Adventures in Backpacking (with kids)

On August 6th all of our collecting (dare I say hoarding) of backpacking gear was finally put to good use and we hiked to Upper Loch Leven Lake in the Tahoe National Forest.  For our first loaded outing it was a hell of a hike, and we learned some valuable things.

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David and the girls hiking in.

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Where did the summer go?! (and a PSA)

Awhile ago I swore up and down I would start blogging as soon as summer rolled around.  And then summer rolled around… and we went to the water park, the library, and David started scuba diving courses.  We spent quite a bit of time up at Tahoe when he did various dives.  Then I decided that I too would become scuba certified.  So as of this past weekend I am now open water certified with NAUI.  David… well he went a little crazy with it all and he’s now a certified rescue diver with NAUI.  We have yet to go backpacking, but we have 2 in the works before fall hits (along with more dives, naturally).

The girls are slowly ramping up their homeschooling, and only whining about it roughly half the time.  As stated before that slice of hell will be documented more in depth on my homeschooling blog, where I can assure you I will have a colorful metaphor laced vocabulary.

I’m really hoping to be in the swing of things soon though, and hopefully I’ll have pictures of some of our adventures to share!!  😀

As for my PSA…

I was cruising around on Pinterest, as I do often, and came across a recipe I decided to look at.  In the comments section someone commented how their food didn’t look the same as the picture.  The blogger made a remark about how it took a long time to fashion the food for pictures and that’s why it likely doesn’t look the same.  While I am a photographer and I understand the whole concept of food styling I frankly don’t have the time nor the energy to spend forever making my food look picture perfect.
The pictures I post are of the food I am actually about to put into my face.  Sometimes the lighting is sketchy, and if I’m really hungry you’re likely to get a picture from my iPhone.  What you see is what you get.

The place setting you see is what is at my table that moment.  Sometimes I may angle it if it’s totally heinous non-coordinating.  Although maybe I shouldn’t since most of the time that is care of my 8 year old setting the table to look beautiful.

I’m all for people who do take their time to be meticulous for their blog, but that’s not my style.  If you enjoy that much reality in your face on a food blog, then yay!  If not, that’s cool too.  🙂

 

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Finding my Groove

I realized not too long ago that I actually miss blogging.  I miss trying new things, taking pictures, and sharing it with others.  Between getting a job, being struck down by my GI disease and having part of my colon removed due to it, getting married, kids, my husband being back in school, and actively losing weight to reverse other things I’ve been diagnosed with in the last 24 months (PCOS and Hashimoto’s)  … I have been worn out.   I’m trying to get back into making as many things homemade as I can.

We (by we I mostly mean I) decided to homeschool this coming school year, and that slice of irreverent chronicling will take place over at Coffee Until Wine.  Please be aware that my use of colorful metaphors there is substantially higher.  There are a lot of homeschooling blogs that are very faith based and I am kind of the antithesis of all that.  In an effort to keep Gingham Apron a little more friendly, with fewer colorful metaphors, I have created the separate blog for homeschooling.  🙂

Since things will be changing a lot for us with me ceasing to work in order to homeschool I have to hop back on the frugal make-all-the-things-at-home train.  I’ve already begun making my own laundry detergent again, and I’m trying a new dishwasher detergent recipe as well.  Food wise I have been filling my pails with gamma seal lids full of dried goods, and making more things from scratch – sourdough crackers, sourdough english muffins, sourdough pancakes, bread, yogurt, kombucha, “refried” beans, ricotta .. and pretty much anything else I can do on my own to cut costs.

Between now and summer I want to post once per week.  Once traditional school it out I hope to post more often.  I just need to find my groove in all this craziness.

 

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Lego Friends aren’t hurting my girls…

I woke up yesterday morning to my daughters playing. It’s pretty typical of a weekend that they are up well before David and I, and likely already gone downstairs and helped themselves to breakfast. I love how capable they are at doing things for themselves now! Sometime around 8am I realized they were “going to the moon” and then Nola launched something down the stairs … The distinct sound of Legos coming apart was the only sound followed by a nonchalant “whoops” and some other very dry comment. Nola’s sense of humor and attitude is quickly developing and she’s already got smartass nailed.

That comment was quickly followed up with a small voice saying “Heeey that was special! Daddy and I made it.” Nola assured Sophia that it could be remade, which sounded exactly like what I had said to my friends son Friday night when he broke a Lego ship. Nola had attempted to help him rebuild then too.

This is Sophia's room - Spongebob is sleeping, Princess Peach is clearly being a stalker, and a Lego Friend is cruising in her custom ride.  Also there's a totally destroyed bookcase in the back, with books that have been consumed with gusto - at 9pm when Sophia *should* be sleeping.  :P

This is Sophia’s room – Spongebob is sleeping, Princess Peach is clearly being a stalker, and a Lego Friend is cruising in her custom ride. Also there’s a totally destroyed bookcase in the back, with books that have been consumed with gusto – at 9pm when Sophia *should* be sleeping. 😛

A few hours later the girls were playing Harry Potter. Sophia was apparently in Hufflepuff. An hour after that Nola informed me she wanted to learn how to sew a waistband into a skirt. And another few hours later involved some Rainbow Loom ties being created. In all there were creations “sewn” from Kleenex, a braided necklace made, books about Titanic and penguins were read, and Rainbow Loom creations came into existence (and rubber bands were scattered around the house, again). You know … A very normal day in a house with two little girls with imaginations that clearly can take them to the moon at 8am.

I’m writing this in part because I want to remember the details, and because it was amusing and I loved it. Also because it made me think. A few weeks ago I read something about how horrid those pink and purple Legos are. How girls 30 years ago didn’t have pink Legos, just the “normal” ones. 30 years ago was the start of my pre-school years, and those toys they speak of were my toys. Now granted there is no way in hell anyone could confuse me for being overly girly, and those who know me well are deeply amused by my having two VERY girly-girls. 10 years ago when I was pregnant with Nola I vowed no pink and no princess.

We see how far I got with that. *sigh*

This is a little snapshot of Nola's room.  Harry Potter, a jewelry box, a tiara, and a microscope.  I didn't stage any of that, it's how she had it on her toy organizer.  If you were to turn around you'd see a super tidy bookcase, a ukelele, and a chess set.  I had to avoid stepping on the ukelele on the floor though.

This is a little snapshot of Nola’s room. Harry Potter, a jewelry box, a tiara, and a microscope. I didn’t stage any of that, it’s how she had it on her toy organizer. If you were to turn around you’d see a super tidy bookcase, a ukelele, and a chess set. I had to avoid stepping on the ukelele on the floor though.

The thing is – my girls don’t like Ninjago (did I spell that right?). They don’t care about Minecraft. Nola would love to have Star Wars Legos (holy crap are those things expensive) and Sophia has a few Spongebob Lego sets. The Lego Friends sets give them Legos in their favorite colors, and they love all the animals that come with them. Except for the first time the sets were put together I don’t think they’ve been in the intended forms. They build homes, cars, towers … All sorts of things. David even discovered a Lego “bed” on Sophia’s dresser a few weeks ago. It was rudimentary, but she proudly put “Tinkie” to bed on it.

There are hours spent with Daddy on the weekend building from time to time, and it’s loved by them all. I usually use the quiet time to take a relaxing bath, or catch up on cleaning, but I love to watch the 3 of them laying on the bedroom floor creating random works of art. The color of the blocks really doesn’t matter in those moments. If it gets my girls, or any girls for that matter, into building and dreaming things up then who cares that they are pink and purple?

My life is filled with pink and purple… And skirts, dresses, hearts, play jewelry, stuffed animals, baby dolls, Barbies, flowers, doing hair, and fending off requests for nail polish and ear piercings. There are also bumps, bruises, scrapes, stitches, fighting, screaming, hitting, kicking, sports, and holes in knees of jeans … And I wouldn’t trade any of it.

Okay, the fighting and hitting each other can go, I’m over that … And the dramas … So over that.

I’ll keep the Lego Friends, and my two little Hermonie Granger’s, because they are smart, funny, creative, and have awesome imaginations that are not impeded by the color of plastic building blocks.

A Geronimo Stilton book, microscope slides, and Nola's wooden chess set.

A Geronimo Stilton book, microscope slides, and Nola’s wooden chess set.

Every morning a few stuffed animals get tucked in when Sophia makes her bed.  Maybe they're nocturnal and they're keeping Sophia up at night... telling her that she must read.  :P

Every morning a few stuffed animals get tucked in when Sophia makes her bed. Maybe they’re nocturnal and they’re keeping Sophia up at night… telling her that she must read. 😛

Yep. I love those girls.

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I’m back!

Kind of.

We got all the big stuff moved on Saturday and slept here for the first time that night.  Sunday was spent in part getting the last of the big stuff upstairs while we still had the appliance dolly.  The moving truck was returned around noon.  David made another run with the van on Sunday to get the electronics, and I’ve done smaller runs the last 3 days as well.  There is perhaps another small-ish van load worth still in the garage, and a few things in our bedroom left to grab and then we are done moving stuff out!

Tomorrow with the help of my parents (again) I will start cleaning the old place.  I don’t want to leave the evil bag in the office any reason to charge us.  Though due to how much she hates me I’m pretty sure she will anyhow, but I’m going to photograph everything so if she tries to come at me I will be prepared.

David is not loving his longer commute.  I on the other hand already feel so much more relaxed at home even with the moving mess still *very* evident pretty much everywhere.  The girls are loving their own rooms.  I have made dinner every night since Sunday, and I am loving all the extra kitchen space I have.  We’ve had to improvise a bit on some things – like not having an actual pantry, and our bedroom being too small for David’s desk.  I was hoping for a desk free living room, but that didn’t happen.  I’m sure I’ll get over it.  He did put my computer on the desk as well, so I get to use the proper computer chair, so really I can’t complain too much.  😛

Once I’ve got all the crazy tamed I’ll post pictures.  It may be a few weeks.  Girl Scout cookies arrive on Friday, science fair projects are due in just under 2 weeks, we have to officially be out of the old place on the 28th, and the very next day cookie booth sales start for my troop.  Somewhere in there I’m going to squeeze in a sunrise shoot with some of the most awesome photographers I’ve had the pleasure of becoming friends with.

Speaking of… please click the picture below to see my photography blog and our most recent Photowalkers adventure.  🙂

American Flat

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I should be packing…

… and not writing a blog post.  Whoops.

In my defense I’ve been productive!  I will be loading up the van and taking some things to the thrift store in a little while.  I also need to be on the computer for a bit to write up the minutes from last months PTO meeting, because we have one tonight and I apparently have a job that I am tasked with accomplishing.  O_o

I’ve been attempting to keep track of my 2014 in 2014 numbers, but I’ll be honest with as many bags and totes I’ve filled to trash or donate my numbers are likely to be off, and likely not in my favor.  Unless it’s a jar of cinnamon gummies I can’t guesstimate to save my life.  😛

Last post I was at 1,186 items left to go…

I’ve put 3 bags into the trash, 1-2 totes worth of stuff to donate, and 2 stacks of books (one stack to send to my sister, the other to head to donation).

I’ll estimate 250 items total for everything thus far.  My “side table” drawers and closet were small object gold mines.  Also I’m going to finally be taking like 5 years worth of dead batteries to recycling, and like a dozen old prescriptions to the local police department to drop into the med waste bin.

I’M PAST THE HALFWAY MARK!!!!

936 items left to go // 1,078 purged!!

 

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Parenting Win

In a previous post I mentioned how Nola has been giving me some major proud mommy moments recently. She’s done things like starting to play Imagine by John Lennon on her ukelele, loving music and reading that totally make me feel like we’re not doing nearly as bad at the whole parenting thing as I once thought. Because I’ll be honest, I’ve wondered a time or twenty if we (and by we I mean specifically me) haven’t somehow fucked up our children for life. It would seem that my fears are unfounded. *knock on wood* We’re not into the teen years yet, so I could end up having to eat my words.

That said, it was recently Marten Luther King Jr. Day, and afterwards Nola’s class watched a video about MLK Jr. and what he helped to accomplish. We had just left school and as per usual I asked them both how their day was, and Nola told me about the video and explained some of what she learned from it. My 9 year old 3rd grader was baffled at how people could have been so hateful. She knew that the way people were treated back then was unacceptable. The separate drinking fountains and not being permitted into certain stores, she couldn’t wrap her head around it. She questioned the adults that permitted it to happen, and knew that it was based purely in ignorance.

MY NINE YEAR OLD PEOPLE!!

How does a child have more wisdom than quite a number of adults I’ve met? Perhaps we would be well served by listening to our children when it comes to tolerance and acceptance. While I know there are some children who themselves are perpetuating and fostering hate, because I was bullied by such kids, I think that there are a lot children out there just like my daughter. We just need to sit down, shut up, and let them show us what we’re not seeing.

I don’t know that I was so damned smart at 9. Maybe my parents would say I was, but I don’t remember being so in touch with humanity. Nola has a great head on her shoulders, and a huge heart that I know will lead her to do great things in her life. Yeah, so she isn’t a huge fan of math. She would rather have her headphones on and attempt to knit, crafty kid after my own heart. The last few months have slowly begun to show me what an awesome girl she’s turning out to be, and I couldn’t be more proud.

Now to get the sibling rivalry, selective hearing, and occasional tantrum to come to and end… 😉

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The Crud, iPods and Reflections

Ever since the first day of winter break my home has not been able to catch a break. Sophia started off on December 20th with a fever of 103. By the time she felt better Nola was down for the count. They were both doing better just in time for school to start on January 6th, but then shortly after that David got sick and even came home from work early. He spent 2 more days home from work before going back. Shortly after he started feeling better I was knocked down with some level of whatever had been floating around, though I managed to avoid the fever that everyone else had. I just have a bit of a cough and now a possible mild sinus infection.

Because all 4 of us getting taken down in the span of a month isn’t enough Sophia woke up yesterday morning with a croup like cough. *sigh*

If she gets bronchitis again like she did this time last year I’m going to lose my mind.

In other news, the gift of an iPod for both girls has been very well received…

Nola iPod

Nola was getting into singing Gift of a Friend yesterday. ❤

My own new favorite song of the moment is actually one I picked up for free on iTunes the other day… MisterWives – Refelections

I’m tempted to spend the $3.99 to get the EP, because I actually really like their sound. — Scratch that, I bought it before I could even hit the publish button. 😉

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Doctors, Waterfalls, and Girl Scouts…

Hunter Creek Waterfall

This was the first week back to “normal” after winter break. We did almost nothing during the two weeks of vacation largely because both girls were taken down by the crud one after the other. This week though, has already had two weeks worth of stuff crammed into it and it’s not even Friday yet.

Monday I had a dental appointment.
Tuesday I went on a 6 mile to the Hunter Creek Waterfall with 3 other photographers.
Wednesday my parents needed to run some errands and my dad had a doctors appointment.
Today was Girl Scout cookie training as I am a troop leader. I wear a lot of hats if you hadn’t noticed.
Tomorrow I get to do actual grocery shopping for the menu plan I need to make tonight.
Saturday David is getting our Prius serviced, we have a meeting to view a rental house, and the girls have a birthday party to attend…

Which brings me to some sad panda news. The house I was hoping to get was rented from under us despite being in talks with the property management owner. We got an application turned in and paid the $50 fee for it, and then nothing. Not a single response from the property management owner. I had to call the office myself to find out someone had gone in and put a downpayment in. I’m actually a bit pissed off about it, and will likely a do a Yelp review about it.

BUT. I’m hoping that the place we’re going to look at Saturday doesn’t get snatched up before we can lay claim on it. I so want out of this drafty townhouse. I want my girls to have their own space… a kitchen with a window… no snotty office manager… a drive way… not hearing your neighbors TV or them walking up the stairs. All things I miss about a real house. This place is a newer duplex, but it’s 1,500 square feet which is plenty of room for us to stretch out (and accommodate all the bookshelves). I’m going to try and remain hopeful after the last burn we just took.

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2014 in 2014 – Update #2

I’m not even screwing around with this.  I went through Nola’s side of the closet and her dresser drawers today.  I also just finished going through my closet and most of my drawers.

The total for today’s purging….  70.

Mostly clothes, shoes, and some random unfinished (and totally heinous) Pin-strosities.

1,869 items to go!

Maybe tomorrow I can get that down to an even 1,800 items, because I’ll be honest the whole uneven number at the end thing is *really* bugging me.  Like, I’m tempted to go find 9 more things just to make it 1,860.  😛

And no picture today.  I haven’t even gotten my 365 photo done yet because I’m a slacker.  😉

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