Friday, April 18, 2014

Spring Break: Day 3

Monday morning I took the boys to the Natural History Museum. As expected, it was crowded. As not expected, it was really crowded. So we were there about an hour and a half before I could take it no longer. And really, for little boys who just like to look at things rather than do a lot of reading, 90 minutes is ample. I'm glad we went because the dinosaurs are going away for five years (!), but next time, we won't go during spring break.







Picnic lunch on the mall. I loved when the wind kicked up and the stroller went off like a sail boat. Sometimes (ahem, most of the time) I forget how lucky I am to live here. Remind me of this when the humidity returns.


P.S. If you read this on Friday, we're camping on the beach!

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Spring Break: Day 2

We thought we were soooo smart, Chuck and I. No one will get up as early as we do, we thought. No one will go downtown to see the blossoms before 7 a.m. No one will be parked there before we arrive. No one will be walking around the Tidal Basin. The place will be empty! We will have it all to ourselves! We are AWESOME!

I'm pretty sure you can guess that not only was it not empty, but it felt as if the entire D.C.-area population was there by 7 a.m., if not earlier. But after walking 23 minutes from our parking space to the blossoms, we were committed. And really, it was a gorgeous Sunday morning. I brought fruit and donut kabobs to eat. The boys were excited by the surprise trip. Everything was okay in the end.



Rhett was ready to eat the second we were on the tidal basin. Ollie only wanted to eat the donut holes.




A rare shot with no other people in the picture! A cherry blossoms miracle!


The view from the Jefferson Memorial. What is up with Rhett's pose?!


Oh Ollie. When will you learn to look at the camera?


P.S. A friend of mine went that evening at around 6 and apparently it was empty. Next year.

Monday, April 14, 2014

I'm Tired Already

And I really don't mean that in a humble-brag sort of way. Promise. I know we're too busy this Spring Break week but it's all stuff I want to do. Except for Monday morning's plans. I really don't want to do that. But let me start at the beginning. I'll save Sunday's outing for Wednesday, and then Monday's trip for Friday. I got to space these things out so I don't run out of content!

Saturday morning we headed out to the annual gas and steam engine show. It was a pretty warm day for April, so it was nice to be outside. The boys played with ride-on tractors and wheel barrows...


...enjoyed throwing and jumping into hay...


(notice the pile about to land on Rhett's head)


...took a hay ride...


...waited for a barrel ride...


...took a barrel ride...


And then we came home, napped/grocery shopped, and then bought and planted some bushes for the desperately-plain front dirt. Then we went on a date. End of Spring Break Day 1.




Friday, April 11, 2014

Ah, the Joys of Other Peoples' Kids

Gotta love sending your kids to school (or anywhere, for that matter, where other kids exist) so they can learn new "things." Apparently the other kids were teaching my son a bad word.

Rhett: Mom, what does "seckiladi" mean?
Me: Seckiladi? Seckiliadi? [Wracking my brain...] Seckiladi? Oooh, do you mean, "Sexy Lady?"
Rhett: Yes!
Me:

I did finally come up with something, delivered in a hopefully-non-teasing, educational manner. It still makes me laugh.

P.S. Sorry to those of who have already heard this story. I didn't make time for new material.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Multi-tasking

Sometimes you just want to read your book. Sometimes your kids just want to throw rocks (or sticks, or trash) into the creek. Sometimes you get to do both.


P.S. Sometimes you just have to buy Robin Eggs and teach your children the joys that are Robin Eggs as lipstick.




P.P.S. And sometimes you forget that you already had something for Monday so you post twice. Does that mean I don't have to post something on Wednesday?

Monday, April 7, 2014

Friday, April 4, 2014

Random Thoughts

Do you put things on hold at your library? I do. And I hate when two come at once, because then I have only three weeks to read two books. That's asking a lot for me.

Do any of you watch "The Walking Dead?" We do. I found this season so much better than last.

Do you know that I eat my kids' large-sized crumbs? Do you do it too? The other day I picked up a crumb that I thought was banana bread, but once it was in my mouth I became pretty sure it was a dog treat. Do you think I'll do that again? (Probably.)

It's official: I am totally gullible.

Are you the type of person that if given a work desk, you'd put a bowl of candy on it? I am definitely not, for obvious reasons. But I love you if you are. I especially love you if you work in my office and you do this.

This would have been a pretty good Facebook status update for me for April Fools Day: "Just finishing ironing my sheets. Off to warm the plates in the oven for dinner!" (Note: I ignored the apostrophe in "Fools" because I just don't know where it's supposed to go. Fool's? Fools'? Pretty sure it's not Fo'ols, even though that would be pretty cool.)

Do you know that the Postal Museum is surprisingly cool?! Surprise, right? And did you know that my office and the Postal Museum share a building? AND did you know, that until last Saturday, I'd never been to the museum? After more than nine years of working where I work, not once had I stepped in there. Pathetic. But I admit: it probably won't happen again soon. I like reading the paper at lunch and, well, during the rest of the day I'm actually working. And at the end of the day, I just want to go home. Until I get home, and then I want to run away screaming.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Wedding Quilt

It may sound weird, but most of the time when I am making stuff, it's because I was inspired. Not in the church-y way, but rather, I see something that speaks to me in some way. Maybe it tells me something about to whom it should be gifted, or for what purpose, or maybe I just think it's adorable and I must have it.

So when I'm searching for specific gifts, it's often hard. The timing has to be just right. As you may recall, my brother was married this past September. Sadly, I was not inspired as to their gift until recently when I saw this pattern for sale. It immediately spoke to me as something I could make for Derek and Renee. Ever the spendthrift as well as DIY-er, I thought I'd save the six bucks (six dollars? seriously, self?) and come up with the pattern on my own (cough, cough, with Chuck's help). Which I/we did. I picked the colors to speak to the trees and snow that are their environment. I guess I should have added some grey in there for the mountains, but I didn't. It's small, less than four square feet, so it won't take up too much space, and I even added a sleeve so they can hang it, should they desire.



And for a bit of personalization, I appliqued an Alaska, heart near where they live, and date. And yes, of course all mistakes were intentional. Ha.

Monday, March 31, 2014

That.



And that is what happens after a couple of semi-warm days and some rain. By Sunday morning there was nothing left except for a seriously saturated ground (due to the 2" of rain, not the melted snowman). By Sunday dinner, however, another half-inch of snow had accumulated on the grass. Sigh. Will this ever end?

Friday, March 28, 2014

This.

This is what I came home to on Tuesday. Tuesday, March 25th. What kind of magic do we need to do in order to shoo away winter? Because whatever it is, I'll do it.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

More About Rhett

This kid. In so many ways, still such a baby. In so many others, a big kid!

The Good: Rhett really seems to know right from wrong, and he usually wants to do the right thing. He is a good friend to those at school, and the other kids seem to really like him. There are moments where it seems like the things we are trying to teach him are sinking in. His reading is really coming along. It's fun to be out and about, and he'll just ask what random words are, or what they mean. He and Ollie can be such good friends. When we put them to bed around 7:15, they are allowed to stay up until 8. They mostly just read books in bed, but sometimes we hear them playing or doing who-knows-what. He's become a much better eater as of late. He'll try most things and and has learned to eat things that are not his favorite. This is a major milestone for him. He is always making something out of paper. It could be a "good list," a schedule for our day, or just weird hats, crowns, or dioramas.

The Weird: He LOVES nutcrackers. LOVES. He talks to them, plays with them, denies all requests to put them away until next Christmas. I honestly have no idea where this addiction came from.

The Bad: He is a hoarder! The kid will grab stuff from the trash and hide it in the library, which he thinks is his secret place. And when I say "trash," I mean trash: empty cereal boxes, empty chip bags, little scraps of paper, whatever. So usually I have to go in and clean it up without him knowing. He's none the wiser. Tantrums! I'm shocked that at six years old, I'm still dealing with these from him. Sometimes it seems that he cries more than Ollie does. Maybe we didn't do a good job teaching him emotions management, but man, I am so done with these. So done. They do seem to be decreasing in frequency, however.



Overall, Chuck and I feel very lucky to have such a healthy, fun, energetic boy in our family.

Why yes, those are almonds taped to the bookshelf. Doesn't everyone decorate with hanging almonds?

Monday, March 24, 2014

Birthday Weekend

I really wish that we could contain a birthday to just one day. I know it's up to me, but really, it just doesn't seem possible. Maybe next year.

We started the celebrations on Friday with early-morning present opening. We gave Rhett a watch (he's obsessed with knowing the time) and some Lego people. He got Legos for Christmas, but didn't play with them much. I can safely say now that all he needed was the little Lego guys. He also got some good books, a remote-controlled car (that he loves), money, and clothes. After playing with Legos all morning, it was off to school! Ollie and I dropped by his lunch with cupcakes for his classmates. They were adorable, if not a little greedy. But I guess (I hope) that comes with the age.




Immediately after school we whisked the boys and Rhett's friend Madeleine to Baltimore and a visit to its children's museum.










Saturday was a low-key morning followed by our babysitting group at our house. We had planned it that way so that we could call it a party, but not have all the work of inviting people. We had a gorgeous day so spent the first hour at the playground, then we got to eat pizza outside, and then more playing, ending with some TV. Perfect. Aren't these kids adorable?


Sunday was another low-key morning before church and then a dinner with our local family. It doesn't sound like much, but it was enough for me.




Six. The boy is six. Only one-third to adulthood!

P.S. And for anyone who has the time, here's his yearly interview. And if he'd only answer the questions a teensy bit more quickly, it would been forty seconds, instead of four minutes.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Routine-Oriented

It should be pretty obvious that I love schedules and routines. I guess I'm like a little kid in this. But March, whoa. It's been anything but routine.

Normally, my life consists of:
early-morning runs on Mondays, Wednesday, and Fridays
track workouts with the girls on Thursday nights
long runs on Saturday mornings
Rhett at school every weekday
Chuck at work every weekday
regular church meetings
playgroup with Ollie on Friday
real dinners at the dining room table

But this March, my life consisted of:
later-morning, or even afternoon, runs
track workouts without the girls on Tuesdays
long runs on Saturday afternoons
Rhett not at school due to more snow days or sick days
Chuck at work, unless it's a snow day, but some days later because of testing in the schools
stake conference
lots of cancelled playgroups because of weather or illness
fake dinners all over the place, or even no dinner at all if we are sick

I know. It shouldn't be hard. And truthfully, it isn't that hard. It is, however, just enough to throw me off kilter a teensy bit. But after this insane weekend, I expect to return to my kilter. Monday you can expect a full post on birthday happenings (I have a six-year-old!) with pictures. Maybe even video.

P.S. Are you curious about our snow days? If so, read on: Our school system builds four snow days into the calendar, meaning our school year goes 184 days, not 180. However, we've had TEN snow days this winter, meaning we have to make up six of them so we can get our 180 days. Aye, but there's a rub. Our superintendent can apply (and has applied) for a waiver from the state exempting us from having to make up some or all of those days. In the past, if those snow days were declared states of emergency by the governor, the schools were granted these waivers. Remember snowmageddon (here, here, or here)? We didn't have to make up one day that year! So there's hope that we won't be in school through June 20th. We'll see.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Worst Weekend Ever

We had plans! Lots of fun plans! But when Chuck and I woke up totally sick on Saturday morning, our bodies made other plans for us. Plans like, letting the kids watch lots of TV while we rested. Plans like, eating only saltines, toast, and a Slurpee (none of which stayed in our bodies). Plans like, totally ignoring our very, very, very good children as they played and didn't fight. Um yeah, so other plans. Even Sunday was ruined by Rhett's puking. Poor buddy. (I will say that a nearly-six-year-old is much better at making it to a toilet when compared to a three-year-old. For this I am oh-so grateful.)

This might be the best thing that happened to me the entire weekend. I tried cutting fabric with my Silhouette. Success! It's part of my brother and sister-in-law's wedding gift, but it doesn't reveal too much. I could get very addicted to this!


And the worst thing this weekend did to us was to give us yet another snowstorm. March 17th and snow. Ridiculous. The only reason I'm not pulling out my hair is that it's March and hopefully it will melt away quickly. It better. Also, Chuck is off too. It could be worse.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Snapshots for the Mind

At least until the boys are both in school, I think I'll always have a hard time with motherhood. And who am I kidding? Probably even after. It doesn't mean I don't love my boys, it just means I don't love the ins and outs of mothering them. But I have been working on finding those joyful moments. I remember one from two Mondays ago, during what was hopefully our last snowstorm. Rhett had just gone down a sledding hill and then fell on the ground making a snow angel. It was a beautiful moment.

Then the other day, both boys were sitting at the little boys' table. Ollie took a big swig of milk, said a big, "Ahhhhhhhh," and then followed it with "BURP." He didn't actually burp, but rather, just said the word. We all enjoyed a good laugh.

And Wednesday, Ollie happily played with his salt. I love watching this child play so independently. I also love how long we let his hair grow.


I know these moments are rare, but knowing that they exist with probability greater than zero helps. And yes, I had to throw in math-speak because....

P.S. Happy Pi Day! So excited for strawberry crumble pie tonight.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Letter to My Representatives

Dear Congressman Van Hollen, Senator Cardin, Senator Mikulski, and heck, why not, President Obama:

My husband and I live in your respective districts. We live pretty regular, suburban lives. I am a part-time federal employee; my husband works for our local school system. We have two young sons. We are fortunate to have our jobs, our home, and especially each other. We are doing a good job taking care of ourselves.

At this point in our lives, I believe that the work you do has little effect on us. However, I would like to give you the opportunity to change that. And not only would you be changing our lives (for the better), but also the lives of many, many others. What is my proposal? Please please please introduce a bill to get rid of daylight saving time (DST). I'll even let you choose if you'd like to keep us on DST forever, or not; that matters not to me. I just want the time changing to stop.

Of course some people (like three or four) will argue against this. But don't listen to them; they're dummies. DST only has short-term benefits. In the spring, sure, who doesn't love the extra light in the evenings? But remember, time marches on and we would eventually catch up to that amount of daylight in the evenings. The research is clear: DST benefits no one anymore.

In conclusion, changing our clocks semi-annually is evil. It must be ended.

Sincerely,
erin

P.S. And to those of you who I may have called a "dummy," I apologize. I know you're not dumb. Just confused. Kidding! We'll just have to agree to disagree on this topic, however.

Monday, March 10, 2014

I Told You I'd Do It

Not only did I make the pi day banner, but I did it Friday night. And now every morning before the boys are allowed to eat breakfast, I have them place their hands on their hearts and repeat these digits.

Kidding. Really. I Promise.


P.S. I decided the t-shirts were a bit silly, but not for next year's big party. Oh no, next year the entire family will be sporting pi day shirts.

P.P.S. Oh, and I think we've decided on a strawberry crumble pie with some lemon verbena whipped cream. I have no idea what lemon verbena is, but I guess I'll find out.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Consider This Your Public Service Announcement

Beep beep beep beep beep beep beep beep...This is just your friendly reminder that next Friday, March 14, is Pi Day. Better start dusting off those pie cookbooks or perusing pinterest for the perfect pie recipe. And if you find it, let me know because I'm struggling to pick one. If it was up to Chuck, I'd make apple pie and only apple pie. If it was up to Rhett, I'd make Oreo pie. But it's not up to them. It's up to me. I just can't decide.

And remember there's more to Pi Day than just eating pie. Oh yes. I'm definitely running 3.14 miles that morning (but not in three minutes and fourteen seconds, sadly). Then I think I need a special shirt to match my special pi earrings. Hmmmm, why have I not done this yet? And a pi banner? How have I not made one of these? I smell some weekend projects...

P.S. Here is 2012's Pi Day wrap-up. And here was 2011. I have no idea what we did (or didn't do) last year. Wait--found it. Apparently we were quite busy and opted for simple oreo pie. It won't happen again. And don't forget next year's spectacular 3.1415 celebration that will be happening at our house. Save the date now, local friends! Or start saving for a trip to D.C. next year, non-local friends! This will be a non-missable event.

P.P.S. Thanks, wikihow, for clearing up how to shower, how to make people believe I'm British, and how to celebrate Pi Day.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Self-assessment: Prep for Winter Storm XIII

And here we are again: getting ready for Yet. Another. Snowstorm. Do you know how much I am dreading this? How much I am loathing it? How much I'd love to share this precip with the dried-out western U.S.? A LOT. After our thousands of storms this winter (a teensy bit of hyperbole, I'll grant you), you'd think we'd be ready. I'm going to grade us on how we did based on this rubric.

1. Firewood. Thought about it. Meant to do it. Thought we'd have time to get it after church, but the rain was just too yucky. Grade: F.

2. Baking supplies. Check. We even have blueberries, so maybe blueberry scones? Grade: A+ (the '+' is for the blueberries).

3. Adult refreshments. Check. Runts and severely-discounted Valentines Day cinnamon bears. Also, for Chuck, chips and some of that nasty "cheese." Grade: A.

4. Activities for the boys. Eh. I'm sure we've got something for them to do, right? If not, movies it is! Grade: C.

5. Activities for me. Check. I can work on a gift for a friend or my sister's Christmas gift. (I know; I'm awesome.) Grade: A.

6. Charged camera. As I typed this Sunday afternoon, no, but then it reminded me to do so, so yes. Grade: B+.

Overall our GPA was a 2.883. Eek. That's not good. Better luck next time (which better be in late, late 2014, if not 2015 if not never).

P.S. As of Sunday morning, the models were predicting 8-12". But thanks to my fasting, Chuck later informed me we were then in a 4-8" band. And maybe I'm kidding about fasting for it. I'll let you be the judge.

P.P.S. Thinking of warmer times...

Friday, February 28, 2014

What's Wrong With Me?

This is exactly what Chuck said to me when he saw these pictures, "What's wrong with you?" Well, I can't say. But I can say that I am just drawn to making faces with my kids' snacks and lunches. Before you go telling me, "Oh, you're such a good mom!" (of course this type of stuff should never be a good parent/bad parent judge) let me tell you that I do this strictly for me. I happen to think it's hilarious. I couldn't care less what the boys think. In fact, I'm pretty sure Ollie doesn't even notice.






This one kills me.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Joy in Motherhood

Joy in motherhood. Lately I'm having a hard time finding mine. I would love to say someday it'll come easy and be constant. That someday, I will relish in rolling around, tickling and giggling, and playing trains with my boys all day long. But these days? Nope.

However, I am trying to find just a singular piece of joy in my children each day. Just one. This, I feel, is doable. Hard for me, but doable.

So yesterday, my joy was seeing Ollie play with a parachute for the first time. You know, the ones that kids run under, the ones you bounce balls on. Ollie had never experienced one until then, and when he did, oh JOY. He just laid on his back on the ground, smiling the nuttiest grin ever. And while I watched him, yep. True joy. Maybe even as much as he was experiencing.

Monday, February 24, 2014

This Bag

So here it is. I like it. I really like it. I don't think I love it, however. But it fills its purpose and so I think I'll keep it. Besides, I invested enough into it I better.

The Things I Like About It:
1. My choice of fabrics.
2. The size. It fits a binder. Or it fits a kid's water bottle plus diapers and wipes, snacks, and my phone, wallet, calendar, and ipod.
3. It goes over my chest. I really dislike shoulder-only bags.
4. The pockets are super handy. (There is one on the back and one inside.)
5. The grab handle is super convenient too.

The Things I Don't Like About It:
1. My choice of fabrics. I don't know what I was thinking getting something with so much white! It'll be grey in a matter of weeks.
2. The pocket hardware seems a little fancy for me, but I had such a hard time finding it, I just went with it.
3. The strap hardware was really hard to find. I ended up finding it on etsy from an Aussie.
4. The cutting! I think I had to cut 46 pieces before I could start sewing. FORTY SIX PIECES. Those of you who sew, know how tedious this is!
5. I had some issues with the zipper being weirdly-sized. It made for some sloppy construction at that point and it bothers me every time I look at it.

The Things I Didn't Like About creativebug:
1. The fabric requirements for the strap fabric was WAY off. A yard? Really? Maybe a quarter yard. Wasteful.
2. No response to questions submitted. No real way to ask instructor questions.
3. No guidance on where to buy the hardware. A lot of pattern makers will tell you where they got their stuff in a buying guide. (Hmmm...apparently they did have this but it was really hidden. Me no likey.)
4. The editing was terrible. I really don't need to see the instructor sew a 50" straight stitch. I do, however, need to better be shown how she did the lining.
5. For rectangular pattern pieces, I'd just as soon be given the dimensions so I could use my rotary cutter to cut them.
6. Ugh. Why can't you just use a standard zipper size?
7. When I cancel my membership (which I was loathe to pay for, but since hardware came from Australia, I used more than the 14-day trial), I have no print out of the instructions. I think that since I paid for the class, there should be something tangible. Instead, I had to take copious notes for the next bag, should there be a next time.

But like I said, I like it. I really do. Now just to take a flight somewhere!

Friday, February 21, 2014

Ollie and Rhett's Prayers

A.S. I had something else for today, but didn't make enough time to write it out. You'll have to wait. And yes, an A.S. is like a P.S. but coming before regular text. Kind of like AM and PM. I would have put the third sentence in a P.S.S.-like paragraph but I'm pretty sure you can quickly figure out why I didn't.

I know prayers aren't supposed to be routine, but hopefully that's too much to ask a two-year old. Ollie insists on saying almost every family prayer we do, much to Rhett's delight. No matter any prompting we give him to start it differently, this is pretty much how each one goes:
Ollie: In the name of Jesus Father, thank you for the day. Thank you for the dinner. Please bless us that we won't have bad dreams about space grizzlies. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

And last night at dinner, Rhett added this to his prayer:
Rhett: And please bless me to have a dream where I can meet Brother [Bear] and Sister [Bear] again.

And this quote from Wednesday...
Me: Ollie! Stop splashing in the puddles! You're not wearing your rain boots!
Ollie: Sorry, mom, but that's just what kids do.

A picture just for fun.


P.S. I guess I should mention that space grizzlies are action figures in a Berenstain Bears book. Nothing fancy.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Projects

A friend's daughters just transitioned to bunk beds so I made her this little bag for books. Of course, Rhett hasn't used his in weeks because all his books end up where they sleep: Ollie's bottom bunk.




After seeing the tunics that my sister made for my boys, a colleague of Chuck's asked if I could make one for a special little friend of his. So I did. Thanks, emily, for a perfect pattern.


Another little friend's birthday present. I thought it appropriate for a Peter Pan party.


My lunch bag was dying, so I made one from this tutorial on Sew, Mama, Sew. I love it. The inside is lined with Pul on the bottom so hopefully it will be easily cleaned if/when my lunch spills.


Chuck saw a shirt just like this online somewhere. I happened to have the solid tee, so I just whipped up the stencil. I think it's pretty funny.


Two days before Valentines Day, I decided I wanted a conversation heart banner. I knew we were expecting a big snow storm and thought it would be the perfect project. Of course, I finished it the first morning of our five-day weekend, but that meant it was up for Valentine's Day. I'm pretty much in love with it. It's made with fabric and the text is freezer paper stencilled on. And yes, there is one that says, "FAX ME." Why do you ask?


And about one day before Valentines Day, I decided to make these fun shirts for the boys. I promise it will never happen again.




And then Rhett decided he needed a new cape because his was too small. Of course, once it was finished and the smaller was bequeathed to Ollie, Ollie rejected it. He demanded one that looked just like Rhett's. Brothers.