Wednesday, June 30, 2010


MISSING: Lara's Mojo

Last seen: May 10, 2010, ~11:39am.

Possible Sightings:
In the carload of junk we donated to Goodwill?
Accidentally discarded in the 7 garbage bags of crap we pulled from underneath the girls' bed?
Wrapped in the old red carpet in the basement?
Lost in the phone lines during several long irate calls to Verizon about our lack of internet?
Burned up in the string of bad recipes I keep trying?
Mixed up in the vomit spewed all over Adam by a total stranger at the park?
Maybe lodged permanently in my throat after a random guy jumped out of the woods and yelled, "Boo!" and started laughing hysterically while on my morning run on Monday?

If you find it, please call me ASAP. I miss it.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

My Day in Boos and Yays

Finally grocery shopping after cooking "creatively" for a few days.

Having to take 3 kids with me, because my older kids are off with friends for the day.

Finding a good bribing treat at the grocery store.

3 kids fighting over the bribing treat.

Gazing into my clean and well-stocked refrigerator.

Broken internet and 1 hour phone call with Verizon.

Summer sports program that keeps 15-year-old happy and engaged.

Glen has to work late and can't drive him to his practice right at dinner time.

Made easy dinner early in the day, so at least we can eat early before going to practice.

Bad traffic in a van with broken air conditioning.

Built-in DVD player to watch movies when the kids get bored after running around the fields for an hour.

Draining the battery of the car with the DVD player and discover the car is DEAD right at the end of Spence's practice at 8:30pm and we're over 10 miles from home.

Up-to-date AAA membership we've never used until tonight.

Nice brother willing to let me hang out his house at 10:30pm and borrow his internet for a while.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

The Case of the Wandering Phone

If you've called our house recently you may have noticed that we rarely answer the phone.

It's not that we're always gone and it's not that we're screening our calls, it's just that we can never seem to find the phone. And when we do happen to know where the phone is, we know it's probably not for us.

Thank goodness for the pager button because based on the places we end up finding it (under the cushions of the couch, on the back porch, under pillows, and even in the bathroom (ew!)), I'm fairly certain we'd either be single-handedly keeping the cordless phone companies in business otherwise.

So why is our phone so hard to find? Here are three clues...

1. She has a lot to say.
2. She's not getting a cell phone for another year.
3. She's three weeks away from teenage-hood.

Friday, June 25, 2010

39 for the 1st time.

He's kind, gentle, sweet, thoughtful, hard-working, hot, 30 lbs. lighter, loyal, intelligent, devoted, and I feel blessed every day to be his wife.

Happy 39th Birthday Glen!!!!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Before and After

Before I show you the "Before" pictures of my basement I need to make a couple disclaimers:

1.  The red carpet was here when we moved in and it was brand new.
2. I'm a very thoughtful person who likes to make people feel better about their own decorating skills, so please don't laugh at the ugliness we've lived with for the past 9 years. 

BEFORE:  The front corner of the rec room and fireplace with exposed brick wall.  Notice the water stains.  

AFTER:  Waterproofed from inside and outside (3 years ago), new gutters (to take care of the water issues), drywall over brick, paint fireplace and walls, and new carpet.

BEFORE--This corner used to be the home of way TOO much stuff and I'm too embarrassed to post the BEFORE before picture, but you can see well how ugly it was.

AFTER--Got closets built, sanded the wood paneling,  painted, and got rid of the old red carpet!!!!

BEFORE: This used to be a very ugly old wet bar. 

AFTER:  Now it is built in closets with new paint and carpet. 

Now we just need to get rid of 3/4 of the remaining stuff and figure out how to decorate it.

Any and all suggestions and offers of help are welcome.

Monday, June 21, 2010

BIG things

BIG things are happening at our house...

which means there will be no FHE lesson today...

and very little blogging this week (and last week too if you didn't notice)...

Before and after pictures coming soon!!!!!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Free/Low-cost Activities for Kids in the Washington DC area

It's getting to be that time of year that I'm feeling the familiar pang of nervousness about entertaining the kids all day, every day starting next Friday.  They love going to the pool and hanging out with friends, but it's also fun to get out and explore together as a family.  To help me (and you) out this year I've compiled a list of free and low-cost activities in the DC area.  If you know of any other hidden treasures I've missed feel free to let me know and I'll add them to the list!

FREE(or mostly free) ACTIVITIES

Clemyjontri Park--This fun park in Fairfax County is fun and free, but usually quite crowded.  We always go on either a cloudy day that is threatening rain or  in the evening after dinner.  It gets us out of the crowds and out of the heat of the day.  My kids can seriously stay here for hours and hours.  There's a carousel too, so be prepared with a little cash ($1.50 per person) if you're going while it's open (9:30-1:00 on weekdays).
 Photo courtesy of Fairfax County website.

Adventureland Playground (South Germantown Rec Center) --This amazing playground is in Germantown, Maryland and entertains ALL of the kids (young and old) with its unique amenities.  The climbing wall and the saucer swings that fit several children at a time entertain the older kids and the countless climbing structures and tot lots entertain the younger children.  The same as for Clemyjontri, we only go on cloudy days or during the evening time.  It is well worth the trip a couple times per summer!   There is also a Splash Park nearby that is part of the South Germantown Rec Center.  It's not free ($4.50 per person), but if you're there on a hot summer day it's a great way to cool off after a fun day at the park.
 Photo courtesy of Montgomery County Parks.

Home Depot/Lowe's Kid's Workshops--My kids LOVE the Home Depot kid's workshops.  They're held the first Saturday of every month from 9-12 and they're totally free.  You can just walk right in without any appointment or pre-registration and each child gets a free apron and building kit.  After they're finished building with real hammer and nails they get a certificate and keepsake pin.  The kits are easy enough to put together that Adam and Emma need only minimal help from me. 
Lowe's has a similar program called Lowe's Build and Grow kits.  They're available a few times a month, but it does look like you have to pre-register.

Fairfax Corner Fountains-- Directly in front of the movie theaters in Fairfax Corner, these fun fountains are great for cooling off on a hot day.  Picnic tables, benches,  and shade umbrellas are nearby, so you can set up camp while the kids run through the shooting fountains.  Even my upper elementary kids like it for a fresh change from the pool every day.  Come prepared to buy food at the child friendly restaurants nearby (Potbelly, Ben & Jerry's,  California Pizza Kitchen, etc.) or bring your own to eat at the picnic tables.   Admission is FREE!  Here are the directions.

Natural History Museum Discovery Room--My young elementary  and preschool age kids love this hands-on room at the Natural History Museum.  We often will go spend 45 minutes or so seeing the fossils or gems, then go and spend the rest of the time in the Discovery Room. 

National Museum of American History--Spark Lab--We've never tried this one, but it looks like a fun place to explore inventions and problem solving! 

Letterboxing-- Similar to geocaching, but without a GPS, you just print off some clues off the internet and go find a hidden box somewhere (usually in parks or just off of trails).  Inside is a stamp and a logbook where you sign in with your stamp and then you stamp the box's stamp into your own logbook.   It's a great way to get out and be active while you explore new places.    Read here for our tutorial.  

DC Temple Visitor's Center--Walk around the beautiful grounds, explore the interactive exhibits at the visitors' center, watch an inspiring movie, and during the evenings watch live performances by local and sometimes international performers.
Photo courtesy of

Free Movie Days at Regal Theaters and Phoenix Theaters--The free family film festival is held at select Regal and Phoenix Theaters 10am for nine weeks from June to August 2010. The movies are always G or PG and tickets are available the day of the show at the box office on a first-come, first-served basis, limited to theater capacity.  The movies are usually old and available on DVD already, but it is fun to have the whole theater experience at an affordable price (free)! 

Indoor play places---Malls (like Fair Oaks or Tyson's Corner) and fast food restaurants (like Chick-fil-A in Fairfax Circle, or the McDonald's in Falls Church or Arlington  or any Chuck E Cheese) have play places which are great for kids to burn off some energy on a steamy (or rainy) day. 

Young at Art Family Art Workshops for kids ages 6-13--at the Hirshorn Museum and Sculpture Garden (on the mall in downtown DC).  We've never done this, but I've heard great things about this program. 

National Air & Space Museum--My kids love exploring the Air & Space Museum itself, but I was excited to discover these free shows at the Planetarium there.  These two shows are geared towards kids and are totally free!
Einstein Planetarium free shows--
10:30 am
The Stars Tonight Tues, Thurs, Sat - FREE
10:30 am
One World, One Sky: Big Bird's Adventure Fri
and 1st Sat & Sun of month - FREE

National Building Museum--This beautiful building has much more than stunning architecture.  You can build a life-sized arch in the Great Hall (this is a great activity for teens and adults too), which kept us busy for 20 minutes.  You can also check out a family tool kit for $5 which is designed for families with children of many ages.  Each family or group will get their own tool kit loaded with lots of cool things to help explore the architecture of the Museum's historic home by seeing, moving, touching, and doing! The Building Zone is a fun room which is geared for kids ages 2-6 where they get to explore building with a variety of fun tools.  Adam's favorite is the set of gigantic Legos! 

Haye's Spray Park  in Arlington--This is a great place to cool off on a summer day.  I love the planet theme of the park and I love that my younger kids will play happily for hours. Deanne also found Drew Park and Lyon Village Park which are also free spray parks in Arlington and look like fun! 

Butterfly Pavilion at the National Museum of Natural History--(see below for details) Tickets are FREE every Tuesday. Here's a post about our experience.

National Zoo--I know everyone knows about how cool the National Zoo is, but what everyone may not know is that if you can get there by 9:00 you can miss the crowds, get a good parking spot, avoid the worst heat, and get to see the animals up and moving around.  I also like going to the zoo on light rainy days to really get out of the crowds and heat! (Note:  Admission to the zoo is free, but parking is $20 for 3+ hours.  We used to always take Metro which was an adventure in and of itself)

LOW COST (Under $10): 

Nielsen's Frozen Custard in Vienna--It's the creamiest, tastiest frozen custard around; perfect for a cool and inexpensive treat after a hard day of playing in the summer sun! 

University Mall Theatre in Fairfax--We love this theater for the low-cost movies that are out of the full-price theaters, but before they're out on DVD.  With ticket prices at $3 for kids and $4 for adults, it's a fun way to get the theater experience without breaking the bank!

Children's Theater in the Woods at Wolf Trap--Performances for this popular summer event run from June 29 to August 14, 2010 Tuesday to Sundays.  Tickets $8 for one show or $10 for both shows in a day. We've seen some really cool shows here! 

Strathmore Backyard Theater for Children--Strathmore’s Backyard Theater provides innovative performances for children every Thursday morning in July at 9:30 & 11:30 a.m. We've never tried this before, but it looks like it has some fun shows.  Tickets $7.

Mini-Golf at the Rec Centers--My kids (including Glen) love mini golf.  It's only $5 for kids, $6 for adults. 

Perils of the Lost Jungle Mini-Golf--rated one of the top 5 mini golf courses in America, Cami recently went here for a birthday party and thought it was ultra-cool.  It's a little pricier, but could be fun for something fun and different.   $8.75 for kids and $9.75 for adults

Einstein Planetarium--in the National Air and Space Museum.  In addition to the free shows mentioned above there are shows for a fee too.  If you have kids interested in outer space, this could be a very cool activity for them.   $7 for kids, $9 for adults.

Butterfly Pavilion at the National Museum of Natural History-- This is a fun way to get up close and personal with one of God's most beautiful animals.  You walk through an enclosed room filled with a variety of plants and get to experience butterflies flitting around everywhere.  It's fun to watch them land on people's heads or backpacks and it's easy to see why they subject everyone to a visual check before leaving the pavilion to make sure they aren't unknowingly carrying out a stowaway. Tickets are $5 for kids, $6 for adults.  (Tickets are FREE every Tuesday, but you need to go in advance to get your timed entry ticket).


Sunday, June 13, 2010

Hypothetical Question...

The following is a purely hypothetical situation...

 Your hypothetical son  is in charge of bringing the bread for the sacrament, but he forgets to mention this hypothetical fact until you're walking in the hypothetical door to church.   Hypothetically speaking,  of course, you know there is only half a loaf at home and l5 minutes just isn't long enough to whip up a hypothetical loaf of homemade bread.  So my merely hypothetical question....

Is "ox in the mire" bread any less blessed than bread acquired in a more hypothetically righteous time frame?


Thursday, June 10, 2010

Isn't It Ironic...

  • That the meal I've made a million times for my family turns out "off" when I make it for a friend? 
  • That the first time I've had six dollars cash to my name in months, is the day that the kids come home from school asking for six bucks for their end-of-year parties?
  • That when I go to renew my books at the library, the only book they won't let me renew because there's a hold on it, is the only one I really wanted to keep around for book group? 
  • That the only time my teenager remembers exactly what I said, is when I said something I wish I hadn't?
  • That the later I stay up at night, the more witty I feel and the less witty I really am?
  • That the more I exercise the grumpier and more tired I feel?
  • That the only time friends drop by is when I've just swept the stairs into a huge pile of dirt on the landing directly in front of the door?
  • That I am as excited as the kids about the school year being almost done (...only 10 more days)!!!


Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Directionless Ramblings Повернуть на север, на Мэйн-стрит

The following is a totally true story...

One time when I was newly licensed 16-year-old, I got the job of driving my brother Nate to his friend's house.   Despite me having been there a million times before, it was my first time driving there myself and I was hopelessly lost.  A tad frustrated at my ineptitude, my brother seized a golden opportunity of being stopped at a stop sign and jumped out of the car to find his own way.  Later, when questioned about his actions he informed my parents that I have the brainpower and singing voice of a dying cow and that he couldn't stand another second of me taking another wrong turn while I sang along to Madonna and Paula Abdul. 

While that incident firmly emblazoned me with the title of being the family driving idiot, I hate to admit that this problem of mine is far more than a simple issue of being directionally challenged.  It's actually a deep-down, brain-cell-missing kind of idiocy.

You see for being someone who likes to pretend to be somewhat intelligent,  I never really caught on to the north, south, east, west school of thought.  It's great on maps and such, but I'm pretty sure there is no practical application for it in my every day life.  You tell me to turn north on a certain street and it will mean no more to me than if you said, "Повернуть на север, на Мэйн-стрит".   You talk to me about the inner and outer loop of the Capital beltway and I immediately think of that stupid striped belt I have that doesn't fit me anymore. 

And pity the innocent fool who rolls down their window to ask me, a decade long Washingtonian, the directions to some simple landmark.  I will either babble incoherently like a foreign tourist that I can't quite remember which way it is or else will confidently give them directions then realize 2 minutes later that I missed telling them an important turn.  

Being as experienced as I am at getting myself and others lost, I'm actually pretty surprised that they never asked me to guest star on  LOST.  


Sunday, June 6, 2010

Genetic Impossibilities

 Between the two of us, we have a pretty wide range of possible traits that we've passed onto our children.  Our kids have brown hair, blond hair, and reddish hair.  Some of them have big feet like me, some of them have little feet like Glen.  Some are musically inclined, others are as tone deaf as me.  Some are timid and quiet, others are louder and more outgoing (I'm not sure which trait comes from which of us on that one). 

There are a few traits however that we have determined to be genetic impossibilities in our family: 

1. Unfreckled skin--With the reddish undertones in her hair, Emma definitely got the brunt of this family trait, but every single one of the kids has them to an extent.

2. Non-brown eyes--With my hazel eyes I definitely thought we could get a variety of eye colors, but we're five for five with the brown.  Ellie's are the lightest, Spencer's are the darkest and my hazel eyes are at a genetic dead-end.    

3. Small appetites--I've never had a toddler who refused to eat.  Never.  My kids, every last one of them, has a good appetite from the day they're born.  I figure it's a blessing and a curse.  A blessing in that they eat almost everything I put in front of them and a curse in that weight issues seem to abound on both sides of the family.    They're all healthy sized (even skinny) now, but I worry about it being an uphill battle for them as they grow older.

4.   Being clean freaks.  A huge weakness for both of us, I fear that our children are destined for a life of messy desks, chocolate goatees, and cluttered closets. 

So do you feel like you have any genetic impossibilities in your family?  What are they?  Have there been traits your children have that have surprised you?   


Thursday, June 3, 2010

Purse By Any Other Name...

Once or twice a year, Glen has the opportunity to travel to Asia on business trips. While most of the trips are filled with important meetings and occasional hobnobbing with his foreign colleagues, in the course of these trips he's stood on the Great Wall, taken a ferry to Macau, toured temples and shrines in Kyoto, walked through the Forbidden City. 

Glen is normally not much of a  shopper, but given that there is this certain expectation in our household that when Daddy goes on a trip that he brings home a passel of gifts, he always manages to squeeze in a shopping trip before he comes home.

He's brought home authentic wooden fans, cute stuffed animals, kimonos, and wall hangings.  All fun, but forgotten after a few weeks.

But on his most recent trip to Asia last month he discovered a world famous market in Beijing called the Silk Market where he bought me this.....   
My other purse was  7 or 8 years old and falling apart at the seams, so I was thrilled with a new purse to tote around.  What I didn't realize at first though, was that this wasn't just any old purse that Glen bought me.  It's a fake Louis Vuitton purse.  For any of you who are as uncultured as I am that don't know what is so great about a fake Louis Vuitton purse, check out the price on the  real version here.   Be patient it takes a second to load.  Definitely don't skip this step.

So, yeah.  Now I'm a ponytail wearing, clearance rack at Kohl's shopper in old tennis shoes toting around a bag that looks like it cost a grand.   It's kind of cool and embarrassing at the same time.

On the upside check out how cool this baby is.  I've never had a purse that could fit all my junk into without so much as a bulge on the outside... 

My camera and telephoto lens.

Our flashlight. 

A quadruple combination.

My piggy bank.

A soft fuzzy blanket to use as a pillow at long traffic lights. 

A treat within easy reach ready for my sugar day.

A tasty snack.

And my lunchbox.

So, am I cool yet? 

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Pomp + Circumstance ???

pomp [pɒmp]
1. stately or magnificent display; ceremonial splendor
2. vain display, esp of dignity or importance
3. Obsolete a procession or pageant
[from Old French pompe, from Latin pompa procession, from Greek pompē; related to Greek pompein to send]


Splendor?   Dignity?  Stately?        Not a chance.

 This preschool graduation ceremony was more like
ROMP and Circumstance!

 Ellie the preschool graduate!


Thus ends a decade and a half of mothering babies, toddlers, and preschoolers...


Tuesday, June 1, 2010

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