Thursday, July 14, 2016

Dinner Conversation

Overheard at dinner the other night (this is after the reasonable time it should take anyone to eat a delicious dinner, when Chuck and I have already left the table to get stuff done):

Ollie: Rhett, are you pondering what I am pondering right now?

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

One Reason (among the many) My Sister Should Come Visit More Often

Okay, so maybe I had some things to document.

Before trips, I like to clean the house. There's something amazing about coming home, tired from vacation, to a clean house. But cleaning before this trip was imperative because shortly after we come back, my sister and her crew arrive! So not only are we cleaning, but we're organizing too. We're getting rid of junk and even selling some stuff. I am so excited about the state of my house, I can barely stand it. However, the boys are a bit frustrated because as we clean each part of the house it then becomes off-limits. Ha. (Hence the bathrooms getting done the last minute possible.) But it's so worth it. If only we can keep it clean for those two days after we get back and before Emily comes. I think so. I anticipate that jet lag will leave us too tired to actually do anything!

Thursday, July 7, 2016

A Wet 4th

Because rain was in our forecast, we kept our day low-key. Bike rides, neighborhood outdoor games (before rain), BBQ outside under the canopy, and an on-time bedtime. Perfect (at least for this year)!

P.S. I should have mentioned that yes, I ordered five pairs of shoes from Zappos, but I returned four of them. These are the ones I kept. I'm pleased.

P.P.S. The blog will be quiet for the next three weeks. Should you want to know why, follow me on Instagram.

P.P.P.S. Should you want more, follow Ollie's pig on Instagram @refrigeratedpork.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

My Own Personal Terrible-Horrible

Shopping for clothes pretty much sucks, right? Of course right. Unless you're super thin, it's the worst. And even then, things still probably don't fit you well. My body never fits right in clothes and so the experience is completely ignored.

Shoes, however, now that should be fun, right? WRONG. At least wrong when you wear the size of a preteen. Not only are shoes not often made in my size (most companies start at size 6), the ones that are are kids' shoes. And kid shoes, for a woman nearing 40, are not okay. BUT. The other day whilst perusing Amazon, I found some I really liked. Like a lot. In my size. So of course I ordered them immediately. Guess what happened? The next day I got an email from the company telling me they were actually out of stock. I literally started crying.

So what did I do? Buy five pairs on Zappos.

Thursday, June 30, 2016

I'm So Done With Bugs

Remember when we went camping and I got some terrible spider bites? And then we went camping again and had these issues with ticks? That was nothing. NOTHING compared to the terrible, horrible thing that happened last week.

NOTE: Please know that I am not letting my emotions run completely away with myself. When I tell you about the terrible-horrible that happened to us, I have not lost perspective. This terrible-horrible was only terrible and horrible among the truly non-terrible and non-horrible things. I am obviously aware that truly terrible and horrible events (e.g., death of a child/parent/spouse, major illness, loss of a house to a fire) happen to people every day. And I realize how fortunate I am that as of now, I am relatively free of these things.

Sunday morning we're all getting ready for church when Rhett tells us that his head is itching. Crap. Because we know what it means. LICE. While I'm fanning myself so as to not faint, Chuck is fingertips deep in Rhett's hair. He's immediately convinced it's lice. Me? Not so sure. Every google image of lice (a google search I don't recommend, along with "blood filled tick"; just a friendly PSA) shows little white things. What we find in Rhett's hair is tiny black things. Still. We're scared enough to keep him home from church that day.

But of course at church I am unable to focus on anything else. I am also unable to stop scratching because I'm just so creeped out. (I'm also infected with one louse, but we didn't know that then.) I remembered a woman who made a career of lice removal and told Chuck that if/when this ever happens to us, we'd call her ASAP. So we did. At our appointment later that day, we found Rhett was a total mess (probably had them for 2-3 weeks) and I had one louse with a couple of nits. Miracle of miracles: Chuck and Ollie were clear. She gave us instructions (and hairnets!) and we went home.

Let me tell you what lice cleansing entails. Laundry. Loads and loads of laundry. Sheets. Comforters. Clothes. Towels. Slipcovers. Not just once, but twice and thrice. So much laundry. Vacuuming. Also, daily combing with a special lice comb. This is not like a plastic pick. No. It's metal with super close teeth, and being combed with it hurts. And having to comb an eight-year-old who cries and whines the entire time is pretty terrible. (Although you'll have to ask Chuck to verify this. I didn't do it.) Then of course there are the psychological disorders you develop. Paranoia ("I'm sure there's just one louse waiting to stage a comeback!"). PTSD ("That was terrible and horrible and terrible-horrible!"). Exhaustion ("If I have to remake that bed one more time, I'm just going to collapse on top and stay there the rest of the day."). Phantom itching ("Why is my head/arm/foot/eyeball itching? Is there a louse there?!"). And finally, dread ("What if we didn't get them all and they come back????"). The last one is the killer. We've been doing the daily combings for eight days and haven't had any lice nor nits for five or six of them. But still. STILL. What if?!

See. Told you. Terrible. Horrible.

But it's over...for now. We had our follow-up appointment earlier this week and Rhett and I were cleared! Hallelujah.

P.S. I have now added "lice killing" to the list of things I'd like to see a politician put on his/her platform (along with cancelling daylight saving time and requiring swim meets to be at most two hours). I'd totally vote for that person.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Swim Team

After only one year of adjusting to pool culture, I've got a new culture to learn. (Does that mean I've joined a new cult? Never noticed the root of the word. Huh.) Swim team is a whole new thing. Now that Rhett can swim a length of freestyle, he can (and did) joined the swim team for our pool. What, exactly, does swim team involve? Let me tell you.

First, practices. Obviously. Starting the day after Memorial Day, Rhett has had daily swim team practice for 30-45 minutes. Now that's it's summer, this isn't such a big deal. But man, it was a lot during the school year. Ollie is even on the pre-team and they practice at the same time, which is super convenient for Chuck. Goal of pre-team is to get the kids to swim the length of the pool so that next summer he'll be ready for "real" swim team.

Second, meets. Oh my. These meets. I had no idea. None. There are two meets: A and B. The stronger swimmers do the A meets Saturday mornings, and the others go to the B meets on Wednesday nights. Although Rhett is just getting this freestyle thing down, we don't have that many 8-and-under boys, so he's been swimming in the A meets. Let me tell you about these meets. They are LONG. And I'm kinda mad at Chuck (who grew up completely immersed in this culture--get it? Immersed?) for not cluing me into this. Warm-ups start at 8 a.m. and the meet starts at 9. The meet has 50 (fifty!) events and then you're done at noon. And because these things are mostly volunteer-run, either Chuck or I (or sometimes both) have to help. The only job we've done so far is timing. That means for all 50 events, we and two others stand at the end of each swim lane timing the swimmers. For three hours. In the sun (sometimes). In the humidity (most times). The events are basically every permutation possible of gender, age group, stroke, and distance. And how many events does Rhett swim? Two. How long does it take him to do this? His total swim time is one minute. In all honesty, the meets are kinda fun. Watching the different swimmers that we're starting to know is fun. Chuck and I think it's good for Rhett to be part of a team and he's enjoying watching (some) of it. But man, I would be so much happier if these things were only two hours long. Thankfully, both meets so far have been at pools with attached playground. Ollie has happily played the entire time!

Third, social events. There are pep rallies every Friday night before meets. These include a practice, a theme, dinner (so yes, I'm having to bring food), cheers, etc. There are team picnics after home Saturday swim meets. There are other team events as well. This is in addition to the other social events that the pool puts on: tween nights, movie nights, blah blah blah. As we're still feeling the effects of May, we're opting out of some. But I can't say that I'll be sorry to miss some of these next month because of our trip.

I have to admit that I'm enjoying watching Rhett. He usually likes to do only things that he's good at, or where he's expected to be just as good as everyone else (e.g., a tennis class for beginners). So this really is big for him! The first meet he was asked to join a four-person relay and he really did not do it. But he did. And I was so proud of him and I think he was proud of him. It's good for him. And really, it's the pool. How bad can it be?!

It looks like he's at the bottom, but actually he was 5th of 11. Not bad for his first meet!

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Q: Why Do I Volunteer at Rhett's School?

A: Because the thank you letters are adorable.

These are from career day when I talked about being a statistician and had the kids create a bar chart with their shoes. Then we answered some questions and made some inference.

Saw our socks!! SAW OUR SOCKS!!

Glad my own son likes what I did.

This one. HAHAHA. Those poor parents probably hate me.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Second Grade: Check!

And just like that, Rhett's second grade year is done! It better be; I mean, c'mon. It's past the summer solstice already. But end it did. On Monday, I was true to my word and went to his school for a "Last Day Party." Really, it was just games, but that's okay. We started with "Heads Up, Seven Up!" for no other reason than I remembered playing it and so Rhett must know my joys.

Then we moved on to a giant version of "Don't Eat Pete!" This is a game my sister introduced me to, and is well-loved in our house. For some inexplicable reason. The kids could barely keep their hands off the swedish fish, but finally it was done.

Then we finished with Bingo. I had prizes for this one and when he didn't win anything, Ollie was in tears and declared that he HATED the party. Ha. That's Ollie! Then it was nearly time for the kids to get to lunch, so I had them rush to sign the bag. I love how it turned out.

Rhett and his teacher with a photo bomber.

After his last solo bus ride (next time he rides a bus to school, Ollie will be with him!), he got his candygram. He was mad I called him an Air Head. Which clearly he's not, but Five Below only has so much selection.

Everything about the end of the school year was exhausting. Rhett really enjoyed today's party and I enjoy spending time with his classmates, so I guess it's worth it. And now, it's finally SUMMER! (I say that as if it's a good thing.)

Thursday, June 16, 2016

I Made Something!

I offered to throw a last-day-of-school party at Rhett's school. I've never done this before, so if you have any advice (like, ahem, how you should have told me that two hours is plenty for a child's birthday party), please send it my way. As I never got around to getting a gift together for Rhett's teacher during teacher appreciation week, I thought I'd do that now. And what cuter gift for a teacher than a notebook tote bag? (Probably a lot of things, but I just couldn't think of them.) And if I'm going to be at the school, why not have the kids sign their names in their second-grader handwriting?

Turns out I love this bag. Love it.

Bag tutorial here. Notebook-ing it idea here.

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Tuckahoe State Park Triathlon

As mentioned, we picked Tuckahoe and this particular weekend because they had this super cool "triathlon." I think I mentioned that it was a two-mile run (on that fun fitness trail, but no, I didn't stop to do the rings), a ten-mile bike, and then a one-mile paddle. It was so fun! Except when it was boring.

Turns out biking is super boring (for me, obviously). I usually listen to podcasts while running, but I don't do it during races. But man, I could have used something during the bike. I was so bored that I started counting lines in the road. But then they turned to double yellow and I was back to bored. Clearly I just don't bike enough. I know the theory behind race running and I know my pace. But only have done a handful of non-kid bike rides this year, left me very bad at this. Ha. So even though I finished the run in the about 12th place, I stopped counting the number of people who passed me while biking. Clearly I should have kept counting as it would have given me something to do.

But even through that, it was still super fun. Only about 100 people participated and the state park did a great job organizing. I love a well-run race!

Riding away. I had no idea of the boredom to come.

The finish line was in the water. Pretty cool.

My big buddy and me. Next time (you know, after I can psych myself out for handling the ticks) it's Chuck's turn! Or, we wait until the boys are a little older and we enter two doubles teams.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Tuckahoe State Park

Another park checked off! This one surprised me. I was expecting just another forest, but it was actually really fun! We ended up fishing, canoeing, hiking, biking, playgrounding, going to an aviary program (where we watched birds of prey eat dead mice), and the regular campfire activities. I also participated in a triathlon, but more on that later.

Sure it was hot and humid, but I survived that with the Scamp. HOWEVER. The one thing I'm not sure I can survive in summer camping? The bugs. I mean, mosquitoes, whatever. But the ticks? I just don't know. We each ended up with at least one on us, my first one found on my forehead (not yet embedded) while I was driving. Seriously. I've been itching everywhere since we got back. It's going to take me some serious psyching myself out before I try this again. Why-oh-why were ticks ever included in the list of things to create?

This was our first trip where we got to try out the PVC railings on the upper bunk. SUCCESS! No middle-of-the-night fallings out.

The boys LOVED the tire playground. Ollie especially loved this swing.

Only Rhett caught a fish. The creatures were experts at getting the worms off the hook without actually snagging themselves.

We had friends join us Saturday and I got to take all three little boys on a canoe ride. I felt pretty awesome.

Before we left Sunday morning, we hiked the fitness trail. Every tenth of a mile there was some exercise to do. Pretty hilarious.

They both were terrified and then in love with the rings.

And I was in love with watching them bike! We called it "mountain biking" just to make them feel tough, but really, it was a nice ride on a needle-covered trail. I totally recommend this park! Just maybe not in tick season.

Only five parks left! (And two to repeat.)

Monday, May 30, 2016

Family Updates: Me

Me: Nine days ago I ran a half marathon. I trained for the distance, but not the speed. So deciding to try for a PR the day before the race maybe wasn't the best decision. I was sore for three days. Ha. But it was an amazing 24 hours. Five other women ran with me and we had a blast. We got super lucky with accommodations: we were in the top floor of a huge house that overlooked the harbor. We ate at a delicious restaurant Friday night, then came back to watch half a movie in the in-home theatre. The house was within sight of the race start, so we were able to stay in the house until about 10 minutes before the gun went off. Which was good because it was pouring. That's right: half-marathon in the heavy rain. Awesome. But I'd rather have rain than bright warmth. So it was okay. After the race, we went back to the house to get shower and get dry. THEN we ate. Instead of choosing for eating out again, we all brought something to contribute to brunch. And it was amazing. Cinnamon rolls, french toast casserole, fruit, quiche, salad, and yogurt with homemade granola. Seriously amazing. Then it was time to pack up and return home! It was a great time.

Now that the training has ended for that, I need to get ready for my next race: a triathlon! But this isn't your regular tri. It's run/bike/canoe. Perfect because I'm not a strong swimmer. It's run two miles, bike ten, and then canoe one. It won't be pretty! But hopefully it will be fun.

I got a second job. I'm working for Chuck. Well, not really, but close enough. A job teaching algebra to an 8th grader opened up and I took it. Turns out this particular 8th grader is okay, but algebra is not. Man, I forgot so much! Completing the square?! Vertexes of parabolas from the vertex form?! What?! It's a lot of prep work for me. I think I'd do it again, but just not algebra. Probably only stats.

I got a third job (this one not for pay). I've finally found a way to volunteer at Rhett's school that doesn't involve children (which we know is not my strong point). I'm reshelving books (not in the library, but these are books kids read in class). I can do it while listening to podcasts. It's perfect. But I've also had some opportunities to be with the kids a bit. The first was for Career Day. We got to make a graph using the kids' shoes--which apparently they loved. And then I was back the next day for Poetry Day. It was fun, but about all I can handle.

And then I have a fourth job. I offered to help our pool with their membership cards. It means spreadsheets! Finally, a non-work use of one of my four talents. It's been fun.

Now that Ollie is out of preschool, I realize how little I actually accomplished while he was in it! From my master list, I guess I can cross off some things. I did start grocery shopping while kids were in school. Laundry did get folded (most of the time, but that's only because I watched non-kid-appropriate shows whilst doing so. I was motivated). Got the volunteering in at the very end. Didn't prep meals. Didn't clean. Lunched with friends very rarely. Helped with rides to doctor's appointments for an elderly lady in our ward a handful of times. Sewed some. Church calling prep is done when Rhett's at Scouts, so no. Still running the early mornings, so no. Good thing I get to try again in a couple of months. But then I'll have all day. I'm sure I'll get it all in then. And we know I wasn't blogging. Who knows what I did. But that makes me extra sad it's over.

The next time I get the days to myself is this August when Ollie and Rhett both go to elementary school. CRAZY.

Friday, May 27, 2016

Family Updates: The Boys

Ollie: The little man graduates from preschool today! Well, at least it's his last day of preschool. He finished strong; no more instances of me being pulled-aside after school to learn of his antics. Phew. I swear I had anxiety over whether or not this was going to happen at pick-up. Certainly he'll be young when he starts kindergarten, but let's be honest: Chuck started at age four and I was just barely five as well. He'll be fine. He still loves Piggie, but thankfully she's not required everywhere we go. He complains every night at dinner about what's being served (unless it's pizza, noodles, or something with syrup) until he takes a bite and then he's usually fine. He's very excited for the pool to open (tomorrow!).

Rhett: School doesn't end for three+ weeks, so we've still got time. May was his busiest month ever. He likes Scouts, unless it's pack meeting and then he HATES it. Ha. He has done two of six weeks of a tennis class and he's enjoying that as well. But man, this getting off the bus at 4:45 has just been hard. Even though we get stuff done in the mornings, it still feels very rushed in the evenings. If only they'd sleep past 6 a.m.; we could keep them up later! His spelling homework alone is a bit ridiculous. Oh well. I'm hoping homework will recede a bit as we get into June. He's also very excited for the pool to open. We'll see if that changes after daily swim team practice.

Chuck: He is pretty much the same. He took the boys on a Fathers and Sons campout last month. We felt the effects of late night/early morning for a couple of days. He's been busy with the stake youth conference taking place this weekend. So I won't really see him until Sunday. Awesome. And if school is winding down, so is his job. They hired some new staff to start in the fall and as one of them is his good friend, he's excited.

All of Us: We were disappointed when rain cancelled our camping trip in April, but even with the Scamp, it just wasn't worth it. We're going next month, so that's good. Our Germany trip is quickly approaching and the plans are really coming together! I can't believe how fast it's coming up. Which is a bummer because that means it will go by fast too. Lame. In prep for the trip, we've been listening to some German language podcast. It's hilarious, but hopefully a few words will be better than none. Our weather went from a chilly, wet spring to summer in about three days this week. I don't mind the chilly part, but the wet was starting to get old.

P.S. Happy anniversary to my parents! 49 years! Crazy.

Monday, May 9, 2016

Recipe for an Excellent Mother's Day

Two boys fighting during primary song in sacrament meeting--check.
Relief Society consisting of a mingle with delicious food, provided by the men of the ward--check.
After-church hike on the Billy Goat Trail--check.
Perfect weather (after a week of rain, it was sunny with temperatures in upper-60s)--check.
Chatting with my own mother via Skype--check.
Dessert of banana cream pie--check.

That's it! Excellent.

P.S. Chuck brought lemon rice krispies to Relief Society. I may have eaten some Saturday night before they even made it to church.

Friday, April 22, 2016

A Little Obsessed

I am obsessed with watching the progress of deconstruction/reconstruction of the boys' school. Most of what was happening was inside...until last week. These pictures were taken only ONE week apart. Crazy.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Give Me a Mom Patch: Host a Child's Birthday Party

I realize that we're a bit late to this game, and still haven't managed to actually let other kids in the house during a birthday party. Following my sister's example, we plan on doing "friend" parties every four years. So we celebrated with friends when he turned four, and now that he's eight, we had to do it again.

He wanted a camping theme, and as we have most of the stuff for it, (and we love camping) we said YES! He invited five friends and all were able to make it. As I'm a little wary of posting pictures of other people's kids on my blog with no permission, I'm only showing the ones with my kids only. But believe me, we had six 7- and 8-year olds and Ollie. They were all adorable.

The kids made their own trail mix...

...decorated wood slice necklaces...

...shot bows and arrows (the PVC bows worked out great, the arrows could use an improved design)...

Ollie may have pouted a bit.

We also roasted hot dogs and marshmallows.

Not pictured was the fishing, wherein the boys cast a fishing pole into a baby pool full of 20 goldfish. Only six goldfish survived. (See above about seven little boys.) We also had sleeping bag races, which were a bit harder than you'd think. Finally, we ate Oreo pie for dessert. Good thing because it was HOT.

Was it hard (ahem) for us? Of course. Chuck and I think two hours would have been much better than our three. But we survived. Good thing we have four years to recover!

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

I Made Stuff

One of the few positives of Chuck being gone is that I get stuff done. (This may have more to do with the time of year. Now that it's not freezing, I can crawl out of my blanket downstairs and work on stuff once kids have gone to bed and not have my hands freeze.) I was only a couple of days away from my current purse's handle being shredded from use. Whilst checking my Pinterest board, I found this duffle purse tutorial and remembered that YES! I wanted to make it. So I made it.

P.S. I also made this "Congrats on your wedding! Sorry I can't be there" card. Kinda love it.

P.P.S. Just realized I didn't post these drool bibs. I don't get to make much baby stuff any more so these were fun.

P.P.P.S. Anyone else troubled by the spelling of "duffel?" I've never been comfortable with it, going back to my college days at Kirkham's.

Monday, April 11, 2016

Solo Parenting

A friend recently told me that she likes to see me and my family because we're always together. Of course this isn't 100% true, and she knows that. But really, we're not that big of a family and our kids aren't yet involved in a bunch of outside activities, so we are together a lot. Grocery trips, walks around the neighborhood, whatever. It's all four of us!

Want to know why? Because neither Chuck nor I likes to be left alone with the kids. In that unusual way, having kids brought us closer together. So when one of us has to travel, it's hard. Because it's usually me that travels alone, it doesn't affect me (ha). This time, however, Chuck got a turn to solo travel. This week he's visiting his parents in (mostly) sunny, (mostly) warm Arizona, I'm at home with the boys in cold, snowy (if just for three minutes) Maryland.

If the boys weren't constantly fighting, it would be no problem. But they just can't keep their bodies apart. And if their bodies are together, it's poking, pinching, punching and then tears. It's incredibly frustrating. Thank goodness I'm pretty good at ignoring it. Plus dinners of pancake tacos, frozen pizzas, ward BBQs, are pretty easy and crowd pleasing.

But still. I'd rather Chuck be here.

Friday, April 8, 2016

Dr. Mudd House

It has come to my attention that Smallwood State Park is infested with brown recluse spiders who bite like crazy (well, I can't be sure it was brown recluse, but a terrible biting spider is enough to keep me away). So, um, I don't really see us returning there. I guess it's lucky that we decided to stop by the Dr. Samuel Mudd house on our way out. Wait, what? You don't know who Dr. Mudd is? Kidding. Of course you don't. (Well, maybe you do in which case I'm impressed.) Dr. Mudd's house is the place that John Wilkes Booth rode to after shooting President Lincoln. Yep, that Mudd. Anyway, they offer tours there and we took it. The tour was much longer than anticipated (they take themselves very seriously down there) but the boys were amazing. I don't know what got into them to behave so well. Anyway, it was interesting as history gets for me.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

First Camping of the Season (State Park #14)

Because the baptism was at the very start of spring break, we were able to get in a little two-nighter at the end of spring break. Thank goodness we had the scamp because it rained every morning! But at least it was warm.

We went to Smallwood State Park, which is right across the Potomac River from where I grew up, as an elementary schooler. There wasn't too much to do at this park, but that's okay. Both boys were very excited to fish, Ollie especially so. He caught one fish and Rhett caught two, one of which being decently-sized! Of course, neither boy was a very patient fisherman.

And the second night some friends joined us, which is always amazing. I had no idea we  had talked until 1 a.m. until I crawled into bed. I honestly didn't know my body could do that anymore.

Already planning the next trip!

Friday, April 1, 2016

Rhett's Baptism

Saturday was Rhett's baptism. We had most of our good friends there to celebrate and it was a really simple program...just how I like it. (And how Rhett likes it, I'm pretty sure.)

He was given a gift of Pokemon cards, his first new set. He may have been slightly preoccupied at the start of the program. Ha.


...After. It should be noted that Ollie spent the entire service sitting in the back row, pouting (see top picture about Rhett getting Pokemon cards and him not). Well, at least he was quiet and idle.

Beating up his brother. Well, guess he has something to repent of now.