Friday, September 4, 2015

Look What I Got

Last week while at a park, new signs were being installed on the nearby trail system. Of course I'm too embarrassed to ask for the old ones; that's why I have kids! I sent Rhett to ask what they do with the old ones and he returned with the answer of, "Take them back to the warehouse." Oh well. I tried. BUT later the guys came over and offered one to us! Of course we took it. What's a 3/4-mile walk home carrying an awkward, sorta-heavy, definitely large sign? Nothing!


And when Chuck took his math clock to work, he left a vacant spot on the wall in the playroom. Perfect.

P.S. Holy crap. Here's a math problem you've likely never seen: humidity + trail run + late dusk + light rain = ??? FROGS. For reals. My running partner and I screamed and peed like little girls. I'm pretty sure we left behind us some serious carnage. Grossest run ever.
 

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

First Day of Second Grade

We start the back to school traditions on Sunday, with the stamping of the shirt (which, at age seven, he's already too cool for)...


...and the back to school dinner. Which has turned into anything for the entree and a side of tots on the trays. Because tots and trays just scream school lunch to me. Also, the boys got a box of milk, which was disgusting. (I chose pepperoni sandwiches because it's been a summer staple. And now that summer is over, I'm ready to serve real meals and have real fights over them. Sigh.)


We got the picture early in the morning (can't let anyone see us)...


...with the new hand print on the sleeve.


But right as we're about to leave, Rhett decides he needs to go to the bathroom and Ollie decides he needs a drink of water...both of which somehow require the bathroom. Which, of course, leads to a fight. Which, of course, leads to Ollie biting Rhett and Rhett punching Ollie. Hence this pic. Happy First Day of School everyone.

Monday, August 31, 2015

Another Summer is Over

We did it. We survived another summer where I worked full-time and Chuck stayed home full-time. It's not easy, but neither is regular life, right? Last week I reverted to part-time work while Chuck started his new job. And I think we're all happier for it. I think mostly we're happier for routines. Well, I'm definitely happier with routines.

That doesn't mean we're not having fun! (The fun just happens during our routinely-scheduled "Fun Time." Kidding.) Two Saturdays ago Chuck was with the scouts nearly all day, so I took the boys to this super awesome playground that's been on my to-do-with-the-boys list since last summer. The boys loved it, and I loved when we had to walk to the National Cathedral in search of a bathroom (the playground belongs to a private school on the cathedral's grounds). I was only saddened by the park's size (HUGE); I couldn't just sit there reading my book like I planned. Sigh. The rest of last week included errands, a bike ride to the park and then the pool, and then an open house at Rhett's school and mini golf.







But that all ends today as Ollie and I walk Rhett to school in a couple of hours. (Back to school pictures to come on Wednesday.) And then we get to do this again when Ollie starts in two weeks. Life is good!

P.S. And you know what else is good? This dinner! The first time we made it, everyone ate it. The second time, all but Ollie did, but still...I like them odds.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Characters I'm Older Than

Does this weird you out like it does me? Maybe I'm the only one, but sometimes I'll be watching TV and realize, holy moly, I'm older than that character/actor is.

Except for Coach, I'm now older than every actor in the first season of Cheers.


Except for Kramer, I'm now older than the other three main actors in Seinfeld from its first season.


On the final episode of Friends, I'm now older than Chandler, Rachel, and Joey.


When Full House premiered, I am now WAY older than all three adult men. And even when the show ended, I am still older than both uncles. But DJ has me by a year. Phew. Finally, someone that's older than I.


Also, I am ten years older than Tom Hanks when he made Splash and the same as as Eugene Levy in the same movie. Yep, this is the weird way in which I think about age.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Soap Operas and Bon Bons

Rhett starts school next Monday, and Ollie begins September 16th. That gives me three weeks to plan the perfect first day of FREEDOM. I will have four hours to do WHATEVER I WANT. Isn't this the dream since the day you had your first child? No? Well, it's been mine. And now it's coming true. Honestly, I think we'll all be happier because of it. (Now just pray that Ollie won't be kicked out of school because that won't end well for anyone.)

Of course not all of the days will be so luxurious. I hope to organize the house (the closets especially), make some freezer foods (quick lunches for the boys, and dinners for everyone), grocery shop ALONE, and accomplish other things. But all of those things can wait. I want my first kid-free day to be amazing. So what to do? Some ideas:

1. Run. Except that it's mid-September and waiting until 9:30 is just too late. So this probably won't happen.
2. Pedicure. Yep. This definitely will happen.
3. Lunch with Chuck. Dates where I don't need to get a babysitter? Yes please!
4. Haircut. It's been over a year since my last. It's probably about time.

What am I missing? Actually, that's probably enough, right? I mean, I don't want to overdo it on the very first day. Baby steps, self, baby steps.

P.S. While I'm handing out media recommendations (like the podcast I shared Friday), let me recommend a book: Kitchens of the Great Midwest. I really, really liked this book.

Friday, August 21, 2015

My Life is Hard, Episode IV

I think Chuck and I had it pretty good for awhile. However, that while is gone. Life has been pretty hard the past couple weeks. Sure, it could be that I'm exhausted from working full-time, Chuck is exhausted from full-time stay-at-home-fatherhood, and the the boys are exhausted from each day's activities (and waking up in the 5 o'clock hour--UGH). Sure, it could be that even with the pool, summer is still pretty miserable. All I know is that it's been non-stop fighting in our house, and sadly, it's coming from everyone.

I think one big culprit is that the boys, with a nearly 3.5-year age difference, have recently diverged in nearly everything. What Rhett wants to watch, Ollie doesn't. What Ollie wants to play, Rhett doesn't. What Rhett wants to read, Ollie doesn't. What Ollie wants to eat, Rhett doesn't. So everything ends up in arguments and/or fighting. (Except they both agree on the fact that they don't want to eat my sweet and sour chicken. That's been firmly established.)

Maybe they've just been around each other too much. In ten days, Rhett will be back at school so they'll be separated for a good chunk of the day. And then a couple weeks later, Ollie starts his half-day preschool, which means I'm separated from all of them for another couple of hours. I think it will do us all good to get back to routines and schedules and absences, because our hearts really do need to grow fonder.

P.S. Because I'm utterly failing at this hard parenting thing, I'd like to try something hard that I could maybe actually accomplish. But what?

P.P.S. In happier news, I found a new podcast: Mystery Show. Check it out. You won't regret it. Well, maybe you will, in which case sorry about that.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Things Ollie Says

Ollie: I want that oreo.
Me: Well, your dad just ate the last one. It's in his stomach. How could you get it?
Ollie: I could turn myself into food and go get it!

Who knows what we were doing to deserve this...
Ollie: You parents stop acting like fools!

Upon waking up the day we left to get the Scamp...
Ollie: Yeah! Today is tomorrow!

Arriving at playgroup...
Ollie: Charlotte is here. Good grief.

During the dinner prayer...nearly a year before we hope to go to Germany...
Ollie: Please bless us to be good. Please bless us to have a safe car ride...WAIT. [Opens his eyes and asks in non-prayer voice] When we go to Germany, will we drive there or take a plane?
Chuck: Plane.
Ollie: [Back to prayer voice] Please bless us to have a safe plane ride to Germany.

And from the Sunbeams edition...
Teacher: What are some things you do at home with your family?
Ollie: POOP!

Teacher: What kinds of things do you pray for with your family?
Ollie: No more babies!
While this might be a prayer in my heart, it has NEVER been vocalized like this in front of the boys. I swear.


Monday, August 17, 2015

I Love Me When I Make These: The Best Dinner Rolls EVER

My friend Sharon introduced me to these bad boys last year. They now rank at the top of my "favorite foods that I make" list. I've tried other rolls but haven't been that successful. These, however, consistently are perfect for me. So I love them. Here's the recipe:

2 c. warm water
2/3 c. nonfat dry milk
2 T. yeast
1/4 c. sugar
2 t. salt
1/3 c. butter
1 egg
5 - 5.5 c. flour

In your mixer, combine water and dry milk. Stir until dissolved. Add yeast, sugar, salt, butter, egg, and two cups flour. Mix on low speed until ingredients are wet, then for two minutes on medium speed. Add two more cups of flour, and mix on low until ingredients are wet, and two minutes on medium speed. Add remaining flour, one-half cup at a time, until it pulls away from the bowl. Once combined, knead by hand or in your machine. Place dough in an oiled bowl. Cover and let rise until doubled in size, about an hour.

Place dough on floured surface. Roll out dough into 18"x8" rectangle and brush with melted butter. Cut into eighteen 2"x4" portions and roll each up beginning with the short side (so that the butter is inside). Place rolls upon a greased baking sheet so they look like snails, not cinnamon rolls. Let rise in warm place until rolls are again doubled in size. Bake at 375 for 15-20 minutes or until browned. Brush with melted butter while still hot.

I do these on Sundays and do the first rise before church, shape them, put in fridge, pull out of fridge when I get home from church and finish rising until I go to bake them. They are heavenly.

Friday, August 14, 2015

Me and My Diet Bets

Have you seen DietBet? I hadn't until a recipe blog I follow hosted their own "game." When I told Chuck about it, we both decided to do it. How does it work? You pay money (ours was $25). You try to lose weight (ours was 4% of our body weight over four weeks). If you make the goal, then you and all the winners split the pot (minus DietBet's cut). Oh, and if everyone loses the 4%, then DietBet forgoes their winnings and everyone just gets their money back, so no chance that you'd lose money. Guess what? We both made our goals. Hooray! But that doesn't mean I'd recommend this for everyone.

Why it worked for me:
1. I needed motivation.
2. I didn't want to lose my $25.
3. I'm working full-time and therefore am not home to mindlessly snack.
4. It's summer so I'm getting in an extra couple of swim workouts each week.
5. It started right after our vacation and ended on my birthday (with a Fast Sunday the day before--score!).

Why it might not work for you:
1. You don't care about losing $25.
2. The winnings (all $9.14 of it) is not enough of a motivation.

Why I'm doing another:
1. I'm on a roll.
2. I would love to lose about five more pounds.
3. I'm still working full-time and still swimming, so it's easier now than it will be next month.

The thing about losing weight when you're short is that your caloric intake is seriously limited. So while I'm not anorexic, I had to eat far fewer calories than Chuck did, even if we were just doing nothing. Which is kind of a bummer. And because I can't keep a tally in my head (more of a memory problem than a math problem), I had to count those calories. Which is just lame, right? I mean, no one wants to have to do this. But if I don't, I forget about the string cheese I had after breakfast or the six Oreos I had after dinner. (Kidding! Although Golden Oreos are fantastic. If we are talking Golden Oreos, it'd be more like eight. Or twelve. Or some other embarrassingly high number.) So if you hear me talking about all the food I can't eat, or how many calories are in that, or whatever, please forgive me. This, too, shall pass.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Rehoboth Beach (a real one, not one of balls)

This past weekend we went to Rehoboth Beach in Delaware. In the past we've picked Rehoboth because they have an awesome sandcastle contest the first weekend in August. Although we had initially reserved the first weekend in August for the beach, we had to reschedule because of my dad's helicopter event. But that's totally okay. We got there early Friday afternoon and immediately headed to the beach, even though it was sprinkling. Because there had been a storm the day before, the waves were CRAZY and so no swimming was even allowed. However, as anyone with kids knows, the beach is just one giant sandbox, so no one was disappointed. Neither was anyone disappointed when we left the beach for Funland.










Saturday we headed back to the beach. It was still overcast and windy, but at least we could swim and not worry about fierce sun rays. The waves were still huge, so we mostly just waded and jumped, but it was fun. And because we had tickets to burn, we went back to Funland.








Sunday we thought we'd stop by another beach nearby, Lewes Beach. It was beautiful! It's in a more-secluded bay so the waves were minuscule, but for my minuscule children, they were perfect. Also, fewer people here. Also, no boardwalk, fun/ridiculous shops, or Funland. So maybe next time we'll do a mix of both beaches.


And on the way home, we stopped for fresh, dairy-made ice cream. I'm pretty sure we could have all had one scoop and been fine, but we were seduced by the low prices (two scoops for only three dollars). Who are we kidding? I'm sure next time we'll make the same two-scoop choice. We turned it into our lunch.


Both mornings I got in beautiful runs on this awesome trail network. Saturday's eight miles were so amazing that I decided to do another six on Sunday, but probably should have scaled back Sunday's miles. I was tired. Ha. But this trail system made me super sad we didn't have bikes because it was a gorgeous, flat trail that Rhett would have had so much fun on. Another time!

Monday, August 10, 2015

The National Building Museum's Beach

Remember on my birthday how after lunch I had to go back to work while the boys stayed downtown? They went to the National Building Museum for a special event: The Beach. They created this giant ball pit with clear balls and called it the beach. I'm sure you can guess that all three of my boys had a great time. Good thing, because this beach ain't cheap.









Tip: If you go, do NOT wear white. Put your kids in bright colors so they're easily spotted should they start drowning.

Friday, August 7, 2015

Not His Best Birthday

Even though he woke up to a bedroom filled with balloons and a tableau of presents...


Even though he got to open up all of those presents...


Even though he LOVED these binoculars...


Even though he loved everything else...


Even though he some how convinced me to make pig cupcakes...(Did you know you can dye marshmallows? Well you can.)


Even though he LOVED those cupcakes on his birthday and for the next three days...


He still came down the stairs at the end of the night to tell us that, "It wasn't my best birthday ever." And that, folks, is life with Ollie. Happy (not your best ever) 4th Birthday, Ollie! We love you!

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

A Pretty Good Birthday

The older I get, the less important birthdays are. Which is exactly how it should be, right? But that also means I should be easier to please, and I am. My latest birthday was the best in recent memory (although four years ago when I was in the hospital with a one-day-old Ollie, that was pretty sweet).

I got to go to work late, which meant I got a good run in that morning.

As the day before I had made my new all-time favorite "food," I ate some of it for breakfast, because, hey, Rice Krispies are cereal.

Even being at my job was great because I'm working on a super fun (for statisticians like me, at least) project.

My three boys came to work to meet me for lunch, which was burgers, fries, and a shake at Shake Shack.

After lunch, I had a couple more hours to work on my super fun project.

Then it was time to meet the boys for the metro ride home (they stayed downtown and did something awesome that I'll document later).

Immediately upon returning home, we went straight to the pool and ate dinner there.

After the pool it was open presents, eat more rice krispie treats, and put the boys to bed.

Then Chuck and I settled down to watch a documentary on Antarctica.

Thanks to those of you texted me, emailed, or wished me a Facebook happy birthday. It all contributed to my pretty great day!

P.S. Lest you think it was without hitch, let me assure you that's not quite true. Apparently Chuck had quite the time getting the boys to agree to some coupons they gave me for my birthday. And let's not pretend that the little ones really even cared about my birthday except that for them it meant getting dessert. Let's also not pretend that Ollie, who even after multiple reminders to sit facing the table with his food over his plate, didn't do that and dropped his cupcake on the floor, which Bruno quickly (actually not quickly, he struggled with a marshmallow) gobbled. Which meant, of course, that Ollie immediately fell apart.

P.P.S. After much arm twisting, I did get two very lovely birthday cards from them.


Yes, that is a cannon shooting birthday cake. This is normal for seven-year-old boys, right? RIGHT?! Someone tell me it's normal!

Monday, August 3, 2015

CH-46 Fly In

If you didn't already know, my dad flew helicopters for the Marines. The one he flew exclusively (?) was the CH-46. It has been in use since the 1960s but it was decided this year to retire it. One of these helicopters is going to be on display at the National Museum of the Marine Corps. However, that museum isn't quite ready for it. Until then, it's going to be housed at the Dulles Air and Space (by far the cooler of the two Air and Space museums).

On Saturday they held a special program for this aircraft, including a fly in. Sadly, because my parents are on a mission in Germany, they missed it. But happily, we didn't! I'm so glad we were able to see this, as I have no recollection of ever seeing one fly before. (This is largely in part that I was little when he retired.) But as Chuck and I have a few more years to go in our 18-year plan, I'm sure my parents will be back to visit us and we can see it wherever it is then.

Taxiing on the runway. Who didn't know this museum has a runway?! (This girl.) Who probably should have guessed this museum has a runway? (This girl.)




We didn't hear this part so well, but those Marines sure are fancy.


This one, however, is not at all fancy.


Getting to go inside.










And of course, pictures from the outside.




This picture was taken by a man that actually knew my dad! When he told me his name, Raquel, I'm sure you can understand why I was so confused. It wasn't until I skyped with my parents the next day that they told me it was a nickname. Phew.


We had a great time and really enjoyed seeing this machine in action. I can't wait to show it to my parents!

P.S. If you want, here's the three-minute video of the entire fly in. That other crazy helicopter behind the CH-46? An Osprey. It's crazy.

Friday, July 31, 2015

New Season Rankings

Even though we're only 2/3rds the way through the summer, I think I have to reconsider my previous ranking of the seasons. Here is the updated ranking:

1. Fall
2. Spring
3. Summer
4. Winter

Summer moved up! It's not the worst! This is HUGE for me. Summer in Maryland (or anywhere hot and humid) is pretty much unbearable. This is precisely why I didn't mind working full-time. However, having a pool membership truly has changed everything. (Almost everything--running in the heat and humidity is still the WORST.) The boys are learning and growing and being outside for way more hours than I could have handled without the pool. Chuck is enjoying teaching them (and others!) and being in the water. He even manages to get in some laps. And I am just jealous of all the time they get to be in the pool. When I do get to go (after work some days, Saturdays), even I am learning "real" swimming.

In addition to the pool, I decided to go easy on meal planning for the summer. We pretty much do the same thing every week. I don't want to heat the house, so baking is minimized. I don't want to spend lots of time over the stove, so long dishes are out. And because we sometimes swim until 6, these dinners have to be fast. So what have we been eating? Cold cut sandwiches, breakfast for dinner, tacos, quesadillas, burgers, other grilled things, and take-out pizza. It's been so easy. While it's not something I want to continue through the school year, I must admit I kinda love it.

And of course, the Scamp has changed summer. But I think I've talk enough about that.

P.S. Don't be fooled: I will not be sad when school resumes. But nor am I already looking forward to it. I'm in a happy summer place.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

First (real) Camping Trip with the Scamp: Maryland State Park #13

We didn't wait long to schedule our first trip in the scamp. And after spending all the money we did on it, well, we better be using it pretty often. We picked Greenbrier State Park for our first real outing. (Unlike the fake one at Deep Creek Lake.) It is close (so we could do two nights and make it back in time for church), has a beach (for swimming and boat rentals), and miles of hiking trails. (Although with children like mine, mile of hiking trail would suffice.)



Me and my boys hiking the first night.




Ollie chose this strange position to eat his Teddy Grahams.


Rhett preferred this pose.


We forgot beach toys (whoops) and so didn't spend too much time on the beach. The boys opted for paddle boats because DUH. They don't have to do any of the work.


Hiking around camp.


Visiting (and stomping away angrily from) the Nature Shack.


On our second night, the boys' cousins camp to hang out with us! Hooray for family!


The park was super nice. However, if you ever plan to go there just for the day to swim in the lake, you have to get there pretty early to beat out the early birds. I took a morning run past the lake at 7:30 and at that time, all tables closest to the beach were taken. And by 10 a.m., the park was at capacity and wouldn't let anyone else in. Crazy!

Staying in the scamp was, of course, awesome. After a warm hike on Saturday, we lazed in the air-conditioned trailer. Cooling down in a tent would not have been as effective. And at night? Chuck and I were cold! In July! In Maryland! It defies logic. The boys slept in until 6:45 a.m. both mornings...again defying logic. Saturday night we had packed out camp, making our departure Sunday morning super quick.

We could have used beach toys, a longer tether for Bruno, fishing poles for the boys, "hiking power beans," and a couple of other things. In general though, we did okay. I could have done without some serious whining and Bruno. But I would definitely say it was a success! We're going to the "real" beach (aka, the "OCEAN") in a couple of weeks and we're all crazy excited.

Oh and feel free to share what you eat while camping. For some reason, I just can't get this right.