Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Chuck Update

Like me, nothing too much going on. Unlike me, turns out he's NOT allergic to the outdoors. Which is surprising because he hasn't been able to breathe easily for as long as we've been married. He visited the allergist on Monday and found out he was only allergic to oak trees. Psh. I mean, good for him. I was actually looking forward to our twice weekly dates at the shot clinic.

He lost someone very important to him in February and is still dealing with that. Death sucks.

Otherwise, his calling is okay, his after-school job is okay. Life is okay.

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Me Update

Really, nothing too exciting is going on. Here are the highlights:

  • Allergies: I haven't been able to breathe clearly without the aid of drugs since September. It's miserable. I'm going to blame my poor running on it, but I'm not sure that's medically sound. I treated it with pills first, and then when that wasn't working, flonase. Finally I decided to see an allergist. Turns out I'm pretty much allergic to the outdoors (trees, mainly). Great. I'm also super allergic to cats (WAHOO!) and dust mites. I was given a prescription-strength drug to try, but I don't love it. So I think I'm going to try the shots. I really really just want to breathe through my nostrils again.
  • Camp: It's definitely so much easier to do this a second time. It almost feels too easy, you know? But I have all of my materials from last year and as we're going to the same place, not much has changed. There really are many, many more callings that would be worse for me. Teenage girls crack me up.*
  • PTA: What a mess. We started the year with a four-person executive board; I'm the treasurer. Our president nearly quit in December and was convinced to stay on. However, she does nothing, not even responding to emails or texts. Awesome. Our vice president just had baby number five, so she's out. And the secretary was ghosted by the president early in the year and I have no contact info for her. So it's me. Just me. And our parents really don't do anything. I take money, deposit money, write checks, design fifth grade t-shirts, and try to update our taxes so that we're in compliance. It's a lot. But I'm not sure how to do more on my own, so pretty much we're going to do nothing. Lame.
  • Hiking Goal: With Rhett playing hockey on Saturdays and more rain (shocker), we haven't gotten out yet in March. I'm hoping to change that with a hike Sunday. We're doing okay, and have camping plans for spring break, so I think we're on track. I'm totally making us custom patches when we're done so commemorate it.
But this really is our slow time of year. Finally Monday was a bit warmer. I ran without a vest and gloves; it was lovely. I'm sure summer will be here in April. Sigh.

*Also, so do teenage boys. Chuck and I went out a couple weeks ago and had our neighbor watch the kids for the night. When Chuck texted him earlier in the day to make sure he was still planning on coming over, he replied, "Yeah, I'll show up." Hahaha. We now say this all the time. Yeah, I'll show up.

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

Rhett Update

We're quickly closing in on his birthday. So exciting. He's still playing hockey and is enjoying it. Sure, it can be hard to get him to go to hockey, but once he's there he has a good time. I get that. At school he's doing fine. We picked his middle school and even chose his classes. I'm still in disbelief that in six months I'll have a middle schooler. So weird. He loves scouts and thinks he'll keep doing it even after the church isn't. He sleeps in the weirdest positions and would prefer to sleep in one of his polo shirts, if only I'd let him. He's had a couple of band concerts with school, so that's been good for him. He loves reading, but loves reading books below his level and repeatedly. We're trying to change that.

He's definitely in an easier stage right now, for which I'm grateful. I expect (or just am preparing for) that to change come sixth grade.

Monday, March 4, 2019

Ollie Update

Whenever I start writing about Ollie, I always want to start with, "This kid." Because, well, this kid. He's just so...Ollie.

I think the biggest Ollie news is that we finally found an extra-curricular activity he's interested in taking. He likes many things, but I think he was terrified of having to get used to yet another adult whose job it would be to tell him what to do. But after seeing him running around the house, treating every piece of furniture as if it was at a playground, it hit me: PARKOUR. And of course, in 2019 in suburban D.C. there is a class for this. There were many classes, actually. So we picked the one that best fit our schedule and he's been going for a couple of weeks. He LOVES it. They jump on the trampoline, do burpees, and practice cool tricks off foam blocks. It's hilarious.

He's my dabber. This kid, way more than Rhett, does stuff like this. Rhett would NEVER dab, but Ollie? Yep.

Playing with my phone because his brother's band concert was boring. Ha.

I won't lie. He can be hard. He doesn't want to do what he doesn't want to do. But man, the kid keeps us laughing.

Friday, March 1, 2019

Valentine's Day

This is not a holiday I care about. But any excuse for treats is good enough for me. I had one gingerbread house leftover from Christmas, knowing I'd save it for Valentine's Day. The candy is just too fun! I had such high hopes. I should have known better. Sigh.

These strawberry rice krispie treats, however, were delicious. I don't believe you can go wrong with rice krispies treats.

Thursday, February 28, 2019

Hike 4: Patapsco State Park

The last time we were at this park was nearly seven years ago! INSANE! But I remember loving it so much. Of course, at that time, our boys were very little and not really in hiking condition. So given a holiday with decent weather, we trekked back up there to hike 5.7 miles. Not to spoil it, but the boys did it. The whole thing. This was the farthest they've ever hiked in one hike. I'm so so proud of them. Rhett never complained, except the one time he slipped and got super muddy. Ollie complained in the middle, but then realized how futile it was. But they were so so great. Ollie did not, however, break his record for number of pee stops. It was only six. Next time.

It had rained (of course it rained) the day before, so we were a bit afraid of mud, but for the most part, we lucked out! About ten days before we hiked, there was an ice storm. We think the heavy ice brought down many-a-tree because recently-downed trees were everywhere.

At our lunch stop, three old hikers teased (?) the boys. It was...weird?

Some old homestead.

As we approached the falls, there was a cool gazebo. Thankfully this was near the end because it's also where Rhett left his binoculars and where I had to run back to get them.

We finally made it to the waterfall. You can't see the girl in a BRIGHT orange dress getting pictures for her quinceanera.

Hey! We like each other!

This bridge! That boy! Those socks!

The hiking power beans for this trip are the HANDS DOWN best ones we eat. They may be the only ones we should eat. Get some.

83.1 miles to go!

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Hike 3: Lake Frank

We did this in early February. It was another chilly day, upper 20s, but it was perfect! There were so many puddles that would have been so muddy, but instead, they were fun little frozen ponds. It was really cool. The creek was gorgeous all frozen. The boys did great! Well, except for one part where we went to a pond near where Chuck grew up. (His brothers used to fish in it!) It looked completely frozen and the boys REALLY wanted to walk on it, but we told them it wasn't a risk we were willing to take, even if other people obviously had. Three weeks later we read that our county police found a dead body THAT DAY right where we were. CREEPY.

The lake. So cool to see it so flat and white. All three boys enjoyed throwing logs onto it.

Pond walking.

88.8 miles to go!

Friday, February 1, 2019

5.7 Miles Down, 94.3 To Go

Even though we hadn't yet decided on our 2019 Hard Thing, we snowshoed on our first snow day of 2019 so I'm counting it as a 1.5-mile hike. And then on Monday, when the boys were off for a teacher workday, we did 4.2 more.

For this hike, I knew I'd need to get them excited about hiking in January. So I brought along sour watermelons and picked a hike in a place called "Rocks State Park." My boys LOVE rocks: love hiking on them and love throwing them. It was a bit of a drive, but we grabbed some books and they were (mostly) happy.

We did two hikes: one loop and one out-and-back to a waterfall. Winter hiking is cool because any mud is frozen solid! But I won't lie: it was cold (upper 20s). I was so grateful that I remembered hats and gloves for everyone. No way would we have lasted otherwise. I did not remember, however, my wallet. Whoops. We didn't see too many people on the trails, which was also nice because apparently the falls trail can get super crowded.

For some time, the loop hike was high above this cute creek.

There was so much moss everywhere. It was weird to have the bare trees but green on the floor.

Turns out there wasn't quite enough rocks for my boys, but they were mostly pleased.

The boys were super excited to find so many icicles near the waterfall. Rhett was less than thrilled when Ollie wanted to break them all off and eat them.

We had a great day and are excited to try many new-to-us trails this year.

Monday, January 28, 2019

Doing Hard Things

Our family has a pretty good life. We have a house. We have cars. We have two good-enough jobs. Heck, I wasn't even furloughed. My boys have two parents. We don't live with the constant worry of where money is coming from or whether there will be a dinner. (The worst my boys experience is whether they will like dinner.) We get to travel to cool places.

Sure, Rhett and Ollie would argue that they do have hard lives. Homework, chores, even having to deal with each other. But I'm smarter than that. It's still a pretty good life. We're lucky/blessed/hard workers/etc.

So I decided that we needed to work on something hard as a family. I came up with a few ideas, but the one we settled on was to hike 100 miles. So we're doing this. Today, Monday, we're going to a new-to-us state park. (It doesn't have camping, so I didn't even know of it.) Even though Chuck is at work, the boys (who are off today for end-of-the-semester) and I are going. We're going to eat hiking power beans and have a great time. I hope. And once we're done, we'll only have 95 miles left.

Pray for us.

Monday, January 21, 2019

Thursday, January 17, 2019

Snow Day!

Before the weekend even started, we knew a storm was on its way, with predictions in the 3"-6" range. Saturday night (which gave us time to run and do stuff out of the house that day) the snow started falling and Sunday morning we woke up to about 6" and cancelled church. All day Sunday we had more light snow, but around 4:00 it started back up to accumulating snow. This meant a snow day for Monday as well. We ended up with around 10", the most we've had in three years. Here's how we spent the two days:

Too early: wake up
Morning: sled (but not really because the snow wouldn't allow it), play at playground in the snow
Lunch: screens while I bake bread and cookies
Afternoon: build snow cave, snowshoe to a friend's house (carrying one "bread baby" in my jacket), see a snake on the snow and a cave made by bent bamboo
Evening: eat dinner while watching a movie and enjoying a fire

Too early: wake up
Morning: sled for real, even try snowboarding
Lunch: movie
Afternoon: back to the snow hill for more sledding, home for some screen time with a friend
Evening: eat dinner while watching a show and enjoying a fire

Notes on the two days: I'm tired. My shoulders and back hurt. Plus, I'm exhausted from having all of us in the house without leaving for more than 48 hours. We have three-day weekends for the next two weeks, but I imagine they'll be better just because we'll be able to get out. Also, even with all the work in the snow, my boys never once slept in. What is wrong with them?! Also, when I was about my boys' age, we got a snowstorm that cancelled SEVEN days of school. How did my mom survive?! Certainly my dad had to work (unlike my own husband), and she was home with four kids. I would die. BUT for our two days, I think I did okay. I (mostly) held it together, only losing it during a pancake fight and when Ollie wouldn't stop whining while snowshoeing. For the most part, however, they did great. Every year their endurance gets better and we had zero complaints about wet or cold. Amazing! Having decent gear makes such a difference. Oh, we love our two sleds. The boys really have such a fun time on them. Finally, we were all happy to have a two-hour delay Tuesday morning.

P.S. Here are the FIVE posts I did in 2016 about the snow! I had forgotten how traumatizing it was. Hahaha. Parts 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5.

Tuesday, January 15, 2019


I can't believe this boy is almost 11! This time next year he'll be a deacon. Big kids are the best kids (says the woman with no actual big kids quite yet). I got to take him in December to an event at the Capitals hockey complex. We skated with NHL mascots (and got photobombed by one!) and then waited outside in the mist to see if any players happened by. We got lucky! Lars Eller, the player who scored the game-winning goal in the Stanley Cup finals game, came out and graciously signed Rhett's jersey. So cool.

And, in other super fun news for him, he gets to go to scout camp this year! He'll only be 11, but as 11-year-old scout in the "real world" camp, our ward thought ours should too. It happens while I'll be at girls camp, which is both good and bad for Chuck and Ollie.

This is the closest either of my kids has ever come to a character of any kind. Ever.

Can you find Rhett?

Monday, January 14, 2019


Oh man we love this boy. He's everything I'm not: silly, creative, and energetic. But that makes him that much harder. I just don't relate easily. However, we're getting through it.

Where does he get this???

I had to take some stuff to the school for a PTA event and Ollie hitched a ride home.

I made this beard for him to wear at the ward Christmas party's nativity scene. Of course he jumped off the stage in the first two minutes, but he still loves wearing the beard around the house.

And then he made more facial hair all by himself. Amazing.

Here are his latest hilarious things he said:
"Only people who are fancy eat hamburgers with a fork."

O: I wish I didn't have a sister.
Me: Well, you don't, so you got your wish. Why don't you want a sister?
O: Because she might tell on me and Rhett when we fight. Girls do that.

After an intense game of pop guns: "What is my purpose? Why am I even here??"

Talking about Chuck E. Cheese: "That guy creeps me up. It used to be there was a person inside, but nowadays it's probably a robot."

We were driving in the car, and no one was talking. "All is silent....voices rise." WHAT?!?! He still can't/won't explain this.

To me: "You're just mad because you married a bimbo!"

O: Why do we have to do chores? I hate doing chores.
Me: Well, they build character.
O: I like my character just like it is. I don't want to change it.

After a spirited dinner with the missionaries.
Missionary: Where you do you get all your energy?
O [suddenly calm and serious]: From within.

O: Mom, you don't use laughter like I do.
Me: Oh, how do you use it?
O: I use it smart.

"I didn't really laugh that hard because it didn't touch my funny bone."

Friday, January 11, 2019

I Made Stuff

My Thanksgiving decorations were lacking, so I found this wall hanging to copy. I love it so much. My boys loved the felt pies and spent the evening making their own felt foods. Some were more successful than others.

For the third year, we ate Thanksgiving at our friends' house. As a hostess gift, I made these two aprons, adapted from here.

Rhett, knowing Ollie's love of pigs, thought about getting Ollie this faux taxidermy pig. However, when we saw that the 4" one was $55, we thought again. We found this book and he asked if I could do it. I thought I could try! The first two times I tried, the face I totally messed up. But I got it on the third and the rest wasn't too bad. I thought the end product was pretty good. However, Ollie doesn't. It makes him sad. :( So for now it's in the attic. Ha.

A friend's birthday is right before Christmas. I didn't dare make something I'd expect her to display with her Christmas decorations, so I made this apron. I think the fabric was a *bit* too heavy, but otherwise I love the pattern. I want to make one for me.

Thursday, January 10, 2019

Fun with Trampolines and Cameras

My boys love taking my camera. They especially love taking the camera to capture themselves jumping on the tramp. They take 100 pictures and about five are good. Here are those five. Note: There are more pictures of Ollie simply because Rhett is a better photographer.