Wednesday, July 31, 2013

When it Rains it Pours

Hot, cool, rainy, sunny, stormy, windy. . .you name it, we experienced it on vacation.  We wore sweatshirts, swimsuits, and rain gear, sometimes on the same day.  We saw it all.

One night in the UP of Michigan, rain was predicted.  We had wifi at this campground, so we checked the radar, looked at the sky above the lake and discussed what might be coming in the night.  Then we went to bed.

In our pop-up on the beach.  And when I say on the beach, I mean just a 2 second hop to Lake Superior.  

About 12:30, the rain started.  It was nothing to be concerned about at first, and we have certainly weathered many a storm in the camper.  We both laid awake, listening to the rain.  Then, seemingly out of nowhere, the wind began.  My husband quickly sat up and looked out the window.  "It's going!" he said, referring to our freestanding canopy over the picnic table.  I bolted up and over the bed next to me, probably squishing two girls' legs in the process.  Moving too quickly to get my shoes on, I ran outside barefoot and grabbed onto the canopy with all my puny little might, holding it against the wind until my husband made it out of the camper.  As I was holding it, I prayed, "Thank you Lord, that the rain has momentarily subsided.  Maybe we can get this down without getting too wet."


Quite soon after my little prayer, my husband came out to help me start taking the canopy down.  And then the skies let loose and poured.  We were almost instantly soaked as we tried to collapse the poles and disassemble the canopy enough to keep it from catching the wind.  Finally, exhausted and freezing, we had it on the ground and weighted down enough till morning.

We turned to assess the rest of the campsite and as we did, woosh! The canopy on the camper flew up and over the top of the camper, taking with it all the poles and towels that were drying on it.  The poles were clanging and we feared for the van behind the camper, but the van was unharmed.  I threw open the camper door, yelled over the wind to the kids, "We're fine!!!  Just trying to fix the canopies!!  Don't be scared!!" and slammed the door shut.  I'm sure they were quite reassured.

I honestly can't recall exactly how we got the canopy off the roof, but somehow we did.  As we were pulling the towels down and getting the poles apart, we heard singing in the camper.  We looked at each other, puzzled, finished our job and went into the camper, shivering.  

As we entered the pop-up, we heard the kids singing praise songs.  Our oldest son had organized the scared younger ones (and possibly himself) and he and our oldest daughter were leading them in singing praise songs to calm their fears about the storm.  

We settled everyone back down, turned the heater on, changed our clothes and headed back to bed.  Two of the five children announced they needed to go potty.  Sigh.  I asked them to weigh how much they had to go against the rain that was still pouring outside.  Both opted to wait until morning.

Note to self:  Never, ever persuade a child not to use the bathroom in the middle of the night.  Regret will surely follow.

After 30 or more minutes of settling down another child who was still wound up and unable to sleep, I finally drifted off.  About 4:30, one of the "I-can-wait-till-morning" children woke me up and told me that his/her earlier statement was, in fact, untrue.  And that it was too late.  More sighing (I should probably stop doing that) and frustration with myself that I hadn't taken the children to bathroom in the first place.  After some makeshift bed rearranging, we slept the scant rest of the night without incident.

Vacationing with our family is nothing if not an adventure.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Lunch Lady

It happens every summer, every extended school break.

The day is going along swimmingly - me going about my various thrilling chores around the house, the kids playing outside or reading or arguing about super duper important stuff - when SCREECH!!!  Everything comes to a halt.

The kids want lunch.

Lunch, I tell you, is the bane of my existence.  I can have dinner planned or chugging along in the crock pot, and the breakfast dishes all rinsed and in the dishwasher, but lunch!  Lunch gets me every time.

Why must they eat it?  Inquiring minds want to know.  I attempt to be quasi-creative with my lunch choices, but it usually boils down to a sandwich, fruit and chips, with the occasional mac and cheese or leftovers.  Even I could skip it, and I am a fan of meals.  And basically eating in general.

So here I am, cleaning up the lunch dishes (that most of the kids remembered to clear, at least), thinking there must be a better way.  What is it, dear reader??  I'm assuming DCFS would not approve of me skipping the entire meal, so what's a mom to do?  How do you keep 12:00 fresh and exciting?

Monday, July 29, 2013

We're baaaaaack!

Yes, as my earlier post mentioned, we have returned home from our three week sojourn into the wilds of northern Michigan and Canada.  We camped, we hiked, we swam, we drove, we explored, we enjoyed the beautiful landscape.  Oh, and we used pit toilets.  Waaay too many times.

The seven of us spent almost three weeks in our little pop-up camper, (mostly) enjoying each other's company.  Here are a few highlights, and I may tell a specific story or two in later posts.

  • The last many family trips we have taken, we have returned with a theme song or two.  This year, our Epic Music was from the RobinHood soundtrack (Prisoner of the Crusades).  It is also the background music from some Disney promotions, so you would recognize it I'll bet.  We listened to it many, many times in Canada.  The boys requested it every other song.  Our other Epic Music was the soundtrack to Little Women, a fave of my husband's and mine, and now our older daughter as well.  A certain boy was not pleased to share the Epic Music title with such a girly movie soundtrack.  He'll have to get over it.
  • We must have passed 25 or more billboards advertising the Pictured Rocks Coastline both on our way up and on our way back.  My husband unfailingly pointed each one out to my oldest son.  It got to be a joke and he always got a laugh from the vanful of kids.
  • We celebrated two birthdays while away - our youngest son is now seven, and our littlest one is now four.  Each child happened to receive a gift from a campsite neighbor (at two different campgrounds) - a testament to how friendly campers are to one another.  Each child got his/her own number candle and cupcakes to share as we sang Happy Birthday, and opened presents that had made the trip with us. 
  • We had been to the UP of Michigan many years ago, but had never really been to Canada (outside of just crossing the border for a few hours).  We were stunned by Canada's beauty.  Rolling hills (almost mountains) offset by gorgeous Lake Superior made for amazing views.  We hiked to many places and enjoyed others simply by driving through the Provincial Park.  
  • Our first week of camping was spent with my whole family.  The kids had a blast playing with their cousins, the beach was a very short walk away, and camping is a lot easier with six adults helping!  My parents celebrate their 45th wedding anniversary this year, so my sister and I came up with a Family Trivia Game that we played one evening by the campfire.  Filled with trivia questions spanning 60 years, we laughed and reminisced for a good long time. 
  • Pictures!  My husband gave his iphone a workout during our trip, and he was able to capture lots of beautiful scenery, family pictures and memories.  We will enjoy them for years to come.
Now that my oldest is safely off to camp for the week, the laundry is caught up and the camper is cleaned and closed back up, I feel officially back to regular life.  The kids are back to their lists and outside playing with neighbor friends.  We are settled back into routine, albeit only for the next three weeks, when school starts!

Saturday, July 27, 2013

They Will Know We Are Lutherans By Our Donuts

Just got back late last night from vacation.  I am swimming in laundry, gear, camping dishes that need a thorough wash, and kids who can't seem to remember how to entertain themselves in their own house.  I will blog soon about our adventures, but for now I am treading water and can leave you only with this little tidbit:

In our last campground, we were in the middle of nowhere; the nearest town at least an hour away.  We decided to do our own service at the beach near our campsite.  As we were discussing songs, readings etc., we told the kids the plan.  We would have family church on a blanket by the beautiful lake.

My little daughter, now age 4, says to me quite seriously, "Will there be donuts there?"

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Happy 4th!

Things continue to hop around here at the house o' mammamilk.  We are jumping from one activity to the next and my hair quite possibly might be on fire.  As my mom said to me the other day, "This is how you like life, right?"  Well. . .yes in general, but perhaps a bit less cray cray would also be acceptable.  Not going to complain though (or am I doing that now?), since everything that is keeping us busy is all good stuff!  Family reunion, multiple trips to see family, visits from friends, visits to friends. . .it's all good!  So what if the house looks like a tornado hit it?  What's more important here, peeps?

I was awakened last night by a child who thought it was time to get up (at 4:30 - I straightened him out quickety quick!) because the clock radio in his room was unplugged.  As I got back into bed after our little tete a tete, I pondered my own clock situation.  Last week we had a power outage and I had to reset my bedside clock radio.  I spent several frustrated minutes with it, only to resign myself to the fact that the hour button refused to comply.  This radio might possibly be as old as my marriage, and apparently not nearly as hardy.  After reviewing my options - a:  buy new clock, b: steal borrow one of my children's clocks, c: mentally adjust the time each time I read the time, d: sigh in frustration - I chose c and d.  This means that in the middle of the night or early morning, I must awaken, look at the clock and subtract three hours to determine the accurate time.  I know you think I am super smart and really on the ball, but this takes quite a bit of mental acuity.  Which I really don't have.  So sorry to disappoint you, dear reader.  But I'm working on it!  Gotta keep my brain sharp somehow - might as well work on it day and night!

I'd like to blog more, but I have seven children in my house/on my deck and they are rather demanding.  Several are playing the wii and others are on the deck making water "recipes" with measuring cups.  My children promised with all their little hearts that if I let them play inside with their neighborhood friends they would clean up any and all messes that might mysteriously materialize.  I'll let ya know how that turns out.