Sunday, July 31, 2011

Endless Summer

Tomorrow?  August.

You know what that means, don't you?  There's an entire month of summer vacation left, 2 months of summer weather to survive, and 3 months until the mosquitoes stop biting us.  (Yes, Halloween - if we're lucky, we get a frost by then.)

Been there, done that already...
Now, I don't know about you, but we've really taken summer by the horns here.  I mean, we swung right into it, going to the pool, attending band camp, eating Italian ices and popsicles, ordering pizza for dinner (6 dollars on Monday nights!), toasting marshmallows, family camping, family name it, we've done it.  Every. Single. Day.  For 6 weeks.

August?  Simply redundant.  The bloom is off the rose, as far as this summer season goes.  Still in the 90's, still going to the pool, still eating popsicles...

You know, I think I'm already dreaming of a white Christmas.

Ahh...that feels better already...

 [endless summer image:]
[summer fun image: RenovateStudents]
[Christmas tree: 123RF]

Friday, July 29, 2011

7 Quick Takes: Camping Tips Edition

[Howdy to all of you stopping by from BlogHer!  Besides camping survival advice, we've got advice on several other topics here: how to know that you have too many kids, for instance, or tips on teenager management,  or how to handle  sibling fighting...just to name a few.  Or, if you prefer, check out how 20 years of parenting vastly changes the things you worry about.  And don't forget our old standby's - mice and vomit.  They're here, too.  So stick around a bit - and if you get hungry, just go to the fridge and grab some salsa.  We have plenty.]

 Remember to take advantage of your remote location by sitting out and looking up at all the stars in the sky.  I would add that it is important to do this on the first evening, as the rain on subsequent evenings may prevent you from pursuing this particular activity.


Bring crowd-pleasing food.  Sure, my children may be suffering a nitrite overdose; but I heard nary a complaint as we dished out baked beans and hot dogs each night.  Roasted marshmallows for dessert weren't a problem either.  Ah, it's the camping life for me!


Bring children who know how to cook.  Let's face it, ladies - it's hardly a vacation if you're slaving over a propane camp stove every day, right?  Of course, right!  Luckily we had Theo, who - being hungry - didn't mind stirring the baked beans and slapping together the sandwiches.  This had the added advantage of giving me extra time to attempt to disinfect the toilet seats in the bathhouse. (Note to self: next time, bring blowtorch)


This isn't big enough.

Make sure to have a REALLY BIG tent.  That way, when the teenage boys are flooded out of their smaller tent by the torrential rain on the second night, you don't have a mutiny on your hands as they crowd in with the rest of the family.  Slumber party time!


Arrange IN ADVANCE with your partner just who exactly will accompany small children to the toilet in the middle of the night.  This prevents you from losing extra sleep while having to point out to him at 2 AM that HE was the one who was so gung-ho about introducing the children to the joys of camping. 


These gals should be grimacing in pain.
Try to remember - pedaling a boat is never fun.  I mean, unless you enjoy feeling as though you are running through rapidly hardening lava.  In that case, have at it.


And don't forget...stop by Jen's 7 Quick Takes at Conversion Diary - she may not have camping tips, but with 5 kids aged 7 and under, she is definitely roughing it.

[campfire mug photo: Zazzle]
[tent photo:]
[pedal boat photo: GizMag]

Sunday, July 24, 2011

The Family That Camps Together...

We've been busy getting ready to go camping for a few days.  Yup - you know me, Miss Outdoorsy, I yearn to sleep on the ground and eat baked beans from a can and be bitten by mosquitoes non-stop.  Doesn't all that just scream "vacation" to you?

I blame the economy.  And bedbugs...and the humidity...we're heading for higher elevations where (so the website claims) the climate is more like Canada's.  Dear Lord, let that be true.

This picture is a lie.  The mom is smiling.  Larry does not know how to play guitar.  And the children aren't fighting.

I keep repeating to myself, "This will be fun.  This WILL be fun.  This will be FUN."  But I'm no fool.  I'm thinking the only benefit to this type of family getaway will be my happiness upon returning to my air-conditioned  home.  It's like banging your head against the wall - it feels so good when you stop.  Not that I know anything about that...

Again, why is this woman smiling?
In the meantime, it took Larry and I several hours to figure out that - considering our minivan is packed to the gills for a non-camping vacation - it stands to reason that we cannot possibly add 2 tents, 8 sleeping bags, and assorted other wilderness paraphernalia to the vehicle without violating the laws of our physical universe.  Meaning?  We have to drive both minivans and spend twice as much on gas.  And here I thought camping was supposed to SAVE us money.  What's up with that? 

Also, if I have to drive, I can't knit.  So there goes the relaxation part of my trip.  Not to mention the lack of Internet (fare thee well, all my Words with Friends compatriots!) and cellphone coverage... I swear, it's as if we're pretending to be the Flintstones. 

And now there's a mouse scratching in the ceiling above my head here in the den of my blessedly modern abode.  Are there mice at campsites?  I think I might have just found my silver lining.

[Outdoors Woman image: Texas Parks and Wildlife]
[Family picture: Go Camping America]
[Minivan image: My Summer Vacation]

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

And Now For A Little Fresh Air

I'll admit it - I've been sulking.  My summer isn't shaping up quite as I had envisioned it (I blame Larry, as he steadfastly refuses to buy me a summer home on Martha's Vineyard) and I started feeling sorry for myself, being trapped in our current hellhole of heat and humidity while EVERYONE ELSE IN THE WHOLE WORLD gets to spend a week or two or three at the beach or a mountain lake or whatever.

And then I got this email from someone named Sara Wilson.  She works for the Fresh Air Fund, placing inner-city kids with suburban families like mine. Sara says that there are still many children on her waiting list, kids who would consider it a really neat treat to spend a week or two living in what I term a hellhole, going to the pool and eating popsicles and playing outside on one of the 3000 old scooters we have lying around the house.  And if it got too hot outside? Why, they would probably be thrilled to spend some time in our air-conditioned abode, playing Othello or Legos or whatever we might happen to have going on.  They wouldn't be averse to a trip to the library, either, or to the bakery that hands out huge samples of yummy bread to everyone who comes in.

We have trees - this might just work...
Yes, we're spoiled.  So spoiled we can't even appreciate what we have and how other children would love to have a piece of that.  I'm thinking it might teach my kids a valuable lesson to see how happy their lives can make other, less privileged, children.  Of course, I'd first have to get over my inordinate fear of other people's children.  But I'm working on it.  In the meantime, if any of you folks can find it in your hearts to share a week of your own boring summer with someone else's child, just toodle on over to Sara's website and see what you can do.

Jennifer Jo?  Have you anything to add? (That link looks like it is about zucchini bread, but there's more.)

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Heat Wave

Today?  It was only 89 and I refused to turn on the AC.  I figure that way, when it gets even hotter this week, life will seem great by comparison.  Although, when you see "100" on the weather report (and that's not even "real feel"), there isn't much you can do to make things seem okay.  Aside from stocking up on popsicles, of course...

Tell me, exactly how hot does it have to get before one risks spontaneously combusting?

Luckily, I've already signed Susie up for vacation bible school this week.  Although I wasn't able to follow through on the plans I made last year, which involved signing the girls up for every VBS within a 5-mile radius of our house, it wasn't for lack of trying.  Turns out that too many churches have VBS the exact same week of the summer - I guess they are on to me and my wily schemes.  Still, for a mere 10 dollars, I have 15 glorious hours of free time the next 5 mornings.  I think I'll spend it catching up on housework.

Ha, ha, ha - oh, I slay me.

[Popsicle image: How E-musing]

Friday, July 15, 2011

7 Quick Takes: Post Harry Potter Edition

We've entered a new era, folks - the After Harry Potter years (AHP, for short).  Will kids stop reading?  Will booksellers go out of business en masse?  Can anyone think of something to look forward to now that the final movie has been produced and viewed?  Dark times, I'm telling you - we're living in dark times...


Because Larry and I are obsessed with having enough money to live on when we are old and decrepit, we don't tend to take our kids to the movies.  So last night was the first time David had actually seen a movie in a real live movie theater.  While he stood in line for our seats, I visited the concession stand and came back with a tub of popcorn and 2 large cokes (hey, it was a special occasion, all right?).  I handed him his soda.

"What's this?" he asked.

"It's your Coke, enjoy!" I told him.

"But...this is huge.  There must be a quart of liquid in here."

"It was the same price as the small, once I bought the tub of popcorn."

"We're going to eat all this popcorn?  By ourselves?"

"Hurry up," I urged him.  "If you finish it before the movie starts, I can get us a free refill." 

"A refill?" he said, shaking his head as he stared at the gallon of buttery popped kernels he held in his arms. 

Welcome to America, kid...


I made Brian cry this evening by telling him to wash the dishes while I cleaned up the kitchen around him.  And then I pissed off Anna by pulling her out of bed (it was only 8:30) to put up the kitchen chairs and sweep.  "I hardly slept last night!" she protested. 

Hey, sweetheart - same here.  Welcome to adulthood, where you have to do stuff even when you're tired.


No one sits down until we ALL sit down.  That's my motto.


David is feverishly packing for his Boy Scout hiking trip this weekend.  I try not to take it personally, but he does love to get the heck out of here.  That's okay - Theo is coming home from Morocco on Monday, and I'm pretty sure HE'll appreciate living in a domicile where English is spoken and the wireless Internet flows freely.  I've already got him scheduled to cook dinner on Tuesday.  


Larry's going hiking, also.   No, really, that's all right.  I mean, it's not like I'm stuck here by myself with the kids all week or anything.  Oh, wait...


You can go visit Jennifer over at the original 7 Quick Takes.  She's home with 4 kids 7 and under, plus a newborn; yet I bet she wouldn't complain if her husband went on a hiking trip.

[Popcorn image: All New Tips]
[Sweeping image: Clipart ETC]
[Hiking image: Blue Bonkers]

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows Eve

That doesn't sound right.  But, yes, I'm going.  I can't allow my 14-year-old to miss this seminal cultural event.  And we all know from past experience that Larry, while an adventure-loving guy, is simply not up to these Harry Potter events. If you care to join us at midnight tonight, I'll be the short, scared-looking Muggle clutching a bottomless popcorn while sipping from a vat-sized cup of Coca-Cola. When in Rome, you know...

Sunday, July 10, 2011

News You Can't Use

The BBC news website tells me that Scientists in Scotland Decode Potato Genome - and the question here is "Why?"  Were they bored?  Hungry?  Are they trying to clone waffle fries? 

None of the above - they were decoding it in order to boost potato harvests.  Because there just aren't enough french fries in this world already...

In related news, there's this humdinger in the Washinton Post: Adult Obesity Increases in 16 States.  It says, and I quote, "Adult obesity rates increased in 16 states in the past year and did not decline in any state, according to an annual report from the Trust for America’s Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation."  In other words, lay off the french fries, people!  Or at least stop eating them while you are driving around in your cars.

I'm thinking those Scottish scientists should be decoding the celery genome instead, no?

And, yes, I did use the word "humdinger" up there.  I'm turning into Colonel Potter from MASH.  And I don't care a horse's patootie about that.

Oh, ouch, now the BBC is telling me that Americans are fatter than Canadians.   Or, more precisely, a higher percentage of Americans are fat than are our northern brethren.  Well, la-di-da, you smug monarchy lovers, you - I'm sure if we were freezing our butts off from October until May every year, we'd be burning a lot more calories, too. 

Also?  Maybe the Canadians don't have waffle fries. 

Time to go feed my poor, fated-for-obesity American children...too bad ChikFilA isn't open on Sundays...

[Waffle fries image: Freemania]
[Col Potter photo: The Supply Tent]

Thursday, July 07, 2011

Condiment Craziness

My kids have had some form of hotdogs 4 nights running now.

The reduced-fat Hebrew National kind, though - I'm nothing if not health-conscious.

The 3 youngest eat hotdogs with ketchup instead of mustard.  Now, if God had meant for us to eat hotdogs with ketchup, he wouldn't have given us tastebuds.  I can't even watch them eat like that; it makes me sick.  This is what happens when a Jew marries a goy - the children grow up confused.

And, yes, that's all I've got tonight.  I'm pretty worn out, what with all the microwaving I had to do for dinner tonight.

[Hotdog image:]

Monday, July 04, 2011

Who Needs BBQ?

Unfortunately, it's this version of God Bless the USA which keeps running through my head today...

Happily, being irreverent is one of the freedoms we happen to be celebrating.