Tag Archives: family

Family Camp Week


So every year for the past four years, and conceivably for all future years, we have attended Family Camp at our church’s camp out in the sticks.

I say for all future years because there are people attending this camp who have been doing so nearly all their lives, and they are older than I am.  And I don’t think it’s any big secret that I am terrifyingly decrepit.  So apparently once you begin attending this camp you can expect to continue doing so for all eternity.  There are two ladies who have got to be in their 80’s who still come every year.

Now, “church camp” stirs up all kinds of impressions which I would like to hastily dispel.  We do not have lengthy camp meetings with laying on of hands or speaking in tongues.   Nobody thumps a Bible at anybody else.  It’s not brainwashing.

What we DO is we meet in the morning to talk about a certain amount of church related things (Jesusy stuff, you wouldn’t be interested) in the laid-back groovy UCC way that we have of doing things, and we eat lunch and go swimming down at the swimmin’ hole, and we have dinner and vespers which is a totally awesome way of saying we get together and talk about church related things again for a short time, and then we have campfire.  Also in there between swimming and dinner we do some crafts if we are so inclined, and some people also manage to get in a certain amount of napping, no names mentioned *COUGH COUGH RHONDA FOR FOUR SOLID HOURS ONCE COUGH COUGH*

Oh, and there’s also field games and hiking and all kinds of stuff.  This camp is on a couple hundred wooded acres with creeks and cabins and trees and dirt and bugs and stuff like that.  There is lots of The Nature to wander around in, if one is so disposed.

This was our first time going for the whole week, and we stayed in a rustic (translation: electrical problems meant that the stove hood light worked at random intervals and one room upstairs had no power at all for reasons that were unclear) cabin with our BFF Kirsten and her three magical offspring, the youngest of whom is only nine months old.  The other two are nearly exactly the same ages as The Lovely Rhonda’s girls.

The cabin is divided into two bunk rooms downstairs and two bedrooms upstairs, with bathrooms adjoining to the bunk rooms as well as one upstairs for the bedrooms.  We put the five girls in one bunk room and Kirsten, the baby, TLR and myself in the other.  Another camper stayed in the upstairs bedroom that did have power.  It was groovy.

Did I mention  how infants like to wake up in the middle of the night or very early in the morning and scream?  They do, in case you were uninformed.  This is useful information for those who might be tempted to travel with infant-having persons of their acquaintance, and so I mention it now in case this might describe either of you, dear reader(s).  I like to be of service to my fellows.

Kirsten was afeared that we would disown her for this but Happy Fun Ball is such a cheerful, adorable baby who smiles ALL THE TIME  that we couldn’t really hold a grudge.  Not much of a grudge.  Not too much of one.  Not much.  Of one.  Of a grudge.  Thing.

What was I saying?  Fatigue has made me a bit punchy.

Anyway, we made sure the cabin was stocked up with snacks and Cokes for late night cribbage and towels for swimming and fans for the incredible sticky wilting summer heat, and we had Family Camp.

On the last night we had a very fun campfire with lots of singing (I have become a Camp Song Dork) and s’mores, and then we coerced the camp counselors to hang out in our cabin while the children slept so that we, the alleged grown-ups, could sit in the lodge and play games.  This was super fun, made even more so by the fact that when we broke out the modest array of snacks that we had remaining, the response was so enthusiastic that we dispatched The Lovely Rhonda back to the cabin for more, and then watched as everything that was offered was devoured nearly instantly.  I think it is safe to say that neither of us expected these people to eat cheese doodles and peanut butter M&M’s, after seeing them eat salad all week, but they did, and with considerable gusto.

Camp is this place with singing and crafts and really, really nice people, and for all that it is an hour from home it’s a magical hour such that when you drive out to town to get something it’s like you’ve re-entered civilization.  We love it.

However, we’re not as wild about the mounds and mounds of funky camp laundry that we have to wash when we get home.

Still worth it though.

Girl Scout beach sleepover fun


So yesterday and today marked the Epic Year-End Girl Scout Fun Beach Camp Out With Bridging Ceremony for our girls’ Girl Scout troop.

Let me just begin by saying that this is an awesome troop with a fantastic leader and a great bunch of girls.  So any comedic value I may draw out in this post is not done with malice of any kind.  I love these people.

That being said, perhaps this text that I sent to The Lovely Rhonda will set the tone:  Next time I get a hotel.

The Girl Scout organization owns cabins, as I understand it, here and there in nice places.  This cabin is right in a popular coastal town with a little promenade and an aquarium and lots of shops that sell things made out of imported shells (the Pacific Northwest is not known for its excellent shells) and taffy and so forth.

The cabin is pretty much one big room with an open kitchen along one side and a bathroom that has a door, probably only because privacy laws dictate that it must.  If there is anything Girl Scouts believe in, it is relentless Togetherness.

Sturdy vinyl-coated camp mattresses are provided for sleeping and are stored, when not in use, in two large stacks to either side of the room.  These are irresistible to your average 6-9 year olds, and while I like to think that our children are above average, they too fell prey to the siren song of the mattresses.

Oh, and someone, NO NAMES MENTIONED COUGH COUGH *TROOP LEADER* COUGH COUGH, brought an apparently indestructible beach ball which spent the two days careening nonstop off of every surface including the ceiling, the walls, and several peoples’ faces.

I arrived late in the evening on Monday, relieving TLR of duty so that she could return home to the relative safety of work on Tuesday.  We had s’mores and a bridging ceremony in which the troop leader’s daughter was promoted to the rank of Ambassador and my own offspring became a Junior.  (This is the rank above Brownie, for those of you who concern yourselves with hierarchy.  I know I was burning with curiosity about it myself.)

After that TLR hotfooted it home and probably spent the evening watching The L Word in a chenille bathrobe with a glass of wine and a box of chocolates.  She probably did this because she knew that I would be sleeping on a whisper-thin mattress on the floor of a big open room filled with children.  Knowing this, she further knew it was up to her to restore balance and harmony to the universe by doing pretty much the opposite.

You know, at first it wasn’t so bad.  My kid was happy that I was sleeping next to her on the floor — I had turned down the chance to sleep on a bed type thing so that this could happen — and the mattress thing didn’t seem too terrible.  My sleeping bag was tidy and I had an owl-patterned pillowcase my mom made for me on my pillow.  We all settled down relatively quickly and pretty soon there was the gentle, deep breathing of exhausted children.

But then… Well…

My pillow was too puffy.  I had grabbed a spare one out of the bedroom and didn’t realize it was one I had rejected for being neck-wrenchingly lofty and unmanageable.  I therefore spent the rest of the night chasing it up the slippery mattress as it squeaked out from under my head like a watermelon seed.

And?  Every time someone moved, their vinyl-coated mattress made rude noises.  The troop leaders both brought inflatable mattresses but these were no better in the rude-noise department.

Did I mention I am a light sleeper?

True story:  the tiny *click* of the clock coming alive followed by the sound of a CD spinning before the music started was enough to wake me up in the morning when I used a CD alarm clock, back in the day.  Now, of course, I use my cellphone alarm and if I forget to turn the sound back up, the screen lighting up is enough to do the job.

So you can imagine my joy when finally the baby started in.  One of the troop leaders has a young son, about ten months old, and of course had to bring him along.  He is completely adorable and pretty mellow overall, unless of course he misses his naps and bedtime at a Girl Scout beach camp out.  Despite even this he was super delightful nearly all the time.

Oh, except at 3:45am when he woke up, one assumes to be fed, and made a crapload of noise in the otherwise perfectly silent big open room of the cabin.  It wasn’t even any of that annoying crying that makes you want to throw the baby out the airplane window; it was mostly just … noises.  Noises of various types related to urgency, satisfaction, curiosity, whatever the hell goes through an infant’s little developing brain at FOUR O’CLOCK IN THE MORNING.  WHEN ALL NORMAL PEOPLE ARE TRYING TO SLEEP.

I like the little guy, and I like the troop leader, and it wasn’t personal.  But by FIVE O’CLOCK IN THE MORNING it was starting to get a little bit frantic over on my particular squeaky vinyl-coated rude-noise generator of a mattress.  I am not a violent person but it was starting to get all HULK! SMASH!  inside my head.  So finally I fired up my phone and played Plants vs. Zombies, and around 6:15am I finally settled down.  Just in time to wake up at 7am.  Because we had things to do.

Last weekend I worked two night shifts and then on Monday morning I woke up — also at 4am — and due to various Circumstances About Which I Do Not Blog, could not sleep any longer.  So I kind of walked into this thing with what you could call a sleep deficit.  Or you could call it OMG I AM SO TIRED ALREADY I JUST WANT TO LAY DOWN AND SLEEP ON ANY AVAILABLE SURFACE.

But no.  There is no time for that on an Epic Year-End Girl Scout Fun Beach Camp Out With Bridging Ceremony.

So now?  I’m going to bed.

Ode to Buttsong


Found on the back porch:


One early morning I heard noise from Debra’s butt.

“Debra, you have a buttsong!”  “What?!” 

“There’s no such thing as a buttsong!”she yelled out loudly.  So,

“Yes there is” I yelled on back, “You just don’t know!”

So we spent the whole day arguing, laughing to and fro.

Now, I think, “Oh how funny was that, oh!”

This little masterwork comes to you, dear reader(s), courtesy of Rhonda’s oldest, the originator of the “buttsong” concept.

Preventable Injury


So yesterday morning we took the children to a Girl Scout event held at a local park.  It was called “Fairy Myst” and the girls got to make their own fairy crowns, wands, and houses.  There were snacks and they all got some pretty high-quality fairy wings too.  It was kind of awesome.

The second best part of it was a song they sang as an icebreaker while waiting for girls to arrive.  It was called “Wiggalo” and went something like so:

Hey hey Betsy!

Hey what!

Hey hey Betsy!

Hey what!

Show us how you Wiggalo!

With my hands up high and my feet down low, this is how I Wiggalo!  (throws hands up high, then points to feet, then performs movement or gesture)

Wig, wig, wiggalo!  Wig, wig, wiggalo!  With her hands up high and her feet down low, this is how she Wiggalos! (everyone throws hands high, points at feet, performs movement)

My kid, the oldest, had that deer in the headlights look at first, but got into it before too long.  Rhonda’s oldest was grumpy and stated that she would refuse to participate because it was embarrassing, but we more or less forced her to take a turn.  When it was time to present a movement, she blew a raspberry.  It was completely delightful that without missing a beat they all went, (shrug), Okay!  and raspberried right back.  And thusly was she assimilated.

Rhonda had to actually get a good grip on the youngest and put her through the motions like a puppet, but once everybody sang and wiggled her wiggle she loosened up a bit (pun probably intended, knowing me).

But that was only the second best part, because the best part of course involved me injuring myself doing something stupid.  Because me.

I had raced home to fetch something we left behind and as I returned to the park I got a work call.  I was hanging up the phone and checking that it was really hung up, because I have the stupidest phone ever.  It likes to make me think that I’ve hung up, so that the party to whom I was speaking gets to hear anything humiliating that I might feel compelled to do once I believe I’m safely off the phone.

Naturally I wasn’t really looking at where I was going, so the humiliating thing I felt compelled to do was to walk straight into a thick, heavy metal cable strung around the shrubbery in lieu of what any normal person might construct, i.e. a solid, visible fence.

I hit this thing going full bore as I hurried back to Never Never Picnic Shelter Land, and it hit me a few inches above the left knee, effectively stopping me in my tracks.

Also I nearly performed a head-plant over it, but managed to prevent this by windmilling my arms and cursing loudly and repeatedly, which is my default response to painful accidents.  (I once wrecked my bicycle at the east end of the Hawthorne Bridge, and the good Samaritan who helped me up and dragged my bike out of the path of traffic was treated to some really, really interesting language.  Sorry, nice lady!)

Fortunately nobody was near enough to have their ears blistered, and I’m fairly sure nobody witnessed this brilliant act either because the picnic shelter has a big high wall at the end facing my location.  There weren’t that many other people around because it was a misty, breezy morning and all normal people were probably at home watching TV.

Naturally this forces me to confess the incident to both of you, dear reader(s).

I was left with a stripe of puffy, swollen bruise running across my leg above my knee.  It happens to be in exactly the right place for The Lovely Rhonda to poke and/or punch me if I say something insulting when we’re in the car.  She likes to arrive places quickly so she usually drives, because I am boring and old and drive sensibly.  So she’s usually  sitting to my left and if I am bothersome to her, she jabs at me in exactly that one spot on my leg which is now painfully bruised.  I only wish this stopped me from saying insulting things as we drive, but no, and nor does it prevent her from jabbing or poking.

I think I’ll drive for the next couple of weeks.

And I’m Spent


So in just six short hours we will be mid-frenzy trying to get out the door to the airport.  The children are nestled all snug in their beds, actually all having a sleepover in one room to accommodate the house sitter and her son who will be holding down the fort while we are gone.

It was a real treat getting the little dears into bed.  Nobody was happy, but we grimly soldiered on and stuck to our exhausted guns.  They all swore they would never be able to sleep like this, not in a million long, boring years, but half an hour later they were all asleep.

Once they were down, we sprang into action.  Six clever be-wheeled suitcases (one each to carry on, one larger one to check) stand in a row by the front door:

Rollin', rollin', rollin'!


And the surprise Disney extravaganza notification has been arranged:

spring surprise

And now we are expected to sleep?!

The eve of the thing in the place


So tomorrow morning at the most ungodly hour imaginable we will be harassing our children into clothes and stuffing them in our friend’s van for the quick trip to the airport.  The housesitter has been engaged, rides to and from have been arranged, tickets printed, clothing packed, lists checked and rechecked.  I’m not sure it took this much advanced planning to launch the first space mission.

This dramatization of actual events will give you both an idea of how things are progressing:

The Lovely Rhonda:  Did you pack your stuff?

Me: No.  I don’t like that bag.  I want the suitcase.  The one in the middle kid’s closet.

TLR: Ugh.  (sends kids out to play so we can sneak down hall and get suitcase)

Me:  This suitcase is tiny!  I can’t use this tiny suitcase!  What the hell!

TLR: Ugh.  (shows me where there is room in all the other suitcases for the rest of my stuff)

Me:  My stuff will be spread out all over the place!  This sucks!  Why can’t I have a real suitcase!

TLR:  Ugh.  (opens bottle of wine)

As long as our wine stock holds up, I should make it out of this thing alive.


Mustn’t. Tell. Children. Yet.


So we ultimately decided to spare the hapless travelers at the airport and tell the children about Disneyland when we wake them up to go.  We’re pretty certain that the shrill cries of girlish delight will grate on the ears of persons unrelated to the girls in question, particularly at that hour of the morning.

So we decided to do this in kind of a “Christmas morning” style.  We’ll wake them up and ask them to come to the living room, where there will be little bags on the couch.

pic dump march 2013 383

And the first thing they will see inside the bags will be neon pink t-shirts, lovingly crafted by yours truly.  Under these will be their own personal copies of the tickets to Disneyland and LegoLand.

Since we’re not stupid most of the time, we will have our own copies of all the tickets.  Because children.

Their bags will be packed and all that will be necessary to do is to put clothes on them, brush their hairs, and herd them and all the luggage out the door into the waiting van of our friend The Amazing Kirsten.  We will get to the airport, become caffeinated, feed everybody, and hop aboard the bus with wings.  A few hours later, it’ll be all about the mouse!

Why My Mom Is The Best Ever.


So for some reason The Lovely Rhonda received a genuine Barbie® doll catalog not long ago.  We have no idea why.

My daughter, who is 8, has never been a huge Barbie® fan.  She just never was that interested in them.  So you can imagine what a surprise it was when she got all excited about this one doll in particular.  Of course it was a collector doll.

african barbie

I’m definitely  not inclined to shell out a hundred and twenty five dollars for a doll of any kind, but if I was it would have to be a hell of a doll.  So when she started mooning over it I told her that that was way too much money to spend on something like this — but we certainly could make one.  Regular Barbies can be had for six bucks, and how much fun would it be to make one?!  She was ALL. OVER. IT.

A short while later we ended up at a craft store getting fabric for a school thing she’s doing, and we got a couple of extra fat quarters (precut hunks of cloth for quiltmaking and such) since they were on sale.  She disappeared into her room and emerged some time later bearing two pieces of fabric, raggedly cut with school scissors, and asked me to sew them together to make African Barbie’s skirt.

My sewing skills are pretty limited.  I can repair a stuffed animal, I can sew on a button.  I can make a pre-fab felt ornament.  But this was kind of outside my skill level…  So I did what had to be done.  I took it to Grandma.

My mother likes to sew and she makes beautiful things — mostly quilts, and pajamas, and the occasional tote bag.  She hems curtains and makes other little odds and ends for her non-sewing children.

Okay, for me.  I have no idea if she does it for my brother.  His wife is crafty so for all I know she does her own.

Anyway, I got a package today.  I had brought her some curtains I needed shortened, and also Delia’s little Barbie skirt.  When I took those things to her, I told her about buying the fat quarters for Delia’s school project and lamented that we really didn’t have loose fabric laying around since neither of us sews. I told her how the girls were all interested in the material once we’d gotten it home.

So along with the curtains and the skirt, Mom sent a couple of stacks of material, tied in little bundles, for the kids to play with.  There was even a little bag of odds and ends — little ribbon roses, lace, crocheted embellishments.

fabric bits

This is why my Mom is the best ever.  Just one of the reasons.  There are so many.

Listen to my butt song


So this morning the middle child, hereafter referred to as “the middle child,” woke up all giggly and came into Grone Up Land to roust me and the wife out of bed.  I mean, it was already like SEVEN O’CLOCK IN THE MORNING ON A SATURDAY, get up already!  Guy!

Anyway she clambered up onto the bed and thrashed around singing and cajoling The Lovely Rhonda.  Because she is a long, skinny insubstantial child, I actually mistook her for one or both of the dogs.  Until I heard her say:

“Debra’s butt is making music!”

I am reasonably sure that I would not hear this out of one or both of the dogs, not without powerful mind-altering substances on board.  And we rarely let the dogs engage in that kind of thing.

At any rate, TLR and I both laughed and I was promptly accused of cutting the cheese, which I denied.  And then she said it again: “I hear Debra’s butt music!  It sounds like a guitar!”

As God is my witness, I have no idea what she was talking about.

TLR said, “Debra’s butt isn’t making music!”

“Sure it is,” says I, “Come on over and listen to it!”

But no, the wife is slightly too savvy to fall for that.  Which is probably just as well since I didn’t really have anything at the ready.

So all day the middle child keeps sidling up to me and saying, “Let me hear your butt song!”

I keep protesting: “THERE’S NO SUCH THING AS A BUTT SONG!”

The youngest has even taken to pressing her ear to the side of my buttock.

Eventually she may come to regret this.  Just sayin’.