Wednesday, May 30, 2012

More Pinterest Eating

Even though my boys would be happy with the same seven meals every week, I am not. And since I'm the one doing all of the the planning and most of the shopping and cooking, I get to choose. So even though we do the same things most of the time, I like to switch it up a bit. Here are some of the things I've been pinning and then eating:

Fruit Salsa. So good. Especially when served with those tortilla cinnamon chips.

Bacon chicken. Awesome. Even Chuck's dad, who is not the biggest fan of chicken, enjoyed it. And really, you're only using a slice or so of bacon per serving, so it's not that bad for you. We're doing it again tonight AND serving it to people, so you know it must be good (or it might be that we really dislike our guests).

Jalapeno Turkey Burgers. We always eat turkey burgers, and I feel (for some unknown reason) that they should be given some extra oomph in flavor. (It should be noted that Chuck does not share this feeling. Next time we do burgers, they will be left as is; I promise Charlie.) These were okay. I didn't feel like I could taste anything but the jalapenos and I wanted more flavor. I believe, however, that my sister really enjoyed these. So final rating: one thumb up and one sideways thumb.

Thai Chicken Enchiladas. Seriously so good. I think I'm the only one who really liked them, but man, I really really liked them. It just means leftovers for lunches for me.

Sweet and Sour Chicken. Again, another winner. I was doubtful that the sauce would thicken even with all that cornstarch, but thicken it did. We didn't bother with chicken fried rice, but did regular rice instead. This is totally fine with me since I like to pour the sweet and sour sauce on my rice. Chuck, Ollie, and I liked this very much. Rhett...well, take a guess. ("Mom, I only kinda like it. Can I have something else for dinner? Something sweet?" ARGH.)

Overnight Oatmeal. I love oatmeal and love the idea of having it ready as soon as I wake up. But I definitely did NOT love this oatmeal. I didn't even like this oatmeal. Chuck had to choke it down. Not good.

White Wheat Rolls. I'm trying these for the first time tonight. Because they're endorsed by King Arthur, I have high hopes.

Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream. Yes I'm promoting this again. If you haven't tried it, I beg you. If you're in Maryland I'll even let you borrow my ice cream maker just so you can try this. It'll change your evening. I promise.

What am I missing that you've tried and recommend?

Monday, May 28, 2012

Announcing the Donut Dash!

Before we had kids, Chuck and I would talk in bed before we actually fell asleep. Of course now that we have kids (and especially since our early early riser Ollie arrived) we are practically snoring as we brush our teeth. But the other night my brain wouldn't turn off and so I talked and Chuck mumbled responses. What brilliant idea did we come up with in our half-asleep state?

The Inaugural Donut Dash! (I don't change font sizes very often, so you know it's a big deal when I do.) Not unlike the great idea of the quiet book swap or the Pi Day 2015 party, this is a fantastic idea. Hear me out.

Because I'm still bummed that we were snowed out of the doughnut race in North Carolina many moons ago, I've been trying to think of a way to do it on our own. And Eureka! I've got it.

What: A 5K run/walk event. There will be donuts and cider at the middle and at the end. There will be t-shirts. There will be a finish line. There will be a race photographer. This is a real race!

Who: Everyone! Let's make this a destination race people, so start planning your vacations now! It is even family-friendly.

When: Conference Saturday, October 6th, 9:00 a.m. We picked this date/time because people are likely in town and without plans that morning since we know that come noon, most of our friends will be at the Stake Center or at home watching conference. Perfect, no?

Where: Probably Winding Creek Park, right on Rock Creek Trail. We'll start at the park, run out the 1.55 miles, each a bunch of donuts, turn around, and end up at the park for the post-race festivities! There's even a playground for the kiddos!

Why: Because it's freakin' awesome. There will be awards. Maybe even an award ceremony with medals (but not ones made of actual metal).

But here are the questions for you. First, would you come to our running race and actually run? Clearly it's just an excuse to have a party with friends, just with running involved. And second, would you pay money for this? If I did shirts AND donuts AND cider, if there are even twenty runners, it'd cost around $100, a cost I'm just not willing to shell out for a party. (Not that you shouldn't, I'm just cheap and don't see that happening.) So what would you pay? And would it feel weird to pay your friends money to go to their party? I'm still not sure how I feel about that.

Still, despite the questions, this is a super good idea, right?! Of course right!

*Other events of the day include the Toddler Twinkie Trot and the Cupcake Crawl. Come let your little ones engage in the fun too! This is definitely a family-friendly race!

Friday, May 25, 2012

Self Improvement for Dummies

Lately I've been struggling with what role God plays in my life. Does He cause bad and/or good things to happen? Does He stop bad and/or good things from happening? It's been a real struggle and, sadly, I haven't come to a conclusion with how I think it ends. It got pretty bad there for some time until I came to this conclusion: whatever role God plays, there is something I can learn from my trials. So I've really been trying to approach hardships with a new attitude.  Where normally I'd say, "Really, God? Really?!" instead I'll take a deep breath and say, "Okay. What can I learn from this?"

We've really been struggling with Rhett. While a good kid away from home (I think), at home he will not listen nor obey. At all. I find myself repeating things 15 times a day. And then, even when he does hear me, it doesn't mean he'll obey. It's been so difficult. So very, very difficult. I find myself yelling at Rhett far more than I want (because I don't want to at all) and pleading with him to obey--pleeeease obey. "If you obey, it makes life so much easier for everyone! When you obey, we can do more fun things! I put those rules in place because I want you to grow up to be a good person and it's my job to teach you! I also put rules in place to keep you healthy and strong, not because I'm mean and I don't want you to eat candy (at least, all the time)!" I should really write these things down and just hold up the cards when needed. It sure would save my voice.

Parenting, in general, has been a medium-large-sized trial in my life and with Ollie's early wake times and Rhett's complete disobedience, it's been a rough time. So when I tried to think about the things I can learn, one HUGE lesson popped out at me: This must be exactly how Heavenly Father feels about me. (Cue angels singing and light streaming from heaven down on me.) If I read those things in quotes in the above paragraph, uh, I'm pretty sure Heavenly Father has slapped his forehead when I'm being pigheaded and disobedient and held up His own cards for me to read. "Erin, if you'd just obey, I could give you more blessings! I want you to grow up strong and good and that's why I gave you commandments to follow! Candy is good; eat it all the time!" Well, maybe not the last one, but you never know.

I know it's not hugely profound, and many of you have probably already learned this. But I tend to be a bit slow when admitting my own faults. Hopefully I'll be quicker to remedy it.

I also have noticed that I need some bettering in other spots of my life. Specifically...

1. I like to read but only do it on the metro to/from work. Seeing as though that's only four times per week, it can take a long time to read a 1,000-page book (which is what I'm doing). So I'd like to be better about putting aside time to read.

2. I also want to be better about getting the boys some real outside time every day. Sure they run with me or walk the dog with us, but that's not good enough. They need to be on the ground playing. So I'm going to try to do that better.

3. Also, I think Rhett needs some special one-on-one attention. To remedy this, once a month we'll do "Rhett Day" wherein one parent takes Rhett out for the day (or just a couple of hours). Now that he's pretty much okay without a nap, it's so much easier to do.

4. Finally, I want to learn some basic Japanese in prep for our June 2013 trip. I have an app on my iPod, I just need to use it.

But that's all. In every other way I'm totally perfect.

P.S. Be sure to come back Monday as I have another super fun post just waiting. Seriously. I am soooooo excited about this.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

The Boys at Nine Months

I'm sure you remember our Christmas card from 2008, right? Of course right! I wanted to re-create that (without the Florida beach), but at least the part where boys are at the same age wearing the same outfit. So here's Rhett at nine months...

...and here's Ollie. What do you think? I realize a comparison might be a touch hard given Rhett's complete break down during the photo shoot.

Who knows how long I'll be able to keep up with this series. I mean, at what point will Ollie reject dressing like his big brother when his big brother dresses like this?

Monday, May 21, 2012

Race Weekend on the Eastern Shore (Warning: LOTS of pictures)

How is your geography? Do you know that the Chesapeake Bay separates Maryland into two parts, one being the Eastern Shore and the other being, uh, the other part, you know, the one people care about? Kidding. All us "other parters" need the Eastern Shore because that's where Ocean City is. And Ocean City is where you go if you're cool. Or not and you just want a beach getaway. Or if you can't get a beach house at Rehoboth.

Anyway, the western part of the Eastern Shore is actually not on the Atlantic Ocean, but on the Chesapeake Bay. There are some awesome little towns that are very old (well, America-old). I've been reading James Michener's Chesapeake for months now (I'm slow, don't read enough, and it's 1,000 pages long) and have been dying for a trip out there. Even before reading this book, I wanted to check out a small town named St. Michaels.

Imagine my glee when I saw this very town was having an inaugural running festival! Hey, I like running! Hey, I want to visit your town! Even after some crazy scheduling and loss of friends being able to go with us, we decided to go it alone. No matter if the longest I've run since forever is nine miles. I can run a half marathon, right? Suuuure! Let's go!

What we did:
Well, run, duh. I didn't do that great. I was slower than I hoped. But here are my excuses. (1) The longest I'd run in training for this was only nine miles. (2) It was super hot and sunny. Super hot. (3) I need new shoes. I only registered for this race last Monday and by then it's too late to get new shoes. But, hey. I finished. I ran 13.1 miles. And let's be honest: one of the reasons I run is because I like to eat. And when I run that much, I eat whatever I want, like peanut butter ice cream in a waffle cone. And maybe, just maybe, the littlest member of our family tried his first ice cream, and definitely, just definitely, he loved it.

We visited the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum. We made (and played with) sailboats and paddle boats. We found oysters. We saw some super cool model sailboats.  We visited a lighthouse.  Rhett made a new friend, Bea, who gave his little friend Madeleine a run for her money.

We took a boat ride. Rhett got to steer. Ollie ate the railing. We saw many beautiful homes and rested weary legs. Rhett also played "King of the World," much to the delight of onlookers and much to the embarrassment of his parents. He would not leave this position until the boat docked.

We hung out at the house. We enjoyed sunrise through the master bedroom. We kayaked in that gorgeous sunrise. We learned about crabbing from our resident Marylander, Chuck. We enjoyed super non-humid weather with open windows and doors at all times.

What we did not do (and so why we will go back):
Have friends come with us. (So sorry E and J!)
Bike ride all over with kids in a trailer.
Go crabbing.
Kayak enough.
Fishing tour.
Enjoy a fire in the firepit.
Barbecue in the awesome screened porch.
Star gazing.
Relax enough.

I'm not lying when I say we'll go back. Most of the time when we travel we think, "Oh that was good and we saw about all we want to see. Let's try somewhere else next time." That was not the case here as there was much more to see and do. It was such a beautiful weekend filled with beautiful sites and super nice people. Plus, spending time with my three favorite boys is just good times.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Things Rhett Says

Chuck has a Caps towel on his head with his Caps hat on top of it (first day of second round playoffs).
Rhett: Dad, you look like a guy from the Book of Mormon.
I later found out he meant Laban.

During the prayer over dinner.
Rhett: And bless me that I'll like tonight's dinner.

Rhett: I'm all buckled in for the sleep ride!

That day when I took the boys to Great Falls, Rhett really needed to go to the bathroom when we were at the falls. If you know the park, you know there aren't that many public restrooms when you're at the falls viewpoint. We were alone so I let him go in the woods. I've never ever done that before (rite of passage for a mom of sons, perhaps?), and it felt weird the whole time. But dang if that son of mine didn't love it and try to get me to let him pee outside again. And again. And again. Even when we got home. Boys. (I assure you, it didn't happen.)

After a shower, after a run.
Rhett: Can I smell your armpits, Mom?

As outgoing as Rhett is when he's with one or two adults, he gets shy in groups. He doesn't like singing or participating in dancing 
at library story times. So when Mothers' Day rolled around with his first Primary song during sacrament meeting, all I asked of Rhett is that he be brave enough to go up there. I wouldn't be disappointed if he didn't sing; I just wanted to see my cute son on the stand. He did not disappoint. He gave us a little wave when he finally found us, and then stood there quietly the rest of the time. But the best part was when he "escorted" his little friend B back to her seat. Oh yes, escorted her with hand holding and everything. As I'm cracking up in my pew, he returned. I asked him what he was doing and his reply was, "Dropping off B." Priceless.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

I Spy, Chuck Doesn't: 3.0

Ever since I began posting this hugely popular "I Spy, Chuck Doesn't" series, Chuck and I have become very wary of admitting we can't find something. He doesn't want to because he knows it'll end up here (shhh...don't tell him) and I don't want to because, well, I think that's pretty obvious.

So when he added "soy sauce" to the grocery list, I was pretty excited. Can you find it? If it helps you, it's La Choy brand soy sauce: the only brand allowed in the house (his rules, not hers).

To save us time, I'm going to have the conversation Chuck and I would have had once he got home from work, had I not gone through it now:

Chuck: I didn't know I could look for it. Had I known there was another in there, I would have looked. And I would have found it.
Erin: Well, you're supposed to take into account that I'm such a great housekeeper that I anticipate things running out therefore I buy them before they're totally gone.
Erin: And what's with you putting a totally empty bottle back into the fridge, HUH?
Erin: That's right.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Mothers' Day Weekend

We had a great Mothers' Day weekend. Saturday morning (after a very nice and early long run for me), we all went to watch Rhett run his very first race. Of course, when you have a bunch of three- and four-year-old kids waiting for a race, you shouldn't be surprised that there is a false start, or a false finish. And then you shouldn't be surprised that your four-year old chooses to go to the playground instead of doing it again. The runner in me was disappointed, but the mom in me said, "Good job runner!"

Then I wanted to take the little big man on a date, since, you know, he is the one who made me a mother. He chose to go to the gardens and look at the butterflies...

...ride the train (and the carousel, but no pictures of that)...

...and play at another playground. It was a good, but exhausting (for me) day. And no, Ollie and I didn't go out because, well, he's just a baby. Sorry little dude.

Sunday morning was great. We made some cookies for my mother-in-law (and I ate more than my share) and I got some lovely presents. Rhett drew me a lovely card with real letters. He's getting so awesome at it and I LOVE to see him write. He also gave me some Skinny Cows (how did he know?!) and a lovely potted flower. Of course Hot Tamales were also included. I gave a present to myself: matching ties and vests for the boys (how did I know?!). Oh I love these boys. (And I admit it: I love dressing them alike. There. I said it. As if it needed being said.)

Of course, since this is me I'm writing about, by afternoon I was ready for a break. Chuck was kind enough to take the boys to his parents' house to get dinner ready, while I got an hour to myself. Oh how I love spending time in my house all alone. I had forgotten about last year's brainstorm. So while I loved spending the one-on-one time with Rhett on Saturday, I think next year the weekend will go like this: Friday afternoon will be my date with Ollie, Saturday morning will be mine alone, Saturday afternoon will be my date with Rhett, and Sunday will be a regular Sunday. Perfect, no?

P.S. Our dinner was this very good bacon chicken. So good.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Organize Me

You know I feel like my life is out of control when I start organizing. And this is definitely one of those out-of-control times. I can't control Rhett, I can't control Chuck, and try as we might, we can't control Ollie's sleep. So what can I control? The dog! Sit, Bruno, sit! Good dog.

Kidding. Instead I've been working like a mad woman on some organizing projects around the home. It all started with a friend who wanted my sons' baby clothes. Of course I said, YES! But it meant that I'd have to go through them to pick out the few I wanted to keep (keepsake quilt one day? hope chest? good joke when my sons find out I kept it all?) and then bag the rest. Since Ollie just starting wearing the nine-month clothes, it was a perfect time. I got to go through them all, get rid of the never-to-be-worn again stuff, and then put out all the new stuff. And while I was at it, sure, let's clean up that attic too! Check.

Project Two: Rhett's arts and craft stuff (which I lovingly refer to as "arts and crap"). We had this great Ikea bin hanging around and I knew it would be perfect. I grabbed all the stuff (which sadly isn't that much) and got it all in one place where he can use it during quiet time. Shhhh...don't tell: him that I threw away all of his creations. Check.

Project Three: the basement freezer. I know most of what's in there when it comes to bread-stuff and meat-stuff. But I do not know when it comes to leftover meals that we've frozen to be eaten for work lunches or in-a-pinch dinners. Busting out the label maker made this job one Rhett could help me with. Not only do I know what's in there now (yippee! leftover thai chicken enchiladas that no one else liked but me!), but I wrote it all down on a paper that's hanging on the freezer door. Now when I tell Chuck to go down to the freezer and get his lunch, it should be a surmountable task. Check. (I should add that now that I know how to use the label maker, I've been going crazy labeling. Even leftovers in the fridge are getting labeled.)

Project Four: the basement cabinets. Oh, these cabinets. We literally (yes, that's literally not figuratively) just throw things in them. I hate it. But now I love it! I had so much fun organizing teh cabinets during my hockey-widow night, that I kept going and straightened the entire laundry room. I got rid of stuff that should be trashed, re-stored things that should be in the attic, and labeled paint cans. It. Was. Awesome. Until the grout sealer fell on me and gave me two huge bumps on my head. I think my favorite part is the shelf with three hand-held vacuums.

Project Five: the playroom. The toys were slowly decreasing our usable footprint in that room and it was driving me crazy. So after a trip to Ikea, we were able to pick up some helpful cubbies. You know I labeled them, right?

I even organized the plastic bags that were driving me crazy. We can't just recycle willy-nilly because my county now charges for them. Yes, my county has turned me into a bag hoarder.

P.S. Wednesday night we had a non-traditional baby shower where we got pedicures and frozen yogurt (my kind of baby shower). But check out the silver that is now on my toes. Best. Colour. Ever. (Yes, I am feeling British; why do you ask?) Seriously, I'm not sure I'll ever pick another colour, that's how much I love it. You might say it's my favourite.  And if you're looking for an effective birth-inducer, try pedicures and yogurt. The baby whom we were celebrating was born 6.5 hours after we all went home!

P.P.S. Tomorrow I get my haircut! Wish me luck!

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Schedules Schmedules

So I had this looong post scheduled for today all about how Ollie is throwing my life a huge curve ball by not wanting to go along with any type of me-approved schedule. Wake up at 5:00 a.m. every day? Sure; why not?! Chuck and I have tried many, many things (later bedtime, earlier bedtime, no morning nap, etc.) but to no avail. It's been really hard on us, especially me since I'm with the boys the most and I LOVE schedules and routines...and waking up later than 6:00 a.m.

But you know what? Yesterday I had off (worked Monday from home instead). I decided to take the boys to Great Falls. After the morning run, I put Ollie down for his morning nap even though he wasn't acting that tired. Dangit Ollie--we gots us some things to do! Nap, baby, nap!  Of course the nap didn't take. But I wasn't going to let that stop me. We were going. And guess what? For the first time since he was an infant, Ollie fell asleep in the car. Miracle of miracles. The nap didn't last long because we soon arrived at the falls. But guess what? Ollie was okay! Rhett was okay! (The Canada geese wanting our food = NOT OKAY.) I survived a morning with a morning-nap-less child. (Be assured we were home for afternoon nap. That nap is non-negotiable.)

I think I'm going to be okay. Rhett thinks so too.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Things I've Made

Remember when I made the bow ties that velcroed to a onesie? I thought (and still do) that the idea was great. Unfortunately, reality was that it just didn't work. And then remember how I gave it to a friend for her baby shower gift before I knew how crappy it was? I had to redeem myself so I made this duo of ties. Sometimes, and this is one of those times, I really love boy fabric.

Another friend is having a baby girl this summer. I saw this cute little pinafore on Pinterest. It was super easy and I really like how it turned out. Of course I had to add one of Dana's diaper covers. You know I tried these on Ollie, right?

Because I liked how Rhett's birthday pants turned out and because I had this brown corduroy and because I had the cute animal print, I decided to make him another pair of pants. You know, just in time for a hot, humid Maryland summer. Good thing this kid doesn't grow much.

For Mothers' Day, my present to me (from me) was a pair of matching vests for the boys. I bought this pattern and some XXL men's shirts from the thrift store and went to town. Of course I finished weeks before Mothers' Day and couldn't wait to put them on the boys. The vests are reversible, so maybe they'll wear the other side next Sunday.

And with the extra fabric from the large shirts, I made some ties. And yes, clearly Rhett got a much-needed haircut between vest-wearing day and tie-wearing day.