Life

Labor Day Wrap-up

I apologize if this entry is boring, but considering I blog to journal my life, and this is what we did over Labor Day weekend … well, it’s a bit tedious. I remember my grandmother used to write in a diary and she would document her days, the weather, what she had to eat, what she wore, the conversations she had and though that sounds boring on the surface, it wasn’t. In fact, it was strangely … comforting to read about her mundane life.

I miss you grandma.

I’m writing this from Cooper Creek Campground in Branson, Missouri. We arrived at the park Friday night at 5:30. We had to rush to get going after the boys got out of school and as a result, we forgot quite a few things.

But we’ve adapted.

The campground is packed – there isn’t an empty site to be found. The weather has been perfect – sunny and mid-80’s. The air coming off the lake is cool and refreshing.

And judging by the weather reports, we took this camping trip just in time – Hurricane Gustav (?) is heading toward the Gulf of Mexico and though that weather won’t affect us for a few days, it will indeed affect us – we have rain in the forecast for most of next week.

The only flies in our perfect ointment are:

We’re surrounded by dogs and children. The dogs howl and bark, the children scream and cry. We actually saw one little guy wipe out on his bike when he zoomed past us on the hill, swerved, lost control, sailed over the handlebars and fall face first on the gravel and concrete.

He wasn’t wearing a helmet. Luckily, the boy was okay and walked away, his lower lip trembling as he tried to absorb his stinging wounds. Why his parents allowed him (this boy couldn’t have been more than six) to ride his bike without safety gear on, in my opinion, is not only foolhardy but a form of child abuse.

All four of us witnessed the little boy fall – the husband and I thanked the Lord that he wasn’t our little boy and our boys walked away learning the importance of protecting themselves in precarious situations.

The bathrooms? Are ½ mile away from our campsite. In fact, we are in the next to last campsite in the park. I made the reservations at the last minute and we were lucky to get a spot at all. I usually request a space near the bathrooms (we use our camper bathroom as a storage closet – though this trip the guys did use it for peeing only. Not me, I’d rather hike the ½ mile to the bathrooms – I’m funny like that) but unfortunately, I forgot this go-around and now we I have had to hike to take a pee and a shower.

But I’m not complaining too loudly, it gives me the opportunity to walk off the excess food that I’ve been eating (there’s just something about camping and pigging out).

The neighbors to our left moved in late last night. In fact, we didn’t even know we HAD neighbors until we woke up this morning. It was really weird because when I woke up, started the coffee maker and opened the shades, it was like looking into a mirror. Our neighbor’s camper? Almost an exact replica as ours. The only difference is that they have a slide out – we do not.

I’m jealous.

They are from Oklahoma. The guy is a big dude – not fat, just big. The woman is thin and attractive and they have one lone boy with them – he’s about GD’s age – and painfully skinny. They have one small, quiet, brown and white Chihuahua that shakes whenever they take it for a walk.

All three people are wearing the same shirt so I’m assuming they are here for some sort of family reunion or some sort of organizational meeting.

The neighbors on our other side are two men. They are both large and overly hairy. I know this because they sit around their campground without shirts on. They are the only ones in the campground that are using a tent. They are driving a brownish-tan Dodge Ram 2500 pulling a very long and well used fishing boat. They left early this morning and are now back (5:00 pm.) and sitting in front of their tent watching various cars and people pass by.

They’re a bit creepy. They don’t talk very much, but they seem comfortable in each other’s presence. I have no idea if they caught any fish but judging by their self-satisfied expressions, I’m assuming they did.

This is the first time we’ve camped here that we haven’t been able to access WiFi. As a result, we’ve had to walk down to the office and use the small platforms they have nailed to the wall and sit on the hard, uncomfortable stools to check our email. The boys have been pretty bored without Internet, but they have adapted by playing around with a laptop the husband saved from a co-worker who was just going to throw it away. The husband simply reformatted it and it works like a charm now. The co-worker didn’t want it back (he had already bought a new laptop), so now the boys have a computer they can goof around with. And they have been the whole camping trip.

Isn’t it amazing what people are willing to throw away? One person’s trash, is another person’s treasure. *smile*

For me? I was disappointed at first whenever I first discovered I couldn’t establish a connection from our camper, but it’s been very nice to be FORCED away from cyber world.

I needed the break. Especially since these past few days have been insanely busy for me and I’ve been on the computer and working nearly 12-hour days.

We treated the boys to Bandana BBQ for dinner Friday night. I felt grungy, sweaty and completely underdressed, but Branson is a tourist town and they are used to seeing grungy, sweaty people.

Saturday, the husband I went to the new bookstore called “Books-A-Million” or BAM for short. In short, it’s a Barnes and Noble type of establishment and it was quite busy.

I was quite pleased to see people milling around. You hear how less and less people are actually reading and it was encouraging to see that at least in my area, that’s not entirely true.

I walked away from the bookstore with “Killer Smile” by Lisa Scottoline and “The PMS Murder” by Laura Levine. I like to try and buy at least one book from an author I’m not familiar with whenever I visit the bookstore.

I need to stop buying books and start reading books – my personal library is taking over the house.

Saturday night, we took the boys go-cart racing and it cost us $30.00. It was the best $30.00 we’ve spent in a long time. The cars were fast and the boys beat the pants off of me and the husband. In fact, I was a whole lap down from them. But judging by their flushed cheeks and excited lap recounts, they had a ball and we made another fun childhood memory.

After go-carts, we went putt-putting. We went to a very popular dinosaur-themed course and the place was wall-to-wall people. In fact, the back nine was so backed up we ended up standing around as opposed to actually playing. But the people were friendly and everyone was in good spirits so we had a good time.

The boys beat the pants off us again. Isn’t it amazing how kids adapt to sports/games? I felt awkward and stupid, but it was fun to be teased by the boys so I got over my feelings of inadequacy. *grin*

After we finished golfing, we went for ice cream. The husband and GD had chocolate malts, MK had a vanilla ice cream cup (he won’t eat any other flavor ice cream), I had a raspberry concrete.

Oh. My. Gosh. That raspberry concrete was TO DIE FOR. Very scrumptious and definitely a new favorite. It’s a good thing we’re so far from the bathrooms, I’ll definitely need to walk that those calories off.

We ended up spending $85. (I need to stop keeping a running total in my head. How can you put a dollar sign on family moments?) But we really had a great family night together and I’m so glad the husband and I decided to do this camping thing. You’ve heard me talk about how much work it is. And how uncomfortable it can be, but by golly, we’ve had the best times in our camper and we’ve walked away with some pretty fun stories in the process. I’m quite confident the boys will tell their kids about their camping trips with grandma and grandpa. *grin*

It’s now 7:57 a.m. Sunday morning. I’m the first one up, the guys are all sleeping in. It’s a cool, crisp morning and I wish I had brought some sweats with me. I just got back from the restrooms and I have goosebumps. The park is quiet, but it’s slowly coming to life. I can hear various birds chirping their morning songs and an occasional bump as people move about their RV’s.

I can smell bacon and coffee in the air – there is NOTHING like smelling bacon cooking at your campground early in the morning. It’s very … real and comforting.

I’m drinking my morning coffee and after I finish writing this, I’ll head to the showers. We really have nothing on tap for today’s activities. We’ll most likely spend a lazy day around the camper, though the husband and I will probably head out to some craft booths later today – I have a craving to buy a Christmas ornament (I have no idea why).

We might walk down to the lake and just sit and watch the people fish off the pier or the boats slowly float past. We don’t have anything planned for this evening, either. We’ll most likely pop some popcorn and watch a movie … or not. That’s the beauty of these little camping getaways – anything goes – our plans are wide open.

We’ll head back home tomorrow morning. We’re only about 45 minutes from home, so we’ll get home and unpack well before lunch. I’ll most likely catch up on laundry and clean the camper out, then I’ll catch up on emails and various other duties. We’ll have a relaxing afternoon at home before the kids go back to school and the husband goes back to work on Tuesday.

And life will resume its hectic, but very satisfying, pace.

_________________________________

Coffee Chat at writefromkaren.com
It’s time for another Coffee Chat session! Need something to blog about? How about telling us a bit more about you? (And there’s prizes!!)

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. 😀 )

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.

Life

“Tired” Out

Get it? The title? Don’t worry, you will. 😀

Okay, I’m behind. Not A behind, though that certainly applies nowadays, but I’m behind in work. I spent yesterday doing Turbo Sculpt (and I’m hobbling around today as a result, that is a KILLER workout for your legs), then I got caught in a SEVERE and UNEXPECTED thunderstorm while taking my movies back to Blockbuster. In fact, it rained so hard that I had to spend 20 minutes in my car to wait the thing out so I wouldn’t be swept away and left hanging onto the storm drain for dear life.

Can you imagine? … On second thought, don’t imagine. 🙂

When the rain had abated enough for me to make it inside without getting drenched, I backed up and parked in a spot a little closer to the store. Normally, I wouldn’t do this. Normally, I LAUGH at people that circle parking lots, like vultures, looking for juicy spots close to the store front. I SNICKER at people who wait to sweep in and snatch up the next available parking spot all in the name of saving themselves from walking another 20 feet. *snort* But yesterday? I broke my cardinal rule (it’s a mile to the entrance? No worries, walking won’t kill me) and I parked close enough that, if I wanted to, I could leap frog onto the sidewalk.

However, shortly before I put my car into park and shut the engine off I noticed an unfamiliar, and unwelcome, light on my dashboard: my “low-tire” light had switched on.

Son of a …

This was the second time in about three months that my low-tire light has come on. The first go around I actually heard the hissing as the air escaped from my tire. And I KNEW it was going to happen because shortly before I started hearing that hissing sound, as I’m driving down the road and over my radio, that’s how loud it was, I drove through a patch of glass. I can still hear the sickening, crunching noise as the shards ground their way into the rubber. I immediately drove my car to Mr. Goodwrench and they patched my tire. Cha-ching! They sucked me out of fifteen bucks. (Which isn’t bad to patch a flat, in my opinion. And may I just add, the Mr. Goodwrench dude? SMOKIN’ HOT).

Perplexed

But this go around, I had no clue what could be causing the light to come on. I mean, one minute I’m sitting in my car, waiting for the rain to ease up and the next? I’m staring at the low-tire symbol – a symbol I’m beginning to dislike IMMENSELY.

The funny thing is? I hadn’t moved when that light came on. WTH?

I drove home, got out and circled my car, putting my ear to each tire in an attempt to hear that tell-tell hissing noise. And I got the giggles because I could just imagine my nosy neighbors looking out of their windows and seeing me bent over my car, like I’m trying to tell it a secret or I’m having an intense conversation with it. My neighbors already see me constantly Windexing my car windows, vacuuming it out and shining up the wheels anyhow, I’m sure they already think I have an unhealthy attachment to my car to begin with. And now I’m walking around the thing, leaning in close and telling it my deepest, darkest secrets.

Me and my Vibe? We’re thisclose.

I know – how stupid. But this is how I think folks. I keep TELLING you I’m a certified dork. WHEN will you start believing me?!

Where was I … oh yes. No hissing noise. Hmm … now what? I mean, I COULD take it up to Mr. Goodwrench again, but what if all it needs is air? How embarrassing would that be? So, I do what every female does in this situation – I called my man.

“Um, honey?”

*grunt* He’s really busy at work right now. I hated to bother him, but this was SERIOUS! What if I needed to run an errand tomorrow and I walked out to my garage and my car was lopsided because I had a flat tire? Oh sure, I could call Triple A but come on … you and I both know I wouldn’t do that. I’m WAY too chicken to deal with a strange man in my garage! *shudder*

“My tires are losing air.”

*pause* “And?”

“And … I’m not sure whether I should take it to Mr. Goodwrench. I mean, what if it just needs air? Then I’ll feel like a fool and have to pay them to put air into my tire. How pathetic would that be?”

There’s a long pause.

“Hub?”

“Look,” he sighs, “check the air pressure. Your tires should have 32 pounds of air. If any of them are below 30 pounds, then take it in.”

Hhm, that sounded logical. And easy. I can DO easy. “All right.”

So I did. I checked my tire pressure in each tire. And every tire showed exactly 32 pounds … EXCEPT my back right tire.

Swell. It registered 27 pounds. I thought that was pretty low. And considering my light came on not thirty minutes earlier, I thought that was REALLY low given the time frame.

So, I swallowed my girly pride and drove my Vibe up to Mr. Goodwrench. When the guy FINALLY came out (that is the only thing that irritates me about this place – HELLO?! *KNOCKKNOCK* Customer calling!), he looked at me like I was crazy when I told him that I thought my right rear wheel was leaking air. It was only after I told him my low-tire light had come on did he give a brusque nod and say, “Okay, we’ll take a look at it.”

I know he thought I was crazy. But HEY! How much trouble would it have been if I didn’t follow up on this and the damn thing lost ALL air?

Exactly. Humpf.

So, they checked it out. And they spent a long time on it – too long. I began to get worried. And suspicious. There was no way I was going to allow them to sucker punch me into thinking I needed something for that car when I didn’t really need it. You know how it goes – single female, all alone and looking nervous. Just tape a huge dollar sign to my head, why don’t cha.

I gritted my teeth and waited for the verdict. When they finally lowered my car and walked into the waiting area, I was ready to do battle.

“Well, you ran over a nail,” were the first words out of his mouth.

“Erm … huh?” Was my intelligent response.

“Yep. Nail.” He grinned and motioned for me to come up to the counter. “Apparently, we’ve had some remodeling truck come through here a few days ago and lose some of their equipment. I’m thinking they must have dropped some nails because we’ve had several cars through here the past few days with nails in the tires.”

“Erm … I’m sure THAT’S a coincidence.” I chuckled to cover the fact that I was ready to do battle with this nice man. Honestly, it’s a wonder I have a man at all given my snappy comebacks. *rolls eyes*

So, Cha-ching! Another 15 bucks went up in smoke. And as a result of this unexpected stop, (and the fact that I had to go tan – HEY! I have my priorities straight, hush), I didn’t get any work done.

And now, I’m even MORE behind than I was before I told you this story. I had MEANT to just post a joke and get back to work but now …

Well, I’ll go ahead and post the joke anyway. (Provided you’re still awake at this point to READ it. Heh).

Ready?

___________________________

A mechanic was removing a cylinder head from the engine of a Jaguar when he spotted a well-known heart surgeon in his garage.

The surgeon was there, waiting for the service manager to come and take a look at his car.

The mechanic shouted across the garage, “Hey, Doc, can I ask you a question?”

The surgeon a bit surprised, walked over to the mechanic working on the Jaguar. The mechanic straightened up, wiped his hands on a rag and asked, “So Doc, look at this engine. I open its heart, take valves out, fix ’em, put ’em back in, and when I finish, it works just like new. So how come I get such a small salary and you get the really big bucks, when you and I are doing basically the same work?”

The surgeon paused, smiled and leaned over, and whispered to the mechanic…

“Try doing it with the engine running.”

___________________________

How’s about that? I even found a mechanic joke! WOW! I’m good.

All right – ALL RIGHT! I’m working now.

Sheesh.

____________________________

Blog-a-thon '08 at writefromkaren.com