only the first night

First things first.

I have a guest post today over at The Kir Corner.  She is one of my most enthusiastic, loving cheerleaders supporters here in Sluiter Nation, and when she asked if I would share one of my proudest Mom Moments at her place?  I simply could not say no.

I will warn you, however, that I chose to go with something very recent and maybe not that exceptional for most moms. In fact, I am pretty sure it is totally run of the mill for most mamas of toddlers out there.  But for me?  And how stupid my PPD has been lately with this med thing?  It’s a proud moment indeed.

So go read that moment before I take you back in time to this moment….


I cuddled down into my sleeping bag that had been laid out neatly next to my cousin’s.  She was already softly sleeping, but I was yet vigilant.

I tried to close my eyes, but sleep didn’t come, so I stared up at the close green canvas.

I inhaled the dank, musty, comforting smell of my grandma’s tent camper as I listened to twigs pop and animals scurry.

The campfire had died down a couple hours ago, but its scent had permeated my hair, my jammies, and my pillow.

I rolled over carefully, knowing that any sharp movement would move the entire camper and draw out protests from my cousin.

As I slid my knees up to my chest, my bare feet felt the familiar friction of something.

We did everything we could to keep it out of the camper:  shoes and sandals off outside on the mat, a towel to to dust any stubborn grains, even a special water jug just for rinsing.  But somehow, there it was.

Sand in the bottom of my sleeping bag.

I wondered where they came from.

Most of the day was spent at the beach running across the hot sand to the lake to cool our scorched toes. Even in the water of the Great Lake sand had found it’s way into my bathing suit.

We had carried shovels and pails and strainers and boats and rafts and towels back with us, all covered in sand despite our best efforts to rinse and shake out.

However that evening after dinner we had all climbed the Dune.  Maybe this sand came from there.

It was always a race to the top.  All seven first cousins and an almost countless number of second cousins and other Camping Crew Kids that may or may not have been related to us sped up the mountain.

My aunt and Grandma were among the Dune climbers.

My Aunt Sandy would yell at us to be careful of the little kids, to not go into the undergrowth because of poison ivy, and good gracious this was a lot of work!

Grandma would encourage and hoot and holler as we kids made it to the top one by one.

Once to the top, the adults would have a sit down to rest while we all explored or just marveled at the Great Lake that stretched below us.

It wouldn’t be long before someone would make the call and begin the downward plummet back to the bottom.

Soon everyone would be hurling down the mountain, our legs getting carried away and turning to rubber.

Some of us would fall and roll in a spray of sand.

My aunt would pick us up, tell us to hold still, and attempt to rub the sand out of our hair, eyes, and crevices before we would all march exhaustively back to the camper or down the road to the General Store for ice cream.

Or maybe the sand at the end of my sleeping bag marched in from the campsite sand.

We would ride our bikes, play catch, and then bury our feet in the dirt by the fire as we made Hobo Pies and S’mores and listened to Grandma and her brother’s yodel and sing.

And maybe I had been too tired to get it all cleaned off before climbing into the bunk next to my cousin.

So now there was sand in my sleeping bag.

And it was only the first night.

Top Ten Tuesday: Vacation Memories

Since I am in the midst of the longest stretch of work with no break (from Sept 7 until Thanksgiving), I thought an appropriate Top Ten list this week would be vacation memories.

Lately I have been finding myself dreaming of going far, far away with my little family so that we can get some much needed rest and relaxation together.  These dreams have taken me back to some memories I have of traveling with my family, with my husband, with my friends, and with my little family of three.

So here we go….

10. My mom walking off the dock in Pentwater, MI. I was in high school when my family rented a cottage up north in Pentwater, MI, and my parents let me take my best friend, Tonya, along with us.  This particular cottage didn’t have any private beach, but it did have a private dock that had a lovely wide end to it for sunning and swimming and just having fun in the water.  The first day we were there, my brothers, parents, Tonya, and I were headed out to the dock to hang out.  Everyone was preoccupied with what they were doing.

Apparently my mom was so preoccupied, that she didn’t  notice that the dock ended and she walked right off of it.  She tried to play it off like she jumped in, saying things like, “whew!  it’s hot out!  this water feels SO good!”  But Tonya had watched her do it and was laughing so hard she couldn’t breathe.  My mom being totally busted…and soaking wet…was pretty hilarious.

9. Buffalo with my fiance. The year before Cort and I were married we took a trip to New York state to visit friends (oh hey, Phil and Liz!!) who lived in Rochester at the time.  Before we got there, though, we wanted to stop for a couple nights in Buffalo.  I wanted to go to the zoo–which was talked up on their website as being the third oldest zoo in the nation, having elephant washing, giraffe feeding, and camel riding–and Cort wanted to see Niagara Falls (even though I

Monkeys at the Buffalo Zoo

told him it’s just a lot of water).

This story could be a whole post, but I will boil it down to this:  Buffalo Zoo?  Lame.  We did not get to feed any giraffes, wash any elephants, or ride any camels.  We set aside a whole day for a zoo we walked int 20 minutes.  And Niagara Falls?  Cort agreed it was just a lot of water.

But we had fun laughing at our misfortune, AND we had a super time once we got to Rochester!

8. Spring Break in college. The one and only time I ever went on a spring break trip was my sophomore year in college.  A group of friends (Go Broncos!!) and I took a plane (my first jet ride ever) to St Petersburg, FL for a week-long stay.  Every day we sat by the pool and tanned.  Most of us were under 21, so we didn’t do a lot of night life, but it didn’t matter.  We had so much fun just hanging out!  And since there were five of us and only two queen-sized beds?  We rotated the person who slept on the floor. It was just plain fun and crazy.

7. Florida with my family. About four years before the spring break trip to Florida, my family took us all to Orlando, FL.  It was one of the first “big” trips my family ever took together (we usually just rented cottages for a week).  We drove the 24 hours there as a family in a van.  I have lots of hilarious memories from this trip, but one that has to do with me was when we were in the Magic Kingdom and I (an almost-sophomore in high school) was SO crabby, my mom actually made me take a time out!  While my dad and my brothers enjoyed Thunder Mountain?  I was stuck on a bench sipping a diet coke until I could “improve my mood.”

6. Tigers baseball game with my family. We have been to MANY Tiger Ball games together as a family, but one in particular sticks out to me because I. DID. NOT. WANT. TO. BE. THERE.

My family had just gotten down with a trip that included Cedar Point and a drive-thru safari (a WHOLE different memory), we were making our way back through Michigan via Detroit because my parents had gotten us tickets to see a game.  People?  As a 16 year old teenager?  I was done.  I did NOT want to be on this trip anymore.

To show my displeasure, I ridiculed (loudly) everything about the game, I insisted on showing off my new Spanish skills (thank you, high school Spanish II) by ordering my refreshments only en espanol, and I targeted the poor kid who was sitting in front of us.

That was probably the most obnoxious thing that I did.  This kid was a total Ken Griffey, Jr fan and every time Griffey did something great, he would say, “ROOOOUTINE hit for Griffey!”

It was that annoying.

So I started quietly heckling.  Finally, Griffey struck out and I leaned forward and yelled, “ROOOOOOOUTINE HIT FOR GRIFFEY!”

Dining at the Experience Music Project

The kid did not say another word the entire game.

5. Seattle with my hubby. One year after being married, Cortney and I decided to fly (my second time on a jet) to Seattle–the home of his favorite band, Pearl Jam–for a week-long vacation.  He didn’t want to be around for the “anniversary” of his dad’s passing away, and Seattle was some place we both really wanted to visit.  So we went.

We went to a zoo (duh), and aquarium (duh), the Experience Music Project, the Space Needle, the Pacific Ocean, Pike Place Market, and lots of downtown wanderings.

4. Montana for one of my best friends. Because I will do anything for my friends, Cort and I decided our vacation in 2007 would be the trip we were making to Montana for a wedding that I was in.  I blogged about it here.

Looking good at the Montana wedding

We found out a few things on that trip:  North Dakota is boring.  Montana is beautiful (and boring), Wyoming is beautiful (and boring), South Dakota has some good place to stop, but the Mitchel Corn Palace is not one of them.

3. Camping/Canoeing with the in-laws. Ok, I hate camping.  It is NOT my idea of a vacation.  But we have gone twice.  TWICE!  I blogged about both trips here, here, and here.  Despite my hate of all things camping, we have a pretty damn good time!

Canoe Trip 2010

2. Indianapolis with my family of three. This past summer’s trip to Indy will always be a favorite of mine because it was our very first vacation as a family of three.  Granted, it was only three days, but in that three days, we spent two (successful) nights in a hotel with a toddler, did some sight-seeing, visited with great friends, met some new great friends, and spent a total of eight hours in the car with

My bloggy friends in Indy

a screaming toddler.

1. My honeymoon. You knew this had to be #1, right?  Most people at this point would talk all about their magical getaway to some all inclusive resort, or perhaps a romantic trip to Europe?  Maybe a cruise?

Not us.  We were on a budget, people.

We went to Myrtle Beach.  Actually, we DROVE to Myrtle Beach. Yes, I know there are some kick ass places to stay and be pampered in Myrtle Beach.  No, we did not stay at one of them.  We stayed at the Mystic Sea Resort–which, upon arriving?  Cort deemed neither Mystical nor Resortish.  In fact, he may have used a swear word and then commented how it looked nothing like what it did on the internet (you would think we would have learned from the Buffalo Zoo debacle, wouldn’t you?).

Two newlywed beach bums

There are so many stories I can tell you about Myrtle Beach, but the main thing is that we started our marriage off with something we could afford and made it fun.  We laughed until we cried.  We enjoyed being together.  And it was perfect.

Don’t get me wrong, some day I would LOVE to go on a “real” vacation.  Something all-inclusive.  Somewhere that creates little swans and monkeys out of my towels.  But until then, we will have fun with our budget vacations.  It’s what I am used to growing up, and it is what you make it!

Now how about you?  Do you have a Top Ten list of your vacation memories?  Link it up!  And tune in this weekend when I announce next week’s Top Ten Tuesday Topic!

We Don’t Camp, but We Did Anyway

As I have mentioned before, camping is not our ideal vacation here in Sluiter Nation.  We enjoy air conditioning, a real bed, a private bathroom.  I know…it’s asking a lot.  I just like to feel rested and clean when I go away…not like a bug-bitten, squirrely-haired, greasey-faced hot mess.
However…each year Cort’s mom and stepdad take all of us “kids” up north to tent camp and canoe.  They all really enjoy camping and we don’t want to be the lame-o party poopers who don’t go.  Plus?  Cort’s side of the family?  Oh they bring the fun.  So I complain for a few days, but I pack it up and head in to the wilderness.  We DID get a new tent this year (thanks, Lynne!!!) so we weren’t in a little pup tent.  That was a BIG plus.
Especially because Friday night?  It rained sheets down upon us.  Buckets and sheets and cats and dogs. Saturday morning it was still pouring.  That of course meant that our trip to the bathroom equaled muddy flip flops and gross toes. And it meant no hobo pies for breakfast.

But we did improvise!  We all crammed in to the screened in tent and Ray made us our breakfast sandwiches on the little gas stove top. He made bacon and then egg, ham, and cheese grilled sandwiches.  YUM!

Since it was so rainy and gross, we were sort of thinking we wouldn’t be able to canoe until at least noon.  So we were all just lazing around.  Around 10:15am we got word that we would be canoeing at 10:30!  The mad scramble to get all canoe-ready began.

All ten of us got on the river around 11:00am.  We were told it was a three hour paddle.  But wait…who paddles?

As if I wasn’t already a big steaming hot mess after a rainy night in a tent, nasty feet from muddy flip flops, and no make-up, it was about to get much worse.

Everyone took turns “launching” their canoes.  I sad in the front of ours patiently waiting for Tom and Kristin to get their canoe off and floating.  I was sitting there minding my own business when…SPLASH!  I was gasping for breath as I came up from the bottom of the river!

Apparently, my superman of a husband thought he could shove us off and leap into our canoe all while not telling me what he was doing.  Um, no.  Now I was completely soaked, my leg was scraped up, and I had a bruised hand.  Even hotter mess than before.  But after I rung out my tank top and bandanna, I was in good spirits again!

After all, it was an accident, and look at that smile?  How can I be angry at that?  Plus, let’s be honest, he does all the canoe work.  I don’t have to do anything but ride along.  And sip my, uh, beverage.  I like that about canoeing.

See?  Sorry…this picture is sort of a hot mess.  This is what happens when I camp, fall in a river, and then smile really big while squinting into the sun.  Oh and that guy behind me?  Yup, I married him.  He is mine.

The river was higher than normal due to all the rain so there weren’t as many place to have pit stops as usual.  We did a lot of this:  Party Barging.  There I am with my girls!  Sisters-in-law MacKenzie and Liz and our friend, Kristin!  These girls are why camping?  Isn’t as bad as it could be.  And canoeing?  Is awesome.

We did find some places to stop.  I mean, we had to have bathroom breaks, right?  I am not sure what Tom and Cody are discussing here, but it reminds me of when my Mom-in-law said to Tom, “Hey Tom.  It’s pretty hot out here.  Why don’t you take your sleeve off?”  I mean seriously?  That was the funniest dang thing I heard all day.  My mom-in-law making a tattoo joke?  awesome.

There was lots more fun on the river.  Mom and Ray tipped in their canoe.  Cody and Liz tipped in their canoe (and then MacKenzie and Dave dragged Liz down the river until Cody could get the water out of the canoe and pick her up).  There were millions of turtle-sightings and even more laughs and jokes.

By the time we got off the river, we were all tired…and looking a little worse for wear.  We dragged ourselves back to camp, played some hillbilly golf, made some hot dogs, rested, and enjoyed being eaten alive by mosquitoes.

Yes, Sluiter Nation was sun burned, tired, achy, and did I mention tired?  We probably could have used a nap!

And aside from a brief panic attack on my part Saturday night (we had no phone service and I couldn’t call to check on Eddie.  Plus I mixed anti-depressants and some booze.  not good.  lesson learned), the weekend was very fun!  I was proud of myself from changing my attitude from angerball to happy pants. 

Even if by Sunday morning when we were packing up, I was sure I could smell myself.  I think that might just be the definition of a hot mess.

And as it turned out?  Eddie had a GREAT time at my parents’ house!  He was back to his old funny, silly, happy self when we picked him up Sunday morning.  Go figure.  I freaked out for nothing.  What else is new?

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Starting the Week with Smiles

We had a super fun weekend.  I know I was all crabby about the camping thing, but you all were SO right…I had a blast!  It was impossible not to–our family is just that fun!

But we are glad to be home.  I will do a full post maybe tomorrow (some of my pics are on a waterproof camera and I have to go old school and get them developed before I can get them up here), but today, you can enjoy a little Sluiter Nation over at my girl, Andrea’s place.

Andrea is a fellow survivor of the crap that can happen postpartum, and she is witty and great and I just love her.  She blogs over at Good Girl Gone Redneck, and that is where you can find me today.  Bragging all about how great Cort is as a stay at home dad.

In other news, Eddie had fun at my parents’ house this weekend while Cortney and I whooped it up on the Muskegon River.  In fact, we came home and he had his appetite back, was sleeping well again, and had no more roseolla rash!  He is our happy little man again!

So…go on and check me out on Andrea’s blog, give me a little love so I don’t feel lonely, and then head over to Katie’s Bookcase where Miranda is posting for me!  Get your Monday started with some bloggy fun!

Canoe Pics!

Yesterday I posted our camping trip, but I didn’t have the canoe pictures back from Walgreens yet (I had to take a water-proof camera along…VERY weird not using digital), so here are the pics from on the river!

The day started off questionable with a HUGE thunderstorm from about 6:30 am until about 9:30. We weren’t sure if our 11:00 canoe extravaganza would be canceled. It wasn’t, but the clouds still threatened to rain on the river. Not so encouraging. The clouds cleared though, and we ended up with a PERFECT day for canoeing! MacKenzie and Dave and Cody and Liz started out strong and in the lead! Cort’s mom and Ray were close behind…
There’s our canoe! Smiles for Miles, as Cortney put it.
Here is one of our MANY breaks. It was supposed to be a 3-hour tour. We managed to stretch it to a 6.5 hour tour. Yeah, we are just that good.
The water was warm enough to, uh, take break in.
After a little bit of fun, Liz decided that she needed to take a dip. We were all certain she was going to tip their whole canoe over…but she perched herself on the side and just flipped right off! Later we found out she banged up her knee pretty good on the rocks. She also flipped INTO the canoe without tipping it over. What talent!

Yet another break…
Uh Oh! Mom and Ray flipped their canoe! They were the ONLY ones to flip AND they claimed they were NOT going to flip this year…better not make such bold claims next year!
Hmmm…I think we were starting to get tired around hour six.
Cort and I might not be hard-core campers, but we do make a pretty darn good canoe-team! Although next year we will have to remember to put sunblock on a little better!

A Camp-tastic Weekend!

This weekend, Cort’s mom and Ray took all of the Sluiter siblings camping and canoeing up at Vic’s Canoes at Salmon Run Campground in Grant. What an adventure! Now, Cortney and I will NEVER claim to be campers by trade–in fact, I will actually admit that in the week leading up to this trip, I started to moan and groan about having to sleep in a tent, battle mosquitos, and have sand on everything. Anyone who knows me knows that my idea of camping involves…well…I just don’t camp. But this weekend, we packed up the truck to overflowing (which proves that we are not minimalists) for two nights of camp-a-rama!

We were greeted at the campground around 6:30 Friday night by Kim and Ray and Kenzie and Dave. Liz and Cody arrived shortly after we did. We had some snacks and conversation that night around the fire, and then called it a night. I may have mentioned that I am not a camper. This became painfully obvious the first night. Camping in a tent involves being close to nature. Nature is a beautiful thing, don’t get me wrong, but I like to see it from the comfort of an air-conditioned building or behind a protective structure in a zoo. Having only a thin layer of nylon between me and nature is not my idea of a fun night. All night long I heard animals fighting each other and racoons trying to find camper food. All I could think about was how Chris told me about how racoons broke into his friend’s car once on a camping trip, and I SWEAR those racoons were trying to bust into our truck. And because I didn’t sleep much, neither did Cortney. The funny thing about an air mattress is that if one person shifts, you shift. So every time I sat up to look at the dumb nature acting up, Cortney woke up and told me to go to sleep.

Finally, around 6:00 in the morning, it started to thunderstorm and I fell asleep. We were worried that the rain would cancel our canoe trip scheduled for 11:00 am, but it cleared up and we were on our way. I have pictures of that trip…oh the fun…but I took those with a water proof camera and they need to be developed before I can post them up here. I can hardly remember what we did before digital cameras!

Anyway, after the canoe trip we were all sunburned, bruised, and tired…AND hungry! We cleaned up and started a fire. Actually, because of the rain, it took us over and hour to figure out how to get the fire started with damp wood and no kindling, but with some charcoal briskets and lighter fluid, we made it work. As soon as that fire was burning, EVERYONE threw their hobo pies on the fire! And Kenzie made us beans! Mmmm! Looks delicious! Our canoe trip was supposed to be a 3-hour tour…we turned it into a 6 1/2-hour tour–this made us HUNGRY!
Cortney started the fire–and kept it going–with our little air pump for our air mattress.

Dave and MacKenzie rest by the fire.

That night I slept MUCH better–probably due to my sunburn and exhaustion! This morning we woke up to the sun shining brightly and the humidity being GONE! I celebrated by brushing my teeth by the truck.
Everyone seemed rested from the day before. Liz, however, had some “war wounds” from the canoe trip. You’ll see when I get those pics back, but she felt the need to jump from the canoe and take a swim. Apparently she got a few HUGE bruises in the process. Below she and Cody examine them before breakfast and assess the damage. While we got the fire started, people started preparing to pack up. There’s Kenzie in her tent packing up!
Mom washes up our dishes from the night before in her tent.
Ah, the fire was ready. Kenz and Liz wasted no time preparing their breakfast hobo pies: egg, ham, and cheese between the break slices.

All hobo pie makers are back in the fire for the morning meal! Me, Liz, mother, Kenz, and Dave wait for breakfast below.
Check out our boo-boo’s! Liz got hers canoeing–mine is less spectacular. I burned my chin on hot melted cheese from my pizza hobo pie the night before. Ouch!
Check out my breakfast! Looks good!
Liz’s is so tasty she doesn’t even notice Cortney and the camera!
Kenzie’s is G-O-N-E before we can get a shot of it!

Hey…do you want a bite? It’s really good!
Once breakfast was done, it was time to pack up our adventure. Everyone started cleaning up their site and packing things away. Dave started with their tubs and coolers.
me, Liz, and Kenz posed for a quick “sister” picture!
Ohhh! A flat tent is the international sign for the camping is over! As much as I was dreading all the “roughing it,” we both had a super fun time! We brought home sunburns, bruises, bug bites, cheese burns, and TONS of fun memories!