Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Sometimes mine is not the loudest

My wonderful editor is on a much-deserved vacation (though I wish she could do something more fun than move on her vacay), which is likely why this week's River City Jules was in print only and not online.

I have reprinted it here with just a little background not suitable for the Journal-World...

Within an hour of entering Yellowstone, Caroline had to use the restroom. We pulled over to the first restroom we saw along magnificently scenic Yellowstone Lake. Dave took the other three to skip stones while I took Caroline to the restroom. We walked into the rather clean, bright room to find a scout camp-like potty, a toilet structure leading directly to a hole in the ground. Just as I warned her to not look down the hole, she did exactly that.

Caroline freaked.

"NO! I'M NOT DOING IT! THAT IS THE WORST THING EVER!!!!" she cried, loud enough for Montana to hear.

This fit continued out of the restroom, to the car, back to the restroom and finally into the woods, where Caroline relieved herself of approximately 20 gallons. Remarkably, she managed to go the next 2 days without ever setting foot in another port-a-potty structure again.

And, even more remarkably, I did manage to stumble across a child whose irrational fears and subsequent fit rivaled Caroline's....

River City Jules, August 29, 2011

There are so many moments on a family vacation I have grown to expect. There’s the moment we pull out of the driveway and I realize this is the cleanest our car will be for many, many miles. There is the moment I look at our family enjoying life away from the responsibilities of home while I fold laundry fresh from the Laundromat, stifling the urge to vomit how lucky they are to have someone willing to selflessly bust her rump in order to allow such happy memories to be created.

And then there is the moment I encounter a child who makes me feel better about my own.

This poor, unfortunate lad was found at the Norris Geyser Basin on Vacation Day Six.

As my husband may have mentioned last week, I am a bit of a safety freak. I scoured books and websites about Yellowstone before leaving home, all of which highlighted the many ways one can leave a man behind while vacationing there.

Tragic, terrible fates seemed to await with every turn of every page from bear attacks (skipped that part) to the very volcano on which Yellowstone was built erupting to the worst of all: death by falling in boiling hot water found in the park’s many geysers.

My 18-hour safety speech on the drive there appeared to set in with our kids as we passed warning sign after warning sign depicting the same drawing of a little boy falling helplessly into boiling water, his parents nowhere near him as he tumbled recklessly into nature’s pressure cooker where, we can safely assume, rescuers recovered nothing more than steaming bones.

I held my children’s hands tighter than any of us deserved as we strictly followed the path on the rail-less boardwalks that wound around the geysers.

Suddenly, just up the path, I heard the unmistakable sound of a small child being poached alive.

“NOOOO!” I heard him cry. “Get me OUT OF HERE!”

I looked around for the nearest park ranger. A child was clearly in the very worst kind of trouble and desperately needed help.

“Somebody get me OUT!” his pleas pierced the sulfuric air and pained my heart. I hesitated just before we turned the corner, fearing our kids would return to school two weeks later with tales of watching a child melt into a mud pit never to be seen again.

But as we rounded the bend to Mother Nature’s cruel and public kitchen, I spied a father with an all-too-familiar look on his face, one of apology and shame, as his child, a boy no more than four years old, struggled for freedom on his mother’s lap.

“It’s a splinter,” he explained to each passerby.

I gave that man the most sympathetic smile I could muster and grabbed my kids tight to my chest as we strolled cautiously onward. The car was a pit and our laundry was dirty, but none of that mattered. For at that moment, mine were the best kids in sight. 

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

10 Worth 10,000

When we last left off, the floor A/C vent at church had blown my skirt high enough for choirs of angels in the very back row to see my undies, which some of you may have assumed sent me into shameful hiding for the rest of the summer. Some of you, then, assumed incorrectly.

I've just been busy.

To make up for lost time without taking up too much of yours, I present to you a short photo documentary of the past 11 1/2 weeks. Knowing a picture is worth a thousand words, enjoy the following 10,000 word essay, "What I Did This Summer."

1 - 2000... After sweating and driving people around for the rest of June, we joined with some neighbors to throw the most kickass block party ever in history. Starting with the warm-up act, Ellie on the ukulele singing Justin Bieber 

and then on to the headlining act, Thunderkat, rocking the 'hood.

2001 - 5000... I didn't think I could or would return to New York for a while after having the best trip to the Big Apple ever back in April, but I also did not anticipate BFF, Jill, accidentally winning a girls' trip to NYC at the kids' school auction. Fortunately she did not have to suffer in the city alone, as the J's Took Manhattan in July.

I got to hang with my brother... a showtunes bar in the Village, Marie's Crisis Cafe on Grove Street. We totally nailed the entire Sound of Music soundtrack. 

And the J's (and my dear friend, Jamey) took a limo around lower Manhattan for the Sex and the City tour where we drank cosmos and bought souvenirs for our husbands at a little shop on Charles & 7th. We also did private karaoke and took in The Book of Mormon. Again. Because I love it that much.

5001 - 6000... Caroline and her friend, Ceci (not pictured), created a sculpture (pictured) out of reused materials. It is likely still for sale ($45, serious inquiries only) at the local art shop.

6001 - 7000... U2 at Busch Stadium.

7001 - 8000... Webelos Camp. Note the sweat. 113 heat index. FML for 52 hours. Luckily, I passed the swim test this time.

8001 - 9000... Family vacation. Lawrence to York, NE to Badlands to Mt. Rushmore to Devil's Tower to Yellowstone to Jackson Hole to Ft. Collins to Lawrence equals 2800 {priceless} miles.

9001 - 10,000... Home from Yellowstone in time to say goodbye to the woman who gave love and laughter everywhere she went. Eleanor Grace Brown Dyer, or "Mama" as we called her, was far more than a grandmother to me. I can't believe what a hole her passing has left in my heart, but I know my heart is more full of everything that is good because of my (almost) 40 years being loved by her. We sent her back to my grandfather in style on August 13th with family, friends, and a Guinness we snuck into the cemetery.

Eleanor Dyer
February 1, 1915 ~ July 31, 2011
Simply the Best.