Wednesday, July 30, 2008

The Great Outdoors Revisited

You may remember from this post that I'm not that big a fan of camping. Well, my avoidance tactics finally ran out and the boys and I went camping and floating with John's family. And how did this trip compare to the last one?

1. There was no rain on this trip. How could it rain when the temperature is 98 degrees? Any brave rain drop that tried to reach the earth would have been rewarded by being vaporized upon exit from its cushy cloud. Instead of rain, we had 99.999% humidity and a mist every morning that dripped onto everything keeping it perpetually wet.

2. The men did not sit around attempting to burn unburnable things in the fire. It was too hot for that. They did burn one thing, however. A large copperhead visited our camp. It was cut in half with a shovel. Apparently, no one ever taught this snake that being cut in half kills you. Because this snake's head-half continued to make its way toward our tents and chairs. How do you vanquish an evil, immortal snake? Burn it of course. Even the fire was unable to consume all of this snake.

3. There was no bug from the underworld in the shower house. There were spiders that were awakened upon hearing the running water of early morning showerers. They used their webs to repel from the ceiling with my head as their targeted landing spot. I had to use my towel like a whip and periodically send spiders flying as I quickly tried to clean myself. There was also a very, very large black spider guarding the door to the shower house. Of course, since I couldn't see this from outside the shower house, I only was alerted to his presence after making it into the shower house. It's amazing I worked up the courage to exit through that door after finding him there.

4. We had no car trouble. In fact, our car was an oasis, offering occasional air-conditioned breaks when needed and phone service through our On-Star system.

All in all, I have to admit it was a great trip. The best part was the float, which offered a crystal clear, very cool and refreshing respite from the heat. We took frequent stops along sand bars and floated down the rapids.

We had no canoe tips, but Jack did tip once when he was riding in the tug boat.

I told Luke that it was o.k. to go Number 1 in the water rather than have to get out, and he said, "Through my swim trunks?" I said, "Yes." He said, "I love these water rules!"

John particularly loved it. It was his first float with his boys, and he was ecstatic that they enjoyed it so much. And what goes good with a hot day and a relaxing float on the river? A cold beer of course. When John informed Jack of this, Jack replied, "Dad, you know everything goes good with a cold beer." To which John cracked up and I cringed.

The nights were wonderful too, with the kids swimming in the river, catching fireflies, playing glow-stick tag, having a home run derby, and playing kick the can.

And our tent was my saving grace.

We borrowed it from my Uncle Kiley, and it was the Taj Mahal of tents. It had three rooms and a screened porch - the perfect place to take off wet and dirty shoes and clothes and to sequester bugs. Even with that much space, I woke up each morning with the boys laying right on top of me. And this from boys who protested when we wouldn't let them sleep alone in their own tent.

And, to ensure that I didn't get too sad about the camping trip being over, this little guy hitchhiked a ride home in some of our gear and surprised me one morning in the bathroom.

Who needs camping with bugs like this in your house?

Monday, July 28, 2008

I Don't Think It's Legally Binding But....

....we have a new contract in our house. It goes something like this:

1. We will love him like crazy.

2. We will always be gentle with him.

3. We will play with him unless he's tired and doesn't want to play. Then we will leave him alone.

4. We will not try to carry him non-stop. We will let his legs do some of the work.

5. We will help with the tasks of feeding him, walking him, and bathing him.

6. We will clean up the yard after him*. (* An age clause has been added here at the request of Jack, and this requirement does not kick in for several years).

7. We will take turns playing with him and will not fight over him.

But how could you not fight over this little guy?

Say Hello to Indiana Chewbacca Stork (Indy for short). Guess who named him. And guess who's now outnumbered four to one. Until he reaches adult-hood, I get control of his vote in our democratic household.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Saturday Laughs

A woman is in a grocery store and happens upon a grandpa and his poorly behaving 3 year-old grandson at every turn.

It's obvious gramps has his hands full with the kid screaming for candy in the candy aisle, cookies in the cookie aisle; same for fruit, cereal and soda. Meanwhile gramps is working his way around saying in acontrolled voice, 'easy Albert, we won't be long, easy boy'.

Another outburst and she hears gramps calmly say, 'it's OK Albert, just a couple more minutes and we'll be outta here, hang in there.'

At the checkout, the little terror is throwing items from the cart and gramps again in a controlled voice is saying, 'Albert, Albert, relax buddy, don't get upset -- we'll be home in five minutes; stay cool, Albert'.

Very impressed the woman goes up to gramps as he's loading the kid and the groceries into the car and says, 'You know sir, it's none of my business, but you were amazing in there. I don't know how you did it. The whole time you kept your composure and no matter how loud and disruptive he got, you just calmly kept saying things would be OK. Albert is very lucky to have you for his grandpa'.

'Thanks, lady,' said gramps, 'but I'm Albert -- the little turd's name is Johnny'

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Life Lessons Learned Early

Luke: I want to get Ben 10 Alien Force for my Gameboy.

Jack: They won't have that for Gameboy.

Luke: Why?

Jack: Because they aren't making new Gameboy games anymore.

Luke: Why?

Jack: Because they know everyone probably has better systems than that now so they make better games.

Me: They actually stop making the games for Gameboy so you have to buy a new system.

Jack: Well, that's not very nice.

Me: No, but they're a business and that's what some businesses do.

Jack: Those money-grubbing fiends.

Luke: Yeah. Gameboy-making fart-heads.

Well said, boys. Well said.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

A Bird-Brained Idea

What is this?

I'm not even going to wait for guesses because I don't believe there's anyway in the world someone who wasn't privy to it's making would guess correctly.

It is a concoction of sugar paste. And why did we make a concoction of sugar paste? Because when you're on vacation in Colorado with my Aunt Patti, you get to do fun things like this:

in an attempt to win the money for making the hummingbird feeder hat from which a hummingbird actually feeds.

And when the dance doesn't work:

and sabotage doesn't work:

you resort to putting sugar paste on your head. But that didn't work either.

Notes for next year: Be sure to put sugarwater and not just water in the hat feeders before sitting on the deck.

Friday, July 18, 2008

A Hog-Killin' Good Time

Check another life goal off my list. I attended the rodeo. Technically, attending the rodeo wasn't on my "Go The Big Figure Before I Die" list. It was more on the "Things I Have No Hankerin' To Participate In" list. Especially in the rain. In the cold.

It ended up being perty dang excitin'. Those saddle stiffs did a bang-up job. Even the ones between hay and grass. I can't even ride a rocking horse without being dusted. If I had to ride that rocking horse while trying to rope a moving object, like a hyper, out-of-control child, I would surely be knocked into a cocked hat. But those buckaroos and bull nurses made bulldogging and tie-down roping look like licking butter off a knife.

Not that there weren't some close calls. There were several instances of man versus beast in which the beast lathered the man a good one. And the man limped or hobbled his way out of the arena after being grassed. Hoof in the stomach, face, or groin anyone? No thank you.

But, apparently that is what the clown is for - to distract the animals long enough for the rider to get to safety. Call me loco, but I'd have a hard time putting my safety in the hands of a man with a painted face, oversize pants, and wearing a humongous bag shaped like a hand and filled with Frisbees. Clint Eastwood he was not. Bennie Bob ended up being the life of the party and playin' to the gallery in fine fashion. He entertained the kids. He signed autographs. He told politically incorrect jokes. He threw Frisbees into the crowd, two of which we caught. And he may have even come to the rescue of a bronc buster or two, proving he's someone to ride the river with.

Being a person that loves to eat and wanting to get the full rodeo experience, I was excited about the prospect of the promised cowboy food and eating at the Chuckwagon. I wasn't the only one. I had stood in line for 15 minutes and still had a long slipe to go. The food smelled fine as cream gravy. But when I saw the price tag on some of the items, I knew that the shave tails were getting bilked and I lit a shuck for my seat. Guess I'll have to stick with Bandanas.

I'd have to say the highlight of the night was the mutton bustin'. These cute little shavers, who were under 5 years old, were placed on muttons and then sent off to be bucked and thrown and put through the mill. And they did this voluntarily. Only at the rodeo. If a parent put a child in harm's way like this anywhere else, they'd end up in the hoosegow. I watched as the tiny cowboys and cowgirls put on helmets. I watched as they climbed onto their muttons. I watched as the muttons were released. What in the Sam Hill? Most of the junior cowpokes were bucked immediately, only to be stepped on and have dust kicked up in their faces. And what did they get for this? A ribbon. And maybe a trip to the doctor. There were a couple though that stayed on for the allotted four seconds and then some. They were either mutton busters to the manner born, or were squeezing so tight they were asphyxiating their muttons which prevented them from being thrown off. When their muttons took off, burnin' the breeze so fast that the adults that were supposed to run along side could not keep up, the baby bronc busters held tight and earned standing ovations from the crowd. I didn't know if I should clap or call child services.

I have to say, we took a cotton to the rodeo. But watchin' all the action dragged us out, and we got a wiggle on out of there to go bend an elbow in the comfort of our cushy digs.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

How Cold Was It?

Have you ever swam in cold water? And when I say cold, I don't mean a swimming pool at the beginning of the season. I mean coooollllld, as in the lakes and streams in the mountains that are fed by melting snow. So coooollllld, the water on the skin feels like little tiny knives stabbing over and over (sounds fun, right?).

Our vacation included many attempts to turn ourselves into Popsicles by immersing varying degrees of our bodies into this snow melt water. And by "our" I mean the boys. I wasn't crazy stupid brave enough.

I did have to (yes, it was beyond my control) watch the boys do this:

And this:

When a stone's throw away was this:

But, to get a true idea of how cold the water is, you need only refer to Jack who has a knack for putting things into perspective:

Monday, July 14, 2008

The Most Dangerous Part of Our Vacation

We are back from Colorado, and I of course have a treasure trove full of stories to share. With the number of boys that participated in the vacation, there was no shortage of adventure and danger. A sampling:

Riding the Alpine Slide, despite the road rash injuries that occurred last time we tried this.

Climbing rock walls and jumping on trampolines where the only safety implements were bungee cords and a high school kid on summer break.

Hiking in places where the beauty is only surpassed by the realization that one false step will cause you to plunge to your death.

Wading in the Colorado River or the water that leads to Adams Falls, where the temperature makes you wish you were wading in a bucket of ice water.

But, of all the places we went and things we did, nothing struck fear in my heart or made me question whether I would see the light of a new day more than one particular activity:

Playing the card game Spoons. And, particularly, playing the card game Spoons while sitting within grabbing distance of my Aunt Patti. She is ruthless. Not even Jack was safe, and I still have a blood blister under my fingernail from where it was bent back when she grabbed the same spoon for which I was reaching. I don't know if anyone walked away from the game unscathed. It was fast-paced and brutal and totally fun and hilarious. I highly recommend it.

Maybe next time, to make it more interesting or to discourage stealing of someone else's spoon (I'm talking to you, Aaron), we should play Knives.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Saturday laughs

Once there were three men, Dave, John, and Sam, who were involved in a tragic car accident in which all three died. As they stood at the gates of heaven St. Peter came up to them and said, "You will all be given a method of transportation for your eternal use around heaven. You will be judged on your past deeds, and will have your transport chosen accordingly."

St. Peter looked at Dave and said, "You, Dave, were a bad man. You cheated on your wife four times! For this, you will drive around Heaven in an old beat up Dodge." Next St. Peter looked at John and said, "You, were not so evil, but you still cheated on your wife two times. For this, you will forever travel around heaven in a Toyota stationwagon." St. Peter finally looked at Sam, and said, "You, Sam, have set a fine example. You did not have sex until after marriage, and you never cheated on your wife! For this, you will forever travel through heaven in a Ferrari."

A short time later, Jon and Dave pulled up in their cars next to Sam's Ferrari and there he is, sitting on the hood, head in hands, crying. "What's wrong, Sam?" they asked. "You got the Ferrari! You are set forever! Why so down?" Sam looked up, ever so slowly opened his mouth and cried, "I just saw my wife go by on a skate board."

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Saturday Laughs

A woman accompanied her husband to the doctor's office. After his checkup, the doctor called the wife into his office alone. He said, "Your husband is suffering from a very severe disease, combined with horrible stress. If you don't do the following, your husband will surely die."

"Each morning, fix him a healthy breakfast. Be pleasant, and make sure he is in a good mood. For lunch make him a nutritious meal. For dinner prepare an especially nice meal for him. Don't burden him with chores, as he probably had a hard day. Don't discuss your problems with him, it will only make his stress worse. And most importantly...make love with your husband several times a week and satisfy his every whim. If you can do this for the next 10 months to a year, I think your husband will regain his health completely."

On the way home, the husband asked his wife, "What did the doctor say?"

"You're going to die," she replied.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Has it Been 10 Years?

John and I met for the first time when we were freshmen in college. We didn't really think much of each other one way or the other. Later, we met again under non-ideal circumstances (I was dating someone that was helping to get people kicked out of John's fraternity) and we hated were less than fond of each other. In Soap Opera terms, that rocky start guaranteed that we would fall in love and live happily ever after.

John told me once that he sometimes wishes he did not attend Missouri S & T (formerly UMR). And I said to him, "But then we would never have met." And he said, "It wouldn't have mattered. I would have found you." And that's how I feel. That we were meant to be together and will always be.

Not that we don't have our moments. We've had fights and silence and doubts and anger. But we are human, and our love gets us through those times. We are smart enough and committed enough to know that love takes work and needs reinforcement.

Our personalities complement each other. I am overly obsessive efficient and organized, he goes with the flow. I worry about tiny details, he is laid back and keeps me level. He laughs at my jokes; I act silly with him. He tastes food that I ask him to, and is surprised that he likes it even though I knew he would (like french fries with chocolate shakes). I let him talk me into doing things I normally wouldn't, like riding the roller coaster at the New York Hotel in Vegas. We challenge each other and keep our minds sharp. We agree on important topics such as politics, religion, and raising kids. But that doesn't stop us from debating. We are happy when we have a night without the kids to go to a movie or dinner, or to sit at home on the couch eating takeout and watching T.V. We enjoy each other's company, and never get bored talking.

Has it been 10 years? In some ways it feels like we've known each other our whole lives. In other ways, it feels like a blink in time and we've just gotten started. Tonight we will celebrate our anniversary at the Rapids Lodge Restaurant. We've celebrated a few of our anniversaries at this restaurant, and every year I give thanks for my luck, my life, my love. This year will be no different.