Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Weekend Camping

We FINALLY got to get out of town for a short trip. The boys had an early release on Friday and Chuck had a morning dental appointment, so we were able to head out early Friday afternoon. We met some friends up there and spent the evening hanging out. Saturday morning we hiked to the falls and then went to a pumpkin patch.



We've been to a LOT of pumpkin patches around here, but this was the first time we experienced these. So much fun!


Also zip lines!


Tug of War: Chuck v. some of the kids.








Sunday morning we took the kayaks out for a bit before heading home. We were happy to have cousins come join us too!


It felt so good to get out of town and into the woods. If only temperatures would reflect the fact that it's actually fall...

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Actual Picture Collages

I meant to add these to Monday's post, but totally spaced it. Rhett is still begging me to print more pictures so we can do this again.



















Monday, October 1, 2018

Fun with Picture Collages

A few weeks ago the boys were creating some collages with people. Unfortunately for them, we don't have that many magazines in the house that they can create with. Fortunately for them, I did have a bunch of pictures I printed years ago that they could use. Holy crap. It was the most fun our family had together in a long time! We were all just laughing and giggling at every single creation. I highly recommend it. The next time Shutterfly offers 100 prints for a dollar, I'm doing it!

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Family Update

Okay, here we go.

Ollie. Started second grade and is doing okay. There have been a few hiccups, but hopefully we're on an upward trajectory. We still can't convince him to take a class of any kind, but I think there was a recent crack in his wall and we might be able to get him to take tennis. Even though I think he'd have a BLAST in gymnastics. He and I walk to school thrice weekly and I love it. He was recently asked to give the prayer in primary opening exercises, but politely declined. Ha. But he's our silly, clothing-optional, defiant boy.

Rhett. Started fifth grade, his last year of elementary school. I think it could be his best year yet. He is loving recess and lunch, which tells me he's found his people in school, which makes me really happy. Homework hasn't been too bad and so there hasn't been too much complaining. But holy crap: I have to start thinking about middle school! Where we are, we have a choice between three schools. So three Wednesday nights in October will be spent at open houses for these schools to check out their programs. MIDDLE SCHOOL. I'm dying. And oh, he was diagnosed with vitiligo this summer. Right now it's only on one leg (which is rare, it's normally symmetric), but it can spread. We have to fight daily to get him to apply his cream. Sigh. However, it doesn't bother him at all, which is why we have to fight him to put on the cream.

Chuck. Started another year out of the classroom. He took on another job Monday and Tuesday nights where he basically provides "office hours" to kids taking online math classes. He's there from 5-7 on those nights, which has been okay. We definitely had to shuffle the meal calendar around because there's no way I'm cooking things the boys won't eat when I'm only cooking for them. But I think we got it and have pretty much adjusted. I sent him golfing with friends for his birthday, but sadly they were rained out after three or so holes. LAME. YM campouts are resuming after a summer hiatus, so that's exciting.

Me. I'm happily back to part time. I love love love being in my house alone and have dedicated the start of this school year to cleaning out CRAP. I completed the library (the boys were AMAZING at letting go of half of their picture book collection--I was so proud!), two small closets, the fabric closet, and the attic. The ultimate goal is to have some sort of yard sale to get rid of junk, although I may just give it all away. But at least the attic is ready to accept all of the crap I find in the rooms as I clean them. I don't think I'm fully recovered from the trauma of summer. Man, I really hate it. And this summer was one of the hottest and wettest yet. (Evidence: more than 55 nights where it didn't drop below 70 degrees with super high humidity AND we had an entire year's worth of rain by the end of August and it hasn't stopped this month either. It has been seriously so hard.) Running has been really hard and for some reason I just can't do it like I used to. It's super frustrating. I started swimming again, but haven't been able to get on the bike because I'm afraid of wet roads.

Whole Family. We were rained out of our September camping trip, but am hoping we're able to go in October. We're looking forward to a family reunion next summer with Chuck's side of the family, as well as baptizing Rhett (hopefully in Utah!). Otherwise, our lives are pretty much the same they were last year.



Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Projects

I managed to make a few things this year, but only a few. I have some plans, but this humidity is sucking all productivity out of me.

My niece was baptized in August and I made this scripture bag for her. I love those little dolls.


I shouldn't take credit for this because the males in the house did it. But I did cut out the letters. I just think it's fun. And hey, it was something to do during our too-long summer.


I wanted some way to display the boys' Junior Ranger badges and this is what I came up with. I don't know why I didn't use dark brown felt, but whatever. And yes, it's felt. But hey. It's done.


I forgot I made these things! This was something I made for girls camp as our theme was "We Can Do It!" At camp we hung it in front of the fireplace. It came home stinkier than I did!


And some Valentine's Day pillows.

Monday, September 17, 2018

Finally...The First Day of School

FINALLY. Holy crap. This starting after Labor Day is killing me. But finally the first day of school came. I swear that Monday night was as exciting as Christmas Eve...at least for me. We did our usual prep the day before by stamping shirts and getting blessings. And, of course, I had to start the cinnamon rolls.




Holy crap. I really really love these things.






And then it was time to go! Rhett is starting his last year of elementary school, and he's in yet another new-to-him school building. He has two teachers, one for math/science and the other for the literacy/social studies. It's a nice introduction to middle school. Ollie is in second grade, in his second year in the new building. We love it there. Both boys are doing okay and at least one of them is happy to be back in school, but that's only because he hasn't had too much homework yet. We already lost, but then found, one lunch bag and fight daily about the "no screens after school" thing, but I think we're all adjusting okay.

Friday, September 14, 2018

I Hate Summer

Ha. Apparently I have a post like this every year. Here's text from last year's "I hate summer" post with some added text in brackets for this year's commentary:

"I really dislike summer [YEP]. I dislike working every day [It's the worst]. I dislike making a lunch for work every day [Holy crap. I don't even know what to feed myself anymore]. I dislike missing out on adventures with my boys [Eh, take it or leave it]. I dislike coming home to a (most of the time) messy house [YEP]. I dislike feeling like I'm still mostly in charge of household duties while working full-time [YEP]. I dislike how many dishes we have to do with everyone (well, except for me) at home all the time [YEP]. I dislike the diets of all family members [YEP-except this year's dinners were awesome]. 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) [YEP]." New complaint for 2018: I hate dressing for summer. I don't have enough summer clothes that I like and I just want to wear jeans without dying of heat.

"Buuuuut, I rather dislike not having any income in the summer [YEP]. 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?" [Wow. I really don't change at all. Except now I'm a woman who eats salads FOR dinner. You know this factoid is going on our Christmas card, right?]

"School starts on Tuesday! [It started last Tuesday!] Party!" [YEP]

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Clean and Quiet: The Boys go to Arizona

Due to some over-eager planning on my part, we ended up with a small credit for a flight on Southwest. This credit had to be used before mid-January, which meant travel over Thanksgiving or Christmas. But man, it's super expensive to fly over those times. Rather than lose the credit, however, Chuck and I decided that the three boys should take a trip to Arizona to see Chuck's parents. They had fun spending time with them and really taking advantage of the pool in the backyard on those 105-degree days! They also saw petroglyphs, shopped at thrift stores, and saw cousins/aunt/uncle. They had a great time.

And me? What did I do? I worked. But then I cleaned. And guess what? It stayed clean. I'd go to work, leaving behind a clean house, and return, hours later, to the SAME CLEAN HOUSE. It was seriously amazing. No socks stuffed in the couch. No slingshots on the dining room table. No strawberry tops on the kid table. No dirty dishes in the sink. I loved it so very much. I can only think of one other time where I was alone in my house, but that was only for one night and I worked my butt off. The first three days were basically the same: work, home. Thursday I ran with friends, and Friday I took a field trip to the Container Store because it's my heaven. But they were easy days. I ate cereal for dinner, because cooking for one is hard and I just didn't want to.

Saturday, however, I took a short road trip to Hershey for a Boden sample sale. I get the emails announcing the sale every year, but could never swing it. But this year, well, things were different! I listened to podcasts there and back and even got to grocery shop at the really good grocery store on my way home. Lovely. Sunday was a good run, church, and then some food prep for the next day. It was all so very easy. But mostly it was quiet...and clean.

Oh, and I watched about six movies, two of which were subtitled (which I only mentioned because there's no way this would have happened had I not been alone). I recommend "The Eagle Huntress" on Amazon. It's good for kids, if they can handle subtitles.

Monday, September 10, 2018

Camping at the Beach

Spending five days at Assateague was definitely the most consecutive number of days I've spent at a beach. It's definitely the most I've ever spent camping at a beach. We learned some things:

1. State parks need dryers! Nothing ever got fully dry; all swimsuits and towels were perpetually wet. Of course, the heat and wind helped get them to a point where they weren't going to get moldy (unlike my towel at camp), but the humidity and daily use meant they were never fully dry. When we camped in Delaware at their beach, they had dryers. It was amazing. I'd happily pay for those. Or, Assateague could install posts where people could hang towels and suits to dry. This campground was just like Delaware's in that there are NO trees. Nothing. Just sand and some grass. We bought rope thinking we could hang the towels, but nope. So pick one, Assateague.

2. We need to figure out how to cook. Just like the last time we camped at Assateague, it was windy. It is the beach. But I didn't think about how that would affect our ability to start a fire, and conversely, how it would affect our ability to cook dinner! Thankfully we had the Scamp, so we were able to cook inside. But for next time, I'd have to think about it. On the other hand, dinner time is also feeding time for the mosquitoes. Maybe being inside cooking isn't the worst thing.

Friday, September 7, 2018

Birthdays at the Beach: Assateague

Because we had already taken a nice vacation to Utah in the spring, and because we both had church camps in June, we didn't have much money or time leftover for another big family vacation. So we opted for a week at the beach. One of Maryland's state parks is right on the beach. Turns out we've been here before, but we didn't have the best experience. And I guess last time we weren't at the state park, rather the national seashore. But it doesn't make that much of a difference. It's all the same coast.

Anyway, this park is very sought-after. There are a lot of sites, but not a lot with electric hook-ups (something I now require for summer camping). The process to get reservations is very difficult and the odds are definitely against you. However, last July I, with backup provided by Chuck and my sister, was able to snag a site with a hook-up. Victory! We left Tuesday morning (traffic over the Bay Bridge was a breeze) and headed straight for the beach. That evening the park hosted a tie dye shirt party and we thought, what the heck. We all made shirts, fairly unsuccessfully, but definitely enjoying ourselves. Well 3/4ths of us enjoyed ourselves.








Wednesday we went to Chincoteague to explore the little town and see the lighthouse. We also stopped at NASA's Wallops Island. It was HOT. And BUGGY. I'm pretty sure I had a 5 millimeter-thick coating of sunscreen + bug spray on at all times. But we did get some delicious ice cream. That night the park showed an outdoor movie, so after an evening beach walk, we went to see the movie (the one with Mowgli in it?). The boys liked that for sure, while Chuck and I felt weird being the only adults there. (Where were all the parents?)
















Thursday was Ollie's birthday. He woke up to some pig decorations (his giggling! melted my mama heart!) and a breakfast of previously-made pig pancakes. Then it was off to the beach! After a good chunk of time spent playing in sand and water, we cleaned off and headed to Ocean City. The big attraction for the boys was the Ripley's Believe It or Not museum. This is something we would not have done, had it not been a birthday and had the boys not spent hours reading these books (they love them). So they enjoyed that. The adults enjoyed the air conditioning. After that we just walked the boardwalk, shopped in silly stores, and ate some pizza. I think Ollie had a good day.
















Friday was my birthday. Unlike last year's big one, this was one I just didn't care about. I did go for a run on the beach, followed up with some yoga also on the beach. The boys gave me some cards and a small present and then it was off to the beach. That afternoon, we did a small hike on the national seashore part of the island before deciding the bugs were too much and we headed back to the Scamp. We played our new game of "Pass the BIG Pigs" and did some campfire-wood-sack races.




Saturday morning we headed home after a morning walk on the beach. We had excellent, if not hot, weather, but it's the beach in summer. The ocean was warm enough for swimming and the boys certainly enjoyed getting out in it. And of course, the digging. Always the digging.