Wednesday, April 22, 2015

A Beautiful Sunday

As Easter Sunday was conference, we waited until the next Sunday to wear the Easter ties. I bribed the boys for pictures, but feel pretty good about that. After church we went to some local gardens and walked around. It was packed, but we still had a lovely day. So happy spring finally decided to come. Now hurry up fall! Haha. Kidding. Mostly.

I picked out these pants for Ollie but when he put them on, we realized they were about three inches too short. So I cut them into shorts because DUH. Boys in little Easter shorts are adorable, right?! After a big fight, Ollie finally kept them on. Seriously. I only intervene with clothing on Sunday. Just give me this one, kid.

Monday, April 20, 2015

I HATE Nature

Obviously I don't hate nature. But obviously I love the Goonies and think of that quote quite frequently. In fact, I've probably even used this for another blog post title. Anyway, I had a super good nature day recently. I was out for a run along my local creek when I saw a heron that is often found there. So I stopped to watch it for a bit. At some point, it started to crouch down and I thought it was going to take off. BUT NO! Its head darted right into the water and came up with a fish! A six-inch (or so) fish! It killed it (strangulation maybe?) and then swallowed it whole. Awesome, right? But even awesomer was that just right after that, it did it again. I saw it do this twice. It was so very cool.

Then later that day the whole family went to some gardens and saw about a billion frogs. And we heard about a billion frogs. And we got a picture of them making their noise with their thingy all puffed. See how much I know about frogs? TONS.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Hoodie Up

Oh, also, while camping I came up with an idea that I'm sure is going to make me a millionaire. You know how you're all beautiful and stuff, so campfire smoke follows you? You know how that's soooo annoying? You know how you keep wishing for something to put in your face, but sadly the hood on your sweatshirt is behind you? I had this genius idea to wear my sweatshirt backwards. That way, as soon as the smoke remembered how beautiful I was, I was ready! I convinced the boys to do the same. So each time the wind shifted, one of us yelled, "HOODIE UP!" and we were ready. Saved from the smoke! And seeing as though I can't find that anyone else has invented this, I'm sure it will bring me millions of dollars. Because it was awesome.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Maryland State Park #11: Swallow Falls

Friday morning, we woke up at Herrington Manor, hung out for a bit, and then packed up the car. Which, thanks to sleeping in cabins, was pretty easy. Because we were still battling rain and we couldn't yet check into our other cabin, we found a nature center at another park (one we'll have to come back for) and spent the morning there. It was perfect. The boys had a great time and we were all dry. Then we ate lunch in "town" and by then, the skies were starting to clear and we could check in to our other cabin, in state park #11, Swallow Falls. The cabin there was NOT a full-service cabin. It was basically a tent with bunk beds. But it was a dry tent with bunk beds! That afternoon we took one of the coolest hikes we've done in all the state parks and saw four waterfalls. We got back, did a fire, and tried to go to bed. Worst. Night's. Sleep. Ever. Let's just say a certain seven-year-old was afraid of spiders crawling over him while he was sleeping. But in the morning we woke up, packed up camp, and did the hike again. Then we had to head home. Success!

Monday, April 13, 2015

Maryland State Park #10: Herrington Manor

Four years into our project and we made it to the halfway point! Ten parks down, ten to go.

As last week was Rhett's spring break, we planned to go camping for two nights, kind of a luxury for us church-going people. (Well, church-going people with kids. Without kids, we had no problem skipping church for camping. Ha.) But as we watched the weather reports early in the week, we got more and more anxious about staying in a tent in thunderstorms and lots of rain. So in true "us" fashion, we changed our plans last minute. (Did you catch that? Change plans last minute?! That's not us at all!) Not only did we switch from tents to cabins, but we also switched the park. And not only did we switch from one park to another, we switched from one park to two!

So the first night we went to Herrington Manor State Park. This park is about 1.5 miles from West Virginia, so it's about as far west in Maryland that you can go. We stayed in these lovely full-service cabins, so we're talking beds with mattresses, full kitchen, dining table, loft area with the boys' beds, wood stove...the whole deal. It was awesome. We got there Thursday and after the boys drove us sufficiently crazy inside, we headed out. We walked to the lake and watched people fish. We did another hike (helped in part with "hiking power beans" which may or may not have been Nerds jelly beans which may or may not have been delicious) and then ended with time at the playground. Later that afternoon we made a fire and roasted ate plain, unroasted marshmallows. It was a good day. And had I remembered our pillows, it would have been a good night. But judging by the sound of the thunder we heard that night, it was better than the tent alternative.

Friday, April 10, 2015

New (To Us) Car

Remember how we bought a new-to-us car not even two years ago? Looks like I didn't post what we actually got, but we ended up with a Honda CR-V. It's been great. My only complaint is that it doesn't tell me the outdoor temperature. I thought all cars did that nowadays. Anyway, it's been good. We planned on having it a long time. But we didn't plan on my parents going on another mission. We didn't plan on them asking us if we wanted to buy their RAV4 as they don't want to store both cars while gone. And we certainly didn't plan on saying yes. But they are. They did. And we did.

Luckily, my parents are scheduled to come out next week so my dad is going to forgo the outbound flight to drive our new car to us. Why buy this car when the Honda is serving us well? Both cars (our CR-V and their RAV4) are the same age. They have nearly the same mileage (until my dad drives it across the country, that is). They're the same size. They are pretty much the same car. Except. My parents bought all the amenities, while we did not. Besides the obvious stuff (e.g., leather seats, temperature gauge!), the big deal is the car's towing capacity. Because some day, I just might be brave enough (dumb enough?) to buy a camping trailer.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Conference Weekend

I didn't realize until very late that Chuck didn't have work last Friday nor Monday. Bonus because I had a bunch of errands just waiting for us to tackle. We got all but one done, so not bad. Here was the list (with some notes):
  • BounceU
  • Grocery shop
  • Drop off my bike for repairs (and in only six weeks it'll be done...groan)
  • Movie night with friends (The Wizard of Oz! The boys were only a little bit afraid)
  • Long run (made longer by math embarrassing)
  • Update chore chart (like clockwork, the tweaking of the chore chart)
  • Check bike rack (it works!)
  • Make a vest for Ollie (more on this later)
  • Make a baby gift for Rhett's teacher (well, got one part done)
  • Hair cuts for the boys (poor Rhett hates how short his bangs are)
  • Teach Rhett how to tie his shoes (the one failure)
  • Get rid of junk in the attic (donated to our local pool's garage sale)
  • Make cinnamon rolls for Sunday morning (oh man, I don't believe a bad cinnamon roll has ever been made)
  • Get Easter ready (yes, those hidden eggs were empty...but so was the TOMB, so there)
  • Watch lots of conference
  • Take Rhett to a doctor's appointment
  • Go to Carmax (more on this later)
  • Zoo (us and half a million others...groan)
  • Play outside as much as possible (playground! walks! more walks and more playgrounds!)
Obviously it was busy, but I feel so good to have so much stuff done.

P.S. I will never eat another root beer float as I have been introduced to its far superior cousin, the orange soda float. Our whole family was converted. Sorry root beer, you're out.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

From Ollie's Lips

The other night at family prayer Ollie said, "Bless Mom and Dad that they will be happier," and "Bless we will have a good opportunity." It takes so much energy to not shake my finger and crack up at this boy. And this is pretty much a summary of life with Ollie at all times.

Monday, March 30, 2015

What's New...

Hmmm...what's new?

Well about three weeks ago, we got rid of the convertible car seat we used for Ollie. We bought one more booster seat for him (he then had the new one and Rhett's old one) and two backless booster seats for Rhett. This has been semi-thrilling. Why? We no longer have to trade cars (we no longer have a "kid car"). What this means for Chuck and me is that we don't have to continually adjust the seats and mirrors as we shuffle between cars. It's amazing.

What else...the boys got sick this weekend for the first time all winter. Awesome that we made it this far with no sickness; not awesome that we had sickness. Ollie puked twice Friday morning but then seemed to fully recover. He acted fine, ate fine. But late, late Saturday night, he puked...A LOT. I think Rhett was feeling jealous of the attention we gave Ollie, so he "pretended" to be sick. Sigh. Although, in his defense, Rhett didn't eat much Sunday. (Update: he puked Monday morning, so maybe not the big faker I thought.)

My parents are coming in a couple of weeks! It's been nearly four years since they've been here, so we're excited to spent time with them. We're definitely headed to Udvar-Hazy and the Library of Congress, but not sure on the rest.

We went to a friend's son's baptism on Saturday. I was extra observant, knowing we face the same thing next year. So if anyone wants to come for Rhett's baptism, put it on your calendar now! His birthday is nicely situated around spring break (near Easter), so I'm sure it'll be convenient. We'd love to have you.

I have a very bad feeling that D.C. is going to go straight from winter to summer and skip spring entirely. Sautrday the boys rode their bikes while Chuck and I walked and it started SNOWING. Flurries, yes, but still. Snow. March 28th. Ugh. I just want to go for a run with no gloves and hat. Is that too much?! (And really, that's not all I want. I also want a spring that lasts until July 31. And then fall can begin on August 1. That's all--I promise.)

Friday, March 27, 2015

I Like My Family Again

Please excuse Monday's outburst. Is it just me, or does your family go through ups and downs? Yeah, I thought it was just me. So in my house, we go through our up times, and then we go through our down times. Right now just seems to be a down time interspersed with some good days. Why so down?

Ollie: This child is going through his "How-far-can-I-push-my-Mom-and-Dad" stage, and it's hard. He doesn't want to listen to anything and wants to obey even less. He's fully given up naps (except at the babysitter's house), and just cannot stay in his room for quiet time. He's out of control at bedtime, making it hard for Rhett to enjoy reading. He loves destroying everything that Rhett builds, which doesn't end well for anyone. On the upside, the kid is just adorable. His super red cheeks and big smile get me every time.

Rhett: This child is going through his "I'm-smarter-than-both-of-my-parents-who-have-never-taught-me-anything" stage. And he's super disrespectful to people and objects alike. He back talks incessantly. Also, the poor child still has no inclination to learn how to calm down and the littlest things can reduce him to tears. He and Ollie haven't been getting along very well lately and so that's been hard because usually they play pretty well together. On the upside, he's seven! He's interesting and thoughtful and is turning into a great reader.

I've been at this mom thing for enough years (again, SEVEN!, so I'm totally a pro) to know that although this is a hard time, there are still moments of good. I'm certain that soon we'll be back in an easy time, with moments of bad. It's just the process, no?

P.S. I just did a google search on "time series graphs" to see if there was one that showed how my life is graphically, and wow! There are so many cool graphs out there, folks.

P.P.S. Happy happy birthday, emily!

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Rhett's Birthday

I can't commit to having birthday parties for my boys every year. Just can't do it. And because I consider my sister an expert on all-things-parenting, I'm going to copy what she does, which is "friend" parties for the years when the boys turn a multiple of four (so 4, 8, 12, 16). This doesn't mean, however, that we're not willing to do something fun on the off years. So like last year, we let him pick a friend and an activity. This year it was our neighbor friend and going to the Air and Space Museum at Dulles (the Udvar Hazy one). It's hard to not have a great time here.

Paper airplanes demo.

And then on Sunday we finally got around to making his cake. Theme cakes have never been done before in our house. But last year I made the mistake of giving him this book for Christmas and he was immediately enamored with a castle cake in there. So Chuck stepped up and did it. And also like last year, we hosted family for dinner. The End.

P.S. More about that cool museum: In August, one of the helicopters that my dad flew when he was a Marine will be flying in and landing there. We're so going. We're so sitting in the cockpit and getting pictures.

Monday, March 23, 2015


So yes, we celebrated a certain child's birthday this weekend. And I know I'm supposed to post pictures about it and say how great it was and how great my kids are and how perfect the cake and presents were and all that junk. But right now, I'm just not feeling it. So forgive me. Let's wait until Wednesday when my feelings aren't so raw, so then I'll be ready to pretend everything (and everyone) was perfect, okay? Okay.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Of Course

It's the first day of spring. Of course it's snowing. Why wouldn't it be?

P.S. Anyone else bummed to miss the solar eclipse? I heard this guy talk about it on the radio last night. He made it sound sooooo cool.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

My Hard Life

Remember when Chuck and I got a heated mattress pad for our anniversary? It's nearly perfect. It's warm; it's dual-controlled (so Chuck can make his side of the bed into a sweat lodge and I can not melt); it makes getting into bed in our 58-degree bedroom not a terrible experience. But there exists one design flaw: it doesn't turn itself on. I mean, c'mon: Does it really expect us to remember to turn it on 15 minutes before we want to go to bed? I think that's asking a LOT of us. Instead, it should just have a timer so that we can set it to always turn on at 9:45 p.m. Because then my life would be easy.

Monday, March 16, 2015

The Pi Day of the Century = 3.14.15

Three years ago I realized that this year's Pi Day would be monumental. It's been on the news, in the papers, and all over the blogs. Even non-math people have recognized the bigness of it. And as prophesied, Chuck and I threw a big party for it. We did nearly everything I said, only omitting the time factor (who can party at 9:26?!) and the throwing of hot dogs (we threw fat popsicle sticks instead). We invited lots of friends and lots of them came. It was fun and crazy. I just wish I had started planning three years ago. Oh well.

Now I document all that we did. We tried to have lots of things for the kids to do. I'm not sure how many did them, but that's okay. At this station was a calculate pi activity using M&Ms.

Over here we made bracelets or necklaces. The digits of pi corresponded to a color of bead and the kids were supposed to string them according to pi. But you know I didn't care if some kids went home with all-pink bracelets, right?

And here we had a pi maze, pi word search, and pi ku.

We played "Pin the cherry on the pi" on the window. Chuck cleverly thought to use the big pi as window decoration. I liked it.

Oh, and notice that tiny green pi on the great big pi? That was for a scavenger hunt. The boys stuck pis (that looks so wrong!) all over the house, six of which had stickers. Then the kids had to go around finding those special ones. Not only did Ollie find all of them, he took them off the wall and brought them to me. It meant a delayed start for that activity.

We did a "Hundred Pi Dash" in the street, but sadly no pictures. There was a kids heat followed by a mens heat. Both were pretty intense. Also unpictured was the pi recitation contest. One friend sat and memorized all 27 digits in the banner (see above) and was able to recite them all. He was the first and only contestant. Brady for the win! Also unpictured was throwing popsicle sticks on the ground to estimate pi. We got 3.7, not bad.

And we wanted to have a pie eating contest, but how could I make it work without being so overly gluttonous? Use oatmeal cream pies, of course! The kids just ate them and the first with an empty mouth won. But for the adults, we made them kneel at the table with their hands behind their backs. Chuck easily won (he has so few talents, but eating quickly is one). But it really was as gross as it sounds.

Then, of course, the pie table. People brought so many wonderful pies, even though you can't see them because this only shows what I made. The winner was this gorgeous chocolate silk. We should have had more categories than just "best sweet" and "best savory" (my savory hand pies were the only entry in that category). Maybe "Best Pi Themed" and...something else.)

Oh, and I made medals for the winners of certain events. They were the worst! Total failures. Some day I'll get that figured out.

And this was breakfast on Sunday morning. People were terrible and LEFT THEIR PIES for us to eat. Which means, for me to eat. Terrible, terrible people.

In all, it was a fun, crazy party. Maybe next time I won't do such a long run in the morning and wear myself out before it even begins.

Friday, March 13, 2015

These Party Preparations are Making Me TIRED

Consider this your friendly reminder that Pi Day is tomorrow!

Monday, March 9, 2015

Stuff I Made

It just hit me that I never posted about the Christmas gifts I made, or the few things I've made this year. So here's me catching up.

Bowl covers for a sister-in-law for Christmas. I love using the binding for finishing. Plus, I lined them with PUL so they're easily cleaned. Tutorial here.

Cute little purses for two nieces. I love these. I want one in my size. Tutorial here.

Tokyo subway cross-stitch pillow cover. This was for my parents for Christmas. Remember they served a mission in Tokyo?

Ah, Slither, our new door snake. Necessary because Ollie broke the old. I love that it's a snake. Tutorial here.

As much as I like Ollie's old backpack, it was clear that this was the superior tutorial. So right before we went to Arizona, I whipped this up. It's made with heavier material and is a bit bigger. I am in love with that Ed Emberley and his fabric.

A friend had a baby last year and I never made her anything (probably because it wasn't her first baby...or her second. I get lazy on those subsequent children). Terrible. But then I remembered this cute tutorial and remedied my bad manners. And yes, I took these pictures on snow. It's much better than my dirty carpet.

Another friend had another non-first child and I remedied that. While I've used lots of tutorials from Dana at Made, I've never bought one of her patterns...until now. I'm thinking Ollie needs a reversible vest. Hmmmm.....

Friday, March 6, 2015

And On the Seventh Snow Day...

Today marks our seventh snow day of the year (due to yesterday's near 9" of snow). This makes three more days than planned, so who knows what that does to the end of the year. We'll probably be in school until the 4th of July. On the plus side, I'm getting really good at filling snow days. It helps when Chuck is home (like yesterday). It doesn't help when Chuck only has a delay (like today).

His first air catch! Notice Ollie just standing there watching him from the sidelines. He was NOT a happy snow boy yesterday.

But it's March. Let's be done with this, shall we? I want to wear flip flops.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Eggs of Wisdom

On Sunday Rhett asked me, "Mom, do you expect any surprises in your bed tonight?" My response: "Well I do now." I forgot until I found a plastic Easter egg in my pillow (Rhett's been playing with them recently). Cute. But when Chuck found his, he actually thought to open it. Surprise! Inside was a fun little note that read, "I like it when you give me sips of your soda." Of course I eagerly opened mine and found this gem, "I like it when you tell Dad to put away his phone." Awwwww. Sweet buddy.

So Monday night I was excited to find another egg in my bed. Imagine my disappointment to find this message: "Don't Steal." Words to live by, Rhett. Words to live by.

P.S. We're getting ready for tomorrow's likely snow day number 6. Toilet paper? Check. Milk? Check. Supplies for pancake tacos? Check.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Happy To Be Home? I Think Not.

You know how it's always crappy to return from a lovely vacation? I'm about to tell you how in five easy steps you can make it even worse.

1. Fly into a snowstorm. You know, one so bad the plane circles the airport for 35 minutes just waiting for the ground crew to clear the runway. But don't attempt to land just once. Oh no, ask the pilot to do a practice land but don't tell anyone on the plane he/she is doing it. Make sure to ask the pilot to get really close to the ground in your descent and then abruptly start climbing as if you were taking off. It's fun to scare passengers! Especially moms with little kids on the plane!

2. Upon landing, wait for your luggage for 1 hour and 45 minutes. Watch as planes that just landed get their luggage delivered within 20 minutes, but yours? Oh no. It's sitting on the runway somewhere. Getting soaked with snow.

3. It's not exciting to have your car start right-away (even after snowstorms and record-breaking cold temperatures), so try to do better than we did. BUT when you exit the long-term parking, try to get the most unreasonable employee to check you out. You know, the one that admits his company made a mistake (ahem, I'm looking at you ill-printed ticket), the one that won't be reasonable and let your car full of small children go. Sure, we tried to pay, but we were forced to sit for 20 minutes and argue with the man about the exact time we entered the lot. Fun!

4. Drive home on I-95 without it being snowplowed or treated, with lots of other cars, and a lot of snow! It's fun! Will the cars in front of you stop whilst driving up a hill?! Who knows! It's part of the fun. Make sure to make your normally-45-minute drive take twice as long.

5. When you get home, have fun shoveling in the dark the 10" of newly-fallen snow that fell on the couple of inches that fell earlier in the week while you were gone. Because that's what you want to do after waking up to 50-degree temperatures that same morning: dig out snow gear.

BONUS TIP! Wake up in the morning already forgetting what 77 degrees feels like, get church cancelled, and enjoy the snow!

Friday, February 27, 2015

Arizona, Part 3

Because it's me, I have weird random thoughts about Arizona:

I love my western hair. Washing it is so easy when I can let it air dry. Air drying is so wonderful when I know it won't be crazy frizzy, or even frizzy at all.

Denny's restaurants are everywhere. Why is this? Gretchen told me that Arizona has a big brunch culture. But Denny's?

Everything starts early in the morning. I LOVE this. I would do so well with this. Get out early, and then hide inside in the air conditioning in the afternoons.

HOAs can be CRAZY.

Speed limits are awesome. With limits of 75 mph, we can get places fast. Unless it requires driving through downtown Phoenix, and then it's slow. But I'm no stranger to traffic.

Phoenix is HUGE. It's one of the largest (geographically-speaking) cities in the country. (Crazy fact: the top four largest U.S. cities by land area are all in Alaska. And these four are all larger than Rhode Island.)

Solar panels. This shouldn't be a surprise, but man, they were everywhere. Good for you, Arizona.