Friday, September 19, 2014

World War Dinner

Someday we won't fight at dinner. Someday my boys will eat everything. Someday I'll enjoy cooking and feeding all of my boys. Sadly, that day is not today, or yesterday, or tomorrow. Unless I'm feeding them pizza, noodles with red sauce (but nothing else...looking at you, baked ziti), or burgers, dinnertime is a fight. And c'mon, I'm not feeding them crazy, out-there meals. In fact, everything I serve is basically the same thing with a twist. But when my boys won't even eat quesadillas, there is no hope.

A couple of weeks ago at a particularly hard dinner, I lost it. Completely. After I found it again, we came up with a new rule: within reason, whatever they don't finish at dinner becomes dinner the next night. If they don't eat it the next night, then they get it the night after that. No, they don't need to "clean their plate," but taking two bites and saying, "I'm full" is unacceptable from boys who can eat three slices of pizza. We make sure they understand that it's going to get grosser and grosser each night that it's not eaten. They also know that if the next night's dinner is pizza, they won't get any until they eat tonight's dinner. Point is, they need to learn to eat food that they don't love. They also need to learn to respect my role as food provider.

Don't they know how hard it is to plan a menu that's (1) not boring, (2) not filled with junk, and (3) hopefully edible? Don't they know how hard it is is grocery shop within a certain budget? Don't know they know how much it hurts when, before even trying it, they declare dinner "Gross?" No, they don't. They're kids. But someday, someday, they'll know. And I'll sit back and laugh. Just like my mom is laughing at me now.

P.S. I know mommy battles over mealtimes are not new nor novel. I know. I might as well write about our struggles at bedtime, right? Except that right now, we're actually doing okay with bedtime. So there.

P.S.S. Due to our recent "clean the house" efforts, I'm on the lookout for a mop. Anyone have one that actually CLEANS, unlike the Swiffer I bought?

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

We Made Stuff

These pants for made for a friend's soon-to-be-born baby boy. Tutorial from Made by Rae, found here.

The baby daddy is a ping pong player (in fact, this is part of his job or something), so of course I had to make a personalized onesie.

Rhett LOVES to create things with paper and tape. This was one of his latest creations: the campground at Assateague. He nearly throws a fit every time I have to put these creations in the recycling. But I have to, right? I mean, some of these things are BIG.

And Ollie made a chocolate face.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Family Duathlon: Biking and Running

Once again, I'm amazed how much the weather can influence my mood. Thursday was really warm and really humid. Even though I spent 10.5 indoors in a cooled office environment, I was still grumpy. But Friday? Saturday? Sunday? Gorgeous. They were days you wish you could clone, you know? "Low" humidity and cooler temps: my kind of weather.

Last week we learned that Rhett had somehow taught himself how to start his bike. He learned how to ride a bike last summer, but still needed us to start him. (It's amazing what a couple of inches will do, however.) So now he's in love with riding. All Friday afternoon, Chuck and I sat lazily on the porch while the boys scooted and rode. It was glorious. Saturday morning I headed out early and it was so cool and so overcast (no sun heat!) that I kept running and didn't stop until 10 miles later. I really think I could have done three more, and probably should have. It was just so lovely. In the afternoon we spent more time just sitting outside, watching the boys ride back and forth in front of the house. And Sunday morning a half marathon was being run not far from our house. So we hopped in the car and drove to mile three and sat on a bench and cheered on the runners. I think that they loved Bruno the most.

Oh, also I went to a baby shower for a friend on Saturday. I won Runts. It was amazing.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Updates on Everyone

Today marks the end of the third week of school. How is everyone doing? Read for yourself (youngest to oldest):

Ollie: I wish I could say that he's sad when Rhett's at school, but he's not. He's such a good solo player, and I love that about him. He helps me with chores, takes super awesome naps, and even though he'd choose BounceU everyday if I let him, he's happy to do whatever I suggest (although I do ask him for input--don't worry). This kid LOVES to wear "soft pants." I'm afraid that I won't be able to get him out of sweat pants as a teenager. Unless he cares about girls, in which case he'll never touch sweat pants. I would like to start some sort of "Mom 'n' Me" preschool with him, but haven't had the energy yet. Hopefully soon.

Rhett: It ain't been pretty, folks. The start of school has once again wreaked havoc on our mostly-happy home. Daily tantrums have returned. Attempts at naps have been thwarted. Early bedtimes have been strictly enforced until tantrums subside. I have hope, however. He is doing great in school and seems to like his teacher. He started karate on Wednesday, and while he's not the most coordinated little person, he had fun. I just hope he keeps the karate to himself and doesn't "share" it with Ollie. Nearing his six-and-a-half birthday and still has all of his baby teeth. So glad I made this, huh?!

Chuck: Now that he's in a 12-month position, his life hasn't changed much. He loves when parents from other counties call to ask about "smart kid" programs for their 18-month-olds, however. So yeah, ask him about that.

Me: I am LOVING the return of routines that school brings. I find that the start of a school year is the time I'm most drawn to setting goals. The one big one for me is to be more disciplined. Which, I know, is a terrible goal because it's vague and not measurable. But in my head I know what I mean. I mean that I make myself do the things I should do before I do the things I want to do. "Things I Should Do" include chores, making Rhett's lunches, playing with the boys, etc. "Things I Want To Do" are internetting, sewing, etc. But I've done okay so far. Snags include when babysitter is sick and we have to rework my schedule and chaos ensues. Thankfully for all parties, babysitters get better.

House: Remember when you brought your first baby home from the hospital and you thought, "What were they thinking?! Who would let us take home this baby?! Who would let us become parents?!" Well sometimes that's how I feel about homeownership. I mean, who let me buy a house?! What do I know about houses? When will I ever find time to take care of it? Some time ago, we started "No TV Mondays." We would use that time to work on house projects that I just couldn't seem to fit in during the day. Then it lapsed. Then I brought it back. Then Chuck said that he'd like it better if we spread it out over the week. So our new plan is to spend the first 30 minutes after the kids go to bed working on "big" house maintenance things. So far we've done things like clean the blinds, scrub the wood floors, clean the cabinet fronts, clean walls, clean closets, vacuum basement spiders, wipe down our dining room table that was a disaster, etc. I'll still get done the smaller things like dusting and sweeping and vacuuming during the daytime, but these big jobs are just much better with company. Plus, it means a whole new calendar I'll get to create!

I think that's about it. Oh, other than this, the most exciting pin I've pinned recently. I love it so much.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Life is Crazy

I have so many things to say about our lives and what we've been doing and how Rhett's been adjusting to first grade and the work Chuck and I are doing on the house and how hard life is when you make yourself do things you don't want to do. But life is getting in the way. Hopefully it won't soon.

P.S. Know what else? Tuesdays are usually one of my favorite days. But yesterday was totally ruined. Hate that.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Hooray for Odd Numbers

What was the big surprise? I figured that because I love to be with my friends so much, so must he (uh, love to be with his friends, that is). Of course, running or eating frozen yogurt (or both) are not his things, but golf is. So I secretly amassed seven other guys to play golf with him. When he got home from work I told him to pack his golf bags and get out here. He met his buddies, got 14 holes in before dark, and then found a pizza/lil' smokies with bacon/chocolate chip cookies/Coke dinner waiting for them in the trunk. The one regret was that I couldn't control the weather. After our summer of amazingness, we had our first real taste of the horribleness that Maryland can provide. He came home soaked to the skin in sweat. But do not fear--a good time was had by all. And I got a reputation for being a pretty amazing wife. Mission accomplished.

After such a great job by me, I felt I could be done so the next day was not very exciting. We were greeted bright and early by the boys, one of whom (cough, cough, OLLIE) demanded that Chuck open his presents right then. The presents were delivered to bed, and Ollie forced his to be opened first. It should be no surprise that as soon as Chuck pulled out the Mike 'n' Ikes and peanut M&Ms, Ollie yelled, "SHARE! SHARE! SHARE!" I gave him a pretty sweet card, and Rhett "sewed" him a new pillowcase. The rest of the morning was spent doing our usual thing (me: running, Chuck: playing on his ipod, boys: know, the norm). In the afternoon we got a date through our regular babysitting swap and tried to avoid all things outside.

Sunday, however, was gorgeous. After church we grilled some meat, rode bikes, and then ate this ice cream cake. There's not much in the world that's too rich for me, but man, this comes close.

And now that it's Monday, we're are putting birthdays to rest. Good thing because I'm tired and idea-ed out. Happy birthday Chuck!

P.S. This is great.

Friday, September 5, 2014


It will soon be Chuck's birthday and WOWZA do the boys and I have some surprises for him! I know he's reading this, and I hope he knows how very hard it's been for me to keep these things from him. But I'm so close to being able to reveal all. So very close. Enjoy the anticipation today, Charlie!

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Return of Naps = Projects!

Now that Rhett is back to school and Ollie can take good, quiet naps, I've been able to get some projects finished.

One rainy Saturday afternoon we put the boys' beds back to bunks. And then it just made sense that Ollie needed a book bag. So he got one. (Again, tutorial from here. I think this makes four of these bags I've made.)

And as it's been about six months, it's time for a new chore system. Because you know, that's how parenting is. We also thought that because Ollie is now three and Rhett is back in school, everyone could use a little bit more structure and responsibility. We'll see how it goes.

And the back-to-school pants. They are identical, but I figure they probably won't wear them on the same day. And even if they do, Rhett is in school so it doesn't matter. Of course, sometimes I like to force them to dress alike (cough, cough).

P.S. In my defense, I didn't intend for the pants to be identical. But when I got to the store, nothing was inspiring me. Both boys like orange, and I thought these monsters were adorable. Besides, I only had one coupon, so I didn't want to have to buy four cuts of fabric. Plus, I like having fights with my three-year-old in the store over fabric. It's fun.

P.P.S. To show I'm not completely heartless, I used the fabric he wanted for the pants to make the book bag. See, I
can compromise!

Monday, September 1, 2014

Thoughts on the Pool

After having access to a pool for one month, I feel totally qualified to talk about what it's like to be a pool member. First the pros. Both boys became so much more comfortable in water when we went every day. We've done swim lessons in the past, but going only once a week for six times just doesn't do it. But going every day, six days a week for a month did. At the beginning of the month, Rhett wouldn't even put his face under the water. And now? He's just this close to actually swimming. Another pro is that there is a community there. You see the same people every day, and I'm sure if it were swim team time, that would be even more so. It was fun to meet new people. Another pro is that it fills up the hot, lazy afternoons. Well, had we had any hot afternoons, it would have filled them up. And of course, I got a little bit tanner than my usual color of "eggshell."

The cons of the pool are that first, having a kid who still naps means we didn't get to the pool until about 3:30 each day. Which means we didn't get home until 5:30ish. Which means dinner was late. Which means bedtime was late. Which means I'm not happy. Also, pool hair is gross. But I felt little desire to do anything about it because I knew it was just going to get gross again the next day. Also, make up is pointless, so I just looked really old during all of August.

By the end of the month, I am ready for it to be over. Next year, instead of paying the ridiculous fees to join for the entire summer, maybe we'll just do August again.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Summer Wrap-Up

Today is Monday was the last first day of school and, being the planner I am (and boy am I a planner!), I've been gathering gathered summer ideas for some time. Because of my work and our vacation, I have 25 days with both boys until school starts again. Update! Here's the review on how we did:

Make-It Days
Crafternoons: Nope didn't do. I'm terrified of crafts with the boys for two reasons: (1) Ollie and (2) Rhett will never let me throw away anything that he makes.
Treats: We made plenty of yummy things.
Popsicles: No popsicles, but we did make some homemade ice cream. I think that counts.
Lemonade stand: No, but am thinking of doing a "cider stand" in the fall.
Science: Nope.

Water Play
Backyard baby pool: Yep.
Water table: Yep.
Sprinkler: Maybe?
Community pool: Yep.
Splashground: Yep.
Water park: Yep.
Boating: Nope.
Creek swimming: Yep.

Big Field Trips
Smithsonians: I think we did one and then I realized those need to be saved for when tourists go home.
Washington Monument: Yep.
Aviation museum: Yep.
BounceU: Yep.
Great Falls: Yep. I think.
Roosevelt Island: Nope.
Gravelly Point: Yep, but with disastrous results.
Zoo: Yep.
Berry picking: Yep.
Beauvoir Park: Nope.
Cunningham Falls: Nope.

Little Field Trips
Libraries: Yep.
Playgrounds: Yep.
Hikes: Yep.
Picnics: Yep.
Nature centers: Nope.
Wheaton Regional Park and train: Yep.
Michael's craft days: Nope.
Regal Movies: Yep.
Fire house tour: Nope.

Night-time Activities
Rockville Town Square on Wednesdays and Fridays: Yep.
Strathmore concerts: Nope.
Bethesda Big Train baseball: Yep.

Silly holiday: Yep.
County fair: Yep.
4th of July in Frederick: Nope, but we had a better offer in D.C.
Acts of Service: Nope.
Playdates: Yep.

Things I Didn't Plan but Did
Hains Point: Yep.
Hershey: Yep.
Fort McHenry: Yep

Other Things I Wish We Did
Buy ice cream from the ice cream truck, just once
Gone camping, just once

I must be honest: I really, really enjoyed being home with both boys this summer. I was super nervous, but D.C. had incredible weather with only one day over 100 degrees and lower-than-normal humidity. I kept my early-morning running schedule, played with the boys, put Rhett into longer-than-planned quiet times because I was just too tired to entertain him, but we had a good time. And don't worry, they had plenty of down time too. There were lots of hours spent making huge messes in the playroom and basement. I think they're happy boys!

P.S. Also, Ollie is nuts. But omygosh I like him.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

First Day of First Grade

Like last year and the year before that, school prep began on Sunday with the stamping of the shirt. Apparently this tickles.

Heaven forbid that Ollie be left out of something. He got to stamp his hand on a pizza box. Next year he will get his own shirt (!).

Because Maryland continues to deliver the best summer on record, we were able to eat our back-to-school dinner outside. Jell-o! Next year we need Jell-o.

Next year we do not need Chuck putting ketchup on Rhett's face.

Finally it was morning and time to go to school! Notice Ollie spying on Rhett...with backwards binoculars.

When we walked Rhett to school, Ollie insisted on carrying HIS backpack too.

Rhett seemed to have a great day. Of course, he couldn't tell us much about it, other than with whom he played at recess and about the fire drill. I guess that's a good thing!

P.S. So what if I made matching pants for the boys for back to school.

Monday, August 25, 2014

First Grader Interview

So my big buddy started school today. I saw on some blog that the mom did a back-to-school interview, and so I copied the idea...with middling results.

What’s your name? Rhett, Everett (you should know this!)

How old are you? 6 (YOU SHOULD KNOW THIS!)

If you could be any age, what would you want to be? 70, because then I would get to tell you what to do because I am older than you.

What’s your favorite color? Orange

What’s your favorite book? I have two: Magic Tree House and Berenstain Bears.

Favorite food? Besides candy? You know it: Pizza.

Anything you definitely will NOT eat? Poppy seed pasta

What do you want to be when you grow up? Why? I have thousands of ideas.

How do you think first grade will be different than kindergarten? A little harder.

What advice do you have for kids that are nervous about starting kindergarten? You'll meet new friends as soon as you get there.

Anything you’re worried about in first grade? No.

What are you excited about in first grade? I am just excited to be in it..

What’s your favorite subject in school (writing, reading, math, science, social studies, etc)? Maybe science.

What’s one thing at school that you’re really good at? I don't know.

Favorite thing to play at recess? Skylanders with Genesis. Sometimes saber tooth tigers.

If you were principal of your school what changes would you make to it? I have no idea.

Do you have a best friend? If so, describe them, or describe a really good friend of yours. What do you like about them? I don't know.

What’s one thing you’ve learned to do lately that you’re proud of? Jumping into the pool.

Describe what a typical day is like for you after you come home from school. I forgot.

If you had one day to do whatever you wanted, what would you do? Just go home.

Describe something you really like about yourself that you’d never want to change. I love being able to make stuff with paper.

What’s something most people don’t know about you? I love nutcrackers. [Whoops, sorry buddy but I already revealed that to everyone.]

If you had three wishes what would they be? I wish I had a couple thousand nutcrackers. I wish pizza and hamburgers were the only meals I ever had. I wish I did not have a brother. (sorta, sometimes).

What are three words to describe your family? If it's Ollie: baby, silly, crazy.

Can you describe what your parents do for work? I don't know. Mom is a statistician, but no idea what that means.

What’s the best family trip you’ve been on? Going to Utah.

What do you like about living in Maryland? I don't know.

What don’t you like about living in Maryland? I do not like that I live far from family. And we do not get that much snow.

That's it. He's a better interview the second time around, but still a pretty funny little kid. Who is also not great at mini golf, but doesn't quite know it.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Upcoming Trips

Trip 1: Camping and Dutch Wonderland in October.
Trip 2: Some adults-only trip to some undetermined place at some undetermined date. (Yes, we are going somewhere without the kids again, but this one we really earned.)
Trip 3: Run a totally awesome 10K in Cleveland, Ohio. Costume ideas are appreciated (just don't suggest a big pink bunny suit).
Trip 4: Phoenix in January to visit Chuck's parents who moved there last year.
Trip 5: Camping and the beach for Spring Break. We're liking these hybrid trips.

P.S. Next week will be an end-of-summer wrap-up and pictures of the first day of school.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Pinterest Success (and Everything Else Fail)

So you know it's a bad day when the only highlights were (1) your husband coming home from work, (2) your boys going down for bed, and (3) a Pinterest success story.

I really love rice krispie treats.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Latest Family Headlines

Some time ago, I read that we were going to get a Wal-Mart near our house. But sadly/happily, it's a no go. The county didn't move fast enough, so Wal-Mart pulled out.

You know how some people are fly-by-the-seat-of-their-pants people and then some are not? I think we know where I am, even though sometimes I wish I was more of the other. But then I realized, no. I LOVE planning. Love. I'm happy with me. I'm also happy with our four trips in the works.

Now that Ollie is three, our thoughts are frequently turned to potty training. But diapers are just. so. easy. Therefore I'm thinking December. You know, when you're stuck in the house anyway.

Chuck was in a car accident Wednesday morning. Not the best way to start a day. Thankfully he wasn't hurt (nor was the at-fault other driver), and her insurance has already taken full responsibility. And we've got a leather-seated Camry until his car is fixed.

Swimming remains quite difficult for me. I just can't seem to get even one full lap without a lengthy rest in the middle. What to do? Rhett has progressed to holding his nose and going underwater, but won't seem to do much beyond that. But at least he does a lot of it.

Maryland's summer has been amazing. Remember 2011 when I was pregnant with Ollie and it was horrible? Well this summer has been the complete opposite. Today's high is less than 80. LESS THAN 80.

One more week until summer ends and school starts. I'm 90% happy about this. Sometimes (a lot of times!) I really like Rhett. But being with just Ollie and having real quiet times is just so flippin' nice.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Math Genie

Rhett is asked a bunch of math questions by my friend Natalie, all of which he gets correct (except "What is 11+14?" but including "What is 500+500?").
Natalie: Rhett, you're a math genius.
Rhett: A what? I thought you said math genie. Like I would pop out of a bottle and ask you math questions.
Natalie: Did your parents teach you all of this?
Rhett: No. They don't teach me anything.
It really does amaze me how early the know-it-all attitude sets in. Oh well, at least he'll be a teenager in less than a decade. At which point, he totally will know everything. For reals.

After an amazing morning filled with brotherly love and obedience, we ran errands and came across a pirate nutcracker. I bought said nutcracker for Rhett because he LOVES all things nutcracker (and it was only $2.25).
Rhett: Mom, even if I had other moms, you'd still be my favorite.
Note: This was just days before he said he was going to stop talking to me forever, lest you think we're always lovey-dovey.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Get It?

Can you decipher this card? There are hints below, should you need them. And you might. I know it's a stretch.

Hint 1: Another word for a female sheep is _____.
Hint 2: Yes, it's a strawberry, but more generally it's a _____.
Hint 3: "Goodnight nobody, goodnight _____. And goodnight to the old lady whispering 'hush.'"

P.S. Who has seen "Sharknado" and will actually admit it? I'm not ashamed. In fact, Chuck and I found it quite amusing. And by "quite amusing," I mean "absolutely hilarious with an unbeatable ending."

Friday, August 8, 2014

The Game that Chuck Built

Well, I guess I should say, "The Game that Chuck Helped Build," as he certainly didn't create the whole thing. But for the past many, many, MANY months, Chuck put in a lot of hours programming an old-school computer game, Quest for Infamy. Remember the game that the boy was playing in the first scene of "Big?" That's how I like to think of the game, even though I've never played either one, so what do I know?! Anyway, it's been on sale since the day we arrived in Utah and I'm pretty sure we'll be millionaires at the end of the year. So that's exciting. And a huge exaggeration.

With or without the riches and fame (although his name is pretty big in the credits), it's still pretty exciting for him. And pretty exciting for me because I might get my husband back at night.

Here is the screenshot of his name in big lights. Or, just his first name. Because y'all know how crazy I am about privacy.

P.S. Ugh. Want to feel old? Not only is the movie "Big" 26 years old, but remember how in the movie, Josh grows up to be an adult? Do you know how old Big Josh is in the movie? 35. That's right. I'm older than Big Josh.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Birthday, Part Me

I know it sounds depressing, but I had low expectations for this birthday. I mean, c'mon. I'm turning late-30s, it fell on a day-less-than-optimal for birthdays, I already had my fill of junk from Ollie's celebrating, and I have small children. How good could it be? And sadly, I was mostly right. I did wake up to it raining air heads (thanks, Chuck), but the boys began the fighting almost immediately. With Ollie's birthday the day before, they were still fighting over his birthday gifts. I did get to eat some Oh's cereal for breakfast and then have some yummy shrimp for dinner (which no one else but me ate, so hello leftovers!). And instead of the blueberry crumb pie I wanted, we had leftover cupcakes from Ollie's birthday. Also, I got tons of candy from friends, so that's good.

It should be stated that the only thing I was really sad about was the loss of the blueberry pie. But after a day at Hershey and then Ollie's birthday, I just didn't have it in me to make yet another pan of sugar. I think I found the solution, however: Celebrate my half birthday in February instead. I think it will work.

P.S. As of this morning, we've been swimming three times since buying the membership. Monday afternoon I tried swimming one length of the pool and guess what? Swimming is HARD. Like crazy hard. I could run a half-marathon tomorrow, but swim a full out-and-back lap in the pool? Nope. Good thing my triathlon goal is years away.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Birthday, Part Ollie

Like we did when Rhett was just about to turn three, we took a trip to Hershey in honor of Ollie's birthday. And if I had thought to charge the camera, we would have pictures. But really, it was a lot the same from three years ago. And maybe, it was a little bit worse because the things that used to be free for two-year-olds are no longer free. Plus, there were a bunch of things that weren't even there any more. So we did all we could and then quickly looked for something else.

And know what we found?! Dutch Wonderland! It was close and perfect for our age of boys, even if a little expensive. But we thought we'd try. Guess what happened? After about 45 minutes, threat of rain shut down the park. Thankfully we got our money back and so we had to find something else to do.

And know what we found?! Not a lot. We took a quick drive through Lancaster County and saw a couple of Amish buggies, and we stopped at one market. Then we were bored again (poor us). So we thought, well, let's get dinner and then try Dutch Wonderland since the weather seemed to be improving. And we did. But again they closed the park after we took one ride. Money refunded again.  I guess the good news is that we got four rides for free! The bad news is that we'll have to go again and pay for Ollie (the two and unders are free). I should mention that Rhett is a HUGE scaredy cat. HUGE. But I told him that if we were going to pay their crazy costs, he was going to ride EVERY. SINGLE. RIDE. At the first (and only) "scary" ride he was in tears...until it actually started moving and then, of course, he loved it. But after being kicked out twice, we headed home.

And because we were all so tired, Saturday was a low-key kind of day. Groceries, shows, library, naps...just the usual. With a little bit of birthday partying in there. The most exciting news is that our local neighborhood pool is offering a one-month special for a super sweet deal. So right now, you're reading the blog of a woman with a pool membership. I know. I'm cool. But now that we have it, we're going to go every single day. Even if the day is overcast, in the 70s, and threatening to rain (ahem, I'm talking about YOU, last Saturday). We're going.

Happy 3rd Birthday Ollie!


Focus on his cute face and ignore my nasty hair.

Two favorite toys.

Friday, August 1, 2014

How YOU Doin'?

And by "you," I of course mean "me." I was so nervous to go on such an amazing trip and then have to return. To go from Chuck and me in a beautiful western setting doing fun, adult come back to being a mom in the humid, flat east just seemed unbearable. But to the surprise of everyone, I'm actually doing okay! And even without a therapist!

How could this be? I don't know. It's not as if I returned with a brand new outlook on motherhood or Maryland. I didn't. (However, Maryland has been very kind to me. Tuesday's high was in the 70s. In July.) It's not as if I returned to now-obedient children. I didn't. But at my first run with friends upon my return, I was chatting with a fellow westerner who said this: she was at peace with Maryland and the east coast. Sure, being in the west would be optimal. But she's at peace with her choices to live and raise a family here. And I think this is where I am. I am happy to have such a wonderful place to visit, and wonderful family there to enjoy. For the most part, I am at peace with Maryland.

P.S. I won't lie. If I had returned to a flooded basement, I'm not sure this post would be so positive. Just sayin'.

P.P.S. One last thing trip-related. We had the coolest plane flights! We flew over: the Golden Gate Bridge, the Olympic mountains, Mt. Rainier, Mt. Hood, Mt. St. Helens, and the Grand Canyon. How cool is that?! Almost as cool as when we flew on the 4th of July and saw tons of fireworks shows in the sky.

P.P.P.S. It's a birthday weekend over here! Hooray!

P.P.P.P.S. I needed a picture for the cover of our latest "scrapbook" so I dragged the family to a park before church on Sunday. My boys do NOT cooperate for pictures.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Don't Feel Bad: The Boys Didn't Miss Us Either

I hope you didn't worry about the boys when Chuck and I left them for eight days. They did just fine with my parents. You are free, however, to have worried about my parents. The first day my parents had the support and company of my sister. After that they were on their own. With cousins, they all went down to some museum. Good times were had! Except when poor Ollie was pushed off the zipline. Sheesh.

After church on Sunday, my parents took the boys on a road trip to the family cabin in Idaho.

The coolest thing they saw in the park (something Rhett will continue to tell everyone he sees for months, I'm sure), was not only a grizzly mama with a cub or two, but also a grizzly feasting on bison carcass. I've never seen anything like that in Yellowstone!

And when they got back to Utah, they all went to an aquarium, which is apparently much improved since my parents' last visit.

Finally, they boys convinced my parents they were brave enough for a ride on the Heber Creeper unlike the last time we went.

I am sooo grateful to my parents who got really worn out for eight days just so Chuck and I could go on an amazing trip. I will continue to be so grateful for ten years. My gratitude expires when we ask them to do it again after 19.5 years of marriage.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Trip Bookends

Our trip to Vancouver Island was bookended with 1.5 days with my parents in Utah. Although we didn't have that much time, we still tried to do some fun stuff.

For the first days, my sister and her four kids were in town. I always love to see my kids play with cousins. The surprise partnership of this trip was Jonas and Ollie! Jonas was so sweet with him. Thursday morning we headed to this crazy Fairy Forest in the Uintas. It was nuts! Everywhere you looked there were painted rocks and embellishments. We're still thinking up a theme because we feel that we need to represent. Next year we'll paint rocks and go back.

After the forest, we drove to a little waterfall just up Mirror Lake Highway. It was decided that next year we'll spend much more time in the Uintas because they are too lovely. It was also decided that next year I'll just whine and cry about walking, in the hopes that Jonas will carry me.

Later that afternoon we swam and then went to Heber's fun outdoor market. After a meltdown by Rhett (and me), we enjoyed the time until we got rained out.

Then when we got back after our trip, we spent the morning talking about our trip and handing out gifts and even went to Cascade Springs. In the afternoon we headed to Park City for some alpine sliding and dinner. Ollie loved the alpine slide, and we nearly got to give a marmot a high five.

Friday, July 25, 2014

To State the Not Obvious

How does one recap an entire week of ease and loveliveness? Of course we had fun. Of course it was easy (except for when we had to scramble to get out of SLC so we could make our connecting flight). Of course Vancouver Island is gorgeous. Of course I didn't miss my boys. Worry, maybe. Miss, nope. Of course I liked flying in a plane and being able to read my book without interruption. Need I even state those things? No. Here are the things that must be stated:

1. We saw Raffi at a market. He was signing albums that hadn't even been released yet. Not buying one was my only regret from the trip. Not because I like his music, but only because. I mean, there he was, two feet from me. And yet I did nothing. Nothing.

2. Canada has TONS of hippies, backpackers, and hitchhikers. It's the weirdest thing.

3. Sand dollars are black when alive. Huh. And stink when they're dying. And are probably illegal to bring home. Shhhh....

4. Tides are amazing. It's also equally amazing when tides go out and leave miles of beaches that are otherwise completely covered by water.

5. On our first honeymoon, I beat Chuck at mini golf. On this, our second honeymoon (well, that's how we explained this trip to the boys, thanks Berenstain Bears), I did it again. Apparently this feat occurs only once a decade.

6. If I moved to Canada, I'd have to visit all of the provincial parks, instead of state parks, obviously. I don't know why this sounds so **cute** to me, but it does. Ah, this park is just so, so...provincial!

7. Just because trees are really, really big, does not make them necessarily good looking. They can just be really, really big ugly trees.

8. Surfing was my favorite thing we did. It was exhausting and hard and my arms were so sore the next day, but it was so much fun. And yes, I even got up a couple of times, thankyouverymuch. Who knew Canada had good waves?

9. Wet suits keep you surprisingly warm, even in the waters off Canada's surfing capital. Not once did we experience cold while wearing them.

10. Sometimes the journey (when it consists of boat-height ocean swells, grey and orca whale sightings, super cool fog, eagles, a black bear, and sea otters) is even cooler than the destination, especially when the destination is wicked HOT hot springs, over 50 degrees (that's 122°F for us yanks).

11. In one bed and breakfast, our daily breakfast consisted of a beautiful fruit and yogurt parfait topped with coconut, a fluffy omelet (either spinach and feta or cheese, mushroom, and ham), pancakes, toast, and juice. This is what our Friday night breakfast-for-dinner should look like every week.

12. Our kayak guide wants to kayak from Alaska to the bottom of South America. Uh, I think I'll just wait for the Banff Mountain Film Festival movie about his trek to come out.

13. If anyone can recreate the French toast I had here, I will seriously pay you $15 (that's better than the exchange rate, by the way). Check it out: it's called the Peasant Toast and it was the best breakfast I've ever had. Ever. I chose to have it on French bread instead, and I'm pretty sure the slices were 2" thick.

14. Walking and walking for seven days in flip flops, even if they're Vibram-soled flip flops, is not the wisest of choices. (Note: Running shoes were donned on day 8 after knees were killing me.)

15. The tan line that one gets from wearing flip flops for seven days straight is, however, pretty cool. (Ack! Don't judge my scraggly toes! I know I need a pedicure STAT.)

P.S. Aren't you so happy that I posted a picture of my feet? You're welcome.