Thursday, October 19, 2017

Update: Chuck

Chuck is, well, pretty much the same. Work is good. He's working on creating the online statistics course. Of course I'm super jealous. I think he has more fun at work than at home because of his work husband (they don't have any kids together AND his husband likes sports). At home he's busier than he wants with his calling. Sunday meetings, Wednesday nights, and then anything extra. We all know the drill. But they've had a couple of great activities. One was teaching bike maintenance to the YM and the other was teaching the boys how to grill and then eating the food with the YW. He loved the pineapple so much he made it at home. (Rub the pineapple with cinnamon and then grill--delicious!) He'd love more time to play video games, but wouldn't we all?! Well maybe not, but we'd all love more time for something. That's just his something.

In other news, we cleaned out his closet. (And by "his closet," I mean the section of the laundry room where we hang his clothes.) I think we got rid of 50 pounds of clothes. It's amazing. It just feels so good, at least to me.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Update: Rhett

I think all kids are weird. I mean, I only know two really well, but 100% of them are just bizarre. They other night Rhett got every stuffed animal we have (along with his brother) and put them in bed with him. So weird. I love him, but weird. In good news, I'm really starting to like him too!




And what's he doing? School, obviously. Man, 4th grade is REAL. I mean, the homework is serious! He's had lots of projects, spelling tests, math that's getting hard (exponents!), and he's doing cursive. It's been a real adjustment for all of us. Chuck and I are having to learn to navigate Google classroom, Rhett has to learn to manage it all, and Ollie has to learn to play by himself when Rhett's still doing homework. It's not been terrible, but I feel like I have a big kid now, not just a little guy. Socially he's doing okay. I think he likes the kids at school and they like him, but I still can't get him to name one kid he'd like to have over. As long as he's happy, I won't worry. Well, I will, but I won't press. Also he's learning the trumpet in music. That's been, um, interesting.

At home, it's lots of homework. It's also chores and while he's not perfect, he does seem to whine less about them. Like his brother, he loves kindle time (the only screen they choose). He's also doing scouts with church and then hockey one night a week. He's getting much better on the skates and it's so cool to watch your kid do something you can't do. He's still reading a lot, frequently two to three books at a time (which drives me crazy!). And, because he's my kid, he still hates pretty much everything I put in front of him to eat. One day he'll be big enough and hungry enough to eat. Hopefully.

Monday, October 16, 2017

Update: Ollie

This kid. He is such his own little person. Most of the stuff he does comes out of nowhere. For example, he put on seven shirts and five pants during pre-bed reading time. Why? Because he's six. And weird. Mostly the latter.


But he's just so cute, right? Omy. I love him so much.


So what's he up to these days? School. He says he hates it, and I believe he does sometimes, but thankfully this hatred doesn't translate into problems getting him out of the door in the morning. It only manifests itself during writing and then he writes stuff like "School is a prison." Nice. Things are going much better this year. His teacher is great and he's had no trips to the vice principal's office...yet. We got in trouble for doing his entire October homework at once so now we're back to doing it weekly. (We also got in trouble for bringing Bruno to school drop-off in the morning. Ha.)

At home it's a bunch of mood swings. He can be this happy, fun, silly boy but then ask him to do chores and WATCH OUT. ("WHY? Why do we always have to do chores?!?!?!") But then wait a couple minutes, and he just does them and happily reports when he's done. He still does this annoying baby talk thing which everyone in the house hates. ("Me want kindle.")

He loves his kindle, but he also loves riding his bike and jumping on the tramp. Sadly, no one wants to do those things nearly as much as he does. He is still reading really well and it's so nice to not have to read to him all the time. Like his brother, he says he likes to wear only polo shirts (although he does wear t-shirts too). Unlike his brother, he matches these polos with basketball shorts. It's quite the look. And of course, Piggie is still his favorite.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Camping in Ohiopyle

Because our lovely governor has seen fit to change our school calendar, we no longer have a three-day weekend in October. BUT we did manage a short-day on a Friday so we took advantage. I camped here at Ohiopyle State Park in Pennsylvania years ago (I think) and have wanted to come back. So we did. This time, however, we remembered to bring friends. And everything is better with friends.

Saturday morning we did a hike along this gorgeous creek. Best part by far was the natural waterslide. As we started the hike it was too cold, but three of the five kids did it when we were done. It should be noted that no adults got wet, except for shoes.








That night our friends used our electric hookups to have a movie night at our campsite. The kids watched "Boss Baby." I watched my kids laugh at "Boss Baby." We even invited our "neighbor" kids to watch with us.


Sunday morning started out rainy (but we don't care because we have a Scamp!) but then it turned out just kind of misty. We decided to hike anyway and I'm so glad we did. The Youghiogheny River is gorgeous, if not a bit terrifying when hiking next to it on slippery rocks. (Oh Rhett.)




We opted for one more small hike before leaving (long-ish car rides really go so much better when prefaced with as much movement as possible beforehand!). The colors up there were just starting to turn but were really nice here.


Family group shot behind the falls.


The rocks were wet which meant slippery, but we took it slow and had no problems. Piggie even joined us.




We had a great time and wish we could always camp with friends. It just takes so much pressure off of us as parents to entertain the boys. The kids just ran around the campground, and frequently we had no idea where they were. Just like it should be. Besides, we really like these friends and enjoy talking to them, because that's how adults play.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Conference Sunday

Living on the east coast means that conference doesn't start until noon. And to increase any chance of my boys sitting somewhat still during conference, we take advantage of the long morning by getting out. We've only had about two days of fall (Mother Nature still thinks it's summer here), but those two days occurred over conference weekend. So Sunday morning we took a little excursion to Teddy Roosevelt Island. It was perfect! Hike, monument, and sliding. What more could you want?







Then, after this outing, we were able to do the clothing swap between summer and winter clothes, which is unfortunate because of MOTHER FREAKIN' NATURE. It's in the 80s here. So dumb.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Weekend in North Carolina

One of my dearest friends recently made it to North Carolina. When she asked if we could make it down for the day, of course we (or maybe just I) screamed, "YES!" It worked out great that the boys had a Thursday off, so we took them out for Friday too. They didn't get in until Thursday night, so we had Thursday to ourselves. We camped at a recreational area just north of Raleigh and did some fishing.





Rhett caught this little one and we were able to get it quickly back in the water.


He then got this one stuck in the eye with the hook. We're pretty sure it's blind, but we're also pretty sure it lived. We think. We know it puked during the process, however.


Ollie and I played with the camera a bit while Rhett and Chuck did some more fishing. This. This is my son. This is how I'll remember him as a six-year old.


This is how I'd like to remember him. But I just can't.


My lovely friend Rachael! We're pretty much the same person. I love love love talking to her and blame my sore throat on the amount of talking we did.


Her adorable Isaac in my mess of boys. He's only one year older than Rhett but look how tall he is! He's such a good kid and I'm so glad we all got to spend time together.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Try a Tri

After spending all last school year building up swimming stamina, I'm determined to do the same on the bike. I think we'd all agree that bike riding is a bit easier than swimming. You can go slowly, coasting even, and still get places. This is especially true when your route is flat; obviously biking is a bit harder with hills. However, like swimming, biking fast is hard. Also, bike racing, like what I'd have to do if I competed in, say, a triathlon, is really hard.

I recently went on a ride with a small group of women, most of whom belong to a triathlon group in D.C., some of whom have finished a half Iron(wo)man. I mean, these ladies know biking. This particular ride was billed as a "get comfortable on your bike"-ride which is exactly what I needed as I had only been on a road bike one other time. After a short briefing session, we headed out for an eight-mile ride. It was hard. Really hard, and I know they weren't going near top speed. When it was done, they asked, "Does anyone have any questions?" Um, DO I?! I do! Millions!

For example:
1. How does one train for the biking part of a triathlon?
2. How does one get faster on the biking part of a triathlon?
3. Does what I wear make a difference?
4. What routes in my area are good?
5. Gears! How do I use them to my advantage?
6. Can I really get better if biking is only a small part of my exercise regimen?

I had more, but have since forgotten them. I have nine months to learn this. Wish me luck!

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Back to School

This year is particularly exciting: Rhett is starting with a new bunch of kids, but at the same building he's been for the past 1.5 years. Ollie is starting with the same bunch of kids, but at the newly-renovated school. And for me, I don't care where they go: JUST GO! Kidding.

Here's the picture from Monday, the day before school. This is our new local school and it is HUGE!


Our Monday morning power breakfast: cinnamon rolls and sausage. Oh, and don't forget to wear striped polo shirts, boys. I mean, who knows what would happen if you didn't.


Pretending to love each other in their school year shirts. Crazy how Rhett is starting to grow into that "dress." Obviously not really, but he's definitely closer than Ollie.


FINALLY! Walking to school again. (Well, for Rhett, we're walking to his bus stop which is at Ollie's school's bus loop.)


One last picture at the school! Good luck kiddos! Hurry up and go so I can skip on home.


And how did it go? Great! Rhett may have missed getting on the bus headed for home on the first day of school. But we figured that out and it hasn't happened again. Rhett's program does seem more intense than anything he's done before, but if the homework is always done on the computer, he may survive. Ollie has had all great days! Phew. And how have I coped with them out of the house? Um, do you really need to ask?!

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Last Weekend of Summer

Chuck had to go out of town (Palmyra) with the youth for Labor Day weekend. In order to not kill my boys, I knew we'd have to spend a LOT of time out of the house. So Saturday we headed downtown to the National Book Festival. I had high hopes; they were crushed. There were just so many people. And I don't do well with so many people. We tried to get a book signed by an author, but that didn't pan out (again, too many people). So we found something to keep us busy for a bit, then I was able to bribe the boys with Shake Shack and the Postal Museum if they left. Much better.

Sunday morning there was a tiny triathlon at our pool. I was supposed to volunteer, but that turned into all three of us participating. The water was frigid, but it was still fun. After church, a dear friend invited us to dinner, keeping us out of the house even more.

Monday morning we went to the Kensington Labor Day parade. We chose (ahem, I chose) to ride our bikes down there and the boys did great. They may have been bribed with Slurpees before the return trip. That afternoon we tried the pool, but it was just too cold for actual swimming. Then we just waited for Chuck to come home. Oh, we also took a trip to the new school to take some pictures. Because you know, the next day would certainly include too many people. And we now know how I feel about too many people.

Epilogue: While not the last weekend of summer, I thought it  better to include it here than forget. This past weekend Chuck had to write a talk so I took the boys to hike the Billy Goat Trail (again). Some kind fellow took a picture of the three of us. I will never say no to that.

Thursday, August 31, 2017

I Dislike Summer

I really dislike summer. I dislike working every day. I dislike making a lunch for work every day. I dislike missing out on adventures with my boys. I dislike coming home to a (most of the time) messy house. I dislike feeling like I'm still mostly in charge of household duties while working full-time. I dislike how many dishes we have to do with everyone (well, except for me) at home all the time. I dislike the diets of all family members. 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).

Buuuuut, I rather dislike not having any income in the summer. 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?

School starts on Tuesday! Party!

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Cape May

We took one last trip of summer a couple of weeks ago to Cape May. Sure you can drive the whole way, but why would you do that when you can take the ferry?! So that's what we did. We got on an earlier ferry than planned, which meant extra time in New Jersey.

NOTE: We took the Scamp to avoid super high hotel costs. Plus we like our Scamp. We do not, however, make it a practice to choose RV resorts as places to park the Scamp. Those places are nuts. People go there with the intent that the resort is their destination. It's just weird. But they do have a lot of amenities that state and national parks don't have. I'm about to disclose that maybe we took advantage of some of those amenities.

Because we had a little bit of extra time and because we were HOT, everyone but me got into the pool at the resort. Why not I? Because I was so hot that my clothes were sticking to me. And the thought of peeling them off only to have to put them back on was just too much. I know you understand. After swimming, we drove to town to see a lighthouse. We climbed the 199 stairs to the top and the boys pretended to be scared. Chuck, however, did not have to pretend.




After that, we drove about two miles to Sunset Beach to beachcomb, shop, and eat. Not one of those things disappointed us.






I must admit that the boys are getting way better at sleeping while camping. I think they slept past 6:30, which is a miracle. We headed straight to the beach to secure good parking and immediately went for a surrey bike ride. The boys both loved it. Chuck's and my legs did not. But it was a super fun way to see crazy cute Cape May.




Then we hit the sand. We borrowed an umbrella from a friend which made sitting there for five hours doable. The sand was super nice, the water was warm enough, and everyone had a great time. After beach time was shopping time. Ollie found a cute wallet made from pig fabric. That kids and his pigs. I had hoped that maybe we'd catch a ferry tour of town, but the time was too tight and the boys were done. Plus, Ollie really really wanted to go to the lake at the campground, so we did.


Rhett was a bit unsure of the lake, as he thought it might be an algae-filled pit, but it wasn't. In fact, it was a nice, sandy, little, man-made (obviously) lake with two waterslides. The boys enjoyed it thoroughly. We grabbed some pizza for dinner, and headed back to camp to find all of our beach stuff soaked from pouring rain. But AMENITIES! We threw it all in the dryer and were good.




While it rained outside, we enjoyed a game of pigs and the boys tried their voodoo magic on us.


The next morning we went kayaking around the marsh areas near Cape May. We saw ospreys and other cool birds and enjoyed being on the water...again. Then we packed up, hit the ferry again, and drove home. If I can ignore the near-constant fighting in the car, the trip was great!

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Random Summer Pictures

We went kayaking one GORGEOUS Saturday.




We went to the fair.


One of us lost teeth. A LOT of teeth all at once.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

We Saw (some of) the Eclipse!

The closer we got to the eclipse, the sadder I was that we hadn't made an effort to see it in totality. We had to make do with our 81% coverage. But even that was spectacular! It did make me commit to seeing the one in 2024, however. We already made reservations at our friends' house. And after today's dry run, I now know all the tricks to making the day awesome:

Buy the glasses EARLY (but not too early--they're only good for three years)
Make fun eclipse crafts
Get a good eclipse playlist ready
Make fun eclipse treats
Get a filter for the telescope



Thursday, August 17, 2017

Birthday Trip to New York City

I recently celebrated a big birthday, so I wanted to do something big for it. Which meant I had to plan to do something big for it 'cause ain't no one going to do it if I don't. (Which is fine because i love planning--you should see the short trip I planned to Cape May!) We dropped the boys off with our friends Thursday morning after a short run and opening presents. Then Chuck and I headed to the bus. We chose the bus over driving because (1) no gas, (2) no tolls, (3) no traffic, (4) no parking in NYC, and (5) we could hang out and watch stuff together. It was the right call. We chose to watch "Annie Hall" because it came out the year I was born and it was filmed in New York. So obviously.

Upon arrival, we checked into our hotel which had the worst view ever but we didn't care. We dropped the bag and headed out. We did a little shopping (see the picture below of Swatch, the dog of Mood, the fabric store for "Project Runway"). I picked out a cool carafe and serving platter with Charley Harper artwork on it (and I love Charley Harper). We grabbed a quick dinner (we ran out of time to go to where I really wanted, but that's okay). After dinner we headed to the Upright Citizens Brigade where we laughed for hours, or at least, 90 minutes. After that it was to the top of the Rockefeller Building to see the city at night. Then it was bed. Remember, I had turned old, I was tired.

Because I am physically incapable of sleeping in, I woke early to go running only to find it lightning and thundering...in the morning. Weird. But after a quick trip back to the room, it stopped. So I was able to enjoy a lovely run on the High Line trail. I love the High Line very much. I may have listened to Hamilton while running and I may have cried some because everything was just perfect. But that's just a maybe. After getting cleaned up, Chuck and I went to brunch, which was right near the High Line so we walked on it together for a bit. Breakfast was delicious, although I was disappointed their housemade pop tarts weren't ready. Then we went to Trinity Church to see where Alexander Hamilton (and his wife and son) was buried, but even more exciting than that was walking right by Mikey (from "The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt") on the sidewalk! WHAT!? Then we headed to the Tenement Museum. Depressing, but interesting. After that we slowly made our way to the bus stop, stopping to grab a small bite before the bus. This time we went to Chipotle. Before you say, "Um, Erin, you went all the way to New York to eat at...Chipotle," let me explain: this was Chipotle's test kitchen which means they have stuff there that exists nowhere else. So we tried the queso (good) and cinnamon bunuelos (good too). Then back on the bus where we watched a bunch of Unbreakable Kimmy's because you know, we were now bff's with Mikey.

Our babysitters were amazing in that they kept the boys that night too (we had planned on picking them up when we got back), so that we got to sleep in our house...alone. It meant for a nice, quiet Saturday morning. It really was a great trip.

For documentation here are the things we saw not on purpose:
The Flatiron Building
Wall Street
Times Square (I loathe Times Square)
Statue of Liberty (from my run)