Camping Pictorial

Posted in Travel on June 7th, 2009 and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

If you’ve been reading my blog lately, then you know that I was away last week camping with my family –  my husband, 4 kids (ages 9, 5, 2, and almost 1), and 2 dogs.  Camping for the entire week with 4 little kids has its ups and downs; mostly ups.  But one of the major downs is the amount of house-mom work that awaits my return:  6 persons worth of laundry for a week and a half, which I refer to as “Mount Washmore”, grows to be the size of a small county’s dump.  And my Week O’ Heap O’ Paperwork I must sort through is picture-worthy:

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But when all is said and done (a week or more from now), I will say it was well worth it.  It was worth it to be (mostly) away from the internet and other electronic distractions for a week, especially tv.  During that week, it wasn’t my job to dwell on horrid and depressing headlines from around the world.  And it was worth it to spend a distraction-less 24 hours a day, 7 days a week with my family, just the 6 of us in the wilderness (of Indiana) with only the bare necessities (a furnished cabin with refrigerator and a store within walking distance) with which to survive…

A great time was had by all, and camping is definitely  something that we will do again in the future.

This is our cabin.  It has two beds downstairs where Daddy, Mommy, Disney, and Charity and Beasley (the dogs) slept.   Along with the two beds are a table and chairs, a bench, shelves, a half-bathroom, a mini-fridge, and a microwave.  There is also a ladder which leads to the loft that spaciously houses two twin mattresses where our two oldest girls slept.  As you can see, there is also a picnic table out front and a grill and fire pit.  Our cabin’s porch also came with a great view of the fishing creek and the sunset.

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We did lots of fun activities while we were camping; including boating.  We took out a rowboat (thanks for rowing, Dad!), and the little ones caught a nap before we set sail:

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We also took out a large pontoon boat and made ourselves quite comfortable watching for wildlife for hours at a time:angola-camping-trip-spring-09-062

I think I could get used to being a boat captain; I just loved driving the boat (and my husband says I’m good at it, whatever that means).  But I really did love being the captain, deciding when to pull close to shore, idling the boat or even keeping pace with the wildlife as we did when we followed a young hunting raccoon.  We were able to see SO much wildlife; all in its natural glory; it was great!  Among the highlights: butterflies, dragonflies, water snakes attacking fish, fish attacking fish, herons, swan  families, frogs, crayfish, geese families, raccoons, does and their fawns, turtles, and even lots of campground dogs and puppies.  Here is an example of the beautiful scenery with a doe getting a drink at sunset – I missed photographing her fawn, oops:
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And the next picture combines two of the kids’ favorite things about camping –  frogs and marshmallows – I guess “Big Buddy” does not eat marshmallows…  not raw ones anyway.  For those of you who are wondering about my frog phobia, you  should know that there was a mandatory 5-foot-diameter ‘frog buffer zone’ around the cabin for me.  But I did come to terms with the phobia in some ways during the trip, maybe it will lessen with time, who knows.

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Next is a pic of our baby boy – he was so excited to  finally get at that basketball that we had to take a picture.  Never mind that he’s going to play baseball for the Chicago Cubs some day – or the Chicago Bears if my husband gets his way…

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Here are all 4 of my kids on the beach – they all loved playing on the beach!

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And, some more examples of the beautiful scenery – the rising moon over the lake at sunset:angola-camping-trip-spring-09-088

A hot air balloon over the lake:

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And that reminds me – we also spotted some parachuters in the sky (and lots of cool airplanes – the airport was across the highway at the front of camp) who landed in a field nearby.  Our daredevil 5-year-old Sammie said, “I want to do that!”.  It’s really funny that she said that if you know Sammie.  And ironically, when she was in the womb, I  even said that she would be the one to parachute and do crazy things like that to scare her parents!  I could just tell by the strength of her kicking and the fact that she was constantly moving…  Well, anyway, another great trip, and let me close by recommending camping as an inexpensive family vacation that pays dividends in quality time and togetherness!

4 Christmases

Posted in Movies on December 6th, 2008 and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

I shouldn’t have liked it.  It’s an 82 minute comedy farce co-starring Reese Witherspoon – what’s to like?  But I actually enjoyed the movie 4 Christmases more than I thought.

So why did I see if I thought I’d hate it?  For one, it was the only thing playing at the matinee price and for two, I had a sort of curiosity about the acting abilities of two country music super-stars:  Dwight Yoakam and Tim McGraw.  Actually, having seen Dwight Yoakam in Sling Blade, I’m well aware of his acting skills.  It was such a great performance in Sling Blade that I thought it was Oscar-worthy.  He’s not given much to work with in this movie however, and his role as one of those Leap of Faith-type preachers is not very well developed.  I don’t think it’s any fault of Yoakam, though, but more a testament to the lazy script.

Vince Vaughn and Reese Witherspoon star as a freewheeling couple who don’t see the need to marry since they’re already happy, and they don’t want kids.  The first scenes of the movie really emphasize how perfect this couple’s lives are, and it’s almost sickeningly sweet how well they get along.  Enter their extended families, and they become miserable people.  It begins when their flight to Fiji is cancelled on Christmas and they are featured on the news.  The couple (their names were not memorable) is now busted in their annual lie about travelling to some exotic location for charity work.  They fib about this every year to their families so they can avoid seeing all 4 families (each set of parents is divorcd) for Christmas.  So now that they can’t go to Fiji, they have to visit 4 sets of crazy relatives on one day and yada, yada, anticipated baby jokes and predictable chaos ensues, you get the picture.

For some reason, a lot of Hollywood stars agreed to be in this movie.  And just as I expected, Vince Vaughn was the same in this movie as the characters he always plays.  He can be funny, but he’s not very versatile.  I was surprised that Reese Witherspoon did not get under my skin because for some reason, she annoys the heck out of me, and it’s distracting when watching her in movies.  As far as the country music super-stars are concerned, I consider this movie a waste of Dwight Yoakam’s acting talent, and Tim McGraw was barely in the movie at all.  I read somewhere that he beefed up for the role, and he was hard to recognize, although I don’t really know why he bothered gaining all the weight for a part that hardly has him on camera and with barely any lines.  Other big name actors making cameos were Mary Steenburgen, Jon Voight, Robert Duvall, and Sissy Spacek – maybe it’s just me, but even though she’s almost 60, I still look at her and see Carrie the fire-starting teen from the famous Stephen King horror movie of the ’70’s.

Overall, there was only one scene where I couldn’t even watch because of its ludicrousness, so instead I turned to my husband and whispered, “This is unbelievably dumb”.  Other than that, I was entertained, and mostly because it was a holiday movie, it was fun to sit, watch, and eat popcorn.  I wonder how Christmas With The Kranks will compare.  I’ve heard that one is just awful, yet I want to see it since I read the John Grisham novel upon which it was based.

The Fourth, Fireworks, and a False Alarm

Posted in Kids, Uncategorized on July 7th, 2008 and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

We had a wonderful Independence Day – happy birthday USA!  Went to the local airport where they have a fly-in breakfast every year.  There are lots of planes to look at; some grounded, some taking off and landing…  and they even have a few that give rides.  My middle daughter, the daredevil, was the only one who wanted to try an airplane ride, and she went up by herself!  My husband doesn’t like to fly, our older daughter is scared of everything including her own shadow, and I’ve developed a fear of flying over the years that left me frightened for my daughter on her airplane ride.  But it turned out ok, she had a blast, and the pilot and other people there were very surprised that she was so unfazed for a 4-year-old going up in an airplane for the first time by herself.  I’m really glad she got the opportunity to do so because I really don’t want to pass down my fears to the kids.  Seems our oldest somehow got the fear of flying, but its hard to tell from where since she is afraid of EVERYTHING.  Maybe I can convince her to go up in our friends’ plane next time he comes to visit…  though that won’t be any time soon because he was actually on his way here a few weeks ago and had engine trouble.  Had to set down in South Bend and the airplane has been out of commission ever since…  oops.  At least nothing catastrophic occurred.

At night on July 4th, we spend the evening at the country home of some friends for a barbecue and fireworks.  It was really nice chatting under the stars between the cracks and pops of the fireworks.  I’m so glad we were able to have fireworks on the 4th because one of the things I just cannot get used to about rural life is their affinity around here to celebrate Independence Day with fireworks in late June.  It drives me crazy because my birthday is on the 3rd of July, so my whole life it’s been birthday and fireworks together, and that’s the way I like it!  And speaking of birthdays, they turned the barbecue into a birthday celebration for me…  it was SO nice!  It was supposed to be a chance for us to get together, and I kind of invited ourselves over because my husband has had fireworks sitting in our garage that he’s been waiting to use for years, but we couldn’t find a place.  So when they mentioned last week that their son likes to blow off fireworks on the 4th at their house…  opportunity knocks.  But then they got me a birthday cake and presents (including such CUTE little boy outfits for the baby and also some things just for me), and it was all very nice.  So thanks so much to everyone who reads this blog who was there – it was lots of fun!

Saturday we took the kids swimming at a local hotel’s pool since my husband has a business acquaintance staying there and had a meeting.  I love being in a pool while pregnant – all the extra weight just melts off and I can’t describe how wonderful it feels to actually be able to move my legs again…  though I’m still paying for it today with soreness…  but oh well, I think this is what I can look forward to from here on out – and it won’t be long, at least that’s what I keep telling myself.  I really thought it wouldn’t be long Saturday after I went swimming because I started having contractions.  We were about ready to go to the hospital when I got up and walked around and they stopped.  I think after being in the pool all day, I was so hungry and thirsty at dinner that I ate and drank a lot and just filled myself up too much…  my body wasn’t ready to sit down I guess and when I did, muscles began to protest.  Such fun.  But I did learn something…  after I finish this blog I better go and finish packing my hospital bag…  just in case!

I Never Thought About the Crate Being Square and the Turnstile Being Round…

Posted in animals, TV Shows on May 8th, 2008 and tagged , , , , , , , , , ,

In case you’ve missed my previous posts about animals and Jack Hanna, let me explain that Jack Hanna is my favorite celebrity and how much I really enjoy following his adventures through zoo life.  In case you don’t know who Jack is, he is the man who gave Columbus, Ohio a zoo.  They did have one before, even though many residents weren’t even aware of it, but with Jack’s brilliance in zoo management and marketing, the Columbus Zoo has become one of the most reknowned zoos in the world today.  These days, Jack spends his time filming tv shows of his own, and also bringing animals around the country for appearances in theaters and on other tv shows, such as David Letterman, Maury Povich, and Good Morning America in order to educate people about respecting animals.  Whenever animals are involved, situations can easily become unpredictable.  Throw Jack into the mix, and these situations now become hilariously entertaining and unpredictable. Things seem to happen to Jack, and if you’d like an example of what I mean, check out the following article detailing an animal mishap Jack encountered at the airport last September:

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Animal expert Jack Hanna and an 11-month-old flamingo became trapped while trying to squeeze through an airport security turnstile. It took firefighters to finally get the flamingo out.  Animal expert Jack Hanna had a close encounter with a flamingo Sunday.  Hanna, the director emeritus of the Columbus Zoo and a frequent guest on nationally televised talk shows, was returning from a zoo fundraiser with a mongoose, a small leopard and the flamingo. Three other people were with them.  The entourage arrived at the Ohio State University Airport just after midnight Sunday to find the terminal closed. The only way to leave the tarmac was through a 10-foot-tall metal turnstile with several horizontal bars — not the easiest exit to squeeze through when you’re traveling with boxed-up animals, Hanna said.  “I never thought about the crate being square and the turnstile being round,” he said.  Hanna, 60, pushed the flamingo’s 2-foot-by-3-foot compartment into the turnstile, then continued pushing while straddling the crate.  “I was stuck like a worm. My eyes were as big as grapefruits,” he said. “I can’t describe the feeling in my stomach. I can’t move up or down. The bars are on your face.”  Hanna said he eventually squirmed free, leaving the flamingo still wedged inside and everyone else trapped on the tarmac. He then walked to a nearby fire station for help. It took three firefighters to hoist the flamingo’s crate up and out of the turnstile, he said.  Columbus fire department logs show the firefighters arrived at the airport at 12:30 a.m. for a “flamingo rescue,” spokeswoman Kelly McGuire said.  Hanna joked that the next time he flies through the airport, the biggest animal he’ll bring is a gerbil.

If you were entertained by the preceding article, I highly recommend Jack’s book Monkeys on the Interstate which details his life before and during his days at the Columbus Zoo – it’s a VERY entertaining and funny read, especially for animal lovers and zoo enthusiasts.  I really hope I can schedule some time to catch Jack at one of his appearances soon, but until then, I will keep checking for him on Letterman and will probably check out the book for a fourth time!