Category Archives: Exploring

1,055 days of Motherhood

I have been a mother for 1055 days.  There are days when I pause amidst the chaos and reflect on “what did  8 hours of sleep really felt like,” or “when was the last time I had 10 minutes completely to myself (showering doesn’t count).”  Today was one of those days. Little Miss Mae was up every 3 hours for almost an hour each time.  In her defense she’s cutting 4 teeth and is completely uncomfortable.  Little man coughed his way through the night, then all morning had snot streamers every time I turned around.  The dog is dire need of attention, this means he follows me and paces endlessly around the house, which would instigate anxiety from any relaxed person.  I shot their morning routine to hell, and realized at 10 AM we needed breakfast, I couldn’t even make pancakes right.  Might have something to do with having 2 blow outs and several snot streamers from both kids during that time.  Who knows what ingredients I missed. I was feeling sorry for myself and wanting a glimmer of hope.

Then I grabbed my camera.

I’m overdue in recognizing all that I have to be thankful for.  Check out what 3 AM looked like for me…

She has been title by many different people “the happiest baby on earth.” 99% of the time it’s true.

I need to do a bit of narrating for a bit.  I have my own photography & design company (Little-d-Tales) whose slogan is to capture the moments that tell the story of your life.  What you will not see is my lack of sleep or short fuse, instead you will see all the miraculous things that mold and shape who my daughter is at 7 1/2 months.  See how many little details (get it) you can notice in the next few photos.

Okay quiz time:

  • How many creases or rolls does Miss Mae have on her left leg?  5 is the correct number in the picture.  Trust me there are a few more under the diaper.  Did you notice the ankle roll?  I love her adorable little chubbs!  I took this picture to help me remember all the fun little rolls in the most peculiar places (wrists and ankles?!)
  • Do the length of her toes go in chronological order?  Nope, her 3rd toe is slightly longer than her 2nd toe.  She has funky toe nails too.  Why does this matter.  A little blemish of mine is the disgustingness of my feet.  My husband jokes all the time about how he hopes the kids end up with his feet!
  • Which pictures show her teeth coming in?  Actually 2 of them do.  The smiling and crying one expose different teeth.  She actually has her front 2 top teeth and front 2 bottom teeth coming in all at once.  One is more prominent on top so you only see 1 in the happy photo.  I try not to compare to my little man, but occasionally it’s interesting to me how different they are, despite how similar they look.  My little man had 4 teeth at 6 months, her’s are just starting to push through at 7 1/2, in fact the first one broke through last Thursday.
  • Based on her fabulous bed head, what do you presume her hairstyle was earlier in the day?  If you said pony tail sticking straight up on her head you would be correct.  With all that baby hair and new growth, there is hair of all different lengths.  Clips come out in .2 seconds.  Despite her longer hair, she HATES hair pretties and either pulls the out the second they go in or she fights you to the death while you attempt to put them in.  The pony tail on top of the head (think Bam-Bam) is our best option at this point, so it’s the fall back hairstyle.

These are all little pieces that we overlook in our everyday life, and yet at this age things change, develop and disappear before you have the chance to notice and appreciate it.  I have always LOVED her cry.  She puts every ounce of expression into it. Although I just noticed the bottom lip isn’t curled.  Either she was far enough into the cry or she has outgrown that too.  Gee, I hope not. Okay that was 3-4AM.

Here’s 11 AM….Bath time.  I am falling into the 2nd child trap (not having as many picture of the 2nd) as soon as EllaMae was wrapped in the towel and grinning from ear-to-ear, I realized I had a moment in front of me that I wanted to capture and share.  I should mention my husband is away for the week and misses these bambinos, so I thought of him as I sped to my camera before the moment passed. No quiz this time, just me narrating as needed.

True story, she is smiling all the time.  She smiled because she saw me with the camera.  She’s had some practice with a mom like me.  Either way I think she’s amazing.

Obviously she doesn’t sit for long now that she is moving around.  She quickly rolled to a sit an attempted to take her towel off.  Proved to be more difficult that she anticipated, so she went back to smiling for the camera.

And of course, big brother (little man) has to do whatever his sister does.  He was in the bath with all but 2 toys, which means 82 were in the tub… he noticed a few  toys on the floor.  From Miss Mae’s perspective, “thanks for pointing that out.”  Just goes to show she doesn’t let much slow her down, including a towel.

I really hope we are functioning in a judgement free zone.  I promise you that the stuff on the floor was the product of my sanity.  When both kids decided to explode out the back, douse themselves in syrup from breakfast, and the never ending snot streamers tying us all together, I opted for the least restrictive path to the bath, which meant clothes of all shapes and sizes were dropped to the floor. Getting Miss Mae dressed I decided I NEEDED this shot.  Again- no judging me or this shot.

And then there is little man! Fresh and clean.  After each bath I always snuggle him up and pretend he’s my “little papoose.” He was a bit disappointed he didn’t get a hooded towel.  We’ve been trying to transition him into big boy mode.

I had pulled out his clothes, but he was determined to dress himself.  Clearly I underestimated him.

He was so proud of putting his own socks on.  We really should celebrate our little successes more frequently.  He has taught me that.

While I was finishing up with Miss Mae, little man continued his adventures in the tub.  I was so impressed after his bath to see him in his bedroom getting dressed.  No word quite capture his determine to dress himself.

To make this story even more enlightenting ( at least to me as a mom) is not just recognizing them as individuals with unique traits and characteristics, but also as siblings.  After bath time was an attempt to have nap time.  As I tucked little man in, miss mae kept trying to get on his bed.  When I set her down they broke into squeels of excitement.  As you can see they LOVE each other!

So this Thanksgiving day I’m grateful for chaos, chubby cheeks, curiosity and independence; Siblings and parenthood.  Cleanliness and messes, infants and toddlers.  May I not lose sight of the amazingness taking shape before my eyes and enjoy the beauty that I have created despite it’s imperfections. May I learn to recognize and appreciate the moments of silence when they do exist so I am prepared to embrace the chaos later! I am grateful for the opportunity to notice and capture the little details that will add to the chapters of our life story. In the past 1055 days I have learned how to be a better person, my husband and children inspire me everyday, and I am eager to continue to learn and grow together.

Have a happy and safe Thanksgiving.  May you notice the little things that make your life grand 🙂

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Filed under Bundle of Joy, Exploring, Flow of Creativity

Our rendition of “National Lampoon’s vacation”

Do you ever have that strange sensation that you might be headed in the wrong direction, that something “not so good” is just lurking around the corner.  Remember National Lampoon’s Vacation? here’s a trailer to help jog your memory and set the stage for the rest of this post.

That was the feeling I had the entire week of our 4th of July vacation.  It has nothing to do with the company or the plans, it was just one of THOSE weeks.

To begin we got a phone call late Friday night  (July 1) that my in-laws were hit with a really bad storm.  There were trees and power lines down all over.  Ok, we’ve been there before- our house was hit last summer with straight line winds over 80 mph.  Over a 1,000 trees were uprooted and down all over town.  Our plan would remain the same.  After my photography shoot, we’d pack up and head out.  Our plan was to trailer the motorcyle up with family in-tow in the truck.  We’d arrive at his parent, settle in for a couple days.  On Tuesday, the husband and I would take the motorcyle Up to the shore of Lake Superior, ferry over to Madeline Island- do some exploring and just relax and enjoy life.  We get 10 miles from home and the first of many phone calls takes place.

Let me give you a little background.  My in-laws are retired and now live in a trailer in a campground year-round in Northwest sticks of Wisconsin.  Over 70% of the population are vacationers who camp or have cabins along the many lakes in the area.  Most of the housing is RV’s. At 11 AM (Little man just fell asleep and the dog settles in ready for the 5-hour trip) we learn that the entire area has no power, the one grocery store has been raided of ice and bottled water from frantic people trying to figure out how to make it through the weekend.  Rembmer it’s 4th of July weekend- the population quadrouples due to the number who come up to camp for the weekend.  By the sounds of it, the power company has it’s work cut out for them and are giving estimates of 3-7 days before the power returns.  So we make a few modifications to the plan- we make some phone calls to my family members and borrow a generator for the week.  We get it loaded and are back on our way (12:45 PM).

About 20 minutes later, Brent pulls over on the highway.  “I think I just blew a tire on the trailer.”  It’s confirmed.  Proceeds to change the tire- and I must say he was pretty speedy- everything said and done in 20 minutes.  He returns to the truck.  “We have a problem, the tire pressure on the trailer tires is REALLY low.  We need to find a place to fill them ASAP.  I don’t have another spare and we might blow the other tire any minute.”  {Great} We are 10 miles out of the nearest city.  The next exit is 2 miles up ahead, but from my knowledge they don’t have a gas station.  Regardless we pull off and we pull into a boat repair shop- we get lucky.  They are open and they have an air compressor.  Back on the road at 1:30 PM.

We drive about 40 miles and little man wakes up and is ready to get out.  He’s not happy!  We decide to pull off and quick do a bathroom break and grab a snack at the McDonald’s (I know it’s not healthy but I can always count on having a changing area in the bathroom and sometimes even a play area to burn some energy).  As we are unloading, Brent checks the trailer.  The other trailer tire (the one that wasn’t replaced) has no berrings (I’m not very automotive-parts-savvy), basically the wheel is about to fall off.  It’s now almost 2:30 PM on Saturday of a Holiday weekend.  Any automotive parts store that might have been open, is now closed or close to it.  We spend over an hour at McDonald’s while Brent tries to get the parts to fix it himself.  Thankfully this is one of the McDonald’s with a playground.  Little Man is content.  On a normal day we are a little over an hour from home.  The trailer will not make it very far, nor are we having any luck trying to fix it yet today.  We order some food, ponder life, I walk the dog, little man continues to play.  We decide to ditch the trailer.  Brent will ride the motorcycle the rest of the way and we’ll hope that the trailer will be in teh parking lot when we return.  This means I will have Little Man and Diesel in the truck by myself for the remainder of the trip (almost 4 hours).  Caleb already took a 2 hour nap, and usually that’s all he’s good for.  I also had surgery on my right shoulder almost 2 months ago and far from mobile when it comes to reaching out to the side or front.  So we turn the passenger airbag off, move little mans car seat to the front and we hit the road AGAIN (Time is now 3:45 PM).

The drive goes on with little excitement.  Little man seems pretty content looking out the windows, eating puff corn.  Sometimes as parents we make poor decisions with our children in order for our sanity to take priority.  I would let little man have anything he wanted on that ride, as long as I could reach it.  At one point I literally prayed that we wouldn’t run out of puff corn.  Not one of my proudest mommy moments, but I was desperate at this point just to get there.  I already worry about my husband on the motorcyle as it is, with the batting record we were pulling, nervous would have been an under-statement.  Within 45 minute of driving, Little Man falls asleep and life almost seems peaceful.  I guess I spoke too soon.  As he we hit the split to head north (opposed to the westward direction we had been traveling) I notice a state trooper flying up behind me weaving in an out of the lanes.  I slightly panic.  Occupying a dog, & Child while driving alone is task by itself.  Add the driving with one arm dimension and I fear that I may not have had the best driving skills.  I begin to slow down, figuring out how to keep the 100-lb dog in the backseat calm as a stranger approaches the car, which would then wake little man up in a screaming terror.  As I slow he goes around me and pulls directly in front of me- pulling my husband over.  I slow and pull over in front of them- thankfully I reminded my husband to grab the cell phone before ditching us in the truck so I could at least talk to him quick since the officer returned to his vehicle.  I should mention that anytime we slow or come to a stop, Diesel thinks it’s time to get out.  He’s beginning to pace and whine.  I decide to go up ahead to our typical Wal-mart stop as we need to start hoarding “no-power supplies” such as ice, gallons of water, matches, candles, I even pick up some solar lights for outside.  We are all awake and eager to get out.  I put Diesel on a leash and we walk over to the grassy walkway area at the back of the parking lot.  Brent meets up with us a few minutes later.  We head in to get all the goods.  One problem- no ice.  We are almost 100 miles away from out final destination, and with all the chaos up north they ran out of ice at 3 PM, it’s 6:30 PM. They provide a couple recommendations and we start this fabulous little scavenger hunt.  Luckily we were successful nearby and buy 40 lbs of ice.

The last leg of the trip is never my favorite- especially this time of night.  It’s north woods at dusk, which meant the wildlife head to the streets.  Amazingly little man falls asleep one more time and I feel pretty darn lucky.  We arrive at our destination at 8:45 PM (almost 10 hours later, what’s typically 5 hours) unscathed, just added a generator and lost a trailer.  Within minute we hook up the generator to the water pump and freezer, and his in-laws are pleased to flush the toilet for the first time in 24 hours.  Several had already attempted bathing in the river or reverted to baby wipes- so the thought of a shower seemed like a delicacy.

While our vacation was far from our expectations, my in-laws were grateful for the help as we cut up the 10 down trees- one that damaged the roof,  hauled and burned tons of brush, and baked in the 90 temps while working.  I will say the 1 1/2-day getaway was blissful.  My husband surprised me and rented a cottage on the lake with whirlpool tub. Kind of high class for my tent camping standards.  It was so delightful- Bayfield, Wisconsin is an absolutely gorgeous area.  Kind of Door County without the fluff is how I’d describe it if you are familiar.  I have a few posts coming to acquaint you 🙂

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Filed under Daily Grind, Exploring, Random thoughts

Motherhood: the untold story

I never intended this blog to be a mommy-blog, just simple things that bring joy to my life.  Must say-little man has a lot to do with that…I digress.  Not all stories of motherhood make your heart flutter.   People who portray themselves in such a manner kind of make me want to throw up on them, just to throw a wrench into things.  This excerpt is strictly for your reading pleasure. 

My son has a nagging curiosity for the toilet, which creates some challenges.  Our first injury incident, little man was lifting the toilet seat and dropped it while his other hand was sitting on the toilet rim-Ouch!  Major mommy tears were displayed as guilt and sorrow overwhelmed me.  When the husband and I moved in together we made a rule immediately.  No matter who uses the toilet both the seat and the lid must be closed before you leave the bathroom.  This proved to be helpful when Diesel came into the picture because it prevented him from drinking the toilet water.  I learned last week that it’s even more important to keep the lid closed with little man.  A visitor (who will remain nameless) used our bathroom and left the seat up.  Little man found that splashing in toilet water is utterly exciting and was quite disappointed when he was removed from the situation…ok really he was PISSED.

Not only is he attracted to the toilet when it’s not in use, he also (maybe even more so) attracted to it when it is in use.  Not that you need to know my specific routine, but after a half hour drive home, greeting the family, I usually disappear to the bathroom for a sense of relief.  Little man has caught on to this and if he’s not begging to be held or attended to, he’s crawling behind the toilet.  Just yesterday he discovered a little silver handle that he can pull down.  Imagine the slight shock when he discovered this while I was taking care of business.  He was WAY more amused that I. 

In case you aren’t aware men stand when they pee (maybe you knew that, but I always want to make sure I communicate clearly).  Little man was intrigued by the sound of my husband relieving himself and went to check it out, crawling right up to the toilet seat.  Apparently men lack the skill of cutting it off.   Let’s just say he got a little shower and needed a shower later.  In my husband’s defense the alternative would have been a bigger mess all over the bathroom, so I supported him in peeing on our child.  Does that make us weird?!?!

Perhaps you have dog-children and are curious about the sibling rivalry between Caleb and Diesel.  I guess the best way to define it- Caleb taunts Diesel.  Caleb’s enlightened to offer the dog his toys. Yet when Diesel takes them he know he’s going to be told to “drop it” from mom and dad.  Diesel stubbornly obliges and lets out a grumpy sigh.  Turns out you can train a dog new tricks.  Diesel’s new response…Take the toy, get up and drop the toy on the other side of the room, then return to his regularly scheduled program. Little man’s response (Curled bottom lip, watery eyes and bellers).  Glad they understand each other.  I guess you could say Diesel tolerates the little man.

That changes a little bit with one key ingredient- when little man is eating.  We have a Counter Height table for a reason- we have big dog who would otherwise swipe food (or so we feared). Thus Diesel must properly beg at Caleb’s side in hopes he’ll share a few scraps his direction.  Actually Diesel could care less where the food lands, as long as it’s within his reach.  Caleb has learned this so well he’s becoming ambidextrous.  He’ll feed self and brother simultaneously (Dog with right, self with left) and sometimes he forgets which hands are designated where and there might be some saliva sharing between them.  Our dog neglect has not only resulted in a lack of exercise for all, but a serious weight gain for dog-child.  He spiked an all time “over-weight” classification at 107 lbs this winter. I’m not sure if he heard the Vet or if the subliminal “weight control” food sent him into a frenzy desiring all scraps that are not weight-reduction-dog-friendly.

Speaking of swapping spit, amazing what skills your children pick up and are willing to share.  Somehow Caleb has learned the art of kissing.  Keep in mind it’s more like and open mouth spit encounter, that’s if he feels like your paying attention to him (I may have experienced a few bite marks to the shoulder on occasion)  This is all fine and dandy with family….but attempting to kiss random grocery store workers…I guess we’ll be having the “sex talk” sooner than later (Note: In “Sex talk” I’m not implying that we are going to encourage sex at a young age- just the opposite, but I was curious how you interpreted that!)

I’ll spare you the stories of baby poop, teething, and baby sickness.  I think I provided enough toilet talk to share how un-perfect our world can be.  Life certainly has joyful moments, but it’s not all warm fuzzies and puppy dogs!

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Filed under Exploring, Proud Parents

Damn Coffee

The cup of absolutely delicious coffee was such a good idea around 6 PM, but right now (12:07 AM) not so much.  I thought I’d post on how I function most of the time- completely random and unrelated sequence of events.

Since the last post was about me, I’ll start with a little on Little Man- it’s been almost a week.  This morning he was up and at ’em around 5:30 AM.  Seeing how the husband is much more of a morning person he tended to his needs while I slept.  I had just cleaned out the 3-6 month clothes and a my husband noticed an outfit in the pile to get packed away.  He could resist putting this outfit on him one more time, and I couldn’t resist one more 6 month photo shoot.  He’s so darn happy when I woke up at 6 it was irresistible.

The outfit actually came with a du-rag and jean jacket with the Harley Patch on in (which is also one the back pocket of the jeans) but the photo shoot really had enough black and orange!  Little Man LOVES the camera…I pull it out he smiles.  On that note, I did something similar on Sunday.  You might notice the excessive drooling, looks like he takes after his father after all! Oops did I just say that out loud…er, type that…you know what I mean 🙂

Of course the second I get the camera out, the photogenic dog wants to take part too.  What can I say, Little Man and Diesel are more like brothers than I originally thought.  Caleb plays with his food instead of eating it, Diesel eats everyone’s food and it’s never a game. Diesel licks Caleb’s face, little man pulls his ears.  They fight over who gets to play with each others toys and who gets mom and dad’s attention first and longest.  But at the end of the day, Diesel is one gentle giant of a big brother who puts up with a lot!

Speaking of Diesel- he’s on a diet.  He gained 7 lbs since April, (which to dogs is like 25 lbs to humans) so he and I are both joining weight watchers.  Not really but we’re both tracking our food intake to make sure we aren’t getting to many treats.  We’ve stocked up on vegetables since they are okay for both of us.

Speaking of that, my new favorite iPod App is My Fitness Pal.  It’s my tool for losing weight and tracking all the particular things that are kind of important in order to lose another 5-7 lbs.  It’s a free app that allows you to type in any food you’ve eaten and it has a library of food to choose from whether homemade or at a specific restaurant.  So for example tonight I had a Cheddarwurst and a salad.  Type those items in and I get a complete nutritional profile of each food item.  To set up the profile I get to enter some information about myself (Age, weight, etc) and my activity level, goal weight and it calculates how many calories I get per day in order to reach my goal weight by my desired date.  It also has a similar function to enter any exercise I do….which should be more seeing how I’m running a half marathon this weekend.  I’ll let you know how that goes.

My husband has received his Master’s, which I’ll take partial credit for since I was the Editor in Chief for his thesis.  I’m currently working on my thesis since I took a break while on maternity leave.  My research study is “adults perceptions on youth technology use and it’s impact on the educational setting.”  I’ll be looking for a few Middle School Parents to participate in a survey, which I’ll post on my blog if you fit the criteria and be so kinds I’d REALLY appreciate it!  Just waiting for the final approval from the IRB board before I can start collecting data!  No stress here 😉  As you can see, my son definitely learns from example, and likely has more computer skills than most of his relatives.

In the event you enjoy watching long distance running (I’d compare it to watch the most exciting paint you’ve ever seen dry on a wall) you are welcome to cheer me on at the Fox Cities Half Marathon on Sunday.  As always, my training has pretty much been non-existent.  But I did manage to get a 5-miler in this week, and a few 2-3 milers in the past 2 weeks so I probably have about 13 miles under my training belt, I’ll be good.  After a 3 year hiatus from running races, I’m pretty pumped and quite shocked that I’ll be running a half just 6-months after the birth of my son.  I know you are dying to come cheer me on- so check out the race details here.

My parents left today for Thailand were they will vacation for the next 15 days.  My dad’s first time headed over the big lake.  We hosted a Thai exchange student so they will be meeting up with her during their stay.  I just realized that they likely won’t have their cell phones on over there, so not talking to my mom for 15 days is going to be really weird.  I did get a call just before they boarded that they got AWESOME seats…for a 12 hour flight, I don’t know if an awesome airplane seat exists.  I just did a search on a few places they are going to see and here’s what I found…

They’ll start in Bangkok to get a taste of the city and meet up with Toon.  I’m curious of their impression. It sounds like you’ll either love it or hate it.  The next few destinations will be more their style

(Bridge over the River Kwai) sound familiar.  It was made famous after a movie documented the bridge being built by POW during WWII who were captured by the Japanese.  It’s also in the lyrics of Billy Joel’s song “we didn’t start the fire

The land of Mai Pen Rai – pronounced “My pin rye”. According to a Thailand travel tips website, You will hear it many times before you get out of Thailand, often when something goes wrong or someone looses their cool. This simple phrase sums up life in Thailand and the attitude there in general. This famous attitude is what allowed them to keep their cool and get back on their feet after the devastating losses of the 2004 Tsunami.  There are lots of different opinions on the direct translation, but it literally means “no worries” or “its nothing“.  Really hoping my parents can bring back a little bit of that attitude and it will rub off on us in America 🙂 The picture is of the Erawon National Park, right up their alley.

On that note, I’m completely in need of a relaxing vacation and going to attempt to go back to bed.  (PS- it’s now 1:34 AM, hoping I’ll convince the coffee that I really am tired before 5 AM)

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Filed under 26.2, Exploring, The Caleb Times

Hfshew- Dusting off the cobwebs around here.

In all honesty it’s been so long since I’ve had the chance to sit down and post something, it’s taking me a few minutes to figure out how to do this! Since May, work has SERIOUSLY cut into my blogging time.

So many firsts have come and gone that I’m finding myself facing a whole new reality in my life by prioritizing what really matters.  As our summer comes to an end so does my husbands summer break and we take on the challenge of full-time day care.  As I reflect back (in the next few posts) on the summer fun, I also am bringing to a close the first 6 months of my son’s life!  By the looks of things I’ll be sending him to kindergarten next week, and in a month he’ll be off to college.  No matter how hard I try I will never get this time back.

In the last 3 months Caleb has…

  • found his voice including gut wrenching little giggle and burst of loud bellowing
  • rolls over continuously from back to stomach and back over
  • Taken his first plane ride out to California for family vacation
  • witnessed Alcatraz, the Golden Gate bridge, Napa Valley Wineries, the redwoods and Pebble Beach
  • notices where his favorite toys are and chew on them
  • falls asleep almost anywhere
  • had his second haircut and now looks like he’ll be going on 5.
  • has taken a liking to his high chair and solid (or semi solid) foods
  • Had visits from friends Tim, Holly, Cora and Colton, Godmother Megan, Gma & Gpa O and a surprise visit from Uncle Loren and Aunt Tracy
  • Went on his first carousel ride
  • learned to sit up all on his own
  • Discovered tags on everything and loves to suck on them- toys, burp rags, you name it!
  • Had his first bout with a viral infection throwing all of us for a bit of a loop and scare
  • Met family members that my mom has never even met at the family Reunion.
  • Is a little momma’s boy and will throw on a frown when he realizes she’s not holding him
  • Is a huge fan of swimming!  Has even taken a few dunks at the hand of his daring mother (…more on that later)
  • Is in constant battle with his teeth which keep showing signs but never pop through.
  • has posed for more pictures than humanly possible…one was even for an audition as George on Seinfeld.
  • and the latest addition to his 6 month track record is spent the weekend camping in a tent with his parents and brother and best bud, Diesel (Uncle Jeremy and cousins were right next door in their own tent too)

Catching up on the blog in details would take hours that could be better spent curled up with the little man and family in bed, so I’ll pass right now.  However I’ll share a few teaser’s of posts to look forward to over the next few days (maybe weeks).  What I can say is that this has been the most rewarding and challenging summer all balled into one.  If we were in a better place financially I would take a break on my career and pursue domestic engineering.  Hopefully that will be something to work towards in the near future, perhaps just on a part-time basis. Maybe these picture might explain why…

I’ll keep you posted…in the mean-time, here’s a shout out to all working moms! Finding balance between work and LIFE is not an easy task.  Thanks to all those who support us in this endeavor!

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Filed under Daily Grind, Exploring, The Caleb Times

Newest Addition to our family :)

Made you look…no I don’t have ultrasound pictures to post yet (3 more weeks- and we are not finding out the gender of our unborn child until birth).

Due to the increasing size of our family (and dog) and the monthly trips across state to see the husband’s family my good old friend “Strat,” whose been with me thick and thin over the last nine years and all 175,000 miles, has moved on to a “new” and younger owner.  We said our final good-bye’s this past Sunday.  I sure hope he’s happy, he’s been so good to me.

With that said, I’d like to introduce Pilot (pronounced Pe-lo…like she’s a good French wine)….either way she is a 2006 Honda Pilot (it’s really pronounced just like it’s spelled…like the person who drives an airplane).  She made her entry into our family 3 weeks ago and has just been upgraded to a comfy spot in our garage. We are very appreciative of her roominess, hidden storage compartments and ability to turn on a dime.  I’m looking forward to many wonderful years and countless family memories with her!
IMG_1361

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Road Trip: Day 3

Brent and I awoke Wednesday morning (Now 3 weeks ago) after one ridiculously amazing night of thunderstorms.  While we remained mostly dry inside the tent, the same wouldn’t be true outside.  Occasionally we would get a 2 min break in the rain.  The Internet in the lodge and weather channel all predicted showers throughout the day.  We threw a little pity party for ourselves and then we were notified that we are in the mountains.  I know you are probably like “wow, idiots you weren’t aware of that” Yes silly…we knew we were in the mountains, what we didn’t realize is the weather forecast doesn’t change much because the mountains tend to interfere with the weather patterns so in order to maintain a somewhat accurate forecast there is a chance of showers about 75 % of the time. 

We pulled ourselves out of the puddle of tears we’ crying because it was raining on our vacation (really we weren’t crying).  Rather we rustled about frantically to get as much ready as possible in the 2 minutes of slight drizzle.  Thankfully, we invested in some fancy rain gear for bikers, thus now was as good a time as ever to try it out.  By 9 am I had eaten 3 times and was still hungry, I was dressed in a few layers and constructing a way to take pictures on the back of the bike with a 30 foot lens, and prevent the camera from being damaged in any downpours along the way.  We were off and riding before most set to ride do a loop of a about 200 miles before the day end.  We would head south through the Cherahola Skyway- which is a 2 lane highway through the mountains, with a fair share of bends and twists in the path.

Just as we turned onto the route (which is approximately 40 miles from camp) we saw a glimmer of hope!

IMG_0850…heaven!

Since we were actually seeing mountains and not fog or rain we took a little advantage of the photo op and posed in our ridiculously dorky-matching rain suits each taking a turn with the mistress.
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IMG_0851 & Tweedle-dad

That wouldn’t last long- soon the clouds surrounded us and seeing 10 feet in front of us was becoming more and more of a challenge. Added to that we were being pelted with raindrops the size of lemons. I may still have a few welts to prove it.  I don’t have pictures of the roadway, but there really isn’t any place to stop for cover.  So being the die hard bikers that we were,we continued on!

We had heard from some folk back at camp that there was a really cool waterfall (Bald River Falls) just as we were getting off the Cherahola Skyway.  They took a trail down into the little stream bed and climbed on the rocks.  We were pretty excited to check this place out since I have an obsession for waterfalls.  However things were quite different then described.  IMG_0858
Apparently this waterfall is usually about a third of this size.  The stream that was described was now a raging river with rapids and all, the waterfall completely covered all of the rocks…as you can see there were to many places to get down in there and climb around.  Not to mention we were still be stalked by a nagging rainstorm.  Rocks+wetness= bad idea for a pregnant woman to go hiking around. Really I’m not losing my sense of adventure, but Brent advised me to find my better judgement and I obliged.

Not 2 minutes after we were back on the bike to continue the next 120 miles of our loop the rain stopped an it was so humid it became hard to breathe.  Strangely I began to FREEZE! I think all the wetness combined with the altitude of the mountains was messing me up a bit, or it was my body going into shock after not being fed for almost 3 hours!  Coming down a bit out of the mountains we caught a fabulous little diner along the raging river with patio, and amazing food.  A diner that serves Grilled Cheese and hot chocolate is a diner after my own heart. 
IMG_0877So we sat and chatted with a couple who had retired and moved to the area.  Appears no matter where we go, someone else is always from Wisconsin.  The couple had retired and moved down here and both were first responders.  They went on to share a few stories of all the major accidents in recent years.  Made me a bit reluctant to get back on a ride another 3 hours.  But we did. 

Next up was “The Dragon.”  This little devil was what drew Brent to this area.  As we headed on our way things the skies cleared and things heated up a bit.  I ended up falling a sleep on the back of the bike for a bit- full belly and sunshine somehow always leads to a nap in my world.  I woke up sweating.  The raingear  we were still adorning was doing a great job of keeping water out, but it also happened to be really good at keeping heat in.  With the added pleasure of the sun on our all black costumes- I was scorching hot.  Not by appearance I assure you, just body temperature. 

Then it was here…the next 11 miles we would experience 316 turns, nearly all of them were near 120 degree turns. IMG_0880IMG_0881IMG_0883IMG_0891

…you get the picture.  Major bends with no clear sight of what’s in front or in back.  No guard rails and major “cliffs” usually 50 feet or greater on the edges of these roads.  The speed limit was now 25 but apparently that is something new, as just last year they reduced it from 55 mph.  Even at that rate were passed by a few crotch rockets.  That might have something to do with this:
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all the unfortunate (or stupid ones) who laid their bikes down and in doing so donated a piece of it to the tree of shame.  You might notice there is quite a bit more plastic than chrome on this tree…one more reason I think crotch rockets are stupid (an that’s the nicest word I could find).  Throughout our stay heard of MANY who had died in recent weeks.  In fact while we were there a fellow camper laid his bike down and broke an arm, collarbone, and several ribs.  He ended up being hospitalized for most of the time we were there.

The publicity behind “The Dragon” started in the early 90’s when this place
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put it on the map by establishing several “races” of which the record stands from 1996 of a crotch rocket doing the full 11 miles to the other side and back in 11 minutes.  I should note this was all done “unofficially” meaning the road was still open for traffic and the little racer dude never knew what he might face around the next bend.  That was enough insanity for me for one day.

Just down from Deal’s Gap resort is “The Fugitive” dam.  If you ever watched the movie, this would be the dam that Harrison Ford jumped off to escape those who were chasing him.
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And to round out the loop we have a few shots on the way back to our campground…
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once back at camp (around 5 pm) we made dinner for the slightly famished woman on the trip.  Being the luxurious campers we are we pulled out the camp stove and cast iron post and made one of mom’s quick dinners of Cheesy Chicken broccoli and rice- which hit the spot!  We did manage a quick trip in to a town in the opposite direction due to my husbands inability to relax for more than 5 minutes.  Noting real exciting there to report other than on our way back towards camp we were stopped by a State sheriff who just wanted to check that Brent had a license.  Seemed odd, but that was an easy enough test to pass. 

We were welcomed yet again by a soggy campground that was now seeping into everything.  Life as we knew it was becoming very MOIST.  With that I’ll leave you for now. 

It might be a few days before you get to hear about day 4 and 5…there is so much yet to share! I’m travelling and don’t have the pictures uploaded to help tell the story. Don’t you fret, there will be other non-related vacation posts coming in the meantime. 🙂

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