This Week’s Hard Thing

Flora is receiving her First Holy Communion this year.

Dan and I attended a meeting regarding Reconciliation (the sacrament that comes before Holy Communion). Glancing over the page of dates, I felt a little drop seeing Saturday April 27 as the day of her event.

We usually go to Cook Forest the last weekend in April, and we had been scheduled to do it this year, too.

And now we’re not going to. I’m a little sad. My Twitter friend @SecretAgentL tweeted: “Remember, Jesus trumps vacation. :-)”


I’ve been going to Cook Forest on and off since my mid-20s, with college-era friends. The last time I didn’t go, Kate was a newborn. Dan stayed home with M when he was a newborn, and I went up with the girls.

Ah, well, as my friend Jen says (not on Twitter, on the phone), “The great thing about Cook Forest is there’s always next year!”

I know it’s also a bummer for Jen, who is Flora’s godmother. But we can arrange for her to do something special to acknowledge the rite of passage at a different time. (Jen is the reason that Cook Forest happens at all; she cannot bail!) Dan and I haven’t told the kids yet. Michael doesn’t know what’s going on yet, anyway (last year was his first trip to CF); Flora will probably be sad but copacetic; Kate’s probably going to hate it. Maybe we won’t say anything until they ask.

What do you do when two big things in your life conflict?

Pictures from the Forest

“I just woke up from my nap in the car. How you doing?”

Hours and Hours of Fun

Twue Wove

(This isn’t the greatest picture. I tried to convince DearDR to sneak up closer, but I think he was worried about missing the shot. This gives you some idea of how much Bun loved that Goldendoodle.)

Hiking! (This is probably actually, “Lift Me Up On that Big Rock, Mommy.”)

“Cheeeeeessse” in the Woods

Wind! I

Wind! II

“I Climb Up, Mama.”

Because after a long, sweaty 3-mile hike, really all you want to do is go to the playground:

Okay, girls, can we please go get something to drink now? And some lunch? Magic word: Notdogs!

Things I Learned Over the Weekend

If I drink two beers in a row at night, I’m pretty much done.

Goldendoodles do not shed. (The one we hung out with this weekend was sweet — pretty much like a giant stuffed animal come to life. By Sunday, Bun was walking up to him, hugging him, and exclaiming, “I love you so much!”)

I’m not 25 years old anymore, and that’s okay. (The juxtapositon of The Ex with my husband and children was… illuminating. In a great way.)

Bubbles and sidewalk chalk provide plenty of entertainment for the under-5 set. (Okay, I kind of knew this one.)

I’m not as out-of-shape as I thought. I survived a 3-mile hike (mostly downhill), even carrying Monkey a mile or so. And I’m not too sore.

Two-year-olds should not go on 3-mile hikes, even if they are mostly downhill.

If you leave a child’s camera outside on a picnic table, pictures will be deleted.

Even boys as young as 6 will want burn something.

Having a responsible, almost 10-year-old girl who likes young children at Cook Forest with you is priceless.

Just like with grief, there are five stages of napping: Denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance.

In a full-size bed, Bun will sleep right in the middle, perpendicular to the bed.

Monkey likes “Red Dragon Tattoo” by Fountains of Wayne. A lot. That’s my girl!

Wearing white pants to a party where your children will have access to dirt and chocolate is just dumb.

The Annual Trip to the Woods: Part I

I don’t remember what year we started going up to Cook Forest State Park. It came about because JenZ’s family (her mother’s side) went every year, and one year she decided it would be fun to invite some of her college friends and roommates. When I started going, I was single, as were many of the rest of us. It was just a great excuse to hang out in the woods, sit around a camp fire, drink A LOT of beer, smoke a lot of cigarettes, and read trashy magazines. And eat junk food. The guys burned stuff and played poker.

From the original group of six or 10 of us, we have evolved into a force of about 25 (it varies year-to-year), including children and dogs. We’ve expanded from the biggest cabin they have (two bedrooms, two bathrooms, and a loft) to three cabins. This year, the stalwart Misfit household is unable to join us because they relocated to Tennessee. (We miss you, Misfits!)

We have been there in many iterations, the lot of us: single, dating, married; pregnant, with infants, toddlers, kids (I think everyone is still under 10 years old, but we’re getting close) and dogs. I don’t recall going with the Ex while we were dating, although it’s possible; ironically, he will be there this year, newly divorced. He’s bringing his dog (they didn’t have children). DearDR and I have gone almost every year we’ve been together, starting in 1999; I think we missed one year “just because” (read: we were broke), and I know we didn’t go when Bun was still an infant.

We still drink beer, but not as much as we used to. Hangovers are hell with kids. A few of us may smoke a cigarette or two after the children are asleep (guilty). Trashy magazines, junk food, burning stuff, and poker are still the order of the days (and nights). As are hikes, bubbles, sidewalk chalk, canoeing (someone falls in the river every year — last year was DearDR’s turn), and all manner of catch up.

And although we have been there rain and shine, I don’t know that we’ve ever been there when the weather is predicted to be 80 degrees with no rain. The kids and dogs can run around outside; there’s a playground nearby; s’mores will be made; sunscreen and shorts will be worn. It isn’t the most relaxing of times when you’re a POD (parent on duty), but I can think of worse ways to spend the time. Besides, it kind of illustrates the “it takes a village” mentality in action — everyone, parent or not, keeps eyes on the kids (and dogs) and takes turns playing with and/or feeding them. It’s pretty awesome.

We’re leaving today around 2 p.m. Cannot wait to be there.

Meme Me

I am honestly having trouble coming up with things to write about. All I have in my head lately is all the stuff I have to do to get us out of town this weekend, and get my house “redd up” for my parents, who will be staying here overnight in our absence.

Monkey and I had a funny conversation about seeing through brains two nights ago, but it was one of those “had to be there” moments.

Like the other day, too, when I took Bun home early from a party we were attending (she had not napped that day, and she was a crazy girl at the party, and DearDR and I just couldn’t keep chasing after her), and she was quite put out with me. Pulling into the driveway, she was chewing on the zipper on her coat.

“Are you hungry?” I asked her. “Do you want some dinner? Do you want some yogurt?”
“No,” Bun responded with a pout. “I don’ like dinner. I don’ like yogut.”
“Oh,” I said. “What do you like?”
“I like Daddy,” she said definitively. “I like Monkey.”

I need a repository of memes from which to draw. ClumberKim’s got one up at her place I am probably going to “borrow”. If there’s a meme you like or you’ve done lately, please share.

I’m heading out of town this weekend, too, so I have to schedule some posts. Better crack out the camera, too. If nothing else, I can show you some cute pictures of my kids!

Countdown to Cook Forest: One day. A little more ready today, but it’s going to be a late night, and a crazy Friday.