Monday, November 30, 2015

Coat Tree

I can't handle clutter. It makes me anxious. And so this whole business of little kid backpacks, coats, and hats drives me crazy. We now know that my house does not have a mudroom (something I want more than a garage, another thing I'm without), and so I thought about making some sort of "drop zone" in our entry way. But then my smart sister suggested a coat tree. I saw one on Pinterest and thought, yep, that's it. So we did it. I love it. Sure, it doesn't look super neat with stuff hanging on it, but the mess is contained. And the boys now know exactly where their backpacks go. And if it ever gets cold, they'll know where their hats go. Not that I'm complaining about high temperatures in the 60s in late November.

Someone thought it needed a Christmas hat.

Naked. And don't worry: it doesn't sit in the middle of the room.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Lamest Thanksgiving Post You'll Read

Of course there are a million real things for which I'm grateful. But those posts aren't fun. So I present to you: my dumbest gratitude post ever.

The other day when Chuck and I were cleaning out kitchen shelves because of little bugs we like to keep up on household maintenance, we found a pan that we didn't even know we had. Sure, my mom bought me this set when I finished grad school and bought my condo in Orem. Sure this pan was part of the set. But apparently it sat underneath other pans, completely forgotten for at least seven years. And guess what? This pan is perfect. For everything. We've used it thrice already in the ten days since discovery. It's like a tall saute pan, or a short stock pot, or a really wide sauce pan. I'm sure it's got a name. For now, it's just miracle pot.

So on this Thanksgiving Eve, I am grateful for miracle pot, one that's truly changing my kitchen life.

P.S. The picture above shows a sweet potato apple soup. Me. Vegetables. Cooking. Changing my life I tell you.

Friday, November 20, 2015

I Am Feeling Lots of Brave

Sunday afternoon the boys rode their bikes while I walked Bruno. Rhett was on his bike and Ollie on his, one with training wheels. But watching him go, I could just see that he was ready for the training wheels to come off. He had the balance from being awesome on the balance bike. And now he had pedaling down. It was a simple math problem: balance + pedaling = no more training wheels. Plus, I was just tired of those darn training wheels. They weren't made for the bike we were using and he was just so off-centered on that bike. I couldn't handle it anymore. And yes, it's all about me. So when I asked Ollie if he was ready to try riding with no training wheels he said, "YES! I am feeling lots of brave." (Oh I love this kid.) But on the way home we got distracted by two very large birds (falcons? hawks?) and forgot.

Luckily I remembered on Monday (yet another unseasonably warm day). Chuck took Ollie out front and within minutes, the boy was riding. It was just as easy as I hoped. Wednesday I took him to the tennis courts to let him practice turning and he did great. Next up: Braking! Starting on his own!

Seriously, this is one of the best moments in parenthood, right? Watching your kid ride a bike for the first time? Oh, it is for me.


I'm okay!

Friday, November 13, 2015

What's Going On

When asked what I've been doing lately, the answer is a genuine, "I don't know." (This seems to be a recurring theme.) Chuck and I (mostly Chuck) cleaned out all of our kitchen cabinets Monday night, but that's only because we found one too many little bugs residing in them. (That takes care of anyone accepting dinner invites to our house, does it not?) It's like I don't have enough time to finish anything to completion, so while I guess I'm busy doing "stuff," there's nothing to show for it. Here are the works in progress:

Christmas planning. I want to get it all done before Thanksgiving so December can be that much more enjoyable. I'm particularly excited about the presents for grandparents this year.

Family pictures planning. I found a necklace for me and picked out shirts for the boys. I am happy that the weather Saturday is supposed to be sunny!

Working. My work has turned curiously busy. Blah.

Singing. I joined my stake choir and have actually been practicing my songs at home. Rhett does NOT enjoy my singing. He told me. Ha. Our stake conference is two weeks away and President Russell M. Nelson will be in attendance. Cool.

Bussing. Rhett's school is being demolished in January. All students will be bussed to the holding school for 1.5 years. Because of this, he won't be getting home until about 4:40 every day. Can you imagine?! And just think, next fall when Ollie starts kindergarten, Chuck will come home around 3:30 and we will be childless together for over an hour. WHOA. Better start making a list of things we should do, but never will.

Thinking. A lot about the hubbub surrounding the church that started at the end of last week. But I will refrain from commenting about it on my blog. However, am happy to chat about it in person.

Crafting. As my boys and nieces and nephews age, it seems the opportunity for handmade gifts dwindle. I had three baby gifts to make recently, so I assembly-lined some winter hats. But I want to get working on two other gifts, grandparents gifts, and Christmas cards.

Agonizing. Even though I only have to teach Gospel Doctrine every other week, it's on my mind constantly, and not in a good way. If I have a full head of grey hair when I'm released from this calling, you'll know why.

Friday, November 6, 2015

Family Pictures Outfit

Thanks for your comments and suggestions on my "Drop Zone" post. I think we're going to go for the least-invasive procedure: a DIY coat tree. I think we'll attempt it this weekend, even though there's really no rush because it's been in the 70s here this week. Every time I put on a tank top for running I think, "For sure it's the last time I'll wear one of these this season," but then Mother Nature decides otherwise. This is in no way a complaint.

But now I need your opinion on a different matter: We have an appointment to get some family pictures done next weekend. The last time we did them professionally, Ollie wasn't born. My sister took some for us when Ollie was 1 (look how cute he was!) and we've taken some with a timer, but that's it. So we thought we'd employ a friend who is also a photographer. And of course, it is an excuse for me to get something new to wear.

For a lot of people, going into a craft or fabric store sends their pulse racing and heart beating. This is my response to clothing stores. My anxiety levels skyrocket, and I immediately want to walk right back out the door. A good friend offered to go shopping with me but I'm sure she regrets it now. Anyway, by some miracle, I found a top. I like it. It's simple, but the quilting is interesting (to me). Here it is:

Just in case you can't tell, it's a quilted sweatshirt. But because I'm me, I don't know how to finish the outfit. I think I'll end up in jeans, but what else? Collared shirt underneath? Statement necklace? Pendant necklace? Scarf? WHAT?!

Wednesday, November 4, 2015


After 164 issues of a sacrament program, 179 issues of a Relief Society bulletin, and a numberless amount of candy taken from the Bishop's desk (upon which he has a candy jar), I'm done! Released of those callings! And sadly, I never was brave enough to carry out one of these genius ideas. I should have, I really should have. Oh the regrets.

P.S. Even though I won't miss my Friday trips to the church to make the copies, I will definitely miss having a master key to the church.

P.P.S. I went out with a bang. Totally made a typo, an unintentional one! D'oh!

Monday, November 2, 2015

Halloween: 2015

Of course we can't do Halloween just once. No. that would be too easy.

First: Ollie's School Celebration (Rhett's school doesn't do any Halloween).

This pose is so Ollie.

Second: Church Trunk or Treating.
Crouching tiger, hidden potion.

Rhett's selfie.

Can you tell what I am? I'm Chuck! And he's me! (Well, we're the Saturday morning versions of each other.)

Third: Neighborhood Trick or Treating.
The witch in the bushes was a last-minute addition to our Halloween decorations. Kinda love it.

Just to show the whole house. And yes, sigh, Ollie has to go to the bathroom.

Fourth: The Loot
For the first time ever, I'm considering donating it. It really is just too much.

The boys had a good time. They were plagued with a stomach bug over the weekend, so Candy Day is still at a date to be determined, but I'm sure the boys will enjoy that just as much. I mean, it's Halloween. It's the second-best kid holiday of the year!

And now to start planning Christmas.

Friday, October 30, 2015

Drop Zone

Now that Ollie and Rhett are both in school and the weather is cooling, I'm finding the backpacks/shoes/coats mess a bit unbearable. Our house has no mudroom nor garage, so when you enter the front door, well, you're in the family room. We have a box where shoes are supposed to be deposited. We have a coat closet, but really, the kids can't reach to hang up clothes there. We also have buckets in that same closet where kids are supposed to put hats and gloves, but let's be honest: they never make it that far until I ask nicely, or not-so-nicely. Basically everything gets dropped right at the door. Not awesome.

My so-smart sister-in-law (who has such a nice mudroom/drop zone, lucky her) suggested making the backdoor (the one that enters the playroom) our main door. We could create some sort of "lockers" for the kids to put their things.

So there you have it: our two options. Now you get have to vote. Here are some examples and pros and cons of each.

Front Door:
We'd need to add/create something like this:

or this:

or this:

Pro: The pergo floors in that room are better suited for Maryland's wet climate.
Con: All of that mess would be in our main room, probably making me crazy.
Con: We'd have to move/take down what's already there, and I like what's already there.

Back Door:
We could go with something simple, like the first picture (but would include a second hook for coats and storage underneath for shoes and gloves and probably exclude the large corkboards):

or create something more elaborate like this:

Pro: As the boys know their letters (well, Ollie is getting there), taking down what we have on the designated wall is no problem and probably, timely.
Con: The carpeted floors will get destroyed.
Con: We'd have to move around some stuff to make room.

So what do you think? What do you do in your house, because maybe that would work for me? Rule: If you read this, you must comment. This policy will be strictly enforced by unknown methods.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

October-y Stuff

I have no idea what I've been doing, really. It's not like I'm making headway on all those productive things I imagined getting done. But as a family, we've managed to do a couple of things recently.

A Sunday walk. I ran here the day before and knew it would be the perfect after-church outing.

Carving pumpkins.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Things My Kids Say

There was a song playing on the radio and Ollie started dancing...
Me: Wow, Ollie, I guess this song really moves you.
Ollie: No. Only sausage moves me.

One morning Rhett joined our bed...
Me: Wow, Rhett, your breath really stinks.
Rhett: Well so does yours.
Me: No it doesn't. It is flower breath.
Rhett: More like corpse flower breath.

After a long, apparently-exhausting walk...
Ollie: Mom, I think my health ran out.
Turns out this is surprising only to non-Terraria players like myself.

Ollie: Mom, some night maybe you can sleep with piggie.
Me: Oh Ollie, that's so kind. But why?
Ollie: Because of the good things you've done for me all these years.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Eating in Shenandoah

I may hyped our food just a bit, so sorry. In an effort to bring some variation to our camping menu, I recently purchased a pie iron. And because I didn't want to spend hours over the fire, I bought a double. (Turns out they cook pretty quickly, so we would have been okay with a single, but I'm happy to have the double.)

We had a trial run the previous Sunday and found that it worked quite well. At the trial run we tried three different pies, but the pizza one was the winner (shocker). And then at the real thing, they were just as good. They were warm and gooey and warm. Did I mention it was cold there? But it was the perfectly contained camping food.

We also made a dessert one filled with nutella and marshmallows. And since none of us really likes a true smores, this was way better.

And then after Saturday's hikes, we promised the boys they could pick a treat as they were hiking superstars. Chuck and I picked PopTarts, because HEY, we were good hikers too! And I have no idea why it's never occurred to us before to toast PopTarts over a fire, but from now on, it might always occur. We never buy these otherwise (because I will eat the entire box at once), but they tasted so delicious that it might become a new camping thing for us.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Camping in Shenandoah

It's been a number of years since Chuck and I have made the trek to Shenandoah. But with the Scamp, I thought it could make those cold nights more bearable. And seeing as though it was 31 degrees when we woke up on Sunday morning, I think we made a good choice. And with the three-day weekend, it makes braving Virginia's horrible roads more tolerable.

We got there Friday afternoon in time for a ranger program on bears. Then it was time for a hike. Wherever Ollie goes, piggie goes too.

Then it was time to cook dinner and work on homework, er, junior ranger badges. How much did Ollie accomplish? Oh, he wrote his name and made a maze out of the crossword. As expected.

Saturday morning we went to Big Meadows for a presentation on the screech owl, ran into some old friends, and then ran around in the meadow. It's such a geographical oddity, having this big meadow along a mountain crest.

After lunch we hiked Dark Hollow Falls. Even the million other people on the trail could not take away the beauty of this place. Gorgeous.

One hike to finish the day: Stony Man Summit. Um, it was a wee bit windy. I wore four layers on top and wasn't too hot. Wow.

These colors! Dying.

Sunday morning before our drive home, we did a very small hike to another wee summit. The trail was right on the Appalachian Trail. Rhett was excited to go back to school and report to his teacher that he hiked on the AT. You know, not like he didn't do it in Harper's Ferry a couple of weeks ago or anything.

And while the adults, er adult, readied the Scamp for departure, I helped the kids get more wiggles out by playing in leaves.

The Scamp did great in the cold. The heater ran well, and we were kept toasty warm.

Trip's Highlights (in random order):
1. Friday night's starry sky. We don't see stars like that from home, given D.C's light pollution. Gorgeous.
2. Hiking with the boys. We did about four miles total on Saturday. It gives me hope! Next year I'd like to choose one 5-6 miler and spend all day doing it.
3. The food. We ate well (more on that Wednesday).

Even with the crowds, it's just such a lovely place to be this time of year. Oh, and like we do, we saw one small black bear running through the woods. Thankfully, it was from the safety of our car.

P.S. Because it's me, here's some ugly truths: the weekend wasn't all happiness and rainbows and changing leaves. The boys had a rough week, sleeping-wise, and it showed. Ollie was pretty terrible on Friday's hike. And then later that evening, when Ollie found a dead lizard and Chuck accidentally tossed it in the fire, you'd have thought Chuck threw Rhett's best friend in there, the way Rhett reacted. Saturday and Sunday mornings were WAY too early, especially as we were in the Scamp and the sun isn't rising until after 7. Kids.

Friday, October 16, 2015

Pumpkin Day 2015

After our first date was rained out, our second date was too hastily scheduled, we found this past Monday perfect to celebrate our 7th Annual Pumpkin Day. As it was a school day, we couldn't spend all day at the pumpkin patch, but maybe that was better...for the adults at least. Last year it was a tame Pumpkin Day, but I ramped it up just a bit this year.

The day started with the presentation of breakfast: pumpkin mini wheats! Of course they didn't taste like pumpkin, but instead, all the spices that make pumpkin-flavored things delicious. The boys were also presented with their Halloween shirts. One boy has grown out of wearing them in public, but I can respect that (even if I don't like it). Then they were shoo-ed off to school. At school they were surprised with pumpkin bread in their lunches. On the way to the pumpkin patch, they got special rice krispie treats dyed orange and shaped like pumpkins with a tootsie roll for the stem. Yum.

Then it was on to the pumpkin patch! We did all the usual stuff and the boys had the usual great time. I even brought this tortilla pumpkin soup (although I called it pumpkin chili since my boys like chili and it looked like chili). In fact, their hearty approval of the soup was probably the best part of my day. (The worst part was finding out there were no apple cider donuts.) We had beautiful weather (if not even a touch too warm) and the boys went home exhausted. Success!

Pumpkin Days of yore: 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014.