Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Try a Tri

After spending all last school year building up swimming stamina, I'm determined to do the same on the bike. I think we'd all agree that bike riding is a bit easier than swimming. You can go slowly, coasting even, and still get places. This is especially true when your route is flat; obviously biking is a bit harder with hills. However, like swimming, biking fast is hard. Also, bike racing, like what I'd have to do if I competed in, say, a triathlon, is really hard.

I recently went on a ride with a small group of women, most of whom belong to a triathlon group in D.C., some of whom have finished a half Iron(wo)man. I mean, these ladies know biking. This particular ride was billed as a "get comfortable on your bike"-ride which is exactly what I needed as I had only been on a road bike one other time. After a short briefing session, we headed out for an eight-mile ride. It was hard. Really hard, and I know they weren't going near top speed. When it was done, they asked, "Does anyone have any questions?" Um, DO I?! I do! Millions!

For example:
1. How does one train for the biking part of a triathlon?
2. How does one get faster on the biking part of a triathlon?
3. Does what I wear make a difference?
4. What routes in my area are good?
5. Gears! How do I use them to my advantage?
6. Can I really get better if biking is only a small part of my exercise regimen?

I had more, but have since forgotten them. I have nine months to learn this. Wish me luck!

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Back to School

This year is particularly exciting: Rhett is starting with a new bunch of kids, but at the same building he's been for the past 1.5 years. Ollie is starting with the same bunch of kids, but at the newly-renovated school. And for me, I don't care where they go: JUST GO! Kidding.

Here's the picture from Monday, the day before school. This is our new local school and it is HUGE!

Our Monday morning power breakfast: cinnamon rolls and sausage. Oh, and don't forget to wear striped polo shirts, boys. I mean, who knows what would happen if you didn't.

Pretending to love each other in their school year shirts. Crazy how Rhett is starting to grow into that "dress." Obviously not really, but he's definitely closer than Ollie.

FINALLY! Walking to school again. (Well, for Rhett, we're walking to his bus stop which is at Ollie's school's bus loop.)

One last picture at the school! Good luck kiddos! Hurry up and go so I can skip on home.

And how did it go? Great! Rhett may have missed getting on the bus headed for home on the first day of school. But we figured that out and it hasn't happened again. Rhett's program does seem more intense than anything he's done before, but if the homework is always done on the computer, he may survive. Ollie has had all great days! Phew. And how have I coped with them out of the house? Um, do you really need to ask?!

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Last Weekend of Summer

Chuck had to go out of town (Palmyra) with the youth for Labor Day weekend. In order to not kill my boys, I knew we'd have to spend a LOT of time out of the house. So Saturday we headed downtown to the National Book Festival. I had high hopes; they were crushed. There were just so many people. And I don't do well with so many people. We tried to get a book signed by an author, but that didn't pan out (again, too many people). So we found something to keep us busy for a bit, then I was able to bribe the boys with Shake Shack and the Postal Museum if they left. Much better.

Sunday morning there was a tiny triathlon at our pool. I was supposed to volunteer, but that turned into all three of us participating. The water was frigid, but it was still fun. After church, a dear friend invited us to dinner, keeping us out of the house even more.

Monday morning we went to the Kensington Labor Day parade. We chose (ahem, I chose) to ride our bikes down there and the boys did great. They may have been bribed with Slurpees before the return trip. That afternoon we tried the pool, but it was just too cold for actual swimming. Then we just waited for Chuck to come home. Oh, we also took a trip to the new school to take some pictures. Because you know, the next day would certainly include too many people. And we now know how I feel about too many people.

Epilogue: While not the last weekend of summer, I thought it  better to include it here than forget. This past weekend Chuck had to write a talk so I took the boys to hike the Billy Goat Trail (again). Some kind fellow took a picture of the three of us. I will never say no to that.

Thursday, August 31, 2017

I Dislike Summer

I really dislike summer. I dislike working every day. I dislike making a lunch for work every day. I dislike missing out on adventures with my boys. I dislike coming home to a (most of the time) messy house. I dislike feeling like I'm still mostly in charge of household duties while working full-time. I dislike how many dishes we have to do with everyone (well, except for me) at home all the time. I dislike the diets of all family members. I dislike how expensive it is, just because doing stuff costs money (I know, not all stuff costs money, but a lot of it does).

Buuuuut, I rather dislike not having any income in the summer. So...

Oh, while I'm being so negative, let me say how much I dislike feeding my children. I think it's the worst part of my life. (Which means I have a good life. I get it.) Next summer, I think it's all cereal, all the time. Just cereal and milk. It's all fortified, right?

School starts on Tuesday! Party!

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Cape May

We took one last trip of summer a couple of weeks ago to Cape May. Sure you can drive the whole way, but why would you do that when you can take the ferry?! So that's what we did. We got on an earlier ferry than planned, which meant extra time in New Jersey.

NOTE: We took the Scamp to avoid super high hotel costs. Plus we like our Scamp. We do not, however, make it a practice to choose RV resorts as places to park the Scamp. Those places are nuts. People go there with the intent that the resort is their destination. It's just weird. But they do have a lot of amenities that state and national parks don't have. I'm about to disclose that maybe we took advantage of some of those amenities.

Because we had a little bit of extra time and because we were HOT, everyone but me got into the pool at the resort. Why not I? Because I was so hot that my clothes were sticking to me. And the thought of peeling them off only to have to put them back on was just too much. I know you understand. After swimming, we drove to town to see a lighthouse. We climbed the 199 stairs to the top and the boys pretended to be scared. Chuck, however, did not have to pretend.

After that, we drove about two miles to Sunset Beach to beachcomb, shop, and eat. Not one of those things disappointed us.

I must admit that the boys are getting way better at sleeping while camping. I think they slept past 6:30, which is a miracle. We headed straight to the beach to secure good parking and immediately went for a surrey bike ride. The boys both loved it. Chuck's and my legs did not. But it was a super fun way to see crazy cute Cape May.

Then we hit the sand. We borrowed an umbrella from a friend which made sitting there for five hours doable. The sand was super nice, the water was warm enough, and everyone had a great time. After beach time was shopping time. Ollie found a cute wallet made from pig fabric. That kids and his pigs. I had hoped that maybe we'd catch a ferry tour of town, but the time was too tight and the boys were done. Plus, Ollie really really wanted to go to the lake at the campground, so we did.

Rhett was a bit unsure of the lake, as he thought it might be an algae-filled pit, but it wasn't. In fact, it was a nice, sandy, little, man-made (obviously) lake with two waterslides. The boys enjoyed it thoroughly. We grabbed some pizza for dinner, and headed back to camp to find all of our beach stuff soaked from pouring rain. But AMENITIES! We threw it all in the dryer and were good.

While it rained outside, we enjoyed a game of pigs and the boys tried their voodoo magic on us.

The next morning we went kayaking around the marsh areas near Cape May. We saw ospreys and other cool birds and enjoyed being on the water...again. Then we packed up, hit the ferry again, and drove home. If I can ignore the near-constant fighting in the car, the trip was great!

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Random Summer Pictures

We went kayaking one GORGEOUS Saturday.

We went to the fair.

One of us lost teeth. A LOT of teeth all at once.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

We Saw (some of) the Eclipse!

The closer we got to the eclipse, the sadder I was that we hadn't made an effort to see it in totality. We had to make do with our 81% coverage. But even that was spectacular! It did make me commit to seeing the one in 2024, however. We already made reservations at our friends' house. And after today's dry run, I now know all the tricks to making the day awesome:

Buy the glasses EARLY (but not too early--they're only good for three years)
Make fun eclipse crafts
Get a good eclipse playlist ready
Make fun eclipse treats
Get a filter for the telescope

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Birthday Trip to New York City

I recently celebrated a big birthday, so I wanted to do something big for it. Which meant I had to plan to do something big for it 'cause ain't no one going to do it if I don't. (Which is fine because i love planning--you should see the short trip I planned to Cape May!) We dropped the boys off with our friends Thursday morning after a short run and opening presents. Then Chuck and I headed to the bus. We chose the bus over driving because (1) no gas, (2) no tolls, (3) no traffic, (4) no parking in NYC, and (5) we could hang out and watch stuff together. It was the right call. We chose to watch "Annie Hall" because it came out the year I was born and it was filmed in New York. So obviously.

Upon arrival, we checked into our hotel which had the worst view ever but we didn't care. We dropped the bag and headed out. We did a little shopping (see the picture below of Swatch, the dog of Mood, the fabric store for "Project Runway"). I picked out a cool carafe and serving platter with Charley Harper artwork on it (and I love Charley Harper). We grabbed a quick dinner (we ran out of time to go to where I really wanted, but that's okay). After dinner we headed to the Upright Citizens Brigade where we laughed for hours, or at least, 90 minutes. After that it was to the top of the Rockefeller Building to see the city at night. Then it was bed. Remember, I had turned old, I was tired.

Because I am physically incapable of sleeping in, I woke early to go running only to find it lightning and the morning. Weird. But after a quick trip back to the room, it stopped. So I was able to enjoy a lovely run on the High Line trail. I love the High Line very much. I may have listened to Hamilton while running and I may have cried some because everything was just perfect. But that's just a maybe. After getting cleaned up, Chuck and I went to brunch, which was right near the High Line so we walked on it together for a bit. Breakfast was delicious, although I was disappointed their housemade pop tarts weren't ready. Then we went to Trinity Church to see where Alexander Hamilton (and his wife and son) was buried, but even more exciting than that was walking right by Mikey (from "The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt") on the sidewalk! WHAT!? Then we headed to the Tenement Museum. Depressing, but interesting. After that we slowly made our way to the bus stop, stopping to grab a small bite before the bus. This time we went to Chipotle. Before you say, "Um, Erin, you went all the way to New York to eat at...Chipotle," let me explain: this was Chipotle's test kitchen which means they have stuff there that exists nowhere else. So we tried the queso (good) and cinnamon bunuelos (good too). Then back on the bus where we watched a bunch of Unbreakable Kimmy's because you know, we were now bff's with Mikey.

Our babysitters were amazing in that they kept the boys that night too (we had planned on picking them up when we got back), so that we got to sleep in our house...alone. It meant for a nice, quiet Saturday morning. It really was a great trip.

For documentation here are the things we saw not on purpose:
The Flatiron Building
Wall Street
Times Square (I loathe Times Square)
Statue of Liberty (from my run)

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Happy Birthday Oliver!

(Yes, he asked that we call him Oliver. I really prefer Ollie, so it's hard.) ANYWAY, the little dude had a birthday! As it's not a party year, he got to choose a fun activity for him and a friend. He invited his friend Leila over for a playdate and then all of us went to the pool and had pizza dinner. After swimming it was back home for cake and fighting. Sweet. Turns out five hours is a bit too long for a birthday playdate, at least for Oliver.

Present-wise, he got a reading pillow in the shape of a pig, Star Wars legos, a nightlight (some weird thing from Ikea that he pined for on our last Ikea trip), a watch, and money.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017


Among the week in California, two days in New York City, and three days in Cape May, New Jersey, we're filling our days with work (me) and play (everyone else). Every year I forget how horrible it is to go to work every day. Blah.

But the boys don't forget how wonderful 11 weeks of free time is. They've been filling their days with the swimming, playing, reading, screen time, and Six Flags. They've got a pretty good life.

Rhett finally lost his top two front teeth. One came out in California, and the other one Chuck barely touched and it fell out. Ollie threw a hard baseball at Rhett's face (sigh) which almost knocked out another tooth, but not quite. I used to joke that Rhett was going to be the only middle-schooler with no front teeth, but I guess not. We're just late bloomers over here. He's also learning how to solve one side of a Rubik's cube. It's one more side than I can do.

Ollie is excited to celebrate his birthday this week. He's also doing this annoying thing where he pouts like crazy when he gets in trouble. I hate it because it makes me look like I'm the one doing something wrong, but NO. I'M NOT.

Chuck and I (no little boys!) are going to NYC for my birthday. I'm so excited for this I can barely handle it.

Hmm....what else has been going on?

  • We got Assateague reservations for next year. Man, was that an ordeal, but with four computers trying for it, we got it. So excited...for something that is happening in 365 days.
  • Chuck and I both got new callings: YM President and Stake Girls Camp Director. Pretty sure you can figure out which of us got which calling.
  • Last weekend we got about 6 inches of rain. We turned it into a craft day. Which meant we also got to teach the boys about Pinterest fails. (We also got to hear Ollie give a perfectly-timed, "Nailed it.")
  • Ollie's school is getting close to being finished! Although sometimes it seems like it'll never be ready in time (teachers will be in there in three weeks).
  • I HATE cooking dinner in summer. It's too hot for hot foods, plus after working all day, I don't have the energy to fight the boys. Based on input from the boys, we developed a menu that is the same every.single.week. And guess what? The boys are still complaining. Tacos? Again??
  • I found a triathlon for me to do! It is next June, but that'll give me time to psych myself into doing the lake swim. Best thing about it: it's in the neighborhood where I went to elementary school!
I go back to part-time the week of the 21st, and then school starts September 5th. I'm counting down the days.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

San Diego: Tuesday - End

Tuesday: SURF LESSONS! The five middle-aged people (me, my sis, my bro, and the two husbands) took a surf lessons from these guys. Yep, for reals. But they were amazing. All five of us were easily getting up on our own at the end of the two hours. My brother and BIL loved it so much, they stayed at the beach while the three others went to retrieve the kids. It really was so fun. Chuck and I were much better at surfing that the only other time we did it. Of course, we all couldn't move the next day. Ha. We brought the kids back down to the beach for the rest of the afternoon. Even though the Willis Brothers were teaching another class, one of the brothers helped all six grandkids surf a bit. Seriously so fun. Unfortunately, I have no pictures of this day. Fortunately, my sister does. I'm just waiting for her to get them to me. (No rush, Emily!)

Wednesday: We split up on this day, and so our small group of four headed to the Mission Beach area. That beach was GORGEOUS, but we are so glad we arrived early. It was definitely a crowded beach. Once we were done with the beach, we went to the amusement park located on their "boardwalk." (In quotes because my boys didn't think a non-wooden boardwalk could be called a boardwalk.) We stopped by the San Diego temple on the way back to the house. Once there, we were lucky to be joined by my Aunt Karen (my mom's sister) for dinner. She lives in L.A. and made the trek down. It was so good to see her. We were sad that her husband wasn't able to join us, however. I am also sad that we didn't get a group shot with her.

Thursday: KAYAKING! Everyone except for my dad got to enjoy this trip. We went out of La Jolla so we got to see (and hear) the sea lions and go in and out of caves. It was a really excellent trip. But again, no camera. (We don't have good luck with cameras and kayaks.) Oh well. After that, me and my three boys stayed in town to enjoy some of the downtown sites. We stopped first at Fort Rosecrans Cemetery (the Arlington of the west), then to Cabrillo National Monument (where my boys did the junior ranger program and had the best ranger EVER pass them off). Then we met the rest of the crew for dinner at Coronado. Such a lovely little town.

Friday: As it was our last full day, we opted for another beach day, this time at San Elijo beach. It was lovely! We brought boogie boards and one surf board that were at the house, and even my dad joined us for a bit (beaches are not really his thing). After barbecuing at home, we went to this crazy ice cream sandwich place for dessert. The next morning we were up and early to catch our cross-country flight.

We had an amazing time and were so happy to spend it with family. A million thanks to my parents for funding and making great our trip!

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

San Diego: Start - Monday

After months and months of planning and anticipation, we finally got to go to San Diego! To be honest, my boys would have been happy to go anywhere with (1) a pool and (2) cousins, but San Diego it was.

Saturday: We actually flew out Friday night, which was really nice as it helped us adjust a tiny bit to pacific time before everyone else arrived Saturday. Saturday morning I ran on the beach before taking the whole family back. It was lovely and the boys loved it. Emily and her family were on a first flight out of Colorado, so by the time we were done with the beach, we met them at a trailhead to hike up a slot canyon. I really wanted to go because my boys have never experienced this kind of hike and if we end up in Utah next spring, Moab is on my list. So I wanted to show them rocks. Of course they loved it! They loved being with cousins (yep, the theme) and hiking in rocks. Of course there was some complaining at the beginning, but it turned into gratitude when we were done. After that, it was time to head to our "mansion" to meet everyone else. That night we chilled and ordered pizza.

Sunday: Most of us went to church, and then some of us (cough cough) left after sacrament meeting. After lunch, we all headed to the Mormon Battalion.

Monday: Early that morning was family picture time! Seeing as though it was my parents' 50th anniversary and all, AND the fact that the last time we had pictures taken, Ollie and Lucy weren't even born, we figured it was time. It wasn't too painful. When that was done, we headed to the Maritime Museum (recommended to us by the photographer). After that, we went to Torrey Pines State Park and hiked to the beach. It was super cool, even if (1) the water was filled with seaweed and (2) we didn't get close enough to the nude bathers. Ha.