Thursday, October 31, 2013

Halloween Full of Witches

Before I get to this evening's pictures, I first want to share a picture of Julia at her Kindergarten Halloween party from this morning.  Such a cutie!
 Here's Evelyn as the Wicked Witch of the West.
 And here's Julia as Glinda the Good Witch.
 Are they friends . . .
 . . . or foes?
 Turns out they got along very well as Troy took them trick-or-treating through the neighborhood.
 The girls were gone for about an hour and a half, and they each brought home a bucket full of candy.
 While Julia and Evelyn sipped hot cocoa, Rosie investigated their loot.  She especially liked the plastic spider ring that spilled out of Julia's bucket.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Carving Pumpkins

Halloween falls on a Thursday this year.  In order to ensure that our carved pumpkins would be fresh for the holiday, we had to carve them tonight (a school/weeknight).
 Julia didn't mind scooping out her pumpkin this year.  She cleaned her pumpkin for about 20 minutes before asking for my help...and she had done a really good job!
 Evelyn's before picture . . .
 . . . and the beginning of cleaning out the guts.  Evelyn is a pro at this, so she didn't need too much help scooping her pumpkin.
 Next came punching the design on the pumpkin, which both girls did completely on their own.
 Carving the pumpkins, however, was a different story.  Both girls chose designs/pictures that were too challenging for them.  So I bounced between the girls, helping them cut the tricky parts.
 Evelyn's headless man is on the left, my St. Louis Cardinal is in the middle and Julia's happy face is on the right.  After several hours of creative work, our pumpkins turned out pretty well!

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Stickers, Anyone?

Julia goes to bed with a picture book under her pillow every night.  She looks through the book on her own after we say good-night to her.  Tonight's book choice was one with stickers in it.  When I went in to check on her, I found stickers all over her head and arms...and her teddy bear even had a sticker on his belly.  I just never know what I'll find with this girl!


Some of my favorite songbirds showed up in our backyard today - juncos.  They herald the coming of winter, which I don't particularly like.  But they're so cute with their white bellies - thus the nickname "snowbirds" - that I overlook the reason they're here.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Pumpkin Patch (finally!)

We finally made it to the pumpkin patch!  
 We went to a simple, mom-and-pops farm about ten minutes from our house.  We went on a tractor ride out to their pumpkin patch, where we could each choose a sugar pumpkin.

 After the tractor took us back to the main farmhouse area, the girls painted their little pumpkins.  We also chose carving pumpkins from the farm store.
 Julia chose a 16-pound beauty . . .
 . . . and Evelyn's pumpkin weighed in at 15 pounds.
 The last activity of the day for the girls was running through the hay bale maze.  This was in the basement of the barn, and the girls needed flashlights to find their way out.  (I think they could have run the maze for hours if we hadn't made them go home!)  All in all, it was good, simple fun for everyone this afternoon.

Evelyn's Ballet Class

Evelyn is taking Ballet 1A this year, which meets twice a week, an hour and a half each class.  At first Evelyn was concerned that her classes were 90 minutes long, but now she can't imagine a shorter would she fit everything in???
Evelyn has an excellent teacher this year.  She is gentle and kind, yet she has high expectations and demands perfection.
 Evelyn continues to thrive as a ballerina, absorbing all she can from her classes.
 And we really enjoy watching our Peanut grow as a dancer!

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Julia's Ballet

Julia still thoroughly enjoys taking ballet.  This year, she is in Pre-Ballet, which is also known as the more serious ballet class for 5-year-olds.
 Even though her teacher emphasizes the beginner basics of ballet positions and exercises, she still makes the class fun for little ones.
 I mean, clearly, Julia is enjoying herself.
 Now for a few serious poses from our ballerina . . .
 . . .and Julia always looks forward to next week's 45-minute class.

Menu Planning Tools

Before making my grocery list, I first plan the meals for the upcoming week.  Today's menu planning tools included two of my favorite cookbooks, my weekly calendar and my grocery list (of course).  I can make more elaborate dinners on evenings that the girls do not have activities, and I plan for leftover meals on our busier nights.  Throw breakfast and lunch staples on the shopping list, and we're good to go for another week.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Julia's Portrait of Me

While at the gym's day care this afternoon, Julia drew a portrait of me.  Julia remembered all the details of my gym outfit:   Dallas Cowboys t-shirt, black workout pants and my pink tennis shoes.  So cute!

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Unusual Fall Colors

This evening, the sunlight filtering through the clouds gave everything outside an eerie glow.  The rosy-orange shades lasted less than five minutes, giving me just enough time to find my camera and snap a few pictures from the back deck.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Rosie's Checkup

Rosie went in for her first Massachusetts checkup this afternoon.  The girls always want to help bring her to the vet, so I made the appointment for after school.  Everything was fine with our little furball.  This vet's scale weighed her at 7 1/2 pounds, which is lighter than at the Maryland vet, but we're not concerned; she's been eating the same and feels the same.  As far as Rosie leaving the house, that should be it for another year, when she'll make the next journey to the vet.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Post-Soccer Ice Cream

Julia (and her soccer team) played their little hearts out this afternoon, but they still lost.  To boost her spirits, we headed to Dairy Queen for a sweet treat.  That helped take her mind off of the low points of today's game!

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Leaf Piles!

This morning, Julia went to a children's program at Stony Brook Nature Center, which was appropriately all about leaves.  After learning about different kinds of leaves, the group went on a hike to collect a variety of leaves...which the kids then turned into leaf rubbings.
 As he has been doing for the past couple of weekends, Troy raked leaves this afternoon.  The girls absolutely LOVE being able to play in leaf piles.  We could never do this in Maryland because, living in a townhouse, the landscapers would take care of what leaves fell in our small yard.
 It's much different here - we have a big yard with lots of trees.  That means new leaf piles every weekend!

Friday, October 18, 2013

Bird Watching

Besides the usual birds, we've had quite a few newcomers to our backyard the past couple of weeks.  This towhee hung around for two days, making a complete mess of the feeding station.  He hopped around, scattering safflower seeds all over the place.  Evelyn commented that the cardinals appreciated what he was doing since they prefer to eat on the ground (where most of his mess ended up).
 Look closely at the picture below for a Northern flicker (big woodpecker).  It's on the left side of the tree trunk, blending in with some of the red-tipped leaves.  Flickers prefer to eat ants, but since the weather has gotten cooler, we've had them at our suet feeder.
 Speaking of the suet feeder, here's a regular customer - the little downy woodpecker.  The girls love looking at the back of the bird's head to see if a girl or boy is eating; this one is a girl because she does not have a red spot (males have a bright red spot on the back of their neck).

We were pleasantly surprised to hear (and then see) a kingfisher flying around the creek a couple of days ago.  It's call was so loud and unusual, that we ran out onto the deck to see what was making all that noise.  This one didn't let me get a good picture of its face, but it sure was fun watching it zip around the branches.
 When we have a variety of birds in the house feeder, the girls call out, "Bird party!"  Then they wait to see if there's a spat...
 The girls also enjoy counting how many goldfinches are on the niger feeder at one time.  There were six here (one is hiding on the other side).  Only the females get along this well; the males will only let their mate on the feeder with them.
 And how can I forget our star birdwatcher?  Rosie was watching nuthatches zip around the tree trunk - they're one of her favorite birds to watch.