Tuesday, April 2, 2019

April Fools Pranks

The two little kids made me laugh yesterday morning. 

I was upstairs getting things ready for school when I heard them talking about how it was April 1st and therefore a day to fool people. A minute or two went by and Dakota came upstairs, pointed out the window and said "Mom, Look!" Of course, I looked and that was when she (very proudly) exclaimed "Made ya look! April Fools!"

Yup. She got me alright. 

As we were on our way out the door to head to the bus Harper pointed at the ground and said "Mom! Look!" You might guess that I'd have learned my lesson but if you guessed that, you'd be wrong. Instead, I looked exactly where he was pointing on the ground and he very excitedly yelled "April Fools!" 

I didn't really have it in my heart to explain why their April Fools jokes didn't really work especially given how happy they were with themselves. It makes me laugh now just thinking about how devilish they imagined they were being! As Harper was boarding the bus he looked up at me and said "I know you won't be able to fool me today, I'll be expecting anything you do". 

Challenge accepted, buddy.

So, while those rugrats were at school, I hot glued some coins to the ground in front of the garage. 

My little trick nearly didn't work when Harper didn't notice the coins but once I'd pointed them out, he was toast! I got him! In the video you'll hear Dakota say "April Fools" and I was surprised she didn't fall for it! Smarty pants. Once they realized they were glued to the ground they were just going to leave them there but I told them if they could get them up they could keep them...and they were all up off the concrete in a jiffy! 

I also made brownies for dessert last night...

And, I short-sheeted Landon's bed but didn't take any pictures. Since he NEVER makes his bed I had to change his sheets (something he does, not me) for him and remake his bed. I told him I thought I'd be nice and do his bed for once since I was already washing everyone else's sheets and doing so gave me the opportunity to mess with him. I was so proud of myself and this morning I couldn't wait to ask him about it! But, for whatever reason, he didn't even notice!!! What the hell!? Totally ruined my day. I went in his room and looked at his sheets and they were back to normal so I don't know if he's messing with me and did notice or he did notice and when he saw they were messed up, fixed them and is just not giving me my glory. Who knows. 

If you don't know what short-sheeting is, search it on YouTube. 

My prank on Tony was telling him I'd make dinner. We both laughed at that one and went on about our business. :) 

100 Day Project, Day 1

Man, it's been awhile since I've written anything. It's strange to look back on this year and only see a handful of posts and while it makes me kind of sad to know all the stuff we've been up to isn't recorded it's also been a huge weight off of my shoulders to just let it go. That said, I am going to try to blog on a somewhat regular basis. What that is remains to be seen, but today is as good a day as any to start. :)

I came across an interesting idea/topic on Instagram sometime last year called the 100 Day Project and when it popped up in my feed again this year I decided I might want to give it a try. I honestly couldn't decide what I wanted my project to be as there are a million things I'd like to try, but I ultimately settled on something I was comfortable with, felt pennies.

My mom introduced me to the idea of making felt pennies a few years ago and I immediately enjoyed the process. It's simple, requires few and very basic materials (scissors, thread, felt cut into various size circles) and a single penny can be finished top to bottom in a matter of minutes. The only dilemma I face is what to actually do with the finished pieces. I'm hoping that over the course of the next 100 days I'll be able to create 100 unique pennies and also think of a way to use them in my home.

After looking at the projects others have made or are working on I have to admit that I feel very intimidated and unsure of myself but not enough that I'm not willing to give this thing a go. I will be posting my pieces on Instagram as I go along and hopefully here as well as I think it'll be fun to look at all the different pennies created.

Here is my day 1:

Friday, February 22, 2019

Note To Self

A few mornings ago I woke up and the first thing that entered my mind was that I hadn't blogged in a long time. It's weird because it's something I consciously chose to let go but when I woke up I felt so much anxiety about it that I felt like I needed to get right up and post something. But then life got busy and my anxiety over not blogging was replaced by anxiety over something else and it was again at the bottom of my ever growing anxiety heap.

It seems kind of silly to be so worried about blogging but the truth is, I ALWAYS feel guilty when I don't keep up with telling our family story. I worry that my younger kids won't be able to read as much about their childhood as my older kids will because I was a little more consistent when they were younger. (I have no idea if that statement is even true, but I do worry about it.) I absolutely want to remember the details of our lives, the important stuff and even the day to day monotony because I know it is fleeting and precious. My kids ask the funniest questions and say the darndest things and I just want to freaking remember it all, even though I know it's impossible.

Blogging certainly isn't the only way to document and/or remember but it sure has been handy. Just the other day Tony and I were trying to plan for our annual Vran Bowl and we couldn't remember what number of years we'd been doing our little family party. Was it 4 years? Six? It happened to be five and the only way we could be certain was to look back on this terribly written blog to see. For some reason we didn't have it in 2017 and I'm thinking it was because Zoe and Brandon (and possibly Landon) had other Super Bowl Sunday plans so we just didn't do the Vran Bowl thinking it wasn't worth the trouble to go through for just the four of us. I'll never know for sure though because I didn't document it in any form. I know it isn't life altering to remember every single Vran Bowl or other family activity but there is a huge satisfaction being able to look back and remember so many great moments.

Like most people my greatest obstacle is time. I have lots and lots of time to do things but there is MUCH to do. The kids go to school and I've got to cram everything I can into those 6, almost 7 hours that I can. It's a lot of time and plenty of quiet hours but they are filled to the absolute max most days. There are endless things to take care of around the house and it seems like as soon as those things are accomplished, it begins again. Laundry, cleaning bathrooms, vacuuming, sweeping, dusting, picking up toys, keeping up with the bills, dishes, meal planning etc.; it's a full time commitment and none of it is really ever "done". I mean, I may not do those things on a daily basis, but there is always one, two or even three that needs to be done and those are the ones that can be taken care of at home. Shopping is a whole other beast (clothes, food, household) and while some of it is enjoyable, much more of it is not. Exercising is another time suck, and yes, it's important, but another place my time evaporates, especially if I drive to the gym to do it.

So, why am I taking the time to write all of my reasons for not blogging? I guess its my form of forgiving myself. My way of reminding myself that I really am busy and that blogging takes the back burner because I need it to. A way to soothe my future self into remembering that the "living" life part is more important than the documentation. Being in the moment is the important part...and documentation is the extra.

Friday, February 1, 2019

Dog Sledding Day!

Well, January came and went and not much blogging happened. Too busy living my life I guess!

We spent the last day of January in White Hall, Maryland learning about sled dogs. It was a girl scout event that sounded like too much fun to ignore so despite a polar vortex, off we went!

Our start time was 9 am and it was just over an hour drive but I wasn't sure how the traffic would be so we headed out of the house around 7:45. I didn't want to be late but I didn't want to get there too early either since it was so painfully cold outside. It was an easy enough drive up and while there were some moments of really heavy traffic we ended up getting there about 10 minutes early. Perfect!

After taking about 15 minutes to get myself and the two kids layered and bundled to the best of my ability, we headed out to meet the couple who were giving us our "tour" and lessons about the dogs. She collected our paperwork and then gathered everyone around to learn about the team.

(It's a long video but interesting to learn a little about each of them!)

When she finished telling us all about the dogs we were able to pet them and hang out with them a little bit and then were shown how to use the harnesses. Some of the kids wanted to try putting the harnesses on while others were hesitant and didn't want to. Dakota helped with a harness while Harper chose to just watch and then the kids were broken up into groups for the sled rides. The ride was done in a relay style with girls waiting at one of three different stops. So, a child from group A would ride to group B, get off and a group B child would ride to group C etc. Each ride only lasted about 4 minutes but it looked like an awesome 4 minutes!

I was the parent of the group who had to walk the furthest and while I don't really know how far away our stop was, I'd guess close to a mile. Like I mentioned, it was bitterly cold so it was nice to get to walk for awhile and warm up. My group only had two kids, Harper and one of the girls from Dakota's troop. They were terrific sports about the long walk in the cold and never complained. Harper talked the entire way about our surroundings, he's such a nature lover. He couldn't get over how beautiful everything looked covered in snow and he enjoyed admiring the HUGE icicles as well. 

It wasn't long after we made it to our post that the dogs came running up the trail. I wasn't able to tell who was on the sled because of all the winter clothing and was surprised when it was Dakota who got off the sled! She LOVED it but was a little sad that it had been such a brief ride. Once Dakota got off, the other little girl Harper and I had walked with had her turn on the sled. 

Dakota, Harper and I hung out for about 15 minutes waiting for the dog sled to return. We basically paced up and back trying to keep warm but Harper was captivated by the birds and the water rushing below us. He later told me that he enjoyed the dog sledding but loved the walk down the snowy path even more.

Thanks to our girl scout leader, I have a little video of both kids on their sled ride. Dakota taking off and Harper coming in. 


When Harper left our station it was time for Dakota, another one of the girls and I to start making the trek back. The girls also noticed the huge icicles and pulled a few off to "eat" on the way back.

When everyone had finished their turn on the sled the kids were taught a little about the diet the dogs follow and then were able to feed them.


Our final lesson was about the different types of sleds that are used during races and why particular dogs are placed at the beginning, middle or end of the line. 

Before wrapping it up for the day the kids were given a snack of brownies and hot chocolate. They all said their goodbye's to the dogs and then we happily got into our cars for the heated hour ride home. 

While it was a very cold adventure I think it was one we will remember for a good while. It's not every day you get to meet a real team of sled dogs!

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! 

April Fools Pranks

The two little kids made me laugh yesterday morning.  I was upstairs getting things ready for school when I heard them talking about how ...