29 October 2013

My Thoughts on Pennsylvania

After being here in Pennsylvania for 4 months now I thought I would write down some thoughts about it.  Let me start with some things that I really like about PA.  The green trees and glorious rain during the Summer months by far exceeded my expectations.  It was wonderful.  I loved every moment of it.
Everyone always talks about that the trees turning colors for the Fall in the East is absolutely gorgeous. Well, in my opinion it was just okay.  I would say that any canyon in Utah has a far prettier array of trees through the Fall.  Half of the trees here turned colors and then lost most of their leaves in the short time frame of about a week.  And now for the entire rest of Fall there are still trees slowly changing colors, but with all of the trees that are dead there really isn't much of a great grandeur about it.  I wondered that maybe it wasn't a good Fall this year, but after hearing a few people remark at how beautiful Fall has been I am guessing that this is pretty typical.

Enough about seasons, I thought I would share with you the biggest reason that I HATE living in Pennsylvania.  And no, I am not going to tell you its the fast windy roads that make you lose your lunch or the incredibly slow freeway speeds.  Those come in at a close second, but the biggest thing that I dislike about Pennsylvania is all of the smoking that happens.  It is the reason that I hate going outside.  Whenever going to Walmart for groceries (there are no close grocery stores at all and people thought that Grantsville was far from stores) I ALWAYS am accosted by cigarette smoke.  People always light up when walking to and from the store and will sit in their car to have a smoke.  The front entrance of Walmart reeks of cigarette smoke and I feel like I get lung cancer every time I go buy groceries.

I wondered if Pennsylvania was high on the list of states that smoked so I looked it up and here is what I found.

Pennsylvania ranks in at 33rd (1 being the least smokers) with 22.4% smokers.  So they aren't the worst smoking state, I can't even imagine living in a state worse than PA!  I would die.  I would like to state that Utah has the least smokers at 11.8%.  No surprise there.  California is the next best state with 13.7% smokers.  It kind of surprised me that California was so good.  I never felt accosted by smoking growing up, but guess I kind of figured that most states were like CA.  Well, to have only ever lived in states where smoking is much lower Pennsylvania seems terrible.

On a side note, Pennsylvania's tax on cigarettes isn't terribly high at $1.60/pack compared to New York who taxes $4.35/pack (they have the highest tax).  We heard that people in New York often drive just south of their border into Pennsylvania to buy their cigarettes.  Enough about that.

Laughs and Cows

Charlie was going potty and of course Henry had to accompany him.  Charlie started playing with a plastic syringe that I use for watercolor painting.  When he would pull it all the way out it would make a pop sound.  Henry thought it was the funniest thing in the world.  Charlie thought that it was great fun to make Henry laugh so much.

We went to a local (an entire hour away) pumpkin patch farm.  They grew and raised lots of things including 15,000 turkeys for Thanksgiving.  They had lots of fun things for kids to do.  Unfortunately my camera died after a few photos :(
Charlie loved the tractors that were for kids to play on.
 He so wanted to reach the lever with his foot.

 It was a blast.  Behind Charlie on the bails of hay is a huge pipe that they set up for people to slide down.  The slide was VERY fast and the first (and only) time I went down it freaked me out.  Charlie loved it.  He couldn't get enough of the slide.  The first time he went down he was going too fast and was leaning so far forward that he did a summersault when he landed.

Also, I kind of assumed that pretty much everywhere took credit cards.  Credit card readers seem so accessible these days that I kind of assumed that all businesses, whether large or small took credit cards.  Well, when we were there we thought we would buy some food from the food truck that was there since it was decent prices and it sounded better than crackers that we had brought.  I stood in line for about half an hour (ugh...there was only one person in front of me, I'm not sure what the hold up was) and then when it was my turn I placed my order.  The lady then informed me that they only took cash or check.  What?!?!  You would take a check over a credit card?  They could totally get bounced checks that way.  I didn't have either one since I had just grabbed a credit card from Charles.  So I left and wasn't about to stand in line again since it was super long.  It was just a weird experience.  

18 October 2013

A Few Tid Bits and Rainy Days

Here is Charles and his birthday cake that didn't turn out like it was supposed to.  The chocolate fudge never thickened for his boston cream torte.  But it sure was yummy still!
It has been rainy lately.  The kids enjoy going out in the rain and watching it through our glass door and windows.

Henry doesn't have much patience when it comes to waiting for food, so I thought I would take a picture of him being grumpy even though he had already gobbled down a huge chicken croquet (aka chicken rollup).
On one of our rainy days we took a fun walk around the neighborhood.  Charlie perfected the art of stomping in puddles with his rain boots.
When Charlie was 4 months old he wore this dalmatian puppy costume.
Charlie got a hold of it the other day and wanted to wear it again.  That costume sure had long arms.  I had to roll them up when he was a baby.  Now they fit perfectly.
During the rain our fence looks all pretty with the moss growing on it.
During one particular 24 hour period we had so much rain that it filled up one of our trash cans more than half way.
We went on a fun car ride in the rain to see all of the rivers that were overflowing.  Charlie was so excited!
Here is Fishing Creek.  It was a lot larger than a creek after the rain.  It had even flooded all of the land west of it and made it a swampy, marshy area.
We turned around in Charles' work's parking lot, so I thought I would take a picture of where Charles works so that you can all see.
We had fun splashing through the huge puddles on the road.  Here was the best one.
Other little updates about the kids:
Charlie LOVES letters!  He is always pointing to letters and telling me what they are.  He doesn't get them right most of the time, but he does always get a few right and is continually adding to the list of the ones that he knows.  He currently can correctly identify F, R, K, A, B, Y.  When we are reviewing his letters on the wall he will often remember which one comes next by auditory memory and not by actually being able to identify it.  When we drive around he will point out all of the letters that he knows.  When we are home he finds letters everywhere (I didn't know there were that many around a home).  He always wants me to tell him the names of all of the letters.  We spend hours each day doing letters because Charlie just wants to.  This kiddo may not be combining words into sentences well yet, but he is learning the letters of the words.
Henry loves to wave to Charles and me.  He won't wave to anyone else.  When he first learned to wave it was only to me.  He has learned to fold his arms for prayers and is slowly getting better at actually keeping his arms folded for more than two seconds.  Henry is also walking along the couch and anything else.  He loves climbing up the stairs and going back down.  He still can't start going down the stairs from the top.  The whole going feet first is alluding him.  Hence, after getting on Charlie's bed he can't get off and will cry waiting for me to come rescue him.
Charlie and Henry are great sleepers.  They are sleeping about 12 hours a night from 7 to 7.  For a while it was only till 6:20, but we finally broke them of that habit.  Both of the boys take one nap around 1 or 2 ish.  I think the only reason that Charlie still naps is because it is a social event.  He loves being with Henry and will pretty much cooperate with anything if Henry is doing it, too.
Charlie has officially started chores.  He is in charge of putting dirty diapers in the trash.  For every diaper he puts in the trash he gets one penny.  He doesn't understand why it is fun to get a penny and put it in his piggy bank, but he likes the reward.  Maybe we should pay him a penny for using the potty?

The Grossest Thing of Our Lives!

Warning: If you are eating food or just ate food in the last hour or are about to eat food in the next hour, you may want to hold off on reading this blog post.  It is pretty darn disgusting and I don't want anyone throwing up food or loosing their appetite because of us.  This post would be good to read if you are on a diet and are trying to not eat as much :)

In the beginning of the week as I was doing dishes our sink stopped draining.  Eek!  I had put a bit more than the normal food down the garbage disposal, so I ran the disposal some more, but the water was not going any where.  I looked up some YouTube videos to see if I could easily fix the problem before Charles got home from work.  I wanted to secretly impress him with my nonexistent handyman skills.  I couldn't get it fixed.  When Charles got home he wasn't super thrilled, but it seemed a pretty manageable project that we could do.

He worked on it that evening and we were sure that the next evening he would be able to solve the problem.  Each night we thought this same thought all week long.  We seemed soooo close to figuring it out each night and figured that by the next day we will have it cleared pretty quick.  We did plunging, drano, and snaked it.  Charles took apart all of the pipes he could reach.  Saturday came and we had no clean dishes, the kitchen was a wreck and we had planned a date for the afternoon and had a babysitter coming over.  So we started trying to clean like mad.  Charles cleaned up the general kitchen stuff while I washed dishes in the bathroom.  I felt like one of those hoarder people that hoard so much junk that they can't even use their kitchen so they wash their dishes in the bathroom.  I felt like a freak, but we got it presentable.

After our date Charles drilled a hole into the larger 2" pipe in the basement that the kitchen sink drains into to see if he could drain all of the water and the cut into it a little bit to clear out the blockage.  After he drilled the water wasn't really dripping out.  We were pretty darn perplexed.  Charles sawed out a two foot section of the 8' long pipe and we found out that the pipe was pretty much completely clogged with 20 years worth of sludge (look at below photo if you dare).  Charles slowly cut the 8' pipe into two foot sections so that he could catch the little water in each section of pipe.  As he was cutting out a piece of pipe closest to the kitchen sink tons of water dumped out everywhere in the basement.  Even though Charles was wearing safety glasses Charles got some of the liquid in his eyes.  He raced upstairs to the shower to rinse out his eyes since we had poured drano down the drain a few days earlier and it couldn't drain out because of the clog.  It had gotten watered down, so it wasn't as scary as pure drano from the bottle, but we did call Poison Control.  Charles won't go blind (we hope) and his eyes feel pretty good.

We are glad that Charles decided to fix the problem instead of hiring a plumber to come out to the house and have him spend hours and hours to make a hole through the sludge with his snake.  Then he would have had to come out every year to come do the same thing.  So instead of a HUGE plumber's bill Charles has spent $32 on new pipe, pipe glue, snake, and drano.  Now we will have a perfectly cleared pipe.  Charles was talking to our Home Teacher (he knows lots about construction and such) about the problem at church and he said that pipes get clogged like this because of grease going down the drain.  The grease cools in the pipes and then collects crud on it and the layers slowly build over the years.

It makes me want to talk to the prior owners of the home and say, "By the way, you shouldn't be putting grease down the drain.  Ever!"  Nothing like getting stuck with the problem created by someone else.  Oh well, it was a good learning experience and I am glad that it is all over.  Well, we are still trying to clean things up and get all of the nasty smell out of the house.

06 October 2013

Happy, Happy Birthday Charles Dear!

Charles is older and wiser, too!
Charles is a great daddy and hubby.  He is smart, kind, funny, and practically perfect in every way.  He is great with the kids and they are always so happy when he comes home from work each day.  When Charles isn't at work Charlie lets us all know that Daddy is home.  He is always so happy when Daddy is home.  And we all are so happy when Charles is home.  He brings great joy and happiness into our family.
Charles has a funny story to share with you all:

Thank you, Annette.  (This is Charles speaking now)  The HR Manager saw me and told me that she went to the hair dresser's.  She was talking with the hair dresser and somehow the subject of Jehovah Witness missionaries came up.  She then shifted gears a little in the conversation and told the hair dresser that she saw Mormon missionaries, but that this guy from Utah (me) had moved to Pennsylvania to work at Flight Systems and he was such a good guy so now when she sees missionaries she has a complete "change of heart" if they're like me (very flattering).  The hair dresser then replied that she was Mormon which totally stunned our HR Manager and she said that apparently she needs to "open her eyes" to what's happening.  Through all of that story I never did hear what her previous thoughts/feelings were about the church, but they must have been negative since she's having an implied turnaround of thoughts and feelings.  The hair dresser said she went to the Camp Hill Ward and asked what ward I went to.  The HR Manager said she thought I was having a hard time finding the church and the lady said that wouldn't be the case!  I then told my HR Manager that I went to the Lewisberry Ward to which she responded, "Lewisberry has its own ward?!"  I told her that it did take in several other surrounding cities, but that the church is quite large and global.  I told her that there are more Mormons in California than in Utah and that there are more Mormons outside of the United States in than inside the United States.  Those statistics were as mind-boggling for her as they are for me.  It's exciting to watch the Church grow and prosper like it is!!  And there are SO many great people out there (like my HR Manager) whose lives could be even more blessed than they already are by a knowledge of the Restored Gospel!

Our Fun Little Life With the Cutest Kids Ever

Bath time in our home is one of the best times of the day for the kids.  Henry loves baths and is always trying to get into the tub.
They both love splashing like crazy.  Charlie is always soaking Henry and Henry loves every minute of it.  Henry will often put his head under the faucet to get drinks and drenches himself.
We have a park in our HOA that we go to every once in a while.  Charlie loves climbing on everything  and asks if we can go to the "Wee."  "Wee" is what he says when he goes down the slide so that is what the park is called.
Henry is always trying to eat the bark chips.
Charles bikes to work a lot, but when he doesn't Charlie and Henry love playing with the bike.
Charlie likes to pretend to take naps so that I will tickle him.
Charlie is a good helper with the trash.  He is in charge of putting diapers into the trash.  He has collected a total of five diapers in his arms at one time.  If there are only a few he will hold them with one hand and his chin.  Ick.
Henry loves making cute faces for us.  He also performs lots of fun tricks like waving and copying what we do.
Charlie loves his rain boots.  Right after his diaper change he put his boots on.
Charlie and Henry know which cupboards are their favorite to find the best pots and pans.
Henry loves trying to eat rocks.
He knows he isn't supposed to.
He shoves them in anyway.
And then will share them with others.
Charlie has some good dramatic faces when playing.
More rain boots even though it isn't raining.
We went to the local roller rink with Charles' co-worker and family.  Henry and I chilled most of the time.
Charlie in his skates.
Slow and steady helps to avoid owies.
Henry had fun crawling away from Mommy.
Henry loves to go up the stairs, but he can't go back down yet.
Friday is one of our favorite days because that is the day the trash gets picked up.  Right as we were finishing diapers this last Friday we heard the recycle truck come by and had to run over to see it.  Thankfully we live in a cul-de-sac so we get to watch him go up and down the street.
We then waited around for the normal garbage truck to come by to pick up the rest of the trash.  And yes, Charlie is wearing undies over his diaper.