30 November 2015

Keeping Up With the Klauses

Oh my G-O-S-H, you guys. When we were talking with our landlords about renting this house, they told us how Christmas is a big deal here, and that everyone on our pipe stem goes all out with the lights and decorations. They were not kidding, and it makes me SO happy. The pictures I'll be posting do NOT do it any sort of justice, so you'll have to take my word for it when I say it is fabulous!

I don't have any pictures of our outside decorating job in New Jersey. That's probably because it was only two strands of fifty lights that went around the pillars outside our front door. It was kind of sad, but there really wasn't more we could do when living in a townhouse.

This year though, this year things were drastically different. The Wednesday before Thanksgiving we went out shopping for lights and decorations and all sorts of things. The Friday after Thanksgiving and the Saturday after Thanksgiving we were all out there putting up our tons and tons and tons of decorations.


There are 7 houses on our pipe stem (8 if you count the one on the corner that faces the main street), and by the end of Saturday, 6 of us were lit up like...like...something that lights up really brightly. It was so much fun setting it all up. The guys (and some gals) putting up lights, the kids running around the street "helping." Halfway through Saturday we had this conversation:

Josh: This is great! It's like a two day long block party!
Me: No wonder I'm so exhausted.
Josh: Yeah. We've been partying it up for two days.

And we had been. But it was totally worth it because our house, and the street at large, looks amazing! (One of our neighbors even rigged some of his lights to move in time with some music that he has constantly playing - awww yisss!)

I'm telling you again, it really does look better in person.  Here are some shots of the whole street. I tried getting fancy with the panoramic feature, but it still falls short of seeing the whole thing in its glory.

Here are the numbers, since Josh took the time to figure them out. We have 2,466 lights up on and around our house. That is about 754 feet of light strands. And we aren't entirely sure we're completely finished. I did order some Snoopy lawn ornaments that we're waiting on for this year, that'll come in the next day or two. Apparently the thing to do is hit the after Christmas sales to stock up for next year.

Like I said, totally crazy (#embracingthecrazy) but totally amazing!

16 November 2015

How About Halloween

I've been sitting here looking through pictures from the past two months, trying to decide what to write about, when I came upon my pictures from Halloween. That seems a good topic to me, and so here we go.

Halloween was on a Saturday this year. At the school here, the kids are not allowed to wear their Halloween costumes to school because (I was told) some kids were showing up in things that were too scary/inappropriate for an elementary school, so they bagged the whole thing. They have, however, come up with work arounds. The week before Halloween was Anti-Bullying Week at the school. Each day the kids did something different to celebrate not bullying, I guess. One day they got to wear pajamas (put bullying to bed), one day they wrote thank you notes to people (recognizing/positively reinforcing good behavior?), and on Friday, they got to "dress up" as superheroes (because everyone knows superheroes are NOT bullies). This was pretty neat. It was fun seeing the kids, as well as the teachers and other staff, wearing superhero shirts and capes and the like.

For the kindergartners, they had a nursery rhyme parade, where all of the kids came to school dressed up as whatever nursery rhyme character they wanted. As soon as school started, the kindergartners were marched all around the school, into all of the classrooms, then they were marched outside where they did a few loops for the parents and grandparents and who's-it, then the kids and their family members went into the gym where the kids performed a bunch of nursery rhymes. It was adorable.

Finn was Wee Willie Winkie, which I was sort of worried was going to be an obscure character that no one would know. I needn't have worried. Wee Willie Winkie was one of the rhymes they covered in their unit, and was one they performed during their performance. A few other boys also dressed up as Wee Willie Winkie as well. (I totally knit Finn's "sleeping cap" the week leading up to this shindig.)

The Wednesday before Halloween, my stepmom texted and asked if she, my dad, and their dog could come down for Halloween, and for the soccer games that morning. Since we always love seeing family, we said, "Of course!" And down they came.

They met Josh at the field where Deacon was finishing his game, and Zeke was starting his. After watching those two play for a bit, they met me at the field where Finn was playing. The boys were so excited. After soccer we had some lunch and hung out until it was time to head over to our neighbor's for the annual pipe stem Halloween party/candy hand out spot. For costumes this year, we had 2 soccer players and 1 Star Lord (from the Guardians of the Galaxy movie).

After hanging out for a few minutes, Karen, Mickey (the dog), and I took the boys to Christine's to see them in their costumes, and then we started trick-or-treating. We had a lot of fun, except for when this guy came out:

Mickey did NOT like this guy at ALL. The poor dog went crazy as the Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man walked past us on the street. The dog also went crazy when he showed up at our pipe stem party an hour or so later when we were finished trick-or-treating. While trick-or-treating we met up with some friends and walked around with them a bit too, until Deacon decided he was done and wanted to go back. I took him back and left the other 2 with Karen, but shortly after we got back, they came back. Apparently they made it about 5 more minutes before deciding they were done as well.  Back at the party Finn displayed some awesome dance moves before deciding he was tired and wanted to go to bed.

Shortly thereafter, we ALL had decided we were tired and ready for bed.

While I was putting the kids in bed, my dad won the game they played at the party. I was gone for 20 minutes and he won a game! Josh said it was amazing. They put the names of horror movies/horror movie characters on each person's back, then each person had to guess who they were. The story goes, a sticker was put on my dad and the conversation went like this:
Dad: Am I a human?
Answer: No.
Dad: Am I a shark?
Answer: Yes.
Dad: Am I a white shark?
Answer: Yes?
Dad: Am I Jaws?
Answer: YES!

What?! Who goes from not a human to shark? Well played, Dad. Well played.

And how can we have a Halloween post without pictures of this year's pumpkins? I didn't get photos of each boy with their pumpkins this year because they basically told Josh what they wanted their pumpkins to look like, then walked away. So, Josh carved all of the pumpkins, I separated out, cleaned and cooked the pumpkin seeds, and the boys watched TV, the day before Halloween. Josh also took advantage of back to back soccer games to etch-carve the small pumpkins we bought. This year's theme: Minions!

I hope everyone else had a wonderful Halloween. I know that's a bit late, especially with Thanksgiving being next week (WHAT?!), but there it is. Happy Halloween!

11 November 2015

A Typical Week Here

Sunday: We finally found a church we all really like. We go to Sunday School (there are adult Bible study classes as well), then to church. The church has a traditional Baptist service and a contemporary service going at the same time but in different parts of the building, so we've go back and forth to both. We spend the afternoons hanging out, watching football, playing outside when it's nice and all that jazz.

Monday: After getting the boys to school (this is how every week day starts), I usually make the drive to base and do the weekly food shopping at the commissary. Monday evenings (okay, every other Monday evening) this kid goes to scouts:

Tuesday: Tuesday mornings I volunteer in Deacon's classroom helping out the teacher with photocopies or stapling or whatever other little chores need getting done. (I should note that as of writing this I've only gone in once as the following week was parent teacher conferences and this past Tuesday I was on Zeke's field trip.) Tuesday evenings Zeke has soccer:

(Note: soccer actually ends this week, so that's going to be lovely.)

Wednesday: Tea time! This is the day Christine and I (and now Elizabeth too) have set aside as our time to sit and chat and have tea. It's wonderful. We laugh so much and have such a great time. It's one of my favorite parts of the week. It helps to set me up for Wednesday evenings where I make dinner in the crockpot as we have to eat by 4:30 because Finn has soccer practice from 5:15-6:15:

and then Deacon has soccer practice (on a different field) from 6:30-8.

He's in the white pinny in the center of the picture. 

Josh usually goes home from work, eats what's in the crockpot, then heads to Finn's practice so he can take Finn and Zeke home and get them showered while I take Deacon to his practice. Basically, I leave the house at 5 and get home around 8:20. But they love soccer, so it's worth it.

Thursday: PWOC! It's ladies Bible study time all morning long and I love it. (Every other) Thursday evenings this one has scouts:

Friday: On Friday mornings I was going to a Bible study at the church we're attending, but the study they were doing just finished, and Finn's teacher asked if I would be willing to go in on Fridays and do a craft with the kids as one of their language arts stations (meaning I'll do the craft with all 30 kids, but only 5-6 at a time as they cycle through). Of course I would! That starts this Friday, and I'm really excited about it.

Saturday: Soccer, soccer, and more soccer, followed by football, football and more football. All soccer games are on Saturdays. Most weeks this means our entire morning and early afternoon are spent watching the boys play soccer, and we love it. They have so much fun playing, and we have so much fun watching. Even when it's pouring. After we get in from soccer and have lunch we usually spend the rest of our Saturdays as we spend our Sunday: watching football, relaxing, playing outside, and that sort of fun stuff.

As you can see, we are very busy indeed. Add to it that Josh has been traveling a bunch. And this is why I've been absent from blogging. I'm worn out. However, soccer is ending this week (yay! and also, so sad!) which will give me a little more energy to spend on things like blogging. So, get ready for some backblogging! But probably not until next week.

01 October 2015

My Summer Knitting Project

I'm sure you all would rather I regale you with tales of my boys, than write about knitting. I know I would rather read stories about my boys than about my knitting, but it's been awhile since I've blogged, and I'm trying to get back into the swing of it now that we've pretty much settled into a routine, and this has been in the forefront of my mind, so here it is.  I promise to write about the boys next week. Until then, here's what I did this summer while we had the summer we had.  

This actually starts back five or so years ago when we were living in Alaska. While we were there, I decided to take all of my leftover yarn from projects and make these hexagons that some day I'd put together into a blanket.

By the time we left Alaska, I had a decent sized box full of them. Finally two(?) Christmases ago I finally got around to making the blanket. 

(You can see it behind Deacon.) Sadly, I hadn't made enough hexagons to make a decent sized blanket. The blanket I wound up barely covered my legs. So, I set about trying to make more hexagons with other yarn, and failed. I couldn't remember how to make the hexagons, and every time I came close the hexagons were WAY bigger than the original ones and the whole thing wouldn't come together nicely. Thus it was back into the box until I could figure out what to do.

This summer inspiration struck and I decided to tear apart ALL of the hexagons and make hats out of the yarn. And so, from Memorial Day to Labor Day I pulled apart hexagons and knit them into hats. By the time I was finished I had made 16 hats.

Aren't some of them lovely? I'll be honest. I'm not overly impressed with all of them, so don't worry if you aren't either. But some of them I really love and am super pumped with how they came out.  What's that? You want a "closer look" at them? Okay. Just keep in mind, a lot of the colors look better in person than in these pictures.

Now, I just have to decide what to do with them.

16 September 2015

Before We Got Down Here

I was organizing pictures today and realized I let July go by without blogging (intentionally), but I have some fun pictures and stories to share, so here's a "dump" post on a few things that happened in July while we were between homes and what's it.

Fourth of July we went to a bbq at a friend of Josh's house. Before we left his wife gave me some dessert to take with me. We left, and all was good until we hit Route 80. As soon as my car started picking up speed, Zeke and Finn both went, "Whoa! What was THAT?!" When asked what they were talking about, they said something white went flying past and went splat on the road. I looked at Josh and said, "Where's my dessert?" I'm sure you've figured out where my dessert was. If you guessed all over Route 80 you're correct! Not only was it all over Route 80 though, it was all over the one side of my car:

Ohhh yeahhh.


The boys did VBS (Vacation Bible School) at the same place they did it last year, and had a BLAST. They put the kids on a stage the last night to perform the songs they learned throughout the week, and that may have been a mistake. After Finn's dance recital, the kid LOVES the stage and totally rocked out all night. 

Zeke is right in front of him and Deacon is off to the left (as you look at the video) a little bit. Finn stole the show. Quite a few moms afterwards told me how much they enjoyed watching him up there, and how much fun he must be to have around.

Yes. Yes he is.


The day after our movers finished packing us up, the fire department was on our street doing drills. They asked Josh if they could use our place for a few minutes and Josh said, "Of course!" In return, they let Finn check out any fire truck of his choosing. The fire department on Picatinny are seriously some of the coolest and nicest guys. 

We also found a frog hopping about our front yard that day. That's not a ground breaking event, but it was pretty neat.


Josh got an award before we left. 

Finn got wigged out by the stairs we had to climb to get to the award ceremony, so he was uber cranky until I made a joke of him being in my way as I was trying to take pictures. My joke led to this happening while the ceremony was going on. 

At least Finn was happy and laughing again. Right?


We also spent some time at playgrounds:

at Josh's parents' house, which means the beach:

and I got to meet my niece, Kara:


All in all, a great month where we spent 1/3 of it in our house, 1/3 in temporary lodging and 1/3 at Josh's parents'. We had fun everywhere we went and that is pretty much July 2015 in a nutshell.

11 September 2015

The First Week

Everything started this week: school for the boys, soccer for the boys, Bible study for me. It was great getting back into the swing of things, and I'm thinking it's going to be a really good year. I've managed to keep myself busy every morning so far, so I it hasn't completely sunk in that I'm home alone all day every day now.

So, Tuesday was the first day of school. Zeke is in 4th grade this year, Deacon is in 3rd, and Finn started KINDERGARTEN!?!

They do full day kindergarten here, so it was a bit of an adjustment for Finn. As soon as we got home from school he just lost it. He snapped at Zeke then put himself in his room. I went to check on him after he'd been up there for a few minutes and said, "Monkey, you okay?" To which he replied in the deepest, flattest voice he can do, "No. And I'll never be okay ever again." OH! This child. I had to leave so I didn't laugh in his face. Eventually he was okay, and came back down in a better mood about 45 minutes later. The subsequent days have gone better.

Tuesday was also Zeke's first day of soccer. He has a really great coach and it seems like a good group of kids. He had a blast running around and learning some new things. At one point he ran over to get a drink and said, "Soccer is SO much fun! And so is school!" And then he ran away. A dad sitting next me said, "Wow. How did you get him to like school so much?" I informed him that we're a bunch of nerds and books and math and learning are some of our favorite things. He said he was going to start sending his boys over to my house in hopes we'll rub off on them. Ha!

Wednesday Finn and Deacon have soccer. Poor Finn. Apparently someone decided the 5 year olds should have practice from 5:15-6:15 (dinnertime), games usually at noon or one (lunch/nap time), and have practice on a field that has ZERO shade. It's still hot and humid most days here, so 3 minutes into Finn's practice he was dripping sweat and ready to go home. Hopefully it'll start cooling off soon. Or rain every Wednesday from now through November 14th. (Did I say that out loud? Oops.)

After Finn's practice is Deacon's practice (at a different location). Deacon's age group had the most kids (30 something) and the least coaches (1) sign up, so their games will be a little different. I'm not sure how it'll work out, but the coach, I was told, used to coach at either the collegiate or semi-professional level, so I have faith he knows what he's doing. He does have some parent volunteers, so hopefully it'll be a fun season and Deacon won't get lost in the crowd.

Then, yesterday, PWOC started. I met some ladies, had some good food, and signed up to take a study on the books of Joshua and Judges. I'm super pumped as I love the Old Testament and history and what's it. 

Saturdays are soccer game days. I think of the 8 or 9 Saturdays they play, ONE of those weeks is a week where there aren't any time conflicts. I think there's also one Saturday where all 3 play at the same time in different locations. Yee-haw! This is going to be fun!

And that, as they say, is that. A good first week getting started and getting things underway. Zeke came out of school yesterday, gave me a hug and said, "I think this is going to be a very good school year." I think so too, and I'm looking forward to it all.

19 August 2015

Walterland: Virginia, is Open For Business!

Hey all! What a summer we have been having over here. Obviously the biggest thing that happened (besides my sister, Katherine, giving birth to the most beautiful baby girl ever!) is that we moved from New Jersey to Virginia. We got down here on August 1st, and after receiving our stuff the 4th, we are FINALLY unpacked and settled. Sure, there are few things left to hang on the walls here and there, but I decided enough was enough, and it's enough to get me back here to show off some pics of our new place, and maybe even entice a few of you to come visit? Anyhoo, on to the tour!

The front of the house:

Nice, right?

Here's our crazy front door:

It's just one big knob. What?

As you step through the front door you will find a tiny bathroom on your left (Josh loves it because he says it makes him feel like a giant) and a closet on your right (they're swapped in the pic because I took it from the other side so you could see the doors):

From this entryway you come to the rest of the house. Let's go upstairs first since it's really just bedrooms and closets.

So, you go up the stairs and then there's the boys' bathroom (no pic - it's a bathroom), Deacon's room:

Finn's room:

Zeke's room:

then our room:

Our room has a pretty sweet bathroom, with a rain shower (that's the shower head coming out of the ceiling):

Josh LOVES the rain shower because it allows his 6'4 body to stand up straight in the shower instead of having to bend at awkward angles to get all the shampoo off his head and what's it. 

There's also two linen closets on this floor.  Now let's head back down to the main floor.

As you come in the house and turn left, you enter our dining room. 

It's sort of plain at the moment, but soon the walls will be covered with the boys' artwork and that'll be fabulous.  From the dining room you enter the tiny kitchen.

I seriously feel like I'm back in Germany some days. Christine proposed the idea that most families living in these houses are dual income families and so no one really cooks, which means the kitchens aren't that important to them. I think she's on to something. It does have a nice pantry though:

Next to the kitchen is some space where we stuck the breakfast table and Tony Stark.

And seriously you guys, Tony couldn't be happier there. He's been basking and doing yoga poses all over the place.

Next to the Tiny Terror of the Terrarium (my nickname for the turtle sometimes) is our living room.

The living room has two doors that lead out onto our tri-level deck:

which leads to our backyard (view from the doors):

Back between the kitchen and the dining room is the door to the garage (no pics because it's a garage). From the garage is a door also leading to the deck, but more specifically, to the grilling deck. This deck has a thing to hook up the grill to the natural gas in the house, so you never have to buy propane tanks. How cool is that?!

Back inside. Next to our living room, or if you made a right instead of a left upon entering the house, is our library:


This is also the home of Josh's legos (which are still being unpacked):

Now, back to the kitchen. Across from the garage door is the basement door, and the basement looks like this:

Needless to say, this is where the boys spend almost all of their time. There's also a bathroom down here, and the laundry/storage room. The basement also has double doors that lead out into the yard.

And that, as they say, is that.  Anyone up for a road trip now?