Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Leaving on a Jet Plane

Our bags are packed! Be back (too) soon.


P.S. Rhett's bag pattern came from a tutorial on Sew, Mama, Sew. Ollie's bag pattern came from a book. Oh, I love that Ed Emberley fabric.

P.P.S. I don't know why the boys look like they were put in the corner for naughtiness. But that's what they look like!

Monday, July 7, 2014

How to Have a Perfect 4th of July Weekend in 20 Easy Steps

0. Most importantly, order yourself a batch of amazing weather. This weather should include blue skies, a good breeze, low humidity, and low(er) temps. This is the one make-it-or-break-it as bad weather will ruin even the best plans. Also, secure yourself some excellent company. Once you complete those tasks, carry on with the rest of these instructions.

1. When possible, schedule the 4th for a Friday. It means that you can party on Friday, sleep in and get chores done on Saturday, and then enjoy the Sabbath.

2. Because you hope and pray that your kids (and you) will sleep in on Saturday, get your long run done on Friday morning.

3. Enjoy a church 4th of July parade and breakfast with a lot of your favorite people. (The rest of your favorite people all live far away. Sadly.)

4. Go home and take a nap. This nap should be taken by all members of the household, but especially those less than three years of age and greater than 35.

5. Wake up and immediately head downtown D.C. to get dinner of burgers or pizza (or both). Finish that dinner with an amazing strawberry shake. Let your kids only have the minimum amount so the adults can enjoy the greater part. And by "adults," I mean the female adult.

6. Walk to your kind-of-work building to secure great seats six floors up. Enjoy the *AMAZING* weather relaxing with friends.

7. When the fireworks begin, watch them.

8. When the fireworks end, proceed straight to the metro, wait less than one minute, and get on the train from your uncrowded platform.

9. Upon arriving home, place children directly into bed.

10. SLEEP IN until 7:30 a.m. Do not let this miracle go unnoticed. It will not happen again until children are teenagers.

11. Go for another run because it turns out you ordered your weather using a 2-for-1 deal and Saturday was simply stunning, so you couldn't not run.

12. Enjoy being outside with your children.

13. Go get a great haircut while your menfolk go to lunch.

14. Pick out fabric for nighttime sewing project.

15. While the males are all (yes--ALL) sleeping, go get your own lunch of frozen yogurt and do some grocery shopping. (Some things cannot be helped.)

16. Play in the creek.

17. BBQ some ribs for dinner and eat outside because, yes, the weather is that good.

18. Put the kids down for a regular bedtime.

19. Sew a new travel bag for your older son to replace the one you made last week that was too small.

20. Go to bed.

















Thursday, July 3, 2014

The Week in Numbers

39: The number of acorn "lids" I found in the washing machine after doing one load of Rhett's laundry.

4: The number of airplanes we saw fly right over our heads before both boys were in complete hysterics (the bad kind, not the good kind) and we have to leave Gravelly Point.

23: The number of UPS trucks we saw on one block of road one morning.

77: The temperature (and humidity) of my Wednesday morning run (and I'm talking pre-6:00 a.m.). It was terrible.

48: The temperature at my parents' house at the same time. Do you think I'm jealous?

1,000,000: The number of times I've daydreamed about going on my upcoming vacation.

Googolplex: The number of times I've nightmared about returning from my upcoming vacation. Googolplex is in honor of Rhett, who is currently obsessed with that number.

1: Number of minutes it took for the 4th of July t-shirt-making art project to turn crazy.

204 204 255: RGB color of the water after Chuck cleaned up two paint-stained boys. Note: All paint on boys was self-imposed.



Posting early because of the holiday. Happy 4th of July!

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Talents and Un-Talents

Weird Talents
  • Picking the right number of pins needed for a sewing project.
  • Seeing someone in a movie or TV show and identifying where I've seen them before.
  • Knowing when I'm going to win a raffle.

Weird Un-Talents

  • Picking the right-sized container for my leftovers.
  • Leaving frozen cookie dough alone.
  • Sneezing when I need to.

Monday, June 30, 2014

One Crappy Week Done

After the first week of summer went well, I had high hopes. But then last week happened. You'd think Rhett in Vacation Bible School for three hours daily would make it a breeze, right? Me too! But I was wrong. It was hard. The boys fought constantly. It was hot and humid. Ollie was grumpy. I was grumpy. Other than attend a funny dog trick show on Wednesday night and playgroup Friday morning, we didn't do much. And I'm finding that my boys are infinitely better-behaved when we are out doing things when compared to being lazy in the house, but I need them to have lazy days in the house so I can have lazy days in the house. So it was hard. It made me miss my full-time work days of summer.

But I have hopes for this week. Playdates with friends, a holiday, AND guess who gets to watch the D.C. fireworks on the mall from the roof of her work building? This girl (and her three boys)! This week will be better. It must be better. I still have 19 days to go.

P.S. Not only do I kind-of miss my full-time work days, but Chuck definitely misses his summer off! He's finding it awfully hard to work during the summer. Poor guy.

P.P.S. Oh, this is great. Ollie got sick on Saturday. He had a fever and was reduced to much less than his usually-crazy self. Poor buddy. Please cross your fingers it doesn't turn into hand-foot-mouth disease.

P.P.P.S. Summer is, once again, killing my desire to cook. I will not admit to what we've been eating for dinner.

P.P.P.P.S. Summer hasn't killed my desire to sew, however. It might have increased it because the basement is so nice and cool! I made another bunk bed book bag for a friend's daughter and two purses for my nieces for Christmas. I'm awesome.

Friday, June 27, 2014

My New Nemeses

In the spring, our front yard is inundated with "helicopters." You know, the seeds that fall from maple trees? The things that look like little whirly things as they're falling? Sure, the kids love them. But me? I HATE them. They land on my porch and then descend on the bush bed. THEN. Then they sprout. For months, 30 new little sprouts grow every day, and I have to weed them out of there. (And yes, I have counted.) Oh how I hate them. Next year I'm going to cover my entire front porch area with netting so they can't get in.



P.S. My old (but ongoing) nemesis remains my newspaper delivery man. We have a double-wide driveway, something rare in my neighborhood. And yet he insists on throwing the paper on the grass. Why is this a problem? Because east coast grass is soaked with dew! I HATE walking in it. And then the newspaper bag is soaking wet. I just don't understand why it can't be thrown on my driveway. WHY?! My life is so hard...still.

P.P.S. Not enough whinging for ya? Just wait! Monday there will be more! Yippee!

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Things Ollie Says (and Does)

Ollie: Time for a adult quiz!
Us: Oooookay.
Ollie: How do you eat a mickey pancake?
Chuck: Uh, ears first and then the face?
Ollie: No! With your MOUTH!

As I'm getting him ready for a nap...
Ollie: When you are the size of me, you are going to take naps.

Ollie is whining for me to carry him home from Rhett's school.
Me: Fine. You want me to carry you? That means you're a baby, and I'm going to call you a baby.
Ollie: Fine. But I won't say "goo goo."



And yes, that is an inside-out shirt on his legs in the picture above and in the video below. I'm pretty sure the underwear needs no explanation. Which is good, because I have none.

Monday, June 23, 2014

One Fun Week Done, Nine to Go!

So far, so good. Two Saturdays ago we woke up to a gorgeous day, so I knew we must immediately head to the zoo. If we didn't go then, it would be September until we got another chance. And the day did not disappoint. Plus, after having four kids for three days, we knew we could do anything!


Then on Sunday we had a nice Father's Day.


Monday we went to pick strawberries. In years past, I always felt left out when my friends got to go do this during their summers. Because I worked full-time, I couldn't. So I knew this was one of the things I wanted to do first. However, I'm not sure I'll go again. I didn't really like it and Ollie just sat there. So we quickly returned home and started preparing the food for "Strawberry Day!" (See how I knocked "berry picking" and "silly holiday" off the summer list in one shot? Sweet.) We had strawberry salsa on chicken, a strawberry drink, and strawberry poundcake. But I'm definitely happy with store-bought produce from here on out.


Months ago, I got tickets for Wednesday to go to the top of the Washington Monument. Who knew I'd pick the day when D.C. is the hottest spot in the country (at noon, at least)?! But we survived. It was actually quite fun! The twinner outfits on the boys was only half intentional--I promise. I wanted them in their whitest shirts (hot day, remember?) and they happened to be the same. So, what can I do except put the same colored shorts on?! For you locals: Don't be dumb like me and go during the summer. Go in the fall when (1) there are no tourists and (2) it's not sweltering.


They were definitely tired at the end, however.


And quite silly.


Friday was spent at the park, with some nice and lazy parenting...just how I prefer it.

And finally, Saturday morning we woke up to another un-hot day, so after my long run, we headed out to Fort McHenry (which is near Baltimore). It was surprisingly fun! We had perfect weather and really enjoyed ourselves. On the way home we listened to my "patriotic" playlist. Ha.










P.S. This week is Vacation Bible School for Rhett, so thankfully we won't be so busy.

P.P.S. These outings on Saturdays after my long runs are really wearing me out!

Friday, June 20, 2014

Things My Boys Fight Over

Who gets...
1. The orange bowl
2. The orange plate
3. The orange anything
4. The green towel
5. The long spoon
6. The new chair

Other...
1. Where Ollie is going to sleep
2. Who has more of anything
3. Why Ollie puts his hand in Rhett's cup
4. Who gets to hold Bruno's leash
5. What shows to watch

Kids are awesome.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Mom of Four

I did it. I successfully parented four kids for three days, with Chuck helping two of those afternoons/evenings. I got two children off to school (and back) each day. I made lunches. I drove a mini-van. Chuck and I put them to bed (and they stayed in bed!). We fed them. We told them to get dressed. We even did fun things. And then we were tired. Very, very tired.

The Easy Parts:
1. Breakfast. All kids were happy eating Cheerios.
2. Nap time. Ollie went down way easier than he normally does. And little S, well, she was quiet and stayed in her room. Whether or not she napped was immaterial to me.
3. Filling the early mornings and afternoons and evenings. Even though we had warm days that threatened rain, we still got out and did things. And when it actually did rain, we stayed in and watched a movie. And in the mornings, the kids just played.
4. Dinner. This is easy when you feed them spaghetti and meatballs, hot dogs, and pizza. (Please don't think this is our normal menu. We just wanted to make this easy.)
5. Putting them to bed. Surprise! All kids went to bed, and stayed in bed. I'm sure wearing them out daily helped.

The Hard Parts:
1. Filling the days. For some reason, having just two around during the day was hard.
2. Knowing whether the girls were taking advantage of the situation. Does S's mom really cut off the crusts, or did I get hoodwinked? Just a lot of little things like this. It was constant and mentally draining.
3. Getting enough sleep. I just never felt like I had enough downtime and so when it was over, I was exhausted. I went to bed early the three nights after they left.
4. Little girl hair! I totally forgot about it the first day, and M went to school with the same braid she wore the day before. But man, this is just something I know nothing about.
5. The noise. This is not to say that the girls are loud, but man, my boys definitely upped it while they were here.
6. Chuck's "surgery" Friday morning made him less-than-helpful on Friday. Solo parenting to four is NOT fun.
7. I should have known better. My "adult snacks" supply was desperately low. Some Skinny Cows could have gone a loooooong way.

But now it's done. We still like the girls and their parents, and I hope no permanent damage to the girls was done. Maybe the worst thing that happened to them was being introduced to McDonald's ice cream cones. Whoops.



P.S. My running friends are too smart. When I posed my problem to them, they had a genius solution: run the last five or so miles with my sis. Isn't that just masterful? I don't have to pay. I don't have to lose tons of sleep. I still might get some Creamies and one (or two) Maverick cones. On the downside, I don't get to run a lot of miles with my sister nor will I get a fancy medal. But it's still the perfect solution.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Kindergarten---Check!

And in the weird term I've heard only out here, I now have a rising first grader! Last Tuesday, Rhett had his kindergarten celebration. The little ones sang a bunch of songs (and were surprisingly loud and intelligible), and then were given awards. Rhett's was for "Lively Leadership." And then on Friday, he had his last half-day of kindergarten. It seems kind of anti-climactic, but here we are, facing 25 days of summer. Oh help me.





Friday, June 13, 2014

Summer Time and the Livin's Exhausting

Today is the last day of school and, being the planner I am (and boy am I a planner!), I've been gathering summer ideas for some time. Because of my work and our vacation, I have 25 days with both boys until school starts again.

Make-It Days
Crafternoons
Treats
Popsicles
Lemonade stand
Science

Water Play
Backyard baby pool
Water table
Sprinkler
Community pool
Splashground
Water park
Boating
Creek swimming

Big Field Trips
Smithsonians
Washington Monument
Aviation museum
BounceU
Great Falls
Roosevelt Island
Gravelly Point
Zoo
Berry picking
Beauvoir Park
Cunningham Falls

Little Field Trips
Libraries
Playgrounds
Hikes
Picnics
Nature centers
Wheaton Regional Park train
Michael's craft days
Regal Movies
Fire house tour

Night-time Activities
Rockville Town Square on Tuesdays and Fridays
Strathmore concerts
Bethesda Big Train baseball

Other
Silly holiday
County fair
4th of July in Frederick
Service
Playdates

Now to find the energy and patience to do them...

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Pros and Cons

Usually I'm a quick decision maker. Hemming and hawing is not my thing. Sunday night, however, I got into this quandry: To Run Another Half Marathon or Not To Run.

I'll be in Utah for a couple of days surrounding our anniversary trip. On one of those days, there is a half in Utah County. My sister is considering it and now I am too. Here is my list of pros and cons:

Pros:
1. I get to run with my sister!
2. I get to run in humidity-free Utah!
3. I get to run in beautiful American Fork Canyon! (Alright, enough of the exclamation points.)
4. It's all downhill (except for a tiny bit), but not leg-killing downhill (unlike this race closer to my childhood home).
5. It's early, so we wouldn't miss out on too much of the day's activities.
6. It's partially sponsored by Creamies, so you know there will be some at the finish.
7. I could eat an unlimited number of Maverick ice cream cones that day.
8. Emily is not at all concerned with getting a certain time, just finishing.
9. I'd get another cool medal.

Cons:
1. My flight from Victoria gets in the night before at 10 p.m.
2. It's early: a six a.m. race start! The amount of sleep I will have gotten the previous night is not lost on me.
3. It costs $75 (which is not unreasonable for halfs, but still).
4. It's long. Thirteen miles and then some.
5. All long, training runs out here are now filled with humidity.
6. Even though it ends early, let's face it: I'll still be tired that day.
7. I fly back to Maryland the next day.
8. My flight from Victoria gets in the night before at 10 p.m. (Important enough to repeat.)
9. Again: a six a.m. race start!

ACK! You see?! You understand my hard choices?! What to do, what to do...

Monday, June 9, 2014

Two Crazy Weeks

Last week at work I had a training that took me to work FOUR DAYS. Can you believe I had to make myself four lunches AND pick out four work outfits. Even harder than that was scheduling additional babysitting and easy dinners. It wasn't my favorite week. (Ooooh, but eating out Friday night at a local Latin place WAS amazing. It's my new favorite place.) But we had a lovely, easy Saturday complete with creek playing. I don't know why I bothered to roll Ollie's pants. Not only did he sit in the water, but he fell more than twice. So um yeah, next time we bring dry clothes for the walk home.







And why is this week crazy? Because I'm doubling the number of kids I have. Some good friends are going out of town for their 9th anniversary, and I (knowing I would be equally paid back), offered to watch their girls. I think previous-me would have been scared to death. And sure, I'm a little bit nervous about bedtimes, but everything should be relatively easy. Our four kids play easily, I have fun things planned (MUST have plans!), and it's only three days. It will be great. And then it will be greater when they take my boys later this year.

P.S. What's your favorite over-the-counter allergy medicine? This is my first time with spring allergies and I don't like it one bit.

Friday, June 6, 2014

A Parenting Non-Tip (I got tons of these)

Let's say your kid (and you) had a rough morning. Tantrums were going on all over the place. By the time you get the kid (let's just call him your "elder son," shall we?) to school, you are done parenting. But after multiple other tantrums by another kid who happens to live in your house ("younger son"), and a failed nap by "younger son," you're spent. But you also know that you're partly to blame, right? I mean, sure, the sons were 99% of the problem, but you know, someone else was responsible for the 1%.

Anyway, here's what not to do (the non-tip, if you will): resolve to have a do-over morning. You know, complete with pretending to sleep and then waking up to an after-school snack of cereal. Then getting dressed into pajamas and brushing teeth. But you won't want to do this because this would actually be a fun, light-hearted way to teach the behavior you wish had happened in the morning. Oh no, better to just expect the tantrum at the door and then go lock yourself in your room with your kindle until your husband gets home.

Now there's a tip.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

A Parenting Tip (sorry, only one because that's all I got)

I don't know about your kids, but mine are constantly phrasing questions in the form of demands. "Mom, may I please have some water?" has become "WATER!" To say that it drives me absolutely crazy is to underestimate my rage.

But instead of freaking out on the ungrateful, lovely children, Chuck and I simply respond to them, "That is not a nice question." It doesn't tell them what to say. It doesn't tell them what's wrong with the way they initially "asked." But man does it work! Sure, I've said it about a million times in the past two weeks, but it works. And in about ten years, I'm sure all our hard work will pay off.

P.S. While I'm talking about my children, take a look at this awesome school work by Rhett. I love it.

Monday, June 2, 2014

9.5th Anniversary

After all of your good input, and after deciding that we couldn't afford my two dream trips (Norway and Iceland), we are opting for Vancouver Island in July for our early 10th anniversary trip. I'm pretty sure you can guess that I'm a teensy weensy bit excited. And the more I plan for it, the more excited I get.

So far our itinerary includes: wandering a famous market, ferry rides, a sand sculpture contest, provincial parks, surf lessons, hiking, hot springs, relaxing on a beach, kayaking at sunset, and wandering around Victoria. And of course lots of good food. Pretty awesome.

Do you know what it doesn't include? Cutting up meat into little pieces. Worrying about what a missing nap might do to a certain toddler. Buckling and unbuckling road-weary kids in and out of car seats. Fights over bedtime. Oh, doesn't it just sound heavenly? I seriously don't know if I'll be able to come back.

P.S. English can be so dumb. Why don't "good" and "food" rhyme? Try it. First, rhyme good with food: Gude Fude. Now the other way: Good Food. That was hard. Whew.

P.P.S. We saw this duo at a folk festival this weekend. I could NOT stop smiling as we watched. Even better: the first bit she did in German. Totally bizarre but totally fun.

Friday, May 30, 2014

Summer Dry Run

Even though Saturday we were all together as a family, Monday morning I offered Chuck some alone time. A friend and I planned to hike with our kids, and since she was going husband-free, I thought I would too. Plus, it was good practice for the 25 days this summer where I will have two (TWO!--my life is hard) boys with me all day.

So off we went to Great Falls, well, we and about a million others. Only one of the five kids (cough, cough, OLLIE) struggled hiking but the others did great, giving the two moms nice time to chat. When our friends had to leave, we ventured to the overlook and then back to get popsicles. It was a pretty good morning.




In the afternoon, we invited two families over for dinner and let the kids play in the sprinklers. Hooray for Monday holidays!




P.S. What did we do Saturday? Checked out another trailer, of course! But I really think these are maybe not for us. At least, this one wasn't. At least, it wasn't right now. Then we went to a park that was way too big and didn't allow for any lazy parenting. Then we hung out and enjoyed a lovely evening.

P.P.S. And of course I am happy for a Monday holiday. I am also super happy for those who gave so much for me to take it all for granted, not the least of whom is my own dad.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

What It Takes to Get Me Sewing: Birthdays

Hmmm....apparently all of my latest sewing has been for birthday kids. I need to find me some new motivation.

Hat for a one-year-old. Seriously, people, had I had daughters, I think I would have as many bonnets as I have ties for my boys. I love them. I love making them and I love babies wearing them. Tutorial from The Purl Bee.


Hat for another baby, same tutorial.


One of my cousins commissioned me to make this hat for her little boy who just turned one. I love these hats. I love when my boys wear the ones I made for them. And I finally figured out how to get Ollie to keep his on: tell him it keeps the bugs off his head. Because I have two boys who are afraid of bugs, this totally works.


Strawberry bag for a six-year-old. Cute, right? Pattern here at Jacks and Kate.. And if you're not reading this blog, you should. It's adorable.


And the only non-birthday gift. This wipes case was a thank you to a friend who watched Ollie during a babysitting emergency. And while I'm talking about wipes...why did I not know about their greatness BEFORE I had kids? I mean, these should be a staple in everyone's house, no matter their situation.


Friday, May 23, 2014

Last Race Post, Promise

Apologies, but I'm still pretty tired and just can't seem to make myself go to bed early to catch up. Anyway, one last post on the race. You had to expect race photos, right? They just crack me up. I can't always remember at which point the pictures were being taken, so I had to guess given the redness of my face.

Face not too red here, so must be near the beginning. Plus, I was focused. Look at me! I'm a woman who knows where she's going.


Face getting redder...


Even redder still...And JAZZ hands, people! I got the jazz hands!


Hmmm...do you think I'm excited? Can't tell.


Sorry for the watermark on them. But you know I ain't buyin' these, right?

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

How I Did It

Before I forget, I want to document exactly how I ran a sub-two-hour half marathon. The 12 weeks of training were as I mentioned on Monday. But on the race day, here's what I did:
  • Woke up about two hours before the race started and ate a banana with some peanut butter and drank a pint of water.
  • Got one of my running buddies to french braid my hair. No swishing ponies!
  • Warmed up with mile walk to race start.
  • Forwent headphones because I usually listen to podcasts and I was afraid the talking would slow me down; I just wanted to focus on my speed.
  • Drank small amounts at every water stop, including those at the beginning.
  • Ate one sport bean at every mile.
  • Set my Garmin to beep at every mile so I could monitor my pace.
  • Started out slowly, and then picked up the pace.
  • Ignored early warnings of dehydration and just kept going. I had goals, body!
But now that it's done, I've been asked what my **new** running goals are. For summer, it's all about just running. The heat and humidity are usually run killers, so as long as I'm doing something, I'll be happy. But maybe come fall, I'll work on my 10K pace in preparation for this race. Because you know I'm doing it. Or maybe I just need to practice running in a bunny suit.

Oh, Rhett. There you go again, photo bombing our picture.

Monday, May 19, 2014

St. Michaels Half Recap

When I started training for this race 12 weeks ago, I chose to do Hal Higdon's intermediate training program. I'd used his programs in the past and really liked them. But this time, I really wanted to do better. Faster. And by faster, I wanted to finish in under two hours.

But two hours?! Eek! That's fast, and I'm not fast. I've got endurance, sure, but not speed. I knew I'd have to take training seriously. So I did the pace runs. I did the tempo runs. I did the interval training. I did the strength training (yes, with real hand weights.) And I did the long runs. So come last Saturday morning, I knew I really had done all I could. While I knew my goal was do it in under two hours, mostly my goal was to run as hard as I could for the 13.1 miles and hope it was enough.

AND I DID IT! I'll be honest: it was wicked hard. I started getting really tired around mile 10.5. And at mile 12, I really really really wanted to walk. But because I had my watch, I knew I had zero time to spare. So I kept going. My final time? 1:58:57, with mile splits of 9:05. Chuck joked that I could have sat down on a bench for 60 seconds. Um, no. But I did it. It was crazy hard, but I did it.

Other than the hardness of the race, it was a super fun weekend. I went out there with three other women from church. We got a break from our families and enjoyed the beautiful small town of St. Michaels. We had perfect weather. I had perfect company. The only imperfect thing about the weekend was when the hotel water source started delivering sandy water in the pipes. But otherwise, it was such a good time. We've already recruited two others to join us next year.

Immediately after the race.




At the BBQ party. We clean up nicely, don't we?