Monday, August 3, 2015

CH-46 Fly In

If you didn't already know, my dad flew helicopters for the Marines. The one he flew exclusively (?) was the CH-46. It has been in use since the 1960s but it was decided this year to retire it. One of these helicopters is going to be on display at the National Museum of the Marine Corps. However, that museum isn't quite ready for it. Until then, it's going to be housed at the Dulles Air and Space (by far the cooler of the two Air and Space museums).

On Saturday they held a special program for this aircraft, including a fly in. Sadly, because my parents are on a mission in Germany, they missed it. But happily, we didn't! I'm so glad we were able to see this, as I have no recollection of ever seeing one fly before. (This is largely in part that I was little when he retired.) But as Chuck and I have a few more years to go in our 18-year plan, I'm sure my parents will be back to visit us and we can see it wherever it is then.

Taxiing on the runway. Who didn't know this museum has a runway?! (This girl.) Who probably should have guessed this museum has a runway? (This girl.)




We didn't hear this part so well, but those Marines sure are fancy.


This one, however, is not at all fancy.


Getting to go inside.










And of course, pictures from the outside.




This picture was taken by a man that actually knew my dad! When he told me his name, Raquel, I'm sure you can understand why I was so confused. It wasn't until I skyped with my parents the next day that they told me it was a nickname. Phew.


We had a great time and really enjoyed seeing this machine in action. I can't wait to show it to my parents!

P.S. If you want, here's the three-minute video of the entire fly in. That other crazy helicopter behind the CH-46? An Osprey. It's crazy.

Friday, July 31, 2015

New Season Rankings

Even though we're only 2/3rds the way through the summer, I think I have to reconsider my previous ranking of the seasons. Here is the updated ranking:

1. Fall
2. Spring
3. Summer
4. Winter

Summer moved up! It's not the worst! This is HUGE for me. Summer in Maryland (or anywhere hot and humid) is pretty much unbearable. This is precisely why I didn't mind working full-time. However, having a pool membership truly has changed everything. (Almost everything--running in the heat and humidity is still the WORST.) The boys are learning and growing and being outside for way more hours than I could have handled without the pool. Chuck is enjoying teaching them (and others!) and being in the water. He even manages to get in some laps. And I am just jealous of all the time they get to be in the pool. When I do get to go (after work some days, Saturdays), even I am learning "real" swimming.

In addition to the pool, I decided to go easy on meal planning for the summer. We pretty much do the same thing every week. I don't want to heat the house, so baking is minimized. I don't want to spend lots of time over the stove, so long dishes are out. And because we sometimes swim until 6, these dinners have to be fast. So what have we been eating? Cold cut sandwiches, breakfast for dinner, tacos, quesadillas, burgers, other grilled things, and take-out pizza. It's been so easy. While it's not something I want to continue through the school year, I must admit I kinda love it.

And of course, the Scamp has changed summer. But I think I've talk enough about that.

P.S. Don't be fooled: I will not be sad when school resumes. But nor am I already looking forward to it. I'm in a happy summer place.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

First (real) Camping Trip with the Scamp: Maryland State Park #13

We didn't wait long to schedule our first trip in the scamp. And after spending all the money we did on it, well, we better be using it pretty often. We picked Greenbrier State Park for our first real outing. (Unlike the fake one at Deep Creek Lake.) It is close (so we could do two nights and make it back in time for church), has a beach (for swimming and boat rentals), and miles of hiking trails. (Although with children like mine, mile of hiking trail would suffice.)



Me and my boys hiking the first night.




Ollie chose this strange position to eat his Teddy Grahams.


Rhett preferred this pose.


We forgot beach toys (whoops) and so didn't spend too much time on the beach. The boys opted for paddle boats because DUH. They don't have to do any of the work.


Hiking around camp.


Visiting (and stomping away angrily from) the Nature Shack.


On our second night, the boys' cousins camp to hang out with us! Hooray for family!


The park was super nice. However, if you ever plan to go there just for the day to swim in the lake, you have to get there pretty early to beat out the early birds. I took a morning run past the lake at 7:30 and at that time, all tables closest to the beach were taken. And by 10 a.m., the park was at capacity and wouldn't let anyone else in. Crazy!

Staying in the scamp was, of course, awesome. After a warm hike on Saturday, we lazed in the air-conditioned trailer. Cooling down in a tent would not have been as effective. And at night? Chuck and I were cold! In July! In Maryland! It defies logic. The boys slept in until 6:45 a.m. both mornings...again defying logic. Saturday night we had packed out camp, making our departure Sunday morning super quick.

We could have used beach toys, a longer tether for Bruno, fishing poles for the boys, "hiking power beans," and a couple of other things. In general though, we did okay. I could have done without some serious whining and Bruno. But I would definitely say it was a success! We're going to the "real" beach (aka, the "OCEAN") in a couple of weeks and we're all crazy excited.

Oh and feel free to share what you eat while camping. For some reason, I just can't get this right.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Scamp Curtains

Why I didn't post on Monday...I've been busy! But the curtains for the Scamp are done just in time for a little trip this weekend. I used fabric from Emily Herrick's line, Rustique. I pinned it last year, and when I was looking through my pins to look for fabric, OF COURSE I had to use it. I mean, deer? In a camper? And in bold modern colors? Of course! I still might add a pillow or a little bunting, but at least the curtains are done. You know, the important stuff.



Friday, July 17, 2015

Random Thoughts

Obviously I'm going to put my touch on the inside of the Scamp, but how, exactly? Curtains, sure. But what else? If the camper was old, we'd paint the cabinet fronts. But as it's new, we're just not ready for that. I was thinking I'd hang a fun banner, but other than that, I just don't know. (The fabrics for the curtains arrived yesterday. They're ADORABLE.)

I saw this suntan lotion on a blog somewhere and, um, I want it. Does that make me crazy vain? I figure I can get a browner color without all the horrible sun rays, right? Although, I'm not 100% comfortable with artificial skin dyers. The orange skin color of the 90s keeps me from buying it. Well, that and Chuck.

When your whole family is driving somewhere, who drives? I pretty much always do, especially on long trips. Chuck is just such a better passenger. With his super-long arms, he's able to help the boys in ways I'm not.

I really want some white jeans. They just look so summery, right?

Of the two adults in my household, two ways to make peanut butter and jelly sandwiches exist. Method 1: peanut butter on one slice of bread, jelly on the other. Smash together. Method 2: peanut butter on one slice, jelly on top of the peanut butter. Smash together. Clearly one is wrong. But which one? (And then there's this CRAZY alternative: peanut butter and jelly on BOTH slices of bread. Who does this?!)

My parents HAVE to go to Denmark next week for missionary work (some YSA activity for Scandinavians). Aren't their lives just terrible? I mean, Denmark, in July. Blech. You couldn't pay me money to do that. /endsarcasmfont

Meanwhile back in disgusting Maryland...Chuck and I set a big goal recently, a totally meaningful, important goal: watch the entire Seinfeld series from episode 1 to the end. It'll be hard, but with dedication, I know we can do it. We can do hard things!

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Magnifying (two of the four of) My Calling(s)

On Sunday I was given calling #4. If you ask me (which you didn't, but oh well), I think this is about three too many for a ward my size. I'll be honest: one (Provident Living Sunday School class teacher) I'm kinda laid off from, but I've never been released so I'm counting it. Two other callings are similar: creator of the sacrament meeting program and the weekly Relief Society program. The fourth (and by far, the WORST-to-me calling in the church; here are my best) is: Gospel Doctrine teacher. (I'm not quite ready to talk about this without crying, so I won't now.)

I've been doing the bulletins for over three years and I'm kinda getting bored by them. (The Bishop won't release me, so please don't suggest this.) On Sunday, Chuck and I brainstormed some ideas that will, if nothing else, make me enjoy doing these again. If you have any to add to our ideas, please share.

1. Put in an intentional typo/grammatical mistake. The first ward member who successfully identifies it and brings me their program with the offense circled, wins a PRIZE!

2. Bored by the speakers? Well, do the weekly Sudoku!

3. Print the programs on fluorescent paper.

4. Somehow include a secret message or words.

5. Copy a comic from the Friend and put it in there. Hey, it's church approved!

6. Include a small black and white picture for kids to color.

7. Include any of the rankings found on the By Common Consent blog. (Here, here, here, or here, for example. And this one. Haha.)

8. (Before you read this, you must know that I've been including a picture of a different temple every week.) Photoshop a member of the ward into the picture of the temple. Something like this, perhaps? Aren't my Photoshop skills amazing?!



P.S. And if you can't see that I'm clearly kidding, know that I am. Please don't call my Bishop to warn him about these potential changes. On the other hand, maybe you should. It could get me released!

P.P.S. Saw Vice President Biden on Monday. You know, like you do.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens

Now that I'm working full-time, I feel like I don't spend that much time with my boys...because I don't. Sure, I see them in the evenings, but I don't get to take them to fun things. Obviously Saturdays are a great time for me to do that. They're also a great time for Chuck to stay home, get some man-time, and do the grocery shopping. Win!

This is my boys about 90% of the time. Sigh.


Flowers as big as your head! (Or your son's head.)


So many little cool ponds filled with lily pads.


And then the others were filled with these HUGE lotus flowers. So cool.






Can you find the little frog in its boat?

Friday, July 10, 2015

The Scamp in Action, or Maryland State Park #12: Deep Creek Lake

On our way home, we thought it would be fun to stop at a state park to (1) shorten the drive and (2) break in the Scamp. Thank goodness we don't have a boat and already visited the nature center here because we didn't really have time for much else while there. That's okay because this trip was really about the Scamp. And we couldn't have planned it better: we had rain! We had heat! But did I care? Nope. Because I was inside my dry, cool camper. It was a good feeling.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

The Scamp Comes Home

Unless you're buying a used Scamp trailer or unless you're willing to pay a lot of money for delivery, you have to pick it up at the factory. This factory is not conveniently located to pretty much everywhere, except maybe Minnesota. That's because it's in northern Minnesota. Forty-five hour road trip to Minnesota here we come! Thankfully one of Chuck's sisters lives in Illinois and said yes when we asked her to house the boys while Chuck and I completed legs two and three. It was a fast trip with lots of driving, but we did it. Finally the Scamp is at home in our driveway. But of course, his sister's driveway is much more scenic.

Some pictures of the outside:






Some pictures of the inside:
This table converts to the bed Chuck and I sleep on.


This bunkbed converts to a couch.


And I wish I could say that this boy converts to a perfectly-behaved angel. But no.


Monday, July 6, 2015

Ollie's Backpack

After the pain of trying to find fabric that Ollie and I could agree on, I was able to start (and then finish) Ollie's backpack. I'm mostly happy with it. I should have interfaced the top zipper panel, but didn't so it's a little floppy. And one of the seams has a hole in it because of the way I interpreted the pattern (I'm blaming both of us: pattern creator and myself, but mostly myself). Otherwise, I'm pretty excited for preschool to start so he can wear it. I love the pocket I added on the side and am super pleased with the fabric. It was my first time sewing with piping, so yay me!

Pattern came from Made by Rae; find it here.

Friday, July 3, 2015

Chuck's Job

I'm going to attempt to describe what Chuck's new job is. I'm sure he'll correct as necessary. When students in our school system are out for health reasons for four or more weeks, they are entitled to receive instructional services from professional staff (rather than the family being strictly responsible for missed work). There are about 300 of these staff, who are temporary and part-time (maybe recent grads hoping for an in to the school system or retired teachers). This is how Chuck fits in:

1) He will have a case load of about 30 students, and he coordinates their education while they're homebound. He communicates with the parents, instructors, teachers, and/or school counselors to make sure the kids aren't missing anything.

2) He will train the temporary, part-time instructors on math curriculum.

3) He will create online courses for algebra and/or geometry. Whether these courses will be delivered via Skype, YouTube, or something else is TBD.

That's it. I think. How did I do Chuck?

He's excited about it. I'm excited that he's still in an office where I can communicate with him easily (it can be hard to get a hold of a teacher for non-emergencies). I'm really excited that he still has the flexibility of an "office" job. I'm really really excited that he's off this summer and all school holidays! It's a (mostly) good life.



P.S. Know what I want Chuck to do in all of his "free" time this summer as the stay-at-home dad? Create a honey-do list app. I can add things to his and then he can cross them off. It'll make us a million dollars, or maybe just six. We'll see.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Wacky Wednesday

Did you like the "Wacky Wednesday" book as a child? I did. Do you now dislike the "Wacky Wednesday" book because reading it to your kids takes FOREVER? I do. Either way, it isn't part of our home library (which means I've never seen it at our local thrift store) so I checked it out recently for "Mom and Ollie" preschool's W day. How was I to know that not just a couple of weeks later, I would have my own truly Wacky Wednesday?!

Can you find four things wrong in this picture? Click to enlarge. (Of course I didn't see these things all in my family room exactly, but the fact that I saw them at all was pretty WACKY!)


Answers:
1. Vegetables! Ones that I might actually eat! There is an amazing grocery store that is sadly too far north for regular grocery shopping. But for grocery shopping while the kids are at already-too-far-north vacation Bible school, it's perfect! And their produce is incredible.

2. Three helicopters! I even saw them cross over me three or four times while out and about. I guess they were doing some training exercise. And no, they weren't the ones my dad flew, but of course I had to use his in the image.

3. The SWAT team! Again, thankfully not in my family room, but I saw police and an FBI SWAT team approach a house (and bang on its door!) while I was running that morning. Despite multiple google searches, I still have no idea what they were doing.

4. Star Crunch! These snacks are the northern white rhinos of the Little Debbie world: super rare. But my genius husband found out that they are for sale at a grocery store at which we never shop. Until now.

P.S. My missionary parents started another mission blog from exotic Frankfurt, Germany. Check it out here. Go parents!

Friday, June 26, 2015

Our Summer Plans

Last year at this time I was already weeks into my summer plans. This year? Nope. No summer plans. Part of that was the pool. The pool is my summer plan. The other part is that Chuck was looking for a new job, and that search was taking much longer than anticipated. Because I didn't know if I would be working full-time or part, I couldn't plan! And yes, in normal circumstances, that would have driven me crazy. But with everything going on, I just didn't care.

BUT now we know! Chuck got a job! Here's the deal: I never quite explain it right, and I always get the roly-eyes because of it. So. I'll tell you the part that I care about, and if you want a real job description, just ask him. Right now, he's a full-time, school system employee. He works 40 hours a week, 52 weeks per year. He doesn't get spring break off (unless he requests it), he doesn't get Election Day off, he doesn't get Jewish holidays off, he doesn't get snow days off, he doesn't get summer off (which all teachers here do). BUT once he starts his new job, he will get all those lovely things! Why is this incredible? Because we have children in school and I work part-time. Schedule changes (especially snow days) can be extremely stressful as we shuffle to find child care. Not any longer. It's wonderful. Plus, he'll be around all Christmas and Spring Breaks.

Of course the only downside is that I'll have to work full-time during the summer. Which is sad because I'm really loving that pool. Especially on hottest day of the year when your air conditioner goes out.

P.S. Because I'm me, I created this time series graph of the temperature in our house once the air conditioner was fixed. Just trust me that 89° is way too hot for the inside of a house.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Last Day of School

Last Monday (two Mondays ago) was Rhett's last day of first grade. (Yes, you read that right: the last day of school was a half day on a Monday halfway through June. This brought to us by snow days.) I don't think Rhett's quite old enough to get really excited for the last day of school, but he's getting closer. I wanted to do something fun, but something that I could keep up year after year. You know, let's not set the standards too high, mmmkay?

We started the morning with pancakes. Pancake tacos to be precise. Because you know, pancakes for breakfast are a rarity in our house (pancakes for dinner, on the other hand...). After school both boys were greeted with a finish line and a candy gram (to copy my wise sister). Perfect. (And not just because I got to go to Five Below and get candy for me. Nope). Just that morning Ollie and I finished his "Mom and Ollie" preschool, so he legitimately earned his rewards. And after school let out, I let the boys watch a movie. It was a good day.



I must have caught the exact moment Rhett wasn't smiling. He really enjoyed Ms. Collier (student teacher) and Mrs. Cecil--I promise.




In order to get good smiles, I had to threaten them with: "I will keep you here until you give me good smiles. And if it takes hours, your popsicles will melt!" Sigh. I'm such a good mom.


SUMMER!