Just Heather
The Middle of Nowhere

The Middle of Nowhere

This past weekend I took my oldest daughter’s Girl Scout troop camping. I drove 2 hours to the middle of nowhere leaving my wonderful hubby alone with two kids, one of whom puked as I was walking out the door. Then I proceeded to spend 2 rainy, sometimes cold, days sleeping on the ground. When I come home tired, sore and smelly I want to say I’m too old for this shit but I know I’ll be doing it for years to come.

PreTeen Angst at Bay

PreTeen Angst at Bay

There is something about the camping weekend that brings out the best in Stacia. She’s affectionate, cooperative and barely even embarrassed when I dance the Hoedown Throwdown with her friends. Maybe it’s having me all to herself. Maybe it’s knowing her friends wouldn’t have these experiences if I weren’t willing to volunteer. Or maybe it’s just the way I let loose myself when we camp.

Trying Something New

Trying Something New

I am not an outdoor person. At all. I hate every part of it—the mud, the bugs, the air, the creepy crawlies, the wildlife. I want no part of it most days, but I love Scout camp! I love the goofy songs, the campfire cooking and the new shared experiences (my girl is quite the archer!). I love the friendships—those camp friendships that seem so intense for the week or weekend you’re camping, but who you’ll probably never see again.

I remember all of that from my own Girl Scout years and it is so fun to watch it all over again through my daughter’s eyes. Some things just never change, but on these camping weekends I do. I’m a different person—romping in the wilderness, stomping through the mud, sleeping on the ground, singing silly songs and feeling those same fleetingly intense connections with my fellow camp parents as the girls in my troop.

Campfire Cooking

Campfire Cooking

I hope some of it is lasting. I hope my daughter always knows that I’m the mom who will sleep outside in a thunderstorm, cook over a fire in the rain and take her friends on a journey when she’d ordinarily rather be anywhere else. I hope the girls in my troop always know I’m someone they can count on and see that I really am in it all for them. I hope someday they remember that while the camp cleared out in the rain (1400 people down to 200 by nightfall), their leader stuck with them.

A Calm, Relaxed Me

A Calm, Relaxed Me

Part of me wanted to leave in the torrential downpour, but my competitive nature prevailed and I wanted desperately to “beat” the other troops that surrendered to the storm. Plus, I left it up to my troop; they decided since we survived the first night, we should stay the rest.  We did survive and I’m so proud of the girls. They weren’t scared at all even when the thunder and lightening started at 2am. They were cool and calm, just enjoying one another and having a great time. And so was I. I need to remember to bring some of that home with me.

The latrines, mud and zero cell phone reception can stay, but I hope I brought a little bit of the carefree me back home.

I am sick. I have been sick for almost a week. I am sick enough to actually cancel my Girl Scout troop meeting today. I have only done this once before, for a car accident. I wasn’t going to make it back on time so I canceled the meeting only to find out that the school canceled all after-school activities later that day due to weather.

I had the same luck today! After making arrangements all morning to reschedule, I just found out that the school canceled today’s activities due to the weather. I could have let them make all my phone calls while I took a nap!

This school system is funny. It takes a lot of bad weather to delay school, and practically requires a blizzard to cancel altogether. However, they will cancel after school activities at the drop of a hat. I really should have known this would happen. After all, there is wet stuff on the ground. Heaven knows no one can drive when that happens.

I tend to treat this blog like a diary, only not so private. That’s the part that makes writing hard these days. Most of what is on my mind is not for public consumption. Everything else seems mundane and boring.

I could tell you all about Girl Scout cookie sales and how I blackmailed the troop parents into a cookie mom by threatening to skip the sale altogether and charge $100 per girl to make up for the funds. I could tell you about the ice skating field trip we had planned for tomorrow for my other Girl Scout troop only to find out today that they don’t actually have public skate tomorrow. Nevermind that we verified the date with them 3 times. They suddenly have a hockey tournament that was scheduled months ago. Go figure.

I was excited about my scrapbooking retreat for next week, but I’m not sure all the pictures I wanted for my projects will arrive on time. I don’t know how fun 2 days away with strangers will be if I’ve got nothing to do. I am still trying to finish the girls’ baby albums, but I like to have variety so I can change things up when I start getting stressed or tired.

That seems to be a permanent state these days. I’m not sleeping, I have too much on my mind and I don’t know how to process it all. Since I don’t have an outlet for pounding it out it just stays bottled until I blow up. Then I get to stuff it back in again until next time…

I’m still swimming upstream, but in the interest of full disclosure I’ll work on getting this up-to-date.

  • Being sick sucks. The entire family had a stomach bug last week (which we so lovingly passed onto my hometown via my nephew). This week it’s a cold so bad I honestly thought it might lead to pneumonia. It seems to be clearing a bit, but I have been through about 2 boxes of tissues in as many days.
  • The armadillo my Girl Scout troop adored on our field trip died in a fire this weekend at the zoo. That makes me unbelievably sad.
  • Venatieri can go back to the Patriots now. That is all.
  • Except to say I just don’t see this great clutch kicker everyone talks about. Vanderjagt may be an arrogant smart ass, but I’d take him any day.
  • I’m working on arrangements to do a live segment on Black Friday. They want me much earlier than usual though, and I was planning to be at Target right about then.
  • The pacifier is officially gone. My goal was by age 2, which happened 10 days ago. Two days before her birthday, she went to bed without and hasn’t had it since. She asked about it nightly for awhile, but seems to be over it now. If only potty training were that easy.
  • I’m planning a Charlie & Lola Pink Milk Party for Brenia this year. It was supposed to be a Pirate/Princess Tea, but the stupid Birthday Express catalog came in the mail and she fell in love with the C&L crap.
  • The gluten free diet has been deemed an official success by the girls’ pediatrician. This time last year we were still in the testing stage and Lorelai weighed 14.4, falling in the 1 percentile. At her 2-year checkup she weighed nearly 26 pounds and falls right at the 50th percentile!
  • If anyone has ideas on how to teach organization and responsibility to a 4th grader, I’m all ears. After a month on the Spell Bowl team, winning Power Speller each week, we found out Stacia doesn’t actually get to compete this week. She is an alternate because she did not bother to turn in 3 50-point assignments. Oops.
  • Also, if you have ideas on organization for a busy mom, send them my way! We worked hard all weekend and I’m starting to get control of some things around here. However, I have yet to tackle the 50-gallon tub that holds my paperwork.

Our middle child is super tall. Brenia is 4 1/2 and wears a size 6. She is also quite advanced for her age, which comes mostly from her big sister being 5 years older. She’s 4, going on 10. Everyone—including the kindergarten teachers at Stacia’s school—assumes she starts school in August.

She doesn’t start school until 2008. I wish she could go to school this year. It would make a lot of things easier. For one, it would put 4 grades between each of our girls. The way things stand now there are 5 years between Stacia and Brenia, then 3 years between Brenia and Lorelai.

Our school system does not allow early admission for any reason. I actually looked into Montessori schools for this year. They go by ability level, not age. If she goes to school in kindergarten and first grade at a private school, she can attend public school in 2nd grade as the requirement is not age based—it is based on completion of 1st grade. Unfortunately, while our local Montessori school is incredibly affordable for a private school it is still out of our range.

I know she could make it. She’s been with the Daisy troop at camp all week rather than hanging out with my mom and the babies. The other Daisies have just completed kindergarten. She doesn’t start for another year, but you’d never notice a difference. She is right there with them in everything they do. Plus, she is the tallest girl in the group!

That’s the 2nd reason I want her to start this year. I worry that by next year she will not only know everything they teach in kindergarten, but she’ll be so much taller she’ll feel out of place. I know she would fit in this year. It’s really too bad the state of Indiana looks at things with a such a simple mind—age 5 by September 1st no matter what their skills may be.

Long time, no see!

  • Anyone who could make it around the world in 80 days, clearly didn’t stop to visit family. Christmas alone took us 6.
  • Through a series of gluten free trials and challenges, it would appear that all 3 of our children are celiac. Updates to come when I have more time.
  • The chicken pox vaccine doesn’t work for shit.
  • Sick days plus holiday break makes for a very, very long 3 weeks.
  • The love of baths is clearly genetic. The wonders of an oatmeal bath have created yet another addict.
  • 9-year-olds do not know how to read in a tub without soaking the book.
  • I, however, have successfully read 5 books in the tub since Christmas.
  • Speaking of books, I once told my uncle that I would love to own James Whitcomb Riley books, but they are too expensive in our flea markets. Though I haven’t seen him for several years, I just received my 6th book in the mail from him this week. Also, though I don’t remember ever mentioning that I wanted to find Alice of Old Vincennes (my hometown), he sent an antique copy last month!
  • It’s Girl Scout cookie time! And my cookie mom will be out of town when the orders are due!
  • Also, the internets have suddenly decided that I don’t need to receive any email from said cookie mom.
  • Gluten free diet + sneaky child who loves to climb=very cranky, glutened child who doesn’t seem to understand cause & effect
  • Molars really hurt on the way in, poor baby!

Remember how excited I was that school was almost starting? Yeah, why didn’t someone remind me of the 50 million things to do, places to be, and meetings to attend. I completely blocked out a rather significant fact about the school year—we have about eleven hundred accompanying activities.

School starts in 2 days. I had my first meeting last night, the one for Girl Scout leaders. It brought everything back in stunning clarity. Free time? Right—the white spaces on my calendar are rapidly disappearing as activity schedules roll in.

  • Kids’ Church Choir—twice a month
  • Brownies—twice a month (being the leader did give me the opportunity to arrange the schedule so these two alternate)
  • Soccer—twice a week
  • PTO Meetings—once a month
  • PTO committees—I begged off this year (maternity leave?)
  • Brownie Leader Meetings—once a month
  • Bible Study—once a week (this one’s for me!)
  • Baby Doctor appointments—every two weeks for now; moves to weekly the last month (that doesn’t even account for the inevitable trips to the pediatrician now that everyone else’s germs will come home with my kid)

That works out to about 5 things each week. How ever did I manage to forget about that? For the foreseeable future my meeting notebook will be permanently grafted to my arm, my chauffer’s cap shall not be removed, and my bottom will be firmly planted in the doctor’s office waiting room. What idiot coined the term stay-at-home mom?

I’m talking about real, honest-to-goodness support. My Brownie troop organized a care package drive at school. We managed to put together 10 care packages for soldiers overseas through the Any Soldier program. I am preparing them to mail this week, and in doing so discovered several other great programs.

I ran out of packing peanuts. Not surprising since I’ve never bought any in my life, but I still had 5 packages to complete. So I did what any good coupon queen would do and put a request on Freecycle. Not only did I receive 5 offers for packing peanuts, but I received an amazing offer from Beanies for Baghdad to ship all 10 packages for free, courtesy of Gary Sinise through Operation Iraqi Children and A Million Thanks.

I think all 4 of these efforts are wonderful opportunities to truly support our troops, and I plan to participate in some way with all 3 who have preserved my girls’ troop funds for next year’s activities.