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Thursday, May 30, 2013


I'm not exactly sure what we did to deserve this.....

I blew out the head gasket in my van.
Then the water pump went out in The Dude's truck (while I was driving it).
My dishwasher crapped out on Mother's Day.
My lawnmower died the other day.

Then this evening, The Dude was out running a couple of errands, including picking up supper for us, and he called me to say that the truck had broken down. Again.

Anyway, it ended up being really minor. I took the boys, went and got him, we ran to the auto parts store and back to his house to get his tools, replaced the solenoid in the parking lot of the pizza place, and boom - back on our way again, all in less than an hour.

Still.... it's frustrating. It seems like just when we fix something - another thing breaks. Luckily this time, it was cheap and easy to fix. But I'm getting tired of fixing stuff. Besides the fact that it's generally really inconvenient, it's also getting really expensive.

We keep spending money on fixing stuff - and it's money that we're trying to put towards other stuff.

We're trying to figure out a way to make TMOART:13 happen (if you're new around here, that stands for The Mother Of All Road Trips: 2013 Edition) but at this rate - it looks like it might not. We want to rent a bigger van to do it so that the kids are more comfortable (and let's face it - if it's a rental and it breaks down, someone else has to pay to fix it) but from looking into that, a rental will easily tack another $1000-1500 to the total cost of the trip. We just might not be about to do it this year.

Even though we keep breaking stuff, we
have fun fixing it.
We're still trying to get moved so that we can have all of the kids in the same school district, and moving takes money too. Funny how that works.

But still, even though this is all so incredibly frustrating, we're still plugging along. We're still making plans (and adjusting them) and we're moving forward and we're looking into doing some other things that involve some really big steps (no, not THAT kind of a step) and all in all, no matter what, life is good. We might keep hitting speedbumps, but that's all they are - they might temporarily slow us down a bit, but they're not sending us off into some other direction.

I figure at this point that if we can deal with this much broken crap, we should be able to handle just about anything. We'll just keep going over the speedbumps, one by one.

We might lose what little bit of our minds that we have left.....but it'll just make the ride more interesting.

Camping videos

Had I thought about it while we were out there, I would have recorded more stuff because there were some truly priceless moments. But, I never think about it at the time.

This first one though..... oh my wow. Let me apologize now for the shakiness but I was laughing so hard that I couldn't hold the camera still. The boys were playing in the sand by the water, and Alex wanted to tell Daniel something. I heard him say "Daniel! Come here!" several times, but Daniel wanted nothing to do with whatever it was that Alex wanted to show him. Finally, Daniel looked at Alex and said "No! I want to do ballet!" and ran off and started dancing up and down the shoreline. I managed to catch part of it on film...

Then this one - this was Sunday afternoon before we left. We ventured to a different part of the lake to try to get out of the wind (and failed) and we really wanted Daniel to catch a fish (Alex had left with his father that morning). So The Dude managed to hook one and then handed the pole to Daniel.

He was quite proud of himself!

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Eye Candy (not THAT kind)

This is MY kind of eye candy - the kind that I can stare at all day, every day, and never get tired of it.

You guessed it. More pictures from our camping trip.

The view from our campsite back down the road.

One of my favorite views. Ever.

Thursday sunset

Night fishing by the light of the moon.

Friday sunrise
The view from the other side of the lake

Starting to figure it all out.

You can see how low the water level still is - that tree should
be at the water's edge.

Whoa. A moment of focus.

Friday sunset


Friday night fishing. Seriously, that's the moon.
Not the sun.

Saturday sunset

The supermoon Saturday night.


More supermoon
I'm definitely ready to go back out there again.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

A little bit of wildlife

While we were camping this weekend, we saw lots of wildlife - although some of it was much more alive than others. It was wonderful to just kick back and watch everything without the hustle and bustle of the real world to interrupt it.

Here are a few shots of what we saw.


Crane. There were lots of these.

Ducks. Lots of them too.

Snakes. They were all over the water, and some of them
were extremely persistent.

Signs of raccoons.

This just makes me giggle.

I think he was trying to convince us that he
was to be feared....

....or that he was Loch Ness's cousin.

Crane - see the fish in its mouth?

Hey look! A crane!

Not sure what kind of birds these are, but they're
fearless. And fast.

Dragonfly - one of the few bugs that we saw the
entire weekend.

I waited all day to get this picture.

Another shot of Speedy.

Flying crane.

This little jerk was extremely persistent. He would NOT
go away, and he thoroughly enjoyed hanging out about
5' away from where I was sitting.

A pelican. In Kansas. I had to google it to be sure.
I still have a ton of pictures to go through and post....slowly but surely!!!

Monday, May 27, 2013

A couple of (good) interruptions during camping

Part of our goal when we went camping this past weekend (besides celebrating The Dude's birthday) was to totally disconnect from the "real world" for a while. Luckily, this goal is pretty easy to attain out at the lake because cell phones are really nothing more than paperweights in the entire area. Making a call is impossible and getting online is even more impossible. About the only thing that even sometimes works is a text message here and there - but even that is iffy.

I kept checking online to see if the Boy Scouts had publicized the results of the vote on whether or not to allow kids who are gay into the organization, but nothing had been posted by the time that we left town. I figured I'd hear about it one way or another during the weekend because I had already planned to make at least one or two trips back into town.

(Just in case you're new here, this is a subject that I've written about a couple of times. You can find those posts HERE and HERE.)

I'm not sure what time we got out there Thursday evening - we picked the boys up from school and still had to do a few things around town before we even got to leave. We were still unpacking our stuff when suddenly my phone went off in my pocket. Surprised, I pulled it out to look at it, and it was a text message:

Not sure if you're disconnected from the internet but they passed the allowing gays thing

I let out a happy yell and showed the phone to The Dude, who also smiled. I managed to fire off a thank you text to the messenger before my signal totally died and I put my phone away for the weekend.

Granted, I wish that the ban was totally lifted and that adults who are gay were also allowed - but to me, this is a step in the right direction. And it makes me feel better about allowing Alex to continue to participate in Scouts. He and I had a long talk about it and while he doesn't understand all of it, he still thinks that it's pretty cool that ALL boys are allowed in now and that it was "pretty stupid" that they weren't before.

So because of this, I did use my phone as an alarm clock to wake the two of us up at 6am on Saturday (ugh) to go back into town to meet up with a bunch of the local Scouts to put flags up on the graves of the veterans at the local cemetery. This was a new experience for both of us, as we walked around our section of the cemetery with a bag of flags, a notebook with a map, and a list of names. He had a blast, and we talked about the different wars as we placed flags on graves of men who had fought in the Civil War, World Wars I and II, Vietnam, and Korea. He loved looking at the dates on the stones, and I kept getting distracted by the stones in general since I love old cemeteries.

At the same time, it also made me realize that I really need to brush up on my history because I had to struggle to remember details that he asked about some of the wars. Leave it to a kid to make me realize how little attention I actually paid during some classes in school!

I'm glad that we got to do this, and I'm glad that the vote passed. I know that it is going to have some immediate effects on his pack because there are several people who had already made it clear that they would leave the organization if it passed - but at the same time I can now feel more comfortable with him (and soon, Daniel) participating. I believe that they can learn some wonderful lessons (with 'tolerance' being one of them) and participate in some great activities and that it will be a great thing for both of them.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

So we caught a couple of fish...

I've pretty much decided that since I took well over 400 pictures on our camping trip this weekend that I would sort of divide them up by subject and post them that way. It's a little less overwhelming for everyone that way!

So, since the main purpose of our weekend getaway was to fish, I figured that I'd start off with everything that we caught. Forgive the cheesy collages - but I didn't feel like posting each picture individually, and once I found a cheesy online collage maker, it was essential to make them as cheesy as possible.

First - Thursday night. OK, these aren't the cheesy ones. I just did these myself before I figured out that there had to be an easier way.

Then there was Friday. We spent pretty much the entire day with poles in our hands.

Saturday was fun. The lake was stocked that morning, and although it took a while for the fish to make it to our end (we were way at the end) they eventually made it, and we got some good ones.

Today, we packed up to leave and decided to head to the other end of the lake to try to get out of the wind - we had steady 15-20mph winds non-stop for the entire time that we were out there. Alex's father picked him up and so we just had Daniel - and he "caught" the only fish of the day today.

Of course, no fishing trip would be complete without the "one that got away" stories, and we each have one. I hooked a huge carp last night, battled it to within about 10 feet of the shore, was getting ready to say "I need some help" to The Dude, and *boom* he got off of the hook and swam away. We're not sure how big he was, but I feel pretty confident in saying that it would have been the biggest fish that I had ever caught - you know, if I had actually caught it.

After it got dark last night, The Dude got a hit on his line. He let out a yell because he knew that it was a big one, and just like that, it was gone. Along with his hook and sinker. Snapped the line. We didn't catch a glimpse of that one, so we have no idea what it was. But it was big.

We didn't keep anything that we caught, but we had so much fun out there. The boys tried to fish, but they don't have the patience to sit there and do it so they'd try for a few minutes and then go and get into trouble somewhere, and then try, then get into trouble - I think I actually have more pictures of them playing in the dirt than I do of them fishing.

So other pictures that will be coming in future posts.....boys fishing and getting in trouble, wildlife, a zombie turtle, the supermoon (woot!), sunrises and sunsets, and various other shenanigans. We'll just have to see how long it actually takes me to get them all posted.

Monday, May 20, 2013

I thought I could let it go....

....but I can't.

To put it mildly, I'm pissed. I mean it. Absolutely livid.

A couple of months ago, I went off on a little tirade about the Boy Scouts' ban on gay members. I got it out of my system, and life was good. I made the decision at that point to keep Alex in Scouts until after the vote on whether or not to lift the ban happened. Anyway, it was delayed, and from what I understand from our meeting tonight it will be held on Wednesday.

We didn't have a regular Scout meeting tonight. Instead, we had our committee meeting - the grown ups sit around and talk about boring stuff like finances and planning outings and stuff like that. The subject of the vote was brought up, as apparently there had been some question as to whether the church who charters our pack and troop would continue to charter it if the ban was to be lifted. We were informed that regardless of the vote, the church would continue to charter the Scouts. I was happy to hear this.

Now, at this committee meeting there were 5 or 6 other adults, plus me. Our leader was trying to plan things out for the next few months, and was informed by several of the other adults that they would be leaving the organization if the ban were to be lifted - which left the leader in a bit of a bind, because he can't plan any outings for the boys until he knows if he has any adults left or not.


(For the record, as if you didn't guess already, I informed the leader right then and there that if the ban is lifted, he can count on me to be more involved than ever before.)

OK. I understand that the Scouts is a Christian-based organization. I understand that it is a private organization and can make its own rules. I understand that when people joined, they knew about those rules (except for me, the clueless one) and they were ok with them.

Now the rules might be changing. So they want to leave. Keep in mind that BSA is not looking to change the rules for adult leaders - only for the kids.

So these adults, who are supposed to be role models for these young boys, are going to bolt straight out of the organization because they might have to be in the same room with a kid who is gay??? Really?

News flash: There are gay people everywhere. They're in the grocery stores and the libraries and the public pools and in schools and hospitals and banks and post offices and shopping malls and *gasp* maybe even working IN THE SAME OFFICE WITH YOU!!!! If they haven't turned you gay yet, what makes you think that they're out to do that to your kid too? If you are so worried about your kid being exposed to someone who is gay, then you'd better not ever allow that child out of your house. Really.

Look at these two images. Read them. These are pictures that I just took of Alex's Cub Scout Tiger Cub Handbook.

Where exactly does it say that the purpose of Cub Scouting is to shun someone who does something that you don't like? Where does it say that someone who is different than you doesn't belong in Scouts? Where does it say that a boy who is gay is not worthy of being a Scout?

It doesn't.

Character Development. Is there a better way to develop your child's character than to show him that it's ok if someone does something that you don't necessarily like? What is so wrong with teaching your son that it's ok to agree to disagree? Doesn't that build character?

Respectful relationships. A relationship doesn't only have to be between a man and a woman. It can be the relationship between a group of kids. There is a group of kids that I see playing together after school on a regular basis - just judging by appearances, there are girls, boys, blacks, whites, Hispanics, and even a little Muslim girl who all play together - and they are great friends. They are all so amazingly different from each other, but they respect each other's differences and have a great relationship with each other.

Values? They want to preach about values? Look at that list: Compassion. Courage. Honesty. Respect.


Right there, in black and white. The eleventh Core Value in Cub Scouting.


How in the hell can we teach our kids respect if we don't show that same respect to ALL other people?

Respect for kids shouldn't be selective. They're KIDS. Show them respect. Show adults respect (unless they give you a damned good reason not to do so).

Seriously people. Get over it. Yes, you have a right to your beliefs, just as I have a right to mine. You're not right and I'm not either. But as adults, we have the responsibility to be positive role models for all kids today. Do you want to teach them that it's ok to be close-minded and exclusionary, or do you want to teach them that it's ok to accept someone who is different from you? You can accept the person without accepting their beliefs.

Cum dilectione hominum et odio vitiorum.

St. Augustine originally said that around the year 424, give or take. 

Know what that means?

Love the sinner, but hate the sin.

You don't have to agree with everything that everyone does. But learn to respect the fact that everyone is different.