Friday, August 31, 2012

Return of the Routines

Even though we still had a fairly regular routine in Utah, that's one of the benefits to being home and it not being summer. Chuck is back at work (at a new job, which is a post for another day) and I am back to part-time. Next Wednesday, Rhett starts preschool. Real preschool. With a teacher and a backpack and everything. Pretty exciting.

So what does our new routine look like? Well I'm not sure because we haven't quite started. But a girl can dream, right?

Since I still work Tuesdays and Thursdays, I only need to fill the three other work days on my own. And since Rhett is in preschool for all three of those days, I need to remember how to spend the mornings with just a toddler. I am very excited to give Ollie the kind of attention Rhett got at this age. Ollie is just dying to go to all the craft stores Rhett got dragged along to. (He is; he told me.)

But the afternoons are a bit harder for me. I'm not excited about giving up the break I get when Ollie naps and Rhett takes quiet time. On the other hand, I'm going to miss my Rhett! For now, I plan on doing some sort of arts and crafts project with him on Mondays ("Make It Mondays"), sewing while he watches his Wednesdays shows (my one daytime break during the week), and doing science projects on Fridays ("Science Fridays"). I'm probably way too ambitious, but we'll see how it goes.

I'm not sure when I'll fit in running. Before preschool with both boys? On the way to preschool (it's only 0.8 miles from our house)? Early mornings before Chuck goes to work? We'll see.

Otherwise, it should be a great school year. One we're starting off with sweet breadsticks with cream cheese frosting. YUM!

P.S. We're doing it! The 2012 Donut Dash 5K is on! If you are local, heck even if you're not, and you didn't get an email announcing that registration is now open, please let me know. I tried to include everyone I know, but sometimes my brain doesn't work so well.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

The 19-Year Plan

So it may come as a surprise, but guess what? I haven't cried once since being back in Maryland. Not once. Shocking, no? The truth is (shhh...don't tell anyone) I don't hate it here. Now don't go get gettin' any funny idears. I don't love it. But, if you take away the humidity and the constant drone of insects and the traffic, Maryland isn't horrible! I mean, the ocean! Eastern Market french toast! Shenandoah Mountains Hills! There are some redeeming things.

Nevertheless, it's not where I want to spend eternity. Or even my earthly life. While on our recent trip, I made Chuck promise that we wouldn't live in Maryland our entire married lives, which is hopefully our entire alive lives. And shocker of shockers, he, too, wants to get out as soon as we can. Turns out that "as soon as we can" is about 19 years. The house will be paid for, the boys will be graduated from high school and maybe even in college in Utah (if their 529 plans have anything to say about it, that is), and Chuck will be eligible for retirement! It's perfect. And 19 years? I can totally do 19 years. I mean, I've already lived in Maryland for ten. 34% done? I can so do this.

Even with this plan, I still enjoy being here. I am actually okay with it. Truly. Just to prove how devoted I am to being a Marylander, guess what we bought as soon as we got home: a dehumidifier. Do you westerners even know such a thing exists? Turns out that humidity can get inside your house. It's bad. Things (and I sadly don't mean just food) start to mold. But my dehumidifier makes it a nice 40% humidity! And now, westerners, go check to see what your humidity is. $3 says it's lower than that. Just be thankful your dry air grows on trees. (You know what I mean.)

Monday, August 27, 2012

Ollie Update

This boy. This boy who is not a baby anymore. I feel like in the past month we've gone from having a baby to having a real-life toddler! He walks! He talks! He eats real food!

He took his first real steps in Utah and I thought it was a miracle like unto the one in the "Heidi" story. But he didn't show interest in taking more than three steps at a time in the ensuing weeks. About ten days ago, however, he was walking like he's been doing it for years! (Or days.) Awesome.

Although he only says a few words, what he does say is so helpful. "Da da" is obvious. "Wa wa" is water/milk. "Dog dog" is Bruno. "Ball" is...wait for it...ball! And "[screaming]" is "I don't want to sleep." See? Helpful, no?

And the food! The glorious food! My little Oliver eats almost everything we put in front of his face, with the exception of peas and avocado (I'm going to continue to try this one). Love it.

He loves playing with toys, cars and balls being the favorites. And while he still puts things into his mouth, it's getting maybe a tiny bit slightly better.

P.S. You know how much I love these pajamas, right?

Friday, August 24, 2012

Make Yourself a Dang Quesadilla

Parenting is hard. So very hard. Everyday I'm amazed that people actually choose to have kids. Yep, even amazed at myself. I don't even like to think about the "If I knew then what I know now, would I make the same decision about having kids" question because I'm afraid of my answer. Clearly parents (including me) love their children because we do it again every day.

Rhett. Funny, imaginative, expressive, accented-at-times (!) Rhett. This kid is hard. I thought that 3 was supposed to be hard and Poof!, when he hit 4, it was smooth sailing. Not with Rhett. Oh no. 4 has been nearly as hard as 3. Someone lie to me and tell me it does get easier some day.

One of our biggest obstacles with this boy is food. Rhett only happily eats food he LOVES, barely tolerates things he likes, and doesn't touch things he dislikes or thinks he dislikes. Unfortunately his loves include only four things: peanut butter sandwiches, noodles, pizza, and anything served with syrup. Of course, his loves also include any dessert, but I don't serve those for dinner (very often).

Enter: The Quesadilla War. I frequently make quesadillas for him for lunch, and we often have them for dinner. Tuesday night was one of those nights. However, that Tuesday, Rhett decided he no longer liked quesadillas very much. (See previous paragraph to know how he handles food he only "likes.") He decided he wasn't going to eat it. And because that very day, I decided I'm DONE with this behavior, I thought that it was fine for him to not eat it, but he was told it was also going to be the next food he ate. I feel like he needs to learn how to eat food he only "likes." And something as innocuous as a quesadilla? He has to eat it. Something crazy like the Japanese soba dish that was a bit too spicy for little ones? I'm fine with him not eating it. But a quesadilla? Something he's eaten scores of times? I'm not having it.

At breakfast the next morning, I gave him oatmeal. But morning snack? Leftover quesadilla. Lunch? Leftover quesadilla. Afternoon snack? Leftover quesadilla. Dinner? Leftover quesadilla.

How did it turn out? Horribly. How's this for math: starving + tired + being 4 = HORRIBLE. He was ornery and grumpy and crying from about 3 o'clock until 6 o'clock when the threat of a cold shower in his face (and maybe Chuck and I were a touch unhappy with him) finally coerced him to eat that dang quesadilla (which was, admittedly, pretty gross 24 hours after being created). But eat it he finally did.

Was this the right decision? Who knows. Did this teach him to eat what's served? No idea. Will he learn anything other than his parents are cruel beings? Not a clue.

I repeat: parenting is hard. Thankfully being blown kisses as I say goodnight to the dude, sometime buoys me up for the next day.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Coming Home

Since everyone knows how I feel about Maryland, I won't waste your time discussing it. But there is more to say; don't go! Coming home has taken some adjusting. It's almost like I forgot how to live here.

For example, I just don't know what we're supposed to be doing most of the time. What's our routine here? I just can't get into it. Before we left, I was working full-time. Starting today, I'm back to my regular part-time self and I just don't know what to do with the kids. I don't want to get too set in one routine, however, because in two weeks, Rhett starts preschool. (Whatever will I do with just one child in the morning? That's another post, I guess.)

I forget my reusable bags at the grocery store every time. (For those of you not in Montgomery County, if you don't bring your own bags, you're charged a nickel for each you use.) It's the first time I've had to pay for bags, and I'm not happy about it.

Also, I forget about the speed cameras. All of a sudden I'll notice I'm driving a bit too fast and then I freak out that a camera got me. I'll be on edge for the next couple of weeks, just dreading the mail.

Saturday's long run was a bit interesting because my feet hurt. All that day I noticed how achy the bottom of my feet were. Then Sunday too. I couldn't figure it out UNTIL I remembered that Chuck had the same problem when we moved in to the house. It's our hard floors! Our feet were spoiled by the carpet in my parents' home, so I'm now having to re-toughen them on our pergo floors.

But in good news, I forgot about how nice it is to have Bruno around! Such a funny pug. I really look forward to getting back to our walks.

Rhett has happily and easily resumed his Maryland self, complete with church shirt, casual shorts, and fireman rain boots. Man, can this kid pick out an outfit or what?

P.S. One word about our homecoming: the second I leave BWI and walk out the doors, I'm hit with the humidity and that's when I start crying. I choke it back and try to think happy thoughts. Those happy thoughts were quickly erased when we returned to my car only to find it suffering from a dead battery and a very deflated tire. Sigh. Welcome home me.

Friday, August 17, 2012

The Three Reasons It's Okay to Come Home

You knew I'd start complaining about Maryland, right? Problem is: there are just too many things to say and I'd prefer to say them coherently. So until then, let me share with you the three things Chuck and I could think of that make Maryland better than it would be without them.

1. Soft water. Ugh. My parents have soft water in their house and we were never quite sure that we left the shower totally rinsed. (But Rhett misses it because he misses the squeegee we used to clean the soft water stains off the glass shower walls.)

2. One sink. In their kitchen, my parents have a double sink: one without a disposal and one with. The one without is the larger of the two. I will never understand this. The kids were constantly putting food into the sink with complete disregard to the fact that I'd have to pull out the soggy mess with my fingers (which is only slightly better than cleaning out wet hair from drains). And when doing dishes, most of which don't fit into the sink with the disposal, what am I supposed to do with the foodstuff stuck on the dish? I really just don't understand this. So, yes, we are happy to have one sink in the kitchen. *Chuck thinks this is a relic from the no-dishwasher days. One for washing, the other for rinsing. Ooookay, but again, shouldn't the larger, washing one have the disposal? And really, my parents have a dishwasher. Point not taken.

3. My friends. Seriously. I really like my friends. And lucky me...craft night is at my house tonight. So I get that reminder just when I need it. Not that Maryland friends are better than Utah friends, but Maryland with these friends is better than Maryland without these friends.

No disrespect intended for Elder and Sister Dad and Mom. Seriously, their house is way more nice and beautiful than anything we'll ever own. I can't even begin to enumerate all the cool things in it. You should feel proud that we can only find two things wrong with it.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Days 22 - 26: Our Utah Trip in Pictures (still a LOT of pictures)

Saturday, Day 22: The day started out with a 10K race for me and Emily. I ran faster than I've ran in weeks, but it was still slow. I don't know if it's (1) the altitude, (2) the fact that I didn't run for a week or two before coming to Utah even though I've been very diligent about it since, or (3) that I'm just old. I'm going with option (1). After the race, Emily and I, along with our friend Rachael, decided to do a mini-Olympics for the kiddos. We made shirts, planned activities, and created other Olympic goodies. We had an opening ceremony complete with rice-krispie torches and individual flags. After chowing down the torches, the kids competed in the events: straw race, javelin throw, balloon-between-the-legs race, hurdles (the kids' favorite), sprint, shot put, soccer kick, and a relay. Of course all the kids got gold (who could predict such an outcome?!) and then of course, all the kids ate their medals. It was a good morning. In the evening, we went down to a mini-high school reunion with my friends. Between the five families, we have 22 kids. Take out my family, and the other four have 20 kids. I'm really bringing down that average.

Sunday, Day 23: The Maxwells left in the morning and we were all sad to see them go. We then enjoyed a quiet Sunday with regular naps and on-time bedtimes. It was kinda nice. It was, however, the only day on the trip with no pictures.

Monday, Day 24: While the morning was a low-key morning, it was okay because we expectd our afternoon to be awesome. And it was. Boating with Chuck's brother and his family was such a good time. The only bad part was getting rained out. Everyone (except Rhett) got in the water and no one regretted it. Even Ollie enjoyed the tube! Rhett spent most of the boat ride up in the front, except when he was bugging his uncle to drive.

Tuesday, Day 25: After a morning spent cleaning, we knew our last afternoon better be good. We thought about going to Thanksgiving Point, but we thought the trip would take way too long and bedtimes were really important. Instead, we asked Rhett what he wanted and when he said "Alpine Slide!" we said done. We enjoyed a fun dinner and even saw Mark Eaton. Of course we didn't know it and needed Rachael to tell us, but hey--we're not from here. The dude was ENORMOUS. Something about 7'4" is just BIG.

Wednesday, Day 26: Today we fly home. We took one last ride up Memorial Hill in the Polaris this morning and enjoyed the sunrise with a donut breakfast--a perfect farewell. We got to look out on the Heber Valley and be reminded of so many fun adventures from the trip. I'm totally scared for the flight with our squirmy baby, but it's only four hours, right? RIGHT?! And sigh. Back to Maryland. Back to humidity. Back to a small house with no view of mountains. I hope I don't lose it on the plane.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Days 16 - 21: Our Utah Trip in Pictures (still a LOT of pictures)

Sunday, Day 16: Just a fun picture of a quartet of handsome grandsons with homemade matching ties. My sister and I couldn’t resist. After sacrament meeting, we made the drive to Mack’s Inn.

Monday, Day 17: After Sunday’s long drive, we decided to stay close to the cabin. This was easy for our family because Rhett got a pretty wicked fever. We did manage to visit Big Springs when Rhett was under the influence of drugs, and therefore feeling better.

Tuesday, Day 18: Yellowstone! In addition to a half-dozen elk, we saw tons of geysers and hot pots, some we got to see two times when we were lucky enough to meet up with cousins.

Wednesday, Day 19: After yesterday's long day in the car, we opted for another local Mack’s Inn day, complete with hiking and boating. While boating, Rhett wanted nothing more than to sit on a canoe seat and row, but after he bonked my head multiple times, he was forced back to the floor. After the boat trip, Rhett played in the water like he’s never done before. It was nutty.

Thursday, Day 20: Because we had so much fun in the park on Tuesday, we decided to go back. We stopped first at Gibbon Falls, then to Norris (where we ran into cousins again!) for a hike to see the largest geyser in the world, and then to Canyon. Lastly, we took drove through Hayden Valley to see (and hear!) a few hundred buffalo. Ollie and Rhett both managed to sneak in naps while we were out, which is a miracle for these boys.

Friday, Day 21: The day to return "home."  The adults spent the morning cleaning up the cabin, and the kids spent the morning dirtying themselves. It got so bad we couldn’t allow them into the house. But they enjoyed running around the cabin and dropping dirt bombs. It was awesome.