Thursday, June 30, 2011

Banan Pops! Summer fun on a stick!

First we cut the peeled bananas in half and stuck the halves on a stick.  Then we put them in the freezer for an hour.

After an hour we took them out of the freezer and coated them in melted chocolate chips...

... and rolled them in chopped nuts and mini M&Ms... then back in the freezer for a couple hours.

The end result was a great treat!

I haven't had ice cream in a long time.  This was like having an ice cream Popsicle to me.  My kids thought I was crazy.   It was good, but not as good as ice cream.  Hey!  They should be dairy free for over 2 years.  It was like ice cream!  I promise!

Salad Day 96

Today is a MUST REPEAT!  Thai Chicken Salad....

We mixed baby salad greens, bean sprouts, cashews, mushrooms, diced cooked chicken and drizzled bottled Thai Peanut sauce over the whole thing. YUMMMY!

A Paradox, A Paradox, A Most Perplexing Paradox!

This morning, while I was loading the dishwasher I came upon a paradox.

Too much food.

I kept thinking of my mom… “eat all of that oatmeal. You know there are starving kids in Africa.”

Scraping plates into the garbage disposal was a bit depressing. Truly, we could have fed a small family with the “leftovers” on plates and in bowls that we had taken for granted.

As a whole, we waste far too much of what the world's farmers and fishermen produce… too much of the bounty God has blessed us with. As Tristam Stuart documents in his book Waste, we needlessly throw away carrots, corn, and cod fish, hastening environmental degradation, climate change, and even hunger. There's probably enough wasted food in the United States and Europe to feed all of sub-Sahara Africa.

Then I took a look at the trash can. What I saw surprised me. I thought I was composting. I could do so much better! Have you looked in your trash can lately? I mean – really looked. Is your household mine? Are you throwing out a lot of food.

It came to me… This is money down the drain – or out on the curb. With the price of food going up and with people going to bed hungry across the globe, it’s a real shame to throw out food.

As a kids I remember working hard to preserve the fruits and veggies my mom found for the family. We tried our hand at gardening… not the easiest thing to do on the Oregon high deserts. We raised chicken for several years in a row. I remember my mom killing them, dipping them in boiling water and handing the chicken off to us kids to pluck before we stuffed them in plastic bags and into the freezer. Once we raised a pig or two and put that in the freezer. At any rate, my parents worked hard to feed our large family and food was rarely wasted. With all the work involved, nothing was taken for granted, and even the “spare parts” that would gross out generations today were treasured, lovingly prepared, and served. (cant’s say I’m dying for liver or tongue or heart any time soon, but you get the point).

Today, it’s much easier to drop by the store and get convenience foods which are over packaged. It seems no one knows how to cook a pot of beans, since they apparently grow in cans now. I even heard of an “informed” reader of a California newspaper reader who felt the need to scold hunters for killing animals for food… “Why don’t you go to the store to get your meat where they make it and no animals were harmed for us to eat!” (I must admit I’m still laughing over that one).

Many families scorn leftovers. They are so “yesterday.” Add on the impulse purchases which look tempting but often go begging, and our landfills become a huge compost pile.

So… just how am I going to cut down on waste?

1) Everyone probably knows that it’s a good idea to plan ahead, make lists, and avoid the temptations of buying a few extra things that really are not needed. Even if I have a good coupon or it’s on sale, it seems like a good idea, but oftentimes, it’s not. It goes wasted. So, If I have doubts, I should probably move along. Basically…. STICK TO THE LIST.

2) When I cook in bulk, freeze small portions for a variety of dishes.

3) I tend to overestimate how much food we’ll need at any given meal. We simply do not need as much food on the table. Of course, I don’t want anyone to go hungry, but I’ve found that it makes sense to ask family members about amounts to cook. There are some days when my high school son might eat one hamburger, but other days when he’s burned more calories and may need two burgers. He generally has an idea of what it will take to fill him up.

4) Leftovers – They Can Be MY Friend. Even when I’m careful, I often end up with food left over at the end of a meal or day. While it may seem easier to toss out the odds and ends, it makes sense in so many ways to build on the excess.

5) Rather than buying expensive premade dinners for emergency nights, make my meals ahead of time and freeze in appropriate amounts.

The paradox… too much food, yet people starving and malnourished everywhere.

Salad Day 95

I tried to post this last night but Blogger wasn't being very cooperative.

Yesterday I made myself a nice taco salad with lettuce, carrots, beans, corn chips, and my homemade peach salsa.  I do love that peach salsa.  Today I think I'll try something new.  Many of my friends have been sending me links to more salad ideas.  Time to start trying those as well.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Pudding Proof

Today's summer fun adventure involved pudding and paper... and A BIG FAT MESS!

ok... not the greatest picture, but you can get the basic idea.  First we made LOTS of pudding.  We colored small bowls of vanilla pudding with cake decorating colors.  We spread a giant piece of paper over the table...

Let the finger painting begin!

Everyone had FUN!  They all accused me of not being fun when they were little kids.  Whatever!  I was fun.  They just don't remember it.  Teens rarely do in my experience.

Even the missionaries, who had come over for lunch, got into the action.  Pretty brave.  They didn't even get aprons.  Silly boys.

Now I'm so much FUN I don't know how I'm going to top that!

Salad Day 92 and 93

It's been a couple of busy, busy days.  However, I've still been able to stay on task concerning my salads.   Yesterday I I started with a bed of lettuce, added tomatoes, cauliflower, broccoli, carrots, hummus and a little honey mustard dressing.

Today I had a nice cucumber salad... sliced cucumbers, red onion slivers drizzled with a little apple cider vinegar and Dijon mustard.  mmm mmmm good!

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Salad Day 91

Yesterday's fruit and tomato salad went so well I decided to try a new fruit and tomato mix.  This time I sliced peaches and tomatoes.  I added slivered red onion and chopped cilantro.  The dressing was a little honey mustard, apple cider vinegar, olive oil and lime juice.  It was great!  Most of my kids liked it too.  Our only thought for improvement was to wait until peaches are truly in season.  Then it will be to die for!  It reminded me of peach salsa.  Delish!

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Just Doing My Job

It seems like yesterday all my kids wanted to go on my little adventures with me.

Today was the World Beat Festival, in Salem. It is a wonderful celebration of world culture in the park, complete with music, dance performances, crafts and art to buy, and the yummy tastes of food from around the world. I was so excited! This was to be one of our great Summer Activities. You know. The activities I’ve been planning for my 8 year old to have the best summer ever? We had been to this festival a couple times in the years past. I wanted to make it a family tradition.

My kids have other ideas. This year, 2 girls were at church camp, the youngest thought it would be more fun to play with her friend, and my son wouldn’t get out of bed. In fact, the only kid that wanted to go with me was my married daughter. So much for family tradition.

Still, the three of us had a great time checking out world culture right in our own back yard.

I was contemplating why activity wasn’t turning out the way I had envisioned it as we were walking down the street, when my married daughter was suddenly embarrassed by something her dad did. (Honestly, he wasn’t that embarrassing. The poor guy just has to exist to embarrass the kids). Could this be the issue?

"Mom, he’s so embarrassing!" The eye rolls, the tone of voice...

“He’s not embarrassing. It’s just that you are normal and so is he. I can’t think of any kid that isn’t embarrassed by their dad. All of my siblings wouldn’t be caught dead with my parents in public. IN fact, one sister insisted on being dropped off for school a couple of blocks away… well, maybe she was embarrassed by the car we had to drive not the parents, but you get the point.”

I never thought I would really experience this phenomena. My children would be too sweet to go down that path, I thought. I would parent them better than that, I thought. The joke is on me, I guess, because just like most parents of teenagers before me -- just like my own parents! -- I and my husband are an embarrassment to the species known as the American adolescent (notice I didn't say "human") merely by the fact of our existence.

The good news is, they out grow it. My oldest used to avoid going on adventures with us in her teen years. Now that she is an “old married lady” of three months, she ready to hop in the car at a moment’s notice. I’m thinking they will all recover from this eventually… if they all survive the teens.

Seriously, it can happen anytime and anywhere -- out in public or at home or in the car, with other people around or not, and over just about any issue from the color of my t-shirt to the music on the radio. There is no rhyme or reason to the myriad of things that kids find embarrassing.

So now, when my kids declare, "Mom, you're so embarrassing!" or “Dad’s so embarrassing!” I will respond, "Thank you for the validation -- just doing my job."

But someday, they will look back at it and laugh and then thank us.

Salad Day 90

Today was an adventure with food. 

First, we went to the World Beat Festival in Salem.  Everything smelled to yummy.  I really wanted to eat a gyro, but I can't eat wheat and I can't eat milk (so cheese is out).  We stopped at a booth of Greek food.  We ask if they served anything that didn't have wheat or cheese.  The excited Greek woman was speechless.  Suddenly, she exploded with excitement.  "I'll fix you up.  Some chicken, some tomato and parley, some hummus.  She put everything into a paper bowl.  It was so yummy!  It was the best hummus I ever tasted!  Meanwhile, my husband got a plate of yakisoba form a Japanese booth and my daughter ordered a spinach, strawberry and salmon salad from an pasta booth.  I tasted a little of everything.

When we got home we, I made a new salad for a friend's birthday party.

I sliced watermelon and tomatoes.  I minced some basil and some mint from my yard. I mixed in 1/2 cup of feta crumbled bacon and drizzled it with a simple vinaigrette.  I was surprised it was so yummy!  I am making this salad again.

At the picnic, my friend brought a yummy salad with broccoli, carrots, apples, slivered almonds, raisins, and some kind of sauce made with mayo.  It was pretty good too.  I was worth not being able to eat birthday cake and homemade ice cream.

It's been a great day for salads!

Friday, June 24, 2011

Salad Day 89

 Today's salad was so yummy.  We had roasted chicken and a layered salad.  We layered salad greens, garbanzo beans, tomatoes, green onions, olives, grated carrots, chopped eggs, and feta.  I topped my serving with honey mustard dressing.

I am really enjoying my salads these days.  I even was tempted to eat salad for breakfast.  LOL.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

An Enchanted Day

Today was an “enchanted” adventure. I had the opportunity to take Lilli and my friend Jo and her little girls to Enchanted Forest, Oregon’s premier theme park of fun and amusement! For a few short hours, this fantasy land in the beautiful, lush forest became a land of enchantment. While I worked at the theater, giving a Voice and Dictation workshop for the actors, my friend Jo took the girls (and Case) to see all the fun that was in the park.

No matter where you live in America, you have access to an amusement park, even if you're living in Oregon. While we may not have a Disneyland or Six Flags, the northwest does have The Enchanted Forest.

Enchanted Forest is home to the Big Timber Log Ride, Storybook Lane, Western Towne, English Village, and Comedy Theater. What makes the park truly magical is the fact that the whole thing is the dream of my friend’s father and was built in my friend’s back yard! Such creativity! Everyone in the family pitches in to run the park and to make it family friendly. I love it.

At the end of the Day, all the kids were fairly cranky and tired. As we sat at the bottom of the hill, waiting for our corn dogs (a small indulgence) I reminded my daughter that she should show me her happy face because we were at the “happy place on earth” for the day. Without missing a beat, a complete stranger, a little girl about 9 years old who was walking past, turned and said, “no you are not. That would be Disneyland.” And walked away. We all stopped. Stunned in silence. Then we all burst into laughter. Butting into our conversation lightened the mood and my sad little 8year old was willing to move forward with the day with a grateful heart.

Besides, never going to Disneyland, thus having nothing to compare it to, Lilli completely disagreed. Enchanted Forest is the happiest place on earth… well at least in Salem, OR.

Salad Day 88

Today was a busy day.  Before I knew it, it was time for dinner and I didn't really have something to make.  I finally settled on mixed greens and honey mustard dressing.  Boring, but effective.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Strawberry Jam Forever

Today's summer adventure involved three buckets of fresh, cored, sliced and ready to go Oregon strawberries.  I don't normally have Lilli help out with jam.  Up to now I opted for a cleaner kitchen due to her age.  The whole process would just create a bigger mess letting a 6 year old into the kitchen.  Then, there is the danger factor.... hot liquid doesn't scream SAFE.  But today I let her put an apron on and scoop and stir and wash to her little hearts content.

By the time we were done we had put 24 quarts of strawberries in the freezer for future smoothies and made 8 batches of jam.  We are all looking forward to toast in the morning!

Salad Day 87

Today I made a salad that was a bit more the lettuce and dressing.  I've made it before, but it's been awhile.  It was tasty!


6 c. shredded napa cabbage
3 green onions, chopped
2 to 3 c. diced cooked chicken
2 tbsp. sugar
1/3 c. salad oil
1/4 c. rice vinegar
1/4 tsp. pepper
1 pkg. Top Ramen noodles all smashed up
1/3 c. peanuts
3 tbsp. sesame seeds
1/3 c. tropical fruit trail mix... just for fun

Combine cabbage, green onions, and chicken in one bowl. In another bowl mix sugar, vinegar, pepper and oil; mix with packet from Top Ramen. Pour over salad. Crumble noodle and nuts, add just before serving. Sesame seeds and trail mix optional.

Go ahead.  Give it a try.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Summer Fun

As I alluded to earlier... I'm trying real hard to make this summer a great summer for my 3rd grader.  It is so easy for her to get lost in the teenager shuffle around here.  My initial intention was to plan something she had never, or rarely done before for each day.  I haven't made it with my goal of an activity every day, but I've come close and she is having a blast.

To kick off the summer we all went camping at the coast.  While we were camping we tried a new campfire treat... Banana Boats.  It was easy.  First we sliced banana, skin and all, then we stuffed the banana with chocolate chips and mini marshmallows.  Then we wrapped the banana in tinfoil and placed it in the coals.

After 10 minutes we took it off the coals and enjoyed!  I didn't even miss the fact that I no longer can eat ice cream.  It was just as yummy as a Banana Split!  This treat was a HUGE hit!  We also made S'Mores.  These are always a big hit with my kids.  Maybe it's the sugar.  LOL.

We went to a fun mall in Seaside and Lilli got to ride the carousel.  I wish my cell phone could have captured her face better!

I found this great kit at Wal-Mart.  It was so much fun.  Unfortunately, my camera was unavailable when we followed the directions to make the chalk, and the cell phone camera just couldn't pick up the "glow" in the Glow-in-the-Dark chalk drawings.  It was so easy.  We just needed to mix the packets with water, shake real hard and then we poured them into the molds.  Lilli was thrilled to have the chance to "make" chalk.  The next day we gathered the kids at the campground and they all drew pictures on the campground loop.  Another great hit!  So fun!

We tried something new this beach trip... we built a bon fire on the beach at dusk.  It was chilly, but fun!

We also started writing to a Pen Pal... ok... it's Grandma.  Lilli is always sad that she doesn't get mail in the mail box (me too,.  I only get bills!)  I got s few postcards of the places we were visiting and Lilli started wring and mailing the postcards.  The best part is, being a pen pal is a great way to practice penmanship, sentence structure, addressing mail, punctuation, and general writing skills.  I win!  English and Writing and Spelling with no fuss and no tears!

                                                   Finally, we went to Cannon Beach, home of Haystack Rock. 

We went to make sand castles.  And that is just what we did.  I think Lilli liked digging and destroying the castles more than she liked building the castles.

In all, I think we are off to a great summer.  Yesterday and today we spent getting the garden planted.  Tomorrow we will make Strawberry Jam.  Hopefully, I can make the camera work for me and get some pictures of the process.

Salad Day 86

Today I mixed 1/2 cup spanish rice made with brown rice with mixed greens, tomatoes, and cream Italian dressing. I was suprized how good it was!

Monday, June 20, 2011

Salad Day 85

Worked all day in the garden and my hubby tore apart the kitchen when he tore apart the stove and fixed it.  I didn't get to make food.  I was starving by the time I got home from rehearsal at 10:18.  Lucky me.... I still had a little potato salad left over from camping.  I'd better for to the store tomorrow.  I don't have a single green thing in the house.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Salad Day 80- 84

 The first day of vacation we stopped at the Tillamock Cheese factory.  I couldn't enjoy the ice cream, but I enjoyed the grilled chicken salad.

On Thursday we we made bratwursts.  I choose to enjoy mine on a bed of lettuce and tomatoes with a little olive oil mayo and honey mustard.  The mayo and the mustard made a surprisingly yummy salad dressing.

Friday we made burgers.  Potato salad goes down great with a burger.  I also enjoyed a 7 layer salad my friend made.  She was nice enough to hold the dressing.  The 7 layers included lettuce, purple onions, celery, cucumbers, garbanzo beans, peas, green peppers, tomatoes.

I was tired when we got home from camping, so my hubby took pity on me and made me a salad with green onions, lettuce, tomatoes and french dressing.

I made chicken fajitas for Father's Day dinner.  I put lettuce on my plate and topped it with tomatoes, green onions, the fajita peppers and onions mix and the fajita chicken.  I loved it after I drizzled a little Russian dressing on it.

Now on to a week of salads.  I'm hoping to make it a little more interesting this week.

This Ain't the Hilton!

One of the things we love the very most about being here in western Oregon is our proximity to the beach. A quick hop over the coast range and we can enjoy the sand and surf. So every summer we have to make at least one trip to the beach. This week it was camping a little further north at Nehalem Bay with our friends the Jessops (our eldest daughter’s new in-laws and good family friends) and to participate on their sandcastle building team for the first time in a competition. Well… it’s their third year, but their first year to try the “pro” division and the first year my family members have been invited to participate.

The preparation, of course, started days before. It takes me awhile to make sure I have my “caravan” all set up and ready for travel like some kind of gypsy band. The packing for the week of “fun” is one of the main deterrents I have with “going on vacation.” Seriously! Who really needs that much work? And they call this vacation. I don’t know about you all, but I find it perfectly insane that that I load up half of my house, food for a week in coolers risking some kind of food poisoning, and “fun” activities into a pop up trailer and 2 cars. Crazy! And I do all this so that we can sleep on lousy mattresses, eat food that puts our digestive systems into some kind of arrest, and to have neighbors 5 feet away with paper this walls for shelter. This is insane!

The goal was to start our 2 hour and 45 minute drive at 9:30. Some things never change. As a kid I could count on any family outing to begin at least one hour after the announced time. I think it’s a “dad” thing. Whenever the dad is added to the equation, the time is thrown off a bit. Still, 10:30 departure is rather respectable. Most of the kids and 2 of the dogs stuffed into my Suburban and one kid and one dog hopped into my husband’s Honda. Off we went. After driving for 45 minutes the road was beginning to be rather curvy. It’s not like I drive like a crazy person. I was even driving slower than usual because I was pulling the camp trailer. But somehow, I lost my husband. We didn’t have cell reception in the coastal mountains so I couldn’t find out what was happening. Finally, we made contact. The dog was barfing (ewe!) Poor thing doesn’t travel well and we didn’t give him enough Dramamine. He lost yesterday’s lunch three of four times over the coastal pass.

We hooked up again at Tillamook Cheese Factory and spent some time cleaning up the car and enjoying the sights and tastes of a cheese factory. Everyone enjoyed some ice cream, lunch, and the free tastes of yummy cheese. The best part was that our daughter and her husband met us there and she got to hang out with us for the day.

We arrived at the camp ground and spent the rest of the afternoon setting up camp and starting dinner. I decided to make baked potatoes and sloppy joes. We got the meal into the Dutch ovens and continued to set up the tent trailer, the extra camp and the rain flies. The kids took off to play with their friends and my youngest took off on her bike to ride round and round the camp loops. We were camping, no agenda, no time constraints, nothing to do but sit around and WATCH other people sit around and WATCH us. LOL! It was fun to round out the day with a yummy desert of banana boats.

Thursday the dogs had us up early. So much for sleeping in. After making a yummy breakfast of fruit and pancakes… ok I will pause and give you the truth about those pancakes. The first time I mixed the buckwheat pancake mix I asked John to bring me some water. He said he had some hot water ready for hot chocolate and poured it into my fix. Instant lumps! I added cold water, but that didn’t help much. I hate wasting food, so we decided to cook the batter anyway. Can’t say I recommend that. The “pancake”, and I use the term lightly, looked more like mashed potato hash browns. Pancakes aren’t supposed to look like hash browns. The kids wouldn’t touch them. We started over. The second try was much better and by all accounts was yummy. I had gluten free pancakes with my fruit.

After we cleaned up breakfast, we all jumped in the car to drive up to Seaside to enjoy the funny little mall there. The town is like a mini year round carnival. But that would have to wait. We had to deal with our “vacation tradition” first. Wait for it… you guessed it. The car wouldn’t start. I can’t think of a vacation that we haven’t had to work on the car and this vacation was not breaking with tradition. We tried to jump start it. Nothing. The ranger came. He didn’t want us to block the loop and said he would bring a special thing to jump start the car. First he had to get his vehicle going. It wouldn’t start it either. LOL. John said he would stay and see about getting the car running. Eventually, they succeeded. But the rest of us had jumped into the Jessops car and went along our merry way. In Seaside we looked through shops, found a funny mime dancer guy, and Lilli got to ride the carousel.

We returned to camp around lunch time and enjoyed a green salad and bratwursts. We then spent the rest of the afternoon playing at the beach. John flew his kite… Chad tried to boogie board… Kimber sat at the beach and we chatted… McKay and Hannah frolicked in the surf… and Lilli did a little of everything. We returned to camp and made dinner… chili and corn bread. For desert we made smores… then we walked back to the beach for a bon fire on the beach at dusk. It was COLD.

The best part of the day was listening to Chad tell his stories. Someday he is going to be the life of the party with all the grandkids, like my brother Paul. He really is so funny! For instance, he and Jon Jessop were walking back from the bathroom around midnight. A couple shadowy figures were following them, so Chad turns around and says, “why are you following us you creepers?” “Park rangers. You two are breaking park rules.” Oops, I guess it wasn’t the sisters trying to creep you out then son, was it? The best story was him trying to get wet swim attire back on after using the bathroom and needing to get to the shower with a bare bum hanging out. I really can’t do his story telling justice, but he was hilarious!

The next morning the dogs had us up early again. This time we made mountain man. It takes a little longer because the Dutch oven needs to heat up. We did a little fireside reading while we waited. McKay and Chad took off to Cannon Beach to practice building sand castles. Lilli talked the rest of us into going on a bike ride with the dogs in tow… reverse that. The dogs towed us! Hannah’s back was hurting her so she rode my nice bike. John rode Hannah’s bike and had a hold of Charlie. Lilli was hanging onto Kirby and John lowered the seat on his bike as far as it could go and I rode it while keeping Missy on a leash. We made a test run around the camp loop. The dogs… and us made it through the learning curve and decided to hit the bike trail out to the bay. We were all laughing at the sight of each other. We really didn’t need to pedal. We had dog powered bikes! Kirby needs a little more training. He runs wherever he wants to. Charlie is a goober and runs where he wants to too. Trouble is, he is bigger and can do some damage to the poor person that is responsible for him.

After safely arriving back to the tent we headed out to the beach to see the progress of the practice castle building. What a beautiful day! Lathered in sunscreen, we headed out with lunch to enjoy the beach. We didn’t suspect a thing when the car fired up just fine and we arrived at our destination. However, things changed when we needed to head out to get drinks for our picnic. Once again we needed a jump start. John left us at the beach and drove into Seaside to see if Les Schwab could test the battery and alternator. Everything tested out fine. Problem? We needed a new starter. So… still going with vacation tradition… John bought the started and fixed the engine in our camp sight. This is one vacation tradition I’d like to change. Too bad karma isn’t on my side. We ended up having time at the beach, with perfect weather, perfect waves and perfect water. The kids had a blast.

The beach castle practice went very well. The castle looked great. Everyone was sunburned. Lunch of sandwiches (hold-the-sand) and chips was delicious. Dinner was burgers and salad hit the spot. We finished off the night with stories in the tent while teens in camp had a “chubby bunny” contest. Chad came in a close second, but Jon won out in the end.

While we were sitting around the camp fire, John was muttering to himself, completely satisfied with the level of preparation we put into our camping experience. "I kinda’ wish it would rain just a little deluge! Just so we could show how prepared we were. ...All we got is blue sky! That stinks!!!"

Famous last words. That night the rains descended.

We were planning on pulling up stakes in the morning and moving down the coast for a couple more days of “west and welaxation.” It was time to rethink the plan. We decided to come back a few days early from our camping drip due to the somewhat “wet” weather.

Our friends and our older kids took off at 6:30 in the morning to build sand castles in the rain while our youngest two kids helped us take down camp in the pouring rain.

Although a popup camper, also commonly called a tent camper or folding camper, isn't quite that easy to set up, the theory behind it is similar. A person uses either a hand crank or hydraulic lift to open and lift up the top portion of the camper, the beds on the ends are slid out, and any other slides included on the camper are slid out, and a person is well on their way to getting their camper set up. To take it all down is fairly simple too. You just do the whole process in reverse.

But setting up the camper or taking down the camper in inclement weather, such as a driving rain, is no fun. Everything we picked up had to be wiped down because it was soaking wet and muddy. We trapped all the dogs in the car for hours because we didn’t want to deal with muddy dogs. Eventually, we were ready to push in the sides and bring the top down… again… and again.. and again. It seemed that something was very wrong. We couldn’t figure out what was wrong. Frankly, we were all getting a little irritable. Suddenly, John got an idea… push the beds in further. Bingo! We were able to finish up and get moving again.

We pulled out of camp just at check out time and moved up the highway toward the sand castle competition. We dropped off the girls and told them to hurry and find our team, then we went searching for a place to park… not an easy thing to do when you are carting around a big trailer, 3 dogs and two cars. Just as we were ready to hike to the beach, we got the call… we had missed the whole thing! The good news: the team did well and earned $200 for 5th place… not bad for creating in the mist, rain and cold. The bad news: 1 girl was crying because she missed supporting her hubby in his sand castle competition, one girl was crying because she didn’t make it to the potty and peed her pants; one girl was crying because she was tired, sandy, freezing and wet; one girl was completely confused; and one boy was grumpy because all the girls were crying. Meanwhile, I was fighting my way across town trying to find where everyone was while pulling a trailer and calming 3 hyper dogs.

Finally, everyone was reunited and we headed home. This time I remembered to give the dogs extra Dramamine to the dogs. Between the drugged dogs and the kids, it’s official, I am a better driver then John. No one got sick. We all arrived home. And I parked the trailer all by myself.

I now need a vacation from my vacation.