Thursday, November 19, 2009

The Great Family Camping Adventure...pt2 (finally)

It's the moment you've all been waiting for! (maybe) (I have been anyway).

As you may have noticed I've been gone for a while. I'm easily distracted. And I don't really like to type. But I do like to yabber incessantly to no one in particular and blogging makes that sooo easy. I suppose it would be easier if I could just let everyone hear the ramblings in my head. Then I wouldn't forget them by the time I got to paper and I wouldn't have to type. Of course, then I may be sedated and locked away somewhere, or else have no friends at all, because I'm a nutter. So maybe it's best that I just improve my typing skills.... moving on....

In case you have forgotten, our story left off with me, the non-camper, insisting that we will be camping, we will do it in our own front yard, and we will like it too, dag nabbit! (Here is part one, in case you need a refresher.)

the tiny white and black speck is my 'dog' Poppy

Was I totally mad!? I hate tent camping. I haven't gone in 12 years, we have no airbed to make the ground more bearable and the mosquitoes in our yard will pick you up and carry you back to feed their horrible little bloodsucking babies like some tiny Jurassic vampiric monsters. After drenching ourselves in bug spray and still being eaten I was seriously considering calling it quits. Or investing in something with lots of DEET. (I restrained myself on both accounts.)

We begin setting up camp in the meadow (aka "front yard"), the 2 older children helping Papa set up the tents while the 2 younger ones entertained themselves. I think I just milled around and took pictures for the most part. I don't remember being at all helpful. I do remember being obsessed with the horrible little bugs.

We brought much of the camp gear to our site and got set up for the night. All of the children were in the large tent with us the 1st night (it had started to rain at one point so we just threw all the junk in the little tent before we got to finish organizing it.) It was a little crowded and a little annoying with all the giggling going on on the other side of the tent.

After we set up our tiny little patio fire pit in the meadow and lit our campfire. We cooked a traditional cruddy family camping dinner of hot dogs and s'mores over our little fire and by the end of the 1st night the girls were smiling and enjoying their treats. And as a bonus, I get to pee in a real toilet, in a clean, familiar bathroom. We did not, however, shower until we 'got home' from our trip. We also didn't let the kids stay inside the house. Oh, they tried to convince a couple of times to let them watch a DVD,

"No, we're camping. We don't have TV."

"No, you can't use the laptop, we're camping an we didn't bring it."

This resulted in lots of tree climbing. Surprisingly, the baby went to sleep easily and even the girls didn't stay awake all night fighting.

Early in the morning (like 3am early) I awoke and was again filled with appreciation for the 'stay' part of our camping 'staycation'. It was just so nice not to have to stumble down an unfamiliar, most likely booby trapped, little path in the dark dead of night trying to find the nasty latrine. That horribly unpleasant place where, by this time of night, I'd probably have to wait my turn. I'd be right after the gargantuan hairy spider that's using the seat first.

The local coyotes have quieted down, the neighbors chickens are still asleep, but somewhere down the road, presumably on the outskirts of our little town, someone has a cow. This cow is hollerin' at 3 o'clock in the morning. What's up with that? As I drift back to sleep on the uncomfortable ground (despite the huge pile of cushions Gabe has found for me) the cow is still mooing. And at 5am when the chickens wake, the cow is still mooing.

Day 2
Our first camp breakfast is pancakes cooked on the little camp stove. We realize that we didn't pack a bowl to mix them in and lucky us!, we don't have to try to borrow one or buy one somewhere. 'Cause we're in our front yard. Awesome.

Breakfast was delicious. Gabe has packed a library book about tying knots, and a bit of rope. Despite my concerns he taught the girls a few of the knots that he's learned. Thankfully, he refrained from teaching them the hangman's knot. Even though they pleaded. (Twisted little monkeys)

I have been talking about a cute little garden canopy that I hoped Gabe would build for me for a couple of years. It's a simple thing, just a pretty bit of fabric and some poles. While I don't have the fabric yet, we do have the poles and an old sheet. Gabe wants to practice some knots he's learned so he finally agrees to build one for me. Just for practice. The poles come from some of the trees that we cleared from the yard, a fraction of the number that need to be cleared. But it's a start.

He had piled them up near an old crate in our garden area and when he began to move them this is what he found...

A hornets nest the size of a dodge ball. And he kinda annoyed them. Thankfully, we have a friend in pest control who offered to take care of it for us. (It was kinda funny watching him . We were safe in the house while he slowly, ever so gently, placed his applicator under the nest, gave it a quick pump of the poison and ran like the blazes to his truck and took off. He did get hit a couple times but I guess he's used to it.) A couple days later Gabe was able to remove the nest and all that was left was a sad little pile of perished pests.

Gabe spent the next couple of hours setting up the canopy. Perfecting the position, adjusting the knots, anchoring the poles and keeping the girls from falling off his ladder. Other than the brief moments on the ground to eat or help with the canopy, the girls spent most of their time in the trees. They talked Gabe into cutting off bits of his rope for them to practice with too and eventually they had a rope swing in one of the bigger trees.

The weather was calm and warm. It had sprinkled off and on since the night before which helped to discourage the mosquitoes from coming out for most of the weekend. That was a lovely bonus as well.

I had packed a bag with paper, pencils, paint and favorite magazines. I had joined a group of artists in a mail art project making 30 unique postcards to send out, and (hopefully) getting as many in return. (I've received about 21 so far.) I had hoped to be inspired by living out in the woods with the bugs and nature and stuff. After the canopy was up I moved my little table over and pulled out my pencils and chalk. Here is the 1st card I made, while sitting outside in 'the woods' enjoying nature...

For our 2nd nights dinner we made soup on the stove. I have to admit it was lacking something. That doesn't happen very often though. Camp food I guess. We finished off the rest of the homemade graham crackers for our s'mores and retired to bed. It's so much easier to go to bed at a decent hour when you're not tied to electricity. This time the girls were in the little tent. Much better.

Day 3
No one had even mentioned South Dakota. The girls were in the trees again and the oldest was smiling and playing instead of being all serious and moody. We opted for pancakes again, instead of eggs, and I snuck some zucchini in them for good measure. The kids gobbled them up and ran for the trees. Gabe lowered the canopy a bit so the shade wasn't so far from the base.

After lunch we cleaned up and started to break camp. We took down the big tent and packed up most of the gear, leaving the canopy and our small tent for the girls to continue using. It stayed up for another month and a half. By 5pm we were mostly cleaned up and a friend had come over with dinner to share so we didn't' have to cook after an 'extremely exhausting' weekend of camping. (Yes, he knew we stayed home. He offered anyway, who am I to argue?)

We were showered (finally), fed (generously), and had had a wonderful family weekend without distraction. Just us. Together.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Day Off?

I'm having one of those days.

The ones where I don't want to be the mom.

I have a headache, I'm tired and soar in bits, my to do list has barely been touched and my brain has been disengaged all day.

Can someone else please be the mom for a while?

Can someone else please make the dinner? (From scratch of course) Can someone else clean the kitchen and nurse the baby and organize the bulk buys and take care of the dogs at the same time!? I don't feel like vacuuming or paying bills and balancing the check book. I don't feel like dealing with the dirty looks and eye rolls and heavy sighs when I ask for help. (from the kids either) Can someone else "reason" with the kids about why they need to finish their school work or do chores or eat their veggies or not beat each other up? I just don't feel like it right now.

What I really want to do is take a nice hot shower (by myself) to get these knots out. I want to sit on my bum and have a cup of tea (without having 4 little people whining that they want some too, or that it's not fair, or trashing my kitchen when I'm not looking and draining all of my energy.) I want to have the energy and motivation to work in my studio (you know I usually make stuff for you anyway.) And by 'work in my studio' I mean, actually in there. by myself. without a bunch of kids going through my stuff and asking to use it, and asking to see it, and undoing all the organizing I did.

Can I please just not be the mom for a little while. Without feeling guilty about it?

Sunday, October 11, 2009

GROSS!! (This Post Makes Me Wanna Puke)

So we had some cruddy cheese sauce stuff in the fridge and decided we could have some nachos for lunch today. Not the most healthy meal but its fast and the kids dig it. All we needed were some chips. Gabe asked if I wanted him to buy a can of refried beans too since he was going and I said we could have the meal with out beans. We have so many dried pinto beans its ridiculous and I hate to buy more. I should really just cook a big batch and keep it in the freezer for quick(er) meals.

Well Gabe decided to go ahead and buy a can of beans anyway. This can to be specific.

(ugh! I'm getting sick just thinking about it.)

So Gabe opened this can of beans. You know how it is. The beans schlopped out of the can with a little slurping noise and landed in the pot in a perfect can-shaped blob of congealed beanstuffs. That's gross enough as it is. (Can you tell I prefer mine to be made from scratch?)

Then he wandered off and left the can shaped beanish sitting there. So I noticed this and got a nice big spoon out and began smashing the can shape down into some thing more heatable. Once the beanish was all squished down I began to turn it over, you know to stir it up a bit in the heating process. This is what I found hiding in the middle of it:

(insert vomitous gagging noises here)

Now I'm not so squeamish when "they" tell me that packaged food has a certain number of bug parts in it. But that's parts. And I don't have to see them. Oh. My. Gosh. I'm gonna hurl.

Then, Gabe says that we get bugs when we harvest the veggies from our garden. First of all, I wash them off, so they are not in the middle of my meal. And second of all, they aren't flies. Flies are vile poop eating pests. As if I didn't hate them enough already, (just ask my family, I will not rest if there is one in the house. They disgust me) now it's in my food. Or foodish. Another reason to avoid processed food.

Another reason to hate being "poor" and getting half of our groceries from WIC and the food bank. Granted, this was from the general store but we get so much canned, boxed, bagged, processed stuff from them and I just hate it.

I try to be grateful but its hard. I hate this sub-food. We never used to get this stuff. I made all our own cereal and now they think they are being helpful by giving us crappy boxed stuff. It'd be more helpful if they provided oats. Its cheaper and you get more, but they seem to prefer spending more on the junk. They say they want to provide healthy options because we have children then they give us a million cans of "vegetables", canned, powdered, and boxed "milk" and any number of processed wheat stuffs in the form of white bread and a million boxes of mac n cheese and ramen noodles. We are wheat intolerant. Thanks.

Gabe doesn't like 'wasting food' but I stopped using this stuff and asked him to stop picking it up. I will use the dry beans, and the rare bit of fresh produce they offer. Yes, I can find a use for a barrel of apples. Homemade applesauce is much better than the canned stuff they give us. (I didn't even know applesauce came in cans before.) I can use the rice but I don't want want the large cans of "meat" that I wouldn't even feed to my dog, and stop giving me boxes and bags and packages of 3 day old cakes and cookies and brownies. They are over sugared, wheat filled, belly bombs and we don't need them. No, you are not doing my poor children a favor by giving me this. I make the best HOMEMADE, FRESH, FROM SCRATCH, & WHEAT FREE brownies this side of the Rocky Mountains. Ask anyone who's had them. (Most of them don't even know they are wheat free). And my children will always choose them over your week old doughnuts so 'lovingly' donated from Safeway (after no one else wanted them).

And I have officially banned canned beans from my house.

Friday, October 9, 2009

What's Really Important?

I have been extremely distracted of late with many things of little real importance. Well, I suppose schooling the kids is important, but since they are in a virtual school and the older 2 girls are mostly self-led, I really don't spend a lot of time on school everyday. And we have all been sick. As with any family, it starts with 1 person and slowly cycles through the rest, but it takes a bit longer with a larger family. (Can you imagine those families with 10 kids? They must be sick for months at a time!)

But mostly my distraction has been with the computer. (So, if I'm on the computer, why aren't I finishing my story? I don't know.) I read stuff about homeschooling and homesteading and homemaking. Stuff about crafts and art and recipes for all sorts of cool things. I go to google 1 little thing and I could be stuck there for hours. ( I researched cloth diapers for weeks before the baby was born.)

I so want to find and happy medium. Because the girls school is virtual 3/4 of it is online. Then there's email and Etsy and the mediums to promote it. (Which I'm not very good at by the way. I have officially sold 1 piece, and while I went to great lengths to make her experience in my store pleasurable, a cute handmade box all wrapped in tissues and tags like a special little present just for her, and I even gave her a one of a kind artist trading card as a bonus gift, she never even left me feedback. I know if I listed things more often I would get a little more traffic and I'm sure there are other ways to promote as well. Maybe it'll pick up someday. Maybe not.)

So I do have some reason to be on the computer, but not that much, and some days I feel like its too much. It's like a horrible addiction. You want to stop, you know it s bad for you, and you know you don't feel good afterward, not really, and yet you can't seem to help yourself. You don't even realize you're doing it sometimes, and sometimes you're just plain selfish and you don't care.

"Hi, my name is Melissa and I'm a googlaholic." (This is the part where you say "Hi Melissa.")

I have started to make a new kind of 'to do' list because I'm finding that normal 'to do' lists are too easy to ignore. 'Oh yea, gotta do that thing. Sometime....................................'
Instead, I am starting to write a 'what I really want to do' list. This list consists of the things that are really the most important.

For instance, it's not too difficult to make excuses or ignore my 'to do' list when it says 'exercise'. 'Oh, I got up late' or 'I don't feel good' or 'I'll do it later' (which, of course, I don't).

But when I put on my ' what I really want to do' list 'walk around the lake with my family' it's easier to tell myself, yes, that's really what I want. A nice brisk walk, even if it's just me and the baby because everyone else is asleep. And then I did it.

Now I only just started this experiment so I will have to keep you posted as to how well I actually do with it, but I definitely feel better about things when they are 'what I really want to do'. All the other drivel can be tended to later or just plain dropped because I'm busy doing what I really want, what's really important.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

For Your Viewing Pleasure

I've been gone of a while, you may have noticed. I've been distracted with many things. (I never realized before just how easily I am distracted. I blame technology. And children.)

For the last 2 weeks we have been sick. It started as a simple cold one child got somewhere and shared with the baby, who shared with Gabe. Then shared with me. The kids didn't seem to have it that badly, except for maybe the baby. It's difficult to say if his was all sick or if some of it was from teething as well. Maybe the kids were just too busy to complain much.

For my part it started as a normal cold with sneezing and runny nose but quickly turned to headaches, backaches, general body aches, a raspy terrible cough, chills and hot flashes, and lightheadedness. This was all on one day, which happened to be my 14th anniversary. Nice way to celebrate, eh? No fever though. Weird. The cough lingers as does baby's stuffy nose so we have avoided our friends so as not to contaminate them. I'm happy to report that I had no less than 4 of them contact me today to enquire of my missingness. It only took 2 weeks. But at least it proves that I do have a couple friends.

I have also been distracted by a "mail art" project which is finally finished and I promise I will show you what I worked on for it soon. In the meantime though I also visited the Denver Art Museum during a little known free day event and would like to share some pictures from it with you.

construction on the outside

"Orion" by Deborah Butterfield

"The American Indian" by Andy Worhol

"Fox Games" by Sandy Skoglund

Saturday, September 12, 2009

The Great Family Camping Adventure...pt1

...happened about a month ago. And it did not go at all as planned.

Several months ago my friend K went to South Dakota to visit my friend S.

Crazy Horse in South Dakota

I admit I was a bit jealous because I would have liked to visit too. I've known S since high school after all, when K was only 3 years old. And now my friend is being friends with my other friend and I cant go!? (Actually, I probably could have gone but I didn't make arrangements because I didn't think I could and I really shouldn't be so petty anyway. Its a good thing that my friends like each other, right?)

A few weeks before camping S's sister said her family and K's were going up to go camping with S's family in South Dakota and would we like to go? Yes, we would like to go but we only have 2 sleeping bags and 1 small 2-man tent which we haven't used in 12 years. So no, probably not.

But I really wanted to spend some time with my friends and the kids have never been camping. It's only for 2 days after all, so yes, I guess we will go.

Wait? Where are we gonna sleep? We called around and were able to borrow a large 2 room tent, more sleeping bags, coolers, lanterns, camp stove, the works. Great!

Wait? Who will watch the dogs while we're gone? OK. That's covered.

Wait? How much does it cost? I assume we have to pay for the site or something. Between $2-3 a person we were told. So for 2 nights that's about $30 give or take. I guess we can manage that. (Gabe's business is still quite slow mind you, and we are still living off of savings, which is dwindling rapidly.)

So now, about a week before the trip we are good to go. (All this time and for a long time before I've been mentioning to Gabe that the car is acting up and we need to get it looked at. I mean, I'm just a dumb girl with no knowledge of cars at all but it seems like the transmission is a little wacky. But what do I know? Gabe agrees that it probably need to be looked at but neglects to do anything about it...)

Then Gabe talks to J, S's husband. J informs us that actually the camp sites are 8 persons per site (so we pretty nearly fill that up) and they are $30 per night. Twice as much. Plus we have forgotten that it'll probably take 2 tanks of gas just to get to South Dakota from here. Another $120.

Oh. Deflate. (This is why I tend to avoid telling the kids our plans until we are actually there. The whine and waterworks times 4 is grating to say the least. However, Gabe tends to spill the beans earlier.)

We inform J that because of finances we don't think we can make it. Thanks for thinking of us, we miss you guys. J calls backs a few minutes later and offers to pay the campsite fees for us. Really? Wow! Thank you so much! After discussing it we are back on go with only 2 days til take off.

The girls and I spend parts of 2 days packing and baking cookies and bread and graham crackers for s'mores. Gabe picks up all the camp equipment that we are borrowing and comes home with more than we planned for. ( We have such generous friends!)

Friday morning we have breakfast, pack our last minute items and get the dogs ready for their house guest. Gabe spends an hour or 2 packing up the van and deciding what must go and what need to stay for lack of room. (We need to learn to use the luggage rack on top, the girls could barley breath and it's a 5-6 hour drive.)

Everyone's in the car now except me. I'm giving the kitchen the last once over and grabbing my iced chai for the road. Gabe comes in and says the car wont start. Oh. He tried in vain to jump the van with his dinky little car. No go.

We called S and J to say that although we were ready to go our car was not. Gabe was still hopeful that we could get it moving but I was not so sure.

Two hours later the mechanic has said that we have a faulty battery which cost $100 to replace. And he said that the transmission is going out and ought to be fixed very soon. (The transmission! Hmmmm. Imagine that!) He said that while he couldn't guarantee that we could make it the 800 miles, he was pretty sure it would be OK. Pretty sure.

We've already spent $100 more than we planned and there will be over $100 more for gas just to be 'pretty sure' we wont break down somewhere in the middle of the great vast nothingness that is Wyoming.

Somewhere in Wyoming

(We had a previous car who's transmission went out and was repaired. Twice. We then went on a road trip to California. We broke down in Nevada. Another wide empty space. Thankfully we had just pulled into a little town, but we were only an hour or so from our planned destination for the weekend. We were forced to stay in a hotel for the weekend instead. And we bought a car over the phone and left that one there.)

Deflate again. The car is still packed full and the girls are still hopeful, but we cannot, in good judgement, travel so far with 4 young children in a van so jam packed that even the smallest can't shift her bum 2 inches to the left, when we only
maybe will be able to take the 800 miles in 1 weekend with out breaking down.

Now, despite the fact that I am the least likely candidate to even suggest camping in the first place, I am also the most positive of the bunch. I had been going back and forth in my head as to whether or not there is a reasonably priced place nearby that we could camp. Nothing came to mind so I had planned to check the Internet. Until Gabe said we needed to avoid driving the van as much as possible. Nix the driving all over the Colorado mountains idea.

Colorado mountains (a bit hazy)

So we'll pitch camp in the yard.

*Moans* *Pouts* and *Whines* "I really wanted to go to South Dakotaaaa."

"Yes I know. We all did, but unfortunately that didn't work out."

Even Gabe seemed skeptical and showed signs of rebellion.

"No," says I, "we are pitching camp in the yard and were going camping this weekend as planned. We'll still have fun. You'll see." be continued.


Saturday, August 29, 2009

Still Avoiding Typing=Lots of Pictures

What have I been doing (besides not typing out my "adventures in camping post")?

I've been making stuff. I think I'm getting a better feel for my sewing machine, and a better understanding of how it works. (I don't get bobbin thread bound up nearly as much or break needles as often. I guess that's progress.)

I have slowly been adding to my cloth diaper stash, I have enough fabric to make 30 more but so far I've only made 8. And I have been wanting to make a few aprons for various things. I have finally made 2. They are so cute I can't hardly stand it. I'm not sure if I should really be using them to work in.

Last weekend Gabe finally built me my clothesline.

We had all the wood already so he only had to buy some brackets for it. He also finished painting and hung my pantry door which has been sitting for 8 months, and he straightened the garage in preparation of a good cleaning and organized his workbench. He's trying to impress me. Next month is our 14th anniversary and I know he has something up his sleeve for that too. I think it has something to do with him sculpting something but of course he's not telling and I wont know until the 29th so stay tuned!

Gabe just loves his ugly, floppy hat.

I would also like to point out that despite my tiny work conditions, I have made some headway in my studio. Just look at the neat little piles on my fabric shelf! Lovely.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Lazy Bum

I updated my Etsy shop. Finally. I only took the pictures over 2 weeks ago. I should probably take some more pictures. Of other stuff.

Also, I have a rather long, possibly 2 parter totally fabulous post that you certainly can't wait to read. But you'll have to, because I haven't typed it out yet. 'Cause I'm a lazy bum.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Where I Create...(hopefully these will be 'before' photos)

I just read the new edition of 'Where Women Create', they have such beautiful studios. All filled with glitter and billowy fabric and soooo many lovely little storage containers. To store things. I like keeping things neat and orderly. I like having my sock drawer organized and it is very vexing when someone (named Gabe)(who does the laundry)('cause laundry is a boys job, so there) puts the short sleeved shirts in the same pile as the long sleeved shirts. Yes. Vexing. However, as you may have guessed, I am grossly outnumbered (5-1) in the 'lets keep things neat and orderly' department. And despite my efforts to do so, things are not kept as neat and orderly as I would like. Even when I label them with little pictures on them like this:

I also suffer from a sever lack of neat little totes. (And I probably have more than the 'normal' person) But that's my excuse. Because while I'd love for my studio to look like that:

images from 'Where women Create' fall '09

(and by studio, I mean the tiny space that used to be a small portion of the family room but now houses all of my crafts, plus the kids school, plus Gabe's home business) sadly, it looks like this:

And this is on a good day. I even cleaned up a little. Note Gabe's space in the background. Surprisingly, mine looks worse at the moment. Don't know how that happened.

Here are some of my plans to improve my studio (apart from building above the garage where I would have a studio with a kitchenette and a balcony overlooking my tea garden-which is really a weed garden right now, but that's another story).

My desk is far too small for me and Gabe's is too small for him, we also have a tiny house (before we finished the basement we had 860 square feet) with a tiny bedroom so I plan to remove the closet doors and replace them with either bi-folds or a pretty curtain. That way I can use 1 or both doors as a nice big desk. Then Gabe can have mine. I also plan to move him so I can have this whole space to myself. I don't like sharing. (Last week Gabe said he was going to send me back to kindergarten so I can learn how to share) (I said stay away from my chocolate, buddy.)

I hope eventually to add some more shelves and of course paint and make a slipcover for my ugly chair. ( I have several ugly chairs of various sizes. I love their style but they really are ugly)
And I definitely need more neat little containers with labels. Definitely.

Please tell me I'm no the only one with desk issues...