"Anyone can have one kid. But going from one kid to two is like going from owning a dog to running a zoo." - P. J. O'Rourke

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Bears, Backs, and Bad Weather

These are a few of my least favorite things...

Well, not always.

Just when I'm going into the Boundary Waters.

We leave for the Quetico a week from today.  I can't wait to get away from civilization and relax, but one of the problems with getting away from civilization is that you are away from civilization.

That brings us to the above list. 

Bears.  I am afraid of bears.  Not so afraid that I won't go camp in their habitat, but afraid enough that I will volunteer to sleep in the middle of the tent, as I'm sure the bears will go for my friends on the outside walls....sorry, ladies, self-preservation is a strong feeling in me!  And while Molly and my sister may be sleeping out in the hammocks at night, there is NO WAY you'd catch me out there!

Backs. I am actually in favor of backs.  They are very helpful when portaging packs and canoes....provided that they are working properly....which mine is not currently. I have seven days to get my back in a condition where it can support me and a 48 pound canoe...at the same time...in an upright position...over a rocky, hilly portage...Currently, I celebrated because I could hoist my left leg into the car without using my hands to lift it up when I went to the store this morning.  Yay for progress!  It's going to have to come in miracle proportions in the next seven days!  I don't think the six other people are going to want to portage me!

Last, but not least, bad weather.  I am a big fan of bad weather when I'm safely at home.  I love watching the trees bend, the lightning...I love it.  Not such a big fan of it when: a) you have no way to get advanced warning (i.e., no radio or sirens), b) you have no place to hide from it and c) you are surrounded by lots and lots of trees just waiting to topple onto your tent.  If you think I exaggerate, you can read about the Boundary Waters Blowdown that occurred in 1999.  While that happened 15 years ago, just last week a storm trapped several campers underneath trees, and they needed to be rescued...which up there is challenging, as you need to either be portaged out or get to a lake big enough to land a float plane on.  Let's just say, "help is on the way" means "help is paddling in to find you after you send someone out to let them know you are in trouble."

Like I said, I can't wait for our trip!!!!!  Really, I can't! But you can bet I'm praying that my back heals and that the weather is peaceful while we're there.  I don't pray about the bears....

Saturday, July 26, 2014

What The.....?

We just got back from our most lovely vacation to Michigan.  The weather was great, and aside from the biting flies and one particularly mosquito infested hike, it was a grand experience.  We started out in the Porcupine Mountains in the Upper Peninsula, and then trekked down to a state park near Mackinaw City.

The aforementioned state park, Wilderness by name, was a very unique experience.  First off, it is on the shore of Lake Michigan, which is very sandy and Caribbean-blue.  I actually named the area the Caribbean of the Midwest.

Now I've been camping for 46 of my 48 years of life.  I've been to many, many different types of campgrounds - state parks, national parks, private campgrounds, KOAs, Jellystone...you name it, I've camped in something like it.

The campsites on the lake-side of this park were very crowded which, in and of itself, is not that unusual.  The weirdness about this particular park was that almost everyone else seemed to know each other.  I felt like we were walking into some great big family reunion!  Literally, there were campsites with ten tables set up all together.  People would be walking down the street to a neighboring campsite with their beer in one hand and dinner in the other, and they would all hang out together.  It was a little bizarre.

That wasn't the weirdest part though.  Next on the weird list were the refrigerators!  Yes, refrigerators. Not like you have a fridge in your RV. NO!  As in you are camping in a tent and you bring along two large dorm-sized refrigerators. And it wasn't just one group that did that.  Probably half of the campsites had fridges!  "Okay honey, let's pack up the sleeping bags, tent and fridge!"  Who does that??

Anyway, that was weird, but the weirdest part, by far, were the large rugs people had outside their tents or campers.  We're talking 14' x 20' rugs...Persian rugs....living room sized rugs!  I have NEVER seen people have full sized 20' x 20' rugs in a campground.....until now!  Now, as I said, it was a sandy place, so I can certainly see a nice door mat outside your camper/tent to keep the sand out, but this....I just don't get it!?

Anyway, enough about weirdness.  Here are a few of the 300+ pictures from the week...

 We spent a lot of time doing this...


And looking at things like this...

Saw a few of these as well...

And a lot of these...

We did a little of this in Lake Superior, and a lot more of it in Lake Michigan...

We spent a few hours doing this around Mackinac Island....

 And then we saw lots of these...

We spent a lot of time doing this, which looks incredibly like hiking, but is really "Going exploring" (a much more palatable term to certain children)

 And we spent a LOT of time looking at this...

The only thing that could have made it better is if Evan, Erin, Nina & Molly were along with us. 

Friday, July 18, 2014

And Everyone's Off..

Said good-bye to these lovelies yesterday, and they have safely made it Northern Ireland (at least that's what flight tracker told me at 2:30 am).
Now, it's time for the rest of us to depart.  We're off to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan for a week of camping and fun!

I am sure I will have plenty of photos and stories to share once we arrive back home!  Have a great week, folks!!

Monday, July 14, 2014

It's Quiet Over Here

As you may have noticed, the number of blog posts has greatly diminished as of late.  I'm sorry about that.  Time does not always allow for putting out a blog post.  For those of you that are Facebook friends, you know that I am frequently posting over there.  If we're not friends on Facebook, feel free to send me a friend request.  You can also keep up with me on Instagram (@barbiscrazy).

Don't worry, I will still be out here blogging as time and subject matter allows.  I love my blog buddies!!!!

Introducing...

So, yeah, this is my grand baby!  Isn't he/she adorable?

I can't believe I forgot to tell my blog buddies this big news...Evan & Erin are expecting their first child.  As you can see, baby is coming along just fine and will make his/her appearance sometime in later January.

I'M A GRANDMA!!!!!


Saturday, July 12, 2014

Broken Hearts, Broken Chairs

If you've been to our house in the last six years and spent any time in our kitchen, you've seen the sad state of our kitchen chairs.  It is usually one of the first things that people notice when they walk in the kitchen.  Frequently, someone will ask, "What happened to the chairs?" A question that I have become quite skilled at NOT answering.  I'm quite good at pretending I didn't hear something, if I have to be!

Now that we are remodeling the kitchen, we will soon have new (unbroken chairs), and I have decided it is a good time to tell, "What happened to the chairs?"

In the adoption world, there is a fine line between sharing too much and not sharing enough.  Share too much, and you violate your child's privacy. Don't share enough and you leave others in the adoption community feeling like they are the only ones who are dealing with these things. It's a balancing act I try to perform to the best of my ability.  Those of you with children struggling with attachment are going to really understand this post. For those of you not exposed to attachment issues, I want to give you a small glimpse of what life is like for some of us.

Every one of those damaged chairs represents the results of the damage done to a child's heart.  My child's heart.  Some children who are adopted transition smoothly into their new life without a wrinkle, but MOST children struggle at some point, in some way.  The older a child was when he was adopted, the greater the struggle usually is.  Sadly, the default self-defense mechanism for some of these kids is violence.  The trigger that sets them off might be as minor as not liking what's for breakfast.  In our case, the violence frequently started with kitchen chairs hitting the floor.

So, "What happened to the chairs?" They were violently broken by and angry, hurt child.

Broken-hearted children break chairs....

BUT, there is hope and healing.  It has been at least six months since a chair has hit the floor.  It has been so long that we are going to get new chairs.  I had a long talk with my chair-breaking child.  I praised him for the incredible growth in self-control he has shown in not throwing chairs.  I told him that I am confident that that is all behind him now, so confident that I want him to pick out our new chairs.  He is VERY anxious to get those new chairs because they won't just be new chairs, they will be a new chapter in his life.

I'm Freaking Out

GAHHHHHHHHHHH!

There. Now I feel better....kind of....

This coming week is going to be...intense.

Nina & Molly leave for Northern Ireland on Thursday...for two weeks.  It was hard enough last year when Molly left, and now I have to let go of two of my daughters.  I'm not sure I'm okay with this.  Actually, I AM okay with it, but it will be hard on my mama-heart.
Please pray for them (and me) while they're gone (July 17-31).  Btw, for local folks, the Northern Ireland team is being commissioned at the downtown campus tomorrow (7/13) at 9:00 and at the north campus at 11:00, stop by if you are able to.

Then on Friday, we leave for vacation.  We'll be camping in the Upper Peninsula.  It should be a blast (and it will help time to go by faster while I'm missing my girls), but camping trips require planning and preparation, some things that I am sorely neglecting right now! 

To top it off, our Quetico canoe trip will quickly follow the girls return from Ireland.  That requires even MORE planning and preparation....HEEEELLLLLPPPP.  I think I'm going to have a meltdown!


Monday, July 7, 2014

It's Our Turn

If you've been around this blog long enough, you know that every other year we take a girls-only canoe trip.  We didn't go last year, so that means this year is our turn.

Why a girls-only trip, you might ask?  Well, that's a tradition started by my mom many years ago. She began going on girls-only trips when she was about my age, and continued doing that for about 20 years (I think she was 72 years old the last time she went in...and truth be told, if her hips/knees were in better condition, she'd still be going in).  She brought me along a couple times, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Anyway, there are a few advantages to not having any guys with.

In answer to the question, first, lots of girl time!  Second, if we brought guys along they would do a lot of the hard work (think portaging canoes and the food pack). Now, I enjoy being pampered as well as the next girl, but sometimes you just want to prove to yourself that "you can do it."  On our trips, ain't nobody going to carry that canoe for you!  If the wind is blowing whitecaps on a lake, you're the only ones who are going to get the canoe across it and make camp. Oh, the aching muscles and that satisfied feeling of "I did that!"

The past two trips (2010 & 2012) we stayed on the Minnesota side of things, but this year we are going into the Quetico which is in Canada.


You might ask, what's the difference?  Well, there is really only one that matters - bathrooms.....there are none.  Not an outhouse, not a box in the woods, nada.  A small shovel is highly recommended for this trip!

Aside from the minor inconvenience of no biffy, the benefits of the Quetico are: 1) You can camp ANYWHERE. You don't need to stay at a campsite, unlike on the Minnesota side, provided you can find a flat area large enough to pitch a couple tents, 2) While the Boundary Waters is remote wilderness camping, the Quetico is even more remote and more wilderness, 3) Fewer people, as in you may go days without seeing another human being, aside from your camping group who may or may not resemble human beings by the end of the trip.

I am so excited to go!

Here's a taste of our past two trips, put to a most amazing song...

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

They're Leaving Soon

Just a little over two weeks from now and Miss Molly and Miss Nina will depart from Minnesota, travel across the broad Atlantic and arrive in Northern Ireland.  To say they are excited is a bit of an understatement! 

While they are very much looking forward to their trip, they both have concerns and small anxieties over the trip as well.  I am sure they would covet your prayers as they make their final preparations for the trip.  You can pray for me as well, as I will miss my girls something terrible!

They are also still a little short on their fund-raising, so if you feel so led, you may help support their trip by going here, signing in and choosing mission trip giving.  You can then select "S/T No Ireland 7/14" from the drop-down menu and Nina & Molly's names from the "individual" menu.

Thanks so much for support them!  It means a lot to me and them!