Monday, July 26, 2010

Camping 2010

I sit here doing two, no three, of my favorite things: blogging, camping and drinking coffee (that was the afterthought). Thanks to the Bathhouse wireless network connection, I come to you from the great outdoors. Thankfully, I am not in the Bathhouse (wouldn't be wireless then, would it?) but from the serenity of site A3. Here's what I see.

I have another reason to be happy to not be in the Bathhouse. Yesterday as we were making a visit to said Bathhouse on our way to the very awesome, so deserted it was like our very own private pool, I noticed this.

This is a snake skin. This is the eave of the Bathhouse. The snake which shed the skin was no where to be found. But the alarming part of this tale is where the other end (the head end) of this snake skin is. It is inside the women's shower room. Take that in for a moment. Yes, so if the head end of the snake skin is in the women's shower room then at some point the entire, newly molted snake was also in the women's shower room. And as far as I'm concerned, it may very well still be in there, lying in wait, for the precise moment when I have sudsed up before he strikes. So I sent hubby in on a reconnaissance mision before my shower last night. I got the All Clear but that may well have been the quickest shower in history.

Did I mention that this campground has some sort of joint venture or sponsorship with NASCAR?

What that amounts to is that all NASCAR events are televised in this huge rec room. They supply refreshments, BBQ and the like during the races. Everybody in the campground is welcome. Vrooom. Vrooom.  Apparently, there was a smallish race this weekend. We are not NASCAR people, not that there's anything wrong with that. But let's just say, I don't think we'll schedule our next camping weekend here during the Daytona or the Indianapolis 500s.

We don't rough it completely when we camp as you may recall from our major purchase last year. But this is the first trip we have taken and stayed connected. I know it sounds silly: why go camping and take your computer? Yeah, I thought the same thing. But I actually have a good reason. I'm working (a teensy bit). I have a writing assignment for a regional magazine. My deadline is this Friday. So I have to be available and connected. Ironically, the topic for the article is tips for working moms - how to survived mothering and working together. One clear tip is to use technology to your advantage. I'm doing that right now. And technically, this ain't really "working".

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Summer Just Isn't Long Enough

Life is interfering with my blogging. I've been so busy lately that I haven't been able to blog often enough for my taste. It's the summer schedule that's keeping me from it. I know once school starts back, I'll have more than enough time to blog. Only problem is that then I likely won't have as much interesting blog fodder with which to work. The boys provide me with much of my material. And my fun.

Like for instance, who's going to do "The Little People" for me come September?

I suspect none of my friends will be up for that.

And I don't know who will make Produce People for me in the fall.

I guess I could make them by myself. That will be fun...maybe.

But on the bright side I'm sure by the time school rolls around, I'll be really sick of watermelon.

But I doubt I'll be sick of this face.

Or this one.

By September, I won't miss slathering on the sunscreen everyday.

But I'll really miss this.

I think the boys are preparing me for my alone time this fall.

I keep seeing more of their backs.

And the distances they keep are getting farther.

At least for one of them, anyway.

I wish there was a Groundhog's Day in late August. Could we please have six more weeks of summer? That sounds much better than that rigged deal they try to sneak by us in February. I think I'll get to work lobbying for that holiday right away. Anyone with me?

I've got the poster boys ready.

Friday, July 16, 2010

What Do They Call "S'Mores" in the UK?

High on everyone's list of things to love about summer, you will find "s'mores".

But you can also add them to your list of why it's great to live in America. It might be obvious but s'mores are definitely an American treat and aren't necessarily known or enjoyed around the world. Per Wikipedia, the first recorded recipe for the gooey summer snacks was found in a 1927 Girl Scout publication although listed as the more gramatically correct "Some Mores". When the name was amended, no one knows for sure. Girl Scout literature has various recipes for the properly named dessert through 1971. Sometime after that, we dropped the "ome". I suspect the shortened version came from some Southern Girl Scout troop. Just a guess from this Southern girl. Grammar aside, I say Yay Girl Scouts!

In my typical American ways, I assumed that s'mores were the worldwide benchmark for the ultimate fireside dessert. It's just one of those American things, like Coke or Michael Jackson, that the rest of the world has adopted too, so I thought. But apparently s'mores haven't the marketing machine that the aforementioned products have. At our family reunion last weekend, I found someone who had never had s'mores, and worse yet had never heard of them! This deprived person was raised across the pond in one particular Northern part of the UK. He is well-traveled and has lived off and on in the US for several years. Much of that time in the US was spent in the South even. So for him to have unfortunately missed s'mores for all the years is a travesty. He should be severely upset with his American friends who have kept s'mores from him. But we, as nearly family, introduced him to s'mores and corrected that wrong.

We didn't have the fancy basket s'more making contraption where you fit all the ingredients together and hold over the fire. So we had to make them in steps. We all knew what we were doing, even the youngest among us, but we had to teach our sheltered companion.

He was delighted with the entire s'more process, from finding an appropriate stick for roasting the marshmallow (he questioned the hygienic properties of this) to finally squashing the marshmallow and chocolate between the grahams. He loved the taste explosion. He loved the crispiness that your teeth first meet followed quickly by the sticky goo of spongy confection mixed with the creamy chocolate. He loved starting the process all over again...and again. What's not to love?

So amend your lists. Add s'mores to your reasons to love your country. I know one man who has already added them to his list of reasons to stay.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Reunited and It Feels So Good

We traveled again last weekend, back down I-81, to the hills of East Tennessee. This was the view from the back patio of the lodge where we stayed.

This is the night time view.

Obviously, I wanna go back.

The weekend's purpose was twofold: hubby's family reunion and my high school reunion.

I won't be posting the family reunion group photos here. Let's just say that hubby's family takes camera-shy to a new level. They aren't camera-shy actually. They are camera-averse. Most of them abhor getting their picture taken. It's genetic for them. For a photographer, this could have been disheartening. But luckily, Grandma, the matriarch and family doyenne, gave me a directive. I was ordered to take pictures of everyone to commerate the event. So I did. And no one got too mad at me. Just following orders. But those family photos are for their eyes only.

But there is one photo, actually two, that I am going to share. These have to be shown. Remember back in February whilst watching the Olympics, I found my Doppleganger? It seems that Olympic snowboarding champion, Shaun White has a strong resemblance to moi. In case you forgot or are too lazy to click on that link in the previous sentence, let me refresh your memory here...

Striking, I know.

Well, it seems that there is another member of our family whose genetic code has somehow been copied by yet another Olympic champion. This one is dead on too. Here's the family member...

Do you know who his Doppleganger is? Does this help?

Michael Phelps! Now don't ask either one of us to swim or snowboard, but I think we each might have a future career in the corporate events industry as celebrity impersonators, don't you?

Now back to the purpose for our travels. As I said, my high school reunion was also last weekend. TWENTY-FIVE YEARS. Not believing that myself. But apparently it is true.

I found this little gem of a tune on Pandora Radio (Weird Al mix) while we were driving to the reunion. Quite a coincidence, don't you think?

I know how Debbie feels sometimes. Not the bit about whipping your head around on the hood of a car. But the part about being nostalgic for carefree, younger days.  Most of the time though I don't want to go back to 1985. My life is great now. And I don't want this hair ever again.

I actually permed my extremely thick, coarse, curly hair back then. What was I thinking?

The reunion was a great time. Saw many old friends. Laughed alot. See my high school best friend and me then...

and now.

Don't even comment on my hair. I didn't say it was great but, it is better than 1985. You might be wondering why we had our picture taken together at our prom. Let's just say that we both had a better time hanging out with each other that night than hanging out with our dates. Aren't all prom memories like that?

How do I end this random reunion post? Only by saying that both reunions, family and high school, left me with wonderful memories of good times both recent and way too far in the past. TWENTY-FIVE YEARS! REALLY?!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

The Sandwich Days Revival

Even though it is the beginning of July and school has been out for weeks now, I am just now getting into our summer routine. We've been traveling a bit up to now and have only been at home for more than a few consecutive days recently. So while the rest of you probably have had your summer schedule running smoothly for weeks, I'm just getting started on that. To get my groove on, I am reviving a trick I created last summer that worked great for our family. Here's a replay of a post from last summer. The Sandwich Days are back...

School is out and summer is fully under way at our house. That sounds great. But for my kids, the wide open slate of a long summer day actually can be overwhelming. All school year they yearn for more free time, the chance to just be kids and have no schedule. But when that situation finally arrives, they sometimes don't know what to do with themselves. Their days during the school year are mapped out for them and it takes some time for them to settle into the freedom that summer allows. The most frequently asked questions in our house are "What are we doing tomorrow, later, next?"

To ease them (and me) into the lazy days of summer, I have created the illusion of a schedule. I call it our "Sandwich Days".The slices of "bread" are the morning and afternoon activities that we must do everyday: get dressed, brush teeth, make beds, practice piano, household chores and the like. Generally, the bread activities take short bits of time and really help to start the day. And there are bread activities in the evening too - baths, picking up toys, etc. The "meat" of the sandwich is the fun stuff we do for the rest of the day: swimming, bike rides, playing with friends and such.


The kids so far like reading the daily schedule each morning and knowing what fun awaits!

After a few days of our Sandwich Days Revival, I am thrilled to see that my boys need this schedule less this summer than they did last year. They are growing up and are relying less on me for quite so much. Sniff, sniff. Silent cheer!

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Monday, July 5, 2010

Americana 2.0

I don't have any pictures from our Independence Day celebration. I purposefully left my camera at home. I wanted to make memories the old fashioned buuuurn them on my brain. So all I've got to work with are those memories, my words and my ability to embellish. Let's see what we get.

We were invited over to friends for dinner and then to accompany them over to our city fireworks display. They have two children of similar ages to ours so the evening would be a nice little eightsome. We had a fabulous dinner and great conversation. The kids had a grand ole time playing. After dessert, we all mounted our bikes and rode the few short miles over to the hospital parking deck. We watched the fireworks from the top of the deck to get a good view. There were other friends at the deck as well so our group grew in number. Conversations of home improvement projects, recent travel stories and one cross-city move status update floated over the adult crowd while the kids, now nine of them by my count, struck up a game of tag. The tag game ended with the first pyrotechnic burst, but the conversations continued. After all the ooohs and aaahs, the kids had their own little handheld fireworks display with sparklers. Lots of names were written in the air. All the while, the adult conversations continued. But it was getting late, so we exchanged hugs and promises to see each other again soon and our eightsome rode home.

It was exciting for my boys, especially the younger, to be out riding bikes after dark. Heck, it was exciting for me. When was the last time you rode your bike and at night to boot?

The evening was a great little slice of Americana. Normal Rockwellesque, family, wholesome fun.That seems to be what my life with kids is. Maybe it's just my overactive nostaglia gland interpretting the normal events of our days into schmaltzy episodes. I can't help it; sentimentality runs in my family. But nostaglia glands aside, I looked back on our evening and realized that the evening wasn't Americana old-style. It was Americana version 2.0.

By that I mean two things. First in Americana 2.0, technology goes everywhere. Up on the parking deck roof, there were lots of smart phones snapping pictures, thumbs texting and the like going on amidst the conversations. Not just our group but all around us. That is the way it is everywhere, all the time.

Secondly, diversity is the rule. Within our small group alone, the following ancestories and geographic regions were represented: Japanese, Taiwanese, Italian, Scottish, German, Irish, Canadian,Tennesseean, Mississipian, Jerseyans. (Yes, I consider those particular states possessing distinct ancestories all to themselves. If you have visited any of them, you'll agree.) If roll had been called last night, the list would have read like an excerpt from a UN summitt attendance sheet: Yamaguchi, Scott, Wu, Calzonetti, Stapleton, Beins.

So Americana 2.0 is technologically all-connected with an expansion to the old melting pot design. Normal Rockwell didn't see this coming.

This is no great statement on culture or race, just an observation I made while hanging out with some of my closest friends. We all have such different stories which brought us to a basically similar place...Americana 2.0. I like the new upgrade.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Let Me Take You Down

Let me take you down 'cause I'm going to Crawdaddy Creek.
You can't be weak. And nothing to get pinched about.
Crawdaddy Creek Forever.

Crawdaddy Creek is one of our summer traditions.
Grab some friends, your nets, river shoes, a few buckets.

You gotta be quick with your net. These guys are fast.

But apparently not fast enough.

However, they are good climbers.

And persistent.

And they do pinch.

Lucky for them, none of us like to eat crayfish.
It's strictly a catch and release operation.

Sing it with me now....Crawdaddy Creek Forever.