Friday, January 12, 2018

We Made Some Stuff

Every December, I have the boys make ornaments as their gifts to teachers and grandparents. The boys chose these ugly sweaters this year. I didn't plan on making my own, but I did. And I'm not embarrassed to say how much I enjoyed making these funny little things.




And then I made these pencil cases for the boys' teachers and filled them with colored pens and a gift card (you know, the one thing they can actually use).

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Winter Getaway to New Germany State Park

Like I said, I can only take being inside my house...with my kids...and the cold...for so long. By day five, I was done and reservations were made. Normally, two-night minimums are in place in Maryland State Parks over holiday weekends, but I lucked out with a cabin that had only a Friday night available. So we took it.

We couldn't check in Friday until 3, so we left promptly at noon. For prep, I asked Chuck to take the boys to the library, but then to not let them look at their books until we were pulling out of the driveway. It was GENIUS. Other than a few podcasts, the boys read in the car on the way out and back. It was lovely.

We arrived to find the ground already under about six inches of snow. Gorgeous. The boys immediately geared up and went outside to play. This year we completed our family set of snowshoes, but six inches is a bit too little for them. So they just goofed around. It was cold (20s?), but like they care.


After a good romp in the snow, they came back in to enjoy the warmth. This place was definitely smaller than our house, and therefore easier to heat. The upstairs loft where Chuck and I slept was too hot, if you can believe that.




We woke up the next morning to about three new inches, and it kept coming! I mean, c'mon, look how amazing it is!


We opted for a hike, because what else are you going to do when it's 16 degrees?! Having spent a week here with Girls Camp, I hiked all but one loop in the park. But it was so fun to see it covered in snow. And after Ollie's usual 20-minute freak-out at the start of every hike, he did great. We were all plenty warm (although the littles could have used face masks), but we had a great time.








Getting out of the house was exactly what I needed and this place was perfect.

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

The Rest of Christmas Break

How else did we spend break week? Mostly trying not to freeze to death. It's insanely unseasonably cold here. I'm dying. Literally.

One picture of them cooperating with me before turning back into the disgusting little dudes that they are.


Tuesday: I went to work in the morning while the boys stayed home and played and did some homework. That afternoon we went to Six Flags. It was FREEZING, but empty, so that's good. I can't remember being that cold in a LONG time (my feet were numb). But it's always fun to go at Christmas and see all the lights.

Wednesday: A slow morning at home playing with toys (the little boys), cleaning (me), and sleeping (Chuck) before going ice skating with friends. Like clockwork, this is the day I start feeling cabin fever and plan a night away. This year I chose a state park in western Maryland where they had one cabin for one night available. Sure it's long way to drive for one night, but I didn't care. I couldn't stay in the house and stay sane.

Thursday: I went to work again while the boys did pretty much nothing. It was another short-ish day so that afternoon we did more of nothing when I got home.

Friday: Around lunch we headed out to New Germany. This is one of the two state parks we hadn't camped at (even though I spent a week here for Girls Camp), so it was fun to check it off the list. That will be another post.

Saturday: Happy 13th anniversary to Chuck and me!

Monday: Time to take down Christmas decorations! The kids had a play date at our house, but another lazy, do-nothing day.

Overall, it was a good break. The bigger the kids get, the easier it gets. But still: I can only handle the noise and mess for so long. I'm sooooooo ready for the kids to go back to school. It's like summer break, but worse.

P.S. Ollie asked for a Santa hat for Christmas. It arrived late, but he's been wearing it non-stop since it arrived. It kills me (in the good way, not like what the cold is doing to me).


Friday, December 29, 2017

Keeping Me Busy

I find that I'm frequently asked, and that I frequently ask, the question, "So, what's new?" The problem is my answer is almost always, "Nothing." Because it's the truth. We still live in the same house, I still have two boys and the same husband, the adults still have the same jobs. But I think I found my new alternative to asking that question. Instead I'm going to ask, "So, what's keeping you busy?" It just feels different enough.

Here's how I would have answered that for December. For me, it was choir and Ollie's school. I joined the stake choir in addition to ward choir, which meant performing at Stake Conference, a local performance highlighting different denominations in our area, a stake Christmas performance, and then the regular ward Christmas program. It was a lot. And then there's the work I've been doing at Ollie's school. After the move to the new building, one of the book storage rooms is in dire need of some organization. I offered to help the Reading Specialist there with this task. And whoa. It's intense. First was doing a complete inventory, next was applying all appropriate labels (genre and reading level, mostly), then will be the sorting and actual organizing. I'm still working on the inventory, but also doing some of step 2 at the same time. But I'll be honest: I kind of LOVE this task. It's spreadsheets, organizing, and, oh yeah, helping the school. Wins all around!

Oh, here are some pictures I haven't already posted from the week. These are Christmas Eve morning in our fancy clothes.


Thursday, December 28, 2017

Christmas Day

Without sounding terrible, can I admit that I enjoyed Christmas Eve much more than Christmas Day? Not that we had a bad Christmas Day, but I just find the day boring. Sure, it's relaxing. And no, my boys didn't fight too much. I just get restless. The boys were awake by 5:30, I made it up the stairs at 5:45, we started opening presents at 6, and we finished slightly before 7 (a new record for us, I think). But then we had to kill 12 hours. INSIDE. It was fine, really. The boys put together Legos, Ollie read a TON, Chuck and I napped, and everyone ate their weight in sugar. Rhett and I made it outside for a run/bike (me on foot, he on wheels) where we saw ZERO animals (a bummer to a kid with new binoculars). We watched a movie and then it was the boys' bedtime. It was fine, just a bit boring.

I was reminded Tuesday why I also like Eve more than Day: the MESS. I came home from work and the house was a disaster. Christmas Eve is still beautiful and not messy. I feel like it takes until New Year's Day for the house to be clean again. Blah.

Oh, and here are some pictures. Rhett got a lot of Caps gear, although no real hockey gear.


Chuck working on his x-cube. He's already made tremendous progress.


Ollie reading.


Sitting in the mess.


Pretty much how Rhett spent his day.

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

The BEST* Christmas Eve

Having Christmas on Monday was pretty darn good. But having Christmas Eve on a Sunday was the BEST. I'm just sad we have to wait six years for this to happen again.

Saturday: We were done with all shopping for gifts, so we saw a movie ("Wonder") and then went grocery shopping. We went to the "special" grocery store because they have bulk candy and we love buying it that way for our gingerbread houses. For dinner, we went out for Chinese. My family used to go to Benihana on Christmas Eve and Chuck's family loves this local Chinese restaurant, so we compromised and did Chinese on Christmas Eve Eve. (Of course, our boys ate pretty much nothing except the won ton soup crackers.) That night was a movie and then sleeping by the tree. It's also the night Chuck and I get all the presents from their hiding place and put them under the tree. The way the boys couldn't keep their hands off of them the next morning told us waiting until Christmas Eve was the right decision.


Sunday: This day was my FAVORITE. As church was reduced to only one hour, we opted for the earliest (8:30) ward in our building to get it done. (I was disappointed in the service however. They had two talks. WHAT?! Why weren't we just singing Christmas hymns?! On the plus side, this ward served bread with gluten, so we forgave them.) We invited our friends over for lunch (we served this delicious chili and fried plantains) and to join us in our gingerbread house decorating. So. Much. Fun. I have to admit that I love actually building the homes, not just the decorating. This year Chuck and I designed two more houses so that we had three houses in the three different styles. I seriously love everything about this. And having our friends over made it so much fun everyone. The kids had fun; the adults had fun. It was great.


The boys helped divvy out the candy. Ollie is one snappy dresser.


Plus, we have these incredible centerpieces now. I just love them.


After our "party," Chuck and I cleaned up while the boys watched some Christmas shows. Then it was time for...LUMINARIAS! We did this at my house in Sandy and I love them. I loved setting them up with my Dad, and I loved driving home from Benihana seeing them lit. Even though we were going to be the only house doing it, we did it. Of course, I didn't get the right candles and they didn't last long, but next year I'll do better.






Then it was time for dinner, another movie, and then bed. Chuck and I fell asleep before 9. Ha. It really was the best of days.

*Why the asterisk? Because poor Ollie got sick. He puked twice, scaring my guests who were silently terrified that their kids were going to be sick. Thankfully, he woke up feeling fine and ate plenty of candy to assure us he was better.

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

December Happenings

As usual, we had a busy month filled with our advent activities. Some highlights are below:

Playing reindeer games. This was "Pin the Nose on the Reindeer." Ollie drew the reindeer. :)


Decorating cookies that only kids could like.


Decorating a gingerbread house with our family friend, Edna.


Decorating gingerbread men. Lots of decorating going on this year.


Annual "sleep under the tree" night. You can't see it, but we're projecting the movie "Elf" on the wall. It was a lot of fun to watch it that way.


There was also lots of driving by house lights, reading Christmas books, watching Christmas movies, and shopping.

We also had a bonus Secret Santa night. We made some treats for our ward Christmas party one Saturday, and the next Tuesday a friend put out a message looking for the bakers of that dessert because they wanted the recipe. I thought we do could better than that: we could make them a fresh batch (which would NOT be over-baked like the ones I brought to the party). So that we did. I was able to get them done right when the boys were going to bed, so we all piled in the car and doorbell ditched those suckers. :) The boys had an awesome time doing it and LOVED that by the time we got home, our friends had already thanked their "Secret Santa" on Facebook. That might have to happen again next year.

Monday, December 25, 2017

Friday, December 1, 2017

Mental Load

There are a lot of things that I say over and over in my house. "The house is not a playground!" or "Don't touch your brother's food!" But this one, "Why am I the only one who thinks in this house?" is one of my favorites. Ever since I saw this comic, it made me realize why I said it. Because I am the main one who thinks in the house. The idea of mental load was new to me. But it's really changed the way I look at the stuff that I do for the house.

Just for documentation, here are the things that take space in my head:

Extra-curriculars
Vacation plans
Meal planning
Homework
Adult chores
Kid chores
Finances
FHE
Car maintenance
House maintenance
Medical appointments
Gifts (birthday and Christmas)
Scouting
Family documentation (DVDs, scrapbooks)

Chuck and I have discussed this, but have really yet to figure out how it can be more even. It's a process, but I'm hopeful that someday we'll find a good balance.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

House Updates

I briefly mentioned that we got rid of most of the boys' toys a couple of weeks ago. In order to soften the blow, we sold them and told the boys they could use the money to spend on Legos. Why Legos? Because other than Magformers, Legos are the only things they play with regularly. I wanted everything else GONE. And except for a set of baby balls and this strange kitty piano, everything sold!

To house the Legos, Chuck and I put together a Lego table. The entire house loves it. All the Legos can stay out, I can vacuum, and there's less clutter. I love when everyone wins. And of course there's a hairbrush on the floor in the playroom. Isn't there one in your house?


And just for documentation, we also replaced four closet doors. The old doors were bi-fold doors with mirrors on them! They drove me crazy. I love these new ones. Plus, I don't have to look at myself 50 times a day.

Monday, November 27, 2017

Crafty Bastards

It's my favorite event of the year: Crafty Bastards! This time I took Rhett and Ollie (the latter not being my choice but he was conned by his older brother). Unfortunately we had a FREEZING day and Ollie whined and complained the entire time until we got to Shake Shack, where he miraculously recovered. Of course, as soon as we got home he said, "Well, Mom, I didn't hate it there." Thanks Ollie. His whining didn't stop us from seeing cool things, however. Below are some of my favorites.

Some super cute paper cut cards at Shipwreck Press.


Of course there was some arty taxidermy. This was wire taxidermy by Alison Brynn Ross.


These amazing prints from Brainstorm! I love love love the style.


A modern take on macrame from Savvie Studio.


Beautiful puzzles and hilarious coasters from Bright Beam Goods. Both boys loved playing with the tangrams.


Confession: I don't remember what specific things I liked at Cuddles and Rage. But I have their card. Oh, I remember: among other things, they took oil paintings and put some extra graphics on top that just did not match AT ALL but got the biggest giggle out of me and Rhett.


The style here at Little Canoe was just adorable.


I'm still laughing about the merpug from Pickled Punks Plush.


I liked Studio 366 because it gave me some possibilities for a girls camp craft.


And of course, there's always some beautiful jewelry. This stuff was from Off on a Tangent. It's so intricate and gorgeous and wood!


Aren't people incredible?! Now, what can I recreate...

Friday, November 24, 2017

Race

Well, we did it again. A group of six friends ran an (almost) out-of-town race. This time it was the Annapolis Classic. Three of us ran the half marathon, two ran the 10K, and one couldn't run so she brought her bike and biked while we ran (but not on the same course). We left town fairly early and were able to enjoy walking around Annapolis. We got a delicious dinner and then chatted until bedtime.


Race start was at 7:30, so to give me time to eat and get ready, I got up at 6:15. Our biker gave us a ride to the start and within ten minutes, the gun went off. (It was a very prompt start, which I appreciate.) It was a chilly morning with a breeze, but not cold. I was happy with my clothing choices. The race started out just fine, but at about mile 6 the hills began. And then they didn't stop until about mile 12. A lot of ups and down. A LOT. But then it was over! My time was 2:12:53, so definitely not my fastest. But I have been running slowly during training runs (old age?) so was actually okay with this time. I didn't stop even once on the hills, and made sure to drink. And hey, it's not like I actually expected to win, even if my boys did.

Race start was at the Navy Stadium (hence the promptness of everything).


So what if I'm not the ridiculously photogenic race guy.


Race finished (hence the red face).


Because it's Annapolis and we're on the Chesapeake Bay, our post-race food included warm tomato soup and oysters. TRUTH: I'd never had oysters before. Because of this, I opted for the grilled (instead of raw) variety. These were grilled with bacon and cheese and hot sauce on them and so obviously, they were delicious.


And after finishing the run, we headed back to the house and ate our delicious breakfast. We had quiche, meat and crackers, fruit, yogurt and granola, and cinnamon rolls. So good. Then we headed home! It was a great way to spend 24 hours, even if we joke about doing the same ladies weekend without all the running.