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.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Visiting Great-Grandma

Julia and Evelyn have been looking forward to visiting their great-grandma this week.  Today's weather was perfect for all of us to hang out outside - sunny and warm, not much of a breeze.  The girls are so glad they can spend some time with their great-grandma, especially since we live SO far away from her.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Happy 7th Birthday, Julia!

We celebrated Julia's birthday in Nebraska today.  (We are on April/Spring break, so no school and week-long trip to visit family.)  This afternoon we went to see the movie, "Monkey Kingdom."  The girls really enjoyed the documentary.
 Here's our little Sunshine, always ready to pose for the camera . . .
 Several weeks ago, when Julia found out she would spend her birthday in Nebraska, she instantly knew where she wanted to go for her birthday dinner - and Chick Fil A did it up right.  She got a free ice cream sundae, a stuffed Chick Fil A cow and a balloon (not the one in the picture, we brought that with us).  Even more than Julia had hoped for from one of her favorite restaurants!
 After dinner, we headed back to Julia's Grandma and Grandpa Luster's house for birthday cake and presents.  Julia chose everything about her cake - the chocolate cake mix, the purple frosting and decorations and the candles.  Happy birthday, Julia!!!

Sunday, April 19, 2015

April Trip Time

Who's ready for a trip to Nebraska?  These two girls!  Our journey started at the Boston airport this morning . . .
 . . . where we made a connection in Chicago (and ate lunch), and we ended up at our final destination, Omaha, in the evening.  We really miss the days of traveling to Nebraska on nonstop flights!

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Dolphin Birthday Party!

Today was the big day - Julia's 7th birthday party!  Julia decided that, instead of gifts for herself, she wanted to collect donations for Winter the dolphin in the Clearwater Marine Aquarium in Clearwater, Florida.  Since the theme of her party revolved around Winter, this made perfect sense.  And what a giving heart Julia has to do this!  So we had the donation box set up just inside the front door, where guests could drop off their birthday cards (for Julia) and donations (for Winter).
 And before I continue, let me post a picture of Julia's dolphin cake.  This was the easiest cake I have decorated - I only needed three colors, if you count black and white, which makes for quick and easy decorating.
 Back to the party . . . We had movie snacks set out ahead of time (Goldfish crackers and pretzels), as well as dolphin cups to hold the snacks.
 In the window room, Julia set up three activities:  a dolphin ring toss, dolphin tattoos and freeze dance (actually kind of like musical chairs - when the music stops, you stand on a shape with a number, and if your number is drawn, it's your turn to get a tattoo).  I know you can't see it, but Julia is posing on the shape with the number 7, since it's her 7th birthday.
 And the party table, where Julia will be served her birthday cake (and sung to, of course!).  The balloons will also be party favors for the guests to take home.
 We spent a majority of Julia's 3-hour party watching the first (original) "Dolphin Tale" movie.  We stopped half-way through for an intermission of playing games - BINGO and ring toss.  After the movie, the girls danced and got tattoos.
 Then it was time for birthday cake and singing!  After the girls had had their fill of cake (and doing sticker activity sheets), I read the nonfiction book Winter's Tail, How One Little Dolphin Learned to Swim aloud to the girls.  That way the guests knew which parts of the movie were real and which parts were made up.  We ended the party by playing "Hot Dolphin" - which is like hot potato, except the girls passed around a stuff dolphin.  Did my little Sunshine have fun?  Absolutely!  She planned a fantastic 7th birthday party!

Friday, April 17, 2015

Julia's Party Prep

Way back in January, Julia decided she wanted a dolphin birthday party, and she wanted to plan every single detail.  And plan she did!  Over the past three months, I have been ordering and creating various products and activities for the big day (tomorrow).  Everything for Julia's party - except the cake - fit into this box . . . so I have jokingly called this Julia's party-in-a-box.
 Today Julia helped me bake an egg-free, dairy-free cake (one of her guests has food allergies).  Julia wanted a chocolate and yellow marble cake, which was easy to do with these two allergy-free cake mixes.
 While the cake was baking, Julia got to work decorating her friends' goodie bags.  (Meanwhile, I was working on her sister's owl party invitations . . .)
 One more thing to prepare for Julia's party:  her dress.  Julia specifically requested that I sew a dress for her.  No problem.  And I thought I was done this morning until my little Sunshine asked me to put a pocket on her dress.  Okey, dokey!  Now that the pocket is finished, her dress is really done.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Honors Band Concert

This is the season for special band performances...In January, Evelyn auditioned for the Honors Band.  This is a band for students in the three towns that feed into our regional secondary schools.  The audition is open to band students from all three towns, and Evelyn had to prepare her audition solo on her own.  A couple weeks after the audition, Evelyn got the good news that she had received - for the second year in a row - a Superior rating (the highest rating).  The congratulatory letter explained that only 10% of those who auditioned received a Superior, so Evelyn definitely has something to be proud of.
 Tonight was the Honors Band concert at the regional high school.  She only had one week to prepare for tonight's concert.  That's not much time to practice, and Evelyn got a little stressed trying to learn four songs in such a short amount of time.  But she figured it out, and loved playing in tonight's concert.
Here's our clarinet player, sporting tow Superior ribbons - one from last year, and one from this year.  Congratulations!

Saturday, April 11, 2015

MICCA Gold Showcase Concert

Where was our 5th-grade clarinet player this morning?
 . . .on stage at Boston's Symphony Hall!  A couple weeks ago, Evelyn's school's advanced band competed in a state-wide band and chorus competition, and they took home the gold medal.  Only two elementary schools in the entire state earned a gold medal, so Evelyn (and her fellow band mates) were pretty excited to be given such an honor.
 As gold medal winners, the band was invited to perform at Boston's Symphony Hall during today's MICCA Gold Medal Showcase.  They performed their three songs, and Evelyn thoroughly enjoyed being on the same stage where professional musicians play.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Hall of Fame

For the last month and a half, Evelyn has been working on a major research project about Amelia Earhart.  She had to read three sources - two books and one website -  before writing a very detailed speech about Earhart.  Her speech had to be less than two minutes long, and that was a challenge.  There is SO much information about Amelia Earhart, it was hard for Evelyn to decide what was should stay in her speech!
Evelyn worked on her research and speech at both home and school (during Language Arts time), and she also created an amazing portrait of Amelia Earhart in Art class.  Her portrait was on display this evening at her school's Hall of Fame event.
 What was the Hall of Fame?  Every 5th-grade student sat at their station, dressed as their person, and presented their speech to guests.  So, for an hour, Evelyn recited her memorized speech about Amelia Earhart to parents, teachers and siblings.  It was a wonderful culmination for her major project!

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

National Monument Museum

This afternoon I was invited to see the National Monument Museum that Julia's 1st-grade class had prepared.  Before entering, I took a ticket.  The ticket had each student's initials on it, and as I visited each monument station, the corresponding student would mark off their initials.
 Julia researched the White House.  She wrote a report about the White House, giving lots of important and interesting details about it.  She also made an illustration on and iPad.  Then she recorded her report and connected the audio to her computer illustration, and I was able to listen to her sweet little voice tell me all about the White House.
 There was also an art gallery, and Julia proudly showed off her painting of the White House.
 All in all, it was a very fun afternoon, visiting Julia's station as well as the other students in her class.  I know Julia was really proud of her work, too!