Monday, July 07, 2014

I really love "camping"

I am ever so glad that Ry and I decided to throw caution to the wind two summers ago and take the boys tent camping. It led directly to so many wonderful memories. The tent camping lasted exactly 3 trips before we bought a very used, very loved pop up camper from a friend and named her Betsie. Let's keep it real here, friends. I am not a middle-of-nowhere, pee-in-the-weeds, no shower for 5 days kind of camper. Nope, the places we frequent are usually listed as "luxury camping resorts" *snort*. We go to places with clean bathrooms and showers, pools, and a well-stocked store. Our camper has air conditioning and we bring the iPad to entertain the boys before we've had our coffee in the morning.

So, while it might not be camping, what it is cannot quite be described. For the days we are there we have no agenda. We get up, we make breakfast on the coleman stove, there is usually some swimming, catch and playgrounding. Lunch is often followed by a family nap and then more of same. It is not a camping night for us unless there are s'mores around the campfire. We do nothing except spend time together, doing whatever sounds like fun that day. And friends ... that is amazing. There are no errands to run, no phone calls to take, no chores to be done. Camping provides downtime in a way that not even our most fun vacations do, for those always come with schedules and activities. It is truly a gift to be able to unplug with our boys like this while they are are still small enough to want our undivided attention. I look forward to our several trips each summer with what can only be described as glee.

Our latest trip was no exception. There was rain, so we stayed inside and made crafts.
This may be one of the worst pictures of me, ever, but hey, we're keeping it real, right?

There was a campfire.
And boys who wouldn't stay still long enough to get a decent picture.
 There was lots and lots of pool time.



The bugs were eating us alive.

And lots and lots of snuggling.

When are we going back?

Monday, March 17, 2014

My Gummy Bear is 7

My Gummy Bear turned 7 this week. I can hardly process that my tiny, 5 pound 13 ounce newborn is now a hulking 7 year old. He is having a lovely year in 1st grade, with teachers who appreciate his inquisitive mind and penchant for talking. This year he has really learned to read. He is reading chapter books on his own, which makes my heart happy on the deepest level. He enjoys it so much that I almost don't have the heart to tell him to put the books away when it comes time to eat dinner. Almost.

Bear is also a budding scientist, with a love for all things experimental. He tells me he is going to be scientist-inventor when he grows up. I am 100% behind that plan. He is always asking me questions I can't answer. We spend a lot of time looking things up on the internet. Bear has a gentle heart and is a big help to me around the house. While he and his brother fight a lot, they also play together and dream up all kinds of crazy worlds.

Gummy Bear is very active, although not too interested in organized sports. His G-Pa has taken him to the indoor climbing gym quite a few times, which led to his request to have a birthday party there. We did and it was a lovely day.  Here he is waiting to get harnessed up and start climbing.

Bear and Cheeky Monkey getting harnessed.

There he goes.

All the way to the top. The child has no fear.

I have made the boys' birthday cakes every year. This year I thought I was outdone when Gummy Bear asked for a rock wall climbing cake. Thank God for the internet, because I soon found that rice krispie treated dyed grey make a pretty good rock wall.  I did learn some valuable lessons though. 1. Make some internal supports when you make your structure. 2. Use less butter for a stiffer rice krispie treat.

3. Or your rock wall starts to droop. Thankfully we were able to prop it up with forks and got through the birthday songs before it completely collapsed. Gummy Bear loved it though, which was the most important thing.
Waahh wahhh.
 Here are the present-opening pictures.

I am going to be really sad when those teeth grow back.

And getting some Gummy love at his birthday dinner.
Also going to be sad when I stop getting unprompted kisses and hugs. Guys, it's not that far away.

Bear had a great birthday and I couldn't be prouder of him as he embarks on his 7th year on this earth. Happy Birthday Bear! I love you more than words can say.

Thursday, March 06, 2014

Wednesday, March 05, 2014

Vegas, no babies

It occurs to me that I never posted about our 10th anniversary trip. The original plan (10 years ago) was to go to Europe for our 10th anniversary. London is the very tipsy top of my most-wanted. Then we had a life and house and a few kids and Europe was most definitely not in the budget (maybe for our 20th?). So instead, I got onto various travel sites and looked for where we could cheaply. Turns out, Las Vegas is a very inexpensive plane trip and hotel room away. The actually being in Las Vegas is not so cheap, but it was still a fun trip.

We stayed at the Bellagio. It's really beautiful, and was decked out for Chinese New Year when we were there. The rooms were lovely, the beds were comfortable and it was right in the heart of the strip.

This bathtub may have been my favorite part of the trip though. I have to admit, I love a good bathtub. Seriously, I spent a good 3-4 hours in this bad boy over the course of our 3 day trip. Best part? No children banging through the doors because they have to use the bathroom.

There are tons of street performers along the strip. There were loads more impressive than the minions, but since our boys are obsessed with Despicable Me at the moment, we had to get this pictures.

This might have been Ry's favorite part. It's a scooter suitcase. So you can ride your luggage. If it hadn't have been over $200, we probably would be it's proud new owners.

Walking up and down the strip was fun. This Eiffel tower isn't nearly as impressive as the one in Paris, but it was definitely cool to see all the casinos. We sat and watched the fountains at the Bellagio in a bar overlooking the water. That was fun. They go off every 15 minutes, set to different music.

I also had to see a Cirque Du Soleil show. The one we went to was called Zarkana. I hear it's not the best of the bunch, but having never seen one at all, I was impressed. I loved that they brought the theme into the rest of the venue, even down to the bathroom signs.

The performers were in the audience before the show, generally messing with the patrons. One stole a woman's bag and made her chase her down to the stage to get it back. Good times. We also ended up with superb seats due to it being a Monday night. We had couches.

I was hoping to find some karaoke there, but had no luck. We did find a dueling piano bar, which we closed down. I do love a dueling piano bar. There were two pairs of piano players, who traded off through the night. This guy was part of the other pair, but grabbed his guitar and joined in at the end of the night. Seriously fun.

Vegas is a place I don't feel the need to visit again, but I am glad I went. It was over the top and slimy and glittery and we had a great time. There are lots of places on my list before we go back though.

Sunday, March 02, 2014

Poetry. Fame. Failure.

Gummy Bear has really made strides with reading and writing this year. Some of his homework assignments really make me smile. This one, for example, actually made me a  little teary. He is coming along nicely. 

Ry and I are big Mythbusters fans. We generally DVR it and watch it whenever we have a chance. We happened to catch a recent episode live. The cast was live tweeting. I happened to send a tweet that ended up on the live show. It was neat, I'm not gonna lie.

You may remember from my previous post that we tapped our maple tree. We had several days of good sap weather and ended up with about a gallon and a half of sap.

We boiled it down, which took the better part of a day. And then we forgot about it. It got a little burnt.

Ok, it got a lot burnt. This was what was left. After we took it off the heat and poured it into the measuring cup, it turned into a solid black mass. It look a long time to get it back out of the measuring cup. So. Maple syrup fail. The weather since then hasn't cracked freezing, so we have yet to get more sap. Hopefully we'll get to try again.

Finally, here are a few pictures of the boys sleeping, because they're cute.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Maple Sugaring

February started out looking a lot like this: 

Finally today though, we had a lovely, spring-like day. We went with some friends to a local living history farm and learned about maple sugaring. I actually learned a lot today. For instance, you can only tap a maple when it is above freezing during the day and below at night. You also need about a gallon of sap to make 6 ounces of maple syrup. (It's called sugaring because if you keep boiling the sap, you eventually end up with maple sugar.) No wonder it's so expensive!

We got to help make the butter for our maple-syruped pancakes.

And then the boys realized that they were selling the maple taps in the gift shop. Gummy Bear helpfully reminded us that we had TWO maple trees in our yard. And so, we tapped ourselves a tree. The taps themselves were only $3, the piece of tubing is $1 and the jug we had sitting the house.

You have to drill a hole in the tree at an upward angle so that when you take the tap out, the tree can flush the hole and heal properly.

And then the sap starts dripping out of the tree. Seriously, just like that. It's actually really cool. It tastes like very lightly sugared water. You know. Because it is.

And here's the final set up. We tapped the tree about 3 hours ago and already have two inches of sap in the bottom. Because our maple is not a Sugar Maple, we can only expect 3 ounces of syrup from our gallon, but that's not really the point, is it?

Friday, February 07, 2014

In which I am over this winter

There have been 4 snowstorms this winter that have yielded enough snow to both close the boys' schools and send our state into a tizzy of OMFGDONOTGOOUTSIDEORYOUWILLSURELYDIE. Lucky girl that I am, I have had to work every. single. one. This means I get to fight the ice and snow on the way to and from work and then try to sleep whilst the kids are cooped up in the house. Good times. Good times. It is not necessary to say that I am firmly over this winter.

On the plus side, all this snow has given us lots of opportunities for cute pictures of the boys playing the snow. Like this one, for example:
Yes, I know my Christmas wreath is still up. Don't judge me.

Our last snowfall was wet, heavy, and started with ice. It was enough to send a giant crack through this tree branch. Once the snow melted a bit, the branch came up a bit from the patio, but it is still going to have to go this spring.
When life gets rough, I like to hold on to my dream,
Of relaxing in the summer sun, just lettin’ off steam.
Ry and I also celebrated our 10th anniversary last Friday. Well done, us! Ten years seems like both a freakishly long time and an absurdly short time all at once. I can't say I feel as though we've accomplished something because it wasn't that hard. Don't get me wrong, it's neat that I still enjoy my husband this much after 10 years, but it wasn't some uphill slog to get here. I have now known Ry longer than I haven't. He is just part of my life and I can't imagine it without him.

I am very excited that we are leaving to go to Las Vegas tomorrow to celebrate said non-slog. We'll be leaving the kids with my mom and stepdad for 3 nights (!!!). The last time we left our kids a hurricane hit the east coast. I'm praying for a far less eventful trip this time. As much as I have been looking forward to this trip, it also fills me with anxiety to leave the kids. Like, a lot of anxiety. Still, I know they are in good hands and flying is the safest way to travel. Let it go, let it go! We are staying in a fancy hotel and going to eat good food and see fun shows. What better way to celebrate?

So. Yeah. That's about it really. Going away and hoping for spring. Anytime would be great.

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