Tuesday, December 28, 2010

It's All in the Timing

On Christmas day, as we left Granny and Poppy's Christmas feast (on our way to Bubby and Poppa's Christmas feast), our sweet little minivan had a bit of trouble. I thought nothing of it, as I'd noticed this same shaking and bouncing several times before. But when Dan discovered the bouncing and shaking he was concerned. And when he discovered that this bouncing and shaking had been going on for some time - and while his wife and children were driving all over town... - well, he was more concerned. By bedtime that night, the decision had been made. Time for a new car. (In all honesty it was probably time for a new car several years ago. Maybe when we couldn't get over the mountain to Bob and Della's house. Or when the door fell off. Or when... you get the picture.)

We found a minivan that looked good and decided to go take a look on Monday.

Monday came, and we hopped in the car. We pulled into a neighbor's driveway to turn around. And we stopped. The car was dead. Not just a little dead. Dead dead. Hmmm. Perfect timing, don't you think?

We got the car out of the driveway and onto the street. Where is remains today.

And we headed off in Poppa's car to find a new one for us. We found it. And we bought it. Now we're broke. But happy.

The end.

Friday, December 24, 2010

The stockings were hung by the chimney with care...

...Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good night!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

If I could figure out how to post a video...

...you'd be watching last night's entertainment. Two boys I know came up with dance moves to "Jingle Bells, Batman Smells." Complete with squatting to lay eggs and pirouettes when Joker takes ballet.

I like these people.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

A Paradox

My African dog loves nothing better than to frolick in the snow. Honestly, I will never understand her.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

First Snow

This morning, after a very late night of cutting about a million little squares of green tissue paper (for a project the first grade was planning to do today), I woke up, got myself and the boys ready for the day, and headed out with Jake for his orthodontist appointment. Sitting in the waiting room, we saw it on the tv: "Stafford County Schools Closed."

It was not snowing.

But, we'll take it! Got through the ortho appointment (wait six months to see if he loses some more of those baby teeth...) and headed home. Again, it was not snowing. By the time we turned onto our street - a whopping two minutes later - the snow was falling heavy and the ground was covered. I was nervous about our evil driveway. We made it into the garage and were greeted by Camden and Dan.


L-O-V-I-N-G IT!!!

So far today...

We have inspected, arranged, and rearranged the Christmas gifts. A lot.

We have spent more than one hour watching the birds feast in the backyard. This fat cardinal has yet to get a bite. Doesn't fit on the feeder. But he's not giving up! The fat woodpecker torments the fat cardinal by showing off how he can cling to the bottom of the feeder - and the cardinal can't. The fat blue jay wants us all to believe he's above all that foolishness and only makes his attempts when he thinks nobody is looking. I'd like to say, "Mr. Cardinal, Mr. Jay can't do it either. He's just too prideful to let on." All the other little fatties (my favorite are the budgies and the titmice - so cute!) are doing very well for themselves. And yes, they are ALL fat - they definitely know where the suckers who will refill the feeder daily live.

We have played in the snow. We have then left the treat Ms. Gail gave us out in the snow while we enjoyed our hot chocolate (with lots of marshmallows, of course). We have discovered that the treat has dissapeared under more snow. We have gone out and dug for that treat, found it, and found out why Mommy kept saying we should be wearing a coat.

We are now reading Harry Potter, eating treats, and playing with legos.

It's a perfect day. Even if I didn't get to take advantage of the opportunity to sleep in!

Saturday, December 11, 2010


I know sports. Really. You think I'm joking, but I'm not. I may be the last one you'll find actually playing sports, because I'm just not any good at them, but I know my stuff. I know how to play sports. I know how to throw, hit and catch a baseball; how to control a soccer ball; how to sack a quarterback, throw a football, and make a touchdown. I know the details and the rules of each game. I also know what is going on in the world of sports. Kobe, Landon, Ichiro, and Tom? Yeah, we're old pals. Tiger? Not so much. (I'm not so much into golf or infidelity.)

My sons think I'm pretty great.

Or, they used to.

Turns out, basketball's not my strong point. Sure, I can dribble a ball. I can follow a game - and thoroughly enjoy it. But when I'm watching my boy attempting to play on his first basketball team, and my other boy asks me, "What just happened, Mommy?" well, I don't have a clue.

Let's hope for a steep learning curve. For all of us.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Not Gonna Cut It

I've taken over 15,000 photos so far this year. One would think I would have at least a few Christmas card worthy shots. One would be wrong.

Exibit A:

I love this picture. Truly. It's my favorite picture of the whole year. And by far the best one of us as a family in, well, forever. (Sad, I know. But true.) I hesitate to send it out as a Christmas card. For one thing, it may not be totally appropriate to be aiming a gun directly at our friends and loved ones, even if it is bright orange and plastic. For another thing, I feel the need to accompany a picture of four pirates with a witty caption. And I've got no witty caption.

Exibit B:

Another family photo (one of two this year). I do love it. But really, would you send this out as your Christmas card? Yeah, I didn't think so. As cute as Jake looks with mad scientist hair, and as stunning as I am as Word Girl, hmmm. Dan does make a good evil villain, and Cam fits right in as the superhero monkey. But, no. Just not gonna happen.

So you see my dilemma. Out of 15,000 photos, I have exactly ZERO to use for the Christmas card. Oops.

Monday, December 6, 2010


Jake was baptized and confirmed a member of
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010


Last night, as I stood staring at my little boy asleep in the top bunk, a tear (or two...) came to my eye. It was the last time I would look at my seven-year-old. Because this morning, when we woke up, he was eight.

Eight is a really big deal. We believe it is the age of accountability, when a child is no longer completely dependent on mom and dad to make every decision, but can start to make some of those decisions on his own. He will now be accountable for the choices he makes.

While there is obviously a lot of teaching and guiding left to do - and many years to continue doing it - it's pretty important that by age eight a child has a basic knowledge of right and wrong and of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

As I looked at my baby lying there in bed, I questioned whether I've taught him what he needs to know by this point. Does he know how much his Savior loves him? Does he know what He has asked of him? And how to follow Him? Is he ready to take on the consequences of his actions? Is he ready to make promises to his Heavenly Father? And to keep them?

As I looked at my baby lying there in bed, I knew that he is ready. (I may not be, but he is!) He is a good boy. He knows his Savior. He knows the commandments and he knows where (and who) to look for the way to follow Him. He wants to do right. And really, what more can there be?

I love this little boy. He drives me nuts and he makes my heart sing. He is brilliant. He is funny. He is kind and compassionate. And honest. He is an artist. He is a writer and a story teller. He is thoughtful. He is loud. He is an athlete. He is my first-born, my little boy. And I can't imagine life without him.

Thanks for being born, Jake. You're going to do great at being eight!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Why I Love Soccer

We've come to the end of another soccer season. And we still love it. More than ever.

Soccer gets my kids out and running. Hard.

Soccer gives them just enough of a competetive outlet - without getting too competitive. Actually, this is all thanks to the coach. We really like Coach Bruce.

Soccer has given us some of our favorite friends. And the bonds between these boys (and their parents) has gotten stronger with each season.

Most of all, soccer is fun! (Especially when you win. Which isn't technically possible since at the U8 level they don't keep score. Technically.)

During soccer season, the sport consumes a lot of our time. But now the trophies are on the shelf and it's time to unwind and enjoy the holidays.

Except that basketball season started the day soccer season ended...

Thursday, October 21, 2010

A Little Disagreement

My children think I take too many pictures.
They're wrong.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Setting the Record Straight

I just want everyone to understand that life around here isn't all fun and games. Take our little Jamestown adventure, for instance. Sure, we had a blast at some neat historical sites. But we did something else, too. We forced our poor children, who would have been perfectly happy to stay forever in the Powatan Village, to walk away from the job of grinding cornmeal (we'd been pounding that corn for a while, don't let them tell you any differently) and dragged them to... a water park. Meanies.

Have you ever hurtled down and through a funnel with your seven-year-old? Or laughed as your six-year-old wiped out while catching a wave?
I have.
And I highly recommend it.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Wrong Turn?

A couple weeks ago (it was a Thursday), we all piled in the car to drop the boys off at school. But Daddy took a wrong turn and got lost! By the time we "realized" the problem, it was too late to get to school on time... so we decided to just continue on our drive. A few hours later, we arrived at Jamestown. We figured that was as good a place as any to spend a hookie-day.

The boys thought this was the greatest day of their lives.

My boys studied nautical navigation. They learned all about reading a compass and charting their direction and speed - early 17th century style. I spent my time on the ships deciding that I would have stayed in England. It may have been stinky and crowded there, but it was way stinkier and more crowded on those tiny little boats!

Once we arrived at James Fort, we geared yp for guard duty...

...and checked out the "cannon holes." (What do you call those things?)

Finally, we were put to work building a canoe. This was, by far, Camden's favorite activity of the entire day. Jake and Dan much prefered the musket demonstration, and went back to watch it again while Cam and I remained at the canoe site. For a long time. Then it was off to a cabin to sweep the floor. Cam stayed there a long time, too. Yes, he is a little odd. But those colonists would have loved his work ethic!

The next day (Yep, that's right. We played hookie two days in a row!) at Yorktown, we had another navigation and map reading lesson. This time we learned about troop movements.

Jake really likes troop movements.

And Camden really likes turkeys.

By the way, if you've ever met our Mayo, then you already know what this wierdo turkey was like. Could have been Mayo's long-lost twin.

We had a blast learning about our country's earliest beginings. Good thing Daddy missed that turn. And Mommy just happened to have clothes and toothbrushes packed in the back of the car... :)

Sunday, October 17, 2010

All is Right in Camden's World

Camden has two great loves: Gardening and Organizing.
When he can combine his passions, well, that's when Camden is a very happy boy.

And yes, he is in fact cleaning his pumpkins with baby wipes.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Back in the Saddle

A few days ago I got a sweet message on my facebook wall. It was from my mom and it said, "Clark and I are both having serious Nugget withdrawal. Need a fix. please?" Aw. I thought, they miss me! They want to see me! And then I realized they don't miss me. They miss this silly blog. I'm still not sure how I feel about that.

But, since I am nothing if not obediant (right, Mom? Actually, don't answer that), I'd like to extend a sincere and heartfelt apology for neglecting The Nugget for the past month. I have no excuse. I am deeply ashamed. Can you ever forgive me? (Okay, that was all way over-dramatic, but then, I am nothing if not over-dramatic (this time my mom's answer would be a resounding "yes" - just so you know).

Now that I'm back, I figure I'll share a collection of my thoughts on September. Or from September. Or, whatever.

1. When planting a fake spider to scare your mom, it's best to put it in an obvious spot that you know she will look at. Because if it's right at her eye level, she probably won't notice it right away and it will be even scarier when she realizes that spider was right there all along. Thank you, Camden, for teaching us all this valuable lesson.

2. I love my boys for the people they are. I will not live vicariously through them or force them to do things just because I think they are cool. That being said, I really hope they have a band when they are in middle school. Because middle school boy bands are just about the cutest things ever. Seriously.

3. A certain six-year-old who lives in my home recently discovered he has two balls that he didn't know about before. He was concered that there were balls stuck inside there, but we had a little anatomy discussion and everything seems hunky-dory once again. And that's all I'm going to say about that.

4. We've decided to stock up on smoked salmon and spend the winter in the blanket fort we constructed in our family room. It's really cozy and we like it. Only problem is that the majority of the family will most likely die of starvation. Smoked salmon is some pretty nasty stuff.

5.Several years ago, I was watching a US soccer game (on TV - I'm not cool enough to actually go to a game) when I heard the coach tyelling from the sidelines, "Keep running, Clint!" Probably my all-time favorite soccer moment. Especially since I now have two boys who, although they are both very skilled at the sport, have a bit of a laziness problem. Thanks to Clint Dempsey, at least I know they can still make it to the pros. We're loving this soccer season and I'll get around to writing more about it soon.

6. In a conversation with a friend about Sunday-appropriate tv, I found myself saying, "We let them watch church videos and Redskins games." She laughed at me. She obviously is not a Skins fan, because if she was, she would totally understand.

7. Dan's been spending a lot of time in paradise. Only he doesn't think it's so great. That's probably because he spends all his time there stuck in an office staring at a computer screen. Let me tell you, that's not what I'd be doing in paradise. Silly Dan.

8. Remember our pumpkin patch? The one that took over the front yard? Well, we've got lots of pumpkins now. I'm kind of in love with them. And I feel all superior when I pass by the pumpkins at the supermarket. Because I grew my own. So there, supermarket pumpkins!

9. Dan packed up the x-box. And I've never loved him more than I did at that moment. The boys were screaming, wailing, and gnashing their teeth. Dan was silently fuming and putting away the games. And I was falling in love all over again. Already, there have been fewer boy altercations. It's wonderful.

10. A direct result of the packing-up of the x-box was Jake's attempt at running away. Wearing his pajamas and socks - but no shoes - and carrying his pillow, a sheet, and four stuffed animals, the boy set off into the great big world. He made it all the way off the porch before he had to stop to decide which direction to go. And that pause was enough to allow the enormity of his decision to creep in. We spent some time on the front steps and eventually came back in to watch the Redskins game. It was a Sunday, after all.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

A Conversation

Jen: "I'm really good at making cookies."
Dan: "Yep. And I'm really good at eating cookies."
Jen: "That's why we're perfect for each other."
Dan: "Yep."

Yeah, I think that about sums it up.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

No Matter What

It seems that, no matter what I do, these children just keep growing up.

I've got First- and Second-Gators on my hands.

And they're pretty great.

Friday, September 3, 2010

This Week ...

... we did a lot of this.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Last week...

...we rode the Metro.

...we hung out with Poppa.

...we saw real honest-to-goodness space shuttles.

...we made new friends...

...of various species.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

I'm Old

See the little girl in the center there? The one my baby Jake is looking up at so adoringly? She's Kasey. And the other day I took her senior pictures.

That's right, she's not ten anymore. She's seventeen. And me? I'm old.

More shots from Kasey's shoot here.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010


Indisputable proof that my boys do, in fact, love each other very much. You better believe this is coming out next time they start to fight.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

The Great Experiment

We've been working hard on fixing up our front yard, which is a pretty steep hill. It used to be a mass of weeds, dead ground cover, and more weeds. Really attractive. Our neighbors justloved us. (In our defense, it was like that when we moved in. And it only took us two and a half years to do something about it...)

We put in stone walls to create a terraced rise on the hill and decided to plant ivy as a ground cover on the lowest level, azaleas and a flower garden on the middle tier, and... well, we are still deciding what to do with the top, which rises a bit to the rest of our grassy front yard.

Over the Fourth of July weekend, I planted over 150 baby ivies. I love them. And someday they will grow to be big grown-up ivies. Did I mention I love them?

While I planted each individual baby ivy, Dan was working on the tier just above me, planting the baby azaleas. He loves them. Today, when he discovered some buds on them - a year before we expected any flowers - well, let's just say he was pretty excited.

And the top... I bought a packet of pumpkin seeds a couple years ago, but we never planted them. So we figured, hey, let's just see what happens! The boys planted six seeds straight across the top of the hill...

... they grew.

We are, again, the talk of the neighborhood.

We're planning on buying back the neighborly love with pumpkins come fall. But this one - our first-born - is ours.
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