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.

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.

American Treasure!

Since the Fourth of July, I have been ruminating on American treasures.  DH and I spend a lot of our time ensconsed in UK media.  DH consumes almost exclusively news, music, television, and radio from the Mother country.  And I (sometimes begrudgingly) have come to love lots of it, most notably James May wandering around drinking things and the BBC 4 News Quiz.  But I still get my nose bent when these shows “slag off” the US.  We are such a diverse, big land, that painting us all with one brush is not only unfair, but inaccurate.  But that can be said about all humor that pokes fun at any group of people, even playfully, so I get over myself.

But I still wanted to create my own list of examples of American treasure – things that seem uniquely “us” that I love.  And the timing is good as we just got back from a loooooong roadtrip where we saw LOTs of the US.

1. Tom Hanks’ neck
2. Jeff Tweedy’s voice in “She’s a Jar”
3. Isa Chandra Moskowitz’s garden in Omaha
4. The CJ Cregg character in The West Wing – especially the episode when it is her first day as Chief of Staff
5. The San Francisco mix from Fuel Friends – listening to it when driving 75 on the interstate while leaving Nebraska and driving into Wyoming
6. The sea otters at the Monterey Bay Aquarium
7. Listening to baseball on the radio, drinking a bottle of cheap beer
8. Hawaiian pizza (with fake ham, of course)
9. Wait, Wait! Don’t Tell Me podcasts
10. Lauren Graham being awesome in Gilmore Girls or Parenthood

I encourage you to come up with your own list, especially right now when there seems to be a preponderance of idiocy at many levels of our government and society.  But don’t let the BBC know I said that.

Cheers 😉

Cultural and Natural Events – 2010

I had a goal of attending 13 “events” that will get me out of the house and expanding my horizons.  I did well with this goal – seems I am better at expanding my horizons than I thought – 18/13, or 138% of goal met.

1. Andy Warhol exhibit with the wee ones

2. Happiness Project talk with J and K

3. Kemper Museum with DH

4. Grey Gardens at Unicorn Theater with L

5. Point Reyes National Park – with DH during San Francisco trip

6. DeYoung museum – with DH during San Francisco trip

7. San Francisco Museum of Modern Art – with DH during San Francisco trip

8. Craft and Folk Museum – with DH during San Francisco trip

9. Muir Woods Park – with DH during San Francisco trip

10. California Academy of Science – with DH during San Francisco trip

11. Kauffman Gardens – with the kids and DH

12. Powell Gardens – with the kids and DH

13. Liberty Arts Squared Festival with DH

14. Utah Fossil Dig with the kids and DH – I only dug one day, actually one hour, actually one 1/2 hour – but I am counting it

15. You Can’t Take it With You by Bell Road Barn Players – with S, M, D, and J – the first night of the dinner bunch – and we had fun.

16. Cool train in Lawrence that I can’t remember the name of with DH

17. Tea at Intercontinental with the knitting gals

18. A Very Joan Crawford Christmas at The Unicorn Theater with J, S, D, M, and DH.  Featuring the most awesomest Dirty Dorothy.

I am soooo L.A.!

I think generally people put themselves in one of three groups:

1. L.A.

2. New York

3. Neither!

I really fall into #3… born and bred (well, bread) in the midwest, I don’t have a claim to either.  But when I allow myself to think I could fit in either, it typically has been New York.  The  erudite intelectualista seems more me than the boobs and tans of L.A.

That changed when I went with my friend L to LA. (over six years ago!!).  I loooooved L.A.  And I am not sure exactly why.  I can’t put my finger on it.  Something about the interesting people and good food and the lots of different art and crazy stuff and stars and punk music.  I know New York has all of that, but L.A. has it and it all seems lighter… less scary… more sunshiney.  I love L.A.

I got to go to L.A. for a business trip last week, and I love it still, it seems.  And as any experience in L.A., it included some stories of famous people:

1. One of the woman who works at the same company I do went to L.A. to visit our office out there.  It was the night of the Grammys and she was the only civilian staying at the Wilshire Hilton.  And she sideswiped Chris and Rhianna’s car as she was pulling up to have her car valet parked.  YES!  That Chris and Rhianna and *that* Grammys… not two hours before the incident.  Crazy.

2. A coworker who lives in L.A. went to an exercise class with Drew Barrymore last week.  Crazy.

3. That same coworker regularly encounters David Spade.  Who is just as you imagine – I will leave it at that. Crazy.

4. One of the clients we met with had a story about unknowingly eating breakfast with Ryan Seacrest. Crazy.

5. We had dinner with the client at a restaurant that I am 95% sure was featured in The Kids are Alright.  Crazy.

I am so L.A… hoping I can go back soon.

Checking in and checking out!

Today is the last day of vacation for me. I am sad to see it over, but glad to get rid of the nagging feeling that missing work always gives me. I can never fully believe that everything hasn’t gone south since I have been gone – i.e. everybody figures out I am not needed and really am more of a hindrance than a help. The first day back generally reassures me that everything is going to be ok.

While on the road, I was thinking I needed to take my month without television. And I thought of going a bigger step forward and doing a month without television or any “new media” – facebook or blogging – to remind myself of what life was like without them. Right now I am a little afraid of the silence – which probably means I need to face the silence. I am not sure I an make it, but I am going to try. So, this will be it for 28 days (8/26). Like work, please don’t forget about me while I am gone…
And I will be back with a vengeance… letting you know how checking out affected me – and hopefully I will be back and able to face silence.

25!

States I have been to – not just the airport but actually stayed at least one night – I have been to exactly ½. Looks like I need to start planning trips to the upper corners.
California
Nevada
New Mexico
Arizona
Wyoming
Utah
Mississippi
Florida
Georgia
Virginia
Missouri
Kansas
Colorado
Tennessee
Arkansas
Illinois
Minnesota
Nebraska
Iowa
New Jersey
New York
Louisiana
Oklahoma
Massachusetts
Texas

Back!

Hi! We are back… all in one piece. I am completely buried at work, but wanted to say the trip was great… LOTS of pictures on the way, but here are a list of quick highlights….

(list 45) Highlights From Colorado Springs Trip

1. The camping bit was wonderful. The kids were great sports and didn’t mind sleeping so close to the ground and to nature. Our site was right by a babbling stream. We only had one night of bad weather (the first night), all other days and nights were absolutely perfect. I loved our campsite and loved just sitting or reading or knitting next to the stream.

2. We went to Pike’s Peak, Cave of the Winds, and Garden of the Gods. My favorite things was the Pike’s Peak Cog Railway. The kids’ favorite thing was the cave.

3. I didn’t get in as much walking/hiking as I wanted/needed to. I did count each of the .24 mile trips to the bathroom though. That actually totted up to a decent number because I have to pee regularly (being human and all).

4. When I did do walking, I LOVED my garmin thingie. It let us wander and tracked all of my miles. Very, very cool. I can’t wait to learn more about it and use it more.

5. The stepmoming thing went pretty well – by that I mean I only fell apart twice on the trip. Which for me is an improvement – it is getting easier. A couple years ago I fell apart twice per day, so, progress! Here is when I fell apart:
a. When I began to feel like an ATM – there for the giving of cash and prizes. I am sure all parents feel that way. I remedied it by giving an impassioned speech on saying “Thank You.” I think my point was made, both thanked me sincerely for everything since then, down to the chocolate chip pancakes I deposited on there plates yesterday morning.
b. When I tried to fix breakfast on the camp stove the last morning. I failed miserably. I wanted to do this one “maternal” thing and I jacked it up. DH takes care of 90% of the child-taking-care-of activities, and sometimes I get really mad at myself for not being better. But I am getting better, and it isn’t fair to compare myself to birth moms or my own perfect mom, but just do the best I can and value the progress I have made. Thanks to Mandy for reminding me of that!

6. The drive through Kansas is as boring as you remember. DH and I drove through the night Saturday night to get home – and the blowing wind and lack of, well, anything, made for a long drive.

There will be more later – including pictures. Happy Monday!

Pack!

DH and I are about to go on a camping trip with the twins, which I have blathered about a lot on this blog already. My issue with traveling is all of the preparations. With my love of lists, it would seem to be up my alley – but it isn’t, I get worried about all the things that need to be purchased and packed – plus all the stuff I have to do at work so that I can go on vacation.

So, in preparation for my trip, here is everything I need to do and pack (sans work stuff).

(list 44) Camping stuff to-do

1. Make coffee cakes and brownies –done
2. Buy shorts and t-shirts and shower shoes –done
3. Get sleeping bags -done
4. Pack backpack: camera, shuffle, phone, gps, gps instructions, chargers (phone, camera, gps), water bottle (done), books (done), rain jacket, wallet
5. Pack knitting bag (pictured above) – make copy of knitting pattern, size 8 circular needles –done
6. Pack clothes – shorts, jeans, tshirts, hiking shoes, toiletries, jammies, black shoes, towel, swinsuit
7. Make appt. for Annie –n/a
8. Drop off Annie
9. Pack camping stuff: table, chairs, mess kit, stove, lantern, tent light, sleeping bags, Snorta, plates, silverware, cups*
10. buy and pack food in cooler*
11. snacks for car*
12. kids’ entertainment in car*

13. Car charger –done
14. Paperwork: maps, confirmation e-mails*
15. Precharge all rechargeable devices

Phew! I think that is it.

BTW, Eddie Izzard was funny last night, if not a bit frenetic.

Paris!

In January I went to Paris for work. I stayed in a posh hotel for 10 days and taught requirements to my company compatriots in the Paris office. “Lucky girl!”, you say. And you are right mostly – however the trip ended up having a close similarity to a morbid country song – involving job reassignment, injury to my dog, lost luggage, and a stolen laptop. In short, the trip had its ups and downs. At times I was weeping because I was seeing the most amazing artwork in the world – overcome by the magnificence of the moment of this chubby girl from Platte county gazing upon The Lacemaker by Vermeer. At other times I was weeping because I couldn’t get a flight back to DH for less than $3300 to comfort each other after an unexpected corporate “reallocation” awfulness.

This weekend has been a small trip down memory lane from that trip which was just a few months ago, but seems a lifetime away.

I have been making a regular practice of checking the movies at the local fine arts movie theaters. After seeing Then She Found Me at the Tivoli with my mom, I wanted to make sure that I wouldn’t miss any other movie of this calibre through lack of awareness. (It really is a WONDERFUL movie, if you haven’t seen it.)

Back to the tale, I was checking out the movies in the various theatres and saw that Priceless was showing at the Rio. I was dumbfounded. I watched this movie in whole several times in my Paris hotel room when I couldn’t sleep because of worry, loneliness, or mixed-up sleep clock. It is in French, so I never knew exactly what was happening. But then, voila!, it was playing here, closeish to me, with English subtitles. DH and I went. It was as cute and as trite as I remember, and now I understood why they kept passing that euro coin to each other.

In a way that is impossible to explain (at times I want to be so much better with words), it was such a fine feeling of closure to see this movie near home, next to my strong, sweet husband, after the movie was a companion for me so far away for so many endless nights. You probably thinking I am overstating the anguish of the trip – I mean it was Paris, right – it was more than just the travelling, and the loneliness, and the stressors – it was like I grew up, claimed (rightfully) some piece of womanhood that I hadn’t need to claim prior to this trip. See, I am just jacking it up – I can’t explain it. Seeing the movie with the English subtitles made it make sense – and I never thought I would have the opportunity for it to make sense.

And then this weekend I finished my Paris Box. I (stupidly) forgot my camera when I went to Paris, so the only mementos I have are metro tickets, postcards, and the fragments in my brain. Several weeks ago I tried to capture the torturous beauty of the trip through paper, paint, stickers, and words. The result is pictured below. It is not perfect – I wasn’t able to capture everything, but it is done – and sometimes done is the most perfect thing there is.

(list 40) Contents of Paris Box

1. An Introduction – A description of the colours chosen for the box – black for the rain and bright for the outdoor sculptural art of La Defense.

2. Notes on Classic Paris – Images from the Louvre and notes on where and what I ate.

3. Beautiful and Surreal – Notes on the pain and pleasure of the trip.

4. Sacre Couer – A description of a night I spent out with coworkers touring this church and area.

5. Pompidou – Images from this amazing museum – my favorite place on earth – and how it changed my view of the world and of art.

Hopefully these things will help me remember Paris when and if I need to. And let me know if you would like to see the Paris Box, I would be so happy to show it off.