Wednesday, August 28, 2013


I wish I could paint. It is one of those talents that I have always envied, that and dancing. I am hopelessly terrible at both of those things.  The truth is I am a lot closer to autistic than artistic and not like the awesome- high- functioning- card- counting- in- Vegas autistic, like the really bad-there-must-be-something-more-than-autism-going-on-there autistic.  Anyway, that's not really the point. I just wish I could paint and dance. This week we have been doing a lot of painting.  It is awesome to paint when your little because even if it sucks your parents still love it. I think that is why my kids love painting, they always receive my highest praise.  To go along with this whole artsy-fartsy theme I came across a book called, The Girl with the Watering Can. It is based on a Renoir painting and ten other famous paintings that are on display at the National Gallery of Art in D.C.  The girl with the watering can jumps out of her painting and causes mischief all over the museum while she visits the other paintings.  We read it before we left and then set out to find this mischievous little cherub and her friends at the National Gallery of Art.

We discovered all of the paintings in the book but one which was on loan to another museum. In our searching we found lots of extraordinary artwork.  The boys even recognized some of the artists from their art appreciation classes at school. I was thoroughly impressed with how huge the National Gallery is and how many famous painters are featured. The kids also got treasure hunt books from the docent.  We couldn't complete all of the challenges in their treasure books (curse you parking meters). But, we will definitely be back.  It was really amazing and I am not entirely sure why we haven't been there before.  Just a side note, Harley and Nash had a knock-down-drag-out fight under this Van Gogh painting. I mean rolling around on the floor, punching, kicking and spitting at each other.  I think it was pretty obvious to those around us that we were only pretending to be cultured.

Atley insisted that I take a picture  next to Rembrandt's self-portrait. I think it is because Harley kept insisting that I looked "just like the guy in that picture."  I have to admit I am slightly depressed about the comparison. 



Recently a tragic accident took the life of a six year old girl. She is a member of a family that we are especially close to. Unfortunately, this isn't the first tragedy to strike this particular family.  There have been several over the past 7 years.  I would be lying if I said that I didn't question why or hug my own children a little longer in gratitude that I still could.  I do not understand it. I don't understand most of the horrible things that go on in this world, but I do not doubt that we have a Heavenly Father. He not only lives but he has a plan for each of us.  In the Book of Mormon there is a scripture that reads in part, "...all things denote there is a God; yea, even the bearth, and call things that are upon the face of it, yea, and its dmotion, yea, and also all the eplanets which move in their regular form do witness that there is a Supreme Creator." (Alma 34:44) 
This scripture has come to my mind as I have thought about this accident and as I have spent many summer days outside in this beautiful world with my own children. As I have watched them find new and exciting creatures and plants, splash around in a stream or the ocean, collect rocks and explore I have been reminded of a loving Father who created all of these things for our good. While it may seem like a small thing, the beauty of the earth is proof enough. I feel especially blessed that we live in such a picturesque area where it is easy to see and feel God's love everyday.


(These photos were taken on the trails by our house, at Great Falls National Park and in the Blue Ridge Mountains near Berryville, VA)

Monday, August 19, 2013

"We love you mom, but dad's funner!"

The kids and I have taken a few beach trips this summer while Scott has been working, but last weekend we actually went as a family.  While, I think the kiddos had fun with me, most everything is much more fun with dad around.  Probably because I don' t have the ability, swimming or weightlifting wise, to launch them 10 feet into the Bay. 

 Poor Atley got stung by a jellyfish 2 minutes into our trip. He was his usual tough self but I think it put a damper on his day.  Thankfully, one of our friends had a jar of pickles.  We poured the pickle juice on it and it helped considerably. If not, Nash was ready to pee on him as soon as we requested.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Just Peachy!

I know it is almost back to school time when we make our annual peach picking trip and I commence to concoct enough jam for the hundreds of PB&J sandwiches that I will make in the coming months. Therefore, it is always a bittersweet day being in the Virginia countryside and the Blue Ridge Mountains.  This year the first farm, Great Country Farm, had their peach crop demolished by a nasty bug infestation.  Never fear there was plenty for the kids to do, like pan for gold, jump on a gigantic pillow, slide, feed/capture animals, play chess and pick blackberries.  After a very full day at Great Country Farms we drove deeper into the mountains to Mackintosh Farms where we found about 17 pounds of perfect peaches. Yes, I have a lot of work to do.

I absolutely loved this sign outside a public restroom on our peachy expedition. I think I need to recreate it for our bathroom at home.

Chalk City

Last week I needed something to entertain the kids while I got some yard work done. I gave them some sidewalk chalk and their box of Hotwheels. They created a pretty impressive city complete with farms, beaches, mountains, schools, museums, monuments, airports, train stations, volcanoes, grocery stores, toy stores and lots more.  It kept them entertained and occupied for almost 6 hours. They wouldn't even come in for lunch. I had to bring it out to them.  It was like heaven for me and them. 


Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Are You Impulsive?

 I am willing to bet that most women, with perhaps the exception of lesbians or really old ladies, who have short hair are probably impulsive.  I get a lot of "my husband would die if I cut my hair that short," or "it looks cute on you but I don't think I would ever be brave enough to do it." I was once even asked, "Do you ever get propositioned by other women?" I have realized my short hair has nothing to do with bravery or an act of defiance against my husband. I cut it on an impulse.  I wasn't thinking about my husband or bravery or feminism or lesbians or old people.  I just thought to myself at 2PM, nine years ago that it would make my life easier if I had a lot less hair and at 2:15 I was at the Hair Cuttery chopping it off.  I liked it, but being impulsive doesn't always work out that way.  Like last year when Scott was in Panama and I had to go grocery shopping but instead I bought a new car without his knowledge. That might have been a little too impulsive. It is one of those character flaws that I have to make a conscious effort to work on each day.  It is something that gets me in trouble all the time.  It causes me to say too much, spend too much,  eat too much, etc. People who don't know me very well might view my impulsive behavior as confidence or self-awareness. They couldn't be more wrong.  I used to pretend like it was a great trait, especially when all of my friends agonized over which finger nail polish to buy.  I never have a hard time making a decision and it irks me when other people do. I just make it without much thought of consequence and pray it all works out.  Sometimes it does, most of the time I should have taken more time. But, I never look back and ask myself why, I just move on. I am impulsive like that. My oldest child is equally impulsive which has made the trait I once prided myself in less and less appealing to me, especially since his impulsive ways have almost cost him his life once or twice. 
 Today I was impulsive again.  Don't worry I didn't buy a house or anything. I cut my own hair in our upstairs bathroom.  You see, I was sitting here thinking about how my ego couldn't take my monthly trip to the Hair Cuttery.  What I mean is, first, when you have short hair you have to get it trimmed monthly, second, I get it cut at a place where nobody speaks English. They all speak either Farsi or Korean and it appears to me that the two cultures have waged war on each other right there in the beauty shop. This makes it terribly uncomfortable. Of course no one forces me to go there. I have several friends that cut hair and do a great job, only problem is I actually have to plan ahead and make an appointment not just run over when I have a spare moment sometime between 9AM and 9PM, seven days a week.  Not to mention Hair Cuttery is cheap, so I subject myself to the abuse.  Inevitably I hear things like, "Why you wait so long to come?" or "You gray hair look terrible!"  or "Why you wear hair like boy? Be prettier if you grew out." or "You buy cheap shampoo. It stink!"  They also point and laugh at me in their native tongues. Anyway back to the impulse. As I was sitting here contemplating my expedition to the Hair Cuttery I thought, "Man, I wish I could cut my own hair." I cut the kid's hair. Plus each time I go to the beauty shop I get a different person to whom I have to explain my cowlicks and not a single hair dresser has ever cut my hair the same way twice.  How tough can it be?  So, I watched a YouTube video on how to cut hair.  Granted the people in the video were trained professionals with things like razors and thinning shears and even scissors that were custom made for hair. They also could see completely around the person's head. They did not rely on faith and a hand held mirror to cut the back. They had a 360 degree view.  "Who cares?" I thought. "I have some dull fabric scissors that can no longer even cut felt upstairs, those will work fine."  Yeah, I went through with it. It took me about 2 hours and it wasn't easy but it actually doesn't look too bad. I have had worse haircuts that is for certain.  Plus, I will only get better with practice. Today my impulsive behavior saved me $30 a month. 
Moral of the story:  Find a happy medium between being brave (my upbeat word for impulsive) and using your brain to really think things through.  I am pretty sure balance is the key to eternal happiness. That and not getting made fun of in a foreign language.

***Disclaimer: I have nothing against Koreans, Iranians, Hairdressers, Old People or Lesbians. I would gladly let an old half Korean, half Iranian lesbian hairdresser do my hair if it was free of charge and free of insults.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Date Night: Atley Style

I am attempting to be more vigilant at spending one-on-one time with each child.  Atley was the first to go on a date with mom.  Something about that sentence sort of creeps me out, but for lack of a better term I will refer to the evening as a date.  We had pizza in Old Town at a place called Bugsy's! It is stinky and sketchy but has super yummy pizza. I wouldn't recommend trying anything else there though!
We walked down to the water front and decided what yacht he was going to buy us when he made his millions.
Around dusk we met our tour guide who took us on a Ghost walk throughout the streets of Alexandria ending in the old cemetery.  It was perfect for kids, especially if your kid isn't afraid of stories about dentists being murder by screwdrivers through the eye.  Atley was completely engrossed. 

For one story we learned the Duke of Kent Waltz. He made an excellent colonial dance partner.  When I asked him what his favorite part was he replied, "I liked learning that Duke Who Can't Waltz Dance." 

 Our last stop of the evening was at Gravelly Point where we watched the planes land. We tried to take pictures but they all turned out like the one above, which I must admit is kind of cool!  While it makes me sad to see the kids getting bigger, it is also tons of fun to be able to do things like this, custom made for bigger kids.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

The Foam Dough Experiment: A Psychoanalysis

Hypothesis:  Crafting Foam Dough with young children will aid in the prediction of certain future personality disorders or behavioral dysfunctions.

Subject #1 Observations:  Claimed to enjoy the dough but displayed a contradictory look of disgust upon his face throughout experiment. Felt compelled to taste it.  Quickly engineered a battle ship and just as quickly lost interest in the activity. Returned later to help clean up the mess without being asked. Claimed he felt guilty about leaving his mother to do all the work.
Subject #2 Observations:  Began quietly playing in a contented manner.  As if triggered but an unforeseen force, subject began referring to the dough as various bodily excretions.  His excitement could not be contained to a chair and subject climbed on top of the table smearing dough all over himself.
  Subject #3 Observations:  Enjoyed the squishy feeling between her fingers.  Feigned an injury when other subjects were perceived to receive more attention than she.  Used dough to pretend she was a zombie getting ready to "munch on your brains!"
Further Observations of Subject #2 & #3:  Subjects were discovered stripping off their clothes and climbing into a sink together using it as a small bathtub.  When Subject #2 entered the warm water he lost his ability to control his bladder, spraying urine throughout the kitchen.

Conclusion:  Seek professional help for the children as soon as possible and advise parents to begin regular regimen of XANAX.
To conduct a Foam Dough experiment in your home combine equal parts corn starch and shaving cream with a drop or two of food coloring.