Practice Packing

I did a practice packing session the other day.

Sounds weird, right?

Let me explain.

I’m going to Vegas in 2 weeks to celebrate my 40th birthday.  This has been planned and we’ve been saving for 2 years and our goal was to find the least expensive transportation so that we had more fun money.

I think we met that goal – the air line has a very reasonable price tag – and you only pay for the bags you bring.  Okay, so to avoid a bag fee, I have to not pack a bag.  Now, a “carry-on” is a bag and would be subject to the fee.  But, a purse, a briefcase or a backpack, well, that’s personal and not considered a bag.

So, I bought a back pack!

Vegas backpack

Thank you Amazon for my Vegas Backpack!

We are going for 3 days and 2 nights.  And we aren’t doing anything fancy, so this should be easy, right?  Well, first off, my clothes are big girl clothes, so they take up more room.  And, I’m an over-packer.  There I’ve admitted it.  I always, always over pack.  But, since it has saved me on more than one occasion, I have never curbed that tendency.

I have to curb it now.  I have to fit 3 days into that bag.

You know I went camping the other day – a 3 day and 2 night trip.  That was a perfect time to practice packing for Vegas.  Now, the wardrobe isn’t the same, but close.  And I could take a travel bag full of toiletries which I can’t take on a plane, but I didn’t take my straightener, so I think it was a good trade off in terms of practice!

I had to fit all of this:

Vegas packing

Into this:

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Let me repeat – ALL OF THIS!! Into that little backpack!!!

Vegas packing 2

I have (2) shoes, underwear, socks, (1) pj’s, (2) shorts, (4) shirts, swimsuit and cover and my toiletry bag.  Now, this doesn’t include the items that live in my camping trunk, but I really think it is a close representation of a three day trip for me.  For Vegas I’ll have less toiletries, but will have makeup and hair care, but again, seems like a fair trade off.

And guess what?

I did it!

It all fit!

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My flip flops are out because I was wearing them that day 🙂

So, I think I’m ready, I think I can do this!

Of course, I’m going to totally practice pack one more time with my actual wardrobe, but that’s neither here nor there!

And I really hope that someone tells me they’ve done this too! Don’t let me be the only weirdo!

**PS: My birthday isn’t really until July 2nd (I’ll wait while you go make a note of that), so we are going early to celebrate because it’s the only time I could get free.  🙂

**P.P.S. I made it back from Vegas!  You can read all about the adventures here: Vegas Baby! 

Holiday Weekend Time!

I’m so ready for the day to be over!  We are going camping this weekend and we are all very much ready for the time away!

Camping

Here is how we camp – mini fridge and automatic coffee maker (not seen).

I surprised Mr. T with his very own tent about a month ago. It’s not big, but it’s easy to set up and he gets to take it with him when he moves out.  He’s excited, in his own laid back way.

We also borrowed a pop up canopy from mom and dad for our time down by the lake’s edge.

I also have a new cooler, slightly bigger than the last one – which broke on me!

Oh, and I have my new car to pack this all into! My new and bigger car.

My new and bigger car didn’t feel any bigger when Mr. T and I were loading up last night! We finally decided that it was the extra tent, canopy and ice chest!  They were taking up too much room!

Mr. T playing horseshoes

Mr. T playing horseshoes

I ended up having to unpack my dresser and pack the contents in a different container.

Yes, I said dresser.

Then we came inside after it was all said and done and discovered the two food tubs.

Out we went, again.

Eventually we did get it all in the car.  And then part of it out again so I can go fill up the coolers with ice!

Then I had to give major props to Karen, who is the one that asked if I had done a “dry fit” of the camping gear in the new car! Our Facebook conversation cracked me up.  I decided that since my conversation about camping involves the words “astro turf entry” “pee bucket” and “dresser”, well, that probably tells you all you need to know about how I camp!

Having said that – I can’t sit at my computer any longer!  Have a wonderful weekend – and if you all would refrain from blogging this weekend so I don’t miss any of your wonderful blogs, that would be awesome! 🙂

Camping tents

Okay, the best part of this last picture is – I don’t think any of us are using those same tents!  In fact, I can promise you we aren’t!  The first one is my old one – and I have a bigger and easier to set up one now.  The middle one is Pam’s, and she has an easy up – that white one she is bringing for her granddaughter to use.  And the last one – I think that is my Amy’s, and she has a new easy up tent, too!  I’ll have to get a new tent picture this weekend!

On a more serious note – a big thanks to the men and woman of our Armed Forces and their families.  May you all take a moment this weekend to remember those that gave their all for you.  (To my neighbors up North, I know this doesn’t apply directly to you guys, but hey, we’ll take all the good energy we can get for our troops!)

Memorial Day

Dog Days of Summer

Twice a year my parents take the grand kids camping.  Normally the week between Christmas and New Year and one week during the summer.  This summer we weren’t sure if it was going to happen as our schedules have been insane; however, we worked it out and they went last week.

My sister was able to stay at the house the first couple of days, and that helped, as my parents have a huge fish tank and three dogs.  You’ve met the dogs before, as I posted about my experience watching them over the Christmas break (If you missed it, you can read Gone to the Dogs here).

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Mom and dad’s dogs look so peaceful here, Zack, Zoey and Cassius. Don’t let appearances fool you!!

Monday night my sister texted me about midnight.  Mom and dad’s neighbor had texted her, thinking she was still at the house and asked her to bring the dogs in the house – since they had been barking for 30 minutes and they weren’t getting any sleep.  So, I got out of bed, got dressed and drove over to my parents house intent on putting the dogs in their crates.  Only, their crates weren’t there.  They were gone, and in their place were just some dog beds.  Apparently my parents have stopped crating them at night and they dogs just sleep in their beds.

That’s all well and good, except I can’t find the crates.  So, if I’m up at midnight because of their dogs, I figure my parents won’t mind a phone call.  I call my dad, who sounded pretty lucid, so I figure he hadn’t been asleep long, and asked about the crates.  He told me where they were and did express the fact that he felt badly that I had to do all of this, and then he told me to just lock them in the study and close the doggie door.

First thing in the morning I was back over there to let them out.  This went on for several days, locking them in at night and then letting them out in the morning – and, to keep them company, I would stay over there for several hours each morning so they weren’t too lonely.  I’m just good that way! They got fed, they got attention and they had the run of the house and the yard during the day.  You’d think that would make for some happy dogs.

Then I walked in one afternoon to this:

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The chair was blocking the hallway…

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The chair AND the ottoman had both been moved by several feet.

My first thought was the house had been broken into.  But, no, all of the valuables where there.  So, I took the pictures and sent them to mom “Either you have a ghost or the dogs are rearranging furniture when I leave”

I put the chair back where it belonged, picked up the trash they had gotten into and went about my day.

Until that night when I walked in to lock them up and this was what I saw:

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Now, I have no idea if the bottom of the chair was damaged before (as all of the dogs have played under that chair) or if they knocked it over and tore it apart.  All I know is that now the chair was knocked over.

At this point, I just resigned myself to the fact that these dogs were nuts and to not offer to ever watch the dogs again.  The next day my sister was coming back to town and I very happily washed my hands and left them in her possession!

For the record, my resolve not to watch the dogs ever again didn’t last long.  I will be going through all of this for a week in November.

That’s How We Roll

I went camping this weekend.  I’m sure you didn’t know that because it’s not like I’ve mentioned it in every post for the past couple of weeks!

We had so much fun!  It felt so good to get away, enjoy the fresh air, play in the water and hang out with friends.  My Amy and Scott ended up going a day early – and I seriously considered it, but I really had to work the next morning; however, I did wrap up early and get there a few hours sooner than expected!

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The girls of the trip

Of course, getting wrapped up took a bit of time! I ran to my parents house to drop off my dog and pick up dad’s truck and then ran by Pam’s office to fill my cooler with ice.  Then, Mr. T was awesome and loaded up the truck.

Mr. T has never loaded up a truck, but by the time I got out there, he was all but done.  I hated to tell him how he messed up, so I just told him that we had to go by Walmart to get some straps or a spider bungee.  I really didn’t want to spend money, so we pulled into the Walmart parking lot and I told T “Let’s just see if we can rearrange a bit.”  It only took three items and we had the truck properly done.  He was upset a bit that he didn’t do it right – but when I reinforced that he’d never done it – and it only took us about 3 items in order to fix it – that was pretty darn good!

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Mr. T getting ready…

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Aiming…

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Fire! And I’m sure it was the winning shot!

We arrived at camp and unloaded the truck and set my tent up – and then we set up T’s tent.  His own tent.  He was not staying with me.  It was weird – but I gotta tell ya – I had so much room in my tent!  That was pretty darn awesome! 🙂

We helped everyone else set up as they arrived and got camp situated.  Then there was the trip to Walmart.  I’d forgotten an extension cord and surge protector for T’s tent.  It happens, even to the best of us!

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We make roughing it look easy!  Here is our cooking area.  We set up a table and Karen’s way cool camping table (that does include a kitchen sink – 0f sorts!) to the side of the primary picnic table, that way, when we are done cooking, the table isn’t full of camp stoves and grills.  You can’t see it, but there are a couple of grills and a huge fryer to the left.  🙂

We grilled burgers and dogs Friday night, made eggs, bacon, sausage and hash browns for Saturday breakfast and due to the fact that one of the group had a ton of frozen catfish, we had a fish fry Saturday night.  Yummy!  Fried catfish, french fries, fried okra and hush puppies!

Later that night, we made peach cobbler.  Over the camp fire.  No kidding.

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So, maybe the picture doesn’t do it justice, but I gotta tell you – it was pretty cool!

We spent time hanging out, many hours in the lake.  We all went fishing. We even had some really cute guys come over from another camp to play horseshoes with us!

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Kevin and Scott talking trash during the game of horseshoes

Sunday morning, about 5:30 am I woke to a flash of lightening and the boom of thunder.  I’d been dead asleep – and we’d only been in bed about 4 hours!  So, I was a bit disoriented.  I did get up and grab my sleep pants, I know I need to go help because half the camp hadn’t put up their rain guard.  All I could think about was the instructions you receive on the plane: “In the event of an emergency and the cabin loses pressure, put your mask on first before helping the children and those around you.”  I figured that had to apply, so I zipped my windows up first.

I heard and then saw Karen putting the rain guard on her son’s tent and Brian, her husband working on theirs – but I had to go see Mr. T first!  I went over and unzipped his door and woke him up – bless his heart, he was so tired and zipped up his windows as far as he could reach without getting out of bed! LOL.  I leaned over and finished getting his windows closed.  Then I went and helped Brian – well, tried too – again, I was pretty disoriented! Soon enough we were done, and not a moment too soon.  I went back to bed and listened to the rain plop on my tent and the thunder roll by. I love nature!!

The next morning it was windy for several hours and then the storm was all gone and we were left with muddy tents and everything blowing away on us!  Once the wind stopped though, it was easy enough to pack up – and since we knew we had to come home and set the gear up to wash and dry it – we weren’t all that concerned about things being neat!

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That tent was down to it’s last stake before we went and took it down. There was no point in righting the chairs, they’d just blow back over in the wind!

All in all – it was one of my best trips yet.  I had such a good time and really enjoyed hanging out with my friends and playing and just getting away from it all, even if it was just for the weekend.

Cold Front is Coming

It’s Wednesday! It’s the last day of school and it’s a half day! I’m just as excited for summer as Mr. T is!  I also have a headache today – but I think it is sinus related.  We have a cold front coming through, and I think the change in barometric pressure is messing with my head.

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See – look – a cold front! It is on it’s way now and my head can feel it!

The cold front is coming in a bit earlier than expected, but the good part of this is that they took the chances of rain out of the forecast for the weekend.  That really excites me because, if I haven’t mentioned it enough yet, we are going camping this weekend!

This weekend a couple of friends and I were talking about my first couple of trips with them, and how reserved I still was.  While I had gone camping as a kid, the trips were few and far between, so I didn’t have much experience.  And thankfully my friends are all awesome and they’ve taught me how to put up my tent and they’ve taken it down for me when I’ve run into a spider and was afraid to touch the tent afterwards.  I’m so much better now – and I do say that with a tremendous amount of pride! I worked hard to learn how to do this, and in doing so, I’ve given my son the love of camping, and opened his world up even further!

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A line of tents, ready to go!

We always get a site with water and electricity.  Cause, we aren’t crazy you know! And there are extension cords running from the post to all of the tents!  Almost all of us use air mattresses that have to be aired up, plus, hello, 90 degrees, we all have fans! (Just FYI, for the middle of summer camping when the temps are over 100, we do have A/C units for our tents, too.  Likewise, we have heaters for the cool nights during fall camping.)

This is the first year that Mr. T won’t share my tent.  This saddens me and makes me so happy at the same time.  I’m sad that he is growing up, but I’m so glad that I’ve raised him to be independent, and yes, kinda happy that I’ll have my tent to myself!

There is also power that runs to the communal picnic table, cause the Christmas lights that go up need power!  Pam brings the mini fridge and table that goes over it.  Amy brings the coffee pot (for the longest time we used the standard percolater over the hot coals, but, duh! why wait when we have power!)  Karen brings the kitchen sink.  Not kidding.  She had the coolest table that sets up, and has shelves underneath, racks above and under the flat surface, a sink! We’ve never actually used the sink.  Pam has a basin that we take over to the water faucet and wash our dishes over there, but still, we have a kitchen sink!

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Mini fridge, table, and the ever present radio!

By having all the extra tables, we are able to set up multiple grills and the occasional crock pot, off of the table, so that as soon as we are done cooking, we don’t have to clear the table off in order to eat.  Amy is always in charge of the fire, and she does a great job.  In addition to the camping grills, we still cook over the fire pit at almost every meal.  And roast marshmallows almost every night.

The nice thing about the group trip is that we all don’t have to bring everything.  If one person doesn’t have it, another one does.  I almost never take pots and pans and such, because we already have so many – but I do keep us supplied in paper plates and plastic utensils!

The primary camping gear stays stored in it’s own tubs, and this year Mr. T and I got new tubs.  I like them so much better! I’ve been playing a mental game of Tetris, though, trying to figure out how all of this is going to fit in my compact car.  I will continue to play that game, cause as soon as I think I have room for everything, I realize that I’ve missed one of the food tubs.  Or the pee bucket.  Or my air mattress.  In the meantime, I’ve called my dad and asked to borrow his truck for the weekend!

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Here is a picture from last years Diva trip (girls only). Obviously we get into so much trouble together! That little gold car in the middle there – that’s mine.  My camping gear has outgrown the car!

I’m looking forward to the time with friends, fishing, kayaking, hiking and so much more! Food just tastes better when cooked outside, and the air is always a little sweeter!

Oh Look, Something Shiny!

I pulled out my laptop to do two things this fine Sunday afternoon.  I needed to do my Daily Challenge (I’m part of a program sponsored by a local hospital, they send you an email challenge each day, and you and your team compete to earn points.  The point don’t get you anything except a healthier lifestyle.  This past week the challenges ranged from making sure you have an extra band-aid in your wallet to doing an imaginary hula hoop ten times both ways.) (Just FYI, I’m much better with an imaginary hula hoop than a real one!)  I also needed to balance my checkbook.  My check book is actually an Excel spreadsheet.  Those were the only two things I had to do.

I got my Daily Challenge done and joined a pact with my mom.  If we both do the next 5 days, we get bonus points.  I’ve been at the top of the leader board the past two weeks, so, yeah, I’ll do the pact and get some bonus points!

Then, well…

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I got distracted by checking my yahoo email, which lead me to Word Press, where I proceeded to read through the backlog of blogs on my reader page.  I’ve recently added new blogs to my life and I had plenty to catch up on.  And, it was good – I like discovering new people!  An hour goes by and I’m so tired of sitting down, so I shut my laptop and set it aside…

And see my wallet sitting there.  Cause you know, my goal was to balance my check book.

Well, I got up to stretch my legs, put some stuff in the garage (we are going on our first camping trip of the season next weekend and we had stopped by Walmart after church to pick up a few items I forgot yesterday – Mr. T has decided that he wants to take our second tent for himself this year.  My baby is growing up!! He’s 14, so yeah, he can have his own tent.  But, but, my baby has always stayed with me!!  On the flip side, I get a tent all to myself!!! Oh my goodness!  I get the big tent with the little closet all to myself! This is going to be so cool!)

Sorry… yet again..

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I took my water glass to the kitchen to fill it up, finished putting up the last of the items and came back to balance my check book.  I’m pleased with myself, I balanced! And I haven’t gone over!  I picked up my drink to quench my thirst, only to realize I must have gotten distracted in the kitchen cause I didn’t bring my glass back with me.

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So, as far as I can remember, short of needing some water, I did get everything accomplished today.  As I mentioned, we have our first big camping trip next weekend, I can’t wait to tell you all about it!  We have so much fun.  This is the family trip (as opposed to our yearly Diva trip – girls only) and we have a big group going.  I’m so ready and can’t stop talking about it – but I must – so that I can save it for a post for you guys to enjoy in a few days!

Oh! 2-1/2 days of school left!! YAY!!!

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Lessons from the Movies: The Bucket List

My eyes are a little swollen and red rimmed.  I just finished watching The Bucket List.  No one told me that the guy died.  I get that it’s better for the story, it’s more realistic, whatever you want to throw my way as a reason; however, I don’t like when people die.  Now I know why I love Disney type movies.  People don’t die in them; at least, not any characters that I’m emotionally invested in.

The Bucket List

The Bucket List

None of that was the point.  The point is that watching that movie has been on my to-do list.  I’m all about adventure and making sure that we live our lives instead of just existing on this plane of existence.  We are here to enjoy, to make the best of, to help others and to enrich.

Short of the part where I cried, it was a great movie.  I loved how two people could come together over a common bond, and it really exemplifies that sometimes our greatest friends are not like us, but in fact, totally different from us.  It shows that there are lessons to be learned everywhere you look and that sometimes, it’s the simplest things that make all of the difference.

This got me thinking – I love my bucket list – I should share it!  So, in honor of this – instead of boring you with the lessons I learned from the movies, I’m sharing my bucket list with you!

night in haunted house

My bucket list is ever changing, and I hope it always does!  I read something the other day (could have been on Yahoo!, could have been another blog and it could have been in a book, it’s hard to keep straight everything I’ve read!) the point is, I read it, and it mentioned, if you have a bucket list, get to working on it!  If you don’t, then start one, and then get to working on it!

Yes, I know, there are tons of blogs, websites and countless suggestions when it comes to a bucket list.  This is not one of them.  I’m just narcissistic and assume that you want to know all of the details about my life! It’s not in a specific order, as I rearrange it every time I write it!

Catching a game in the new stadium, view from the suite.

Catching a game in the new stadium, view from the suite.

  1. See Meatloaf in concert – CHECK
  2. Visit a haunted house (I swear I lived in a haunted apartment, but that doesn’t count)
  3. Ride in a hot air balloon
  4. Go skydiving – CHECK
  5. See Cowboy game in new stadium – CHECK
  6. See the Northern Lights
  7. Plant a tree (technically I’ve done this, but it died… so it doesn’t count!)
  8. Go snorkeling
  9. Fly in a helicopter
  10. Ride The Titan at Six Flags – CHECK
  11. Ride The Texas Giant at Six Flags – CHECK
  12. Visit a castle
  13. Fly a kite, again
  14. Visit Statue of Liberty
  15. Have dinner in a location that overlooks the city
  16. Swim in an ocean – CHECK
  17. Go on a camping trip – CHECK
  18. Make homemade jam
  19. Dance in the rain – CHECK
  20. Get in a taxi and yell “follow that car!”
  21. Taste fried ice cream
  22. Kiss in the rain
  23. Zipline down the old Vegas Strip (scheduled for 2014!!)
  24. Spend the night in a haunted house
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Here’s my favorite shot from when I went to the Meatloaf concert. I’m really hoping his farewell tour comes close enough that I can go again!

It’s not a lot, and there are some simple things on my list, but the point is, I have a list and I am checking it twice.  Oh, wait, wrong list!  I have a list; it’s a list of what I want to do, not what the world thinks I should do.  My list has some seemingly simple items on it, and some that you’ll be surprised to discover that I’m scared to do (fried ice cream, really, it just doesn’t make sense.) I will do them, though.  Eventually.  And, occasionally, I’ll add more items.  And, sometimes I’ll do something that is bucket list worthy, so I’ll add it – just to cross it off.  Just to say “I DID IT!”

If you don’t have a bucket list, I highly recommend you start one.  And then get started on it! It’s way too much fun!