Emma’s Birthday

Emma turned 12 a few weeks ago.

She opened her gift from us first thing in the morning — a pull up bar, now attached to her bedroom door frame.

She and Wayne came up with the idea of an escape room party. Wayne spent two days turning the garage into an escape room, complete with black light, glow in the dark spray paint, and tons of glow sticks. It was tricky to get pictures in the dark, but I tried.

The girls all LOVED the escape room. I’m so glad Wayne is good at big kid parties. He did an amazing job.

They also tie-dyed t-shirts.

Most of the girls slept over in the basement, where they stayed up til the wee hours talking and laughing. Or so I hear. I was asleep hours before. Hooray for big kids!

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Never Been Cool

Abby: I’m cooler than you, Mom.

Me: Oh, for sure. No question.

Also me: Ooo! Look! My new book about teaching Latin and Greek came in the mail.

Abby: This is why I’ll always be cooler than you.

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My sister and her family bought a camper a couple of years ago. We started talking about buying a camper, too, but decided to invest in a better tent instead. My sister’s family made reservations at a campground in northern PA and we made reservations to join them. In preparation, Wayne bought camping stuff. Packages arrived almost daily. Cots. Foam to put on the cots. A Coleman stove. A cast iron griddle to put over the fire. A fire grill. An extra table. Some smaller tables to put next to chairs around the campfire. A mesh tent to put around the table. Two kinds of bug spray. And that’s just the stuff that comes to mind immediately. “But like the man said, you can use it all again!” (The Camping Trip, Ray Stevens)

Packing a van with stuff for 5 people and 2 dogs to camp for 6 nights cannot be done haphazardly. It almost can’t be done.  See?

Even with the rooftop carrier, it was tight. I had stuff on my lap and around my feet, as well.

We stopped for lunch at Cracker Barrel, and were amused by the table sign:

We got to the campgrounds and set up. During set up, I tweaked my back, resulting in 3 days of intense pain and very limited mobility. For example, I couldn’t lift my left leg more than a few inches. I couldn’t lean forward; brushing my teeth required a wide squat. Getting in the car was a process of several minutes and made me feel like I was 90. Changing clothes took some ingenuity, to say the least.

It rained most days. There wasn’t a lot to do at the campground and not only was there no wifi, we couldn’t even get a cell signal. Not at the campground and also not for about 20 minutes outside of it. We took daily trips to civilization to download texts and check the forecast.

In a moment of sun, I took a photo of our set up.

I will say that camping really shows off Wayne’s ingenuity. He’s great at setting things up and making them work for us in the best possible way.

But the site was filled with rocks, which made it difficult to drive in tent stakes. And the pine sap got all over our dogs. Miley still has a good-sized spot on her paw. We threw away the dog beds because they were gross with it.

On the worst day of rain – we later learned there had been hail just over the border in NY – we took refuge in the rec room. I read, sitting up straight and careful in a folding chair, and everyone else played in the small arcade.

Yes, I actually brought this many books camping. I read 5 books in the 5 days we were gone. That was the best part of the week! I had thought I would read aloud to the kids, and also that I would drill them on math and Latin flashcards, but guess what? That part didn’t happen. I’m the only person who is surprised by this.

Friday was a beautiful day. My sister and her family – aka The Cousins – were there, and the kids ran wild and free all day. They played gaga ball, they rode boats on the lake, they rode bikes, they played Bingo. It was warm and sunny.  My back and leg were healing. I could lift my leg all of 6 inches again. I could get in the car almost like a normal person.

However, we knew it was supposed to rain all day Saturday and Sunday. We knew there was no possible way to take down the tent in the rain and pack everything so that it would fit in the van. We were packed to the gills on the way, and that was with lots of time to pack carefully. This wasn’t the kind of trip where you can toss wet things in any old way and sort it out later. So we decided to leave a day early, and to rent a cabin for our last night. Which meant that Wayne and I spent most of Friday afternoon and evening packing everything. Well, Wayne did most of it and I tried to help as much as I could. We moved our suitcases and sleeping bags into our cabin, which was handily adjacent to our campsite. It rained all night, and in the morning we were really glad to have most everything packed. Wayne packed the rest – in the rain – while we hid in the cabin.

So it wasn’t a particularly good trip. We made memories, I can tell ya that. The girls go to church camp in June; we had talked about taking Ben camping while they are gone. I’m not sure I can face it again so soon. But as Wayne says, practically everything that could go wrong, did. The next trip has to be better.

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The only picture we took today.

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My Little Foodie

He’s not much for books – unless it’s a recipe book.

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Bring Back the Blog

I’ve been saying this for awhile: it’s time for blogging to make a come back. Not “buy my stuff” blogging (the internet is too full of that mess) – I’m talking personal blogging. Like we did way back in the early 2000s.  Now Cal Newport is saying it.  He uses more technical terms, but he is suggesting that people post to their own sites instead of to social media.

I’m on a year plan to extricate myself from Facebook. Every day I go in to the “on this day” feature and review all my previous posts from that date. Any memories worth saving (mostly funny stuff my kids said) I write down in an actual notebook. Then I delete all the posts from that date. I am trying not to post anything new there, either. The idea is that in a year my account will be empty. If I delete my account now, memories will be lost – things I posted there, but recorded no where else. I’m realizing that I basically gave my parenting memories to Facebook. But I’m taking them back.  Continue reading

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What I Read – January/February 2018

Here’s what I read in January and February (I started writing this thinking we were at the beginning of March. Sort of shocked to realize that March is almost over.):

1776 (David McCullough) – More about George Washington than I expected. And better than the biography of G.W. I’d finished at the end of last year.

Ten Ways to Destroy the Imagination of Your Child (Esolen) – I love everything I’ve read by Esolen.

On Writing Well (Zinsser) – I loved the beginning, when he was all nerdy about word choices and grammar. It got less interesting when he began talking about specific genres. Then he insulted Ben Hur and I quit.

Little Town on the Prairie (Wilder) – I like these later books better than the earlier ones.

These Happy Golden Years (Wilder)

The Power of Prayer in a Believer’s Life (Spurgeon) – A series of sermons on prayer.

The Moonstone (Collins) – On John Senior’s list of Good Books. Considered the first detective novel. I started listening to the audio, then switched to a Kindle version for speed.

Terms of Service and the Price of Constant Connection (Silverman) – Made me think, and provoked some interesting conversation with my husband. But the author’s suggestions at the end were goofy.

Who Killed Homer: The Demise of Classical Education and the Recovery of Greek Wisdom (Hanson) – More about reforming university classics departments than I expected. I skipped around and read parts, not all.

The Phantom Tollbooth (Juster) – We’ve had this on our shelves for awhile and I thought I’d give it a try. Some funny word play.

The Intellectual Life (Sertillanges) – LOVED. LOVED. Will re-read, probably this year.

The War Against Grammar (Mulroy) – Preaching to the choir, here.

Hamlet (Shakespeare) – Read for a webinar. I miss Shakespeare, after all the time we spent together last year.

Life Under Compulsion (Esolen) – It’s Esolen. It’s good.

Howard’s End (Forster) – Read with the Close Reads podcast. I didn’t like it. It didn’t hold together, weird stuff happened at the end, the characters didn’t come alive.

Read to Ben:

Sarah, Plain and Tall (MacLachlan)

The Bears on Hemlock Mountain (Dalgliesh)

Benjamin Franklin (D’Aulaire)

Mary Poppins (Travers)

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