Glamping

Long Awaited Cargo Trailer Conversion Update

Hey! Finally! It’s the long awaited update on our cargo trailer conversion!

Let me just say, at the outset, that I’ve been ZERO help. It’s all been Kevin. LeRoy has helped but the majority of work has been done by Kevin. He has though long and hard about how he wants to configure everything and I’m really impressed with him! This is the first time he’s really done any carpentry and he has customized the pieces he bought, for pennies on the dollar at places like thrift stores and Habitat for Humanity, and made it work for the space. He has spent a lot of time on the kitchen and I couldn’t be happier.

I can’t wait to take it on the road!

It’s not ready yet, obviously, but now that the kitchen is pretty much done, he feels like the rest of the work will go faster (famous last words?)

He is buying the air conditioner/heater unit to put in next and I’m on the hunt for a deal on our “half” fridge. He actually painted the cabinets under the bed, (you can see them in the thumbnail) today.

My “jack of all trades” never ceases to amaze me.

Good job, Kevin! I love you!

Trailer Travels

Trailer Update #One

So the trailer is coming along. Kevin has been making some great progress. I’ll admit, I’ve been useless. I haven’t helped him at all. I know that doesn’t paint me in a very good light admitting that, but I can’t take credit for something I didn’t do.

The first picture in the slideshow is where he insulated the ceiling. Then he painted the beams to blend in. Then it looks like he put up some beams to make it look cool. (Can you tell I’m totally winging this and have no idea what I’m talking about?)

The fourth picture is when he took the wood off the walls and painted the beams with some sort of rust protector because apparently, that wasn’t done when we bought it even though they told Kevin that it had been. Were they just not expecting him to look that closely?? Anyway, Kevin was disappointed by that and it made more work for him.

Next, he insulated the walls. Then he put the wood back up. “We” are going to eventually paint the walls a light gray, I think.

The seventh picture is when he bought some cabinets to put under the bed. The cabinets look blonde in some pictures but they are actually a reddish brown. “We” will eventually paint them white.

The thing I love the most about these cabinets is the 10th picture where one of the cabinets is open and you can see a wire basket. That’s where we’ll put our dirty clothes.

Because my top three pet peeves when we go camping is:

  1. Dirty clothes
  2. Where to put our shoes after coming in from outside
  3. Easy access to our clothes

I think we have the dirty clothes dilemma solved. And I think we have the “where to put our shoes” dilemma solved, too. Now, to come up with an organized way to access our clothes.

Kevin built our bed frame on top. Obviously, he will support it on the other side of the cabinets. I bought two narrow twin mattresses from Amazon for us to sleep on. I ordered two mattresses as opposed to just putting one mattress on there because I’m a fish out of water when I sleep and I don’t want to disturb him when I’m flopping around. This is how it’s set up on a cruise ship and we love it.

Kevin also built a back wall and put grey shiplap up. He plans on putting a toilet on the other side of that wall for our late-night pee breaks. (We’re old. We can’t go all night without peeing and neither one of us is thrilled with the idea of getting up, putting on shoes and then trekking to the campground bathrooms).

I think Kevin is going to start working on the kitchen next. He bought a sink at a home recycling center for $15 bucks. In fact, that’s where he has found most of the materials so far for the trailer – which works out great for us because we’re not wanting anything too fancy for this and we certainly don’t want to spend too much money on it.

We’ll eventually take a full video of the trailer so you can get a better idea of how it’s looking and where everything is.

More to come ..!

At the Moment, Life, Work Stuff

Punching Life in the Face: March 6th Life Update

(Tell me you don’t feel stronger looking at this graphic. Also, yes, I realize this is a bit aggressive but you know what? Life needs a punch in the face right now. I’m tired and just want to get back to normal).

Work has been crazy. Honestly, when is work NOT crazy.

I’ve been with this neurosurgery clinic for almost ten years – it will be ten years this September. TEN YEARS! This is crazy to me because I’ve ONLY ever been with a job for seven years: Seven years at fast food – seven years at banking – seven years at retail, heck, I’m pretty sure I was a stay-at-home mom for seven years.

I have a seven year itch, apparently. Actually, I’ve only had previous cars for seven years. (With the exception of my Vibe – I LOVED that car – had that for ten years). Apparently, there is something about me and putting up with something for seven years before I’m ready to move on or so sick of it I can’t stand it anymore.

And I won’t sugar coat it and say I’m not sick of this job – I am – THOROUGHLY. And yes, I could get another job, and I may still try and get another job, but there are two very big deterrents for me:

  1. My family is on my health insurance. Since Kevin is self-employed and purchasing insurance going that route is ASTRONOMICAL,Β  I got a job, (which I would have anyway – I can’t stay home – it’s just not in me). And for a while, our boys were on my insurance because we were those parents who allowed our kids to stay on my insurance until they turned 26. (Which I’m not sure was a good thing or not, to be honest). But now that Brandon, our youngest, is turning 26 this year (OUR BABY!) and will be off my insurance soon, it will only be me and Kevin. I’m looking forward to that because it will mean I get a bit more of my paycheck back. Yes, Kevin and I still need insurance, but it doesn’t seem AS required now, if that makes sense. Kevin is nearly retirement age (he’s planning on retiring in TWO years – what?!?) and he’ll be eligible for Medicare, if it still exists in two years the way we’re going, which means I’ll be free to do whatever I want with my job. So … I have a few thoughts. I’m throwing around a lot of options. I like options.
  2. But let’s be real – I’m also getting older and though there are some employers that don’t see older people as a liability and appreciate the life experience and maturity (and dare I say, work ethic) to a new job, it IS harder to get a job when you’re older. And do I honestly want to start over, from scratch, at a new place at my age? Not really.

But I’m not counting it out. I’m bored. I’m burned out. And I’m fed up.

Which leads me to the reason behind bringing this up.

Our clinic has been through some ROUGH patches these past ten years. We moved from cozy, (i.e. old and crappy) building to the hospital campus. We were no longer just “that neurosurgery group down the road” but now we were under scrutiny – we couldn’t do as much now that the hospital administration were watching this. Now, I’m not implying that we did anything wrong, or were breaking any rules at our old clinic, but it was nice not to be micro-managed like we are now. We miss that freedom.

Then we converted our old system to the hospital system. That took countless hours. But we made it fun, staying after hours, (wracking up the overtime), and jamming to music and eating pizza. But it was tough. Getting used to a new system. It wasn’t as hard on us, the employees, but it was torture for our doctors because they were completely lost for a while.

Then, me personally, I went through a HELLISH two years with a nurse from Hell which affected my health so much I ended up in the ER, TWICE, because I thought I was having a heart attack, turned out to be panic attacks, and I feel like that time period has permanently damaged my mental health – I still suffer from anxiety attacks from time-to-time.

We’ve endured painful staff changes. Crazy patients. Just the normal stuff that a group of people who see each other day-in-day-out experience when you’re around them for 40 plus hours a week.

But this. THIS has been rough. We’ve always been micro-managed. It’s always been a problem, but people have bitched, tried to make changes, were ignored and finally apathetic about trying to make things better. We settled for mediocre. Our turn over has been terrible. We just can’t keep people. Granted, the pay is not great, it really isn’t. I could make more working at Wal-Mart than I make right now, but that has only been a small factor in the overall dissatisfaction people feel with our management.

And then COVID hit. And the stress and craziness from that was enough to tip the scales and now, we’re a sinking ship.

We’re down five nurses, three MA’s, and one medical secretary. We are working with a skeleton crew and it’s putting tremendous stress on the employees left standing. Neurosurgery is not easy. There is A LOT to it. There are a lot of moving parts. You have to be a MASTER at multi-tasking for this job. It’s not preferred, it’s REQUIRED. And I feel like a lot of people, especially our young people today, are not equipped, nor are willing to try, to handle the art of working hard.

And if that’s not bad enough, our management continues to micro-manage and continue policies and procedures that (sort of) worked at our old clinic, seven years ago.

People are cracking and terribly unhappy.

Including me.

So. I took the bull by the horns and went to my director. The head honcho. My boss’s boss. And it went well. I wasn’t telling him anything he didn’t already know, he wasn’t surprised, but I felt HEARD. And that’s all I ever really want. That, and take my suggestions seriously and let’s either try my suggestion, or a hybrid of my suggestion, and see if things get better.

Is that too much to ask?

Apparently. For you see, it’s not all about me. Sometimes, I wish it were, it would make life easier, (for me), but I have seven other MA’s to navigate through. And some of these MA’s are lazy, incompetent, or just flat out jealous.

I’m not sure what to do about that; I can’t do anything about that. But I can control what I do and my input and if these other MA’s don’t want to get on board, or don’t have suggestions of their own, then shut up and get out of the way.

I know that sounds harsh, and I don’t mean it to, but I get to the point where either offer some inputs or ideas or stop bitching. I’m done with the bitching and no progress. It’s toxic. And if these ideas are agreed upon and you’re resentful that you have to do more than pull your weight for a short period of time until we solve these problems, get over it.

Do you want progress, or don’t you? And it won’t be forever.

Anyway, I presented my training proposal to the meeting on Friday and it was met with silence. I get the impression the others weren’t really going for it but was it because they didn’t like the proposal itself or that I presented it and not them? At this point, I don’t care. We’ll have another meeting next week and I’m going to call them out on it – “hey, so-and-so, did you have any thoughts on this? What are your ideas?” Because again, if you don’t have anything to say or don’t offer any input of your own, then we’re moving forward with the plan. I had a short meeting, mano-e-mano with my immediate supervisor and she asked my thoughts on how I thought the meeting went. I was honest with her. I felt there was some resistance and she is going to bring it up in the meeting next week. We’re ALL sick of hearing, “this is not working and I’m sick of it,” and “but I don’t want to be the one who has to change her routine in order to fix it.” No. F that. Either get on this ship or jump overboard – Your dead weight is dragging me down and I’m a survivor.

In the meantime, I volunteered to revamp our training manual because it’s disorganized and terribly outdated. I did this for two reason:

  1. I LOVE that crap. I love putting stuff like that together. It’s fun, challenging and rewarding to see a fat book of MY stuff.
  2. I can use it for my portfolio if I finally chuck this job and look elsewhere.

I’ll keep ya’ll updated.

 

I don’t know if you know this about us, but we’re HUGE cruisers. We love to go on cruises. We plan a trip every year and every year, it gives me a light at the end of the hum-drum of working, home, sleeping, working, home, sleeping routine tunnel. It makes working so hard worth it – sort of. So now that COVID has become this monster that the world made it out to be, it doesn’t look like cruising is going to be on our schedules any time soon. I mean, sure we COULD go cruising, there are some options out there, but with caveats – you must get tested and/or you must produce your papers, erhm, documents, to show you’ve had the vaccine.

Neither of which Kevin nor I are willing to do now, or ever. (And we hope we’re not FORCED to get it – 666, anyone?)

But we would still like to get away, do something fun. LIVE LIFE FULLY. Especially while we’re still young enough to physically enjoy it.

We’ve gone camping as a family. Our first taste of camping was in a pop-up camper. We took the camper to Indiana for a Bible Camp when Brandon was just a baby. I remember heating up his formula in the camper. I also remember it raining cats and dogs when we were there and I was literally pushing a double stroller through ankle deep mud. I did NOT enjoy that. We then rented an RV the next year and went to the same Bible Camp – that was better, but still a lot of work. So the boys grew up camping. We didn’t go very often, but we went enough that they remember quite a few trips. We sold the pop-up and bought a hybrid – a hard camper shell with two fold-out tent beds. It was a comfortable camper but it leaked and it was a lot of work constantly water-proofing the tents. We finally sold it and thought our camping days were over.

Until COVID hit. And severely limited our cruising options.

We started throwing camper ideas around again. We wanted a traditional camper but we didn’t want to pay very much money. All I knew, I didn’t want the thing to leak. That was, and has been, my number one requirement. However, traditionally, RV’s leak. And they end up in the shop more often than not for various issues. And the RV’s we shopped around for online showed signs of water leaks. (The walls were “rippled” indicating they had leaked at some point). And we weren’t about to spend thousands of dollars on something that would bring nothing but grief or end up being a money pit.

Until … we thought about buying a cargo trailer. We’ve seen lots of videos about people who bought cargo trailers and converted them into a living space. Our reasons were:

  1. They are MUCH cheaper than a traditional RV
  2. They are made MUCH more study and will not leak.
  3. They will LAST much, much longer than a traditional RV
  4. Kevin can use it as a traditional trailer if he needs to buy large items for his thrift shop booth.

I was against the idea at first, not because I thought it was a bad idea, but because I knew it would be a MASSIVE project for Kevin to take on. I’ll be honest with you, and I was honest with him, I’m USELESS when it comes to building things. I knew I would be zero help. BUT, he has LeRoy and he would be a big help, so there’s that. However, Kevin loves a challenge and he’s really excited about the idea so ….

… we bought a cargo trailer.

It’s 20 feet long and seven feet high. It has a ramp back door, which is a bit disappointing as I we would have preferred double doors, but Kevin wants to put a door into the ramp door so if we need to get into it, we don’t have to lower the entire ramp, we can just open the door.

We have a LOT of plans for this trailer. Kevin has already put insulation into the ceiling and is now working on putting some thingies on the ceiling so we can put up nice looking shiplap, or… I don’t know guys, I’m so stupid when it comes to this stuff, I’ll have to get more information from Kevin, but he’s planning on insulating the walls next. He will also plan out the plumbing and the electrical as well. In essence, this is our plan:

  • When you walk in, there will be a closet where we put our shoes and clothes.
  • A “working” table to work on our laptops.
  • A small kitchen with a dorm-size fridge and a microwave on top. No oven – we might use a countertop conduction oven, maybe, but mostly a grill we use outside.
  • A double bed at the back
  • A fold down table to eat on
  • Two stools that can double as additional storage and a dirty clothes hamper
  • Drawers under the bed (we are going to elevate the bed) for more storage
  • A small walled in area in back for a toilet and cabinet (for those late-night pees)
  • A garage in the VERY back, just inside the ramp door and under the bed.

I know it’s hard to picture, but if you watch this video, it will sort of make sense. I would like ours to be quite similar to their layout, minus the shower and toilet in the front.

We plan on putting a window in the door (maybe a whole new door, we’re still talking about that), and three windows. But Kevin doesn’t want to put the windows in until we settle on a final layout.

Unfortunately, it won’t be big enough if the boys want to come along, but they are young men now, I don’t think they would really be interested in camping with us anyway.

I’m SO EXCITED about this new chapter in our lives. We are going to take this thing everywhere. Kevin is really pleased with how easy it pulls, too. He has a Ford F250 truck and it will easily pull the trailer. In addition, it’s not so wide that he has trouble seeing around it when he drives, so he’s pretty happy about that.

I’ll try and remember to keep you guys updated on this latest project. I can’t WAIT to go shopping for the stuff inside!!

 

Patreon

I’m making an account. *squeal*

I have NO IDEA what I’m doing but MAN, am I having fun with it.

There’s a YouTuber I follow and really enjoy her content and I’m going to join her Patreon for two reasons: 1. To support her and 2. to see how the heck it works on the inside.

I plan on offering three tiers. I’m also working on teaching myself, and setting up, a Discord server. I thought it would be fun to host writing sprints and maybe a virtual book club. I think I’m going to limit my top tier to 20 people, just so it won’t be so big we can’t really get to know one another. Ideally, I’d like the top tier to be writers who are interested in potentially starting a writing club – where we critique each other’s work and/or be beta readers.

I have NO idea if anyone would be interested in joining my little community, but I’m super excited to try it.

Here’s a sneak peek of what I have so far:

I’d like to get it up and running soon as the April Camp Nanowrimo is coming up fast! Ultimately, I want to create a positive and fun writing community. Interested? Stay tuned!

Thanks for reading!

Life

Weekend Update with WFK

This past weekend was cool and quite pleasant – a welcome change from the 90+ degree weather we had had up to that point.

When the weather turns cooler and the air becomes fresh and crisp, I CRAVE camping. There is nothing more relaxing and comfortable as lounging outside your camper door around a campfire and roasting marshmallows while enjoying family time. Seriously, nothing.

At least, in my world.

So, I made more camping reservations. We’ll be camping in Branson again (we love Branson – mainly because it’s only 45 minutes from home and the country is so pretty down there) at Cooper Creek over Labor Day weekend; we’ll take off as soon as the boys get out of school on Friday and come back Labor Day. We’ve camped at Cooper Creek several times before and though we’re not entirely crazy about the bathrooms (which is a major issue when we camp because come on, how fun is it to take a showers with spiders?), we love where the campground is situated – right off the Taneycomo lake. So, we’ll likely do a little fishing (well, when I say “we”, I really mean the guys will fish and I will sit around and read), feast on some awesome beef stew (cooked in the Crockpot – Crockpot food is PERFECT for camping) and count the stars.

*Sigh* I’m already more relaxed just thinking about it.

The husband and I went searching for a new microwave yesterday. The one in our camper sort of fried – and I mean that literally. The little computer just went berserk and it wouldn’t respond to any commands. And then, while we least expected it, it would DING and start up, for no apparent reason and without provocation.

It was sort of freaky, if you want the truth.

We discovered our microwave was possessed this past camping trip. And we were QUITE bummed that we were unable to pop popcorn to eat while watching our movie (don’t look at me like that – a microwave is ESSENTIAL to a successful camping trip *grin*). So, we bought a cheap microwave at Wally World and the hubs monkey-rigged it into the space in our camper. So now, we’ll be able to chow down on popcorn and watch movies! Maybe this time, the weather will be cool enough we can watch movies outside – that’s always fun. (And our camping neighbors REALLY love when we do that. *snort*)

This photo is neither here nor there; I just discovered it on one of our camera cards this past weekend and thought my facial expression was funny. Apparently, I have the same “deer caught in headlight look” and tight-lipped expression when I read, too. The husband is constantly teasing me about it.

Zoning Out

If you look closely, you can see GD in the background “pretending” not to watch the movie with us. We were watching Spiderwick, which I thought was pretty cute, considering.

And please, no smart comments about my peace shirt. I LIKE my peace shirt, thankyouverymuch. πŸ˜€

In other news …

My nephews spent the night with our boys Friday night. The younger boys pooped out about 1ish, the older boys stayed up until 4ish.

They spent every waking moment playing games, of course. Though there was a curious little distraction that I thought was quite ….. odd.

MK likes plush toys. He has a small collection of Nintendo plush toys that he will periodically sleep with and/or pull out and role play with. (A sign of his immaturity, in my opinion. Though I don’t know, I “played” with my barbies until I was 15 – but we’re not talking about me here. *wink*)

So, all of the boys pulled those plushies out, used our old video camera and proceeded to film a random skit using those plushie dolls. They filmed at various points in the house, assuming high-pitched voices personifying the characters and shot a bunch of short video stories.

What I found odd about this whole thing was that an almost 18-year old and a 16-year old would think this was amusing.

But judging by their laughter, I’m assuming it was.

They spent the remainder of Saturday afternoon, inputting it in some video software and trying to make the audio card work. I suppose I could look at the episode as their curiosity to play around with production options, but I don’t know, I still think it was odd for them to run around the house assuming Nintendo characters.

Perhaps they were truly bored. *shrug* At any rate, I think I need to get my boys out more. *grin*

(I tried to take a picture of them while they were role playing, but they would catch sight of me every time and stop their actions, their facial expressions tight, pinched and self-conscious. It’s too bad, because it was really funny to watch).

In other news …

Motivated by my boys’ odd behavior this past weekend, I coaxed them into making banana bread with me last night. Though I abhor cooking myself, I wanted to the boys to participate for two reasons:

1. I got to spend time with them

and

2. I wanted to start the ball rolling on teaching them everyday, mundane, real-life skills.

If the experience taught me anything it was this: I could never, in a hundred million years, homeschool my children.

Ever. As in NEVER.

The experience only reinforced what I’ve known my entire adult life – I simply do not have the patience required to teach ANYTHING for long term.

Oh, don’t get me wrong, we had a good time – the boys laughed and goofed off, much to my annoyance. Yes, I laughed along with them, and there was much eye-rolling, but overall, it drove me crazy to stand back and supervise when I was ITCHING to just take over and do it myself.

Clearly, I have issues I need to work through.

We divided the duties up so that both boys would have a chance to do something. GD broke and divided the egg yolks from the whites (which they thought was uber-cool because you and I both know egg whites looks like clumpy snot), mashed up the bananas (which was also fun because you know, they could ANNILHATE something), and put in the sugar and oil.

While GD was busy doing his part, I gave MK a camera and he took “action” shots.

Remind me to give the boys a camera more often. When I went back and looked at the photos … OMG! I thought I was going to bust a rib I was laughing so much. It’s so much fun to “see” through a kid’s eyes.

Here is a slideshow of my favorites:

[rockyou id=120019186&w=426&h=320]

The bread turned out really good. The boys were pretty proud of themselves and quite triumphant until I told them that next time? They were on their own. πŸ™‚

By the way, the banana bread recipe came from the “New Dieter’s Cook Book” and is only 125 calories, 4 g of fat and 0 mg of cholesterol per serving. (Of course, MY definition of what a serving is is pretty broad *grin*). Here’s the recipe if you would like it:

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp salt
2 slightly beaten egg whites
1 cup mashed banana (which works out to be about 2 or 3 overly ripe bananas)
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup cooking oil
Nonstick cooking spray

In a large mixing bowl stir together egg whites, banana, sugar and oil. Stir in flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt just until moistened.

Spray loaf pan with cooking spray. Spread batter in pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 to 50 minutes. Makes one loaf (16 servings).

In other news …

The husband FINALLY bought his dream phone.

Proud Owner of HTC Touch Phone

He’s wanted a phone/PDA/MP3 player phone for like, EVER. Though he did seriously think about buying an iPhone, in the end, he simply couldn’t justify paying $80+ dollars a month for service. So, he shopped around and settled on an HTC Touch Phone. His monthly plan is the minimum ($35 dollars a month) and it does everything he wants it to. He’s very, very, VERY happy and I’m very, very, VERY happy to see him happy.

That’s how love works. πŸ˜‰

(Side note: That purple shirt? Is my favorite. He wears it when we go out to lunch together every Wednesday. *sexy growl*).

______________________________

null
It’s fun!

Life

Worth the Sweat and Hard Work

Camping is not for everyone.

You must be willing to get dirty, to be sweaty, to take showers in different, sometimes bug-infested places and to show body parts to strange people while pretending that walking around in a towel in front of women you’ve never seen in your life before and will most likely never see again, is all perfectly commonplace.

But camping? DOES it for me. And my family? LOVES it.

Which is really odd for me to say because though I’m not exactly a “prissy” sort of girl, I don’t care to get dirty. I DON’T enjoy gardening, on any level. Why? Because I can’t stand the thought of having dirt under my fingernails or possibly running the pads of my fingers over a cold, slimy worm. In fact, I don’t enjoy any sort of outdoor work mainly because I can’t stand that outdoorsy smell that clings to your skin and clothes when you come back in.

I don’t swim in lakes because of the fishy, moldy, NASTY lake smell and the fact that you’re swimming in pond scum and God knows what else. And I can barely stand to wade into the ocean because when seaweed wraps it’s slick fingers around my legs it makes me gag and feel all … icky (how’s that for an original adjective?).

And yet, I’m okay with camping.

Go figure.

Camping is A LOT of work. It’s a lot of work to prepare our camper – soak the fold-down canvas beds with waterproof solution, check, and patch any leaks, replace a faulty faucet, tear out soaked cardboard and insulation because the caulk on one of our seams had aged and cracked and it leaked, air up the tires, make sure the propane tanks have enough gas, the brakes on our camper are working properly (this was especially important when we went camping in Colorado last year), blahblahblah.

And then, packing the thing with clothes, bedding, towels, food (we’ve learned that buying our perishable food when we reached our destination is SO MUCH EASIER than stressing about whether it’s staying cold in a cooler the whole trip), cooking utensils, cookery, plastic forks, spoons, knives, dish soap, paper towels, coffee maker, coffee mugs (I almost always forget coffee mugs), entertainment …. and on and on.

In essence, when you pack a camper, you’re furnishing a small house – it’s time consuming, back-breaking and really sweaty work hauling stuff back and forth between the house and the camper – both coming and going.

And yet, we do it, several times a year … and we enjoy it.

Well, me and the boys enjoy it; I think the husband just tolerates it because of me.

The camping bug usually bites me in mid-summer. I don’t care camping in the spring because my guys have allergies and the few times we’ve camped in the spring, it’s been a miserable experience for them – so we don’t.

By mid-summer, I don’t know, I just yearn to be outdoors, to appreciate nature, to breathe in that fresh air you only get when you leave the city, to hear the nature creatures and insects you can only hear when you’re away from the buzz of the city. It’s soothing, it’s peaceful, it’s rejuvenating.

But if I EVER talk about going camping at the end of July/first of August again, you have my permission to reach across cyber space and flick me on the forehead.

For those just tuning in, we went camping this past weekend – in 100 degree weather. Wow. It was not only hot (which I can handle), but it was stuffy and unbearable (which I can not handle). This past weekend was a heat wave. And to make matters even more uncomfortable, there was no wind. None. Walking outside was like trying to breathe through a blanket. The air was heavy, thick and moist. Within minutes of being outside, your skin beaded with moisture and felt clammy and unnatural.

In essence? It was miserable camping weather. We’ve camped when it’s been hot before, but not anything like this. The skies were clear, the atmosphere was hazy and people walked around liked zombies because it was simply too much of an effort to be anything more.

So, we didn’t venture outside our air conditioned camper very often. We sat around and read, played games and watched movies, and we were perfectly okay with that. We wanted a brief getaway where we did … nothing. We had no agenda. We had no desire to get out and see the sights because we’ve seen them a million times before. (We camped in Branson for the like the umpteenth time). We simply wanted to get away and … breathe, a chance to catch our breath and focus on just being together.

I think the boys really like camping because the husband and I pay attention to them. The husband and I enjoy camping with the boys because they actually acknowledge our existence. We get so caught up and distracted with other things and responsibilities at home, that we often find ourselves co-existing, and not much more.

I bought some of those cheesy plastic ball lights that you string up along your awning. We’ve always wanted them but just never got around to buying them in the past. We strung those lights up and one night, we oiled our skin up with insect repellent and sat outside together under those lights. It was a comfortable, companionable silence, the silence that you typically experience with people you’re around a lot.

And then something wonderful happened – the boys began talking.

If you are, or have ever been, a parent of a teenager, then you’ll know that when these “talk” sessions happen, you savor every minute of it. It’s hard enough to communicate with your teenager at the best of times, but it’s certainly a rarity if they VOLUNTEER information about themselves or what they’re thinking.

We sat around and had a really good chat. They talked, and we listened. We asked them questions, and they actually answered them, honestly. It was an insightful and rewarding pow-wow with our sons. We caught a glimpse of the men they were becoming and we were quite pleased with what we saw.

We have been blessed with some truly great kids.

We spent the majority of our time playing a board game. It’s called Blokus and in essence, it’s a reality-based Tetras game. You can only place your pieces on the corner of your own colored pieces and when you run out of places you can place your tiles, you count up how many squares you have remaining and the person who has the least squares, wins.

Blokus - New Board Game

We really had a great time playing that game. It’s a strategy THINKING game (as opposed to all of those RPG shoot-first-ask-questions-later games the boys are in to), and we shared quite a few laughs trying to outwit each other. I think MK might have won the most games, which doesn’t surprise me, he is the linear thinker in the family (well, he and the husband – they are two peas in a pod). GD and I held our own, though. (Translation: We weren’t TOTALLY boring to play. πŸ˜€ )

See this happy, relaxed smile?

Blokus Craze

THAT, ladies and gentlemen, is what I like about camping: the easy camaraderie, the relaxed atmosphere and the chance to be together and enjoy each other.

It makes all the sweat and hard work seem insignificant in comparison.

Friday Fun

Aloha Friday

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Aloha! Kailani is the brain-child behind this fun Friday meme. If you feel inclined to answer my question, please post your answer in the comment section. Sound fun? Of course it does! Want to answer more questions? Hop over to An Island Life and play along!

(Please feel free to answer the question below, even if you’re not playing Aloha Friday!)

My question:

What are you doing this weekend?

My answer:

We’ll be camping, in 90 degree weather and 80% humidity at our mini Las Vegas. Other than eating out at a Chinese buffet and driving go-carts, we really don’t have anything else planned except relax and enjoy each others’ company – if that’s possible with two brooding, moody teenage boys. πŸ™‚

Oh, one last thing …


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Life

Life Resumes After the Blog-a-thon

AAAHHHHH ……

The blog break did me good. Did you miss me?

I missed you.

Unfortunately, I didn’t get as much done as I would have liked – no surprise there.

Sunday, I got up early, inserted toothpicks into my eyelids (Gah, what an image!) so I could be awake (notice I didn’t say alert) enough to participate in bible study (hey, just because I elected to stay up all night and do the blog-a-thon doesn’t mean I could ignore my familial responsibilities). And by the time bible study was over, I had gotten my second wind so I was able to do my normal household chores. In addition, I went out to our little 21 foot travel trailer, unfolded the beds (it’s the hard-shelled kind that have the pop-out beds), sprayed the canvas down with waterproof stuff, and then cleaned it out so we could use it this weekend (we’re doing a quick camping trip to Branson – in 90 degree weather – did I mention I LIKE to sweat? *sigh*).

Messing with the trailer put me and the hubs in the mood for the whole “we love camping!” mode, so we drove to the Marshfield Camping World (first time there! And it was pretty small for being the ONLY Camping World in Missouri – we hicks heart our camping) to buy a new faucet. Our old one was made out of cheap plastic and had split in two and I don’t know about you, but it’s sort of important to have running water (along with air conditioning, a microwave, a CD player, a TV/DVD player, a toaster, because we’re BIG into the whole roughing it bit, *snicker*) when you’re out in the middle of nowhere. (Actually, that’s not true, we’ll be camping right off the main 76 Hwy “strip” in Branson so we’ll be within WALKING distance of a Chinese restaurant – per the boys’ insistence – our boys heart Chinese food).

We were also on the lookout for a new awning because the husband accidentally took a corner too sharp when we started out for our Colorado camping trip last summer and ran into a stop sign – that octagon attacked us with a vengeance! As a result, we have two lines of small, quarter-sized holes dotting one side of our awning. We can still use it, but if it rains, well, think sieve.

They didn’t carry any awnings at the store and the ones we found online were about $200 (just for the canvas!?) so now we’re thinking that since it isn’t really that bad, we’ll just patch it. Hey, I put up with a pop-up camper in near-hurricane weather on several occasions over the last ten years – we have the whole hillbilly look DOWN when compared to the monster RV’s that surround us. What are a few holes in our awning? Pfft. We’re used to the snooty once overs by fellows campers. (Actually, that’s not entirely true, other campers are usually pretty friendly, there are no strangers – sort of like a Shriners’ convention where everyone knows everyone else and pass the moonshine, will ya?)

As if sweating a few dozen pounds off from working on the trailer in humidity so thick you actually gag wasn’t enough, I thought I’d abuse myself JUUUST a bit more and work out for two hours. I did the 20 minute Turbo Jam session and then walked 90 minutes and watched “Numb” with Matthew Perry (don’t waste your time. Matthew, I love you, but dude, choose your scripts wisely, please).

I think that’s why I spent the majority of Monday in a headache-induced stupor because I rung my body out like a sponge on Sunday. (Dehydration is BAD). I sometimes get these sinus headaches and NOTHING, and I mean NOTHING, knocks them out. They aren’t so bad that I’m curled into a fetal position on the floor and drooling all over my chin or anything, but they are annoying enough and persistent enough to prevent me from thinking straight – or thinking about anything, actually.

However, I did manage to drag the boys away from their games long enough to watch LOST with me:

Watching LOST

We’re currently on season three – no spoilers, please! We just finished the first disk and WOW, talk about a 180 degree stylistic turn from the other two seasons. The first episode was so dark and depressing that the boys and I just sat there and blinked in shock at one another. But we’re not giving up on it, we’ll trudge forward because now we’re too invested in the story NOT to.

This leads me up to Tuesday. I felt 100% better when I woke up Tuesday morning (though I woke up at 2:50 a.m. and not being able to go back to sleep, read for an hour) and I kicked butt on my to-do list, well on the IMMEDIATE to-do list – does it really ever go away? I worked out to Turbo Jam’s Punch, Kick and Jam, cleaned bathrooms, vacuumed, and made some progress on another website I’m working on (that kind of stuff gives me a CREATIVE high! LOVE doing that).

And this leads me to today. After my weekly lunch date with my husband, I have a meeting to attend and then I’ll most likely get some grocery shopping done because tomorrow, me and the boys are heading to our county fair with my mom and nephews. I have mixed feelings about the fair. On the one hand, it’s the FAIR, something I’ve gone to nearly every year since I was a kid (!), but on the other hand, it’s the FAIR, something I’ve gone to nearly every year since I was a kid – not much has changed, you know? But I love my momma and she LOVES her some fair (she enters a ton of things every year and usually walks away with a ton of ribbons every year) and I don’t want to disappoint her and besides, it gives me a chance to act all silly and be spoiled because my mom? Is the QUEEN at spoiling. After the fair, I’ll need to pack up the trailer because we’re leaving early Friday morning, which will work out perfectly because I’m sure I’ll be one huge, sweaty salt hill by the time we leave the fair (I sweat, all the freaking time!) so I won’t have to worry overly much about getting even more sweaty when I pack up the trailer.

That was one of the “agreements” I made with the husband so we could go camping – I’d do everything (except for hooking up the trailer and actually driving the thing), and he could sit back and relax. He’s been working uber hard lately and he truly needs to relax. Aren’t I a good little wife? *cough*

And now you’re caught up in the mundane things I like to affectionately call my life (seriously, no sarcasm intended – I adore my boring, mundane life).

Your turn. What have you been up to these past days?

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