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Lists… they are essential to my well-being.  Wfmwbanner

Seriously.

So why it took me this long to come with an RV packing list, I have no idea.  But I finally had the brilliant idea of creating a packing list that included EVERYTHING I might possibly need to pack for the family.   Rain or shine, long trip or short, Summer or Fall, it’s all there on The List. 

I was so tired of forgetting to pack things.  Sometimes they are minor details, sometimes they are huge catastrophes.  Like the two week trip we took and I left my make-up/skin care bag on the bathroom counter at home.  YES!  That is completely true!  Who DOES that?!  Not just a chapstick folks.  The whole stinkin kit and caboodle!  I ended up having to buy a whole new set of the bare essentials (cleanser, moisturizer, cover-up, powder, blush and mascara) at the first drug store we came to after arriving at our destination.  The upside to that is, I keep it all in the RV and don’t have to worry about packing those items anymore. 

Now, the RV List is long to be sure but all I have to do is cross out everything I don’t need and then check off the ones I do need as I get them packed.  Little to no thinking required!  And that’s my kind of list my bloggy friends.  I keep a hard copy of the list on the computer so that as the kids get older and our needs change, I can go and make corrections without having to completely re-do the whole list. 

As a side note, I also keep a pad of paper and pen in the RV so that during out trips, as we run low or use up items that we keep in the RV (cleansers, paper goods, bathroom products, etc.), I can make a list and take it out of the RV with me upon our return home.   Then I restock those items as sales or opportunities come up so that it’s not all left for the last moment, when we’re gearing up to head out again.

We love RV-ing as a family.  And my RV Packing List has lessened my stress in the packing process and therefore makes it that much more fun to just GO.

Packing Lists work for me.  Check out Rocks In My Dryer for more tips and advice.

I’m joining in Brandi’s random photo linky… 

You are to go to your photo folder for May, find the 21st picture and post that picture on your blog. 

Without further ado, here’s my 21st picture from my May photo folder….

cowboy-plate-email-copy

This is Tiger at the big Cowboy Dinner during our trip to Sedona, AZ.  The annual trip for us is always a highlight of the year but this was our first time doing a Cowboy Dinner/Show.  It was so much fun.  If we can afford it, we’ll do each trip. 

Look at the size of his plate! Egad was it a ton of food! Each kid had a plate like this and the refills were flowing freely!  It was amazing.  Just look at his eyes… sometimes the way to a boy’s heart is the same as the way to a man’s.

Be sure and check out all the other random photos on Brandi’s site.  And while you’re there… take a gander at her handsome boys and beautiful twin girls. 

Everytime I catch a glimpse of pink over there, my ovaries start twitching.

Consider yourself warned and don’t blame me when your’s start up too.

If you’re a man, please ignore that comment.

If you’re my husband, please REALLY ignore that comment.

or rather “crashed”.  That’s what our computer has done.  I’m thankful this is only the second time this has happened to us.  And the first for this computer (that we’ve had for four years).  I’m also thankful that Hubby has a friend from work who is, as we speak, pouring hours into trying fix it and prevent it from actually doing what it wants to do – which is dump everything it has on it’s hard drive.  I’m also thankful for Hubby’s little laptop.  It’s given me the ability to stay in contact with you all.  Limited and slow it may be but I’m still here! =0)

Can you tell I’m working on being content?  I am.  So I won’t tell you that I’m not bemoaning the fact that I don’t have access to photoshop, I can’t download photos, I can’t burn a disk yet of family photos I took for a friend (sorry Tess!),  I can’t touch up a photo and enter it into a display that is coming up in two weeks. 

Nope.  I won’t do it.

I’m trying to be content.

And I’m praying that Hubby’s friend will soon be my bestest friend in the whole world because he returns our computer to us, in full working order and with a contact hard drive.  I’m praying HARD!

In the meantime, I’d like to thank everyone who left fabulous advice for me regarding Tiger’s little night terror incident a few weeks ago.  I think almost everyone mentioned that missed nap times and changes to regular schedules were always behind their experience with night terrors.  And guess what we did that day before Tiger’s terrors?  Missed naps, were gone all day, and were camping.  So yes, he missed his nap and yes, his surroundings were different than normal.  BINGO!  Now I know what to NOT do in the future.  And should it happen again, while there were differing opinions on what to do during a terror, most affirmed what Hubby and I had done that night.  Take him potty, comfort him as best as possible and talk to him until he wakes up. 

Thanks everyone!

Happy news in the Runningamuck Household?  Well, first, there haven’t been anymore night terrors AND also, Tiger’s stopped sucking his thumb!  Yeah!!  Ladies, listen to your husbands.  Mine has wanted to take Tiger’s blankie away from him for a while now (because his mouth has gotten so bad from thumb sucking) and I kept balking at the idea.  Tiger only sucked his thumb when he had his blankie (which was whenever he was in bed) and as soon as he fell asleep, his thumb popped out and he slept without sucking it.  

Well, Hubby took Tiger’s blanket away from him last week when I was out running errands and he was the one home putting everyone down for naps.  Guess what? NO DRAMA!  NO TEARS!! NOT EVEN DRAMA-FOR-MAMA later that night when it was ME putting him down to bed.  It was amazing.  He hasn’t asked for it, he hasn’t had trouble getting to sleep.  And he hasn’t sucked his thumb.

Sorry Babe.

I should never doubt you. =0)

Just like you tell me all the time. 

And I scoff at your silly man-ideas.

Have I said I’m sorry?  I am.

Oh! And one more thing… remember God blessing my silly little want (not need)?  Well, He did it again.  He blessed me with another gallon of Horizon Organic Milk this week.  How amazing and loving is my Lord?!!  I’m totally humbled.  And Thankful.

How’s that for a smorgasbord of rambling?  But you notice, I came full circle…

back to thankfulness! =0)

but it’s late, I’m pooped out and I’m waiting on a Lemon Glaze cake to finish baking for tomorrow’s bbq. 

And I exaggerate just a little, it’s not really 58 loads of laundry, it’s only 32.  That’s what happens when you go “camping” (read, RV-ing) for 5 days with 5 other people… with trips to the beach (bathing suit crotches, short pockets and towels CHOCK FULL of sand.  We’re still digging sand outta the Lil Blue’s ears), museums, and zoo.  It takes me three days just to dig my way out of the laundry room.

But I am so, so thankful for great trips likes these as a family.  Not to be grim so late at night but we are not promised tomorrow.  No one is.  And remembering that helps put a LOT of things in perspective.  Like mountains of laundry. =0)  Before I know it, the kids will be grown and moved away and it’ll be just Hubby and I in our RV.  Now, don’t get me wrong, the extra space will be delightful.  That and the lack of sand needing to be cleaned out of every seat cushion.  But we’ll miss the days of chatter and silliness… and priceless moments like this:

While at the Museum of Natural History (fabulous by the way, we almost bought a yearly family pass), we had to get on the elevator so that we could see the next floor.  Of course the kids clamored to be the one to push the buttons.  Poppett pushed the outside button and when we loaded into the elevator, I told Monkey he could push the floor button. 

Hubby chimed in, “DON’T push that red button, whatever you do” (the emergency stop button was really close to the floor buttons on this elevator).

The kids all looked at it.  So I explained, “If you push it, it’ll make the elevator stop and the firemen will have to come get us out.”

Hubby adds, “And we’ll be stuck in here waiting for them to come open the doors for us.  So whatever you do, DON’T PUSH THE RED BUTTON!”

“DON’T even think about it. At all.  Not one bit.” 

By now, I’m stifling my laughter because all four of the kids are staring, with rapt attention, at that little red button.  You could almost hear the wheels spinning in their heads as they imagined what it would be like to push that button.

Hubby, “In fact, don’t even LOOK at the button.  Look away.  Right. Now.  Don’t even think look at it.”

At this, Monkey immediately backs away from the buttons and stares at the floor, serious look firmly implanted on his face.  He was falling for this hook, line and stinker sinker.  And he tells his dad, “I’m not looking Dad”

Without batting an eye, Tiger pipes up from the other corner of the elevator, “I’m looking.  I’m staring right at it Dad.” And he was.  Right at it.  And he continued to stare at the forbidden button until we reached our desired floor.  We spent quite a bit of time on that floor.  At least an hour.  And when we loaded the elevator to ride it up to the next floor?  Tiger informs his dad as soon he walks in, with a big ol smile on his face, 

“Dad, I’m staring right at that button!” What a stinker!  Hubby and I had to hold back the laughter.  Tiger certainly didn’t need any encouragement from us.

Fast forward several hours to about 9pm that night.  Same silly boy gave his mom her first taste of night terrors. I’ve NEVER experienced this before.  And I hope we don’t have to go through it again.  It was horrible, especially since Hubby had run off to the store to pick up some groceries we’d run out of.  I was alone.  In a crowded campground.  With a child screaming bloody-murder while staring at me right in the face and shaking violently.  And our “neighbors” were probably wondering if they should call the cops on the child abuse going on in the site next to theirs.

(sorry, it’s now 24hrs later… laundry is done, bbq is done and I’m stuffed to the gills on Lemon Glaze cake.  Note to self: post recipe for Lemon Glaze cake… share the torture  wealth of lemony calories that no one can resist.  Now back to the story I was in the middle of telling…)

I had no idea what to do.  He was screaming, literally at the top of his lungs, eyes popping out of their sockets, veins bulging in his neck and head and the emotional gaggy-pukes are hovering, just below the surface.  I hate emotional gaggy-pukes.  I try being stern and telling him to get ahold of himself.  I confess, I even tried giving him a light fanny spank hoping it would startle him out of his “funk”.  But when the phrase ” I WANT MY MOM!!” choke past his screams, I realize he can’t be awake.  Not even a light sleep.  He had to be deep in dreamland and I was helpless.  I wanted to curl up in a little ball, cover my ears and suck my thumb.  Instead, I try to tell him that I AM mom but nothing gets through.  He soon starts screaming for dad and there I really couldn’t help him.  Dad was unfortunately, no where within earshot.  And I was worried that if I called him, he’d wreck the truck the instant he heard the terrified screams in the background (Tiger’s mind you, not mine. I was just barely keeping mine under control).  So I calmly carried  him back to his bed hoping the familiar surroundings (and his blankie) would soothe his terrified, confused soul.  It didn’t.  He’d calm down for a minute or two and then start the screaming (although this time with his blankie shoved in his mouth that, thankfully, muffled them) all over again.  And still, his eyes bugged wide open. 

Finally Hubby came home (during a quiet moment) and I quickly informed him of the happenings he’d missed out on.  He replaced me at Tiger’s bedside and started talking quietly with him.  Since we were in the trailer, there wasn’t room for me to be in the room too so I had to move away and couldn’t hear what was said.  Whatever it was, it worked.  Guess all that boy needed was his dad.  Because soon I could hear his little voice (Tiger’s that is.  Hubby’s voice isn’t so little) saying something calmly to his daddy.  Tiger soon came out, needing a potty break and informed us that he’d been scared.  We didn’t pressure him over what.  And the rest of the night was peaceful.  Thank you Lord.

The next morning, thinking he wouldn’t remember a thing, I asked him about it.  He informed me:

“I was crying because I was scared of the dinosaurs.”

Me:”You mean the dinosaurs we saw at the museum?” (Tiger nods his head) “You know those are all dead right?  There aren’t any dinosaurs alive anywhere.  Those dinosaurs we saw were all pretend.”

Tiger:”I know Mom. But remember when we saw the dinosaur eggs?  And you could spin the wheel and some of the eggs moved and a baby dinosaur stuck his head out of one of them?” (my turn to nod my head) “yeah, it moved Mom”.

Apparently, the fake eggs, that lay under the fakemommy dino, that moved only when you turned a big wheel (that Tiger loved turning all on his own), that had one teeny baby dinosaur stick his head in and out of was the source of those horrific screams the night before.  Not the big ol mama dino.  Nope.  The teeny baby one that you could only see the head of…

Not this one

or even this one

Or even this big mama one.  No, it’s down below her.  You can’t even really see but there are a bunch of eggs at her feet.  And yes, those are the cause.

I’ve never so thankful to turn down a yearly pass before in my life.

Sssshhhhh!  Don’t tell the crazy lady that just posted this, but it IS Wednesday!  She must be having a difficult time keeping track of her days since getting home from such a relaxing vacation. *snicker, snicker* she’s so lame!

clearing throat loudly and moving on…

So this week I’m highlighting tips on how to help lessen work load while camping, er um, with a camping trailer.  You can adjust these to hotel vacations and tent camping also.  I’ve learned these the hard way.  Hopefully some of these will be new ideas for you that will help you relax a bit this summer.

~ Make dinners at Home and Freeze.  This was the biggest load-lightener for me.  It does require more work at home before the trip but trust me, every evening, when you pop that already made dinner in the oven (or campfire), you’ll pat yourself on the back and kiss yourself in the mirror (not recommended if you are having to use a public bathroom mirror!) for being so smart.  It’s so nice and easy to just pull out that day’s dinner in the morning, let it defrost all day while you are out and about (or snoozing in the sunshine) and then just heat it up for 30 minutes before dinner.  Some great homemade frozen dinner ideas are, lasagne, enchiladas, Chicken ala King, soups, taco meat (just bring along the tortillas and fixin’s), meatloaf.  You can do store-bought frozen dinners in a pinch but it ends up being so much better for your vacation-stretched budget to make them at home.  Sometimes I do half homemade, half store bought if I’m in a time crunch.  Also, I use the aluminum pans to freeze them in.  That way, even the clean up is a snap. Just toss that dirty pan in the trash and move on to dessert!  Breakfasts can also be made ahead of time. Big Daddy Biscuits work great! Just mix all but the milk together, place in a ziploc (make sure to write the milk measurement and cooking temp and time on the outside.  ‘Cuz those vacationing brain cells forget a LOT!) and refrigerate until you’re ready to use.  Sausage gravy can be made ahead of time and refrigerated or frozen.  And frozen waffles or french toast make for easy mornings too.

~ Plan Ahead.  For a long time I fought the need to really plan well for vacation.  But it’s worth it’s weight in gold people.  The more you plan for, the less spur-of-the-moment scurring around you have to do while on vacation.  Plan for layered clothing so that you are somewhat prepared no matter the weather (like this recent trip to Arizona when we woke up to 8 inches of snow – in MAY!).   

Plan for some extra food, just in case you get snowed in end up feeding new friends you meet along the way or your kids suddenly become ravenous vultures from all the activities and fun going on.  Plan and pack for each activity you hope to do.  It’ll save you money AND errand running if you can bring it from home.

~ Bring toys and quiet kid activities.  Since you might want some downtime while the kids are awake, bring along toys, games and coloring/reading books that they can do on their own.  That will allow you to relax a bit while they entertain themselves.  We keep a separate set of toys in the trailer that they only get to play with while we’re camping.  That way, the toys stay special and new to them.  We do retire them about every year and a half and bring new ones on board.

~ Tag Team It. One of the ultimate, most fabulous things Hubby does for me is take the three oldest out for about an hour and a half every morning.  Because Lil Blue still takes morning naps, he stays behind with me.  But when he drops that nap, you better believe he gets to tag along with Dad too!   Here’s our morning system: I get up at 7am with the kids and let Hubby try to ignore the breakfast rukus sleep in.  Around 9am, when Lil Blue goes back to bed, Hubby then heads out for some grand adventure with the rest of the mini-muffins and I get to eat the breakfast leftovers and go back to sleep leisurely shower, dress and get ready for the day.  It’s delightful I tell you, those moments of peace and quiet.  Helps me prepare myself for the onslaught of activity that is the rest of the day.

~ Try To Stick To Your Regular Routine.  This one is probably the hardest to do but also really pays off.  Obviously, some activities will demand a change to your regular at-home schedule.  But when you can, stick to regular meal times, naptimes and bedtimes.  Your kids will then know what to expect.  And when that is the case, they tend to be a little less crazy and overwhelmed by the whole vacation thing.  Especially the real little ones.  They really benefit from a shedule at home so why should vacation be different?  If you want to preserve some of your sanity that is.

I know there are probably more tips I’m forgetting but I’ll add them as the come to me.  I’d love to hear what you do to help lighten the load during vacations so feel free to leave them in the comment section.  Maybe I can compile all of our tips and make a page out of them for quick reference for us all. 

For more great tips and ideas, check out Rocks In My Dryer.

Are a strange beast indeed.  Usually there are a mix of two types of people, the kind who want to sit around in the sun all day and do nothing but read the book they’ve been trying to finish for the past 18 months (of course, that is SOO not me… I have oodles of time for reading books. That and eating bon-bons, getting massages and cutting the lawn, one grass blade at a time – with manicure scissors), and there is the kind of people that don’t want to stop moving.  Can. Not. Stop. Must. Go. See. Do. Everything.  In our little family, Hubby and I are in the former group and our three munchkins are in the latter.  Go figure. 

So our vacation trips, like the one we just got back from, are a balancing act of appeasing both groups.  Something for you, two somethings for me, a little something for you, a big something for me…  Now, if I’d thought about it during our trip, I would have taken pictures of both catagories of activities but I didn’t.  But really, how interesting are pictures of people sleeping, reading books in the sunshine, smoking the occasional stogie and drinking lots and lots occasional “special” drinks?  Not very.  So maybe it’s good I only have pictures of actual, moving-arms-and-legs-while-eyes-are-open, activities.  Like these:

 

Hiking

 

Kissing Gracie the Camel at the Deer Farm (I so wish there was a way to make me look a little less retarded. I was trying to not get camel slobber on my lips. I can see the search hits I get from that statement!)

 

Hubby’s method to feeding the hordes of hungry mouths at the Deer Farm

 

Monkey and Tiger getting roping lessons at the Cowboy Dinner

 

Tiger eatin’ cowboy-sized grub

I do have to admit, I’m thankful they are still small enough to have to “bend to our will” *insert Darth Vader voice*.  Just kidding, sort of.  We can still enforce naptimes and early bedtimes.  But the trade off is that they wake up so dad-gum early.  No lazy mornings at our campsite*, no siree!  

Another issue that arises with this whole idea of camping/vacationing with mini-muffins is, especially for moms, it often creates more work or at the very least, the same amount of work as if we’d just stayed at home.  Early on, I would get my panties all in a wad over this very prediciment, much to Hubby’s delight.  I think it endeared me even more to him and made him want to take me camping* more often.  Then the light bulb flickered, went out, flickered again, went out again before finally staying on with the realization, “Wait a second here!  There HAS to be ways for me to lighten the load and feel like I’m on vacation too!”  (I never claimed to be the sharpest tool in the shed Folks!) Now each trip out, I try to discover more ways to create a vacation atmosphere for us big kids responsible adults too. 

And those ideas ARE…. Oops! Wait! I need a Works For Me Wednesday post so you’ll have to come back tomorrow (or really, really late tonight for those of you who just can’t wait) to find out my totally amazing, original, never-before-heard-of, ideas for lighting the parental responsibilities during vacations/camping*.  So I’ll see ya back here in then.

Ta-Ta-For-Now!

* I feel the need to define our “camping”… here it is:

 Not the desert part, or the multiple rv part, or the quad and motorcycle part (although we obviously do that kind of “camping” also) but the camping trailer part.  We don’t tent camp right now.  There will be tent camping in the future but for now, it’s all about a close bathroom and nightlights!

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