Thursday, June 22, 2017

First Day of Summer Break

The first day of summer break Chuck was still working so I took the boys hiking on the Billy Goat Trail. This particular trail has three sections, and my boys love section A, "the most rockiest hike on the Billy Goat Trail. After we did the hike, we went on a boat ride down the C&O canal." (quoting Ollie) We had to move quickly to make the boat ride, but the boys did great and were tough (and speedy) little hikers.



Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Last Week of School

The boys also had some stuff going on the last week of school. What? You mean, it's not all about me?! Interesting.

Recorder and orchestra concerts. Thankfully the recorders went on first so I could duck out and not subject myself to the pain of an elementary school orchestra.


The little girl on Rhett's left is his friend, Vyvyem.


And then there's this guy. This was at the Kindergarten Celebration (he's front row, in the green stripes). What can I say about this child? I love him, but man, he can drive a person crazy.


Not letting people look at him.




Not looking at others.


This was the last day for Rhett at Wheaton Woods! Of course Ollie will still be with the same kids, but they're moving back to the newly-built school in the fall. Rhett, as he's going to the other school, will be right back at this holding school as his new school is undergoing construction. Poor dude.


Miss Pam! This was the boys' morning care provide lo these many years. The new school necessitated a new morning/afternoon care provider and sadly she was not awarded the contract. We love her so much! She especially helped with Ollie's transition to school and all of us will miss her.


Welcome home from the last day of 3rd grade and kindergarten! And welcome to summer!


Are you praying for me whilst I'm away at girls camp? You better be.

Friday, June 16, 2017

School Year Recap

Yesterday, finally, my boys had their last day of school. Obviously I wanted to make sure I spent it being productive: shopping, getting a pedicure, having lunch with Chuck, working on projects...you know, the important stuff.

Like I thought ten months ago, having both boys in school all day changed my life. And of course, I'm feeling things, but maybe different things from the start of school. I didn't feel guilty at all. I think I felt that because I thought it would feel like less work having the boys around while I got stuff done. But it didn't; it just felt nice. Nor did I feel embarrassed. I should have been scared, however. Ollie had a rough start but by February, things were better. Not perfect, but better. I don't think he'll ever be one who easily follows rules at school, but I am grateful that he started following some. Amazingly, he never once complained about going to school, even if at the end of the day he'd proclaim that he "HATES school." We're just hoping 1st grade will be a bit better. Ecstatic, yep, it was amazing. Running errands, relaxing, swimming (!), it was all amazing without the boys.

And here's my full disclosure of what I accomplished during the days:
Grocery shopping
Laundry
Volunteering at the boys' school
Prep meals
Clean the house (like really clean)
Lunch with friends
Service
Sewing
Church calling stuff
Exercising (run, bike, swim)
Strength train--I do that at night
Hike
Read
Work on "scrapbooks"
Plan next year's family reunion (I'm not really planning, just gathering details at this moment)
Shopping (I need new clothes and our craft area needs some re-thinking)
Walking Bruno
Organizing closets
Organizing freezers
Washing cars

But I still feel pretty good about what I got done during the day.

Now, how am I feeling about summer? All the usual feelings. Excited about eight-hour works days, nervous about the heat and humidity, and scared to death about girls camp next week. I went up for one day years ago when I was the ward YW president, but now, to spend a whole week?! So scared. But I'm also exhausted from all the work it takes to put it together. So I'll be one happy lady next Friday at noon as I'm heading home. Just 175 hours or so to go!

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

I Made More Things

A friend commissioned me to make some bunk bed book holders. She provided the fabric and the inspiration; I was just the work horse. (Oh, don't mind Ollie's note taped to the bedspread tent. I think it says something like, "No mad anyone allowed.")


And, of course, those little girls needed a cute name banner for their room. I've never done a double, but I like how it turned out.


Because my new bag doesn't have as many pockets as my old bag, I had to make a little clutch for the loose stuff (from this tutorial). I'm pretty much in love with it.


Thursday, May 25, 2017

Happy Mothers Day to Me from Me

I don't require a lot of presents for Mothers Day, which is good karma because I don't give any to my own mom. A bike ride and dinner of my choice is enough for me. But when my old bag started to rip at the seams, I thought it was time for a change. (I was super happy to see the old bag was more than three years old! I think that's pretty good.) I saw this tutorial, liked the challenge of sewing with pleather (new to me), and so I took it on. About a month ago. BUT THEN. The measurements just didn't seem right. The zipper seemed really long, so I just gave up. It sat there, my poor, sad, work in progress, until a friend posted this on Facebook: "There is something you have been meaning/wanting/needing to do for a very long time. What is it? Let's you and I do it. TODAY." UGH. So I decided I'd finish that stupid bag.

And guess what? It turned out okay! I think if I did another one, I'd make it less wide but I'm still happy with it. The pleather was easy and yet dramatic. I think it looks fancy (until you see the straps are cotton webbing--ha). And I like the lining.



I do miss the utility of the old bag. The pockets were just so perfect. I'm going to have to figure out how to make this work, but I like it!

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Update

We're in another one of those, "What's new? NOTHING." times in our lives. So my apologies for the unexciting post.

Ollie: He's (thankfully) having a much better go at school. Is it the new teacher? His old(er) age? Who knows. Who cares. He still doesn't love school, but I'm okay with that. He wants to take tennis lessons (he LOVES tennis), but sadly I don't think summer is going to work out. But come fall, I think we should be able to make it work. He's reading like a maniac! Like most parents, I love catching him reading and more often, we're finding him in this situation. It's kind of amazing. As previously mentioned, the boy can bike and hike just as much as his older brother. He can also wear t-shirts, unlike his older brother, so that's good. He's definitely excited for summer (which is still about five weeks away).

Rhett: He's really made great strides in his ice skating! It's kind of amazing to watch. Not that he's great, but considering how long he's been at this (remember, he'd never even been on ice skates when he declared he wanted to play hockey two months ago), Chuck and I are really happy. Plus, he still likes it. School is great. He got accepted to a gifted and talented center for 4th and 5th grade, so he won't be going to the new school after all. (I can brag about him because no one reads this except my sister and parents, and they already know.) But man, sometimes I get nervous about how well he's going to do because he exhibits some, uh, less-than-desirable traits. I think he'll be okay, but I'm betting on a big transition at the beginning of the year. He's also excited for summer, but probably not super excited about swim team. Too bad. I think, however, he has more confidence this year so that's good.

Chuck: I think he's gotten over the Caps loss (to my non-sports readers: hockey playoffs). It's hard being a sports fan in Washington. His work is fine; they're plowing through the online course development. He is also ready for summer.

Me: Sigh. The end-of-the-school-year madness is starting to set in. Most of it isn't due to school stuff, but just everything else. My current calling is assistant to the Stake Camp Director, so that's getting really busy because camp is the week after school is out. My work is lame. I want to paint our main level's interior walls, but am feeling ill-equipped to do it (darn you popcorn ceilings!). So that means we need to hire someone. In my head, this should cost a couple hundred dollars. But I'm sure the estimates will be in the thousands and I'll be depressed because it's just too much. I did get some new curtains though, so... My swimming is going well. I'm still crazy slow, but I can go for a long time. I had visions of doing a triathlon, but they were dashed when I realized how slow I was on the bike. A friend let me borrow her road bike, so maybe that'll make a difference? A backpacking weekend with friends was cancelled by rain, and I'm still angry about it. Last week we had some wicked heat. Not nice. Plans for my birthday trip are starting to congeal; we've obtained childcare!

Okay. That's it.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Take Your Kid to Work Day

A couple of weeks ago I was able to take Rhett to work with me. The Department of Labor put together some activities for kids and I was able to leave Rhett there while I got some work done. But once that was over, I brought him back to my office. I think he was underwhelmed. He liked seeing his artwork on the cubicle walls. He liked looking through my drawers and finding weird office supplies. He liked creating a PowerPoint presentation on Piggie.


But he LOVED creating his own spreadsheet. (You may correctly guess that I created the first three variables, while Rhett created the rest and then filled in the data and did the drawings.) Such a weird dude.


Obviously it's hard work to work so we went to Shake Shack at the end of the day. Obviously it was delicious.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Another Reminder

My mom reminded me about other things I like about my family. And I'm the first (well, maybe the second) to admit when I'm wrong. There are three other things I like about my family:

  • We are a biking family. Once Ollie could ride without training wheels and on something a bit bigger than a clown bike, I've been pushing him. Probably too much, but he's definitely risen to the occasion. For example: On Mothers Day before church (we have 12:30 church), the whole family biked six miles. I don't know if this is a lot for a five-year-old boy, but it seems like a lot to me. And it makes me happy.
  • We are a hiking family. I think my posts about the Smokies showed this. But the love continues! They even asked if we could hike the Billy Goat trail on Sunday. I declined only because I was afraid our recent rain storms closed the trail, as rain has wont to do.
  • We are an early family. Yes, sometimes (a lot of times) I complain about this, but I think there are more upsides than down. Plus, on Sunday, I told the boys that they are to stay in their rooms until 7 a.m. and guess what?! I didn't even hear them once. So yes, I slept until 7. It was a Mothers Day miracle. But had we slept until much later, we couldn't have done the ride, so I guess I have to be happy about it.
A picture just for fun.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Reminder...

I'm having a hard time with my boys. It seems to me as if they only know three actions: fighting with each other, complaining about dinner, or whining about chores. It's exhausting. So I have to remind myself that there are some things I like about us as a family:

  • We are a windows down family (as long as we're not moving too fast, it's not precipitating, and the temperature is within an acceptable range).
  • We are a nutty family (crunchy peanut butter, nuts in baked goods).
  • We are a spicy family (yep, even the boys can tolerate a good amount of hot sauce).
But right now, that's about all I like.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Part 4

FRIDAY
This morning's hike was the toughest: Alum Cave. Again with the river! You're killing me, rivers!


Alum Cave isn't actually a cave, but we got to walk through this hole in a rock, so that kind of made up for it.


This hike had a lot more vertical to it, but my boys crushed it! In fact, we got to the cave so fast I thought it wasn't it!






The wire handrail made me feel like I was in Zions. Our boys were the youngest we saw on the trail and they did so great. So proud of these little boys!


After a lunch of pie iron calzones back at the campground, we headed out to drive Cades Cove. This is a spot which highlights the people who lived in the area 100-150 years ago.


We even saw a bear! Not the best shot, but I refuse to be one of those people who gets too close to wildlife.


A visit to the mill and the ranger station (where the boys were awarded their Junior Rangers) and the camp store for ice cream (which was free for the boys because of their Junior Ranger status), and we were done.


And because we were done earlier than thought, we may have bribed the boys with McFlurries (the next day) to get them to do one last hike: Laurel Falls. We ate a sandwich dinner there.


Saturday morning we hit the road and were home by 5:30.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Part 3

WEDNESDAY
Another morning hike took us to Porter's Creek. I didn't bring a trail book, so other than my notes (which said, "popular, wildflowers" and gave the distance), we had no idea what to expect.


See how beautiful these creeks are? Gorgeous. Don't you just want to get in there and wade?


SURPRISE! A waterfall! The boys were super pleased, especially since we planned on going about 15 more minutes. But this made for a good turn-around spot.


Look closely at my boots in this picture. After only a quarter-mile of hiking, my left sole detached from my boot (except for at the toe). About a mile later, so did the right one. Seeing as though I only had flip flops in the car, these seemed a better choice (more like a hybrid flip-flop-boot). Thankfully I brought old running shoes that worked for the rest of the trip.


It was wildflower week in the park. Gorgeous!


That afternoon, we went to Gatlinburg. First stop was the aquarium. The boys loved it, of course.




Then it was this ridiculous 5-D movie (we passed on the 7-D one across the street).


And then up the tram to the lift for an alpine slide ride! The boys love these wherever we find them. We stayed in town for dinner (a welcome treat for the adults).


THURSDAY
This morning was two hikes. The first was a short-but-steep walk to Clingman's Dome, the highest point in the park (and Tennessee). The views were stunning, and it was totally worth dealing with Rhett's whining.




The second hike was to Andrews Bald. It's this weird spot on the mountain where no trees grow! Again the views were stunning.






That afternoon we went to Pigeon Forge. We started by mini-golfing and ended with a ropes course. It was this cool set-up of about 30 obstacles. The three oldest members of the family were scared, the littlest one was not.


And the dismount was a 30-foot drop. Fun times!


That evening's dinner was burgers, followed by a nice walk around the campground. Note to self: the best campsites are B10, C2, and C3. Who wouldn't want to be right on this river?!

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Part 2

MONDAY
We left after rush-hour morning traffic, headed for a campsite in southern Virginia to break up the ten-hour drive. On the way, we drove past Natural Bridge State Park and the adults thought it was the perfect time for a move-your-body break. We loved it! Not sure we'd come this far just for it, but of course we'd stop on the way.




We did a two-mile hike to this waterfall.


Then it was back on the road again. That night we stayed in a U.S. Forest Service campground, which was nearly empty. We had an easy pull-through site near a river.


This is a "pretend you love each other" picture. We really enjoyed this little place. Dinner was delicious tacos on Doritos (Rhett's choice). We bought the cast iron skillet only days before the trip and loved using it on the campfire.



TUESDAY
We got back on the road pretty early, knowing the campsites in the park were first-come, first-served. We had planned on doing a small hike that afternoon, but Plan A's hike was closed. So Plan B it was! And really, I think the boys preferred this. It was a relatively short hike to Grotto Falls. Clearly you can see why they loved it.


It's always fun to hike behind the falls.




This was NOT a "pretend-you-love-each-other" shot. More like an "act natural" kind of shot.


Dinner was this delicious pasta, again on the skillet over the fire. Good choice, me. Sorry my boys barely touched you.