Friday, September 28, 2012


For the culmination of the geography unit the first graders have been studying, they had Dress Like a Pirate Day.  

Here's Hughes ready to go to school. 

I went up there for lunch today and he said all the big kids were telling him "nice beard".

Busted Again

Collins helping himself to some pop tarts.

The stool has since been confiscated to the laundry room.  


Collins enjoying the chocolate peanut butter candy our neighbor brought us.

Gettin' Crafty!

So, since Mom left in August I can't say a lot has been done to our house decorating wise.  Mom knows how to crack the whip and when she's on a roll you better just hold on and hope you have the stamina to go the distance.  I'll be honest, she wore us out when we first moved in.  When she left, David and I had a relaxation day.  

Fast forward 5 weeks and poor Collins is still sporting the beach towels on his windows.  In my defense, it did take me a while to figure out what I wanted to put on his windows and those beach towels had his room pitch black which was nice.

Isn't that cornice board beautiful?  It was wrapped in the ugliest fabric I have ever seen. 

 My helper is showing off the blinds.  He's quite the climber these days.  

I typically leave the sewing to my mom.  She's fast and accurate.  I'm slow and always off by 1/2 inch.  I decided to bite the bullet.  I ordered the fabric online and away I went.  I lined the curtains with blackout liner to help with the light.  The sun rises right outside his window and when the sun is up then Collins is up.

My finished product.  Pretty cute, huh?  I'm pretty proud of myself.  It took me longer than it should have but I'm glad I can say I did it myself.

The inside seam is lined with red pom-pom balls.  Those were a headache and caused me to use a lot of 4-letter words.  

The downside is that now my new friends think I can sew and are already talking about curtains I could make for them.  Little do they know is that I'm a one trick pony.

National Book Festival

Last weekend the National Book Festival was taking place on the mall.  (do I capitalize mall?)  We thought that we would "carpe diem" since we're living right near our nation's capital and go.  I packed a picnic lunch for us to have down there while we were enjoying the festivities.  I looked up the festival on the Internet and they were having all kinds of book characters doing appearances (Super Why, Curious George, etc.) and authors.  

So, we set off on our adventure with every other single person on the planet.  Holy Smokes, the traffic was a nightmare.  We get into DC and we're moving at a snail's pace.  There is no parking.  We drove around for over an hour with the kids fussing in the background "I'm hungry" "When are we going to get there?"  "Why can't we get out".  David and I kept our cool.   

All it took was one look between us and we knew what was going to be our next step.  A quick map search on the ol' trusty iPhone and we were heading home while having our picnic in the car.

Banks fell asleep.  Everyone else ate.  And, it was the first time that we didn't get lost leaving DC.  Maybe we'll try again next year using the metro.

Banks scores again!


Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Smooth Operator

Hughes has been chatting it up with the ladies lately.  Below are a few of his most memorable conversations.  It would be important to note that we walk to school most mornings with our neighbor, Avery, who is also in first grade.  Lately, another first grade girl, Samantha, has been joining us.

Hughes and Avery were walking one day and Avery mentioned something about having a bad morning.  Hughes is his matter-of-fact voice said, "Well, I had a bad morning, too.  I spilled my milk and wet the bed".  He kept on walking as Avery turned to look at me with a shocked expression on her face.  I just said "accidents happen" and moved the conversation along.

And, this morning we were walking with Avery and Samantha and Hughes picked up a feather.  The girls said things like "gross"  "it probably has germs on it"  "you need to wash your hands, Hughes" "it's going to have bugs on it".  All pretty standard girl talk.  Hughes responded with "oh yeah, well at the creek house, me and my dad found a raccoon's skull.  It had a little bit of fur on it but I knocked it off".  That really sent the girls into shriek mode.

We may need to work on Hughes' pick-up lines before he starts hitting the bar scene.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Tiger Cubs

Meet the newest boy going for his Tiger Cub badge.

Hughes had his first pack meeting last night and, boy, was it loud and fun.  We've already had our first den meeting and he's got a great group of boys in his den.  I know Hughes is going to love this.  They handed out models to make their boats for their annual regatta at the family campout in October.  Hughes said he looked like a boat captain in his uniform.  He was quite pleased with himself and super excited about scouts.  It's going to be a fun year.  Maybe he can follow in his Barnhill cousins' footsteps  - eagle?  I've got big plans for Hughes!

Banks the Trash Talker

Banks has started off the soccer season with a BANG!  He is playing for the Gunston Recreational Soccer League and they play on the site of George Washington's Grist Mill and Distillery.  Living in Charleston for the past 12 years one would think I would be use to historical significance but our actual neighborhood is part of the original Mount Vernon.  How cool is that?  That means ol' GW could have had a picnic with Martha in my backyard!

Okay, back to soccer.  The teams have double-headers every Saturday so the season is not too long or before it starts getting really cold.  It has paid off in Banks' favor to have played last year with the bigger kids because now he has no fear.  He's right in there in the pack kicking and when he gets a break-away, well, he's gone.  He's a quick lil' guy and managed to score 3 goals on break-aways.

There was one problem.  He was trash talking.  Yes, my sweet(not always) 5-year old did some trash-talking at last week's games.  I blame his dad.  Why?  Well, when David plays with the boys whether it's wrestling or soccer or basketball, David always trash talks them (ex.  You're going down, have you had enough, oh yeah, etc)  So, Banks carried that over into his game and was telling the other team "you're going down".  His coach didn't like it.  We talked so hopefully there will be no trash talking this week but just scoring.

Running through the tunnel at the end.  Win or lose, every player loves that!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012


would be my Dad's 70th birthday - September 18th, 1943.  This is his first birthday that we haven't had him with us.  I'm trying to put on a strong face but I really just want to roll up in a ball and cry the day away.  I'm still so heart broken over losing him.  He really was an A+ super-duper dad.  His monument went up this past week and it is beautiful.   

 I was reading some old messages/notes that people sent me and there was one reoccuring theme - I could always count on  him.  And, you know, that's right.  Dad didn't let people down.  He never let me down.  Going through life I knew that I always had two people in my corner - Dad and Mom.  Fortunately, mom is still here and I plan on that being that way for a very long time.

But here is what I have realized over the last 8 months - life isn't forever on earth.  I know this isn't profound but it has taught me a lot about:
enjoying the moments (small or big)
making memories
taking lots of pictures
loving to the utmost
telling people you love them
spending time with family
tears don't hurt
letting my boys create memories with family
Family is most important and making the time and effort to see them speaks volumes about how you feel about them.  

I believe in our loving God.  I believe he has got my whole family in the palm of his hand on this day especially.  Even though it has been hard to go back to church, not because of anger but because I get so emotional in the church service that it becomes embarrassing, I know that Dad is standing in the presence of God with his Mom and Dad's arms around him.

For me, I just want to dance with him one more time.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Don't you hate it . . .

when you do something dumb.  The weather has been beautiful up here in Virginia.  Cool and crisp in the mornings and high of 80 in the afternoons.  Well, anyone who knows me knows that I'm always cold.  

This is the part where I do something dumb.

I can actually see my Dad looking down on me shaking his head.  He taught me better.  In fact, he's the one who taught me everything about how to sweat in the summer and freeze in the winter.  I'm talking about the AC/Heat unit.

So, back to my story.  I was cold one morning and pressed "hold" on our electric thermostat after pressing the up arrow a few degrees thinking that I had changed the temperature.  Well, no.  I actually stopped the unit.

So, like I said above, we have been having beautiful weather.  However, the afternoons do get a bit warm and we have a lot of big windows in our house (albeit they need to be replaced) and it has been getting quite warm in the afternoons.  I thought it was because I was working up a sweat keeping such a clean house or cooking all of those gourmet meals I'm known for but NO.

I've been sweating the last couple of days in the afternoon because my ridiculous self put our unit on hold.  I finally went to check out the thermostat a little while ago and realized what I had done.  Now, I'm sitting in a cool, refreshing house.

Sometimes I can feel Dad's presence even when I do stupid things.  I know he got a chuckle when I finally figured out what I had done.

First Day of PreK

Banks starts PreK at Aldersgate United Methodist Church this past Monday.  He was very excited to start school and was especially excited that Cam was in his class.  There are 12 students (7 boys, 5 girls) and his teachers are Mrs. Chatham and Mrs. White.  

He had a great first day.  He said his favorite thing was snack and playing.  He said he played with the knights and the tower.  When I asked him what the girls did, he said, "they just sat there".  

Here's to hoping he has a great year!

Banks is 5!

On September 7th, Banks turned 5.  I'm not sure how we got to 5 but it happened in a blink of an eye.   He is growing up way too fast and I often have to remind myself that he's 5 not 7 like Hughes.  Banks knows exactly what he wants and he'll be happy to share with you if you don't do it correctly.  This has led to many disagreements, tears and discussions on manners.  With that said, he can be the sweetest big brother and son.  He loves all superheroes (still) and has gotten into race tracks.  Right now he says he's going to be a racecar driver and a baseball player when he grows up.  He loves sports but especially loves baseball.  There is no fall baseball league up here so we signed him up for soccer.  That starts this week.  His favorite food would still be a Nutella sandwich and a bowl of mixed up cereal which he calls a "combo cereal".  Sounds disgusting?  Well, it looks disgusting, too but he loves it.  

 Birthday boy

 Last year using one hand!

We had a small ninja-themed birthday party on Sunday with a few of our  new friends.  Banks was thrilled and this would be his 3rd dress-up birthday party in a row.  He loves a theme!  Due to friends with allergies, we had a fruit party with apples, caramel dip, oranges, and watermelon.  The kids loved it.

 Holding up the 5 pinata

Before the other games, David had made an obstacle course in the backyard for all the children.  It started with swinging over the shark tank, throwing ninja stars at a target,  practice kicking a ninja, breaking doors down of a house, and fighting about 20 red ninjas with swords.  Sounds cool, right?  It was.  The kids loved it but let me tell you what it was.  The shark tank was a plastic tub filled with plastic sharks from our bathtub.  The ninja stars were silver stars I bought at a party store and the target was again a plastic tub.  The practice kicking was kicking my yellow "slow down" man.  Breaking down the doors was going through a cardboard box and breaking through the back of it and fighting the red ninjas was basically letting the kids go "ape" with a foam sword on 20 red balloons that had ninja masks drawn on them.  Again, the kids loved all of it.  It took David about two hours to set everything up and it took the kids about 5 minutes to be totally done with it.  

We had "Pin the beard on the sensai".  I have to give credit to David for figuring out how to print this picture off in a grid to make the poster.  Good job, David.

 Banks and Hughes modeling the beards.

 Avery lives two houses down from us and is in 1st grade at Waynewood with Hughes.  We walk every morning to school with her.

 Samantha is trying out the blindfold.  She is in Hughes' class and lives right behind us.

 Banks "pinning the beard".  He wasn't too happy with his placement.  Did I mention he has a competitive spirit?  I take the blame for that characteristic.

 All our friends lined up and ready to go.  

 Banks starting off the pinata.  It only took two more hits by Hughes and Jackson to crack this baby open.  Candy started flying and children started diving.

 Not my best birthday cake but Banks loved it.  

 Barrett (aka Buzz Lightyear) enjoying some cake.  His family just moved from Georgia.

 Erika and Cam who Banks thinks is awesome.  They are in the same preschool class at Aldersgate.
Erika has become a great friend and is also the mother of Avery.

Collins enjoying the cake with his "snoot" face.

 Blowing out the candles.

 Banks was so excited to get the figure-8 track set.  He picked it out at Target and kept asking me all week if I had gone back to buy it yet.  Like I said before, this kid knows what he wants.

 The family.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

First Day of First Grade

Hughes started at Waynewood Elementary on Tuesday.  He's in Mrs. Wightman's class and loves it.  He practically gave me the heisman at the classroom door.  I'm so happy that he was ready for school to start and is doing great.  He got a "happy" phone call today from his teacher that said he was doing great.  Makes my heart smile.

Mandatory First Day Picture

 Posing with the little brothers

 Our neighbor was kind enough to take our picture before we started our walk/scooter ride to school.  Waynewood starts at 9 and is a couple of blocks away so it makes it easy to walk.  Ask me this when it's freezing and I'm sure I'll have another answer :)

Hughes and Mrs. Wightman.  He has 22 students in his class with an aide.  I can't believe first grade is already here.  How did it get here so fast?

And, not to leave David out.  He had his first day of work on Tuesday, too.  Here he is heading to work.  He had a great day just like Hughes.