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August, 2011:

APA Alert

A fairly large group of my friends, and myself, have big birthdays coming up next year from June 30th – September 21st . . . three 40s and a 50! Being the women that we are, we plan our own parties – no waiting for someone else to do it. For example, on my 25th birthday, my best bud and I (our birthdays are 3 days apart) went skydiving. On our 30th birthday (on which I was 6 months pregnant – dumbass!), we rented City Hall, hired a band, and had a party. On our 35th birthday, we had a 70s flashback skate party at the local roller skating rink, complete with costumes, feathered hair, and more blue eye shadow than Walmart had to sell – we are awesome at embarrassing our kiddos.

For our 40th, we are . . . du du du DAAAAAAAA . . . going to Alaska :-) Yup, we (along with many of our friends and family) are flying to Alaska and taking a 7-day cruise back to Vancouver.

In July 2012.

I may or may not have already reserved our cabin on the ship.

However, in my defense, there are only so many cabins that hold 4 people, so I HAD to do it – 10 months in advance.

Really, I had no choice.

If you want to join the par-tay, lemme know and I’ll send you all the information :-)

Cookie Monster

In an effort to be the mother of a Boy Scout instead of the mother of a Cub Scout, I’m trying to let Dude be responsible for his own Boy Scout stuff. Their patrol achieved their Tenderfoot rank, so they got to elect their own patrol leader, assistant patrol leader, and quartermaster (since there are only 3 of them in their patrol, they pretty much all do it all).

Everyone got an email from the Scoutmaster after last weekend’s leadership training that the boys went to. It said Dude’s patrol had volunteered to bring cookies to the Court Of Honor ceremony tonight. He said he and the boys were going to talk about getting together to make cookies. Their patrol leader didn’t actually call anyone and make any plans, so there were no cookies. Yesterday when he got home from school, I mentioned that he had is Court Of Honor Tuesday night and that they didn’t have any cookies, so he’d have to get up early and go to the grocery store with me before school to get cookies (school, cross country meet, then directly to Boy Scouts left no other time – and I was NOT going to do this for him).

So I left about 5 minutes later for girl’s night out while he and Princess hung out with a sitter (oh we are so close to not having to get sitters!). When I got home from the movie, what did I see?

45 homemade M&M cookies in a sealed container :-) Dude and sitter took it upon themselves to get out the cookbook and make cookies. And I must say, they are YUMMY!

So while I was a bit disappointed in him for not remembering on his own, I am very proud of him for going ahead and using the one night so far this school year he hasn’t had any homework and choosing to make cookies rather than buy them.

We’ve Got A Shark!

So that whole cross country thing must’ve caught Princess’s eye. She asked if she could join LandSharks – it’s a K-6 cross country running club. I told her sure, but it’s not until Spring, so ask me then.

Lo and behold, I got an email yesterday about Fall LandShark :-) I explained to her that it was running, which she hates. She said she knows. I explained that she had to choose either 1 mile or 1.5 miles. She said she knows. I told her that if I signed her up, she had to stick it out the entire 6 week season. She said she knows. I told her that practices are on the same day as soccer practice – so  LandSharks from 3:15-4:15 and soccer from 5:00-6:00 every Wednesday She said she knows. I told her I expect her to run hard at soccer even though she’ll just have come from cross country practice, and that her friends and coach will expect her to play hard at soccer as well. She said she knows and promises me she will.

So, I signed her up. Now I’ll have two kiddos running cross country!

And this completely floors me because these two children are the product of my wonderful Hubby (who does like to run) and myself, one who runs when chased :-)

Can’t wait to see how this LandSharks thing shakes out for her.

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Dude had his very first school-sponsored sports function on Wednesday – his first cross country meet. It was our first meet, too – I’ve never seen a cross country or track meet before. The laid back hang out until it’s your turn attitude was very different for me, coming from team sports world where when it’s game time, you’re on until it’s all over.

Anyhoo . . . the 6th graders had to run their 1.5 miles last. They also ran boys and girls together (7th and 8th split the groups). This was about half of the 6th graders ready to run.

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That’s a lot of kiddos getting ready to run at once! When they took off, I saw Dude do THIS! He’s the guy on the left in the purple uni running as fast as he can through the gate!

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I was a bit worried – pace yourself Dude, pace yourself! But he got in a groove and did great! He even crossed the finish line in under 12 minutes – 11:58 to be exact (he was quite across when I took the photo).

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He was so happy – his best time before that was about 12:20, so he did awesome :-) He and his buddy were even smiling when they were finished!

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I just have to say that I love their awful nasty doesn’t match itself uniform – hahahahaha! Ahhhh – to be in middle school and get the hand-me-down uniforms for all the sports :-)

All in all it was a good race. He even said he had some ideas on how to improve on his time next week at the next meet – which I thought was awesome. Looking forward to seeing more meets and learning more about how all of this works.

Anybody Got Some Cheese?

I need some to go with my WHINE!

We have a popup . . . and I love it. In fact, I INSISTED that we get it becaue it was more like tent-camping than a hard-sided trailer would be. Dude agreed . . . in fact, said he wouldn’t sleep in a hard-sided camper if we got one – he’d take the tent along :-) So for the past 4 years, we’ve been popup camping – even down-sized from our large one to a smaller, newer one a couple falls ago. We camp only a few weekends a year – this past summer was the first time we went somewhere for a whole week! Had a great time :-)

However, as the kiddos have gotten older and we’ve gotten more familiar with the camping opportunities in our awesome state, we’ve ventured away from the limited bodies of water here with clearly defined fun kid things to do. We’re exploring more campgrounds and areas without facilities other than vault toilets and maybe a water pump we can fill our pots with. We love the quietness and the nature and the hiking and fishing and everything else about our “new” camping. But this camping brings with it bear country. We’re not afraid of the bears . . . you just have to be smart about it.

What I have come to immensely dislike about camping in our beloved popup in bear country is that every single night I have to take all the smellable items out of the camper and put them in the vehicle. Coolers, hand soap, toothpaste, food, dish soap, deoderant. All of that stuff. In theory, we’re supposed to put our dirty clothes bag out there as well – nothing like smelling like a giant hot dog while you sleep!

This. Is. Annoying.

And as much as I love our popup, I’m kind of “over” the whole setup and tear down aspect. It’s nice to have a compact little box to pull behind our vehicles, but it’s become a chore to pop it up, unpack it, push the beds out, put the door down, fold the sink up, stabilize the slides, then put everything back in for the camping time, then take it all back out to fold everything down, smash it inside the box, and get ready to go home.

So I may be dramatizing it a bit – it’s not that bad, especially when the kiddos help and hubby is camping with us. But it’s still a pain.

So I made the mistake of going to a camper place (I had to get some parts for the popup – not kidding). Kiddos and I looked in a couple hard-sided trailers just “to see” – I was happily disappointed to see that none of the ones that were light enough for our vehicles to tow had enough space to sleep all of us. So we started to leave – then “the guy” came out to see if we needed help – we were looking for a popup? I mentioned that we had one already that we loved, but were just checking out some hard-sided trailers – and that unfortunately we needed something that our 5,000 lb towing capacity vehicles could tow but that would also fit all of us in it to sleep. I mentioned that we don’t “live” in our camper . . . we sleep in it. We don’t want all that crazy new stuff in campers these days.

Then this mean old man showed me something . . . a brand new “retro” style trailer that they’ve started manufacturing to meet the needs of people like me :-) It’s got a permanent large double bed, two bunks, a small bathroom (not that we use it, but the little tub would be good for cleaning up after a day, or week, of playing in the wild), a small sink and stove, and a table. All contained in a light-weight 20′ box. How light you ask? 2,700 lbs dry weight! OMG we could totally do that! And it really isn’t THAT expensive.

Dude, Princess, and I immediately fell in love with the trailer. And I actually REALLY want to get it. We could use it for a LONG long time (I do see us outgrowing our popup as the kiddos get older).

I’ve been thinking about and dreaming about this trailer and visiting it online for weeks now :-) How awesome to pull into a camp spot, unhook it, and open the curtains :-) I can’t seem to get it out of my head . . . so if anyone has some cheese to go with the “whine” coming from my direction about this trailer, I would gladly take it.

Here is my new “old” love . . . complete with 1970s style brown interior features :-)

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Isn’t she pretty? And only 20′ long – the same length of our popup when it’s “popped up” :-) And a beautiful small easy to put up awning that I could actually, um, put up without standing on tree stumps and asking 4 other people to assist me.

 

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What’s this? A bed that I don’t have to store our clothes on during the day and remove at night so we can sleep? And could that be STORAGE space above it? Anda TON OF STORAGE underneath it for fishing poles, firewood, chairs, and all the other stuff we like to take camping – all conveniently accessible from OUTSIDE the camper?

 

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What do I see when I look at the cute little bathroom? Storage space. We had a bathroom in our previous popup (yup, we did!) and never used it. No need to use it when there are vaults right outside, and down the driveway. Wait – maybe I WOULD use this for light duty rather than outrun the bears in the pitch black dark in the middle of the night!

 

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These – the two bunks in the back, are the actual real-live selling point for me (and the kiddos). They both are terrible to sleep with, and the small beds in the popup just won’t fit two of them. Finding a trailer this size with bunks is IMPOSSIBLE. I take this as a sign that I was meant to have this trailer :-)

 

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And a sink, with STORAGE space underneath it? And a little closet to hang things, like rain jackets . . . and maybe a place to store a BROOM rather than lay it across the floor or one of the beds. And an actual refrigerator we could put real food in, rather than an icebox that takes as long to get cold as our entire camping trip lasts.

So to put things in perspective . . . our popup has all of these features EXCEPT the bunks, the storage closet, the bathroom (which we most likely won’t use), and the underbed/outside accessible storage space.

Oh, and the hard side, to keep us from getting eaten by bears and possibly mountain lions (did you know that 1 out of every 3 times you hike in Colorado you are seen by a mountain lion? You don’t see IT, but IT is definitely watching you?)

So simply in the interest of safety for my children (ya, that’s it . . . that’s why I want this), I think I need to replace our popup with this camper.

Anyone got some writing/editing jobs to pass my way so I can earn enough money to convince Hubby we need this?

No? OK . . . then who’s got my cheese?

Hike Down Pikes Peak – Barr Trail

For Dude’s hiking merit badge for Boy Scouts, he has to complete 5 continuous 10-mile hikes and 1 continuous 20-mile hike (along with a bunch of other requirements, like hike plans and all that jazz). We decided to get crackin’ on those hikes and get one done before school starts. What did we choose? Hiking the 13 miles down Barr Trail from the summit of Pikes Peak to the trailhead in Manitou Springs :-)

Dude called one of his buddies who agreed to hike with us, which I thought was awesome. I know that when I was 11 I didn’t have a friend who would’ve said “Yes!” when I asked them if they wanted to get up at 6:30 a.m. on the last day of summer to complete a difficult 13-mile hike :-)

Next we convinced Hubby and Princess to get up early and drive us to the summit after we dropped off the other vehicle at the trailhead in Manitou Springs.

***The day after we completed the hike, someone emailed me (from MN!) and asked my opinion on how the hike down is with kids – pretty cool timing if you ask me. I figured I’d use some of my answer to her to explain how we felt on our hike.***

Hiking down Barr Trail is no easier than hiking up Barr Trail – it’s just a different kind of “hard” . . . much more stress on knees, ankles, and hips. But not cardio difficult at all. 13 miles and over 7,000 foot elevation loss. Let’s go!

Summit House…
Use the facilities and make sure to stock up on water . . . next stop for “privacy” is in the forest at treeline, 3 miles down the trail. Next stop for water and actual vault toilets is Barr Camp, 6 miles down the trail. Here are Dude and his buddy at the summit (14,110 feet) before we started our hike down. They look ready!

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Miles 1-3…
The first 3 miles are above treeline, so no shade whatsoever. 14000+ feet in elevation, so even though you’re going down, you’ll feel the lack of oxygen. The views are SPECTACULAR above treeline. Trail is rocky, but not difficult. The 16 golden stairs at the top are 16 tough switchbacks. We encountered quite a few runners up here training for the Ascent and Marathon – crazy people!

Here are some photos of the hike down the first 3 miles above treeline…

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Can you see Dude and Buddy in the middle of the photo on the left? Gives you an idea of how tiny we are compared to this giant beautiful mountain and trail.

 

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Not sure about you, but I didn’t get to see views like that when I was 11! They say you can see Kansas from up here on a clear day :-)

 

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See my little tiny Dude and Buddy almost in the very middle of the photo?

 

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We made it the first 2 miles! I had to make sure I was in at least one photo – the last time I hiked up Pikes Peak it was cold and cloudy and raining – definitely no photos or views that day!

 

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Dude and Buddy made it the first 3 miles to treeline – woo hoo!

 

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Proof – that we still have 10 more miles to go. After a nature break (finally trees!), some geocaching, and a snack, we started on the next 3 mile trek to Barr Camp.

Miles 4-6…
At treeline, there is an A-frame shelter – just a wood shelter for anyone that might need to sleep over there. Nice place for a snack break or nature break in the trees if necessary :-) Once you get into the trees, there’s not much to “do” but hike . . . for 10 miles . . . downhill :-) About half way down the trail from the summit, you’ll run across Barr Camp. Awesome fun little camp where people always stop to chat with each other and the caretakers. This is the ONLY place with facilities, other than the summit. You can use vault toilets and purchase water, gatorade, and other snacks. There is no free water available . . . you must filter if you get it from the stream. Nice picnic tables and other places to enjoy lunch. If you’ve got a few minutes, check out the cabin – walk all the way to the back and check out the National Geographic library – the oldest book I found was from 1952! Pretty cool. People can stay over at Barr Camp – they’ll cook you an awesome spaghetti dinner with homemade sauce and a yummy pancake breakfast in the morning. They’ve got games and tons of books in the cabin. Be sure to sign the log before you leave Barr Camp.

Some photos from miles 4-6, treeline to Barr Camp…

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Duma helps the boys do a little geocaching on a break.

 

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Still 7 miles to go! They boys were doing great, but they were starting to feel their ankles and shins hurting, which meant more breaks for longer periods of time.

 

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We finally made it to Barr Camp! We took a nice break to use actual toilets, grab a couple geocaches, eat lunch, and just enjoy the awesomeness of where we were. Whether you’re hiking up or down, making it to Barr Camp is quite an accomplishment.

After a good break, we headed out on the next 4 miles of our hike.
 
Miles 7-10, Barr Camp to the cutoff to the top of the Incline…
Pretty boring part of the hike. Your knees and hips will start to ache a bit, but it’s an easy hike. In the trees, so not much to see, although there are a few spots where you can look up and see the summit and marvel at how far you’ve hiked! It really is pretty amazing. Just keep hiking . . . you’ll run into quite a few people trekking up to Barr Camp. At about mile 10, you’ll see a brown trail sign that points the way to the Incline. The incline is the old railway that used to go up the mountain a ways – you’ll see it when you pull up to the Cog Railway – there’s a big scar in the hill. People hike up these railway bars (it’s like walking up a billion stairs . . . great workout on the way up, terrible to hike down!). If you’re not too tired, take the little detour to the top of the incline and look down – pretty amazing (however, we were too tired, so we didn’t do it) – of course you’ll add .5-1 mile to your trip if you hike up there and back.

I have absolutely no pictures of this part of the hike. Like I said, it’s pretty boring since it’s totally in the trees and you just hike and hike. The boys were getting quite tired . . . dude kept forgetting to check the GPS, so we missed a few geocaches. They also started lagging behind quite a bit and taking more and more breaks . . . BUT, they kept going without complaining. I love how they just kept chatting and giggling and even laughing even though they had to have been wondering what the heck they’d gotten themselves into!
 
Miles 10-13, top of the Incline to the trailhead…
Ick. That’s all I can say. These, IMHO, are the longest 3 miles of the trail, whether you’re going up (done it 3 times – 97, 2002, and 2009) or down (twice, including last Friday). There is nothing to see (except for one pretty cool large boulder formation that you have to hike under), you’re tired, and you can’t wait for it to be over. Just keep trekking and going. You’ll run into a few people coming up behind you – actually running down the trail (totally not me!) after hiking up the incline. Just let them by and wish it was you getting down that fast :-) After about a mile, you can see the parking lot (and you’ll be hearing the train horn) and your car will look tiny. The last 2 miles of the trail are just a ton of switchbacks, none that you can cut, but all that you wish you could to get down faster since you’re so close. You’ll finally hit the last step and feel a total awesome pride in your accomplishment :-)

I’ve only got one photo of this part of the hike . . .

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I love this photo :-) You can’t tell because I had to crop the photo smaller, but they’re laughing and giggling even though they were quite miserable at this point . . . I’m guessing they were delirious.

 

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They made it! I was so proud of them . . . they were real troopers. They really didn’t train or prepare for the hike, and I know their legs and ankles were killing them for the last 10 miles of the hike, but they rallied on (didn’t have a choice really) and finished without complaining one tiny bit.

 

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This final photo? My foot on the very last (or first if you’re hiking up) step of Barr Trail on Pikes Peak. This is the LAST time I will step foot on that trail. 3 times hiking up and 2 times hiking down are plenty for me :-)

Overall, it took us about 8 hours (2.5-3 hours more than I wanted it to) . . . but the boys spent quite a bit of time at the caches we found and also stopped quite a bit on the last 3 miles to rest their weary legs. The three of us felt good Saturday EXCEPT our calves really hurt and were still sore on Sunday.

One giant checkmark in the box for Dude . . . I’m pretty sure this was the most difficult of his 10-mile hikes!

Three and Six

It’s official . . . my Princess is now a third grader :-) She’s beyond excited! She got the teacher she wanted (the same one Dude had in 3rd grade) and couldn’t wait to get on the bus this morning. She was up and dressed in her first day outfit way before I thought about going into her room and waking her up. She ate breakfast in record time so she could get into the bathroom and take out her braids to see her “curly” hair – this seems to be a first day of school tradition for her – she always wants me to braid her hair the night before so she can have curly hair the first day.

Dude is now a sixth grader :-) He is way excited as well; however, you’d never know it as an outsider because he is an 11-year old boy afterall! He was up before his alarm went off as well . . . dressed, ate in record time, and had plenty of time to sit on the couch and read before heading to the bus (yes, my Dude reads every single minute he gets a chance).

I can’t wait to see how their first day went . . . and I’m way excited that Princess will come home on the bus and we get an entire hour to chat with her about her day before Dude gets home from Cross Country practice.

Happy first day of school kiddos!

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Cross Country

In the spirit of having a bug up his butt, Dude decided to join the middle school cross country team this fall (middle school – as in NOT elementary school – as in my BAY-BEE is a middle schooler – WHAAAAAAAA!).

Now as much as I LOVE baseball and was more than willing to sign him up for fall baseball in another district, I am ELATED that he chose cross country.

1. It’s after school AT school.
2. I don’t have to drive him many many miles to and from practices and games.
3. It costs only $40 instead of $125.
4. I don’t have to drive him many many miles to and from practices and games.
5. He’ll get to meet some of the new kids that join his k-12 school from their respective elementary feeder schools.
6. I don’t have to drive him many many miles to and from practices and games.
7. He’ll get to do all that running he’s been talking about.
8. I don’t have to drive him many many miles to and from practices and games.
9. Maybe, just maybe, that running will take place of bike rides to school :-)
10. Did I mention that I won’t have to drive him many many miles to and from practices and games?

I was even happier when I read the thing that said “just needs to have had a physical in the past year.” In my mind (and maybe even with my hand in the air), I put a giant checkmark in that box. Then I printed the registration packet and saw that handing in a photocopied form of his physical was not going to cut it, because oh no no no the school district couldn’t make it THAT easy. Nope . . . instead there is a single white sheet of paper that you have to fill out. This white sheet of paper is filled with the following items in Fisher Price-sized font so as not to leave any white space:

Student’s Name__________________________________________
Student’s Grade__________________________________________
I certify I have examined the above named student for the following:
( ) Back/spine
( ) Hearing
( ) Sight
( ) Limbs
The student is allowed to participate in all activies, EXCLUDING the following: ________________________
Physician’s Name__________________________________________
Date____________________________________________________

So, even though I have this wonderfully filled out and detailed Boy Scout physical form that doc just completed along with the exam in April of 2011, I had to go BACK to the doc’s office and ask them to check the appropriate boxes and sign the new piece of paper (which of course will take 5-7 working days).

I felt like I was in middle school (ah ha – and the light goes on!)

Do you think this paper is stupid?
( ) Yes       ( ) No

Do you think the school system could possibly make things any more stupidly difficult for parents?
( ) Yes       ( ) No

Do you like raisins?
( ) Yes       ( ) No

Will you eat lunch with Jennifer?
( ) Yes       ( ) No

Let middle school begin!