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Wednesday, July 23, 2014

TMOART:14 - Let's get this show on the road!

If you've been around these parts for any length of time, you'll recognize the 'TMOART' abbreviation - but just in case you don't know..... it's time, once again for *insert drum roll*

The Mother of All Road Trips: 2014 Edition!!!

I've been talking about it a little bit here and there on my facebook page, but I haven't really gone into great detail about where exactly we're going on the trip. I always try to maintain at least a little bit of privacy on here, mainly by not revealing our exact location at any given point in time. Because I use our real pictures of our real selves, I try to be careful - although I've said it before and I'll say it again, if I had any idea when this thing started that it would get as big as it has (ok, in the grand scheme of things it's still a baby blog, but it's way bigger than what I expected) I never would have used our pictures. But it blew up and our pictures were already there, so all I can do now is hope that none of you are crazy psychotic stalkers.

However..... I will say this about this trip....

We are leaving Thursday morning. We are stopping at a friend's house in Tennessee - and I can not wait to see her! Hopefully she'll let me post some pictures of her too, because honestly, she's the person who truly got me started on this blogging thing. There will be at least one more stop in Tennessee, and then on to my brother's house in North Carolina for a night, where I will also get to see my niece and her daughters and her new husband.

After that, we are heading north to Virginia to see some more friends and to spend a couple of nights in a tent, and then off to Washington, DC for a day or two where we will see at least one more friend (hopefully more). Once we leave DC, we will head up into the Allegheny Mountains of Pennsylvania to see my parents for a few days, along with a day trip to visit Penn State and get our traditional family picture taken on the Lion Shrine.

Our final official stop will be "back home" for me, which is in the southcentral part of PA. We'll be camping out for a few days there and visiting with lots of people who have known me for a lot longer than I'd care to admit - and then we'll pack up and head back west again.

We've been slowly getting ready for this trip - I went ahead and rented a really big van to do it this time so that we have room for all of our stuff and the kids won't be on top of each other. Plus this time, if we lose our transmission on the way back, it won't (theoretically) be on our dime like it was the last time.

I've been doing laundry and cleaning the house and trying to get things organized so that when we come back, the house will be at least semi-clean (for a minute or two), and I've been making lists out the wazoo. I already stopped the mail delivery and notified the local police department that we'd be gone so they'll keep an eye on the house for me and notify me if anything happens.

Today though, I did something that was just so totally surreal - I took one of our spare keys over to my neighbor's house and asked her if they would mind keeping an eye on things for us while we're gone. You know, walk through the house occasionally, water the plants on the patio, help themselves to any of the peppers or tomatoes as they become ripe, stuff like that. Normal, right? Of course it is - until you realize that I was on the verge of being homeless less than 4 years ago, and today I handed my spare housekey to the wife of THE MAYOR who lives next door to me.

The mayor. I live next door to the mayor.

One of these days, I'll get used to all of this homeowner stuff, right?

Until then......it's time to get ready for a road trip.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

It's an amazing life

This is my life tonight.

Roughly half a case of bananas, 4 loaf pans, and my oven.

By the time that I'm done, I should have about 14 loaves of banana bread made. And I won't eat a single one.

Instead, it's all going to the local homeless shelter. They put out an announcement today that they were inundated with a huge donation of bananas, and they couldn't possibly use them all before they went bad. They've tried to freeze them before in the hopes that they'd get used eventually, and that just didn't work - so they asked for help with them.

I like to bake, especially when I'm stressed. Problem solved.

What's funny though is that my stress is probably some of the best stress that a person can have.

How is that possible?


My life is amazing right now.

I might bitch and moan about the amount of work that I have to do on the house - and trust me, there is so much work to be done - but it's my house, and I'm able to do most of the work myself.

I've been complaining about the kids a lot - and not without reason. Summer vacation is crazy insane at times, and the amount of togetherness is starting to grate on everyone's nerves. The fighting and bickering and laziness is at an all-time high, but at the same time - they are having fun most of the time. They have been working together to help clean the house and do their own laundry and help me do yardwork.... and there is absolutely no reason to complain about that.

I'm getting ready to take The Dude and the kids and do our cross-country jaunt to see friends and family. I was able to rent a 12-passenger van so that we can travel without sitting on top of each other or with the kids' knees up their noses or elbows in each other's sides, which will hopefully keep the road trip relatively bicker-free.....and considering that the last time we made the trip we came back without a transmission in my van, renting a vehicle seemed like a wise choice. We are going to hit some new stops along the way and do some really fun stuff, and we haven't even told the kids where all we're going yet because that's part of the fun.

Speaking of The Dude - he continues to put up with me and the kids and my neurotic tendencies, no matter what I throw at him. And if I throw too much, he calls me on it and throws it right back at me. He helps with the kids and the house as much as he can with his own responsibilities, and he continues to amaze me every day. Heck, we even have the chance to go on a real date - kid-free! - on Friday.

I see so many of my friends struggling right now. Seriously struggling. And it breaks my heart. I see marital problems, financial problems, issues with domestic violence, deaths of loved ones, kids using drugs - and I realize how incredibly lucky I am to have the life that I have right now.

But I also realize that it can be gone in a heartbeat. I refuse to take this life for granted. No matter how much I complain about petty crap, I know that it's petty and people have problems that are so much worse than mine.

So I will stay up all night to make different varieties of banana bread to take back to the homeless shelter tomorrow, because I know that someone there is having a much worse day than what I could ever imagine.

I'm not writing about this to get the attagirl's and the good job's that typically come when someone does something like this. I'm writing because I truly believe that we ALL have the power to make someone's day a little bit brighter. Maybe it's not by baking a bunch of banana bread. But we can all do something.

Donate your old clothes to charity. Buy something from that kid's fundraiser, even if it's overpriced garbage. Go to a local nursing home and visit with someone whose family has forgotten about them. Volunteer at your kid's next school function, even if you have to put up with those parents. Smile at someone you pass on the street.

Do something. I know you can.