Friday, October 21, 2016

Rhett's Primary Program Talk

Chuck and I had no part in helping Rhett craft his first primary program talk. When I received the program script in an email, I was surprised to find he already had something penned. Apparently he had worked on it during primary with his teachers. Great! I didn't have to do anything. Rhett delivered it like a champ, but with a bit of ad-libbing (see below in italics). He told us later that he likes to make people laugh. Uh, it worked!

"I can show my faith in Jesus Christ by trying to keep his commandments. If I make a mistake, I can repent and be forgiven. One time I was jumping on the trampoline with my brother, Ollie. He had something that I wanted. I asked for it and he said, "No." Then I told him I had something in my hand that he needed to live. I said I would trade him for the thing that I wanted. He gave it to me, and then I opened my hand and showed that what I had to trade was oxygen. Ollie was upset because I tricked him, so he scratched my face, and I still have the scars. My mom made me say sorry and give the thing back. I learned that tricking my brother doesn't work and I wanted to say that Ollie is a big tattletale and that I need to say sorry when I trick him."

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Pumpkin Day

These pumpkin days are all starting to be very similar. I think next year we go simple: pumpkin patch, pumpkin food, the end. These patches are getting out of hand. They almost all have the same things and are always filled with people. Can you tell I'm worn out on pumpkin patches? Maybe I'm extra tired this year because Pumpkin Day was the morning after we camped, so I was exhausted already. But all of the boys were out of school/work for Yom Kippur, so it just made sense.

We did a maze, duckie races, slides, climbing things,

more slides, building log cabins with child-sized Lincoln Logs, dug around corn pits,

finally picked out a pumpkin, ate delicious apple cider donuts, pumpkin bread,

and finally got to go home.

Monday, October 17, 2016


When Rhett turned eight earlier this spring, he joined the Cub Scouts at church. Not being a boy and not remembering my brothers' experiences with this, it was all new to me. Unfortunately, they break for summer so it wasn't until just a couple of weeks ago that I think I finally got it. And guess what? I kinda love it. I almost wish I could do it and get all the cool patches. I do love patches, remember.

More importantly, Rhett is enjoying it. Like me, he didn't really get it at first. But now that he does, he likes it! In fact, when his den meeting was cancelled last week, he was actually bummed. We're working on things as a family and he's getting things done with his den.

But really, I should have expected that I'd like it, right? It's about doing fun things and then (the best part, really) crossing them off. Seriously perfection.

Friday, October 14, 2016

Moms and Spawns Camp

Well, I did it again. I took my boys on a campout without Chuck. Last year we ventured north 30 minutes. This time, we went as far as 80 minutes. Whoa. Like last year, my friend Shannon joined us. Thank goodness because I don't know how to build a fire. (Sure, I could guess but it would definitely be ugly and only take with small probability.)

This time we opted for Fort Frederick State Park. There's not too much hiking and the scenery isn't too dramatic, so I thought it perfect for a one-nighter. Plus, it's close. I checked the boys out of school a bit early (surprising them!) and we headed up. We were the only ones there until Shannon arrived and only one other RV'er showed up later. Lovely.

Upon arrival, we walked to the fort and checked it out. As it wasn't summer, nor a weekend, there were no "period actors" milling about. But that's okay. We went back to camp and hopped on bikes for a quick ride on the C&O Canal towpath. So yes, even though I cannot build a fire, I did learn how to use the bike rack. Baby steps, people! (We're hoping for a November trip to Shenandoah during which I will be instructed in fire building.)

Once Shannon and kin arrived, we just hung out at camp, eating and laughing and letting the kids do whatever they want because we were basically the sole inhabitants of the place. Oh, and thank goodness for Shannon's firebuilding skills because it got cold! We were fine sleeping, but man, it was in the 40s (I think). Brrr! That night, we slept okay, but Ollie woke me up at 5:15. I was not happy. At all. We got up and ate and went on another bike ride and called it good!

In the end, I'm glad I went. Yes, it's hard, but not because I was alone. It's hard because of the boys. I work hard to pull it all together, and what do they want to do? Sit in the tent. Sigh. I'll probably forget this and try again next year. (Oh man, those Jewish holidays are early next year! Blah. I like them much better when they're in October.)

Inside the fort.

Roasting marshmallows.

Riding on the towpath.

The mom with her spawn.

P.S. If you're wondering how Chuck did, let me tell you: It was the best night of his life. (Well, maybe I exaggerate.) He got Chipotle for dinner, watched some baseball while texting a friend, went to friend's house to watch game together, late-night Pokemon hunting with friend, and then an alarm-free wake up. Perfect! (For him at least.) My night alone would have looked like: Thai food, pedicures with friends, Breaking Bad, alarm-free wake up, run. But I guess I'll have to remember that when it's Fathers and Sons Campout next spring.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

(Totally Necessary) Swim Supplies

Last week I was swimming and something finally clicked in my body. Suddenly I felt like I could go forever. Well, not literally, but I swam 300 meters without stopping and if the time hadn't been late, I definitely could have done more. It was awesome. Which is good because I spent some time making bags for my swim gear, so I had better start getting better!

I found this tutorial and liked all the pockets. I thought I could make it work for the towel, swim cap and goggles, etc. And because I wanted to minimize costs, I used fabric I already had. So sorry that the little whales are a bit juvenile, but hey...they're at least swimming-related, right? Yep, I thought so too.

And then I needed something to put the wet swimsuit in once I was done. Enter this tutorial. My swimsuit will go in there until I can get it home and in the dryer. Perfect. Not pictured is the little tag I attached to the bottom. It'll allow me to hang the bag upside down to keep it dry. Credit to Chuck for the idea. Credit to me for doing it.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Beach Camping

After the last/first time we tried and failed at camping at the beach, we thought we'd try again. Unfortunately, Assateague was booked (or closed, can't remember) for the weekend I wanted (conference three-day weekend; Monday was Rosh Hashanah, so all three boys were off school/work), I found another state park up the coast in Delaware: Delaware Seashore State Park.

We left Saturday morning in dreary conditions. Our phones promised us better conditions on the coast, but we still pulled up in rain. Not to be deterred, however, we donned our rain jackets (we remembered them this time!) and headed for the beach. Um, it was wet. And windy. Pretty much everything we had on got soaked. However, it was gorgeous! The wind really whipped up the waves and we watched those and the surfers for a bit. Then we headed back to the scamp and got dry. Before we knew it, the rain stopped and so we packed up and headed back to the beach. From the campground it was a short quarter mile walk under a super cool bridge.

As expected, the boys got right in. Splashing and playing and collecting sea shells. It was adorable. Chuck and I were happy to sit in our chairs and watch them. There were a few people there, so mostly we just watched surfers. Once the boys were done for the day, we headed back and boiled our hot dogs. Delicious. Sadly the boys woke up at 5 a.m. Sunday morning, but what can you do?! Well, we took a walk to the beach to see the sunrise. Although it had been spitting early that morning, by the time we got dressed, it had stopped and never started again! The morning walk was incredible and then we headed back for breakfast. And as soon as we were done eating, we headed right back to the beach.

To everyone's surprise, we lasted until almost 3 p.m.! (Bummer news: I had a training on Monday that I had completely forgotten about, so we had to head home Sunday evening.) The boys were amazing at the beach. Every so often Ollie would complain and say he wanted to go home, but then he'd be distracted by whatever Rhett was doing and forget he wanted to go home.

Having the scamp at the beach was great, especially during rainy times. It really made the difference in how much we enjoyed it. We have a lot to learn about camping near a beach, but we'll do it again. Rhett could not stop saying how much fun he had. Victory! And they slept past 6:30 the next two mornings. Double victory!

Note about camping in October: It's awesome. The beaches are far less crowded, the sun isn't so killer (although you still need sunscreen--note to selves), the heat isn't so intense. The boys still got in the water, and Chuck probably would have had he brought a suit. The downsides are that everything is closed. No snack bars, no rentals, nothing. But hey, the beach is open: I can take care of the rest. Although the campground was pretty busy, it wasn't packed. This is good to know so that maybe another time we don't have to plan and could take advantage of a beautiful weekend in the fall.

Note about the campground: The campground proper was pretty lame. The sites are basically parking spaces in a huge parking lot with a bit of grass and a picnic table for each site. No trees. No individual fire rings. But I knew that we would be spending our time at the beach, not the campsite, so it didn't matter. If you go, please remember that. There was a campfire for the entire campground, so had it not been so drizzly, we could have enjoyed that. And there was a playground, which the boys would have loved to play on, had it not been in a swamp. But again, it was a five-minute walk to the beach. Pretty incredible. I definitely recommend camping on the south side of the inlet, and staying as close as possible to the playground. It has laundry, so you can dry your beach stuff at the end of the day.

And the rest of the pictures...

The bridge was so cool! It created such interesting geometry.


Our bounty. But now what do we do with it?

I kinda love this picture.

My handiwork. Obviously. Guess how long before Ollie destroyed it?

Foam slippers!

The timing! Look at the water coming through Ollie's arms.

Holes. Always with the holes. He may have bruised the bottoms of his feet jumping into it.

Friday, September 30, 2016

More Random Things

Did you know that Inauguration Day is a federal holiday in the D.C. area? I'm guessing it's largely due to the traffic. In 2009 when Obama was first inaugurated, Metro set a record for ridership (more than 1.1 million trips were taken, smashing the previous record of 867,000). It just makes it hard for employees to get to work when the metro is that packed (not sure why schools are closed, however). So we don't work. Sorry (but not really). Before you get too mad, the next one that actually affects me (you know, an inauguration on a Tuesday or a Thursday) isn't until 2033, so I'm not benefiting from it anytime soon. ANYWAY, there's no way we'll be going downtown for the Inauguration. But if Hillary Clinton wins, I imagine the mall will be similarly packed and hotels will be filled (you know, first woman president and all). Sooo, do we rent out our house on Airbnb and get out of town for the weekend?

We're in the middle of another huge (yuge?) rainstorm. The rain started Wednesday night and isn't supposed to stop until today, maybe tomorrow. And rain totals for us should be around 4"-6". LAME. The last time we got this much rain, a tree fell on my Dad's car. Although, this storm also delivered some flooding two years ago, but maybe that's because the ground was already saturated. It'll be interesting to see what happens to our creek's water level with this storm.

The other day I was talking with a friend who lives in Japan. Where she is, sunrise is at 5:30 a.m. I was flabbergasted! Our sunrise doesn't come for another 1.5 hours. It made me do some investigating into these time zones and what would produce such varying sunrise/sunset times. It's crazy how varying sunrise times can be, given your location within a time zone and the shape of the time zone itself.

Oh, on Wednesday did I say I can swim 200 meters? Hahaha. Nope. 100 meters. But I do a couple of those (among other things), so that counts for something, right?

EEK! Tomorrow is October! Hooray!

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Random Things

This post is less "random thoughts" and more just things that are happening to me. It's all very boring; I promise.

For the fourth time since June, I found adult shoes that fit my feet. This is definitely some kind of miracle. These I found at DSW for only $18, so I'm pretty pleased with myself. Except that it finally decided to become fall here, so sandal season is going to be over pretty soon. Like in December. (Or never, if you're my sister.)

The boys used to eat only cereal for breakfast on the days that I'm home. But because it's only cereal, they were hungry about an hour later. This was terribly inconvenient. So at the beginning of the school year, I instituted a new rule that says they have to eat something else before the cereal. The something else is either some sausage, yogurt with granola, oatmeal, or eggs. THEN they can have that bowl of cereal. I think it's been working. Related: because my boys eat breakfast around 6:30 and don't eat lunch until after 1, they're hungry at school. So right as we're leaving for the bus, I give them one of these energy bites. They LOVE them. Ollie asks me every day if it's a bus day. Thanks Emily! Oh, our most-recent batch was made with butterscotch chips instead of chocolate. Delicious.

Speaking of food, I made this salsa Saturday. Well, mostly the boys made it. But man, this stuff is so just good. I had to buy more chips so it wouldn't go to waste. I prefer this kind of salsa over the chunky, corn-y one preferred by others (cough, cough, my MOM). My boys also love it so score.

Speaking of my mom, my parents got their release date! They'll be home at the end of November. They're excited.

Finally, I'm swimming! Every Friday morning after I watch the boys go to school on the bus, I hope in the car and go to the pool. I had a little routine that I like doing and can feel myself getting better at it already. I still can't swim longer than 200 meters at a time (swimming is freakin' hard!), but it's coming. I'm happy with it. And so happy the boys are in school all day, making this possible.

Oh, and I got another calling, but we'll discuss that after I'm sustained.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

My Life is Hard

About a month ago, something weird happened in our shower: we had more water pressure than we'd ever had before coming from the shower head. Chuck and I separately noticed and later confirmed each other's findings. What's weird about it is that nothing in the house changed. We didn't get a new hot water heater. We didn't do anything to our pipes. So we're just not sure what caused this, other than a poltergeist (my theory).

Sure, increased pressure is rarely a bad thing in a shower, right? Most of the time, yes! The new pressure isn't crazy hard and is, in fact, pleasurable. However, apparently increased pressure seems to cause increased shower curtain billowing. Surely you know what I'm talking about: the tendency of the shower curtain to billow inward during a shower?

This wouldn't be so terrible if our bathroom was a full, 1.0-sized bathroom (you know, one with a tub). But it's not; it's a 0.75-sized bathroom. We have a shower (no tub). It's teeny. So when the shower curtain takes away 20% of the square feet (which it does; I calculated it), well, it causes problems. Mostly in the form of me yelling at it to "STOP TOUCHING ME!" I promise you that you'd be just as yell-y if you were living this right now.

P.S. Also causing me woe is the new lateness of my newspaper delivery. We're talking WAY past the time it's guaranteed to be delivered to my house. This could be a deal breaker, Washington Post.

P.P.S. Also, Maryland's Mother Nature still thinks it's August here. Monday morning I felt like I was running in a sauna. Was it tears or just condensed humidity on my face? I'll let you decide.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Martinak State Park

After our crazy summer, we're back to camping again. I think we have three trips planned in October! Then I think we'll be done for the season (unless we one in early November). Anyway, the boys had a Monday off and so we headed out Sunday after church. (When you have 8:30 church, you can do this.) I was a bit nervous as this park is really close to Tuckahoe, you know, the one with the spiders and ticks. But apparently we were late enough in the season to avoid them. And even though it's ridiculously hot here still, we managed to get a nice-ish couple of days with cloud cover. Not too bad!

We fished, walked (very limited hiking here), had a campfire, and found dead crabs and shells. There was also a 1-mile paved fitness trail that circled one of the camping loops. We brought the boys' bikes and they joined me on my Monday morning run. It was a perfect ride for them. (Actually, I enticed them to do it twice with me.)

Overall, we liked this park a lot! Next up camping-wise: Delaware Seashore State Park!

Cheetos lips!

Didn't catch anything but that's okay.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Philadelphia Temple Open House

Right before Chuck went back to work last month, we went to Philly to see the new temple. And as we've never taken the kids to Philadelphia, we thought we should take them to see some of the sights. Thankfully the drive was just over two hours, so I'm sure we'll be back. ( know, because we've made such an effort before now.)

Anyway, got to the temple bright and early and quickly went through the open house.

Our first stop was the mint, but no pictures allowed. We all liked it a lot, however. Then we headed to the Liberty Bell. Not sure what the boys thought, honestly.

We didn't get tickets ahead of time for Independence Hall, so we had to spend a couple of hours. But with our packed lunches (like my kids would eat a cheesesteak) and junior ranger activities, the time was easy to fill.

Back for the tour.

Then the long walk back to the car. It was kinda painful and I may have had flashbacks to walking in Europe. But they made it. And we got home. AND the day turned out actually okay! Hooray for us!

Monday, September 12, 2016

Ollie Turned 5!

Okay, yeah yeah, so what if his birthday was over a month ago. We've been busy. But now that I'm at home without them all day, I just have all this time! (Catch the sarcasm there?)

Anyway, Ollie turned 5 last month. And let's just say I'm pretty sure he'd stay this age forever if he could. Lately he's been telling me how he never wants to be an adult. Hahaha. Sorry dude! It happens.

He was pretty excited for this day. Now that's a good Ollie face!

Oh these dolls. He HAD to have one of these little springy guys we saw in Europe. Had to. So he spent some money my parents gave him for one and then picked out another to be given to him on his birthday. The first one's spring was in knots before the day was over. That kid. He can be so incredibly difficult to please. He did like the skateboard, however, so that's something.

C'mon. He's adorable. It saves his life sometimes.

I worked from home, but Chuck and Emily/Ben went to the Dulles Air and Space museum to see, among other things, my dad's helicopter. It was more fun to see it flying. :)

Then after swimming and pizza at the pool, cake!

He seriously is the cutest. I love this little man! Happy birthday to Ollie!

Friday, September 9, 2016

Someone Came to Visit Us!

Although we live in a real destination, no one ever comes to visit us. My parents have been out a couple of times, but that's it. No friends (except for when Rach and Andy lived in NC), one. Until last month. Guess what?! My sister came! And she brought her family! They spent almost two weeks here and it was so much fun to host them. Because I had just spent three weeks' worth of vacation time from work, I couldn't take off nearly the amount of time I'd like, but thankfully they're adults (well, at least Ben and Emily are) and can manage on their own, or with Chuck.

One trip I did get to join them on was when we went to Terrapin Beach Park. Dead crabs and jellies were the specials of the day, unfortunately.

We did find this little spot where a freshwater creek was spilling into the bay and keeping the jellies out, so the kids were able to play there plenty.

Cousins are the best.

And then I got to join them at Fort McHenry.

Seriously, Ollie? That face.

Again, Ollie.

And again. It's so him. Oh how I hope he grows out of it, but oh how I hope I never forget it. What a unique little guy.

Being silly on the steps!

The cousins mostly enjoyed each other. Ollie had it in for Lucy, for no reason at all. Pretty much the second they got out of the car, he was done with her. Sigh. And Rhett would settle for nobody but Jonas, another sigh. But hey, I did great! I planned, shopped, and cooked for 10, surprising me the most! We spent a lot of time at the pool, which was good because it was August and August is the WORST. Except when August weather spills into September, then that's the WORST.

Anyway, come back again soon, Maxwells!