Thursday, July 28, 2011

You Can Go Home Again

After Matt and Kylee's wedding, we traveled even further north than we already were in order to spend a week with my in-laws. We figured as long as we'd already crossed over half the country, we might as well drive the rest of the way, you know?

Some of you may be familiar with Taylor, who is The Lumberjack's Wife. She writes a very funny blog about her life in Ruralville. In fact, you might want to go say hi to her as she has not been out of Ruralville in a week.

Go ahead. I'll wait.

Okay. The reason I brought up Taylor is because of Ruralville. My in-laws (who live nowhere near Taylor, by the way) live in the Super Boonies. You've heard of the Boondocks? And possibly the Boonies? Well, travel three days and a couple of hours beyond that, and you'll reach the Super Boonies. They make Ruralville look positively cosmopolitan. How do I know? Because my phone service quit about a half hour before we got to their house. And they have internet, but it's dial-up. Dial up, people. Meaning they can't get phone calls if they're surfing the web. And you can't really surf anyway. It's more like paddling around slowly with a broken oar. That's the Super Boonies.

I freely admit it's a beautiful place. We see sights like this as we drive up there.

And sights like this are fairly common.

And this.

It's a very restful place. At least, it is once you get there. My in-laws live here year round now, but when Terry was growing up, this is where they spent their vacations. And the closer we got to their home, the more the old instincts kicked in.

For that last hour or so of the trip up there, we were traveling on roads that looked something like this. Sort of paved, but not really. And with absolutely no line down the center. It can be a pretty drive during the day, but it doesn't do a thing for me at night. Part of the reason for that is because, once we get to these roads, Indiana Jones insists on driving down the center of the road.

Since I was raised to drive on the right hand side, this bugs me.

Indiana insists it's because of the deer. Occasionally, a deer will wander out of the forest and meander--or leap, or run or something--across the roads. If you're driving down the middle of the road, then you have time to react, no matter which side of the forest the deer comes out of.

Okay. I suppose that makes sense in a theoretical kind of way. But I had a few issues with his reasoning. He wasn't an eighteen-year-old kid driving a little Nova or a motorcycle. He was driving a 12-passenger diesel van full of kids. And we were pulling a large trailer behind us. The noise alone probably scared away every deer for a thirty mile radius.

If that weren't enough, we weren't meandering along those roads ourselves. The closer we got to the "old homestead" the more lead he got in his foot. I don't think we would have had time to see a deer coming out of the woods anyway. Not to mention, it was 11:00 at night.

But my biggest worry was not with what was coming out of the woods. No, my biggest fear was what else was flying along the roads that night. There isn't a lot of traffic up there. Ever. What traffic there is, tends to go fast. Almost as fast as we were going. A deer jumping out from the side of the road might cause some damage, but what about the head on collision we were begging to find?

Indiana did not appreciate my questioning his logic. So I swallowed my thoughts and clutched the arm of the seat as we rocketed through the night. At one point one of the boys asked about the strange light in the sky over the hill ahead of us.

"That would be headlights," I answered in a tight voice. "Heading straight for us."

"I can see them in time!" No one likes a backseat driver. He liked even less when I implied that they might not see us in time.

At one point I saw a sign just as we whipped past it. It indicated that F-30 veered to the right. We continued straight. I cleared my throat and then asked if we were going a different way than usual. He didn't see the sign, but I finally convinced him that we were headed the wrong way. Then I sat with my eyes closed as he attempted to use a fire lane to turn around.

Fire lanes aren't that big anyway. And this one was situated on a curve in the road.

Did I mention we were pulling a trailer? Or that there was a ditch on the other side? As he grunted and maneuvered, I prayed that we wouldn't see that telltale glow that signaled fast-approaching headlights sweeping around the curve.

We finally got headed back in the right direction, although he never did thank me for spotting the turn and preventing us from driving around in Huron National Forest for the rest of the night.

 We were about half a mile from the in-laws when we passed a sign like this.

Since gravel and dust had been flying fast and furious for the better part of an hour, I thought the Department of Transportation was a little late in noticing where the paved road ended, but whatever.

And finally, after traveling down Bean Hill Road and Procunier (no, that's not Peculiar), we turned down the road that's one letter away from being named after a prophylactic. One turn more and then we arrived.

In spite of being a little tense, what with the no cell phone service and all, we did have a great time. We rode ATV's through the woods, the boys went fishing, we went biking until my father-in-law casually mentioned that they'd had problems with bears lately, we went on walks (close to the house) and relaxed. One day I even took the boys the 45 minute ride to town, where I sat in a chair on the beach while they spent three hours playing in Lake Huron. It was cold enough that I eventually wrapped up in a towel, but not before getting blistered beyond belief. Who knew you could burn when you were that cold? Indiana said I got freezer burn.

Clever guy.

A week later we packed up, said our good-byes and headed back to civilization.

Down the middle of the road, of course.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Ice Cream on the Hodgepodge

On this hot and sticky last Wednesday in July, take a few minutes to cool off and enjoy the Hodgepodge. You know the drill:  seven questions and a random thought. Read my answers, laugh or nod thoughtfully in the appropriate places, leave a comment and then click on this link:

1. July is National Ice Cream month...your favorite flavor? Soft served, hand dipped, or frozen yogurt...which do you prefer? And technically yogurt is not ice cream but its hot outside so I'll let that slide for today.
I like fudge nut brownie because what could be better than chocolate ice cream with chunks of other good chocolate things inside it? And I like hand dipped because those chunks don't come out too well in a soft serve. : )

2. When you travel do you tend to pack too much or too little?
That would depend on who you ask. As far as I'm concerned, I pack what I need, and I need to be able to make choices each day concerning what I want to wear and what shoes I will wear to go with that outfit. And, yes, I usually end up paying to check luggage when I fly. To me it's worth it.

3. What's your favorite cleaning product?
One that comes with a maid who uses it.

4. Which is the greater tragedy-an innocent person imprisoned or a guilty person set free? Explain.
Well I think it's probably an innocent person imprisoned. My reasoning? A guilty person will probably repeat the offense, and they're less likely to slip through next time. Of course if the guilty person is guilty of murder, then you've got the whole how-many-more-people-will-they-kill-before-they're-caught thing, which really complicates matters. This whole question is too complicated. I don't want to think that hard.

5. What's the longest trip you've taken by car?
Any trip traveling with my boys, who happen to think that flatulence is a competitive sport, is a long trip.

6. tennis-golf-canoeing-biking...pick one.
Pick one to what? Watch? Participate in? Compete in? My answers would probably be different for each request. And I'm not going to give them to you because that would be more than one answer, and I'm only doing seven today.

7. What sound drives you crazy?
"Mom, what's for dinner?"

8. Insert your own random thought here.
I wanted to have something really good for this week, so I paid close attention to my thoughts all week. And wouldn't you know it? I didn't have a random thought at all! Now how fair is that? (Perhaps your random thought while reading this is that I have no life?)

Monday, July 25, 2011

Guesting On another Blog

Today I'm guest posting for FringeGirl on her blog The Domestic Fringe. I first noticed FringeGirl because her bio said that she liked M&M's. That's a pretty good indication of character right there. Then I started reading her blog and found out she was funny.

Did I mention I like funny?

She also has some great insights and lots of times I learn something new when I visit her corner of the blogosphere.

FringeGirl is running a series on Summer Days, and I get to share a Summer Funny. So head on over to The Domestic Fringe, and find out why jiggling is not allowed.

Oh! And leave a comment, even if you don't usually leave a comment when you read my blog. For one thing, her  blog is more user-friendly, and it's easier to leave a comment. Plus, that way she won't think that she asked a complete loser to guest post for her. Thanks!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

The Hodgepodge!

Yes, that's right. Smack in the middle of a hot summer week, can't know for sure if you're even going to make it, and suddenly you find the Hodgepodge. It's like a breath of fresh air. Like a cool summer breeze. Like a tall glass of ice lemonade. Like a--well, you get the picture. Sure you do, because it's right here. And it's not just a picture, it's a link. So click on it and see what everyone has to say in answer to this week's seven questions and a random thought. But wait! You've got to read my answers first! It's only fair since you're already here. And then you really should leave a comment. Then you can click on the link. You won't regret it, I promise!
1. July 20th marks the anniversary of the first time man stood on the moon. Flash forward 42 years to July 8, 2011 which marked the start of the final Space Shuttle mission. Should we continue to explore space? Should nations devote more or fewer of their resources to exploring space? Would you want to go into space if the opportunity arose?
Well if everybody else is doing it, then we should too. Wait a minute! That sounded an awful lot like a very lame teenage argument. As for going into space--not me! I don't look good in a space suit.

2. What are three things in your freezer?
The white frosty stuff that builds up on the sides. Diet ice cream bars. Real ice cream bars. Guess which ones last longer. : )

3. If you could see any band/artist perform live tonite who would it be? It has to be someone Beatles, Elvis, etc.
Well since we have prayer meeting tonight, it'd have to be someone who would show up at our service. Patch the Pirate? 

4. Ice-cubed or crushed? Or are you one of those people who don't like ice?
I like the crushed that comes out of our refrigerator, except it sprays all over the place and very little gets in the cup. And it melts too fast. I'm not sure I trust people who don't like ice. There's something unnatural about that.

5. The owner of a small restaurant outside of Pittsburgh recently announced he was banning children under six, saying they regularly disrupted other customer's meals. You can read the story in more detail here but isn't this a perfect topic to discuss in our Wednesday Hodgepodge? Have at it friends...what are your thoughts?
If I want shouting and turmoil while I eat, I'll go to Chuckie Cheese.

6. What was your first car? How did it come to be yours?
My first car was a 1973 yellow Vega which I bought from my sister when she went to college. That car hated me. It died regularly, mostly in the middle of busy intersections, and could be counted on to quit running just when I needed it most.

7. If I had a nickle for every time I said "that's inappropriate" to my boys, I'd be rich.

8. Insert your own random thought here.
I have millions of random thoughts throughout the week, and many of them are hysterically funny. Unfortunately, they all vanish as soon as I get to #8 in the Hodgepodge. I think it's a medical condition. Number Eight-itis.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Bedding Down for the Night

When I was growing up motels were judged by one thing: did they have a pool? We didn't travel much, but we did take a vacation every year, and in my mind, the quality of the motel was directly related to whether or not we got to go swimming while we stayed there.

It's a good thing we weren't picky because my parents' preferences, or at least their wallet, ran towards cheap. With six children, their two requirements for motels was that it be inexpensive and clean. Usually in that order. As I got older, I got a little more discriminating in my tastes, and I often turned my nose up at our accommodations for the night. But who could blame me? Back then Tom Bodette might leave the light on for you, but you didn't get the TV unless you paid extra. I remember once asking my dad if we could splurge and spend the extra buck to get TV for the night. Sarcasm was my gift, even as a teenager.

Now that I'm an adult, my tastes are even more discerning. I've often said that my idea of roughing it (not my favorite thing to do) is staying in a Motel 6. With six children of our own, I want not only cleanliness, but enough room to move around when we all get checked in. There's nothing I hate more than getting all the kids and the luggage wedged into a motel room, and then having to stay wherever you sat down first because there's nowhere else to move without stepping on someone. I also want decent air conditioning in a motel room, and I want a decent bed.

When Indiana and I got married, we had a free-flowing waterbed. Waterbeds were all the rage, and it didn't matter that ours was second hand. We eventually moved on to a "real" bed, and when we did, we upgraded to queen size. From there we moved to a king size bed and finally, a couple of years ago, to a king size sleep-comfort bed with individual remotes so that we can each adjust the firmness on our side of the bed. In addition, our marriage started out with a single pillow for each of us. With each pregnancy I added pillows and when I added them, Indiana did too. I think our bed size had to increase just to accommodate the extra pillows we collected.

I like my bed. I missed my bed these last two weeks while we were traveling. The first night we stopped after midnight and got a suite, which was really a room and a half. It had two queen beds and a pull out sofa that slept two uncomfortably. I was sorely tempted to claim one bed for myself and one for Terry, but I knew that was a little selfish. We shared one bed, and put two of the boys in the next bed. Two more started out on the sofabed, but one quickly decided he prefered the floor, so two slept in the floor and one slept on the sofa. That queen bed seemed awfully small that night. Especially since Terry has a tendency to sleep in the middle of the bed. (He denies this, but it is a fact.)

The house we stayed in for the wedding also had a queen bed, but it seemed smaller. In fact, I think it grew smaller with each passing night. There was a second bedroom with a double bed which the boys took turns sharing. The other three boys rotated, one on the couch and two on the floor.

Stress was keeping me from getting a decent night's sleep that week, and by the night before the wedding, each of us tossed and turned, both blaming the other's restlessness for keeping each other awake. With the boys scattered over the living room, we didn't even have the option of taking to the couch. Once again I strongly considered commandeering a bed all to myself, but once again I resisted the urge.

After the wedding we traveled many hours further north to spend a week at my in-laws. There we shared a double bed.

A very narrow double bed.

It was rather warm that week, so we kept a window open and a fan blowing, but some nights it seemed impossible to sleep. Most turning over had to be done in unison for fear of knocking each other off the bed and on the floor. When Indiana complained that he felt like he was on the edge of the bed all the time, I pointed out that I had done my part--after all, I had lost over 60 pounds. There certainly was more room in that bed than there had been the last time we visited. (And he was more in the middle than he realized. I was on the edge!)

We took three days traveling home from the in-laws. Our last night in a motel, I found a great deal on an actual two-room suite. It had a king-size bed and a pullout sofa bed. I looked forward to that bed most of the day as we drove. I didn't care that two of the boys needed to sleep in the floor. It was a sacrifice I was willing for them to make, so that I could get a decent night's sleep. And I would have, too, if I hadn't been taking care of Nicky's sunburn most of the night.

Our plan had been to drive each day until we felt like stopping. We did not want to stick to a schedule or force ourselves to cover a certain amount of territory each day. But that final day on the road was a long one. It really should have taken two days, but we pushed the driving, covering North and South Carolina, Georgia and half of Florida, finally arriving home around midnight. As tired as we were, we couldn't stop because each passing mile brough us closer to our goal:  a night in our own bed. The trip had been fun, but suddenly nothing was so important as getting a decent night's sleep. And apparently, that couldn't be done until we were home.

That last exhausting day of travel was so worth it. I was sound asleep almost as soon as I sank into my own bed in my own room, and both of us slept soundly all night long.

And don't feel too sorry for the boys for having to sleep on the floor that last night. The motel had color TV and a pool. What more could a kid want?

Thursday, July 14, 2011

The Day Started with Blood

Some things about weddings are a given. For instance, typically there's not a whole lot that's required of the mother of the groom. I didn't have to get deeply involved in invitation choices or cake designs. In the months leading up to the wedding I was not up to my elbows in flower arrangements or caterer discussions. I considered all this to be a good thing. Kylee kept me in the loop by sending me pictures and info so that I had all the details any woman craves without having to do any of the work. Win-win.

The only thing I had to worry about, other than the rehearsal dinner, was getting my six guys to the wedding on time and appropriately dressed. One would think that, with a group like this, that would be an easy task.

One would be wrong.

Sure, four of them are wearing rented tuxes. And then the other two had new suits. Dressing guys is not the problem. Getting them there in one piece is.

I banned airsoft guns two weeks before the wedding so we wouldn't have unsightly welts across their faces. (For those of you that don't know, airsoft guns are the newer, more powerful versions of BB guns.)

I supervised teeth whitening and professional haircuts. I instructed them in wedding etiquette and proper actions while in semi-formal attire.
Clearly we should have spent a little more time in that area.

The wedding was scheduled for 6:30 in the evening. That morning I instructed the boys that we were going to be very low-key that day. We were going to space our showers out throughout the day (all seven of us put a strain on the water pressure abilities of the little house where we were staying.) We would need to start getting ready at 3:00 for the 4:00 p.m. photography call. "Don't even work up a big sweat," I ordered. No easy task when it was 95 degrees outside, but they all agreed to my demands.

I went to take my own shower, but was interrupted a few minutes later by a knock on the door. "Are you almost done?" Luke asked.

I told him I had just gotten in there and was going to take a shower.

"Oh." Pause. "Is there a bandaid in there?"

"They're in the medical kit in my room."

"Okay."  Pause.  "I'm gonna need a lot of them."

I threw my robe on and tore out of the bathroom to find my seventeen year old son standing in the kitchen with his hand covered in blood. Seems he'd been riding a bike when a screw came loose and the front wheel folded up underneath him, catapulting him over the handlebars and landing him in the parking lot where he went skidding across the asphalt. As I tried to clean up all the blood in order to get a look at the (many) wounds all over his hand and fingers, he showed me where his forearm had also taken a beating. I gasped and was turning my attention to the new wound when he said, "I hit my chin, too."

I had to look way up (he's four inches taller than I am now) to see that his entire chin was also smeared and dripping in blood.

I hate to admit it, but I'm shallow enough that my first thought was of the wedding pictures.

Luke's hand, fingers and knuckles were covered with open wounds, but none of them were deep. They did have gravel embedded in them, though, as did the huge scrape on his arm. But his chin had a small but deep chunk torn out of it. I had immediate visions of spending the rest of the wedding day sitting in an emergency room, waiting for stitches.

Bedlam erupted for the next few minutes as I tried to clean the wounds, Luke alternately howled at the pain, insisted he did NOT want stitches and speculated on how to fix the bike, Terry tried to inspect the damage and proclaimed that his chin would probably only require one or two stitches (in a tone that said he wasn't sure it was worth the bother if Luke didn't want them anyway) and Matt trying to shake enough sleep from his eyes to figure out why his brother was covered in blood.

Matt finally volunteered that there was a medical professional or two that attended the church, and one of them could probably tend to Luke. Terry took charge, sending me back to the shower and promising to take care of things.

When I finished dressing, I found out that he'd taken care of things by cleaning and bandaging the wounds himself. Luke had two large bandaids criss-crossing on his chin, and another half dozen bandaids weaving their way across the knuckles of his hand. There were still open and oozing wounds on his hand that the bandages hadn't covered.

"What happened to getting an EMT to look at him?" I asked.

It took several minutes of questioning all three of them before I could put it together. Terry was trying to tell Matt not to call someone that was on duty to make a professional call. He wanted Matt to find someone off duty and ask them to stop in as a favor. That made sense to me, but apparently what Matt heard was, "Don't call anyone". When Matt disappeared without getting medical help, and when Luke insisted he didn't want stitches, Terry finally just cleaned and bandaged his son himself.

SIDE NOTE:  These guys communicate so well. I hope their communication skills worked a little better when they were having THE TALK before the wedding!

I went and bought some clear bandaids, hoping we could at least tone down the damage for the cameras. We had minimal success, as you can see, but it was definitely better than leaving an open wound.

The open wound came later, since the little bandaids wouldn't stay on very long.

I knew we would have some catastrophe the day of the wedding, but truthfully, I was expecting something from Joel or Nicky. Instead, they seem to do just fine.

In more ways than one.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Getting Back to the Hodgepodge

1. How has your hometown changed since you were a kid? What has changed most about the neighborhood you grew up in?
I haven't been back to the hometown in over 15 years. I guess the biggest change is that I'm no longer there!

2. What song makes you laugh?
The Veggie Tales' Pirate Song:  We are the pirates that don't do anything. My boys burst into the song whenever we're driving somewhere and it cracks me up when they sing that they don't look good in leggings and they've never been to Boston in the fall. Both of which are true, by the way.

3. Are you a fan of Harry Potter? Read the books? Seen any/all of the movies? Will you be standing in line somewhere close to midnight later this week? For those of you playing along today who live outside the US or UK is Harry Potter a phenomenon in your part of the world?
Not a fan and won't be standing in line. The stories are about witchcraft, and I really don't believe Christians have any business dabbling in those for any reason. Particularly not for entertainment. I'm not judging you, but that's how I feel for me and us (meaning our children). I'm not trying to start an argument, but you did ask, and this is my blog. : ) 

4. If the truth hurts, will you tell a lie? Are we better off as a society in a world that allows no form of deception whatsoever?
I told the truth in the last question. Did it hurt you? : ) Seriously, I don't think it's ever right to lie, but it's not always necessary to blurt out all truths that happen to come to mind either.

The second question is an interesting one, but I think I'm going to stick with the same answer. Lying is not right, but what truths you tell and how, when and where you tell them (and to whom!) can make a huge difference!

5. What is your favorite 'sauteed in garlic and butter' food? Or garlic and olive oil if that makes you feel better.
I like shrimp sauteed that way, and olive oil wouldn't make it any better!

6. Attending any reunions this summer/year? High school? family? Other? Do these events stir up excitement or dread?
No reunions, and that's just fine with me. If you had anything in common with all those people, you'd already have kept contact with them anyway. If you haven't talked to them in twenty years, chances are there's a reason why.

7. Lilac, hydrangea, peony...pick one.
I can't pick just one. If I'm going to pick flowers, I have to pick enough to make a bouquet.

8. Insert your own random thought here.
It's been almost a month since I participated in the Hodgepodge, and I've missed you all!

Monday, July 11, 2011

One Thousand Words

As a newly minted mother-in-law, I’ve got much to say about all that’s gone on the last two weeks, and I’m sure I’ll be posting about everything much longer than any of you want to read about it, but for now, they say a picture’s worth 1,000 words, so here’s a few thousand for you:

My boys clean up nice, don’t they?

A very beautiful bride …

… in a very beautiful dress!

Twenty-five years doesn’t seem so long ago.

My four “rent-a-sisters”. I could not have gotten through everything without them!

 Really, who needs words?

Mr. and Mrs. Matthew Boyd

And forgive me for being selfish, but I think I mentioned a long time ago that this whole thing was supposed to be about the mother-in-law, after all! Here is my favorite picture from the whole event:

 There’s a thousand words for ya. Or maybe even fifteen hundred!

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