Monday, June 27, 2016

June 27 - 30, 2016, MN

Monday, June 27. I was the babysitter today and I'm pretty proud that I survived and am in good shape at the time of this writing, 7:30 in the evening. I made it through walking Charlotte to school, spending the morning at the park, picking Charlotte up, fixing lunch, story time, nap time, 15 minute respite for Rose, playing with Charlotte, snacks for all, outdoor play until dinner, some dinner prep, several accident clean ups, and now, a bit of me time.

Wednesday, June 29.  I babysat again yesterday, all was good until Charlotte had a meltdown after school, there was pushing, shoving, crying, and frustration going on while I was trying to keep my eyes on something in the oven and cleaning up potty accidents.  My experience under those conditions really sucks.  Life is good when everyone is getting along.  Thanks to Ben's gentle and effective parenting skills, he changed the moods and the evening was pleasant.

This morning, Tina (the Nanny) took Charlotte to school and the little ones to the library while I got things ready for this week's camping trip with Norah and Camille (Norah today, then doing a switcheroo tomorrow so Camille gets a turn).  

Last week, I realized that the battery on the camper wasn't keeping the lights charged and after checking it, the ground cable had broken and come off its connection.  I stopped at Interstate to have the connections checked and they got it straightened out for me.  I also stopped at Walmart to pick up a couple of fireplace logs - I'm finding they are the perfect and fast way to get a fire started and they keep it going well for 2-3 hours.

I picked Norah up at the library and we headed to the KOA in Maple Grove (I wanted to see if I liked this one better than the one I was at last week).  Norah was curious, mostly interested in having lunch and playing with the toys that I brought along.  And then she settled right in for a nap - good thing, because I was ready for one too.

After her nap, we went to the pool, and they sure don't bother to warm the water in these places - it was way too cool for my comfort.  We did manage to play long enough to satisfy her and then went back to start the next eating cycle, then a campfire and sang songs together and had s'mores.  I'm not a fan of those things - sure don't get the hype at all.

Thursday, June 30.  Norah did great last night once she fell asleep - that was the hard part, it was close to 10 when she finally gave it up.

The playground was the morning activity and then we went and met Tina at the grocery store to do the switch and Camille came back with me to the campground and the routine started all over - the same activities.  They were both interested in going in and out the door of the camper, loved the sink, did ok with the toilet, and it was all about food.  They both asked about each other now and then, but Camille asked about going home several times.

Monday, June 20, 2016

June 20 - 26, 2016, MO, IA, MN

IMonday, June 20.  I was hooked up and heading north by 8:30, on the road for 7.5 hours with beautiful weather, a few sprinkles and a bit of wind, but not bad.  I talked to Ben this morning and he said the kids are getting  excited to see me. I got a text from Jill Sunday that said she heard Norah and Camille talking about Grandma Rose in their cribs.  She sent me this picture yesterday.    

I am so ready to see them all - the last 2 weeks with siblings have been great, but I'm ready to be with my sons and their families.

I drove as far as Clear Lake, IA and am settled in at Oakwood RV, relaxing on the patio, having a glass of wine, listening to music and enjoying the quiet and solitude - taking advantage since I will be in grandkid mode for the next couple of weeks.  Look what just landed on my foot - a visit from Mike's spirit and a reminder that he is always with me.

Tuesday, June 21.  I got my little house cleaned and the tanks all emptied and refreshed and then headed for Ben's house, only a 2.5 hour drive.  I picked Charlotte up from school and got the biggest smile and her first question was "did you bring your little camper"?  They love the new dresses that I brought for them.

Then, when Norah and Camille woke from their naps, they were all over me too.  At dinner, Ben asked Norah what the best part of her day was and she replied "Grandma Rose".  I now need to get back in their daily routine so life continues to run smoothly for all.  This is what bath/bedtime looks like around here.

When Jill got home from work, we talked through the night and caught up on things - 6 months is a long time.

Thursday, June 23.  I had the kids by myself today and all went well, so different from last year.  After walking Charlotte to school, Norah, Camille and I walked to the lake and spotted some ducks and a blue heron that was wading right close to the shore, made for some excited jumping and clapping of hands.  They are speaking so well now and the vocabulary has increased to where you can have conversations with them. They wore the new dresses that I bought for them and Norah kept telling me "I like my new pretty dress".

We all walked to Pershing Park for an ice cream social after dinner tonight and they all wanted chocolate - go figure, we should have taken off their pretty dresses ahead of time.  The sky started to look like rain, then it started to sprinkle and by the time we got back home, we were all soaked through.  The kids all thought it was pretty cool.

This morning, Charlotte and I got ready to go camping.  I was unable to get s site where we had gone in the past so we are going to the KOA in Jordan, MN this time.  Yesterday, we planned our menu - tomatoes, carrots, edamame, strawberries, and nuts for snacks; shrimp and rice and grilled cheese for dinners; and eggs in a hole, oatmeal or cereal for breakfast.  It seems like all we do is eat and find activities to keep busy with - oh, and lots of trips to the playground which is right across the way from us.

Friday, June 24.  What a day! Awake at 7:30. Get dressed. Breakfast - eggs in a hole were a great treat. Walk around the park. Playground. Drawing activities. Snack. Pool. Shower. Snack. Activities. Playground. Snack. iPad drawing. Dinner. Playground. Campfire. Snack. Brush teeth. Jammie's. Stories. Songs. Back rub. Sweet dreams. Pooped Grandma.

Saturday, June 25.  I had everything put away and ready to pull out of the campground by 8:30 this morning in order to get Charlotte to Jack's birthday party in time.  I got back to Ben's just as he, Norah, Camille, and Ruby were walking to Bruegger's for bagels.  I joined them and the bagel was welcome, as I didn't have time for breakfast before leaving the campground.  The nature center where the party was held looks like a great place to return to, and it really is pretty close by.

Camille woke up this morning and said to Jill, "no diapers, Mommy. I want to wear undies and go in the potty", so today is day one of potty training.  They both did well with lots of praise and celebration when it happens.

The day was full of activity.  Jill and her dad were working on installing new tiles on the fireplace. The finished product is going to look so nice once the insert is installed.

Lois and Dennis joined us for dinner and Ben made tacos with flank steak, Spanish rice, beans, and pickled onions. Yummy!

Sunday, June 26.  After bacon and egg frittata for breakfast, we packed a lunch, loaded up the van, and headed for the St. Louis Park aquatic center for an afternoon of swimming and play in a giant sandbox.  Ben and Jill left with the twins, so they could put them down for a nap, Jill did the grocery shopping, and I stayed with Charlotte.  She was like a little fish in the water, spending more time under water that above, jumping into the pool and doing belly flops and twirls.

Another delicious dinner of grilled BBQ chicken and sweet corn, made by Ben, topped off the evening.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

June 13 - 19, 2016, KS, MO

Monday, June 13.  It was close to 11:00 before we were ready to go to Ron's this morning and when we got there, he had the coffee on, a stack of gifts (he works in a large warehouse and is given stuff all of the time), and his photo album out.  We took a walk down memory lane when we went through the pictures.  A nearby cafe was our next stop, then we spent some time browsing at an antique mall before heading back to Ron's house and the campground.

Janeen (Ron's girlfriend) and her daughter Karly came by with pizza for dinner and we had more laughs.  It wasn't long and it was time for her to go home and for me to walk Frisco, then I took Ron home and said goodbye. He was so happy that we came to visit and I'm glad that we did too.

Janeen and Ron

Ron, Rene, and Me

Rene and I are definitely on different schedules, she stays up late at night drinking beer and then sleeps in late in the morning.  I am an early to bed and early to rise kind of gal and am accustomed to living alone.  I couldn't get to sleep because I could hear her talking on the phone outside at the picnic table and then when she did come in for the night, she talks to herself until she finally drifts off.  I would love to do more road trips and spend more time with her, but this difference might cause some problems.  Tomorrow we head back to her house and I will spend one more night there before my next stop in Kanas City to visit Rita and Bob and their families. 

Wednesday, June 15.  When I was emptying my waste tanks yesterday, getting ready to leave Wichita, I noticed water dripping under the trailer, it looks like there might be a puncture in my gray water tank.  I guess I must have hit something in the road, I can't see how bad it is - will have to have it checked out.  

Rene and I made it back to her house around 3:00 in the afternoon and Mike had been shopping, he picked up steaks and sweet corn for dinner tonight.  It was another very pleasant evening.

This morning, I packed up and headed off to visit Rita and Bob's families near KC, a beautiful drive through the rolling hills with views of Truman Lake for miles and miles, a few small towns, and then I arrived at Bob's early in the afternoon and got setup. I will be spending the next 3 nights at Rita's house, dividing my time so I can have one-on-one time with each of them, the trailer is staying at Bob's, as he has the perfect spot for it.  Bob was babysitting Lincoln, his grandson, so we played with him and went and had a shaved ice for a treat. After a short visit with Penny when she got home from work, I headed over to Rita and Denny's house.

We had a very nice dinner and sat out on the deck, talking until almost 11:00, much later than any of us are usually up.

Friday, June 17.  Now to backtrack on what happened yesterday - oh, Rita and I went to Stella's house, where Barley greeted us at the gate, fully armed with a pistol on his belt, BB gun in his arm, and earbuds in his ears - he was doing special ops.  We all headed to Brookside where we had lunch at Jalapeno's, then stopped at a few cute shops to browse.  We're all getting ready for a family gathering at her house tomorrow, so we dropped her off so she could grocery shop, then Rita and I did the same.  We prepped for our salads when we got back home.

We grilled steak and salmon for dinner - yum, yum and moved out to the deck for cocktails.

Penny picked me up this morning and we headed to the Plaza to have breakfast with Bob.  And then we were off to the city market and to visit the Steamboat Arabia Museum.  The ship was delivering merchandise to Parkville, MO, items that would be loaded onto wagons that were headed west to the pioneers and towns that were being settled.  It hit a snag in the Missouri River and sunk in the mud, all passengers and crew were saved. The only casualty was a mule that was tethered to a post.  Then, as the banks and route of the river was ever changing, it got covered up in mud that kept the payload well preserved.

Back in 2010, the ship was discovered by some guys who were interested in the history of the river and sunken ships. There are estimated to be about 400 of them in the Missouri River.  The most valued item listed as cargo was several barrels of the best Tennessee whiskey - never to be found again.  The story was very interesting and we got to talk with one of the men that was part of the excavation and he had very good stories to tell.

Christel had the KC area family all over to her house tonight and it was so great to see all of my nieces and their families.  Her yard and home are perfect for entertaining - a large, wooded parcel, right in KC near Swope Park and not far from the Plaza.  Christel is an art teacher in Lee's Summit and there are interesting, brightly colored works all through her house.  We mostly hung out on the decks, it was a hot night out but fans and shade kept us comfortable.  The kids had fun catching fireflies.

Olivia just loves Frisco and she loves posing for photos - can't you tell?

Rita and I

Josh and Stella's Blue Sky Garden and border.

Josh and Barley

Rita and her daughter,Christel

Bob and Ashley

Christel made Princess Tiaras for Olivia and Harlow

Ashley and Chase

Joel, Ashley, Theresa, and Amber

Sunday, June 19.  I moved back over to Bob's this afternoon and we just hung out, had peppers and sausage for dinner, visited with Penny's Mom, Norma, and just enjoyed his beautiful home, yard, and deck and especially their company.

Today, we started the day with coffee, then a walk, and just a relaxing morning.  This afternoon, we ran some errands and then stopped at Ashley and Amber's new homes since I hadn't seen them before.  Ashley's house is in the historic district of Brookside and she and Chase are in the process of furnishing and giving it their own personal touch.  Chase's family is in the tile, flooring and decor business and his mother, Theresa, is a home decorator who lives in Fort Myers , FL. She has been visiting and giving them guidance and helping get the house together.  Amber and Joel's new home is in a newer family community in Lee's Summit, complete with fitness rooms and swimming pools - great for a young family with kids.

We picked Norma up and went to Jack Stacks for BBQ dinner - mmmm, mmmm good! It was an early night for all of us.

We watched the full moon rise through the trees.

Monday, June 6, 2016

June 6 -12, 2016, FL and back to MO, KS

Monday, June 6.  We made it through the night and now we have to decide whether to stay or get away.  The forecast doesn't sound quite as bad as it did last night, but the tropical storm is definitely hppening in the big bend area of Florida and we are right there.

Pelicans are really active out on the bay this morning and Julie and I just spotted a dolphin breaching about 30 feet from the shore.  The predictions aren't good, but the media always seems to make it more than it is, even the weather.  It skirted us most of the day.  We took a little drive early this afternoon and a low stretch of the road was partially blocked off as the waves were coming in at 3-5 feet. 

We bought fresh shrimp, came home and cleaned it and had yummy shrimp for lunch.  About 6:00 when it looked like we wouldn't be having any more rain, Julie, Ali, and I took a drive to see how that road was looking.  Now, it's closed off, parts are buckled, and the entire width of the road is covered with debris, sand and stones.  A channel 13 weather reporter was on the north end reporting live - big deal - I'm sure she was sensationalizing a bit.

Tuesday, June 7.  At 2:30 this afternoon, Travis Standlee was convicted of 2nd degree murder in the death of my brother, Ray, on September 5, 2015.  He faces 50 years in prison and won't be eligible for parole until after 35 years have been served.  He also comes to trial in August for the death of homeless woman who died in the same way and a day after he was released from jail because of inconclusive evidence in Ray's strangulation - I guess the jury found that it was conclusive.  Poor Ray, a slight man of 129 pounds fought for his life against a 230 pound man and lost. What a terrible way to die.

This photo taken just a few months before Ray died.

Julie and I must have walked 5-6 miles on the beach today, at 3 different times. Yes, I have more shells to sort through for taking to the grandkid's.

Wednesday, June 8.  Its our last day at the beach.  Darn - none of feel like we're ready to go home yet.  After our beach walk this morning, we got ready for Julie's Aunt Joan to arrive from Talahassee.  

We had a great visit with Aunt Joan - she is an almost 90-year old very active woman, lots of laughs and stories and a yummy lunch (more fresh shrimp).  When she left, we headed back to the beach and searched for tiny shells, coming up with some baby ears, shark's eyes, volcanoes, slippers, and coquina.

Julie walked down to the beach on the bay side and spotted a horseshoe crab swimming near the shore.  It was still there when I got there, so I got it's picture, not the greatest shot though.

Our last Gulf sunset for a while.

Thursday, June 9.  We were cleaned up, packed up, and ready for the road by 8:30, had to stop in town to make a quick return at the hardware store and then on to Aunt Joan's to drop the key off.  We had spotted these old truck along the road on our way down, so watched for them so eye could snap some photos.  Every time I look at them, I think about the movie, "Cars".

We drove until about 6 pm and stopped for the night in Holly Springs, TN, just south of Memphis.  The gal at the motel suggested a nice little Mexican restaurant nearby and we had a great dinner and one of the nicest servers I've ever had, a cute smiley faced Guy named Edwin who was from Guatemala and he was just so attentive and friendly - he made our dinner an experience.

Friday, June 10.  We were back on the road by about 9:30 this morning and today's drive took us through the beautiful hills and small towns of northeastern Arkansas.  We stopped at a little town called Mammoth Springs and had lunch on the deck overlooking the Spring River.  I had fried chicken, white beans, fried okra, and pickled beets - everything was yummy!  One more stop at the little town of Hardy, we strolled the Main Street and browsed in a couple of the shops before the final drive back to Springfield.

Sunday, June 12.  I got packed up and headed for Rene and Mike's house, got setup, although on a bit of a slope, and we talked and talked and talked some more until bedtime.  Some of our talking was done with some of their neighbor's at the boat ramp near their house.  Mike fixed us a really yummy dinner of roast pork, potatoes and carrots.  We retired pretty early, as Rene and I are heading to Wichita tomorrow for a 2-day visit with our brother, Ron.

That trip went just fine, about a 4-hour drive and naturally, Rene kept me laughing a good part of the way.  Ronnie was so happy that we came to visit.  Our first stop was at his house where we met his 2 cats and got the tour of his little bachelor pad.  He has lots of musical instruments, so we got to hear him play harmonica, guitar, and mandolin.

After that, we drove to the USI RV Park, checked in and sat at the picnic table yakking until it was quiet time, when I took Ron back home.  The park is very clean and well maintained and the folks here are real friendly.  I just had to take a photo of this strange tree that is just down the road from my site.  A tree is growing right through the center of the cutoff stump of another tree.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

June 1 - 5, 2016, MO, TN, MS, AL, FL

The Wednesday, June 1.  Happy Birthday, Savana - 23 - really?  I'm sitting here on Randy and Julie's porch, watching the rain and hearing the thunder in the distance.  My camper and car need a bath.  I haven't seen this since December.

I got to see my brother, Rick for lunch today - about an hour was enough for all of us.  Randy was on his lunch break from work and we met at this cute little Italian place called Bambino's, just down the street from Rick's apartment.  We met there because Rick is battling an infestation of bed bugs, so I couldn't go there and he still had some calls to make to exterminators.  Who knows how they got there, but this is the 2nd time he's had to deal with them, also the 2 other apartments in the building - low income, single guys, who all like to party.  He's looking good and we had a nice visit.

The trial for my brother, Ray's, killer started today in Cedar Rapids.  Rita and Denny are there and will keep the rest of us informed.  I just couldn't be there, for personal reasons.  I don't ever want to see that guy and I just hope that he gets the entire 30 year sentence that he faces.  

Julie is babysitting for Jax again today - what a sweet little good natured guy he is.

Friday, June 3.  We drove the last 2 days, heading south to Julie's Aunt Joan's beach house at Alligator Point, F!, a total of about 16 hours with a stop in Tuscaloosa, AL for the night.  

Randy and Frisco lounging in the back seat.

Today's drive was uneventful too, we made good time and several stops at roadside stands for peaches, plums, cukes, and boiled peanuts.  Some cleaning needed to be done when we got to the beach house and as soon as we finished that, we got to the beach in time to see the sunset.  A large tow truck was there, loading a small airplane that had crashed on the beach about the time we arrived and we didn't even know it. I guess the pilot had a neck injury but the folks clearing the debris didn't have many details.

Home Sweet Home

Sunday , June 5.  Naturally, our days have started out on the beach, stopping to chat with folks, going in for a dip every now and then - it didn't take long to be feeling like you needed to cool off, as the humidity feels like it's about 100%.  I think I know why I like Arizona better than Florida - I don't think that I've experienced sweat rolling down my cheeks since I lived here back in 2002-2005.  And that sweat came with very little exertion. 

Yesterday, we headed into Panacea to get a few things and I lucked out when I found a pair of Crocs flip flops reduced to $20 (lime green with pink polka dot straps).  We bought a beach umbrella to keep Jax out of the sun and then headed down to buy some regular and Cajun flavored boiled peanuts from a guy that Randy and Julie met last year - what a character he was!  And what a way to make a living - seems like a hard scrabble life and by the looks of the couple, they are quite weathered.  And then it was on to Mad Anthony's where we sat on the thatch roofed, screened patio and had a couple of cocktails for happy hour - and lots of laughs to accompany them.

Ali (Randy's daughter), her husband, James, and baby Jax arrived late in the afternoon and will be staying with us for a few days.  We had a bite to eat, then headed to the beach, so Jax could have his very first experience with that part of nature.

Sunday, June 5.  Today is the day that I had originally planned to arrive in Springfield and here I am, way beyond that and at the beach for the last 2 days.  Julie and I walked a long way this morning but the shelling wasn't real good.  I'm trying to get a nice variety of shells for the grandkid's.  Speaking of grandkids, I got this great piece of Charlotte's Art Work today.  She told me that it rained right after she did it and it disappeared.

Birdie Girl With Bicycle and Helmet

Jax and I enjoyed the porch for a while this morning.

Randy's grilling attire - that's what happens when you choose to fish and drink beer when the sun is out.

The rain cleared up this afternoon, so Julie and I walked the beach again, then we drove to the recycling center and ended up going to the nearby Bald Point State Park and walked the trails and some boardwalks.  The walkways are set up for handicapped access with really nice boardwalks and smooth fabric over the dunes for access to the beach.  We rescued a Horseshoe Crab that was lying upside down on the beach.  He was a little dried out, so we hoped that he made it - appeared to do well once he hit the water.  We saw a lot of hermit crabs and stopped to chat with a woman who was trying to catch a large crab that she could see from the pier, by dangling a turkey leg on a rope and hoping it would grab on.

Julie's Aunt called us around 9:00 tonight to let us know that Tropical Storm Colin is heading our way and there could be high winds, storm surges, flooding, and possible tornadoes.  We kind of gathered our stuff together to be prepared to evacuate if necessary.  It reminds me of 2002-2005 when we lived in Florida, although we weren't even close to the coastal areas then.  It's going to be interesting.