Wednesday, September 21, 2016

My Life is Hard

About a month ago, something weird happened in our shower: we had more water pressure than we'd ever had before coming from the shower head. Chuck and I separately noticed and later confirmed each other's findings. What's weird about it is that nothing in the house changed. We didn't get a new hot water heater. We didn't do anything to our pipes. So we're just not sure what caused this, other than a poltergeist (my theory).

Sure, increased pressure is rarely a bad thing in a shower, right? Most of the time, yes! The new pressure isn't crazy hard and is, in fact, pleasurable. However, apparently increased pressure seems to cause increased shower curtain billowing. Surely you know what I'm talking about: the tendency of the shower curtain to billow inward during a shower?

This wouldn't be so terrible if our bathroom was a full, 1.0-sized bathroom (you know, one with a tub). But it's not; it's a 0.75-sized bathroom. We have a shower (no tub). It's teeny. So when the shower curtain takes away 20% of the square feet (which it does; I calculated it), well, it causes problems. Mostly in the form of me yelling at it to "STOP TOUCHING ME!" I promise you that you'd be just as yell-y if you were living this right now.

P.S. Also causing me woe is the new lateness of my newspaper delivery. We're talking WAY past the time it's guaranteed to be delivered to my house. This could be a deal breaker, Washington Post.

P.P.S. Also, Maryland's Mother Nature still thinks it's August here. Monday morning I felt like I was running in a sauna. Was it tears or just condensed humidity on my face? I'll let you decide.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Martinak State Park

After our crazy summer, we're back to camping again. I think we have three trips planned in October! Then I think we'll be done for the season (unless we one in early November). Anyway, the boys had a Monday off and so we headed out Sunday after church. (When you have 8:30 church, you can do this.) I was a bit nervous as this park is really close to Tuckahoe, you know, the one with the spiders and ticks. But apparently we were late enough in the season to avoid them. And even though it's ridiculously hot here still, we managed to get a nice-ish couple of days with cloud cover. Not too bad!

We fished, walked (very limited hiking here), had a campfire, and found dead crabs and shells. There was also a 1-mile paved fitness trail that circled one of the camping loops. We brought the boys' bikes and they joined me on my Monday morning run. It was a perfect ride for them. (Actually, I enticed them to do it twice with me.)

Overall, we liked this park a lot! Next up camping-wise: Delaware Seashore State Park!

Cheetos lips!

Didn't catch anything but that's okay.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Philadelphia Temple Open House

Right before Chuck went back to work last month, we went to Philly to see the new temple. And as we've never taken the kids to Philadelphia, we thought we should take them to see some of the sights. Thankfully the drive was just over two hours, so I'm sure we'll be back. ( know, because we've made such an effort before now.)

Anyway, got to the temple bright and early and quickly went through the open house.

Our first stop was the mint, but no pictures allowed. We all liked it a lot, however. Then we headed to the Liberty Bell. Not sure what the boys thought, honestly.

We didn't get tickets ahead of time for Independence Hall, so we had to spend a couple of hours. But with our packed lunches (like my kids would eat a cheesesteak) and junior ranger activities, the time was easy to fill.

Back for the tour.

Then the long walk back to the car. It was kinda painful and I may have had flashbacks to walking in Europe. But they made it. And we got home. AND the day turned out actually okay! Hooray for us!

Monday, September 12, 2016

Ollie Turned 5!

Okay, yeah yeah, so what if his birthday was over a month ago. We've been busy. But now that I'm at home without them all day, I just have all this time! (Catch the sarcasm there?)

Anyway, Ollie turned 5 last month. And let's just say I'm pretty sure he'd stay this age forever if he could. Lately he's been telling me how he never wants to be an adult. Hahaha. Sorry dude! It happens.

He was pretty excited for this day. Now that's a good Ollie face!

Oh these dolls. He HAD to have one of these little springy guys we saw in Europe. Had to. So he spent some money my parents gave him for one and then picked out another to be given to him on his birthday. The first one's spring was in knots before the day was over. That kid. He can be so incredibly difficult to please. He did like the skateboard, however, so that's something.

C'mon. He's adorable. It saves his life sometimes.

I worked from home, but Chuck and Emily/Ben went to the Dulles Air and Space museum to see, among other things, my dad's helicopter. It was more fun to see it flying. :)

Then after swimming and pizza at the pool, cake!

He seriously is the cutest. I love this little man! Happy birthday to Ollie!

Friday, September 9, 2016

Someone Came to Visit Us!

Although we live in a real destination, no one ever comes to visit us. My parents have been out a couple of times, but that's it. No friends (except for when Rach and Andy lived in NC), one. Until last month. Guess what?! My sister came! And she brought her family! They spent almost two weeks here and it was so much fun to host them. Because I had just spent three weeks' worth of vacation time from work, I couldn't take off nearly the amount of time I'd like, but thankfully they're adults (well, at least Ben and Emily are) and can manage on their own, or with Chuck.

One trip I did get to join them on was when we went to Terrapin Beach Park. Dead crabs and jellies were the specials of the day, unfortunately.

We did find this little spot where a freshwater creek was spilling into the bay and keeping the jellies out, so the kids were able to play there plenty.

Cousins are the best.

And then I got to join them at Fort McHenry.

Seriously, Ollie? That face.

Again, Ollie.

And again. It's so him. Oh how I hope he grows out of it, but oh how I hope I never forget it. What a unique little guy.

Being silly on the steps!

The cousins mostly enjoyed each other. Ollie had it in for Lucy, for no reason at all. Pretty much the second they got out of the car, he was done with her. Sigh. And Rhett would settle for nobody but Jonas, another sigh. But hey, I did great! I planned, shopped, and cooked for 10, surprising me the most! We spent a lot of time at the pool, which was good because it was August and August is the WORST. Except when August weather spills into September, then that's the WORST.

Anyway, come back again soon, Maxwells!

Friday, September 2, 2016

How We Spend Our Days Now

Today is my third kid-free day and the boys' fifth day of school. How are they doing? Great! Ollie actually de-bussed on Monday with both fists in the air and a big smile on his face. It was a big relief to this mom and dad. Of course by bedtime he was telling us that "actually it was the worst day of my life." Ah, there's my Ollie! Too bad I don't believe him. Rhett is also doing well. He's so good at this school thing that I wasn't worried. I'm sure he'll have a great year. The surprising thing is our afternoons. On Monday and Tuesday the boys came home from school and just played so well together! It was almost as if they hadn't spent all day fighting. Oh wait, it was just like it. We almost didn't have books-on-couch-time because they were so wrapped up in what they were doing. It was lovely.

But I'm sure you're wondering how I'm doing. Pretty well! I think I need to slow down and learn how to sit, but that has to wait for now. This week I've been doing tons of cooking. Breakfast prep (two batches of taquitos), lunch prep (pizza buns), dinner prep (hot dog pretzels, enchiladas), and even some snack prep (energy balls). So it's been a lot of kitchen time (which means a lot of dishes time--ugh), but once I get stuff in the freezer I should be good for awhile. We had to overhaul our breakfast routine and menu, but I think we got it.

I've also done laundry, started my lesson outline for Sunday, worked on our "scrapbook" for Germany (I have a 50% off coupon from Shutterfly but I have to use it by September 6th so I'm really trying to get it done), and vacuumed. But all of that has happened during "me" time. I'm really trying to push all my chores to when the boys are gone so that in the morning and evenings I can really be present, you know? Instead of always thinking about everything else I should/could be doing. And hey, for the first two days--I did it! We'll see how I'm doing come June.

I guess the main idea is, so far so good! Of course we have the next two Mondays off, reducing my "me time" by one-third. Sigh.

P.S. Holy crap. On Wednesday, Maryland's governor decreed that next year, school will start after Labor Day. I'm livid. Fuming. I hate this so, so very much. If it's declared legal (that's debatable, apparently), what will I do? This is terrible. Worst news of the entire month and it's only the 2nd.

P.P.S. While working on my Germany book, I watched the movie "Room." Another holy crap. I read the book, but man, seeing it? A totally different experience. I cried. A lot.

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Getting the Boys to School

As we do, we started Sunday evening with our back to school dinner. For the first time in my life, I bought frozen nuggets. I'm hoping it was also the last time. However, we'll always have tater tots because they're delicious. ("Hey Chuck, gimme some of your tots!")

Then, of course, we must stamp hands on shirts.

That evening, I put together cinnamon rolls for Monday morning's breakfast. Because what kids on the first day of school need something super healthy to have a great day? No kids. They need sugar. And carbs. And then more sugar. Well, maybe some sausage on the side. And can I just say that these were also delicious.

Then picture time!

And then bus time!

Ollie was nervous all morning and when the bus finally came, he frantically searched for his brother's hand. I'm not sure at what point he let go, but he must have because his kindergarten teacher confirmed he was there all day.

Monday, August 29, 2016

Today Is the Day My Life Changes

Today is the first day that I put both boys on the school bus and am free ALL DAY (darn that Maryland and their insistence on full-day kindergarten) until they get home. I'm pretty sure I'm going to leap all the back to the house. So what else am I feeling? Lots of feelings, but sadness is not one of them.

I feel guilty. Guilty that of my close friends here, I'm the only one in the kid-free, all-day boat. Guilty that I only had two kids so I got to go into this boat relatively quickly. (But because I didn't have kids until I was older than most, it's still about the same age they'll be in when they get into this boat. They just happen to not yet be at that age.) Oooh, I just realized two friends are kid-free with me between 9 and 11:30 every MWF. This could be very good.

Scared. Scared to death, actually, that Ollie will really struggle with kindergarten. He is a silly, lively boy and extremely adorable, but if he makes up his mind against something, there's no convincing him (unless you bring out the big guns: Dum Dums). And what if he makes up his mind against kindergarten? How will that play out? I just don't know. I still believe starting him now is the right thing, but it doesn't make me less nervous.

Ecstatic. I mean, c'mon. Summertime brings just too much togetherness for my tastes. I think we're all ready for a break from each other.

Embarrassed. Embarrassed that I have THREE days a week with no kids at home and no job. I mean, whatever will I do? Well, this one I actually know how to handle.

Here's the updated 2016 list:
Grocery shop
Volunteer at the boys' school
Prep meals
Clean the house (like really clean)
Lunch with friends
Church calling stuff
Exercise (run, bike, swim--probably not all on the same day, buuuuut I do have seven hours so anything is possible)
Strength train
Work on "scrapbooks"
Plan next year's family reunion (I'm not really planning, just gathering details at this moment)
Shop (I need new clothes and our craft area needs some re-thinking)
Walk Bruno
Organize closets
Organize freezers
Wash cars

Both boys at school is a big deal though, right? This is definitely one of those game-changers. Wish me luck!

P.S. Speaking of game-changers, next up is Ollie learning to read. I am super excited for this and I think he is too. After that, I think our next big one is that they can stay home without us! That will be AMAZING. Although with Chuck's early work schedule and the boys' late school schedule, we'll have just over an hour every MWF without them. Three mini-dates a week!

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Europe 2016: Burg Eltz

And then it was our last day! My parents were off (although, from these pictures you wouldn't know it--what's wrong with me?!) and so they joined us on the trip. We were so happy they did! They love this castle, and it's their German boss's favorite one in all of Germany!

We took a short hike there, but didn't tell the boys to expect the castle around a bend.

As they were constantly running in front of us, I think they were surprised when they came in view of it!

We made them take the tour and of course they exaggerated their boredom, thirst, hunger, you-name-it, the entire time. I think Rhett enjoyed the creepy baby portraits where baby faces were painted on big-kid bodies.

Those bratwursts sticking out of the buns! Ha.

After this, we took a short trip to Cochem, a town on the Moselle River.

And can you believe it: as we left here, our last stop on our big tour, it started to rain. For the first time in 17 days. The weather was warm, but seasonal. We lucked out big time, in so many ways!

And that does it. No more pictures. I'll have to do a final wrap-up, but that will have to be later. The boys start school tomorrow! AAAHHHHHHHH!

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Europe 2016: Rudesheim

After Rothenburg, we headed back to Frankfurt and enjoyed a nice Sunday with my parents. We went to their small, German branch. BUT we got lucky because two of the three talks were given in English (and then translated into German), Sunday School was in English, and I had a translator for Relief Society. Easy! And then after church they had a munch-and-mingle thing going on, so we got to eat good food. Ollie finally found wurst that he liked, so victory! We really just hung out that day and enjoyed some rest.

BUT the next morning we were out again! My parents worked, so we took off back to Rudesheim (the same place we caught the Rhine River cruise boat) and rented bikes and rode along the river (after a ferry trip). Super cool.

They didn't have a bike small enough for Ollie, so the lucky dude got to ride in the trailer. He wasn't too bummed.

I mean, really?! I'm riding a bike on the Rhine River?!

My view. Someone is peeking at me!

After bike riding, we took a tram ride (over vineyard after vineyard) to a monument.

All those grapes!

The monument recognizes the creation of Germany as a country in 1871.

What goes up...

Then back "home." It was a great day!