Wednesday, May 16, 2018

How To Make a Fort

Last Saturday Chuck was on a Scout campout, so I was alone with the boys. I showed them a video of two of their cousins doing a trampoline routine, and encouraged them to make their own. I thought this was a great idea. So did they...until it just turned into fighting and yelling, like so many things. However, by Monday the animosity had abated somewhat so I thought we'd do it for Family Home Evening. The boys had a lot of fun. I was just happy to sit there recording. And Chuck was totally into his job as prop manager.

Friday, May 4, 2018

Dining Room Changes

I've wanted to add some board and batten to our dining room for a long time. We had the main level painted almost a year ago, and even then, it was my plan to do it. So when I looked at my list of "Stuff to do to the house" and saw this, I was determined to do it NOW. And so I did. With the exception of Chuck helping with the second coat of paint, I did it all by myself. This is not a jab at Chuck. I knew he was busy with other stuff and I knew that he didn't really need this project. So I didn't want to bother him. I got some work done the first weekend, and then the rest was done when he and the boys were away on Fathers and Sons Campout the following weekend. (Quick quiz: Did you know that Fathers and Sons campout are typically done in the spring? Do you know why?)

Anyway, here's what the dining room looked like when we bought the house: (doesn't that curtain look like it got its bangs cut a bit too short?)


Here's what the room looked like one year ago: (yep, that's textured wallpaper on the bottom half)


And here's what it looks like now:




I'm super happy with it. It's amazing the difference the white on the bottom makes. It really separates that room from the rest of the house, which is a good thing.

Also, it was really empowering for me to learn how to use the saw and the pneumatic nail gun for the first time. I Can Do It!

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Utah: Midway Days

We bookended the trip with days at my parents' house in Midway. First let's discuss why we took a trip to Utah in April, and not even over spring break. One word: Hamilton. When it was announced that they'd be touring in Salt Lake, I knew with my parents' season tickets buying power, I'd have a better shot to getting tickets there than when the tour came to D.C. So after begging my parents for their tickets and getting them (!), we bought plane tickets and headed out. (Don't feel too bad for them: they're seeing the show in May.)

Our first full day was **show** day. Thursday morning we just hung out at my parents' house, did some local stuff, took a ride on my Dad's "thing." But then it was **show** time. Chuck and I headed downtown and grabbed dinner first. We went to Red Iguana and it was delicious AND I didn't even spill on my dress. When done, we went to the theater. So amazing. Then we saw the show. It was just incredible. Being able to sit there and focus on the words (rather than listen while making lunches or sweeping), watching the actors' faces, and really listen was just so great. So so great. I really have no words. It was one of the best nights of my life!




After the Moab trip, we were happy that Monday was another low-key day in Midway. More rides on the "thing." More air hockey. More playing on my recently-rediscovered keyboard. (My boys LOVED this! It was hilarious and annoying to watch and listen to them play with it. I just wish I took a picture of them with it! Oh wait, for the fantastic price of only $250, I can buy one on eBay!)


Isn't Timp beautiful behind us?


And then later, Rhett wanted to take the walk up Memorial Hill. Another storm was blowing in and it was INSANELY windy. Because the hike is a spiral, you'd be walking around one part totally fine, but then the next minutes, you're facing in just the wrong direction and almost blown over. At the top, I had Rhett sit and let the wind go crazy with his hair. I love this picture so much. It makes me smile every time.


Of course it was an amazing trip. My parents, as always, are great hosts who never complain about my boys (or their noise). Utah is the best. Always and forever. Always and forever.

Monday, April 30, 2018

Utah: Sunday

I wasn't done with hiking, so we said goodbye to the Maxwells, and we headed to Delicate Arch. The hiking conditions could not have been better. We really had great weather the whole time.

Cairns! My boys learned how to route find using these instead of blazes marked on trees because, well, Moab doesn't have trees. Ha.


We made it! Utah is the best!




I don't remember seeing the petroglyphs before, but my boys loved them. I loved that they were 100 ft. from the Delicate Arch trail.


We left Moab and my parents headed back to their house, while we headed to visit some friends in Salt Lake. Stop 1 was Collin and Nikki. We knew them when they lived in D.C. They are so much fun to be around! After our too-brief visit, we quickly drove around my old neighborhood. I couldn't get the courage to knock on my old house's door. Sad face.


Then we met two other friends for dinner. I love these girls so much. We worked together in college and it was probably the most fun job ever. I'm so glad they're in my life, even if we're not super good at keeping in touch. I feel so lucky to know such wonderful people! I just wish I could live in a compound with all those I like. Living 2000 miles away from some of them really sucks.

Friday, April 27, 2018

Utah: Saturday

My sister really wanted to take us hiking in Goblin Valley and Little Wild Horse Canyon, and I really wanted her to do that too! So that's how we spent Saturday. It was a bit of a drive, but my parents took the little girls, Emily and Ben took the boys, and Chuck and I got some alone (car) time. Lovely.

We opted to start with the canyon, as kids can always muster energy for Goblin Valley. We got to the trailhead and found it PACKED. Granted, the last time I was here was more than 20 years ago, but I know I didn't remember that much traffic! Once we were on the trail, we had it mostly to ourselves...until the water.

Before


Everyone is still dry and happy! My mom came with us (again) and even though at times she was uncomfortable (at best), she did great. The water didn't make it easy and there are other tricky parts that you just forget about. But she was a champ and persevered!


Aaaand then we hit the water. That water is COLD. Nay, FREEZING. Not all of us could really maneuver around it without staying dry, and by the end we all either had wet shoes, wet feet that were put back into dry shoes, or wet faces from all the crying. To protect the guilty, I won't name names.


But I will post guilty pictures. Here's Rhett getting ferried across one particularly deep spot.


There's me and Chuck! This canyon is just so very incredible.


On our way back out. He wasn't happy with me because I made him get in some pictures. I wasn't happy with him because he ran away, even after I told him to stay close so I could take pictures.


My sister takes pictures of her kids in these rocks every time they go. But this time it was all the cousins!


After we finished at Little Wild Horse, we headed to Goblin Valley. My boys were just flabbergasted. Because...who wouldn't be when seeing this for the first time?! How do you even explain this wonder? You can barely see, but that's some (all?) of the grandkids playing in caves. The adults wandered around, trying to keep an eye on the kids, but also taking a nice, long sit break.


Sisters!


When it was about time to go, we had to find the kids. Eventually I got close enough that I could hear them. They all came out of this crazy place only to announce that Ollie had stumbled upon a geocache! Ha. He took a funny little leather pouch and (of course) they left nothing. We're learning.


The after pic. It really was a great day. We headed back to Moab for a pizza dinner. After dinner, we put the kids in front of the TV while the others went for frozen yogurt. Perfect.

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Utah: Friday

Last week we got back from a week in Utah. The motto for that trip was "Utah is the Best." Because it is. For the moment, I'm going to ignore the first and last days of our trip. Let's just go directly to Friday. April is not the best month for Northern Utah. Not enough snow to really ski, but too much to hike. Plus weather is still really unpredictable (we had snow Thursday and Monday). So when we planned to go at that time, I knew I wanted to take all of my boys to Moab. Then my parents decided to come, and then my sister decided to come ! We were sad Derek wasn't unable to join us, however.

We headed out as early as we could Friday morning and drove straight to Arches. Once there, we just hiked.

First: Park Avenue.




Second: Double Arch.






Third: North and South Windows


Fourth: Turret Arch


Fifth: Landscape Arch


My mom joined us for all the hikes. It was great to have her! My boys did great and really really loved the rocks. It's just so different from everything we have in Maryland (obviously). After hiking, we rushed back to the condo to meet my sister and her family and eat dinner. We were all tired and my boys slept until a respectable 7 a.m. MOUNTAIN TIME. I guess they can sleep in, it just takes hiking many miles and going to bed super late. Who knew?

Friday, April 6, 2018

Spring Break, Part 3

We didn't sleep as long as I'd hoped (but I've been parenting long enough to know better than to hope to sleep long), but given it was (1) early and (2) chilly, Rhett was happy to stay in bed while I went running. I planned to just run on the hotel's treadmill, but I couldn't do it. I can't be in NYC and not run on the High Line! I was cold (I packed for an indoor run), but it was so worth it, as I'll find out later.

Saturday's Itinerary:
Breakfast
Dylan's Candy Bar
Central Park biking
High Line

I was so impressed Rhett knew this was the Flatiron building...until he told me it was in some video game. Ha.


Oreo pancakes for breakfast. Rhett had never been in a restaurant for breakfast, so that alone was a treat.


Another candy store.


It turned out to be such a lovely day! The park was crazy crowded, but it was still super enjoyable.




There was just enough time for a walk on the High Line. I could not get over how many people were there at 2 p.m. compared to my 7 a.m. run. I know: it's NYC. I should have known. But DANG. Next time it's the first thing we do in the morning.


We both had a really fun time. I gotta say, riding Amtrak was awesome! It was quieter than a regular car and had more space than a plane. We had a bit of anxiety getting on in New York, but a very nice woman gave up her seat so we could sit next to each other. I totally endorse taking the train.

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Spring Break, Part 2

Every time we go downtown D.C., Rhett complains that there aren't any skyscrapers. So when I started thinking about his 10th birthday, I thought it would be fun if I took him on a special mom-and-10-year-old trip to New York City. Chuck doesn't really like it, and Ollie would have been really obnoxious. Plus, I generally like my kids more when it's just one-on-one. So we went! It was quick: we left early Friday morning on the train and returned Saturday night. But because NYC is all about walking, it's enough.

I really wanted him to pick the things we did. So I gave him some ideas and let him pick. Here's the itinerary for Friday:
Lego Store
Nintendo Store
M&M Store
Statue of Liberty (via the Staten Island Ferry, so just views from the boat)
Trinity Church (to see Hamiltons' graves because he's almost as big a fan as I)
Economy Candy (because, duh)
Pizza.





Raspberry M&Ms are delicious!


He's been playing Zelda a lot and apparently this is a villain from the game. On one particularly whiny stretch of walking, I had him explain the game to me. I remember none of it, but I did stop the whining (temporarily).










Although it was only 6, we were both happy to get to the hotel and finish the pizza in bed while watching TV. Perfection.

Monday, April 2, 2018

Spring Break, Part 1

Unless the governor changes his mind, this is the final spring break that is six school-days long. (Next year it's only four.) Given the length, we split it up into three parts: camping, relaxing at home, NYC (for me and Rhett, at least).

Because of Sunday responsibilities, we couldn't start camping on Saturday. We couldn't even start camping right after church due to meetings. So at 4 p.m. Sunday afternoon, we finally headed out for Rocky Gap State Park. It was only a two-hour drive, which meant we arrived at 6. I was nervous that we wouldn't find a spot (Shenandoah and the Smokies have really soured me on first-come, first-served policies), but I shouldn't have been: there was only one other camper in the 278-site campground. Ha. So we got the best campsite in the entire campground and were completely happy. A quick fire was lit and soon enough we were roasting hot dogs and marshmallows.


Some of us had nine marshmallows.


In the morning we hiked around the lake, a total of 5.3 miles. It was an easy (if not muddy and snowy in places) but long way to spend the cold time.




By the time we got back to our campsite, we were all ready to sit and relax. So we did! We lit a fire and hung around it for the rest of the afternoon and evening. I have a few burn holes in my pants, sweatshirt, and hat as evidence of the fire. We also had a game of pine cone baseball. Oh, and plenty of tree climbing happened.






Tuesday morning we took a short nature walk and then headed home to five loads of smoke-stained laundry! Only one more state park to go!

Note #1 about off-season camping: For some dumb reason, our spring break was the week before Easter this year, and therefore earlier than most other counties in Maryland. Dumb. It meant that most of Maryland's state parks were not camping-ready until the end of the week. But, we got lucky in that one of the two (!) parks that we've yet to visit was the only one with year-round camping. What they failed to make clear is that during the "off-season," there are few amenities. Yes, we had electricity, so that was good. But the bathrooms in each camp loop? Closed! I had to drive to the (closed) camp store and use the (NOT LIT) bathrooms. The first night, I didn't bring any lights and it was pretty much the scariest thing that ever happened to me, so I drove back and made Chuck come with me. After that I got smarter.

Note #2 about off-season camping: Because Mother Nature must be sleeping or very angry, spring has yet to come. It was COLD. But it's exactly why I love having the Scamp! There's no way I would have camped with two boys in that weather (down to the 30s at night). Each night we cooked dinner on the fire, but then retreated to the Scamp for reading and sleeping. In the mornings before the sun warmed the earth, we ate breakfast and got ready inside the warm Scamp. Hiking in 40-degree temps was fine because we were prepared (jackets, hats, and gloves!). But I'm so grateful to be inside with a heater. Even if it means we're cheating or just plain babies.