Catsup? Ketchup? Catch-up? It’s all sauce.

Crap everywhere syndrome is what I call it when my children get out multiple categories of things out and never put them back. It’s a curse that every parent is blessed with. Sometimes, amongst the chaos, we find the most wonderful keepsakes:

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She’s a master wordsmith.

It’s mostly word-for-word from a book she was reading at the time. I’m fairly certain the poop part was improv. After we found it and had thoroughly chortled, we helped her come up with some new similes that were not so crappy.

Remember when I told you we needed a new control board for the jacks? The control board came in, and guess what? THAT WAS NOT THE PROBLEM. It ended up being a jack motor, and thankfully General RV was able to get it ordered and installed in a miserable but timely manor. They also dented the camper twice, ripped off a corner, and lost a trim piece but I can’t with that. I had to let it go to be able to function as a semi-normal human and not have an aneurysm.

November 16th we FINALLY GOT TO LEAVE MICHIGAN! It’s not that we don’t love all of our wonderful family and friends, it’s that we were COLD. We headed straight down I-75 and spent a whirlwind few days in our Old Kentucky Home! Whispering Hills RV park in Georgetown was our base of operations again.

We had a WONDERFUL time in Kentucky! We spent an afternoon at the Explorium with Wesson’s friend Harlie and her family. Horses to ride, dinosaur eggs to hatch, a bubble room, and good company! What’s not to love?

And we went to Monkey Joe’s with the always wonderful Nalleys! No one took any photos! We were too busy chatting, and the kids were all over the place. I think Melissa tried to take a picture at the end but the kids protested and that was it. That’s ok, we know what we all look like, and how could we ever forget them, anyway?

I also spent some time at the Fraternal Order of Police Auxiliary Fall Bazaar catching up with a few police friends. Again, no photos. Way to go!

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You got it, G-Town!

Our next home was a Bass Pro Shops parking lot in Chattanooga. It’s perfectly fine to stay in a parking lot once in a while, and lots of people choose Walmart or Sam’s Club. I prefer a good Bass Pro, though. For some reason it feels less gross. Maybe it’s the clientele…

On our way through Georgia the next day we stopped to pee at Confederate Air Force Pad #1.

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I mean, we used our own bathroom while parked next to the missile. No one peed on any relics from the 60’s.

Can we talk about a rooster that needs to be battered and fried? The campground we stayed at in Georgia had the “best” rooster. Instead of a gentle wake up call when the sun came up he sounded as if he’d been a 40 year smoker. CAW-HOOOORK! CAW-HOOOORK! Please, Georgia, put it out of our misery.

You know what comes after Georgia: FLORIDA!!! We had finally made it! The sun was hot, and the air was hot, and the ground was hot…Maybe there are regrets? Nah. The first Florida campground we graced with our presence was covered in Michigangsters. The retired University of Michigan professor in the Airstream behind us was from Lansing (go figure), the couple next to us were from Kalamazoo and Silver Lake, and the young family on the other side of them were from Auburn Hills! We couldn’t have planned it, honestly.

Justin ended up saving the couple from K-Zoo almost immediately. Their jacks were broken and he found a way to fix it without too much labor, and then we noticed that they were leaking propane like crazy! They were thankful for his help and as much as we protested they insisted on giving him a little something in the form of a visa gift card. We immediately put it towards a fancy new microscope for the kids (ROOOOAD SCHOOOOL) and made sure everyone thanked them profusely. They were great people, and hopefully we’ll see them again down the road.

Oh, and my non-socialized homeschool children made friends immediately. Huh, who’d have thunk it.

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Real Thanksgiving went off without incident. I take that back, I burnt the ever loving crap out of the pie. I made pie crust from scratch – which was fantastic, by the way – and then I realized that I didn’t have a pie pan. In the spirit of improvise, adapt, overcome I made tiny pies with the muffin tins. I stuck my petite homemade delicacies on the grill and not so promptly made them inedible. Live and learn.

November 28th we went to Manatee beach! Yay! We needed a Christmas card photo and we really just needed to play on the beach.

Look at those pretty little beach babies! The sun was hot and the water was crystal clear. Many sandcastles were made. Wesson’s wish for the day was to “sit back, relax, and float” and he certainly made his dreams come true.

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We even got a somewhat decent family photo out of the day as well! Success!

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I really like this cute photo of Mara, but she was, of course, being sassy at the time. I had made them perfectly good hamburgers for lunch, and she stopped mid-burger to say:

Mara: Where do they sell brisket?

Me: Texas

Mara: Next time we move, move us STRAIGHT to Texas.

WELL! SOMEbody knows what she wants. I don’t blame her, I could use a brisket burger right about now too.

 

 

Justin and I had been collecting beer and tiny liquor bottles up until this point so that we could make each other adult advent calendars!

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That’s Justin’s collection. My tiny accumulation of bottles ended up as ornaments on the Christmas tree.

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We’re currently down to the last two and have only poured out two a piece. That’s a pretty darn good track record. Some may say that you never pour out a beer. We are of the party that says life is too short for shitty alcohol. Pour it out and move on to something better! That’s how you can tell that we aren’t alcoholics. *wink*

New destinations mean new places to ride our bicycles. Justin had been out a few times before I decided to head out myself and see what the area offered. I ended up in a nature preserve surrounded by vultures. I know, I know. That escalated quickly. One of the key features of this area is ALL OF THE BUZZARDS. Wauchula, Florida must be where all the good carrion is rotting. These bastards, however, were not moving out of my way when I wanted to ride my bike down the path.

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It’s not that I was necessarily scared of them, it’s that 1) I thought that if they all took off at once I’d be collateral damage and take a wing to the face or something or B) I would scare them and then they would projectile vomit on me. Yes, that’s a thing. No, I do not want to experience it first hand. I sacrificed this man to them and waited to see if he’d make it through unscathed.

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Thank you, random walker!

While I was waiting I saw this sign next to the alligator infested lake:

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I bet the buzzards did it.

Good news! He lived! He cleared the path and I triumphantly rode my bicycle through the area and beyond. On the way back the vultures were having some sort of meeting with a (live) cat – in the middle of the path AGAIN. I did what I should have done the first time and made a lot of noise, and everybody begrudgingly trotted away.

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Note to self: put an air horn on your Amazon Wish List.

It’s, like, three sleeps ’til Christmas right now and I’m missing all of December on the ol’ blog so you know that you’ll be hearing from me again tomorrow.

I’ll leave you with this found masterpiece, fresh from the depths of Florida:

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Ruff, indeed.

You’re welcome.

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Why are you driving a new truck and why are you still stuck in Michigan? October, that’s why.

Remember when I told you about Justin’s new nose? Eight days later he tried to kill it and the rest of him.

22104405_10155639151228548_4883393787004605937_oThat’s a brand new bicycle, FYI. He says that if you don’t crash at least once a bike ride then you aren’t doing it right. This, ladies and gentlemen, is what I live with. AND I have two little people who act just like him. *sigh*

We need to talk about the truck for a minute or two. The front end of the white beast started to shimmy and shake like crazy. After we’d sunk a week and several hundred dollars into replacing most of the front end it was better but not great. Then, the oil leak. Ohh, the oil leak. In the middle of the engine compartment was a tiny seal that was leaking ever so slightly. The mechanic wanted TWO THOUSAND DOLLARS to fix this seal. I don’t know about you, but I can only take so much bullcrap from one vehicle. Between the thousands we put into it in Oklahoma and the thousands they wanted to fix it now… it was the oil leak that broke the camel’s back. We eventually found a great truck for a great price at the dealership where we’d been taking the crap truck for service.

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Out with the old, in with the new!

And that’s the story of how we went from a 2008 F450 to a 2015 F350. The last truck was paid for in cash, and the dealership was nice enough to buy it from us and sacrifice it to the truck gods or push it off a bridge or whatever you do with trucks that make you furious. This new one has a payment on it but it has warranties out the tail pipe and we won’t get stuck in Oklahoma again. *crosses fingers* Plus, cooled seats, so totally worth it.

 

 

The day after we took ownership of the new truck, Justin had to haul the camper to the shop to do the work they didn’t do last time it was there. On the way to the RV dealership the rear drivers side brakes seized on the new truck. ONE DAY. WE WENT ONE. DAY.

So, he dropped off the trailer and went straight to the truck dealership. While on the way there the RV dealer called and said that the part we needed (gutter) showed up damaged and they wouldn’t be able to do the work. This was different from the last two times they ordered the part in that they ordered the RIGHT part this time but, alas, it was busted. The truck dealership said “well, it’s already ruined. Go get your camper then bring the truck back and we’ll fix it.”

On the way back to the house from the RV dealership the SPARE TIRE FELL OFF OF THE UNDERSIDE OF THE CAMPER. A nice man flagged Justin down and told him about it. Thank goodness he did because it was not really a spare tire, it was the actual rim from the camper as the spare was currently on an axle. Justin brought the whole rig home and we ripped out to Telegraph Road to find the runaway wheel. Thankfully it had either landed in the median or some kind soul had flipped it into the grass.

Back at the house we backed the camper into it’s proper spot in the driveway, just as we had a million times before, except this time the awning got caught on a house gutter and ripped a big ol’ hole. WHYYYYY!!!????

Just about that time my mother came home with her Terrain which sounded like someone was repeatedly killing a cat. It was promptly towed away.

October 10th = terrible day. Ultimately everything worked out. The truck was repaired under the warranty, the wheel was undamaged, and I was able to patch the awning. The Terrain had literally nothing wrong with it. We may never know why. I will be hiding on this anniversary next year and hoping for the best.

Switching gears for a moment: “Hey, how do you homeschool when you travel?”

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By really pissing off the mailman, that’s how. Two grades worth of books, 50 or so in all, delivered mostly one by one, single-handedly funding the United States Postal Service. Praise be to you, Wonder Woman, for the blessing that is Amazon.com.

We ended up in Grand Rapids again in October for a baby shower that we didn’t actually attend because I came down with a disgusting cold. Still with me? Good. Anyway, we stayed at this really nice little campground in Georgetown Township called Steamboat Park.

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They had a big riverboat and were adjacent to a tiny airport that was used maybe once the whole time we were there. When I say adjacent, I mean that the end of the runway was the road to the campground.

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As soon as we got there we started having leveling system issues. One service call later it was determined that the control board was going out and we’d need a new one. The tech was really nice but please listen to me when I say stay the hell away from anyone related to TerryTown RV Center. Three weeks later we are still waiting on a part that they were supposed to order immediately but just decided not to. Eat shit and die would be the least hostile thing I can think of saying to them.

The kids played mostly peacefully in the yard while we fought the leveling system. To quote Mara:

“We were fighting about what game to play together so we decided to just color rocks with chalk. Now we don’t fight, and I colored one brown so it looks like poop! We’re both happy!” – Mara, 6 years old

Despite our jack issues we had a good weekend! Justin’s parents and sister Stacey came out for burgers and a campfire. I got to try a new meatless burger recipe on Aunt Stacey and the kids suckered her into a bike ride. Saturday we went to Robinette’s orchard and picked apples with another one of Justin’s sisters and her family. The kids got to play with their cousins which is always great.

 

We came away with oodles of very excellent Fuji apples and some monster pumpkins! It was good experience to have the kids pick the apples directly off the tree. Learning where your food comes from is important.

 

Giant chairs are so “in” right now.

We were originally slated to leave on Monday but left on Sunday instead because I was ill and it was also about to rain for three days straight. No one wants to fight their jacks in the rain. The campground owner happened to hear that we were having jack problems and he kindly brought over his forklift to put the camper back on the truck.

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Make friends wherever you go, people.

When we finally got back to Dearborn Heights there were a billion books waiting to be unwrapped (see the above prayer to Wonder Woman) and these super cute canvas prints I had ordered.

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The perfect size and shape for cramped camper walls! I ordered them from Canvas People and they were exactly what I wanted them to be. They always have coupons, it’s worth a Google before you order.

What’s the best part of October? HALLOWEEN! Our little Marine and Tinker Bell came away with more candy than any child should ever have, and we only went around for about 45 minutes.

 

Unlike years past there were TONS of houses lit up and TONS of kids roaming the sidewalks. Uncle Steve and Grandma Kathy came with us, and Grandpa Mike stayed home to hand out treats to the masses.

 

 

October was a trying month to say the least. We were supposed to leave for Florida on November first, yet here we still are in the soon-to-be tundra we call Michigan. If only Lippert would send me a damn control board! We’ll be doing the “Orlando shuffle” soon enough I guess. If you’re already in Florida, save us a spot at the beach, would you?

September!

Have you ever tried a jackfruit? Here I am assuming that you’ve seen a jackfruit or even heard of them. Hang on…

So, that’s a jackfruit, and a lovely woman (left) who sells their innards in Colorado. The only reason we ended up with a small portion of this gargantuan wonder is because I’ve been shopping at a really interesting fruit market in Redford called Randazzo’s. Every time I go there I get all the “normal” stuff and I also buy something unusual for everyone to try (I’m currently harboring a persimmon that I haven’t gotten around to figuring out). Anyway, it took me a good long time to be brave enough to tote home some jackfruit. As I pushed my cart through the market, I was stopped at least four times by others who weren’t brave enough to procure their own but had to ask me how it tastes. “We’ll see!”

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I’m happy to report that it tastes exactly like Juicy Fruit gum. We ate fist-fulls of the ultra sweet bulbs of goodness. It had kind of a rubbery consistency and is apparently a good meat alternative when picked before ripe, although we haven’t ventured down that road. It was a yummy adventure that we didn’t even need to travel for, and overall broadened our palates by trying all these new foods. Bonus!

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Along with strange fruit, September brought us another trip to Grand Rapids while our camper was supposed to be in the shop. We were there for a week and they never did the work but if I start telling you about that I will probably set this keyboard on fire. Instead I’m going to tell you about the awesome bike trail over there. I’m pretty sure that we’ve talked about Kent trail before when we were marooned at Aunt Terri and Uncle Tom’s house for a month. It was also the dead of summer there and ultra hot. This time it was cooler weather and SO GREAT. Justin rode his usual billion miles. I ended up riding the farthest I ever have at 15.08 miles! I had it in my head that I was going to ride out to the bridge he and Stacey were always talking about. It was totally worth it.

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so peaceful and still

 

While we were in town we also met up with Justin’s parents for some Craig’s Cruisers madness!

 

 

The kids LIVE for go-karts, I dread when they get their licenses. Maybe we can turn them into race car drivers.

Along with the super fun go-karting and lots of arcade games we divided into teams for laser tag. The boys kicked our butts. *womp womp* It was still a fun day with Grandma and Grandpa!

I’m going to tell you about this fruit market only because I never want to forget where it is or what it’s called. I actually stopped there to buy green peppers. This is what I ended up with:

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Look at all those bombers! The 2015 Alaskan Smoked Porter! The Expedition sixer! ALL THE WOOT STOUTS! SO MUCH BARREL AGING! As I was loading my cart like a drunk kid in a candy store the owner loudly proclaimed “BEST SELECTION! IN! AREA!” in the most wonderful accent possible. Thank you, Ken’s Market on 28th Street, for selling the fruit I’ve always wanted.

September was also a pain for some of us. Justin had a septorhinoplasty (nose job) at U of M hospital in Ann Arbor. It’s been a long time coming, as he broke his nose as a young child. My parents were kind enough to hang onto the little children overnight and all day so that we could be at the hospital at the crack of dawn. This was their first sleep “away from home.” I silently had a cow to myself while the children were just excited to be somewhere besides the camper AND with Grandma and Grandpa. Like we haven’t spent the entire summer sleeping in their back yard or anything…

Justin survived the face assault and was eventually happy with his less crooked nose and extremely open airway. The first few days were murder. Once the doctor removed all the hidden baffles from way up in there life got more awesome. We won’t talk about me elbowing him in the face. For the record it was an accident. It had nothing to do with Ken and his wondrous market.

The surgery was on the 22nd and by the 29th we were at Legoland Discovery Center in Auburn Hills if that gives you an indication as to how he was feeling. We took the kids out for a day of fun because they’d been patient with the surgery nonsense, and we still have those pesky/handy Merlin annual passes we bought in California. We were able to play at Legoland…

 

 

AND Sea Life Aquarium!

 

 

After we did all the super sweet “free” stuff we had a great dinner at Rainforest Cafe! (allergy friendly, FYI)

 

 

We’ve been there several times but this was the first time Mara vocalized that the animals were really creepy. They totally are, girl. Maybe that was our last Rainforest Cafe meal.

Judging by their little smiles I’d say they had a great afternoon! They were dragging their tiny feet by the time we made it back to the truck. I’m surprised that they didn’t fall asleep on the way home. We hope that you had fun, kids! You always deserve it!

 

So Many Posts, So Little Time!

Here it is! Our ONE YEAR ANNIVERSARY! (Or it WOULD have been a one year anniversary post had I not been hiding.) One year ago September 29th we drove our rig to the closing and sold the house away to what seemed like a lovely couple. Then, we drove off to start our grand adventure! YAAAAAAAAY!

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September 29th, 2016 (photo credit Melissa Nalley)

We’re still out here, a whole year-plus later, showing our midgets that their life doesn’t have to have boundaries. Except when they want ice cream before bed every night. There are some walls that cannot be hurdled until adulthood. When you’re grown, sweet children, you can order a cake that says “Happy Thursday” or “Happy Polka Day” (because you just want the cake with the whippy frosting) and the baker will misspell polka but the cake will taste better because you got a discount. Adults can do these things. This is all hypothetical, of course.

Note: There was a post before this one. I published it, you commented on it, we were happy together. It has since disappeared off the face of the earth (curses and such to you, Word Press). Miraculously my mother had a copy of it in her email because that’s what mothers do.

Months ago I told you all to just do the things you’re supposed to be doing. I then promptly disappeared from this blog. I haven’t even felt nosy enough to check my Word Press stats. Forgive me, children. I won’t speculate on the reasons. Instead, I’ll just tell you about the extremely entertaining last few months.

August 5th we went canoeing!

Unbelievably this was my first canoe trip, and the children had been on many a boat but not a canoe. Accompanying us were river trek veterans Cousin Terry, her friend Luann, Uncle Steve, my mother Kathy, Justin, and his sister Stacey. Five seconds into loading up (we weren’t even away from the shore) Justin and Aunt Stacey FELL OUT THE BOAT. They also had custody of Wesson who, by all accounts, should have been at the bottom of the river too but he HUNG ON for DEAR LIFE. When the boat was righted, there he was in his seat!! Hilarious doesn’t even cover it.

Halfway through the trip we had a picnic lunch in a backyard that butts up to the river. The resident doesn’t mind, apparently. What a nice guy!

The whole thing was challenging and different and out of the comfort zone. It really was a great day, though, and something we need to do again.

In the post that time forgot I talked about taking Wesson to Maker Faire, just him and I. As a counter balance – you can’t just take one baby out somewhere – I took Mara to an event that was right up her alley. Cranbrook Art Museum in Bloomfield Hills was having an Alexander Girard family day and our library card gave us access to free passes to the museum. It warms my parsimonious soul just telling you about it. What can’t a library card do?!

After the guided tour we made our way around the tables and created masterpieces of the Girard kind. Textile printing, flags for new countries, and even some fancy little wooden dolls were forged. She absorbed every bit of the wonderment into her arsty fartsy heart. It hammered home the fact that we really need to get her into more art museums. It also reaffirmed that my kids are on two completely different paths in life.

 

The next day was Trash day.

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Honestly, who throws away something as grandiose as this?  Reggae Bananas need love too. Had he not been leaning on an old mattress I would have banana-napped him and left him in another location, i.e. someones porch.

The day of the total eclipse (Augusts 21st) was not totally awesome here. It got to about 90%, which was plenty good enough to show the kids cool paper tricks and little eclipse shadows peering through the leaves on the trees. Unfortunately I was ultra sick that day, so much so that I went to the emergency room. They were kind enough to load me up with steroids and albuterol so that I could function as a somewhat normal human. I caught the virus from hell from my Dad who had been in the hospital for several days at this point. NOT FUN. The nurse that walked me out of the ER had excellent discharge instructions: “You’re still at risk, so come back if you can’t breathe, and if you’re smoking pot lay off the joints and eat the brownies for a few days.”

Speaking of getting fresh air and staying off the drugs, these people love a good bike ride…

…so when Justin came home with two junker bikes he’d gotten for free from the local bike shop, the wee ones couldn’t wait to fix them up!

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These bikes were multitudes better than the X-Games bikes they were rocking but needed a few things replaced. Part of the deal was that THEY had to do as much of the work as possible so that they were A) appreciative of their new found bicycle wealth and B) learned the workings of the bikes and the names of all the parts. I know what you’re thinking, we took a cool thing and made it even cooler by making it schoolwork and we’re not torturing them at all. *adds one to the win column*

They have since made these bike ROCK. They were excellent bike mechanic apprentices and they’ve earned every pedal.

 

If you need me I’ll be here all afternoon writing blog posts, kicking myself for being so lazy, and maybe baking a pie. Think of me while you Netfix and procrastinate, won’t you?

Just Do the Thing That’s Supposed to Be Done By Now

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I’m reading a book at the moment called “Write is a Verb” by Bill O’Hanlon. This is the same guy that wrote “Do One Thing Different” and was on Oprah, etc. It spoke to me from the library shelf as I was perusing non-fiction for brain food. I don’t know that I really wanted a book on writing. As it turns out, I really needed one. This blog doesn’t get nearly enough attention as it is, and I have had zero motivation lately to put pen to paper, or fingers to keyboard, if you will. One of the points that O’Hanlon has repeated is that writing begets writing and not writing begets not writing. If you need to motivate yourself to write, sit down and do it. The only thing that is stopping me is me. I started this project to make sure my kids remembered their epic (or not so epic) journey. I’m not doing them any favors by sitting on my hands and ignoring the goal. Look at that! I just wrote 157 words. It’s already working!

And here I am, three days later, coming back for a second paragraph. So… maybe there’s still work to be done. Currently I’m in the back yard at my parents house as Wesson and Mara read a book while inside of a big, dry pool.

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They’re in the summer reading program at the library. Wesson is kind of a reluctant reader as of late but once he can be convinced to pick up a book he’s in it for at least an hour.

Three more days have passed by and I still haven’t finished this post.

And add another week…

*deep breath* Where did I even leave off last time? HOLD PLEASE. Ok, the last post has been re-read and we are ready!

We took ourselves back to East Michigan so that Mara could have an appointment with her new allergist. Normally this would be just a check-in/check-up if we were still in Kentucky. This visit, however, we spoke to the new doc about getting into an immunity study and also our concerns that she may be allergic to tree nuts. Good new/bad news? The good news is that she is NOT allergic to ANY tree nuts! HOORAYYY! The bad news is HOLY COW is she allergic to peanuts!!! The poked her arm with the peanut allergen goo and her whole arm started to turn red. They actually ended the test early. You know it’s bad when the nurse and tech turn white and whisper to each other “we have to stop this right now; she’s only six.” The doctor took one look at her arm and quickly but calmly asked if it would be ok to give her some Benadryl. They slathered her in calamine and  gave her sad, puffy arm a big ice pack. She got to pick lunch that day.

Now that we were back in town we got to go to unicycle practice again! It took the kids a minute to get their groove back but then they both started riding unassisted! And for more than one pedal! Here’s a short video of Mara riding! Look at that face! So much happiness! So many exclamation points!

Justin went out riding his bicycle in the park one morning and came home battered and bruised. He’d come around a corner, met a hidden staircase with the front wheel of his bike, and flew ass over teakettle. Maybe ass over handlebars is more appropriate. Just know that there was rotation and his bee-hind caught air. He admitted that he’d laid there for a good long while just taking stock of the situation. Thankfully he was not seriously injured and in an area where people are frequent. I don’t know how I would have found him had he knocked himself out. After a bike repair on the fly (HAH!) he gave up on the ride and wobbled the five miles home. The difference between he and I? I would have called for a ride.

Fourth of July was uneventful. It did manage to produce one of my favorite photos from this summer:

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Wesson was SO EXCITED about the parade; arms up and flag flapping away, waiting on the next float/group/band, and Mara was… not. She told me later that she’d saved all her flag waving for the end.

We all went camping at Terry and Charlie’s that weekend after the fourth. They were kind enough to let us run rampant with their go-kart and let the kids check out all their giant farm equipment. Have you ever been atop a combine? They are much higher than anticipated. This exploration also included their awesome pull tractor and the mega giant wind turbines.

 

They look like they’re about to drop an album.

Once we got back from camping, Uncle Steve took the chirruns to Build-a-Bear because he’s the best Uncle Steve ever!

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He only occasionally requires mild manual slave labor.

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The kids also ended up in a three day thing at the library called World Builder’s camp. They had a blast! They were with the most diverse group of kids I think they’ve ever encountered. And, in Lexington, there were never more than a few kids at the library programs. There were at least 50-60 kids participating, probably more. They made crafts and played crab soccer and worked with their groups. They even had team cheers! They have always loved the library, and to be able to be LOUD in the library was a wonderful new phenomenon. I had a conversation with Wesson on the second day:

Me: What did you do with the paper chain that you guys had made?
Wesson: We wrote ways that we could change the world on each link. I wrote one.
Me: What did you write?
Wesson: Become a spy! I can save the world and no one will ever know what hit ’em.

This kid will be a force to be reckoned with in a few decades.

A while back, some wonderful person came up with the idea of having a giant kite festival on Belle Isle and won a $50,000 grant to pull it off. Thus, the Detroit Kite Festival was born.

The Lexington kite festival was always a major disappointment so my expectations were not very high. It seems like I’m knocking Lexington a lot this week. I assure you that I do love Lexington, however they can be a wet blanket sometimes if its not horses or basketball.

I do not exaggerate when I say there were at LEAST a THOUSAND people at this kite festival. The sky was FULL! Everyone had their kites up and flying, and they were all so different and fun! All of the kids were out there crafting free kites too! Everyone got to participate! There was even a stunt kite team that made their kites dance in the sky along with a musical soundtrack. With the river in the background, tons of wind, and plenty of sunshine, it was the perfect day and perfect place for this. They are calling it the inaugural kite festival, so look for it next year and don’t miss out on the fun!

Much like Wesson and his reluctant reading, once I sat down and committed to this post it all came spilling out! I have to stop myself now before I hit 1200 words. I just went back and edited and it’s now too late, I’m at 1253 riiiight here. I read something along the way that people hate reading blog posts beyond 800 words. I’m not sure if it’s true but I try to aim for that anyway. Hopefully you made it to the end of my meanderings!  Here’s one more sliver of nonsense: never buy apple scented dish soap. Ever.

Go out and fly a kite this week AFTER you’ve done one thing you’ve been putting off for a while. I’ll have a fresh batch of random thoughts for you soon!

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West Michigangster

Mara was covered in dirt yesterday, and I mean dirty. Head to toe dirty with a dirt mustache and dirt covered forehead, black toes, and knees that would make a bathtub cry. She topped it off with a ponytail that she put together herself. This was the first time she’d put in her own hair tie so you can imagine what a hot mess it was. Dirty and messy, she looked like the embodiment of a no-plans summer! I wish I had taken a photo. She assured me – for no apparent reason- that she hadn’t been eating dirt. Hmm.

Camper repairs may as well be toothpicks under the fingernails because that’s how it felt. We dropped our rig off at the shop May 24th and didn’t get it back until June 26th. The repair was plagued by inexperienced, rude employees and half-assed repairs. They also hit something with it, damaging the back corner, and they fried the battery. I wrote a big, long, bitchy paragraph about it here and then decided life was too short. Just because I can’t move on yet doesn’t mean you can’t.

Prepare yourselves for some smiley kid photos!

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Not this one. This one is titled “Mommy, give me back my bubble gun!”

I mentioned it briefly in the last post but just to recap we lived with Justin’s ever-patient Aunt Terri and Uncle Tom for the entire 4-5 weeks the rig was in the shop. We had originally anticipated this taking a week or so and kept ‘augmenting’ this estimate. They are worthy of sainthood. They had the perfect “basement apartment” set-up to absorb a family of four into their fray.

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They had the best blanket fort building materials

Plus, between their work days and their lake cottage weekends we were in the house on our own all day. I made dinner on most nights and we all ate together, which was nice! The kids had a big yard to play in and a cul-de-sac to ride their bikes. Mara took this opportunity to ditch the training wheels all together and ride like the wind!

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The kids even challenged Grandma and Grandpa Rowland to a bike race! Grandpa almost had Wesson.

Justin LOVED it here as there were tons and tons of bike trails to be had. His sister Stacey came over every few days to ride with him. I even went out a few times and bested my personal distance record. New routes are exciting!

Besides a few family visits, museums, and a picnic or two, we just hung out.

 

The kids (big and little) fished in the gravel pit lake across the road from the house.

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Look at that gorgeous garbage can sunlight! *BING*

It turns out that the kids are fishing kids. They practically begged Justin to take them out on the lake every night.

They held every fish that graced a line.

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The lake was FULL of bass and crappie, and Uncle Tom even caught a pike, which really shouldn’t have been in there so who knows where it came from.

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Maybe it got dropped from the sky like the TURTLE who fell from the SKY at the lake cottage. I know cats and dogs sometimes fall but turtles?! Some unlucky bird dropped their lunch on the roof, and he rolled down onto the deck where I snapped him up for the children to  investigate. Lucky, as I called him, was eventually set back on terra firma where he RAN to freedom. Turtles are not slow, y’all. We’ve been lied to all our lives!

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Let’s talk about Terri and Tom’s lake cottage for a minute. They have this little house on a completely different lake than the other house. Lakes everywhere!

Mara surprised me with this exchange while we were there…

Me: Look at the lily pads in the lake!
Mara: They’re just like in… umm….
Me: Princess and the Frog?
Mara: No, umm…
Me: The Little Mermaid?
Mara: No. MONET’S GARDEN!

Way to go, Mom, trying to dumb down her observations. She’s going to teach me to hold my tongue.

The kids were in the water from minute one and got their cousins in the drink too.

Ok, minute two. I managed to get a few snaps off before they got wet.

There is something magical about a lake house. I’m not a fan of being in or over the water. Put me on the shore, though, and I could stay there forever staring at the water and basking in the peacefulness.

Besides the ever-frustrating “WHEN WILL IT END?!?!” feeling regarding the camper we really did manage to have a good time lounging around West Michigan. Good times were had by all.

I’ll leave you with a photograph of the new sticker we picked up while we were there.

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We cackled like hyenas when we found it at the mall. People looked at us like we were nutty but have you met us? We really don’t care. Clearly we still don’t care what people think because that baby is on the back window of the camper, ready for the next big adventure.

It’s Not a Truck if it’s Never Been in the Mud

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STUCK. SO VERY STUCK. That is how we started our visit to Michigan. Mud up to the middle of the wheels isn’t as entertaining as it sounds. We took the trailer off out of fear that it would tip, the ground was that wet. Justin tried and tried and tried. We put boards under the tires and we had traction grips (that were technically for the snow) that collapsed under the weight of our behemoth truck. It was rainy and gross and all I wanted to do was be warm in my RV with no mud!!!

Eventually an employee went driving by on his golf cart. He was able to call another off-duty employee who lived in the park and had a biggish truck. With his help, and the help of every scrap of wood in the entire campground, we were eventually free! All we had to do from there was recover the camper and it was not as easy as we’d hoped. After much destruction of property we hooked the employees truck to the camper and pulled him and the RV out of the mud pit with the F450. Part of the tonneau cover rail was damaged (still functional) and we also had to buy a new wiring harness for the trailer. A small price to pay, I guess. Oh yeah, and we were the only ones coming into the campground that day so everyone now knows exactly who we are. We really know how to make an entrance, don’t we?

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The aftermath

Besides cleaning the mud out of our shoes, that first week was spent pretending to be DaVinci. School is so much fun!

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It actually worked when we put it back together!

Riding unicycles with the Redford Township Unicycle Club! It’s a family requirement, y’know. Justin had to learn when he first joined forces with me. The kids are actually doing really well with it, and their newly found balance has extended itself to pretty much all of the rest of their outdoor activities.

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And eating Superman ice cream!

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Super awesome!

Until I’d moved from Michigan I had no idea that Superman Ice Cream was not a world-wide, readily available commodity. I really need the rest of you Superman-free states to get on board with this one. While we’re at it, I need everybody to roll out Ale-8-one and fresh Peets coffee as well. And maybe some HEB Brisket Burgers. Mmmm… Why is it that Jet’s Pizza is so much better in Michigan than it is anywhere else? And what’s up with 7-eleven, Moe’s, Taco Cabana, and Del Taco not being where I want them to be? I must be hungry right now.

Speaking of food, I went to the local Kroger for groceries one morning and when I came out to put the groceries in the truck I noticed the back end was completely speckled with little black dots. When I looked at the ground I saw two trails coming from under the truck and tracing my route all the way through the parking lot. Sticking my head under the cab revealed a giant puddle. The truck had dumped three quarters of its oil on the ground! AARRGGHH! There was so much oil in the engine compartment that I couldn’t figure out where it had come from, and with the amount of truck blood it had lost I couldn’t drive it home. I had it towed to my parents house so that we could work on it near civilization and with help. By the time I’d waited for the tow truck, rode to my parents house, ranted about the truck, and procured one of their vehicles to drive back to the campground, I’d been gone from the house for EIGHT HOURS. I had also woke up at 6:30am for no apparent reason that day, so at hour twelve of my day when I was stuck in traffic on the freeway my head just about exploded. My family ate pizza for dinner that night. It’s the longest trip to the grocery store to date. I should have called Guinness.

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*SOB*

The next day Justin was able to determine that the oil was spraying out of the oil sensor! That’s not something that’s supposed to be possible. We’re all about impossible, apparently. It was a quick fix and we were back in business!

After we’d been at the campground in St Clair for about ten or so days we discovered that between all of our appointments and practices, etc. we’d have to drive 600+ miles that week. Barf! It was decided to move the camper to my parents house so that we could be closer to everything and cut that number down to less than 150. This is what it looks like to be there:

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Tight quarters! The kids definitely love it, though. Who doesn’t love being spoiled to bits at Grandma and Grandpa’s house? This arrangement also allowed us to do extra things we would have skipped, like watching flaming puck unicycle hockey. Give it a Google, it’s plenty of fun.

May 23rd we pulled out of there and headed west to the Grand Rapids area. We had a doctors appointment scheduled for our camper at the RV dealership. The sick fridge and axle were finally going to be looked at, as well as many other injured trim and seals we’d been saving up all year. Justin’s aunt and uncle were kind enough to let us bunk in their basement for the week that the camper would be in the shop. Four weeks later we are STILL HERE. I’m just glad that they are wonderful, tolerant people who haven’t snapped and put us on the curb yet. Hug your camper, people. You don’t know how much you’ll miss it until it’s being held hostage at the RV dealership.

I almost forgot to introduce you to my squirrel friend! I bribed him with some tortilla bits so that I could exploit him.

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He never told me his name. Maybe he’ll be waiting for us when we get back to the Detroit side next week.

I’ll leave you with Mr. Emerson and something we really, really needed to practice this month.

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