We are trying our best to sell cookies to people we know, rather than hoard them and eat them all ourselves.  We Lusters have the same favorites as last year: Troy - tagalongs, Valerie - samoas, Evelyn - thin mints, Julia - trefoils (aka shortbread).  They're so yummy, it's hard to resist! 

Friday, February 8, 2013

How Kids Read a Kindle

After supper tonight, I could hear Evelyn reading a story to Julia.  However, with me standing in the kitchen, I couldn't see either one of the girls.  I followed the sound of Evelyn's voice to the living room couch, and this is what I found:
Look closely, and you can see the glow of the Kindle under the afghan.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Julia Is Writing!

This is what Julia brought home from preschool this morning, which shocked the socks off of me.  She had written, without the teacher making (or helping her make) and of the letters, "Julia Love Julia Mommy."  I know the teacher told her the letters to spell love and mommy, but she formed those letters on her own.  We have a budding writer on our hands!

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Super Bowl Spread

It's Super Bowl Sunday!  (Without our good friends Kat and Ross...sniff, sniff.)  This evening's spread consisted of - Troy's homemade hummus with pita chips, hot artichoke dip with beer bread, mini pigs-in-a-blanket, veggie pizza and Mississippi mud cake.  We only invited five people over, but basically everything but the cake was devoured.  We love Super Bowl Sunday because of all the yumminess that ensues!

Swimming Cat?

In preparing for the girls' swimming lessons this morning, I put the pool bag by the front door.  Unable to resist a bag with soft towels, Rosie hopped right in.  Maybe we should have taken her to the indoor swim center with us...?