Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Happy Fall (and a bunch of firsts)!

Happy fall!  Why does "First Day of Fall" typed at the bottom of today's block on the calendar make it feel so official?  I have no idea, but it does (at least for me).  Things are heating up a little bit, temperature-wise, for us today (high of 81), but that won't get me down since it's officially fall.

In addition to the first day of fall, here are all of the other firsts we've been experiencing around here lately.

Syd's first day of Kindergarten (September 6th), and showing off her new Doc McStuffins watch (acquired for less than $3 at the grocery store), which proved to be extremely uncomfortable (I won't say, "I told you so"):

She loves her new backpack, but would have preferred that it also have a strap that buckles across her chest, for when she carries around 3 - 4 textbooks, or when she backpacks across America:

She doesn't ride the bus to school in the mornings because it picks up too early (we would all have to walk her to the bus stop before 7 a.m.), so we load up in the car at 7:40 a.m. and drive the mile to school.  We drop her off at the "kiss and ride" area, and then are back in our driveway by 7:50 a.m.  Sometimes she's the only one dressed for this excursion.

She does ride the bus home in the afternoons!  

She's gotten over it, but Lorelei has been pretty miffed lately over all of the fun things Sydney gets to do (like riding the bus):

One way she's been able to get over her jealousy is by attending 3-year old church choir.  (These pictures are all basically the same, but I'm going to post them all anyway.):

Our church's Wednesday night fall activities kicked off September 7th, including the children's choirs.  Lorelei just missed last year's age cutoff; she's in the youngest choir for 3-year olds, even though she'll turn four soon.   I noticed that she's probably the oldest child in her choir, and with that comes a lot of self-imposed responsibility.  She's very proud to finally be a part of things, and I watched her listen very closely and participate fully, even though the majority of the children in her line were quite distracted (what 3-year old isn't?!).

She was thrilled to finally start preschool September 8th.  She's in the Monkey's class:

She chose to take Sydney's old backpack to school:

There is a tradition in our neighborhood where on the first Friday of the school year we gather for a little celebration in a neighbor's yard.  I didn't get any pictures of the actual party, but I had to photograph these adorable pencil snacks (cheese sticks, bologna, cream cheese, Bugles, and raisins):

Lorelei finally started dance class (ballet) last week (she attends on Tuesdays).  She had a very ballerina-appropriate meal right beforehand, a McDonald's cheeseburger:

And then just yesterday, again at ballet, she wore this hand-me-down "angel" outfit for the first time (the girls love this outfit, as do I):
Not her first time to wear such a cheesy smile though.

Happy fall, y'all!

Saturday, September 19, 2015

A little bit of randomness to kick off your weekend...

It's the weekend!  We're going to Annapolis this afternoon to visit friends who are in town from Washington State.  There will be lots of kids running around, which always makes for a good time!

Tomorrow after church, Sydney and I are going to a Nationals game with some of my Mary Kay friends.  Syd and I are most looking forward to fun with friends, and eating hot dogs and cotton candy (sorry, baseball).

I made this chicken parmesan recipe Thursday night and it was truly amazing.

We had breakfast for dinner last night (the kids had pumpkin chocolate chip muffins -- a Trader Joe's mix -- and bacon and fruit), and this is my go to breakfast casserole for Chet and me.

I also made this chicken recipe some time time last week, and the flavor was really good.  The only problem was that I overcooked the chicken because our meat thermometer is absolutely terrible since it has free will and tells you whatever temperature it feels like (rather than the correct temperature).  So if you have any recommendations for good meat thermometers, please share.

I like when Sydney let's me fancy up her ponytail, which is rare:

Chet, Bubby, and Chewbacca taking selfies in Target:

Lorelei loves these Calico Critters, and has some more coming her way for her birthday.  She basically loves anything tiny enough for younger siblings to swallow:

Sydney had her first library day at school this past Monday.  She couldn't wait to show me the book she chose when she got home.  She was gushing about how cute it was while she was retrieving it from her backpack:
Okay.  For those of you who know me well, you know that I cannot stand rodents.  Here is the list of rodents I absolutely cannot stand, in order of dislike:
1. rats
2. mice
3. ferrets
4. guinea pigs
5. hamsters
6. rabbits
7. any other member of the rodent family
8. birds (I know birds aren't rodents, but they really scare me too)

I realize most people don't share my dislike, at least not for numbers 3 through 8 on the list, and that's fine.  Normal, even.  I realize I have a problem.  Needless to say, we didn't "have time" to read Sydney's library pick this week, and thankfully I didn't have any nightmares.

Speaking of book choices, there is a free little library at Lorelei's preschool (which means you can borrow and leave books without a checkout system).  The pickings were slim for children's books this week, so Lorelei chose this:
As a non-lover of fantasy fiction, and owls (owls fall under #8 on the above list), I was less thrilled than she was about her choice.  Thankfully 219 pages with no pictures ended up not appealing to Lorelei, so I successfully dodged another bullet.

Happy weekend, my friends!

Friday, September 18, 2015

Four Little Admirals

As happy as I am that school is back in session, our new schedule is taking a lot more getting used to than I anticipated.  I'll write another post detailing all of the "firsts" from the past couple of weeks, including pictures, but for now just know that Sydney loves Kindergarten, Lorelei loves "the Monkey's class" (all of the preschool classes are named after animals), and Ford (Bubby) is as happy and as chubby as ever.  Like I said, I'm glad that we're back on a schedule, but I didn't foresee two weeks flying by without having a chance to blog.

(Of course, I could have given up a nap or two to blog, or an episode of "The Good Wife" one evening, but life is full choices...)

Speaking of napping, I never nap.  Except when I'm pregnant.  Surprise!  I think most of the people who read this blog already know we're expecting baby #4, but in case you didn't know...surprise!

I'm 16 week along, and the due date is March 3rd (which probably means this will be a late February baby).  I've been to the OB twice so far; my next appointment is the "big ultrasound" on October 20th.  (We're finding out the gender.  I asked Chet what he thought about not finding out, and his answer was, "That's a terrible idea."  Well.)

(Secretly I'm thankful he thought it was a terrible idea, because the Type A in me always wants to know and prefers not to be surprised.)

I've taken two belly pictures so far, at 14 weeks and 16 weeks.  Hopefully we'll get back into the swing of things and remember to take one every week.
14 Weeks
16 Weeks

Apparently gray is my favorite color.  (I meant to take the belly picture last night before changing into my pajamas, but obviously I forgot.  That, or the thought of pajamas was just way too good to pass up.)

It was hard to find a good place in this house to take these pictures.  Our house is nice and bright throughout the day, all natural light from the windows that are in every room.  But at night it's quite dungeon-like.  So these pictures are being taken just inside the front door (that's the porch door you see to my right), and just before snapping the picture I have to shove all of the backpacks, diaper bags, and shoes out of the way so that you don't confuse these pictures with an application to "Hoarding: Buried Alive."

I feel like I'm showing much sooner than I did in my previous pregnancies.  About four weeks ago a woman at the park (who I didn't know), asked when I was due.  Lady, it's way too soon to be asking me that; you are a very brave person.

Happy Friday, everyone!

Monday, September 7, 2015

USNA Reunion Weekend (and the girls' room)

Happy Labor Day!

(What exactly is Labor Day anyway?  Click here to find out, like I had to.)

We had a great Friday and Saturday in Annapolis.  We left the house around 10:30 a.m. on Friday and arrived on the Yard in time to watch noon meal formation.  We ate lunch at Drydock Restaurant, then shopped at the mid store.  It was seriously hot outside on Friday, so we spent about two hours in the mid store, killing time and soaking up the free air conditioning.

Of course, I didn't even snap a picture until after we left the mid store and were standing outside, deciding what to do next:
The word you're searching for is "scenic."

Sydney fashioned this hair ornament out of a ribbon and wanted me to photograph it.  Lorelei doesn't appear impressed:

What we thought we were going to do next isn't what we ended up doing.  Our original plan was to attend the 4 p.m. parade, but it was so hot, and the parade field was far enough away that we opted not to go.  I talked to my friend Samantha the next day (who attended the parade with her boys, ages 6 and 4), and she reminded me that 4 p.m. is when the midshipmen start marching from Bancroft Hall to the parade field.  Which takes nearly an hour.  So, needless to say, it was a smart decision for us not to watch the poor, hot midshipmen (who were much hotter than the spectators) march on a shadeless, 2,000-degree parade field.  We stopped at fountain (the girls asked if they could swim it next time, if we brought their bathing suits), and went shopping at the Visitors' Center instead.

We left the Yard at 4 p.m., and instead of heading home in Friday rush-hour traffic, we went to the Annapolis Mall (more free air conditioning!).  The first thing we saw when we walked in was this ridiculous car, which the girls just had to ride.
$1 for 45 seconds of fun.

There was a great kids' play area, and then we walked the length of the mall to the food court for dinner.  After dinner, some frozen yogurt, and a walk through the Pottery Barn Kids store, we headed home.  It was about 7 p.m. by this time, so we had a traffic-less ride home.

The next morning we left the house just after 9 a.m. for the football game, dressed head-to-toe in Navy garb:

We snapped some pictures with Navy cheerleaders, and then entered the stadium:

The USNA Class of 2005 10-year reunion tent (which, by the way, was why we were spending the weekend in Annapolis in the first place) was our first stop (and our last, although we didn't know this at the time).  The event was shaded (because of the tent), and catered, including an open bar (I drank my weight in bottled water).  There were also kids' tables set up, with coloring pages, crayons, and bubbles.  Also, kid-friendly food (although Ford couldn't get enough of the crab dip from the adult food tables).

Saturday at the game wasn't as hot as Friday on the Yard, but it was still hot.  And since the game started at noon, there wasn't a single shaded seat in the entire stadium.  We didn't have actual seats (we purchased lawn tickets), so we never even ventured from the tent (we could still see and hear the game from the tent though).  The girls literally colored and ate cookies for three straight hours, and Bubby was happy to accompany Chet throughout the tent as he visited with classmates he hadn't seen in years.  I mostly hung out with the girls.  The event was strange for me, because while I recognized most of the people there, I knew hardly any of them well enough to strike up conversation.  I'm sure Chet will feel the same way at my 10-year reunion next year.

We left the game after half time, around 2:30 p.m.  Surprisingly, the kids didn't fall asleep on the way home.  We swung through Harris Teeter for some fully-cooked baby back ribs that we later heated up for dinner, and spent the rest of the day/evening at home, relaxing and soaking in our (not free) air conditioning.

Backtracking a little bit, to Friday at the mid store.  We told the girls they could choose one item, whatever they wanted.  They chose the first item they saw the moment we walked in the store, and not even two hours of wandering around and looking at absolutely everything changed their minds.  What did they choose?  Coordinating Vera Bradley blankets:
Because there's nothing more enticing than shopping for fleece blankets when it's 2,000 degrees outside.  (Secretly, I was pleased with their decision though.)

Since I took the time to photograph their beds, I went ahead and took pictures of the rest of their room, since I'm pretty sure I haven't shared any pictures of it since we moved here 18 months ago:
Lorelei's Bed
Sydney's Bed
Panning left from Lorelei's bed, toward the door to the room:

Panning right from Sydney's bed:
I can't figure out what to do with the girls' names on the wall.  This is the second configuration I've tried, and I don't love it (just like I didn't love the first configuration).

My new technique for keeping the junk at bay/hidden in their rooms (these slide under the beds; each girl has her own):

Still panning right around the room:

We had to remove the girls' closet door in order to fit the bookshelf in the room:

In case you're wondering how their room is so clean, here's the secret: when you're photographing a room, simply make a pile of everything you don't want in the picture, and move that pile from place to place as you photograph different parts of the room.

I hope you've enjoyed your weekend/Labor Day!