Tuesday, October 12

My Son Wants to Camp

What I like about camping is you can get really dirty. Either you're all by yourself, so no one else sees you, or everyone you're with is just as dirty as you are, so nobody cares.
~Anonymous former Boy Scout

A few weeks ago we were camping at the Grand Tetons in a National Park campground with no electric/water/sewer hookups. We had a picnic table, a fire ring and a spot of dirt to park on. We were surrounded by trees and the smell of campfire and burning hotdogs. Since we had no water hookup we had to pack up our towel and shampoo and go down the street to the campground communal shower and pay to clean ourselves (which we hadn't done in three days). As we were headed back to our campsite my son was examining the campground and with a tone of envy announced that he "wanted to camp, too". Anybody see the irony in this? How do you explain to a four year old that he camps for a living?

Last week we were staying/living/camping in San Diego and once again we were surrounded by tents, campfires and hotdogs. Once again he announced that he wanted to "camp". As full-timers we typically cook "normal" meals in our "normal" kitchen, sit at the dinner table, say grace, eat and do the dishes... sans fire pit. We don't camp. Quite honestly, I don't even like the smell of campfire stinking up the house. However, since we are kindof on vacation right now we promised him an evening of stinky campfire, toasty hotdogs and burnt marshmallows.

It had previously rained but we had some wood that didn't seem TOO wet. We had a firestarter log but I didn't want to cook over the chemicals contained within. So we stacked the damp logs and pulled out some scrap paper and a cardboard beer carton and attempted to start our fire. We lit and blew and lit and blew and went inside for come more paper and lit and blew and lit and blew. We were sweating and choking, we stunk like campfire and we had exhausted our supply of scrap paper and had started burning the important stuff...but we were determined to give our son a camping experience. The fire gods finally shined down on us and we had a fire!! Then Caleb announced that he would really just rather eat his hotdog cold (cut up and with ketchup, please). However, like good parents, we stuck his hotdog on a stick and made him at least attempt to raost it!! And don't even get me started on the shopping trip we took just to buy marshmallows for him so he could gouge them in the fire and fling them just to watch them burn (which really was kind of fun for us all!)

To him we don't camp in our BigTruckNewHouse, we live. To him our life has wheels and our front yard changes....from the mountains to the the Pacific to a casino parking lot. To some our life would be an unbearably rustic experience but to him it is not even camping....and he wants to "camp".

I think this means he wants to sleep in a tent but it might just mean he wants to watch his parents huff and puff while he sits quietly and eats a cold hotdog. Brian has promised Caleb they will "camp" in a tent when we get to Grandma's. Have a campfire, get dirty, gaze at the stars, pee outside. He's very excited. I think I'll just stay inside the cozy, clean camper while the boys go outside and camp...and I'm betting I'll have a little warm body next to me before dawn...and I hope he smells like campfire and burnt marshmallows.

Sunday, April 18

Happy yet Unsatisfied?

"I can't get no satisfaction..."
-The Rolling Stones
I'm happy with who I am.
I'm grateful for my family.
I'm proud of my son
I'm comfortable with not being wealthy.
I'm enjoying my age (with the help of hair dye).
I'm learning to love my body (especially in those one pair of jeans).

But for some reason I can't seem to be satisfied with my home. I'm cool with the size of it I love living the lifestyle. I've adapted to the kitchen and bathroom. And the cozy small bed is quite a marriage booster.

It's the decor. It's the curtains.

Our house is a 2001 model. When we first walked in it we were pleased with the neutral tones. We did, however, hate the mirrors on the walls and they quickly came out. When we moved in we became less than pleased with the lions and tigers and bears (oh my) on the couch and we decided the wallpaper was unsightly. We had a water spot on the slide surround and the bedspread had funky corner tucks. So we changed the bedspread, threw a blanket on the couch and thus began the upholstery conversion.

Caleb spilled paint on the dinette cushions so that, of course, had to be recovered. This somehow gave me the idea to remove the window boxes and make new curtain which led to recovering the slide surrounds. A flood from a broken toilet led to ripping out the carpet and replacing with wood floor. Scratches on the table let to a refinish job and I'm not sure why we ripped out the sink and cabinet and put in a new one (although the added floor space makes for a great dance floor).

The fabric I chose for the original reuphostery was on sale and after a few weeks I decided it was heinous (there is a lesson to be learned here). So off to the fabric store (and I actually duct taped the new around the old dinette cushions) and new pictures and new curtains. Then I decided my son's sleeping arrangements weren't working so it's out with the couch, as in disassemble and throw it out the door. Brian built a very nice storage compartment/bed thing that doubles as a couch with the addition of a few throw pillows. Got some non-clearance upholstery (with a coupon) for it and the throw pillows and I love it. But now the dinette upholdery doesn't match and I began hating that, too. Off with it and back to the original cushions with the paint stain.

Everytime I look at new motorhomes I get new ideas. While Brian is envious of large basements and carefully planned out electrical panels and dump connections, I am inside absorbing ideas.

My newest idea is to put a new picture (or maybe even a beveled mirror) on the wall where the old mirror came from (yep). I want to cover my slide surround with wood moulding (believe it or not I've figure out how to do this with a little stain and velcro). I want to put frosted vinyl on the shower doors to hide the underwear that I flung over the top that didn't hit the laundry basket. And I want to get a new bedspread. And the baskets I put on the front dash for shoes just have to go.

Brian rolls his eyes and tunes me out everytime I begin to talk about a redesign. I keep telling him that as soon as I get a piece perfect I'll stop. I use the couch/bed as an example, and I do love what I've done with the bedroom curtains, and the kitchen backsplash, and the painted walls....well, I kind of want to put a glaze on those...but for the most part I'm satisfied.

Satisfied with a patient husband and my a creative mind. Satisfied with that no-sew iron on stuff, duct tape, safety pins, spray on stain and wood glue. I like change and sometimes I don't get it right the first time but I'm satisfied with that.

Wednesday, February 17

He's Ready...But am I?

There comes a time in every rightly constructed boy's life that he has a raging desire to go somewhere and dig for hidden treasure.
~ Mark Twain
Since being on the road I’ve always known in the back of my mind that school and socialization for my child was going to be a bit unconventional. If we are still living in the BigTruckNewHouse then homeschooling/roadschooling is the route we’ll take (no pun intended). And by the way, there are about as many opinions on this issue as there are opinions on whether or not I fed him from my boob, give him processed sugar or bribe him to behave (kindof, I do now, and of course).

All of that aside, I have wrapped my brain around the idea that Brian and I would one day be responsible for his formal education, at least to a point. For now we are focusing on his social skills by taking him to McDonald’s Playland and roadside parks. But inevitably both his education and socialization are developing just a little differently than his peers. For instance, he has a bad habit of getting in another child’s face and hollering. I fear that he’s not really going to gain a lot of friends with this little habit.

Our lifestyle has taken a bit of a turn and we’re able to stay in the same place for a couple of months at a time. In fact, we’ll be living in South Dakota more often than not. Since we are in the middle of nowhere, in the middle of snow, in the middle of winter I’ve made a quest to find other mothers in my predicament. Well, not actually my exact predicament…any mother with a kid would work.

My search started at the library. No storytime but the librarian told me I could come in and hang out. So that left me feeling a little like a predator waiting to pounce on my prey as the next mother walked in. But the one morning I got my courage up to go there and hunt the library didn’t open until midday and we went away hungry.

Our luck got better at the next stop. In the post office parking lot I found an unsuspecting mother with what looked like a little girl of three. I cornered her ever so politely and asked her if there were any others like her in town. She directed me to a Mommy & Me meeting just around the corner. In fact, their group started in about 15 minutes and I was just on time. This was Caleb’s opportunity to actually socialize with other children outside of Chuck E. Cheese. I was more than nervous. Both for myself entering the new environment (fearing that whole boob/processed sugar/bribing stuff) but mostly for the fear that my son would attack the first child to look at him the wrong way.

My fears were somewhat justifiable. The other mothers were warm and welcoming and no one even mentioned sugar or boobs; however, my son did whack a kid, push a kid and scream more than once. I was slightly mortified but I knew as soon as I left that I had to come back and teach my son how to play well with others at the expense of these darling little children.

In the meantime I found out the local YMCA offered an abbreviated preschool program. After comtemplating for a few days I got the nerve up and enrolled him. When he found out he got to go to school he could hardly sleep. Every day for three days straight that’s all he talked about. The night before I layed out his clothes and tucked him in with the promise of a new adventure in the morning. We were all up early, looking sharp and ready to go. I didn’t get nervous until I was on my way there. Was I supposed to bring him a snack? Did he have on the right kind of shoes? I park, take a breath, look around to see if there are other kids to verify I’m in the right place. This is almost worse than my first day of middle school. Before I could get a grip on the situation, Caleb had unbuckled himself and was half way out the door.

He reluctantly agreed to hold my hand on the walk in. We found the right room, he threw off his coat and ran to play. I was left standing with his shot records and a knot in my throat. The teacher welcomed me (because obviously Caleb needed no welcoming) and directed me to sign him in and hang his coat. Then off I went. I walked down the hall, got into my car, started it, took a deep breath…..then got a little excited about the fact that I had THREE HOURS. I went to the gym, I took a long shower, I actually fixed my hair. It was awesome!

With time, I am learning the preschool ropes and so is Caleb. I now know that you should include candy with your Valentine cards. Caleb knows not to eat all of that candy (or at least not to get caught). I know that he might take his shoes off so make sure his socks are clean. And Caleb knows not to throw his shoes at the other kids. I know to relax and allow him to be the fun, spirited little boy that God made him to be. And he knows how fun it is to be the spirited little boy that God made him to be.

I’m not ready for preschool germs or influences not filtered by me. But I’m ready to see his little face beam as he runs to me and tells me about his day at school (or even if he screams “No Mommy, don’t be here”).