Friday, December 19, 2014


Where on earth have I been?!

I've been an absent blogger, but not because this Christmas season has been crazy busy or anything. It HAS been busy, but I have tried my darnedest to keep the busy-ness at bay, and it seems to be working. 

This year we decided to to an Advent activity each day. VERY simple things, like taking a walk around the block to look at Christmas lights, and attending the girls' Christmas pageant at school (I'm really good at riding the coattails of already-scheduled Christmas activities). Before you assume I am really clever and on the ball, sometimes we go two or three days without doing an activity, and then our "daily" Advent activity goes something like, "Remember, two days ago when we opened the box that Didi sent and placed presents under the tree--wasn't that fun?!" We will have to be better planners as the kids get older, once they can read and aren't as easily distracted by shiny objects. The blissful "the kids won't know the difference" time period is quickly coming to a close. Sigh. 

I'm actually sitting on the posh sofa in my gym's locker room as I type this, so I'm going to wrap up. I just needed to post something (ANYTHING!). Here are a couple of pictures of our earliest Advent activities.

And, yes, our Christmas tree is a 4-footer sitting on a princess table (now covered by a tree skirt--whew!). The perfect solution to a tiny house and crawling baby. ;-)

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Chill Out

I should be telling you about how we've been celebrating and enjoying this Advent season, but that will have to wait.

First let me tell you that I live in a city where only about 7% of drivers make a 100% stop at stop signs (based on my own extensive research and eagle-eyed observations), absolutely no one (except me) yields properly, and people blare their horns at you if you drive 10 mph OVER the speed the slow lane.

Like most drivers, I am pretty critical of other drivers.  I won't say that I suffer from road rage, but I do get upset when people make dumb choices (like texting -- or whatever -- while driving), thus putting all of our lives in danger.  But overall I try to be patient on the road, especially since the timeline I operate on is almost entirely self-imposed.

But today something happened that showed me we need to generally chill out (by the end of this post, you will be tired of the phrase "chill out").  Drive defensively, but don't assume the worst about someone just because they don't drive (or talk, or raise their children, etc.) exactly the way you do.  Since we don't know the hearts/minds/situations of others, let's stop getting so worked up when someone offends us.  Chill out.

Let me set the stage...

Today Lorelei attended a gymnastics class for the second time (the first time was last Wednesday) in a part of town I don't know very well.  Today we had to go to the grocery store after class, and I did not know how to get from gymnastics to the grocery store without my GPS.  After loading Lorelei and Ford into the car and while I was still in my parking spot, I typed the grocery store into my phone's Google Map app, but the app wasn't working (the "thinking circle" just kept spinning and spinning).  I remembered that I had the same problem last week, and realized that the building must be blocking the cell phone signal (the parking lot is behind the building), so I left the parking lot and stopped before turning onto the street, hoping my phone would find a signal so that I would know whether I should turn left or right out of the parking lot.  Viola!  Cell phone signal!

I typed in the address, Google Maps told me to turn left onto the street, and I looked up from my phone so that I could start our journey.  There was a woman with a baby stroller to my right, stopped on the sidewalk and giving me the death glare of all death glares.  My car (minivan, actually) was pulled too far forward for her to continue on the sidewalk, and I obviously hadn't seen her until I looked up and started looking both ways.  (I was blocking the sidewalk, not due to carelessness, but because this particular street allows street parking, and it is impossible to see if the coast is clear unless you pull waaaaaaaay forward.)  I felt bad that I was blocking the sidewalk, so I motioned for her to "go ahead," even though she would be forced to steer around the front of my car.  At first she gave me her best "you're an idiot" look for suggesting she go first, but in the end she took me up on my offer.  I rolled down my window to apologize, saying, "I'm so sorry, I'm not familiar with this part of town."  Her response was something snippy to the tune of, "You just can't resist playing with your iPhone."


Had the situation been reversed, I too probably would have been annoyed and assumed that the driver was Facebooking/Instagramming/Tweeting before leaving the parking lot and pulling out into traffic. Because we just can't quit, can we?  I too would have stood still, refusing to continue my walk with my baby stroller until the driver in the car blocking the sidewalk was aware that I was actually standing there.  No way would I have started to walk in front of the car before making eye contact with the distracted driver, because Heaven knows there was a good chance Distracted Driver would step on the gas before tearing her eyes away from her iPhone screen.  Because whatever is on that screen is obviously much more important than driving safely.


I was NOT Facebooking/Instagramming/Tweeting.  Yes, I should not have pulled up so far and blocked the sidewalk -- next time I won't.  But I honestly didn't know where I was going, and there was honestly not a cell phone signal in the back parking lot.  So I HAD to get to the front of the building before typing my destination into the phone's GPS.  Once the GPS registered my destination, I lifted my eyes and saw you, dear woman...before my foot even thought about letting my foot off the brake.  I did not accidentally almost hit you.  I understand that your job is ensure the safety of yourself and the child, but YOU DON'T KNOW ME OR MY SITUATION.

After her snippy comment, I called after her, "Have a great day!"  She was ticked off, and, frankly, I'm a little ticked off too (obviously, otherwise this would not be a blog post).  But because I could see where the woman was coming from, I was forced to chill out, and realized that I need to chill out a lot more often.  Not just while driving, but in many instances.  Like when the man in the grocery store shouted at Lorelei to "Watch out!" when she was walking backwards in the aisle and nearly backed into his shopping cart, then rolled his eyes at us.  Perhaps one of his own children had been hurt when his guard was down.  Or when the woman walking into the library in front of us let go of the door before I could grab it to hold it open, even though I was certain she saw me and my small army of children.  Perhaps she suffers from chronic shoulder pain.  See?  Chill out.

I challenge myself, and you, this Christmas season -- a season that is all about giving and love -- to give others the benefit of the doubt, and to love them in spite of how they may treat you.  Let's stop assuming the worst of others (because we don't want them assuming the worst of us), and start extending kindness (because we want kindness extended to us).  It's the least we can do, in light of what has already been done for us.

"For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life."  John 3:16

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Thankfulness Wrap Up!

Yikes!  November is over!

Due to the fact that I have about 20 minutes before the entire house is up and at 'em (it's currently 6:40 a.m.), I'm going to try to make this post on the short side.  

Saturday, November 22nd: I am thankful for old friends.  Our really good friends, Chris and Gissela (I knew Chris at the Academy, and then Chet and Chris served on the same ship), moved to Virginia (west of us) right around the same time we did.  We hadn't seen each other since we all lived in Jacksonville, FL, and we LOVE that we live close again.  Their little boy turned two on the 22nd, and we celebrated his birthday with him (they also have a little girl Sydney's age, and a baby due in January).  

Sunday, November 23rd: I'm thankful for my stepdad, Papa Dave, whose birthday was the 23rd, and for NEW friends.  People from our Sunday school class invited us to dinner Sunday evening, and there was another family there too.  It was fun to get to know everyone, and there were plenty of kids to keep Sydney and Lorelei entertained.

Monday, November 24th: I am thankful for bloggers, especially hilarious ones who team up and record podcasts (check out The Big Boo Cast) and cause me to snort laugh while on the treadmill at the gym.  

Tuesday, November 25th: Crock pots and instant mashed potatoes.  Because who isn't thankful for a dinner that practically cooks itself?

Wednesday, November 26th: I'm so thankful that we live in an area with four seasons.  It snowed the day before Thanksgiving, and although it didn't stick (there was a light dusting on the ground, but no accumulation), the girls (and I) LOVED loved watching it fall.  It was too wet to play outside, not to mention cold, but the girls can't wait to "eat snow for breakfast" and make snow angels this winter.

Thursday, November 27th: I am thankful for Thanksgiving traditions, like cooking and eating sausage balls and monkey bread on Thanksgiving morning.  I am also extremely thankful for our Navy family.  Last year, when Chet was deployed, our friends Tom and Elizabeth had the girls and me, as well as many other families with deployed husbands, over for Thanksgiving.  It was awesome.  Well...Tom and Elizabeth moved to Maryland (just 30 minutes from us) this past summer!  And they invited us and a couple of other people over for Thanksgiving again this year!  Elizabeth is a great cook, and makes a mean apple cider (so mean that I drink at least four full cups every time she serves it).  It struck me as amazing that this was my second time to celebrate Thanksgiving with Tom and Elizabeth, and our second time to celebrate with Laura (one of the other invitees, who we spent Thanksgiving with in 2012 at our friends' Steve and Julie's house).  I mean, it's all sort of random, spending Thanksgiving with different people each year who aren't family members, but also completely normal since we are a military family.  I love it.

Sausage balls:

Monkey bread:

Sydney and Lorelei before we left for Tom and Elizabeth's house.  Yes, Sydney wore cat ears:

Ford enjoying some mashed potatoes.  See Charlie the dog in the picture, waiting patiently for food to be dropped?

Let's just say that Ford and Charlie the dog were fast friends:
Seriously, Ford would pick up something from his tray, taste it, then pick up some more and hold it out for Charlie to eat out of his hand.  Sydney and Lorelei, on the other hand, were scared of Charlie.

Friday, November 28th: We didn't do any Black Friday shopping this year (not even online), so we just holed up at home and got some stuff done around the house.  Therefore, I am thankful for long holiday weekends that are good for getting stuff done.

This is one way we get stuff done with three kids underfoot: put Ford in a box and give him a remote control to chew on, and let Sydney and Lorelei decorate a giant Amazon box with markers (and play dress up, as you can see by the cowgirl costume that Lorelei is sporting).

Saturday, November 29th: I'm thankful for small businesses in America.  Since it was Small Business Saturday, we took Sydney and Lorelei to a small store that sells a little bit of everything (toys, dance and gymnastics clothes, regular clothes), and had Sydney and Lorelei take turns picking out something for each other for Christmas (in order to keep it a surprise, Chet hung out in the Hallmark store next door with each of the girls when it wasn't their turn, while I helped guide the choosing of the Christmas gifts).

This is how Chet successfully entertains kids in a Hallmark store: let them chew on Yankee candle votives.

Today, Sunday, November 30th: I am thankful that we have the opportunity to get our family's picture made (I love saying "picture made," as if it's still 1985).  We're doing a mini session at a Christmas tree farm quite a ways west of where we live, and we'll use the pictures to create our annual Christmas card.  Poor Ford, this is his first time to get professionally photographed, and there is not a single picture of him displayed in this house (literally).  Hopefully the session goes well -- I don't think I'm alone when I say that family pictures are quite the stressful event!

Here's a preview of picture day outfits (I insisted on a "dress rehearsal" because I didn't want ANY complaining about outfits on picture day).  The color in the picture is a little weird, but we're all wearing some combination of red, green, and navy (mostly navy):

I hope you had a fantastic November -- on to December, and to celebrate the birth of Jesus!

Friday, November 21, 2014

8 Days of Thankfulness

Goodness gracious this month is getting away from me!  This YEAR!  Here's what we've been up to and what I've been thankful for this past week:

Friday, November 14th: Since I've already been thankful for Sydney and Ford, today I am thankful for Lorelei!  She's at such a funny age, and I have a whole list of funny things she's said that I will post eventually.  Here are a couple of her more recent lines:

At the dinner table, Sydney was acting silly, so Chet sent her to her room.
Chet: Sydney, go to you're room.  You have to behave at the dinner table.
Lorelei: I'm being have, Daddy!

Lorelei has recently learned the term, "hurt my feelings."
Lorelei, preparing to get out of the car and go into a store on a very cold day: Mommy, do I have to wear my hat?
Me: No, you don't have to wear your hat, but you have to put your hood over your head.
Lorelei: Okay.  I don't want to wear my hat, because it my hurt my feeling.  (She never says "feelings,"  just "feeling.")

Saturday, November 15th: I'm super thankful we live so close to Annapolis, and have the ability to attend Navy football games, which we did last Saturday.  Chet bought lawn seats for the 3:30 p.m. game, so we headed for Annapolis at 1:00 p.m.  The kids napped in the car during the 45-minute drive over, and we were able to find a good parking spot in one of the neighborhoods close to the stadium.  Some people that Chet works with tailgate before each home game, so we found them and had a delicious hamburger before going into the stadium.  Let me pause here and say that last Saturday was COLD.  And as soon as the sun went down?  Frigid.  But we forged ahead, and met up with our good friends from Jacksonville (they have a daughter Sydney's age and a little boy that is just about to turn two), and had a grand time.  We stayed until the halftime show was over, then headed home.  Sydney and Lorelei would have liked to stay, but Ford's face and hands were freezing, and although he wasn't complaining, he kept looking up at me, his eyes asking me, "Why am I so cold, Mommy?"  So, home we went.

Sunday, November 16th: Sunday I was thankful for technology, specifically that I can whip out my phone and take a video and instantly share it with family members who live hundreds of miles away.  To be more specific, Sydney is in the children's choir at church, and they preformed last Sunday (at both services).  Since grandparents couldn't be there to watch, I took a video and texted it to them.  Thank you, technology.

(Syd's in the middle-ish, with the big white bow and the pink dress.)

(Syd loves a good hand motion.)

Monday, November 17th: I'm thankful for the gym that I belong to.  I waited until late summer (after moving here in March) to decide to finally join a gym (I needed to make sure that I would have/make time in my schedule to actually go), and I love the one I chose.  The crowd is mostly older during the times I go, but everyone is so nice, and I love the instructors of the classes that I take (taking classes at the gym is new for me; very efficient too).  I also love the woman who runs the gym daycare.

Tuesday, November 18th: I'm thankful that Sydney and Lorelei have the opportunity to take a gymnastics class, and that they love it.  The girls get out of school at 12:30, and I already have a lunch packed and their gymnastics clothes in the car.  We drive straight to gymnastics, where we change and eat lunch.  The class starts at 1:30 (ends at 2:30).  This past Tuesday it was super cold, so we couldn't eat lunch outside or play on the playground beforehand, so we ate in the little room where the parents wait during the class.

It's not exhausting at all to keep Bubby entertained during the class (sarcasm alert).

Wednesday, November 19th: Every Wednesday evening there is a dinner at our church (Wednesday evenings, after dinner, is when Sydney goes to choir practice).  It is SO NICE to have a break in the middle of the week from cooking dinner and cleaning up the kitchen.  The food is always delicious, and I love getting to chat with friends and meet new people each week.

Thursday, November 20th: I am thankful for smart, faithful women who use their gifts to create/write Bible studies for other women.  We started Priscilla Shirer's Breathe study a couple of weeks ago, and it's amazing.  Just what I need, especially during the upcoming and always busy Christmas season.

Friday, November 21st: Today I'm thankful for Syd's and L's little preschool.  This morning Chet is accompanying the girls for the annual Daddy Breakfast.  After that, they will watch a short dramatization of the book Stone Soup, and next Monday and Tuesday, the children will actually make and eat "stone soup" (Sydney's class is providing green beans; Lorelei's class celery).  How cute is that?

Happy Friday!

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Days 12 and 13: Syd and Bub and Bible Study

November 12th: Yesterday I felt especially thankful for Sydney.  She forgot her backpack at home, and we didn't realize it until we were at the school.  I told her it was her responsibility to remember her backpack (in which she carries her snack -- very big deal), and that I would bring it by later so that she wouldn't have to go without while all of the other children ate.


Lor, Bub, and I went straight back home, but then I got busy taking Ford's 10-month pictures, then put him down for a nap, then played a game with probably know where this is headed.  I looked at my watch at 11:15 and realized I forgot to take Sydney's backpack to the school.  I hollered at Lorelei to get in the car, snatched Ford out of bed, and hightailed it two blocks away (thank goodness the school is only two blocks away).  I sprinted into the school and up the stairs to her classroom, where all of the children were already seated and just beginning to eat.  I had a perfect view of Sydney from the doorway, and she had an empty napkin spread out in front of her, sitting patiently with perfect posture for her Mommy to bring her snack.  It broke my heart for no good reason, because I made it just in time and she had no idea I had forgotten about her, but lawdy am I glad I looked at my watch when I did.

Anyway, I'm thankful for Sydney.  She is super helpful and smart and funny, and sometimes needs help focusing and knowing when to tone it down a notch (or twenty). She certainly makes Chet and me strive to be better parents/people each and every day.

I already said I was thankful for Ford back on November 5th, but I feel like this is a good time to include his ridiculous 10-month pictures, since I mentioned them a minute ago.  Seriously, 10-month olds are not good at sitting still for pictures.

First they want to examine the paper that the "10 Months" sticker was adhered to:

Then hang their mouths open after you snatch the paper away and hold it high above their heads to get them to smile:

Then they reach for it, and end up producing the best picture of the bunch (sad):

Then for some reason you give the paper back to them, and they promptly insert it into their mouths:

Then they dive headfirst off the chair and into your lap (not pictured), because they would rather try to climb onto the chair themselves.  At least this produced a good chubby thigh view:
(I'm not kidding at all when I say he dove headfirst into my lap at least 10 times during this photo shoot.  Thank goodness we opted for Lorelei's chair instead of the actual living room armchair.)

Then I decided to remove his pants to make the pictures look a little more like the previous ones I took, in which he was wearing a white onesie (the white onesie was sacrificed for the candy corn costume):

A behind-the-scenes look at the madness:

He's mocking me:


I managed to get this shot by body slamming him onto the chair, then holding his left thigh in a vice-like grip:

Then sister distracted him:

Then he was over it.  This shot gives a good view of his giant top teeth:

By the way, Ford and Chet are twins, especially with their affinities for gray clothing:

November 13th: I am so thankful for the Thursday-morning Bible study that I attend at our church.  I love everything about it.

TGIF tomorrow!

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Days 5 - 11

Wow!  Last week was so crazy, what with Sydney and Ford under the weather, and then parent-teacher conferences at the end of the week.  Sydney did not go to school Monday or Tuesday.  She was well enough to go back to school Wednesday, but Lorelei doesn't have school on Wednesdays, and then no one went to school Thursday or Friday due to conferences.  This has potential to be the longest post ever, so my goal is to tell you I was thankful for each day, as well as update you on what we've been up to.

Wednesday, November 5th: I am thankful for Ford, also known (or better known) as Bubby.  He turned 10-months old on the 5th, and all of a sudden he is like a little boy.  He has four teeth, and two more should come through any day, and he started crawling a couple of days before his 10-month birthday.  I used to think he was super laid back, but now that he is mobile, his dormant I-need-to-get-into-everything and I-suddenly-have-tons-of-energy personas have been unleashed.  I also feel like he's gotten chubbier lately, but Chet's not too sure.  All I know for sure is that he's the best.  Pictures to follow.

Thursday, November 6th: I am ridiculously thankful for washing machines and dryers that allow to us deal efficiently with piles like these (those are clean clothes, I promise):

I used to do one load of laundry a day, but lately I've been doing several loads in a single day (no day in particular, just whenever it needs to get done).  Our laundry room is in the basement, and the guest bed in the basement ends up looking like this as clean loads get dumped onto it and (slowly) get folded and stowed away.  Can you imagine having to carry clothes to the river and scrub them against rocks? And then, did they carry the wet clothes back home before hanging them to dry?  Because that would be super heavy.  Granted, people had less extensive wardrobes then, but I try not to complain about laundry, because we've got it good this day in age.

Friday, November 7th: I am so thankful for my husband, Saint Chester, who kept our three children by himself with nary a complaint or beady-eyed look as I sashayed off to New York City to visit my friend Lindsay.

Saturday, November 8th: I am thankful for this great country, where people from so many different cultures/walks of life and with amazing talents live in perfect harmony (okay, now I'm being facetious, but we live much more harmoniously than most countries).   New York City is such a microcosm of the American melting pot, and I love that I got to spend the weekend exploring the city with a "native" New Yorker (she's not really a native, but she lives there now and knows much more about it than any person I've ever been to NYC with before).  By the way, your eyes are not deceiving you: I spent the weekend in New York City, sans children.  Lindsay came to visit us in D.C. in June, and we've been planning on me visiting her in the fall.  I'm so glad we were able to make it happen, and that Chet is super dad and willing and able to let me go.

So what did Lindsay and I do in the city all weekend?  Her husband was tied up with a work project, so we girls painted the town red, which means that we drank lots of coffee and bellinis, ate amazing food at every single meal (mostly French food, for no particular reason), and shopped 'til we dropped (although we didn't buy much -- honestly!).  We didn't do anything remotely touristy (not that I'm opposed to that), and the break from herding children was exactly what I needed.  I really hope I can visit Lindsay again before we leave D.C. (by the way, I took an Amtrak train from Union Station to Penn Station -- it was such a straightforward means of travel, and I loved it!).
Chocolate chip pumpkin French toast (with pumpkin on top) for breakfast
A Birchbox store, for those of you familiar with Birchbox
Central Park, with Lindsay's English bulldog, Tango
This is all the photographic evidence (hardly any) of my visit to NYC.  So sad.

Monday, November 10th: Even though I loved visiting NYC, I would not like to live there, especially not with small children.  I didn't realize how much "green" space there is in the D.C. area until I got away from it.  Alexandria in particular feels like living in the country compared to New York, and I now have a greater appreciation for our yard and for the numerous parks just a short distance away.

While I was gone, Chet took advantage of that green space.  He took the kids to our neighbor's soccer game on Saturday morning, and to the park on Sunday:

He also proved that he is a braver and more tolerant person than I am by letting three extra neighborhood kids play at the house:

The man deserves a medal.

Tuesday, November 11th: I think it's safe to say we're all thankful for our Veterans today.  Those who have served, and are currently serving.  Chet and I took Bubby to Starbucks this morning, where we enjoyed our free coffee: