Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Don't be the Dreaded Sister

With VCU being only an hour away from Fredericksburg, I tend to go home every chance that I get. In fact, I think I've only stayed at VCU once over the weekend where I stayed simply to get work done--every other time I've stayed at school over the weekend I've had Regattas or mandatory meetings or something! The weeks I know I'm going home, I definitely look forward to Friday at 11am, when Mom pulls up in the van and we make the quick trip back home!

Growing up as the oldest girl in a large family definitely contributed to me being a tad bit bossy at times. Telling people what to do just comes so naturally for me, which is sometimes a good thing, but can be a bad trait as well. A few weekends ago I went home, and I was trying to help get some things picked up around the house and I wanted the kitchen cleaned up so I could cook something. My bossy side started showing right away, telling the little boys to do various tasks. Obviously, they got annoyed as I asked them to stop their games and clean the dishes, then take the trash out, oh, and put towels away while you are at it. The boys start yelling and making a fuss.

Dad talked to me over that weekend, and told me how important it is for the littler kids to want me to come home for the weekend, and to have it be something to look forward to, not to dread. When I get so caught up in being bossy, they dread me being there. He told me to do more to be the "cherished sister"--after all, they survive throughout the week without me, so putting a few more towels away at the expense of strong sibling relationships obviously isn't worth it. So I thought about that really quickly, and Dad was right.

I stopped bugging the boys, or at least I decreased my various demands, and ended up making banana bread with Harrison and listening to Tanner play his piano songs for me. Everything went so much more smoothly. Now, every time I go home, I always remember what Dad said--don't let me coming home be something to dread.

I love those crazy, messy brothers back home. Harrison texted me the other day about his new goal to do the Couch to 5K running program with Tanner in order to become a better runner. He also started talking about his dentist trip and how they had to pull his teeth. I called Mom and Tanner asked if I'd listen to his new piano song over the phone, so I listened as he fumbled with some of the keys. Ryan told me about making meatballs with Mom (which used to be our job), and how he is now the best cook out of us three. It's funny how right Dad is--when I take a step back from being the boss, and just enjoy the family and being home, everything usually goes pretty great.

I am sure grateful for a Dad who cares to offer his advice in so many different situations, and who cares about having all of us kids establish relationships with each other. It's definitely not always the easiest thing for me to bite my tongue when I see something that could be done, but it does make the weekends a lot more enjoyable. This weekend I'm headed home, and I cannot wait.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Indian Dinner

My friend Kavya has come home with me a few times this semester to just get out of Richmond and have a little space to breathe from all of the academics and crew (we joined the team together back in the fall). She is from Canada, so she doesn't have the luxury of going home basically whenever she wants like I do. She only has an older sister, so I think the first time she came home with me it was a little crazy, but she joined right in with everything and I love how comfortable she feels at our house! Not everyone can just jump right into such a large family!

This past weekend Kavya wanted to make an Indian dinner for the family. None of the kids had ever tried Indian food, and Mom and Dad had only had it a few times. I was pretty excited to learn something new, and man was it fun watching Kavya just throw random things together and have it all taste so delicious. We went to Wegmans and got all of the spices we needed, because we sure didn't have them in our spice cabinet! Kavya is vegetarian, and has been her entire life, so she didn't know what meat dishes to make, so I just used the internet and figured out two different ones to try: butter chicken and chicken tikka masala. Kavya made the rice, chickpeas, roti (flatbread), lemon lentils, and potatoes. It was fun to get such a wide variety of Indian dishes, and usually she said you just have one or two.

Making the flatbread earlier in the morning

This was a blend of spices that Kavya used in almost every dish. She used it to season the oil she cooked with, and they smelled so good. I don't remember what the spices are... I think there are cumin seeds, black mustard seeds, and maybe sesame?

I loved the rice! She cooked it with cumin seeds and it gave it such a good flavor.

Dinner on the table. In the flag bowl are the potatoes, with were so good. There were no leftovers of them, so I think they were definitely a favorite. The closest black pot was the Chicken Tikka Masala, which was my favorite of the two chicken dishes. It had fresh chunky tomatoes in it and also the perfect amount of spiciness! The chicken dish behind it was the Butter Chicken, which was pretty good too. The smaller dish in front of the rice were the chickpeas, which were so yummy! Then you can dip the flatbread in the lentils, which were good, too. Everything was!

Enjoying some Table Food

I love it when babies start to be a little bit more self-sufficient, specifically with their eating habits. Evan has quite a nice set of teeth now, and so he's been snacking on crackers and things for quite some time. I don't know how much "real food" he had eaten previous to this past weekend, because I'm just not there. However, I had a fun time trying new foods out and seeing what he would eat. He is not picky, that is for sure!

Saturday morning Evan ate an entire scrambled egg and almost half of a banana.

Then on Sunday morning he ate a small plain pancake and a little bit of blueberry pancake with some banana and grapes.

After church, I heated up some leftover spaghetti and sauce and he ate that for lunch. Actually, he devoured that. He really loved it, until he rubbed his eyes with his tomato sauce covered hands... then he was a little upset and lunch was over.

But it was sure good while it lasted. Gerber has nothing on real people food.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Easter 2012

Aside from the usual reasons Easter is really important, this Easter was specifically important for Mom's side of the family. Grandma has been in and out of the hospital for the majority of the year, and has had quite a few struggles with her health lately. She's doing well, just really tired and weak. A week before Easter, she was discharged from the hospital after being there for over a month, and while she was sitting in the hospital bed she was planning Easter for our family--typical Grandma. I would call her during the week and she would tell me about her most recent ideas. It was really important for Grandma to have all of her family together (except for my cousin Austin, who is serving his 2-year mission in California for our church) for Easter weekend.

The family went down to Virginia Beach Friday afternoon, and I joined everyone Saturday evening after my Regatta was over. When I got there, everyone was gearing up to go to Mount Trashmore and fly kites. We headed on over with the kids and Grandma, and we didn't last out there for very long. After a few minutes of being outside Grandma was cold and out of breath, so she sat in the car and watched with Dad. Shortly after we got there, though, the park was closing as the sun was setting, so we all packed up. It was fun, though, with everyone trying to get the kites to fly and kids rolling down the huge grass hill. Truthfully, after being stuck at school for a few weeks, anything but being in Richmond was good!

We got back home and Aunt Sheri had been doing crafts with the kids earlier in the day, and getting everyone excited to dye the eggs. Crafts are totally Aunt Sheri's forte. Check out this cute little egg guy:

The kids dyed the Easter eggs. Suzanne and Grandpa decided to have a contest to see whose egg was more creative/looked better. Suzanne actually got Grandpa to dye some Easter eggs! Usually he just watches!

Some of the little guys with Grandma

We had to document it, or else we might forget the one year Grandpa dyed an Easter egg.

Everyone headed to bed in random areas and floors of the house, and Mom, Rachel, and I got all of the Easter hoopla together and set out for the next morning.

Evan's first Easter! He had a great time trying to dig into everyone's Easter baskets, especially our cousin Lauren's. She had a stuffed bunny animal in there that he wanted! He really liked pulling himself up onto the fireplace, too. He would get up there, or close to it, and everyone would come by and pull him off and set him on the other side of the room. Suzanne and I were laughing, and she said something like, "How frustrated and angry would you be if you were trying to get somewhere and people just keep pulling you back over and over." Good point.

We headed to church as a family, which started at 9am. It is also noteworthy to mention that all 18 people in that little house with only 2 showers made it to church on time by 9am. Who knows when that will ever happen again. After sacrament meeting we came home with Grandma and Grandpa to help get Easter Dinner ready and snap a few family photos.

Kids with Dad

Kids with Mom

What family pictures usually look like... and it's my favorite one.

Mom and I made the crescent rolls and hard boiled eggs while Grandpa finished up the ham, green bean casserole, and potatoes! Mmm love to cook!

We all ate dinner together, and it was delicious. Definitely ate too much, because it was so good! No comparison to the good I usually eat these days, that is for sure! After dinner, we had the traditional Easter Egg Hunt, which I may or may not have slept through on the couch. Uncle Joe dressed up as the Easter Bunny like he does every year (except for last year, my cousin Jared took his place because he was overseas!).

Evan was a tad bit skeptical of the Easter Bunny...

Grandpa even took a picture with the Easter Bunny this year! He better calm it down, he's getting a little out of hand.

The whole family, minus Austin!

After the hunt and hanging around for a little bit, we had to head on out of town. Now, if anyone knows my Mom, you would know that she can whip up crazy hair-brained ideas on the spot. Like, for example, stopping to go to the beach.

Yeah, I know he looks more than thrilled.

There were a ton of seagulls out there, and the boys had fun chasing them as they ran into the wet sand.

And this crew watched from afar. It was just a few degrees too cold for the beach, but still pretty! We got back on the road, and headed home. Weekends like that sure do make you even more grateful for family!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Thoughts on a Thursday

I was trying to post about Easter and the weekend, but blogger is acting funny with pictures, so I'll try that later. For now, just some thoughts and observations:

There are officially only two and a half weeks until classes are over and finals start! I didn't even realize it was winding down so quickly, but I cannot wait! This semester seems to have gone by quickly, but at the same time last for an eternity. My last final is on May 8, and you better believe I'll be all packed up and ready to go as soon as I am done!

This Virginia weather is crazy and is driving me nuts! This morning at practice it was 37 degrees out there... and now it is beautiful. Just got back from a nice run and it was perfect... not too hot, but warm enough to break a nice sweat. I am so grateful that I picked up running back when I joined the crew team!

I am going home tomorrow afternoon, and my friend Kavya is coming along to join in the craziness. Can't wait. I was supposed to see the Hunger Games with Bryce, but I don't think he finished reading the book, so we'll have to wait! We aren't going until he finishes reading the book--maybe we will just have to rent it later on.

Grandma is back in the hospital. She's been in and out all year, mostly in. Her health is a little crazy lately, and she's definitely putting up quite the fight. Thankfully, she was able to be home for Easter weekend and she had all of her family together and we celebrated with a great weekend.

I'm headed to GERMANY this summer! Woo! Can't wait to see such an awesome family that moved way too far away! This will be my first time out of the country, and man am I excited on so many levels!

Speaking of traveling, I'm headed to Tennessee next weekend for another regatta. Crazy, crazy.

Over the summer, my family is going to try out Tim Ferris' Slow Carb Diet together, and I am basically leading that. I've been finding a lot of recipes for the diet, and I am excited to see how it helps out the family and hopefully we will have a more active summer this time around. The kids always do swim team, which is great. I'd like to do some hiking and camping, too. And running in the summer heat is going to blow, lol.

Suzanne chopped off 8 inches of that beautiful hair today. She's a brave one.

Today I threw my school ID card in a VCU trashcan after my Nutrition class (it was in the bag with the trash from my breakfast). I went to take an exam in my Biology class, and you need your ID to turn in the exam. Well imagine my anxiety when halfway through the test I realized that I threw away my ID. Thankfully my professor is kind of an odd ball, and he let me go grab my idea, then come back and show him that yes, I was actually the person taking the test. I reached my hand into a nasty, VCU public trashcan. Today's low point, for sure.

Alright, off to study for a chemistry quiz tomorrow and then grab some dinner at the luxurious Shafer Dining Hall. Always a pleasure.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Occoquan Sprints Regatta

Yesterday we had our first Regatta of the season up in Occoquan. The weather was a bit cloudy and windy, so it was a little cold, but the sun came out right at the end of the day. It was the first race of a 2K season for a lot of us, so everyone was pretty excited. We raced at Occoquan last semester during 5K season, and man it is so much shorter racing 2Ks! It felt like we started and then two minutes later we were buzzing through the finish line.

I raced in three different events throughout the day. The first event was for our Novice Women's 8, and it was a pretty messy race. We arrived to the starting line late, so that was embarrassing and threw everyone off a little I think. We started, but everyone in the boat was pretty sloppy and the form was definitely slipping the whole time. We came in last place in our heat, so everyone was a little mad about that.

Our coxswain, Emily

Chaos on the dock :)

Us losing to George Mason, bringing up the end of the Novice 8s!

The second race I was in was with the Novice Women's 4, and that race was so much better than our first one. In our heat, we came in 4th out of 6, and overall we ended in 9th place (out of 18). So our four was pretty average, but we are a club racing schools like the Naval Academy and Carnegie Mellon, so it was expected. We had a much better time racing the four, and everyone's technique, form, and power was so much more effective.

So much happier after the four raced!

Us with our coxswain, Kavya!

The third race was the "Petite Finals" for the Novice 8. Basically, it's another race for the losers, because the top six boats race in the Finals for medals. Nonetheless, this race was so much cleaner than the first, and our time was 8:11 (the first time was 8:05, so we were actually slower, but four people in our boat had already raced twice by the time they hit the third race, so it was expected). We were only racing one other school, University of Maryland, and we beat them.

Novice eight ladies!

After the Regatta we packed up the trailer and went to someone's house that lives really close and their parents had a BBQ for us with so much delicious food. So nice of them! We ate and hung around for a little bit, profusely thanked them, then headed back to Richmond. I slept the entire way down the interstate, I was so tired. We got back to Richmond, headed to the Boathouse to rig all the boats, and then were finally free for the remaining few hours of the weekend to finish homework all night. Thankfully we had practice off today!

Saturday we have another Regatta here in Richmond, and I'm so excited for that! I feel like we can do really well, and it's at our boathouse/practice area, so we won't have to travel or anything! Plus, right after the Regatta I'll be headed to Virginia Beach for Easter!