Tuesday, December 29, 2009

The Darned Old Snow

So, it has taken me a while to get these photos posted. I think I've been busy pouting. Well, that and celebrating Christmas. The huge snow we received just over a week ago is almost gone, and the bitterness over my parents' cancelled air travel is slowly subsiding. Christmas morning just wasn't quite the same without them, but thank heavens for Skype, which allowed my parents to take part in some of our merry making. More on that later.

For now...back to the snow. First you have to remember we live in Virginia, which is considered the south. I know, it doesn't always seem like the south to those of us who weren't born here, but think back to your Civil War history. Virginia is definitely the south and southerners just don't typically experience snow like this. Add to that the fact that this was record-breaking snow and you'll understand why the city shut down for about three days.

I took this picture right at the same time my parents' plane should have been landing. Snow kept falling after I took this picture but only for about, oh, I'd say another five hours or so. You should have seen how far I had to lean out of my back door to take this photo. I didn't want to have to actually put on my shoes and go out in the stuff. In the end, we had about two feet of snow at our house.

Picnic anyone?
I hate to say it, but it almost looks....pretty.

Here is Evan's sand table at 11:00 a.m.

Here it is again at 4:00. We still had another five hours of snow after I took this picture. I couldn't bring myself to take another picture of the sand table. Sigh.

The aftermath the next day...Bryan was a sport and shoveled the driveway twice. Once to get it clear and again after cleaning off the cars.

The snow was too deep for Evan to trudge through, so we went to the street where we could walk in tire tracks. The car that made those tracks got stuck about 50 feet past our house, where the driver abandoned the car and blocked the street for a day causing the snow plow to bypass our street, but I won't go into that here. I try to run a family friendly site and the profanity Bryan spewed sort of rubbed off on me. I can't promise to use clean language when talking about the dumb*** that decided he needed to run out for some fast food in a Hyundai in two feet of snow.

Eventually Evan conceded defeat and we retreated to the house where we stayed for a few days. There is nothing Evan loves more than just being home, so the forced seclusion was a welcome treat for him. All in all, I have to admit I enjoyed our time together, too. I just wish the snow could have waited one day!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Snowed In!

We had a record snowfall here over the past two days. With about two feet of snow, we're snowed in for a day or two. That isn't as upsetting as the fact that my parents are snowed out. They were supposed to land in D.C. right as our 17th inch of snow was falling.

Needless to say, their plane didn't make it in. Two days of calling Delta finally resulted in the opportunity for my mom and dad to fly in on Christmas Eve, but since they were flying out on the 26th, they decided it wasn't worth it. I shed a few tears. When Evan asked me what was wrong I explained there was too much snow so Mimi and Grandpa Jerry wouldn't get to come see us. He patted my leg and said, "Don't worry. The snow will melt and then they can come." If only that were the case. When I didn't stop crying he said, "I told you not to worry. Why are you still sad?" I pulled it together for him.

I'm so disappointed! I was looking forward to seeing Evan's face when he gave his Grandpa Jerry a special present he picked out and watching my parents enjoy Christmas through Evan's eyes. I also wanted to hang out with my mom and make Christmas cookies and just enjoy some time together. We'll talk on Christmas and we'll Skype, but I'm still bummed. Boo to the snow.

Speaking of the snow, I took pictures, but my camera cable is CLEAR upstairs and I only have about 10 minutes until Evan's nap is up anyway, so they'll come in a separate post!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Strawberry Syrup

This year I gave some of our friends and Evan's preschool teachers pancake mix and homemade strawberry syrup. The syrup is so good. I like fruit syrups much better than maple, so I made sure we'll have extra for me.

Here are the jars of syrup and the little tags I made for them:

Here is the recipe:

5 cups of frozen strawberries
1 cup of sugar
1/3 cup water

Heat all ingredients on medium heat until the mixture begins to boil. Let boil for 10 minutes. Remove from heat and mash strawberries with a potato masher. Let cool and refrigerate.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Open to the World Again

I decided to open the blog up for everyone to see again. I realized that even I hated to log in to update it, which explains why my mom and Bryan (of all people) weren't reading it. It did mean I had to go through and delete a few posts and will probably delete a few more as I come across them! But hopefully this will get me posting more frequently again!

Our Big News...

We are excited to announce that Evan is going to be a big brother! We're expecting a baby in June and so far everything is going well. This week when Bryan asked Evan if he'd like a little brother or a little sister, he said, "I think neither." Hopefully he'll warm up to the idea over the next six months!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Guess What Evan Wants for Christmas?

Evan made out his list for Santa today. He likes to keep things short and to the point. That's one of the things I like the most about him--his direct communication.

In case you didn't get it from the video, Evan is hoping to get a white jersey and a Silverado for Christmas.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

First Snow of the Season

One of the things I like best about the D.C. area is that it rarely snows. But I have to admit, as much as I don't like being out in the elements, I loved how much fun Evan got to have building his first snowman of the season.

We didn't have a whole lot of snow, so we (as in Bryan) had to import some from the side of the house.

He is a little Picasso with the snowman kit his Aunt Sandy gave him for Christmas last year. He loved rearranging the features.

And if the still pictures aren't enough, here is some video.

We built a snowman in almost the exact same spot in our yard in March. I can't believe how much he has changed in nine months.

And then that snowman we built in March melted...

There are still a few piles of snow in our front yard from this month's snowman, but he isn't going to be around for much longer.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Dear Santa

I've been thinking about what I want for Christmas--it must be because I've watched A Christmas Story five times already (thanks for sending me the DVD, mom!). Instead of a Red Ryder BB Gun, I'll take any one of the following:

1) A change of scenery. We've been living in Northern Virginia for almost eight years now and I'm getting ants in my pants. I'm ready to move on to somewhere new. I do like it here, but if Bryan came home tonight and told me we were packing up and heading in a new direction, I'd love it--no matter where we were going. I'd like to go somewhere where we either don't know anybody or back to Utah where we know everybody. I like extremes. Just ask Bryan how I handle the thermostat.

2) New dishtowels. Mine are old. They are gross. They have stains ranging from black permanent marker (thank you, Evan) to pomegranate juice. I wash them, I promise. I spray them with Spray n Wash. I let Evan spray them with Spray n Wash, which means they get doused in it, but the stains remain. I am hoping Santa hears my plea and brings me a new stack of dishtowels so I can throw out all of mine and start new. I don't know why I don't buy my own, but it seems like a selfish luxury I'm not quite ready to splurge on. I guess that also explains why I don't have spa days or this season's shoes (I don't even have last season's shoes).

3) Someone to clean my car. Cheerios, Goldfish, milk splatters on the window...my car is in need of a good detailing. My at-home and gas-station-vacuum versions aren't cutting it. I need professional help (in more ways than one, but I'll start with the car).

I've been a good girl this year, not necessarily by choice, but it doesn't matter, does it?

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

More Book Club News

I am giving away another autographed book plate from best-selling author Loraine Despres over on my www.mindywrites.com blog. Head on over and leave a comment on the Book Club with Belle post by midnight on Dec. 4 and you'll be entered to win!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Book Club

I was a little late getting the Book Club post up on my Web site, but it is up and live now! If you read The Bad Behavior of Belle Cantrell or even The Scandalous Summer of Sissy LeBlanc, visit the blog and leave a comment. I'm hoping the author will visit on Monday to answer questions and share her thoughts: http://mindylong.com/the-bad-behavior-of-belle-cantrell/.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

What Are You Taking to Thanksgiving Dinner

A friend of mine shared this link on Facebook and I thought it was hilarious. A woman gives a VERY detailed list of what each guest is expected to bring to dinner and how it should be presented. I've never actually taken anything to my mom's or my mother-in-law's house for a meal, since we're already staying there, but I can't imagine they'd ever create a to-bring list like this, which makes me grateful.

And, this year we are having dinner with Granny, Bryan's grandma. I'm in charge of dinner rolls, pumpkin pie and an appetizer. Hopefully I won't mess any of it up!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Redskins v. Broncos

Bryan got tickets to today's Redskins v. Broncos game through his office. They weren't just any tickets--they were tickets to the Owner's Club Suite, which means we were 29 rows up and just about on the 50 yard line. It also meant we had endless food and drinks and some VIP treatment.

Evan had his heart set on ice cream. Unfortunately, there wasn't any in the suite. No problem--a nice lady who works for the Redskins simply directed Bryan and Evan to the press box where they were able to sneak away a couple of ice cream bars.

Evan did find some popcorn.

And some cookies. Those are orange sprinkles dripping off his chin.

The Redskins beat the Broncos. I will admit that I was cheering for the home team, but I felt a little like a traitor. Growing up in Utah, I was a Broncos fan (when I was cheering for a particular team). My cousin Jason is the biggest Broncos fan I know. I wish there would have been a way to bring him to the suite with us.

The Redskins cheerleaders stopped by. Never one to pass up a photo opp, I asked the blonde one to hold Evan for a picture. He batted his eyes at the girls. He is a total flirt.

It was a great day! Bryan and I decided Evan has no idea what a special treat it was, but we took plenty of pictures so we can remind him of it one day.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

I'm Embarrassed....

So, I've been really terrible about blogging lately. I thinking putting this blog behind the cover of a sign in sheet made me lazy. Kind of like when company is coming I clean the house, but my closets will most likely be a mess since no one will see them. So, I apologize. And I'll try to do better!

The last month has been a pretty busy one. Evan started preschool last week, which is great since I've had a hard time keeping up with work over the summer. LOTS of late nights have been had. Evan is loving school this year. Today his teacher told me that anytime other kids were crying, Evan would give them a hug or take them a toy. He is a sweetie.

I've been trying to devote more time to my blog on my work site, www.mindywrites.com, so hop on over and check it out if you get a chance. I've decided to focus it on writing, reading and such. Let me know if you have any favorite books I should include on the site. I'm still trying to come up with ideas for the header...any tips?

So--that is a quick update.

Monday, August 24, 2009

The Sun Hat

I'm a hat nazi at our house. I don't even like for Evan to walk from the house to the car without a hat on--I prefer sun hats, but I will accept ball caps in a pinch. The hats are in addition to 50 SPF sunscreen I slather on at every opportunity. How on earth this kid has developed three freckles is beyond me. 

He got the hat he is wearing in this picture at the beginning of summer and has been wearing it ever since. He was so excited when we entered a little shop and saw this dog wearing the exact same hat. Evan even asked to have his picture taken next to the pooch. Aren't they sweet? 

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

I'm a Big Lady

For weeks Evan has been pointing at me and saying, "You're a big lady." I've tried not to take it personally and have hoped that he never points to someone else and says the same thing. A stranger may not take it with a grain of salt like I do. 

Finally I asked Evan why he is calling me a "big lady" and he said, "You can reach the freezer." Ahhh...yes, the freezer. The square box that holds all the juice pops, frozen yogurt and ice cream. It is a wondrous place that Evan can't get to on his own. Now that I know what he is talking about I feel like I hold such power, such strength--I am the freezer keeper! 

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

A Quiet Trip to the Park

The day started out easy enough. I decided to take a long walk, stop at the park so Evan could play and then planned to come home in time for lunch. We're in the midst of a heat wave today, so I really should have decided to take Evan to the pool instead, but I decided I should try and get a little more exercise.

After an eternity on the swings, Evan was ready to move on to some other equipment. He climbed up one side of a jungle gym apparatus while I moved over to wait at the bottom of the slide. He is easily sidetracked (I think he gets that from me) and stopped to play with a steering wheel. He reached up, let out a loud shriek and pulled away. As I looked up I saw three bees flying away from Evan. I had to coax him over to the slide, then I snatched him up to examine the damage.

There was one mark where he was stung and his hand was already swelling. This being his first bee sting, I had no idea whether he was allergic or not. I've thought about carrying Benadryl with me for just such an occasion, but of course I never went out and bought any. There was no one else at the park, so I couldn't even bum some off of a better prepared mother.

I put Evan in the stroller and RAN home. Literally ran home, dialing information and the pediatrician's office en route. I think my huffing and puffing may have made the doctor's office think it was a prank call since they put me on hold and never came back. I slowed to a fast walk when I called the second time. The nurse asked me if I had any Benadryl. Umm...no...I'm a bad mom. The kind that thinks she should do something, makes a mental note and then never gets back around to it. The nurse told me that it was unlikely he was going to have a breathing problem or else he would already be showing signs, she said. Actually, she was a bit of a smartie pants and the conversation went more like this (imagine the panic-stricken voices you hear on the 911 calls):

Me: "My son just received his first bee sting. What should I do?"
Nurse: "Is he allergic to bees?"
Me: "I don't know. This is his first sting." (My inner monologue: LIKE I JUST SAID LADY!)
Nurse: "Do you have any Benadryl?"
Me: "No. I don't. I don't have any!"
Nurse: "Well, he'd probably already be having trouble breathing if he was allergic."
Me: "How long does it take for breathing problems to occur?" (Inner monologue: Since you really have no idea if by "just" I mean three seconds ago or the five minutes it has taken me to dial information, call you, hold, then call you again and explain the situation).
Nurse: "Well it isn't like it would happen tomorrow."
Me: "Are we talking 5 minutes, 10 minutes, 20 minutes?" (Inner monologue: I really need to switch pediatricians).

Anyway, at that point, I was pretty sure Evan wasn't allergic, but I wanted to be careful. As soon as I got home, I ran in and grabbed my wallet. I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror. Sweat was dripping from my chin, I had giant sweat rings under my boobs, of all places, and my pits?? Well, let's just say it wasn't pretty. I had calmed down a little by the time I got in the pharmacy. Mainly because as I was walking in, Evan broke free and headed for the candy aisle. At that point I knew the worst was over. I spent $33 on Benadryl and Benadryl-related products, should we ever need them again.

Evan is no worse for the wear and he even conned me out of some Tic Tacs. And as for me--I'm thinking I really need to take up running just in case I ever need to conquer the neighborhood hills again.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Say Hello to Baby K

Meet my niece Cadence. We call her Baby K. And by “we” I mean Bryan, Evan and me. Evan started it quite some time ago and although he can now say Cadence perfectly, Baby K persists. I think that is mostly my fault, as I can’t seem to break the habit. I’m pretty sure I’ll be calling her Baby K on her wedding day.

Baby K, along with her dad and mom (Bryan’s brother Travis and his wife, Juli) and Grandma Betty and Papa Stu, paid us a visit.

Just like Evan is all boy, Baby K is all girl. She is so delicate and sweet. I’m already missing her and wishing I could pick her up and give her a squeeze.

She may be all girl, but she had no problem keeping up with Evan’s tendencies. I think she even instigated a few things. The two of them had a ball running through the rain. In her true feminine style, Baby K ran like a girl with one hand out most of the time.

Just a little side note, we gave Cadence that pair of Crocks she is wearing. They used to be Evan’s, but Juli allowed us to pass them along even though she is opposed to the rubber shoes.

Cadence introduced Evan to the joy of yelling while running, but that was in the house. The next morning Evan told me, “Baby K make a raucous.” Then he laughed like crazy. It’s no wonder Evan hasn’t been able to stop talking about her since she left.

Here's to hoping they'll be lifelong friends. 

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Family History

One of my goals is to scan in all of the family photos I am currently storing in a big box. I inherited the box from my great aunt when she passed away and I love to pull the photos out and sort, stare and read the little inscriptions written across the back. Usually it says nothing more than Great, Great, Great Grandpa Lowry, which is what this photo says (and then I have to try and figure out if it was my great aunt's great, great, great grandpa, what does that make him to me?)
I do know that my ancestors were pioneers, and I think you can read so much in the photos. I always love to think about what people were doing just before and after the shutter snapped. Had Grandpa Lowry just finished fishing, or is he getting ready to catch his supper? Is the wagon parked for the night or is he getting ready to head out again.
This photo is also one of my favorites, and I am drawn to the woman in the picture--another great grandparent.
Every time I look at her standing in front of her house I want to thank her for her bravery and pioneering spirit.
These pictures are newer--the woman on the far right is my Grandma Jensen (then a Stevens) along with her brother and sister and my great grandpa as he drove them off to boarding school. I love the hats!
Here they are as little kids. The photo reads, "Playhouse back of Grandpa Stevens granery--Ferron, Ut." If I remember correctly, a coffee company used this photo in a calendar--notice the coffee can next to my grandma (the one in the middle).

I love the dog in the picture, Bubbles. My Aunt Melva told me countless stories about Bubbles and how he used to follow them to school each day, sit outside the school and wait for them so they could all walk home together.

I think the reason I am progressing so slowly on my scanning is that each time I pull out the box, I get too caught up in each picture and the details and what I know or don't know about the people in the picture. Before I know it, an hour has passed and I've only scanned two photos! Wish me luck.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Help Me Organize Evan's Toys

I need help! I'm looking for some cute and discrete ways to store Evan's toys that we keep in the living room. I have some shelves with baskets, which do a nice job. But, there is one big basket on the floor that keeps overflowing. I know the living room is family space, but it is the first room you see when you walk in my house, so I want it to be uncluttered. Any ideas?

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Going Underground

I'm following the lead of several of my blogging friends and taking this blog private. I've been thinking about it for quite some time now and a promo last night for America's Most Wanted made me decide it was time. I will send invites to those who I know read the blog, but if you're a lurker and still want to keep up with us, shoot me an e-mail or leave a comment. I'll make the switch on Wednesday night. 

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Evan's First Skating Lesson

I took Evan for his first ice skating lesson yesterday. I was afraid it might scare him away a bit since skating is harder than it looks, but I think it has made him love it even more. He is still too young for the group classes, so we are doing a few private lessons with him. His teacher is so sweet. And, she even prefers to work with the child without the parent. So that gives me 30 minutes to sit on the sideline and watch. Of course, I didn't discover this until after I had paid my $11 ice and skate rental fee yesterday.
They have large signs posted that say "No Flash Photography," but I'm sure that doesn't apply to moms whose sons are taking their first lesson, right? Plus, any skater worth his or her salt should be able to skate right through a few flashbulbs going off.

I was trying to stay out of sight so I wouldn't distract Evan, but I failed miserably. I was pretty far away (hence how tiny Evan looks), but Evan still spotted me. At the end of this video he starts signing mom.

Photo Sharing - Video Sharing - Photo Printing
This is the final video just as his lesson is ending.

Photo Sharing - Video Sharing - Photo Printing

Ready for a Road Trip?

If you're looking for somewhere to go this summer, check out my story that ran in The Hill newspaper today on road trips. I've posted it on my new Web site at http://mindylong.com/road-tripping-with-congress/.  The Hill is published on Capitol Hill and the story features some senators' and representatives' favorite spots in their districts. You'll have to let me know if you visit anywhere I've written about!!! 

By the way--the Web site still has a few little things I'm tweaking here and there. I'll be posting to my new blog on the site tonight and plan to start posting at least 2-3 times a week. You can get there via www.mindylong.com or www.mindywrites.com so check back there soon! 

Monday, June 22, 2009

A New Tie!

You'll never guess what Bryan got for Father's Day...come on...guess... Give up? Okay--it was a new tie. With stripes! Even though Evan had given away the secret on Saturday, Bryan played along as he was unwrapping it. Evan helped speed up the process, too.

We went out for dinner to a new restaurant (well--new to us) that Bryan has been wanting to try. The waiter snapped a pic of us. I'm posting it just to prove that I do blow dry my hair once in a blue moon. Usually it is in a clip.
Some days I try to tell myself that Evan looks like me. Then I see a picture of him and Bryan together and, well, I have to admit they do look a lot alike.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

He Can't Keep a Secret

All week I have been telling Evan that tomorrow is Father's Day--a special day for daddy. This morning we went to the mall to buy a surprise for daddy. Later in the day Bryan, Evan and I were sitting in the kitchen when I asked Evan what tomorrow is. He looked at Bryan and said, "Tie daddy. With stripes." Bet you'll never guess what Bryan will be unwrapping tomorrow.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

New Blog in the Works

I am going to be launching a new blog on my work Web site soon about freelance writing. I plan to talk about how to freelance, writing tips, helpful sites, etc. I want my friends and family who aren't writers to read it, too. So, I'm wondering what I could put on there for you, too. Any ideas?

One thought that I've kicked around with a few friends is a virtual book club. We'd pick a book, read it together, post questions and comments on a certain day and hopefully the author would take part, too.

Does anyone else have any ideas? You can e-mail me or post a comment! Thanks!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Homemade Bathtub Paints

There were so many different things I could have used for a title of this post. "The Worst Idea I've Ever Had," "My Budding Artist," "A Bottle of Mustard Explodes," "Evan is Looking a Little Jaundiced." But, I opted for the straightforward approach.

A few weeks ago I decided to whip up some homemade bathtub paints for Evan's amusement. It was really easy--just use some baby wash, stir in cornstarch until it is your desired consistency and then add some food coloring.

Evan enjoyed every minute of it and painted almost every square inch of the tub. Bryan got home from work right at the peak of the painting and looked in at the yellow mess and proclaimed it may have been the worst idea I'd ever had. At that point, I was beginning to think he was right. Then Evan smiled and all was forgiven.

The tub wiped up easily and Evan was only yellow for a day or two. Kidding. It washed right off. I would do it again, although, I haven't, so I'm not quite sure what that means. Give it a try! Let me know if you do and how it worked for you. I want to let someone else experiment with some reds and blues before I try it out!