Saturday, January 12, 2019

Jury Duty

On Monday I had jury duty. I got the notice a few weeks before Christmas and had been dreading it ever since. In order to make it to the courthouse in time Tony had to take a day off of work to get the kids out the door. Getting the kids off to school in the morning has always been my job and I don't think Tony has ever had to do it, like ever, so I was nervous about that as well as making it into Annapolis at the crack of dawn. I left around 6:45 and while traffic was consistently heavy the whole way I was never at a dead stop and ended up making it to the parking garage right around 7:10 am. 

As I was getting out of the van I saw a lady who looked a little worried and she asked me if I knew the best way to get to the street from the garage. I told her I didn't but saw a sign for the elevator and we headed that way together. As we walked, another woman joined us and we all realized we were downtown for jury duty. There was a free shuttle running from the garage to the courthouse but it didn't begin running until 7:30 am so we decided to just walk the 6 blocks instead of wait. We made small talk the whole way, talking about our kids, jobs etc. 

We were among the first to arrive and after checking in, we were told where to sit while everyone else got checked in. While we were waiting we were given a paper that asked if we'd be able to sit for a criminal trial that they thought would last 7 days. We had to give a reason if we couldn't and I didn't have one but I was immediately nervous I'd be chosen and Tony would have to take off a lot of work for me to be there. Once everyone was seated and had filled out their paper we were given a 30 minute break and told that once it was over we'd be doing a jury pool for the criminal trial. 

As we sat back down from our break the bailiff read our name aloud and we called out our number. I was number 68 of 125 called. There were 180 of us there that day so the chances of being called were extremely high. We were told we had to sit in our assigned seats and wait until the judge notified us he was ready...and an hour passed....and another hour...which made it 11:15 or so when the judge came down into the room to talk to us. 

The judge began by apologizing for wasting our time and then went on to explain that he'd had some issues with the attorney's handling the criminal trial we were set to hear. He explained that he had made some preliminary rulings about the case in the week prior but found out later that some of the information was incorrect which led to him having to reverse some rulings and opened the door for an appeal. So, instead of us listening to the case it was now going to an appellate court. All of that had been happening in the several hours we'd been sitting and since there was no case to be heard anymore, they sent us home. We were told at that point that we wouldn't be needed for the rest of the week and you could just hear this huge collective sigh of relief fill the room. 

Since I had to go in this week I should be good to go for at least the next three years. Thank goodness. 

Lea Turns Nine

Last Sunday we celebrated Lea's 9th birthday. They had a family only party at their house so it was a nice, quiet evening which we really enjoyed. Before leaving Tony said something about this being Lea's halfway to adulthood birthday and I realized I'd never thought of it that way before. I was thinking how this was her last birthday in the single digits (and Harper will be 9 this year as well) and how the two of them would be in 4th grade next year, but to say halfway to adulthood?! That's just a little depressing.

Lori told me that Lea enjoyed playing board games, especially ones requiring strategy. So, I ordered her the game Haba Karuba after reading some positive reviews online. Fingers crossed she likes it!

Lori made two homemade ice cream cakes and both were really good! 

We mostly stood around eating and chatting and the kids had fun running around playing. It was a nice evening and I'm really glad we were able to be there to celebrate Lea's birthday. 

Sunday, January 6, 2019

Saturday Swim

The kids and Tony went to a birthday party at the pool last month and the kids had such a good time that we thought they'd enjoy going again. We had a free afternoon yesterday so we grabbed our bathing suits and headed out after lunch.

The kids were VERY excited about going swimming while Tony and I were more excited about lounging around in the hot tub, haha! The way they have the hot tub set up at the edge of the kids area is nice so that parents can see their kids playing while they enjoy the (very warm) hot tub which is only for those 18+.

When we tired of sitting in the tub we got out and swam and played with the kids which they loved. Dakota ran into a friend from her class and swam with her a bit too which was nice. When Tony and I tired of swimming I grabbed my phone to take some pictures and boomerangs of the kiddos playing.

Nail Painting with Dakota

Yesterday morning Tony and Harper had to attend a Boy Scout function which left Dakota and I home together. So, making good use of time (and making good on my New Year resolution), I told her we'd spend an hour together doing whatever she wanted. She'd been asking me to paint her nails for a couple of days and immediately thought of it when I asked her what she wanted to do.

She got a nice new nail kit from her cousin Lea for Christmas so we set up our little nail shop and got to work. She asked me to teach her what all the tools were that came with the kit so we did that first. Then, she chose the colors she wanted me to use and I got to work cleaning up her nails before painting.

She wanted purple and pink nails on one hand and green and blue on the other. There were some tiny stickers to add but she chose glitter instead. Wouldn't you know I totally forgot to get any pictures of her nails when we were done! Oops! I think her favorite part of the whole thing was probably using the little nail dryer. I guess that made it seem more like a real spa.

It didn't quite take an hour to just do nails so I pulled out some hair chalk she'd gotten for Christmas and we tried it out too. It was really easy to use and left soft pink stripes of color in her hair which she really liked. 

It was just a few minutes after we finished that Tony and Harper got home and our hour was up. I enjoyed spending our time together and I know she loved having me paint her nails and hair!

Iron Rooster with Landon

A while back I went out with a few moms for a couple of hours. We started off at a vineyard but when the food truck never arrived we decided to head over to the Iron Rooster for some dinner. I'd only been to the Iron Rooster once before then and hadn't realized that their big thing was their homemade pop tarts. After someone in our group ordered the mixed berry pop tart and I had a taste I immediately thought of Landon and knew I had to bring him there sometime.

Since my New Years resolution is to spend at least one hour of one on one time with each family member per month, I knew this would work well for my time with Landon. I asked him for his work schedule and when I saw that his only day off last week was Wednesday, we decided that'd be the best day to go. No sense waiting!

As soon as he got home from school we hopped in the van and headed to Annapolis. I didn't tell him where we were going only that it was food related and not to stop for lunch somewhere between school and home as he often does. We got to the restaurant just after noon and I was surprised how busy it was for a weekday afternoon. But, we got a table right away and I was excited to point out their homemade pop tarts! The menu only states that they have pop tarts but you have to ask your waitress the flavors and I was a little nervous they wouldn't have his favorite, but they did, so we ordered one to share. I remembered it being quite large and I'm glad I did because even between the two of us we couldn't finish it!

He and I both thought the pop tart was really good and I was glad that I'd finally managed to get him there to try it. Even though it was well into lunch time we both ended up ordering breakfast for our regular meal. He grabbed an omelet while I chose a basic egg and bacon plate. 

It was a great way to spend our hour together and it was nice to focus my attention on him for a bit. We didn't talk about anything major or have any revelations or anything but we did (mostly) refrain from looking at our phones and chat, which is as much as I can expect or ask for. 

So, one person down, 3 (maybe 4) to go! 

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

Our Resolutions

While we were busy eating pizza on New Years Eve I asked the kids if they knew what a resolution was. Neither of them had heard the term so I explained a little about what a resolution was and what types of resolutions people make every year. I could tell that they were intrigued with the idea and when I suggested that they come up with a resolution for this year they were both eager. 

After a few minutes of thinking this is what they decided:

Dakota: be kind to other more and be nice to the earth

Harper: fight less with Dakota, try to keep my hands to myself'

We talked about ways in which they could be successful keeping those goals and then they wanted to know if Tony and I were going to make resolutions. We don't always make resolutions but I think it's always a little fun to set some sort of goal and see how things pan out. Tony said he already knew what his was and since I'd been thinking about the whole thing for a few days I knew mine as well.

Tony: to say goodnight and I Love You every night, no matter what

Me: to spend at least one hour of one on one time with each family member (living at this address) per month. (Zoe's work schedule/distance makes this kind of resolution really hard, but maybe...?)

Landon decided he wasn't making a resolution this year because he said he never follows through. I don't know if he knows that 99% of us don't actually make it but it's still fun to try! 

I actually kind of stumbled upon my idea when Dakota was at a girl scout event all day one day last week and Harper said his favorite days were ones where just myself or Tony was home with him. He said he liked having our full attention and not having to share us with Dakota. We do spend a huge amount of time together as a family but one on one time is extremely rare. Tony does get a bit more time with Harper since I take Dakota to dance and girl scouts but it isn't too often that I have alone time with him and usually if I'm with him, Dakota is there too. 

So, that said, I am going to make an effort to spend at least one hour a month with Landon, Harper, Dakota and Tony, alone. (Zoe if we can make it work!) And, while none of them resolved to spend time with me, it kind of happens that they'll have to! Haha!

Yesterday, after we got home from skating, Dakota didn't want to play with her friends outside so I offered to hang out with her. She totally rejected me! I mean, I offered to do all kinds of things with her like paint her nails, play with her dolls, go on a bike ride etc. and she flat out refused them all! Later on, when Harper was bored I offered to do some things with him and he too rejected my efforts. What the hell?! I told Tony it looked like my resolution wasn't going to work out but not because I didn't try, but because my kids don't wanna hang out with me! He ended up offering to take all of the kids' hours and well, he can seriously be the sweetest man alive sometimes. 

I'm gonna work on these kids though and hope that I can get them to enjoy spending time with me. I don't really have an exact idea what I'm going to do each month but I'm sure I'll think of something! 

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Happy New Year, 2019

It's hard to believe all that Christmas and New Years hubbub is over. It comes at break neck speed and then poof, it's over. 

Today was the kids last day off before school so we tried to make it a fun one for them. We went out to lunch, looked for a birthday gift for their cousin's birthday this coming weekend and then we went roller skating. They both mentioned wanting to skate just recently and since we didn't have much else to do today, it felt like a good time to go. I haven't skated in so, so long but today thought I'd get my butt out there with them. It made Dakota really happy that I was out there, so it was worth it! (It took me a few laps to get comfortable on the floor but I sure don't remember it killing my shins like it did!)

"Mom, wait here of us and take some video. We're gonna dab!" 

We ended up only skating for about an hour and man that place was PACKED when we left!

Once we got home we all just relaxed. It was a nice enough way to start the year. I'm eager to see what the year holds; hopefully mostly good things. We've got a busy month ahead and I know it'll seem to be over in a blink. As we put the kids to bed this evening we took some fun pics on Snapchat. Happy New Year! 

New Years Eve

Yep, I just gave up on the whole blogging thing last month. I just couldn't find the time or the energy and even though I know I'll regret it, I just had to let it slip in order to fulfill the millions of other obligations I had going on.

We actually had New Years Eve plans this year but they kind of fell apart at the last minute. Tony, the two youngest kids and were going to a family party from 6-10 pm (all parents of young-ish kids who know staying up that late is punishment for everyone) and Landon was supposed to go out with some friends. But, Landon's plans didn't work out and though he was welcome to come with us, he declined (the second oldest kid at our party would have been 10 and everyone else was mid 30's and beyond) and I knew then that we wouldn't be going anywhere either. One thing you can count on with this family is that we ALWAYS stick together. Always.

So, we stayed home and had homemade pizza and martini's (for the adults) and Shirley Temples (for the kids). And, Harper chose chocolate milkshakes for dessert. The kids went to bed slightly past their regular bedtime of 8 pm and couldn't have cared less.

It wasn't much, but it worked just fine for us.

Tony wanted a green screen to use with our Oculus  and I got him one for Christmas. But, we thought it might be fun to take some pictures in front of it for, we did. It was getting a little late so instead of pulling out the big camera and the tripod I just propped up my phone and we went with it. So, the photo's could have been much better had we taken the time, but it was a fun little experiment.

So, here we are in front of the screen:

And, here's the edit:

It might have been a little more believable if we'd have been dressed for winter and the street was MUCH fuller considering NYE in NYC brings people out in droves, but, it was enough to fool a couple of people on Facebook! Haha! 

Here's another in front of the screen:

And, here's Landon in NYC:

Of course, since the screen was up and we had the camera out, there was lots of silly stuff:

Thursday, December 6, 2018

Polar Express Train at the B&O Railroad Museum, Baltimore

The B&O Railroad Museum has a Polar Express Train ride event every year that sells out. I've been thinking about it for a few years now but I always think about it too long and it ends up being sold out. So, this year I bought tickets the moment I noticed they were on sale. It isn't a cheap event but one I thought would be fun since the kids love the story/movie. It's based off the book The Polar Express which is an amazing story about a boy who takes a magical train ride to the North Pole to meet Santa and make his Christmas wish. 

Since the story takes place overnight while all the adults are sleeping the kids are all in their pajama's on this magical train ride. 

We got to the train station a little earlier than our start time and had to hang out outside until our entry time. Some of the trains outside were pretty neat looking!

Inside the waiting area there were some games set up to keep the kids busy while waiting to board the train as well as some snacks and drinks. They allow you in exactly one hour before boarding the train and since we didn't know better, we were there the full hour beforehand. (If you go, 15-20 minutes is all you need to let your kids play the few games they have set up.) There was a station for the kids to make Lego cars and a ramp to race them on. A spot to take photo's, a "snowball" toss and a ring toss game. It wasn't much and it became very crowded very quickly as people arrived. 

After playing the games and then standing in line for about 45 minutes the show officially began when the train conductor came out. He said a few things and then we all started making our way outside to the awaiting train. 

We passed a hobo outside playing his guitar:

As we boarded the train we were given golden tickets (just like in the movie) and then found our seats. We were able to get a spot for the four of us to sit together which was nice and once everyone was on board, the show began. The chef's did a song and dance as the train began to pull away from the station and then handed out hot chocolate and cookies to everyone. 

While the kids sipped their cocoa and ate their cookies the chefs walked around with over-sized books showing the pictures while the story was told over the speaker system. 

As the story was being read the conductor came around to punch everyone's ticket. 

When the story was over Santa Claus began making his way down the aisle...the kids were so excited! As Santa passed by he handed everyone a beautiful silver bell. 

The train ride portion of the event lasted just over an hour or so and then we got off and walked into the roundhouse.

We spent about 20 minutes doing things in the roundhouse including taking a family photo which means the whole event from top to bottom was around 2 hours. Would I pay to do it again? No. On a scale of 1-10, 10 being the highest, it gets a 4. There wasn't much to it and it really lacked in the excitement department. (I will say though that the women who danced as chefs seemed to really know their part and performed with gusto! They really put effort into their parts which I appreciated!)

Things that could have made it better:
  • more to do upon entry while waiting for the train ride even if activities were held outside under tents. 
  • more live action storytelling rather than listening to a storybook being read. Even silent acting as the story was read would make it more entertaining.
  • more face time with Santa per child, more meaningful exchange when given the silver bell
  • add to train garden area, make interactive in some way
Of course I realize this is for kids but with the price of tickets and limited times offered it'd be nice to feel like we had a true "experience" rather than endured a lackluster performance. 

Jury Duty

On Monday I had jury duty. I got the notice a few weeks before Christmas and had been dreading it ever since. In order to make it to the cou...