Thursday, July 30, 2009

Passive aggressive.... ME?!!!

I had a late night chat with Jay around the fire one night during our last camping trip. Everyone else headed off to bed, so it was just the two of us. Jay has always been more talkative late at night. If she ever decides to get a therapist I hope it is someone with late night hours…. Like a vampire!! LOL!

We talked about lots of serious stuff, then we talked about ‘things that drive us crazy’. It has been a topic that in 20+ years, we have always been able to find something to discuss…. about our jobs, spouses, kids, vehicles, school…. Whatever! I had her laughing at my antics about this installment of “Things that Drive Us Crazy” … about Pepper while we’ve been travelling.

She called me passive aggressive… PaLeez!!

So I told Jay it drives me crazy that Pepper makes travelling so fun. I am almost always the “driver” and Pepper brings all this stuff… library books, her iPod, crochet and cross stitch projects, the newspaper, crossword puzzles, coloring… all kinds of stuff! She even LOOKS more comfortable than I feel. Stretched out and relaxed while I have to concentrate on the road.

One time, we were at her parents and I told her I wanted her to drive home (about an hour trip). I thought I could have fun too. Nope! The book I tried to read made me carsick, the headphones were too loud or too quiet… as soon as they were just right someone would try to talk to me so I had to take them out to hear them. The kids kept needing things that only I could reach….it was awful!!

The next trip we took, Pepper was right into super fun mode in the passenger seat again. I was quietly driving …and sulking. We were going farther this time, out of our normal radio area… so I started scanning the stations looking for something to listen too. I found an old rock and roll station…. I think “Bad Company” was playing. I always liked that band… but Pepper did not. I turned it up a notch or two louder than we usually listen and was singing along when Pepper reached over and turned the volume down to ask me something. I answered and turned the music up again. A minute later, she turned it down again. I turned it back up. BINGO!! I realized this was driving her crazy! She could not read, sew, hear her music or anything else because my singing and music choice was driving her nuts!!

I scanned more stations. We listened to Rap, very old country, a news story about refugees and a fascinating discussion about the future of pork bellies. All just a little louder than I knew her comfort level was. It was AMAZING how much more I enjoyed the drive!! It still makes me smile as I type this! I know… you think I am so mean for behaving this way, and Jay is right… I am a bit passive aggressive, but since I am blogging about this and Pepper reads this blog… I am NEVER going to get away with it again, so I am not ALL bad!!

I was really glad the story made Jay laugh and I hope you smiled a little too. Try this next time you are driving… you will be amazed how smilie it will make you too!! ☺

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

High School Memories part 2

I have blogged about this before but it still amazes me that pretty much everyone survives high school. Looking back and watching many high school kids, I would expect a lot more casualties. I’ve mentioned before that Kiwi did not make the basketball team and Dori was shunned by girls she thought were her friends, but there is a plethora of disappointment that I haven’t hit on that are not uncommon problems.

Dori is a SERIOUSLY dedicated swimmer. She gave up Coke because the coach told her to… she gets up at the butt crack of dawn to be at 5:30 AM practices. She works out until she can’t sit up for dinner because she is so tired. She always stands pool side and cheers for her team mates and really tries to excel. So when she got overlooked as a team captain for this year… it was a tough blow. I have to say, I remember disappointment in high school…. It is NOTHING compared to watching your child go through it.

Skip and Pal are going through a similar situation with their son. He is into hockey. He has been on ice hockey teams since he was little, he shows up for practice with the right attitude, he took private skate lessons to improve his speed, he has always tried very hard. But yesterday, he got cut from his high school team.

Jay is having stress with her high schooler too. He just got a job, a license and a car (actually the ol' family jeep… but he cares for it like it is a brand new sports car right off the lot!!) He got his first paycheck the other day. He called his mom because he thought there must be some mistake… it was a lot less money than he had expected. ‘Tax’ takes on a whole new meaning when you start having to have it deducted from an hourly wage!! On his way home, he was at a left turn light. It turned green, so he went… without seeing a woman trying to “make” the yellow light going straight from the other direction. They collided. His front end was damaged…. His deductible is $500. The police officer that wrote up the report gave both drivers a ticket for reckless driving…. Another $110. That is a lot more than he made in the two weeks he worked!!!

Anyone that tries to sell the idea that high school days are the best years of your life is crazy!! Things get soooo much better after high school! Who would want to ‘top out’ before they are 19 anyway? My high school days were not too bad…. It had horrid moments, but everyone’s does. But since then…. There have been many, many fantastic days… weeks, months and years. Plus there have been moments I will treasure much more than anything high school could ever have been. But still, with all the ways there is in high school to be disappointed, hurt, harmed, horrified, and let down… it really is amazing that most of us do survive! ☺

Monday, July 27, 2009

West Branch

We have been going to lots of different campgrounds this year and I have to say I think my favorite is West Branch. One of our usual favorites in Rifle River was nice but very hilly and this last time we parked near the river where the sites are closer together than I like…. Plus I always miss the exit from the highway so my poor direction sense getting us there frustrates me. We went to one near Michigan Adventures…. Which was nice but VERY mosquito-y. We also went to one in Kalamazoo and if you read my last blog you know we had some issues with the power and the fishing tackle at that one (not to mention the sharp turns!!) I did enjoy the Kal-Haven Bike Trail and would go back there again if the chance came up. This is the second week we are at West branch. The first time we stayed on a non-sewer site (but with ample power) near several paths that were nice to take Carmel for walks in. This time we are on a sewer site with very friendly neighbors. They already provided me lots of advice about how to connect my hoses…. How to level the trailer….. etc. But that is very common when someone new pulls in. Our other Neighbor (beside J. and her family) has several small kids. We watched as they worked on taking the training wheels off the bikes… they were cute and it brought back memories of my own kids learning to ride a two-wheeler. Since we only have 2 kids with us this trip (Pete and Macy are at church camp) things on our site seem eerily quiet!

West Branch is nice because the campground seems quieter than the usual places we go. There are not as many amenities that attract small children and young families (like miniature golf, paddle boats and karaoke nights) but there is a beach and a pool and lots of places to walk. The roads around this campground are relatively flat, paved and not real busy so they are good for bike riding. There is also an outlet mall, grocery store, ice cream shop, pharmacy, decent restaurant selections and a library with free wi-fi… so it is a nice community for visiting when we want to head out of the campground for a bit. J and her family have actually stayed here for most of July and they are still happy here, so that is quite positive.

We’ve had a nice variety of places to camp this year. The kids have also done church camp, we have a canoe trip coming up, another trip to Rifle River (hoping it is a warmer week and we can actually get out on the river), Dad D and Dad B are taking the kids to Pennsylvania for the annual ‘roughing it’ trip to Camp Touch-me-not. (In tents with no electricity and no water) Pepper and I are passing on THAT trip this year—I just really like to flush!!

Its been a nice summer…. One I will remember for a long time. ☺

Friday, July 24, 2009

The Quick Camping Trip

Well, our quick trip with Dori’s boyfriend and family did not start out in the best of ways. Taking turns too sharply is not recommended when driving a fifth wheel…. It is hazardous for the rear window. We were looking for a spot to park in the campground and ended up on a road that was a dead-end. While trying to turn around I mentioned to Dori to keep an eye on the back window… as she asked “Watch it for what?” the corner of the fifth wheel went through the back window and the whole thing shattered! As shards of glass could be heard dropping into the truck bed we went and found a spot that seemed to meet our needs. Near the park… not to far from the showers…. And lots of space for the tent we wanted to set up beside the trailer.

I backed into the spot…. Much easier to do when you don’t have to worry about the turn radius since I no longer had a window!!! We started unhitching and setting things up when we realized that not only was there NOT a 30 amp plug… the only 20 amp plug was one we had to share with our neighbors…. Who had more lights on their little pop-up than most city airports used!! Pepper was not too pleased about the light situation but since she knew that I was in no mood to move to another site (with glass shards still pinging into the truck bed) she just pouted a bit silently. For the whole trip we could not use lights and the microwave at the same time…. Luckily the next door neighbors could light up their whole site and ours with their light decorations!! Pete asked why the neighbors could use so much power when we had so little and the only response I could come up with was that they were there first.

Once we were all settled and I was about to start making dinner, Macy noticed Carmel had something hanging in her fur. It was… a fishhook. One of those flies with actually 3 hooks welded together. Digging through her long fur to see what the hook was attached to was not fun. Plus, Ned’s (Dori’s boyfriend) mother is terrified of dogs but she has a medical background so she really wanted to try to help… without being anywhere near the dog. She went off in search of wire cutters and the kids and I tried to hold Carmel down to use scissors to trim around the area to see what was going on with the hook. One of the hooks was definitely through her skin and was bleeding. It was quite traumatic for me, the dog, the kids and Ned’s Mom… and the neighbors that came over to watch the whole scenario! But, we finally did get the hook out, cleaned the wound, checked for any more fishing equipment around the campsite, started dinner and called the insurance company about the broken window.

I said to Ned’s mom that all this excitement usually did not happen within 20 minutes of arriving at camp…. She told me she was impressed with how well I handled the situation and the stress and that she was having a good time…. Of course she had yet to taste my cooking!! LOL!
BTW… things only went UP from there. We had a great time and any other problems during the trip were minor and were far outweighed by laughter and fun ☺

Tuesday, July 21, 2009


Yesterday was my youngest sister’s 36th birthday. So I thought I would write a story about when we were kids. I thought of one my favorites… it always amuses me. My parents were having a card party at our house and while they sat in the kitchen and played cards, my two sisters and I watched TV in the living room. The living room had a very old piano in it. On this particular day, my mother must have moved the piano to vacuum under it because I could see some kind of cord sticking out from underneath it. I was probably about 8 at the time and went over to examine the cord. Now my adult brain now recalls that it was an ancient, frayed cord that had not even seen BAD days in a long time… but my 8 year old brain just saw a plug…. That SOMEONE ELSE should plug in! What else are 2 year old sisters for?! So I did what any good big sister would do, I called her over and dared her to plug it into the handy-dandy wall outlet that was just within reach. She did what any loving, trusting little sister would do. She picked it up and plugged it into the wall.

The growl and then explosion were deafening …. The piano lurched right up from its spot the force was so strong! Apparently the cord was an old blower that was used to blow dust up from inside the piano to clean it….. when my Grandmother was a child!! The frayed cord sent a shock through to my sister’s little polyester night gown and put a huge hole right through the majority of the front of it so her cute little Strawberry shortcake undies were clearly visible. Her face was also covered in black dust that must have been inside the piano for years. It seemed like slow motion but that big dust cloud billowed and drifted right out of the living room and toward my parents in the kitchen. It did not take very long before all the grown ups came running. Now I am sure my sister was as momentarily deafened as I was from the loud sound and probably in shock from the event but as soon as she saw my parents and their expressions of concern (when they saw her wide eyed dirt covered face and nightgownless little belly) she turned the waterworks on and started crying like a pro. She was only 2 ½ but she knew how to stay out of trouble! Of course all eyes then turn to me for an explanation as I sat there trying to look innocent….. a hard role for me to play even back then!!

No one was hurt and Dad cut the cord off the piano so that would not happen again. The funniest thing was a few nights later, I dared my little sister to do something else….. she did that too!!


Thursday, July 16, 2009

Camp Friends

On the way home from our camping trip, Macy asked how little people become little. Pepper and I knew what she was talking about because we had both noticed a family at the campground with several eclectic kids. The parents were in their late 50’s or so, with two daughters that were ‘little’ , two African-American sons and three daughters that were in their teens but seemed VERY street-wise. Macy said that she had spent lots of time with the family while we were camping and they all told her that they were a “made” family. They said that their parents only picked the most special kids to be in it.

Pepper and I kept running into the girls in the bathroom… always doing their hair and make-up…. Early in the morning, in the middle of the day and late into the evening… they looked like they were constantly getting ready for prom! One morning Pepper and I walked in and both smiled at what we both thought was a very young child. When we realized it was a teen… and she did not look amused to be given a “aren’t-you-a-cute-little-girl” grin we discussed that neither of us knew how to respond in the situation. Since we both work with kids with all kinds of special needs all the time we felt comfortable with most people it was an unusual reaction. So when Macy asked about little people we knew why it was on her mind.

She asked if the girl had been sick as a baby or caught a disease. Or if it was something she got from her parents. We told her that we did not think it was an illness or anything her parents did. We compared it to being born with blue eyes or dark skin. We paused for a minute waiting for her to ask another question. She said, “Their names are Rebecca and Sara… I asked them to play basketball. They told me that no one had EVER asked them to play before… probably because they are short. But they were really good. We made a good team. I hope they are there at the camp again when we go back.”

I have great kids!! ☺

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Shhh.... I am having an affair

Lots of really good relationships include a little unfaithfulness. Mine is no exception, I guess. Pepper gets upset with me when it is more obvious, like here on our camping trip or whenever my other love is unavailable to me. Since my friends, family and people who know Pepper and I read this blog, I imagine they are probably wide eyed with mouths gaping right now… because I am so open and honest about this character flaw. One of my best traits (in my opinion) is my openness and honesty.

I love pepper and the kids very, very much. I think the fact that I have been here with my family in good times and bad for more than 20 years proves it. But sometimes, that just isn’t enough, ya’know. A little escape is needed…. Some people drink, gamble, carouse, cheat, lie, steal… I’ve even known of a few people that do a lot of those things…. In the same night! Well, I am a wuss. I can’t afford to drink or gamble and I am a crappy liar and my thieving skills, well, lets just say it’s not worth the risk.

My other love is named Wi-fi!! J was teasing me the other night because she said 5 years ago I had never even heard of it! Maybe so, but I know about it now!! My Wi-FI, ahhhh…. I love Facebook. What the heck is so darn addicting about those status updates anyway? Why do I care that some friend I haven’t seen since high school is taking her kids to the zoo or some co-worker is headed to lunch with his mother-in-law?!! But I do! I love Scrabble. I love my little farm that I tend to every morning and the cars I park every evening. I love checking out people’s pictures and the comments my friends make to other people. Amazingly, a lot of the people I barely knew I have learned a lot about simply by keeping up with Facebook. Another fact, a lot of people I know just as a teacher or neighbor… are darn funny and have a lot of common interests with me.

There is also gmail chat. It is much faster and reliable than Facebook…. Although Skip seems to like FB chat more. Plus my Blog, who knew I would love keeping a blog as much as I do? …. And other people’s Blog’s…. I do love to keep up with them too. I am so glad Megamom taught me about blogs!!

There was a Facebook button I read once that said…. “I love my computer because all my friends live there.” I know exactly how they feel!! :)

Monday, July 13, 2009


I had her name picked out before I even decided to get her. I was in a little drug store that sold beanie babies. I had to wait for a prescription, so I was looking through all of the names the little animals had. The names were so clever… like Freckles the giraffe and Bubbles the goldfish. But the cutest one was Carmel the little Golden Retriever. The little Beanie Baby was the exact color of caramel candy… it was a perfect name!

We had gotten a retriever mix dog from the rescue place and that fellow lives with us for about 3 years. The problem with that dog (BJ)… was he loved to run away. He could actually put his paws in the holes of our chain link fence and jump right over it!! I cannot tell you how many times we all ran, bike rode and drove around our neighborhood trying to convince BJ to come home. He loved being followed and he loved us chasing after him. He also loved car rides so me following him around in my truck was just the cherry on top for BJ!! Well, the last time the dog catcher caught him before we did. The humane society called us and said that they caught him and did we want to come get him because another family there already wanted to adopt him. We said they could have him…. And we hoped they had a wooden fence around their yard. A few months later I saw that golden retriever pups were for sale in a neighboring town. I had the name….. we were off to pick the pup.

Carmel was a good puppy… mainly because it did not eat MY stuff. She did love to nibble on the kids shoes (only one of each pair though) and on all the edges of Pepper’s library books! Carmel also liked nibbling out the eyes of all stuffed animals and all the zippers in everyone’s coats. Yep… Goldens are known for nibbling!!! We had only had her about 5 months when she started acting very sick. A trip to the vet and we found out that all of the stuffing from her bed and several of the kids toys were entangled in her intestines, but not before lots of medical investigations…The vet said an x-ray would be $100, then for infection.. meds were $300, exploratory surgery $600, actual surgery procedure $1200. Ouch! I was not such a big Carmel fan now, even though I was the only member of my family in the waiting room with 2 intact shoes. It is hard not to keep agreeing to pay for more and more medical procedures when the pup is so darn cute and the kids are there with tears in their eyes.

After that Carmel cut way back on the stuffing in her diet (probably because we just never replaced the stuffed animals that she ate!) I have to say, she has always been great with our kids. She let baby Dill crawl all over her, and let little Pete be dragged down the street on her leash. She loves to camp with us… always the first one to jump into the car when she noticed we are packing. A year ago she hurt her hip and could not get up the stairs. For about a month she couldn’t get down the stairs on her own so Pepper and I did a lot of dog lifting because she refused to pee on the newspaper we left her in the kitchen. She moves much better now… running and trying to keep up with the kids on hikes. She and Dill were just running through an apple orchard together. Carmel looks so happy it is almost like she is a pup again. Dill does not remember a time before Carmel.

This summer, before she could go camping with us she needed another rabies shot. The vet looked her over and said she looked remarkably well. He noticed a little growth in her eye and said it was a melanoma. He removed it in the office but said that Goldens carry cancer at a rate over 100 times that of a human. Looking at her, he said she would probably live 1-2 more years.

I told the kids what the vet said. They told me they did not know what to do. I said no one can know when something will be gone but that knowing what the vet is guessing will help us to appreciate her while she is here.

We are camping now. Her hip is fully healed. I know this because Carmel made a running jump into the back seat of my truck to make sure she was not left behind. She has not eaten stuffed animals or coat zippers in several years…. But we still keep them away from her… why tempt fate?! All the kids have two intact shoes nowadays… so her diet has improved. She does attract attention. A little boy was riding his tricycle past our campsite this morning and said, “Look Daddy, a LION!!” And a woman walking a little yippie dog said, “What a nice big, old girl!” (I was glad she wasn’t talking about me!!) Yep... we all love our Carmel girl.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Kid Update...

Dori is off to Yosemite. She was very excited to get to take a plane all the way to California. It is her first time flying. She went with her church group on a pilgrimage for 10 days. Hiking, site seeing, lots of activities planned... I can't wait to hear what a great time she has. I hope she takes lots of pictures!! btw.... she was excited to go EVEN knowing she would have NO phone, NO TV, NO internet.... and it would be very outdoorsy. I am very proud that she is so willing to try new things. She really is growing up.

Talked to Kiwi.... she is settling in at home in Germany. She is bored because lots of her friends are still in school and I guess it is raining a lot there. Hard to believe because it is so sunny and nice here every day. She sent Pete a package for his birthday. He beamed when he saw who it was from. He wants to send her the toothbrush she forgot. I think he was worried that they didn't sell them in Germany!! (In his defense, Kiwi did talk a lot about what things were not available in Germany... like Mountain Dew and Kraft Mac and Cheese)

Went to the library today with Pepper, Macy, Pete and Dill..... the kids got joke and riddle books. As a teacher I see the benefit of getting kids interested in reading... but driving home was challenging. How many times can three kids continually say "Mom, Mom, you gotta hear this one!!" No, really, I don't. Doesn't anyone write NEW joke books for kids anymore? The Garfield joke book that Dill was reading was available when I was in elementary school! And seriously... the chicken crossed the road ones and the "orange ya glad I didn't say banana" ... I think cavemen invented those!

Just to share the wealth... Why did the girl put sugar on her pillow? She wanted to have sweet dreams.

Told you they were oldies!! :)

Friday, July 3, 2009


Ok.... that is not my butt. If it was I probably wouldn't mind the backache and butt-ache I have so much!! It is amazing what pictures you can get off of Google Images!

I do not know what I did, but my back is killing me!! I have been to the chiropractor twice and have another appointment on Monday. I've been icing, heating, rubbing, stretching, resting, walking, sitting, standing.... still painful. I have taken motrin, Advil PM, vicodin and am seriously considering muscle relaxants. Getting out of the passenger side of the car is pure torture!

Pepper has been wonderful... patient with my crabbiness, picking up all the things I drop, getting me drinks and medications... helping me put the ice pack and the heating pad in the right place. Plus she called Dad D and Dad B and had all the kids go to their house for a Monopoly tournament... so it is nice a quiet here. :)

Almost time for more Advil... and some ice cream... :)