Monday, October 29, 2012

Hurricane Sandy

Two posts in one day! It's a miracle! Or it's a hurricane and I'm afraid power will be out shortly. Either way: two posts! It's getting windy (as of 1:30 p.m. EDT) and it's incredibly rainy. I can't tell you how many times we've already had to siphon the window well of water. We figure 30 gallons maybe? Ugh. But it's better than a flooded floor.

How grateful I am for a husband who figured out how to do this as it's so much better than just bailing. So grateful. It's working great. I am dreading the night, however. It will be worse than having a newborn, what with our frequent wake-ups to drain the well.

After playing a bit in the morning, we took advantage of power still being on and did some chores. Rhett loves vacuuming up spiders, so I let him have at them.

These cookies are technically for his preschool Halloween party Wednesday, but we baked up a couple and enjoyed them for sure.

But by 11:00 a.m., we were ready to get out of the house. When some good friends invited us to go to lunch, we couldn't get out quickly enough. I was surprised at how many cars were on the road.

After lunch I really wanted to see how full the local creek was so I made Chuck take a detour. Uh, let's just say it's super full.

And while it might seem like I'm taking this lightly, I'm not. We are prepared (water, food, etc.), but when the weather says that the rain is only going to get harder tonight and the wind is already making me nervous, let's just say that I'm not at all comfortable and probably won't be until Thursday. Friday. Saturday at the latest.

Update: Or I feel better today! We didn't lose power and given the winds have really calmed, we're not likely to. Schools and government are still out, giving us a day to recover. Chuck was a superman and woke every hour or two to bail the water and we escaped flooding! Of course we're grateful for how lucky we were, but saddened by the devastation that rocked other parts of the country.

The Family that Does Stuff

Nearly six (six!) years ago, I whined about wanting to be a "couple that does stuff." Chuck and I did some stuff and that's about it.

But now that we're fully ensconced in our 30s and parenthood, I feel that we're on our way to being the "family that does stuff" and this makes me happy. Earlier this month you read about our Donut Dash. In March will be our Pi Day celebration. We've been camping more times than I thought we would this fall (two).

In addition to those activities, last weekend was our first "Outdoor Movie Night." We recently bought a projector that happens to show movies perfectly on the side of our shed. We invited a few friends to the house (not too many, in case of epic failure) and had some classic Halloween kid-flicks to watch. And one not-so-classic (cough, cough, Yo Gabba Gabba).

Yes, yes, I still think it's important for Chuck and me to find things that we enjoy together and we're trying. But I think it's also important for us as a family to spend time together and with others. This was just one of the latter.

P.S. As you read this, Hurricane Sandy is bearing down us. I can take having no electricity; I can take cold. I cannot take another flooded basement.

P.P.S. Because I guessed that Sandy would blow all the leaves off the trees, we went to Great Falls Saturday morning for one last view of the fall colors. It's been a long time since I've been there on a weekend and it was packed! But lovely as always.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Pinterest Hits and Misses

Another episode of Pinterest Hits and Misses.

First the misses.
1. This monster door. I was so excited about it, but the tape didn't stick to my door and the humidity killed its bangs anyway. It lasted a day. So disappointed.

2. These popsicles. Ugh. The worst part about it was that they were served when he had people over for dinner. They just tasted like frozen cool whip. On the plus side, they brought Magic Shell into our house.

3. Pumpkin snickerdoodles. Meh. These were okay, but I prefer other pumpkin goods and regular snickerdoodles. Sadly, these, too, were given away. Maybe I should keep my experimentation to when the missionaries are being hosted.

Second, the in-betweens.
1. These pumpkin pie croissants. They were good. I won't admit to how many I ate, but let's just say it was more than I probably should have. However, I'm not sure I'd make them again. But certainly not a waste of materials.

2. While I liked this baked pumpkin French toast, Chuck was not a fan. As a side note, I have since banned the word "texture" being used in my presence, by Chuck, when referring to anything food-related.

And finally the hits.
1. This pancake cake. Yum! It tasted like stacked pancakes but I didn't have to stand over the griddle.

2. Yummy broccoli dip. I like the broccoli soft, but not overly squishy and the dip was awesome. Rhett didn't eat it (even though he ate the broccoli), but I did and so did Chuck.

3. Pumpkin Donut Muffins. YUM. I got two dozen mini muffins and six regular-sized muffins.

4. Rice Krispie pumpkins. (It does bother me that she spells "krispie" incorrectly. I'll get over it.) Although rice krispie treats NEVER make it beyond the bowl in our house, I wanted to try these for a Family Home Evening treat. Since I'm way rusty on my skills of taking the warm, sticky mess to shaped things, I forgot how to wrap them, so I didn't. They got a touch hard, but after a 12-second microwave zap, they were great.

Anyone want to share their own hits or misses with me?

Totally unrelated, but look what came in the mail yesterday!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012


So remember Monday when I showed you the kitchen chandelier in its full Halloween glory? I love this light; I really do. I just dislike how much I struggle coming up with cool ideas to display on it. But I got one the other day: POSTCARDS!

Awesome, no? But, um, I don't have 30-something postcards. In fact, we have only four right now. (But they're all cool ones from Japan thanks to Elder and Sister Dad and Mom!) So, does anyone want to do a postcard swap? For every one that you send me, I'll send you one back. You can even send me two or three (I don't have that many friends and there are about 35 clips on that light so someone will have to double up) and I'll send you two or three right back.

Anyone want in? While I can't promise it, you might get lucky enough to get an original Rhett drawing on the postcard. Does that help sway you fence-sitters? And really, who doesn't love mail?

(If you want to play with me, make sure I have your email address where I can send you my physical address in exchange for yours.)

Monday, October 22, 2012

Updates at Our House

We've been trying to get some things done around the house in our few free moments. The biggest strides were made in the library and in the shed. (We reorganized three upstairs closets as well. So much more functional!)

After waiting to get the appropriate hardware to support such a map, we were able to hang it. I love it. I love walking by it. I love pointing out neat places to Rhett.

Also, we needed some way to control all of Rhett's art work. He will not "let us" throw anything away. So we put up these wires and told him he could keep only what's on the lines. So far, so good! I've seen "Hoarders," people; I know that the ability to throw away is a pretty important life skill.

And the shed. Oh this shed. Getting in and out of it for the stroller was such a hassle. But now, it's clean! It even has a small aisle.  We tossed lots of stuff we didn't need and even cut some wood to make another shelf. I love it. I know what's in there and, better yet, I can find it. I even found my bike. Not sure if I can ride it, but that's not as important.

Finally, the kitchen chandelier. Last Christmas we hung up Christmas cards and letters as we received them. This was long as it was actually Christmastime. In August, not so much. So in September I finally decided to do something about it and voila! No doubt these will hang up there until this year's Christmas cards start rolling in.

P.S. We had an awesome weekend, notwithstanding Rhett's 5:00 a.m. wake-up calls. Chuck had work off Friday and we had a great mix of getting things done AND getting nothing done. I love those weekends.

Friday, October 19, 2012

More Things I Know (or don't)

Recently I became aware that it's entirely possible for a high school senior to not know some (what I thought was) basic math. So here it comes again: me asking you questions about what you know or don't. As before, this is not me saying, "Wow, how can you not know that?!" It's not. I promise. Rather it's me saying, "Huh. I thought people knew that I guess not. Now, what's for dinner? Tell me it's cold cereal. Please."

To prove that, let me share with you things I don't know: pretty much everything about the human body. The pancreas? The kidney? The duodenum? (I didn't google this so I don't even know if it's a real anatomy term.) I have no idea what these things do or where they're located. I only recently found out that the colon is the same thing as the large intestine. I also don't know anything related to biology and animals. See, totally inept when it comes to this stuff.

So here goes.

Question 1: Do you know how to represent "0.25" as a fraction?

Question 2: What is this number in words: 1,000?

Feel free to ask me questions about stuff you know that I don't. Believe me: I know I know very little.

P.S. Just to show you I don't take myself too seriously, this is Ollie's response to the question: "Where is your nose, Ollie?" And yes, that finger goes exactly where you think it's going.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012


It's really unfortunate that on top of all the other things parents have to do, we also labor under intense feelings of guilt.

Here is a small sample of the things I feel guilty about on a fairly regular basis:

  • that my kids don't get outside enough.
  • that my kids don't eat enough vegetables and don't take multivitamins.
  • that Bruno doesn't get the same attention he got pre-kids.
  • that Ollie doesn't get near the same amount of book time Rhett got.
  • that Ollie will not have the only-child attention until Rhett's off in college/mission, at which point Ollie probably won't want all that attention.
  • that my house isn't nearly as clean as it used to be.
  • that I never have side dishes at dinner.
  • that we don't use the sandbox because it rains here all the time and gets gross.
  • that I leave Chuck every Saturday morning for my long runs and he is "stuck" with the boys.
  • that I make Rhett go to preschool even though he recently divulged to me that he doesn't want to go.
Update 1: Monday night we had TWO side dishes (count them: chips and broccoli with dip--a vegetable even!) with dinner. I felt like a superstar.

Update 2: We spent three days last weekend in the sandbox. And Ollie didn't eat all the sand (which, of course, was my fear in letting him get in it)!

Monday, October 15, 2012

Maryland State Parks: 17, Hubands: 3

Of the 21 Maryland State Parks with family campsites, we've now done THREE! Dude. We can totally do this before, say, the boys to go college. This past weekend we crossed off Patapsco from the list. It was awesome! Other than the freezing weather when we woke up Saturday morning, it was a great trip.

I've been trying to go easy for meals, and hot dogs definitely count as easy.

Rhett's only desire was to stay up late. And because we really want them to sleep past 5:00 a.m., we let them.

And it worked! We slept in until 6:45. Awesome. Little did we know at this point the cold that awaited us outside.

Now we know. It's in the 30s at this point.

The sun starts to warm up things. That and the car heater.

In addition to the sun, we used the coolest tire playground ever to help the boys warm up. Chuck just enjoyed sitting with Berry (a hanger-on from preschool). It should be noted that Rhett's favorite part of the trip was this playground.

Chuck's favorite part was hanging out with Berry.

After the boys were sufficiently warmed, we hiked down to the Patapsco River. The river was beautiful! And Rhett was super tough with this stick gun. We kept going towards some little waterfall which was equally awesome.

Rhett taking good care of Berry.

And the whole family on the way home. I would seriously recommend this park to other Marylanders. It was a 90-minute drive in Friday afternoon traffic, and only 60 minutes for the return trip Saturday afternoon.

Only 17 more parks to go...

Friday, October 12, 2012

Donut Dash 5K: Lessons Learned

In Wednesday's post I noted how there were a couple of oops! moments wherein I made obvious mistakes. I didn't start the timer (uh, erin, this is a RACE!), I failed to check batteries, I forgot a pen for me, etc. I've noted those omissions and will take care of them next year.

In addition to these race-related items, I learned two other things. First, I LOVE planning events. I made lists. I checked things off lists. I made party-related paraphernalia. And then, in return, I got to attend a fun event with people I enjoy. Everything about it was just perfect. And what wasn't perfect, was noted in my documentation so that next year's race will be perfect!

Second, while it may seem like I must be extroverted to plan something like this, that's not quite true. Yes, I like people and yes, I loved carrying this event out, I also loved sitting back and watching it all unfurl. Seeing people have fun and watching them talk and mingle was really fun for me. Seeing other people run together as couples or even families, was also really fun. Being the coordinator was more than enough to make me happy that day.

The End of the Donut Dash 5K Race Reports...until next year!

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Donut Dash 5K: The Recap

Can I just tell you that this was one of the most fun things I've done in a long time? Maybe that's sad and depressing, but seriously, I had a blast. Hopefully all those who came to my "race party" feel the same.

So how did it work? Pretty much exactly like I wanted it to work. I invited a ton of people, some signed up to run, some volunteered to help, some declined, and some didn't respond at all. I ended up with 26 5K runners, but with a bunch of kids and others who brought the total to nearly 50 people coming to my party!

The one big thing I wanted to do, but didn't, was actually run the race on race day. Sure, I'd run it a couple of times to check distances, but I wanted to run it early Saturday to (1) mark the mileage and (2) eat my flippin' donut! However, due to my stomach issues, I was unable to run that day. Sniff sniff.

Upon arrival at the park, bibs and pins were handed out to 5K runners (except those last-minute entrants who didn't get bibs--oops). As soon as everyone arrived, we started. Of course I forgot to start the actual race timer when I yelled GO! (oops) but hey, lesson learned, right?! While the runners were running, I was busy getting the finish line set. With the help of my volunteers, we got the streamers all set and the photographer in place. As I wasn't sure when runners would start returning (batteries in walkie talkies died--oops again), it was a fun surprise to see the first man come running towards us! Soon more and more people trickled in. And within 50 minutes, all of the runners had returned.

After the 5K race, we did the kids race where they ran across a small bridge, ate a donut or two, and then went back. I should have moved the race finish line for them, but again, lesson learned. But I'm pretty sure the toddlers didn't even notice.

While all of the runners cooled down and ate bananas, muffins, and leftover donuts, I tabulated final times in order to hand out awards. Medals were given for the first stroller, first youth, and the Lucky Donut. Medals and t-shirts were given to the first female and first male runners. All kids got ribbons.

Then we just hung out and chatted and partied! Hooray! Mark your calendars now, people: the Second Annual Donut Dash is set for Saturday, October 5th, 2013 at 9:00 a.m.

Start and finish area

Donut table

Cutest toddler trotter ever

Monday, October 8, 2012

Donut Dash 5K: The Projects

Note: I intended to do a full write-up on the race but unfortunately some nasty bug in my stomach plus having a family and a household to run has come in between me and posting. Let's hope I can get it together by Wednesday. Thanks for you patience. Rest assured that the race went down and was awesome.

If you're going to do a race, of course you need a start/finish line. Since PVC pipe has been all over the blogtopia lately, it seemed to me a perfect solution to our problem. Plus, it doubles as a sprinkler water toy and triples as an outdoor movie screen frame. I used material from sheets that I got at the thrift store to make the actual banner, which made it totally cheap to make.

These are the medals for the 5K race portion. One each for first female, first male, first youth, first stroller, and the Lucky Donut! (Yes, that's five medals but only four are shown.)

The ribbons for the kids' donut run. All participants got a ribbon because all participants were winners--duh.

The t-shirts. We didn't give them to registrants, but rather I cut the stencils with my Silhouette and told people if they wanted one, to just let me know.

At the last hour, I decided that the top male and female finishers needed winning t-shirts. So I ran to Michael's, whipped up the design, and had those babies ready for our winners.

And the bibs. I laminated them so sweat wouldn't wear them out. And because laminating is just plain fun.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Me as a Fuddy Duddy

At (my very first ever) book club meeting last week, we had lots of lively discussion. (And yes, the discussions included the book, thank-you-very-much.) One topic in particular got me thinking: If you have grandparents, you've probably rolled your eyes at things that they said or did. You know, like how grandparents can't figure out computers (gross generalizations noted), or how they use funny words like "slacks" (as in "pants," not as in "increases one's laziness").

But here's the thing: I have every expectation that someday, should Rhett and Ollie have kids, I will be an eye-roll-inducing grandmother. But what, exactly, will I do to induce such eye rolling? Chuck and I came up with two possibilities:

1. Reading printed material. I love reading newspapers. I've been a subscriber since my first days in the dorms as a college freshman. And books. I cannot convert to reading on a Nook or Kindle or whatever. But Chuck and I both think all things print (newspapers, books, textbooks even) will be gone and replaced by readers installed in our eyelids so we only need to close our eyes to begin reading. (Kidding. Kind of.)

2. Using bananas as pretend phones. Since phones no longer reach from the ear to the mouth, the concept of using one as a joke phone will be completely lost on them. I am especially looking forward to this as I cannot hold a banana without pretending it's a phone. Cannot. I'm sure teenaged grandchildren will LOVE this, especially if friends are with them.

I'm particularly interested in what beliefs I have that will be seen as very outdated by grandchildren. What else?

Donut Dash tomorrow! So excited!

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Things Rhett Says

Rhett's at it again.

Rhett: Mom, why do parents always take the fun out of everything?

Rhett was at his friend's house where he is being served lunch. Rhett asked for peanut butter and honey sandwiches (with no crust) and apple slices (with no peel). The chef very kindly obliged because he was a guest; those requests are not normally granted in her house, nor in ours. Later during lunch, Rhett remarked, "I'm sure glad I'm eating lunch here. [MY MOM] would never cut the edges off my sandwich or my apples."  That kid.

******* On a related note *******
Okay, every so often I post these funny-to-me statements from Rhett. Of course, Chuck and I think they're hysterical, and we expect family (and maybe friends?) to find them mildly entertaining, which is one of the reasons I share them. But here's the rub: I know that not everyone finds them funny. Nor does everyone think he's charming in person. And really, I don't expect either of those.

But in person, Rhett can be somewhat of an attention hog and sometimes I indulge him because I think he's being hysterical. But what if he's not? What if all of his funny-to-me interruptions are really annoying to those with whom I'm speaking? How does a mom (a well-meaning but maybe clueless mom) know if her kid is cute or if he's just obnoxious? How much of a conversation should I allow my four-year-old to hijack? (Please don't say none. The kid is four. I really believe that expecting him to leave me completely alone is above his ability. Yes it's something I'm aiming for and working on, but now it's just not our reality.) I am genuinely concerned about this.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Pumpkin Day 2012

Any day starting with these is bound to be good. We picked a new farm for Pumpkin Day this year and had a great day. There was...

...playing on a pirate ship...

...watching (and participating in) a magic show...


...corn mazes...

...searching for the best pumpkin...

...and lots of riding in wheelbarrows.

Hooray for fall!