Thursday, November 27, 2014


By the Numbers...
1 bag Chex Mix
1 jar pickles
1 jar olives
1 jar banana peppers
"Prenzels" (aka - pretzels)
29 slice of cheese
2 sleeves of crackers
5 lb. potatoes
1 bag cranberries
Orange juice
3 pkg. cream cheese
1 1/4 cups butter
1 cup half and half
2 lb. green beans
4 slices bacon
Garlic and onions, lots
Grated cheddar cheese
Bread crumbs
5 cups flour
2 cans olives
Yeast, salt, sugar, etc.
1 jar Nutella
1 graham cracker pie crust
2 fancy dresses
Bike races for 5
Postcard writing
A rousing (and nearly catostrophic) game of Farkel
A handful of meltdowns
A couple of fights
1 runny nose
2 bottles of sparkling cider
The Chew Crew minus 1 cuddled under one blanket
1 very tasty roast turkey


Chew Family Thanskgiving 2014
(and a LOT of leftovers!)

Rachel didn't get the memo that we're supposed to smile for the camera...

Monday, November 24, 2014

Leaves, Naps, and the Big Red Bus

 Our rental house is situated on four wooded acres.  As far as I can tell the property contains approximately zero evergreen trees.  Since it is November, the end of the fall season, most of the leaves from the trees now cover the ground.  Four acres covered in a 4-inch blanket of leaves.  Saying that we have a lot of leaves is an understatement.

So, when Jeremiah brought me a leaf this afternoon and said, "Look at my leaf, Mommy.  It's my money."  I panned the front yard and thought, "If every leaf were a dollar, how wealthy with this little guy be?"  My guess is that he would be a billionaire.  And by next year at this time...maybe he could get the United States out of debt.

Speaking of Jeremiah, he has proven to be a champion sleeper.  His move to a big boy bed has been a smooth transition with only a few nights of him getting up to play.  Even nap time has been a breeze.  I give him a stack of board books and instructions to go to sleep when he is finished reading.  And you know what?  He actually follows orders.  Amazing!

Here he is after putting himself down for a nap this afternoon.

I noticed something inside the driver's door of our big red van today.  On the little label that has our VIN, make, year, etc. the vehicle type says this, "Bus (Not a school bus)".  We often call it the Big Red Bus just because Jeremiah calls it that and sometimes will refuse to get in if we call it a van or a car.  I guess he was right afterall.

This morning we went into Charlottesville for an appointment.  While there we had to park in a parking garage.  I think this is the first time we have parked in one since getting the Big Red Bus last month.  Boy was it stressful...and I wasn't even the one driving!

We were instructed to move up to the third level but I don't think the attendant was paying much attention to the great height of our vehicle.  As we passed a row of "Oversized Vehicle" parking spaces, I thought how great it was that they offered these spots and I assumed they were on each level.

I was wrong.

You know those big metal beams that hang from the ceiling of parking garages?  You know how they have a height limit written on them?  And do you know how many times you drive right underneath and never give it a second thought?

Well, apparently our red van is nearly seven feet tall because we couldn't quite make it under the metal beam.  Instead we had to wait for clearance to turn around (have you tried to make a tight U-Turn in a giant vehicle?) and head back to the oversized vehicle spots.  Praise the Lord for those!

Obviously we made it in and out without real incident.  However, even in the oversized space our bumber was hanging past the end of the line.  Ugh...

Next up: Parallel parking.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Big Boy Bed

Here's a good way to get your exercise in for the day.  Put your 2-year-old into a big boy bed for the first time.  Make sure his bedroom is on the second floor and that you are writing a blog post about the experience busy on the first.  Run up the stairs each time you hear his feet pitter pattering, lift his 25 pound body into your arms, walk briskly to his bed, and administer discipline of your choice.


And repeat.

And repeat.

Listen to the funny things that your adorable and defiant little son has to say about his first night in a big boy bed.

"I'm just going to sleep now, Mommy."
"Mommy, I was walking and then running."

"I need a derrink!"

"Mommy, I'm not in my bed.  I'm on my bed."

"Daddy, I'm going to get up!"

And then have a good laugh at Big Brother's speech regarding the importance of obeying Dad and Mom and staying on your bed.

Big Brother:  "Jer, if you don't want to have spankings you should just stay in your bed.  Then you can go to sleep and forget about all of the spankings you just got."

Little Brother:  "Okay."

Remember to snap a photo once he finally dozes off to sleep.

Oh, yeah...have some ice cream or chocolate ready to celebrate your success.  And to replenish your energy reserves.  ;)

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Settling In

The boys are upstairs in the toy room playing with trucks.  The girls are outside riding bikes up and down the driveway.  Rachel is napping in the downstairs bedroom.  And I finally find myself without a long list of things that need to be done yesterday.

For a month now we have been moving at approximately 100 miles per hour.  Claude and I have kept very late nights trying to get through all that needed to be packed, cleaned, tied up, set up, unloaded, or put away.  In between the packing and unpacking stages we managed to drive our little family from Texas to Virginia without any major issues - not even a bout of motion sickness to report.  Praise the Lord!  :)

It has certainly been an exciting month.  And stressful.  Let's not leave that out!  I don't think I have ever felt more stress than I have during this move.

Now that the house is pretty much set up and our relocation is essentially complete, I have time to think and pray about re-establishing our routines and schedules.  Usually I love working on things like this, but today I'm not wanting to tackle the issue.  Hence the blog post.  ;)

While many things can remain the same, there is much that must change in order to fit our new normal.  The problem with making the changes is that I don't yet know what the new normal looks like.  I'm still figuring it out.  And the adjustments necessary to make a long-distance move work seem to never end.

For one thing, we find ourselves living in a semi-rural setting.  I say "semi" because we can see neighbors on both sides of us and across the street.  We are not truly isolated, but neither are we close to amenities like shopping, doctors, libraries, and the like.

We will have a lot of practice riding in the car since pretty much everything is 45 minutes from home.  I can't really complain about the driving, though, since most of it looks like this:

And once we get near to our house, it looks a little more like this:

We can drive 45 minutes and find ourselves at Walmart, Sam's Club, or church.  But we can also visit places like the Appomattox Court House National Historic Park where, just about 150 years ago, General Robert E. Lee surrendered to General U.S. Grant and the Civil War came to an end.  And it's "just down the road".

Other adjustments have mainly to do with how our household runs.  Laundry is changing some because we now have two different baskets for dirty laundry - one on the main floor and one upstairs.  Chores will change since we have a different setup than our previous home.  Even sleeping arrangements, and therefore bed times, have changed.  Our upstairs bedrooms are gigantic (a good "problem" to have) so we decided to have a bedroom for all five kids and a toy room.  And with that come more and more adjustments.

The funny thing about all of these changes is that I feel like we have never lived anywhere else than here.  It's surreal to think that just a few weeks ago we were Claude was dragging a very heavy washing machine up the front steps, into a house that was cold, dusty, and full of unpacked boxes.

Is it telling that the first thing that made this house feel like home was having that washing machine and dryer hooked up and running?  You know you do a lot of laundry when...  :)

Yesterday as the kids and I drove home from taking Gramma to the airport, I felt a sense of relief as I saw the sign with the name of our little town.  It may be new.  There may be dozens of adjustments to be made, but this is home and it feels great to be settling in.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Snapshots: Visit with Gramma

I'm sure she's ready to be back in her quiet house, but we sure have enjoyed having her here!

Thanks for coming, Mom!


Snapshots: Sunday S'Mores

I know, I really owe you an actual post with more than two paragraphs of text excuses.  Sorry...this post will not be it.  But rest assured, I have been blogging in my head for about three weeks.  Eventually some of that will translate into some real writing.

For now, please enjoy some pictures from our backyard "camp out".  I'm not sure why we called it that because we weren't camping out at all.  But we did have a nice fire going and we enjoyed plenty of hot dogs and s'mores.  Yum!

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Snapshots: The Big Move

There is much that I would love to write.  The past two weeks have been incredibly stressful, exciting, exhausting, and also bittersweet.  I feel like I am recovering from some major life-altering experience...wait a minute.  I am recovering from a major life-altering experience!  ;)

Anyway...I don't have the time at the moment to write all about how we packed a 20-foot truck, a minivan, and Big Red to drive 1,300 miles across the country with five children in tow.  There are things that we did that really worked.  And things that didn't.  There are thoughts about the endurance required in a move of this type and thoughts about leaving behind a group of loving friends.  And, as can be expected, the crazy stories of life with a handful of littles abound.

In place of writing I'll include some photos and (Lord willing) sometime in the near future before I die or Christ returns, there will be opportunity to write more.

Our first day driving.

Logging in driving hours while everyone was asleep.

Final day - driving through Central Virginia.

First family hike.  This trail is only 15 minutes from our house.  Amazing!

And for those who are particularly brave, here is a video from the last hour of the drive.