Saturday, May 9, 2015

Evelyn's Nature Party

This girl is ready for her nature party!  And we couldn't have asked for better weather - it was sunny and in the mid-70's today.  Perfect for an outdoor party.
 First on the party agenda was dissecting owl pellets.  Even Julia got in on the action, using her tweezers to pull all sorts of bones out of the fur.
 Evelyn had requested that I get the big pellets, and I fulfilled that request.  The girls spent close to an hour, pulling all sorts of critter bones out of their pellets.
 Next up was the scavenger hunt/hike through the forest.  Everyone looked at their booklets to know what they were looking for, and off we went.  The girls drew pictures of what they saw, and everyone found everything except...a turtle.  We did see a water snake, which is another type of reptile, so I told those guests to just change it.
 Once back at our house, the girls washed their hands (with the hose in the front yard), grabbed some pretzel sticks and popcorn for a snack and started making their popsicle stick bird feeders.  I dumped a pile of popsicle sticks (two different sizes) on each table, along with two bottles of glue per table, and off they went, creating their own bird feeder.  (Also included in the goodie bags was a Ziploc bag of bird seed.)
 Well before the party started, I set out a treasure hunt all around the yard - front and back.  I split the girls into two teams.  Each clue told the each team to go to a different place for the next clue.  The team's clues went in a different order, but they all ended at the same place.  The prize?  A small, potted mariGOLD.  (Credit goes to Julia for that - such a clever one!)
 And the grand finale to Evelyn's two-and-a-half-hour party was cake and ice cream.  Everyone had a blast, and the time flew by!

Friday, May 8, 2015

Nature Party Prep

Evelyn's birthday party is tomorrow, which we have been planning for several weeks.  She decided on a nature theme for her party, with the highlights being a nature hike and dissecting owl pellets.  I wanted all of the party-goers to have a mission while hiking through the woods, so I made little scavenger hunt books.  Each little book has 12 things to look for (seeds, wildflower, flying insect, evidence of a beaver, etc.), and everyone's books is different.  I cut up a paper sack to make the covers, and I tied everything together with yarn.  I also found those cute "twig" pencils online for the girls to draw a picture when they found something.
 The scavenger hunt books were the most time-consuming thing to make, and they weren't that hard.  Everything else we just ordered or bought, and it was ready to go - journals for the goodie bags; owl-themed cups, plates and napkins; popsicle sticks and weather-proof glue to make bird feeders; owl pellets and bone-sorting guides (with tweezers!).  All of Evelyn's party items fit inside one box, making it easy to keep everything together before the big day.
 Going with the nature theme, and the fact that the girls would dissect owl pellets, Evelyn requested an owl cake for her party.  I found an owl cake pan online, in which I bake a vanilla cake (yes, another one!).  And now I just need to mix the colors and frost/decorate the cake.  Easy-peasy, and we're ready for tomorrow's party!

Thursday, May 7, 2015


Even though yesterday was Evelyn's birthday, it was such a busy weekday that we didn't have time to go out for a special dinner.  So we went out tonight for Evelyn's birthday - and she chose a hibachi grill.  It was everything she had hoped for - entertaining and yummy!

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Happy 11th Birthday, Evelyn!

Evelyn had a busy day today - Wednesdays are her busiest day of the week this year.  It all started with taking pictures in the front yard at 7:30 this morning, shortly before she was picked up for before-school band rehearsal.  We wanted to let the band carpool kids that it was Evelyn's special day, and balloons on the mailbox certainly conveyed the message.
 After a full day of school, Evelyn went to her two-hour ballet class.  So it wasn't until 8:00 p.m. that Evelyn was able to dig into her presents - and like in years past, American Girl doll accessories and Lego sets were the big-ticket items.
 Then it was time for cake!
 Yummy, colorful cake with 11 candles!
 Happy (busy) birthday, Evelyn!

First Grade Field Trip to Providence Children's Museum

I had the pleasure of chaperoning Julia's first-grade class on their field trip to the Providence Children's Museum (in Rhode Island).  The kids had two hours to explore the museum, and Julia's small group started in the water play area.
 Then they moved on to an area where they could experiment with lights and sounds.  But their favorite part was the colonial section, where they could dress up in "olden days" clothes and pretend they were pirates or settlers in the 1700's.  (Julia moved too much and too quickly for me to snap a picture of here in the colonial exhibit.)
 The last thing Julia's class did was learn about earthworms.  How thrilled was Julia to be able to play with her very own worm?  Uh, not very.
 This was as close as she got to her slimy companion.  But that's alright - she still learned new things and had a wonderful morning!

Rainbow Birthday Cake

Evelyn had one request for her birthday cake this year:  a vanilla cake.  Well, I can certainly do more than that . . . and after doing a bit of research online, I had a plan.  A rainbow cake plan.  I prepared a vanilla cake mix according to the package, except I only mixed the batter on medium speed for one minute.  I divided the batter into three separate bowls and added Wilton's food coloring gel to each bowl - red, yellow and blue.  (Stirring in the food coloring completed the mixing time needed for the cake batter.)
I layered and frosted the cake with regular, white buttercream frosting.  Then I made two cups of powdered sugar glaze, thinned with milk.  I used Wilton's food coloring gel to tint the glaze in six separate Ziploc bags.  Then I snipped the corner of the Ziploc bag and carefully drizzled the colored glaze down the sides of the cake.
 Evelyn had no idea that a colorful surprise awaited her under all the frosting - and she was thrilled with the result!

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Spring Bird Update

Most of the ducks have deserted our yard, probably so the mamas can sit on their nests.  But we have seen this lonesome fellow hanging around in our backyard and the creek.  We call him "Daddy Goose" because we assume that the mama is sitting on her eggs.
 We have two nests in the front of our house.  First is the phoebe nest, tucked above a porch light.  We were upset to see that, in addition to the two phoebe eggs, there is also a cowbird egg.  Cowbirds are protected pests, so I guess we'll just let nature take its course - Google them to see why the girls are so upset about this intruder.
 On the other side of the house, a robin has made a nest in a bush, and she has been sitting on four eggs.  This bush is right outside our living room window, so we can all keep a good eye on the progression of this nest.

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Sunny Soccer Sunday

Saturday, May 2, 2015


Somehow we didn't make it to the circus last year, so the girls could not wait to go to this afternoon's performance - they haven't been for two years!  Eek!  We headed down to see the Ringling Bros/Barnum & Bailey Circus in Providence - this was the 8th time Evelyn has seen the circus, and it was Julia's 4th show.  
 We always get to the circus an hour before the show so we can meet performers and get their autographs.
 The girls had no idea that this clown made a face like that until after we got home and I showed them the picture - they loved it!
 During the pre-show, you can also see various performances up-close, like these pachyderms (Julia's favorite).
 Right before we headed up to our seats, we had a chance to see the tiger trainer.  We have seen him before (in Washington, D.C. two years ago), and the girls were so excited that they could meet him and get his autograph today.  He also "autographed" for one of his tigers, Azucar.
 After the pre-show, we sat back and enjoyed all two hours of the real show.  The circus is always different, and it is always enjoyable.  A great time was had by all!

Friday, May 1, 2015

Birthday Gifts in the Bookstore

Julia "spent" her birthday cookie coupon . . .
 . . . and gift card at Barnes and Noble today.  She did really well, hauling in five books and magazines with her $25 gift card.  Naturally, she couldn't wait to dive into this most recent Judy Moody book (it's all she's been reading lately).

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Hyacinths in Bloom

If only you could smell these lovely flowers . . .

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Julia's 7-Year Checkup

This morning, Julia went to the pediatrician for her 7-year-old checkup.  She was happy to hear that she is 4 feet, 3 inches tall (and weighs 66 pounds).  That means she grew 3 inches in the last year - and she is still in the 99th percentile for height.  All areas of Julia's health checked out fine, from her hearing to her vision and everything in between.  She's our strong, healthy girl!

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Spring Soccer has Started!

Soccer was supposed to start two weeks ago, but with all the snow we had this past winter, the fields weren't ready until today.  And Julia couldn't wait to get out on the pitch!
We hardly recognized our little soccer player - she has improved so much over the winter (taking a break over the winter, I might add...).  She was running all over the field, chasing the ball as she kicked it (she used to just kick the ball once and not go after it).

 She even made a couple of good stops when she played goalie.
 Julia has always said she loves soccer, and today she played like she meant it.  Way to go!

The Butterfly Place

Julia's Girl Scout troop headed up to the Butterfly Place in Westford, Massachusetts to learn all about butterflies.
 This place is full of butterflies and butterfly-friendly plants and flowers.  We moved slowly around the indoor exhibit, being careful not to step on any of the flying insects.
 While wandering through the butterfly building, the girls checked off items on their scavenger hunt, which had them looking for specific butterflies and their food.  All in all, it was a great place to visit, and the bonus was Julia earned another Girl Scout patch for her Daisy smock.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Early-Birthday Dinner in Omaha

Even though Evelyn's birthday is still a few days away, we celebrated her birthday by going out to dinner this evening.  She loves eating at Upstream in the Old Market, she thoroughly enjoyed her dinner (and dessert!).
 Before leaving the Old Market, the girls posed for a couple of pictures - one with their Grandma Linda and Grandpa Phil . . .
 . . . and one of just the two of them outside.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Amelia Earhart's Birthplace Museum

Today was a road-trip day!
 Remember two weeks ago, when Evelyn represented Amelia Earhart in her school's Hall of Fame?  While doing her research, Evelyn found out that Earhart was born in Atchison, Kansas.  I did a little bit of researching myself and discovered that Atchison is about two hours south of Bellevue.  We girls decided to take a day trip down to Kansas to see Earhart's birthplace, which is also a museum.  (And yes, Evelyn brought part of her Amelia Earhart costume with her on this trip so she could wear it at the museum.)
 The museum is set up as a self-guided tour - we had information on a handout that we carried with us as we wandered from room to room, checking out all things Amelia Earhart.
 We even saw her pilot's hat, complete with her initials written on the inside.
 Amelia Earhart's birthplace/house has been completely remodeled to reflect the time period of when Earhart lived here (1897-1909).  The rooms were jam-packed with all sorts of artifacts that detailed Earhart's life - her personal belongings, articles written by and about her, maps, and so on.  We only spent two and a half hours at the museum this afternoon, but we could have easily spent an entire day here - there was so much to see and read.
 One of the last rooms we visited was Amelia's bedroom on the second floor.  The girls were completely enamored with her bedroom, and several of the items in here belonged to Amelia Earhart.  Overall, it was a wonderful experience that both girls enjoyed.