Thursday, August 27, 2009

Tubing on the river

My children are already asking me to go ‘tubing’ with them. It is August so it is pretty warm…. Although the temperature was 48 degrees last night…. Brrr!! It is really not a difficult sport. The object is to get your butt balanced in an inner tube and float down the river at a leisurely pace. The most strenuous part really is watching the bank until you see the path that will lead you to the truck you parked (without going past it!) and climbing up the river bank carrying the inner tube and any other stuff that needs to come along too. (like the cooler, the sun block, the bug spray, the children’s inner tubes, their empty water bottles, their shoes, sunglasses, etc…. )

Between the hauling of the tubes to the river and that last, most strenuous part is the real joy of tubing. First, there is making sure everyone has a tube and can get on it. (It is very embarrassing when you aim your butt for the tube hole, miss and end up soaked up to your neck! … yes, that has happened to me. I try for the “I meant to do that” expression, but I don’t think anyone buys it) Then there is tying the tubes together so they float down the river as a group and no one gets left behind. With this, there is also the consideration of making sure that the kids are separated enough…. J gives them all paddles to help “push off the sides” but I think the oars are more for splashing then for any real functional purpose.

So, off we go. A lot of tubes floating at a really slow pace. Four adults and a whole lot of kids. The adults are trying to adjust their butts in the tube (dragging butt on river bottom= no fun!) The kids are all trying to thwack each other with their oars singing “99 bottles of pop on the wall”…. Oh, the joy!!

Going down the river to where the truck has been parked takes about two hours. However, that is going straight down the river without stopping. There are 2 problems here. First, we never go “straight” down the river in our tubes…. We zig zag. Just like a sailboat fighting a headwind, we bounce off one bank and zip across the river to bounce off the other one. The second problem is we stop. We stop to look at fish. We stop to see how deep the water is. We stop to let someone pee. We stop for a splash fight. We stop to switch tubes. We stop to see flowers, turtles, bugs, whatever else there might be there to see. After 4 hours of this cursed “relaxing” I am looking for the truck…. Any truck. I want out.

By this point, my sunblock has worn off so the parts out of the water are burnt and hot, the parts in the water are cold and getting wrinkled and pruny. My beverage is long gone, the bugs are biting and buzzing. I have been splashed and bounced off too many banks and my tube has gone under too many low hanging branches…. Many with big spider webs… ick.. I am starting to notice that the air in my tube does not seem to be as full as it was at the beginning of the trip and I fear I may be riding on the mini-titanic. We round a bend and the kids all start to cheer. I perk up, straining in the distance to see the bank we are approaching. I am expecting to see my beloved Chevy 4X4 Pick up truck. Instead, I see a rope dangling from a tree.

The kids all love this rope. For them, this is the highlight of the trip. They climb the tree, swing out over the river and they are instant Tarzans and Janes. Silently, I wonder how no parent has yet tied a noose in the end of that rope and ended all this suffering!!

Being the loving parent and good sport that I am…. I cheer as each child climbs the tree and swings out. I encourage the kids to take turns and I laugh with the other parents about how skilled the kids are. Meanwhile…. I try to find a little shade for my hot spots and a little warm breeze for my cold ones. I wonder silently if my butt cheeks will ever feel normal again. The only thing worse than having to stand in this 8 inches of water is knowing that I will have to remount that horrid tube again.

Well, summer is ending and I have once again survived ‘tubing’ season. I will always treasure the memories I have of seeing the kids having so much fun on the river. This may surprise you after reading this…. But when they ask me again next year if I will take them tubing…. And you know they will…. I’m gonna volunteer Pepper!! ☺

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Treasure Hunt

Our family is on our last camping trip before school starts in a couple weeks. Skip and Pepper have gone off to the store leaving me in charge of the kids. Since Macy is still sleeping (and I will not wake the bear!!) and the boys went off to the camp treasure hunt I poured myself a cup of coffee and got comfy in my camp chair. The campground we are staying at has a staff of a couple college kids that come up with activities during the day to help keep the youngest campers happy. They play water games and basketball with the kids, do crafts and nature walks… it is usually quite a variety of things.

I am not liking the treasure hunt thing though!! For most of the activities the college kids keep the kids in a contained area and do things with them. For the treasure hunt the college leaders simply hand each pair of kids a piece of paper and yell, “Go!!” On this paper are things like ‘paper clip’, ‘staple’, ‘Map’, ‘gum’, ‘ribbon’, ‘band-aid’, ‘something green’ …… and about 20 other things.

So here is what happens after the college kids yell, “Go!”. They sit down and have a nice conversation or turn on their iPod’s or take a nap and wait for the kids to come back with all their things. Meanwhile, hordes of kids come barreling back towards us unsuspecting parents yelling, “Mom, I need a BAND-AID, receipt, a map, a bottle of glue, a pencil, a staple and a piece of gum….. HURRY!!!”

“HUH?” I really hadn’t heard past BAND-AID and wonder who and what is injured. Pete quickly explains his list and all the things he needs and I am cursing to myself thinking that when the schedule said “Treasure Hunt” I did not realize it was MY treasures the kids would need to acquire!! So I set my coffee down, get up from my comfy chair and try to help the kids locate all the things they need. Teens from another camp come over and try to help find things on the list….. things are as busy as a bee hive in my camper and it is spinning out of control. Finally, the kids decide that they have pillaged as much as they could from our camper and all move on in search of the few remaining items.

They were like a little cluster of locust zipping through Charles Ingalls wheat field…. They left ruin in their wake. The first aid kit is spilled all over the floor, books are mangled trying to get staples out of them, no drawer is closed, and every cupboard is open…. I am in shock, but only for a minute. I know the plot of those damn college kids. They want me to tell my kids that they can’t go to the next activity (water games) because they have to clean up the huge mess they made. Thus giving them ANOTHER hour of free time to listen to their iPods and nap…. I don’t think so, my young friends…. Put on your bathing suits, prepare for the little horde of locust….. I will clean the mess you caused…. My children are coming your way and I may give them each two candy bars and a tablespoon of sugar before they get there!!! ☺

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

My Favorite Carmel Pix

This is my favorite Carmel picture of all time. It has been on our refrigerator since I took it in 2006. My children all handled the news of Carmel's terminal illness differently.... but pretty much the way I would have expected. Dori asked… Can my boyfriend come? Macy wanted to know if Carmel would be listed in the obituaries. Pete was worried about the trip to the vet and he wanted to know if her eyes close by themselves. (I had no idea!!) And Pete asked "Can we get a new dog?"

As we told the kids the news Macy and Pete cried. Dill just stood there, a little overwhelmed. He heard the news but he did not know what to think. At one point, he looked at Pepper and I and said, "I think I will cry after." Sometimes I forget that the little guy is only 7. We all did cry at the vet's. It was not an easy thing to do on any level. And leaving her there in the room alone knowing I will never bring her back to the house was heartbreaking for me. We kept the kids busy the rest of the day. I actually found it exhausting to just be normal. Curling into a ball on my bed was in the fore front of my mind most of the day. The kids were exhausted and went to bed pretty early for a warm summer night. I guess we really did wear them out. I did not realize how hard just going to bed was going to be for me. Every night the last thing I do is feed the dog. Yes, it should be a kid chore but honestly it was one of those things that was just easier to do myself then follow behind to make sure the assigned kid actually did it. Last night I actually reached for Carmel's bowl before I realized I did not need to.

Looking at Carmel's empty bowl reminded me of her last meal. All of us were guilty. Carmel had cheese crackers, peanut butter bread, pizza rolls, several slices of salami, sausage and scrambled eggs with cheese. She was in heaven before she left our kitchen. This picture will be on our refrigerator for a long time to come. Good bye Carmel. 6/2001-8/18/2009

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Whatcha wanna do?

Our two oldest are trying to get organized enough to go see a scary movie (Orphan) and even with our help are struggling. It reminds me when I was a kid and my best friend Oskar and I could spend many lazy summer hours asking each other, "Whatcha wanna do?" and the other would answer, "I don't know.... whatcha wanna do?" It would drive my mother nuts to listen to us!!

Speaking of "Whatcha wanna do?".... we just heard from Dad B and Dad D. They have been in Pennsylvania with the three youngest kids for the weekend. There is no running water, no electricity and no real shelter.... besides their tent. Dad D is trying to get everyone packed so they can get started on the 7+ hour trip home and Dad B (NOT the outdoorsman of the family) sent a slightly whiny text saying all he wants is his bathtub!! I can relate... I'd be missing my flush toilet by this point of the weekend. (Pepper and I have gone on this trip in the past, but now that the kids are older we have enjoyed that it has become a Dad event... we hit the trips that include room service!!) We know what we DON'T wanna do!! :D

We have told none of our weekend warriors about Carmel yet. She is at home and doing better on her meds, but she does not feel well. It is obvious in her behavior. There is nothing the guys or the kids can do and we do want them to have fun... well as much as you can have without indoor plumbing...

Friday, August 14, 2009

100th Post.... Carmel Girl

Well, I was debating about making my 100th post some cool contest or scavenger hunt type thing.... but fate has a way of changing things. Our dog, Carmel has not been eating well for the last day or two. At first I thought it was because it was too hot to eat. Then she threw up on the couch and refused 'people' food... which she never does. She threw up two more times this morning so we made a vet appointment.

The appointment was not pleasant. I know that crying women do not impress doctors. They stop giving facts and information if the patients family starts to cry. They can't help it... they do not want to cause more pain and they are only human. Looking at Carmel as the vet talked about cancer masses and massive bleeding, I knew I was not going to be able to handle the situation. I called Pepper at home as soon as the first x-ray indicated that there was probably a problem. She was in the room with me by the time the doctor came back with the second x-ray.

The second x-ray showed a huge mass in her abdomen. The vet was explaining that her intestines were being pushed out of the way because of tumors, she was bleeding internally and whenever I looked at Carmel she wagged her tail. How the hell could I not cry?

The doctor said we could get an MRI to verify.... which included a 3 hour drive to a vet that specialized in reading dog MRI's. He did not think the finding would reveal any new information. He said he could do exploratory surgery... but he let us know that there was a great possibility that she would die on the table. And healing would be difficult. He could just take a 'peek' but he did not think that anything he found would be treatable.

We asked if she was in pain. He said yes, she was. She would be having a great deal of abdomen pain and the bleeding was only getting worse. I could tell that just by looking in Carmel's eyes.

I knew the vet was preparing to tell us about putting Carmel to sleep. I love this vet and I know he cares about Carmel and would not want to let her suffer. Several thoughts were running through my head....

Our kids are out of town with their Dads for the weekend. Coming home to Carmel being just gone would be very hard on them. They would want a chance to say good-bye. The MRI or the 'peek' would not really help. The cancer is too bad... she would never really get well. Exploratory surgery may give the vet more information and could tell us what was going on, but if she died on the table it would mean that "surgery" is a scary thing, and that is not what I want my kids to think.

We asked if we could keep Carmel comfortable until the kids were home and had a chance to say good-bye. He said yes, absolutely. We made an appointment for Tuesday. There were questions about keeping her ashes or an imprint of her paw. Lots of things to think about. As the vet left the room, he leaned over and started petting Carmel. He said, "Goldens have such a great personality and are so beautiful... but so many of them get cancer."

Carmel has been the best dog ever. For over eight years she has been an important part of our family and I am so glad for that. Tuesday will not be an easy day for any of us... please keep our family in your thoughts and prayers. :)

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Number 99

Ok... this is my 99th post. The 100th one is supposed to be a big deal So, I am hoping my readers will make this one special for me. I would like more followers. I know more people read this blog, because they tell me. It is not difficult to become a follower and there is no 'pinky swear allegiance' or 'blood oath' involved. It is very easy. Just click on Follow and type in your email address. That allows you to make comments on my blog.... which anyone who has a blog will say is nice to get. If you are not a follower yet.... just do it! If you are a follower, thank you. See you for the 100th post!!

PS.... thanks Fresh!!



We have had these friends for a long time. I think we’ve known them for about 12 years. We did not start out as friends. L and I did not understand each other at all. She did not get my sense of humor and I did not get the way she seemed to say everything she thought… before she really seemed to process it. She made a comment about letting our children come to a retreat that our theater group was having because the water would be too accessible. She said it in a way that made me think she meant we did not watch our kids close enough. We skipped the retreat for the next two years because of the comment (and scheduling issues). A different issue came up between Dad B and L and the retreat issue was mentioned. L was shocked. She did not realize her comment had hurt Pepper and I so much.

A few years later, J&L bought property on the lake that our group always met for their retreat. The annual event has been held at their lake house ever since. We almost always go. Not only do we go for the retreat but L calls every summer… at least once and invites just our family for dinner. We always fit in a day at their lake every summer. A few weeks ago we went by their street on the way to Hell with Megamom and family. The kids recognized the street and nearly accosted Pepper and I asking when we could see J&L. (They actually yelled, “Turn, turn here, Mom!!” as we passed by their street on our way home from Hell)

L called and we headed over for dinner this week. I always ask what we can bring and she always says, “Nothing, I thought we’d order pizza at the place up the street. It is really good pizza. We can just split the cost.” When we get there she is always cooking some great dish…. It is never pizza!

I was helping her in the kitchen (I brought watermelon to ‘go with’ the pizza!) and I told her the dinner smelled really good. Then I added, “but it doesn’t smell like pizza! Am I ever gonna get that pizza?” She looked at me and said she really thought I’d like the meal she was making more than pizza. I told her I would but I was still waiting for pizza. She stopped and just looked at me a minute. I smiled and said, “I wouldn’t tease you if I didn’t love you.” She smiled and then shook her head, saying, “I know that now, but it took awhile.”

I guess I am an acquired taste… ☺

Saturday, August 8, 2009

The treats

The kids are all away from home tonight. The two oldest are at camp and the other three are at their Dad's. Pepper and I ran some errands today... the Farmer's market and grocery store mainly. I knew we bought some 'treats' at the store and Pepper put them away. Tonight I opened the freezer looking for the treats and I did not see them anywhere!! I knew the kids weren't there so my first thought was that they were still in the car... in August, ugh!! I asked Pepper if we forgot to bring them in. She said, "Nope, I brought them in. They are in the freezer." I told her I had looked and didn't see them. She walked over, moved a bunch of stuff on the bottom shelf and ta-da, treats!!!

I said, "I didn't even see them in there!"

She said, "The kids would find these fast in here.... I hide the good stuff under the vegetables... they never look there!!"

"Smart," I said, "Hey, where do you hide stuff from me?"

She just smiled.

Hmmm..... :)

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Its A Small World

Today is the big day.... our newest daughter comes to stay with us. She does not have a blog name yet, but she is from Norway. We spent the day yesterday cleaning, much to the kids chagrin! I remember when Kiwi first walked into the house last year... Macy's first words were, "Look around, it will never be this clean again!" (BTW... that wasn't true-- we cleaned really well when Kiwi's parents came to visit too!!!)

Yesterday, besides cleaning I also got to video talk to Kiwi on Skype for 30 minutes, tell our new Norweigen daughter Good Night on Facebook (she was on a layover in Washington) and talk on the phone to Nurse Sue who was celebrating her birthday in Hawaii!! The world is getting smaller!!

Well, better get ready to head to the airport. I am getting really good at navigating around that place.... considering I never go anywhere!!! LOL!

Monday, August 3, 2009

Picnic Time

This weekend I went on two picnics with friends and family and I forgot how much I enjoyed them. The first was for our church canoe trip. This was the first year that I stayed relatively dry. I usually end up flipping the boat in rapids or somehow getting dumped out. Uncle K and Dad D were also there so all the kids went in their boats. That left Pepper and I alone in our own canoe. Not having the kids in the boat may have contributed to the ‘dryness’ factor! I also watched Skip and modified my steering to more of what she was doing. (I am not great at steering, but Pepper doesn’t like to do it either) I think Pepper likes me to steer just so she can tell everyone later that she thinks I did not really do my fair share of paddling!! The picnic afterward was very nice. Hot dogs, taco salad, desserts, lots of friends from church chatting about how enjoyable the canoe trip was. It was a very nice day.

The second picnic was Sunday. We picked up pizza right after church and headed over to the park to meet Megamom and her kids. The kids played nicely together at the playground area and we all held onto our plates because the wind kept picking up. Once the kids were all tired of playing on the swings we all piled into the cars and drove to Hell, Michigan. Megamom’s oldest daughter and friend from Ohio had never been there, so… we got to go to Hell!! Had ice cream, looked at everything in the gift shop and walked over to play by the river. Everyone had a great time there too. The boys feel asleep on the way home… so did Pepper. ☺