Packing for Vacation: The Beginning

Oh, vacation…how I love thee. Oh, vacation…you can exhaust me. It was fun, but I’m trying to get the house back together now. Laundry and blankets and sheets and clothes and everything else for 8 people…the laundry pile looks like Mt. Everest trying to eat my washer and dryer.

It was a really nice place, though. It wasn’t a sunny beach or a tropical island, although I could really use a tropical drink with some vodka right about now. We went camping at Pine Lakes Resort. Five fun-filled days of the great outdoors. It was a good time. No TV, no Internet, and I only checked my cell phone in the morning and evening for emergencies. It was nice, minus the flies and mosquitos. I didn’t miss television, but I did miss blogging. I did a lot of writing, so my next posts about vacation were actually written sometime between July 7-12. And of course, there will be lots of pics soon. 🙂

July 7, 2011  Packing for Vacation: The Beginning 

Our camping reservations were made months ago. I just started thinking about everything we would need a couple of days before we left.  I wanted to start packing a week ago, but that is kind of hard when you use the items daily. So I knew it was going to be an all nighter/marathon packing event.

I started a list of necessities on a small notebook that sat next to my purse. Whenever I would think of something I wanted to remember to bring I would add it to the list (as long as I could find the list, things get lost in that area with all the clutter, honestly). The short reminder list turned into a long list (picture a scroll unwinding down an endless staircase) to basically the whole house needing to be shoved, crammed, rolled, squeezed, and folded into bags and boxes. Who knew you needed so much for camping! 😉 We needed laundry soap for the babies clothes because they can get gross pretty quick with spit up, baseball hats to keep the sun off my boys’ shaved heads, cereal bowls, plastic silverware, sheets, blankets, bottles, baby food, among many many other things. The items were scribbled and printed and written in every which direction and in many colors of ink and even crayon. And when I ran out of room I wrote sideways, upside down, and every which way in the margins. It was a cluttered mess, but I found what I needed and crossed the items off one by one as I packed them away the night before we were to leave.

“Is this going to be enough towels for 8 people?” I wondered out loud. “Did I overpack?” It did start to feel like I was packing everything except the kitchen sink. But there was nothing there, so I knew we needed these things. But when is enough enough? How many blankets do you really need? But I don’t want to be cold. We are gonna pack the electric griddle so I can make pancakes, better grab the mixing bowls, measuring cups, etc… And maybe I might make bacon, better grab the tongs. Maybe I should grab an extra spatula. I think I will throw in the pizza cutter too, why not? You never know! This kind of self questioning went into every item I threw into the bags or boxes. I always had an excuse why I really needed it.

In the meantime…

The kids tore through the house with a toddler and two dogs trailing right behind them. The babies giggled in their seats as I talked to them. I also talked to myself… and I love talking into thin air. “I wonder how many pots and pans should I bring?” and “Better grab some seasonings for the burgers…and  pot holders.”

Obviously, I didn’t need all of this and a lot of it stayed packed up most of the trip. There were a few things I forgot though, like a can opener, foil, and baggies.  Oh, well. We managed. It  was fun…and a ton of work, especially with all the babies. We made lots of memories, though. They wont remember, but I will.

Stay tuned…the rest of the vacation will eventually find itself on here. I’m still in tired vacation mode.


From Tadpoles to Tiny Frogs

I step out onto the back porch, the concrete burning my feet, and tap the turquoise tote with my big toe. I watch the remaining two tadpoles fly through the water, startled and swimming for the next rock or pond scum to hide under. The color of the tote reminds me of the ocean, somewhere tropical that I will not be visiting for a long time…we will wait until the babies get bigger, but a girl can always dream palm trees. The ripples my tapping toe makes must look like tidal waves to the little creatures. Their new skinny frog legs flailing at their sides.

And yes, there are only two left. One died of natural causes and the other from a curious toddler who decided to go wading in the tote. Oops!

They are so tiny, they could sit on a dime and still have lots of room. “Be careful,” I warn Bradley as he catches it with pinching fingers and sets it gently on his palm. I am hopeful it is still alive as he puts it on his hand. A hop and a jump…yep, it’s still kicking!

We had a lot of fun raising them and watching them change and grow. Hope to do it again next year.


Below is a short video of the babies Bradley caught at the farm. There was so many! We let them go before we went home. Bradley lightly dumped the jar and they jumped, darted, and swam away.


Sunday at the Farm

Packing up to go anywhere can be difficult. I feel like I am packing for a week’s vacation just to go out for the day; diapers for both babies and Collin (can’t wait till he’s potty trained), wipes, formula, bottles, extra clothes just in case, burp rags, blankets, bibs, etc…and then I do a head count to make sure I have everyone. Then one last head count before I back out of the driveway…and I run the list through my head…hmmmm….what am I forgetting? “Bradley, did we let the dog inside?”  But once we are on the way I am not turning around, unless it’s for the dog.

We had a great time Sunday at the farm and all of the packing was well worth it. Spending time with Grandma Chris and Grandpa John, goat, horse, chickens, four wheeling, catching tadpoles and frogs, and the list goes on.

I will let the pictures and videos tell the story.

Twisted Sister (chicken) & Jasper (pony)


Collin needs no toys…he can entertain himself with just a cup. lol

And last….all the frogs the kids caught.

Thanks for reading and watching. I will be posting more of the pics on facebook soon.


Raising Tadpoles

The dishes are done, the laundry is clean, and all the sweet babies are in bed. It’s been a long day and the bottoms of my feet just ache. But FINALLY…I get to sit down and relax (hope I didn’t just jinx myself). I’m lounging on the couch on the front porch, enjoying the cool breeze.

There is a large plastic container sitting on my counter (the one where we end up collecting all the junk; purse, bills, etc. It would make a great kitchen bar if we could just knock out part of the wall). The braided pretzel label on the container has been wet and is wrinkly and trying to peel itself off. This is our makeshift tadpole home. It is equipped with a nice large rock, courtesy of the Mississippi River, and 4 tiny tadpoles, courtesy of my mom’s co-worker. Bright green pond scum floats lazily in the murky water and clings to the edges of the rock. Tadpoles dart around the edges, as if they are racing. You can see their tiny little frog legs right by their tiny tadpole tails. 

Directions for taking care of these babies are handwritten on a scrap of paper and scotch taped to the sides, along with the lid.

Keep in shade. Needs a rock to get out of water (check). Do not feed. They eat their tails. Rain/distilled water. Keep water clean (need to do that).

Now we will just keep our fingers crossed they live and we get to see them turn into frogs or toads.

I will keep it updated.


Below are a few misc. pics of the day and a video. The boys had a blast cleaning the rocks, but of course! It deals with water. 🙂

Happenings in the Backyard…

A lot has been happening in our backyard lately. Besides the baby bunnies, which you can read about in the previous post, we have 3 bird’s nests. One I’m pretty sure is empty, the second I can’t see because it is in a ledge, but I see the momma sparrow coming and going and I can hear the little chirps, and the third is actually in a light fixture on the side of my neighbor’s house. Every time I do the dishes or sit on the back porch I can see the momma robin feed her babies. It is so cute to see the little beaks stretched out and open, waiting for their momma to feed the four babies. That is kinda how I feel sometimes, three little babies lined up with mouths open waiting to be fed. And I go down the line, spooning food into each little mouth. (One is actually Collin, he thinks he needs to be fed along with the babies.)

I have been watching this bird’s nest for the last couple weeks now. It is amazing how fast they are growing.

The babies are out of the nest now. This morning I was sitting on my porch and I watched the momma Robin pecking for worms with one of her baby’s by her side.  When she flew off he wasn’t able to make it over the fence. I got a cute pic.

Amazing how much you can see and learn just in the backyard!

We also had a baby sparrow in the yard. I made the kids come in from playing ball until he figured out how to fly away, which seemed to be all afternoon.

I tried to peek at the bunny nest yesterday, but it is covered with fur and I couldn’t see anything. Maybe soon there will be floppy ears peeking out from their little nest.

It’s a jungle out there!


Our Day Without Electricity and Babies in the Backyard

I vaguely remember Brad waking me up around 5 something this morning. “The electricity is out,” he said. I mumbled something, heard the wind whipping the windows, and then closed my eyes against the bright lightning flashes and tried to go back to sleep. Notice I said tried, because it wasn’t but ten minutes later I felt someone grab my foot. Collin. This kid keeps waking up earlier and earlier every morning. I just want to sleep until 6 am…not happening anytime soon. Oh well.

So today we had to entertain ourselves. The house is so eery and quiet without background noise, fridge running (which you never notice until it is gone) and the usual household noises, tv in the background, etc. The kids and I made plenty of noise to fill up the empty space. We cleaned out the toy boxes upstairs and downstairs. This took a good portion of the morning, considering I had to keep reminding Bradley, “You never play with this. If you get rid of some toys then it makes room for new ones.” He kept picking Collin’s toys to get rid of. lol. We did manage to get rid of three good size boxes.

We played board games, read books, listened to “Coraline” on my Kindle, played with toys and messed up the toy room again, splashed in the puddles on the sidewalk. We also played Cash Cab on Taigyn’s iPod (we suck, by the way). My mom brought over McDonald’s for lunch. Thanks again, MOm!

It was a strange day, but lots of fun. We did not have contact with the outside world hardly at all. No Internet and my cell phone went dead, and we had to use Taigyn’s cell sparingly because his was just about dead too. It was a blast. Plenty of good quality family time. And I even won at Sorry.

By the afternoon, around 2 or so, this no electricity thing was starting to get old. And then I started worrying if it would come on today, because I really didn’t feel like sitting in the dark. I was also wondering what food in the fridge and freezer would still be good (it’s not that full, so if we did loose stuff, it wouldn’t be much). Luckily, Brad ordered us a pizza to be delivered, so I didn’t have to worry about dinner. Thanks again, hunny!

Kinda nice to play all day, and have lunch AND dinner delivered. We may not have had the basics, like electricity and the Internet :), but we were spoiled.

The power finally came on a little after 4.


It has been an interesting evening, too. I was sitting on the back porch and about jumped out of my skin. A rabbit appeared out of nowhere and sat right in front of me for several minutes, not moving, just staring up at me with those black marble eyes. I kept thinking, what the heck is wrong with the rabbit, he didn’t run, he looked kinda  mangled, and it had a goatee. I kept wondering if it was going to attack me or maybe it had rabies. I yelled for someone to get my camera, then it finally took off. Phew, didn’t get attacked by the goatee bunny. I did manage to get a few pics. It didn’t run far.

Goatee bunny

Poor mangled bunny. It looked like it didn’t make it through the storm to well.

It was strange after dinner. The air was cool and the air seemed to have an  other-worldly feel to it. And there were at least five or more rabbits grazing in the backyard. I kept expecting Bambi to join them. Below is another pic of one of our other bunny visitors.

The goatee bunny was still hanging out in what used to be the garden, but now is a mess of weeds, creeping charlie, and marigolds that came up on their own. All the other bunnies high tail it through little holes in the fence. But not the goatee bunny. I went to reach for a ball that was in the weeds and found her nest! I almost stepped on it. It’s kinda graphic, considering there is a dead bunny that was brutally pulled from the nest and somehow killed. So I guess the goatee bunny is a mommy bunny…I wonder if that fur hanging below her mouth is from eating something? Ewwww…  I guess that is nature.

So I was really tempted to move the poor thing out of the nest and my yard. But I decided against it because I don’t want a bunch of dead baby bunnies. So then I started feeling bad for the momma bunny. Here we are, following her around in the yard, taking pictures. So I have left it alone and will make sure the dog doesn’t discover the nest. I will take a peek in a couple days though.

It has been an interesting and fun day. Below is a video of Collin looking at the bunny. He keeps trying to say “bunny” but it just come out “bu” or “bir.”

And yes, I do dress my kids. But Collin loves loves loves to run around in his diaper. And he always always always takes off his shoes, no matter where we are at. At least he puts them away neatly, even under the dentist office chair. lol.

Thanks for reading. Don’t forget to enjoy nature, even if it is only in your backyard. 🙂


bits & pieces

This post is just “bits & pieces” of our day. It is seconds of our day that I have captured with a picture or video. It is nothing major or big…but sometimes it is the little moments that are the most precious. Special little snapshots of time that I just don’t want to forget, like how Collin puckers up for a kiss or how cute the boys look sitting on the couch together (which ends up actually not being so cute because they are pestering the poor dog…and each other). But these are the things I want to remember, the cute, the goofy, the good, and the bad…and the driving me crazy.

The first little part I want to share is my gorgeous view. I couldn’t have done it without the sun, and…

Finally! the sun is here. It has been too dark and dreary for too long.

This is my view from my front porch. I love this tree. One day it just turned hot pink…poof!

I don’t even know what type of tree this is (not that I’m very good at naming any of them). It is pretty though.

We also had alot of fun playing with our shadows and making all kinds of crazy shapes.

We did an outside art project/experiment, which I will share our results with you at a later date.

I will leave you with a couple of videos, more “bits & pieces” of our day.

Oh, the things I put up with too early in the morning. Wouldn’t trade it for anything though. 🙂

Bradley idolizes his dad, like most 5 year old boys do. He is always asking if he can be daddy or telling me over and over again, “My dad is more awesome than the Miz.” Which means alot to his little wrestling mind, which is something they watch together on Monday nights.

And I also crack myself up. Please remember, after you watch this next video, that I am home with the kids all day long with no adult conversation. So sometimes I get a little goofy. lol

I really do crack myself up.

Just remember to enjoy all the lil’ “bits & pieces.” Time goes by way to fast.


Ode to Morel Mushrooms: Mysterious Fungi

 There are many myths and old wife’s tales on how to find Morel Mushrooms. Some people say there is a science to finding them when the season comes. Some people say there is a special way to hunt for these tasty morsels. Some wont say a thing; it’s a secret on how to find them or where to look. These people keep their lips sealed in silence and slip through the weeds and thorns to find this mysterious fungi. 

I do not know the exact science of finding these mushrooms, nor do I claim to know all the tricks of the trade. I do know you need springy days of strolling through the woods and a sharp shooter’s eye.

You just never know where they may pop up.

When the sun is shining through bare branches and budding trees,

and blossoms burst through the forest,

 it just might be Morel Mushroom time.

After spring showers and muddy shoes,

and dogwoods and daffodils dance wildly in the breeze,

it just might be Morel Mushroom time.

When you wade through Mayflowers and mossy ferns,

as you rifle through leafy litter of last fall,

it just might be Morel Mushroom time.

When the weekly weather forecast climbs into the 70’s,

and you are counting the days after the last rainfall,

it just might be Morel Mushroom time.

When you are scouring the woods for dead elms,

and checking around rotting stumps and decaying logs,

it just might be Morel Mushroom time.

When you find yourself reciting instructions on how to find these camouflaged fungi and are lost in the woods with no compass…

and your eyes are popping out of your head and you have an empty sack blowing in the wind…

and your feet are soggy for not paying attention and stepping in that creek and cocker burrs are clinging to your sweatshirt…

It definitely is Morel Mushroom time!

Keep looking. You never know where they might pop up.

I only found two little baby ones last weekend. It was still a little chilly.

But I did find two cute boys.

I did have great company mushroom hunting, but we didn’t cover much ground, which is probably why we only found two. Oh well, next time. It was also hard carrying Collin through the woods on my hip and dodging thorny bushes.

I did find 6 four-leaf clovers though! As I walked out of the woods I set Collin down for a little rest…and just happened to set him down in the middle of a four-leaf clover path. What luck!

Can you share any of your secrets? Where is the strangest place you found mushrooms? What is the largest one you found?

Happy Hunting!