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Saturday, August 29, 2009

Tales of My Sister Heather's Terrible Toilet Troubles part Two

Here are some unrelated details to the terrible toilet tale which I am about to tell. Unrelated, though by far, much more significant than the tale itself. My Mom and Dad decided to come and visit us from far away by train. They arrived in the middle of the night. I made a very special and delicious meal based on Dr. Toast's advice (an Emergency Room MD). Oh it was incredible! I had found a squash the size of Texas with a "take me home" note on it in the cafeteria. I stuffed it with venison, sausage, brown rice, wine, sauteed carrot, onion, celery, toasted pecans (note : the toasted pine nuts burnt to a crisp and I had to improvise), oregano, pepper and butter. Oh it was soooo delicious! Now I will relate to you a most unappetizing tale.
Just hours before, my parents had rendevoused at my sister Heather's home with my aunt, her girlfriend and their 3 adopted daughters from India (now teenagers). It was a wonderful visit, but not without a terrible calamity. In case you don't know my sister, Heather, here is her blog. Heather is everything that I am not. Heather is well organized and clean. She once wiped all of my furniture down with a vinegar solution while visiting. She has also been known to clean my bathroom. At any given moment, she knows where everything in her house is (or at least this illusion lives in my mind). Heather is the ultimate mother. She makes her girls pretty clothes, sews fluff on their socks and has organized food and nap times. She is the kind of mom who tracks how many servings of which food groups her children have consumed in any given day. She may even track their toilet habits in a potty journal, though this rumor most likely only exists in my imagination alone.
Last Christmas, I visited her in her beautiful basement apartment on the outside of a far away city. She had gotten the girls a bowl of goldfish. They were perfectly colored and symmetrical. The aquarium plants were evenly spaced apart and the gravel was color coordinated to the rest of the landscape. I couldn't take it! I had to disrupt this chaos with a poop fish. You can read about that and about her terrible toilet troubles (part one) here, entitled "Toilet Fixation At My Sister Heathers.
Apparently, in the spirit of toilet torment, her haunted septic system again struck. I say haunted, because that is where the poop fish eventually was laid to rest. She claims the death came from natural causes, but I continue to suspect foul play. That, however, is another story of itself. At any rate, my Sister Heather's husband is a college student. Supposedly, he goes to college and works full time, but I know better. I suspect he is a secret ninja. I suspect this because I have an overactive imagination. Heather has a strange closet in her basement apartment with an alarm panel. At certain times, a light flashes and an alarm sounds loudly. It supposedly has to do with the septic system, though we all know better, don't we? Some times strange men frequent this closet supposedly "fixing the problem". My imagination says they, too are secret ninjas meeting in an ultra secret location to plan their next mission. They have to fake a toilet emergency each time they converge.
True to this front, the toilet alarm went off many times during the time my sister Heather had all that company. The landlord, Billy Bob, checked it out, but dismissed it as nothing. He told her to ignore it and so she did. She had a special time planned with her company. She made lovely snacks. She added all the special touches she usually adds to anything she plans. Her biggest concern up until the time of the toilet travesty was making sure her floor was mopped.
Not long after my mom and dad headed for the train station, the alarm sounded. Suddenly strange bubbling sounds came out of all the drains. The toilet began filling up. This was clearly an act of the poopfish taking revenge from his watery grave. Heathers little girls huddled together in fear. Her company looked slightly alarmed. She put on a "this happens all the time, don't worry about a thing" fake smile. Hurriedly she called her landlord (who happens to live upstairs). Being the shrewd and frugal man that he is he tried to talk her into not letting any of the company use the bathroom in exchange for a discount on her rent. He didn't want to pay the emergency plumber $120/hr fee. Graciously, he offered to have his brother, Lester and Himself fix it in the morning. Heather told him to forget it. She currently had 9 people there at the time. That many people driving to the Qwik Trip at 12am was just not going to happen. Reluctantly, Billy Bob agreed to find a plumber. Supposedly, no emergency plumber in the city was available and so Lester and Billy Bob showed up.
Something terrible happened. No sooner had the reluctant men disappeared into the secret ninja closet of doom, but horrible screams began to be emitted. Septic water from the holding tank under pressure shot out in torrents. It ran down the hall, through the wall and baseboards and even flooded into the girls room puddling under little 2 year old Sofia's big girl bed. Apparently, in order to view the pump, they had to open the holding tank. My sister, who never lies, even said that Billy Bob was splattered with the fowl substance. His brother was not so lucky. He happened to have his face in the direct line of fire. The chunk that was plugging the system shot straight out and hit him in the face, getting the solid particulate matter in his mouth! She heard tortured screams "make it stop make it stop" then silence.
All the while, she tried to act nonchalant, sipping tea and chatting with her horrified visitors. By the time the men had left, her "every thing is ok" cover was blown wide open. The smell of putrified feces flooded the flooded apartment. Her aunt set to helping her clean. She found herself in a mortified state of shock. To make matters worse, nobody was hungry for her planned snack that evening.
The next day, Heather discovered that she was still living the nightmare. Only this time, her company was leaving. She had no car with which to escape. She ran after them screaming "help! help! don't leave me in my time of trouble!" but they only laughed fiendishly and drove away. Actually, they just left because it was time to go. Men from Service Master had sprayed heinous odor covering solution all over and nobody could breathe. The fumes were unbearable. She and her small children were eventually rescued by left over 911 workers returning from a natural disaster in Oogleria. Really, her friend came and got them. Conveniently, her husband (ahem ninja) was gone "at college", but we know better, don't we?

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Irresponsibility - A Way of Life

Perhaps you've come to be the responsible one in life. You pay your bills, take care of your kids - you're an all around "good joe". Still, you feel a bit slighted at times when everybody is out having fun while you're doing the dishes. Well, have I got the plan for you! Mothers, Fathers, take note. A newer “Care free Mom” is the bomb!
Today, my son, Artdog, decided to take me fishing since he hadn't done anything "special" with me lately. Since he decided to take me fishing, I decided that he could be "the responsible one". I worked all night. Why should I always have to be the adult? The first thing I did was to invite Catman along. After all, the more the merrier!
Artdog spent an hour and a half getting ready. He got all the poles ready, packed tackle, searched for his fishing license, etc.. I fooled around on the computer, packing a girls magazine, a camera and other unnecessary items which would later get wet and serve no purpose at all. After an hour, I began to complain that I was getting bored. Artdog asked me to pack some water.
When it was finally time to go, Artdog gave me instructions on helping him move the canoe to the river. I complained saying it was "too hard". I wanted to drag it and he gave me a lecture about taking care of our personal possessions. Then we loaded into the canoe. Artdog was the lead paddler. I told Catman that he could be the other paddler. I sat in the back eating chocolate covered coffee beans and looking at my magazine.
When we arrived at our destination, I threw in a line and caught a fish right off the bat! I didn't want to touch it so Catman took it off the hook for me and Artdog put it on a stringer. Meanwhile, I fished some more. They spent a good deal of time maneuvering the canoe while I fished happily. As they were maneuvering around some brush, Catman's hook caught on my finger. While I was trying to keep it from sticking me, I dropped my own pole (or rather my borrowed husbands pole) into the river.
I didn't want to get wet so Artdog decided he would jump in after it. After having to wait a good 5-10 minutes to resume fishing, eventually Artdog handed it to me. He was cold and wet, but wanted to keep fishing. After a relaxing couple of hours (for me), we stopped on a bank and dug for worms. Then we started for home. I trolled the whole way while the boys paddled. Since I was trolling, I caught another fish - neato! What fun!
When we got to the floating dock, I couldn't wait to get pictures! I stuck the rope to the boat haphazardly on the side and began posing. Soon the canoe was floating down the river. This time Artdog told me that I had to take some responsibility for my actions. He made me jump in after it this time. He refused to pose for any photos until I retrieved the departing canoe. Pouting and sticking my tongue out, I jumped in the icy cold river!
After we got some cool photos together, Artdog told me I had to clean my fish. I said "gross, no way!" So Artdog said he would clean my fish for me. I raced home and took a hot shower while he was cleaning fish. Everybody was hungry and wanted dinner. Sock Fashion Expert had been watching Moonbeam for me. Instead of getting started on dinner right away, I found a bowl of half eaten homemade strawberry ice cream in the freezer. After drowning it in chocolate syrup, I selfishly indulged in it while every body waited for dinner. About that time, Artdog came in with my fish that he had cleaned. Seeing me eating ice cream, he decided to get his bowl out of the freezer. Oops! That was his bowl. He managed a smile and I promised him some vanilla from the fresh carton. Then I reminded him that he had to clean the bathroom for his chore that day. Later I felt a little bit guilty and let him get off without doing his daily chores. Its tough being the responsible one. That's why I recommend parents should practice irresponsibility regularly. Role reversal is highly underestimated.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Working Mom Blues and The Case of the mushy, sweetest, best ever anniversary gift

I love showing up for work looking like somebody scraped me up off the beach. I never feel like I'm "missing out" when I've been out having fun with my family in the sun and water. I don't care if I didn't get enough sleep or that I washed my hair in the lake and conditioned it with a handful of body lotion that I happened to have along with me at the time. When I come in after a fun day at the lake, I'm at my finest.
This is where our story ends, or maybe where it begins. Yes, I drug myself away from the lake (kicking and screaming inside) to come to work. We had gone on our 2nd "Pud Camping Trip" of the summer. We decided to visit "Lake Cow-a-fishy-bee". Oh it was so much fun! The lake was loaded with perch, mammoth bass and little "pumpkin seed" sunnies swimming all over. My husband started out snorkeling, but wasn't in for long before he headed for his fish pole with wide eyes and a big grin. The kids had such a fun time fishing too. When I "experience" a lake, I want to do lots of things : Swim it, hike around it, kayak it, lounge next to it, maybe even fish and the list goes on. I could hardly get it all in, though I put in a valiant attempt.
It happened to be our 18th wedding anniversary the day we arrived there. I had been through an array of emotions that morning already. My husband had worked for weeks on a "surprise". Let me take you back a few days. It started out where I discovered him in the basement "doing something" he wouldn't let me see. My over active imagination played out many crazy scenarios. It ended in me kicking and fussing while he picked me up and removed me from the basement. After my hysterical behavior, he confessed to be working on something for our anniversary. Try as I might, he would not divulge the secret. I could hardly bare all the secrecy. Soon Sock Fashion Expert was in on it. Every time I left the room, I could hear whispering.
Finally on the big day, my husband woke me up rubbing my back. He told me he had something special. We sat on the bed together as he turned on the DVD player. The song "You Are So Beautiful To Me" played while pictures of our life together flashed on the screen. Wedding pictures, teenage photos of us together, family photos, years gone by. The main theme of the pictures was me. I was shocked. Some of the photos of me were horrible (in my opinion), but the song just kept on playing. It finally dawned on me that I really am beautiful to him. Even through the years that I was the heaviest, the song just kept on playing. Oh it was definitely the sweetest thing my husband has ever done! It made me feel very secure and loved and not quite so traumatized about the appearance of white in my hair. The full force of seeing us together all those years hit me and I couldn't quit blubbering. What an investment of time. I could do nothing else but pledge the rest of my life to him and lose myself in the wonder of the ecstasy in a life together well lived.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Heinous Henna Hardships, Near Drowning and "Simply Elegant Desserts"

I would have added "Working Mom Blues" to that mix since I'm at work, but i feared it would complicate matters worse than trying to tie all of this together.

Heinous Henna Hardships : I have contemplated dying my hair for some time now. Each time I look in the mirror, new coarse white hairs seem to be popping up and invading my head at an alarming rate. I encouraged the natural ones to battle them, but they just seem to lie down. With that in mind, we begin our adventure.
The lady in the gingerbread house (an artist who lives down the road from me) told me to try using henna. She seemed sweet and well meaning. Little did I know that she was secretly part of a conspiracy to befuddle me. Just kidding. So I bought the henna.
She told me to get the tubes on line or at the local health food store. I got the only box of "dark brown" the health food store had. Turns out it was in the form of a powder and not a tube. At least nobody could accuse me of my color "coming from a bottle". When I opened it up, it was pea green. Anne of Green Gables scenes flashed before my eyes. I called the artist lady. She assured me that dark green was o.k.. She did, however, tell me that the powder was terrible to use. Unfortunately, I had already mixed it into a gooey looking pudding that resembled what happens when a dog eats people food. There was no taking it back now.
After waiting the allotted time period, I followed some of the suggestions on the box including adding day old coffee, nutmeg and ginger. That seemed just weird, but I went along with it anyway. I told my daughter I would be in the bathroom for about 1/2 an hour. She looked at me and my bowel of green mush with a furrowed brow and a possibly skeptical look.
It occurred to me that I may have been making a mistake. Painting this stuff on my hair was something that resembled an art form. I got a "D" in art when I was in high school. The only reason I didn't get an "F" was because I cheated and my boyfriend (now husband) did a few of my art projects to help bring up my grade. Yes, I'm that bad. So fear struck my heart as I began painting the putrid matter onto my head.
I kept reasoning with myself that this was a new kind of adventure. Despite the trash bag I had covered myself in, bits of the grainy pasty substance splattered all over. Eventually, I realized that I would never have the patience to paint all of my hair evenly, so I started adding it in a bit thicker. It didn't seem to spread all that well. Over time, it got thicker and thicker. Then I decided to just massage it into my head. By then it had formed a thick, chunky and grainy substance similar to clay. All of my hair stayed in a formed, matted mass on the top of my head. There was still a whole bowl full of the heinous henna that i didn't know what to do with.
Eventually, I left the mass of matted hair molded to the top of my head and put the bag on. I looked for a blow dryer but couldn't find it. Then I looked for my bath tub but couldn't find that either. In case you are wondering, we have 3 showers in our house, but no real bath tubs. I don't know why they built it like that, but we haven't had the resources to put one in yet. With that in mind, my bath tub is a large storage container. It had gone AWOL. Upon questioning my daughter, I found out that one of the boys used it to put some of their junk in. After wandering around looking for a hair dryer and a bath tub, my time to leave it in had expired. I was supposed to "check" my hair, but it was literally all matted into a ball on the top of my head. For this reason, I hoped for the best and commenced to rinsing it out.
Soon the heinous henna was all over the shower. By now an hour or two had elapsed. I couldn't get the stuff out of my hair. I rinsed and rinsed. I soaked and soaked. I combed and combed. I used baking soda. I started combing it out, though it was rather matted. Eventually I had to put in some real conditioner. Many frightening scenarios unfolded in my mind during this time. All of which I will spare you from. Sufficient to say that when I eventually got out of the shower, I was relieved to see that I still had brown hair, though rather unusual smelling.
I gobbed the remaining heinous henna into the trash and tied the bag in a mute effort to conceal the disaster from my husband. He didn't have to look far though, it was splattered everywhere! When all was said and done, I looked into the mirror only to find...... white hair still remained!! I can't really tell a lot of difference, except that maybe it is a little darker, and maybe just a little less of the white. This was quite disheartening, though nothing like my wild imaginations had feared.
Simply Elegant Desserts : I held the 2nd official "Cooking Class" in my home on Friday. It was hosted by our church ladies Bible study and my younger women's fitness/devotional group. My friend Mist, a Culinary Arts Graduate of Hollywood Ca, taught the class.
Weeks before, I obsessed about my house driving everyone up the wall. The day before the class, I took almost everything out of almost every cupboard and drawer cleaning and rearranging. I cleaned for untold hours. My friends and family helped me with some diversionary activities the day before the class, though I did stay up till 1am and then got up at 5am the next day. It was then that I realized I may have a problem!
When the women actually started showing up, I was peaceful. A lot of prayer had gone up for this event. I was amazed that in my remote, 4wd, hill top location in the middle of no where, 22 women showed up! Besides the women, our total tally of kids was 15! It was a busy, but very fun and rewarding day.
Fresh flowers graced the dining and kitchen area. Soft violin music filtered in. Candles flickered in choice locations. Good whole bean coffee kept a brewing. Fresh home made Cinnamon rolls were readily on hand for all (Sock Fashion expert had made a 20 cup of flour recipe)! I had fancy gifts for door prizes. Oh it was so much fun. We had a lovely devotional and introduction time. The desserts (especially the truffles) were heavenly. I enjoyed the women a lot. Mist outdid herself again. There were no major issues with the children (most of which played outside being supervised by my two eldest children).
The head of the women's Bible Study explored doing another one in November. Tempting as it was, I knew I couldn't put my children through dealing with me that way again so soon so.......... we settled with having it at her house. After most of the women left, the last third of us headed to the lake to relax.
Near Drowning (a praise report) : Super Catman has had serious concerns for some time. As a matter of fact, we discussed these concerns at length just this past week. "How do you get a girl to stop bugging you?" The problem girl was none other than "Miss Twinkle Winkle", Elasta Woman's 6 year old girl. Apparently, not long ago, she had "jumped on his back" when they were running around together after a recent church service. He considered "flicking her", though I advised him against it, concerned this would surely cause retaliation on her part.
Kids will be kids. Six year old boys and girls will inevitably always have some trouble relating with each other. For this matter, I encouraged him to pray about it and decided it was best if he could work it out on his own. Later that week, I heard he had found a solution to her "bugging him". Apparently, in another one of my children's words he had "chucked a frog at her" and hit her squarely in the head. This solved the problem for the time being.
On Friday, however, there would be a new and terrible story unfolding. Since a third of the cooking class women came with me to the lake, we had a good group there. Actually, all 15 of the kids came along. This presented me with the challenge of keeping track of my own. After a relaxing swim and great visit, Moonbeam started fussing and I was a bit distracted from my constant surveillance. The last time I had seen Catman, he was wearing his life jacket so I thought he was fine. Next thing I knew, somebody looked up and saw bobbing heads and heard gasping. Catman and "Miss Twinkle Winkle" were fighting each other to stay above water. Catman was under. Time stopped. Two moms had ran in to retrieve the struggling children. Apparently, they both doggie paddled out over their heads and then she tried to hold onto him. A very white looking little boy emerged from the water screaming on the top of his lungs "she held me under"! "She wouldn't let me up!" She was crying, but he was screaming loudly. Despite his hysterics, being an ER nurse, the hysterics caused relief to flood my being. I am so grateful to the mom who pulled him out of the water and so grateful to God for revealing the crisis to her just in the nick of time. As for Catman, he is convinced that "Miss Twinkle Winkle" was trying to drown him, despite the fact that she was drowning herself. I am encouraging him to forgive and not plot some creepy crawly revenge!
Really, I thank God, he is safe, well and alive. Miracles happen every day and we don't always recognize them as we should. The gift of his life is precious to me, not something to be taken lightly.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

More "Real Man Camping" at Persnickety Pika Lake (photos)

Story Below :-)

More "Real Man Camping" at Persnickety Pika Lake

Just when you thought i might not be quite "all there", i go and do something to confirm your suspicions. Yes, as you may have guessed by the title, I went backpacking again with my entire family many miles into the wilderness with nothing but what we could carry! As you may imagine, there are many adventures to tell! In my defense, it was my 18 year olds birthday wish (back in June) for our family to go again. I guess if you've got an 18 year old who wants his family to go camping with him, then by golly, the family had better go!
On Monday, "The Archer" and "Art Dog" headed for the hills. I got home from town to discover that they wanted to "survive" out there for 2 days. On Tuesday, we were supposed to join them. I had initially said that I was going to hike out with "Sock Fashion Expert" that day, but unfortunately, we didn't get started till noon. Bad idea. The hike in was uneventful except for me sweating profusely at every last agonizing step, ok it wasn't quite that bad. I did sweat and it did challenge me. Lucky for me, my husband traded packs with me prior to the start of the hike. That meant he packed Moonbeam in and I packed his stuff.
Upon arrival, our boys told us hairy tales of a pack rat coming into their camp and chewing on Archers fishing rod. As he was cleaning up another mess he found, he suddenly heard a bear "woofing" at them at 3am. They eventually had to send some warning shots into the air and shine their light around yelling to get it to leave. I was relieved that I had spent a sufficient time praying for them that night!
I was also somewhat surprised to find that our son Artdog had worn size 10 men's French Military boots out there! We couldn't stop laughing much to his displeasure. "They're supportive" he insisted. Moonbeam went to nap and we all enjoyed the beautiful day. When Moonbeam woke up, she preceded to the lake. I walked her around some, but she seemed determined to experience the grassy mud, so I let her. Unfortunately, Catman also decided to experience the grassy mud. Somewhere in there, he inadvertently rolled in old fish guts or animal poop. Nobody realized it until much later.
By the time it was time for my daughter and I to hike out, I just couldn't do it. The boys all wanted us to stay. Sock Fashion Expert kept a stiff upper lip (kudos to her) and we ended up staying. It would have been pretty tough to put all those miles in packing Moonbeam that soon anyway. We really weren't all that prepared to stay, but the boys loaned us some of their extra stuff and we improvised.
Around the campfire that night, we all smelled something bad. At first Moonbeam was accused, but later vindicated. By and by, as the smell passed from place to place, we were alerted to its origin..... Catman! It was too late and cold to wash him up in the lake. One couldn't stand down wind from the boy for long! To make matters worse, despite my reminding him no less than three times, he forgot to bring his jacket.
As the night progressed, the boys snuggled down next to me. Of course, I had to keep Catman warm despite his putrid aroma. On the bright side, none of my boys want to give me much affection on the average day. This presented me with an unforgettable cuddling opportunity which pleased me to no end. My husband had promised to help keep me warm, but later confessed that he couldn't take the smell. He said Catman had a smell "only a mother could love".
Despite my husband not keeping me warm, he was the hero of the night. He awakened in the middle of the night seeing an extra large rodent running toward our huddled bunch. He knew that I wouldn't take it well if it reached us and so in a selfless act of barbaric heroism, he stopped it with his bare hands, a board and a rock.
Half way through the night, the boys had all moved away toward the fire. I found myself a "cuddle rock" from the fire pit which actually kept me quite warm. Moonbeam was sweating, so I was glad about that. All in all, my lack of preparation and spontaneity didn't cost us much grief. Sock Fashion Expert also did admirably well.
One other highlight of the trip was how much we actually were able to live off of the land. The boys gorged on an abundance of fish. Raspberries, thimble berries, and Oregon grapes along with a host of other berries were thick every where along the trail. We made a wonderful raspberry and raspberry leaf tea with water that the boys also collected from a near by spring. I was impressed that this time, the water they boiled was well filtered and didn't taste like smoke.
The boys didn't want to leave at all. Catman didn't want to leave either. He not only stunk terribly, but his pants were full of holes, his socks burnt up in the fire by accident, and his shoes melted. That kid had a one way ticket to the bath tub and he knew it! By the time all was said and done, we were all sad to leave. I just had to jump into the lake one last time before hiking out. It was so refreshing. Upon arriving home after the long hike, the children sprawled out everywhere and my husband and I enjoyed a nice peaceful nap.

Monday, August 17, 2009

The Misadventures of a Visit with My True Friend Furry

My day was plagued with hardships and discombobbulations and so in an endeavor to debrief, I will share with you my perilous woes.........
Today I went shopping in town. I was supposed to have lunch with my good friend "Furry". Furry has been one of my closest friends for neigh unto 10 years. She grew up in a family of 9 children. Her parents lived without electricity or running water. He father worked odd jobs to support the family. Because of Furry's families socioeconomic status, she has been plagued with many injustices that get me awful riled up. Furry lives in a bright purple trailer in the middle of town. Her husband works odd jobs to support them. Some of his jobs include huckleberry and elderberry picking, woodcutting, and selling scrap metal. Because of this, you may see some scrap metal sitting out in the drive way next to the bright purple trailer. He's a good man and a hard worker. They have a little boy and a little girl. They are as happy and in love as any other young couple you could imagine.
Some of Furry's friends stuck up their noses at her trailer, her car and her husband's choice of occupation. Funny thing is, their husbands don't make any more than he does. In order to have nicer things than her, they plunged into deep debt. Since her husband did well with the Huckleberries this year, their bills are all paid in advance up to December. She's a stay at home mom, though she's been very busy cleaning the berries that her husband has been bringing in.
Almost every time my friend Furry's family visits a doctor or a hospital, they are treated poorly. Inevitably, some worker flat out insults them, refuses to give them information or treats them in a very demeaning manner. When she had her last baby, the nurse starting her IV did not use proper technique. When Furry questioned it, the nurse refused to even answer her. That's when Furry called me. With me there, it didn't take long before Furry was getting first class treatment.
Furry went to a larger city to have her baby. She felt she'd get better care there. The doctor detained her longer than she'd planned. Because of that, the hospital room she, her husband and little boy was staying in got dirty. The nurses didn't take out some of the old meal trays. They didn't have fresh laundry the last day or two until her sister came to wash it. For that reason alone, the hospital social worker arranged for "a home visit" referral. I'm not joking. When the social worker arrived, she was devastated. Though the "reason for concern" was eventually dismissed, the event was unforgettable.
Furry and I arranged to meet at McDonald's. I made the mistake of getting my kids free baby cones while we waited for her. By the time Furry and her two kids arrived, Moonbeam had made a big ice cream mess all over. A McDonald's Worker showed a furrowed brow in my direction. Furry helped me clean up the mess and we went up to order. Since she ordered her little boy a Happy Meal, I figured I was obligated to do the same for mine. We filled up ketchup cups and headed back for the table. Just as we arrived and set our trays on the table, I turned to get a high chair for Moonbeam. Some how, Cat man managed to dump our tray upside down on the floor! Ketchup was every where! I managed to salvage all of our food since it was all wrapped in something. The only casualties were that his happy meal box and all of our food wrappers were covered in ketchup. I could live with that. After grabbing a gazillion napkins and eating in an odd looking manner, we began to visit. The frowning worker returned to mop up ketchup splatters from here to kingdom come upon my crow eating request.
The kids were finally happy. We started to get into a good conversation. Suddenly two old ladies butted in. They were sitting right next to us. Of course they loved seeing the kids and wanted to talk all about them. Finally after we had finished eating and the women were sufficed, we got back to talking. Just then her baby fell off the chair she was holding onto and cut her lip. A slightly bloody baby, ketchup napkin mess every where, and would you believe the social worker happened to show up with a burger and fries a few tables away?! Well of course we had to leave.
We chatted a little on the stairs of Porgies, but Porgie gave us a threatening frown. He runs a tight ship and we were pretty sure he didn't want any loitering. So we decided to meet at her place after I ran some errands.
When I got there, I couldn't help being disappointed. Her mother in law had shown up for a surprise visit. This wasn't the first time we've tried to get together and she's gotten a surprise mother in law visit. There was no place to park but the alley. A mutual friends showed up to buy huckleberries.
I decided to run some more errands and we'd meet up later for coffee at the park. After hours of errands, and getting stuck in a long line, I made it to our much anticipated rendezvous about 20 minutes late. We grabbed some coffee and headed to the park for a stolen hour of bliss. No matter one of the kids tried to eat a cigarette butt. No matter that the babies fought over my sweaty socks. We really chewed up the fat! She vented about tales of drunken relatives, legal pot growing in laws, and other tales of woe. We laughed about my many misadventures. The little boys ran around and played happily together. When all was said and done, it was all worth it. I was sooooo relaxed. You see, Furry is a true friend. Friends like her are hard to come by. She'd do anything in her power to help me in any way she could. She's the kind of person you can always count on. Her loyalties run deep. Its good to make time for a good friend. I left feeling totally destressed.
Its a good thing too, because I had barely begun my grocery shopping afterward when I noticed a suspicious smell lurking around our cart. Moonbeam had somehow managed to blow out up to her shoulders!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Cramming for Classy Contentment

"Blah blah economy" seems to be a bit of a catch phrase these days. Everybody is worked up about it. Some people have lost houses, some have lost jobs, countless others spend a good deal of time worrying that they're next. Nobody knows what politicians to believe and our hope seems to lie purely in God alone.
In the midst of these trying times, rises up a group of women out of the confusion. Some are working moms, others are home raising their kids. Their agenda is not one of delusions. Their agenda is to survive the times with class. Not just survive, but thrive.
I am one of those women. To be honest with you, I've never been very successful at living within my means. I'm a pretty undisciplined girl. Its really only been since the dawn of the past few years that I've actually been doing it. I have had a lot of examples, both bad and good with which to model myself after. Because of this, I have decided to share some of them with you. Its my hope that they can inspire you to live just a little bit better ;-)
Miserable Mira and Naughty Nancy were once my friends. They had a lot of influence on me at one time in my life. Both were married with children. Both have great and incredible qualities that attracted me to them. Both, however, were very unsuccessful at surviving the times. With Mira, there was never enough. Her kids spent a good deal of time trying to find food. Sad, but true. I never felt comfortable eating at her house. Everything was rationed. Her kids were always hungry and as a result they foraged on what they could find other places including stuff from other peoples houses, cars, and even the woods. She wouldn't let them waste anything either. Many of the things she fed her family I didn't want to eat - gross! The kids didn't want to eat them either. Miserable Mira rarely smiles. She's one of the most miserable people I know. No matter how much she has or doesn't have she's going to feed her family diluted down yuck and ration it.
I knew Naughty Nancy for many years. She always enjoyed the finer things in life. Naughty Nancy usually stuck her nose up at what I had or was making. She taught me a good deal about buying "quality over quantity", for which I am grateful, however, the problem was, she could never make due. Naughty Nancy always went over budget. She NEVER lived within her means. In her mind, it was her husbands job to provide period. He worked long hours to provide that which was never enough. She enjoyed a life of buying nice food and house hold stuff. Shopping with her was an unforgettable experience. Everything was name brand no matter what the cost. I left the store feeling sick at the things she decided on a whim "were cute". The only time Naughty Nancy ever worked, she insisted the money was for herself, not for bills. Nancy and her husband went bankrupt once or twice. They lost houses a few times too. Eventually, Naughty Nancy divorced her husband and went on to find "somebody better" leaving her husband and children devastated.
I never understood why Naughty Nancy acted the way she did. Then one day it occurred to me. She felt prosperous when she spent money. Making elaborate foods she couldn't afford made her feel wealthy. I also wonder if Mira didn't feel like she had enough by hording what she did have. Either way, I'm afraid that their children have spent years living under conditions that are less than happy.
I know some other women too. Mist, for example, seems to be happy most of the time. She has lived for the past few years in a one room cabin without running water, electricity, or even a septic. She manages to make incredible meals despite the small grocery budget. When she cooks, there's always plenty. She is enjoyable to be around. She enjoys a happy marriage. She doesn't chase after romantic ideals, she recognizes that true happiness is a choice.
Ruth, the woman who is a co-laborer with her husband in running our orphanage in India is also in incredible woman. Despite losing countless homes due to persecution, she has managed to feed and clothe her own children along with 10-15 orphans at a given time. Currently they are living in a small 2 bedroom abode with their own children and 10 orphans as the land they were purchasing was wrongfully taken from them. They are struggling with a legal battle to get it back. Years ago, I asked Ruth what her goal was. She told me without blinking an eye "To die for the Gospel".
As you can see, I've shown you some incredible examples of women that I have known. Where there is a will, there is certainly a way to survive and thrive. Difficult, yes, but impossible, no. Choosing to arm yourself with a good attitude, sowing in the midst of adversity (that means being generous, being a giver), and learning to live within your means are all important keys to thriving in the times that we now live. Our choices must be based on what we know and not on how we feel. Here's a few scriptures :-)

1 Timothy 6 (New International Version)
6But godliness with contentment is great gain. 7For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. 8But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. 9People who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction. 10For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.

Philippians 4 (New International Version)10I rejoice greatly in the Lord that at last you have renewed your concern for me. Indeed, you have been concerned, but you had no opportunity to show it. 11I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. 12I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. 13I can do everything through him who gives me strength.

Hebrews 13:5 (New International Version)5Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, "Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you."

Friday, August 14, 2009

Working Mom Blues and the Case of the Lucky Chicken

For about 2 days now I've been passed out on the couch, or so it seemed. During that time, I managed to take every book off of our bookshelves, dust and re-arrange them for the upcoming school year. Thanks to Jules, (thanks alot) (yes, you detected an undertone of sarcasm), I was reminded that the school year indeed is looming upon us as if it were the monster from a sci fi. The big shadow looms over the city, you hear the beastly roar, the ground shakes..... you get the picture. And so, with that mental picture in mind, I did the dastardly deed of going through boxes upon boxes of school books and figuring out which ones to pull for the upcoming year.
This is the first time I've EVER been this organized. I almost wondered if I had been cloned by an alien spaceship. Perhaps it was one of those fly by nite, blond tentacled aliens and she returned my mothers obsessively organized personality for my own and vice versa. Only that would explain why I would be thinking about doing this now rather than 2 weeks into September like usual.
After this exhausting and taxing deed, I collapsed into a fit of coma only to be aroused by a still small voice. "Put the chicken in the crock pot". I rolled over. It reminded me again. Finally when I could stand it no more, I threw on some clothes in a huff and stormed into the kitchen.
The next morning, it turned out to be the afternoon. My kind, wonderful and generous husband had taken the baby so that I could sleep. I was dumbfounded to read the clock and too horrified to tell you what it told me. No sooner had I drug myself out of bed than the power went out. Now I am not sure how often the power goes out for city people, but I can tell you that here it is a semi regular occurrence. One never knows when the power will go out or for how long. We've even been known to see it go out for days at a time. Its an inconvenience, annoying and bothersome, but we do some how survive. This time, however, I was very thankful that I listened to the still small voice. Just as the kids began to groan about being hungry, I told them to go check the crock pot. Before you could say "blithering boa constrictors and back biting baboons", the children were happily munching on chicken sandwiches.
It was a rainy day, and the children found ways to entertain themselves indoors. My eldest son, The Archer, practiced blowing his bugle-elk call-thingy. For an hour or more he practiced these heinous sounds from the basement. I will never forget shopping with him in the sporting goods section. The names of these elk calls resemble women with unscrupulous intent! He found great amusement in tormenting me with these Elk call names to which I insisted none of them could co-exist with me in my home! Woe and Alas, one of the unscrupulous female calls tormented me from the basement for quite some time yesterday.
Sock Fashion Expert sat on the couch with her face affixed to pages in a novel pausing only to occasionally yell at her older brother. She had priorly been arguing with The Archer over his choice of movie content. She didn't want him watching the war movie he had on with her little brother around. She had banned her little brother from the living room, and he was sitting at the edge of the room trying desperately to catch a glimpse of what was going on in the show. She was getting after her older brother when the power went off. She smiled a smug smile and returned to her novel feeling fully satisfied that her little brother was safe from unacceptable content.
After Art Dog completed the chore I asked him to do, he spent close to an hour examining baby toys. He discussed these baby toys with me at great length. He studied how and why they worked. He played with them. He studied them some more. He felt quite entertained.
Catman packed himself an artillery of toy guns and took off with his father over to the neighbors place. Catman loves to hang out with his dad and do "man stuff". He planned ahead, telling me that he needed these toy guns "so he wouldn't get bored".
Moonbeam permanently affixed herself to my....well er... she nursed a lot. Since she started teething, that's mostly what she wants to do these days. I threaten that I will quit if she bites. Then I can't stand to hear her fuss and she winds up nursing again. I'm just a sucker or rather she is...except when she bites!!
Before long, it was nigh on time to leave for work. I told the kids to pick a number 1-10. The lucky lad or lassie would be the one to peel potatoes. The Archer ended up with the short straw, so to speak. He peeled potatoes while lecturing me on the evils of my coffee addiction. He was not at all impressed that I was using the propane camp stove for cowboy coffee. Art dog cut up the potatoes since he was bored. Sock Fashion expert helped me put the honey and milk into my cowboy coffee (though she was quite disgusted at being a party to the evil). I some how continued nursing and fried up a the big mess of potatoes with hamburger on the camp stove.
Less than an hour before I had to leave, actually the very minute the potatoes finished frying, the power came back on. Amazed, I enjoyed a hot shower before embarking on my adventure as an Emergency Room RN and Hospital Supervisor working the graveyard shift.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

More Fun Family Photos

Here are a few more fun photos from the past weeks - huck picking, a special day at the lake with just Catman and I, The first day of VBS

Fun Family Photos

Photos include : Moonbeam, Our Son (The Archer) - Pied Piper of Boys!, Our Girls at the Lake Today

Monday, August 10, 2009

Working Mom Blues and the Case of the Foggy Filthy Family

Just when i thought things were beginning to slow down..... they didn't. Sunday was a flurry of activity including church, a baptismal service in the river and dinner at my friend Mists. The morning service was not typical. A special speaker had come from a distance away. He had much to share about his ministry. Moonbeam didn't permit me to spend much of the service inside. Though many people were quite enthralled with what the speaker was sharing, others became a bit fidgety. One lady roared out of the service saying "I can't take it any more he is so boring!" Soon a group of people were congregating outside the building complaining about the man's monotone voice. I began to feel horribly guilty to be party to the riled crowd. On the other hand, the man was, after all, monotone. I tried to walk the baby back inside, but she didn't seem to enjoy the service either. This put me in a bit of an uncomfortable predicament. My husband was the one who was preforming the baptism after the service. It seemed a little, well, unorthodox or perhaps uncouth or maybe even sacrilegious to laugh about the monotone speaker while being the wife of the man who was preforming a baptism later that morning! Luckily, God had mercy on me despite my predicament and eventually the service ended. The baptism was very short, touching and left a lasting impression on me. My husband read 2 spots of scripture regarding baptism. He had each person publicly confess their faith and then did the dunking deed. I don't know how to explain it, but there was something significant that happened that day both in me and in the people being baptized.
Later that day, we went over to Mist and Fiery's place. My friend, Mist, lives in a one room cabin with no plumbing, electricity or running water. She is, however, a Hollywood, CA Culinary Arts graduate. I brought over stew and biscuits despite their scolding. She made an incredible pastry with raspberry and huckleberry filling. We enjoyed a peaceful walk and a good visit. It was fun to see the progress on the new home that they are in the process of building. Mist always amazes me. She has such a good attitude and knows how to be content with little. Her spirit puts most women (including myself) to shame.
Today, I thought things would slow down. I lamely attempted to get the kids motivated on cleaning the house. They obliged, though they were tired of all the activity themselves. They wanted a day to rest and be kids too. "Work... work... work", I sounded like a broken record. Eventually, after cooking up a big breakfast and a half, watering the half scorched, half dead garden and grass in my back yard, cooking up a big lunch and doing a load of laundry, I collapsed on the couch myself, wishing for rest to come. Just about then, the hospital called asking me to come in tonight. Knowing I was short on shifts this pay period, I obliged.
I scooped up my grouchy baby and headed for a nap, kissing my husband "good bye" as he headed out the door for town. I hadn't bothered to get dressed that day, I had been so focused on getting the house in order. Amazingly, the baby and I slept for 2 hours or more. I woke up glad, but horrified seeing I only had an hour before I had to leave for work. In a flurry of activity, I began packing my lunch, instructing one of the kids to feed the baby some bites of yogurt and throw things hurriedly together. I remember thinking to myself "its a good thing I'm not getting any unexpected company looking like this". Quite shortly after that thought, at about 4:15 pm, there was a knock on the door. Dread followed. My kids hurriedly rushed to answer the door. Despite my foggy, sleepy brain, realization dawned that my hair was terribly dishevelled. I had slept in a pony tail that was now falling out with hair sticking up all over. I was wearing fuzzy purple pj bottoms. My cruddy, spaghetti stained shirt had an old breast milk ring stain in an anatomically correct, but socially incorrect spot. I hid behind one of the kids who answered the door. It was a man from the church dropping off something for my husband to work on. Before I knew it, I discovered that his wife was here along with their 5 grand kids! My kids ran off to play with the grand kids. Sheepishly, I slid out the door with my yogurt covered baby in front of me. Eventually, the baby abandoned me to crawl in the dirt while I chit chatted with the couple. It was now 45 minutes till I had to leave for work. As the clock ticked, I began to feel quite overwhelmed. The baby was covered in yogurt and dirt. I had a mental picture of myself and my baby on the front of a "white trash documentary".
I have this deep, burning desire to be hospitable, yet I really couldn't be late for work. I'm annal about being late to work. Just when I thought I would collapse under the pressure of not wanting to be rude, but knowing time was running out for my departure, they insisted I go inside and get ready for work. Despite my stress, I made it to work on time, got a much needed shower and my daughter gave the baby a bath, and it all worked out just fine.
Fine, that is, except for my rebellious bladder. I can't seem to make it the hour long drive to work without making a pit stop in the bushes some where along the drive. Most of you have gas stations along the way. For me, its only trees and isolated cabins. There is no place to go when you gotta go. You just gotta... well.. go. This often presents a problem. I usually don't want to take the time to drive down a dirt road or go too far into the forest. After 5 babies, Miss Bladder has no patience. She says "you're gonna stop now!" She resembles a spunky, manipulative, prune faced old woman. All too often I end up splashing urine on my scrub pant bottoms because of her insistance. Of course, being a nurse, I'm going to encounter urine at some time during my shift any way. I suppose that I'm just getting a head start splashing some bodily secretions of my own on myself.
Not all that long ago, my husband stopped for that demanding female, "Miss Bladder". She insisted I squat down in front of the car. My husband honked. I rolled my eyes, sure he was fooling around trying to make me jump. No sooner did a scoff escape from my lips, but an on coming car drove by, witnessing a full moon in broad day light. Whatever you do, don't tell my daughter, author of the new "Modest is Hottest" Blog spot. Actually, she was in the car. I have yet to live that one down.....................

Saturday, August 8, 2009

working mom blues and the case of vbs, vomit soup and naked hippies

So i am multi tasking (or multi blogging) about my week. Yes, its been a doozey. On Monday, I was well aware that the Hucks were on. The ancient "harvesting instinct" in me took hold and compelled me out into the woods. The kids began VBS (vacation Bible School).
On Tuesday, the kids had VBS. VBS is only a mile or two - as the crow flies. That means one can drive 20 miles around or take the back way. To take the back way, you must hike a wilderness trail through the forest and cross the river where it is low by foot. I would much rather hike the kids over than to drive. Its a beautiful hike and saves on gas money. The exercise doesn't hurt either as long as you can keep the kids from getting too wet. So on Tuesday, I hiked the kids over to VBS and then cooked like a maniac to get meals prepared ahead. Then I took the kids huckleberry picking up a mountain far away. That night we had Bible Study in our home. It was a fun group and we visited late into the evening.
On Wednesday, my son woke me up at 5am to go up the mountain Huckleberry picking again. I was horrified to find out that our refrigerator had stopped working. I almost lost it. Ok, i did lose it! All the food had to be placed in coolers. I threw away the mayonnaise and the farm fresh milk which had acquired an odor. Everything felt barely cool. I rushed off to pick huckleberries up a mountain and my husband got the kids to VBS.
Since the hucks are in full swing, we knew there would be a lot of people up there. We did some off road scouting which ended up in scaling a cliff and doing some serious off road trekking. My boys are incredible scouts and it paid off well. What we didn't bargain for was the invisible visitor who was watching us from near by. My son looked down "thats predator poop" he mused "and its fresh". "Hmmmm...." I thought to myself. "Good thing its not around". A little while later my son says "I smell a bear". OK, now I was getting a little concerned. My son has had many many run ins with wild animals and if he smells a bear, there's one there. He's had many a bear encounter. So with that knowledge, we continued picking, watchfully. After we'd filled our gallon jugs and we were due to pick up the kids from VBS, we began to make our way slowly down the hill. My oldest packed my baby out since it was so steep. I lagged behind finding big drooping plants over burdened with berries that I couldn't bear to pass by. Suddenly I heard rustling behind me. I continued on. Again I lagged behind and again I stooped down to pick just a few more berries. I heard distinct rustling of weeds and this time I knew something was not far behind me. Goosebumps appeared on my arms with the feeling that I was being watched. I hurried on. After a while I figured that I was safe and began to lag again. As I bent down, I heard rustling again. Now not even a huckleberry the size of Wee Willie Winkie was going to deter me from my truck. I safely made it down leaving the invisible stalker to his berries.
After picking up my kids at VBS, we had our Mountain Mamas devotional group day at my friend Elasta womans. I was exhausted by the time I arrived there. I pulled out a container of my famous wild rice soup from the cooler it had been sitting in. Something smelled off, but I ignored it and gave Elasta Woman some helpful hints on reheating my masterpiece. Once we were all sitting down to our special meal, my daughter said "mom, something isn't right with this soup". The memory of our refrigerator not working right began to haunt me. Did the soup go bad?! Everybody assured me that the soup was probably fine. We all reassured each other. Finally, one by one, we had to acknowledge that the cream in my soup was sour. One by one, we scraped our gourmet soup into Elasta Woman's compost bucket. Oh, I was quite embarrassed and horrified. It was only then that it occurred to me that my gourmet soup shared the distinct aroma which vomit carries. Oh, I wanted to hurl. How dreadful.
When I got home, I was so exhausted I collapsed shortly thereafter and took a nice long nap. I was relieved to hear that my husband had spent the day working on our refrigerator and that it was now running. This meant that I had to wipe it all out and return anything salvageable from the coolers. It was a lot of work. Besides that gallons of huckleberries needed cleaning and freezing. What an exhausting day!
On Thursday, we had VBS and VBS parents night. By now I was so exhausted I decided it would be best to try and take it easy. I didn't accomplish much outside of showing up and watching the program.
I did, however, steal an hour or so to head off to the lake by myself. At least thats what I thought I was doing. Unfortunately, I happened upon some naked hippies. I would have snuck off minding my own business, but their dogs surrounded me barking. I had to call out to them to call off their dogs. Eventually, they got dressed, but I never was able to enjoy much of my swim. Several men sporting dreadlocks fished the shores with their now clothed women. One of them reminded me of the Geico cave man commercials. It was just a little too much for me knowing they had earlier been frolicking together nude. It also didn't help that one of the men took it upon himself to take up residence fishing where I had placed my towel, shoes and glasses. After my usual swim, I tread water wondering when he would move. Eventually he got the idea and went back to his group. I raced out of the water and up the trail feeling more stressed out than I had before I'd gotten there. Deep down, I wanted to be friendly, at least call out a friendly "hello, nice day". But how do you greet a group of people when you've just witnessed some of them naked? "Now that you're dressed, allow me to introduce myself?" I imagined telling them I was a bit of a nature biscuit myself, but the Geico commercial blared in my head along with the permanent memory of a hairy butt.
On Friday was the last day of VBS. My kids loved it and had loads of fun. By now, I was sweeping up pieces of myself off the floor. I made a big lunch for my kids. They had a friend over and I wanted it to be special for them. Then I took them all to the lake being mindful to watch for naked hippies. When we got back, I napped so hard that when the girls aunt came to pick her up I didn't know what my husband was talking about. Now I am working a 12 hour night shift. I'm just a tad bit exhausted from the weeks activities. Of course I will go home and sleep. Then I think I am doomed to head for the hucks.... one last time.....

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

The Hucks Are On!

This time of the year I feel like I am in a race against time. VBS (Vacation Bible School) is going on. Summer is running out with a mere few weeks left. Things I meant to do stack up. Despite all of this, I must lay everything aside to harvest. When the harvest is going on I'm burning the candle at both ends.
This harvest, so wonderfull, I lay many things aside for is none other than Huckleberries. These pungent, sweet, juicy berries are so healthful. They're organic, full of antioxidants, and taste more flavorful than blueberries. In town they're selling for $30 - $40 per gallon. I couldn't possibly think to sell them though. They're much too precious. Its an important part of our winter diet.
I take as many of my kids as I can deep into secret spots in the mountains. I've been blessed to have boys who love to scout for new picking places. Its a bit of a challenge, but I even some times share my spots with a friend or two. After all, sowing and reaping is an eternal principle that never ends. The other day I took some friends to a spot I've gone to for years. There's a lot of competition in that area. I took my boys up again today and I was feeling so grateful. My oldest son found an incredible place that I'm pretty sure not too many people will find. It was just like God gave me an instant harvest on sharing my good harvesting spot from the day before. So far the kids and I have picked almost 50 lbs. I have a nice freezer shelf full and I am quite pleased.
Of course we all eat big mouthfuls while we're picking. My husband, however, usually stays home. Today he spent hours fixing our refrigerator. I was so grateful that he resurrected it. Yesterday, he worked all day fixing a 4-wheeler. When we're cleaning them, he wants to eat handfuls. I am ashamed to say that I've been hovering around them and trying to keep every body away! I need to start making sure he gets plenty and stop hording them!
I always promise the kids chocolate huckleberry malts when we get home if they pick well. We stop at the mercantile stained full of purple and pick up a box of ice cream. Then we drive home and collapse in berry and sugar ecstasy!


Other fun things we did together was a drive high up into the mtns and take photos. The older girls also learned to shoot guns for the first time ever. They loved it!


Heres some fun photos from a recent relatives visit - my aunt. Included is my aunt, whom I affectionately nick named "Geaba". I idolized her as a child. She's the redhead. Also her friend and their adopted daughters : Indian princess #2, Indian princess #3, and Indian princess #4.

We had such a great time! We cooked huge meals and did lots of hiking and packed in as much visiting as possible. One crazy episode that happened was when we hiked to a waterfall. We walked this nice trail anticipating lots of great photos ahead. What we came to find was a very pretty waterfall and 2 buck naked people bathing in it!! Oh dear, we left that place in a hurry. At any rate, the visit was unforgettable. It was so special to have them with us :-)

Saturday, August 1, 2009

2009 Long Bridge Swim

Well, I did it. I participated in a long distance, open water swim. 1.76 miles to be exact. Yes, ooohhhh and awwwww. Just kidding. Here's what happened :

I gorged on pasta the night before (somebody told me that athletes are supposed to do that). Yes, guilt free comfort food. Then I got up super early in the morning. Then we drove there. You are probably yawning by now so I will try and condense this a bit more. I checked in and was handed a bag. Numbers were drawn on my hands. I strutted around hoping people would notice I had numbers on my hands. I secretly wondered if anybody would think I looked "athletic". I noticed that there were quite a few "buff" looking people around. Then I began to get a bit nervous thinking that I probably don't look all that buff, but was still really excited.
I waited around for untold hours for the safety meeting to start - ok an hour or two. I hung out with my patient husband, Sock Fashion Expert, Moonbeam and Super Catman. They made up my fan club and cheering team, though none of cared to have my autograph. A bunch of people talked about the swim and safety. Eric Rigeway (the founder of the swim) talked a little. He seemed like a decent guy.
We loaded onto hot buses three to a seat. I tried to make conversation with "the other athletes", but none of them seemed all that talkative. One large lady kept saying "Oh I'm not in very good shape. I probably won't swim all that well." I said some kind words, but secretly was a little relieved that maybe I would at least come in ahead of her.
When we got there, there were bodies everywhere. I put my stuff into a garbage bag with my special number written on it that went into the back of an army truck. Then I stealthily made my way out to a rocky side area where some buff looking people were hanging out. Casually, I tried making conversation with them. It was their "first time". I was relieved until they told me that they had just completed a triathlon. I watched a pair of flip flops floating around that someone had abandoned and fooled around with my goggles and swim cap. Nobody else seemed quite that obsessed and fixated with their goggles and swim cap.
Suddenly I heard the count down and the next thing I knew, I was off swimming. Before long I noticed my family waving and taking pictures. I waved alot and acted a bit like a ham. Ok I acted a lot like a ham. Then I had a worried thought that a kayaker would mistake my waves for distress signals. A horrible embarrassing scenario unfolded in my brain. After that I tried hard not to make any eye contact with the safety kayakers. I tried to look like I knew what I was doing (just in case they got any heroic notions).
I didn't get the energy burst I was hoping for. I just kept plugging away and trying to avoid getting kicked in the face. I noticed some people passing me but tried not to focus on it. A couple of times I looked behind me just to make sure there was still a crowd back there. Yeah, I reasoned, I'm wayyyy up there. People will be amazed as I get out of the water. "This was the little house wife with 5 kids whose never done anything athletic before" they whispered to one another. Yes, the volunteers would nod in awe. Then I'd notice a kayaker looking my way and an embarrassing mistake rescue would ensue. Then I would smile big at my family and keep swimming. With my brain so busy, you would think that I would have had a hard time swimming.
At last I got to the end of the race. At the last 1/3 of a mile, I got a cramp and couldn't use my left leg much. I kept moving as best as I could, wary of rescue kayakers. Upon getting out of the water I was expecting to get a low or middle looking number. It was "5**". Ok, so I was at the end of the 2nd third of swimmers...... Yes, 5** swimmers came in ahead of me but around 300 came in after me. I won't find out my time for a few days.
I scarfed down cookies and refreshments and went in search of my cheering team pretending to have been there a while. Then we walked a long way back to our car and celebrated my great victory with Burger King. After that we got groceries at Walmart. Oh I am so sad its over. I was sad it was over before I ever got out of the lake. I had a good time.