Monday, January 28, 2013

Liberty Mountain Snow Tubing

If anyone out there wonders why so many people live in Washington DC when there is so much traffic, well, the answer is simple - this place is amazing. Just read my blog a little bit. See all the things we do here. You might begin to understand why the traffic is sooooooo not an issue. It. Is. Worth. It. {Unless Mike is taking too long to get home for dinner}

Last weekend, we enjoyed just another amazing benefit to our area - the nearby mountains. A few friends of ours discovered that if your kiddos are too young for skiing, Liberty Mountain Resort, about an hour and a half drive away, has a giant snow tubing hill!

I've never been to a ski mountain/ski resort/snow tube hill ever. I don't know how to ski. I don't even know what to wear when you just go to snow tube. Do the gloves get tucked inside the jacket or does the jacket get tucked into the gloves? What do you wear under ski pants - pajamas? I am a southern girl born and raised in North Carolina. If you're from NC, then you know, there are mountains to the west and beach to the east. We were the kind of family who headed east. And on the rare occasions when it snowed in my hometown, my mom always sent us to play outside in tennis shoes with plastic baggies on our feet in between layers of socks. I was a bit unprepared for a day in the snow.

Luckily, I married a man from Michigan with a good deal of snow-sense and my BFF is from Indiana and accompanied me for an emergency shopping trip. Once we had the basics, we were ready to go! I packed up my "little" DSLR and picked out some great lenses I thought I'd need for this specific kind of adventure. Once we got to the mountain and I pulled out my camera bag, everyone made fun of me asking how the heck I was going to carry my camera on the mountain. It apparently was an instagram day!
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We went with our good friends, the Allens (Jenny - the redhead in the black hat) and the Davises (Keri - the blonde in the pink hat), and all the kiddos and husbands that went with it!

My kids Charlie thinks snow is this really amazing and special thing. I think this has to do with the majority of his life being lived in Southeast Texas and being deprived of the white powdery goodness. It had snowed about an inch the day before we went tubbing and Charlie had played outside in it for three whole hours. There was even more snow up on the mountain and he was so happy. He kept wandering off from us to pick up a handful to throw or to climb a pile of ice.
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Keri and I both have toddlers so we took the littles to the kiddie hill to play while the dads took the bigger kids down the main hill. Then, the plan was to switch half way through. Henry used to hate everything but he has had a pretty good run lately with liking most things we do. Well, that streak had come to an abrupt end. He hated it. He started crying the second I put him in the tube. He didn't want to go down the hill. He kept his mitten hands over his eyes and refused to look at anything. And I was that mean mom who pulled the squirming, crying toddler up the hill and pushed him down anyway.
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I eventually just gave up and took the monster into the lodge and fed him cookies and pretzels while sitting next to the fireplace. To give the kid some credit, I couldn't find his snow boots before we left and the rental boots I was planning on using did not come in baby size. His little feet had gotten really cold in his tennis shoes. Southern Mom. Poor kid.

While I sat in the lodge with monster crabby-pants, Mike took C down the big hill. I was SURE that C was going to freak out and refuse to go down the hill and Mike would have to force him and then he'd cry and be too scared to go again -- based on the 50,000 questions on the drive up about how big the mountain was going to be. But Mike said he had no problems. He loved it. {tears} Big kid. So proud.
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AND THEN IT WAS MY TURN TO PLAY WITH C!!! Oh, my sweet big kid!! It's so fun to hang out with you! We had so much fun talking about everything as we waited in line to go down the hill. You're so funny and I love every single thought that goes through your head.
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On my first ride up the lift, it broke and I had to start hauling our tubes up a giant hill! Fastest way to find out how out-of-shape you are? Giant hills.
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But the ride was worth the huffing and puffing!! Charlie had to convince me it wasn't scary. It looked REALLY high and REALLY fast to me! But it was so much fun - after I asked the teenager at the top if there was a way to walk down and he said the only way down was the tube...!

I leave days like these thinking of how completely and totally blessed I am. I'm a lucky woman to have such amazing friends and a happy family. Writing these blogs is a constant reminder of all the many wonderful moments and people in my life.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Hockey Is Back

Whoo hoo!!! Hockey is back!!

Ha ha ha ha. Ok, ok. So, I don't actually care. But, my husband does. And I have two little boys who I should probably encourage to enjoy sports so they can develop some sort of man confidence. When the Capitals sent an email out last week saying there'd be a fan appreciation night at Verizon Center to welcome in the season with an open practice, I couldn't disappoint all those boys just because I can never keep my eyes on that darn puck and never remember the rules of the game! Plus, they were giving out free food!! On Thursday, we joined 10,000 other Caps fans and went into DC with our best friends, The Allens.

The kids loved riding the metro. Henry is really into trains right now and of course, the metro totally counts as an authentic choo-choo! He climbed on board, insisted on sitting with the big boys and lit up with smiles as it started to move!

Our kids are loud. And full of energy. And so are their moms. Jenny and I were pretty sure that the young professional who took the seat behind us was texting his entire contacts list to let them know he'd never be having children and if he did, they'd be much more well behaved on the metro.
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We got to the Verizon Center about 10 minutes before the doors opened and the line to get in was at least two blocks long. It was insane! And the considerate young lady in front of us was smoking a cigarette. Classy.

We threw a couple 'bows and got some great seats a few rows up from the ice! Mike and Brad The kids were so excited.
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The practice was pretty fun. The free food meant waiting in a long line but the soft pretzels were delicious and the kids had FREE dippin' dots which pretty much made their year. After the players hit a bunch of pucks for an hour, they skated around and threw tshirts over the glass and did a round of adorable interviews where the players talked about fun stuff like their wives and new babies.
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Gangnam Style started playing and the audience started showing up on the jumbotron. The kids were dancing and trying to get the cameras' attention when I looked up and saw ME on the big screen. I wish I had done something cool but instead it spooked me and I screamed! I'd like to think it was intentional and not coincidence that the "sexy lady" part of the song was playing when I was on the screen...
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We're such a lucky group to have so many fun things to do and extra special friends to do them with.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

The Standard

If you read my blog, or have friended me on Facebook, or follow me on Instagram, or see my occasional tweets, then you might know that I am friends with Rachel. We developed our friendship over the last year with fairly regular playdates to Fairfax Corner for Chipotle lunches and Pinkberry desserts. Sure, we could have mixed it up and gone to different restaurants or different locations. But we really like Chipotle. And Pinkberry. Eventually, we just stopped asking where we should go for a playdate and know that The Standard is happening. Again.
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Chipotle is delicious! And my extremely picky toddler will eat there! And you can put corn on tacos! And the water cups have lids! And the guacamole is soooo worth the extra cost! We used to buy one guacamole for all of us. But now we need two because Fin likes to eat the whole thing. With a fork. As Rach would say - Normal.
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The Standard has several common themes. One of them is that Brady will be adorable. And messy.
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Another is that Henry and Fin will want to walk climb on the benches and other parents will evil-eye shame us for letting them.
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And the best standard of The Standard is the Pinkberry, of course!
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If you have not had the Chocolate Hazelnut topped with dark chocolate crunch, raspberries and hazelnut wafers, well, then you're probably a very sad and miserable human being in desperate need of Pinkberry. You should go get some.
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These boys are cute. Standard.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Potty Training

I did it. Henry is potty trained.

Before I can explain how I did it, I have to say first that I hated it. And so did Hank. Every single second of it. Yes, those underwear are adorable. Yes, I love patting his little tushie instead of a diaper. Yes, those dangling feet are so cute. And of course my heart burst with pride when he figured it out. But, being a woman who believes in full disclosure, it was not fun. No, no. That's not really capturing my feelings. It. Was. Awful. I'm pretty sure my dreams of having a third baby are now tucked far away in that deep part of my brain and labeled "traumatic experience: never do that again."

I had heard that potty training could be done in three days. My best friend said her sister had done it in a weekend with her little girl who was much younger than Henry and that sounded just right for me. Potty training is not something I wanted to stretch out over weeks, or, God forbid, months. When Chuck was three, I potty trained him in a week. Or maybe less than a week. I don't really remember. All I know is that I took a week off work to do it and by the time I went back to work, we were all good. But three days?? That sounded GREAT!
Being the impatient non-planner that I am, I decided on Sunday that we would have to start on Monday. I googled a bit. Keyword search: potty training in three days. Holy cow, there was a lot to read. Some I agreed with. Some I did not. "The month before you start...", well, that wasn't happening. "The week before you start...", again, way too late in the game for that! "Let your child run around naked..." ummmm, no. It's January and he's a boy. Do you even know how much little boys will play with their itty bitty man junk when it's not in pants!? No. Naked was not an option for us either.

I decided to go my own way. I'd compile a few things gathered from here and there and then make up a few things from my own common sense and experience with the big guy. I didn't want sticker charts to keep up with, or bribes. No bartering. And I definitely did NOT want to clean out a little potty. He's the second kid. He would learn how to use the regular ol' potty and do it without fanfare! Poor kid.
Here's a small breakdown of the potty training techniques I gathered from the almighty internets and how I applied them to Henry:

1. Throw out all your diapers. I really liked the concept of not having a crutch to fall back on but was TOTALLY disappointed that someone out there in online-land suggested it. Diapers are expensive and a huge environment issue. In my opinion, diapers do not go in the trash unless they're soiled. So, I couldn't do it. I told myself in my head that they were gone and stuck to it. Diapers were absolutely NOT to be fallen back on. But I didn't actually put them in the trash. A better suggestion - give your diapers to a friend with a toddler! I did, however, follow the no more diapers rule even at bedtime. Although Henry had until then taken a sippy cup of water to bed, we took that away on the first night and even though he asked for it about 15 times, we still said no. And that seemed to do the trick for overnight for us.
2. Do not leave your house for three whole days. This is what can really break a person when potty training. Complete and total mind-numbing, stir crazy, stuck-at-homeness with a peeing, pooping, crying toddler! I read online that the idea is to stay at home and do nothing else but keep your eye on your kid looking for any sign that he or she might need to use the potty and then get them there as quickly as possible! So that's what I did. If I went upstairs, he went upstairs. He wasn't allowed out of my sight for three - whole - days. It was no fun. But, it seemingly worked. Except for those couple of times when trains were too interesting for him and the internet was too distracting for me... And also, I drank a lot of wine.
3. Be calm and patient. Do not yell or get upset. Wow. So, this is where I really screwed up. I am not patient. And I frustrate easily. And I HATE admitting that I am not the greatest mom on the planet in this regard -- but I got upset. And I yelled. I knew in the beginning that staying calm through the accidents would be a challenge for me. I did great on day one but, calm and patient went out the window somewhere into day two when he was crying about how badly he had to poop then refusing to go when placed on the potty. It was really horrible. And I had mom-guilt. Big time. My head kept spinning with how I was ruining his future mental stability by not being collected while teaching him how to poop... Eventually the guilt convinced me to rethink the process. Henry is, after all, my personality clone and oozes independence. I knew he had to make the decision to use the potty on his own. I decided that I'd stop asking him if he had to go. Once he sensed that I was ambivalent about the process, he took control like I knew he would.
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So, Henry, if you ever read this blog someday, I want you to know that we did it. We got you through that first challenge of learning together. And I'm proud to say that we figured out how to make our impatient and independent personalities work together through it. It wasn't easy. Mommy didn't always do it right. But, we did it. I love you, my big boy! And I always will.

Oh! And before I end this blog... I just want to write down for memories sake that while you were learning to go potty, we would all run in and tell you what a big boy you are! We would shower you with "good jobs!" and "I'm so proud of you!" In your adorable toddler way, you would then come into the bathroom while I was there and clap for me and tell me what a big boy I am and say "i so proud you, mommy!" You're the cutest, buddy.