Friday, November 30, 2012

Christmas Is Coming!!

It is that time of year again, when every spare minute is filled with shopping, wrapping, baking, eating, decorating, crafting, mailing and trying your very best to make the holiday magical. I am going to try to post what we are doing/making/where we are going every day until Christmas. Today, I thought I would share an easy and fun homemade holiday gift-Kool Aid Playdough with laminated play mats. What kid can resist playdough, especially playdough that smells as yummy as Kool Aid.  

Harley loves to help me in the kitchen and she had so much fun telling her brother's that she made her very own playdough.

1 Cup Flour
1/2 Cup Salt
1 Pkg. Kool-Aid
1 Cup Boiling Water
3 Tablespoons Olive Oil
Combine Dry Ingredients. Add boiling water and oil.  Stir with a spoon until it cools enough to knead with your hands. Store in the fridge.

Now onto the play mats.

You can print an entire booklet of pages to laminate. They include things like putting the spots on a dog, putting the flowers on the stem and of course more educational things like counting skills.  
HERE IS THE LINK to print your own.

Monday, November 26, 2012

The Glorification of Busy

A few weeks ago we spent an entire Saturday raking and bagging leaves with the kids.  It was hard work but it made me happy.  It was simple.  While we were working I found a snake. I caught it for the kids and they were so excited.  They radiated pure joy and have been talking about that snake for days.

I saw a quote the other day that stated simply, "Stop the Glorification of Busy!"  I love it.  It seems like lately I can never find the time for anything and when there is a quiet moment, I am so exhausted that I cannot enjoy it.  When I get together with friends we seem to only be able to talk about all of the things we have to do. It is almost like a competition-whichever mom is the busiest must be the best.  Truthfully, it is a competition I don't really want to win. 
 At the beginning of the new school year, I was sad to see the boys go, especially Nash who started Kindergarten, but excited for all the time I would get to spend with Harley.  I volunteered to be a room mom for both boys, a grade level treasurer, and head of the staff appreciation committee. Two days later I was called as Primary President and reminded that the primary program was not written yet and only six weeks away.  Scott volunteered to coach 2 soccer teams, while spending a lot of time on the road. Atley's homework load in his advanced placement classes require at least 2 hours of homework per night and of course there is cub scouts and Harley's preschool co-op.  Life is crazy-wonderful but crazy.  The quality time I wanted to spend with Harley mostly takes place in the car going from one meeting to the next.  I hardly have time to read her a story. I keep asking myself, how can I simplify. Laundry needs to be done, the house needs to be cleaned, meals need to be cooked, shopping needs to happen and the kids occasionally need TLC. Yet, I am so frazzled most days that I am a short, impatient, screaming mad-woman.  I guess amidst all of the chaos over the last few months, I realized that the best mom's are not the moms who are on every committee at school, but the moms who have more than a few spare moments for their children. They have a healthy perspective of what is and isn't important. I am still working on that.  An apostle of our church Elder Dieter Uchtdorf said the following. 

One of the characteristics of modern life seems to be that we are moving at an ever-increasing rate, regardless of turbulence or obstacles.
Let’s be honest; it’s rather easy to be busy. We all can think up a list of tasks that will overwhelm our schedules. Some might even think that their self-worth depends on the length of their to-do list. They flood the open spaces in their time with lists of meetings and minutia—even during times of stress and fatigue. Because they unnecessarily complicate their lives, they often feel increased frustration, diminished joy, and too little sense of meaning in their lives.It is said that any virtue when taken to an extreme can become a vice. Overscheduling our days would certainly qualify for this. There comes a point where milestones can become millstones and ambitions, albatrosses around our necks...My dear brothers and sisters, we would do well to slow down a little, proceed at the optimum speed for our circumstances, focus on the significant, lift up our eyes, and truly see the things that matter most. Let us be mindful of the foundational precepts our Heavenly Father has given to His children that will establish the basis of a rich and fruitful mortal life with promises of eternal happiness. They will teach us to do “all these things … in wisdom and order; for it is not requisite that [we] should run faster than [we have] strength. [But] it is expedient that [we] should be diligent, [and] thereby … win the prize.” 7Brothers and sisters, diligently doing the things that matter most will lead us to the Savior of the world. That is why “we talk of Christ, we rejoice in Christ, we preach of Christ, we prophesy of Christ, … that [we] may know to what source [we] may look for a remission of [our] sins.” 8 In the complexity, confusion, and rush of modern living, this is the “more excellent way.” 9
Elder Uchtdorf then encourages us to evaluate our relationship with first, our Heavenly Father, then our families, next our fellowman, and then ourselves.  If any of these relationships are struggling than perhaps we should reevaluate our priorities. For me, all of those relationships need some work. As I was thinking about how to simplify I came across the picture of the kids and the snake.  We were not at Disneyworld. We were not spending a bunch of money.  I hadn't planned the moment for weeks, rather it happened when we were simply spending time together working as a family and it was real happiness. Maybe it is that simple-work hard and be happy at home together.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Hershey & The Bridges of Lancaster County

Saturday morning Scott woke up with the idea of going for a ride.  He decided he wanted to see some covered bridges.  Well, the day turned into more than just a ride when we wound up in Pennsylvania hunting for covered bridges using only latitude and longitude as our guide. 

They were lovely despite the boys' opinion that they all looked the same.  Since no trip to Pennsylvania is complete without chocolate we went to Hershey as well, where the children quickly volunteered to be day laborers in exchange for candy. They were rewarded with lots of chocolate, a tour of a house made entirely of candy, and a visit with St. Nick.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Turkey Day

We went to one of our favorite local restaurants, J. Gilbert's for Thanksgiving. We did the same last year and I would be perfectly fine if it became a yearly tradition, although we would love to have some family or friends join us.  We have lots to be thankful for this year, as always. Those things include, but are not limited to, the prime rib, turkey, salmon, potatoes, pie, and chocolate we inhaled this afternoon.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

"LEAVE" Me Alone

Sometimes it feels like leaves are the bane of our existence in the fall, but without them we couldn't take photos of the boys working and playing in them.  I guess leaves aren't so bad afterall.


Sunday, November 4, 2012

I Love Lucy

A couple of weeks ago we got a cat. She is a year old and goes by the name of Lucy. Not that she really requires a name, it isn't like she answers when we call.  We brought her home and she disappeared for at least 36 hours. We couldn't find her anywhere until she was finally discovered in a vent in our basement. Boy, was I relieved I was convinced she had curled up in a ball somewhere, killed over, and our house was going to start stinking.
She doesn't let us pet her, seldom lets the children get anywhere near her, and we only see her for about 10 minutes a day. She uses her litter box and eats what we feed her but other than that she is essentially a ghost lurking around the house and hiding from us. The only person she ever wants to be around is Scott and he claims he is allergic to her, go figure. I gotta say, she is a little creepy. I feel like she is always watching me even though I have no idea where she is.  She is definitely low maintenance and either the best pet ever or the absolute worst.  Here are some rare pictures of Harley & Lucy. I think she only came out because she was so impressed with Harley's fantastic outfit choice. Despite her anti-social behavior and how totally unimportant she makes us all feel, we love Lucy and are definitely glad she is part of the family.


Saturday, November 3, 2012

He's Famous

Nash made the papers just like we always knew he would.  We are just so thankful it wasn't for doing something criminal, which was kind of how we assumed he would make the papers.
The following picture appeared in our local paper of Nash's class celebrating Columbus Day!

Friday, November 2, 2012

Election 2012-Why I am voiting for Mitt

Politics. I know everyone has had more than enough especially if you are living in a so-called battle ground state like Virginia or Colorado.   I have a degree in political science and I have always been a political junkie.  I consider it a hobby but one that is increasingly leaving me more and more disillusioned.  Perhaps, it is because I can think of so many more useful ways to spend the $2 billion that the campaigns have raised to create commercials for bashing each other. Yet, there is something so fascinating about the way this great country operates, the history behind the law and traditions that we practice.  Unfortunately, I feel like those traditions, ideals, and even the very laws our nation was founded upon are being threatened and our standing in the world is dangerously being questioned.
I have made it no secret that I am not an Obama supporter.  Does this mean I do not respect his authority or office? Of course not, and regardless of what happens on Tuesday, I hope my children realize that.  It is a hard concept for most children to understand-disagreeing with someone’s ideas/policies yet not disliking them as a human being.   It seems that not only my children struggle with this but in fact, it also seems to be something that left-wing democrats do not understand either. In a rather child-like way they claim that a vote against Obama is a vote for racism, homophobia, and the blatant discrimination of women.  Why is being a social and economic conservative being demonized?  Why are we labeled as intolerant if we value human life and the sanctity of marriage between a man and woman?  Why are we considered heartless when we advocate self-reliance and hard work instead of government handouts and dependency?  Isn’t enabling a far crueler way to treat those we claim to love?  Tolerance has become our nation’s party mask for immorality and permissiveness.

 I have been told, “You are only voting for Romney because you are Mormon.”   First, sharing a common bond is certainly something that might endear one particular candidate over another.  In fact, the goal of political commercials are to create in a person a feeling that they share a common bond with the candidate.  There is nothing wrong with relating to some aspect of a candidate’s life, whether that is religion, race, alma mater or something entirely different.  What would be irresponsible would be basing your entire decision upon that bond. For example, Harry Reid is a Mormon yet our shared religion is not enough for me to overlook his stand on abortion and healthcare.
Not unlike my liberal friends, I fear people will vote for Obama because of a bond that is much less trivial than religion.  Obama has become our Celebrity-in-Chief.   When did being cool, listening to Jay-Z and using slang in speech become what we want our country to stand for? When did civility and class disappear? I certainly hope that Obama voters are voting for him because of what he stands for economically and politically not because he is friends with the ladies on The View.

  I believe that when the election of a president, senator, congressman, or even mayor becomes a popularity contest based on coolness and swagger (much like a homecoming queen) we are in serious trouble as a country.  We lose credibility and respect throughout the world.  We have been given tremendous responsibility in America. We were blessed with an abundance of natural resources and people full of ingenuity, but we are squandering our opportunity to be the world’s leader.  Where much is given much is required and we are not living up to our responsibility.  The left might make the argument that we don’t want the responsibility.  That is the same selfish, entitled and again child-like mind-set that is corrupting our culture and making us less and less relevant in the world community. This is the group that encourages borrowing with no thought of how or if we will ever be able to pay it back. That debt not only threatens our economy it is also a national security issue.  
Why am I voting for Mitt Romney?  Well, it is not because I am a racist or because Romney is a Mormon.  I am voting for Mitt because like me, he is pro-life.  I am offended by the Obama campaign treating women like walking reproductive organs, whose only issues are discarding unwanted children.  I am voting for Mitt because I believe that someone who is filthy rich is proof positive that he knows how to manage money. Wealth is part of the American dream not something an individual should be punished for attaining. I certainly prefer someone who is a proven success to run the greatest nation on earth than an individual receiving on the job training. I am voting for Mitt because he believes in our military.  I believe that when our foreign service officers ask for needed security he will send in the reinforcements required. I am voting for Mitt because he believes that marriage should be between a man and a woman. I am voting for Mitt because he doesn’t regard oil as something evil, rather a necessity. He believes that we need to capitalize on our own resources and become energy independent. I am voting for Mitt because he is less concerned with his image and more concerned with the American people.  I am voting for Mitt because he recognizes the need for health care reform yet he also recognizes the disastrous effects of Obamacare. I am voting for Mitt because he believes that government should be a minimal presence in our daily life.  He believes, like I do, that we should be able to manage our own money.  He believes in Capitalism.  He believes in the constitution.

I have met the Romney’s. I have volunteered with Mitt’s campaign. I have trusted friends who have close personal relationships with the family.  This is a good man, with an excellent family.  He is not the soulless robot that he has been portrayed.  He honestly cares about this country just like you and me. The media used to be the fourth estate in our checks and balance system of government.  It saddens me that it has become the medium for promulgating propaganda. This fact makes it imperative that every American do his or her homework and study the issues that matter most to them. Do not just go along with what is en vogue. Do the right thing, do the smart thing and vote for Romney on November 6th.

Halloween Night

Monday night we were not sure if Halloween would go on as scheduled and while the boys' school parties were cancelled and Trunk or Treat was moved to Saturday, Halloween night went on as planned. We hit a record 32 houses this year and have enough candy to last until springtime. If a person tried to put candy in Harley's bag, she would push their hand away and exclaim, "I can do it myself."  while grabbing a huge handful from the candy bowl. She would then run off yelling behind her, "Happy Halloween Night!" Needless to say she ended up with the most candy of the evening.  Therefore, the boys were perfectly content with combining all of the candy and sharing. After all, it was the fair thing to do.

Atley the Fireman

 Nash the Angry King Pig

Harley the Chicken
Here they are at the end of the evening each respectively slipping into a sugar coma.


Thursday, November 1, 2012

Hurricane Sandy

Harley by Candlelight!

We have been in the Washington D.C. area for 5 years.  Since our arrival we have enjoyed several tornadoes, 3 major hurricanes, an earthquake, a severe derecho and who can forget snowmageddon.  We have become well acquainted with losing electricity, shortages at the grocery store and long nights in the dark listening to the weather outside.  Through it all we have become so grateful to have a home to protect us from mother nature. 
Sandy started to really rear her ugly head on Sunday when it started raining.  Monday the winds picked up and the rain increased but we still had power.  We spent the day cleaning and purging the kid's toys and closets.  Monday evening branches started falling off of the trees but unexpectedly we didn't lose power until almost 9PM.  The kids who were already safely tucked away in the basement were joined by their parents who tried to fall asleep. It was a long night.  We could hear trees falling and of course it was very cold.  Despite all of the scary noises our neighborhood looked pretty good Tuesday morning. As we listened to the radio it became obvious that our northern neighbors didn't fair nearly as well. We took a cautious drive around town before returning home with three super active children. We decided then would be a perfect time to carve the pumpkin.

Unlike our last natural disaster the movie theater was open so we spent the afternoon watching Frakenweenie and walking around the mall.  When we got home the house was freezing.  We quickly built a fire and added more ice to the food that was starting to spoil in our fridge and freezer. I must say it was sweet gathering around the fire roasting marshmallows and cuddling together to stay warm. I guess I just realized despite the discomfort of no electricity we could be so much worse off. 
 Here is a little advice from someone who has had experience with being without power, (8 days of darkness in the last 4 months alone), add some battery powered candles to your emergency kit. These things are life savers. You can keep them on all night without fear of fire. Your kids can even sleep with them which really helps on those long noisy weather filled nights. You can buy a huge pack at Costco or separately at the Dollar Store. They are a must have!