Saturday, December 19, 2009

O Tannenbaum

We weren't going to decorate for Christmas this year because we just got back in town on the 17th from Utah, but it turns out that Christmastime without decorations is pretty lame. Even our Jewish neighbor next door has a tree! So last night, after Eastern Time bedtime but before Mountain Time bedtime, we headed over to a tree lot and poked around...until we found this little beauty and decided to give her a home:
Today we're expected to have a foot and a half of snow and darling Eric is on a 30-hour shift at the hospital, so the kids and I are going to have a cozy book-reading and cookie-making day. And won't it be especially wonderful with the tree and stockings up?

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Utah

We arrived in Utah just before Thanksgiving Day, when we held an unconventional celebration on a houseboat at Lake Powell:
Then we went water-skiing. On Thanksgiving! Now I'm a very traditional girl, and I have to say that I felt like I was breaking the Sabbath when I was doing these untraditional things on Thanksgiving Day. But I soon got over my inhibitions, and we enjoyed a fun few days there.
We did other normal Lake Powell things, like playing in the sand,
relaxing on the beach,
and jet skiing.We came back to Salt Lake the Saturday after Thanksgiving, where Eric spent some weeks training at his dad's ophthalmology practice. We also had a chance to catch up with family and friends and visit our favorite places.
We started Salt Lake off right by spending the first evening there with two of my sisters (Sandra was visiting from CO):
Although you won't be able to tell on this post (spotty picture-taking!), visiting friends was a huge highlight of the trip. What great friends we have in Salt Lake! Maybe I was just too excited to take pictures, because I was savoring every minute visiting with our old neighbors, ward members, and college buddies. (Unfortunately, I didn't plan well enough to visit everyone I had intended to...good thing that we'll probably be visiting Salt Lake frequently in the coming years!) Jacob was ecstatic to see some of his old buddies,
and we all loved cousins days,
plus more time with Aunt Kim.
I can't quite explain how relieving it was to be in such a familiar place, doing familiar things. We cozied ourselves at Midway one night
and then soaked in the Midway hot pots.
We attended the Utah Symphony's annual Messiah sing-in and ate at our favorite Japanese restaurant, Kyoto.
Eric and Jacob went skiing at Alta, our fave resort (because there's a free lift after three o'clock!).
And of course we played for hours in the snow, thinking that we would never get the chance to do it in Maryland. (The joke was on us...it snowed almost two feet right after we came home!)
So long for now, Utah. Sure love ya.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Road trip

Eric had a chance to take an elective rotation at his dad's practice this month, so we all headed out to Utah with him. In case you're counting, this is the fourth time that our entire family has driven between Utah and Maryland in the past year--and we'll do it again in two weeks! This time we took the southern route, which followed "The Mother Road" for a good portion of our trip. Here are some of our adventures on our journey, but especially on fascinating Route 66.
video

Thursday, November 19, 2009

More unstructured time

For a few weeks I've been carrying this book around with me in my diaper bag, sipping it in a couple pages at a time. This particular book has turned out to be perfect for sipping--I've been reflecting on the subject daily, more consistently making efforts to apply the reading.
Mr. Louv's most pressing concern is that kids (and all of us, really) are missing out on the benefits of unstructured time spent in natural places. I'm convinced that we are! So I've been trying to be better about taking the wooded route home from school,
or bringing the kids down to the creek,or encouraging them to get dirty in the mud,
or letting them have time to play in nature. (Here they are "fishing." "What are you catching?" I asked. "Salmon...salmon and trout.")
The book has also helped me think about how I can be a little less structured at home, which does nothing for tidiness but good things for their happiness. Here's fort #1:
fort #2, and
fort #3 (with a friend and a flashlight, double bonus!).
Have I ever mentioned before how I love boys? Boys, fall, creeks, forts...what more could a girl want?

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Halloween haunters

I didn't sew a single stitch this Halloween season!
Instead, we chose something old,
something new,
something borrowed,
some things…BOO!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Winners of the week

1. A re-vamped chore system!
After they complete a daily or Saturday chore (completed Saturday chores go in the "done" envelope),
they can stamp the poster to build up to a Dunkin' Donuts treat.
Ever since my sisters and I helped my mother transport about 500 donuts for a PTA activity (and made ourselves sick sampling them), I have not been that into donuts. So we're not big donut eaters. In fact, when Jacob went to his first Primary Activity Day, he asked his friend why the bagels had frosting on them! So DD is a great incentive.
I used to think that 2- and 3-year-olds couldn't do these kinds of chores. Not so! I was especially proud of Zach for cleaning the bathroom with very little help:

2. A festive basket!
I can't believe that I haven't done this before: holiday-themed books in a spooky little basket. The kids visit it throughout the day.

3. A family tree!
Family relationships are confusing for these little guys, and so we heard a lot of newly-enlightened exclamations during this activity. (For some reason they've picked up the charming phrase "I see!") When it's finished I'll have some art for my walls, which are the same exact color throughout the house: Bone White.

4. A dinner ballot!
The kids got a kick out of this, plus they ate all their food!

5. A TV spot!
Ok, so it was about five seconds on the ten o'clock news, but it was still a little exciting. My favorite part is that I'm representing the t-ball mom. Plus, the interviewer was none other than the star of the Glitterator commercial of my childhood. Fun.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Eric is thirty!

On Friday we all went to Eric's hospital for a curbside birthday party celebrating his 30th!
I let the kids do the streamers this time, which was much more endearing than anything I could have done:
We celebrated at home on Eric's day off. I'd say that 30 looks pretty good on him, wouldn't you?
He doesn't have a lot of free time, but he spends every spare moment supporting me and these precious boys. What a guy! We love you, Eric. Happy, happy birthday!

Friday, October 16, 2009

Sick day

We watched: rainy windows
We ate: homemade bread, chicken noodle soup, and hot cocoa
We read: Beverly Cleary's Runaway Ralph, Steve Jenkins's nature books
We played: "school" and chess
We listened: to Mo Tab Christmas albums
We wore: pajamas for the kids, scrubs for mom

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Things to remember

1. Autumn time
Every day the boys and I walk about half a mile up the road to get Jacob from school. The street, like the streets in this part of Maryland, winds through jungly forests on both sides. We come home most days with a stroller basket full of natural treasures and at least two larger sticks. When I remember autumn here, I will remember these boys, with smiles like this, poking around in nature:

2. Precious Michael
When I remember this sweet boy as a two-year-old, I will think of his excitement at his second birthday party, which was actually the first time that he's been the center of attention for such a length of time and for so many people (bless those third children!). I hope that I don't forget his "tactile stage," when he has slyly managed to paint most of his body in 1) softened butter, 2) peanut butter, 3) applesauce, 4) caramel dip, 5) pancake syrup, and 6) red paint, all in two weeks' time.

And of course I hope that I can always recall his cheery confidence when he has exclaimed, "I'm strong!":
video

3. Family fun
When my sister came up for a week, we went to see Fort McHenry, Arlington, and D.C.
My favorite picture of her visit, though, is from a soccer game. After I saw what she was wearing, I knew exactly what I would put on! I laugh every time I remember her surprise. What fun we had!

4. Growing lads
I won't soon forget the adorable line-up of five-year-olds who play tee ball with Jacob. I hope that I can remember him blossoming with all these new skills.We even decided that he was old enough to go on a Daddy date to New York City, which I hope that they both remember well.
Zachary's growing up too, serving as the "boy of the house" while Jacob is at school. Today we went to the B & O Railroad Museum, a young boy's paradise! His and Michael's enthusiasm made my day.
This darling is developing so quickly that I almost feel like I've missed his infancy. He's a baby now, smiling and "talking" with us.

It helps me to reflect on what we've done and to think about our happy sons. It makes me feel less overwhelmed and more adequate, which is also a good thing to remember.