Friday, October 31, 2014

A Non-Halloween Post on Halloween

How can I post about Halloween until it's actually happened? So I can't. I won't. But I will talk about my cell phone.

On Wednesday I was at Target. I was talking to a friend when I pulled out my phone to send a quick text because I was meeting another friend. When Friend A saw my phone she said, "What century is this?! What is that?!" She was, of course, referring to my ancient cell phone. Which isn't actually all that ancient, but the fact that it's not a smartphone makes it appear so. She then asked if she needs to buy me an iPhone (to which I should have answered YES).

But the fact is that I don't want a smartphone. Two days a week I sit at a computer. The other days, when I'm home, my computer is always on and I can check email or look up something quickly if I need to. But if I'm out doing something with the boys, why do I need it? I survived this long without having the world at my fingertips, I'm pretty sure I can keep it up a few more years (or decades). And I still have a regular cell phone. If I absolutely need something, I can call Chuck or my sister and have them look it up for me. See? Maybe my dumbphone isn't so dumb after all.

Plus, there's the thing about the cost. Sure, you can get the phones cheap, but man, those monthly plans are monsters (at least for the iPhones). I spend about $15 a month on my dumbphone. Could we afford a smartphone for me? Sure. But that money has to come from somewhere, and choosing between my retirement or a smartphone is an easy choice. Kidding! Of course I'd take money from the boys' college educations. I'm not going to rob my retirement.

I think the only embarrassing thing about this situation is that both of my parents have iPhones (even if the only thing they do with them is make calls). To balance that, my sister doesn't even have a cell phone. I know; we're a weird family.

P.S. If I was any good at Photoshop, I'd put my face in there instead of Zach's.

Annie is on Amazon Instant video. I totally forgot that Daddy Warbucks' name is Oliver! "I'll call you Ollie, my hot tamale." This is going to be used a lot in our house from now on.

P.P.P.S. To get in the Halloween spirit, Chuck and I watched a couple "Tales From the Crypt" this week. I love that show.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Do As I Do

A couple of weeks ago, I read some advice given to a parent who was struggling with little-kid-hood. (Sound like someone's blog you read?) The columnist's advice was to basically mold these little individuals into beings that are just like you in hopes of them some day growing up to be people you want to be around. So take them to places you want to go, do things that you want to do. I've been mulling this over ever since.

First, what do I want to do? It's been so long, right? I like to camp, hike, run, read, hang out with Chuck, go to craft fairs, and chat with friends. Guess what? I already do these things with my kids. (Well, maybe not run, but I used to when they didn't fight in the double stroller. And when we had a double stroller.) But we camp with them, we hike with them, I sometimes-for-five-minutes read my book in front of them, I drop them off at places so I can hang out with Chuck (so maybe that one doesn't count), and I take them to playgroups so I can chat with friends. I should be happy, no?

Problem is, they're still kinda cramping my style. I mean, I want to go backpacking, not just car camping. I want to hike eight miles, not just one. I want to read without being interrupted. I want to go on a date with Chuck without paying $50 for a babysitter. I want to go to lunch with friends and not be at a playground.

But (there's always that big butt). BUT. I know, I really do. It's just not the time for that. It's the time for car camping so that one day they'll really love it and will have endurance and strength for backpacking. It's the time for small hikes with treats at the end so that one day they'll love all-day hikes with me. It's the time for me to run alone just for alone time. It's time for me to show them that I love reading so that some day they'll hide in their room for hours reading (and leave me alone--ha). It's the time for me to develop friendships at the park so that when all our kids are in school, we can go to lunch together and eat stuff our kids would never touch.

It's okay. I'm okay. This dude is definitely okay. (The other dude was at school.)

P.S. I'll tell you what I don't want to do. Go to BounceU. Go to "truck touching" events. Go to Disneyworld.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Scary Stuff

Have a little bit of time on your hands this weekend? To get you in the mood for Halloween, I bring you...some LINKS. Ooooh, scary.

First some real, spooky stories. Full disclosure: some bad language exists in these stories.

And if you don't have time for that, surely you have time for a one-minute horror flick?

Finally, want to guess my costume? It involves black boots, a green blazer, and some round glasses. Who am I?

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Halloween of Yesteryear

I think the next time Emily and I are together, we should definitely try to recreate this picture. Because it would be awesome.

P.S. How yesteryear? Maybe 30 or 31 yesteryears or so.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Camping Wonderland

We visited our eight state park, Elk Neck, this weekend. (And don't ask why it's called that; I haven't a clue.) We got up there fairly early on Friday, hiked (without complaint), jumped in leaves, played with cousins, ate dinner (with complaint), and then asked to be put to bed. Pretty good day! Saturday we ate breakfast (with complaint), hiked (without complaint), and went up a lighthouse (and screamed about goblins). Our campsite came with two little frog ponds en suite, so that was exciting. However, the camp store here left much to be desired, especially when compared to Pokomoke. But it was a pretty cool little park.

We left Elk Neck and headed to Dutch Wonderland, an amusement park for kids. Rhett went on nearly every ride and Ollie nearly all of the rides Rhett did. The boys had a spectacular time and we closed the place down. It was a long day for everyone, and sadly only half of us were allowed to fall asleep in the car. When do I get my computer-driven car?

P.S. Can I just say, I'm done with this one night of camping thing. We have to do better. Two nights from here on out. I so wish we had done better at taking advantage of this with late church. Sigh.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Mom and Ollie Preschool

A couple of weeks ago, I started doing a "Mom and Ollie" preschool. Why? A couple of reasons: (1) it was something to do and (2) I did a "Joy School" thing with Rhett when he was three and would feel like I was getting lazy with Ollie if I didn't. We only do it once a week and it usually only takes about an hour, so it's perfect. My sister found this cute little e-book, and I've been using it.

It's letter-based, so every week we do a new letter. During our "school" sessions it doesn't seem like he's learning much, but I know he's at least recognizing letters because he points them out the rest of the week. When asked what letter we learned Wednesday (M), he consistently responds, "Marshmallows!" Close.

His favorite part of school, by far, is the sensory bin. I accidentally dumped a bucket of wheat. Smooth, right? Rather than throw it out, I had the idea of using it for this. And honestly, even I like playing in this.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Game Changer

I can't believe I left this one off the list. The time has come, friends: we are now a no-nap household. At least for the kids. We adults still need it sometimes.

How did this happen? The same way it does for everyone, I guess. You send kids to nap; they just stay in their room and play. No nap taken. Repeat for two weeks. Accept fate.

How am I doing? How do you think I'm doing? I'm terrified. Naps have been my saving grace as a mother. I can only get through so much of the day being pawed at, whined to, and bossed around, before I just need silence. And I'm not talking the silence that comes from quiet time. No. I need dead-to-the-world silence, the kind that only comes from naps (or really big trouble-making...I prefer the former). If the boys are just in quiet time, there's the large chance they'll get out and come bother me. And let's be honest: I have two little boys. Quiet time is never actually quiet. But oh how I crave quiet.

Gone is the, "I'll just take a nap when Ollie naps." Gone is the, "I'll do the grocery shopping during nap time." Gone is the, "I can't wait for nap time to finish off the cookies so nobody sees." Gone. All gone.

So, what to do? What can I do, you know? Accept it. Realize that maybe there are good things.
1. No need to pack our day into a two-three hour chunk in the morning and a similar chunk in the afternoon, separated by a nap. We can do full-day activities.
1.5 Related to (1), a new freedom. We won't be rushing to get to places or rushing home.
3. No need to worry about a missed nap when camping or otherwise traveling. (Speaking of, last chance for any locals to join us this weekend. Email me for details.)
4. Finally, we're that much closer to not having little kids. And we all know how I feel about little kids...

I'll still institute a quiet time. Ollie's never seen a lot of the quiet activities we have, so everyday he'll get to pick out a couple to take to his room. But hopefully he'll learn to stay there and let me get my (cough, cough) work done. Worse things have happened, right?

P.S. Next game changer on the list: Potty training Ollie! This is scheduled to happen over Thanksgiving. Consider it an early Christmas present to ourselves. We hope.

P.P.S. I guess they were cold.

Friday, October 10, 2014

The New Bet

I don't know how it is in your house, but if there are treats in mine, they're about the only thing I can think of. I know how pathetic that sounds. I do. But raising kids is hard and I don't drink alcohol, so sweets it is. I love them. Chuck, on the other hand, loves and craves soda. As quickly as it's in the house, it's out of the house. We both go through our vices with lightning speed.

So I thought of this bet: Who can go without their respective vice the longest? Chuck, of course, is certain he'll win. Me, I'm not so sure. I know how often he stops in at Safeway for that Mountain Dew, even though he doesn't know I know. And he probably doesn't know how often I take a break at work to get a 25-cent box of Hot Tamales from the hot dog vendor. So don't tell him.

But we can't figure out what the winner gets. I wanted a night in a hotel. I don't even care where; Gaithersburg would be fine. (And locals, you know how exotic Gaithersburg is.) But to sleep in a bed all by myself and to wake up when my body wants me to wake up sounds amazing. But I'm still not sure. And Chuck, well, anything that boy wants is at least $400, so it's hard to please him. Ideas? What would you want?

P.S. I've been sick all week and am so over it. Please let this be my one and done for the winter. Because birthing babies + a serious cough = well, nothing good; am I right mamas?

P.P.S. Has anyone else watched "Flight of the Conchords" on Amazon? I must find others with whom I can laugh over this show.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Feel Free to Copy This Idea

I don't know about you, but most of the women I associate with now, I didn't know when they got married. Which means I know very little about their special day. My friend Natalie and I set out to fix this. Last Friday we hosted a "bridal party." We invited a bunch of women and had them email me pictures from their wedding. We ate and chatted and then sat down to watch a slideshow of all of our pictures. It was a blast. It was so much fun to see these ladies (and their husbands) on their wedding days. And I was only slightly chuckling at how I looked. I think I should do this again in about 10 years so I'll be fully rolling on the floor.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Pumpkin Day

Remember when Pumpkin Day came around and I made shirts for the boys and we ate only things made from pumpkin? Yeah, it's evolving out of that. Thankfully the boys' pumpkin shirts from previous years still fit, and we get good enough treats to not miss the pumpkin. Besides, I don't think pumpkin soup is all that good, and it's the only savory pumpkin thing I can think to make.

Now pumpkin day is the day where we go to the pumpkin "patch." Why the quotes? The place we've gone two years in a row has so many other ridiculous activities to keep us busy pretty much all day; I'm not going to complain. Except about the apple cider donuts. I wish they had been warm. Otherwise, perfect day.

Whoops. Didn't notice Ollie's snaps were undone. Sorry Ollie!

Using those skills he learned at the family reunion.

I love this picture so much.

We did pick pumpkins from the vine, but I couldn't resist the solid orange.

My littles and I.

We went earlier in the season than we've ever gone. We were rewarded with GORGEOUS pumpkins everywhere. Seriously.

Kinda fun having a kid big enough to take pictures of us. Kinda fun having clean, blow-dried hair on a non-Sunday. Kinda not fun brushing it after a day filled with wind.

And at the end of the day, I think they were tired.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Family Mottos for the Taking

I've talked about our family motto before, but it turns out that one motto just isn't enough. I still have my original motto, "Dumber people than I have done this" and it works in so many situations. (Dumber people than I have taken their boys camping with no other adults. Dumber people than I have made their own pie crusts. You get it. Maybe I should make the opposite a new motto, one absolving me of so many duties: Smarter People Than I Have Done This...So I Don't Have To.)

There's also this motto that I'm trying to infuse: "They're doing the best that they can." Although my first instinct when I see people doing things I don't like is to judge them, I'm trying to be better at not. Repeating this statement multiple times has been helping. See also: cheesecakes.

But here's another one we've been using around our house lately: "Different families, different choices." My boys are frequently comparing themselves to others. "Why can't we get ice cream like Bert? Why can't we go to bed at 8:30 like Ernie?" I find that our response is usually some version of "Well, they actually sleep past 5:45 in the morning, so they can stay up later." But really, what it all boils down to is that different families make different choices. We respect their right to make them and our boys must respect our right to make decisions for them. Except for clothing choices. Pretty obvious that our boys have that choice. I didn't get a picture of Rhett in his first outfit of the polo and red shorts. Wow. But I did get this beauty: Rhett trying to dress like a vampire.