Monday, June 29, 2009

Camp Photos

If you haven't read my narrative about camp, you might want to go down past the photos to read it first. Or look at the pictures first and read it when you are done.

Shortly after we arrived at camp, hanging out at our unit waiting for instructions. See, she has a hat, shoes, socks and a shirt with sleeves. She's ready to go. (Okay, I cut her feet off in the photo, but they do have socks and tennis shoes on them.)

There were lots of mice, some living in tents (one mom almost called it quits as soon as she got there when three mice scurried around her tent). There was a stray cat, looking for said mice. Spiders. And one cool looking slug:

Here's Violet at the arts and craft building. She's painting little plaster figurines:

Archery photos are hard to take because you can't stand in front of the line to take them.

Violet can swim well enough to go in the deep end now!!

Here she is riding the dolphin. That was great fun.

I had to take her picture in the lodge watching the movie during the storm.

Here she is tucked in her cot reading before lights out on our second night.

And "home, sweet, tent". We were tent number 7, as far from the latrine as possible. I had a hard time finding our tent in the dark before bed with Violet's much sharper eyes with me. There was no way I was going to try to get up by myself during the night to go.

Excuse the floods, I had her take older icky long pants to camp. She only wore them to breakfast the last morning when it was a little chilly.

There you have it. Violet enjoyed herself. Camp was a success.

Well That Wasn't So Bad

The key to Girl Scout Camp: Low Expectations. Violet cried much of the 2 and a half hour drive there. She was worried about Council Big Wig, she was worried about the weather, she was worried about the other girls. I tried to get her to calm down. I slightly considered just going to my parent's house and hiding out there for the weekend. But we went on.

We got to camp and checked in. I could tell right away that the counselors had been trained to be wary of us Moms and not give us an inch. They were so ready for us to break the rules they kept barking them out when anyone so much as looked at them funny. A couple of moms were chastised for wearing sleeveless shirts (the packing list had said "no spaghetti straps, halter tops or mid-drifts", their shirts were none of the above). Others were scolded to get their girls' hair in ponytails (lest the spontaneously combust at the camp fire) or to put on hats AT ALL TIMES (apparently it rains ticks under the trees).

No problem we were in T-shirts and hatted. We had tennis shoes and socks on (NO SANDALS - YOU MUST HAVE CLOSED TOE SHOES AND SOCKS ON OR YOUR FEET WILL FALL OFF). We were prepared.

Side note: counselors did not all wear hats or have their hair tied back. The camp director doesn't appear to own a pair of socks, she had these sandal like things on her feet all weekend. Oh yeah, that went on several evaluations at the end of the weekend.

That evening we had a campfire and made s'mores. One marshmallow and 2 graham crackers per person. We did get an entire Hershey bar between us. But who makes a s'more with only one marshmallow? Violet did really good in our tent. We had the best tent mates we've had since our very first year at camp. The girl was a couple of years younger than Violet and was even more nervous about it than Violet. She was spunky and fun and very nice. She and Violet hit it off really well, and the mom was definitely nice. We couldn't have picked better tentmates.

Turned out we didn't have to go into town to get our nails done if we didn't want to. Violet didn't want to. We stayed at camp and did archery, arts and crafts and swam in the pool. It was much more to our liking. There was also a rappelling option that Violet opted not to take. I wasn't surprised. Heights aren't her thing. I was fine with that. We did watch a little, it looked cool. But I was just as glad to stay on the ground.

Side note: At archery one counselor confided to us that they were understaffed and that was why they didn't have more at camp activities. The Council Big Wig at camp had miscounted. She had 29 for the weekend. It was 29 pairs. That was why they also kept running out of food. We were all fed, but not that well.

Just moments before we were ready to get out of the pool a thunder clap was heard and the pool was immediately cleared. We got to take quick showers before we were herded into the lodge. We actually had our biggest rebel moment then, when I insisted on going to our tent to drop off our wet stuff and pick up our rain ponchos (I was told we wouldn't need them. Turns out we didn't, but I had no way of knowing how long the rain would last or when we would be released from the lodge). Violet crammed all of her stuffed toys and her blankie into her backpack to bring with her to safety. It was less than 10 minutes and we were in the lodge where we were supposed to be. No drops of rain had yet fallen nor had any more thunder sounded.

We were rushed to the basement a few minutes later. Figured out when they seated all the girls right in front of some big windows and a TV, it was to watch a movie, not for safety (they had this thing about not telling us anything). Violet said she loved watching The Incredibles again. We did get some heavy rain and more thunder and lightning, but nothing overly severe and the power stayed on.

The movie took us to dinner time, after which we had a campfire. We pretty much skipped the campfire to relax in the tent instead. But I did come out to hear that the morning plans were that we leave after breakfast. Our paperwork had said we leave after lunch. Our paperwork had said a lot of contradictory things, so I think it was a clerical error.

Side note: one letter said we were to mail a health form in and bring it to camp, in the same sentence. They desperately need an English major at that Council office. I complained in my evaluation about the poor communication between the office, the camp staff and the moms.

The next morning we could jump into the pool and then have waffles or sleep in a bit and have cold cereal. I hesitate to call it a polar bear swim because the ones who did it were not allowed to actually swim (per a mom friend they were yelling, "DO NOT SWIM ACROSS THE POOL, JUMP IN AND GET RIGHT BACK OUT!" She said she was so tempted to swim across just to see what they'd do.) Since it was only a polar bear dip, Violet opted for cold cereal. I was good with that. If it had been a real polar bear swim, she had been very tempted to try. But jump in and get right back out for a waffle? Not good enough incentive. Mr. I. was stunned that they tried to make us do stuff for food.

Anyway, we are back home. I don't think we'll go back to that camp again. I mean, it wasn't horrible. But it wasn't warm and welcoming, you know? Violet loved the arts and crafts, loved the pool and loved the movie. She earned her Archery badge (but has decided she's really not as big an archery fan as she was a few years ago). In fact, Violet is suggesting we take next summer off from camp. She has been the last 4 years in a row. We have one more night coming up in 2 weeks. And several mom-daughter pairs from this last weekend will be there too (including the rebel in the pool). We are looking forward to that. I'll post the pictures in a separate post.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Pep Talk

I think I need a pep talk. I really don't want to go to camp. It is hot. Storms are still predicted. The woman from Council who runs the place is a piece of work: obnoxious, rude, and has no people or children skills what so ever. I need to be home working to earn some extra money. I need to start investigating health insurance. I need to figure out what is needed to form an LLC and how to do the accounting and tax for it. And Violet doesn't want to go.

I really need a pep talk. So here goes.

1. Two days without internet access will be nice. No "could you please call this client back and answer their obscure question?"

2. The brochure promises swimming, hiking and crafts. I love all three of those. And with the heat, the pool sounds really nice.

3. After we go we will have been to all the camps in the newly realigned council. We'll be better able to choose programs (or choose not to go at all). Not to mention awesome bragging rights at Council events.

4. With such low expectations, how bad can it actually be?

5. With the heat, we have an excellent excuse to sit out an activity or two if Violet doesn't want to do them.

6. Camp food usually is pretty good.

7. A sore back from 2 nights on a squeaking cot will give me something to work out with Wii Fit next week.

8. I am 42 years old and I don't have to take that crap from anyone. I will have a car with and I won't be the first one to ever leave camp early.

9. Staying in a tent with strangers is all part of the camp experience. It is a platform tent so there is some room and we don't sleep right next to them.

10. There is no number 10. That was the best I could do.

We leave in a couple of hours. We leave camp after lunch on Sunday. We'll be there less than 48 hours. We can do it. It won't be so bad.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Camping forecast: hot, humid and a chance of storms

I've been watching our camping forecast all week. Started out clear. Then we had a 20% chance of rain or thunderstorms. Then 30%. Now 40% on Saturday and 60% Saturday night. Oh yay. Just what we need, another night of being evacuated from our tents in a severe storm. And just the thing to get Violet to relax and sleep in the damn tent in the first place. And not to mention my bladder that insists on being emptied at least 2 times a night.


The high for Saturday is 92. I hope they give us a lot of pool time.

I'm getting too old for this.

Want to relive our camp memories from last year? Try this post. This one of our photos. And these stories about our storms at camp.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Hot, hot, hot

I think we brought the molten lava back with us from Mississippi. At least some of it, I know it is still hot there too. We were in the 90s today and very humid. It is always warm sitting in the observation area of Violet's swim lessons. Tonight it was like sitting in a sauna. I guess I should see what a sauna session costs, I think I saved myself some big bucks.

Speaking of swimming, we did get Violet's pool filled yesterday. The water is still cold, but she braved it for a long time this afternoon.

Still speaking of swimming, Violet's swimming is looking great! I'm almost wondering if she'll be moving up a level soon.

Tomorrow is her 10 year check up. A little early. But covered by insurance while we still have it. I'm pretty sure she won't need a shot.

Mr. I. has been talking to his brother about going into business with him. They are talking Mr. I. would be the owner, and Brother would be an independent contractor. I think that is a good arrangement. Better than trying to be partners. And it is what they both want. Brother doesn't want to be an owner. Mr. I. would like to maintain control. They are going to try to get together this weekend to talk about it more.

This weekend is our first camp weekend. Violet is starting to feel better about it. She didn't like camp lady from the open house. If you forgot about the Open House From Hell you can reread the post and refresh your memory. After Mr. I. and I both assured her we didn't like camp lady either and that her behavior was uncalled for and out of line, she started feeling better. Camp Lady is retiring from Girl Scouts after this summer. I doubt we'll see her much. We'll see the nice camp director we met, and the counselors and lifeguards. And if Camp Lady gives us trouble, I'll give it right back. And if it is really bad, we'll leave.

But I don't think it will be. I think we'll swim, hike, have a camp fire. We'll go into the town for a bit. We'll do arts and crafts, and sleep in our tent. I think it will be just fine. I think Violet is convinced. Last year she had some trouble with sleeping in the tent. Couldn't relax to fall asleep. Anxiety up the sleeping bag. This year we have glow bracelets to be personal night lights. We have a few extras in case we have a tentmate. I think that will help a lot. I hope, that night at camp was awful.

I almost forgot, I got the library issue straightened out. I took printouts of my e-mails in with me and met with the head of circulation. She believed me when she saw the first book was checked out at noon and ours were at 7:41 in the evening. They took it off my account for me. But then when I got home I saw that it was registering as available for Violet to pick up on her account. I called back, the double checked, and said no it was a strange computer glitch. They put it back on hold for us. We are good to go. And no one had to get hurt.

Isn't it nice when it works out like that?

Cross your fingers camp goes that smoothly.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

The Weekend

What a busy weekend! I guess they all are in summer. I worked 8 and a half hours on Saturday and another 4 today. I am back on track again. Mr. I. and Violet went out for a Father's Day lunch and movie yesterday. They saw Up and really liked it. Today we got the pool put up, it is still filling. And did a bunch of other things around the house and yard. It never ends, does it?

I am in a battle with the library right now. I put a bunch of books on hold for Violet. During the summer reading program it is impossible to find anything on the shelves. The vultures come in, check everything out, turn in their forms, collect their free prizes, then disappear until the next summer. I can't wait until they disappear.

Anyway, I had gotten the e-mail notice that the books were in. I went in, and they weren't on the reserve shelf. Well, one was, the other 4 weren't. I went up to the circulation desk and they didn't really believe me that someone had made a mistake like that. They kept insisting, did someone else take my card and come in and check them out for me? Someone in my family? Yeah, my huge family that I can't keep track of. No, Mr. I. had been in downtown Chicago all day. Violet was at home with me. We didn't check them out, you let someone else check them out.

The library was closing (this was Thursday night), so I came home to put the books back on hold. Low and behold, the computer system wouldn't let me put one of them on hold because I already had it checked out. Somehow the library let someone else check out one of my holds and put it on my account. I forwarded the e-mail with the hold notice, explained the entire situation, and am still waiting to hear from them. I really don't like in person confrontations, but I'm going to have to go in there soon and stand there until they fix it! I think if they check the time stamp (which I think they have access to, but I don't) they'll see that the one I had on hold was checked out at a very different time than the books I checked out Thursday night. My big hope is whoever checked out "Patches" from the Puppy Place series will bring it back soon. I did put the books back on hold using Violet's card. I mean, hey, we might both as well have our cards in arrears.

Of course, I dwell on things like this and they slowly eat me up. I hope this can be resolved tomorrow.

Friday we had storms. In fact a funnel cloud was spotted 8 miles west of our town early in the morning. We hung out in the basement while the tornado sirens were going. Then Violet and I went to spend the rest of the day with my parents. We had a nice visit. Tonight and tomorrow there are more storms predicted. But the weekend was nice. Hot, humid, but nice.

The garden is looking great. I've got to get some pictures for you. We picked a few lettuce leaves. We have tiny tomatoes starting. The pumpkin and zucchini look great. And the cabbage is coming up. I am hopeful for a good harvest.

Hope all the dads in your lives had nice Father's Days. I think Mr. I. did. Even if he had to do yard work.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Isn't it time for them to go back to school yet?

I've been home 3 full days that the school kids have been out. I'm ready for them to go back. It is so loud in the neighborhood when they are home. Constantly yelling, running around and screaming. My goodness, do little girls really need to scream all day long? I never did. Violet doesn't either. We just can't pull it off. And fog horns. Why are they blasting those? Music hasn't been too bad, although last night the dad next door was practicing his drums. At least he always stops at a decent hour.

Doesn't help that my neighbor is having a garage sale. Now I love these neighbors dearly. We've known them for years. Their oldest daughter is our long time pet and babysitter. But with a garage sale comes extra talking. And extra cars. And strange people parking everywhere. I could do without it.

Speaking of outside, the garden has gone nuts. This is the time of the year we gets lots of rain (August will be bone dry, just wait). The plants are going crazy. Of course it seems a bit worse because the lawn needs mowing. Nothing is ready to harvest yet, but it will be soon. Spinach and lettuce will be up first. I moved their containers up to the top of the deck to keep the bunnies out of them. After seeing Mom #1's photos I was picturing our Bun-Buns standing on the back feet chomping away.

I know you are all probably getting tired of hearing this but things look really bleak at Mr. I's company. One option that was discussed today was selling off the customer list and closing the doors. Haven't heard the outcome yet. When his job goes, so too goes our health insurance. I made Violet's 10 year checkup appointment for next week. It is early, but at least we should still have coverage. We don't need it for school, but she does need it for Girl Scout camp each year. This will give her a year without worries. It is about 4 months too early for my checkup and mammogram. I don't think I can go in that early.

I am going to start trying to find insurance for us. I can't get it at my work. I don't work enough "regularly scheduled hours" and they can't give me enough to qualify (I've asked). I was looking at the premiums through my job and they are really high anyway, the plan has a very low deductible. We don't have that many expenses (knock on wood, rub on one of those Bun Bun feet, and toss some salt over my shoulder) so I am going to try to find us a plan with a really high deductible to keep the monthly cost down.

Sigh. This sucks. I want it to be two years ago when things were so much rosier for all of us. Or two years in the future when things are better again.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Settling back in

The luggage is unpacked and the souvenirs are put away (mostly). We went to the grocery store today to restock the cabinets. And the work list is caught up to the "not urgent" items. Things are settling back down.

I finally walked out to the garden today. Some of our stuff is actually growing. We have lettuce and spinach coming up in our containers. And the onion crop looks good. The tomatoes are huge, but no sign of flowers yet. There are a few other things coming up that I don't quite remember what they are. That is going to make my plans to weed the garden tonight a bit more of a challenge.

Tomorrow we'll get over to the library. The summer reading program started the day we left. Got to get Violet signed up.

Tomorrow we are also going to make and decorate cupcakes for my dad's birthday. He turned 69 on our trip and it went largely unnoticed (they were returning home that day). We're going to go to their house on Friday with the cupcakes. We don't have a present for him. I'm thinking of taking him to Farm and Fleet and getting him some snack goodies. I meant to buy him some Three Musketeer bars at the store today and I forgot. What do you buy the man who always buys himself whatever he needs without mentioning he needs it? He never lets us know that he would like something. He'll go out the day before his birthday and buy himself what would have been the perfect gift. My mom has quit trying to get him things. I don't really blame her.

I can't wait to finally crack open my Rainbow Resource catalog that arrived while we were gone. I hope to this weekend. Mr. I. is going to help Violet get a new hamster. And he's going to put up the pool. And he wants to go out to a movie with her. Not really sure how they are going to get all that done, but it sounds like I may have some time to myself.

I could use some time to myself. The worst part about traveling is the lack of privacy and space. It is good to be home.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

We're home

We got home late Sunday night and I'm still exhausted. The trip was a roller coaster. Some really good. Some awful. I guess that's what you'd expect. Since lists seem easier than paragraphs here is a recap:

1. My family is still insane. Mom loved being there. The aunt from the other side of the family hated it. She complained and didn't want to do anything. She's lucky she got a ride home.

2. I would never travel 1000 miles to see some sports hero's hometown and college. That seems to have been the reason for the other aunt to have gone. Well, she's done it now. She's seen Brett Farve's hometown and the college he played at. I kid you not. 1000 miles for Brett Farve. I hope she's happy.

3. The South can be so hot you turn to molten lava as soon as you leave the air conditioning.

4. There is no place to get ice cream on the beach in Biloxi-Ocean Springs. We ended up at the Edgewater Mall.

5. You can find a dead fish on the beach though.

5a. We actually had a wonderful time on the beach, it was the highlight of the trip for the 5 of us who were there. We waded out to sand bars, looked for shells, watched sea gulls scoop up fish from the water.

6. Gulf Islands National Seashore is beautiful. That's where we did the memorial. Or the closest we came to a memorial. We took po'boys out there and ate and walked around remembering her.

7. The air conditioning hose that lets the condensation out of the system in our car had a clog in it. I rode all the way home with my feet in a puddle. Mr. I. got the clog out yesterday but we're having a heck of a time drying out the carpeting.

8. It was wonderful spending time with my cousin and her family. We have plans to talk every week on the phone.

9. I think the casinos on the coast are an eyesore.

10. Being told by a desk clerk that he has no reservation in your name isn't funny. Especially on the last night of the trip. He's lucky I didn't deck him. I did almost make him cry when I explained the trip and why I wasn't in the mood for that joke.

There's more, but I can't think of it right now. Work is irritating me and I've been trying to get things done for them as fast as I can. I have almost gotten us unpacked. The laundry is done. I need to get to the grocery store to get some food. I am behind in everyone's blogs, I hope to catch up with you all soon!

Monday, June 8, 2009

Leaving tomorrow

We leave tomorrow morning for the trip to the memorial service. Or non-memorial service as the case may be. Rather than go into all the details let me just say a few things.

1. My family is insane.

2. We're going to spend more time on the road than there.

3. It is hot on the Mississippi Gulf Coast! Highs in the 90s are predicted. We're going to melt.

4. My family is insane.

5. I am really glad to have this time with my cousin. Just wish it were under different circumstances.

6. I really hope I can get a shrimp p'boy while I'm there. And some gumbo. Or at least a stuffed crab.

7. Violet is most looking forward to the zoo and the water park. So am I. (The water park is a new one near them. My aunt had been looking forward to taking my cousin and her son and they never got there. My cousin said her mom would be so pleased if we all went while we are there.)

8. Did I mention my family is insane? I hope we can make it there and back with a minimal amount of hurt feelings and snarky comments. I doubt it though.

If I get a chance I'll post from the road. Hope you all have a great week!

Sending hugs,


Friday, June 5, 2009

Catching you up

I can't believe I haven't blogged since Monday. It has been non-stop. Pour yourself another cup of coffee or tea, this is going to be a long entry.

We are going to Mississippi, but not to a memorial service (although that's what we're telling our employers because it is easier to explain). My cousins decided not to do a funeral or memorial, but they did want us to come spend some time with them. This was decided on Wednesday. Since we weren't having an official anything we could set the dates. After a bunch of phone calls we came up with leaving Tuesday morning, returning Sunday. It will take us two days to drive each way. My parents and another aunt (from my dad's side) are going and returning one day earlier than we are.

We have hotel reservations for while we are there (again, more negotiations so we could all stay at the same place that met everyone's demands: high speed internet, a pool, near my cousin's house, and queen sized beds so certain tall people don't hang off the end). But we don't have the drive there and back figured out yet.

We aren't doing a ceremony, instead we are all visiting and going to some of my aunt's favorite places. It will be a quasi-vacation, with a mission. The cousins will do a private burial of the ashes. I'm not sure when they are doing it. If it is while we are there, we'll entertain ourselves during it so they can have their time alone with their mom. The cousin from China is supposed to arrive on Monday. I keep forgetting to ask if his wife is able to come with.

Besides countless phone calls the last 2 days have been filled with preparations. Grocery store, bank, finding people to cover work assignments for me, etc. I got the Girl Scout registrations wrapped up and turned in. No volunteer work to hang over my head.

Then there was all the "life goes on" stuff to do. We bought Violet's bronze award. She got herself a cute Girl Scout gorilla as a little gift to herself for finishing the project (with Juliette-Bucks). We got her certificate back from Council (they send out really nice certificates if you fill out some simple paperwork). We were pleased to see it has the name of our Council as it is now, before the realignment takes place this fall. We hadn't thought of that. If she'd waited until next year to work on the Bronze it would have been under the new name.

Violet's birthday is in early July, so she's been busily planning her celebration. She decided she wanted to take Red and Butterfly out for a girl's afternoon out of miniature golf and ice cream. On Wednesday we tested out a mini golf course near here, it was really nice. But there are 2 more courses Violet would like to test before she decides which one. I smell a scam. Ice cream will be at a nicer sit down ice cream place. Once we know which mini golf course it will be easier to pick the ice cream parlor nearest it. I contacted Red's and Butterfly's moms and we were even able to find a date when none of the three girls will be at camp, in class, or otherwise tied up. No easy feat with their busy summer schedules.

Violet and I made a cute little trellis today out of sticks (like a tripod but with 4 legs) and planted some sweet pea seeds underneath it. We're hoping 1. the seeds grow, and 2. when they do they will climb up the trellis. I'll get some pictures posted.

I'm really glad we still have 3 days before we leave. We briefly discussed leaving as early as Saturday. I couldn't have made it. I'll still be preparing up until we pull out of the driveway, but at least I'll get to sleep in the meantime.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Thank you!

Thank you all for your kind words on the passing of my aunt. I really appreciate it! You all mean so much to me. (((hugs)))

We haven't heard if there will be a memorial service or not. My oldest cousin lives in China and has not yet been able to travel back home. I expect they won't decide anything until he gets here. If they do have something they may decide to keep it just the three children and their families.

Mr. I. doesn't understand any of this or why they may not have a service at all. And especially why, if they do have one, my mom doesn't plan to go. She says we out of town family would just be a burden on them. And I know she has sworn off ever returning to her home town. She has a lot of demons there. She was very close to her sister, and despite their issues over the years, they had a better relationship than my mom did with any of the rest of her family.

On Sunday we went to my parent's house, we had it planned for nearly a week, the timing was just good. Mr. I. and I went to see Star Trek while Violet hung out there and took my mom's mind off things. When we got back my mom had decided to dedicate part of her garden to her sister and plant flowers in it every year. My dad will make a nice wooden sign for her. We all went out and planted some Sweet William seeds (William just happens to be the name of my aunt's youngest grandson). In my mom's mind, that was the memorial service. Mr. I. can't get it through his thick skull that for her, that was the closure she needs. He keeps insisting she must go for a real funeral (which there won't likely be).

If it seems like this blog post is going in circles it is because I've been going in circles. Trying to explain this to him. He just won't get it. And frankly, it is starting to bug me that he won't accept that not everyone has the same outlook, ideals, and ways of doing things that he does. At this point I'm hoping we aren't contacted about a memorial in time to get there. I wouldn't mind going. But I don't want to referee my mom and my husband. (My dad won't take a strong side. He'll offer to go and drive mom there but he won't say if he wants to or thinks she should.)

Personally, it seems wrong to drop everything and go to a memorial service now. Why couldn't we have gotten our butts down there last summer when we could have spent time with her? That's when it would have made a bigger difference. If my cousin calls with the information in time for us to go, and indicates she'd like us to go, then I'll be packing my overnight bag and loading into the car. I'll just wait and see what happens in the next week.

And we all know how good I am at waiting and seeing! LOL