Friday, September 27, 2013

Somehow, it wasn't a total disaster, or, how I paid $98 for two stickers for my kids

Last month we went on our final camping trip of the summer.  We went to a place called State Forest State Park, up in the north-central part of the state.  It's a very rugged part of the state, with jagged peaks and moose and lakes full of fish. 

Because we're us, the trip, like every other camping trip we've taken this summer, started out disastrously.

The drive is beautiful, taking you through truly rocky mountains.*

Everything was fine until about a minute before we pulled into our campsite, when it clouded up and started to drizzle.  As soon as we got there, J and I quickly set to work setting up the tent in the rain, which was falling harder and harder with every passing minute.  By the time we were done, it was pouring.  "Torrential downpour" seems like such an overused term, but truly, nothing else describes it.  Plus it was thundering and lightening.  We sat for about 10 minutes in the tent, but there was no sign of any abatement in the storm.  Water was getting into the tent because the wind was whipping so hard, we were already soaked from the tent-assembly process, and it was dinnertime.  We had no fire, and thus no food.

I said, "this is crazy.  Let's drive up to the next town and get some dinner.  Maybe after a while the rain will ease up."

We drove to Walden and had burgers (me and J), grilled cheese (the kids), and wine (me) at the Moose Creek Cafe (it's very moose-y up there).

J and Zeke hug it out at dinner. 
It was still raining buckets by the time it was getting dark.

"Motel?"  I offered to J.


So we slept the night at a local inn that looked like a log cabin and offered us 2 bedrooms and a kitchen for $79. We enjoyed hot showers and watched some TV and the kids bounced on the beds and giggled.

We went back to the campsite the next day and found the tent to have a little bit of water in it, but nothing terrible.  We proceeded to have a lovely day doing camp-y things.

We checked out a wildlife preserve.

We went to the Moose Visitor Center.

We aired out the tent and its contents.

 We built a fire.

 There was a little amphitheater near our site, so the kids put on a show.

We saw an eagle.

We went exploring in the woods.

We found a beautiful lake.

Zeke made a friend who let him help with some fishing.

Muscles were flexed.

Jagged peaks were admired.

This part of the Rockies is famous for its wildlife, so we were hoping to see some moose.  The campsite host told us that the best time to look was right around dusk, and told us some of the spots where they tend to be seen.  He warned us, though, that they tend to keep to themselves and it's not unusual to go looking for them and come up empty.

Well, we hadn't made it 5 minutes up the road when we saw some hanging out in a field.

 Pretty freaking cool.  And then the next morning, J and I were up before the kids and enjoying a cup of coffee when we spotted another one in a meadow right near our campsite.

It was magical.

We had some stuff to do back in Denver, so we packed up early and hit the road (it was about a 3 hour drive).  I drove.  The bulk of the drive is spent on a county road winding through the mountains until you hit the interstate, and the posted speed limit is 40.  On parts of the road, you really need to go slowly because of the steep turns, but on other parts, driving that slowly was painful to me.  I bragged to J about how I hadn't gotten a speeding ticket in over 20 years.

And then was pulled over for speeding.

The cop was really nice, and I fully admitted that I had been going too fast, and apologized.  He chatted with the kids and then wrote me a ticket for a full 15 MPH slower than I was going, so I wouldn't get too many points on my license.  My fine would be $98. I thanked him, and he asked if the kids wanted some stickers.  I said, "sure, who doesn't love a sticker?"

J pointed out that since we were getting two of them, it was only $49 apiece.  We told that to the cop and he cracked up, and then we all went on our way (at the speed limit).

The stickers are now displayed on our fridge, reminders of a lovely weekend that could have been a fiasco, but somehow wasn't.

*This road is actually now closed due to damage from the recent flooding.  :(

Thursday, September 26, 2013

They say it's your birthday, we're gonna have a good time

My dearest Josephine, you are now four years old.  

In the last year, so much has changed, and so much of your you-ness has revealed itself so vividly.

You are fiercely independent, wanting to do things by yourself.  Sometimes you are OK with accepting help from Daddy or Zekey or me, but often being offered help pisses you off to no end.  "I CAN DO IT MAMA!  LEAVE ME ALONE!"

A part of that independence is an increasing willingness to just go off and entertain yourself.  I'll find you in your room or sitting on the floor somewhere, coloring or playing with blocks or toys or "reading" a book, all while singing to yourself.

Speaking of reading and singing, you apparently have inherited my ability to quickly memorize almost anything you hear.  So after reading a book to you two or three times, the next time we read, you will recite the book along with me, verbatim.  Same with movies and songs.  You'll recite the dialogue as you watch.  Or be sitting in the car, or in the grocery cart at Target, and suddenly start singing a Katy Perry song at the top of your lungs. It never ceases to amaze or amuse me.

You and your brother love Katy Perry beyond all sense, and want to send her presents and invite her to our house.

Your relationship with your brother continues to be a source of great joy to me.  While you engage in occasional bickering, you really do love each other like crazy, and you're so sweet to each other.  You snuggle together, play together, giggle together, pretend to be mommy and baby, run around at the park, swim, and do everything else together.  You are each other's best friend, and it's wonderful.

You have a great sense of adventure, a great sense of humor, and are a little bit nuts.  Your hair is never brushed, and when we go camping (which you love), by the third day you wander around looking like Central Casting sent over a street urchin from the set of Oliver Twist, complete with scruffy hair, dirty clothes and soot on your face.  You and Zeke like to bounce around on the furniture, jumping from one surface to another, doing flips, wrestling, and knocking each other around, all while giggling maniacally.  You have this hilarious evil laugh that sounds like an extremely gutteral "BAAAAAAAAAAAH hahahahaha!"  If I don't know where you are, all I have to do is follow the laugh.

But you are still my little snuggle bug.  My favorite time of day is when I wake you up for school in the morning, and you wrap your long, gangly limbs around me and bury your face in my shoulder.  We give each other a big squeeze, and then just sit like that for a minute or two.  We also have a new good-bye ritual at school, in which I will put on some lipstick and then kiss you on the backs of your hands, so you have kiss marks to carry with you throughout the day.

You see good in everyone and everything.  You remark on how beautiful people are  ("Mama, you're very beautiful, and so is Mimi"), revealing your own beauty all the more.

 I love you to the moon and back times a million billion plus one, my little monkey.

Love, Mama

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Aussie Word of the Day, Unmentionables Edition

It's been a while since I did an "Aussie Word of the Day" post.  I think at this point I'm so accustomed to Aussie-isms that I now use them myself.  More than once have J and I been discussing the timing of completing a particular activity, and I've said, "no worries, I'll take care of it this arvo."

Now Zeke is getting into it.  He finally embraced riding his bike without training wheels about a month ago, and now rides at every opportunity he gets.  He's allowed to ride around parts of the neighborhood by himself, and many afternoons, J picks him up at school by riding his bike and carrying Zeke's bike with him (dude is seriously strong) so that he and Zeke can ride home together.

Apparently on one of these trips, J explained to Zeke that an Aussie-ism for bike is "treadly."  Zeke thought this was hysterical and now uses it at every chance he gets.  "Mama, Daddy and I are going out to ride our treadlies," followed by uncontrollable giggles.

He has taken to asking J how to say different things in Australian, and takes great pleasure in working his new vocabulary into conversation.

The other morning I was getting him and Josie ready for school, and brought down their clothes to put on while they watched the Sunny Side Up Show.  Zeke looked at his pile of clothes and said,
"time to put on my Reg Grundies!" 

I was definitely giggling hysterically along with him.