Tuesday, December 31, 2013

New Year's Eve Party

Here's how we partied on New Year's Eve...Following a dinner made up of various appetizers, we all played a game of Rummikub.  Much to Evelyn's delight, she won!
 Then, at about 9:30 pm, we rang in the new year with sparkling grape juice, complete with party hats, of course.
 Cheers to the new year!

Monday, December 30, 2013

Evelyn's Goldfish

Evelyn has wanted a pet goldfish for a couple months, now.  She wants a goldfish because she likes the bright orange color, and she also wants something calming in her room.  Understandably, Evelyn gets upset with Julia (and her parents!) at times, and Evelyn wants something to help her calm down.

Troy and I asked Evelyn to research caring for a goldfish, which she did in October and November.  However, the books she read about caring for a goldfish encouraged her to get an aquarium with a filtration system. A fish tank wouldn't fit on her dresser very well, and I know from prior experience that small goldfish will do well in a fish bowl.  After assuring Evelyn her fish would be fine in a fish bowl, we all took the plunge, and she got her fish last week.

Fannie (a fan-tail goldfish) is everything Evelyn had hoped for.  If Evelyn has a hard time going to bed at night, she watches Fannie for a little bit until she is relaxed enough to fall asleep.  If Evelyn wakes up in the middle of the night (she's still adjusting to the clicking sounds of the "new" house's heating system), she glances over at her swimming friend until she is calmed down and ready to go back to sleep.  And, of course, when Evelyn is having a hard time with other people in her family, she can escape to her room, where Fannie helps her settle down.  Getting a goldfish has really helped Evelyn's emotional needs.  I think our only regret is that we didn't get one sooner!

Sunday, December 29, 2013

My Baby Can Read!

Julia has been interested in reading on her own since this summer.  She really wanted to learn to read, and she kept asking me when she would start reading.  For the past couple of months, I saw the signs of reading readiness, but it wasn't until about two weeks ago that I knew Julia was "this close" to taking off.

Everything started to click today, when I showed her an early-reader book I had checked out from the library.  There are four short stories in this book, and the stories have repetition, which is helpful to beginning readers.  I knew Julia would recognize some of the sight words - the, and, my.  And Julia is patient enough to carefully sound out words she doesn't know.  She needed a little bit of help reading the short stories in this book, but Julia was determined to be an independent reader...and she succeeded!

Friday, December 27, 2013

Boston Sight-Seeing

 Today we took my parents sight-seeing in Boston, with our destination being the Boston National Historical Park.  When we walked most of the Freedom Trail in September (with Troy's parents), the girls started working on two Junior Ranger badges.  They wanted to do some more activities in their booklets today.

We spent about two hours exploring the USS Constitution (nicknamed Old Ironsides) and the Constitution museum.  The last time we came, I couldn't board the ship because I had left my driver's license at home, and everyone else wasn't able to go below the top deck.  Well, I made sure to bring my driver's license this time, and we were able to visit the two lower decks as part of a tour.  We started out by checking out some of the guns on the top deck.
 And then we were below-deck.
 We learned some sailor lingo, like what a scuttle-butt is.  Scuttle means to alter an object so that you cannot use it for its original purpose any more.  This barrel (aka a "butt") had a square cut into it, which is what the sailors kept their drinkable water in.  We also saw the sleeping quarters of the shipmen and learned there was only one cook for 450 men.
 After seeing the USS Constitution in the Navy Yard, we took a water ferry to Long Wharf, which is just a few blocks east of our next destination - Faneuil Hall.  'Tis the season for monster Christmas trees in various cities, and Boston is no exception.  Troy took a picture of me with Julia, Evelyn and my dad at the base of the Faneuil Hall tree.  That sucker was huge!
 After eating lunch inside the hectic, crowded Quincy Market (or the Colonnade, as some people call it), we visited Faneuil Hall.  This is where Bostonians met to plan all sorts of rebellious acts against the British before the Revolutionary War.  The Great Hall - where these people met - was on the second floor, and there was a market with stalls for various vendors on the first floor.  Faneuil wanted a market for ideas on the second floor and a market for goods and products on the first floor.
 Even though a guy named Faneuil came up with the idea of the building, Samuel Adams (the statue in the picture below) played an integral part in the meetings and setting up boycotts against the British.  The girls did three more activities in their Junior Ranger booklets today, and I think we will need two more trips into Boston to complete the badges.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Christmas 2013

Not only did Rosie supervise opening presents this morning, she wanted to play.  Julia got an animal-training set for her doll, Rebecca.  And Rosie acted like she wanted to jump through the hoop!  (She didn't.)
 The girls each chose a gift for each other.  Evelyn picked out a doll bath tub for Julia, and Julia found an art kit and watercolor paper pad for Evelyn.  Evelyn was so excited about her gift, she almost cried.  Happy girl!
Both girls liked the aprons I had made for them.  After putting them on for this picture, they wore them until it was time to eat Christmas dinner.
 How did Rosie like her new plush mouse?  So much that she had to cuddle with it during her afternoon nap.
 Two of the girls' gifts kept them occupied for most of the day...Lego sets.  Julia built most of her pet salon by herself (242 pieces).
 And Evelyn finished most of her 612-piece dolphin cruiser today.  Thankfully the girls not only have fun building their Lego sets, but they also have fun playing with them, too.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

'Twas the Night Before Christmas . . .

Earlier this evening, we girls picked up my parents from the Providence (Rhode Island) airport for their 6-day visit to Massachusetts.  Julia was looking forward to having her Grandpa Phil read 'Twas the Night Before Christmas, especially since it really was the night before Christmas.  This was the girls' (first) bedtime story tonight; they wanted their usual chapter books read to them once they were in bed.
Merry Christmas Eve!

Monday, December 23, 2013

Visiting Santa

We waited until almost the last possible moment to visit Santa this year (kind of like last year, when we also saw Santa on December 23rd).  We live only ten minutes away from a Bass Pro Shops, and we had heard this was the place to go for such a festivity.  It's true.  They had transformed the store into a winter wonderland, with plenty of holiday photo the one below.
 We got to the store shortly before 10:00, and we were handed a pass that indicated our visiting time was at 11:30.  Aiming to actually get in line at 11:00, that gave us an hour to wander around the store, and the girls did some of the typical outdoor store things like look at fish and animals.  They also wrote letters to Santa before hopping in line.
 Julia actually sat on Santa's lap this year (a first!), and the girls told me their dolls enjoyed visiting Santa, too.  Yes, we had to wait, but seeing Santa was worth the wait.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Nutcracker in Providence, Rhode Island

After seeing Evelyn perform in the Nutcracker last weekend, Troy mentioned how it has been a couple of years since Evelyn has actually watched a performance strictly as an audience member.  Since we are only 40 minutes north of Providence, Rhode Island, I took the girls to the ballet there this afternoon.
The Providence Performing Arts Center was stunning.  The theater was built in 1928, and the interior has been restored to its original splendor - gilded plasterwork, replicated ornate carpet, imported marble columns and huge crystal chandeliers.  The girls and I were in awe of the beauty of this theater.
Anyway...back to the ballet!  While waiting for the doors to open, I let Julia choose her own nutcracker doll.  She was so excited to have her very own nutcracker.  Both girls were anxious to see how today's story compared to other performances they have seen.  Naturally, it was different, but very enjoyable.  Evelyn is even considering auditioning for this company's Nutcracker ballet next fall...we'll see what happens!

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Sugar Cookies 2013

Who wants to make a mess in the kitchen?  Julia!
And Evelyn!  The girls took turns rolling and cutting out about 20 sugar cookies each.  Julia cut out men and trees, while Evelyn cut out bells and stars.
 After letting the cookies cool off, it was - finally - decorating time!  One of the little men lost his foot before going into the oven, so I made a toothpick peg-leg for him.  Evelyn then decorated him like a pirate...very clever!
 Julia was very focused this year, carefully adding dots of frosting and nonpareils.
 Julia even designed this star to look like a poinsettia.
 And the finished products!  Way to go, junior chefs!

Girl Scout Cookies!

Massachusetts starts selling Girl Scout cookies earlier than Maryland.  Evelyn went to her first (and only) cookie booth sale this afternoon.  At first, we thought it was unusual that the booth was at the town dump, but business was really booming there on a Saturday afternoon.  And we really lucked out with the weather for December; it was sunny and in the 50's today.  Nice work, Junior Girl Scout!

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

After-School Fun

It snowed a couple of inches this afternoon, so by the time Evelyn got home from school, the girls had a winter wonderland to play in.  I told them they could stay outside until either it got dark or they got too cold.  They played until 4:30, when it got dark, which doesn't surprise me.  And what comes after playing in the snow?  Hot chocolate, of course!

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Nutcracker Performance Weekend

This weekend was Nutcracker performance weekend for Evelyn!  Friday evening was a dress-rehearsal.
Saturday evening was a 7:30 performance.  I volunteered backstage, and I was able to get a picture of Evelyn in the holding room.  From the neck up, this soldier is ready for tonight's performance.
 Troy, Julia and I watched Evelyn's 2:00 performance this afternoon.  Julia couldn't wait to give big sis flowers after the show, for a job well-done.

Snow Play

Last night it snowed about six inches.  However, freezing rain then fell on top of the snow, making a hard crust on top of the heavy, slushy snow.  There was enough snow to play in.....
 .....but the consistency of last night's snow made it nearly impossible to make a snowman.  The girls worked and worked on a snowman, but they could only manage to build a short one.
 I helped the girls find a good place to sled in our backyard.  There are a couple of gentle slopes in our backyard, but we needed to find one that wouldn't let the girls slide onto the creek.
 They both went sledding for about ten minutes, which is when they had worn a watery, slushy trench.  And Julia promptly landed in a puddle of cold slush, getting soaking wet.  That's when Julia called it quits, and Evelyn followed suit.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Boot Sizes

This morning Troy and Evelyn went shopping for snow boots.  Julia and I were designated assistants in the boot hunt, looking for Troy's and Evelyn's sizes.  Therefore, it was ingrained in Julia's head the Troy was a size 12.

When we got home, Julia wanted to wear Troy's new boots.  They were so big, she couldn't hardly walk around!  What she couldn't understand is, if she wears a size 13, why doesn't she fit into Troy's size 12 boots?  Valid question.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Tree with a Tail

When looking out the window this morning, I noticed the tree had grown a tail.  Very odd.....

Post-Kindergarten Chat

One of my favorite things about Julia being in half-day Kindergarten is lunch time.  She takes out her work from that morning, and we talk about her at school.  She is always so enthusiastic when telling me her school stories.  I love our weekday lunches together!

Wednesday, December 11, 2013


We had our first Massachusetts snow yesterday.  It really didn't amount to much, but it sure made for a beautiful sunrise this morning!

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Christmas Kitty

Rosie decided to curl up on my lap this afternoon.  With the Christmas tree in the background, it made for a festive picture.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Tea with Clara

This afternoon Evelyn performed in a shortened version of the Nutcracker ballet, called Tea with Clara.  Naturally, Julia and I had to attend the tea.
 Hot tea and apple cider were served, along with finger sandwiches and two-bite desserts.
 While sipping and snacking, we watched the 40-minute, narrated ballet show.  I think Julia really enjoyed feeling all fancy and elegant...and I enjoyed watching both of my girls.
 Today's event was Tea with Clara, so Julia had to have her picture taken with Clara.  This young lady is also the teacher's assistant in Julia's pre-ballet class, making this photo op extra-special.
 Let's not forget Evelyn, our soldier ballerina.  She said it was a little nerve-wracking performing in front of a small group today, since the audience was really close.  But she did a great job marching around and dancing/fighting with the mice.