Adventure

It had been years too long since our last car camping trip.

But, finally, children had been deemed old enough, jobs and school vacations aligned, gear was procured, animal care was found and we loaded up the girls in our giant truck, that seems a lot less giant filled with car camping gear for five, and headed out on a spring break adventure to…

… Illinois!

And it turns out Illinois isn’t the kind of place most people spring break to. But when you are from Wisconsin southern Illinois looks like spring..…and feels like spring. (Admittedly mostly in a – drizzly, wear all your layers plus a rain jacket, good thing we brought the long underwear – sort of way. But that is basically spring so I stand by my statement.) And when the rest of the world has traveled to warm sunny places you have campgrounds and hiking trails virtually to yourselves.

There were rocks to climb on…

…fires to light…

… tasty food to eat…

… and general shenanigans.

At the end it was deemed a most excellent adventure by all.

Then I got home and discovered that John’s theory that Poison Ivy loves me so much it jumps on me from the side of the trail must be correct because that’s the only explanation for the amount of spots I’m breaking out in after spending the trip wearing long underwear and a rain jacket!

But you know, every time a new blister pops up, I remember the trip with fondness. It was an excellent adventure before the itching began!

Camping Facilities

We recently got back from a week of camping.

This is the sort of news that not everyone shares my enthusiasm for.

There are the people who hear my family (as in Mom/Dad/Brother/Sister-In-Law/Nephew) were along and get a bit wide eyed.

There are quite a few people who hear we brought the boys (boys in my case always refers to my dogs) and raise an eyebrow questioning my decision making skills.

My boys, re-named “Fish Dog” and “Snail Boy” by the end of the first day due to their respective new odors.

There are even more who find out we brought all of our supplies to an island (Okay, this year it was actually a super long skinny peninsula, but it felt like an island) by boat and make some sort of surprised exclamation.

And then there are those who inquire and find out that our toilet facilities consisted of a nice long trail with a raised toilet seat over a pit in the woods and declare that it would never happen in their world.

Fortunately we only had a bit of rain (with awesome double rainbows as a reward for all the wet) the family got along well (and also there was Rum), the boys were fairly well behaved (if stinky), my brother and my dad had motor boats so we didn’t have to canoe all the stuff in (which was very nice) and so it was really quite an excellent trip.

But…

I wasn’t totally in love with that open air bathroom.

It wasn’t the long walk up the trail through the woods. That was quite nice and usually populated by cute tiny toads.

This is not a tiny toad, it’s a tiny tree frog. Toads are cute, tree frogs are cuter. Sorry toads.

It wasn’t the open air experience. I’ve been a camper all my life, a “throne” with a view is excellent perk.

It wasn’t the mosquitoes- well sometimes it was the mosquitoes – but it was pretty breezy so they weren’t much of an issue.

This face had nothing to do with bathrooms and everything to do with the smell of dead snails. Not coincidentally they smelled just like my dog Snail Boy.

It was the lack of locking door.

At home my kids, like everyone’s kids have magic sensors every time I go into the bathroom. In case it’s been awhile since you’ve had kids or you’ve yet to experience the fun, let me explain.  Once a mother goes toward the bathroom their magic sensors pick up on it and they come down with severe cases of “questions that must be immediately answered” or break out in rashes of “crisis’ that aren’t”. At home there is a door, and it locks and yet it’s still hard to break away from the children.

See how happy she is? It’s because her mom wasn’t trying to go to the bathroom while this picture was taken.

At the campsite there was nothing but a long trail.

I was at their mercy.

Our “island” home.

Good thing I like camping.

 

Island Camping

It was my brothers idea and it wasn’t even a bad one. (As his sister I’m required to say stuff like that.)

As kids we had taken many summer trips island camping in the flowages of northern Wisconsin and now that our own kids were all out of the major diaper/nap/crying stages he suggested we do it again.

The weather was rather…

…uncooperative……but it didn’t matter.

There was still fishing…

 

…and canoeing…

 

… and kayaking..

… and games…

… and sand to play in…

…and boats to learn to drive…

 

…and general silliness with cousins…

… and one very happy, very tired, rather stinky dog.

As we packed up on Sunday that brother of mine had another idea.

He said we should do it again next year.

I agreed wholeheartedly.

Because sometimes that brother of mine has really good ideas.


For accuracy’s sake I feel compelled to note that while we started with seven people more family joined us throughout the trip until we numbered 12. I however took more pictures of kids, bumblebees and my dog than anything else and they are all highly underrepresented in photos. Sorry family! 

Napkins Please

I have noticed a disturbing trend in the amount of napkins passed through a fast food drive thru window.

Namely that the amount is decreasing as time goes by and occasionally, none make the passage from restaurant to car.  That’s right, no napkins what. so. ever.

This is a photo of a kid taken by another kid. According to the bag in her hand it is clear that both of them will soon be in the need of many napkins. I had no idea this picture was being taken, I was driving. (Side note: When you save a million photos you really can find a picture for everything…)

Possibly you are mentally praising these fine establishments for their environmentally friendly practices as well as their money saving techniques. Fine, sure, that’s a factor. In fact I’m sure that piles of math people put a bunch of factors together and decided that if they stopped handing out napkins to poor deserving mothers, they would save 7,00,000,000 trees per year.

But here is some math of my own for you.

3 kids+ 1 moving vehicle+ any kind of food = the need for 5,678 napkins per child

Possibly some of you are mentally scolding me for letting my children eat in the car or eating from fast food establishments to begin with.  I’d argue that point except the thought of not feeding my kids while driving made me snort diet coke out my nose with laughter.

No.

Not an option.

Question: Solve for X,  3 kids + 1 truck + 4 hours of driving + X = 30 min of quiet

Answer: French fries

Possibly you are thinking we could use our own hand towels. And I have! I have wiped up ketchup spills with dirty socks and mopped spilled drinks with shirts I found crammed under the seat and used the pants that were still in the back from the last major food catastrophe to clean up the current one. But you know what happens to those lovely reusable bits of cloth.

Nothing.

Because if I were the kind of person who took everything out of the vehicle once we got home, I wouldn’t have had any “napkins” to begin with.

Question: If one mom has two hands and three kids have six hands and there are 45,689 items in the truck that should come into the house and mom has to pee, how many things make it through the front door?

Answer:  7: a cell phone, two “don’t-touch-it’s-special-to-me” toys and four pieces of junk mail.

And one final math problem for you.

Question: If three kids change their orders 3.4 times each, what is the percentage chance that the mother will also remember to ask for napkins when picking the food up at the window?

Answer: 0%

Extra credit: How many orders will she get wrong?

Answer: 1.3 but only because the kids changed their mind again after the order was placed.

In conclusion: Give a mother some napkins!  The math says she needs them.

 

 

 

A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words But…

It’s said that a pictures is worth a thousand words and it may be true, but sometimes they need a few more. 

A little girl meanders down a sandy road, with her dog trotting behind on a summer’s day.

But there was more to it than that.

For starters, that dog isn’t trotting along behind (he doesn’t ever do that), he is briefly checking in with his family before diving back into the foliage to see where his nose will lead him. That foliage is swarming with mosquitoes and biting flies (Can you see the little girl slapping her arm?) and riddled with poison ivy even if it does look inviting and green from a distance.   You can’t tell from the picture that that little girl is the princess of the family in every way and that everyone was surprised when she was the first to put her shoes on and run for the door when a hike in the woods was suggested. Nor can you tell that she’s out in front of her mom, grandpa and sister quick stepping along because she’s hoping to see the “interestin’ stuff” first and you can’t tell that she lingers at the interesting finds the longest. You also can’t tell that the accompanying sister is not the sister who was expected but the oldest, who was too interested not to come and too pretend-grumpy to admit it and so complained about the swarms of bugs and the lack of fun at every opportunity. You can’t see that her sister didn’t have too much time to complain because her grandpa was busy showing them tracks: deer tracks, bear tracks, turkey tracks, woodcock tracks, snapping turtle tracks and wolf tracks.  You can’t see her mom trying to identify flowers with the little girls’ grandpa, while checking out the growing hazelnuts and chewing on wintergreen. And you can’t see her mom melting in the sweatshirt that she’s wearing on such a hot day just to hide from the bugs as she gives the little girl a piggyback ride up the hills on the way home while snapping pictures of butterflies, flowers… and of  a little girl with her dog.

A picture may be worth a thousand words, but sometimes it still needs an additional three hundred and sixteen.

Happy To See Me

I was gone for a few days last week.

The day I was returning home my Granny said to me “Your girls will be happy to see you.”

“Oh,” said I, “they might be, but they will hide it very well.”

After being gone for almost three days I walked up to Jane while she was playing with her friend.  Jane’s friend happily called out, “Jane, your mom is here!” Jane glanced up and went back to playing without acknowledging my presence.

I didn’t see Ivy and Clara until the next morning. Ivy gave me a nice hug, told me she was ready for school and could she please now use the tablet that had accompanied me on my trip.

My reunion with Clara was not so much a reuniting but more of a spectacle as I watched her come into the room and flop face first into the couch while crying and yelling at everyone to go away. Clara and I are not morning people, I felt her pain.

At least John was very happy to see me. He said many adoring husband things and listened to my stories and held me close and then said. “I’m officially abdicating the running of the household, you’re in charge again.”

I’m not upset by these reactions, quite the opposite, I’m very happy to be able to leave my family without a soul crushing, guilt inducing, flood of tears. In fact, I’m happily leaving on vacation again this week, for much longer this time and it’s good to know they will all be just fine without me!