Tag Archives: travel

Summer Week 7: Johnson Shut Ins


Many months ago, prior to summer even starting, Jeff had a nostalgic moment.  He remembered the time before cell phones, tablets, and constant connection to people/medias that only end up frustrating you because of the complete stupidiocy (yes, thanks to social media that word does work!) of the post.  This nostalgia led him on a quest to “get away from it all.”  So, many many months ago- he booked us a cabin at Johnson Shut Ins.    It is a beautiful spot to camp, hike, and swim at…I would highly recommend it to anyone who lives in the Missouri area.

The last time Jeff and I had been there, I was pregnant with Brianna.  I broke my tailbone (or sprained it really, really bad where it hurt for a year afterwards) and Jeff sprained his ankle on that trip.   And no, Jeff did not kick my butt…  I fell in the water and my rear was cushioned from the fall by a rather pointy rock.  Jeff slipped while his foot was in between a rock and a hard …rock.  Ahh, the memories.

The girls have never really been camping, so we were very excited to take them.  They were very excited, too.  The first day we got there, we did not arrive until late afternoon.  We just played in the water…no hiking that day.   The girls loved it.  You get to crawl, climb, slide, and jump all over the place.  Brianna hung out with me.  Mikaila hung out with Jeff.  Which, for the first day, was good.  I was strongly encouraging (some would say threatening, but everyone knows that mothers don’t threaten- they strongly encourage!) Brianna to climb the rocks, not to crawl on them, and to enjoy a little risky exploring.  Jeff was trying to strongly encourage Mikaila to not climb all the rocks, to maybe crawl on some of them, and to enjoy a little relaxing exploring.  Has Mikaila and I partnered up that first day…well, I am sure we would have ended up with cuts, bruises, and sprained butts and/or ankles.

Throughout the week, we feel into a pattern.  The mornings were spent hiking, we would then come back to the cabin and eat lunch, rest up, and then late afternoon we would head back up to the shut ins to go swimming until evening.  So, remember earlier when I said the girls were excited about this trip?  Yeah, that excitement evaporated with the heat as we made them hike every day.  Of course, the very first trail we hiked was a 2.25 mile hike that had steep climbs, narrow ledges, vertical rock climbing, and it was very hot.  I’m not going to say our family follows all rules, (we do sneak food into movie theaters…) but we did follow the rule that said to not bring any disposable containers on the trail.  We filled out metal drink containers with ice cold water before we left the cabin.  About halfway into the hike- we had to drink them all because the water was getting very warm.  Let me paint this picture for you:  We are nearly out of water. What we do have left is warm- NOT refreshing at all.  We have no idea what time it is (cell phones had NO signal so we left them in car).  We really have only a general idea about where we are on the trail and no idea of what is coming up.  The girls are hot, tired, and they just want to go swimming.  In other words- they wouldn’t stop complaining or bickering.  Which means- I was also complaining and bickering at them for their complaints and bickerings!  I actually came up with a new threat strong encouragement for Brianna.  “If you can’t make something good out of something bad (aka good attitude in what she considered a “bad” situation), then I WILL make something bad out of something good (aka, when it was time to go swimming- she wouldn’t go).”  So, here we are trying to encourage the tired girls to keep going when the trail gets a little…well, wild.  The rock path we were following was now barely visible.  We had to actually look for trail markers to make sure we were indeed still on the trail.  So, we are hiking up this steep hill, there are some flat rocks up ahead, so Mikaila asks if we can stop for a break.  Sure.  We sit down, rest, and look around for another trail marker.  Yeah, when we found it the girls did have a fit.  Literally- a fit!  Way at the top of the pile of steep rocks…is the next trail marker.  You could barely see it.  Obviously, we made it.  And so did the girls.  At the top of that hill, Mikaila and I even rock climbed straight up…it was about 15-20 feet.  But let me tell you, watching your baby girl climb a rock wall- with no harness, in the wild…it felt like it was 100 feet!

I love hiking, Jeff loves hiking, and the girls will learn to love hiking.  They will.  They have to.  Jeff and I have plans to tackle this 14 mile backpacking trail…that will take several days…and will not have the convenience of an air conditioned cabin.  This is years away- but to get to that point we have to go from our 2-3 mile hikes that we did to 5-6 miles, then 9-10…etc.  So yeah, they will either learn to love hiking or will be eaten by a bear.  But don’t worry, we will let them make that choice.

In the evenings, after Jeff would grill our dinner- we played card games.  We played spoons, rummy, king tut, go fish, and yahtzee- oh yes, and 52 card pick up.  My cell phone didn’t have any signal- so I didn’t really bother with charging it.  We didn’t play games on our mobile devices against each other- we actually- physically- played games with each other…in person.  I am ashamed to admit it- but it had been too long since we did that.  We play with our girls, but there is something more bonding about not constantly checking facebook, messages, emails, updates..blahblahblah in the middle of playing.  We laughed…oh how we laughed…and we got to enjoy each others company.

Our cabin was pretty cool.  Well, it did not have ANY running water, so that was not cool.  Aside from that- we loved the simple- but more importantly AIR CONDITIONED-  cabin.  It had a porch that overlooked a pond full of lilly pads.  It kind of looked like something Monet would paint.  Inside, it was two rooms.  The log cabin had high cealings and two rooms.  The bedroom and the living/kitchen area.  The wall that separated the two did not go all the way up.  Which meant, we had sock wars between the rooms.  A long time ago, in a cabin far far away…SOCK WARS.  Sad to say, the rebels (that would be Brianna and Mikaila) were slightly better with their blind aiming than the empire (obviously that had to be Jeff and I since we are parents…aka evil dictators).

All in all- we had a fun trip and will be doing it again.  I did not miss the fact that my cell phone didn’t work.  I did miss the fact that all of my books were in the cloud…which meant I couldn’t read.  Worse things could have happened.  I could have not packed half of my clothes..oh wait…I did that….

I loved our adventure and can’t wait to do it again!  I know the girls will remember this trip for a long time.  They might not remember the beautiful sights we saw, but they will remember the threats encouragements that let them conquer the mountain!


Summer: Week 3


So, yeah- I’m a bit behind…goal was to have this posted Sunday night…but, as you will see…we were busy!

Define lazy. That was my day. At first I was proud of myself because I woke up with Jeff. But, after he left for work…I parked it on the couch. Watched Battlestar Galactica. I have seen this series before, and I know I am finally out of school so I should be watching other shows I haven’t seen…like Lost….but…I have had “All Along the Watchtower” stuck in my head for several weeks. Besides, if something is good…it does not hurt to re-indulge in it.  After a couple episodes, I called to check up on the job offer that was on was premature.  Yeah…it isn’t happening- budgets being held, things unsure, etc. So, sinking into a blah mood…I spent the majority of day watching the tv show. The girls didn’t mind…because Mommy’s lazy day meant they got a lazy day.  Things on my to-do list that did NOT get done:  graduation thank you cards (I do have some done…), take the girls to VBS, clean house, write, …etc..

Saturday we had started the 30 day shred. When I say we…I mean all 4 of us. We are pretty sore. The girls recover a lot faster than Jeff and I.  Even though we hate Jillian (and we frequently tell that to the tv as she makes us do 2 min of push-ups!!), I do like that as a family we are working out together.  We go camping in a couple of weeks, I want the girls to be ready to hike all day.  This workout is one of the things up my sleeves to help build up their endurance.  But, I still hate Jillian.

Monday night was softball playoffs.  If the girls won, then they would be first place champions.  If they lost, we would have to have another game. Mikaila has played so hard this year!  She was a little disappointed that she didn’t get to be catcher like she was last year, but she still played her heart out.  When she wasn’t focused on waving at us 🙂  Since I do have my new camera…I took some play shots while they were warming up.  Yes, any excuse to play with my camera.  They tied the game…but I was very proud of how Mikaila played.

During practice, Mikaila was trying to catch ALL the balls

Tuesday, I DID wake up in time to take the girls to VBS.  They were glad.  I was feeling a bit more productive, so instead of going home to tackle my to-do list…I went to Jeff’s office.  I worked a bit on the presentation that I was to be giving on Saturday.  Just a little.  I spent the majority of the time watching Big Bang Theory.  To my presentation, I say: Bazinga!

Wednesday, made it to VBS…hung out with Jeff…BUT, the afternoon was full of car troubles.  Jeep had been acting up, and that day after VBS it wouldn’t start.  But that is ok.  The day was salvaged with some awesome friends.  The girls and I hung out with the Gibsons and had a great time.  The girls and I got our first sunburn of the summer, had some good laughs, AND got the BEST upside down pineapple cake.  Here is where I shall insert that my waistband has …been expanding this summer…and this did NOT help….  Didn’t stop me from enjoying it though.

Thursday was a great day!  Was it because I got my to-do list done?  Pfft- NO.  Was it because I got my presentation done?  Nah- still had plenty of time before…Saturday.  I took the girls, plus 2 others to VBS.  Well, the youngest girl was too young for VBS.  I know how I am when I think someone is taking the girls somewhere, I make plans.  So, I didn’t want to return the little girl just yet, in case her mom was the same… I asked the little girl if she wanted to hang with me.  She said, “yes, can you take me to the park?”  Umm..ok, I can do that.  Long story short…I took her and my niece to the park.  They played, had fun, and I got some great pictures!  After VBS, I had a house full of kids- and we had fun!  That night, Jeff and I went on a double date with their parents, Jamey and Lisa.  It was Lisa’s xxth birthday (not going to say her age…but she IS older than me…and Jeff muhahahahah).  We went to the movies (Prometheus…good movie!  Yes, I jumped and cried like a baby…even though no one else really did…).  After the movies we went to dinner at The Roadhouse.  I thoroughly enjoyed hanging out afterwards.  I can’t wait to go on another double date with them 🙂  ((Since we didn’t scare them away the first time!!  Cause you know how wild and crazy Jeff is ;p)).  Another reason why Thursday was a good day…I got the call that said..>I HAD A JOB!!!  I am the new 6th grade teacher at Crockett Intermediate School.  Yes, I studied for English…yes, I wanted to work at Chisum…but….I HAVE A TEACHING JOB!!!!  Yes, you are free to dance and sing with me right now.

KK & Kaylee best friends

Weekend- the girls stayed with Jeff’s family while we went to Dallas  Fort Worth.  This was my last time presenting as a Chisum employee…not my last time presenting 🙂 I plan on doing that as much as possible.  I was presenting with 2 of my really good friends, only thing that would have made it perfect…is if our other friend was presenting with us.  We had a great time.  What happened at TREA (the conference)- stays at TREA.  Ok, nothing bad happened 🙂 I am just tired of typing, the girls have put on a movie, and I don’t feel like going in to too many details at the moment.  BUT- there is ONE REALLY SUPER DUPER FUNNY thing that happened…well, if you are a geek…you will find the humor in it.  So, it is LATE Friday night.  Angie, Katherine, Jeff, and myself are in the hotel room working on the visuals of the presentation.  There is a part where we talk about robots, androids, and humans.  Following is the conversation:
Me:  What android should we use?
Jeff:  What about Data?
Me: Ohh yeah, Data would be great!
Angie:  Who is Data?
Me:  Data….from Star Trek….
Angie:  (after thinking for a few seconds) ohhh yeah, I know him …he is the gold guy…
Katherine:  Oh, yeah- ok, I know the gold guy.  How is he an android?
Me:  An android looks human, but is a robot…
Katherine: Yeah, so how is the gold guy an android?
Me:  (pulling up a picture of  Data, because I’m thinking they really don’t know who they are talking about) That is Data…
Angie:  Ohhh, ok…
Katherine:  So, who was the other guy…
Me: ….that “gold guy” would be C3PO…from Star Wars…
Katherine:  Yeah, yeah…ok…so Data…I know who he is…he is the guy that worked with Captain Kirk…
Me:  That would be Captain Picard….

I still love them…even though they were mixing sci-fi stories…


Time to wrap this week up!  Sunday- we got home after having almost left MY NEW CAMERA at the hotel…thankfully we were only 45 minutes out and everyone was fine with turning around to get it.  This was both the fault of myself and Jeff.  he would like to say it is just my fault that the camera is left…but this time…we are both at fault!  Sunday night we took the girls to see Brave.  Loved it!!!  The girls cackled…CACKLED through many parts of it.  If you have seen the movie..you can probably guess which parts got the biggest laughs.

Stay tuned for Summer Week 4…it is ALL ABOUT HAIR!!!  ok, so not all..but…some cool things happen 🙂

Summer- How I Love Thee


On one hand, summer has just started…but, in a sneaky ninja move…summer is also slipping away.

As I have first celebrated that I don’t have ANY HOMEWORK, as I have GRADUATED (everyone rejoices!!)…I have quickly filled up my schedule with tasks, projects, and sleeping in to make up for the time that would have gone to homework and classes. I imagined that life after college would be a little different. Free time, catching up on my reading, and writing my book that will mark me as a best selling author…that was the plan. However, I have yet to have much free time, I have fallen asleep three times while trying to read a book, AND umm..yeah, I haven’t put pen to paper yet for my book.

So, what have I been doing? Last week, I cooked dinner, went to the Great Wolf Lodge, had a church camp out, cleaned house, and tried putting my degree to work by attempting to find a job. I think that was a pretty busy week for what should have been a lazy summer!

First, I realize that those of you that do not know me that well are probably confused by the first item on my list.  Yes, I cooked.  But- the real important part is I didn’t burn ANYTHING!  The girls…well, they didn’t believe me.  However, as Jeff was at work when I fixed dinner…they had no choice but to accept the fact that I cooked several meals and didn’t burn anything.  Does this mean I have turned a new leaf and will now be able to do this on a regular basis?  Hahahah…no!   I did get the recipes off of pinterest.

I had been waiting to look at pinterest until after I graduated.   Now, that I have opened the door to pinterest…I’m getting some real neat ideas. Currently the search is revolving around hair styles.  I wanted to go pink, green, or blue just for the summer.  Then it dawned on me that wild hair might not be appealing during a job interview.  So, depending on when I get a job…I have some cool color ideas.

Great Wolf Lodge.  Wow.  We had sooo  much fun!  It was the first time that I had been.  First time the girls had been.  We left Jeff at home.  We have promised him that we will go back and take him with us.  Brianna went down all of the slides.  That in itself was amazing.  Of course, I did have to bribe her with ice cream…  I liked how kid safe the park was.  You could leave your kids to fend for themselves. I mean, not that I would do that…I wouldn’t think about spending the day in the hot tub while they ran around and played in the water.  The deepest pool was 4 feet.  Yeah, I totally would tell the girls to go play and come check in every once in awhile.  

The girls loved the lodge.  Brianna told Mikaila that she should live there since she loved wolves.  If she lives there, I simply must insist that she let her mother visit her–frequently!

When I dropped my friend off, I noticed that our Jeep had a funny smell to it.  I also noticed that the engine was whirring a lot louder (when it comes to cars that is as technical of a term as you will hear from me!) than normal.  The radiator was messed up.  I am just so glad that it made it through the drive to Dallas and back before it decided to act up.  I have wrecked the car once in Dallas…and I do not want to repeat any incident where I am 2 hours away from home with a messed up car.  Although, when I did wreck the car…I got sushi out of it…nah, still isn’t worth it…

The day after we got back from Great Wolf Lodge, we had a church camp out.  Ok, so if we are going to be technical- it was more of a lock in.  But there was a very good reason that we didn’t end up sleeping outside.  BUGS!  Lots and lots of bugs!!! Ok, so that was really my reason…but it was just extremely convenient that there were health issues that I could use as a back up excuse   justifiable reason to sleep inside.  We had a blast.  There were 15 kids, several adults, and well…I mentally I  fit somewhere in between the kids and adult that night.  We went on a photo scavenger hunt…had FUN.  I will be putting the pictures and videos together for a video on Sunday.  I’ll have to post the link here.   It will be worth watching.  Why?  Two words.  TIME TRAVEL!

Sunday was a good day with friends, singing, and food.  Too much food.  There was a benefit for Terry Rogers Sunday night.  They raised $5,000 for him.  Kind of awesome.  Friday, Jeff, the girls, and I will be heading to Tyler with Terry and Jan for a wound check up.  I anticipate a good report.  I also anticipate Andy’s Frozen Custard…I mean, when in Tyler…one must partake of the Andy’s.  I want to say it is a law.

Well, that is all for today- I will have to update week 2 on week 3…because it isn’t over yet.  I know, I did mention time travel earlier…even so, I am still restricted.