Camp Colombo

It's all about organized chaos

Changing My Corner of the World

Everyone talks about winning the lottery and what they would do with the money. Big dreams, expensive trips, no bills, it’s all In there. Some talk of building schools that are run by teachers, others will give to their churches and communities.
I am a giver. Sometimes to the point that I overload myself with giving and honestly get so immersed I forget to let others find the same joy by giving to me. I make it hard for them and I regret those moments, days, and sometimes years. I let my need to be independent and invincible overcome.
If I had a million dollars (thanks Barenaked Ladies) I would want to do something that makes a difference. Something I could get right in the middle of and face the disappointments, tragedies, joys, and triumphs first hand. I want to change a little piece of the world. To give some hope where it is missing. To show my little piece that what society and the media offer are not the only choices. That they can have a better life than the one they Are currently living. That they don’t have to face it alone.
Recently my community and I experienced a loss. A good person who worked at making his little piece of the world a place that people came for help and healing. I watched him bring kids alive, the kids no one else could get to share. He wasn’t Superman, but he was always trying to save us, even when none of us realized it.
A year and a half ago, another friend passed away. At the funeral home I kept waiting for him to walk in the door, smiling from ear to ear, hugging everyone in sight. It never happened, he wasn’t coming in the door again, but I try to remember his joy in life and find the moments (and sometimes they truly are just moments) to hold onto when life gets dark and dreary.
I want to be a person like that. Who changes her small corner of the world somehow. Who helps change others by dropping the pebble into the pond and watching the ripples spread.

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Grad School Overload

I spent the entire day working on papers and lessons for my graduate class. I am shot. Exhausted. Unfocused. Don’t get me wrong, I love my program, am getting great stuff from my classes. But a class every 8 weeks for the last year and a half, with a paper due every week plus discussion and response has drained me. Anyone who says online courses are easy is full of goat puckey. Yep, goat puckey. There’s no skimming through because you have to write everything out. Which may be why I haven’t posted much recently, about the last 9 months, or written in my journal. I’m written out.

One class left. Then what? A job. I am more than qualified to teach your kids. But what I really want? I want to create the lessons to help others teach your kids. I’ve discovered I’m really good at it. One of the biggest things I learned from my grad work.

But for now, I have the rest of a book waiting, a cup of tea, and a cozy bed with flannel sheets to crawl into. I’m beat.


Learning a Foreign Language

Conversation on the way home one day with JMumbo:


JMumbo:  Mom, I don’t want to take French or Spanish, I want to learn a different language.

My thoughts: Oh no, we only offer Spanish at our school, what am I going to do?

What I said:  Really?  What language do you want to learn?

JMumbo:  I want to learn English.

Long pause as I process this wondering where the wires crossed.

Me:  Bud, you already speak English.

JMumbo:  No, what they speak in England.  That English.

Gotta love JMumbo.  Do you think he wants to learn to insert “bloody” and “bangers and mash” into his vocabulary?  Or just talk with a cool accent like the prodigal daughter does when she practices for when she marries a British lord?


I’ve become an RV owner

It has been an interesting summer.  We bought an RV in the early spring and every time we load up I feel like the Griswolds, but I’ve really enjoyed the trips we’ve taken in it.

The “tramper” as I call it (Trailer and Camper combined because I never seemed to label it correctly), is a Class C, which means everything is attached.

It has a sleeping space over the front seats, which means I try and knock myself out at least once a trip moving from the passenger seat to the fridge and back.  The kids can sit and play games at the table, lounge on the couch, and JMumbo and I discovered that it was really easy to nap in the back on a long drive home.

Being a bit on the OCD side, I continuously add to the bins and baskets used to organize the cupboards and plan meals a week ahead so I know what to pack, and so I don’t have to eat hotdogs and hamburgers every night. 

There is no TV allowed by decree of the mean mommy, but we do take the laptop along for an occasional movie night.  One of the deals with buying the tramper was we would spend time together away from the TV.  Living in the snow belt means a lot of time inside during the winter with the TV.  Camping is not that time!  The family has managed well living in my world, even coach has survived without his daily dose of ESPN.

With nothing else to do, the kids talked him into playing Mexican Dominos, which he lost and then said it was because we made up rules.  (That’s why he’s a good coach, he wants to win, and JMumbo may have cheated, he’s like that sometimes.)

The tramper did help fulfill a request of the prodigal daughter and JMumbo; it got their father to the beach.  The last eight years or so, the kids and I have travelled with my parents, to Rhode Island for a paternal family get-together.  My dad’s brother lives about 10 minutes from the Atlantic, loves company, and offers up his home to us every summer for a long weekend in August.

Numbers were down this year with a cousin starting college, another getting married the weekend after, and my brother attending a wedding in Florida, but we still totaled a healthy 16.  For years Coach has found reasons not to go, the number one reason being he is not a beach guy and what would he do there all day?  He found out this year that a set of twins, age 6, will keep anyone busy walking the beach looking for rocks to take home.  I think he averaged 2-3 miles a day.

I love sitting watching the kids on the beach and in the ocean because I remember when it wasn’t the prodigal daughter out there holding a boogie board steady for her cousin, but me holding the board steady for her.

Every year there is a giant hole dug in the sand, but my son now seems to tower out of it, instead of barely peeking over the edge.   And we adults get a little grayer and gravity drags more bits down.  We play games when it rains, eat incredible meals, and wallow in spending time together.  Thanks to the tramper, Coach finally was there to experience it.

He didn’t say much, but the few comments about JMumbo facing the waves and boogie boarding in, and the prodigal daughter’s endless patience with her small cousins, said enough.

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A bit of auld lang syne

I had some visitors this afternoon.  Some were older, but two were younger, pre-school age.  The youngest had little interest in anything but Daddy and his pacifier, with a short lived excursion to the porch steps to work on going down.

It was the little girl that captured my attention and made me remember when the prodigal daughter was little.  She picked me flowers and we put some in a mason jar for her to take home.  She picked her daddy some dead flower heads, which the entire group “oohed” and “aahed” over.

Then she found the puddles.

Hopping to create a glorious splash.  Check out the ponytail flying.

Stomping a splash into existence.

Hey, what’s this?

I’d better run through the deep part.

Look how high the water will go!

When she was finished, she trucked over and told me her boots were wet.  So we took them off.  Then the socks had to come off too because they were dripping.  And after that, the pants were history too.  Off she went in her shirt and underwear and I had a déjà vu moment.  JMumbo spent half his childhood wandering around with no pants on.

It was such fun and I assured the dad that I would clean up the toys, just head home and enjoy your kids.  Because you get so caught up in the day to day when they are little; the diapers, feeding them, cleaning up after them, watching constantly for anything that might hurt them, that you miss it.  A little one comes along and spends a few hours with you, and you take your camera out and take 25 shots of her because you were too busy being mom to take them of your own.  Wistfully you think back to how you would have done it differently as you assure the newer parent that it was fun and please let’s do it again.

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Take us to Defcon 1

The stomach bug is going around.  It hits most people with 5 – 7 hours of intimate time with a toilet bowl and then leaves them worn out for another day.  In the elementary school, kids are dropping like flies and the adults live in fear of being hit.

Coach has been sick off and on since before Christmas.  First a stuffy nose, then congestion, and finally an upset stomach for over a week.  It rolls and makes him squeamish, but no dates with the toilet bowl.  I was afraid it was getting me the beginning of the week, but I was mistaken.  It wasn’t the stomach bug, but what ever it was made my head ache, which made my stomach queasy.  I came home early the last two days and took today off to go to the doctor.  The prognosis was a sinus infection.  I picked up my antibiotics and went back to drinking hot tea. I should be right as rain by Friday at the latest.

My best friends the last 3 days.

So why are we at Defcon 1?  Because mom was sick.  This is not allowed.  Moms don’t get sick.  They take care of everyone else who might be sick.  If mom is sick, who will make dinner?  Who will help JMumbo with his math homework?  Who will pick the prodigal daughter up from cheerleading practice?  Who will scoop the ice cream?  What about the laundry?  How will we function?!?!

This is why I took the day off and visited the doctor.  The family was at the limit of their endurance after two days.  Coach only made dinner one of those days, and he was wiped out.  He made chili mac.  I already had the mac and cheese base done, left over from another dinner.  He added the ground beef, tomato sauce, and some extra cheese.  I think Food Network is going to be calling any day now, and he will definitely have his own show.  Maybe they’ll call it, “Making Dinner with your Wife’s Leftovers and a lot of Help”.  He checked with me every 5 minutes while putting it together.  Which bowl to use?  How to layer the ingredients?  To grease the pan or not to grease the pan?  How long to cook it?  It would have been easier for me to just cook it.

I’m on the mend, I even made dinner tonight for the kids and myself.  The headache is receding, and I am hoping for a pain-free awakening tomorrow.

We’re back to Defcon 5.

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Grad Class Shake Down

I’m taking a grad class and it is almost over. This is good because I feel like the rabbit in the race, no matter how fast I run, I can’t catch up. I have resigned myself to a B in the class, which is killing me because unlike undergrad. I am compelled to be an overachiever and get A’s. It wasn’t happening this time because that ridiculous other job I have, the mommy/wife one, kept getting in the way. Don’t they understand I need to read and write, not cook dinner? Can’t they go and forage? We are surrounded by fields, there has to be something out there they can eat.

The sleeping piece doesn’t help either. My 40+ year old body does not do late nights well. It protests after about 3 midnights in a row and no amount of coffee is going to rev the engine enough. The worst is that if I actually manage to stay awake until 11, I can’t go to sleep for another hour or so, but I can’t think logically anymore either. I have caught up on all my Hawaii 5-O episodes and if I have to be awake that late, watching Steve McGarrett run all over Oahu works for me.
Back to the grind. I will conquer this class, even if it means that I sleep walk through a few days. The only other pressing need this week is modifying a coat into a cape for Joedo the Hobbit’s Halloween costume. Something I can work on at midnight a few nights while enjoying some Hawaiian sun and sand.

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Moments for me

If you haven’t noticed, Camp Colombo has been a bit quiet lately.  I am taking a grad. class online and it is keeping me busy elsewhere on top of all the normal “mom” things I do.  I love the class and it really is rejuvenating my desire to teach, but the discussion posts and papers are sucking me dry of thoughts.  You could say my class is “hogging my blogging”.  (Just some corny me humor for all of you.  I always was a big Fozzie Bear fan – Wacka Wacka Wacka)

Today I grabbed some “me” time and cooked.  I made Fettuccine Alfredo for dinner because I was craving something rich and creamy.  I printed the recipe from Ree Drummond’s blog, The Pioneer Woman, and it was delicious!  It was simple too, about 5 ingredients to mix together.  Use the link to find her site and search for the recipe.  While you’re there, check out the basset hounds.  They are a smile and a half!

I started applesauce today also.  Our local grocery store puts big, wooden bins out front this time of year and you can buy local apples in bulk.  I fill up my recyclable bag and make applesauce.  Nothing tastes like homemade applesauce, another easy recipe using apples, sugar, some apple juice or cider, and cinnamon to taste.  I wish I could give you measurements, but I don’t cook like that.  I toss it in and stir, let it cook, taste, then toss some more in depending on what my taste buds tell me.  I would have been the perfect pioneer woman, because I use my hands as measuring cups and spoons.

I know this doesn’t sound like relaxation to some people, and I understand the head scratching.  It’s the same feeling I get when people talk about working out.  I cringe.  Why spend my time getting all sweaty and achy when I could be making something yummy to eat?  My philosophy does explain why many of my pants are slightly tight and where the love handles came from.  But who really expects me to look like Sandra Bullock?  She has the time and money to hire personal trainers to work out for her.  I bet she didn’t have Fettuccine Alfredo that tasted as good as mine tonight, nor will she have a shelf of homemade applesauce to eat this winter.  Unless she has her personal chef whip it up…

Oh well, I’m not Sandra, nor do I think I ever will be.  I’m just going to be a woman in her mid-forties with some mini love handles eating applesauce and dishes covered in cheese, hoping the Republicans can find a decent candidate for President.  But that’s a whole different blog.

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A Few Thoughts…

1. Forget Universal Health Care, I want a candidate who is for Universal Women’s Clothing Sizing.  I couldn’t find two pair of pants the same size that fit the same if my life depended on it.  They can even be from the same company and fit differently.  And FYI, I don’t know if I am a Traditional, Relaxed, or Modern fit.  Nor am I sure if I am a Jackie or an Audrey.  At this point, I would enjoy having clothes that fit like Jackie or Audrey’s, especially if it meant my body looked like theirs, but what would really make me happy is to find some underwear that fits this forty + year old body and doesn’t bag or sag.  My body does enough of that on its own, it doesn’t need any help.

2. Two ten-year old’s and a bunch of college kids with vuvuzelas rooting for the PSU women’s soccer team equals a grin the size of Cleveland.  I love college kids.  It’s the whole “opportunity to be all that I can be, in whatever way it works” that does it for me.  I remember that being one of the best parts of college, I got to be me, just me.  Not the administrator’s daughter, not someone’s sister, not the responsible class treasurer.  Just me.  When the college student showed up Sunday dressed as a pirate and stood next to the kid in the full blue and white body suit, it just proved the point.  And JMumbo thought it was the coolest thing ever.  Learn the lesson my son, let your inner pirate out and play a Disney medley on the vuvuzela once in a while.

3. Even a short visit with an old friend in a familiar place can make a harried day better.  He’s the master puppeteer, gently tugging the strings to see what happens and the dutiful uncle showing up at Little League Football and wondering what all the fuss is about.  (You never know, a scout may show up unexpectedly and recruit one of those eight year olds for the pros)  He’s always made me laugh and even though we are James Carville and Mary Matalin when it comes to politics, I know there is respect for my thoughts.  And sometimes I surprise even him with my ability to summarize a situation succinctly with a shrug of my shoulders.  (How’s that for some alliteration and SAT words all together?)  So thanks for the smiles in between my meat transport drives.  (That’s what we do in the country.  We drive over an hour each way on a Monday night to pick up our Christmas present of beef, ham, and chickens from our parents.  I’m either from Deliverance or Jeb Clampett should look out.)


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Dinner Table Discourse

If you have ever had dinner with two boys, you know that there is no predicting what will come out of their mouths.  Tonight was no exception.

JMumbo had a friend over.  He was being picked up after his big brother’s soccer game, so I made macaroni and cheese for dinner.  M&M’s buddy was crestfallen when she found out, she loves my mac and cheese.  (That’s why we like her best, better than the prodigal daughter sometimes.  Of course she goes home too and the prodigal daughter stays.)  I figured it was a safe bet, what kid doesn’t like mac and cheese?  And the friend wasn’t a picky eater.

Apparently my mac and cheese was not what he expected.  We were sitting eating and he quietly said, “This is the worst macaroni.”

I looked at him and said, “What?”

“Oh…I forgot you were there!”  he said, laughing.

“So, what was wrong with it?”  I expected the shape of the macaroni, the crumbled chips on the top.

“There’s too much cheese.” He said this with a serious expression.  Too much cheese.

What can you do but laugh?  So I did, while reminding him it wasn’t named Macaroni and CHEESE just for kicks and giggles.

Later M&M and JMumbo were showing off their good manners by insulting each other.  M&M called JMumbo a freakezoid.  His response?  “Is that like a trapezoid?”

High level dinner discourse at our house.

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