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Rapid City and Branson

Sunday, July 30th, 2017

Did I ever write about the truck skidding? I don’t remember. We had hooked the truck up to the bus and moved it a bit, but stopped it for some reason. Tj asked me to check everything, and when he started driving I yelled Stop Stop Stop! because the truck was skidding! At some point we’d put the truck in park and forgotten to put it back in neutral! Sometimes I think we’re not mature enough for this life. 🙂

1 July Saturday

I’d heard that there was a little town fair today, and I really wanted to go because there was a demolition derby!! I had just said to Tj a few weeks ago that I’d never been to one and would like to go. Here’s my chance! So we went to the Box Elder Bash. There was a discount if you brought canned goods so we showed up with 3 cans of veggies. I wasn’t planning on going to the parade, but they were late so as we walked to the Bash we stopped for the parade. I never thought about them throwing candy, so that was a fun bonus. There were motorcycles, alpacas, police, fire trucks and all sorts of other things.

Once inside the Bash grounds the boys jumped on jumpy castles for a bit, then we went to the magic show. Afterwards there was a fireman tug of war. They’d extended the ladders on two firetrucks and tied a cable between them and hung a barrel on the cable. Two competing sets of firemen used their hoses to push it to the ladder.

We were so hot by this time that we walked back to the truck to get our bottles of water, and then it was time for the demolition derby. That was so much fun!!! I would love to drive a car around and crash it like that, but I’m sure I’d feel it the next 5 days! Those guys have to be so sore! I’m such an old lady 🙂 We sat behind a woman who’d driven in a derby several times. It was neat to be able to ask her questions about why they were doing certain things. About a quarter of the way through her kid spilled a large cup of lemonade down my leg! All that ice felt great, but my shoe stuck to the bleachers after that.

When we got home we took our showers and had sausage sandwiches for supper.

That night we saw great fireworks from just outside our camper. The boys were all ready for bed except that Jack’s bed wasn’t put together. After a while Jack said he wanted to go inside so I told him to go ahead. I didn’t give him any instructions, just watched him go in the bus. When I came in about 5 minutes later Jack has hung up his jacket, and was making his bed! Sometimes he’s pretty amazing. When his bed was made we watched more fireworks from the comfort of Max’s bed 🙂 (Up until this point me asking him to hang up his jacket has usually produced fussing so this was a nice change.)

2 July Sunday

Jack said let me try after we saw someone get baptized.

3 July Monday

As he was waking up Jack said “Basketball head in X, mom, disco ball in gym.” I think he’s remembering the gym at church in Cabot.

Amazon said Jack’s ID bracelet was delivered, so at 10 a.m. I decided to go see if the BITC office was open. I didn’t think it would be but I hate to have to wait another two days if it is if I don’t have to. I fixed Jack a fried egg sandwich on the way out the door because I knew my errand trips often run longer than expected. I figured we’d also go by the youth center to see if we could sign Max up for the lock-in, and see if the post office was open so we could find out an address to have our stuff shipped. BITC was closed, and so was the youth center, but the post office was open. One out of three is better than none out of three I guess.

After our errands we found a huge playground so we stopped for the boys to play. We had seen some deer up close at the BITC, and we saw more here at the playground. Tj said I should send pics to the Hoop so I did.

About this time TJ told me there was a family on our Fulltime Facebook group here in Rapid City and they were looking for a meet up. I got in touch with Jill, the mom, and we planned to meet at Storybook Island. I’ve been meaning to go, just hadn’t found the time to do that yet. We ran home to throw a few things in a picnic bag and hit the road, but then I discovered that Jack had wet his pants on the way! It’s been a long time since he’s had this much pee, and it was super discouraging.

While we were pulling into the campground I told Max fill up the two frozen bottles with water, fill my cup with ice and then pour water in it while I cleaned up Jack and packed a lunch bag. Somehow he could only get two of those things right. It was even more frustrating on top of Jack’s mess. We finally got our act together and headed out to Storybook Island. Jill and Tony were really nice people, and the boys had fun playing with their kids. We walked around for an hour and a half or so and just chatted about this crazy life style.

When we finished there it was too late to go home to eat, but I didn’t feel like fixing food in the truck either, so I just handed out some slices of ham and we went to Philly Ted’s and picked up some chili cheese fries. We went straight home from there, rounded out our meal, and then Jack and I headed to the back for a nap. Max played outside with Legos while we slept. I woke Jack up after an hour and a half and we headed outside.

The boys watched Odd Squad for an hour, and then we all got on our bikes. Jack threw a fit at having to ride the halfbike, but I think he just needs some good solid sleep, maybe several days of naps will do. Especially since it’s so close to the 4th it’s hard to go to sleep when all those fireworks are going off. We rode our bikes to the commissary, and when I looked it up on Google one way is .9 miles! Afterwards I made Jack ride his two-wheel bike around the circle 7 times. While we were riding a girl named Cadence rode her bike with us. After Jack had ridden his two-wheel bike enough times he put it up and got out his trike and he and Cadence rode around a good bit. Later on Cadence came back and played Legos with Max till about 9:30.

The boys came in, showered, ate a late supper and got ready for bed. I finished putting the trim back on Max’s cork board for his Legos. Now we’re all in bed and I’m enjoying some alone time.

4 July Tuesday

I cut my hair again for the 3rd time. It’s better, but I realized later that the left side is a fraction longer.

After everybody was so yucky at supper I decided we would ride our bikes again to the commissary. Jack said finish fussing, which proved to be true. There was no fussing about the bike ride, thankfully. He needed help getting his helmet on which isn’t unusual, and I saw that his shorts were hitched up. One leg was pretty much all the way tucked in and the other leg was down. I told him several times to fix his shorts and finally said pull your shorts leg down, so he just pulled his shorts down right there in the parking lot and then he pulled his shirt up and said it’s dry! Lots of fun.

5 July Wednesday

Max hurt his tailbone yesterday. I had planned on going to Watiki today, but he asked that we wait till tomorrow so today was all errands. We went to ITT to get the Watiki tickets and there were only 6 tickets left! We mailed the letter to Greyson, picked up Jack’s ID bracelet and signed Max up for the lock-in.

Then we headed off the base and went to buy window insulation, light covers and a door handle cover.

We went out for lunch at a place recommended by the people at the camping store, then went home for a nap. After we rested we ran our last two errands: dollar tree and the grocery store.

6 July Thursday

Today we went to Watiki! It was a fun little place. We stayed 6 hours, and Marco’s pizza was there! I was planning on buying 3 individual pieces for lunch, but then changed my mind and was gonna buy a small pizza which would be the same price, but then talked myself into buying a large pizza, and we ate the whole thing while we were there!

When I was paying our entrance ticket I saw that anyone who poops in the pool may face a $1,000 fine!!! Wow! I know it’s a horrible thing, but $1,000!!! They mentioned that they sold swim diapers and I really thought about getting Jack one. I really don’t think he’d poop in the pool, but I can’t say for sure he wouldn’t. Then I remembered that I still had a couple of swim diapers in our truck! I left Max with Jack and ran out to get one. I had no idea if it would even still fit him, but I sure was gonna try! It fit, and he wore it all day without complaint. It was a big pain getting it up and down, just like the swimsuit was. I kept an eye on the clock and took him to the bathroom every hour, too. We had no accidents (as far as I could tell) but that poor swim diaper was just about shredded when we finally left there.

The little kids’ area was in a corner of the big, open room. When Jack would play there I sat on a chair at the bottom in the middle and watched him. At times he would go down the slide, but I saw him about every minute. After a while I realized it had been more than a minute, so I got up to look for him. He was gone! This whole place was on the small side, so it only took me a few minutes to find him in the lazy river. I told him seriously to not leave like that…that he had to always come get me when he wanted to go somewhere else. Anytime he wanted to go to a different place was fine with me, I just needed to go. I really didn’t think he understood fully, but what else could I do?

We played again for a few more hours, and when it was time to go I told Jack to go down the slide one last time and we’d go. Max was eating his last piece of pizza, and I was cleaning up our place. Jack took too long, and then we realized that he was gone! I watched from the bottom and had Max go up through the play area to look for Jack. No luck. We looked at all the other areas, still no luck. I started getting worried and kept wondering when if I should ask them to close the exits and help me look for Jack. Ugh! I wasn’t in a panic, but I was worried. There were 3 exits…one through the hotel, on that passed the Marco’s cashier and the one we’d come through, up a flight of stairs into the arcade room. I really thought Jack wouldn’t remember how we got there since it had been 6 hours. I couldn’t imagine where he could be! I searched the women’s bathroom and had Max go look in the men’s. Finally I approached a couple who worked there and told them I’d lost my 10-yo with Down Syndrome and the girl immediately said I know just what he looks like…he’s wearing the American flag swimsuit, right? I was so happy for his tell-tale face at that moment! She kept telling me she could look here or look there and I finally said just tell me where you’re going to look and I’ll look somewhere else. She looked at the lazy river, I sent Max to the hotel entrance and I went to Marco’s to see if they’d seen him. After I walked through the entire area another time or two I headed upstairs and immediately found him!!! Happily playing in the arcade with no money! I guess he had remembered where we came in after all. That boy! He’ll be the death of me yet! I told him several times that I had been really scared, that he scared me, and that he can’t leave me, but I don’t think he understands this at all.

7 July Friday

Today we went to Rush Mountain and rode some rides: the mountain coaster, a so-called zip-line which was actually a 2-seater hanging zip car, and a 7-D video. Really? 7-D?? I don’t know how they justified that but it was fun enough. While we were in line to ride the coaster a third time they shut it down because of lightening strikes in the area. Boo! I really liked that ride and had hoped to ride it several more times. The first time I didn’t think I’d slow it down at all but I ended up putting the brakes on a bit around the curves because of the jerkiness of the track. The second time someone in front of us must’ve been pretty slow because our car kept slowing down by itself. It was definitely more fun going faster than slower.

On the way home we stopped at the House of Scandinavia. I thought this was a restaurant, but it was actually a store with lots of Scandinavian things for sale. I always enjoy looking around at stores with foreign goods…it’s so interesting to see how other people live.

We went to a Mediterranean restaurant for lunch and it was pretty good. The hummus was disappointing, but the salad and shawarma plate we had were great.

We all took a nap when we got home so Max wouldn’t be too tired at the lock-in tonight. When we drove him to the youth center it was pouring down rain! We saw a rainbow on the drive over, it was a full half-circle! When we got home the downpour turned to a drizzle and there was a double rainbow!

I put on a movie for Jack and then cooked enchilada filling and started an overnight bread dough.

8 July Saturday

We picked up Max at 7am and he was doing great! He was only one of two to stay up all night!! We had both fully expected him to sleep at some point. I put the muesli bread in the oven to bake and sometime during that time the flame went out!!! I was so annoyed…it made the bread take longer to bake, and when it did bake it was almost as flat as a pancake! But it sure tasted good! I’ll have to make more of that sometime.

Since Max was not really tired I thought he could stay up a few more hours till an early lunch and then nap after we ate. We headed out to shop. We went to 3 thrift stores, but when we got to the commissary he said he was tired. We went home and had shrimp salad and quickly got into bed for a nap. After 2 hours I woke Max up which was a feat! We headed out on the hunt for a frozen Coke…I didn’t know it would be so hard to find! Max was really grumpy, and I really didn’t blame him, but we went to 4 different stores before we found one.

9 July Sunday

At church this morning I got a compliment on Max’s behavior. A lady in my Sunday School class said she’d been his craft leader in VBS a few weeks ago and said that he was well behaved, and that he really made her laugh. It’s always wonderful to hear nice things about your kids.

We went to the airport to pick up Tj and I’d planned on going out to eat, but he was feeling a bit sick so we went home and he went straight to bed. He’s been out of the country for the last few days and we think it’s just jet lag making his whole body feel out of sorts.

After the boys and I ate Jack and I joined Tj in the bed for a nap. When we woke up we talked long and hard about where we were going to eat, and finally settled on Dicky’s BBQ. I know it’s a chain, but Tj ate there in Memphis and said it was pretty good, and I’ve been seeing their billboard for the last 3 weeks and salivating every time for some good BBQ!!! Before we left the bus I’d settled on the 3-meat platter that I’d split with the boys, and I was going to get brisket, sausage and ribs. When we got there I ordered pulled pork, sausage and ribs without realizing it! This place had all the food already cooked, they just heated it up. I really didn’t expect much once I saw that, but it ended up pretty good. After we ate and were on the way home we saw the billboard and it wasn’t Dickey’s, but Famous Dave’s! And then TJ said he thinks Famous Dave’s is where he ate, not Dickey’s! We laughed and laughed about that for the next 3 days.

After Tj and I ordered they told us that with every adult meal they give a free kid’s meal, so in the end we had a lot of food to take home. That’s never a problem with bbq. Another nice thing is that they had soft serve ice cream for free, and root beer, so we all made root beer floats on the way out.

We headed to the huge playground for the boys to run off some energy. When we got home we sent the boys inside to shower and make beds and Tj and I sat outside for a date.

10 July Monday

Tj worked on finding us a place. This is the first time we’ve had real trouble finding an opening; I guess because it’s the height of Summer and camping season. The good and the bad is that we can go anywhere, but I think that’s more good than bad at this point. I think it stresses Tj out a good bit, though. I got the mail and made enchiladas and then tried to fix the toilet, but that was a chore! I couldn’t even complete the first step, so Tj stopped what he was doing to work on it. We were hoping we could fix it without taking the toilet off the floor, but after many tries he just unscrewed it from the base and laid it down on its side. He’s so persistent, but he didn’t get the crazy thing fixed. The original problem was that when other water in the bus was flowing the toilet would run. This isn’t major, but becomes a bigger problem when the washer is running; it’s possible that the toilet could overflow if we weren’t aware that it was continuing to run. Tj found online that changing out the mechanism wasn’t such a big deal, but that’s not how it worked out for us. We finally gave up for the night. I’m so thankful we have two toilets!!

11 July Tuesday

Instead of starting on the toilet again we decided to go to Rushmore today. I’ve heard that you need to get there early or you’ll be stuck in traffic. We got there at about 8:50 and there was already a line of cars. After seeing Mt. Rushmore we walked around the area a bit and heard part of an interesting talk about how they carved it.

I had forgotten that I told Tj a helicopter ride was really important to me. We’ve talked back and forth about helicopter rides since we went to the Grand Canyon. I really want to do them as much as possible, but there’s not doubt that it’s crazy expensive, which makes as much as possible mean not very often at all. It’s hard to justify that much money for that short a time. In the end Tj okayed my request, and we all 4 flew around the mountain. The pilot was a super nice guy who talked about how this is the job he always wanted. Both boys were super excited to go, too, although Jack was a little nervous as we lifted off the ground.

After that awesome ride we went to see Crazy Horse, another impressive carving. I didn’t know anything about it, really, and was interested to learn that it’s a family project and they take no government money for the work.

For lunch Tj wanted to go to a hamburger place but the line was too long. Tj found us another place, and once inside I asked him to choose my meal completely, and we agreed to split our meals half-and-half. He chose an open faced salmon on toast with tarter sauce for me, and he had a burger. I would never have chosen that salmon, but it was really good! I’m planning on having him pick for me again sometime. Max had an awesome grilled cheese with red peppers and pesto. We all had dessert, carrot cake, pot of chocolate and chocolate mousse. Afterward we shopped around a bit, and I found a couple of gifts for my peeps.

Back at home I started working on the toilet again, and after almost fixing it we discovered that a part was broken. Tj did some quick research online and we headed out to Camping World for a new toilet. If we’d realized we’d broken that part in the beginning we wouldn’t have had to go this long with that hanging over our heads!

We brought it home and Tj installed it, and it still leaks. Then he realized that the old seal came up with the old toilet. He fixed the seal and it works!!! Hallelulah!

I made the boys a roll up sandwich for supper and we all watched Alf, Max’s new favorite show.

12 July Wednesday

Today we left around our regular time, which means not too early, to visit the Minute Man Missile Museum. We were disappointed to find that the actual missile wasn’t there…this was just a tiny museum with facts and a gift shop. Because of this we didn’t stay long, and headed to the Badlands next. The Badlands were smaller than I imagined, and looked to be made of dirt which I found really surprising, I thought they were rock formations. They were beautiful to look at, but how have they not eroded away to nothing in all these years if they’re just dirt?! I need to do a little research, it’s clear. We drove through, and got out a few places to walk and climb around. The scenery we’ve seen over the course of this trip is amazing. We’re so blessed to be able to do this.

When we’d had our fill we headed over to Wall Drug for lunch. I had a roast beef plate, Tj had a roast beef sandwich with gravy poured all over. Blug. I wouldn’t want to eat that soggy white bread! He liked it, though, which is all that mattered. It wasn’t a great meal, but we enjoyed it. We walked around a bit in the huge store and I bought some bells, we bought Max a knife, and I got some fudge for all of us. This was great fudge…it stayed soft for 3 or 4 days!

At the end of our time we let Jack strip down to his shorts and he played in the water fountains in the back area. We dried him off as best we could and headed back to Rapid City and ice cream.

I made another roll up sandwich for supper. We watched Alf and had our fudge for dessert.

13 July Thursday

Twice now Jack has prayed “help pawpaw all better”.

TJ played Legos with Max.

I made taco salad for later; we ate shrimp and polenta for lunch.

After lunch I cleaned the bus and finally videoed the contents for insurance purposes.

I asked Tj to see if he could fix the water rocket the boys and I worked on while he was gone. He fixed it…Max hadn’t read all the instructions! Tj got it to work great, so then I wanted to film it and of course he couldn’t get it to shoot as high after that. After working on it a good while it seems really fidgety…you have to do it just right to get it to fly high. In the end we threw it away.

We had Philly Ted’s for supper. When the boys were in bed we watched the third Purge movie. We’ve been watching a movie almost every night and it’s been so much fun.

14 July Friday

We got our last free doughnuts today, and for the first time we were so late that they didn’t have our favorites. Oh well. I headed off to the thrift store by myself then. I found a pair of shorts for Jack, but nothing else. For lunch I had 3 chocolate strawberries and 2 Popeyes chicken wings. Yum!

I went to Walmart and then home. We left Max home by himself for the first time since the incident and went to the Commissary to walk every aisle. We went back home and quickly changed to go swim. I brought my crochet but all 3 boys got in the pool. Tj let Jack go down the slide, but wasn’t at the bottom to catch him. Then the lifeguard said only strong swimmers get to go down the slide. It would’ve been nice if they had that rule posted somewhere. It would have been even nicer if they’d gotten rid of that stupid rule.

About 5 minutes after they got in it was adult swim time for 15 minutes! What a bummer! Then they played the National Anthem so everyone outside of the pool had to stand and salute. In the end the boys got to swim about 30 minutes and then we left.

We had Marco’s for supper. After the boys went to bed we watched Get Out. I didn’t know anything about the movie, but we both enjoyed it.

15 July Saturday

We packed up and left Ellsworth around 10:15. The site was not very level, but there was good water pressure, free doughnuts, free large capacity laundry and you could see the city fireworks from where we were. The swimming pool was free, but had a lot of annoying rules.

On our way to the next campground we saw our second derailed train!

We arrived at the KOA around 5:30 in the new time zone. I made cinnamon rolls while boys swam. When they came back Tj said they’d had a near drowning accident with Jack! We ate taco salad for supper.

16 July Sunday

We had a crazy start to our day: we were trying to merge off of the highway onto another highway, and at the same place somebody was merging on. The whole merge configuration was about twice the total length of the bus plus the truck. The guy in a pickup truck coming on the highway just sat at our tow vehicle for the whole length; TJ practically stopped the bus before the pickup truck finally got the picture and floored it. I thought we were going to miss our turn there for a minute. Crazy!

We just left the KOA in Sioux Falls. It was a nice place to stay, somewhat level, though we did use three blocks and that made our bus completely level. Every site was gravel, there was a dog walk area, laundry, putt putt golf and a swimming pool. We never even unhooked the truck.

17 July Monday

We left KOA Campground around 10 this morning. It was a nice enough place, kind of crowded, but we had plenty enough room for our rig. Our neighbors slide-out was about a quarter inch from the electrical box, but we didn’t have that problem. There was a retaining wall next to our site, but again, we had plenty of room. Our electrical box wasn’t marked, but once we figured out where it was we had no problems. The sites were gravel and dirt, not very level, but with four blocks under the driver’s wheel the beast was level. We didn’t even check out the swimming pool, but the boys played on the playground while we set up and tore down.

On the drive we read the eclipse news and howled at the writing!! In one place it states, “If you’re planning an event or a family gathering related to the eclipse, consider this: Statistically, 100 percent of the people you encounter — to a high degree of accuracy — will never have experienced darkness at noon. you will be the expert.” We laughed so much, and then closed our eyes and experienced darkness at noon!!!!

On a whim we stopped to get gas at a place that had RV parking, low gas cost, an attached Denny’s restaurant, and the perfect parking spot for the bus 🙂 We decided to eat lunch there. TJ and I shared the chicken-fried steak and the southwestern skillet, Max had chocolate chip pancakes. We got back on the road again no problems at all.

18 July Tuesday

We worked around a little bit, then went and ate a steak we cooked on a stone the restaurant heated to 600 degrees! That steak tasted so awesome, and I only put salt on it…not even any pepper! We went to the grocery store for a bit and then went home.

19 July Wednesday

On a cooking show the other day I saw a croque madame, so I tried my hand at it today. It’s a glorified grilled ham sandwich with a cheese sauce and an over easy egg on top. I was hoping it would be wonderful, but it ended up just pretty good.

Today the thermometer read 106 outside!! I think the outside unit must’ve been directly in the sun at that time. It is really hot outside, but our bus is completely in the shade, and even with us going in and out some the thermometer says 79 inside. Nice.

20 July Thursday

21 July Friday

Tj’s leaving today so I nagged him to fix the sewer, and then I actually fixed it. We went to Lambert’s for supper on the way to the airport. Tj had chicken fried steak that was massive!!! They served it in a 12″ skillet! Tj ate almost all of it, I had about 4 bites. I had fried chicken, and boy was it good. I do love fried chicken. I don’t know how anyone ever gets dessert there, with all the sides they pass around on top of how big the portions are.

22 July Saturday

Nothing too interesting. We stayed indoors mostly today. I kicked the boys out for a bit while I cleaned a bit and talked to Mom and Jo on the phone. We went swimming in the afternoon. I’m trying to swim every day here to make up for those cinnamon rolls!

23 July Sunday

Our church this month is just a 4 minute drive away. Nice. It used to be a meal and a show place which makes me chuckle. The Sunday School class I went to was nice, but nobody in there talks! Except me, of course. It seemed that no one wanted to answer any of the teacher’s questions. I had been praying that the Lord would show us which church we should attend this month, and Tj pointed this one out. I did my usual of going online beforehand to read all about what they believe/preach and what I read aligned with the Bible. The class in Rapid City had talked about Adam and Eve being perfect, and not being made with a sin nature…this was the first time I’d ever thought​ about that. I still dwell on that, not because I really think it’s wrong, just that I’ve never thought of that before. This SS teacher talked about Adam and Eve and this topic as well! He also said something I’d never thought about…that Abram didn’t know God (well?) before God called him to leave Ur. He gave us a verse in the prophets about how his father worshiped other gods. This is something I’ll have to think about longer, too.

After our nap I swam 6 laps, and finally tried out the swim cap. It’s so much nicer not to breathe in all my hair while swimming!.

I made buffalo chicken pizza with leftover fried chicken from Lambert’s for supper.

24 July Monday

Around 11 we ate lunch. I had a piece of avocado toast with mornay sauce, cheese and an over easy egg. Yum! After that heavy meal we headed out to Silver Dollar City. Tj and I decided to get season passes to SDC and not do many other things around here. I think it’ll be nice to not have to decide on a lot of different things. This is a case of too many options being a bit of a chore! I asked at the ticket office if I could buy a one day ticket and then upgrade at the end of the day to a season pass, and if I could just buy a season pass to the water park. The answer to both of those was yes. While I enjoyed some of SDC, Jack hated the roller coasters, and there’s not enough that I want to do over and over, so I decided to just get the water park season pass. Unfortunately at 9:30pm when we got to the upgrade office the guy said since I’d bought a one day ticket to both parks I could only upgrade to both parks. That burned me up, but he made no apology and there was nothing else I could do. At that point it was cheaper to upgrade than to outright buy a season pass to the water park.

Our day at the park started off with Jack throwing a complete screaming fit in the bathroom right inside the gate. If I hadn’t just paid for our tickets I would have turned around and gone home. It was hot as blue blazes, and I was doing this for the boys most of all. I don’t know why J was so angry. He doesn’t do this often, but every once in a while he just loses his cool completely. He was asking for help pulling his britches up, but I know he can do that by himself, so I refused to help him. The stall door was swinging into him and I told him to stop holding the door open, just to let it ‘fall’ on him and then pull his pants up, but it made him so angry. He finally pulled them up and I snapped and zipped them and told him to wash his hands, but by that point he was gone…he just yelled and screamed! He was past the point of communication. I feel so bad for him, but I don’t see how I could have anticipated that nor circumvented it.

After that we just wandered around the park for a few hours riding a few rides here and there. I made Jack go on all the rides with us, even a few middle-ground roller coasters. He’s ridden some in the past that haven’t scared him a bit, but that’s not the case now. He didn’t enjoy the swings, and I thought he would love that. He also was really scared on the circular ride where we all sat facing out from the center. There’s a back rest that comes up to snug you into the seat, then you swing back and forth up a curved ramp while the circle turns. It was a fun ride for me and Max, but Jack kept yelling, “I want to exit! I want to exit!!” He also was scared on the pirate ship that just swings back and forth, but it was so cool to see the glass of water they had sitting on the ledge that never spilled during the ride. After that I figured we should only do rides that Jack liked…after his blowout in the bathroom I figured I was making trouble for us if we kept forcing him on these rides. So the next few rides were kiddie rides just for Jack. Whenever we came across a ride Max wanted to go on he rode by himself. Overall this wasn’t such a fun day. It would be much better with TJ here so he and I could ride together sometimes. I really can’t leave Jack alone long enough for us to stand in line and ride a ride…he’d wander off for sure.

When we got hungry we went into the candy store and bought german chocolate coconut clusters, a sarsaparilla and a water. We ate almost all the chocolate and made sure to keep the water bottle for refills around the park. We went to the saloon show which had can can girls, a bad guy fight and corny jokes. We ate the rest of our candy there.

At one point I asked Max if he’d like to go off by himself so he didn’t have to keep riding the little roller coasters with Jack, but he said he didn’t want to because he didn’t have a watch. I said we could split up for 2 hours and we’d pick a meeting point, I really wanted to look in some of the shops and hated to drag both boys around. I don’t know if he didn’t want to ask other people for the time or if he was just chicken to be by himself, I suspect the former. But just when I was about to force him to go off on his own we started seeing this brother/sister several places, and I hated for their grandparents to think that I was asking them to keep an eye on Max. Max, Tony and Sierra went to do a roller coaster together, and Jack and I waited at the bottom of the water ride. Jack took off his shoes, socks and glasses and played in the water with other kids. At one point he got soaked! I know he felt better…it was a sweltering day! After the roller coaster the three big kids got Jack and they all rode on the water ride. We did several more rides together and then the girl said she was so hungry. We were getting pretty hungry too, so we all got supper together…batches of homemade chips with various toppings (taco and buffalo chicken) and then funnel cakes. The four of them (grandfather, adult niece, granddaughter and grandson) split two chips dishes and each one got their own funnel cake. The boys and I split one chip dish and one funnel cake. Max said they really know how to do it…each of them gets their own funnel cake! But then (after I fussed at him for saying that out loud) he was too full to even eat a third of the funnel cake. This boy is getting too big for his britches.

When we were just about finished with our meal the big kids headed out to another roller coaster and I took Jack to the bathroom. I finished first and told Jack that I was going right outside the door to fill up the water bottle and for him to finish up and then wash his hands. When I walked back in with my full water bottle Jack was hopping down the hallway with his pants around his ankles checking under the doors for me! I was so glad that the only other person in the bathroom was the niece, and she was in a stall…hopefully she didn’t see what Jack was doing!

Not long after this I was ready to go home, and grandfather seemed to be as well. When the kids came back we split up for the evening, but exchanged phone numbers. I had been looking forward to staying home tomorrow and not doing a thing, but they were planning on going to White Water, and since the kids had had so much fun together I figured we’d go as well.

Jack hadn’t ridden any rides since supper, and since (I thought) we weren’t coming back to this park I wanted him to be able to ride the train. When we got to the waiting area for the train there was about 20 minutes till the next train…that sounded great. Of course in 18 minutes they announced that there was a problem and the train would be a little late. 20 minutes later the train came. I was done. I was so tired, and annoyed by the kids screaming on the train. It was after dark and I just wanted to go home, and we’d already said we’d meet up tomorrow. Ugh. We stopped at the ticket booth on the way out to upgrade, and you already know how that went.

Fortunately the drive home was pretty short. Max was planning on eating a spoonful of peanut butter when we got home but he was too tired…it was about 10:30 when we all got into bed.

25 July Tuesday

M got up, tiptoed to me and whispered Jack is still asleep!! He went into the bathroom. Less than a minute later Jack got up and immediately dismantled both of their beds. Ha. Silly kid. Of course when Max got up he was bummed because he wanted to go back to bed for a while.

I used the last egg yesterday, but since we’re going to the waterpark today I’m not getting groceries. Jack had to eat oatmeal with Max and he’ll have his beloved fried egg sandwich when we have some free time for the grocery store.

Max wanted to go to the waterpark, but not early. I said when grandfather called us we’d put on sunblock/swimsuits and go. But of course when he called Max didn’t want to go. He never wants to go, and then he never wants to leave. He was a pill today. I told him to enjoy this day because it was his last good day.

Terry called me at 1:30, so we got ready and left. It wasn’t too hard to find them at the waterpark, thankfully. Funnily enough Max hardly hung around with the kids, but I enjoyed Terry and Shannon’s company. Tony was funny, last night he mentioned the handicap line a couple of times before I realized he wanted to use Jack to go to the front of the line. I told him Jack wasn’t that kind of handicapped. Heh. When Max and I talked about it I told him Tony was immature. He said I’m a year older than Tony and I don’t do that.

I didn’t do any adult rides, just hung out with Jack and our friends. At one point Jack, Shannon and I were in the wave pool and I had just shown Shannon how to lay on the float. Therefore, I was in no position to guide myself. And then I floated right on top of a guy! And I couldn’t move off of him! And then I grabbed his shorts!!!!! Fortunately I didn’t pull them down or anything, and his buddy was just looking at me and laughing. When the guy sat up (we were in shallow water…he had been completely submerged) he said well hello there in this funny voice.

Terry mentioned going out of the park to eat supper and then going back to the park. I liked that plan and was going along…then we realized the park closed at 7pm so they just snacked in the park. As we were leaving the park for the evening Terry said well, I’m a hugger, and that was fine with me. It was so much fun hanging out with them these two days. It’s too bad they have to drive back home Thursday.

26 July Wednesday

We were lazy in the morning, and then after lunch we went to Dicks 5&10. I had a small epiphany there…that if I constantly tell Jack to stay beside me then he’s trained me to keep him accountable, and he’s not accountable at all. I told him once that if he went out of my sight he’d have to hold my hand and then I let him roam the aisle I was on. Twice I had to hold his hand, but for longer than that he stayed with me.

After there we went to Walmart for groceries. Tj wanted new goggles and a better pool noodle, so I texted with him for a bit about that. Then I realized that it was just an hour before church! I hurried up and got the essentials, ran home and cooked 2 fried egg sandwiches for the boys to eat on the way and we went to church.

Max got nervous about going to his class…most of the kids there were way older than him. Jack’s class looked right up his alley; they started off in the gym playing with balls and them moved upstairs to a Biblical puzzle and a talk about the Bible. My class was a video lesson with a discussion sheet about giving it all to God.

27 July Thursday

It’s raining here today. Nothing major, just a little bit constantly. I got out our big umbrella and walked down to the office to see about extending our stay for another month. I also asked if they were ever planning on upgrading the (pitiful excuse they have for a) playground or getting some swings for the empty set they have, and she said the parts for the swing set just came in today, they’ll put them on soon. There had been an incident just before we got here where a swing broke and the girl’s mom stormed into the office and demanded that they make it right, but then they went off and did all kinds of activities that proved that the girl must not be hurt at all. I can’t imagine having to deal with irate people on a regular basis.

We went out to eat lunch at a highly rated place. I didn’t have my hopes too high, and it was a good thing. I ordered us a muffaletta, a reuben, and a Greek tray that had hummus, grape leaves, tahini, falafel, tzatziki, baba ghanoush, feta, kalamata olives and sliced tomatoes. That tray was my favorite. The other two sandwiches were fine but not extraordinary. I don’t feel any need to go back there.

There was an Amish store in the same parking lot as the cafe so we shopped there next. I laughed out loud when I saw a container of cheddar cheez powder…what kind of Amish are these? Max said, “Cheddar Cheez Powder, truly the heart and soul of Amish cooking!” and when I laughed he kept finding other things just as un-Amish and saying that. I bought a few things, and was excited to see they had Rada knives. I didn’t pack a paring knife when we moved out of the house, so now I have a new one!

We also finished our grocery shopping from yesterday, and then went swimming as soon as all the groceries were put up. I was annoyed at the pool when I realized that I’d forgotten our lunch leftovers in the truck…even though it had only been a few hours the truck was like an oven, so I threw the box out.

28 July Friday

I decided to be lazy in the morning, and since we skipped the water park yesterday because of the rain we’d go today. I never rushed the boys, but when they got ready after lunch we left.

Jack threw a fit at having to take his shirt off for me to put sunblock on his face, and I had had enough! He does this every time and I need to nip it in the bud. I had him stand in the corner while I cooled down, and then I got stern with him. I didn’t want to call off the trip (as much as I really did, actually) because I didn’t want to punish Max for Jack’s wrongdoing. After a serious talking to Jack straightened up and didn’t give me any more problems.

We were at the park for a few hours, and had some good fun. I stuck a credit card, my ID and a $20 bill in some ziplocks and carried them on me…I hate to pay $7 every time we go in for a locker! Sadly the ziplocks leaked…I’ll have to figure that out.

The boys drank tons of coke and really enjoyed themselves. At one point in the wave pool Max just jumped and belly flopped into the water. A minute or two later Jack did the same, but the water was much shallower and he landed on the concrete! Poor kid. He had a red spot on his ribs when he got up.

We came home and had nachos for supper.

29 July Saturday

It’s cooler here today, which is nice. I just made Mississippi chicken and spaghetti and it’s still cool inside even with only the back a/c running, and even though the thermometer says 99 degrees! It’s still nothing compared to earlier this week.

I’m surprised that the humidity isn’t too high in the bus, either. I checked it during the rain we had these last couple of days and this highest it got was 50%, and today it’s back down to 39% and I’ve never turned on the dehumidifier, and we’ve had lots of swimsuits and wet towels hung around here.

Ellsworth AFB

Saturday, July 1st, 2017

9 June Friday

We packed and left around 9am!! That’s pretty early for us. We headed straight to Grand Prismatic Spring, but of course we made ‘just a few’ stops along the way. We saw a big herd of bison including several calves, and I bought a cloth map of the park for fun that we ended up using for navigation our whole time here. Grand Prismatic Spring was awesome, but of course not as dramatic as the photos show. You don’t get as high above the spring, so you don’t get the full color effect; but that’s not to say it wasn’t beautiful! The colors were amazing. And what really surprised me was that the colors infiltrated the steam that rose, too! As we walked along the boardwalk Jack tried to hold the hand of a Chinese tourist. He’s always better-dealing…even when it comes to his family! Later on in the day at a gift shop there was some jewelry in the colors of the GPS…they were beautiful. That was so smart of whoever thought of making that and selling it there.

The two priorities I had for Yellowstone were GPS and Old Faithful. We sat for 45 mins before Old Faithful erupted. I didn’t expect all the sputtering as it worked itself up to erupt. Afterwards we listened to a talk by a park ranger about the geyser. He showed us a map of the underground part of Old Faithful; I was surprised at how far down the narrowness went. I guess I thought it was a big pool not too far underground with a small spout, but there is a narrow shaft of at least 70′ straight down. If I remember correctly at the narrowest point the shaft is 4″ in diameter. Another interesting fact is that there’s someone in the office facing the geyser who times it. If the total eruption is less than four minutes, the next eruption happens in about 40-60 minutes. If the eruption is four minutes or longer, the next eruption will be 75-100 minutes. I wonder how long it took them to figure that out?

We stopped along a river at a picnic table for lunch. I’d made a big sandwich for all of us on french bread, but without the mayo/horseradish/mustard, which I put on at the picnic. By the time we were halfway through eating we were all freezing! We packed up what was left and finished lunch in the truck.

We also stopped along the way back home to see a waterfall and saw a wedding party there for pictures. Right about then it started drizzling.

We made it home and I cooked pasta from Italy (I’d picked it up at Giuseppe’s sub shop a few days ago) and lemon artichoke pesto (from one of the creameries we visited). We finished off the birthday cake tonight 🙁

10 June Saturday

It rained off and on all night, but fortunately we stayed dry. We slept till 7:30 when Jack woke me up.

Hip-o-pop-a-mus is what Jack said the bison were yesterday, and what animal he wants to see today.

What can I saw about Yellowstone? It’s so huge, there’s so much to see. We drove and drove, and listened to the audio tour Tj found for us. We stopped at mud pits and waterfalls and all kinds of other beautiful scenery. There’s too much to ever see it all.

I brought sandwiches again like yesterday. We made it home around 6pm, had leftover Chinese for supper, then the boys went out to play with Bridger and Fisher, our neighbors for the day. After a while Max asked if they could go to the game room so we sent him off with my change purse so he could play games, and Jack came inside to shower.

11 June Sunday

We got up late and packed up and moved out. We were straddling the checkout time and the check-in time, and we made it to the next campground on the dot of check-in! It was an hour and 40-minute drive through the park to get from one park campground to the other. The first two thirds of the trip were fairly easy and pretty to look at, though through the country we’d seen for the last two days. The last third of the trip was a little bit of white knuckling and sheer drop offs with construction and rural roads. If this doesn’t strengthen our relationship with God I don’t know what will!

We partially set up the bus and then headed out for pizza. I was kind of wanting to go crazy and get the pizza that had sauerkraut on it based off of Yelp reviews, but TJ wasn’t feeling it. He picked out a hamburger with jalapeno and banana peppers for half of our pizza, and the other half was supreme. They both looked good to me but I was so disappointed when I ate the first type of pizza. It wasn’t bad, but it did not interest me at all either. But when I picked up that supreme; Heaven! It was really great. The four of us wiped out a large pizza and an order of cheese sticks.

We hadn’t planned on going in the park at all today, but we had driven through some really beautiful, massive rocks about 20 minutes from the northern entrance. We knew we were going back there to look around and perhaps climb, but we didn’t think to put on our climbing boots or anything. We only stayed in the park about two hours, we looked there and then we went to Mammoth Hot Springs to see the travertine steps. TJ and I were both feeling an ice cream urge come over us so we headed back out of the park and all had one scoop of ice cream at a nearby place, and those were mammoth scoops! We looked around there a little bit longer and then went home. I assumed we would go straight into watching something for church, but there were kids near our site when we got there. The boys ended up playing with the kids and I chatted with the moms for a while. I said then we were going to watch church, but the neighbor boys were at our site again, so we ended up not having the kids come inside for showers until about 9 p.m.! I made us some popcorn and then we watched a video about the creation of the eye for church.

12 June Monday

We went into Yellowstone for our last day today. We just had two things we wanted to see, Slaugh Road for the wildlife, and Tower Falls. We went to Tower Falls first, and stopped at a thing or two along the way, including seeing a bear cub and then across the same street an owl in a nest high in a tree.

We went out for lunch in the park. I got the Philly cheesesteak which was awesome, but not like an actual Philly cheesesteak. The meat was so wonderful, kind of like a roast beef or a little bit of a Reuben taste TJ said because of the dark bread. TJ had the buffalo burger. Of course we split both of those entrees halfway. At first the burger was a little bland, but with a little salt on there the patty had such a good flavor. There was just a little bit of char and that made it excellent. Max got hot wings which didn’t have any sauce on them, the lady said the seasoning was in the breading. Jack had a burger and fries. All in all I was pleased with our lunch there.

After lunch we headed off to Slaugh Road to see some wildlife. We did see a wolf cub, lots of deer, several buffalo, and some prairie dogs. We started out on a hike, but decided it was too overgrown and we were a little bit worried about bears. I think if it had just been Tj and me we might have chanced it, but it just seemed so risky with the boys. We headed back out and stopped once more to climb a little hill near the truck. We’ve had such a wonderful time in Yellowstone, and seen so much of God’s beauty here.

We went straight to ice cream once out of the park even though it started raining half an hour or so before we left. It really did look like snow, and snow had been called for today. Despite the forecast it was the hottest it had been for us in Yellowstone. We all wore long sleeves and then wished we had had short sleeves. At the ice cream shop TJ got a gunslinger which is espresso and ice cream, I got a malt and the boys got a shake to share. We went shopping at a little souvenir store and saw lots of fun things, but nothing we bought. I saw some more wood bowls, but their sides and bottoms were too thick. Not like I need a delicate wooden bowl, but I didn’t want a big clunky one either, especially in the bus.

We headed back to the bus then and it was such a light drizzle that we decided to put the bikes in the back of the truck just in case everything was soaked by the next morning. During supper we watched two episodes of Lost while Jack stayed in the back and watched Milo and Otis.

13 June Tuesday

Yellowstone RV park site was pretty slanted, we used four blocks on one side and two blocks on the other. Every site was gravel. There was plenty of space for every camper, and our site backed to the river which was beautiful. We saw several rafts floating down the river during our time there.

While I was doing my three minute deal on the truck I was talking on the walkie talkie to Jack. I asked him for his favorite color and he said black. No surprise. I asked him what his favorite food was and he said mashed tatoes and chicken! When Tj got back in he asked him and Jack said french fries and chicken. We don’t generally ask him favorite things because it doesn’t seem to compute with him, but he’s been having a favorite demonstration on Gemini so I thought I’d go for it. I’m so glad I did 🙂

When I saw what date it was today I told Max that it was my Pawpaw’s birthday. He said well we should send him a birthday card. I said we can’t and pointed up to Heaven, and then when he still didn’t get it I said he’s in Heaven now. You should have seen the shocked look on his face! I couldn’t understand why he was surprised, he hasn’t met either of my Pawpaws, so I said both of my Pawpaws are dead. He said Oh! I thought you said MY Pawpaw was dead! Boy did we have a good relief laugh after that.

Out of the blue today Jack said how bout music?

The stop we made tonight was just a halfway point to Devil’s Tower, so we didn’t get everything in the bus perfect. We just did a quick set up. We dozed a bit after the longer than usual drive, and then went out to eat.

The host at the campground suggested Wyoming’s Rib and Chop House and gave us a free appetizer coupon. We did eat there and the food was really good. The appetizer was fried green tomatoes with blue cheese, lump crab meat and a balsamic reduction. It was awesome! It was not any flavors I would have put together, but it was such a unique and interesting taste. I could have eaten the whole thing! TJ got a buffalo steak which was under salted but perfectly cooked. I got the ribs and they were one step down from awesome. They were really good. I ate every one of them. I also got the baked potato which was okay and the salad with thousand island dressing which was out of this world. Basically it was a great meal even though we found out later it was a chain restaurant.

There was paper on each table and the hostess wrote her name upside down and backwards, but so that we could read it. She left the colors and after a bit Tj drew Kilroy. When the (young and immature) waitress returned she said oh, I know Kilroy, he’s super old! The other funny thing is she didn’t even catch herself after she called us super old!

After supper we ran down the street to check out the gas station for the bus tomorrow morning, and stopped in at Albertsons to pick up some Cokes. We went back to the bus, put the boys to bed, and settled in for a little TV time.

14 June Wednesday

Peter D’s RV park was nice. We were able to pretty much level without any blocks. The whole thing was gravel, but there was lots of nice grass between each site. Kids were out playing, and the host was super friendly.

We woke up, packed up and left. We made it to Devil’s Tower KOA where it’s all gravel, but super level. There was plenty of length for the truck and the bus to park together, and a good enough amount of space side to side. There were plenty of amenities, and it is right at the entrance to Devil’s Tower, so that was cool.

We partially set up, packed some ice water and headed out to Devil’s Tower. It was pretty steep, but all on blacktop trails so pretty easy as well. Max did the Junior Ranger program here again, and there was so much information to fill out. At the end we sat right outside the visitor center for about half an hour while he finished doing all the puzzles and paperwork they wanted for it. He’s still a little nervous about going up to adults by himself, and doesn’t seem to have a good feel for when he can go right up to a counter and when he needs to hang at the very back of the line. A family of 5 kids was going to get their Junior Ranger patches, and since there was a big pledge they all had to repeat I told Max to just put his paper on the table at the same time. The pledge was really cute about not stepping on ants, not picking the plants, and not doing something else because that would be rude. TJ bought a shirt in the gift shop, but I didn’t see anything that I really wanted.

On the way back to our bus we were planning for the boys to go swimming, but when we got to the bus big drops of rain were starting to fall. Max hurried and put everything in the truck: the trampoline, the bikes, the skateboard etc. I started thawing out enchiladas for dinner, and then the rain stopped and the sun came out so brightly! I wanted the boys to go swimming but they both said they wanted to go to the playground so that’s what they did. TJ and I snoozed and read for a while, and then we got ready to go watch the movie. Being at the base of Devil’s Tower they play Close Encounters of the Third Kind every night. TJ popped popcorn while I fixed drinks and gathered snacks. We brought over a picnic blanket and two chairs and got there right as the movie was starting. About 20 minutes in TJ ran back to the bus to get us some blankets to cover up with because it was starting to get chilly. Jack fell asleep on my lap about halfway through the movie, which is always sweet. After the movie was over TJ carried him back to the bus while Max and I brought the rest of the stuff. Jack was ready to go to bed but he did go to the bathroom first. Twice lately he has pooped his britches! It does seem like his stomach was a little sick, so we haven’t busted him. But this has got to stop!

I got all ready for bed, had my ear plugs and eye mask on and was almost asleep when TJ says you have got to come outside and see the stars. They were beautiful! We could see the Milky Way even with the lights around. I think in these next few weeks while we’re at Ellsworth we’re going to have to make a point to drive out into the dark countryside and see the Milky Way now that it’s summer.

15 June Thursday

Not much to say about today. We drove to Ellsworth AFB and set up. Tj saw there was a Marco’s here, so that’s what we had for supper! It was just as good as I’d remembered. He also saw that we have a half off coupon from them that expires next week. Guess we should have them again!

16 June Friday

Today was a work day. The repairman came early to fix Max’s bed, but that ended up being a bust, sadly. Now Tj’s working on getting us an appointment at Thor.

After he left the boys played outside while we did chores around the house. Tj flushed the tanks and the water heater and hooked the half-bike on. There’s free laundry here and the washers are giant! So all of our comforters got washed. Lovely.

17 June Saturday

Today I cut Tj’s hair, and then took him to the airport. I need to cut my hair, but whatever.

18 June Sunday

I couldn’t find my way off the base this morning on the way to church. Just another adventure! I thought Google would take me there but it brought me to a third closed gate, and I’d left the map in the bus. When I finally gave up and went back to the bus to get the map I made sure to leave it in the truck! Turns out I drove right past the second gate but missed it. Oh well. We missed Sunday School but made it to church.

19 June Monday

One of the reasons I chose this church was because it had VBS for kids Max’s age. After service yesterday I asked if there were usually any kids in VBS his age and they said there would be, so I signed them up!

I stayed with Jack all morning, figuring it would be more mature than just leaving him and hoping for the best. He did really well! He stood in line for about 10 minutes while waiting for his class to go in, and I never even had to tell him to get back in line. I corrected him a few times during the day, but no more than you’d correct a typical kid. Looks like I’m gonna have some free time! Woot!

I figured I deserved a break after VBS so we went to Philly Ted’s. I ordered us half size of three sandwiches: the Bear, the Viking and the Steeler, and some chili cheese fries. All three sandwiches were awesome, but the fries were the best for me.

Then we went to Goodwill and Max hit the jackpot! He finally found a white shirt and red tie. He’s over the moon about his Odd Squad uniform. It really does look right, especially with his gold Junior Ranger badge from Devil’s Tower.

In the afternoon Jack and I rode our bike. He doesn’t like it, but I’m hoping it’ll grow on him. He also rode 4 laps around the dumpster on his own bike.

I wanted to take the boys to see the Milky Way again…it’s best seen in the summer according to the internet. I found out when last light was, checked the weather and the moon timing, and we headed out tonight. Of course, last light doesn’t mean last light, and when we got out there and I was talking to Tj on the phone he looked up even more info for me and said we’d probably have to wait another hour for the best time. The boys will be beat tomorrow as it is. So this night’s a bust. Maybe next time.

20 June Tuesday

While the boys were at VBS I went to a thrift store and bought a wooden sword and some books for Max. While I was waiting to go into the first store a woman came to my truck window. I was on the phone with Mom, but could see that she had the shakes. I put up my hand to tell her to wait, and she went away after a minute.

We’ve ridden the half bike every day so far, but it’s too hot today!

Our Marco’s coupon expires tomorrow, so we used it today for supper. YUM!

21 June Wednesday

Today was water day at VBS.

While on my own I bought some gifts for Jack’s teachers; chocolate covered cherries, cute little chalkboards and chalk. I really appreciate this free time! I finished World War Z today.

22 June Thursday

Today while on break I got the oil changed and worked on my blog. I found a corkboard for Max’s Legos at a thrift store. After buying that a
woman stood by my truck till I walked outside and asked for a ride to the Post Office.

After VBS we went to Arby’s for lunch. The billboard announcing their pork belly sandwich had been taunting me all week! Sadly, it wasn’t worth it. I gave half of it to Jack and mostly ate the smothered fries I also ordered.

After our nap I started crocheting a washcloth.

Today Jack rode 5 laps around the dumpster! He still fusses, but I make him do it, and up the number of laps each time.

23 June Friday

Last night after the boys were asleep I went to the living room/their bedroom for some reason. When I opened the door J was awake and commenting on the wind…it’s so windy here, almost every day. I went over to him to hug him and put him back to bed, and tripped over Max! I found out the this morning that he doesn’t remember any of it, so fortunately there was no permanent damage, but I was kinda scarred from stepping on his face! He said there was a moth fluttering around near him while he was reading before bed, but he couldn’t get it to go out the window, so he moved to sleep on the floor by Jack. Ugh.

I made rolls using a 30-minute roll recipe…they were awesome! I cooked up some sausage and that on a roll was wonderful for supper.

This base does Revillee at 7:30am, the Star Spangled Banner at 5pm, and Taps at 10pm. It’s so cute to see the boys facing the music with their hands over their hearts.

24 June Saturday

Hermit day! I only got out of my pj’s to see if the office was open to pick up our package, and only then because Tj asked me to. It wasn’t. In the afternoon I made cinnamon rolls using the roll recipe, and they were awesome!! I brought 4 over to our neighbor so I wouldn’t be too tempted. Heh.

After we’d been in the bed an hour or so Max came to get me and said there’s an incident. The moth is back! I told him I was sorry, but he had to kill it. He didn’t fight me, but he didn’t want to do it at all. He was so mad at the moth for always landing in a tight space between two cabinets. If only it would land on the floor or plain wall he could kill it easier! Poor kid, we struggled with this for at least half an hour before he got it. He’s so freaked out by moths it’s sad to see, but I won’t be doing him any favors if I kill it.

We’re having the same situation as at the last place. We’ve been here for a week with no moths, and then in these last two nights I’ve killed about 3 moths. I hope they’re not breeding in here, but the last time this happened the weather got hot the next day and we didn’t see anymore after we started running the a/c. The last time we had this the moths were black and these are brown, and it’s been about 3 weeks since the black moths so I know it’s not the same moths.

25 June Sunday

After church today we went to the hardware store for a bit of pipe to fix the half bike. Here’s hoping!

26 June Monday

Jack is humming The Star Spangled Banner! So sweet!

We decided to go to Reptile Gardens today. I read some good things about the shows there, so I was excited to go. I had to just stop at the office and get a package first. Of course when I got there they didn’t have our package. They sent me to The Postal Service Center, but they didn’t know where that was, they just had a phone number. We went to ITT next to see what kind of tickets they had and I asked them where the Postal Service Center was and they didn’t even know the base had one! ITT didn’t have what I wanted but they did have a really discounted price for Disney, and a great price for Watiki, the local indoor water park. We went back out to the truck and I called The Postal Service Center to see where they were and then drove over there. They didn’t have our package but sent me to BITC. That place was way out in the boonies, there were 3 deer sleeping in the shadow of a nearby building. But they had our package! By this time It was basically time for lunch. I was on the phone with TJ and he said I should just go get some lunch and then go to the Reptile Gardens, so that’s what we did. We went to Pacific Rim Cafe and had Vietnamese egg rolls, spring rolls, and half a bhan mi sandwich. It was all good, but it didn’t bowl me over that’s for sure.

After lunch we headed Reptile Gardens. I had seen online that there was military discount so I asked about it; I didn’t really calculate the price but had somewhat of an idea of it when we went in. I was completely surprised when she said it was $50 for the three of us, but then she said the crocodile show is starting right away so we just went straight to the crocodile show. It was awesome! The guy who led it was really a natural speaker, he had some funny corny jokes. It surprised me how often he just prodded those alligators to get them to move. It was a 30 minute show, and he talked about alligators and crocodiles facts, where they live, etc. Then at the end he brought out a bucket of chicken scraps and got the gators and crocodiles to catch them in their mouth. Some were eager, but most were lazy. I could have watched that show a few times, that’s for sure. It was pretty interesting.

After we watched it we went to the playground for a little bit, where I pulled out my receipt and checked my math. She definitely overcharged us somehow, so after about 15 minutes we went back to the entrance and talked to her about it. She was very kind and tried to figure out exactly what she did, and after a minute or two she refunded me what was due. The awesome thing about this place is even though it’s pretty expensive in general if you’re visiting you can get a free pass for the entirety of your stay. But TJ told me later that if you live here one ticket purchase entitles you to a month-long entry pass. So that’s cool too. I think we’ll probably go back when we’re close to it several times just to look around. After that we went into the dome area and saw massive pythons and other snakes, sadly they were roaches there too. Jack and I split off from Max and we went upstairs. We got behind a couple while we were looking at all the snakes and we each chatted about nothing much. When we got around to the flattened penny machine they were making one and then offered to buy Jack one. That was so nice of them. I said something about being nice isn’t just a Southern thing, and they said no, it’s also a small town thing.

We went back to the playground for a bit, walked around and saw the tortoises, saw a bunch of turtles, and then watched the bird and the snake show (those were two separate shows, but how cool would a bird and snake show be?) The bird show was fine, there was a vulture that was actually kind of pretty.

But the snake show was really good. Almost as good as the crocodile show. There was a good mix of facts and interesting stuff, the different types of snakes, the different types of venomous snakes etc. The guy rolled out this dresser of locked cabinets full of snakes. And would explain each one as he took it out. It was funny because when he started talking about the venomous snakes he said I’m going to use this metal pole instead of my hands to get the snakes out so that I can keep their heads away from my body as much as possible. Well then that snake started slithering up that pole to get as close to him as possible. He laid the pole down for a little while and then when the snake started going toward the other again he picked it up again, and the same thing happened. So he laid it down again and grabbed another pole. He kept talking throughout the whole show, it was just very enjoyable.

We went back to the playground one more time and then looked through the gift shop for a bit before heading home. I saw a bunch of bowls from Turkey just like the one I already have. I know it’s crazy but I am considering buying another one. They tied it in by saying some of the animals in the exhibits are from these countries and then had souvenirs from several different countries. We’ll see if my common sense or my lust for Beautiful Things wins out.

On the way home Max reminded me that we were out of milk so we stopped at the grocery store for a little bit. There went my plans for making pizza for supper. It only takes me about an hour, but there are other things I can make quicker, and we didn’t get home till about 7:30. We had quesadillas and watched Star Trek with supper and then got in the bed pretty late. We all talked to TJ for a bit too so that pushed our bedtime off even later.

27 June Tuesday

We went to Jump Craze today. I thought I’d looked at the website thoroughly, but after I’d plugged in the address into the truck’s gps I saw it opens at noon! Doh! Guess I’d better check better next time. We all piled out of the truck and back into the bus. After a bit I sent the boys outside while I made pb&j graham crackers for lunch.

Jump Craze was fun, and pretty empty. Max got upset at the boys playing dodge ball but calmed himself down and went right back to playing. I don’t even know the particulars, but I’m glad he worked it out by himself. Jack roamed all over, and attached himself to a teen girl for a while. I made sure he wasn’t annoying her with his constant ‘tag, you’re it’ business. After a while he was trying it with a teenage boy but Max quickly came over and told me Jack shouldn’t be playing with that boy…that he’d used the middle finger a couple of times. I’d been watching the boy while Jack was with him and everything seemed alright. I asked the boy if Jack was annoying him and he said no so I let it be. Jack left off playing with him, but went back another couple of times, and each time Max was right next to me saying the same thing. He’s so protective of Jack, when he’s not picking on him.

I used the rest of the peanut butter for lunch so we stopped at WM for a few more groceries on the way home. We came in and quickly changed into swimsuits and headed to the pool. It’s been warm today, but it’s always so windy so it’s hardly been hot enough to really make you want to swim. The boys only got to swim about 30 minutes before lightening was sighted and we had to get out of the pool. While we were there, though, I chatted with the only other mom there, and Max played with her kids. Fun!

After that we checked out the youth center. I thought it would be a place for Max to hang out with other kids inside while I took Jack out to the back to play on the playground. Nope. It’s basically after school care, even in the summer. I can pay for them to keep the boys, and they’re even having a lock-in! I talked to Tj and he’s all for Max going to that.

I made buffalo chicken pizza for supper, without the chicken! Max asked about it while at the store but I forgot to get chicken. I did have bacon so I put that on there, but it was a waste. You couldn’t really taste the bacon. I seeded and diced a tomato to put on half of the pizza…Max didn’t even know it was there, and it didn’t register on my pallette either.

28 June Wednesday

Black light golf at Putz and Glow.

Since we passed right by Reptile Gardens to get to Putz and Glow we stopped in at RG again so Jack could play on the playground and in the sandbox.

29 June Thursday

PJ day! It rained off and on all day which was nice. We skipped breakfast and then I made ham and cheese scones for lunch. I’m always disappointed in flavored scones…these were good, but much better when I put a slice of ham in there! I guess I just need to stick to biscuits.

We all worked after lunch. Max had a letter to Greyson to finish up. G’s grandmother asked if they could be pen pals; I said yes, but Max is loathing it. I told him he had to write at least 3 letters…after that we’ll evaluate. I finally changed our address with Uncle Jerry and Aunt Vicki, finished up putting insulation around the bus, and finally ordered Jack’s ID bracelet.

For supper I made a new recipe: sausage and sun dried tomato pasta. It was fine, but again, a little bland.

30 June Friday

We hit up the office for free doughnuts. Man, I’m gonna miss that when we leave here! Then we went home and made ice cream from a recipe off of FB. Shake cream in a mason jar with a little sugar/vanilla/salt and leave in the freezer for 3 hours. Then it was time for the base picnic. It was close enough that we walked there. Jack was ecstatic about the jumpy castles, of course. Max had a lot of fun with the bubble soccer…I didn’t know what that was, but I guess it was the body size bubbles you get in and run around into other people with. Paintball was available but Max didn’t want to do it because he’s heard it hurts. When we first walked by the paintball area there were just adults playing, but later there was a kids time. By the time I saw that it was about time to go. Lunch was provided…pulled pork or hot dog, cole slaw/beans/chips, and Cokes or water to drink. There was a mock jail where you told on your friend, then someone went and put real handcuffs on them and walked them to the jail cell set up right in the middle of activities. There was a judge who told everyone what your crimes were, and I don’t know if you had to pay to get out or pay to put your friends in, or of the whole thing was free. I”m sure it was fun for everyone here who knows other people they could send to jail…it went on the whole time we were there which was 10:30-1:40pm. We would’ve stayed another 20 minutes to then end but Jack threw up! Fortunately not in the jumpy castle! I made sure he waited a long time after eating to go back and jump and he was fine. Then we went to get a bottle of water and he drank a good third of that. He played bubble soccer a bit and had the rest of his water. 5 or 10 minutes after that he threw up…I guess I should’ve slowed his water consumption down. It seemed funny to me that he didn’t throw up while being active, it was after 2-3 minutes of standing still. Of course as we were walking home he was asking to jump again.

We came home and showered him, then he watched Milo and Otis while I dozed. Max and I put together the water rocket we’ve had forever, but it didn’t work. I guess we’ll have to wait to ask Tj if he can figure out where we went wrong.

I’m planning on cooking bacon and eggs to go with the rest of the scones for supper, and then our homemade ice cream for dessert!

I just stepped outside to see if we should go hunt down the Milky Way and it’s perfectly clear! But the moon’s already out. Bummer.

Craters of the Moon, etc.

Thursday, June 22nd, 2017

31 May Wednesday

There’s a different kind of static here. In AZ my skirts stuck to me, but here my hair flies out at any given chance. I didn’t notice it there but I never had trouble with my hair until here.

By the time we got ready to go today it was so close to lunch that I decided we’d have lunch first. I made a new recipe of chicken in the cast iron skillet with asparagus and a creamy gravy. It turned out pretty good. I’ll probably do it again with broccoli instead of asparagus. Max thinks that would be less detestable 🙂

After lunch we got all ready to go and headed over to the old Idaho State Penitentiary. That was an interesting place to visit, the garden there was really pretty. I wonder how it looked when it was a prison. I took a lot of pictures of the boys behind bars, and we read a lot about different criminals and why they were there. We got to see the room where people were hung, and then go downstairs and see the bottom part of that room. Strange. We also saw a whole little room dedicated to jailhouse tattoos, how to get them, and how it’s illegal in every state for you to get them in jail! After that we went next door to a geologic museum. Honestly I went there because it said there was a gift shop 🙂 The gift shop at the prison left much to be desired. This gift shop wasn’t much better, but the lady at the desk gave Jack two little free plastic things. She really took a shine to him.

After that there was only about an hour till church so I found a playground at a Chick-fil-A and we settled in. After the boys had been in the play place for a few minutes a lady leaned out from another booth and said your older son is an awesome big brother. She said a couple more things to me which really made me smile. At first I didn’t know she was talking to me so it took a little bit for me to figure out what she was talking about. Max and Jack were playing and her two kids were in there as well, and I think Max was playing with all of them. This trip has really helped Max open up, and he wasn’t that shy before honestly. After a little while I checked to see what time church was and it was actually a half hour later than I expected. When that lady and her kids got ready to go they left and then came back after a little bit and asked if we could exchange numbers and get together again sometime. I told them that we were only going to be here another week and she seemed really disappointed, which surprised me. Then she asked if we could friend each other on Facebook and that surprised me more. It seems funny, I’ve almost gotten more new Facebook friends since starting this trip than ever before.

We dropped​ Max off at church and headed to Whole Foods. Jack and I split a piece of pizza and a salad there. We shopped around a little bit, and then headed over to Trader Joes. Last time I was there I had seen some steak and stout pies that I meant to get, so I picked them up this time. I also got another package of candied orange slices, those were so good.

When I got back to the church to pick Max up he was waiting for me outside, I guess they got let out a little early tonight. Last week Max got a $5 gift card for being new, and this week they gave him a Hershey’s bar with almonds for it being his last time to be there! That kid’s really made out at this church!

1 June Thursday

Today was a complete pj day. It was rainy and wonderful to stay inside. Last night after church we stopped at Shopko and Max spent his $5 for the month on two 2 liters of Dr. Pepper and a small Toblerone. He gave Jack a small cup of Dr. Pepper, and he drank all but another small cup of Dr. Pepper today. He kept saying that it was such a great day, and we really needed to have a day where we didn’t do anything at all. But then when I was fixing supper at 7 he said after supper I think I need to get outside, I think getting some exercise would make my belly feel better. I think not exercising has made my belly feel bad today. I said well maybe it was that two liters of Dr. Pepper, you think? He smiled and agreed. He and Jack didn’t do anything all day, and I hardly did anything, but I did make enchilada fixings, and a new Asian soup.

I forgot to blog this, but the other day when we changed the oil in the bus, as Max was getting ready to go outside to play I saw a huge moth flying around in the bus. I’m not scared of moths at all really, though I probably shouldn’t say that now, so I don’t think of Max as being scared of them. I told him before he left he needed to kill that moth. Well that was a crazy ordeal. In the end he never did kill it, but he sure did spend a lot of energy yelling and screaming about it. He was completely freaked out! TJ and I didn’t have time to deal with it because we were trying to take care of the oil change. At one point we went back in the bus to get something and saw that Jack was crying, he was so worried about Max. TJ immediately took over with Max and I grabbed Jack’s Crocs and we headed out to the playground. He’s such a sweet boy. When anybody near him is upset he gets upset. And Max was crying, a lot. Jack and I played at the playground for a bit, and then we checked out the gym nearby. There was a doctor’s scale there, and I really hope it’s accurate, but my weight was so low even with all my clothes on that I could hardly believe it. I think I have lost a little weight recently, but not that much.

Max got back his 3Ds today. It’s the first electronic since the incident.

Now it’s bedtime and I just caught Max’s moth. I think it’s what flew between me and my phone last night, and I took that as a sign it was time to turn the light off 🙂 But I put the boys to bed about 10 minutes ago, flossed my teeth, and was in the middle of brushing my teeth when there was a huge thump from the front. Jack had fallen out of bed. He seemed really shaken up so I guess he was already asleep. So we hugged, I fixed​ his bed, put him back to bed, and finished brushing my teeth. Then the moth was up by the light over the sink. I guess God has given Max a reprieve on that one 🙂

2 June Friday

I killed two more moths! They’re huge and black…unlike any I’d ever seen before. Hopefully this isn’t just the beginning!

I didn’t want us to eat out twice today, so I got us up and out of the house pretty early. We brought some granola bars and water and headed out around 9 a.m. Our first stop was Malad Gorge. It was recommended to us by fellow campers last week. It took us about an hour and a half to get there, but since Max got his 3DS back last night he didn’t mind the drive at all.

When we pulled up to the gate shack I talked to the lady there for a good while about what we should see and do. She said she wasn’t from Idaho which I thought was funny since she was working at an Idaho State Park. There were six stops around Malad Gorge, but we didn’t go to all of them. One was just showing us the plant life they’re trying to reintroduce to the area, we skipped that one. The Gorge was beautiful though, with a really nice waterfall we walked over at the first stop. I don’t like going to these things as much without TJ, Max gets right out to the edge which I don’t mind so much, but it does make me a little nervous. Jack is at the point now where he wants to go right out to the edge too, which I mind a great deal. I won’t let him go within about two or three feet of the edge without holding my hand.

When we finished all the stops we headed to lunch at Ziggy’s. I got mixed up with the restaurant I saw closer to Twin Falls that I’m going to try to get TJ to take us to next week. Ziggy’s was a little gas station, but since it’s one of not many restaurants in the area it had pretty good reviews. The fried catfish was great, but the chicken fried steak was just so-so. It was pretty thin and a little tough. I just ordered those two meals thinking they would be enough for the boys and me, and really thinking that we would finish them. They were huge though, so we took tons of hush puppies and a good many fries home.

We headed down to Balanced Rock, and made several stops along the way. Our first stop was a garage sale where Max bought a water pistol with a holster and a sheriff’s badge, and a three-ring binder. We stopped at another garage sale not too far down the road, but the woman wanted $30 for a croquet set so we didn’t stay long. She had several really nice lawn toys they’d made to sell…that’s not my kind of garage sale! We made a few more stops; the area was beautiful. There was a place with a ton of waterfalls across a river, so I took a few pictures. One of the pull-offs was so beautiful, an overlook of a valley that had so many cloud shadows and so much sunshine, it was awesome! Max climbed all the way down the boulders to see a car wreck at the bottom! Jack wanted to climb down too but there was no way I was letting him do that.

We finally made it to Balanced Rock, and it was a sight to behold. It looked pretty awesome poking up from all the rest of the rocks, like a crooked finger pointing straight into the sky. Max climbed all the way up to it, I climbed nine-tenths of the way, and Jack climbed halfway. When we were about halfway up we heard a huge explosion! When the Japanese people who were already at the site when we got there passed us climbing up to the rock we each confirmed that we didn’t think it was thunder, it was definitely an explosion. When we got home and talked to TJ, he remembered there’s a bombing range nearby, so we figured that must be what it was. It was pretty exciting though!

The last place I wanted to visit was mentioned to us at Malad Gorge this morning by the gate lady. We looked for Billingsley Creek but it was a little difficult to find, so we moved on to Earl M. Hardy Box Canyon Springs. With all our driving around the boys finished off the fries and hush puppies before our last stop. Google showed there were no roads right up to the end point, but she was taking us as close as she could. When the road went from two lanes, to no painted lines, to gravel I figured this was not going to work out well. Fortunately there were two guys working on an irrigator close to the road, so I pulled over and asked them for help. They told me which way to go, so we turned around and headed to the right place. It was basically a little parking lot about big enough for 8 cars. The guys had said you park and then walk out to the water, so that’s what we did. I didn’t think it would be that far out, but in the end I think it was about a mile. This wouldn’t have been such a big deal but it was hot and late and the boys were tired. But boy was it worth it! The water was so clear you could see straight down to the bottom, the whole area was so beautiful! Once again we all sat right on the edge of the cliff and the boys threw lots of rocks down.

We headed back home and it was pretty late, but it’s still so bright around here. I don’t think it gets dark till about 10 p.m. My Pioneer stereo had trouble for a while, but it was a straight shot at 80 miles an hour so I left the phone unplugged for a while and talked to TJ on my headset while Max played his 3DS again and Jack played the iPad. By the time he and I hung up my stereo worked again, thankfully. I filled up with gas, and then when we got on the base I left the boys at the playground while I went home and showered. We were all so dusty and sweaty from the day, I just put all of our clothes right into the washer and washed them. The boys came in and showered while I made loss bread for supper. I let Jack fall asleep in his bed, and then moved him to my bed so that we would all get a great night’s sleep. That boy is heavy! And so awkward to carry. And I don’t get a good night’s sleep while he’s in the bed with me, but I can keep him asleep longer in the morning, so that’s something.

3 June Saturday

We slept late, and ate and then headed out. I have such a long list of errands to run today I wasn’t sure I’d get it all done. The first place we went was the little shopette to buy more vodka. I’m almost out of vanilla, but I think my beans are still good so I refilled that. We’ll see. I was telling Max that even though it’s drill weekend we don’t need to worry about listening to the announcements. I think I spoke too soon though, when we were about 3 car lengths away from the gate some guys ran out from the guard shack and shut the gate on us! I wasn’t sure if they were shutting one lane or both…maybe they would be checking cars on the way out? Nope, once I moved over to the left lane they closed that side too. Of course then people pulled up about even with me in the right lane…and that’s where I wanted to be! We waited and waited, and then I saw a cop truck coming up behind me! I started to pull to the right shoulder, and saw that dude even with me pulling ahead and to the shoulder! Now I didn’t have enough room to let the cop through without going over the line painted for the gate-swing. Oh well. Fortunately there was still enough room to open the gate fully 10 minutes later. What an adventure!

Our next stop was the thrift store on Main Street. This is where I Max and I had seen lots of bikes, and I was hoping to find one for Jack. We didn’t find a bike for him, but we found a half bike (there’s a full seat and handlebars for Jack, but it connects to my bike under my seat)! I’ve been looking for one of these for a while, but online there are more than $100. This one was $25, but I really didn’t think TJ would think it was a justifiable purchase since we’re just about to get J a new bike. I texted him but he was sleeping so I decided to do the mature thing and leave it. I did find a game of dominoes for Jack, I can’t wait to set it up and see how it all works. We moved on to another thrift store then, but found a place to recycle the oil from the bus beforehand.

When we got to the second thrift store Jack and I headed straight for the bikes, and I saw one that I thought was pretty good, but it was $24. That is a good price, but what if the tires were flat, and I didn’t know if we’d have to replace them or the tubes, so it seemed a little expensive for what we were getting. TJ was awake at this point so we talked and he said the same thing. We left the store without buying anything (although Jack did manage to lose the flag Max got at Medieval Times). TJ did think I should buy the half bike, so we headed back to that first thrift store. On the way we stopped at the Lego trade and buy back place, and Max was stoked to find a jet that he could afford. I did let him borrow $6 for me, which is completely against the rules, but I felt like an exception should be made in this case. His jet came with three Minifigs, so he was super excited. Still on our way to the first thrift store again we stopped at Albertsons and got some Cokes. Along the way I kept praying that if the Lord wanted us to have that half bike he would put it there, and if he didn’t that I would be happy with his decision. When we got there it was there! I looked it all over, sent a few photos to TJ, and went inside to pay. I asked the lady if they gave a military discount and she said yes! Even better!

Then we headed to Walmart where I found a bike for Jack. Up until Walmart Jack had not been excited about the bike shopping, but here where we found a green and black bike he started getting excited. As we walked through the store with the bike in the buggy Jack kept playing with the tires and kept saying my bike, and told me several times he wanted to ride his bike. I’m hoping this goes better than the last time we bought him a bike like this. We’re planning on taking the pedals off and letting him just walk around with it for a while to get used to the balance idea. We’ll see how it goes. We got the rest of the ingredients for Jack’s birthday cake and headed home. Halfway home Jack was sitting next to his bike again and said my bike is so cute!

When we got home I sent the boys to the playground and I made buffalo chicken pizza. We ate, showered, vacuumed and cleaned up around here, and are all now in bed.

4 June Sunday

We did our usual for today, all of us went to big church first, had a break with some donuts, and then I dropped the boys off at their Sunday school and I went to the thrift store. One of the stores isn’t open on Sunday, of course it’s the biggest one! I went to the other one though and found a pair shorts, and then headed back to the church. I stopped at Shopko on the way to get some water bottles, and then waited for church to let out. I got the boys and we headed back home for lunch and a nap.

TJ told me his plane was coming in at 6:15, so I knew that leaving at 6 would be get me there in plenty of time. For some reason this time I never even thought about checking FlightAware. About half an hour before we were supposed to leave the wind started going crazy! I was making a new recipe so I have stuff cooked for when TJ’s here, but I left it at one point for Jack and me to go walk around the block just to see the wind. At some point I could feel sand stinging my legs, and you could just see big dust storms all around. I checked and it said it was 4 – 7 miles per hour, but I knew that didn’t include gusts, and I really don’t think that was too accurate. After a while I sent the boys out to play, and then TJ texted me that they were just about arrived!! I was worried that I wouldn’t get to the airport in time, so I ran out to the truck and drove to the playground and the boys hopped in. I had checked on the antenna earlier and it seemed fine, and since I was in a hurry I didn’t check it again. We got to the airport at least five minutes before TJ walked off the airplane to the truck, and he said that the radar now showed 40 mile an hour winds! That’s just crazy! I had worried a tiny bit about him being able to land until I saw a plane take off during our walk. We went back to the bus to lower the antenna and then went out to eat.

Max had been asking to go to A&W restaurant for so long that we finally decided to indulge him. I had decided beforehand I would get a root beer float with chocolate ice cream because the online menu said they had chocolate soft serve, but when we got there they only had root beer soft serve ice cream. So I got a root beer float with root beer ice cream, it was amazing! I also got a tiny chicken sandwich and some fried cheese curds. I’m in love with those things! It poured rain for a couple of minutes while we were there, but had stopped by the time we left. When we got back home I made a fruit salad but TJ was bushed. We got the kids in bed and watched a little bit of TV before hitting the hay.

5 June Monday

It’s Jack’s birthday today! I’m excited to see how the bike thing goes. He had a two-wheel bike with training wheels in Cabot for about three years before I finally gave up; it got really exhausting forcing him to ride this bike that he hated. And a few times he fell over, and when he falls he doesn’t put his leg out or his arm out, he just falls over in a sitting position. I’m hoping with the pedals off he’ll get used to riding it and then we’ll be able to put the pedals on, basically I’m hoping this goes so much better than last time.

When Jack woke up he climbed into the bed with us and TJ showed him all the pictures of ironing boards that people on Facebook had sent him. I don’t know what that kid’s obsession with ironing boards is, but we sure are feeding it.

Max had said last night that he would make Jack’s breakfast as his present to him, so this morning when he tried to back out of it TJ said he had to 🙂 The boys ate breakfast and then we went outside to try the bike ride, and it was a success! Before we took the pedals off we had him try the bike as-is. He rode a quarter turn of the pedal and declared himself finished, but TJ and I had him keep on riding. Max and TJ walked beside him sometimes. This bike did teeter like other bikes, but either he’s able to hold himself up a little bit or the training wheels are better. Either way he never fell over, thank the Lord! In the end he rode all the way across the parking lot and all the way back to the bus, at one point racing TJ and Max. Hopefully this time it’ll stick! The little the plastic wheels on his trike are starting to flake off, so it’s not long for this world.

I started making Jack’s birthday cake, and when it was finished cooking we decided to go out to eat a cheeseburger for lunch. We looked through Yelp to find a local burger place, but none of them had a really awesome looking burger, so we headed to TGI Fridays. When we ordered I told the guy it was Jack’s birthday and he said he would bring Jack out an ice cream sundae after his meal. Before our food came out though, we were offered a chicken quesadilla that was mistakenly made! It was a really good quesadilla, it set a really great tone for our lunch. We ordered, and the guy brought out the wrong chicken wings for Max! I know that Max said traditional and they brought him boneless, so he left us with those wings and made Max another order of bone-in wings. We told him then not to bring the sundae for Jack’s birthday, we already had enough free food 🙂 Our lunch was awesome.

We had several errands to run and on the way over to the post office we saw a homeless guy with a sign. A few days ago Max had said he wanted to one day give a homeless man a meal, and now he asked if he could give this guy our leftovers, so we quickly rolled the window down and gave him a whole bunch of french fries and hot wings, both boneless and bone-in.

We hadn’t yet found a time for Max to spend his Dutch Brothers gift card that church gave him, so we made a point to do that today. We got back to the bus super late, about 4:30 I think. We sent the boys out to play while I finished making the frosting and TJ changed the oil in the generator. That took a lot longer than he expected and we ended up eating cake around 7 p.m. or so. Jack is always so excited for the candle blowing part, so we let him blow them out at least 4 times, and even Max got to blow the candles out once 🙂

I forgot to measure the boys at Max’s birthday, so here’s their heights today:
Max 4′ 10 1/2”
Jack 4′ 1 3/4″

6 June Tuesday

We’re on our way to the next campground and we just went through a swarm of bugs. I was crocheting a basket, not looking at the windshield, but I heard them! They were so loud…almost like a machine gun. And it was just a uniform pattern of bugs all over the windshield! Crazy. TJ told me later that they were bees!!

We stopped halfway to Crater of the Moon to see Twin Falls. We saw a guy base jump off the bridge there at The Visitor’s Center. Then we went to eat at Emma’s Cafe, a Bosnian restaurant. We just ordered the sampler dish which was 5 different kinds of sausage, some pita like breads that were super fluffy, a couple of hamburger patties, and some cabbage slaw. It was all very good. We ordered baklava for dessert. It was made with sugar water and walnuts, as opposed to the Greek style (?) with honey and pistachios. I also got some lemon Turkish Delight which turned out great, and a chocolate bar with strawberries in it.

Driving again and I just ripped out my basket for the third time. I guess I’ve just been too cocky about crocheting a circle. I thought that if I kept checking it every couple of rounds to see if it was laying flat or not I could correct any mistakes I find, but that has not been the case. I don’t know if I haven’t ripped it out far enough, or if I keep not adding as many stitches as I should add. Either way, I don’t want to have to rip this sucker out again. I guess I’ll get pretty serious about counting my stitches from now on. I started off crocheting this basket so Jack would have a basket of toys to leave out. It’s nice for him to have toys during our drives, and I don’t always remember before we close up the back to get him some toys out. So we’ve gone through a few different bags of toys seat-belted next to him on the couch, but those don’t work very well. Of course as soon as I start crocheting this basket I find a basket I love in a thrift store for three bucks. Oh well, I’m sure I can use the practice. And I’ll find another use for the basket I’m making.

When we went to check in the little place smelled like bacon! It was heavenly. I figured we’d eat supper here tonight, but I forgot about our heavy lunch, and we weren’t hungry enough for a huge meal at supper. Maybe tomorrow.

When we went back outside after checking in TJ asked me when I started up the truck. Doh! I I know now why I had that sinking feeling on our two hour drive from Twin Falls…I forgot to turn the truck off after doing the 3 minute routine! I’m so grateful that it doesn’t look like I messed up anything.

After setting up the boys headed off to play Miniature Golf near the camp’s entrance, TJ started working on our route for tomorrow, and I started cutting insulation to put inside all of our cabinets. When it came time for supper I wasn’t ready to stop so TJ set out cheeses and meats for the boys. We all had some fruit salad I’d made up the day before, and we all ate a piece of birthday cake:-) All the jiggling in the warmth in the back of the bus during our drive made the top layer kind of shift to one side. I just shoved it back on top, icing’d the sides and we were good to go. I don’t think I’m going to make this cake recipe again, it’s a little dry. The icing is heavenly, though. It’s my go-to from now on.

After supper we started getting the boys ready for bed, then we left them to finish up by themselves and TJ and I walked around the campground for a date.

7 June Wednesday

We packed up a picnic lunch and headed off to Craters of the Moon. We saw them a little bit on the drive in yesterday, and it really does look as barren as what you would expect to see on the moon. It really reminded me of Lanzarote that we got to visit with Fran and Teresa many years ago. We went into the visitor center first and Max asked about the Junior Ranger program. I’ve mentioned it to him a time or two before but didn’t feel like making him do it, and this time he was interested himself. I thought it was awesome that this place gives out an actual fabric patch when you complete the little booklet about Craters of the Moon. I asked the guy about where we should picnic and then we were off to drive around and see the place. The little walking paths were kind of funny, just a fairly narrow blacktop path through all of this rubble of lava pieces. They suggested we wear long pants and it was a good plan even though it was pretty hot. I’m sure you could really cut yourself up if you fell on that stuff. We got out at a couple of places, one was a hill called Inferno that was much steeper and higher than it looked from the truck, but boy was it beautiful and peaceful up at the top. It was so high you could see so far out over the surrounding areas. I’m so grateful that we get to see God’s beautiful creation on this crazy long trip. We were about ready for lunch and had seen a couple of spots that would do, and then we found this one long picnic table under a tree with a place for our truck to park so that’s where we went. When a car wasn’t driving by you couldn’t hear anything but birds and bees; the silence was wonderful.

After lunch we packed up and thought we were heading home for the day, and then we saw the sign for the caves. I hadn’t read up on this place at all, and so wasn’t prepared for caves, but since they were right here, why not? We’d been told at the Visitor’s Center that they were trying to ward off a bat disease…but we were cleared to go. TJ decided to take Jack to the bathroom instead of going, but after we’d been gone a bit they decided to come too. I had no idea it was such a long walk to the caves or I might have skipped. It really is such a funny walk, and I was grateful for the paved paths; I’m sure walking on all that lava would have worn us out much more than we already were. The first cave we came to was closed and there were hazard signs all around it. The second cave we skipped because it was so rocky, it looked impossible to get into. But we’d come so far I hated to just give up, so we headed out to the third cave and that’s when we heard Jack calling. Right at the beginning I passed a family and asked was the walk worth it and they said the caves were beautiful, but they were really cold! Maybe we should start planning this stuff better?! The four of us finally got to a cave that was open and not too difficult looking to climb into. These are the most natural caves I’ve ever been to. All the other kinds had nice flat walkways and a guide to take you through it; these you were really out on your own. I’m not complaining, I think it’s pretty cool that they’re like this, I just wish I had thought about it before we got there.

When we were done with the caves we packed up and headed back home. Max wanted to play with Legos outside instead of going to the miniature golf again so that’s what he and Jack did, Tj went back to his work, and I went back to cutting insulation for cabinets. After a little while TJ sent Max to check on the little restaurant’s availability, and they said to come on for supper. It was about 5 when we headed over there, and when we were just in the door we heard them talk about how quickly they run out of ribs! Without even sitting down we went ahead and ordered two plates of ribs and a plate of butterfly shrimp. The ribs were very good, but in the end I think we got charged more than we should have for the meal.

There’s not much more to write about this day, TJ and I changed a windshield wiper, the boys did play Miniature Golf again, we all showered and went to bed.

8 June Thursday

Last night and the night before I slept eight solid hours! It was awesome. TJ is not having as much luck though, sadly. We got up and moving not very quickly, as is our wont. Everything was going fine. We pulled into the second gas station that we had picked out and pulled in behind a Humvee. Then we saw that one older gentleman was gassing up that and a van. We had to wait a good while; these last few gas stations people are a lot more likely to just leave their vehicle by the pump and go in the store for quite a while. Max and I went in the store to tool around a bit and then went back out when Tj started gassing up. We headed down the road after that and the minute Tj turned on his wipers to wash the windshield off he let out an exclamation! I looked over and asked him if the windshield wiper was still on the bus or if it had fallen off, and he wasn’t sure! We found a place to pull over and before we got out I asked if he wanted me to run back and get it, he said no. When we got out to the front the wiper was there, just all the way on the other side. It had done a 180 and got stuck over there. We tried a few things and it just was crazy. It seems like we just needed to tighten up the whole wiper assembly. I don’t think that we messed it up yesterday, I guess it was just bound to happen after a while. I guess it’s needs to be another line on the checklist of things to check every once in awhile.

We were going to get to Yellowstone too early to check in, so we looked for a place to pull over. We searched and searched and couldn’t find anything like what we wanted. We finally decided on going to Walmart, and then it was tough to find a parking place, that parking lot was full! We found a spot and I was going to go in and get groceries and then we would eat lunch in the parking lot and then head back to Yellowstone. After a while though there were some Walmart workers milling around and Tj felt a little antsy so we decided just to snack on the road and head on out to Yellowstone.

We checked in, parked and set up. I heated up our Chinese food for lunch, and after a piece of birthday cake we went walking around town. I bought a shirt with a sugar skull moose head and Yellowstone written on it. Tj and I saw a beautiful string of carved fish, but when I asked the shop owner if they were just for decoration or were supposed to be a wind chime he laughed and made a face to the other customer like what a stupid question! I was embarrassed and said in an annoyed tone sorry for insulting you…he said I didn’t insult him…I was so angry at his rude manner that I left. He was trying to tell me where he had another string of fish to look at, but like I’m gonna shop there when he treats me like that.

Boise, Idaho

Wednesday, May 31st, 2017

25 May Thursday

Today we went to the discovery museum, and I really think it was the best discovery museum I’ve ever been to! Usually half or a third of the experiments don’t work, but I only remember 1 or 2 here being out of order, and they had signs announcing that they were out of order.

When we pulled up we saw 3 school busses!!!! Why aren’t these kids in school?! I was trying to plan all the really public attractions for before school finished for the year, but my plan backfired! Fortunately after we’d been there an hour or so all the kids left, and then it was so dead! We were one of only about 5 total families after that. Fun!

When I went to pay I was told I got in free since I was Jack’s helper. Nice. And we could get the military discount. But then two different women had trouble getting the computer to comply, so they finally just let me in for the price of 1 kid! Woot!

The first, and maybe the best part of the museum was the bubble bar. I could’ve played with that forever! There was a wooden bar rigged up to a pulley system that when raised made a sheet of bubble film you could blow on. I think the bubble itself was about 3′ square! It was so awesome. I also liked the smoke track they had to test aerodynamics, the big spring that helped you understand frequencies, the sand-vibrating thing that looked like quicksand, the pendulum with the pen attached so you made spirograph drawings, the pvc tubing that Jack played with a lot…and the list goes on and on!

We stayed there till about 3pm, and then headed to lunch. I found Uncle Guiseppies Diner that looked good; and it was. I bought a 12″ and a 6″ sandwich; one had balsamic vinegar and a variety of meats and cheeses on it, and the other had smoked Gouda, honey mustard, etc. The first was the best. I also bought some pepperoni and pasta to take home. After eating our sandwiches I bought us 2 cannoli for dessert. I’m sure I’ll make a lot of Italians angry for this, but they’re just not my thing. I think it’s like eating whipped cream…it’s kinda bland. The cream inside the ‘cookie’ wasn’t sweet enough for my taste. Ah, well, you can’t win them all!

There was a Burger King in the same parking lot that had a pretty big play place. I figured Jack was about ready for some running around, that kid loves his play places! We stayed there for a while and then went to 3 thrift stores and bought Jack a sports jacket and Upwards shirt, me a lounge chair and 2 pair of shoes, Max jeans, church pants, and a LS button up shirt. What a haul!

26 May Friday

Today we stayed home all day. I think I’ll always be a homebody. I love staying home!

Before bed Max mixed up the dough for a pan pizza.

Max has been complaining that his throat hurts, but it looks normal to me. Also Jack has red spots all over his back and chest. They’re not bright enough for me to even attempt to take a picture, but they’re there.

27 May Saturday

We were going to stay home all day, but Max is itching to complete his Odd Squad outfit and still needs a white button up and a red tie, so we went thrifting again. I bought a few books and another cooler bag, but Max didn’t get to buy anything. He saw a cool extender/grabber arm that he really wanted though.

When we got home Max put the pizza together. I had him preheat the oven on a lower temp because we’re on our last third of propane still. He got it all ready and put it in and I set the timer. It’s been so long since I cooked a deep dish that I couldn’t remember how accurate my timing was in the recipe. After more than 40 minutes, though, I knew something was wrong! I’d forgotten to raise the temp! Doh! Fortunately the pizza cooked just fine and tasted great! The bus was fairly warm after that. I think tomorrow we’re going to have to run the a/c. I didn’t do it this time, but when I made cookies a week or so ago I kept an eye on the inside temperature and was surprised to see that it only went up by 2 degrees even though the oven was on for at least an hour. That was with all the doors and windows open. Wonder how much the temp changes with the a/c on?

28 May Sunday

We went to church and all sat together for the first service. Of course then the guy said the sermon was PG-13!! I decided to chance it since Max and I have read the whole KJV through once…that’s an education I tell you! The sermon talked about the time that Judah (I think) was under siege and two women connived to eat their children because they were starving. Yeah, not a topic every kid is ready to hear, but it was a good sermon.

After first service and a doughnut break I walked the boys over to their building and was anticipating my dual thrift store shopping trip! When I got to Jack’s class, though, there were no teachers. I waited for a bit and talked to a pretty snotty kid who was also waiting. He was pretty incensed that Jack was playing with a stuffed animal he found and didn’t like the fact that he was getting his germs all over it. He said NO ONE in that class played with stuffed animals anymore. I told him no one but Jack! And then I prayed for kindness. The teacher came in and I told her about Jack. She said she was the only teacher there that hour, but she didn’t expect any more kids than the two that were there because it was Memorial weekend. Great. About 15 minutes later there were a total of 12 kids!!! Guess shopping’s out! We helped the kids make a marble maze by glueing straws down to cardstock. After a bit it was time for group time so we lined the kids up and walked them upstairs. It was funny how much like G-lab that classroom was! I enjoyed the songs and the little lesson on Revelation that was given. After a few more things the kids trooped back downstairs for more memory verse work and to wait for their parents.

Since I worked I felt like a little treat, and I still have a hankering for fried chicken. I quickly looked up a place that Yelp said was open and we headed there. I called Tj on the way cause he’d just landed in Memphis. He said he’s coming home tonight!!! Awesome!

Then we pulled into the restaurant and it was closed! Bummer. We headed back home to the beans and rice I had planned, and I figured we might go out to eat for supper.

The white beans I thawed on the counter during church turned out to be white bean soup. Doh! Guess that rice will just go into the freezer now.

After lunch we all took a nap. I can tell the boys are tired…it’s light here until 9:30 or 10pm and I feel bad sending the boys to bed with it so light, but I need to change that. The boys slept well, but I slept in between them so that Max would actually go to sleep, so I slept poorly. When I awoke I realized that Max’s snotty sounding nose wasn’t just allergies like I’ve been thinking…I think he has a cold, and I’m pretty sure I have it now, and of course TJ’s coming home now and will probably get it!!

After napping we headed out to pick up Tj, and then found a BBQ place that was pretty good. The ribs were fine, but the pulled pork and brisket had a really smoky flavor. Tj spied a Cold Stone Creamery in the same strip mall so we headed there next. Then we went to the grocery store for hamburger stuff for tomorrow.

29 May Monday

Today we changed the oil in the bus! I’d never done that before, but Tj made it happen. He’d watched YouTube videos and had ordered everything we needed. I was just the extra set of hands, and the nagger that tried to keep most of the oil off the concrete. It took us a lot longer than the guy on the video needed, but I’m sure the next time will go faster. With less oil on our hands/clothes/etc.

After that we had a lunch of cheese and crackers, and then the boys watched a movie while Tj and I relaxed a bit.

Then we sent the boys outside to play and Tj made cheese stuffed burgers. I cooked bacon (to a crisp, sadly, though it was still pretty good), and then toasted the buns in butter and that bacon grease. Yum. We watched Lost while we ate. We also thawed and ate some of the Dream Pie filling I made back in February, I think.

30 May Tuesday

Jack and I took Tj to the airport this morning at 6am. I haven’t been up at this time in months!

After lounging a bit, and dozing, and Jack doing Gemiini and playing on the ipad a while, we finally got moving about 10:30am. While the boys ate breakfast I planned our day.

First we went to Town Square Mall, because Max really likes going to malls. Though he hardly has any money to spend. But he just came up with a plan that maybe he should just blow 2 of his dollars every month. I talked to Tj about it and we decided blowing $5 every month was more reasonable. He ended up not buying anything at the mall, and I used our $10 Starbucks gift card from Nicole to buy a fruit tea that Max wanted, a slice of lemon bread, a cookies and cream cake pop and a cherry oatmeal bar. We ate some of our snack, and then Jack played at the little playground in the Mall for a bit.

We left there around 3pm and headed to the Post office to pick up Tj’s new watch battery. Then we went to the nearby Freak Alley Gallery which Max also picked out as something he wanted to see here in Boise. After that was lunch at Off Broadway Deli, where we’d tried to go Sunday. I told her that Yelp listed them as open on Sundays and she said she knew but didn’t know why they said that. I bought 2 fried wings, 2 legs, a breast, 1/2 lb of french fries, 2 small drinks and a medium drink for me and it came to $14!! I was so surprised…that’s a great price! And the chicken was awesome! Nice and salty. The fries were really good too.

Afterwards we went to Home Depot to get some stuff to hopefully clean up the oil off the concrete under the bus. Then we went to Fred Meyer for groceries. I shopped as quickly as I could so Max could get back in time to watch Odd Squad.

After Odd Squad I sent the boys to the playground and I read my phone outside in my new chair. They played for half an hour or so, but then Max said it was so hot (it got to 94 today), so they came and played on the vacant pad next to us. They filled up buckets of water and squirted each other and the sidewalk. After a bit Max says to Jack do you want to see some magic? Jack says yes. Max says close your eyes and count to 20. Then Max pours a bucket of water on Jack. Jack continues counting…after he catches his breath from that ice cold water!

Boise Idaho, Wahooz

Tuesday, May 30th, 2017

19 May Friday

We were having a good lazy morning…after Max and I read our Bibles I had him go get his book and read with me while Jack played tangrams on the ipad. When we finished and Max started picking on Jack I sent them outside to play on the playground. I think that’s gonna be my modus operandi these days…annoy me = you must need to burn off some energy = go outside while I read more or get stuff done. Today I put soup on and took a shower and then called the boys back. We ate and got ready and left.

Our first stop was to the Post Office to get all our mail. I don’t know the last time we got actual mail! There were a few graduation announcements…hopefully we’re not too late on those…or any of the bills that also came in.

Next we went to a Little Free Library, that was so cool! It looks like a woman made the front porch/sunroom of their home into a sharing library. There was a small rolling cart of books out front, but then inside were many more books, a desk and chair, a couch/coffee table, chair, and a teepee with a cushion on the floor for little kids to play in. Max found a book to trade right away, and sat down and read the whole thing! I only planned on trading 2 books, but found so many good ones I had to go back out to the truck to get the rest of the books I’d been reserving. We stayed there 20 minutes or half an hour while Max read his book. Jack played on the office chair almost the whole time. The lady was leaving as we arrived and just said for us to leave the door closed but not locked when we left. It look like she locked the inner door to her house and we were just in the front room. I think we’ll be coming back here several more times before we leave this camp site.

Our next stop was supposed to be the Salvation Army, but I saw a fruit stand with cherries on the way. We stopped there and I bought $26 worth of cherries, cucumbers, apples, plums, peaches, avocados, and a watermelon. The Salvation Army wasn’t very far down the road, so we went there next. I don’t think we bought anything there, though I was tempted by some hammocks.

After that we went to Walmart. I finally made a meal plan and a grocery list last night, so I did a full-on grocery shopping, minus all the produce I’d gotten at the produce stand. We headed home after that, and I sent the boys out to play while I made pizza dough. I’d called them in and had eaten half of a piece of pizza when we saw a family with three boys walk by. When we saw them going to the playground I told the boys to stop eating and go out and play. I finished up my piece of pizza and went out to talk to their mom. We had a nice visit while the boys played and when they were finished it was time to finish supper, take showers and go to bed. They’re living in a trailer while their house gets built, so they’ll be here as long as we are. Unfortunately those were her step-kids, so they’re only here every other weekend. Oh well.

20 May Saturday

I saw last night that Idaho’s largest garage sale is today, so that’s what we’re going to do. TJ called this morning talking about our route after this stop. It’s hard to figure out what to do, we don’t want to be where the heat is excessive, but we do want to see all the sites, and still get back to Arkansas by the end of October. Also TJ’s class reunion is the end of September, that’s what really throws a kink in our plans. We could go to Colorado right now when it’s on our way, but then we’d have to make another pass back through to hit his reunion.

So we didn’t head out as early as I wanted to, but we still had a good time visiting with TJ. The boys got to chat with him through Hangouts on my computer. We probably got to the garage sale at 11 o’clock. I put my usual amount of sunscreen on, but thought that the whole thing was inside so I didn’t put any sunscreen on the boys. When I saw that it was all outside booths I was thankful I had spray sunblock in the truck, so I sprayed them both down pretty good. We paid to get in and for the first half an hour I thought I had just wasted my money. Then we saw big bouncy castles at the back, probably seven or eight of them. Max went and asked and we didn’t have to pay extra to go do those so at the end of the first row of booths we took a break and let the boys jump. We went up another aisle and then we were pretty thirsty, the sun was blazing today! Of course I left all the water bottles out in the truck. Somebody was selling cold water for a dollar a bottle so we bought one and split it.

This morning on our way out I realized Max’s pants were about an inch above his ankle bones! How did I miss that? Fortunately I found 2 pair of sports pants with the tags on for $3 each! I also found an LSU shirt for Jack; Geaux Tigers! This made me feel a whole lot better about paying $11 for us to get in here. We walked a little bit more and then headed back over to the bouncy castles. After the boys had jumped for about half an hour or so we went to the food area and got a raspberry lemonade and some curly fries. I thought Max would be ready to go but he wanted to walk a few more aisles so we did that. We found a magnetic marble tower set for $4, so all in all we had an awesome day.

On our drive back home Max asked if we could have a water balloon fight with the kids next door. I didn’t think the base would approve of that so I called TJ, and he said as long as we picked up all of the balloon parts we should be fine. We stopped in at Walmart and bought a package of water balloons and some water shooters for all the kids. When we got home Max ran over and told the boys what we were doing and they said they wanted to go. I made my boys a snack of walnuts and cheese, Max’s latest favorite, and then we headed out. I unhooked the bus water hose at the base connection and filled up the water balloons and three buckets of water. We hauled it over to the playground and the boys had a really good time. Not long after they finished up and right about the time everybody started freezing there were a few scattered raindrops. It really cooled off from how blazing hot it was this morning. We headed back in, I rinsed off all the buckets and hooked the water back up. During that time the national anthem played; I’m so glad that it didn’t actually rain during that, it was only a sprinkle still. We went inside and the boys had leftover pizza and a slice of spam for supper, I had bruschetta with the awesome tomato from the roadside stand yesterday. I was so tired from walking around for 4 hours at the garage sale, so while I was making supper I turned on The Rocketeer for the boys to watch, and they continued watching it after supper and while building the marble tower.

21 May Sunday​

I found a different church for us to visit today…Bridgepoint church. This looks like it has more activities for Max’s age kids, and it has a Wednesday night service too, so we headed there this morning.

The service was good, but there was just one service that repeated second hour. I think we’ll do this again next week, though, because both boys could benefit from sitting in a grown-up service.

I didn’t know that then so I dropped Jack off at his classroom and Max and I attended service. The song part was so awesome! Then I picked Jack up and we hung out for about half an hour. There were doughnuts and coffee to be had, so the boys had them. I talked to Adam there and he suggested a few places to see around town, and we had a nice chat. Then I brought both boys back to their classes and I headed down the road to see what there was to see. I found a thrift store not even a mile down the road, jackpot! And in there I bought the cutest basked I’d seen before at Fred Meyer for about $25, but here I paid $3!! Woot!

After church we lunched at home and then napped. At some point today I realized I didn’t get any black sand from False Klamath!! That would’ve been awesome to have. Oh well, maybe we’ll see another black sand beach before our travels are over.

Before we went to bed Max and I sat down to organize our time here. He’s been ‘bored’ lately, and I should make the most of our time here. I planned out several days of activities and a few free days for us.

Twice now Jack has asked me to go outside “my feet”…barefoot.

22 May Monday

Today we planned to go to Esther Simplot Park. After we had a nice, slow morning I mentioned that to Max and he groaned. Staying home it is! We have a big day planned tomorrow, so dropping this isn’t so bad.

In the afternoon I made cookies and we brought some to each of our neighbors.

I ripped out most of my basket tonight…it was starting to buckle more and more. I re-read the pattern and saw my mistake, so here goes the second try.

23 May Tuesday

One of the places Adam recommended was Wahooz. Max mentioned that he wanted to go to Chuck E Cheese, and Adam said this was a similar type place…but it was much better! We got there around 11:30 and left around 7:30!

They were having $15 Tuesday which bought us a selection of rides/games, and we added on the bumper boats and go karts for another $5 each. We ended up doing everything we could except for putt putt. We would’ve done that too but Jack kept asking for the ball room, so I towards the end of our day I bought that just for him.

We started out playing the arcade games. We played laser tag twice…I started out thinking Jack would stay by my side in there but he headed off on his own and was fine. We rode a twister ride, and Jack rode the frog hopper that goes up and down up and down. We rode go karts, and the amount of time we got to drive was pretty long. Jack seemed to really like those this time. We had nacho fries and a BLTA croissant for lunch. After all that Max went to do his own thing and Jack and I went to the ball room, and that’s where the real excitement started.

Jack and I had been in the ball room close to two hours. For most of that time there were only 1 or 2 other kids there. For the last 45 minutes or so the worker there played tag and hide and seek with Jack. Once during that time a kid on the second floor shot me several times with the foam ball guns they have, but when I walked out into the atrium area and told him I wasn’t playing and to please not shoot at me he quit. I still had the occasional ball hit me, which is par for the course in a small ball area with foam ball guns, so no big deal. About this time people were getting off of work and a new crowd of kids/parents were coming in. Another girl, older, and perhaps with special needs, started shooting at me. Her mom was standing right next to her watching her. I asked her from my seat to stop, and when she shot me another couple of times I walked towards her (but she was on the second floor, I was on the first still) and told her I wasn’t playing and to please stop shooting me. Before I could finish my sentence the mom yelled at me to never yell at her kid. I said I asked her not to shoot at me, and the mom yelled over me again. I said I kindly asked her not to shoot at me and again…the same thing. We repeated this another 2 times and then the worker came and asked if there was a problem. Of course we both tried to tell our side of the story, and again the woman yelled over me. She was still yelling from the second floor, but the worker was standing next to me so I told her that woman won’t shut up and let me complete a sentence, but I was asking her kid not to shoot at me. The worker apologized and asked if I could sit in one of the other spots which were harder to reach with the guns. I said she had no need to apologize and of course I’d move. I’d been sitting in the more comfortable of the spots the whole time, but I moved by the door into a single chair. After a bit I think the worker asked the mom to leave because she hadn’t bought a ticket for herself but she was playing (I heard her say to the worker so you’re gonna bring this bag of foam balls up to my daughter?). As the mom left the room and passed right by me she gave me a dirty look, and I just looked at her and smiled. It may have been more of a smirk, now that I think about it. 🙂 I was still so amazed at how childish she’d been yelling over me that whole time. Anyway, she left. And she came right back in after 2 seconds and said I see you looking at me! (I didn’t look at her after she left the room, just as she was walking out.) She continued don’t you give me that look and on and on and on. Oh my gosh! What craziness! She kept on for a few more sentences while I kept my mouth shut, then she left. After about a minute 2 workers (managers?) came by and apologized to me, I told them they had nothing to apologize for, and I don’t know if they were going to say something else or ask me questions because irate mom was back! She yelled at them that I had yelled at her kid and how wrong that was and were they not gonna do anything about it???!!! Why didn’t they just put up a sign that said it’s ok to yell at people’s kids if they weren’t going to do anything??!! She’s a lawyer and she’s gonna sue the whole place if they don’t do something!!! If looks could kill she would be a dead woman right now!!!! Were they not doing anything because they were prejudiced? (I don’t know what reason they had to be prejudiced, everyone there in this debacle was white.) She yelled and yelled! I was just sitting in my chair, smirking, looking down at my phone and reading. The two managers and the worker were standing close enough to me that I could touch them, at this point they had their backs to me and were talking to the irate mom; they were essentially shielding me, thankfully. Then the husband walked in. I made eye contact with him and was trying to decide the best way to handle this, but quickly realized that I just needed to keep my mouth shut and eyes down, so that’s what I did. I thought at first he was trying to calm his wife down, but that wasn’t the case. After a few more minutes of yelling/discussion the two managers asked the wife to leave so the husband stayed with their kid and I didn’t move…I tried to be invisible. This lasted probably another hour or so. I had an alarm set to take Jack to the bathroom that rings every hour so I’m somewhat close on the times. Jack played, I read my phone, the other kid and dad played and had the time of their lives. About this time I saw a ball bounce right at my feet. I’ve been sitting here for an hour and no balls have come in like this, and then a second one comes in. Huh. I look up slowly and see the dad telling the girl to stand about 2 feet away from me between him and me and he’s innocently throwing balls at her and hitting her with them. Yeah. I watched him throw about 5 at her while I tried to decide what the best course of action was. Then irate mom stuck her head in and asked the girl what kind of slushie she wanted, and told her to get her shoes on…so now it’s just the dad and me. He threw his last 2 balls at me. OMG. What a crazy family. I didn’t say a word, just watched him with a slight smile on my face while he did it. They all three left. Then the worker (who had replaced the friendly worker who was here when it happened) came over and asked if that was the man who had been upset? When I said yes he said that management had asked that he let them know when the man left. And that was that! Man, when irate wife was yelling and the two managers were between her and me my heart was pounding! I don’t believe I did anything wrong, except I should have just shut up after asking her daughter to not hit me the 2nd time. But now I definitely wasn’t going out to the parking lot without security if I saw them hanging around when I was ready to go! I think they might be the kind of people to pull out a gun because of the ‘look’ I gave her. I’m glad we’re staying on base!

I waited at least another 30 minutes to make sure I didn’t see those people again, then got Jack and found Max and said it was time to go. Max said he wanted to ride the bumper boats so we made that our last ride. What a day!

24 May Wednesday

I was so glad I’d planned nothing for today, and then I remembered that Max has church tonight. Ah, well. We lazed around this morning till some dude came and knocked on my door! He’s a friend of someone here in the rv park and he and his wife have a kiddo with DS, so he came to ask me questions about retiring and paperwork we had to fill out about Jack during Tj’s retirement. We talked for a good 10-15 minutes, as we parents of kids with DS tend to do.

The boys played outside a while while I got some filing done, but Max complained of the wind when they came back in…it is certainly super windy today! I can feel it rocking the camper sometimes.

I fed the boys supper, and then while checking Max in at church the guy told us supper was provided. Heh. I was excited to go to another thrift store near the church while Max was in class, but all the thrift stores there close at 6pm! Boo! We drove down the street and saw a Whole Foods so Jack and I tooled around there for about an hour. Next we went to a produce stand, and lastly we killed time at Shopko. Then we headed back to the church to pick up Max, and I learned how to play a DVD in my truck while we waited.

Oregon, Washington and Idaho

Thursday, May 18th, 2017

5 May Friday

It rained during the night and some rain came in through our open bedroom windows…no biggie. It’s a super dreary day…and then Tj threw his back out taking the sewer apart! I really thought we probably should extend here a day because of his back…the campground was pretty empty and we are hooked up to sewer…but Tj thought if Max and I did most of the work he could make it. So we did, and he did. I wonder how much of his eagerness to leave came from the ice maker waiting for us!

We made it to the Wal Mart in OR that had the ice maker and Tj decided to stay in the bus while I got it. His back isn’t great, but it’s ok. He came in after a bit to use the bathroom since we’ll be monitoring our usage at the park. It’s freezing here! I had on a couple of shirts and my big jacket, and this lady came walking out of Wal Mart with short sleeves and capris on. Heh, I’m a wuss!

We got to the state park fine, and there wasn’t much to hook up without sewer! It’s a 30 amp place so we’ll also have to keep an eye on our electricity. There’s a playground pretty close so we sent the boys to play while we set up. After we set up we drove around to the entrance and bought some firewood. The camp host was such a cute little lady! She was full of smiles with a cute silver haircut. We called the boys back and fed them leftover pizza while Tj and I had boiled shrimp. Then we had smores!! Now all our clothes smell like smoke, not to mention we smell like it, and we’re trying to use as little water as possible. Camping!

Jack was so tired after all that that I took him in and got him ready for bed. I laid down with him so he’d actually go to sleep, but that was about 9pm. We’ll try to get him in bed earlier tomorrow night.

6 May Saturday

Tj’s back is so much worse this morning! He says he should move around, but I’d always been taught ice/heat/rest. We were trying to decide if we were doing anything today or just letting him stay home. After an hour or two he felt better so we packed up and headed out to Crater Lake. The other reason we hesitated was there’s still so much snow at CL we weren’t sure we’d even get to see it. Boy am I glad we went!! It was beautiful!! It took us about an hour to get to the visitors center, and Jack’s pass got us in for free. The snow bank there was probably 20′! A little further down we all got out and climbed up to the rim, and it was gorgeous! I am constantly amazed that this is our life. We are so blessed to be able to see God’s beauty. We took a lot of photos and played in the snow. Jack pet every dog he came across, as usual. Max and I walked up the snow bank that covered the roof of a building! It was beautiful, but towards the end I got tired of randomly sinking up to one knee or the other.

When we were all freezing we headed to the gift shop. I found a few cute earrings and a tiny spice bowl I’d been keeping my eye out for, but in the end I settled on a pair of salad claws. I don’t want to buy a lot of things at any one place…I want to remember each place I get a souvenir.

We headed back to the bus and stopped at the one roadside place to eat on the way. Becki’s Cafe. We had the appetizer that was an assortment of fried things with the best ranch dressing I’ve ever had. Then Jack and I split a burger, Tj had a burger and Max had a patty melt. He was disappointed at the amount of smothered onions, but Tj said that’s how patty melts are supposed to be. After our meal Tj and the boys got chocolate pie, and I got blackberry pie with ice cream. I actually added sugar to my pie. I’m not proud of it, but it sure did taste better then.

We headed past the park to buy some cherries I’d seen on the way in yesterday, but the roadside stand was closed. Poo. We stopped at the Dollar General to buy Max some sunglasses, and he is styling now!

At the entrance of our park section we bought another batch of firewood. We sent the boys off to play while we rested and Tj iced his back again. Because our lunch was so big and so late the boys just had 2 smores for supper and I had some chocolate. I brought Jack in at 7:30 to get him started on bed and to clean up the pig sty that our place becomes when we spend most of our time outside. I got him into bed at 8 and laid down with him, and the bum wouldn’t go to sleep! I guess we’ll try 8pm to get into bed at 8:30 tomorrow night. I think all of us are doing fine, but Jack is once again balking at even the simple things we tell him to do. There may just be no getting over this for him. It is a stressful life, despite how wonderful it is.

7 May Sunday

Tj slept poorly, but woke up feeling much better than he did yesterday morning. I think he’s truly on the mend. He did most everything himself like he usually does, but I hovered a bit to make sure I’m around if he needs me. Now we’re heading to Coos Bay Or and are almost there. One more hour to go. We are in some beautiful country. I don’t know what it is but there’s almost nothing more beautiful than a big river at the foot of a tree covered mountain.

When we gassed up this morning we realized in OR you don’t pump your own gas. It’s so strange to stand around watching this girl much younger than us ask us if we want our receipt, then watch her punch the button, and wait for it to print and hand it to us.

We came across an accident that just happened. After a few minutes a guy got out to direct traffic, which was nice. If he hadn’t done that we wouldn’t have been able to get around it without me getting out to direct. It seemed like someone got t-boned at the 3-way intersection. It’s always so sad to see someone at such a hard time in their life.

We got to the campground and it was completely cramped. We didn’t have any trouble fitting the bus, but every campsite was thoroughly surrounded by bushes. It was great, but after Jack had been playing outside for a bit I realized there were lots of 3-leaved bushes!! I’m so paranoid about any of us getting poison ivy, but especially Jack…he’ll smear that everywhere and share it with all of us no matter how hard I try to contain it.

We set up partially, started a load of clothes (gotta wash all those smoky clothes), and headed to Face Rock Creamery. We’re on our own cheese tour through CA, OR and WA. We tasted a lot, and bought a lot, and also had some ice cream there. We saw several weed stores on the way! It surprised me to see them just blatently out there…obviously weed is legal in this state.

On our way back to the bus all the shops I wanted to visit were closed since this is Sunday, so we stopped at the Dollar Tree just to tool around a bit. I gave the boys $2 each just for fun. Max bought 2 bags of Smarties, and Jack bought a spinning toy and some peanut M&M’s. A little farther down the road we saw two women pushing a car so we stopped to help. Tj tried to pop the clutch to get the car started again, but it was no use. Poor people. Car trouble is such a pain!

I dropped the boys off at the beach and headed back to the bus to change out the wash. We’re on 30 amps again, and the washer uses 11 so we can do wash no problem, but we just need to be aware. I unpacked the bus and then picked up the boys again. Jack went immediately into the shower, Max vacuumed the bus, Tj set up the computer and I set out our variety of cheeses for supper. We watched What’s in the Bible while we ate.

8 May Monday

When we went to bed last night I checked the dehumidifier. There was only about a third of the tank full, so I thought we were good for overnight. I was really surprised around 7:30 this morning when it beeped that it was full! I realize now that I still have it on continuous run, but that might have been for the best. I hung our wet clothes in the living room to dry…Tj was slightly leery of running the computer and the dryer at the same time.

When we got to our new digs we decided to take it easy for the rest of the day, we’re still trying to get TJ’s back to normal. He’s doing most of the things, but I don’t want him to pick up the electrical cord cause that sucker weighs a ton! We parked the bus and set up a bit. After a while Max and I went to the really big convenience/gift store at the park’s entrance, and TJ and Jack went to the playground. They’re always lots of fun things in gift stores, but this time I limited my purchases to a selection of salt water taffy. Max and I walked back to the playground and we each tried out the flavors and decided which ones we liked best. After we were finished there we changed into our swimsuits and went to the pool. Nobody else was there the entire time we were in there until about the final five minutes. It was lovely! The hot tub was at about a hundred and one degrees, a little lower than we generally like it, but still very good.

I made bruschetta for supper, that stuff is just the best! Max wanted buffalo chicken pizza for supper, but I didn’t want to have to saute chicken and all of that just for the two of them. I compromised by cutting french bread slices and buttering them, I put provolone and an Italian cheese mix on top and broiled them. Then I put buffalo chicken sauce and ranch dressing on top. Max totally approved. Win one for Mom!

9 May Tuesday

We were super lazy this morning. It was lovely. We finally got out of bed, I got the boys ready and we all headed across the street from our campground to BJ’s to try some seafood. There aren’t really that many seafood restaurants around here, but since we’re on the coast we had to get something from the sea! I had a Baja bowl and TJ had a mahi-mahi bowl. I loved the fish, but there were so many other ingredients that it kind of got lost. There were black beans and rice as a base, with shredded cabbage and pineapple on top of our choice of fish. We added a good bit of their sauces from the three options at the salsa bar they had. I could see trying to copy cat this a bit. The pineapple was really an interesting taste in there.

Before we got to the Tillamook Cheese Factory we saw a big Air Museum on the right. TJ said oh yeah that was on my list of places to stop, so we stopped. It was just a huge blimp hangar with a few old airplanes and other artifacts inside. On the side of one of the walls was a painting depicting how big the Hindenburg was versus other well-known blimps; amazing! There was a video playing about the Hindenburg and some people were interviewed that were there the day it crashed. I forgot that it was so close to the beginning of the war. And I also forgot how many people survived that crash.

Driving here yesterday and a lot today I noticed several quilt patches on the sides of barns and houses and buildings in the area. They’re so pretty. I didn’t stop to take any photos because the photos in a moving vehicle are never any good. Really none of our photos capture the true beauty that we get to see everyday, but some I take just as a reminder of where we are and what we’ve seen. The country here is so beautiful, lots of trees, mountainsides, rivers and lakes. This is a beautiful part of the country.

We finally headed to Tillamook, and saw another creamery on the way that we considered stopping at. Tillamook Creamery is undergoing an overhaul so we didn’t get to tour the factory. But it must be a big deal around here because they had a small display setup with fake cows and lots of information about why do cows get antibiotics and the cycle of a milking cow, getting pregnant, giving birth, and beginning to milk again. There were cheeses to taste, but not very many. I’ve confirmed again and again, I do like Swiss on some sandwiches like a Reuben, but I never want to eat just a piece of Swiss by itself. We bought several kinds of cheese, some salt water taffy and some beef jerky sticks. Then we moved on to the important stuff, the ice cream! We all got a scoop and I had mine in a waffle bowl. I love those things! It all tasted super great, but we had already seen a few stops we wanted to make on the way back home so we didn’t buy any ice cream to bring to the bus.

I had seen a Goodwill on the way and suggested to TJ that he take the boys to the McDonald’s playground we had also seen on the way while I shopped at Goodwill, but he was having none of it. We all went to Goodwill and I filled a buggy with sweaters and shoes. I ended up only buying one sweater, but TJ found Jack an R2D2 shirt, and Max got a skateboard. We left there and went to the McDonald’s playground. Jack is always so excited to see those, he jumps around in his seat and exclaims thank you Mama! a thousand times between the time we see it and the time we actually park. The boys played there for 20 to 30 minutes, and then we headed on down the road.

Traveling around it’s hard to tell what’s a new trend in grocery stores and what’s just different in a different area. The Fred Meyer that we went to to buy groceries was huge! It was like a super Walmart, only I think it’s a little bit bigger. The RV section had things there that I hadn’t seen anywhere except in a RV store.

We filled up the truck with gas. We were on the hunt for a good gas station for the bus, and this one would be a 10 minute drive out of our way. It’s a good backup though if we don’t find anything else.

We had seen a pretty little beach close to where we’re staying now, so we stopped there. We wanted to get back to the campground in time for the boys to go swimming, but we could tell we had already passed that point. At least we would still make it for the adult swim time which was 9 to 10 p.m. We walked around the beach and it was beautiful. I was a little nervous to drive out on the beach because I’ve never done that, but TJ said just don’t gun it, keep a steady rate of speed. When we got ready to go Max was still out on the beach so I drove out to pick him up. We got back to the bus and sent the boys off to the playground while I put up all of the groceries and TJ started planning our route out for tomorrow. We called the boys home and quickly fed them another meal of mock buffalo chicken pizza. TJ and I quickly got dressed and headed out to the swim time about 9:15. Imagine our surprise when it was closed! We should have read the notice more carefully, adult swim time is 9 to 10 a.m.! Boo!

Other things about this place: we saw several large deer feeding right on the side of the road, only about 5′ from our truck. There are lots of rabbits at this campground. They basically have the run of the place which is cool. But there’s a lot of holes in the ground as well. This campground was great except for the fact that after the first night the water pressure was about half of what it had been at first. Also, on our drive out to Tillamook we saw a chicken farm…lots of free range chickens!

10 May Wednesday

We saw more rabbits today. Most of them were black but some were spotted. You can walk very close to them, probably about 2 feet away before they run. It’s a nice place, we walked across the street to the restaurant and that distance again would have brought us to the water.

The boys went off to the playground to play while TJ and I got the bus ready and hooked it up to the truck. On the drive today we saw guys flying with whatever contraption has a skate board on the bottom and a kite on top. You’d think I’d get better at identifying the several types of contraptions that allow people to fly through the air without a plane…we sure have seen lots of them on the Pacific Coast.

When we got close to the campground we’re staying tonight I started looking it up on the phone but couldn’t see any campers on Google satellite view. I like this campground a lot, but of course we only stayed overnight. All the campers are parked parallel to the street with just a little pull off at each spot. There are lots of trees, and also lots of open space. After we pulled through the check-in area and Tj did not hit the woman’s fence (but the woman laughed and told TJ she thought he was going to hit her fence, and he was just a few inches away from it) we stopped at the playground and dropped the boys off while we went on to the campsite and setup. We found out that the ice maker needs to be still for two hours for the freon? to settle before it can make ice cubes. We called the boys back, had them wash their hands and faces, and headed off to a Mediterranean place I found. We made sure to go far inland and eat supper in Washington so that we could put another sticker on our map. Al-Basha Kabab had good food, but of course not the kind of shawarma salad I was hoping for. Their fries were covered in taziki sauce and sprinkled with feta. Yum! The boys got beef kabob on top of fries, with more feta. After supper we went to a little store and bought me a piece of chocolate, then headed back home. The land here is beautiful. Oregon was filled with trees and mountains and craggy drop offs, but just across the river/state line it’s just pretty rolling hills and basically no trees. The highway signs are funny, they’re silhouettes of George Washington’s head with the number inside the silhouette.

11 May Thursday

Tj’s back has flared up again so I’m trying to take it easy on him. Hopefully with us stopping now for the next 3 weeks it’ll have a chance to completely recover.

On our drive we were talking as we occasionally do about telling acquaintances that Jack has Down Syndrome. I don’t like to beat around the bush, I just say Down Syndrome. I told Tj, but then you run the risk of some (idiots) asking how Down’s is he? Without thinking about it at all it just popped out of my mouth that from now on I should answer he’s about this far down (and accompany this with a hand motion depicting his height). Heh. I still laugh every time I think about that. For the record there’s no amount of Down’s that a person is. You either have Down Syndrome or you don’t. Some people with Down Syndrome are more independent than others, but you can’t know how far your child will advance until they get older. You just have to push your child to be as independent as they are able. Kind of like with any other kid, honestly. And I really don’t mind questions of that sort, though I realize even stating the above makes it seem like I do. Because Jack takes up such a big part of my life, and obviously because he’s my son, I love him so much and I always want to talk about him. I find Down Syndrome a pretty fascinating subject and enjoy talking with others about the similarities and differences between him and his brother/other kids.

We passed a sign marking the 45th parallel, the
circle of latitude that is the halfway point between the Equator and the North Pole. Cool.

12 May Friday

We stayed in bed a good while, then got up to run some errands. Our first stop was to get the general delivery address so we can get mail! Finally! It’s been since Tucson that we’ve had the ability to have stuff shipped to us. Next we went out to eat at Buffalo Wild Wings to celebrate Max’s good grades this year. Then we spent a good amount of time at Camping World buying all the things (shower knob, windshield cleaner, sun shade for the bus), and then went out with a salesman to check out some new busses.

Then it was time to drop me off at the hotel!!! Tj surprised me with an overnight and a spa day! How lovely. We got to the hotel around 3:45. I parked in the garage and walked to the hotel…but the entrance wasn’t easy to find. First I went to the elevator that was labeled hotel entrance, but you had to have a room key to use it. So I took the stairs down to the outside, and proceeded to walk all the way around the block to about 10′ before the door I’d used to exit the garage, and there was the entrance. The sign for the hotel wasn’t on the same side of the building as the entrance. I finally checked in, though, and all was well.

I got a text from Tj later saying: I’m so used to you driving I just opened the passenger door! Since he drives the bus all around I do almost all of the in-town driving. Heh. He said as soon as I was gone Jack started asking where’s Mom?

I got to my room and just laid on the bed and did nothing but read my phone. I set an alarm so I’d be ready for my Uber pick-up for my Fork reservation. I kept telling Tj that I would just walk to the restaurant, but he really wanted me to take an Uber. I was nervous just because I’d never done it before, but then the weather looked like it might be bad so we reserved me a ride to the restaurant. I went to the lobby early, but when I checked my phone the address of the hotel was wrong! I texted the Uber driver the correct location, but I think before he read that he just called me and cancelled saying he’d circled the block 3 times without seeing the hotel. Before I’d even finished telling Tj all that happened and asking him what I should do another Uber driver said he was taking the ride. He showed up with no help from me, so it makes me think the other driver just had problems. In the end I made it to Fork a few minutes early.

I’d already chosen the spare ribs over mashed potatoes, but was still a bit full from lunch so wasn’t sure I could handle a full meal. The waitress said it was her favorite thing there, so I went for it 🙂 The meal wasn’t as big as I expected, so I was able to eat it all. And it was wonderful. I asked for a small cup of jus on the side and don’t regret one calorie of it at all.

I walked back to the hotel when I was finished. The spa tomorrow is on the same street as Fork so if the weather’s good I’ll just walk there. The girl at the front desk asked if I’d made it ok; she’d told me the street address for the Uber update before supper. I headed up to my room and then my key wouldn’t work…I had to use it in order to use the elevator. Ugh. I went back to that same girl and apologized for being a problem child, but she was super sweet about the whole thing.

In my room I read my phone and watched TV, and then I went to bed when I wanted. What an awesome gift!

13 May Saturday

Despite the wonderfulness of this gift I didn’t sleep super well, and woke up early. I did doze a bit later, and took my time getting ready. I got to my spa appointment a few minutes early, and enjoyed every minute there! I got scrubbed down with a brush, a seaweed wrap, a lime/something scalp massage, took a shower and blow dried my hair, then a hot stone massage! After that I had a mimosa (my first) and waited for my pedicure. After my pedicure I had a kale/quinoa/feta/walnut/craisin salad. This wonderful day started at 10am and I walked out at 2:45. Amazing!

I walked almost all the way back to the hotel and went shopping at Trader Joe’s. I texted Tj while I was there and he came and got me. He had been hard at work this whole time trying to get all the stuff he needed to change the oil in the bus. In the end he had to order stuff from Amazon, so hopefully he can change it the day he gets back. He also did all the wash and fixed the shower knob. He’s such a handyman!

He cooked supper for us tonight: bone-in ribeyes! They were spot on. My man takes such good care of me!

14 May Sunday

Tj found us a church so we got there in time to find where the boys were going to go. We had to wait on the teacher a bit, and then I remembered I hadn’t sent Jack to the bathroom before leaving the bus. The 3 of us stood around while J went to the bathroom. The bathroom door was open and he just used the stall…so we could hear him flushing and washing, etc. After a minute or two I headed over to see what was taking him so long to come out…and then Tj offered to check on him. He wasn’t there!! Argh! I just kept laughing…here we go again. That sneaky little booger! We looked and looked, but I was being kinda discreet about it…if we’re going to go here 3 weeks they don’t need to know we lost Jack the first Sunday! Tj found him a minute or so later…in the baptistry! I guess there wasn’t water in it because Jack was dry. Heavens! Other than that church was normal 🙂

We didn’t want to go out to eat figuring that since it was Mother’s Day restaurants would be full. We dropped the boys off at the playground and went to the bus and set up for lunch. All of us had a nap after lunch today…another great Mother’s Day present.

Later that afternoon Jack buttoned 2 tiny shirt buttons all by himself! It never ceases to amaze me how we take for granted all the learning that ‘normal’ kids do on their own. And here’s my practically 10-year-old over-the-moon-excited because he buttoned his shirt. He struggled with each button for probably 2 full minutes before he got that blasted button pulled through, and he was so proud of himself!

15 May Monday

We laid in bed all morning. After we got up at some point Tj and Max played Legos while​ I cut my hair. Sadly this haircut didn’t go as well as the others, it’s too short! I think/hope it’s not too bad, and fortunately the bad part is in the back where I can’t see it. It’ll grow out.

We went to a diner for lunch and I finally got a good Reuben. The fries were great too. I got Jack eggs benedict so I could have a taste, Tj got the chicken fried steak on a bed of hash browns with gravy, corn and an egg on top, and Max had a belgian waffle. I think I want to eat here again!

We headed to the grocery store but there was a Library! in the same strip mall building. We tried to go to it but it’s closed today. What’s with the exclamation point at the end of that word I wonder. Also in that strip mall was a thrift shop where I got Jack some pj pants.

When we got home I cut everyone’s hair, and then we went out for ice cream for supper. After the boys were in bed Tj and I watched the last of Mr. Robot and hit the hay.

16 May Tuesday

We left at 7am to bring Tj to work. Sometime later UPS called to say that they don’t deliver to the post office…so when the PO said sign up for general delivery and all your mail will come here I guess they just meant USPS. I don’t understand how Amazon doesn’t recognize that as a USPS address and ship it all by USPS.

I made us a salad for lunch and used my redwood bowl and Crater Lake salad claws for the first time. Afterward, during my nap, the UPS guy showed up with our packages! We were told we couldn’t receive our packages on the base, but the UPS guy says he’s already here every day, and until he goes on vacation he’ll deliver anything we get through UPS. Hooray! Fortunately Jack and I were able to fall back asleep pretty easily after that.

This afternoon we had our first hail storm in the bus! Thankfully the hail was tiny, and that part didn’t last long. I guess the wind blew the antenna around a bit because the handle fell from the ceiling at one point. I think all the wind and rain worried Max, but it wasn’t a big deal. I made cheese sauce for supper and we had that over broccoli and potatoes.

Today was the first day of me sending Jack to the bathroom every hour. Hopefully this will make a difference. Also today I started Jack’s basket; I crocheted 2 rounds.

17 May Wednesday

Max just asked me what the Humane Society was. I said I don’t know, they treat animals humanely. He asked if that was wrong. I asked how that would be wrong? He said, I don’t know, do they dress them up in human clothes? Oh how I laughed, but only on the inside.

This may be why we’re having a hard time with Jack keeping his underwear dry. He was playing the iPad this morning and the alarm went off for him to go potty. I told him to go to the bathroom, and he fussed a little bit because he wanted to keep playing, obviously. I asked him if his underwear were dry and he said no. I asked him if he wet his underwear and he said yes. I told him you can’t play the iPad anymore then, and sent him off to go potty. When he came back he tried to turn the iPad on, and I told him no, what did I tell you? He said disobey. I said what did you do, and he said disobey. I said how did you disobey? He didn’t have a good answer. I said are your underwear dry? He said yes. I said did you potty in your underwear? He said no. I felt his pants and they were dry. So the first time when he told me they were wet, he was wrong/lying/not comprehending the question. If I can’t get a straight answer out of him when the answer is a good one how much can I expect him to understand? How much truth should I expect of him?????

We read and messed around until lunch. Max made pancakes and I cooked some Trader Joe’s goyoza and egg rolls. We got cleaned up and then went to the FedEx office to get Tj’s new phone and ship it to him. We went to the library next and Jack set up a big train track and played with that a good while. Max read a Star Wars book. We went to a Goodwill next and got Jack a pj shirt and pants, and best of all a cat puppet. He’s sleeping with ‘Mew’ right now! So sweet.

When I was putting away the clean clothes tonight I found the fudge we bought at Tillamook! Sorry Tj! It won’t be any good by the time you get back. I didn’t mean to hide it, I just forgot about it.

18 May Thursday

The boys started playing tag this morning about 9, and I’ve already told them no tag in the bus, so I sent them outside​ to play on the playground. Heh. Sometimes it’s good to be the mom.

When they came back in I cleaned out the freezer while they played with playdough. After we had lunch I took a nap and let the boys watch a movie. I sent them out to play again and did some work around here…meal planning, cleaning and such. It was a nice boring day. I don’t know how many more of these Max can stand before he fights with Jack enough that I make us start summer school 🙂

Wednesday, May 17th, 2017

30 April Sunday

Meeting up with Jay was awesome today, but it was kind of like hanging out with Fran. Since TJ and I knew that going in it was easier to handle. He never specified an actual meeting place, just agreed when I suggested one. We parked at the fort at the base of the bridge and went inside to look around. Jay said he felt bad that he had never taken his family into the fort all the times he’s taken his friends and family members to see the Golden Gate Bridge. I said don’t worry about it, now you have something new to show them the next time. Tj mostly took care of Jack, and Max and Akira played together while Jay and I did all kinds of catching up. I guess the last time I saw him was when we lived in CA..15 or so years ago!

It was a really pretty area, and we just walked down the river a little bit and talked and talked and talked. Jay and I tried to name every person we could remember from college, and every teacher, and who knows what which person is doing now, and who’s still in architecture and who’s not. It was a lot of fun for me! Jay had suggested packing a picnic lunch and eating at the foot of the bridge, but when it came time to get our lunches out he said what food do you like to eat, let’s go to a restaurant, so off we went. He took Max and Akira in his vehicle and we just followed him. He told us when we got out that the boys had voted and we were having pizza. I was bummed because I was hoping for some really good Thai food, but the pizza place was awesome. We ordered two pizzas, one the boys chose and one large one for the adults. We didn’t think we’d be able to finish them, but in the end we brought home two slices of pizza and one fried cheese stick. Not bad! TJ suggested to me that we would pay and I agreed. When the lady brought the check Jay was surprised obviously, and said you guys are homeless; I help the homeless, I should be paying for y’all! This is shameful, we’re in my hometown and you are paying for me to eat. We all laughed so hard when he called us homeless, and the waitress said you’re homeless? She couldn’t believe that anybody would actually not have a house. She said, but how do the boys go to school? I don’t know if she’d ever met a family that homeschools before.

After lunch we left the trucks and walked some more in Golden Gate Park. We watched a couple of teams play baseball, heard a symphony playing, and then walked through a tunnel and found a playground for the kids to climb on. All in all it was an awesome day. On our way back Jay asked if we were ready for dessert. Since we paid for lunch I think he wanted to repay the favor. We went to The Creperie and there was an amazing looking crepe that I wanted to try with lots of interesting ingredients, walnuts, pistachios, brown sugar, and several other things. But in the end I just stuck to old faithful and got strawberries, Nutella and walnuts. It was amazing! We walked back to the truck and split up at that point. What a fun day. On our way home we stopped at a grocery store to stock up, and drove by the Petaluma Creamery. I think we’ll visit that tomorrow.

Since we basically ate two full meals with Jay, when we got home we didn’t need any supper. Max still had 8 math problems left! So we told him to do that while I went outside with Jack to play on the playground right by the bus. This is a beautiful place; the mosquitoes are everywhere, but I haven’t gotten bitten once! There’s a pond on the far side of the playground from our bus, so we always want somebody going out with Jack. There are lots of willow trees around the pond, and a little island in the middle. Everything is so green here. There are also lots of geese squawking and flapping around. The funny thing is there are dog silhouettes on springs around here. I think they’re supposed to scare the geese away but they don’t do that at all. It took both TJ and me a few minutes to realize they weren’t actual dogs at first.

I haven’t looked at any of Max’s finals while he was doing them, because I didn’t know how hard it would be to not tell him to go back and look over his work if I saw that he was doing poorly on something. Since he was doing the same problem over and over, I told TJ we might need to put an end time limit on this math exam. If he were a public school he would have a limited amount of time to do the work, so we gave him 10 more minutes to finish up the last three problems he had. After we told him that I went ahead and looked at how he was doing on his test, and he made an 80. I figured out that even if he got zeros on the last three problems he would still pass the final, so that made me feel pretty good. I think he did get one of the problems correct, but he left the other two blank. In the end he made an 82 percent on his math final. Then TJ wanted to go over all of the problems with him really quickly, but really, how quickly can you go over 10 math problems that you got wrong? We did that though, and then Max said he was hungry. I gave him half a bagel to eat while he was getting ready for bed. Jack was already in bed but absolutely not near sleep since the lights were on and we were all being noisy. I’m so glad that school is over, but I forgot that Max still hasn’t officially turned in his final language arts project and I have to grade it. Ugh!

1 May Monday

We let the boys sleep as late as possible. I know they’re tired these days. I’m so glad school is over though! TJ had a breakfast place picked out for us, but in the end we just got on the road. We first went to check in since we hadn’t been on the base any of the times that the Hop was open. Then we headed back down to San Francisco. I drove over the bridge again and then down Lombard Street while TJ videoed the drive with our circle camera. TJ showed me the Google Map around Lombard and it’s amazing to see all of the grid-like streets and this one wackadoo street. From Lombard we went to Chinatown and TJ found us a parking garage. It was fun looking around there in Chinatown, of course I want to buy a million things, but living in the bus kind of necessitates a minimalist lifestyle. TJ and the boys went to the playground and I shopped for half an hour or so. I found this crossbody bag that I really liked and thought I would try out bargaining to see if they do it here, and apparently they don’t. Oh well, that’s the way it goes sometimes.

We were hungry about then and it was about 12:15, so we looked on Google and Yelp for a recommendation. We found a Clay Pot restaurant that was nearby so headed there. It was little and cramped and upstairs, but all the round tables have big round lazy Susans on them. Fun! We ordered a mishmash, which is so much fun to do. We got Mongolian beef, sweet and sour chicken, cashew shrimp, and it came with wonton soup and some pot stickers that were heavenly! They were my favorite, especially with the dipping sauce. The sweet and sour chicken was also wonderful because there were big pieces of pineapple in there. The tea they served beforehand was kind of bitter and there was no sugar so it wasn’t my cup of tea, but I drank it all. All in all it was a fun experience and good food. And we left with about half as many leftovers as we started with so we’ll have that soon. Oh, there was also shrimp fried rice. I’ll probably make a Thai peanut sauce to put on top of all the leftovers except the Mongolian beef 🙂

I shopped a little bit more while the boys went back to the playground. When we were all finished we decided to head home. It was still early and we could have seen the Chinese gate or driven down Lambert Street again, but we don’t want everybody to be so tired that we’re all miserable. We headed back home and stopped at the Petaluma Creamery near the base. We all got a scoop of ice cream and picked up some aged cheddar for our ham sandwiches for supper. Somehow at the grocery store last night a box of croissants got knocked over and opened so TJ felt like we should buy them. Twist my arm! We bought some really good ham and now with this awesome cheese we’re having ham and cheese croissants for supper tonight 🙂

We stopped at a little RV repair shop to see about getting a knob for the shower. The boys have stripped the hot water knob so we’ve been using a pair of pliers for the last couple of days. And, honestly, we haven’t been showering much either. This Coast Guard base doesn’t have any sewer hookups. Also, we thought we were getting a 30 amp site, but we actually pulled into the only 50 amp there. Yay for us! So two days of no sewer hookups. I don’t think it’s going to be any big deal because we generally empty every other day when we have full hookups. But we’re going to be careful with our water usage anyway.

We watched What’s in the Bible for church tonight since we didn’t do that yesterday. That is such a good show! I often end up learning something new or remembering something I’d forgotten.

Since Max is finished with all of his other school and we got home early, I looked at his final paper, and then before bed TJ and I graded it. We don’t see eye-to-eye on how to grade it and that was a bump in our road, but we all went to bed early and most of us got a good night’s sleep.

2 May Tuesday

We got out of bed around around 8 this morning, and just started getting ready to go. The boys have been eating granola bars these last two mornings for breakfast so this was the first fried egg sandwich Jack had had in a few days 🙂 Our neighbors across the street from us pulled out this morning so that made us getting out even easier. TJ made a u-turn and pulled into their spot and I did the same and pulled up behind him to hook up the truck. The boys played on the playground while we got ready, and went to the bathroom in the last few minutes, and then we hit the road. We stopped on base to get gas where it’s a good $0.40 cheaper than everywhere off base. We need to measure the height of the bus again, that was one thing we were concerned about with this little bitty gas station. It looked tall enough though, so we just drove in slowly and everything was fine. I planned on buying some ice there, I really miss the Seal Beach ice machine. That was a nice treat 🙂 But at this gas station there was just a Subway. The guy told us to go up the road a bit and take a left and there was a store, but we didn’t feel like all that maneuvering with the bus. I asked how much a cup of ice would cost and he said if I had my own cup it was free! I went out to the bus and got the ice box that we use and headed back in the store, then TJ said maybe I should bring my cup in case he didn’t want me to use the box, so I went back in the bus, dug around and found a big cup and went back into the store. When I got in and had filled up the cup one time I asked the guy if he would mind if I filled up the box and he said no. Score! That’s so nice. We’ve seen countertop ice makers that are about $100 and really want to get one, but I think we’re serious enough about buying a new bus this October that it seems like the best plan would be just to wait. Probably most new buses are going to come with a full size refrigerator and most likely an ice maker, I guess patience is what we need.

3:10 p.m. we had the bus level and Tj was hooking up the sewer so we could run a load of wash before we left to go see redwoods! We stopped at a redwood stump that had been burned out and a door added. It was a cool, small room. Our next stop was to drive through a tree! I drove first, then we switched so we both could take pictures. Then Tj drove the truck up onto a big redwood stump. Lastly there we took pictures of the boys in cute tree houses. Our next stop was to walk into the redwood forest, where we got to stand in some trees. They are so magnificent! So huge! The forest was beautiful! After we got out and walked a bit J said he had to go to the bathroom. We made it back just in time…a big tourist bus of Japanese people unloaded and they all needed to use the bathrooms.

Before getting there, though, I shopped for a wooden bowl. Near the beginning of this trip I started wanting a big wooden salad bowl…I saw several in Goodwill, but they were all so worn. I’m so glad I waited! The gift shop at the RV park had beautiful bowls, but they were all sooooo expensive. Tj said go for it, but I figured we had a day or two to shop. I looked at the store across the street from the tree with a door, and those were also beautiful, and less expensive. It was so hard to choose! I almost bought two (the second one a little one just for cereal or something), but I figured I should stretch out my souvenir buying. I ended up buying a large (too large?) salad bowl. Yea! I was in a hurry after I bought it since I’d made the guys wait on me to shop/pick one out…I just handed the bowl to Max and asked him to put it somewhere it would be safe, and we headed off to see some trees. When we made out last stop of the day to see the trees I went back to the truck to get a sleeve, opened the back, heard something sliding down the table we have stored there, and then my brand new bowl fell to the asphalt!!!!!!!!! I was so thankful it didn’t crack, but there’s a rough spot on the bottom and on an edge. I guess that gives it character. I’ll always remember getting that bowl and then marring it before I even used it.

3 May Wednesday

We pulled out at 10:30 since our drive is short and checkout is at 11am. We’re right on the coast now, and can see the water amidst all the fog. It makes​ me laugh…we see all this picturesque beauty, and at the same time we’re bumping along in this big crazy camper with our clothes in the dryer drying as we drive. Hillbillies!!

TJ said when we got almost to our stop that we should look for a good seafood restaurant to try around here. We got a recommendation while we checked in at the campground, set up camp and went out to eat. We bought three meals, half a crab sandwich with a cup of clam chowder, beer batter fish and chips, and fried clam strips with coleslaw. It was all good, the crab sandwich had really big chunks of crab that just had a good flavor. I think my favorite was the fried clam strips though.

After lunch we headed over to Walmart to pick up a few groceries, then we went back home and went out to the beach. Tj got us a great spot; the front of our bus overlooks a small levee right out on the Pacific Ocean. The tide was so far out, there was so much sand in front of the water that we could walk on. We probably had to walk out thirty or forty feet to get to actual water. The boys played a good bit, TJ and I brought chairs and sat out on the levee and watched them for a bit. Jack was of course filthy when he came in so we put all of his clothes straight into the washer while he took a shower. I made hot chocolate to warm the boys up, it’s so gray and foggy here. The boys got to watch some cartoons and I took a snooze, and then Tj made sandwiches for their supper. We watched some more of The Force Awakens, that’s such a great movie! We got the boys settled into bed around 8 or 8:30, and he and I watched Arrival before going to bed.

4 May Thursday

We laid around a good bit this morning which was nice, we’re trying to stave off that extreme tiredness that hits with so many days in a row of travel. While the boys ate breakfast TJ and I sat in the front seat just looking out over the ocean. We left the curtains open all night because the view is so beautiful. We packed up a picnic lunch and we’re going to go look for a place to cook some sausages and have sausage sandwiches. I wanted to do the Sky Trail, but it’s closed for maintenance this one day of the year. Lol. It was a 9-minute monorail ride through the tops of the trees. I guess we’ll just have to enjoy the trees from the ground. Now we’re at this big playground and TJ is chasing the boys all over the place. He’s such a great dad!

We had packed up for a picnic lunch before we went to the playground. I loaded up sausages, a bell pepper, and all the other accoutrement for a lunch. TJ packed the little grill and after the park we had to go back for the propane tanks! I razzed him that I packed a million things and he only had to put 2 things in the truck. We drove about half an hour south where we had seen a gorgeous place. It was even more beautiful now that we stopped and got out. The Pacific Ocean was just crashing among such big and little rocks, there was black sand, and across the road were just mountains full of trees. There was an abandoned house there, which made me just daydream about living right there next to the ocean. I think that’s the only way I would ever want to live that close to a highway. We saw a dude who appeared to be living right there since all of his clothing was strewn all over one of the picnic tables there, and he had a bucket full of mussels or clams. I guess he was gathering them to cook and eat there. When we stood out on the big rocks we could see rocks just covered in those animals! It seems like such a neat thing to be able to gather/cook/eat from the land like that.

We didn’t do too badly ourselves, though. Tj got the grill started and I put my big cast iron skillet in it to preheat. I cut up the bell pepper and half the onion and put them in the pot to cook. We had that with sausage, cheese and mustard on big french buns. Yum! The boys played while we cooked. After lunch and playing some more we headed back to WalMart…Tj had seen that they had an ice maker and he decided we had to have one. We’ve been talking and thinking about it for a few weeks, but then I said it could be our Mother’s/Father’s day presents to each other. We were so bummed when we found out they were all gone! The online check Tj did showed 6 in stock, but the lady there checked and said they had none. When we got home Tj ordered one from the next town for us to pick up tomorrow. Patience. Ugh.

I dropped the three boys off at the playground and went home. I unloaded the truck and made pizza dough in case we wanted that for supper. They came home not long after Tj sent me this, “The entire 7th grade just showed up. Max is mad because “all these kids look like they’d say a bad word if they dropped their pencil.” And then one of them did say the B word.”

Tj didn’t really want pizza, but there wasn’t much around here, and we really didn’t feel like driving 30 minutes away…so I made pizza. We watched more Force Awakens. We made the kids shower since we won’t have hookups for the next two days and then went to bed.

Tuesday, May 16th, 2017

21 April Friday

We were looking at animal pictures and I said that cat is playing with…and waited for Jack to finish my sentence. Jack said with sweet balls. Heh, Jack does love to play with balls. He used to only say sweet baby, or other obviously sweet things. Lately he’s been branching out and calling other things sweet, and it’s pretty funny sometimes.

I told Jack we could go to the beach today. I felt bad because we were supposed to go yesterday and time got away from me. I think there was a ship out there though, so we would have had to come back. So today I put a swimsuit in the truck and figured if the ship was still there I’d find him a playground. Either way we were getting out of the house. We drove the five minutes down the street to the beach and when I was helping Jack change into his swimsuit I realize he peed his pants! I can’t reward that kind of behavior so we headed on back home. I feel bad for him but when is he ever going to learn? I meant to remind him to go to the bathroom, so I felt a little guilty. But honestly at this point he should know better.

We went home and after a little while I made a bone collector pizza. I had made the dough before we left, so all I had to do was put the pizza together and bake it. I think I’ve found it! Somehow the dough wasn’t right, but everything else was perfect. I don’t know how to fix the dough problem. It just seemed breadier than the restaurant’s dough, drier…next time I’ll try more olive oil on the dough before baking.

22 April Saturday

Max is so funny sometimes. I thought I’d give the boys a treat, so I sent them off to the vending machine with my coin purse and told them they each had a dollar to spend. He bought Jack’s candy first, and the candy machine took his money. So he used his dollar to get Jack’s candy. When he came home I could tell something was wrong but I didn’t know what because I saw candy in his hand. I asked what the problem was and he told me what happened. I was surprised he didn’t just use the rest of the money to get his candy. And it was surprising to me that he didn’t storm in the door angry about what happened, he just seemed resigned. Anyway I wasn’t gonna make them share when it wasn’t his fault. I took him back to get his candy.

He decided he wanted a Snickers bar. I put the dollar in and of course the machine ate the dollar again! At that point I had called the number on the machine and reported that we lost $2. I had a dollar left in nickels and dimes so I decided to chance it and we lucked out, 2 Snickers fell. Max was so happy and kept saying I have two Snickers now! I told him he had a Snickers and I had a Snickers, and he was super crestfallen. All the points I gained for giving him a dollar, I lost for taking one of ‘his’ Snickers away. Sometimes you just can’t win as a parent. We went back home and had a few lessons left and then we were going to the beach. Jack went to the bathroom and when I checked on him I saw that he peed on the floor! Still not winning as a mother. I cleaned him up and emphasized again how to pee without getting it all over. Now we’re at the beach.

Well, maybe I am winning as a parent…Max is staying home by himself where he feels king of the castle, and Jack gets to play at the beach which is one of his favorite things. Filling up a bottle that he found on the beach with water and pouring it out, filling it up and pouring it out, filling it up and pouring it out. I’ll probably let him do that for two hours and then we’ll go home.

When it was time to go we found the hose we used the other day and went to rinse off. Jack turned it on and it danced around full of water pressure like you see in the movies…it was so funny!

23 April Sunday

We went to Cerritos Baptist Church again for the 11 o’clock service. When I brought the boys to their class they said they’re on Hawaiian time and class usually starts 20 minutes late. I stood in the hallway and talked to 2 women about our magnificent trip. One of them is named Laura, and now we’re facebook friends. When their class started I headed to church where I’d missed the song service, but a woman was preaching! Doh! Good thing this is our last Sunday here.

I looked at a million places to go out to eat today for lunch, and found a deli with lots of good reviews that makes Reuben sandwiches. I was extremely disappointed when they brought me a pastrami sandwich with sauerkraut, mustard and pickles! That’s not a Reuben!!!!! I was so bummed! Of course when I read their description that’s how they described that sandwich. But really, everyone knows what a Reuben is, and that’s not it. Max got 6 hot wings…I had a bite of one and it was good. I bought Jack the breakfast burrito (chorizo, scrambled eggs, hash browns and bacon), which was fine. I ate half of that and gave him half of my sandwich. The burrito was highly praised on Yelp, but I thought it was just ok. Overall the whole thing was a disappointment. I don’t go out to eat much when Tj’s not around so it’s annoying to have my treat not really be a treat.

After lunch Max wanted to go to Goodwill. It took me a few minutes to realize he just didn’t want to go home and finish that one lesson he had left, but I was happy to go shopping. In the end we went to 4 Goodwills and bought a scooter for each boy, a suit jacket for Max and an ice cube tray. Then we went to Walmart which is where I’d planned to go…Tj needs new jeans. While there I bought new pj’s. After I tried them on at home I decided I’d rather have the solid black instead of the gray color so I left both boys getting ready for bed and exchanged my pj’s by myself.

When I got in the truck and plugged my phone in the Pioneer screen just blinked off and on over and over. I was in a hurry so I just used my phone to navigate. I called Tj and chatted with him on the way and then figured out it was probably my phone having problems, not the stereo. I restarted my phone when I got to Walmart and everything worked fine on the way home. I hope I don’t have a repeat of my last phone…where I have to return this phone before they’ll send out a replacement.

24 April Monday

We only have 4 school days left!!

Sadly, today is a fighting day. Jack is bucking everything I say. I asked him to open the curtains, he opens half of them halfway. He asked (like he has the last 4 mornings) to open the windows and I said no…it’s too cold first thing in the morning. He opened them. He got out utensils after I’d already gotten some out and then he wouldn’t put his back. The other day I told him to stand on the world that’s pictured on the rug and he stood with just the barest part of his toes on it. When he does obey it’s with sooooo much disobedience/defiance. It really wears me down. I don’t want to fuss at him all the time, but I can’t let him get away with this stuff. I need a nap. Other things he routinely disobeys on: writing his name the way I tell him to. If I say write your full name he writes his first name and last initial, if I say write just your first name he writes his full name. This is not an understanding problem, it’s a willpower problem. Also, the shoe thing. I try to keep a lot of sand out of the bus. Every time he plays at the playground here he comes back with pants and shoes full of sand. I tell him to stay on the steps in the bus till his shoes are put away. So of course he takes one step into the bus. He usually doesn’t go much farther, he just steps on the rug and waits for me to see. Also the seatbelt. If he’s feeling moody he puts his seatbelt on as slowly as possible and leaves the belt over the arm of his booster, then watches me until I see and fuss at him. This post is depressing.

Sweet things about him: he snuggles with me each morning. In the middle of school a thousand times he’ll stop and reach across the table to give me a hug. He is really wonderful, but also wonderfully ornery.

If this post wasn’t bad enough, this is the day we found out that Max was using the computer inappropriately. He’s on restriction now.

25 April Tuesday

I stayed up late last night watching the rest of Grey’s Anatomy and waiting for the time I needed to leave to pick up TJ. I left the house around 12:30 am, and left the boys sleeping. TJ’s flight went a little long, so I had a little while to read my phone in the truck. After he got in we headed off to Randy’s Donuts again. I was so bummed they didn’t have an apple fritter! We got several things and headed back home where we found the boys still sound asleep. We went to bed ourselves, and of course Tj pulled his usual stunt: I’m not sleepy after he’d been exhausted five minutes before.

We got up and did school today and I made sandwiches for lunch at Tj’s request. Then I asked Tj to read with Jack and I made our end of year cake. Hannah found a wonderful looking cake recipe on fb the other day and I’ve been drooling over it ever since! I took out the butter and cream cheese for the icing last night before bed so it would be room temp when I was ready. Man, making a cake in this tiny place is a feat! I felt like an acrobat doing that with so little counter space while also helping the boys with their school as Tj finished up some work in the back.

While the cake was cooling we headed out to see the beach. I’ve been meaning to stop at the little shopette so we did that on the way. The lady there looked like she didn’t really appreciate little kids coming in; she followed us all around and after TJ told Jack not to touch the emergency exit door she made sure to tell him 3 or 4 more times not to open the emergency exit door. Good thing she was watching us like a hawk!

When we first walked in that store I saw somebody off to the right in my peripheral vision, I thought it was a mannequin. I was so surprised when it moved; it turned out to be another customer leaving the store! I laughed so hard I could hardly say anything, and TJ thought I was surprised and hadn’t seen the guy because he was in camo. That was also funny but not the reason.

When we were finished there we got back in the truck and headed to the beach. Sadly we saw there was a ship out, so we headed back home. Jack was disappointed but he got over it pretty quickly. We sent the boys out to play while I frosted the cake. I realized towards the end that I didn’t have enough frosting…the cake made more than a 11×17 pan, so I made 11 cupcakes also. Tj whipped up a batch of lemon frosting for the cupcakes. Before he was finished with that I made pizza dough for 2 pizzas, and we had buffalo pizza for supper. I think those were the best doughs I’ve ever made! I was so excited! After they rested a minute or two I poured lots of oil on the pan and turned and stretched them in that oil. Maybe that’s the secret!

26 April Wednesday

Today we went to Legoland. It was pretty fun, but after a few hours there we finally asked a dude who worked there what rides were good for older kids. There weren’t really any. I think Legoland is just mainly for kids up through age eight or so. The roller coasters may have been a little exciting for Jack but not so much for the rest of us. They were fun, just nothing that made me ever want to go back there again. We started off at the front letting Max go wherever he wanted and be the one to decide what to do. This day was mostly for him. After a little bit Jack got bored so I took him around and let him take the lead while TJ stayed with Max playing video games. Jack and I rode a little water ride and then we rode a round and round ride. A little bit later we decided to go back and find the rest of the family. It seemed like Max could spend the whole day looking at all the Lego models, especially all the Star Wars creations. Many of the battles were there and there were buttons to press for sound effects and to set the people to fighting or dancing or whatever they were doing. It was also neat to see all the interesting places in the world recreated in Legos: Vegas, New Orleans, Washington, etc. So many of the interesting places were places we have just been to this last year 🙂 TJ started getting bored so I tried to shuttle Max into choosing some roller coasters, and then we saw a build your own boat and float it down little water way exhibit. The boys played with that for a while and then we headed to lunch. We all had Bahn Mi sandwiches which were pretty good. It makes me wanna make some sort of marinated veggie slaw to put on our sandwiches and remember to put coleslaw on there too! The one we had was fried pork belly with slaw and cilantro.

After lunch we rode a couple of rides where you shoot bad guys and get points. Then we started looking for the dragon roller coaster, and on our way to it we saw a robotic arm ride. The line was so short I didn’t have a chance to read that there were five different levels of speed on this ride. Jack and I rode together on level 2. You can never tell how he’s going to react to a ride so we just hope for the best. I was told I had to take my earrings off, which kind of surprised me, but it looked pretty fun watching the other people. We strapped in and the guy turned the machine on and I just started laughing, it was so funny. That arm just picked us up and shook us around and around, oh my goodness I could have done that a few more times! Jack, on the other hand, was fussing the whole time. He kept calling my name and saying we’re finished we’re finished! I reached over to try to push his head back; the worst part of the ride was having your head banged around, but we were both in harnesses that came over our shoulders and down over our bellies which made it hard for me to reach his head, and yet I still laughed the whole time! TJ and Max rode it on a level 5 and I got a little video of that. After that we went through it again and Max rode by himself on level 1 and TJ and I rode on level 5. I much preferred level 2 just because of the head knocking around business.

The whole ride was 3 robotic arms reaching up from the ground, all set in a pool of water. When Jack and I were on it the first time I saw someone’s cell phone in water. When Tj and I rode it I asked the ride operator why the phone was still there. She said it was dropped this morning and they were only allowed to stop the ride and go into the water for certain things like medication and keys. Not phones. Doh!

We rode a couple more roller coasters after that, they were fine, just nothing exciting to talk about. About 4:30 we started heading back to the front because the whole place closes at 5. Right at the entrance was a minifigure shop so we let Max go in and look around and then bought him 3 mini figures. When we got back to the truck we searched around for a place to eat for a bit. I said that BBQ was kind of calling to me and found a place that had more than a thousand reviews, so we went there. I needed to parallel park on the passenger side, and the traffic was somewhat low so I set about about doing that, but I quickly realized it wasn’t working out. I asked TJ to help me, and the second time he told me when to cut the wheel. I was lining up properly, just not lining up properly for my first turn. I forgot that I needed to be about even with the back of the front car before turning. My second time I got us all in perfectly! And that was even with realizing at the beginning of the second time that there was somebody sitting in the car ahead of me waiting to pull out…it was a cop!! I kept my cool though and parked and we went to the restaurant. At first Tj said I hope it’s not that restaurant across the street because that looks too much like a bar and I don’t feel good about taking the kids in there. Haha! That was it of course. When we got closer though it looked fine. And that was a good thing cuz it turned out to have awesome BBQ! He read about the dirty fries on the way there so we got that for the appetizer. That consisted of wonderful french fries, macaroni and cheese sauce, pulled pork and jalapenos on top. The boys and I split the barbecue sampler which came with brisket, sausage which was heavenly, and ribs which were also pretty good. TJ got a brisket plate that was awesome. We brought back enough food to probably feed us again.

On our way home there was a semi pulling two trailers in our lane ahead of us by a few car lengths. I noticed it weaving left and right left and right in an alarming manner. I backed off a little bit and then zoomed around it. Fewf!

One funny thing I noticed about CA but haven’t thought to mention till now is how surprising to me it is to see oil derricks right in the middle of the city. I had this notion that CA was a mecca for people who were supremely earth conscious, and that it would just be clean and wonderful living here. I’ve been here before, but it’s been several years. I don’t know what I was thinking, no one area/state is ever fully homogenized. But I was surprised at the congestion (both in traffic and in tons of houses all crammed together on a hillside…like a neater version of Mexico) and oil derricks in this state.

27 April Thursday

We got up and worked on our second to last day of school! Woohoo! Around 2 or 3pm I asked TJ if we were going to the beach what time should we go. He said right now, so we wrapped up school, got our chairs and left.

We didn’t stay too long at the beach. It was colder than the other times I’ve been and TJ didn’t bring a jacket. We headed back to the bus and started packing up the outside stuff a little bit while Jack took a shower and got ready for tonight. We left at 5 for the pirate show. There were hour durves, they were probably all frozen prepared kids foods, but they were good. There were fried mozzarella sticks which were my favorite, fried macaroni and cheese bites which were TJ’s favorite, salami and cheese on french bread, ham and cheese on french bread, BBQ meatball on french bread, and we also went and got a plate of veggies with ranch dip. TJ got us all drinks and we sat at a little table and ate and laughed and talked until the the pre-show show started. Max and another boy his age walked around and played a bit, and then we had the pre-show.

After that we were all ushered into the dining area and got front row seats there. It was a good show, but again not quite as much fun as Dixie Stampede I guess. It did have my favorite part of all three of those types of shows though. I love it when the people dance with the huge strips of fabric hanging from the ceiling, they roll themselves up in it twisting the fabric around their bodies and then unroll quickly toward the earth. I just think it’s amazing what humans can do when they work that hard. It’s amazing to me to see the muscles and the poise that comes from years of training. I know I could do that with my body if I just worked that hard, but I have very little interest in sacrificing that much!

28 April Friday

Max has 5 reviews, and 5 finals today and he needs to finish his autobiography. I think he has about a hundred words left to write and then to refine his autobiography. I hope this is his last day of school, but with the craziness that travel brings I won’t be surprised if he needs to do some of his work tomorrow.

I had kind of an epiphany yesterday as our whole family was on a walk by the base. We were talking about Jack wetting his pants and I said something about if it was like math where I knew he just didn’t understand it that would be one thing, and it made me think that maybe it is like math, maybe he just doesn’t have the capability to not pee his pants. He hasn’t had an accident in years that made a puddle on the floor, but he often has accidents that leave a significant visible spot on his pants. I think I want to stop punishing him for wetting his pants, just reiterate how sad his dad and I are when he does that.

Its 2:40 and we’re about 40 minutes away from our stopping point today. Max has taken 3 reviews and 3 final exams. He’s made an A on all finals so far: Bible, language arts and science. We decided to let him go watch TV with Jack for the rest of our ride and then he can take his other two finals tomorrow on our way up to San Francisco.

We checked in and pulled into our spot. We unhooked the truck, leveled the bus quickly, hooked up the water and electricity, turned the a/c’s on and hit the road. We drove a little over an hour to the San Andres Fault. There was a woman there from a geology museum that I talked to a bit and then we walked around a bit and took some pictures. There wasn’t much to see…I was surprised that it was a creek at this time, but it’s cool to think we walked from one tectonic plate to the other. That may not be the only time we’ve done that, but it was the only time I knew it when I did it!

On the way there I had Max bring his laptop and work on his final project…his autobiography turned story of our trip. He turned it in and now only has Math and History review/final. For real. I probably already said he was almost finished but I’d forgotten about this 700 word autobiography he had to do.

Tj and I looked on Yelp for places to eat. There was a cafe there at the tiny town at the fault I kinda wanted to try, but Tj wasn’t hungry and we had no internet connection to see if they had any reviews. Of course when we got back to the bus he had to tell me they had a good rating. We finally settled on going back to the bus. While the boys set up camp I reheated our leftover french fries/rosemary potatoes, put cheese on the top, put an egg on top of that for the boys, and heated up bbq pulled pork and ribs to also put on the top of mine and Tj’s. We watched The Force Awakens while we ate supper and finished off the cake. I really don’t know how good that cake was, but the icing was amazing!!

29 April Saturday

Well, we knew we would be a little late, but the bed fiasco meant we pulled out at 10:40. I awoke at 7:30 with the alarm. Actually I was awake before that…we slept with the windows open again (like we have almost every night since Tucson), and the light from the bathroom skylight/fan shone like a flashlight in my eyes. Tj woke up about 7:45 when Jay/Karit was fb messaging me about meeting up tomorrow. How does fb messager override the DND setting on my phone? This is the dumbest DND setup I’ve ever heard of. I was so excited that I got a tangible button on the side of my phone to mute it, but it bugs me to no end that the in-app alert on Textra alarms even with DND set. And now this one. Oh well. Technology isn’t perfect, but so much of it is really nice to have.

Back to getting ready to go. We decided to all shower this morning since we won’t be hooked up to sewer these next two days. Also, Tj wanted to flush the back black in case we had a blockage. So maybe we should’ve gotten up earlier? Nah. We got almost everything done, truck all hooked up and everything, and then the bed.

We’ve had troubles with it since that Florida trip the first year, but at least we’ve been able to get it up and down. These last few times I’ve pushed up on the right side as we’re putting it up to help it along, and we thought all was fine. But this morning the left side would go up a couple of revolutions and then stop! I tried pushing up on that side and couldn’t get it to budge. Then I pushed the button and Tj pushed up on that side and it worked fine, but then the right side wouldn’t go up enough to put the pin in. Ugh. We stayed calm and tried a few other things…I even suggested having Max come in and press the button while both Tj and I pushed up on the bed…but before we resorted to that we got it up. I think we shouldn’t put the bed down until we get to our next long stop in about 2 weeks, but Tj thinks we’re good to go again…that it got off track but now we know how to keep it on track. I guess we’ll see!

We stopped at about 1 o’clock to gas up the bus. There was a Wendy’s connected to the gas station so we had lunch there. TJ turned the Honda off, so we had to redo the tow vehicle/three minute deal before we left. After we checked the lights and I was heading back into the bus the car alarm went off in the tow vehicle! Later we figured out that it was the panic button on the other set of keys in TJ’s pocket that must have set it off. Fortunately that was our only excitement at the gas station. We got back on the road and I texted Jay a little bit about where we’re going to meet tomorrow.

I’m having fun. Tj tells me I’m playing Sigourney Weaver’s part in Galaxy Quest. I’m repeating everything Google says to him about how to get where we’re going today. And I just stuck my whole body out of the bus to adjust the side mirror that just got whacked by a tree. Good Times!

For supper I made a dish similar to a Pioneer Woman dish: I cooked a pound of turkey, added some black beans and other stuff, and added in some tortillas that I had laid on a burner to toast a little bit. I just ripped those up and put them in. It was good, but I think next time I need to over season the meat so that when we add lettuce and Greek yogurt etc you’ll still get that good flavor. I think I’m not going to buy anymore Cotija cheese either, because it doesn’t have a lot of flavor itself. Cheddar would have been better than that. And next time I’ll use 8 tortillas to a pound of ground beef.

Friday, April 21st, 2017

15 April Saturday

Last weekend Max found some kids to play with at the playground: Caroline, Avery, Hudson and Ethan.

Today he made a sign on our big whiteboard that said “Come play with my Legos” and Kaden, Gavin and Noah came to play. They were all closer to Jack’s age, and they rode their bikes a lot with Jack and played Legos with Max. It was awesome! I talked to their mom and dad, and they said after they went to the beach they’d have smores and we could come over for that. Wonderful! I offered to make some popcorn to share.

After it got dark they said the boys were showering. Then we saw them start a fire. I made the boys supper and then made Max clean up all his Legos while we waited for them to come get us. We waited and waited. Later we could see someone else sitting at their fire. I finally figured that they had changed their minds…it seemed so awkward…Max really wanted to go over there, but I didn’t feel right about us just bringing over our chairs, we needed to wait till they came and got us. Finally we gave up and I sent Jack to shower and get in his pj’s. When he was out and drying off one of the boys came and got us! We had such a good time out there chatting and eating. I’m glad we waited them out! But boy were my boys tired when we got back home!

16 April Sunday

I did some research and found Cerritos Baptist Church to go to this morning. I figured the boys would both sit in service with me, but when we got there a lady asked what ages/grades the boys were, and said there was an Easter egg hunt…so I sent both boys into the 5th grade class so Max could keep an eye on Jack. Afterwards Max said he really liked this church and wants to go back next week…I’m not sure if it was the church or just the egg hunt that he really liked.

I enjoyed the service. There was a group of about 6 women who Hula danced to the special songs….that was new to me, but enjoyable. It didn’t seem hokey or put on. I wouldn’t have chose that type of worship if I’d had my choice, but I’m surprised at how much I liked it. I love the broadening of horizons that’s happening on this road trip for all of us!!

I saw a grocery store on the way to church, so we stopped for some bread on the way back. Apparently H Mart is a Korean grocery store! I love looking at new foods…and love tasting them more! This store had tons of free samples so we tried Korean pears, chips, ginger/honey tea, etc! Again, I bought way too many foods, but they didn’t have the french bread that I came in for! Heh.

A strange thing has happened to me lately…it’s been fairly easy to deny myself extra food. I’ve always loved to eat. The taste of food is so wonderful! I’ve known for many years how to lose weight, and at times I’ve done really well with my weight. These last few years I’ve kept my weight at a reasonable place all year, but from Thanksgiving till my birthday I’ve let myself eat whatever I wanted. Lately I’ve been thinking I should eat whatever I want, just a smaller amount. But that’s sooooo hard!! Amazingly these last 2 or 3 days it’s been much easier to just stop eating! I’m so thankful, but I don’t know why it’s changed. I’ve not been so tempted. I’ve stopped eating between meals, and stopped nibbling while I am making the boys’ meals. I hope I can keep this up long term. I’m making sure that everything I eat is something I really want to eat, and I remind myself I’m not eating till I’m full, but until I’m not hungry. Hopefully I can make this a habit that sticks…but with our traveling and with the other people I live with it will be tough.

During lunch I boiled some eggs to dye, then took a nap with Jack. After we awoke we dyed them together.

Max put up a new board with all the stuff he likes…the actual wording was: Come play with me! I have Legos and I like Undertale, Minecraft, role playing, Lost, Dr. Who, Pokemon, Scratch. I’m a Christian, my name is Max. This cracks me up! I’m so proud of him. Later that day out of the blue he told me he’d met a lady named Lynn. I’d allowed him to take Jack to the laundry room to look at magazines (they have a large stack of free ones there) and she was in there. She asked if he was homeschooled and when he said yes she said his mom was so smart to not put him in PS. Ha! She asked if he was a Christian and he said yes. I asked if that’s why he put that on his sign and he said no. He put it on there because he didn’t want people to talk to him about evolution and other stuff like that! Great. So he’s not trying to be a witness, just trying to shut people up. Huh, may have to work on that. 🙂

17 April Monday

I had 5 phone calls to make, and got them all done before lunch! I made reservations for all the camping places, and also for the pirate show we’re going to see next week.

After school Jack and I went to ITT to buy the pirate tickets and also tickets to Legoland for next week. Before I left I actually meal planned for the week so we also went to the grocery store. I allowed Max to go outside after he finished school, but before I got back. This is major first. I feel a little safer because we’re on a base, and the store I was going to was a 5 minute drive off base. I’ll have to talk to Tj to see what he thinks. I told Max to text me when he went outside so I could keep tabs on him.

Later that afternoon there were 3 other kids here playing with Max! His sign worked wonders! Awesome! He misses his friends from Cabot a good bit, so I’m always happy for him to have other people to play with. After a while I heard the girl (Shae) asking someone (Blaze) to leave. When all the kids left to ride their bikes I asked Max what happened. He said he’d asked Shae to ask Blaze to leave because Blaze was throwing Legos around, and tearing up other people’s builds. He said he realized he shouldn’t have asked Shae to do that, but he really didn’t want to do it himself. I said did he see now how easily it was done; she was respectful when she asked him and he left after she asked him twice. I told him he should come to me next time, and then asked if he’d thanked Shae and he said he had. I really like Shae and her brother Zach, they’ve been here a lot today playing with both Max and Jack.

Our neighbor came over and asked if we could use a chicken breast and 3 sweet potatoes they were going to cook on their grill…and said if we ever wanted to throw something on their grill when they were using it they usually had room. How nice! And I’ve eaten my first sweet potato with salt on it…it was good! A few days ago I had savory sweet potatoes for the first time and loved them. I roasted them with s/p and thyme. We’ll be having that more often for sure.

I just heard Jack in the bathroom reciting to himself
Tree…storage
Ironing board…storage
Black ball…storage
Other home…storage
This life is awesome, but we do miss some things.

I folded Max’s clothes today. His two cabinets he has for clothes are pretty small and awkward. I kept having to refold his clothes, and I hate doing that! I quickly told him that I wouldn’t fold his clothes anymore if he wasn’t gonna keep them folded in the cabinets, so we’ve been just shoving his clothes in there. He’s fed up with it now, so I rolled all his shirts and folded his pants/shorts. We’ll see how long this lasts.

18 April Tuesday

Jack has been doing wonderful in math! I started him back on addition last week, and he’s asked to do the addition page again today.

After school we drove down to the private beach here on the base. I was told just drive down this road and if you don’t see a big ship you’re okay to go out to the beach. I drove down the road, stopped at the checkpoint where there wasn’t a person in the booth, and found some visitor parking, but I didn’t see a beach. We went into a couple of empty buildings to see if anyone was around to ask, and finally headed back to the truck. Before I got in the truck I saw an older couple driving past so I flagged them down and ask them about the beach. I just needed to follow the road, go right at the stop sign, and follow the road around a curve to the beach. It was pretty awesome to have a small little beach all to ourselves. The sand was warm which was unusual because the sand in San Diego had been cold the whole time. The beach was calmer because it was kind of a small inlet. There were rocks around the beach that help calm the waves. We stayed there for an hour and a half; I talked to Tj most of the time. He was driving out to Cabot to see John and John Paul and to have a burger and fries at David’s! Boy am I jealous! We came back home after that and the boys played with their friends for a long time while I made sausages with onions and bell peppers for supper.

19 April Wednesday

Monarch hasn’t been working well today, so we’ve been having lots of breaks. That’s more frustrating on the 8th to the last day of school than it would be on the 8th day of school. Even with all the stops and starts Max got all his school done.

I made a little fruit salad today to take to our neighbor who had brought us the chicken and sweet potatoes. The other day at H-Mart I bought us a fresh coconut with a straw for a treat, so today I used the last of the fresh coconut that I scooped out from it in the salad. I didn’t make it as sweet as I normally like it because she said she wasn’t really a sweets person. I also spent all morning reading the comments to the chocolate cake recipe that I’m planning on making next week. It’s making me so hungry for some of that!

In school I told Jack to get out four different colors. He got out blue, yellow, red, and yellow. I told him two of the colors were the same and asked him which ones they were. He pointed to the blue and yellow ones. I said what color is this one? He said blue. I said what color is this one? He said yellow. I said they’re not the same color, one is blue and one is yellow. Two of these colors are the same. Which ones are the same? He pointed to the red and the yellow. This went on for a few minutes before I finally switched the colors so that the two yellows were together. Then he could identify the same colors. Wow.

20 April Thursday

Just another regular day. It was nice. We did school (7 days left!) without incident. Monarch is back on track. I washed Jack’s comforter in the laundromat…the washer was big enough and laundry is free here. Jack and I put a blanket outside and read his book picnic-style. After a while an older dude came by and while he and I were chatting the boys got into a fight! Max had been burning stuff with a magnifying glass, and Jack wanted the glass. I don’t think we should ever let him have that one now or he may set our bus on fire! I hate it when my kids have a knock-down drag-out fight, especially in front of other people!

For supper I made thyme potatoes and spam sandwiches. The spam was good! Admittedly it was the kind with bacon in it, but we all liked it.

Tuesday, April 18th, 2017

We played Sequence For Kids the other day, and when I gave Jack his cards he held his hand with all the cards facing out. He played a few rounds like that before I fixed them.

He had the word gorilla in Gemiini this week…he often pronounces it “gorillilla”, which is super cute!

28 March Tuesday

I cut my hair by myself! I’ve been working up to this for a few days/weeks…psyching myself up, watching a ton of youtube videos. So since I’d prepared so thoroughly and decided that I should wait till Tj was around in case I needed some help, I did it on the spur of the moment just after he’d left for work, and during school time. Heh. It turned out pretty good, though. I tied a rubber band around my dirty, dry hair at the nape of my neck. I made sure it was straight both left to right and front to back, and then hacked away. It took a long time to get it cut through! I tied a bag around my neck with a big opening at the back to catch most of the hair.

When I was finished it looked good! It was longer than I wanted, and a tiny bit longer on one side, but I was more confident; the next time I cut my hair it’ll be even better.

I made an awesome salad for lunch with avocado, tomatoes and cilantro and we ate that over lettuce.

We went to the beach from 3:30-5:30. By the time we leave here I’ll be a lot more comfortable with parallel parking as well!

On the way back home we saw the truck that sits atop the concrete barrier on the bridge and moves it to change the number of incoming/outgoing lanes! I didn’t even know there were such trucks.

We went to Big Thyme for supper. I’d searched online for a Reuben sandwich, and this one was fine, but I wouldn’t go back. Now I want a really good one! The boys shared a good turkey, bacon, avo sandwich. While it was being made the boys played Mario Cart, and after eating the owner played it against Max. He told me that he wasn’t gonna let Max win everything like I do, he was gonna show him that you don’t always get your way. This made me chuckle since he’d already talked about how polite my boys were and said that his kids would just yell at him and demand what they wanted instead of asking. Yeah, I see how he shows his kids the way the world works.

We went home then and Jack jumped outside on the trampoline while Max showered. Then Max role played with his friend from Christmas Island while Jack got ready for bed.

I talked to Mom this morning and Papa is doing so well now. She said he’d spent the last 5 months in the bed, and it had been 6 months since he’d driven! I’m so grateful he’s getting more independent now.

29 March Wednesday

Around 10 Johnny asked me to come to finalize the paperwork to get a new stereo in the truck! While there I walked over to an ATM to withdraw the first payment. After I walked inside the bank, and the out to the drive-thru ATM and got the money, I walked the other way around the bank back to Johnny’s shop and saw the walk-up ATM. Heh. Oh well. I’m so excited about this stereo! And worried. And hopeful/excited!

We finished up school when I got back, and went to the beach again before supper. Before we went to bed we cleaned out all the stuff from the truck so I could drop it off tomorrow morning.

30 March Thursday

Johnny told me to drive the truck there at 10. I double checked that he didn’t want me to call first and he said no. Of course when I got there he told me he was the only one there and couldn’t leave the shop…he called his other guy and it would be about an hour before he got there. So why didn’t he call me 15 minutes ago and​ tell me this? Whatever.

I went to Sally Beauty to get some thinning shears for my next haircut attempt. On the way back home just as I’d passed his shop Johnny called to say his guy was there. I made a u-turn and picked Johnny up so he could drive my truck to his shop after dropping Jack and me off at home. Now we’re stranded, but I’m a hermit so it’s no biggie.

31 March Friday

At noon I got the truck!!! The pockets Johnny had weren’t the right size for the truck, so we still have components that don’t work there. Now the hard part…learning how to use this monster!

After Max finished school we cleaned the truck thoroughly. I’m sad we let the leather on the front seats crack so badly!

When Tj was available we texted back and forth about the stereo. He told me to call Johnny to fix the USB…apparently Johnny didn’t follow Tj’s directions about which cable we need since I have an android, not an iPhone. I went to his shop around 4 and instead of changing the cable out, he just installed 2 more! Although my phone connects to the stereo by Bluetooth for music, I have to plug it in to display the GPS. I sat in the truck trying to display it after Johnny added the cables. After a few minutes Johnny came out and got in my truck. I told him what I was trying to do and he seemed apologetic, but said that he didn’t think it would work like we thought. He seemed to think we’d have to order another part to ever display GPS. He went inside to his computer to research it a bit and I called Tj. He said he’d specifically picked this stereo for this, and we just had to work it out. It only took about another minute or two before we got it! I ran inside to tell Johnny and he was relieved.

I programmed Walmart into the GPS and off we went. I saw Aldi on the way and stopped there and bought way to many great looking foods. We went to Walmart next to get the things Aldi didn’t have, but on the way there the phone just disconnected from the stereo!!! Ugh!!! I reset it again, but missed a few turns again when it disconnected once more. I can’t wait till Tj comes home and helps me out of this fix!

I wanted to grocery shop since we were already out, and I’d planned on having ice cream for supper the day I got the stereo, so we finally made it into Walmart. I just found a recipe for a Reuben casserole and I need meat and cheese for it. Ugh!!! This Walmart doesn’t have a deli counter!!! Stupid. I’ll have to stop at Von’s on the way home for the corned beef/pastrami.

I found a gas station on the way home since my gas light came on. Gassing up in CA is annoying…I looked for the cheapest place I could find, and didn’t see the note above the pump that they only take debit cards. That took a few minutes and a trip inside. Then the pump didn’t start, so I asked another customer for help…but he had no idea either. I started over and it finally worked, but there’s no lock for the gas pump, and I swear those pumps are tight! They’re much harder to squeeze than pumps in other states.

We finally made it home and I was the best mom ever for having ice cream for supper.

1 April Saturday
I made the boys chocolate chip pancakes for the second time, got them all settled in, and then cut my hair again. This time I used 2 barrettes to get my hair in about the same place as the last time, but more evenly spread across. With the rubber band cut the front of my hair was longer and angled down along my chin. It was good, but it didn’t look different from the front than before the cut. This time it was more a straight-line bob.

Jack and I went to pick TJ up at the airport around 5:15pm. We got to watch his plane land! I let Jack stand up on the console with his head out of the sunroof and he loved it! I told TJ before I went to get him that I had 2 errands to run, so we went to Home Depot and got a board cut to use as our door lock. Then TJ was hungry so we looked around for a restaurant. I said fried chicken was calling to me since I didn’t have my chicken craving filled the last time we had hot wings. He found the Streetcar Merchants of Fried Chicken and we placed an order for that sitting in the parking lot. It said it would be ready in 40 minutes! We drove to closer to where it was and then looked around for a grocery store for my second errand.

After I got what I needed we went and parked a block away from the restaurant and TJ and Jack walked down the street to get our food. We got back home pretty late and ate, and it was really good! I bought this monster chicken sandwich; I had to take half of the chicken off just so I could fit it in my mouth! There was a fried egg on it, coleslaw, fried chicken, and fried chicken skin! That chicken skin was awesome. I do have to say it didn’t have much flavor/seaaoning, so I dipped it in some buffalo chicken sauce we had here and it was amazing! We ate as much as we could, wrapped up the rest for later, and all got in the bed. TJ was wiped out.

2 April Sunday

We had a really lazy day today. I finally got TJ out of bed at 10:45. I made Reuben casserole, and everybody liked it. I thought it was okay, TJ says it would have been better if I put more Thousand Island on it before baking it. We will definitely eat that a lot more.

I bought a basil plant Friday night, and Saturday morning it was starting to wilt. By this morning it was ridiculously practically dead. I finally talked TJ into going to the store with me to exchange it, and he also wanted to check out the gas station situation for the bus. We left Jack and made a date of it. We also bought a whole lot more fun food than we should have. I was glad that they let me exchange that plant with no problem, and though I explicitly followed the directions with the new one it still wilted by the next morning. I guess that’s just the way it goes.

I made bruschetta for supper and it was heavenly! I forgot to buy garlic to rub on the bread, but it was awesome with just some minced garlic thrown in with the tomatoes.

3 April Monday

We got up on time and started school. There are only 19 more days of school left! I want to get this finished!

We planned to go to the beach today, so after we finished school, ate lunch, and took a nap we asked Jack if he wanted to go to the beach. He said no! I never expected that in a hundred years. We asked him again and one more time again, and he kept saying no! So we didn’t go to the beach. We walked down to the entrance and played at the playground there. We met a family with twin 4 year old boys. One of the boys played with Jack a lot, he and Jack seemed about the same mental age. He wanted to play hide-and-seek so Jack went to hide: he stood on top of a rock at the other end of the playground. Heh.

The other boy has autism, the mom told me later, and has a vocabulary of four words now. I have often been grateful that Max came before Jack. I know I was a lot more relaxed about Jack because of having had Max whose development was so typical. I would have been so super stressed if Jack had been my first child. And I know Jack benefits from having Max to watch and emulate. He absolutely wants to do everything that Max does now. It’s pretty sweet to see. But how funny to have twin boys that are so different. Either way, life is one big learning experience the whole time I think.

While we visited and the boys played together TJ and Max went around and did all the exercise stations that were there at the park. Then we all went on a family walk and went on an overpass and watched the traffic for a little bit. The walk back to the bus was a small dirt path between high grass on either side. It reminded me so much of all the summers in the pasture across the street from my house, bringing a book and reading out there, playing in the pine trees Pawpaw planted years ago. Good memories. Being on that overpass also remind me of the time we were driving home after church trip, I think to Six Flags over Texas, when some kids on an overpass threw eggs down and they went through the glass of the bus and landed in my hair etc. I think Greg Swanson was driving.

TJ made 50/50 Burgers, half bacon and half filet mignon. They were super awesome, and super messy as always.

We watched 2 episodes of lost. Jack has cried twice now while we’ve watched that…we can’t watch anymore with him, poor bug. Too many people getting beat up! Until now he just hadn’t been very aware of what was going on in the show. I’ll miss the show, but it’s a good step for him!

4 April Tuesday

We checked out around noon and headed to Seal Beach. We gassed up on the way, and thankfully everything went smoothly.

After we checked in we sent the kids over to the playground and washed the bus.

5 April Wednesday

Got up at the usual time and the boys started school. We adults got ready and we all headed out to Hollywood. We saw the sign on the drive in. We went to the movies and saw Beauty and the Beast. We walked almost a mile to a little restaurant and had poutine for lunch. One original and one w pulled pork, bacon and gravy. We ordered 2 meal sized poutines and she also gave us an extra box of plain fries. There was so much food! I’m excited to take our leftovers and see if I can get them to taste almost as good as the gooey fries we had at Gordon Ramsey’s restaurant.

We had Ghirardelli ice cream for supper at 4. It was in the Disney store so we looked around a bit. We sat at the bar facing the street and watched people paying to take photos in a car…a Lamborghini if I remember. Heh. We were both disappointed with the ice cream. It was fine, but no better than Blue Bunny. I don’t think I’ll be tempted by them again.

We headed home and dropped the boys off at the playground while we went for a walk. The boys had pb sandwiches and Tj had garlic naan with cheddar for second supper.

6 April Thursday

We did school, had meats and cheese for lunch, and then went to Medieval Times. It was good, but not as good as Dixie Stampede. The same sorts of things went on…mostly skill with horses, but I think there was more story here to follow, which is hard…it was hard to hear/understand the storyline. With Dixie Stampede it was more skill, a person balancing on two horses, etc. One thing I think we haven’t seen with Dixie Stampede was this place had a trained falcon flying around at one point.

We went to cold stone creamery, then to WM for a clasp for my bracelet and a few groceries. We got home around 9:15pm.

7 April Friday

My new phone came in!! Tj plugged it in to charge and we headed out to the La Brea Tar Pits. That was a fun place…so funny and interesting to see tar bubbling up right there in downtown LA! It was cool looking in the ‘fishbowl’ at the scientists sorting through bones they’re still finding in the pits. We watched a 3D show about evolution/tar, and walked around a bit till we were ready to go.

Then we headed to In and Out Burger for some plane watching. I’d read about it on FTF…we ate at the outside tables at the restaurant and then took a picnic blanket across the street to a little green space and watched planes land next door at the airport. They were so low!! I got a great picture of one right overhead.

8 April Saturday

Since we skipped school yesterday we did it today. Max made a C on his math which isn’t the best, but he was acting like it was the end of the world. We started going through the problems and lo and behold he confessed to having been using the calculator! Since Christmas!!! I remember him asking me if he could use one and I said no, so this was a really big deal. Tj and I discussed what to do while he went back to work.

Last night Tj found us a Korean place for lunch today. We went there and I signed the page on the clipboard to keep our place in line. We’d decided to order a meal for 3 since Yelp reviews said there was way too much food. At the end Tj decided to also get bimbimap…and the reviews were spot on. We walked out with enough food to feed us all again. I loved the variety…that’s usually my favorite thing to do…have a little bit of a lot of foods. The octopus was my favorite, along with the vinegar sauce they gave us to dip the beef in.

We headed home and got Tj ready to leave in the morning. The light over the sink has gone out again so I asked if he would fix it before he left. He looked online to find a replacement and there was an RV place close by with the part…and also lots of RVs to look at!!! We’d love to get something a little better suited to the fulltime life, so we spent way too much time looking at new RVs.

After that, surprise! Tj found us another ice cream place! We went to the beach part of town and had some wonderful ice cream for supper.

When we got back home and the boys were getting ready for bed I started heating up the poutine for their supper. When TJ went outside to dump so he’d be ready to shower in the morning he saw that we had hit the bollard with the slide out! How could we not have seen that??!!?? We debated over what to do…it was barely touching our slide-out…and we were cranky…we needed sleep! Tj had to get up super early in the morning so we really needed to go to bed, but he couldn’t leave us with this mess. In the end we moved the bus about a foot forward…but that meant pulling in all the slides and supports. We didn’t unhook anything so I stayed outside making sure nothing got run over. Fun.

9 April Sunday

We left about 4:30am to bring Tj to work. He’d found Randy’s doughnuts and put it on our big bus trip map, and since it was pretty close to the airport I ran over to get some after we dropped him off. I was really low on gas again so I found a place to fill up nearby. I’m using my phone on my dash again until we get a new cable…we found what worked for my old phone, but my new phone uses a USB-C cable so here we go again. I was worried about filling up in this area since it was still dark out, but we got it done and headed home.

We got home and amazingly Jack fell asleep! Of course he only slept about 10 mins, but it’s obvious he needs to catch up on his sleep after these few days of sightseeing.

When we all got up and the boys had breakfast Max started working on school again and Jack and I headed out to Goodwill. Max’s school will take a bit longer now…he has to do all his math by hand in his notebook and then enter it into the computer. The bad thing is that means I have to review all the math he does, but that’s the way it goes sometimes.

I may have lost my Goodwill mojo, or it may just be that I can’t buy much since we live in such a tiny place. Oh well. We had lunch and then took a nap. Lovely. After supper we watched What’s in the Bible for Church. We decided we’ll watch it all the way through from the beginning to the end, and of course next week is Easter. Heh.

10 April Monday

I called around looking for a dentist on Wednesday or Thursday of last week. It only took the second call to find someone who had openings for me and the boys! I was able to make an appointment for Jack for today, and Max and I have appointments on the 27th. When I’m there with Jack today I’ll ask if there is any way we can move that time up. That’s during the time that TJ is home, and I prefer to get this done when he’s not here.

The dentist’s office is beautiful, lots of large windows. They say on a clear day you can see the Hollywood sign, and of course it’s hazy today. All the technicians and dentists are super nice and they’re now all in love with Jack. The dentist asked if she could take him home 🙂 She got x-rays done, and his teeth cleaned and flossed. I’m going to start flossing his teeth a couple times a week. I need to get him and Max in a habit of flossing. When I was checking out I mentioned to the receptionist that Max and I were hoping to move our appointments up, and she has two appointments for tomorrow morning! I’m so thankful we’ll get this taken care of now.

11 April Tuesday

Max and I went to the dentist this morning, and both had pretty good checkups. I have five not quite cavities, but will become cavities sooner if I don’t do something about it now.

I’m teaching Jack to floss tonight and I tell him take your flosser and go stand in front of the mirror please. He goes into the dark bathroom, doesn’t turn the light on, and starts flossing in front of the mirror that’s too tall for him to see himself in. After a full minute I went in there and told him he had to find a mirror where he could actually see himself.

Also tonight as he was showering he was in there so long I finally went and checked on him. It’s a good thing I did; he was sitting in water that was about half an inch from the rim of the shower stall. I can’t wait till he can tell me that we need to dump, or any other common sense thing.

12 April Wednesday

I’m still not taking flonase! I really wonder how much longer this can last, it’s probably been about a month and a half since I stopped.

I thought today would be a stay-at-home day, but I needed to go get our packages. The USPS doesn’t deliver here on base so that was my first stop, to pick up my phone case and screen protectors. I hate using my phone without a case! Not only do I worry about getting scratches on it (which affects resale value), but I press all the buttons all the time! Then I had to drive out to Compton to get our other packages. On the way home we stopped at Goodwill and I blatantly used Jack to make my way into Goodwill bathroom. After that we hit up the Walmart for groceries and Easter goodies.

TJ got his schedule today so we started planning our route up through San Francisco to see some redwoods and then out of California. Planning is so tricky, I’m grateful that TJ generally does all of that!

I think my new cord works; I hope and pray it does. It got me all the way to Goodwill, then to Walmart, then home. I’m still working all the bugs out…it really is just figuring out how it all works. Thank goodness though that I can actually see the screen. The first several days of using it the screen was dark enough that I couldn’t wear my sunglasses and see the screen. I think we figured out that I have to keep my headlights off in order for the screen to be bright enough to see. That’s a small price to pay for such a nice convenience.

I saw a list like this on FTF and thought I’d give my take. The benefits of staying in a spot for a month:
Easier on the budget; usually a two week stay costs about the same as a month long stay. Lower fuel costs than if you travel weekly.
Settled feeling that doesn’t come when you move every couple of weeks.
More of a comfort level with the roads, stores, and communities.
Longer window of time for mail and packages to catch up to you.
Disadvantages: don’t cover as much ground; but have the opportunity to go deeper with exploring.
Sometimes being familiar quickly turns to boring depending on location and perception.

13 April Thursday

Jack says Han Sulu instead of Han Solo.

We stayed home all day!! I love that. There’s no school tomorrow for Good Friday, so Max and I had to get all his work caught up. After today he has only 10 days left!!! Hallelujah!

14 April Friday

Jack just fell out of bed at midnight! I was still up watching Mr. Robot. I’m staying up tonight out of rebellion…since we’re in such a tight place with no outdoors where Jack doesn’t need lots of supervision I don’t ever watch my TV shows during the day.

When I told Max I was going to make him a milk jug Easter basket like Monmom used to make us, he said there were milk jugs when your grandmother was alive?