9/21/2019

More Jauntiness

It's something about fall, I think, that gets my itchy feet moving. They're always there, in the background, whispering sweet nothings about going somewhere and doing something (in direct opposition to the various pipes in Jeffries tubes on a Star Trek set, I guess.) But I don't usually follow through because common sense and general busyness kicks in.

Still, about a year ago, some friends took a trip on the Potomac Eagle Scenic Railroad and had such a lovely time, that I've been plotting our own adventure on the same. Not the least because littlest still loves trains and a chance to ride a train is not to be missed.

Hubs and I chatted off and on about doing it, but never really got around to more than that, until it was one of the various deals in my weekly Travelzoo email. (Honestly, I ought to unsubscribe. It makes me drool. And wish. And count pennies. And lust over all the places we ought to be going. But I can't bring myself to do it.)

I made a few calls (to hubs and also to my dad who, like youngest, is a bit of a train nut) and we decided sure, why not? At nearly 50% off, there really was no reason to say no. So the purchase was made and we checked our calendars and synchronized our watches and today was the day.

We picked up dad around 9 and made our way out to Romney, WV. It's a nice enough drive -- scenic in its own right -- with a few twists and turns as you go up and down mountains once you're past Winchester.

No one got carsick, so that's a bonus.

The train itself is showing its age, but it was a lovely trip out and back through some gorgeous scenery -- mountain on one side, river and another mountain on the other. Littlest and I stood out on the gondola car (open air) on the way back through the trough. We'd seen an eagle sitting on a branch on the way up (while we were in the regular car) and we saw a bird flying crazy high in the air, that they said on the PA was an eagle, but, well, you couldn't prove it by me. On the way back (from the open air car) we were able to see one of the eagle nests they pointed out, so that was cool. But no more birds.

Lots of kayakers though.

In all, it was worth the roughly six hours round trip in the car. Will I angle to do it again? Meh. Probably not. (To be honest, if we need another train ride, the Strasbourg Railroad in PA is lovely and a big closer. Or it feels closer. Maybe because it's near Lancaster so I'm assured of yummy food if we head that way, as well?)

9/13/2019

A Little Jaunt

Wednesday afternoon, we packed up and headed down to Williamsburg. It's their annual homeschool days (which basically means it's more affordable to take the family and actually go in things rather than just wandering the streets and looking.) They had a few extra options just for homeschoolers, but with the littlest's attention span clocking in somewhere right around non-existent, we figured we were probably better off skipping those for now.

Anyway, we drove down Wednesday night and landed at our rather nice hotel (I will admit to being a bit of a hotel snob, so it's nearly always a Hilton property if I'm given the option. These were the Homewood Suites and they were, as usual, a delight.) and were nice and settled for an early start on Thursday.

Thursday. Or as I am going to call it, "The day the sun landed on the earth."

Holy Hades it was Hot.

We walked and sweltered and like to died from 9 until about 3 when I finally cried Uncle and decreed by fiat that we'd seen enough and it was time for the pool.

There was no resistance to this plan.

So we swam at the pool for about an hour (maybe a little longer) and then loaded back up in the car after a few texts back and forth with the hubby's parents, and headed down further to where they are building a new house.

There is so much in-law drama to unpack here that I'm not sure I have the energy. I think I've touched on it before, but, long story short, when they lived maybe 20 minutes away, we couldn't nail them down to see the boys for love or money. Major holidays, sure, they'd come to the combined celebrations. Beyond that? Maybe we could swing dinner every six months. And not for want of asking on our end. But fine. Whatever. In January, when they moved down to the Virginia Beach area, Mother-in-Law commented how she was sad to go now that there was a grandchild up here (meaning sister-in-law's child, not my boys. I'm not sure what my boys are, but I guess they're not her grandchildren. I'm trying to let it go. I am failing miserably.)

Anyway, after they moved basically 3 hours away, we start getting the "Oh, it'd be so good to see you. Why don't you come down?" madness.

Knowing his parents, hubby was like, "Let's figure out a reason to go down there that we want to be down there for, and then we can swing by." Thus Williamsburg.

Anyway, we drove out. They have a lot that has a dock and I'm sure the house will be lovely if they ever actually finish it. (That's not actually entirely true - it isn't going to be lovely. If it was built by a normal person, it would be lovely, because the normal person would buy normal materials and look at the houses in the neighborhood and try to blend in. My father-in-law looks for deals. If he can get it cheap or, preferably, free, then he is going to find a way to make it work. Thus, while the other houses in the neighborhood have lovely wooden or stone stairs leading up to the main entry (which is not ground level because flooding), hubby's parents have what I would call metal bleacher stairs. Honestly, they're like the Beverly Hillbillies.)

We toured their construction zone. We walked down to their private beach. I listened as he tried to tell me about his plans to have a bungee type swing between two of their trees that they can hoist up to the 3rd floor deck to get on and release and won't the boys enjoy that? (My internal answer? No. Because hell will freeze over about eighteen times before I would allow them to get on the thing. I don't think broken spines are really a grand plan, thankyouverymuch.) I just smiled.

They went on and on about how they hope we'll come down a lot and it's going to be such a great retreat and blah blah blah...until I finally had to say, "You know I hate the beach, right?"

Silence.

Then he tried to sell me on the fresh seafood. Yeah, I don't eat fish and I'm allergic to shellfish.

I'm not trying to be a b*. I'm not. But if they couldn't be bothered to see us when they lived 30 minutes away, why am I suddenly supposed to be all jazzed about driving three freaking hours each way to go get sand in every imaginable crevice so I can see them?

Yeah, no.

Anyway. We finally headed back to the hotel.

Today was a shorter day at Williamsburg with tours of the Capitol and the Governor's Palace. In contrast to yesterday, today was cool and rainy. We skipped the gardens because of the rain and because youngest had simply had it. He was done. Capital D done. (And he'd probably capitalize the other letters as well.)

We snagged the Sleepy Puppy from my dad's house (where he was apparently a holy terror, but my dad loves him anyway) and now we are home and I remember why, as much as I love the idea of vacation? They kind of suck.

9/07/2019

Salute Your Robot Overlords

Sometime earlier this week I said to hubs, "Why don't we go out Saturday night?"

Hubs is almost always up for dinner out sans kiddos, so we checked that our sitter was free (she was, which is good) and settled, after a brief discussion, on heading down to Fredericksburg to the fancy-pants German restaurant in old town.

Fancy pants but yummy.

Still, as you do with fancy pants places, we figured a reservation was good idea and I said I'd take care of it. So I looked up the website on my phone and it had the option to book a table. I figured it'd take me on over to OpenTable or the like where I could book myself a reservation, so I tapped the button...

And my Google Assistant screen shows up with a calendar and draggy line for time and lets  me know that, once I've selected the appropriate information, good old Google Assistant will make me a reservation.

Well, okay. Why not? What could go wrong?

So I chose date and time and submitted and promptly got an email saying that the GA would be calling shortly for our reservation.

A little while later, I got an update saying that they'd be trying again in 30 minutes.

And about an hour later, I got a confirmation with our reservation info.

As one who despises the phone, this is a beautiful thing.

Also maybe a little scary.

But mostly beautiful.

Because the robot overlords will take good care of us. I know they will.

9/05/2019

Because of Course

I mentioned in one of my lists of random that we'd been doing some babysitting of late. Well, this week I thought we were getting off scott free, but not so! We had her yesterday. We had her today. We will have her tomorrow.

I don't really mind, but it is a little inconvenient. Hub's sister is always very apologetic and tries to give me advance notice, but like tonight she called at 8pm as I'm putting youngest to bed because the girl she thought was going to do it tomorrow texted to bail.

I don't get that. I really, really don't. If you make a commitment, you keep it. Especially when, as is the case in this instance, you're getting paid. I mean if she's ill, then fine. That happens and no one wants someone watching a baby when they're sick. But I didn't get the idea from my sister-in-law that that's what was going on.

Regardless, when we first started watching Baby A, I hurried off to Amazon to get myself a ring sling. Baby carriers are the absolute bomb and I knew I wasn't going to get anything done with the boys (because, hello, homeschool still has to happen, as does stuff like cleaning and so on). Life doesn't stop just because we're babysitting. And that has been fab. But we had already divested ourselves of all the baby paraphernalia.

So last night on the way home from church, eldest and I grabbed a pack and play from Target. That thing already paid for itself today. (Baby A needs to nap. She's 6 months old. Now, she'll sleep for about an hour if I hold her and everyone is quiet. Or I can kind of gate off an area of the floor and put down some blankets and she'll maybe snooze 45 minutes. But I knew that wasn't enough. Sure enough, today she took a solid 2 hour nap in the morning and closer to 3.5 in the afternoon. That's much more like it!)

Anyway, best of all, she goes home in the evening so I mostly get snuggles during the day for minimal effort. I'll take it.

In other husband's family news, they moved from nearby to about 3 hours away over the summer. Since then it's been the sighing passive aggressive, "Gosh, it'd be nice to see you all." I roll my eyes. I's good we don't video chat with them. Regardless, we didn't see them super often -- and only when I pushed the issue - when they lived close. But now, suddenly, they're dying to see us? Whatever.

Still, we were talking it over and kicked around some dates, settled on them, and I called MIL to let her know. She said great, they were looking forward to it. This was maybe five weeks back. So this past weekend, I called just to confirm now that we had our various reservations confirmed etc and there is a long pause.

Oh, <date>?

Yeah, like we talked about at the start of August?

Oh...we won't be here.

Are you FREAKING KIDDING ME?

Turns out, she scheduled some doctor's appointments back up here for those days so they'll be up here. While we're down there.

I roll my eyes again.

They may be able to get back in time our last day for us to meet for dinner before we head out. But honestly.

If I can just remember this so I am not this kind of in-law, I will consider it a win.

9/01/2019

Date Night In

Last night, hubby looked over where I was mindlessly scrolling and clicking on various baking and cookie decorating videos and says, "Do you want to watch a movie instead?"

Sure, why not, says I.

After some scrolling on the Amazon Prime and Netflix choices, we settled on Jupiter Ascending because we both had vague recollections of having wanted to watch it when we saw the preview in the theater at one point.

Oh my word. That movie is crap.

Calling it crap is actually insulting to crap.

It's not even the kind of movie that MST3K could do something fun with.

I was expecting it to be either a decentish space action flick or something campy and fun like The Fifth Element.

It. Is. None. Of. These. Things.

When we paused to go make sure eldest turned out his light, I saw the progress bar and nearly cried. We weren't quite half finished. How in the name of all that was holy could we still have 54 minutes of that drivel left?

We persevered to the bitter end. Because we're not quitters.

But maybe we ought to rethink that stance.

8/31/2019

Some Saturday Random

I swear the blog is going to devolve into series of lists. But it's what I can manage these days. There have been a number of times when I've had a rather long mental ramble and thought "That would be a great blog post" and by the time I made it to the keyboard there was head scratching and trying to come up with even the vaguest notion of what I'd been thinking.

Must not have been all that amazing, I guess.

Regardless:

  • Youngest boy has developed a fascination with frogs. On the plus side, we have several that wander into our yard, so he has ample opportunity. On the negative side, well, the same sentence. He wears a work glove when he picks them up and pats them on the head gently before releasing them, but I can't help but think that the frogs are not amused. This is where horror movies start.
  • I am thinking I need to find The Wind in the Willows though. It might be right up his alley, for all I never cared for it.
  • Eldest is a tween with a vengeance. He starts in the youth group tomorrow at church (promotion Sunday) and has only today been reminded that if he doesn't figure out how to clamp down on his attitude he's going to be discovering what it was like to be a teen before there was electricity.
  • For all that, he's a good kid.
  • Just sassy. He probably gets that from me.
  • We babysat my niece this week three days of five. (Hubby's sister's baby.) She's a cutie - six months old and behind on some milestones (not crawling, not even really trying. Can't sit up unassisted. Has some tortocolis and her head is a bit misshapen. I did talk to Hubb's sister about them and she's trying to sort out what specialists she needs. So at least she's on it. None of it is anything that can't be remedied with attention.) At the end of the day though, I realized that I am so completely fine with our family as is. I am much too old for a baby.
  • I keep seeing TravelZoo deals to Ireland. You have no idea how they call to me. The price for one is super affordable. I wonder just how annoyed the family would be if I took off on my own...I kid. Sort of. 
  • I need a vacation, really, is I think what it boils down to. We didn't do anything really this summer and thus it's been more than a year since we had concentrated time to just play as a family. (I'm not calling the trip to bury mom a vacation. Yes we did non funeral stuff as well. But just no.)
  • We're rounding the bend into September and I can feel the "she's been gone a year" starting to creep into my soul. It's awful.
  • But you push on. Because what else is there to do? There are kids to homeschool. And AWANA is starting up again next week. And and and and. 

8/24/2019

A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood

This morning, upon the discovery that it was gorgeous out and likely to stay that way, Hubby set about loading all the bikes into the back of the van. I scoffed, somewhat, at this idea because I did not have any expectation that he'd be able to get them all inside. I figured we'd have to see if we could 1) find and 2) figure out how to attach the bike rack.

But go him - he managed it. (It helped that 2 bikes have quick release for their tires, so he could take off the front wheels, and he had a tool that allowed him to fold the handlebars on my bike so they weren't so high up in the air.)

We also loaded up the dog and the bike trailer, because really, why shouldn't the Sleepy Puppy get some fresh air too?

So we headed south a bit to the nearby national park, which has a 3 mile stretch that they've made one way for cars and then split the other side into bi-directional foot/bike path.

I didn't anticipate that we'd do the whole thing, but the boys were raring to go and so we did. 6 miles.

Keep in mind that other than last week when I took my new bike out for a spin in the cul-de-sac I haven't been on a bike in years and, well, I'm glad I didn't die.

I am old and out of shape.

But it was a gorgeous day. The boys had a blast, as did Mom and Dad. And the puppy enjoyed being toted around in his carriage (though there were a few brazen squirrels that darted across his line of sight and he was very unhappy that he couldn't go after them, being buckled into his chariot.)

It looks like the good weather is supposed to hold for several more days (touch wood), so we've made plans to go back to the park with friends on Monday for a short hike and a picnic.