An Educational Trip

Last week we left John at home working with all the animals to keep him company and traveled the few hours north to my family’s cabin to help with the annual spring clean up. It was the first time we had spent away from the house in months. We were off the property! I was ready for excitement, what I got was education.

I learned that the kids do not in fact need to pee every hour on a car ride. As it turns out, after months of Covid talk and faced with public restrooms and face masks, they can all hold it the whole 3.5 hour drive. A fact I will remember.

I learned that this railing still doesn’t seem “safer.”

I learned that a change of scenery will not make a single bit of difference in the amount of fighting the girls do.

I learned that if Grandma and Grandpa are the only people they have been able to see in two months, the additional presence of Grandma and Grandpa won’t make a bit of difference in the referenced fighting.

I learned that different chores, no matter how enthusiastic you present them “Yay! Let’s rake pine needles!”, are still chores and they will whine about them just as much.

I learned that Clara will happily pick up and drag home every bit of garbage and “treasure” she can find when out for a paddle.

I learned that Jane will pack herself up two live snails to bring home without asking for permission.

I learned that Ivy can make fantastic cookies in any kitchen.

And I remembered that life always feels better on the water.

Scary

Have you ever done a thing that scared you but you did it anyway and, even though it went well, immediately afterwards it was still so terrifying to think about that you couldn’t even talk about without sweating and almost bursting into tears?

I did a thing last weekend and I’m still not sure I want to talk about it.

It was fun (on the way up).

It was terrifying (on the way down).

I did it lots of times.

I liked the challenge.

I hated the way back down.

I tried really hard not to think about the scary part while I was doing it.

And if I continue not to think about it maybe I’ll do it again someday.

 

Thanks to Uncle Jim for another great weekend adventure and for taking pictures too!

 

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.