Wednesday, August 27, 2014

First Day of First Grade

Like last year and the year before that, school prep began on Sunday with the stamping of the shirt. Apparently this tickles.

Heaven forbid that Ollie be left out of something. He got to stamp his hand on a pizza box. Next year he will get his own shirt (!).

Because Maryland continues to deliver the best summer on record, we were able to eat our back-to-school dinner outside. Jell-o! Next year we need Jell-o.

Next year we do not need Chuck putting ketchup on Rhett's face.

Finally it was morning and time to go to school! Notice Ollie spying on Rhett...with backwards binoculars.

When we walked Rhett to school, Ollie insisted on carrying HIS backpack too.

Rhett seemed to have a great day. Of course, he couldn't tell us much about it, other than with whom he played at recess and about the fire drill. I guess that's a good thing!

P.S. So what if I made matching pants for the boys for back to school.

Monday, August 25, 2014

First Grader Interview

So my big buddy started school today. I saw on some blog that the mom did a back-to-school interview, and so I copied the idea...with middling results.

What’s your name? Rhett, Everett (you should know this!)

How old are you? 6 (YOU SHOULD KNOW THIS!)

If you could be any age, what would you want to be? 70, because then I would get to tell you what to do because I am older than you.

What’s your favorite color? Orange

What’s your favorite book? I have two: Magic Tree House and Berenstain Bears.

Favorite food? Besides candy? You know it: Pizza.

Anything you definitely will NOT eat? Poppy seed pasta

What do you want to be when you grow up? Why? I have thousands of ideas.

How do you think first grade will be different than kindergarten? A little harder.

What advice do you have for kids that are nervous about starting kindergarten? You'll meet new friends as soon as you get there.

Anything you’re worried about in first grade? No.

What are you excited about in first grade? I am just excited to be in it..

What’s your favorite subject in school (writing, reading, math, science, social studies, etc)? Maybe science.

What’s one thing at school that you’re really good at? I don't know.

Favorite thing to play at recess? Skylanders with Genesis. Sometimes saber tooth tigers.

If you were principal of your school what changes would you make to it? I have no idea.

Do you have a best friend? If so, describe them, or describe a really good friend of yours. What do you like about them? I don't know.

What’s one thing you’ve learned to do lately that you’re proud of? Jumping into the pool.

Describe what a typical day is like for you after you come home from school. I forgot.

If you had one day to do whatever you wanted, what would you do? Just go home.

Describe something you really like about yourself that you’d never want to change. I love being able to make stuff with paper.

What’s something most people don’t know about you? I love nutcrackers. [Whoops, sorry buddy but I already revealed that to everyone.]

If you had three wishes what would they be? I wish I had a couple thousand nutcrackers. I wish pizza and hamburgers were the only meals I ever had. I wish I did not have a brother. (sorta, sometimes).

What are three words to describe your family? If it's Ollie: baby, silly, crazy.

Can you describe what your parents do for work? I don't know. Mom is a statistician, but no idea what that means.

What’s the best family trip you’ve been on? Going to Utah.

What do you like about living in Maryland? I don't know.

What don’t you like about living in Maryland? I do not like that I live far from family. And we do not get that much snow.

That's it. He's a better interview the second time around, but still a pretty funny little kid. Who is also not great at mini golf, but doesn't quite know it.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Upcoming Trips

Trip 1: Camping and Dutch Wonderland in October.
Trip 2: Some adults-only trip to some undetermined place at some undetermined date. (Yes, we are going somewhere without the kids again, but this one we really earned.)
Trip 3: Run a totally awesome 10K in Cleveland, Ohio. Costume ideas are appreciated (just don't suggest a big pink bunny suit).
Trip 4: Phoenix in January to visit Chuck's parents who moved there last year.
Trip 5: Camping and the beach for Spring Break. We're liking these hybrid trips.

P.S. Next week will be an end-of-summer wrap-up and pictures of the first day of school.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Pinterest Success (and Everything Else Fail)

So you know it's a bad day when the only highlights were (1) your husband coming home from work, (2) your boys going down for bed, and (3) a Pinterest success story.

I really love rice krispie treats.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Latest Family Headlines

Some time ago, I read that we were going to get a Wal-Mart near our house. But sadly/happily, it's a no go. The county didn't move fast enough, so Wal-Mart pulled out.

You know how some people are fly-by-the-seat-of-their-pants people and then some are not? I think we know where I am, even though sometimes I wish I was more of the other. But then I realized, no. I LOVE planning. Love. I'm happy with me. I'm also happy with our four trips in the works.

Now that Ollie is three, our thoughts are frequently turned to potty training. But diapers are just. so. easy. Therefore I'm thinking December. You know, when you're stuck in the house anyway.

Chuck was in a car accident Wednesday morning. Not the best way to start a day. Thankfully he wasn't hurt (nor was the at-fault other driver), and her insurance has already taken full responsibility. And we've got a leather-seated Camry until his car is fixed.

Swimming remains quite difficult for me. I just can't seem to get even one full lap without a lengthy rest in the middle. What to do? Rhett has progressed to holding his nose and going underwater, but won't seem to do much beyond that. But at least he does a lot of it.

Maryland's summer has been amazing. Remember 2011 when I was pregnant with Ollie and it was horrible? Well this summer has been the complete opposite. Today's high is less than 80. LESS THAN 80.

One more week until summer ends and school starts. I'm 90% happy about this. Sometimes (a lot of times!) I really like Rhett. But being with just Ollie and having real quiet times is just so flippin' nice.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Math Genie

Rhett is asked a bunch of math questions by my friend Natalie, all of which he gets correct (except "What is 11+14?" but including "What is 500+500?").
Natalie: Rhett, you're a math genius.
Rhett: A what? I thought you said math genie. Like I would pop out of a bottle and ask you math questions.
Natalie: Did your parents teach you all of this?
Rhett: No. They don't teach me anything.
It really does amaze me how early the know-it-all attitude sets in. Oh well, at least he'll be a teenager in less than a decade. At which point, he totally will know everything. For reals.

After an amazing morning filled with brotherly love and obedience, we ran errands and came across a pirate nutcracker. I bought said nutcracker for Rhett because he LOVES all things nutcracker (and it was only $2.25).
Rhett: Mom, even if I had other moms, you'd still be my favorite.
Note: This was just days before he said he was going to stop talking to me forever, lest you think we're always lovey-dovey.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Get It?

Can you decipher this card? There are hints below, should you need them. And you might. I know it's a stretch.

Hint 1: Another word for a female sheep is _____.
Hint 2: Yes, it's a strawberry, but more generally it's a _____.
Hint 3: "Goodnight nobody, goodnight _____. And goodnight to the old lady whispering 'hush.'"

P.S. Who has seen "Sharknado" and will actually admit it? I'm not ashamed. In fact, Chuck and I found it quite amusing. And by "quite amusing," I mean "absolutely hilarious with an unbeatable ending."

Friday, August 8, 2014

The Game that Chuck Built

Well, I guess I should say, "The Game that Chuck Helped Build," as he certainly didn't create the whole thing. But for the past many, many, MANY months, Chuck put in a lot of hours programming an old-school computer game, Quest for Infamy. Remember the game that the boy was playing in the first scene of "Big?" That's how I like to think of the game, even though I've never played either one, so what do I know?! Anyway, it's been on sale since the day we arrived in Utah and I'm pretty sure we'll be millionaires at the end of the year. So that's exciting. And a huge exaggeration.

With or without the riches and fame (although his name is pretty big in the credits), it's still pretty exciting for him. And pretty exciting for me because I might get my husband back at night.

Here is the screenshot of his name in big lights. Or, just his first name. Because y'all know how crazy I am about privacy.

P.S. Ugh. Want to feel old? Not only is the movie "Big" 26 years old, but remember how in the movie, Josh grows up to be an adult? Do you know how old Big Josh is in the movie? 35. That's right. I'm older than Big Josh.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Birthday, Part Me

I know it sounds depressing, but I had low expectations for this birthday. I mean, c'mon. I'm turning late-30s, it fell on a day-less-than-optimal for birthdays, I already had my fill of junk from Ollie's celebrating, and I have small children. How good could it be? And sadly, I was mostly right. I did wake up to it raining air heads (thanks, Chuck), but the boys began the fighting almost immediately. With Ollie's birthday the day before, they were still fighting over his birthday gifts. I did get to eat some Oh's cereal for breakfast and then have some yummy shrimp for dinner (which no one else but me ate, so hello leftovers!). And instead of the blueberry crumb pie I wanted, we had leftover cupcakes from Ollie's birthday. Also, I got tons of candy from friends, so that's good.

It should be stated that the only thing I was really sad about was the loss of the blueberry pie. But after a day at Hershey and then Ollie's birthday, I just didn't have it in me to make yet another pan of sugar. I think I found the solution, however: Celebrate my half birthday in February instead. I think it will work.

P.S. As of this morning, we've been swimming three times since buying the membership. Monday afternoon I tried swimming one length of the pool and guess what? Swimming is HARD. Like crazy hard. I could run a half-marathon tomorrow, but swim a full out-and-back lap in the pool? Nope. Good thing my triathlon goal is years away.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Birthday, Part Ollie

Like we did when Rhett was just about to turn three, we took a trip to Hershey in honor of Ollie's birthday. And if I had thought to charge the camera, we would have pictures. But really, it was a lot the same from three years ago. And maybe, it was a little bit worse because the things that used to be free for two-year-olds are no longer free. Plus, there were a bunch of things that weren't even there any more. So we did all we could and then quickly looked for something else.

And know what we found?! Dutch Wonderland! It was close and perfect for our age of boys, even if a little expensive. But we thought we'd try. Guess what happened? After about 45 minutes, threat of rain shut down the park. Thankfully we got our money back and so we had to find something else to do.

And know what we found?! Not a lot. We took a quick drive through Lancaster County and saw a couple of Amish buggies, and we stopped at one market. Then we were bored again (poor us). So we thought, well, let's get dinner and then try Dutch Wonderland since the weather seemed to be improving. And we did. But again they closed the park after we took one ride. Money refunded again.  I guess the good news is that we got four rides for free! The bad news is that we'll have to go again and pay for Ollie (the two and unders are free). I should mention that Rhett is a HUGE scaredy cat. HUGE. But I told him that if we were going to pay their crazy costs, he was going to ride EVERY. SINGLE. RIDE. At the first (and only) "scary" ride he was in tears...until it actually started moving and then, of course, he loved it. But after being kicked out twice, we headed home.

And because we were all so tired, Saturday was a low-key kind of day. Groceries, shows, library, naps...just the usual. With a little bit of birthday partying in there. The most exciting news is that our local neighborhood pool is offering a one-month special for a super sweet deal. So right now, you're reading the blog of a woman with a pool membership. I know. I'm cool. But now that we have it, we're going to go every single day. Even if the day is overcast, in the 70s, and threatening to rain (ahem, I'm talking about YOU, last Saturday). We're going.

Happy 3rd Birthday Ollie!


Focus on his cute face and ignore my nasty hair.

Two favorite toys.

Friday, August 1, 2014

How YOU Doin'?

And by "you," I of course mean "me." I was so nervous to go on such an amazing trip and then have to return. To go from Chuck and me in a beautiful western setting doing fun, adult come back to being a mom in the humid, flat east just seemed unbearable. But to the surprise of everyone, I'm actually doing okay! And even without a therapist!

How could this be? I don't know. It's not as if I returned with a brand new outlook on motherhood or Maryland. I didn't. (However, Maryland has been very kind to me. Tuesday's high was in the 70s. In July.) It's not as if I returned to now-obedient children. I didn't. But at my first run with friends upon my return, I was chatting with a fellow westerner who said this: she was at peace with Maryland and the east coast. Sure, being in the west would be optimal. But she's at peace with her choices to live and raise a family here. And I think this is where I am. I am happy to have such a wonderful place to visit, and wonderful family there to enjoy. For the most part, I am at peace with Maryland.

P.S. I won't lie. If I had returned to a flooded basement, I'm not sure this post would be so positive. Just sayin'.

P.P.S. One last thing trip-related. We had the coolest plane flights! We flew over: the Golden Gate Bridge, the Olympic mountains, Mt. Rainier, Mt. Hood, Mt. St. Helens, and the Grand Canyon. How cool is that?! Almost as cool as when we flew on the 4th of July and saw tons of fireworks shows in the sky.

P.P.P.S. It's a birthday weekend over here! Hooray!

P.P.P.P.S. I needed a picture for the cover of our latest "scrapbook" so I dragged the family to a park before church on Sunday. My boys do NOT cooperate for pictures.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Don't Feel Bad: The Boys Didn't Miss Us Either

I hope you didn't worry about the boys when Chuck and I left them for eight days. They did just fine with my parents. You are free, however, to have worried about my parents. The first day my parents had the support and company of my sister. After that they were on their own. With cousins, they all went down to some museum. Good times were had! Except when poor Ollie was pushed off the zipline. Sheesh.

After church on Sunday, my parents took the boys on a road trip to the family cabin in Idaho.

The coolest thing they saw in the park (something Rhett will continue to tell everyone he sees for months, I'm sure), was not only a grizzly mama with a cub or two, but also a grizzly feasting on bison carcass. I've never seen anything like that in Yellowstone!

And when they got back to Utah, they all went to an aquarium, which is apparently much improved since my parents' last visit.

Finally, they boys convinced my parents they were brave enough for a ride on the Heber Creeper unlike the last time we went.

I am sooo grateful to my parents who got really worn out for eight days just so Chuck and I could go on an amazing trip. I will continue to be so grateful for ten years. My gratitude expires when we ask them to do it again after 19.5 years of marriage.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Trip Bookends

Our trip to Vancouver Island was bookended with 1.5 days with my parents in Utah. Although we didn't have that much time, we still tried to do some fun stuff.

For the first days, my sister and her four kids were in town. I always love to see my kids play with cousins. The surprise partnership of this trip was Jonas and Ollie! Jonas was so sweet with him. Thursday morning we headed to this crazy Fairy Forest in the Uintas. It was nuts! Everywhere you looked there were painted rocks and embellishments. We're still thinking up a theme because we feel that we need to represent. Next year we'll paint rocks and go back.

After the forest, we drove to a little waterfall just up Mirror Lake Highway. It was decided that next year we'll spend much more time in the Uintas because they are too lovely. It was also decided that next year I'll just whine and cry about walking, in the hopes that Jonas will carry me.

Later that afternoon we swam and then went to Heber's fun outdoor market. After a meltdown by Rhett (and me), we enjoyed the time until we got rained out.

Then when we got back after our trip, we spent the morning talking about our trip and handing out gifts and even went to Cascade Springs. In the afternoon we headed to Park City for some alpine sliding and dinner. Ollie loved the alpine slide, and we nearly got to give a marmot a high five.

Friday, July 25, 2014

To State the Not Obvious

How does one recap an entire week of ease and loveliveness? Of course we had fun. Of course it was easy (except for when we had to scramble to get out of SLC so we could make our connecting flight). Of course Vancouver Island is gorgeous. Of course I didn't miss my boys. Worry, maybe. Miss, nope. Of course I liked flying in a plane and being able to read my book without interruption. Need I even state those things? No. Here are the things that must be stated:

1. We saw Raffi at a market. He was signing albums that hadn't even been released yet. Not buying one was my only regret from the trip. Not because I like his music, but only because. I mean, there he was, two feet from me. And yet I did nothing. Nothing.

2. Canada has TONS of hippies, backpackers, and hitchhikers. It's the weirdest thing.

3. Sand dollars are black when alive. Huh. And stink when they're dying. And are probably illegal to bring home. Shhhh....

4. Tides are amazing. It's also equally amazing when tides go out and leave miles of beaches that are otherwise completely covered by water.

5. On our first honeymoon, I beat Chuck at mini golf. On this, our second honeymoon (well, that's how we explained this trip to the boys, thanks Berenstain Bears), I did it again. Apparently this feat occurs only once a decade.

6. If I moved to Canada, I'd have to visit all of the provincial parks, instead of state parks, obviously. I don't know why this sounds so **cute** to me, but it does. Ah, this park is just so, so...provincial!

7. Just because trees are really, really big, does not make them necessarily good looking. They can just be really, really big ugly trees.

8. Surfing was my favorite thing we did. It was exhausting and hard and my arms were so sore the next day, but it was so much fun. And yes, I even got up a couple of times, thankyouverymuch. Who knew Canada had good waves?

9. Wet suits keep you surprisingly warm, even in the waters off Canada's surfing capital. Not once did we experience cold while wearing them.

10. Sometimes the journey (when it consists of boat-height ocean swells, grey and orca whale sightings, super cool fog, eagles, a black bear, and sea otters) is even cooler than the destination, especially when the destination is wicked HOT hot springs, over 50 degrees (that's 122°F for us yanks).

11. In one bed and breakfast, our daily breakfast consisted of a beautiful fruit and yogurt parfait topped with coconut, a fluffy omelet (either spinach and feta or cheese, mushroom, and ham), pancakes, toast, and juice. This is what our Friday night breakfast-for-dinner should look like every week.

12. Our kayak guide wants to kayak from Alaska to the bottom of South America. Uh, I think I'll just wait for the Banff Mountain Film Festival movie about his trek to come out.

13. If anyone can recreate the French toast I had here, I will seriously pay you $15 (that's better than the exchange rate, by the way). Check it out: it's called the Peasant Toast and it was the best breakfast I've ever had. Ever. I chose to have it on French bread instead, and I'm pretty sure the slices were 2" thick.

14. Walking and walking for seven days in flip flops, even if they're Vibram-soled flip flops, is not the wisest of choices. (Note: Running shoes were donned on day 8 after knees were killing me.)

15. The tan line that one gets from wearing flip flops for seven days straight is, however, pretty cool. (Ack! Don't judge my scraggly toes! I know I need a pedicure STAT.)

P.S. Aren't you so happy that I posted a picture of my feet? You're welcome.

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.