Reality Bites

I’ve been thinking lately about the difference between Bloggereality and, well, reality. I’ve observed a rather large gap between the two, at least for myself, and–I am hoping–for all of you (if I’m wrong on this, then I really did get the shaft and my life is pitiful compared to everyone else’s perfect children, dream vacations, and stunning good looks.) So, though perhaps my own reality doesn’t always “bite,” it doesn’t always smile, either. Case in point: Big, Annual Camping Trip, lots of planning, some of our best friends, perfect location, lots of junk food shopping, lots of packing, lots of excited kids, lots of excited adults. Bloggereality would report that this trip went perfectly, as evidenced by the perfectly posted pictures, but I am here to set the record straight. I learned last weekend that coming down with something akin to Strep Throat, complete with fever, chills and vomiting in a “cabin” (dare we give it that much credit?) with nothing nearby but an outhouse is, in the end, its own brand of adventure. Real adventure, not sissybloggingadventure. You know what I mean.

After a miserable first night, Derrick kindly suggested we pack up and go home, but I had waited all year to hang out with the Shorts and (name the B movie that made this tune famous) Nothin’s Gonna Stop Us Now. So I knocked back enough Extra Strength Excedrin to see me through the day. (btw: did you know that Excedrin is loaded with caffeine? I had no idea, but it explains why it made me feel so geeoood.) I pasted on a smile and tried to have fun, and loved Rachel and Jason all the more for forgiving my going to bed at 9 pm and the wet mop personality I surely had all weekend. (How tragic for them to miss out on my usual, fascinating self.) They even allowed me and my germs to eat at the same picnic table with them. Rachel called me today, almost one week later, to kindly ask how I was feeling and wondered: did I find out if it was strep? She just wanted to know because–and please don’t feel bad, Jen–every last one of her kids now have what I had, just in time to go back to school. (And I thought being a wet mop was my worst offense.) She wasn’t annoyed at all, just hoped I felt better. Do you see why we’re still friends?
So. I didn’t get to be hyper and goofy with my kids and howl at the moon in the great outdoors, like I’d planned. But…

I did get to go on a horseback ride with Rachael (my daughter) which was about the coolest thing we’ve ever done together (horses are super pretty and smell good when you’re buzzed on Excedrin.)
And on our last day I got to follow the children through the trees to the “secret place” they’d been doggedly hiding from us all weekend, which we parents had to admit was pretty spectacular.

I got to smell Megan’s proud find (think dead. think fish. no. think only fish skin.)

I got to consume mass quantities of Rachel’s sublime homemade-yes-straight-from-her-garden spaghetti sauce, which is the new Bomb in my life (need that recipe, Rache! need you to grow the veggies for me, Rache!) I missed out on canoeing, fishing, and the slip ‘n slide (achey body napping in said “cabin”)…

I got to be in the beautiful mountains with my great friends, great family, and great weather. When you’ve got the essentials covered, even if things aren’t blogperfect, they can still be really, really good.
There was dirt, there was a graham cracker, there was chocolate.
That’s all we know.

These two hotties got even hotter when they
made us breakfast two days in a row.

Ethan and Max. All weekend. Do not even ask.

Ethan cruelly takes advantage of Mom’s illness and realizes lifelong dream of eating nothing but BBQ Lays for two days straight.

For once, when dealing with Ethan, Dad isn’t the only horse’s as*.

The elusive Secret Place

Clara had to be the sweetest, quietest, happiest baby I’d ever been around. Yes, I am including my own children in this assessment.

We thought it would be a good idea to let the kids spend alot of time unsupervised in this rocky, secluded area that had lots of water and the lingering possibility of bears. Children do need to explore.

Meg wasn’t quite old enough to do her own trail ride, like Rache, but she was a good sport about doing a pull ride with her dad. Considering her size, she may just have a future in jockeying.

The dead fishskin find. Still not sure where she found it, how she got it, why she wanted it. Never did get a clear answer on that.

Remember that s
cene on City Slickers when they talk about their “best day?” I think the day of the trail ride was Rachael’s Best Day. She just couldn’t stop smiling. I was so happy to be there with her.
Doped up as I was.

Cool Runnings

I’ve decided on a B-movie theme for my post titles…I’ll see how long I can keep it going.
I am spending the week at my in-laws house in Seaside, Oregon. Laura (my mom-in-law) is wonderful and always insists on watching the kids if I want to go do anything. It’s only polite that I take her up on it once in awhile.
So this morning I went for a gloriously long, slow, quiet, solitary run along the beach. For the first time I can remember, the beach was absolutely empty. No people, no dogs. No kids. No cars. No running buddies. No iPod. Just me, the seagulls, the salt-heavy air, and the waves crashing into the velvety Oregon coastline.
There are worse ways to spend a Wednesday morning.
A simple pleasure, perhaps, but too good not to share. Tell me again why we spend money on theme parks?

August Rush (Updated 08/10/08)

Have any of you seen this movie? If you have: I’m sorry. If you haven’t: do NOT be duped by this steamy photo. Run…run far, far away from anywhere it can be found or anyone who tells you to watch it. I will refrain from further analysis here (read: Derrick made me delete what I’d originally written because he said some of you may have liked it, and I was being too rude.) Let’s just say that, besides terribly good-looking actors, the only worthwhile thing to come out of this movie is the title, which describes how quickly the last month of summer has come upon us. (I know this is a stretch, but I needed a clever title for my post.) In my grand tradition of shove-it-all-into-one-fat-post blogging, I now offer a randomly ordered recap of some of July’s activities:

He did it! The stallion on the mountain.
I got to meet him at the dishonestly titled “Paradise Lodge” (think panel siding, no t.v., and unsettling smell of the great outdoors) when he came down off the mountain, and joined him for a group dinner and program afterward. He received an award for summitting from none other than Dave Hahn, who holds the world record for climbing Mt. Everest the most times. (Can you believe we run in such circles?) It was fun to peek into Derrick’s alternate universe; he is in fabulous shape and breezed through it all. I am such the proud wife! Read more about his Mt. Rainier climb here, if you’d like.

Visiting the Portland Children’s Museum on our way to Seaside. Have any of you been here with your kids? If not, get here! It’s so much fun. Derrick was with us, but for once had the camera. Whenever I see pics of myself, I am reminded why I am always willing to be the photographer, not the subject.

Riding the supercool “train” in downtown Seaside. This is one of many pics I took on our Seaside trip, but out of courtesy to the reader, I will spare you the ninety-some beach/carousel/ice cream/boardwalk photos of my children that I take each time we go, except for this one:

It’s just too cute.

We had fun, and celebrated the Fourth of July down on the shore, if by “celebrating” I mean freezing on a windy beach while my sweet, naive husband tried to put on a fireworks show with a $19.95 box of fireworks. We all cheered and clapped, but it was like watching a limping puppy trying to fetch a ball. (You really do get what you pay for.) He saved the longest, thickest firework, labeled “Tower of Power” for the final act, it surely being the fiery climax of the entire extravaganza. You can imagine the look on his face, then, when he opened it only to unroll a large poster of a black cat on a yellow background, with the words “Tower of Power” in thick black letters above. We are still unsure of what this poster meant or why it was there (some kind of sinister practical joke put on by the Forest Service?) but it was a grand finale that truly befitted its show. Rachael then burned her foot on a sparkler, making this the second year in a row that our patriotic escapades at the beach have resulted in personal injury. In spite of all this, I do still love my country.

The only thing Megan wanted for her seventh birthday was a snorkeling kit. If only these inexpensive requests would last…

Ethan’s summer (and fall, winter and spring) diet. Parts is parts, I guess.

Celebrating my 35th birthday with the family and, more importantly, a Limited Edition Girl Scout Thin Mint Ice Cream Cake from Dairy Queen. Forget what I said about Chukars; this was the bomb! Most of the fam was out of town, so my dad joined us for dinner and cake (again, Derrick took the photo here.) I received a beautiful watch from Derrick, various pieces of artwork from the girls, and this homemade pinata from Rachael:

She spent hours in her bedroom working on it in secret, then filled it with my favorite candy. As soon as she gave it to me she begged me to break it, but I couldn’t bear the thought of smashing her handiwork so we kept it for a week before the big bashing. Whoppers still pack a tasty crunch after being trapped in toilet paper rolls and tissue paper for a week!

I’ve been doing quite a bit of running this month and thought I’d post about it, but it’s hard to take a snapshot of yourself while pounding the pavement. So I found a photo that looks almost exactly the way I look when I run. Different hair color, of course…

July also boasted an exciting visit from Riley (to my kids, she has one name, like Madonna). This was followed by an insanely fun Christensen Family Reunion near–not inSun Valley, Idaho (read: we were in the middle of nowhere, in a place affectionately nicknamed the “Armpit of Idaho,” with no Demi Moore sightings anywhere). I was having too much fun during this trip to take any decent pictures. Sometimes you gotta live in the moment instead of “capturing” it!

And now, in the interest of full disclosure, I feel that I should inform you of a couple of vices I’ve acquired this month:

Vice #1: John Adams Miniseries on DVDClear your schedule, rent it, put your kids to bed, watch it. Now.

Vice #2: The Cosby Show

You read that right. We cancelled our extended cable (but not our DVR) because we weren’t using it much, but now find that there is absolutely nothing on t.v. when we do want to veg. We came across an old Cosby rerun one day and enjoyed it immensely with the kids. It occurred to us later that nothing was stopping us from recording each episode (two per day!) and watching it late at night, or in the afternoon with kids, or while doing laundry…you get the picture. As the summer wears on, Claire and Cliff are becoming part of the family. One night after a mini-Cosbython, I turned off the t.v. and sighed. “I want to be a Huxtable,” I announced. “I want to live in their world.” Derrick was quiet for a moment, then replied in all seriousness: “Well, they probably have a housekeeper.” This was said in the same way you say “That-perfect-lds-family-down-the-street-must-have-a-housekeeper.” Because, you know, the Huxtables are real. We thought about it for awhile. “Yeah,” I conceded. “They probably do have a housekeeper.” We both felt better knowing that the Huxtables must have some help in running things so smoothly. We know we have a problem. I dare any of you to watch it and not get hooked.

After a busy month, we are now enjoying some easy time at home with swimming, tennis lessons, the Wii, puzzles, the park, and that rascal Elvin’s chauvenistic tendencies. We’re looking forward to the girls spending an entire week at Grandma’s alone (!) and our annual camping trip with the Shorts, which will surely be the highlight of an already fantastic summer. I bought school supplies today with mixed feelings. I have loved spending so much time with my kids this summer. Gratitude overwhelms!