Friday, July 30, 2010

Creatures of Deer Lake

'You see what I see?!

The first day we were at the campground, all three of our older kids joined Microchip for a boat ride on the lake. They came back with the most exciting tale of seeing a real live beaver in the water. Evidently Emma was quite terrorized by it. She kept telling me about a 'dog in the water that was black and it was wet' and that she was 'scary'. Throughout the week we saw quite the collection of wildlife at the lake from tadpoles to a flock of Canada geese.

Mr. Skunk.

This guy passed through our camp Monday night as soon as the lantern was turned down. It was like he was just waiting for 'lights out' so he could make his rounds. He later went through Microchip and Lily's stuff that same night. I think he stopped by just about every night although it wasn't until Thursday that Sir got a picture of him.

Serious discoveries.

PC and Emma were so excited to find this guy Tuesday morning. When I asked them to point him out for the camera, PC looked like I was asking him to do a very dangerous feat. Emma, on the other hand was quite matter-of-fact about it, and very seriously obliged. So I took at close up shot for the record.

"Look, Mommy! Look!!!" - they found a slug.

Madame Butterfly

Just before lunch on Tuesday, we all headed out to 'the point' for some swim fun. There were butterflies all over the place and I finally got a picture of one when it landed on Sari whom Dolly had left guarding her shoes.


Wednesday morning PC found a caterpillar in our campsite. He wanted to take it home and for a short time the poor insect was continuously relocated about camp. Finally Sir and I told PC to let the bug go. He did, but about three minutes later I looked up to see PC and Emma fighting over something and discovered upon closer inspection that the caterpillar had ended up a casualty of war.

Stopping by for breakfast.

A raccoon stopped by our camp Thursday morning for some bread crust. This was probably the same guy Sir saw Monday night in our camp just minutes after Mr. Skunk passed through.

Pointing him out for the camera.

Once the kids discovered the raccoon he kept a larger distance between himself and us. He'd grab a piece of bread crust and then scamper up a nearby tree to eat it in safety. Then when it looked like the kids had given him a bit of space, he'd come back down for another piece.

A Steller's jay

This fellow showed up to clean up the leftover popcorn that the kids had tossed for the Raccoon. He never held still though, so every picture I got of him was pretty blurry.

A minnow, some tadpoles and a few water bugs.

Friday, a bunch of the kids spent a good deal of time collecting lake life. They also found a little stream where they collected quite a few junior toads. Microchip took them 'frog hunting' in the boat at least three times during the week. Sadly, I didn't take any pictures when the kids brought the 'frogs' back to show us - they were pretty cute.

Canada Geese.

There was quite the bunch of them that lived on the lake. They were very used to people and put up with a lot of kids trying to herd/catch/chase and feed them.

ShyGuy and the geese.

This kid has got to be one of the world's most photogenic. I love this picture.

Butler on the hunt.

"'Gonna get me a goose for dinner... it's gonna take all day." He really though the could get one too - they kept him busy for quite some time!

I found it interesting that we never saw a single squirrel or chipmunk while we were camping. PC wanted to know when the deer would come. We were camping at Deer Lake, so you'd expect to see deer right? He asked about them every single day. We never did see any though.

Dolly and a fish.

And we saw lots of fish - once they were caught of course. Sir and Microchip spent many hours helping the kids to fish.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Cooking at Deer Lake

Butler discovering lid lifters and dutch ovens make noise.

On Monday, when the ranger checked in, the first night we were at our campsite, he told us that a fire ban was coming. I don't know about you, but to me camping without a fire is just NOT camping. I think I got this opinion because we don't have a camp stove and no fire means no real food and dry goods just don't make up for a fire-cooked meal. There was a fire ban, but it didn't happen until Friday and thankfully, Microchip and Lily had two camp stoves and let us borrow one of them Thursday night for the remainder of the trip. To my delight, I was able to cook over the fire for most of the time were were camping. Before we left Sir got me a set of stack-able mixing bowls that have lids!! and a second set of metal camping dishes bringing our place setting to 8 and giving me an extra kettle to help keep hot water available. Of course I brought my dutch oven, a couple frying pans and my big stew pot, so my kitchen was nicely equipped.

PC overseeing the bacon process.

Breakfast Tuesday, was hot chocolate, bacon, blueberries and cold cereal. We bought special 'sugar cereal' to take camping. The funny thing though, was when the kid sat down to breakfast, they wanted Corn Flakes, Cheerios and Rice Krispies - the stuff they're used to at home. Sometimes you can never win...

Microchip and Lily's campsite.

We pooled lunch ingredients and for the most part, ate all our lunches over at Microchip and Lily's campsite. We were just across the road from their camp, but they had a bit more room since we had two tents taking up our campsite.

Marinated beef strips, peppers n' onions and tin foil wrapped rice.

That night I cooked fajitas for dinner and attempted a blueberry crisp. It was the first time I'd actually baked in the dutch in over 7 years, so I made a couple really dumb mistakes was a bit rusty on my baking skills. The second crisp turned out much better than the first one which ended up a bit crispier than it should have been - I never took a picture of either of them.

Wednesday's breakfast - Sausages 'n eggs.

Bread baking, butter melting and spaghetti sauce heating. My blue kettle was officially black by day 2.

We had hot chocolate again, little smokies and scrambled eggs for breakfast on Wednesday. That night I baked bread to go with my spaghetti meal. I didn't get any pictures of the meal served - just the covered pots while it was cooking. I guess I must have been busy? I burnt my arm on the fire pit while digging for coals to bake with. It wasn't too bad and we had ice on hand to help cool the burn. I put a burn cream on and bandaged it up, but it wasn't until we joined Lily's camp with supper and she gave me a special burn bandage that my arm stopped hurting. I think I'll need to stock up on some of those bandages - they were amazing!

Leftover sausages, sausage gravy and buttermilk biscuits baking on the side.

Dolly and me at the breakfast table.

Thursday I baked biscuits and made sausage gravy to go with them for breakfast. Of course there was hot chocolate and fruit and cold cereal to choose from like every other morning and we finished up the leftover smokies from the day before. Thursday was also the day Bashful and everybody else joined the camping trip. The number of kids doubled and even with the extra adults were were outnumbered by kids 2 to 1. It was also the last day we could have campfires. I couldn't get enough coals before dinner to make up the brownies I had planned to bake for desert that night, so we suffered terribly with roasted marshmallows and s'mores and cookies and fruit and... well, we suffered as you can tell.

Chiquita and Fairy.

Thursday night I booted PC from the little tent so Dolly could have these little ladies join her for a camping sleepover. They stayed for hot chocolate Friday morning, but rejoined their own families before I got around to cooking our bacon and making egg-in-the-baskets on the camp stove we borrowed. It's one of Dolly's favorite breakfasts (she inherited that taste from her Grandpa in California) and they're a bit tricky to cook over an open fire so the camp stove was a perfect solution.

The final plate of fish.

Whenever the fishermen/women brought in any fish, Sir boned them and gave them to me to cook up as a side dish to whichever meal we were currently eating. I think by the end of the camping trip I'd finally figured out the seasoning/dusting mix for the fish. This was the batch we had Friday evening with Lily's pulled pork sandwiches and all the fixings. I think that was probably my favorite meal of the camping trip. I got sidetracked with keeping my kids and their food together and forgot to get seconds for myself - not that I needed seconds, but those sandwiches were good!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Camping at Deer Lake

Last week we spent Monday through Saturday camping at Deer Lake. Once we got everything puzzled into the van and ready to go, it was almost nap time. We'd hoped to be on our way sometime during the mid-morning so that we would have a good part of the day at the campground (its a 2+ hour drive), but I wasn't organized enough and we ended up leaving later.

It was hot and the poor kids were packed in like sardines, but thankfully we have AC in the van and the drive was bearable. Because it was late, we had lunch before we left, but poor little Butler missed out on that because I just made a plate of sandwiches and let the kids come and go while I kept packing. He'd missed his morning nursing too and by the time I finally remembered, we had already gotten on our way at last. He fussed for a few minutes and then fell asleep before we had a chance to stop somewhere for me to feed him. We did stop about half an hour from the campsite when Butler woke up and I nursed him while Sir got some bait worms at a gas station.

Packed in

It was 5:30 by the time we reached our campsite and the kids were thrilled to discover Microchip and Lily were already there with their girls. Dolly and PC found every single reason to go join the other girls while Emma and Butler stayed at camp. Once we got unloaded and the tents pitched, we joined Microchip's family for a delicious salmon dinner that Lily had prepared complete with rice and a fresh green salad. After dinner I finished setting up the sleeping stuff and tried making a bit of sense out of the rest of our camping gear.

Helping Daddy pitch the big tent.

Snagle-toothed and proud of himself for sitting in PC's chair

We brought two tents and pitched them both. I figured the kids might like to have a sleep over with their friends in the small one at some point. PC surprised me by claiming the little tent right from the beginning and he slept alone it in for the first three nights. He's always been my most clingy child so I did not expect him to volunteer to sleep in a separate tent from me and I never dreamed he'd be happy to sleep away from me and all by himself!

Monday, July 19, 2010

Goin' Camping.....

If you look closely, you can see the girls' little fingers waving from the back.

And now that it's 4.5 hours later than we'd planned on leaving, everything is finally loaded into the car and we're off for camping at the lake! I love summer time adventures... just not always the prep work for them!

Saturday, July 17, 2010

So much to say....

Sir spent all evening and quite a bit of Thursday night setting my computer up for me. And yesterday was my first full day with my computer back - for real! And it works - it really does! Sitting on the floor at the kids' computer is no more!

Today I spent packing for our camping trip next week and trying to make a little more sense of the house regarding unpacking from the move. The kids are beyond excited about camping this time. I think they might remember a bit from our last camping trip or maybe they're just older and can understand more. It will be Butler's first camping trip and he's already 8 months old!

Now that my photo editor is re-installed, I can post pictures again... and there are so many pictures to post and write about. I should have plenty of material to last the rest of the year! But for now, I'm going to bed.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Could it really be fixed?

This morning the "Give-you" truck (PC's definition for a UPS truck) delivered my computer to our front door. If you're interested in the saga that's taken place regarding my all-in-one computer this year, keep reading. Other wise check back in a few days - I might have a chance to write about normal life sometime.

You might not remember, but sometime between March 26th and April 8th, my new computer (Sir got it for me on a Boxing Day sale) died. Apparently it had something wrong with the memory part of it, but as far as I was concerned it just wouldn't turn on completely which made it unusable. Sir looked at it for a couple of days, copied my files in case the hard drive needed to be wiped and then drove hours on his only days off to deliver it to a 'warranty repair' shop and home again. That shop had it for five days and decided that they actually didn't do warranty work for the company we'd purchased the computer from. However, they did 'take a look at it' reseated something and it looked like the machine was working again. Except five hours after I turned it on it died a second time.

I think it took us a week to get around to calling the computer company, but once we did they arranged for a technician to come to our house and repair it. The first tech showed up about 3 days after we'd contacted the company, but he had the wrong mother board. They had decided to replace the mother board, hard drive and memory 'just to be sure' they fixed the problem. The next week a different tech arranged to come with the right parts. He was hours late and then called me from our driveway to say he grabbed the wrong part and couldn't do the repair that day after all. Another week later, the first tech came back with the right parts and replaced the hard drive, motherboard and memory. In the process he broke the optical drive and lost the rubber foot for the monitor stand. Then we discovered that Sir's copy of my operating system was corrupted and we'd need a system recovery disk since the computer had a new hard drive.

So, we called the company back and told them about the optical drive, rubber foot and that we'd also need a system restore. 3 weeks later they were 'still waiting for the parts to be shipped to them'. Did I mention we were in the middle of moving during all of this? Anyway, they finally 'had the parts' (ten days later) and scheduled another service call for the following week. Except when the tech arrived, I discovered that they forgot to send the rubber foot and the system restore cd. The guy tried telling me that it wasn't the optical drive that was broken but he cover and he didn't bring the cover that day. I had to show him that the cover was just fine and that he did indeed bring the right part (the optical drive). He wanted to install the drive later when they had the rest of the stuff he was supposed to bring but I told him I'd rather he did what he could since the next guy they sent out wouldn't be any more intelligent in the matter and with the way things had been going, the optical drive would be forgotten. So, he fixed the optical drive and my computer was still out of commission.

June 22nd, the day after the optical drive was repaired, the computer company called to check that the repair had been done. I told them only the optical drive had been attended to and that we were still waiting for the rubber foot for the monitor stand and the operating system recovery cd. They said they'd mail the recovery cd directly to us and have the technicians come out again to fix the foot. Ten minutes later they called back and said that I had to ship the whole machine to the company because they didn't have any recovery cds that they could ship and that it had to be done at the factory. Two days later I receive a postage paid box to return my computer in, and the tracking number indicated my computer arrived in Ontario three days after that. The repair at the company was supposed to take three days. Two weeks later I called them to find out why I hadn't seen the computer back yet and they were 'waiting to receive a recovery cd, but they would make a note to "expedite" the repair'.

That was Sunday evening. Less than four days later my computer arrived at the door. Dare I hope it's actually repaired? For real this time? Now I'll go open the box and see what I can find.

Monday, July 05, 2010


Today has been a slow day. I'm either really lazy, still exhausted from the whirlwind of activities recently or we're just in the eye of the storm of busyness. But it has been nice to not have to do something that needs to be done before I can get to something else on the TODO list because we need to get to yet another thing that needs to be accomplished. Yes, there's still lots to be done - piles of laundry to go through, stacks of boxes still to unpack, the bathroom to scrub and water seal, but I can flit back and forth between them or just leave them undone today because I don't HAVE to be anywhere doing something by a certain time.

Watch, halfway through nap time I'll remember something that was supposed to be done today, but right now all is escaping my memory and I'm savoring doing nothing (ok, not nothing, but very little). The next thing on the agenda is a camping trip in two weeks. Which means I need to find, collect and assess our camping supplies before it's time to go.

It's supposed to get hot this week! So last night the kids and I filled the kiddie pool in anticipation of our annual heat wave week. This morning was cloudy and cool but the kids donned their swimsuits and shivered away in the cold water anyway. I felt sorry for them and dumped about six gallons of scalding water in the pool to raise the temperature a little. They've been out there ever since. Emma added a frisbee of dirt to the water and now Dolly and PC are almost done emptying the pool cupful by cupful - their idea,not mine. I assume they're going to want me to refill it once they get all the water out. I did rescue Butler since he was crawling around under foot and getting dripped on drenched in the process. Now he's crawling all over me while I try to write.

I should go while my kids are still being good. I guess feeding them lunch might be a smart idea. Now that the pool is empty they're going to remember that they're hungry and it's not going to sound very cheerful.