Sunday, July 25, 2010


We got Jake back yesterday, I was so glad.  I miss that kid when he is not around, even if it is much quieter!  
We hung out a little yesterday afternoon, he did his laundry and I made falafel for everyone.  I am pretty sure only Matt, Chan and I ate it, Ben tried a bite and looked like I had given him a sock to eat.  He wanted dip to go with it, but not the cream and spinach dip I had.

After a good deal of me complaining about the heat-hottest day of the year so far-AGAIN, as Ben said, "Didn't we just have that?", we checked the drive-in and saw they were playing The Sorcerer's Apprentice and Toy Story 3 together for $15.  I put drinks in the cooler and we piled chairs, pillows and blankets in the back of the van and headed out!  

We stopped at Taco Bell for a few goodies and got all set up about half an hour before the movie started.  As soon as we finished eating and everyone was comfy, a man from the Huntsville Times came over to see if he could get some pictures of us!  He climbed around into the van with the kids and shot them for a couple of minutes, then got Matt and me.  I had on a skimpy tank top, I hope he does not use the pics of me!  hahaha  At least it never came up that we homeschool.  *whew*

The movies were great!  Ben and Chan just rolled during the mop scene from The Sorcerer's Apprentice and Matt and I laughed during most of Toy Story 3-though I admit, we both squalled during the last part.

It was a pretty good day over all!  We got in late and had a good sleep, I like being tired enough to fall right to sleep, that rarely happens.  Usually I get sleepy, lay down, and my brain starts its evil slideshow of what I need to do, what could possibly go wrong and so on.  Ack.  

I think we are going to float around in some water today.  Sounds lovely to me!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

This sucks! woo-hoo!

Matt picked us up a new vacuum yesterday.  I am in love.  
Our old vacuum had just...well, it was possessed by a lower level imp who was LAZY.  Not only did it barely vacuum any more, the wheels had started rolling off when you used it.  Not just FALLING off, no.  They would roll away underneath the bed or couch or 20 feet across the living room.  Then, sometimes it would clog up and start blowing stuff back out.  And it would NEVER suck back up all it blew back out.  Like filling in a hole!

I told him my sad little budget ($50) and hoped we could get by a little longer before having to put some real money into a vacuum.  This puppy was $46, a Bissel.  It has...attachments!  It's been SO long since I could vacuum corners, I usually just sweep with the broom all around the corners and edges and then run the vac.  This has so much power, it's like a self-propelled mower!  It pulls itself along and you just sort of walk behind and think about maybe watching a movie in a bit.

I ran it last night in the living room and weighed the canister.  TWO pounds of dust and dirt.  TWO.  It was astonishing.  I ran in here and did my room, then Matt got the attachments and got under his desk, a.k.a. Graveyard of the Ladybugs.  He kept saying "oo, glad you didn't see THAT" every now and then.

That can only mean one thing-the dry husks of dead camel crickets, the worst invention EVER in the history of insects.  Well, other than the mosquito which has caused more deaths than all the wars combined.  1 in 17 people will die from a disease injected into them via a mosquito.  Most likely malaria, which is responsible for 300-500 million cases a year and killing between 1 and 3 million people.  There are only about 10 million people in the entire state of Alabama.  We could be extinct in 4 measly years-a decade at best.

Second only to the mosquito, the camel-or cave-cricket is a bane upon this earth.  Let me just share this little nugget with you, from wikipediaGiven their limited vision, cave crickets will often jump towards any perceived threat in an attempt to frighten it away. Their large hind legs allow them to jump high and far.  I highlighted the scary parts.

OMG, I had to take a minute to stop rocking back and forth and sucking my thumb thanks to the flashbacks.  UGH.  I hate those things, what the article fails to mention is that they make a NOISE when they land because they are so heavy, they can cling to bare skin thanks to prongy leg things and if you squash one, it smells like rot-not the earthy rot of dead leaves, but the rot of the mouse (*ahem* mice) your cats left on top of your van that 2 trips to the car wash failed to fully remove and now there's a green spot on the top of the van and I keep looking outside to yell at the cats for getting too close to it again and I put vinegar up there to keep them off because they hate the smell and then worried it would make the paint fall off when the sun baked it and then took it back to the car wash and THEN the dead mice finally washed off-other than the aforementioned green stain.  I think the vinegar soaked them loose.  Well, the bits that were left.

Also, they-the crickets-will eat holes in anything damp left on the floor.  Needless to say, I am downright anal about the laundry being done DAILY.  It never, ever piles up unless we are on a trip and it's with us safely tucked inside the rubberized contours of my Rubbermaid laundry bag with the zip-tie top!  I love that thing, too.  It weighs 9 pounds totally empty and requires a small wagon to move it when full, but I am very pleased with how well it works.  You can't smell Jake's shirts or the 3 day old towel used at the river, even with it inside the tiny camper.  I do air-dry everything before putting it in there, don't haul around wet laundry, that's just gross.

What was I talking about?  Oh...the new vacuum!  So, Ben and I attacked the back porch, his room, the living room corners and under stuff and then opened the air return cage thing in the wall and vacuumed the inside of that and cleaned the vents!  The cannister filled up over and over, it was like some kind of alternate universe Christmas when we opened it to look each time.  WOW!  Where was all of that hiding!  I thought the house was basically clean with some clutter.  Turns out, we've been living in a cesspool-but the dry kind.  A cesspit?  Well, maybe not THAT drastic, more like we've been living halfway around a 1/4 mile loop of dirt road with a crappy vacuum cleaner.  

But no longer!  I have sworn off that life, the old life that I once led (before yesterday) and vow that from here on, there will be carpets that sparkle and no more cobweb corners!

Also, I drank a red bull (zero) for the first time today and did not know it was carbonated until after I shook it up and opened it.  So, back to day one of no carbonated drinks tomorrow!  Blah.  But, 250% of B vitamins, I am STOKED.  Woo!  Gimme another room to vacuum!  I wonder if the cord will reach outside?!

Spring Park

After the Hall of Fame, we went to grab some lunch and then had a picnic at Spring Park.

The kids got armbands so they could ride the rollercoaster, train and carousel as much as they wanted.
I could have saved the extra $3 a kid-they ONLY wanted to ride the coaster.
: )

bwahahaha!  I love this above and below, Suzette's kids are SO funny.
Zachary looked VERY unhappy on the coaster and Suzette said, "Uh-oh, he does not like it!" and when it stopped, he got off, hooted about how fun it was and jumped right back in line!
Emily is not much better!  She looked horrified, then would get back on, too.  

Finally!  A shot with just our group!

I finally had a breakthrough, realizing why toddler Jake was terrified of carousels.
He kept saying "ee wi' bited me!"
Those horse DO look ready to take a plug!


Yesterday we went to Tuscumbia to the Alabama Music Hall of Fame.  I did not really want to go, but it was a group thing and I wanted to see everyone!  It turned out to be...not THAT bad.  I did not know most of the people, the kids did not know any of them.  The first activity they did was make a rubbing of a star and after looking around a while, Chan decided to do Shenandoah because she's been to that National Park.  hahaha!  Jake declined and Ben did Gold City, which he thought sounded like El Dorado.  hahaha!  Oh well, I think they learned a LITTLE in the museum.

Here is Elvis's original recording contract.

I thought this was interesting-he was 2 months shy of his 21st birthday when this was signed and yet-his father signed it as his guardian.

 Michelle, Suzette, Karen, me, Gina

It was SO bright!  hahaha!

Not only does Suzette know all the words to Sweet Home Alabama, she can dance, too.
Here are a few of the kids trying their hand at singing it, Cody just wanted to rock it on the guitar solo-which he did QUITE well!

The girls recorded their Eye of the Bison song in the studio.
It was great, we all cheered-which you can hear on the CD at the very end.

It was cool to watch them, but in the back of my head, I was just thinking, "I can't wait to ride Rockin' Rollercoaster again!"  Because the queuing area is set up like a recording studio...

Not QUITE Aerosmith...

But, it's a hit single nonetheless!
Everyone wants a copy!

I got back from the mis-directed bathroom a little late for the group kid pic and they had digressed by then.

Check out this car, it was so gaudy I could not help myself:

Monday, July 19, 2010


Okay, so in the last 6 weeks, I have given up (or really cut back on):
kid cereal
other candy
Little Debbies  *sigh*
sweet tea
ice cream

I have cut some totally out, (bye, Debbie) and started using the dull-but effective measuring cup for the rest.
I did have a slice of cake at Matt's birthday, no cookies or brownies, though.  I measure out my measly 3/4 cup of kid cereal a couple times a week.  I can't seem to give up the sugar or the artificial colors.  Hmm.  Though 3/4 cup of Cookie Crisp is only 100 calories...compared to nearly 220 in the same amount of All-Bran.

I have not had any ice cream, which is no hardship, I don't like it anyway.  We have been making sugar-free Jell-o a couple times a week.  I split a chocolate bar with Matt over the weekend, but surprisingly considering how I used to buy one every time I went grocery shopping, I don't miss them or crave them.  Half was enough and it was the first one in a long time.  They seem WAY too sweet now, cloying almost.  It may be the heat, I don't like chocolate when it's hot out.

The thing I have not given up yet is diet soda.  So, today, for a week, I am going to try it.  I managed nearly a month earlier in the year and fell off the wagon.  Diet Dr. Pepper is just that good.  LOL

My birthday is the 31st and I am hoping to have only 5 pounds to go by then. 12 days for 4 pounds is still doable in the 'safe loss' range of 2 pounds a week.  The thing is, I keep stalling out and staying the same weight for 3-5 days before dropping a pound overnight.  So, I may not make it.  I am hoping I will see a change with dropping the soda.  We have been eating a LOT of whole foods, fresh veggies and fruits, cheese, omelets and baked fish and chicken breasts.  I am not getting many fillers or additives or fake sugar from foods-mainly just the sodas.  *sigh*  And the caffeine and carbonation can't be helping.

It's hard.  Cutting back on calories, keeping up with everything I eat and do all day, making myself exercise at least SOME each day-all of that has been boring, but not really HARD.  This will be hard.

But I am proud of myself.  Yes, I whined, yes, I cheated with a bowl of mac and cheese just last Friday and yes, I have actually told total strangers how much I despise weight plateaus while looking at oranges and trying to remember if they are good for me or if that was public school propaganda to up the value of orange trees.  But in the end, I have managed to lose all the weight I put on over the winter and another 6 pounds to boot.  I don't want to jinx myself, but I am .5 pounds from my lowest point in 2 and a half years.  And 9 pounds from weighing less than I have in 7 years.  

I feel so...stupid? something anyway, for being SO close and not DOING it.  Is that lazy?  Is it fear?  Do I have a shell on purpose? Do I feel somehow that I don't deserve to be comfortable in my own skin?  I have wondered why I have been so willing to carry this weight around.  I weigh-right now-55 pounds more than I did when I got pregnant with Jake.  That's a LOT of weight, I would not willingly put that on each morning or take that much on a backpacking trip.  55 pounds would be so much weight, I would stagger and if I managed to carry it, my back and legs would hurt for days afterward.  And that's 16 pounds less than where I was a few months back!  I am astonished sometimes when I bare-bones my actions and see how screwed up I am.  

Okay, well, back to the work in progress.  I will do pics soon!  I should be keeping up with this.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Trip Planning

I think my very favorite thing to do, in the entire world, is plan trips.  
I love the research, I love the anticipation, I love having the reservation print-out tacked to the little cork board by my desk.  I love making lists, buying do-dads specific to the trip, looking up places to eat and things to do.  I love packing and loading the van and camper-getting everything just-so.  I love the drive and seeing new stuff and setting up camp or moving into our room for the night or the week-nesting.  I love the day-trips from our base camp, I love seeing the buildings and cemeteries and museums and people in new places-new views or old favorites.  

I love taking pictures-the obligatory snapshots of the view and mugging kids, the more rare shots of clouds piled on an unfamiliar horizon or a new flower or bird, the occasional photographic gem.  I love making my little travel movie inside my head as we go through our days in new places.  I even love coming home, to round the curve in the driveway and see the house, nearly hidden in the summer from the ditch tree that has taken over the front yard.  Letting the dogs out of their pen to run and jump and sniff us.  Stopping to pet each cat in turn, having to wiggle the lock because the door sits in the frame at an angle.  

That wash of 'closed up house' smell-a little stale, faint traces of fabric softener and maybe a scented candle gone soft in the heat. Being amazed at how HUGE the house seems-all that space, what do we DO with it all?  Turning on the air, turning on the hot water heater, unloading the last dregs of food, loading up the washing machine, checking messages, checking the bathroom ceiling to be sure the leak is still at bay-so far, so good!  Soaking in my own hot bathtub, rinsing my hair and shaving my legs and getting into my own huge bed that is just exactly as soft as I like and has a feel like nothing else in the world.  

I love to go and I love to return.  I am so, so, so lucky to have both things.  Sometimes I want to feel sorry for myself for small injustices, but I have it pretty good.

Up next, a fall trip up the Natchez Trace starting at Natchez, Mississippi and driving north until I hit Cherokee, AL, with stops all along the way home and one on the way there-at Meridian to pay homage to the gypsy queen buried there.
After that, the yet-unplanned but much talked about Christmas Trip.  Next fall, Disney World again.  In between, another trip to Holt Lake, another swim at Grundy, another drive on the Cherohala Skyway, maybe a few days at Niagara Falls or a long weekend in West Virginia.  The whole entire world is out there and it's all amazing in some way or another.


I have been working...a little...toward the big group camp-out here in August.

One of the big things was getting some stuff out of the yard and off the porch and cleaning up what was left.  

My first re-do after a major cleaning up of the scattered goods was the fire pit.  
I cleaned and then repainted the whole thing-using high-heat paint designed for grills and fireplaces, it's around $7 a can.

Well, still more to do with the stuff around the yard!  I see a scooter and a sand pail in the background.
I am off to a good start, though!

Friday Night Out On The Town

First, dinner, then a show and then dessert in a trendy little joint in the historic district.

Keilee was in a 1-hour showcase for the theater camp she attended all of last week.

The both of the age groups did a couple songs each and the older group performed a short play they had written during the week.  

Here's Kei as a hungry orphan singing 'Hard Knock Life'

Here she is on a chair, yelling the part of 'Miss Hannigan' from Annie

The lighting was SO awful, I had to desaturate the group shot.  Emily and Chan had a light right on them and were glowing orange and you could barely see Benner.  Anyway, it turned out just fine.

Despite the neon beer sign, this is a very family-friendly place that serves pizza and calzones that smell SO good.  We had already had dinner before the show, so we had dessert with everyone.
The kids had Ittie Bitties, which are basically Dippin' Dots and Matt and I had cheesecake.  It was good, but not $4 a slice good-ack.

Thursday, July 15, 2010


Well, after a LONG time of plugging numbers and trying to behave and watching each meal I ate-yesterday I had a Whopper Jr combo with fries and then took the kids to Dairy Queen to celebrate Chandler's double-tooth loss and I made pizza for dinner-though it was on whole wheat flatbread and I measured out the cheese.  Screw it.  I was done behaving, at least for one day and I could go back to being careful afterward.

Imagine my total shock when I weighed this morning to find myself DOWN 2 pounds from yesterday morning!  I have been tracking everything I eat and do at fitday and I have been staying WELL under my daily calorie expenditure for each day and having no CLUE how, if I was burning 700-1,000 calories MORE than I was eating, why the weight was not coming off.

Apparently, I needed a cheater day-but not off the deep end cheating, I had vanilla in a cup, not a hot fudge-covered brownie earthquake.  I had a Whopper Jr no cheese and no mayo and a small fry, not a triple Whopper with cheese King Sized.  My pizza was measured out to be under 400 calories.  And it was ALL still pretty darn good.

I am still processing and trying to read more about what I should be doing.  It's possible my body was in starvation mode and simply not burning what I was taking in-which seems kind of implausible considering I am still hiking and mowing and cleaning the house and running with the dogs in the pasture (not far or long, but you have to start SOMEWHERE).  I still had energy.  Just no weight loss to speak off.  .5 pounds one or twice a week that could just as easily come right back the next morning.  I know better than to expect 1-2 pound losses several times a week, but a pound a week that STAYS gone-that's not much to ask for, not with the effort I am putting in on my end.  That's still 52 pounds in a year.

Anyway, I am pleased, pleased to be on the losing end of things once again.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010


Stupid scales, I HATE them and I am tired of watching every bite I take and then watching it show up on the scale the next day, no matter WHAT I do.  Yesterday-1100 calories, most in the form of fresh fruit-ALL of it after 3 p.m. (I had fruit salad with nothing on it for dinner)  Today-2.5 pounds MORE than yesterday morning.  And over a pound MORE than when I went to bed.  WTF?

Then, the Jehobo's came and my dogs tried to eat them.  Well, the eating them part was not so bad, it's just annoying to be proselytized at over and over, despite previous assurances I am NOT interested AND it was before 9 a.m.!  Next time, I am not calling them off-it's our yard, they are trespassing!  To preach at me no less.  UGH

Then, I was going to run the vacuum on the back porch because we moved a bunch of stuff to the attic over the weekend and BOTH wheels came off the little upright canister vac!  You can't glue them back on because then they will not turn.  It's about had it anyway, we have used it for years and I have to take it apart about twice a month and clear the hose.  It's just I was hoping to stay on a certain budget for the next week and replacing the vacuum will screw that right up.  I guess I can sweep the carpets...blah.

When Heather gets here in about an hour, we were going to go swimming and I just checked and there is an 80% chance of thunderstorms starting-in about an hour. Waaa.  It has not rained here in weeks.  

Monday, July 12, 2010


Our first stop was at yet another 'Cry Baby Bridge' in North Alabama, this time in Blountsville.

I walked up the creek a ways from the bridge, the water was pretty clear and there were a couple obvious swimming holes!


Afterward, we hit another 8 caches, so here are a few shots from around the areas we were.

Matt at the oldest physical cache in Alabama.
I found it.

The road we were on-waayyy back in the woods, suddenly squeezed itself through this tiny tunnel.