We Went Camping!

For an embarrassingly long time, sweet SD has asked that we go camping.  We have taken two camping trips before – one where we spent a week in Colorado, and a brief one-night stay at a state park.  Both were awesome, and we should do it more.  We went to the same state park again and had a great time.  It is going to be our new Stepmother’s Day celebration every year… so at least we will go once a year.

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Master camp chef starting dinner.  DH created a ready-to-go camp box with everything we need – so theoretically we could leave pretty quickly any time we wanted to.  Now that it is hot though, I will not want to go any time soon.

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Our tent.  I love our tent.  I love waking up in a tent.  Actually I like the thought of waking up in a tent.  Because for me waking up in a tent means I have to pee.  boo.

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Awesome SS being awesome.

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Awesome SD being awesome.

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Tootsies by the fire.

 

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Lewis and Clark memorial thingie that is patterned after the Mariner’s Compass quilt block.  😉  DH thinks maybe the quilt block and this memorial thingie are both just patterned after a Mariner’s compass.  Chicken. Egg.

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Unflattering but happy post camping selfie.

Corn Maze 2013

Corn Maze 2013

I have lost track of how many years in a row we have done this…. the first time I hung out with the kids was at the pumpkin patch just adjacent to this corn maze. This year it was warm and muddy and they aren’t 4 anymore.  But they still are gorgeous and amazing.  That blue sky gots nothing on them.

Pumpkin Patch 2005

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In September, I get nostalgic for my first date with DH.  In October, I remember the first time I hung out with the kids – at the pumpkin patch.  I look at this picture and can instantly recall the feeling of terror and loneliness that I was fighting through because I so wanted to be with the man who was the father of these kids.  Bill picked me up at my house, and I climbed into his Camry with 2 tiny 4-year old faces staring back at me.  Faces who didn’t want to like me.  Remembering the fear and challenge of connecting with the kids has softened over the years.  And now there is only love and acceptance…. but that was hard-fought love and acceptance.  At 4 (as they have told me when we talked about this), they thought I would be like Cinderella’s step mom – and thus started years of stopping, starting, and getting through.  Now I know them – their personalities, their likes, even their own insecurities.  I think I am accepted as a parent now, but I wish it could have just happened – that there wouldn’t have been any struggle, just instant family – so that at 4 I could have been their Ginger, not a stranger with threat of making them scrub floors.

 

We went to the Kansas City Zoo!

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IMG_1019 _SnapseedTop three takeaways:

1. My stepkids’ crack is dippin dots.  From the moment they heard “zoo” their minds were working on a way to get them.  It started on the drive down, “Hey, you know what is good that they have at the zoo?  Dippin’ Dots.  Maybe we should get some?”  to seventeen more mentions of Dippin’ Dots.  Cut to the moment we reached the Dippin’ Dots cart and they were asked if they would like some – playing it cool, they consented… I mean might as well since the cart is right here and all, right? Well played, junkies, well played.

2. The African sky tram is one of the top 3 greatest things in Kansas City.  But I am biased, I like anything where I can sit on my ass and see stuff.  Way better than walking my ass around to see stuff.

3. Little kids are so rude.  We got their early, and as the day wore on the invasion started.  We are a package of grumpasaurases who were rolling our eyes at the audacity of little kids to cry and squeal and meander in front of us with their chubby little awkward legs.  I mean, SRSLY, LEARN TO WALK, 3 year-olds!!

 

 

Our Summer To-Do List!

IMG_0667I am not sure if this is ambitious or not.  And why do I care if it is ambitious?  It seems like enough to do so that summer doesn’t sneak away without me noticing. And that is enough.

Enough until I decided I had to capture it all in a scrapbook.  Because, for me, enough isn’t enough until it is too much.  Regardless, away we go!

Our Family Summer To Do List:

1. Go to the zoo.

2. Go to Powell Gardens.

3. See a play.

4. Cheer on the Royals.

5. Go camping. in. a. tent.  (Cabin camping will not suffice for SD – it is hardcore, or not at all.)

6. Make the front yard gorgeous.

7. Go to a contemporary art museum.

8. CAMP GINGER!!!!  (theme yet to be decided)

9. See an outdoor concert.

10. Go to Worlds of Fun.

11. Fly a kite.

12. Go to a farmer’s market.

13. See fireworks.  BOOM!

 

2012 12 Days of Family Christmas – #1: Elf, Pajamas, Cocoa

I DREAD the holidays.  I am not sure when exactly the dread started – I do know it is wrapped up in money and increased tension in interpersonal relationships and the hassle of putting up decorations.  I wish I could fast forward to January.  But I can’t – so the 12 Days of Family Christmas is my attempt to celebrate with and for the kids, and to force myself to be present during the holidays.  So we kicked off on Saturday – we bought new holiday pajamas and watched Elf and drank cocoa (peppermint tea for me).  It was fun – no dread at all, really.  And the kids look dordables in their new pajamas, of course.  And it is hard to resist Will Farrell’s Elf’s love of Christmas and energy for making things festive.

Perfect Pizza!

We have had mix success with vegan pizza at home.  Amy’s Soy Cheeze pizza is not quite vegan and not too bad.  There are lovely pizza recipes that turn the idea on its side from the Pizza Hut pizza I grew up with – warm roasted vegetables and wheat crusts that are lovely to look at, but don’t satisfy my desire for meaty, cheesy pizza.  What does is Waldo Pizza – so here is my recipe for Perfect (vegan) Pizza.

Ingredients:

1. A charming family, including a stepdaughter who will eat the vegan pizza with you when those rat boys order something called the “Butcher’s Block”.  <sigh>

2. Place order for pizza with hipster waitress: original crust, daiya italian blend, vegan italian sausage, roasted red peppers, basil, black olive.

3. Wait for pizza.

ENJOY!!

Bedroom Redo – a blog post trilogy in five parts (or quintology) – Part One: Panic!

I lived on my own from ages 23 to age 33.  And I am an only child, so before that I had ample opportunity to demonstrate that I am quite capable of hanging out on my own.  I eat loneliness for breakfast… because, as I have realized many, many, many times in my life, there are things that are a lot worse than being alone.

On Thursday morning, DH and SS left for Scout Camp.  They both took supercool boy campboxes… and SS took with him like 75% of the noise that is made in the house.  Here is an action shot of them leaving at 6 AM:

Cue first round of panic.  As a stepmom, I feel like a mom of a newborn baby when left alone with the kids… MUST KEEP ALIVE. My SD is healthy, healthy, healthy… I cringe at fathoming the hell of having a kid who is not healthy.  But as soon as DH walked out that door, I went on “Stay Alive” watch.  I woke up at least 1/2 a dozen times each night to make sure she was still breathing.  I whiteknuckle drove us when we had to venture outside the house.  I checked and rechecked the locks on the door.  In short, I toyed with sanity.

I loved spending 1:1 time with SD, but felt a huge relief when her mom picked her up and making sure a healthy, 11-year old girl stayed alive was taken off my plate.

Cue second round of panic.  I have not been completely on my own at home for an extended period of time for quite a while.  The house is so quiet.  There is no one to walk up to and ask for a hug.  (Except Annie who doesn’t really like hugs.)  I saw the two days stretching out before me and was very scared.

I know I should savor the time I have to myself, but I get enough of it in short spurts (every Thursday night I have to myself.), that I don’t necessarily crave time to myself. I crave  downtime, for sure, but I like to have at least DH around me during that downtime.

In those moments, I realized I don’t really have hangy-out friends.   I realized I would need to find a way to entertain myself. So I turned off Jeopardy and got in the car and headed to the fabric store.  Do you know what cures lonely panic?  A trip to the fabric store.

I had a vague idea that I wanted to redo my bedroom this summer, and that I wanted to do a couple projects while DH was away.  But then I sat in the parking lot of the fabric store, decided I was going to do the whole room redo this weekend, and made a list. And then I bought everything I could in my budget (my personal allowance for the month).  And brought everything home and laid it out on my dining room table and smiled and didn’t feel panicky or lonely… just excited about the new room to come.

I went to Urban Arts & Crafts and JoAnn and was well under my budget.  And then I went to Pier 1.  Fucking Pier 1.  And then I went over my budget.  But decided in the moment that the adorable chair pad was worth way more than getting my nails done next month.

Camp Ginger: China Day!

Camp Ginger was supposed to be Monday through Wednesday of the upcoming week, but because of stoopid stuff at stoopid work, it had to be cancelled.  So Camp Ginger will be spread across some weekend days.  This year’s theme is world travel.  Our first stop was China.  Here is what we did:

0800 Travel Ready

The morning kicked off at 0800 sharp with a review of the agenda and distribution of China goodie bags (which were oversized chinese food carton containers.  Did I pick China as our first stop for Camp Ginger as an excuse to get these from Michael’s?  The world will never know.)

The goodie bags contained: A t-shirt for a craft project, a dragon, a notepad featuring pandas, and a lighted contraption that is supposed to simulate the look of fireworks in one’s mouth.  All items were made in China, of course.

0845 Dragonboats @ Brush Creek

We sat on the banks of brush creek and watch teams compete in dragon boat races.  In addition to the action on the water, we saw a multi-car crash (nobody was hurt – a not so bright guy hit six parked cars at low speed), and a girl who has a crush on SS stopped by with her grandmother to say hi.  It was a beautiful morning – I love sitting outside on a blanket and watching things – not sure why, but I do.  I think the kids got a bit bored, but I could have stayed there all day.

1100 Lunch @ P.F. Chang’s

This really speaks for itself.  I love Ma Po Tofu.  Blue Koi would have been better, but there isn’t one walking distance from the day’s activities, and I had a gift certificate.:)

1200 Chinese Art @ Nelson-Atkins

A world-class collection of Chinese art is right here in KC.  It was very beautiful, impressive – and the recreation of the temple brings back warm fuzzy remembrances of my childhood.  It was good for me to get out of my usual-treaded ground at the Nelson.  And I can’t recommend highly enough doing one thing per day at a gallery – makes for a much fuller, relaxed, engaged experience when you plan to look at only one area or room.  And the permanent collection is always free and parking is $5 and easy.  Srsly, just pick a room and go.

1400 Screenprint Chinese Characters

I went gagagoogoopants over this project that I found on the internets.  SOOOO F’ING COOL!!  And so the craft for China day was screen printing Chinese characters onto t-shirts.  This might be the coolest craft ever, with the exception  that there is a lot of wait time.  I hope the kids remember our dining room table always had some sort of craft in progress – and that they will remember the day we screen printed.  The little screens we created for this project are reusable, so if you want to screen print your own item with the character for “Fire” or “Crazy” (the kids’ choices), let me know.

Stepmother’s Day!

I get panicky about how quickly time seems to be moving now.  Every moment the kids seem to get closer to not being kids.  I am loving who they are becoming, but afraid it will all go too quickly.  This Sunday we got a chance to pause time and celebrate Stepmother’s Day.  It was wonderful – I got some kickass gifts and treats, and we watched the solar eclipse.  It was wonderful – thank you, Rick Santorum!