Are We There Yet?

Ok when you travel in a church van, filled with your people, their pillows, blankets, backpacks, luggage, games, bags of groceries, and 2 Market thermals filled with 7 frozen dinners, 9 people, 3 car seats, and an extra-large bag of books.  You can kind of get claustrophobic, cabin fever, or van fever?  At any rate, you are all up in each others space, most of the time you are physically touching each other.  I’ll let you think about that…  Mom {s}he’s touching me times 6 people {the driver, front seat passenger, and baby, who can’t talk did not complain about being touched.} the kids did not actually say those words, but my people had a legitimate complaint.  O and I strategically pack the van so people have leg room.  We play our own game of van jenga and get as much as possible tucked under, put away and stacked as possible.  It was great until I sent out 4 bags the morning we departed, the boys (R and J stuck everything on the floor right in front of where I sit, by the time I went out to the van we were all loaded up I had to sit cross-legged until I could shuffle things around I had exactly enough space for 1 leg to be down, I just kept switching legs.  But everyone else had leg room.  I insist on it.

So it is a tight squeeze even though it is a 12 passenger van.

We also have a driver who is destination driven.  Vacation does not start until you arrive at your location.  I actually look forward to traffic it gives us an opportunity to get off the interstate.  I married a man who does not stop unless the van is out of gas. Ok he is a little better, now.  He will stop for bathroom breaks but only if I tell him to… If someone calls out that they have to go, he keeps driving.  I wish I was kidding.  {If he denies it I have a family who will back me up}  When we were dating we drove from our college 20 hours to my house, only stopping for gas, I assumed once we were married that we would enjoy the ride.  Nope.  I was wrong.  We do not enjoy the ride.  A few years ago, there was a traffic jam, we exited the interstate found a town with the same name as one of our kids, and a historic house with the same name as another one of our kids.  The shocker is, Keith was willing to stop.  I should rephrase that.  Keith stopped when I yelled out STOP, he even turned around and parked the van so we could go take a picture.  Like I said though, it was a shock, a once in a lifetime opportunity.  After all, he is the man with a cracked rib who drove 10 hours straight before he admitted he was in pain and I could drive.  As far as my kids know there is NOTHING to see in any states except the interstate.  Well, interstate AND the Chick-Fil-A’s that where we stop to eat, other times we go in play while I order and eat in the van.  Yes travel is not a fun time, no enjoy the ride, but more hang on for the ride.  When we made the 20 hour trip up to basketball camp for 4 weeks we would actually pack our meals, stop at the rest area closest to meal time then let the kids play for a few minutes, run and jump, play a little Simon says, and toss the ball around.  After fully stretching their legs and bodies, we would climb back into the van and eat while Keith continued on driven to the final destination.  While I do appreciate that he is willing to drive all the time, I wish we could stop more frequently.

No one asks are we there yet.  Because we know we are ‘there’ when he stops and we still have a tank full of gas.

I have made travel bags for years for the kids.  This last year I actually did not make a travel bag, bad choice.  I will be making one for our next trip!  It gives the kids something new to play with, read or munch on when they choose.  It helps break up the ride.  I did have a mid-point gift for them which kept them busy.

Here are some of our travel pictures, hang on for the ride.IMG_1522C trying to find a Sam’s club for lunch and food shopping.IMG_1534The man-child works for Rocket Fizz, he bought 6 different pops for him to share with his dad on the ride.  It did look a little sketchy all those bottles in the console, but I promise it was all pop. BTW they were NOT a fan of the Candied Bacon Cream Soda.IMG_1532Feet in my face… and in my hair… and on my head… and in my neck…  she had no idea how annoying it was, but she was busy reading a book so I let it slide.IMG_1537“Mom STOP”
They were watching Frozen, which was fun for us to listen to the little girls sing along while we could not hear any of the actual movie.  I knew exactly where they were in though because I have watched it so many times.IMG_1539Twizzler glassesIMG_1543Twizzler sleep mask or blind fold or mustache???IMG_1544PS slept 20 minutes on that 12 hour drive.  That was the only time I got her to sleep.  Took a lot of forehead rubbing and singing and the heart beat sound machine.  Even then it was short-lived.  Do you realize how not fun a baby is when she only sleeps 20 minutes in 12 hours?  Not fun.  But at least she did not scream the entire 12 hours.  I know she looks smothered but things were positioned so she could reach them to entertain herself and like I said I was right next to her.IMG_1549They were watching a movie, and yes our van is so cold they all need blankets.  I get car sick and an easy way to combat it is to keep COLD air blasting on my face.  Which is why PS was covered up in that last picture.IMG_1545Our fearless driver, stretching, which he could not do not he ride home.  Poor guy.

What about you?  Are you an ‘Enjoy the ride?’  or a ‘Hang on for the ride’ vacation driver?
Does someone constantly ask you ‘Are we there yet?’

Go hug your kids and tell someone how important they are!

Frog Soup

We had 2 big adventures that could have been so much worse while we were vacationing this year.  On Sunday was the MUD IS SLIPPERY event, with a cracked rib but no internal injuries, and on Monday was the Frog Soup incident.

We have been coming to this cabin or set of cabins almost every summer since E was 18 months, she learned to crawl, at 18 months, and go up the stairs while we were there.  {she had some serious physical developmental delays}, we have captured tad poles, before C became terrified of Frogs, we have eaten more than our fair share of marshmallows while at this camp, we have dubbed a water fall in the town nearby as “wet bottom falls” and driven down a mountain with a wet skirt hanging out the window drying.  We have made so many memories at this camp.  Another favorite thing about this camp is the paddle boats in the little pond, this year we were again next to the pond.  We could hear the kids on the pontoon paddle boat squeaking around the pond, and later in the week glide quietly on the added boat, it is nice to sit on the porch swings and watch the kids laugh and paddle and have fun with out our help.

{Warning picture overload}

IMG_1558O told A that the pond was Frog Soup.
Years ago the kids would catch tad poles and by weeks end we would have cups filled with dirty lake water and tad poles lined up on our porch.
The sound of frogs is quite loud at times, they are huge and noisy. IMG_1561The long wait for their turn on the boat.IMG_1591Life vests are required by both Mom and the camp.IMG_1588The morning before little A enjoyed Frog Soup.
{They are on their way to their grandparents for breakfast.}

I do not feel I am an over-cautious mom, I look the other way and let my kids do things I feel are not too risky, but I insist that the littles ride the boat with someone older, and I insist on life vests.

After lunch, little A was asking to ride the paddle boat, I gave R the option of cleaning up lunch stuffs or taking the kids out on the boat.  He chose the boat.  Little A was thrilled.  J and E went along to have a turn on the boat.  R dutifully took little A all around the pond, pointing at frogs and listening to her talk.  When he was finished he headed towards the dock, E was vested up and waiting, little A had scooted to the edge of her seat to watch the process, the left pontoon crashed into the dock sending little A off the boat and under water.  R jumped up and pulled her out, I heard him yell, then I head little A yell.   From the inside of our cabin, O also heard the yelling.  I jumped up in time to see him pulling her out of the water and back onto the boat.  O took off running down to rescue her while I grabbed my camera and a towel.
IMG_1604O, R and J came running back to our cabin with little A in O’s arms.
{held out from her body since little A was soaking wet}IMG_1605She was wet from tip to tail, and burping pond water all the while.
She was a pitiful sad little wet girl.
Nothing a hot shower, dry clothes and chocolate milk could not fix.
It could have been worse, it could have been tragic, thankfully it was just smelly pond clothes and another dirty towel.

With in hours they were back at the boat, and by Tuesday another boat was added to the water.IMG_1622J and R trying out the new boat.IMG_1623The girls waiting for their turn on the new boat.  IMG_1629No more accidental fall ins.IMG_1631E climbing aboard.IMG_1633Little A and O climbing aboard.IMG_1641Paddling over to say hello.IMG_1642Notice that E has little A’s hand, she wanted to be sure that little A did not fall in again.IMG_1650And of course J had to try different stunts while on the paddle boat.IMG_1626By Friday Keith was able to stand outside and watch them play.

Here is little A’s version on the Frog Soup incident.

“R took me paddle boating
and I was on the edge of my seat
I was wearing my life jacket
we were going to the edge of the dock and I felled into the frog soup
then I went under water
{laughing now}
and I closed my mouth
then R saved my life
{Me-how did R save your life?}
when I was going under water he saved my life
he is tricky
he pulled me out
he put me on the bottom of the boat
then O runned down and she got me and her clothes wet
{Me-how did the frog soup taste?}
yucky, disgust-o
mom feel my head I am not sick.”

There you go straight from a 4 year old’s mouth.

What about you, ever taste frog soup?
Go hug your kids and tell someone why you love them.


Mud is Slippery

We took our week vacation in NC this summer.  We really only had time for 1 week of vacation (we will use the 2nd week of his vacation on our trip up to drop C at that university in KY that is taking my son away from us *sigh*)

As I was saying we took our vacation in the mountains of NC.  We love this trip, some of us love it more than others, but we look forward to the cooler weather of the mountains, the freedom of the mountain and the family time we have together.  We stay at our friends place, there is no TV, you have to walk a few cabins over to connect to the laptop to the cable to get online.  Primitive by todays standards.  We have electricity and running water and HOT water, so I am good.

We arrived after a 12 hour trip, map quest and google maps promised it was a 9 hour trip.  I am here to say THEY LIE.  Seriously we have never been able to get there in less than 11 hours.  Most times it takes us 12 hours.  Which would make sense if you think that each stop takes at least 20 minutes, and of course we need to stop for groceries on our way up the mountain,  I did make and freeze meals, I also did the majority of the shopping at home, but I could not buy bread or milk or eggs and expect them to survive the 12 hour trip in a van with 9 people.  I don’t understand the 12 hour ride home, the trip to Sam’s and the grocery store have been eliminated we need the same amount of gas on the trip back home, I just don’t understand the time warp.  Where does it go?

SO As I was saying, we spent our week in NC.  One of the favorite things for the family to do is hike.  The bigger kids love to go off with Keith and my sister (she did not come this trip) and take off on a hiking adventure.  Last year they found a random beach in a river, this year the plan was to find the beach, then come back and we would go as a family the next day, picnic and play on the river beach.  Like I said, that was the plan.  I love the hikes, because I don’t go,  I stay back in the cool breeze, clean up the last meal and nap while they hike.  Vacation time is really the only time I let myself read for pleasure.  I have a problem with books.  I can’t put one down, I have to see it to the end.  This does not bode well for normal life, but on vacation it is a luxury.  The hikes are one of our favorite parts of this week we take in the mountains.

On Sunday afternoon Keith, C, O R and J ventured out for the first hike of the week.  They set out, the girls went to visit Keith’s parents who also were in their own tiny cabin.  I settled down with PS to read and nap.  After some time, the little girls came back from the grandparents cabin, they set about swinging on the porch swing and playing with their babies.

My phone rang, which is amazing since phone service is spotty at best.  I answered it, the ID said Keith was calling me.  My heart did a little dip, he has never called on a hike before.  There are bears in the trails.  I answered, it was actually C.  His conversation was broken up but the things I did understand were alarming.
C-Mom, Dad got hurt
Me-what happened?
garbled break up garbled break up
Me-I’m sorry I can’t understand you
C-hurt bad
C-cut up a t-shirt for wrap
C-sent the kids back
C-need help
C-dad is bad
Me-want me to go get help?

and that was the call.

My blood was running cold

I went and cut up a towel in long strips, fixed a small snack for the hikers on their return, then started a movie for the little girls.  Trying to remain calm, in the great unknown, and get ready for what ever injury Keith had sustained.

My phone rang again, the call was unknown to me but I answered.

Man on the phone-Jennifer (no one calls me that)
Man on the phone I have your children


My heart stopped for that second and I will not lie I was scared.

Me-ummm ok
Man on the phone-I have R and J with me


Me-ok, how can I help you?
Man on the phone-here is O do you want to talk to her?


O-ummm dad is hurt we are just calling you to tell you that dad is hurt
Me-do you need me to come get him?
O-yes, we left him with C and we are coming back to get you
Me-I love you, be safe, and hurry back

Then I went to get the owners.  I left the little girls watching that movie, and walked over to their cabin.  I started to explain what I knew when O and R and J came running onto the campus.  O was able to tell me more, and locate Keith and C.  The owners did not have a 4 wheeler or any way of going down the path so I would have to meet them at a starting point.  I sent R back to keep the kids for me while O and I set about to collect the injured Keith and C.  We found them on the next mountain ridge over.  Keith was not looking good but he was walking.

***This is what happened***

They hiked a trail, but could not find the beach they were looking for, as they were heading back Keith went to take a small step off a ledge and set his foot in mud, as he put weight on the foot in the mud, it slipped out, he slid, and slammed his left ribs onto a tree stump, and then slid down landed in the mud and to quote O, “he sounded like ‘grape lady falls’ he kept saying ‘ow ow ow’ in that same sound.”  It took Keith a few minutes to get back up to the ledge where he sat for a few more minutes, trying to just breath, and not scare the kids.  C stepped up to take charge, when Keith was able to use his walking stick to stand up and manage a few steps, C sent the kids on ahead to get help {me} and stayed behind with Keith.  They began a slow and steady return to the parking lot while O, R and J came back, running when they thought they heard people.  {Usually on their hikes, they run into lots of people… not this time}  When they were close to the parking lot, O took off running again to see if she could find help, at that same time the boys found a family and called me.  When O saw them talking to a family she ran back to them.  Talked to me for a minute, after that phone call I went to try and get help.  O, R and J, then came back to the campus where we were staying.  I took PS back to our cabin where R took over with the kids while O directed me to the parking lot that Keith and C would eventually end up at the end of their hike.
Keith and C were waiting for us.  I watched as Keith stood bent over waiting, I could not see any injury.  C had Keith take off his shirt so the shirt would not rub against the 4 inch long 2 inch wide raw area on his side.  It was in his rib cage so I was not too worried about a spleen injury but my knowledge of anatomy is limited.  I could, however tell he was in fact really hurting.  He winced as I drove, or actually coasted down the mountain and back up as we went back ‘home’ I did not press the gas but every bump or jiggle had him cringing and gasping out in pain.
When we got back to the cabin I sent the kids down to the grandparents cabin so I could clean up the area and assess the injury.  He was in more pain than I have ever seen him, I had to help him stand to clean the wound, then determined that now was the best time to shower while the muscles were hot, and more relaxed.  I felt awful because I could see how he was suffering.  After I started his water I sent C down to the grandparents, with a snack and instructions to keep everyone down until I called them back.  I told Keith ‘don’t be a hero, do we need to go to urgent care now at 2pm in the daylight and get help?  I did not want to drive to the hospital in the dark.’  He declined treatment and the kids came back.  After a very painful evening and restless night I called the grandparents, I asked them to keep an eye on the kids while I took Keith to urgent care.  The trip down to the nearest town usually takes 45 minutes, this time it took 90 minutes.  I went super slow on the 6 miles off our mountain, and on the winding, mountain edge, single lane highway, God showed His favor, only 2 times on the way down and once on the way back home did I have to pull over to let cars pass me.  He kept the traffic away so I could drive with care to keep Keith comfortable.
Urgent care was wonderful, the doctor had x-rays taken right away, and determined that he cracked a rib.  Offered a stronger pain-killer and released him with instructions not to pick up anything, pull or push anything and not to LAUGH.  Which is quite difficult with our family.  He spent the rest of the week moaning Ow Stop, Stop.  We never realized how funny our kids were, little A had him begging to get away, she says some funny things.  C, O and R were like a comedy routine each evening while we played games.IMG_1657

This is where he spent the week, in the recliner, thankfully he had plenty of books to read!

IMG_1670The porch swings hurt too much to sit in. he could not relax and breathe the mountain air.

A week later and he is still in pain,struggling to shift in his seat, and get off the couch.  It will heal, we know, but it will take time.  My stubborn husband drove for 10 hours on the way home before finally admitting how much pain he was in, letting me drive the final 2 hours.  We are waiting now for the copy of the x-ray so our chiropractor can check it out, he is sore all over and is anxious for an adjustment!

 I need to give praise to my in laws, they never batted an eye or made a complaint when I sent the kids down to them, or when I asked them to keep an eye out for the kids while I took Keith to town, they were so helpful with the kids since Keith was trapped inside and I had a fussy baby and injured husband to care for!

What about you, ever crack a rib?  How long until you were feeling better?
Go hug your kids, time with loved ones is just too short.

A Day Late and A Dollar Short

Ok I feel like I am a day late and a dollar short most of the time…

Why this time?
Oh because I had 2 great blog ideas, even had one started about “why can’t I tell my girls they ARE pretty, as well as telling them they are smart and can do anything”, but this morning when I was checking up on current events via Facebook, I saw that some important or more famous than me {ok I think all bloggers are more famous than me…} blogged about it.  At least that is what the title implied.  I did not read it because I was on my phone.  Keith has graciously let me borrow his lap top since my computer died, but this week he resumed his doctorate classes {he took off from after PS’ birth until this week.  And he needed his lap top all week,} like I said, since I was on my phone I did not read the blog.  My observation with the “tell them they can do anything, but don’t focus on their beauty movement”  Is that we are all made in God’s image, we are all fearfully and wonderfully made, he knit us together in our mothers womb, how can that not be beautiful, how can anything God has created not be a thing of beauty?  For centuries beauty has been acknowledged.  Each culture views beauty differently, but we all see it.  So why can’t I compliment my daughter on both her beauty and her brains?  I am limiting them to being mindless women who stare at their reflections IF I am complimenting them on their beauty, women who cannot accomplish anything important because they only want to be beautiful?  How about we as mothers, {I’d include fathers but I don’t even think Keith reads this…} compliment them on their beauty, their abilities, their brains, and ideas?  Why should we let the media and society and the well-meaning friends on FB tell us we should only compliment them on things they accomplish?  Why are we letting them decide what we tell our girls.  Personally I like to be told I look nice, as much as I like to be complimented on a job well done, an idea that worked, a plan that was successful.  So while I am going to tell my girls they are smart, and they have good ideas, I will teach them to use power tools, and tell them they are beautiful.

What was the 2nd great idea???
I honestly can’t remember,  I wish I was joking, the idea came to me this morning while I was trying to convince PS to take a nap, but by the time she fell asleep all I could remember was that I ‘had’ a great idea.

So you see, a day late and a dollar, or two short…

Here is a little lunch time conversation to make you smile.
I am not a short order cook, I make dinner with the best intentions but it is take it or leave it.  And by leave it I mean, get your own bowl of cereal and quit crying about dinner.  Anyway, lunch time is different, the kids have various ways of enjoying a peanut butter sandwich.  C likes 2 with honey not jelly to squish between his teeth, O takes 1 please with grape jelly cut in triangles, R does not care if I cut it but please creamy pb and jelly not honey.  J is a honey kid, creamy pb and he has no preference to the cut,  E always wants a whole sandwich pb ONLY but never manages to eat an entire one.  And little A prefers her PB sandwich witHout bread.  A small spoonful of pb and she is a happy girl.  {some times if she is really hungry she eats 2 spoonfuls, I get a clean spoon, don’t worry.  Not that she does when she decides to eat a whole jar of pb.}  Earlier this week I was going through the options, what fruit, what crunchy, and so on for lunch.  I started with little A.  She requested a pb sandwich {translation spoonful of pb} with some Cheerios.  I thought it odd, moved on to the next child and then set about making plates of food.  I brought little A’s plate to her she took one look there was a spoonful of pb, some chocolate covered raisins and a pile of Cheerios on her plate, she loudly told me “that is not what I want”  I laughed, looked up at C and said, you asked for Cheerios, she said “no I asked for the orange chips with my lunch” I said “no baby you asked for Cheerios”  C agreed with me and E said “no she wanted Doritos”  so, actually she ‘meant’ Doritos but asked for something entirely different.  I was confused since she has never enjoyed Cheerios even as a finger food baby.  Lest you think I have forgotten Keith, he likes 2 crunchy pb on toasted bread with gloppy jelly and big piles of pb oozing out of the toasted bread.  I could not cut it if I tried.

What about you?  How do you like your sandwich.  My sister says any sandwich made by someone for her tastes better than if she makes it herself.  I say she has an inner princess that wants to come out.

Go hug your kids, they need your love.

A Little Free Fun in July

Ahhh Summer

Summer time when days are long and hot.  And by hot, too hot for the kids to play outside HOT.  Which is okay since it has rained and rained and oh yeah rained.  We spent 4 days stuck inside all afternoon and evening, at one point I complained {ok I’m sure I complained more than once} and asked for suggestions.  My mom. I love her, suggested the Library.  Seriously, the LIBRARY???  we were bouncing off the walls, and she suggests going into a place that necessitates calm and quiet with 4 kids who were bouncing off the walls?  We did not go, I did not want to get kicked out.
Swimming must be done in the morning or evening, and in the evening the mosquitoes are swarming.  We spend all evening outside smacking and scratching.  So in order to avoid the heat, rain and mosquitos we had to look for some fun.

10478665_10202844503646445_837559294424137309_nWe had a package arrive.  It was wrapped in the ‘good stuff’ big popping bubble wrap.  It was so loud we just sat and watched, PS did not mind as long as her ears were covered.  {The package was a new bed frame side board, since the big boys were playing swords and ‘fell’ on the bed breaking it in half}IMG_1517Did you participate in Cow Day at Chick-fil-a?  We painted and pinned and even spray glued on cow spots.  {C ate earlier he had to work}  It was so crowded at the one we went too, so we just ate and left, no play time in the play place for us.IMG_1519Also free on 7-11 was the SLURPEE !  We went from a free dinner to free SLURPEES they were cold, refreshing and FREE.  I had banana/watermelon, I think I need another one soon.IMG_1520Guess what flavor she had???
IMG_1521Guess what flavor he had???

This was at the Krispy Kreme right before they told us they are out of donuts.  How can you have a donut day but not have any donuts???

The big boys and I took a day, J, E and A went to their grandmas for the day and PS went to her aunt’s house for a few hours.10526613_10204919333249335_592910117_nWARNING Do Not give the boys swords in their burgers and expect them to not break out in a sword fight at some point in the meal {sorry it is a cruddy shot I was laughing at them and the worker who totally ignored the small war in front of him.}  And we have found that swords lead to broken things in our house…

R has been collection Books A Million gift cards for the last 3 years.  He had accumulated $140 in gift cards.  After burgers, a sword fight, and dropping C off at work, we went to spend the gift cards.10543753_10204918365545143_2089944367_nAt one point I looked up to see THIS.10543783_10204918365625145_706775132_nA giant squirrel in BAMM.10555206_10204918365585144_349529839_nWhat does a squirrel read?
13 books later with some $ still left on the gift cards, we left to rescue my sister, PS was a disgruntled child.

What about you?  Did you go to get free chicken, free Slurpee or even a donut special?
Go hug your kids, summer is marching on and will be over before we know it.

21 Years Down and Many More to Go

Happy 21 years
21 years
7670 days
That is a long time

I have been married longer than I was single.
I have been married more than half my life.
I have been married for a long time.

What does 21 years of marriage look like?
21 years of walking together
20 summer vacations
19 home remodel
18 years of parenting
17 musicals or play seasons attended and survived
16 somethings???
15 different somethings???
14 years of being outnumbered
13 summers of basketball camp
12 seats in our van
11 years of pool upkeep
10 well 1095 weeks of marriage
9 years as assistant principal
8 beach vacations
7 vehicles
6 overseas trips
5 new couches
4 surprise pregnancies
3 different addresses
2 broken bones
1 dog

I’m sorry
I love you
quiet moments
moments of chaos

That is what our 21 years look like…  I would not trade it for anyone else’s 21 years.

go hug your kids and look back on the good in your life.  Please tell someone how important they are, life is just too short.