Thursday, July 16, 2015

Freshman Orientation

The Boy and I recently attended Freshman Orientation at his future college.  We were able to go down the night before and stay in one of the residence halls, walk around campus, enjoy some nightlife, and overall just get excited about the next four years of his life.

Can I just say, I think I am officially too old to stay in a dorm room. Even for one night.

We visited the library. Many things have changed since I was in school. The Boy and I had a fun ole time of "playing" with the mechanical sliding book shelves.  The library on campus has one the best great rooms around. Students there call it the Harry Potter Room because it does look like something straight from the pages of the book or even the set of the movie.  I made sure The Boy knew where it was and could find it. Now I will keep my fingers crossed that he visits this room during the school year for reasons other than site seeing!

During Orientation the school had a vendor fair up. Numerous clubs and organizations were present to help you get connected before school even started. The Athletic Department was there taking applications for employment for various positions: ticket tacker, parking lot attended, ushers, concessions, security, ect.  Knowing The Boy's love for KSU athletics I thought this would be the perfect 10 hour a week $10 an hour job for him. When The Boy learned he would not actually be able to watch the sporting event, he walked away and left me standing there apologizing to the Athletic Department Representative.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, The Boy randomly bumped into a former graduate from his old high school at a fraternity table.  They spent a great deal of time catching up and talking about rushing as well fraternity life. The Boy's father joined in and compared some notes about how things have changed from then to now.

I am excited he is on this path. I know over the next four years he will be presented with many paths to choose from. I just hope he picks the one that is right for him and  will ultimately lead him to the realization of his life goals.  

In the meantime, I am going to be busy enjoying my last few weeks with him at home! 

Friday, July 10, 2015

Independence Day Camping Trip

This week has been a super crazy one. The Boy has been gone this week. He is on vacation in Michigan.  We had severe weather hit our area Monday night. Before we could recover from that, Tuesday morning we had another threat in our neighborhoods. An armed gunman entered two homes in our area and shot a mother and daughter. Our entire community went into lock-down mode as the police searched for the escaped gunman for hours. Thankfully, The Short Chic and her Summer Activity Director (aka: The Babysitter) were not in our neighborhood during the lock-down.

The entire community has remained pins and needles as no arrest has been made. We continue to pray for the health and recovery for the victims. We also try to balance our need for information with the families privacy and the police's ability to do their job. 

With all of the craziness in our lives I have not taken a moment to reflect on our Independence Day weekend camping trip. 

Once again we visited Watkins Mill State Park with several of our camping friends joined us and I think we ended up with approximately ten families in our group.  Scooters, glow sticks,  kickball, and near urgent care visits dominated the weekend cul de sac that we called our home. 

Camping on holiday weekends always brings us camping visitors. The Husband's parents joined us Thursday night as we celebrated his mom's birthday and had a fish fry. We were also joined by the Turley family Thursday evening. My Momma joined us Friday as did my cousin Dennis and my long time best friend Dana. Saturday morning Angie's dad came to visit us. Then The Husband's dad, sister, nephews, niece, and great niece joined us for an afternoon of camp fire and swimming. Even my longtime former co-worker Debbie made a brief stop by the campsite. Such a great time visiting people who are important to us!

Besides good company, we enjoyed some good food over the holiday weekend.  Besides the fish fry, we made several meals in the dutch ovens, pie iron sandwiches, and for the first time ever we had grilled hamburgers. Yes, you read that correctly, for the first time ever we had hamburgers.

Forcing the girls to take a food break was the only thing that slowed them down the entire weekend. 

We enjoyed fireworks. Naps. Some paint can (I will devote a whole post to paint can another day!) I even managed to read an entire novel! The most amazing thing about the entire weekend might not have been the celebration of our nation's independence but rather the unseasonable cool temperatures!
We are accustom to triple digits or near triple digits this time of the year. Instead we experienced mid 80 degree days and cooler nights.  The cooler temps did not stop the little girls from hitting up the swimming beach.

Before I wrap up this post, I should say that I attempted a few new things. I saw the jar of eggs on Pinterest and I have to say, I tried it and I liked it. I was able to store a dozen and half eggs in one quart jar. When I went to make breakfast I easily poured out the amount of eggs I needed. And not once did I have to worry about breaking any eggs in transport.

The last thing that I am able to show you in my new camping flag. After earning the Missouri Camping Award, I was trying to figure out the best way to display our new award. I decided to make a flag to hang on my PVC Lamp Post. At Hobby Lobby I found some water resistant material created to line the bottom of a couch. Hobby Lobby had lots of colors of the material so I made an applique camping scene and then sewed my camping award to the flag. I left room on the right hand side of the flag to add the five year awards, assuming we will earn a few of those. I also left room under the camper award for the year bars that we will keep earning.

My Grandma Baker was an applique quilter. I have to say it looks easy enough but it is tedious! I think she would have been proud of my first attempt.

The good news, this camping trip made our third campground this summer. Two more to go and we will earn our second camping award!

Monday, June 29, 2015

Tour of Missouri: Crowder State Park

It has become somewhat of a tradition to go camping over Father's Day Weekend. This year we traveled but stayed close to home. We visited Crowder State Park in Trenton, Missouri about one and half hours north of Kansas City. On Father's Day Weekend, the men folk get to decide our menu and get to sit around like kings. We also look the other way when they make questionable fashion choices. The Husband decided it was okay to wear three different types of camo at the same time!

 Crowder State Park is a short ten minutes east of Jamesport, Missouri which is home to an Amish community. After breakfast on Saturday, we drove over and enjoyed shopping in the Amish stores: giant cinnamon rolls, horse drawn carriages, preserved fruits and vegetables, and who can resist sleeping kittens.

In addition to the Amish stores, we also visited many local antique stores. I have been looking for a vintage fly fishing rod for a while and I am happy to say I found one.I have not done anything with it but I am looking to sharing my find with you all a bit later. We finished our time in Jamesport having lunch at my favorite local place. The Husband and I shared a pork tenderloin as well as a piece of blackberry cobbler. 

Normally, we spend a lot of time exploring the state park we are staying in. However, by the time we returned to the park after exploring Jamesport it was hot! Instead of hiking a trail, we decided to hunker down in the air conditioning and nap.

 After napping, we were visited at the campsite by several of my extended family members. The sun set and the heat declined. The reunion lasted all evening until the threat of storm rushed everyone home. We cleaned up the campsite and prepared for an evening of wind and rain. 

As the storms continued to threaten us Sunday morning we packed up and headed home very early.  We enjoyed our short time at Crowder State Park even though we did not explore much. 

To the men folk; Happy Father's Day! 

Friday, June 19, 2015

Golden Birthday

I love birthday celebrations! They have long been important to me and as you might have already guessed, I go to long lengths to celebrate birthdays with my children.

Speaking of birthday's: this lovely lady had her Golden Birthday this week. Prior to this week, I am not sure I knew what a Golden Birthday was. Is this a new thing? Did we celebrate them when I was growing up and I am the only one who did not know? 

 A Golden Birthday is apparently when you are as many years old as the day of your birth. So, this lady turned 18 on the 18th. 

I guess I had a Golden Birthday. It would have been when I was 10. I am going to make an educated guess that my Momma did not know about Golden Birthday's either.  I am sorry to say that The Short Chic, already had her Golden Birthday. (Hopefully The Princess party I threw for her will compensate for the lack of a Golden Birthday!  The Boy can still celebrate his. He has a few more years to wait. 

Is it bad parenting to celebrate one child's Golden Birthday and not the other? The Boy would say no. The Short Chic would say yes. 

How about you? Have you heard of Golden Birthdays? Did you celebrate yours? 

Happy Golden Birthday, Katie! I do hope your day was as special as you, I hope you were surrounded by those who love you and make you feel like a princess, I hope you made memories that last your entire life time!  

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Plans for Summer 2015

 The heat of summer has arrived in my area. It took so long to arrive, I was beginning to questions its existence. Within days we went from mid 70's to nearly triple digit temperatures. I like the heat. I hate the heat. No, wait, I like it...sometimes.

It is definitely a love hate relationship with the heat. The rain continues to visit us. We are having the most difficult baseball season. I heard a rumor the baseball league has had to reschedule 400 baseball games this summer. That is a lot of missed baseball!

Our yard and flowers love the rain. Everything here is so green. I wonder how long that will continue now that the heat has arrived. We have an active summer planned.  It is so hard to balance all the fun things going on in the summer with rest and relaxation.

Luckily for us the Graduation Party forced us to get many of our summer projects done early. We did some landscaping, some mudjacking, and some deep house cleaning. Two areas that did not get organized before the party was the basement and the garage. I am happy to say that after two weekends at home both areas have been cleaned and organized. What a feeling when you can go from this:

to this!

For the first time in history, my craft supplies are actually organized and easily accessible! Another big summer project: CHECK!

As I mentioned earlier, summer activities in full swing. Both kids are playing baseball. The Short Chic is also attending summer school.The Boy is working. And the neighborhood pool is my kids' favorite hangout spot.

We have some travel plans for summer. Mostly camping trips. We are actively seeking out Second Camping Award. We plan to visit five different Missouri State Parks this year: Weston Bend State Park; Crowder State Park; Watkins Mill State Park, Montauk State Park, and Johnson's Shut In's State Park.  The closest park is within 20 minutes of home and the furthest park is nearly 7 hours away.

Summer would not be summer without a float trip down a Missouri river. This year we are exploring the Black River out of Lesterville, Missouri. If we are visiting your part of the world, give me a shout out to your favorite things to do. We would love to develop our "must do" list when we are there!

I have also spent some time developing my summer reading list. I have been a little bit of a slacker in the reading department. But some days there is nothing I would like to do more than lie in the sun with a book.

My summer reading list looks like this:

  1. The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins
  2. All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
  3. War Brides by Helen Bryan 
  4. Sweet Forgiveness by Lori Nelson Spielman
  5. Hugo and Rose by Bridget Foley
  6. Things You Won't Say by Sarah Pekkanen
  7. The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah
So, please share, what is on your summer reading list?  What are your summer activities? Where are you traveling to this summer? What summer home projects are you completing? 

Friday, May 29, 2015

Tour of Missouri: Weston Bend State Park Area

Unofficially, summer has arrived. School has ended. Memorial Day has passed us. Let the daylight linger as the days stay longer.

On the heels of my near 800 mile road we headed out to Weston Bend State Park just outside of lovely Weston, Missouri.Luckily for us, it is only about a half hour from our home.  The weather forecasted rain all weekend but we still went out in search of our weekend getaway. Our camping spot was perfect! Friday night we were serenaded by owls all night long. The dog did not like it but we loved it!

Weston Bend State Park is a fairly small park. I think there are only 34 camping spots. We made our reservations about six months prior to ensure we would have a space. I am happy to say this is the first state park on our attempt to earn the Missouri Camper Award for the second year.  After breakfast on Saturday a small group of us headed out to enjoy Weston, Missouri. 

Small shops line both sides of the street. The men folk spent time in the Tobacco Shop and the Hardware store. We women checked out every other shop available!  We popped into the Main Street Galleria for cold drinks. 

The Galleria has an old fashioned soda fountain as well as hand-dipped ice cream.  Each of pondered the menu board before we each ordered either a phosphate soda, a limeade, or a lemonade.  I ended up having one of their specialties: a Lavender Lemonade. They claim it is the hottest thing in Weston! I don't know all about that, but I have been researching how to make my own Lavender Infused Simple Syrup. 

Weston was a beautiful town full of nice people. We enjoyed chatting with the salesman at the McCormick Vodka store. Did you know that McCormick Vodka is distilled in Weston? I did not.  You know what else you may not know, for a quarter you can sample any beverage they sell in the store. I should also put a plug in for Weston Tobacco Company. A longtime friend of mine owns and operates the store. He learned to hand roll cigars and turned a passion into thriving company. We were not able to catch up with Corey at his shop but he was nice enough to stop by the campsite and meet everyone. I almost wish I smoked cigars. But since I don't I will do the next best thing and tell you all about his place. Check them out when you visit Weston.

The rain did catch up to us. Saturday evening an hour or two before forecasted the rain came down.  And it kept coming down all night. 

Sunday morning, after the rain cleared we got out the dutch oven and tried a new breakfast pizza. The pizza tasted great and was so easy to make. Wanna try? Here is the recipe:
  • Line the bottom of a dutch oven with a tube of crescent rolls. I used two tubes in a 12 inch dutch oven. It was a little think, sorta like deep dish pizza.
  • Top the crescent rolls with 1 pound browned sausage, 1 cup thawed frozen hash-browns, and 1 sliced green onion,  and a cup of shredded cheese.  
  • Mix together 4 eggs, 3 tablespoons of milk, 1 tablespoon of flour or baking mix, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon pepper, and 3 tablespoons of Parmesan cheese.
  • Pour the egg mixture over the crust.
  • Place 12 briquettes  on top of the dutch oven and 8 on the bottom.  Cook for about 20 minutes until the egg mixture is set. 
We placed this meal on our "do-over" list!

Besides visiting the small town of Weston, we experienced another really cool thing during our visit to Weston Bend State Park. Every year in Missouri we experience locust. This is a year of the 17 year cicada and we were able to first hand experience their hatching. The still shelled cicada emerge from tiny holes in the ground. They then crawl to a spot where they hang until they hatch. 

Call me a nerd, but I became fascinated with the hatching locust. When you first look at the tree, or the plants, the weeds, or even the ground you do not see any evidence of the cicada. But if you stop and look beyond the obvious you would see them EVERYWHERE! The ground was littered with little wholes. The trees were covered with empty shells; some discarded some still hatching. The plants were dotted with hatched locust in various stages of drying out. I personally don't love cicadas. I can appreciate their matching call until it gets so loud I can't hear myself think, but I loved studying them up close as they hatched. 

Our weekend was quiet and relaxing. We enjoyed good food, good company, we made some new memories. Sorry, Allen but some of those might have been at your expense. And we were able for a few days to slow the world down and just enjoy the small things. I hope your Memorial Day Weekend was just as rewarding! 

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Tour of Missouri: Elephant Rock State Park

Two days after the graduation party, barely enough time to clean the house, my work sent me on a week long road trip around the state of Missouri. I have traveled from Kansas City to Springfield; Springfield to Farmington: Farmington to Ironton to Festus; From Festus to Jefferson City. That is a 
total of 731 miles in five days!


It has been a long week but it has also been a great week. I have met so many great people. It is honestly true when they say Missouri's people are nice. Everywhere I have been from hotels to restaurants from work meetings even at gas stations, people have been so friendly!

It has not been all work and no play. I met up with friends along the way. I even spent a lunch hour hiking at a state park I had never been to before. I found myself less than 10 miles from Elephant Rock State Park in the southeast corner of Missouri. 

The family and I actually plan to visit this park this summer. I hope they won't mind that I took a sneak peak. It was kind of like being a young child on Christmas morning. I was so close and I just had to go and see!  Elephant Rock State Park is considered one of the most curious geologic formations in Missouri. Giant granite boulders that are 1.5 billion-years-old stand end to end on a seven acre park. It is said that the giant boulders look like  a train of circus elephants lined up.

The park has a mile long paved path that is actually a Braille Trail. I honestly felt like I was in a scene from the movie Frozen. Remember when the trolls are introduced? All you see is round boulders and then they start rolling and become trolls?  Everywhere I looked I could see boulders.

Right outside the park is the oldest recorded commercial granite quarry in the state of Missouri.  Evidence of mining was found throughout the park. Circular holes were cut into the rocks so that the quality of the rocks core could be determined. I was able to find many perfect circles on my hike. I also could find half circle lines cut into the rock as well as anchors used to tantalize cranes.  Of course, being exposed to the elements the rocks are being weathered and eroding naturally.

Occasionally when hiking, it makes sense to leave the safety of the hiking path and explore beyond the norm. When I left the path at this park I found some gems. One gem was the ruins of an old railroad engine house. The tracks are still present and the stone walls were amazing! I spent many minutes admiring the craftsmanship of the stone work.  Does anyone else find parallels to hiking off-path and exploring life in general? Don't be afraid to venture off the path!

The second gem I found was a quarry full of water hidden in the rocks. It was peaceful and beautiful and maybe had it been a little warmer I would have sat and meditated in the spot for a while.  Instead I lingered and then moved on. I did stop and enjoy the flowers I found when I was off-.path walking. The morning rain was still present on their pedals and leaves. Drops of water that were lingering. Kinda like my time at Elephant Rock State Park. I wanted to soak it all in so I kept re-tracing my tracks and doubling back just giving my mind the opportunity to connect with the environment. 
After exploring off-path I headed back on the trail. I found a second quarry full of water. At this quarry there were actually a couple of young men cliff jumping into the quarry. There spirit and adventure made me smile. Then I realized one of the young men was on a bicycle and it was loaded with gear.  He told me that he was biking from the New Jersey shore to the west coast. Last summer when we started biking The Katy Trail we met other coast to coast bikers. I so admire their dedication and determination! If you happen to be interested, you can actually follow his journey here!

I am looking forward to returning here this summer. I expect it will not be the same. I imagine it will be crowded and busy. I think the kids will love it. I plan to pack a picnic lunch and linger some more. There are so many amazing rock formations, it was nice to take a break from the world of public child welfare and explore.