Monday, October 24, 2016

Family Home Evening

I recently realized that our family doesn't have fun together very often. Sure, we can laugh at times and enjoy each other's company, but really have fun? All four of us? It's rare. Does it not happen because we're four different individuals with four ideas of what fun is? Does it not happen because there's little room in the day? Does it happen because the parents are tired? Yes, yes, and yes.

To remedy this, I decided that Family Home Evening (FHE) needed a revamp. We needed less lesson and more activity. Not that our lessons were long (maybe read a story from the Friend) but apparently that was too long. So we've changed it. Now we read one scripture and talk briefly about it. Of course this takes longer than expected because some members of the family have a hard time sitting still for even one scripture. But once that's done, we go directly to the fun activity.

So what fun activities are we doing? We've played tennis (that was a hit so we did it twice), taken bike rides, gone fishing (Ollie was NOT excited but changed his mind at the end), played games, and uh, that's about it. Like I said, this was recent. And, of course, we have dessert. It's not changing our lives, but at least, for an hour or so each Monday evening, we have fun together.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Rhett's Primary Program Talk

Chuck and I had no part in helping Rhett craft his first primary program talk. When I received the program script in an email, I was surprised to find he already had something penned. Apparently he had worked on it during primary with his teachers. Great! I didn't have to do anything. Rhett delivered it like a champ, but with a bit of ad-libbing (see below in italics). He told us later that he likes to make people laugh. Uh, it worked!

"I can show my faith in Jesus Christ by trying to keep his commandments. If I make a mistake, I can repent and be forgiven. One time I was jumping on the trampoline with my brother, Ollie. He had something that I wanted. I asked for it and he said, "No." Then I told him I had something in my hand that he needed to live. I said I would trade him for the thing that I wanted. He gave it to me, and then I opened my hand and showed that what I had to trade was oxygen. Ollie was upset because I tricked him, so he scratched my face, and I still have the scars. My mom made me say sorry and give the thing back. I learned that tricking my brother doesn't work and I wanted to say that Ollie is a big tattletale and that I need to say sorry when I trick him."

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Pumpkin Day

These pumpkin days are all starting to be very similar. I think next year we go simple: pumpkin patch, pumpkin food, the end. These patches are getting out of hand. They almost all have the same things and are always filled with people. Can you tell I'm worn out on pumpkin patches? Maybe I'm extra tired this year because Pumpkin Day was the morning after we camped, so I was exhausted already. But all of the boys were out of school/work for Yom Kippur, so it just made sense.

We did a maze, duckie races, slides, climbing things,

more slides, building log cabins with child-sized Lincoln Logs, dug around corn pits,

finally picked out a pumpkin, ate delicious apple cider donuts, pumpkin bread,

and finally got to go home.

Monday, October 17, 2016


When Rhett turned eight earlier this spring, he joined the Cub Scouts at church. Not being a boy and not remembering my brothers' experiences with this, it was all new to me. Unfortunately, they break for summer so it wasn't until just a couple of weeks ago that I think I finally got it. And guess what? I kinda love it. I almost wish I could do it and get all the cool patches. I do love patches, remember.

More importantly, Rhett is enjoying it. Like me, he didn't really get it at first. But now that he does, he likes it! In fact, when his den meeting was cancelled last week, he was actually bummed. We're working on things as a family and he's getting things done with his den.

But really, I should have expected that I'd like it, right? It's about doing fun things and then (the best part, really) crossing them off. Seriously perfection.

Friday, October 14, 2016

Moms and Spawns Camp

Well, I did it again. I took my boys on a campout without Chuck. Last year we ventured north 30 minutes. This time, we went as far as 80 minutes. Whoa. Like last year, my friend Shannon joined us. Thank goodness because I don't know how to build a fire. (Sure, I could guess but it would definitely be ugly and only take with small probability.)

This time we opted for Fort Frederick State Park. There's not too much hiking and the scenery isn't too dramatic, so I thought it perfect for a one-nighter. Plus, it's close. I checked the boys out of school a bit early (surprising them!) and we headed up. We were the only ones there until Shannon arrived and only one other RV'er showed up later. Lovely.

Upon arrival, we walked to the fort and checked it out. As it wasn't summer, nor a weekend, there were no "period actors" milling about. But that's okay. We went back to camp and hopped on bikes for a quick ride on the C&O Canal towpath. So yes, even though I cannot build a fire, I did learn how to use the bike rack. Baby steps, people! (We're hoping for a November trip to Shenandoah during which I will be instructed in fire building.)

Once Shannon and kin arrived, we just hung out at camp, eating and laughing and letting the kids do whatever they want because we were basically the sole inhabitants of the place. Oh, and thank goodness for Shannon's firebuilding skills because it got cold! We were fine sleeping, but man, it was in the 40s (I think). Brrr! That night, we slept okay, but Ollie woke me up at 5:15. I was not happy. At all. We got up and ate and went on another bike ride and called it good!

In the end, I'm glad I went. Yes, it's hard, but not because I was alone. It's hard because of the boys. I work hard to pull it all together, and what do they want to do? Sit in the tent. Sigh. I'll probably forget this and try again next year. (Oh man, those Jewish holidays are early next year! Blah. I like them much better when they're in October.)

Inside the fort.

Roasting marshmallows.

Riding on the towpath.

The mom with her spawn.

P.S. If you're wondering how Chuck did, let me tell you: It was the best night of his life. (Well, maybe I exaggerate.) He got Chipotle for dinner, watched some baseball while texting a friend, went to friend's house to watch game together, late-night Pokemon hunting with friend, and then an alarm-free wake up. Perfect! (For him at least.) My night alone would have looked like: Thai food, pedicures with friends, Breaking Bad, alarm-free wake up, run. But I guess I'll have to remember that when it's Fathers and Sons Campout next spring.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

(Totally Necessary) Swim Supplies

Last week I was swimming and something finally clicked in my body. Suddenly I felt like I could go forever. Well, not literally, but I swam 300 meters without stopping and if the time hadn't been late, I definitely could have done more. It was awesome. Which is good because I spent some time making bags for my swim gear, so I had better start getting better!

I found this tutorial and liked all the pockets. I thought I could make it work for the towel, swim cap and goggles, etc. And because I wanted to minimize costs, I used fabric I already had. So sorry that the little whales are a bit juvenile, but hey...they're at least swimming-related, right? Yep, I thought so too.

And then I needed something to put the wet swimsuit in once I was done. Enter this tutorial. My swimsuit will go in there until I can get it home and in the dryer. Perfect. Not pictured is the little tag I attached to the bottom. It'll allow me to hang the bag upside down to keep it dry. Credit to Chuck for the idea. Credit to me for doing it.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Beach Camping

After the last/first time we tried and failed at camping at the beach, we thought we'd try again. Unfortunately, Assateague was booked (or closed, can't remember) for the weekend I wanted (conference three-day weekend; Monday was Rosh Hashanah, so all three boys were off school/work), I found another state park up the coast in Delaware: Delaware Seashore State Park.

We left Saturday morning in dreary conditions. Our phones promised us better conditions on the coast, but we still pulled up in rain. Not to be deterred, however, we donned our rain jackets (we remembered them this time!) and headed for the beach. Um, it was wet. And windy. Pretty much everything we had on got soaked. However, it was gorgeous! The wind really whipped up the waves and we watched those and the surfers for a bit. Then we headed back to the scamp and got dry. Before we knew it, the rain stopped and so we packed up and headed back to the beach. From the campground it was a short quarter mile walk under a super cool bridge.

As expected, the boys got right in. Splashing and playing and collecting sea shells. It was adorable. Chuck and I were happy to sit in our chairs and watch them. There were a few people there, so mostly we just watched surfers. Once the boys were done for the day, we headed back and boiled our hot dogs. Delicious. Sadly the boys woke up at 5 a.m. Sunday morning, but what can you do?! Well, we took a walk to the beach to see the sunrise. Although it had been spitting early that morning, by the time we got dressed, it had stopped and never started again! The morning walk was incredible and then we headed back for breakfast. And as soon as we were done eating, we headed right back to the beach.

To everyone's surprise, we lasted until almost 3 p.m.! (Bummer news: I had a training on Monday that I had completely forgotten about, so we had to head home Sunday evening.) The boys were amazing at the beach. Every so often Ollie would complain and say he wanted to go home, but then he'd be distracted by whatever Rhett was doing and forget he wanted to go home.

Having the scamp at the beach was great, especially during rainy times. It really made the difference in how much we enjoyed it. We have a lot to learn about camping near a beach, but we'll do it again. Rhett could not stop saying how much fun he had. Victory! And they slept past 6:30 the next two mornings. Double victory!

Note about camping in October: It's awesome. The beaches are far less crowded, the sun isn't so killer (although you still need sunscreen--note to selves), the heat isn't so intense. The boys still got in the water, and Chuck probably would have had he brought a suit. The downsides are that everything is closed. No snack bars, no rentals, nothing. But hey, the beach is open: I can take care of the rest. Although the campground was pretty busy, it wasn't packed. This is good to know so that maybe another time we don't have to plan and could take advantage of a beautiful weekend in the fall.

Note about the campground: The campground proper was pretty lame. The sites are basically parking spaces in a huge parking lot with a bit of grass and a picnic table for each site. No trees. No individual fire rings. But I knew that we would be spending our time at the beach, not the campsite, so it didn't matter. If you go, please remember that. There was a campfire for the entire campground, so had it not been so drizzly, we could have enjoyed that. And there was a playground, which the boys would have loved to play on, had it not been in a swamp. But again, it was a five-minute walk to the beach. Pretty incredible. I definitely recommend camping on the south side of the inlet, and staying as close as possible to the playground. It has laundry, so you can dry your beach stuff at the end of the day.

And the rest of the pictures...

The bridge was so cool! It created such interesting geometry.


Our bounty. But now what do we do with it?

I kinda love this picture.

My handiwork. Obviously. Guess how long before Ollie destroyed it?

Foam slippers!

The timing! Look at the water coming through Ollie's arms.

Holes. Always with the holes. He may have bruised the bottoms of his feet jumping into it.