Bandaids in Boston

Bandaids in Boston

Before we made it to the Appalachian Trail this summer we went to Boston – just me and Billy and James. It was a crazy few days leading up to it.

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The boys left for Boston a day early. After we saw them off at the airport that afternoon, I tossed five kids into the Black Pearl (our Odyssey), dropped the toddler off at the sitter’s and DROVE the other kids FIVE HUNDRED MILES to Missouri to leave them at summer camp. I made the ‘brilliant’ – and by brilliant I mean ‘asinine’ – decision to stop in Nashville and take the kids to the movies. Afterwards, I drove as long as I could but ended up having to pull into a hotel in the middle of nowhere at two am. Have you tried to carry four sleeping children up to a hotel room at two am with no help? Even the logistics of it…do I leave them in the car while I check in? Should I just wake them up now? Will they have a room big enough for us? Why do we feel the need to send them to camp in Missouri? It was a total mess. The good news is this kind of stupidity is usually when I’m at my best.

The next morning we got back in the car (have I mentioned it was a nine hour drive) so we could make it to camp drop off in time. One child at one camp and three forty five minutes away in the other. Kids are tired and nervous and I’m worried because unless things go perfectly I’ll miss my flight out of Missouri (the last one of the night) to Boston to join the boys. In the end, I BARELY made my flight. But I made it! And they all went to camp. And they all had a great time. And, of course, it was another late night. By the time my Uber got to the hotel in Boston it was one thirty in the morning.

The next morning we went to the park made famous by Make Way for Ducklings. Sheesh…look at me. I look terrible. That was not a happy camper. I mean, I was happy to be with my boys but things were really hard at home with the Waffles  – foster care can be relentlessly isolating and I was feeling…oh, I don’t know…defeated? Which is weird for me because I’m usually a really upbeat person. And I was just tired. TIRED TIRED.

img_0830Oh, well…Mom stays in the picture and all that. 

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Boston was lovely. We took the Revolutionary War Self Guided Walking tour – just used the App – it was great.
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Visited the Boston Tea Party Museum.

And, of course, ate a lot.

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I even went to a baseball game! Even though, we all know, baseball is just the worst.

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Sadly this gigantic milk bottle did not serve creamy dairy treats. Just boring snack food.

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One of the coolest things we did in Boston was go to the flagship Converse store. You could design your own shoe in the store and even get them with the red stripe on the sole. There is a red stripe in Boston on the sidewalks that leads you to all the prominent revolutionary way sights. Just a fun thing to do with a teenager.

After a couple days in Boston we took the train to Maine. Trains are great. Wish we could travel on them more often. Yes, yes, I know what I said about the train to New Orleans. Let’s not talk about that – like, ever again.

Were things easier when I got home? Nope. I mean, they are now but the first year we had the new kids? Wow. I knew it would be hard and it certainly met and, hey, even exceeded my expectations.

But Boston and Maine sure were fun. Travel can be a bit of a bandaid, can’t it – provides a cushion for the blistery parts of life, right? Hmm, in that case, bring on the band-aids!

Longing for Summer

Longing for Summer

Mother of Pearl.  I’ll tell you one thing this ridiculously cold weather has done and that is it’s made me positively LONG for the summer. Not only is it painfully cold outside – which makes me daydream about the heat – but there is something else reminding me that Summer is coming.

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All the people heading northbound from Georgia that will try to conquer the Appalachian Trail are gearing up and talking about it on the AT Facebook groups I’m on. Heck, one lady was supposed to start this weekend before the winter storm hit! So, my Instagram feed is soon to be taken over by people posting hopeful pictures on Springer Mountain as they set forth. Hopeful if not totally realistic – only around 20% that set out to complete it actually do. The Southbounders  – those that start in Maine and work their way towards Georgia – won’t start until much later.

Not to wax too poetic…er, did I use that phrase in my last post? Oh well, it’s a free blog, you get what you pay for…Not to wax too poetic about the Appalachian Trail but I’m telling you it positively calls me. It calls me!

You know who else calls me?  These characters.

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So my thru hike dreams are on hold for a long long LONG time.

You know I’m obsessed with it because I’ve blogged about it before. 

Right now, I’m just working on the fourteen state challenge – putting my feet on the AT in all fourteen states. So far, I’ve only gotten Tennessee, North Carolina and Maine. Going to knock out Virginia this summer hopefully.

This guy is doing it with me.

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James, the eight grader. My goodness. Look at the length of his hair! This summer we – okay, for the record it was me and not Billy –  told him he could grow his hair as long as he wanted. He took us up on it. This was only midway thru the summer! He still had almost at entire month of growing to go before he had to cut it for school.

While the younger kids were at Summer Camp we went to Boston and Maine with Billy. After Billy went home we headed inland to pick up the Appalachian Trail at Abol Bridge.

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You should have seen me in that rental car trying to find the trail. ‘Well, you turn up there at the new road but it hasn’t been new for thirty years so it may not look new to you then you take a left at the big tree.‘ Really not sure how we ever found it.

Other things we found: the evidence of beaver activity…

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…and really beautiful scenery.

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Here is what we didn’t see: bears, snakes, moose, or really any kind of wildlife besides birds, fish, and black flies – which I’ll get to in a minute. Believe me – I’ll get to it. 

Because of my Appalachian Trail obsession I read all the trail memoirs I can get my hands on. I even read both the tomes those whiny barefoot sisters wrote. Seriously, they hiked barefoot.

I tried it. The earth didn’t sing.

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I’ll stick to my boots, thanks.

One of the things every single AT book I’ve read goes into detail about is the black flies in the north. I didn’t understand how black flies could possibly be that troublesome but GRACIOUS GOODNESS THEY ARE FROM THE DEVIL. We had the most idyllic AT experience ever until about four pm. Then, it was like a light switched on and these wee beasts descended upon us.

They were relentless. I’ve really never experienced anything like it. I tried to tell a few people about it and they were kind of like ‘uh, sorry the little flies bothered you.’ I guess you just can’t understand until you’ve experienced it. I am not exaggerating when I say I counted twenty seven on James at one point. TWENTY SEVEN. What began as a leisurely walk back to the car ended up as an all out sprint to get there.

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Clearly this was before the black fly invasion. Black Fly Invasion – kinda sounds like a punk rock group, huh. Except these critters were not punk at all. They were bad, BAD I TELL YOU. Even crazier when we got back to our car they followed us – I mean they flew after us for a good mile. Now, we were on dirt roads and weren’t going too fast but still!

Even with the flies what a gift our day was. Any day I get to get on the AT is an awesome day and doing it with James – who is 99% gaming and comic books most of the time – was even better.

One of these days I’m going to do it!

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“Remember that day last week when you couldn’t sleep because you didn’t have your favorite pillow?”

Shut it, kid. No one asked you. I AM going to do it.

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“Will I be joining you on this venture?”

Look, it’s a long term goal. LONG term. Like, the amount of time it felt like those black flies were following us.

Until then, eleven more states to go!

Look Kids! It’s NOT snowing!

Look Kids! It’s NOT snowing!

Well the bad news is they cancelled school and hardly a snowflake fell. I made chili anyway. I didn’t understand why everyone thought it would snow – all the national networks – i.e. the Weather Channel was saying we weren’t going to get any so I wasn’t sure what James Spann was so worked up about. Plus, as a Southerner I get a little leery when people in authority here say ‘those outsiders don’t know what they’re talking about – just listen to us.’

 I love my chili recipe. I modified it from a friend of a friends recipe – Her’s was great but way too spicy and too much trouble. I need to avoid a ‘Paula Cuts Jalapeños Without Gloves in 2013’ episode with all of my still scarred being. So NO jalapeños, like, eva.

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Here it is if you’re looking for a good (and yes it’s Paleo) Chili recipe:

4 tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, diced
4 cloves of garlic, minced – I use the stuff in the jar. You’ll never convince me it’s not the same.
2 large green peppers, diced
2 8 oz. cans pineapple tidbits – just trust me. I hate fruit but I LOVE this.
2-3 tbsp chili powder
3 tbsp onion powder
3 tbsp garlic powder
1/2 tbsp sea salt
1 tbsp fresh ground pepper
2 14 oz cans diced tomatoes
1 14 oz can tomato sauce
2 lbs ground beef

Coat bottom of large pot with olive oil. Add onion, garlic, green pepper, pineapple, and all spices. Cook until onions and peppers are tender. Add tomatoes and simmer another 15 min. While simmering, brown 2 lbs of meat in a separate pan. Drain juices and add to large pot. Add tomato sauce. Turn heat on low and simmer for about 2 hours, stirring often. Separate into small containers so you can eat it for breakfast until your husband starts saying ‘are you sure you should still be eating that?’

The girls decided to play in the bathtub for two hours yesterday afternoon which gave me time to start a new K-Drama. I’ve been watching Korean dramas for a few years now and in all that time I’ve NEVER heard them speak an English word (besides Fighting! – Which they use in the BEST way) any other way but disparagingly. Like the bad guy will say ‘get my money’ in English etc. Last night though? New words NOT used negatively! Birthday cake. That’s what they said. Aw…maybe they are thawing on the English language.

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What I’m not thawing on is letting James, the teenager, play any old Playstation game that he wants. Here’s our conversation yesterday:

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Him: “Can we go GameStop? I’ve got money and want to buy Mortal Kombat.”
Me: “Have I said yes to that game?”
Him: “Yes! Ugh, you never remember anything.”
Me: “I think you just say I’ve said yes to stuff to try to gaslight me into letting you play whatever you want.”
Him: “Mom, if I had that kind of power I’d be using it to watch Breaking Bad.”

Touchè child.

And yet, neither Breaking Bad or Watchdogs is happening. Kinda like the snow!