Friday, October 30, 2015

Drop Zone

Now that Ollie and Rhett are both in school and the weather is cooling, I'm finding the backpacks/shoes/coats mess a bit unbearable. Our house has no mudroom nor garage, so when you enter the front door, well, you're in the family room. We have a box where shoes are supposed to be deposited. We have a coat closet, but really, the kids can't reach to hang up clothes there. We also have buckets in that same closet where kids are supposed to put hats and gloves, but let's be honest: they never make it that far until I ask nicely, or not-so-nicely. Basically everything gets dropped right at the door. Not awesome.

My so-smart sister-in-law (who has such a nice mudroom/drop zone, lucky her) suggested making the backdoor (the one that enters the playroom) our main door. We could create some sort of "lockers" for the kids to put their things.

So there you have it: our two options. Now you get have to vote. Here are some examples and pros and cons of each.

Front Door:
We'd need to add/create something like this:

or this:

or this:

Pro: The pergo floors in that room are better suited for Maryland's wet climate.
Con: All of that mess would be in our main room, probably making me crazy.
Con: We'd have to move/take down what's already there, and I like what's already there.

Back Door:
We could go with something simple, like the first picture (but would include a second hook for coats and storage underneath for shoes and gloves and probably exclude the large corkboards):

or create something more elaborate like this:

Pro: As the boys know their letters (well, Ollie is getting there), taking down what we have on the designated wall is no problem and probably, timely.
Con: The carpeted floors will get destroyed.
Con: We'd have to move around some stuff to make room.

So what do you think? What do you do in your house, because maybe that would work for me? Rule: If you read this, you must comment. This policy will be strictly enforced by unknown methods.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

October-y Stuff

I have no idea what I've been doing, really. It's not like I'm making headway on all those productive things I imagined getting done. But as a family, we've managed to do a couple of things recently.

A Sunday walk. I ran here the day before and knew it would be the perfect after-church outing.

Carving pumpkins.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Things My Kids Say

There was a song playing on the radio and Ollie started dancing...
Me: Wow, Ollie, I guess this song really moves you.
Ollie: No. Only sausage moves me.

One morning Rhett joined our bed...
Me: Wow, Rhett, your breath really stinks.
Rhett: Well so does yours.
Me: No it doesn't. It is flower breath.
Rhett: More like corpse flower breath.

After a long, apparently-exhausting walk...
Ollie: Mom, I think my health ran out.
Turns out this is surprising only to non-Terraria players like myself.

Ollie: Mom, some night maybe you can sleep with piggie.
Me: Oh Ollie, that's so kind. But why?
Ollie: Because of the good things you've done for me all these years.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Eating in Shenandoah

I may hyped our food just a bit, so sorry. In an effort to bring some variation to our camping menu, I recently purchased a pie iron. And because I didn't want to spend hours over the fire, I bought a double. (Turns out they cook pretty quickly, so we would have been okay with a single, but I'm happy to have the double.)

We had a trial run the previous Sunday and found that it worked quite well. At the trial run we tried three different pies, but the pizza one was the winner (shocker). And then at the real thing, they were just as good. They were warm and gooey and warm. Did I mention it was cold there? But it was the perfectly contained camping food.

We also made a dessert one filled with nutella and marshmallows. And since none of us really likes a true smores, this was way better.

And then after Saturday's hikes, we promised the boys they could pick a treat as they were hiking superstars. Chuck and I picked PopTarts, because HEY, we were good hikers too! And I have no idea why it's never occurred to us before to toast PopTarts over a fire, but from now on, it might always occur. We never buy these otherwise (because I will eat the entire box at once), but they tasted so delicious that it might become a new camping thing for us.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Camping in Shenandoah

It's been a number of years since Chuck and I have made the trek to Shenandoah. But with the Scamp, I thought it could make those cold nights more bearable. And seeing as though it was 31 degrees when we woke up on Sunday morning, I think we made a good choice. And with the three-day weekend, it makes braving Virginia's horrible roads more tolerable.

We got there Friday afternoon in time for a ranger program on bears. Then it was time for a hike. Wherever Ollie goes, piggie goes too.

Then it was time to cook dinner and work on homework, er, junior ranger badges. How much did Ollie accomplish? Oh, he wrote his name and made a maze out of the crossword. As expected.

Saturday morning we went to Big Meadows for a presentation on the screech owl, ran into some old friends, and then ran around in the meadow. It's such a geographical oddity, having this big meadow along a mountain crest.

After lunch we hiked Dark Hollow Falls. Even the million other people on the trail could not take away the beauty of this place. Gorgeous.

One hike to finish the day: Stony Man Summit. Um, it was a wee bit windy. I wore four layers on top and wasn't too hot. Wow.

These colors! Dying.

Sunday morning before our drive home, we did a very small hike to another wee summit. The trail was right on the Appalachian Trail. Rhett was excited to go back to school and report to his teacher that he hiked on the AT. You know, not like he didn't do it in Harper's Ferry a couple of weeks ago or anything.

And while the adults, er adult, readied the Scamp for departure, I helped the kids get more wiggles out by playing in leaves.

The Scamp did great in the cold. The heater ran well, and we were kept toasty warm.

Trip's Highlights (in random order):
1. Friday night's starry sky. We don't see stars like that from home, given D.C's light pollution. Gorgeous.
2. Hiking with the boys. We did about four miles total on Saturday. It gives me hope! Next year I'd like to choose one 5-6 miler and spend all day doing it.
3. The food. We ate well (more on that Wednesday).

Even with the crowds, it's just such a lovely place to be this time of year. Oh, and like we do, we saw one small black bear running through the woods. Thankfully, it was from the safety of our car.

P.S. Because it's me, here's some ugly truths: the weekend wasn't all happiness and rainbows and changing leaves. The boys had a rough week, sleeping-wise, and it showed. Ollie was pretty terrible on Friday's hike. And then later that evening, when Ollie found a dead lizard and Chuck accidentally tossed it in the fire, you'd have thought Chuck threw Rhett's best friend in there, the way Rhett reacted. Saturday and Sunday mornings were WAY too early, especially as we were in the Scamp and the sun isn't rising until after 7. Kids.

Friday, October 16, 2015

Pumpkin Day 2015

After our first date was rained out, our second date was too hastily scheduled, we found this past Monday perfect to celebrate our 7th Annual Pumpkin Day. As it was a school day, we couldn't spend all day at the pumpkin patch, but maybe that was better...for the adults at least. Last year it was a tame Pumpkin Day, but I ramped it up just a bit this year.

The day started with the presentation of breakfast: pumpkin mini wheats! Of course they didn't taste like pumpkin, but instead, all the spices that make pumpkin-flavored things delicious. The boys were also presented with their Halloween shirts. One boy has grown out of wearing them in public, but I can respect that (even if I don't like it). Then they were shoo-ed off to school. At school they were surprised with pumpkin bread in their lunches. On the way to the pumpkin patch, they got special rice krispie treats dyed orange and shaped like pumpkins with a tootsie roll for the stem. Yum.

Then it was on to the pumpkin patch! We did all the usual stuff and the boys had the usual great time. I even brought this tortilla pumpkin soup (although I called it pumpkin chili since my boys like chili and it looked like chili). In fact, their hearty approval of the soup was probably the best part of my day. (The worst part was finding out there were no apple cider donuts.) We had beautiful weather (if not even a touch too warm) and the boys went home exhausted. Success!

Pumpkin Days of yore: 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015


You'd think that with both boys in school for at least part of the day, I'd have plenty of time to keep up with the blog. You'd be wrong, obviously. I don't even know what I've been doing, but it hasn't included being present here. We are doing something fun this weekend and next week is a regular school week with no holidays, so pictures will come next week. And who knows? If I get all my stuff done tomorrow, maybe I'll post again on Friday. Until then, here are the picture-less updates:

Ollie: Doing great in preschool. In fact, hasn't cried nor dragged his feet at drop-off since the second or third week. He seems to have made friends and is always happy at the end of the day. He won't admit it, but I'm pretty sure he likes it. Outside of school, he's still Ollie! Neither of our boys is/was a true imp, but Ollie's certainly closer than Rhett. He seems to have become more attached to Piggie lately, so I wonder if he's going through something I don't know about? We tried transitioning him from his balance bike to a training wheel-free two-wheeler but it didn't work. Maybe next spring. Finally, he wants to be a green ghost for Halloween. Sound familiar? Ha.

Rhett: Also doing great in school. Either it's his teacher or just second grade, but it seems a bit more "real" this year. As in, he's not getting straight "P"s on everything. But I'm totally fine with this. It's almost more helpful, you know? He apologized the other day that his favorite subject wasn't math; I reassured him it was okay. His favorite subject is art and least favorite? Music! Ha. He was dreading a singing test he had to take last Friday (where he'd have to sing by himself) but then he received an answer to (his) prayer when his teacher was absent! I don't understand this. I frequently sing around the house and music is always playing. Outside of school he's been doing a lot of biking. We got him a new-to-him bike with gears and he loves it. He and I rode five miles the other day and he did great (although he does stop randomly--why??--and I have to swerve to avoid him). He's had a couple playdates with a friend, Matt, from school. And he loves to run around on all fours. This drives me (illogically) crazy. Finally, he wants to be a mad scientist for Halloween. Should be easy enough, right? (Speaking of, anyone local who reads this have a kid-sized lab coat we could borrow?)

Chuck: Even though he had hoped his new job wouldn't be as busy, he was wrong. But at least he's busy doing stuff that he enjoys. He joined a pool and swims laps during lunch. He's amazing. He's home early afternoon every day, and I love it. He got released from ward Young Men calling and was called to be a counselor in the Stake Young Men. This seems like a do-nothing calling except that he was charged with working on youth conference. It's kind of a big deal. Hopefully there will be spreadsheets I can help with.

Me: If I didn't already know, I was recently reminded of the things I'm good at as a mom (getting out, doing stuff) and the things I'm bad at (entertaining my kids at home). Conference weekend was terrible. We'd been inside since the Thursday before (RAIN) and the kids were done. I had too high of expectations of what they'd watch of conference, and it didn't turn out well. Thankfully, once we get out of the house, I'm much better. So we've been hiking at a new place, celebrating Pumpkin Day, and taking lots of walks/bike rides just to get me (and them) out of the house. Plus, the weather has been spectacular, so that helps. Last Saturday Chuck and I went on a fun date night: yummy dinner (locals take note), thrift store shopping, and a spooky train ride. And I've been slowly checking off things from my to-do list, so that makes me happy. What doesn't make me happy? Another nighttime trail run with FROGS. This time maybe only six or so, but that's enough. I'm done running on the trail in the dark. DONE. Oh, I finally figured out why my grocery budget was less than a lot of people I know: side dishes with dinner. We never had them. I now making a concerted effort to include a side with most meals and yes, it's driving the budget higher. Thank goodness it coincides with raise for both me and Chuck. This dish was a recent hit.

The End.

Friday, October 2, 2015

Random Thoughts

When you get on an escalator, do you just step on the first step and stop, or take a couple steps and then stop (assuming you're not going to walk the whole thing)?

At what point do I ditch kid plates, cups, utensils? I'm so over the disaster that is the cabinet filled with colorful plastic.

How do you pronounce "syrup:" seer-up or sir-up?

A friend and I had an idea that would revolutionize missionary work for the Church. Find out what accents certain countries love (e.g., Americans love British accents). Then over-sample British hopeful missionaries to serve in the U.S. Brilliant, right?

On Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays when I walk Rhett to school, walk Ollie to school, walk to pick up Ollie, walk to pick up Rhett, I add an additional TWO miles to my exercise total for the day. TWO MILES.

UGH. After a month or so of our east coast drought (which is nothing compared to west coast drought), we are making up for lost time. Rain rain rain all weekend and into next week too. Now I not only have to worry about my basement flooding, but the Scamp flooding too (not that the latter is a rational fear, mind you).