My How Friends Change

Welcome to the August 2014 Carnival of Natural Parenting: Friends This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama. This month our participants have shared stories and wisdom about friends. ***
I remember a long time ago receiving a phone call from a dear friend. At this time I was recently married and had moved away to a different state. This friend called to tell me she had a miscarriage. I didn't know how to handle the news, I avoided calling her, I felt awful, but didn't know how to address the situation. As a result, I lost that friendship. I look back and feel pretty awful about the kind of friend I ended up being. I wasn't supportive, I wasn't there for her. As a result, we lost touch and aren't in each other's lives. I've tried to find her since then and I haven't had any success in locating her. I'd like to apologize for my behavior. I'd like to tell her that I didn't know how to handle her loss at that time. I'd like her to know I've learned a lot since then. In recent times the situation has been turned. Initially with the chronic diagnosis of my middle daughter, her death 16 months later, then with the sudden death of my husband, my true friends have revealed themselves. For many people, loss makes them feel uncomfortable. They are afraid they will say the wrong things, they have their own fears in relation to loss and grief. It may be hard to handle when people we considered close friends start to ignore us when our life is in such turmoil. It's easy to feel offended, but it really doesn't do any good. If it makes you feel better, write a letter. Share your anger, your frustrations and your feelings over their lack of support. Then whatever you do, DON'T send it. The letter will be purely for your benefit. Emotionally they may have checked out of your relationship, but you don't need to play a part in the disconnect. Hopefully they will have a change of heart and become supportive in the future. For myself, I didn't know how to be truly supportive to others through their losses until I had experienced some loss myself. Don't give up hope, there are friends and family members that will stick with you throughout your grief. They'll be there with your ups and downs. These are the friends to hold close. I've lost friends and family members because of the loss we've experienced. They have allowed, for the time being, fear and denial to be their friends. Their perspective may change, as mine did. Death can bring out the best and worst in people. New friends will reveal themselves and people that you thought would be there, will fail in your eyes. It's all part of the grief, it's another loss. Pity parties won't do us any good, keep your chin up and thank God for the friends that are there for you. So if you have a friend that is dealing with grief, be there. If you don't know what to say, give them a hug. Say something, do something. Let them know you are there even if it makes you feel uncomfortable. Talk about the person that has passed. It's nice to know that you are not the only one that still remembers them. Many people make the mistake of thinking they can't mention the deceased. How silly, we didn't forget they died. It's nice to know that others didn't forget either. Send a text, write an email, make a phone call. Send flowers. Bring a meal. Take out their trash. Just set next to them. Grief is exhausting. If they are a parent, offer to let them take a nap while you watch the kids. It's not what you do that is so important, it's the fact that you are there. As for the friends and family that stood by your side through thick and thin. Be ever so grateful for their presence in your life. For the most part, I've learned to be thankful for all of my friends throughout my life. We were friends for a purpose, even if it was for a short time that gave me a few smiles. I've learned to really cherish my friends. I have some pretty spectacular friends, thank you to all of you!! Have you lost friends while going through a particularly stressful situation? How did you deal with it?

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Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting! Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:

(This list will be updated by afternoon August 12 with all the carnival links.)

  • Sibling Revelry — At Natural Parents Network, Amy W. shares her joy in witnessing the growth of the friendship between her two young children.
  • Making New Mama Friends — Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama muses on how she was able to connect with like-minded mamas and form deep friendships both in 'real life' and online. Learn how these life-long friendships, both between Jennifer and other mothers but also between Jennifer's daughter and the other children, formed and flourished.
  • Family, Friends and Family Friends — Vidya Sury at Vidya Sury, Going A-Musing, Collecting Smiles is reflecting on family friendships, past and present.
  • Arranging friendships in a modern world — From a free-range childhood to current parenthood, how can an introvert like Lauren at Hobo Mama navigate the newly complicated scheduling of playdates and mom friends?
  • Mommy Blogs: Where Moms Make Friends — Mothers make friends with other mothers in new ways. The options from earlier decades remain, but new avenues have sprung up with mommy bloggers. Laurie Hollman, Ph.D. at Parental Intelligence shares her thoughts.
  • Friendship and Sacrifice: Guardians of the Galaxy — Shay at 4HisGlory learned that friendship lessons can be found in unlikely places, like blockbuster summer movies.
  • Friendship - Finding, Forming, Keeping, and WishingLife Breath Present's thoughts on finding, forming, keeping, and wishing for friendships as an introvert.
  • Consciously Creating My Community: Monthly Dinners — How have you intentionally created community? Dionna at Code Name: Mama's goal for the year is to cultivate community. One way she's done that is to help organize two different monthly dinners with friends.
  • Adults need imaginary friends, too — Tat at Mum in Search shares why it's a good idea for adults to have imaginary friends. You get to meet Tat's friend and download a playbook to create your own.
  • Friends Near, Friends Far — Kellie at Our Mindful Life helps her kids keep in touch with friends 600 miles apart.
  • Which comes first, social skills or social life? — Jorje of Momma Jorje frets about whether her daughter can learn social skills without experience, but how to get good experience without social skills.
  • Snail Mail Revival — Skype isn't the only way to stay in touch with long distance friends, That Mama Gretchen and her family are breaking out the envelopes and stamps these days!
  • Montessori-Inspired Friendship Activities — Deb Chitwood at Living Montessori Now shares a roundup of Montessori-inspired friendship activities for home or classroom.
  • How I used the internet to make local friends — After years of striking out at the park, Crunchy Con Mom finally found some great local friends . . . online!
  • My How Friends Change — Erica at ChildOrganics knows entirely too much about how to comfort a friend after a loss.

Road Trip to Niagara Falls

Welcome to the July 2014 Carnival of Natural Parenting: Family Vacation
This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama. This month our participants have shared their family-travel tips, challenges, and delights. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.
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I've made several goals for myself since losing my husband. I wanted to push the envelope so to speak, get out of my comfort zone. Some of my goals were small, such as to try Stand Up Paddle Boarding. Others were harder, I wanted to take the kids out of the country by myself. My husband was always a big traveler. He had spent most of his child hood in other countries. He lived in places like England, New Zealand, France and Thailand, just to name a few. I loved hearing his stories and knowing how those experiences shaped his view of the world. On the other hand, I had never been on an airplane until I was dating him, let alone be out of the country. During our married life together we had many opportunities to travel out of the country and I cherish all of those memories. This was something I wanted my children to experience.
A glimpse of Kalahari Resort 
We started our journey at the end of May by attending the Unschoolers Waterpark Gathering (UWG) in Sandusky, Ohio at the Kalahari Resorts. This was our second year attending. It's really a lot of fun for parents and kids. My cousin flew in from Vermont to meet up with us for the week. She was a huge help and she's a ton of fun. There were some great speakers like Cindy Gaddis ( I LOVE her book about Right Brain, Left Brain learners called The Right Side of Normal)and Laura Flynn Endres. It was inspiring for the parents to hear from unschooling veterans. It's refreshing to be around a group of non-judgmental people that share a lot of the same ideas in regards to raising children.
Besides having the largest indoor waterpark to keep the kids busy there were also plenty of other activities such as a nerf war, kids marketplace, and dozens of funshops to chose from. I was particularly proud of my daughter for organizing a Littlest Pet Shoppe funshop. She was quite pleased that so many other kids showed up and shared a similar interest. They had fun making clothing for their pets out of balloons and learning how to decorate their pets and create props for them. You can see my daughter's Youtube videos of her Littlest Pet Shoppes HERE.
In the evenings there were fun family activities such as a dance night, a family carnival and on the last night a talent show. It's quite an eventful week. It's quite exhausting, but very inspiring at the same time. I've been really impressed with the children and young adults I've met at UWG. As a whole they are very creative and joyful people. I always leave UWG feeling good about unschooling and trusting my children's ability to learn. They have their dates set for May of next year, it's a great deal at a great place. After 5 days in Ohio we headed up to Canada. It was about a 6 hour drive to our hotel in Ontario. We were going to be in Canada for about 5 days and I was looking forward to a bit of a slower paced day. We had said good-bye to my cousin, and we were back to just the three of us. Our trip over the border to Canada was rather uneventful. I did find it rather interesting that our Cell phone immediately knew when we were out of the country,and informed me of the change in charges. That prompted me to turn off my cell phone for our entire stay in Canada. We had a lovely slow paced stay. I had scheduled some time to just find things along the way that interested us. We stayed in Brampton, Ontario. We had a lovely hotel that a twirly slide and big pool, just in case the kids didn't have enough time in the water at Kalahari. In Brampton we found some fabulous places to eat. Our very favorite was called That Italian Place. There menu was new everyday. They made there pasta and sauces fresh and we had a vegetarian sandwich there that I still dream about. Did I mention they also have homemade cannoli!! Yum!! I wish I could eat there everyday, my son said he wanted to live there. One other unexpected highlight of Brampton was Chinguacousy Park. We spent an entire day there walking around seeing the beautiful ponds, wildlife, petting zoo and botanical gardens. Oh how I wish I had a park that near me on a daily basis! We were about an hour away from Niagara Falls. We made sure we visited the IMAX theater to see and hear the stories of those adventurous souls that attempted to go over the falls. We were actually very surprised to learn how many actually survived. Did you know a man went over the falls in a kayak and lived to tell about it? Crazy! We spent the day in Niagara Falls wandering the streets, enjoying good food and marveling at the gorgeous view. We also took a ride out to the falls to see them up close and personal. It was a bit too up close for my five year old,but we enjoyed it nonetheless. We saw some amazing rainbows and felt the mist off the falls. Our original plan was to stay until the night time fireworks. However, we all agreed we were quite tired and ready to leave before waiting for the illumination of the falls and then the fireworks. SO we left feeling satisfied at the beauty we had seen that day.
The kids had fun learning about Canada, it's history and culture. We met some new friends that we've been keeping in touch with and hope to visit again. I was really impressed with Canada's efforts towards sustainability. They had wind mills everywhere, as well as recycling bins. I was also impressed that their highways weren't littered up with billboards every two feet. It somehow made for a more relaxing drive enjoying the scenery. So this was a baby step to what I hope will lead our family to further international adventures. I always learn so much about myself and my children when we travel together. Road trips are a fun way to see what's out there. We finished our trip home by traveling country roads through upstate New York. We found a fun place with large metal sculptures along the way that was a lot of fun. We then traveled through Pennsylvania and stayed with family for another week before returning home. I'm already trying to plan our next road trip. Where are your favorite road trip destinations?
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Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!
Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:
  • Favorite Family Vacation Recipe: Staying at Home — The best family vacation Laurie Hollman at Parental Intelligence could ever recommend requires minimal packing, no hotels, unrushed travel, easy meals to everyone’s taste without a bill, no schedules, everyone’s favorite interests, and three generations playing together.
  • Scared of toilets and other travel stories — Tat at Mum in search is an expert at flying with kids. She shares some of her tips and travel stories.
  • Staycation Retreat for Busy MamasLydia's Handmade Life gives Budget-friendly, eco-friendly staycation ideas for busy work-at-home moms.
  • How We Leave It All Behind — At Life Breath Present, they don't take traditional vacations — they go on forest adventures. Here are some tips in planning for an adventure, if you don't just go spontaneously, as they have before. Plus, many pictures of their latest adventure!
  • Traveling while pregnant: When to go & how to manage — Lauren at Hobo Mama discusses the pros and cons of traveling during the different trimesters of pregnancy, and how to make it as comfortable as possible.
  • Our Week in Rome: Inspiration and Craft Ideas for Parents, Teachers, and Caregivers — If anyone in your family is interested in learning about Ancient Rome, if you enjoy crafts, of if you're a parent looking for a fun staycation idea, check out Erin Yuki's post for a Roman-themed week of crafts, food, and fun at And Now, for Something Completely Different.
  • The Real Deal: A behind the scenes look at our "Western Adventure" — Often Facebook and blog posts make vacations look "picture perfect" to outsiders. If you only looked at the pictures, Susan's recent family vacation was no exception. In this post at Together Walking, she takes readers "behind the scenes" so they can see the normal challenges they faced and how they managed to enjoy their vacation in spite of them.
  • Welcome to the Beach House! — Kellie at Our Mindful Life is in love with her family's new "beach house"!
  • Road Trip to Niagara Falls — Erica at ChildOrganics writes about her first trip out of the country with just her and the kids.
  • 5 Essential Things to Take on Vacation — Five things Nurtured Mamas should be packing in their suitcase for their next trip, in a guest post at Natural Parents Network.
  • The Many Benefits of Camping with Friends — Do you want to go camping, but the very thought of it seems daunting? Make your life easier - and your kids happier - and go camping with friends! Dionna at Code Name: Mama discusses how much better camping can be when you join forces with others.
  • My Natural First Aid Kit for Camping, Travel, and Everyday Use — Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama gives us an insiders looks at her natural first aid kit for camping, travel, and everyday use. These natural remedies have saved her hide and those of others many times! You might be surprised what made her list of must-haves!
  • Traveling Solo and Outnumbered — Alisha at Cinnamon and Sassafras shares lessons learned from a recent trip with two toddlers and no co-parent.
  • Compromise and conviction on the road — Jessica of Crunchy-Chewy Mama shares the reality vs. the dream of travel and dishes on the compromises she makes or won't make while traveling.
  • Camping Trauma — Jorje of Momma Jorje offers why she loves camping and why she and her family are a little gun shy about it, too.
  • First in our Books — Writing fresh from her first family vacation, Laura from Pug in the Kitchen has realized that helping pack her parents' station wagon made for a smooth and pleasant trip that was more than she hoped for!

Everyday Superheroes


Welcome to the March 2014 Carnival of Natural Parenting: Everyday Superheroes
This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama. This month our participants have talked about the remarkable people and characteristics that have touched their lives. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.
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"It is surmounting difficulties that makes heroes." -Lajos Kossoth


Superhero Austin


This has been a tough month for the Walker Warburg Syndrome (WWS)  Facebook Family. Because WWS is extremely rare, most of us never meet anyone else in person that has the disorder. Thankfully due to the internet we can now connect with other families dealing with WWS. Many of the babies struggled in and out of the hospital with infections and breathing issues through the winter.Sadly, two of our sweet WWS boys passed away during the month of February. These babies are my superheroes.

My daughter Bella suffered from Walker Warburg Syndrome. I wrote more about that, here, here and here. To briefly summarize the rare genetic disorder is characterized by Muscular Dystrophy, blindness (microphthalmia), Hydrocephalus and Lissencephaly. Most parents are given the diagnosis at the 20 week ultrasound. We are usually offered an abortion, which clearly the parents in this facebook group have declined. We've chosen a different path.

We've chosen to live with the uncertainty, the heart break, the struggle. Please don't forget that we've also chosen love, life and joy. Yes, joy wiggles it's way in there when you chose love and life. These sweet babies have only entered our life for a short time, but they left an impression that will last. They may be small but they teach mighty lessons. Mostly I feel they taught us all a lesson in unconditional love. Their lives were important and they mattered.

"The hero is commonly the simplest and obscurest of men."-Thoreau
Superhero or Rock Star?? -My Sweet Bella 

Superheroes exhibit extraordinary strength and power. Here are a few superheroes that have touched my life:

My Bella. I witnessed her strength up close and personal. She was strong beyond words, as I believe all of these Walker Warburg babies are. I know her life wasn't comfortable. I know she suffered through seizures and surgeries. But most of all, I know she was loved.

Baby Austin- I haven't met Baby Austin in person, I've met him through the WWS facebook group. It's his family that gave me the inspiration for this post. They often dressed him in Superman clothes and refer to him as their little superhero, and that he was. He fought for 9 months and passed away in his Momma's armsFebruary 16, 2014. You can see his facebook page, and learn more of his story here.

Baby Evan- Another sweet baby I've only been able to know via the internet. His chubby cheeks and happy disposition reminded me of my sweet girl. This superhero passed away on February 22, 2014. You can learn more about Evan HERE and support his family HERE.
Baby Evan 

Every superhero has a sidekick, these superheroes are no exception. The families that supported these sweet superheroes can not be forgotten. They are left behind to carry the torch with a broken hearts and empty cradles. They leave behind big brothers and sister. But most of all they leave behind memories that will be cherished forever.

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Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!

Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:

(This list will be updated by afternoon March 11 with all the carnival links.)

  • I Am A Super Hero — Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama shares how she learned the hard way exactly what it means to be a real super hero and not a burned out shell of a human simply pretending to be one.
  • Quiet Heroics — Heroism doesn't have to be big and bold. Read how Jorje of Momma Jorje is a quiet hero…and how you probably are, too.
  • Not a Bang, but a Whisper {Carnival of Natural Parenting} — Meegs at A New Day talks about the different types of "superheroes," ones that come in with a bang and ones that come in with a whisper.
  • Silent courage of motherhood in rural Cambodia — Nathalie at Kampuchea Crossings marvels at how rural Khmer women defy the odds in childbirth.
  • Super PappyMother Goutte's little boy met a superhero in checked slippers and Volkswagen Polo, his grand dad: Super Pappy!
  • An Open Letter to Batman — Kati at The Best Things challenges Batman to hold up his end of the deal, in the name of social justice, civic duty, and a little boy named Babe-O!
  • My Village — Kellie at Our Mindful Life reflects on the people who helped her to become her best self.
  • 5 Lessons My Kids Taught Me — Children are amazing teachers, when we only stop to listen. They remind us to choose happiness, to delight in the small things, to let go and forgive. There is so much we can learn from our children. Justine at The Lone Home Ranger shares a few of the lessons she's learned.
  • Could you use some superpowers? — Tat at Mum in search shares a fun activity to help you connect with your own superpowers.
  • Like Fire Engines — Tam at tinsenpup tells the story of the day she saw a surprising superhero lurking in the guise of her not entirely mild-mannered four-year-old daughter.
  • Everyday Superheroes — Erica at ChildOrganics shares her list of Walker Warburg Syndrome Superheroes that have touched her life forever.
  • My Superhero of the Week: Nancy GallagherTribal Mama muses about the transcendent things her superhero mom has done.
  • My choice in natural birth does not make me a super hero — Bianca, The Pierogie Mama, discusses her thoughts on her experience with the perception of natural birth and putting those mamas on a different level. Does giving birth naturally give cause for an extra pat on the back? No! All mamas, no matter how they birth, are superheroes.
  • Someone's Hero — Sometimes being a parent means pretending to be a grown-up, but it always means you are someone's hero. Read Mandy's lament at Living Peacefully with Children.
  • Growing into a Super Hero — Casey at Joyful Courage shares how owning our behavior and choosing to be a better parent, a better person, is an act of courage.
  • A Math Superhero — Kerry at City Kids Homeschooling writes that her 7-year-old daughter's superhero is an MIT-trained mathematician.
  • It Starts With Truffula Trees And Tulips — Luschka of Diary of a First Child takes a hard look at the realities of her relationship with her mother, and through this post goes on a journey of discovery that ends in a surprise realisation for her.
  • We Don't Need an Excuse — Maria Kang (aka "Hot Mom") asks women #WhatsYourExcuse for not being in shape? Dionna at Code Name: Mama asks Hot Mom what her excuse is for not devoting her life to charity work, or fostering dozens of stray dogs each year, or advocating for the needs of others. Better yet, Code Name: Mama says, how about we realize that every woman has her own priorities. Focus on your own, and stop judging others for theirs.
  • It's not heroic when you're living it — Lauren at Hobo Mama knows from the inside that homeschooling does not take a hero, and that much of what we choose as parents is simply what works best for us.
  • Superheroes, princesses and preschoolers — Garry at Postilius discusses why his preschool-age son is not ready for comic book superheroes.
  • The Loving Parents of Children with Special Needs – Everyday Superheroes — Deb Chitwood at Living Montessori Now shares posts with resources for parents of children with special needs along with posts to help others know how to support parents of children with special needs.
  • Everyday Empathy — Mommy Giraffe of Little Green Giraffe shares why her secret superpower is everyday empathy.
  • The Simplicity of Being a Superhero — Ana at Panda & Ananaso explains what superheroes mean to her wise three-year-old.
  • My Father, The Hero — Fathers are pretty amazing; find out why Christine at The Erudite Mom thinks hers is the bees knees.

Beware! Single Mom Camping

Welcome to the February 2014 Carnival of Natural Parenting: Parenting Fears This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama. This month our participants have shared stories and wisdom about parenting fears. ***

I have come to realize that I really was in a place of comfort relying on my husband for so many things. Now that he's gone, I find that I need to push myself to get out of my comfort zone if I want to have the life I want to live.
 I never went camping before I was married, it was a new concept that he introduced to me (along with things like air travel, leaving the country..). I loved it. There is nothing quite like being outside and close to nature to clear away the cobwebs. I really want to share these things with my children.
This year as we were getting close to the one year date of losing Ian, I knew I wanted to get away. I felt it would be wonderful to go camping with the kids. It would be the perfect stress reliever, right?
  I was worried about whether or not I'd be able to pull it off. After all, Ian always did most of the organizing and planning for our trips. This was now going to be  my responsibility. Would I be able to step up to the challenge? I have learned that most of the things you worry about don't happen. But what about those things that you didn't worry about... I decided to just do it. I put the plans in motion, researched online our campgrounds, packed our food, tent and got us ready to go. However, things didn't go quite as I expected.



  Day 1:  We pack the van to leave & head towards Cummins Falls. We check into our campground at Edgar Evans State park. We then drive back & go to hike the falls.
 The falls were gorgeous but the hike was much more difficult than we anticipated. There was a spectacular view from the top, but the bottom was where all the action was.  It was an hour hike along steep cliffs and along the river. We didn't realize we had to cross the river until there was no further to go.   With the help of other hikers we were able to navigate across the rocks and over the river.
   At one point I was trying to cross the river and fell in. The big tough guy helping us was strong enough to pull The Z's across but I sunk in about 4 feet of water.  Unfortunately, my cell phone was in my pocket. With the help of others we were able to make it across the river and eventually to the falls. I wasn't able to use my phone to get any pics because it was soaked. I did ask a lady to to take pics of us & email them to me, which she did. So I do have those. Thank you kind lady!!
   We had a great time at the swimming hole, it was a neat experience. We spent some time there swimming and exploring.  I was dreading the long hike back.
 A family in front of us said there was a shorter way back but you had to climb UP. They did it before and said it was fine.  We followed... Up and up we went straight up the mountain. By the time we reached the top we were rock climbing, trying to hold on by our fingertips and wedge our feet into crevices. I made the mistake of looking down, and had an instant feeling of panic. Lil'Z  was in front of me and the girl in front of us helped him get to the top. I didn't realize how hard we worked until I noticed I was still sore four days later. I had shin splints and a sore chest the whole week.

We made it back to the van, I kept my swimsuit bottoms on because my pants were wet from me falling in the water. So those behind us on the way up the rock climb had quite a view. (Sorry BigZ!)
Anyway we load ourselves into the van and pull out of the parking area. I hear a weird noise and have BigZ jump out to check our tires, she did but  didn't see anything. We keep going.  We get out on the main road only to hear a whooshing noise. We pull over and I see my rear driver's side tire is flat. Lovely.
 I can't use my phone because it wasn't working since I fell in the water. Fortunately a nice young couple that rocked climbed behind us pulled over to help. They offered me their phone and I called AAA. While I was on the phone with AAA another young guy pulled over and offered to help. I didn't have a jack handy so he said he lived close and he'd be right back. AAA couldn't find our location and I didn't know where I was exactly..so I get off the phone with them and wait for the other guy to come back.
  He comes back with a truck he uses for the fire department. He is a part time firefighter and works at the Walmart Tire and Lube. Perfect!  He changes my tire and has me follow him down the road to a gas station to check the air pressure on my tires. The other young couple from Nashville kept the kids busy during the changing of the tire.
  We said good-bye to them and followed the firefighter to the gas station.  He was my knight in sweaty armor. He had sweat dripping off his nose and had the thickest southern accent. He had never been to Cummins Falls or even heard of the campground where we were staying (30 minutes away). He said he didn't get out much. He was so sweet and helpful. He offered to follow us to Walmart to get a new tire so I wouldn't have to keep driving on my spare. I told him that wasn't necessary, that we'd go the next day. I figured it was going to be dark soon and I didn't want to arrive at camp in the dark. I offered him some money but he wouldn't take it. He asked if I had enough money for fuel. I said I did and thanked him. I realized I was still in my swimsuit bottom, looking like a goof. We must have looked like we were homeless. We head back to the camp before dark and get the fire going. We had a pleasant evening collecting firewood and cooking over the open fire.

 Day 2:
We drive almost an hour to the nearest Walmart. My emotions were on a short fuse and I was not in a good place mentally. They asked what I wanted at the tire place and I started to cry. I asked if there was a payphone I could use, they directed me to customer service. Well, they had a payphone that was recently removed and everyone seemed to be out of minutes to let me use their cell phone.
 One of the tire employees went and got a manager. They escorted me out of the store to use his cell phone. I felt like a freak show,  again we were looking like we were homeless and living out of our van. They told me they'd help me get tires. I told them I didn't need help getting tires, I just wanted to use someone's phone! I finally use the phone, have them replace my tire and take the kids to eat.  I come back, get the van and drive back to the campground.
 There was no Sprint store around, but I did stop in the Verizon store. The girl was very helpful and told me to take the phone apart and put in into a bowl of rice. I did, it worked! Yay! So at least I had a phone in case we broke down, but the camera wasn't working.
 We're delayed a day from our original plan, but it didn't really matter. We spend the rest of the afternoon exploring the park and finding some awesome rocky bluffs. I was thankful the weather was beautiful and it wasn't raining on us.
  We heard some cool owls hooting at night. The kids were brave and went hunting in the dark for firewood by themselves, they were quite proud of themselves.  We cooked another yummy meal at the camp and chilled around the fire before turning in for the night.



 Day 3:
We wake up and start packing up camp. It's takes some time and I regret my plan to hop to a few different campgrounds. If hindsight would have been foresight I would have planned to just stay in one campground. Setting up and tearing down camp is not an easy task to do by myself. While I do have "helpers" they sometimes slow me down  and end up causing new problems.
 We FINALLY get in the van, which I will now name "Slumdog". I turn the key and it's dead as can be. :-(  We hike to the camp hosts lot. They had stopped by to introduce themselves earlier. There are not many people in the camp so he knows who we are when we arrive. He asks if I have jumper cables, I don't. He digs for his, then shows up at our camping spot a bit later. He connects the cables and I try to talk to him. He tells me he can't hear very well because he was "blew up in Iraq". I then try to speak clearly and look right at him when I speak.  I try to start the van again, and it still doesn't start. He readjusts things and tries again.  He asks, "Where's your husband?" I was NOT expecting that. I say "He died.." and tears start to come to my eyes, making him feel pretty awful.  Then I ramble on about this being the one year anniversary since he died,..blah..blah. The poor man stops everything and hugs me and apologizes. He then invites us to dinner and a tour on a boat and begs us to stay longer at the campground. I told him if I can get the van started I'd really like to continue with our trip to Alabama. Finally the van starts, it was the battery after all..whew. We thank him and cruise on out of there and head four and half hours to Tannehill, AL.

We arrive at Tannehill late that afternoon. We tried to find a decent place to eat before heading to camp. I didn't want to have to try to make dinner at camp after such a long day already. We picked up Subway as a last resort and headed into the Campground. This campground was a lot busier than the one we were at previously. It was a historical park and I was excited for all of the activities to keep the kids busy.
 We check into a primitive site since we don't need electricity or water. We had to drive through several lots of RV's to get to our location. The kids were excited to be around other people, but when we get to our site we are the ONLY campers in the primitive sites. So we set up as close as possible to the RV's. ha.
 A friendly couple helps us gather up some rocks to build our fire ring. They explain how exciting things are here at the park for the Halloween festivities. Apparently it's the biggest Halloween campground around. The RV's are arriving 6 weeks ahead of time to set up their decorations and get ready. (really!) We also find out that the entire pioneer village and all of the activities are not open until the weekend. :-(  WHAT?! We would be leaving before the weekend. We head to bed on that note.


                                                                                     Day 4:
We have a nice campsite near the water, we have the advantage of deer running through our end of the camp. The kids ended up counting over 30 deer, that was neat. I was glad I packed their scooters, they happily rode them around the park around all of the RV's and Halloween decorations.
 The kids are pretty disappointed that they don't get to do the pioneer village, blacksmith shop, paper making, Sweet Shoppe or any of the other activities I told them about.   I told Lil'Z this could be his opportunity to be a Junior Ranger. So we began to pick up trash through the park and we learned about scat and animal prints. However, when I asked about the Junior Ranger program they said they didn't have one. UGH!
  We hike to the museum and learn about the history of the area in relation to the civil war.We also do a "slave trail" hike through the park.The trails were NOT clearly marked and we ended up walking a bit further than we had planned.  We were exhausted by the time we got back to camp.
 The kids get back to ride their scooters, it's the fastest way to take the trek to the bathhouse. At this point we realize Lil'Z 's scooter is gone. We look everywhere and can't find it.  We check at the registration office and see if it was turned in or anything. We also leave our info so the rangers can keep a look out for it.
  Anyway, we were clearly disappointed that we drove all this way only to have the park activities closed. I did check the website for all of the hours and activities. I guess that's another downfall of me not using the phone.  We made the best of the day anyway.


 Day 5:
We wake up, pack up and get ready to head home. It only takes me about 3 hours to do this, blah. The scooter was never found. Someone said they saw it behind a tree, but it was never located. :-( I do get the front security card to present Lil'Z with a "Junior Ranger " badge and pin. It was enough to make him happy, he couldn't have been more pleased with being a ranger. 


It was quite warm in Alabama. Did I mention we don't have working A/C in the van? So we hop in and head home. Fortunately we did not have any more blown tires or dead batteries. I was so thankful for that. We stopped in Chattanooga and ate some homemade pasta and some delicious pastries on the way home.
  All in all I think the kids enjoyed themselves. They gained some independence and confidence. They got really, really dirty and had a lot of nature time. I was hoping to have a little more reflection time for myself, that didn't really happen.
 We survived. I learned a lot, I think we all did. We faced our fears, and overcame them. We were even able to come out the other side stronger. I am so grateful to these kind strangers we met along the way, they were a blessing beyond compare.

  *** Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting! Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants (list will be final around 5pm PST February 11):
  • When Parents' Fears Escalate — If we didn't self-doubt, we probably wouldn't care enough about our children to struggle with understanding them. But how do we overcome self-doubt? Read advice from Laurie Hollman, Ph.D., guest posting today at Natural Parents Network.
  • What ifs of addiction — After seeing how addictions of adult children is badly hurting a family close to her heart, Hannah at HannahandHorn shares her fears for her own child.
  • Sharing My Joy — Kellie at Our Mindful Life shares her fear that others think she is judgmental because she makes alternative choices for her own family.
  • Building My Tribe Fearlessly — A meteorite hit Jaye Anne at Tribal Mama's family when she was seven years old. Read the story, how she feels about that now, and how she is building her tribe fearlessly.
  • Fear: Realized — Laura from Pug in the Kitchen shares how her fear of car accidents was realized and how she hopes to be able to use her efforts to overcome the remaining fears to help her children overcome their own.
  • I'm a Negligent Helicopter Parent — For Issa Waters at LoveLiveGrow, the line between helicopter parenting and negligent parenting is not so cut and dried.
  • My Greatest Fear For My Child — Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama admits that she has struggled with not allowing her fears to control her and how the reality of this was blown wide open when she became a mother.
  • Procactive Steps to Calm Parenting Fears — Every parent has certain fears related to dangerous situations, That Mama Gretchen shares ways she is preparing herself and her children for emergencies.
  • Homeschooling Fears – Will My Children Regret Being Homeschooled? — Deb Chitwood at Living Montessori Now shares an interview with her now-adult children that answers a question she had throughout their homeschooling.
  • An Uneasy Truce — Homeschooler and recent convert to unschooling, Tam at tinsenpup shares just a few of the things she tries to keep in mind when fear and insecurity begin to take hold.
  • Fearing the worst, expecting the best — Tarana at Sand In My Toes writes about fears that come with parenting, and why we must overcome them.
  • Can I be the parent I want to be? — Amanda at Postilius confronts her struggle to peacefully parent a preschooler
  • Out of Mind, Out of Fear — How does Jorje of Momma Jorje deal with her pretty steep, long-term fears regarding her son's future?
  • I Don't Homeschool to Manage My Kids' Transcripts — One of Dionna at Code Name: Mama's fears of parenting is that she will get so caught up in the monotony, the details of homeschooling, the minutiae of everyday life, the routine of taking care of a household - that she will forget to actually be present in the moment with her children.
  • Beware! Single Mom Camping — Erica at ChildOrganics shares her first adventures as a single mom. She laughed, she cried, she faced her fears.
  • Parenting Fears And Reality Checks — Luschka from Diary of a First Child shares her three biggest fears as a parent - that most parents share - looks at the reality behind these fears, and offers a few suggestions for enjoying parenting.
  • Parenting fear : to kill a pink rabbit...Mother Goutte tells us the story of a pink rabbit that disappeared, came back, and became the symbol of her worst parenting fear...
  • Roamingsustainablemum considers whether allowing your children freedom to explore the world safely is harder now than in the past.
  • Meeting my parenting fears head-on — Lauren at Hobo Mama had many fears before she became a parent. Learn how they all came true — and weren't anywhere near as scary as she'd thought.
  • Don't fear the tears — Justine at The Lone Home Ranger worried that letting her children cry when going to sleep was tantamount to the dreaded parenting moniker, CIO. She discusses what actually happened after those teary nights, and how she hopes these lessons can carry forward to future parenting opportunities.
  • Will I Still be a Good Mom? — Mercedes at Project Procrastinot worries about her mothering skills now that breastfeeding is no longer the top priority.
  • Pregnancy Fears: It Happened to My Sisters, It Will Happen to Me... — Kristen at Baby Giveaways Galore discusses the difficulties with pregnancy, birth and breastfeeding that the women in her family have had and how she overcame them.
  • Fears — Meegs at A New Day talks about how her fears before parenting led to a better understanding of herself and her desires for her daughter.

Mamatography Week 5 : Sick Days

We were sick this week. We have spent all week resting and watching a lot of TV. It sucks being a single mom and being sick. I've had zero energy, and the kids still need to be taken care of.

Unfortunately, I shared with the kiddos. Big Z did find the time to pamper me a bit before she came down sick. Aren't my toes pretty?

Yesterday they were getting their strength back. How do I know? They started to argue and get on each others nerves. They did make some cute clay animals though.

Clearly between being snowed and and being sick, we've been in the house too much!!

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We are taking (at least) a photo a day, a collage or a picture each week to keep a record of our year. Join us at any point during the year and start sharing your own daily photos!

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