Monday, June 29, 2009


My son turned 15 yesterday. And I AM seeing him become more adult in how he (sometimes) behaves, but sheesh, I'm tired of having to tip-toe around him. Here is how our weekend went.

Saturday, our youngest decided, because she has daddy wrapped around her little finger and she GETS to decide things like this, that we would take them all to Chipotle for lunch. I figured, while we were there, we might as well stop at Best Buy, which was next door, and pick up the boy* his birthday present, which I sorta had to twist my husbands arm on: an X-box 360. Now, we back track a bit and the boy had originally told me (sometime around Christmas) that he was good with the Arcade (the lower, $200 model). But, of course, we get into the store and OH, NO...MUST have the 60G version and a new game AND X-box Live . Now, part of what made this palatable was that we had Best Buy Reward dollars AND a gift card. When you add a $60 game to the lower end version, we were still looking at a $200 gift which isn't something we like to do. He was also under the mistaken impression that the X-box would be hooked up to one of the two family room TVs. UH...NO. So, he got surly in the store, which was a one way ticket out of the store empty-handed.

We had to go to Sams Club and I decided to stay in the car and chat with the boy. Here is what I explained to him in an attempt to reach some kind of compromise. No matter what we seem to do, we continue to fall short, in his eyes. He wants a phone, we make him wait til 14 and NOT give him texting. We make him wait for that (6 months). He wants to take drivers ed and we don't get him signed up in time so now he is not in a class with his friends. He wants the higher end X-box and we weren't willing to pay the extra $100 for it. Now I can justify this in many different ways. He doesn't need to play movies on it, play music on it, etc...He just needs to be able to play games on it. We are also willing, although NOT AT THIS TIME, to get him X-box live. But he's 15 and doesn't feel he should have to wait.

So, talking to him, I thought I made headway and in the end he was willing to compromise with the Arcade. So we went back and purchased him the Arcade and the $60 game. He came home, hooked it up and proceeded to make it through all 12 levels of Call of Duty. He beat the game. So, he wanted us to run out and buy a wireless router so he can immediately hook into X-box Live. We said no.

More surliness ensued.

I love my son. More importantly, I'm starting to like him again. He's maturing and will on occasion actually listen to reason. Sometimes he will even go as far as to laugh at himself. I am longing for the day when he will recognize that my age and experience in this life count for something and accept that maybe, just maybe, he doesn't know it all. However, I suspect I may have to wait another 15 years for that admission.

*the boy=what we have called our oldest from day one

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Public Service Announcement

I have debated posting about this but I really think that the situation warrants it. So, here goes...

One of the local towns has a Girls Night Out every Thursday during the summer, usually starting early June. I found out about this a couple years ago and have made it a point of getting together with friends at least once/summer. The first GNO happened to coincide with the "retirement" from working full time of one friend so we were also celebrating her "liberation". AND this was also the first time that all 4 of us had gone there together. It was a beautiful night. OH, and they were also handing out free tiaras which we made a point of acquiring.

So, our first stop (after tiaras) was for a Cosmo, which we each had. While waiting for a table, we were told that there was free wine tasting in the cellar if we were interested. We got our table outside and ordered appetizers. Our one (granted it was strong) cosmo gone, we each ordered a beer with the tenderloin sliders, crab cakes, lamb chops and french fries. We ate leisurely and decided to do a quick stop in the cellar and give the wine a try. We went down and were a little surprised that there was NO ONE (save the bartender) there, yet the table with the wine was out in the open. After a short (maybe a minute) someone asked us what we wanted to taste: I chose the Chardonnay, the other three, Merlot. Now...this was NOT a glass of wine but maybe 1/2 in at the bottom of a full sized wine glass. The wine was declared delicious and we left to walk the maybe 1/2 mile to our last destination: the place with the Pear Martinis. We sat on the deck (this was probably close to 9-10pm) and it was starting to be a bit cooler with the sun having set but I was the only one with a jacket. Before the martinis were gone, one of the girls was GONE. I quickly got her to the restroom, then sat her down at the door saying I was going back for the other 2. They arrived as I was headed back to the table, but I still had to go pay the bill. I told them to wait there. By time I got back to the door, it was obvious, all 3 were in the same state; incapable of walking the 1/2 mile back to the car, so I left on my own to bring the car to them.

I made it back, got everyone loaded into the car and had to pull into a spot before even leaving the parking lot as someone was sick. Violently. I had to make 2 more stops before I got everyone home. Everyone delivered safe and sound, I headed home and to bed, even though it was till relatively early. My husband asked how it was and I told him, surprising him that not one or two but all 3 had become ill.

After thinking on this the next day, I had to think that the wine they had was tainted. I mean...3 separate women, having had the SAME thing all folded within 15 minutes of each other and were violently ill through the next day. On what was really 3 drinks over 5 hours. And a sip of wine.

I was going to let this go until last Saturday, while out with the same friends, one pulled up an article from a news report that had been on Friday night, about a man who had gone to a local bar (not where we were) for 2 drinks and had ended up VIOLENTLY ill. He believes he was drugged and the report asked that people who had a similar experience call the police.

So, Sunday morning, I called the establishment that had the wine tasting and explained why I was calling (NOT to cause trouble) and suggesting that IF they had future wine tastings, they should make sure the wine is NEVER compromised. Yesterday, I called the police in the town and walked through our evening with a police officer. Since I was the only one of the 4 of us who was coherent through the night and could review the timeline and could be as accurate as possible about what we had, where were were, had we been in the sun...all the details which might have shed some light on the situation. While it isn't anything we can prove, I honestly think that someone saw GNO as an opportunity.

My purpose in writing about this is to suggest due vigilance to anyone who will listen. These aren't the days when I used to go out with my girlfriends without a care in the world. Don't ever leave your drink alone or with someone you aren't positive you can trust. I seriously doubt we were the would be target, rather, we were just in the wrong place at the wrong time (for us). So, I'm gonna channel a little "Hill Street Blues" and say..."Let's be careful out there".

This ends your Public Service Announcement.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Poplar Lake

And the saga continues....

So, this year my husband decided that we needed to show the children BWCA. Big Toe and SIL take each of their 4 children (separately) when they turn 8 (they're headed up this Thurs with #3). I however am not equipped, either emotionally or physically, to take my 4 children on what is tatamount to a survival camping trip, EVEN if I knew how, which I don't. I am well acquainted with my limitations. So, I looked for options #2: find a cabin on a lake in the boundary waters. And I had SUCCESS! A cabin on Poplar Lake (Rockwood Lodge). Go ahead. Look it up. I dare ya. Did you find it? Well, let me tell you, it's about 2.5 miles from the Canadian Border, about 30 miles NW of Grand Marais. TECHNICALLY, we are not in the boundary waters, but the boundary waters are on all sides of us, so close enough.

We stayed in cabin #2 which slept 9. It had a loft with 2 double beds, a bedroom with a double bed and a twin bed and a pull out sleeper sofa (double) in the living room. We were about 2 hours into the drive up there when my girls informed me that they (the older 2 girls) had worked out the sleeping arrangements and OH, what a surprise that they each had their OWN double bed, my husband and I shared one with the youngest in our room and my son on the sleeper sofa. Amazing how that worked out so well...for them.

But, before we got to the cabin, we had to survive the 6+ hour trip. In a car. With no escape. And the inevitable "Are we there yet?" every 20 minutes from my youngest. I'm not sure we brought enough alcohol for the weekend.

We arrived late Thursday night and there wasn't much to do other than settle in. Which would have been a very different story had we camped, but I won't go there. You'd think there wouldn't be anything that can go awry there but apparently there was an unpacking issue with my youngest that required about a half an hour of whining over it. We went to bed and left our 4 children running wild in the cabin. Our "Parent of the Year" trophy is in the mail.

Friday morning arrived with a view from the front of the cabin where you couldn't tell where the earth stopped and heaven began. Need proof?
From there, the morning took on a 'typical' morning. I apparently forgot the Squeeze Parkay and does one eat scrambled eggs and bacon with DRY english muffins? So, the husband went to the lodge and scrounged up a half a stick of Blue Bonnet so my children could eat their breakfast in a manner in which they have become accustomed.

After breakfast we cleaned up, made some sandwiches and took off in the canoes. So, of course, it had to start raining. We pulled close to an island and sat under some trees until it let up (which it did pretty quickly). We started back again our goal being a series of islands where we could stop and eat lunch. But we swerved off course and our soon to be 15 year old son, who has never done anything remotely like this, told us where we were going wrong. We chose not to take his advice and made it to the islands surliness for being ignored not withstanding. We ate lunch, and paddled back to the cabin, while my husband decided to take a canoe out on his own while I rinsed out the towels the girls who duffed sat on in the center of the canoe. I didn't see my husband until he came back...soaking wet from having tipped the canoe. Apparently he was yelling for me, and I didn't hear. My "Wife of the Year" trophy will no doubt arrive with the Parent of the Year trophy.

A novice cribbage player myself, I taught my oldest daughter the game.She’ll no doubt have rules NO ONE will understand but I think she has the gist of the game, being as how she skunked me completely the second time we played.We walked down to the lodge where we learned that the geologic society is out here frequently as there are rocks that have been dated over a billion years ago. We walked up to what is called the Hobbit House which was the first cabin built in this resort back in 1920 something. (The year is in dispute). We came back in time to watch a summer squall roll through. So the kids did what kids’ll do confined to a small 3 room place:4 children played hide and seek. It was actually pretty humorous with my son actually climbing onto a beam in the loft. Best.Hiding.Place. EVER.So, to prove my husband wrong, who believes me to be ever the pessimist (I am actually a realist), this weekend HAS had its rewards. One…my son, who hasn’t voluntarily picked up a book in close to a year (damned cell phone/video games), actually has been “forced” to read. I brought him Transfer of Power by Vince Flynn…I’ve read his later books but not his early ones and figured if I could get him interested in this, his first, he’d be hooked. I believe the hook has been set. (LOVE fishing metaphors) Two…there is no TV. So all of my children have had to entertain themselves. There has been a lot of card games, reading, croquet (came with the cabin), football…enough to make me seriously consider TV free weeks for the remainder of the summer. Three…and this is projecting. I think a weekend alone, without friends to amuse them, will show my children that of all people, it’s their siblings that they will always depend on.

Saturday we got up and drove to a trail that was supposedly a moose viewing trail. After walking, probably a mile or so, we went back to the truck and made for a Lima Mountain road (a loop) where there supposedly is also a possibility of seeing a moose. And what to our wondering eyes should appear:

Talk about exciting! He was a beauty, ran right across the road. We stopped and I got out and climbed up an embankment to get a good picture. I was a little nervous being that close to him but he didn't appear aggressive. He seemed more...resigned (apparently the male moose is more aggressive in the fall during rut, the female is aggressive in the spring around her calves). So, I got some pics, then husband took the camera and grabbed some pics. All in all it was the highlight of the trip.

Later Saturday, while husband and oldest son were fishing off the dock (and being successful, I might add...a little too late to be of value to us), this little fellow swam by us:

Apparently, beavers are pretty bold as he swam within about 10 ft of the dock.

I got up early Sunday morning. I wanted to see just one sunrise*. Unfortunately, I didn't make it but I did manage to get this picture:

I think I can safely say, we left the boundary waters on a very high note.

*sunrise=ungodly hour...and I was up at 5am

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

BWCA/Superior National Forest

Warning…this is a long one. We’re in Minnesota.Land of 10,000 lakes. You can hit pretty much any one of those 10,000 lakes by swinging a dead walleye. But that’s not where the REAL fun is. The REAL fun is up-north. It’s the BWCA. Boundary Waters Canoe Area. Part of the Lake Superior National forest and where probably 2/3 of those 10,000 lakes are. The BWCA is NOT for the faint hearted. I experienced the BWCA for the first time in the summer of 1999 (I think…there are SOME things that one really does block out), when my husband’s family, his brother and sisters AND FATHER (but no children) decided that we all needed to go up and experience the boundary waters. Now, I should preface this by saying…my idea of camping is staying at a hotel that doesn’t have HBO. (sorry dad…yes I stole your tag line). But we were lucky because my BIL has no trouble at all assuming the position of “THE BIG TOE”. Seriously, I think he’s done this so many times before that this is completely old hat to him. He planned it out. Luckily. Without our Big Toe, I’m sure it would have resembled something of a Three Stooges episode…in triplicate.

For those not acquainted with BWCA, a brief synopsis. One applies for a permit with the number of camping members in their party for a specific time frame. One gets the permit for a given time frame (in our case, a long weekend, going in on a Thurs and exiting on a Sun). We had to go to outfitters to rent extra canoes (Big Toe has his own), and Duluth packs (a large pack big enough to pack belongings in and waterproof such that in the event of a canoe tip, items stay dry…Big Toe has one of those too). Then you head to your “entry point” lake and load all your stuff into a canoe and you’re off. Now, we don’t usually stay on our entry lake, but we “portage” to another lake. Portaging is removing all your belongings from your canoe and carrying them and your canoe over what could be a short portage, maybe 10-15 rods (a rod is the length of a canoe) or it could be as long as a mile (yes one of our portages was that long…carrying everything. OY!). Now…here is the kicker. There are a finite number of campsites on each lake and there is NO reserving campsites, so it’s first come, first serve. It is entirely possible to enter a lake to find all the campsites taken and you must then portage to another lake. Been there. Done that.

I found out then that my assessment of camping was spot on.Oh, don’t get me wrong, it was breathtakingly beautiful.But, so is a good night’s sleep without a rock seemingly finding its way through a foot of dirt each night to stick right smack in the middle of your back…or feeling like Paul Bunyon himself was standing on your hips if you attempted to lay on your side (to avoid the aforementioned rock). The trip had its moment…like BIL#2 thinking the fire wouldn’t catch on his own and adding “boy scout” juice (that would be about half of our cooking supply of propane) to the fire and singeing his eyebrows off in the same maneuver. BUT…I persevered and 2 years and one child later, I repeated the experience. Most of the same group of characters, although this time we added a child, our 10 year old nephew…who was SO smart…it took him the whole trip to figure out that each time he set down his back pack, a large rock was added to it. When trip 3 was planned, I was less enthusiastic but figured, I am still young (bwah-ha) and I probably had another trip in me (but…I suspected this would be my last). THEN, the inevitable happened. EVERYONE bailed. Everyone but Big Toe, SIL and me. Oh, what to do, what to do? I HATE it when everyone bails on me so I refused to bail on all the effort Big Toe put into planning. So I went. And it was to be my last camping trip to the BWCA. Stay tuned...