Saturday, June 28, 2008

Home Sweet Home, But Without Toilet Paper

We made it back home yesterday, early evening. Our vacation was awesome. The weather could not have been more perfect the whole time we were there. Sunny and hot. So nice since we hadn't seen the sun since last fall around here. All except for the last two days and by then I was really looking for a nice lightening and thunderstorm. It was mighty windy that night. The kids played outside from dawn til dusk and I sat under the tree reading my book. Loved it. We stayed in the little house next door to the main so we were in our own space. There was good food every evening and eaten together on the picnic bench on the front porch. So nice and very little in the way of pesky bugs.

Dale Jr. finally won a race, even if it was under a green white checker caution.

On both the trip out there and the way back we searched for the Oregon Trail. Along our way we followed the Mormon, California and Oregon Trails. There are interpretive centers in several different spots. We stopped at Glenn's Ferry, ID near the Three Island Crossing of the Snake River, the Baker City, OR site, and the Blue Mountains Crossing, OR. If you follow a map you can get to actual wheel ruts at these three sites. Think about it. This was how the west became populated as it is today, yet there are still traces of the original journey by these thousands of covered wagons. You can still see the path they traveled. You can also see that these traces will disappear, probably in my lifetime. The Oregon California Trail Association has been awesome enough to place markers so you can get out and walk segments of it. The Baker City site was closed but we were able to get out and walk for quite a ways on the trail. There is even an Ezra Meeker marker on the site. He was a man who saw that the trail was disappearing back in the late 1800's so he convinced some people in congress and in local city governments along the way to place markers to show where the trail had gone. So much of it now is gone due to farming, development, road and railway construction, time and weather. I had my daughter get out and walk it with me as I am afraid it won't be there when she is old enough to appreciate it again. She sure had fun looking for markers and we talked how so many of the travelers actually walked instead of riding because the ride was so rough inside the wagon. Plus you needed room for all the provisions. I find the whole thing absolutely fascinating. We did have some misses along the way looking for wheel ruts. You can follow the trail and imagine the landscape as the emigrants saw it by taking roads posted with the route sign and it is worth doing in some spots. Route 30 out of Glenn's Ferry is a nice drive but no ruts and the same with Old Oregon Trail Road that connects from Mountain Home, ID to Bliss, ID. I should have done better research before I left but really I had no idea I'd be so obsessed about it by the time I got to Glenn's Ferry on the way out there. You can pick up a map that shows the route and where you can still see the ruts.

We drove to the Canyonlands National Park outside of Moab, UT on the second day of our trip back home. It was another really interesting place to be. The geography and geology of the site are amazing and worth a visit. We will do the Arches National Park the next time we head out to Colorado. Maybe I'll get my butt in gear and post some of my pictures of our journey. While at the visitor's center at Canyonlands I bought my kids each a passport to the National Parks. I wish I had it last year on their first visit to Yellowstone. (Don't even get me started on how awesome that was.) There are stickers to place in the book as well as a spot to hand cancel the date that you visited. I thought it might be something they will enjoy when they are older.

I met the most awesome helpful people along the way. After traversing the Blue Mountains in the modern covered wagon (Yukon XL) in at least a foot of snow in mid-June, some nice man from the Parts Plus store in Baker City replaced the windshield wipers on my truck and gave me information for buying chains for my stupid fat wide tires that suck in the snow. On the way home there is a visitor's center in Naturita, CO where there is a really nice bathroom and an amazing amount of information in the form of murals and pamphlets and the lady who runs the place. In Moab, UT at the Napa Auto parts Store (Go Mikey!) this honest nice young guy (Employee #3) changed the bolt on my battery (stripped due to the nightly unscrewing and morning reconnection process) and got me all good to go with proper coolant levels for heading into the desert. He could have told me I needed a new battery and I would have bought one, ya know? There was the cheerful waitress Ana at Jeremiah's restaurant at the High Country Best Western in Ogden, UT who was just a doll and took good care of road weary travelers. I don't think I could have met nicer more helpful people along the way. It felt almost eerie in a good way how great people were.

We hit traffic in Salt Lake City, Boise and of course Seattle. The rest of the way was just fine. When we got home there was no one there to greet us but it was just as well because we could just collapse on the couch for a little bit and regroup. The house wasn't too bad, I have seen it worse on return. There were dishes in the sink and the dishwasher hadn't been emptied. There were sippy cup items in it so I am suspicious it is the last load I ran. There was no food (except a couple of Oreos), no clean towels although some laundry had been done but the coup de gras was there was no toilet paper. THEY WERE USING PUFF'S PLUS WITH LOTION TO WIPE THEIR BUTTS! Thank god we aren't on a septic system. I was too tired to go to the store last night so I found fish sticks and french fries in the freezer to make for the kids. We showered and went to bed. Today I mostly did kitchen clean up and laundry in an attempt to reclaim my house. I also went to the store and bought some provisions. I do miss sitting under the tree reading my book.

I just finished the The Lake of Dead Languages by Carol Goodman and found it a good read. I had a hard time putting it down so I kept it out on the journey home so I could read it if my mom got out of the car for any reason. The last time I got home from this trip I read Across the Great Divide : Robert Stuart and the Discovery of the Oregon Trail by Laton Mccartney. I found it really interesting. I have been on the hunt in used book stores along this journey for another Oregon Trail book In the Wake of the Prairie Schooner by Irene Paden. I didn't find it so I'll most likely buy it from Amazon. My mom told me a little about it last year, how her dad got the family out along the trail when she was a kid. They used that book as a guide. I might read Undaunted Courage : Meriwether Lewis, Thomas Jefferson, and the Opening of the American West by Stephen Ambrose as I heard a number of positive reviews by all kinds of people since last year. I also picked up some fun titles at the book store in Crested Butte, CO but they are still in the car so I can't share them with you yet.

I hope to feel settled enough by Monday to actually stamp again. Last year I was in a funk for a couple of weeks following our vacation. Hopefully things will go smoother this time. And nothing like a Girls' Night to get me back in the groove of things tomorrow night.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

People Are Weird

Some one from my past called me up out of the blue. Strangely enough he found me on vacation at my Dad's house. Normally I would welcome a call from an old friend. But the main point would be that this person is a friend. The person who called was a neighbor of mine from when I was 7. They lived next door for a year. I have no memories of this boy - and a faint one of his sisters who I actually played with. He was older than I was by about 3 years so maybe his experience was more meaningful than mine. He talked to me like I was his best friend and that we spent years together. My dad keeps in touch with his parents so that is how he made the connection. My mom told me that they were on the East coast to travel to historic sites so they were gone most every weekend. He told me all about his life and asked about mine. What I am going to share with this person? I told him about being married and my kids - we didn't have any memories to reminisce about ~ so we didn't. And he shares WAAAY too much information about one of his sisters and trauma that occurred to her as a child and how she can't over it and how none of the family is willing to do any of the things she asks of them to help her heal. By now I figure she must be the normal one and the rest of them, including him are the kooks. The whole conversation started off bizarre from the beginning.
"Hello? Is this Amy XXXXX? My name is Officer So and So from the Washington State Patrol. I am following up on a report that your vehicle has been stolen. Can you verify this information?"
I was stunned. I have driven my vehicle from Washington so how has it been reported stolen? Is something funky with the actual owner of the vehicle? Yikes! I am speechless and don't know what to say to this officer. He then asks me if I know who he is. (Like I am EVER going to guess that.) And then he confesses that he is who he actually is. Not exactly my humor but I like a good joke now and then. One of my friends got me good when she had her husband call me up as the IRS and give me the government inquisition for not doing my income tax on time. Now that was funny. But not appropriate for some one you don't know. And since he started it so weird I can't seem to get into the groove of the conversation. Since our parents are still friends I feel obligated to be nice and polite to this person but I want to hang up. We make nice for about 10 minutes and then he says he has to go.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Wedding Day!

My sister and her new husband were married today in a beautiful little chapel. Their vows to the kids ~ she has one boy and he has two boys and a little girl ~ made me cry. So sweet. My sister looked stunning and her new hubby was as handsome as ever. They were so happy. The reception was a good time - we got to show off our Electric Slide that we have been practicing for the past couple of nights. The only dance I didn't see performed was the Funky Chicken. The cake was so fun - with permission I might be able to post a couple of pictures. It is funny how family events bring the drama out in people and I am happy to say that it wasn't our side of the family. Our side has the potential to be pretty quirky so I was relieved. I feel bad for my new brother-in-law but he is the black sheep of that clan and that is just fine. He is an awesome guy.

The other drama that occurred today was a little more serious. We (my mom, the two little kids and I) arrived at the chapel and parked in the shade of a tree. It was warm today, sunny and in the 80's. I put the keys to my car on my seat and left the door open because Cole had fallen asleep and I didn't want the car to get too hot. I heard a bell dinging but it didn't really register with me as to why. I got Ryan dressed in the back of the Yukon as there was no way she was going to fit in her car seat wearing her fancy dress and petticoats so we had the trunk open. I had her out in the grass where it was cool and was just gathering the rest of my stuff. My mom shut the trunk and someone else did me a favor by shutting my door. That little dinging noise? Yeah, that was the car locking. With my little boy inside. I don't have any other keys. OnStar has gone digital and I didn't upgrade it from analog. I kinda freaked out a little bit, did some swearing, and then went numb. I saw CSI so I know how fast that situation can get bad. My dad called 911 and had them on their way. There was a table cloth hanging from a wire coat hanger in a nearby tree (after ceremony mini reception on the lawn) so this nice man attempted to break in my car. My cousin called the Yukon dealer to see if a key could be made. I checked someone else's vehicle in a similar shady area to see how hot it was getting on the inside. And there is Cole, just dozing away. People were really nice and supportive. And I know the one who shut my door felt horrible as she looked like she was going to cry. It took so long for the cop to show up - we were debating about which window to break when two vehicles pulled up. The cop and the locksmith. The locksmith attempted his fake keys and then went on to the door jimmy. After messing around with it for about 5 eternal minutes he got the door open - the alarm system beeping like crazy and that is when Cole woke up. That is also when I began to cry. Holy Crap, ya know? He was fine, not any hotter than he normally is when sleeping. I fed him so extra water and milk and he seemed fine. More clingy than usual during the ceremony but no surprise after waking up prematurely from a much needed nap. It is scary to me how many close calls I have had with serious injury or worse with my kids. I mean I know we wouldn't have let that situation get out of control - it is easy (?) to break a window, but life is tenuous. We have our blinders on for how fragile it really is. I know because I lost my sister when she was 21 in 1993. I feel like I am being watched over ~ that someone protects my children and I am thankful. We recovered nicely from our little episode and went on like normal. My kids had a lot of fun dancing and playing on the practice putting green right off the porch were everyone was gathered and getting jiggy with it. Na Na Na Na Na Na .....

Friday, June 13, 2008

Checking In!

We made it! We left on Monday and had a fun night in Cle Elum staying in a caboose near the Iron Horse State Park. The Bed and Breakfast was great. We knew that snow was expected on the pass that night and it was a heck of a storm east of there. The next day we hit snow - a foot of snow in the Blue Mountains in Oregon. My car's tires are not made for snow so it was a worrisome trip for me. And my windshield wipers are crappy, not scraping the snow completely off the driver's side. And I don't have windshield washing fluid with the antifreeze component, no I have soap and water remnants because my reservoir is cracked and you don't need the fancy stuff in the summertime. Made worse by the gallon of coffee I had consumed that afternoon. We were crawling up the pass at 25 mph just following the RV in front of us as traffic was down to one lane. There was no getting off the exits because they weren't plowed and you were only going to get stuck. After an hour of that when the snow had tapered off due to elevation drop, we made it to an exit with no services but I pulled off anyway. I squatted by the front passenger head light so that no one would see me as they were passing on the high way below but go figure that another car decides to use this useless exit. And there I am, in the rain, on a three point hover, with my pants down my ankles, giving them a clear shot of my vajayjay, peeing away that gallon of coffee. And I am not exaggerating, I peed forever which is quite the feat for me as I seem to have a rather small bladder or overactive gotta go trigger (I think they make drugs for that!). I waved with my free hand - what else am I going to do, ya know? On we went with out any more snow, but a new set of windshield wipers and the cost to buy chains for overly large tires. We made it Boise, ID that night. We were able to do some touristy stuff the next day by going to an Interpretive Center for the Oregon Trail. Last year we took this route and it follows the path that the trail took. I then read a bunch of history books on the trail so it was nice to be able to see these landmarks again with more understanding about them. Still have yet to see some wagon ruts though... maybe on the way home. Wednesday night we stayed in Salt Lake City which is a beautiful spot. We stopped at Stampin' Up! headquarters on the way out of town. Ryan and I were given a little tour. The building is beautiful. I didn't run into Kristina but it's not like I was going to ask to see her - can you imagine if all the people who watched MACM just stopped by to meet her? She'd be so fired. We watched a little clip of how they make stamps which was really cool. Ryan was given a little Stampin' Spot and a cute little stamp as a parting gift. We made to the house here by about 4:30 p.m. A number of my step-mom's family is here - her sisters and their kids and it is like just one big party. Last night there were Cosmopolitans (too many for me) and relearning the Electric Slide (the last time I did that was gym class in 8th grade). Such a blast. So I should sign off so I don't have bags under my eyes for the wedding tomorrow.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Bags are packed for Vay Kay

I finally got everything I think in the bags. Laundry is done, house is okay as is. I got my birthday dinner tonight - yummy Japanese! (Baseball tourneys all weekend.) My daughter likes California rolls as much as I do. :D My car died again last night. I caught it as it was taking its last breaths ~ I learned how to hook it up to the battery charger. I'll just have to go back to unplugging the battery every night so it doesn't die on our trip. The plan is to go to the gym for one last step class with my favorite instructor - she has a C-section tomorrow and will be gone for 6 weeks. Then, banking, last minute vehicle maintenance, gas up and try to get new tabs on the vehicle. Yeah, whoops! Shower, load car and off we go to get my mom. Like I wrote before I should be able to make updates while in CO. Today, I researched all the Starbucks between here and CO and then paired it up with a municipal park. A nice way to travel with kids. Oh, and you know how I mentioned that there was no way not to send the daughter off to college abroad - the only way it won't happen is if she decides herself not to go. Today she was tottering off that plan and looking at the in-state college. She doesn't feel right having Dad spend so much money sending her to school. (Cool!) I think she is caught up in the emotions of the high school doors locking behind her. We'll see what develops. If she doesn't go, I can't change her bedroom and we will most likely have to spend too much money on another vehicle for the younger kid. Ahhhhhhhh! However if she stays then my son will be more likely to remember her and that would be good. It is so funny how life isn't simple. If I had one of those Crazy 8 balls that tells you answers to your questions I am sure it would tell me to "ask again later".
Later Alligators!

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Haven't been here in forever...

Gosh, I haven't even framed an experience with a blogger's mind for so long now, I feel kinda rusty. Not that I am a pro at this. Darn it, I didn't win the Wii. I finally got the checkbook in the computer (2005 thru current) and have it balanced. Now hubby just has to make enough money to cover everything. If you thought of our finances as an outfit, it would look like something close to this: an expensive nice pair of shoes paired with a mini-skirt and crop top. Not as bad as pasties, but trust me - they're under the crop top if things get worse. Still have to figure out how we send a kid to college abroad in the fall. We make too much to qualify for federal loans but have no cash to speak of. Got all kinds of equity tied up in various places. I can't stand it. Oh, and not an option not to send the kid to college abroad, even though she got into a good in-state school. The half-full side of that is I'll just commandeer her bedroom for the two little kids about a month after she takes off. I want to put them in bunk beds. (There are four of us in the master bedroom right now.) Anyway, so I have been trying to get the checkbook all figured out and in before we leave on our trip on Monday. He wants to pay bills and then figure out how much he has to put in the account and I would rather work with a budget with the funds in the account and send them off from there. Hate joint checking too. Would rather not have him access the account other than to put money into it. He was mad at me because I took the IRS refund and stuck it in the account to pay bills and didn't say anything to him about it. I swear, if he had known there was that kind of money in the account he would have bought the latest computer for one of the older kids (none of the 3 computers between the 2 of them is very old) and funneled more money towards some baseball invention he is involved in. I think we should pay bills first, ya know? Oh, and eat. So that's done, but of course it will be a mess when I get home because he doesn't record checks in the register - hence the carbon copy checks. He spends money like he has it. Just wish we did.
I finally went to Urgent Care and got myself a check-up. Bronchitis and Sinusitis. So I am on Amoxicillin: 2 pills 3 times a day. I also got myself a little prescription for Diflucan for the unfortunate side effect of the other antibiotics. Ladies, you with me on this? I'll take that pill tomorrow. I remember the first time I ended up with a yeast infection because I went to the Doctor. It was in college and had gotten myself a pretty good cold, good ol' chest infection so got some antibiotics for that one and a week later had my very first yeast infection. I was pretty steamed up that no one warned me that I might end up with a little problem elsewhere. So I was proactive with this sets of drugs. Don't want that hassle ever, never mind the week I am due for my period, traveling for 3 days in the car and attending a wedding a week from now.
Let's see, last week I was also really pissed off at my husband. It all boils down to priorities. The pie chart is huge in the favor of one kid. Totally uncool. I wanted to attend a baby shower. I thought I had worked it out with him that he was going to look after the little ones while I went. The day before he informs me that he never actually gave me an answer and to call my mom to see if she could do it. (She jumped at the chance to spend time with the little ones. I love my mom. She is always there for me.) He told me that when he watches them he can't get anything done. (It means they actually want him to play with them instead of on his computer on the couch.) He is actually standing in the doorway telling me this as he is headed out to the baseball field for a friggin' double header. What the hell are you getting done while sitting on your ass for 6 hours on a bleacher? Gosh, what is that gushing sound in my ears? It's my hubby, winning the Hoover Award for Dad of the Year.

I made him a Father's Day card anyway. Because my kids love their dad. I'll have the kids sign it and stash it for F's D and have him open it then. All supplies are Stampin' Up! unless otherwise noted. Base card is Real Red, with a layer of Basic Black and Whisper White. I put the Black where I wanted it on the Red and placed it down on the cutter to slice away. Same with the next layer of White. My friend Toni asked if I had glued it down and then cut it. It was a great idea I didn't think of. The Red "Father" from the All Holidays set is on pop dots. A little bit of gingham to just add a touch and there you have a bold masculine Father's Day card. He also actually remembered my birthday so I went ahead and got him a replacement pocket knife for the one he lost a couple of months ago. His pocket knife is just part of his daily personal toolkit. He has his wedding band, watch, wallet, and belt that he carries on his person every day. The sound his watch makes - the links that hold the band together - are part of his music that he makes when he moves. His pocket knife usually clips onto his jeans and he uses it for all kinds of things. It isn't one of those Swiss Army knives, but he uses as if it were. It disappeared and I know he is missing it, because I miss it too. It is always handy to have him around if he has his knife on him.

I also made a card for my nephew who will be turning 9 while we are in Colorado with him. I had originally set aside a card for him that has this cute little frog on it: "Have I toad you how much I love you lately?" (Stampin' Up!) But I found out today how much he loves camouflage. I am thinking that if he likes camo, he might not be into little toadies. So I made him this card: The base card is Kraft. The other layers are Always Artichoke, Chocolate Chip, Close to Cocoa, and Mellow Moss. The layers on top of the Always Artichoke are on pop dots. The sentiment is also from All Holidays and is stamped in Close to Cocoa on twill tape. Love that stuff! Aged copper brads from the Hodgepodge Hardware. Used the Mat Pack and piercer from Making Memories Crafter's Toolkit to pierce around the edges of the paper. I think I would like to make this card again but tear the paper into strips and then place the layers and see how that camo turns out. I'll cut off that little bit of tape fringe off before I give it to him.

It will be forever before I get to make another card again! We leave on Monday, wedding is next Saturday and not sure when we will be heading back here. I am not in a rush to return. Can I tell you how much I am looking forward to my vacation? I won't have to cook dinner for at least six people who won't show up or like what I have fixed. I will not have to put up with any one's dirty dishes in the sink or the counter or where ever, even when the dishwasher is empty. It will all just accumulate until maybe the folks around here actually notice that they are messy and expect someone else to clean up after them. They will run out of dishes until they remember to actually load the dishwasher. After they scrape the mold out of the drinking glasses left on the computer table and bedside shelf. They will run out of room to leave dirty dishes in the sink and on counters. They will run out of clean pots and pans to cook in. They will run out of towels because a new one everyday is dropped on the bathroom floor or left to mold in the corner of a smelly bedroom. They will run out of toilet paper because no one bothers to put anything on a shopping list. They will have to look for their shoes at the front door in the massive pile that will accumulate there in a matter of days. They will be unable to tell which pile of laundry is clean because as each new person does laundry they empty the previous load to the floor. Do you think they are going to mop the floor of the laundry room? They will run out of space in the garbage can because they don't bother to recycle. The last bulb will burn out in the living room and leave them in total darkness because the lights will not turn off by themselves any other way. Hopefully no one will break, well.... just open the front door and steal stuff because the door is always left unlocked, even when no one is home. And if it does get locked then dad will have to drive 20 minutes back home to let someone in because this person can't remember to carry the house key on his person. Somehow remembers the cell phone, tho. But school will be out and really, someone is always at home and on the computer or watching TV and bonus, there will likely be friends over while no adult is at home. The personal trainer will have to let himself in the house to wakey wakey his student. PT is strong enough to open the door despite the layer of crap that impedes its progress. My guess is that the lawn will be about 1 foot tall, not that I mow it now, but that the house will be unpleasant to reside in so the only one who does mow it will spend more time at the hangar. I hope he has fun doing it all by himself because that is what he asks of them now. Ahhhh, Vacation. I just hope Fishy survives. I'll call Merry Maids or Terminex to hit the house before I return.

I should be able to post from CO because I'll have access to the computers while we are there. Where I am going it might actually act like summer instead of mid-February.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

I am still here...

Sorry.... I have been sick for the past couple of days and not been on the computer for fun. I have needed to balance my checkbook for a long time and I am trying to get the whole thing done before we go on our trip on Monday. I haven't made any cards. Plus I have been too PO'd at my husband to even be funny about him while blogging. More on that later. It all boils down to priorities: his and mine are different. I wish he put his kids higher up on his list. Men are so weird, ya know?