Lost

A picture from the day that I discovered that not only am I the mother in charge of finding lost shoes, lip gloss, jackets, knives, snacks, pets, blankets, pillows, slime, homework, pencils, LEGOS, doll clothes and golf balls but that I’m also in charge of lost people.

Not to worry, we were really more slightly misdirected. And I, mother and finder of all lost things, was on the job. I noticed, monitored, studied and corrected the situation before anyone’s legs actually fell off as they were, apparently, threatening to.

As much as I am asked to find the things, and as often as I know how to find the things, I usually make my kids find the things themselves. Possibly with a few helpful hints, if I’m feeling magnanimous.

And what I learned on this last trip is that it’s time to break out the maps, because map reading is not a skill any of them have. (And bless my husband, heaven knows he needs it, he tries really hard but I fear he’d have been lost right along with them.)

How are you with a map? Directional sense? If you have kids do they know how to read a map?  

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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! 

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!

 

The General Manager

This is Turk.Turk

Turk, otherwise known as Turkey, or Mr. Impressive if you want to get all official about it, is my brother’s dog. In the past few years Turk has been joined in the field by his two half brothers. Trip (my dog) and Sunday, a.k.a. Weasel (also my brother’s dog) and the three of them are amazing.Turk, Trip and Sunday

I could wax poetic on how, when they hunt together, they truly hunt together. Working with each other, blocking birds, covering the field all the while looking like the handsomest trio of pups you’ve ever seen. But those of you who are bird hunters with dogs of your own probably won’t believe me (because, obviously, your dogs are better).  And those of you who aren’t won’t fully comprehend the awesomeness that I’m trying to convey so I won’t. I’ll just stick with amazing.

These dogs are amazing.

One field, three awesome dogs and a limit of pheasants for everyone including my mom the picture taker.

One field, three awesome dogs and a limit of pheasants for everyone including my mom the picture taker.

Turk is getting up in years, he’ll be 9 come spring, which means that sadly his experience in the field is getting tempered by his stamina. Fortunately, he has the young boys, four year old litter-mates, that he’s training up. And yes, I say he’s training them up. My brother and I, we try to help, but Turk is the one pulling the real weight.Turk on the kennel box

Early in our week of Montana hunting the three boys would swarm the field together. Often Turk was the steadying presence for the young dogs as they pinned down a bird. But by the end of the week he was tired, trotting rather than running through the grass. Occasionally, stopping and staring into whatever likely cover we were passing by as if to say, “Hey boys! Get in there!”And the youngsters did. He had taken over as general manager of our little pack of dogs.Turk

But Turk wasn’t completely out of gas.  He was just an experienced dog conserving it for when it counted.

Near the end of the week my brother shot a sharp-tailed grouse. Off it flew over the crest of a hill, running out of steam and going down. Right behind it flew the dogs. Sunday, Turk and Trip lined up and running all out for the retrieve. They were, as I have said, a beautiful sight. And then, as we watched, Turk kicked it into high gear. Always the champion of the long distance retrieve, he was not about to be outdone by those young upstarts.  And the dog that had been trotting about lengthened his stride and started gaining on Sunday as they crested the hill and disappeared out of sight.

My brother and I looked at each other and laughed. Turk retrieving sharp-tail.

Of course it was Turk who came back over the hill, mouth full of feathers, with a look in his eye for the youngsters as if  to say, “This is how it’s done.”

 

Never Say Never

“I’m never getting back on a plane with the kids until they are all at least eight years old!” – A vow I made in complete sincerity just after I was one of those people on a plane.

Four years ago I was the pregnant mother with the screaming two year old at the airport. The mother from the family with the seats in the back of the plane. The mother who had to carry her screaming recalcitrant two year old down the entire length of the plane. As if announcing to all the passengers- here we are- and it’s going to be ugly. And oh was it ugly. Screaming, and more screaming- and seat kicking- and that was all while we were sitting waiting (and waiting, and waiting, and waiting) for take off. Shortly after we took off, my screamer fell asleep on top of me and despite the uncomfortableness that comes with having a small child sleeping in your lap in a tiny airplane seat when you are six months pregnant with your third child while your needy first child is crowding you for attention, I left her there – because I had a serious fear of more screaming. When we emerged from the hot sweaty hell that was the airplane. I swore I was never doing that again.

Until I did.

Last Christmas my Grandpa approached us with an incredibly generous gift. A Florida vacation to visit him and my Granny there in the early spring. His offer involved super nice things like a flight and a rental car and even letting us stay in their condo. But, and I checked, it didn’t come with the offer of a nanny to fly with our kids. I internally cringed at the thought of flying and said yes anyway.

And that is how I found myself headed up the stairs to wake up the girls (ages 3, 5, and 8) and head to the airport to break my vow from four years earlier.

I was prepared.

I had plans. I had been given advice. I was armed with new coloring books and tiny toys and snacks and kids who are experts at long car rides.

I was ready.

And then I went to wake up Jane.

The three year old.

The wildcard in all my fears for the flight.

And, while her sisters had bounced out of bed in excitement, she didn’t want to wake up.  Uh-oh.

When I did get her up she promptly re-fell asleep on the couch. Uh- oh.Jane sleeping on couch

That’s right, I was about to get on a plane with three kids, two of whom were under my randomly assigned age requirement and one of those was sick.

“But”, I mentally reassured myself, “she’s just tired sick. I can carry her. John can herd the others, manage the tickets and we’ll be fine.”

And that’s what we did.

Then, as we were standing at the front of the line for the security check, she said it: “I think I’m gonna throw up.”

Not fine.

Just like that, we were gone from the line. I was holding her over a garbage can, John had disappeared looking for barf bags and a very nice woman was trying to convince me it was going to be fine. The garbage can was unnecessary. John came back- with bags. We re-herded the other two, got ourselves back in line and just after showing ID’s she said it again…

“Right this way Ma’m”

Jane and I were ushered through a security check point faster than I thought possible and directed to the nearest garbage can on the other side. Fortunately, it was yet another false alarm.

So we waited, in various states of health, excitement and dread, for our flight to board.Jane sleeps on airport floor

And while boarding went smoothly, I’m afraid Jane didn’t take in much of her first airplane ride.Jane's first airplane ride

Of course, we didn’t have a direct flight. We had to change planes with a bit of a layover because the only thing more fun than flying with small kids is herding little naive country children through large metropolitan airports trying not to lose them in the crowd.

Clara whistled while she wandered her way through the airports so at least we could hear her...

Clara whistled while she wandered her way through the airports so at least we could hear her…

Safely at our new gate, all in one piece and with some lunch beside, Jane perked up. Had a bit to drink. Had a bit to eat. Announced that she was gonna throw up and promptly did so all over the carpet at gate C21.

Not fine.

Interesting things of note:

-Some strangers will supply copious amounts of napkins, quickly and without being asked.

-Some strangers will affect not to notice the pile of vomit by their feet.

-No one will relocate to a different spot.

-Puking always makes kids feel better.

-And, despite the fact that she slept most of the rest of the way, I still really don’t like flying with kids.

 

 

 (Not to worry, by the next morning Jane was her usual cheerful non-puking self and we had a wonderful vacation… Except for the turbulent flight home where she looked at me and said, “My belly hurts!”)