Re-launched, but still slightly under construction. :-)

Friday, July 29, 2011

Darn you Auto Correct

Friday, July 29, 2011 By

A.W.: "Is Lowe's where you said they have a leather repair kit?"

Me: "Wiener."

Me: "I mean yes! WTF? How does 'yes' autocorrect to 'wiener?"

A.W.: "Hmmm... I wonder."

Thursday, July 28, 2011

10 ways to get your kids to eat their veggies

Thursday, July 28, 2011 By No comments

I spent 7 years as a vegetarian, much to the annoyance of family and friends. I've since gone back to being an omnivore, but I try to keep my meat intake down. So it's important to me that Emmie incorporate as many fruits and vegetables into her diet as possible. Plus, it's way healthier that way.

Here are 10 tips and tricks I use to get my child to eat more veggies:

1. I started her young. She didn't have meat at all until she was about 12 months old. She has always loved carrots, sweet potatoes, green beans and peas. I have worked to build from there.

2. Hide yo veggies, hide yo fruits: Pizza and pasta are great places to hide minced vegetables. Emmie loves mushroom pizza, for example, but if I hide minced spinach under the cheese, she hardly knows it's there. When I told her, she was laughed her off at the idea that she had eaten a whole pizza slice without noticing the green stuff.

3. Let her choose. I let Emmie choose her own fresh fruit and her own fresh vegetable every time we go to the store. She has tried acorn squash, butternut squash, eggplant, spaghetti squash, cucumber, some crazy purple carrots, yucca root, and more. Not all of her attempts have been hits, but she loves to choose!

4. Dip it. Dip it good. Who says they have to be plain? Emmie hates ranch dressing - and all forms of mayonnaise - but there are hundreds of options. Fat free French dressing, hummus, lemon juice, whatever. Chop the veggies and let them try. Emmie, we have discovered, loves pesto!

5. Be consistent. If they don't see the veggies, they won't try them. Have some at every meal.

6. Do as you say. If you don't eat your veggies, you're sending conflicting messages

7. Soup. I'm telling you, soup hides all manner of horrifying foods. Emmie loves mushroom soup, so I added very finely minced onion. Then finely minces broccoli. I'll try more later.

8. Presentation is key. Make it fancy! Try a bento box arrangement, use the good china, or carve them into shapes.

9. Let them grow or cook their own food. A sense of ownership and control are key.

10. Don't fight them. If they eat the same veggies over and over, it's okay. If they don't eat any veggies, it's okay. Supplement with a multivitamin, and keep trying. But don't make it an issue. Kids will fight to be heard, but you don't want your entire parent-child conversation to be about plants.

I wrote this blog post while participating in the SocialMoms and Peas and Thank You blogging program for a gift card worth $30. For more information on how you can participate, click here.


Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Dr. Mom, Medicine Woman

Wednesday, July 27, 2011 By

Emmie has strep throat. The doctor has prescribed Zithromax, but if I remember correctly, this is the medicine that tastes so bad she can't keep it down.

"No, I've never had any complaints about it," the doctor reassured me.

Liar!

After the first teaspoonful, Emmie is distraught. "It tasses horrible! It's like a medicine fire in my mouth!"

I taste some. This junk is torture. Still, we get down the second and third teaspoon before she erupts. The mango-pineapple smoothie she had for lunch - and all the medicine I had fought to get down her throat - are flushed away.

Hours later, we try again. I've listened to her feelings, let her "punch out [her] baby stress" on a pillow, and promised that we'd do makeovers if she could keep down the vile concoction. She has - understandably - worked herself into and then back out of a meltdown, and is doing some deep breathing and a sad little half lotus tree position to calm herself so the medicine stays down.

Side note: Teaching her, at the age of 3, some yoga to calm herself makes me a freaking BOSS. It has been immeasurably helpful.

We try candy, smoothie, water, and brushing her teeth to reduce the impact of the medicine's flavor. Nothing helped. As a last resort, we are standing over the sink, so the faucet is immediately available.

"Maybe if you gargle it, it will keep the flavor from being so bad," I say, indicating the faucet. Her face lights up, and she nods.

"Ready? Here we go."

I squirt in the poison, turn to flip on the faucet - and she begins to gargle the medicine!

"No! I meant gargle the water!" I cackle. "I think you just made it worse!"

She has. Her eyes widen in panic. Still, she swallows and shovels water in her mouth as fast as she can. Her stomach heaves. Crap! She needs the antibiotic! Then I see it.

"Mouthwash, Emmie! Here!" I pour a cup of Agent Cool Blue in her mouth and she gargles rather tearfully.

It works. I am legend. Then I notice that was the last of the bottle, with two more doses to go. Sigh...








Monday, July 25, 2011

Penny for your thoughts

Monday, July 25, 2011 By

We are at Hill Drug when Emerson spies a penny abandoned in a plastic box.

"Do you hab some money an' dollars to gib to dis?" she asks, thinking it a charitable collection box.

"That is actually for when you don't have quite enough money. Then you can take a penny if you need it," I explain.

Her face lights up.

"You don't need it," I say. "You're not paying for anything.

"Wull, I'm payeend for college," she shoots back.

The employees cackle, and Emerson crosses her arms and raises an eyebrow at me, full of self-satisfaction.

"Not here. Not today," I laugh.

"Wull, someday. An' I can SABE it."

"No. Leave it for someone who needs it."

"Okay, fiiiine," she rolls her eyes, but grins at me.

Inspired by her humor, I take a penny out of my wallet and hand it to her. She looks at it for a moment, delighted... and then adds it to the box.

I give her a bemused look. She shrugs. "Anudder person might need it first."

So sweet.



Sunday, July 24, 2011

Overheard in my parents' living room

Sunday, July 24, 2011 By

Kelli: "Hey, Dad, that's where I went through that road block."

Dad: "ROBOTS?!"



Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Game ranch gets my goat

Growing up in metro-Atlanta, one of the things that every kid could guarantee was a trove of animal sightings. I remember a possum getting trapped in my parents' garbage can; the numerous deer that roamed the woods adjacent to our neighborhood; my father and the next-door neighbor killing a water moccasin with a garden ho on the neighbor's back patio; crawfish in the stream near the swimming lake through the woods; fishing in the neighborhood pond; the occasional raccoon sighting that always prompted rabies warnings; tossing rolled-up socks into the air to attract bats on the hunt; and rumors of bear sightings that never materialized. Emmie's only really ever gotten up close and personal with cats, dogs and chickens. So on a recent visit to Atlanta, I took Emerson to explore The Yellow River Game Ranch.

This 24-acre property takes in injured animals - deer, bears, cougars, coyotes, possums, donkeys, sheep, turkeys, chickens, goats, rabbits, whatever it can - and gives them a place to live and medical care, all financed by admission from visitors who come to get up close and personal with them.

We were greeted in the parking lot by roosters crowing in the trees. My $18 at the door got us two tickets, a bag of carrots and a bag of peanuts. Upon entrance a deer immediately walked up to us. And another. And another. We fed them carrots and loved on them. They were so tame and so soft. And then one turned its head to look for another snack and almost knocked me into the bushes with its antlers. It reminded me that these were once wild animals, and we were lucky to encounter them so closely. It also reminded me to watch their freaking antlers.

Um, I was told there would be snacks.
Right after this photo, his antlers sent me flying across the path
and into a fence post. If only there was video...
This cutie's tongue hung out like that all the time.

We played with peacocks, a mama peahen and her babies, squirrels, chipmunks, chickens, turkeys, sheep, goats, rabbits and ducks.

I feel pretty!
Donkey was a boss. If you weren't feeding him,
he kicked the fence repeatedly to get your attention.
I love sheep. But they sure do stink.
Despite the sign behind her, Emmie teased the mountain lion.
Yes, I let her climb up there to ring the bell. Commence judgment.
Bunnies always look surprised -
like, "Carrots?! WTF, man?! Warn a bunny!"
That is a giant wild cat just above his head.
And the dark spots on the path are giant wild cat pee.
Anyone else wish he would move a little to the left?
Buffalo smell worse than sheep. And they don't DO anything.
Also, I can't think of buffalo without hearing Graham Greene
say: "Tatonka." Y'all know what I'm saying.
One of four fawns we saw tucked into the brush.
Baby animals r cyoot!

We also saw the permanent home of Gen. Beauregard Lee, Georgia's resident weather prognosticator on Groundhog Day. We did not see the groundhog, himself. Likely because he was in the ground, which is kind of what groundhogs do: hang out in the dirt and eat.

I always hope he'll see his shadow. I like winter.
After about two hours of feeding and petting animals, it was time to go. We had run out of snacks, and Emmie had been scratched by a bunny, which prompted some dramatics from her. Faint bunny scratch equals this for her.

Is the Yellow River Game Ranch a fancy, high-tech facility with cutting-edge medicine with exotic animals and such? Nope. Frankly, while I know it passes state codes, the manner in which the animals are enclosed does not make me 100 percent comfortable. The bears are in a concrete pit. Many animals are in wire enclosures. But it's better than them being euthanized, I guess.

And many of the animals are thriving. The deer had given birth, as had bunnies and peahens, goats and sheep.  They were safe and well-fed, and seemed to enjoy the human interaction.

I know I enjoyed it. One of the baby goats laid its head on my shoulder and nuzzled my neck, then looked up at me as though asking for a present. I gave him the last of my carrots and snuggled him. He chewed my hair for a moment before trotting off to butt things with his head.

It was time to go. But as we were walking away, I heard a "BEH-EH-EH-EH-EH-EH!" from behind me. It was the goat at the fence, lamenting our departure. I ambled back and leaned down to snuggle it. After a moment, it backed away, and I sighed.  Even animals, I thought, can be so loving. Life is good.

Then it head-butted me.

What a wonderful world.

Laugh it up, goatboy.

Details: Open every day from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Get there as early as you can so that the animals are hungry and energetic. Those 12 years and up are $8; ages 2 to 11 are $7; and children under the age of 2 are free. Visit www.yellowrivergameranch.com

Monday, July 18, 2011

Just sharing

Monday, July 18, 2011 By

I fell in love with Reddit.com several months ago - and not just because of the posts, but because of the comments. Check out this post, and then the accompanying comment. The first comment reminded me of exactly how my daughter thinks!

Friday, July 15, 2011

Good rebound - why isn't the NBA calling?

Friday, July 15, 2011 By

So, as I was starting dinner, I got into a ridiculous online conversation about the Major Suckitude of Phil Collins, which, as we all know, it a Major Issue in America Today.

"Mom?" Emmie said, breaking my flow of superior musical taste tweeting.

"Yeah?"

"What about dinner?"

Uhh... I looked at the toaster oven. Her horrid fish sticks, which she loves, were still sitting on the oven. Uncooked. Think fast, Mom. She's still looking at you.

"What about it?" I asked.

"Aren't you gonna cook me sumping?"

"What?! You said you were going to cook tonight!" I exclaimed.

"Huh?"

"I mean, I got all excited for you to cook, and now you're backing out? That's not cool, Em."

"No I diddin'!" she squealed.

"I distinctly remember that you said you were going to make me a booger sandwich. Where's my booger sandwich?!"

She giggled and ran into the kitchen. She pantomimed sandwich-making, and delivered my imaginary plate with a flourish.

"Here you go! One booger sammich, coming up!"

"Excellent!" I exclaimed, clapping my hands. "You want some, too? I'll share."

"Uh, no fank you," she said, waving off my offer. "I make my own dinner."

"Whatcha gonna make?"

"Fish sticks," she answered, and flipped on the oven as though she'd been cooking all her life.

(sigh) It's best she learns early how to fend for herself.


Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Buona Festa! Olive Garden out of the closet

Now that the Olive Garden has come out with what employees already knew, that most of its "authentic Italian menu" is neither authentic nor Italian, I wonder who the restaurant had actually fooled all these years?

This is not an authentic Italian restaurant.

Certainly, Americans are not known for their intercontinental travel itineraries. So one can't expect that we would have a great deal of first-hand experience with the cuisines of other nations. But we are a nation of immigrants. Someone must have known something. "Jersey Shore" didn't obliterate everything we know of Italy, did it? I mean, the country is still standing, even though they brought their noxious cloud of Axe, stale cigarette smoke and gonorrhea to rest over the historic landscape.

How is this a big mystery solved? It's not like it was really a secret. No one who has ever eaten food at the home of an Italian family - heck, no one who has ever seen or read "Eat, Pray, Love" - would ever think that this is "authentic." So how is this even newsworthy? It's newsworthy because Darden Restaurants has been feeding Ignorant Americans this line of bullcorn for 20 years. If someone lied to you for 20 years about the very foundation of his or her existence, wouldn't you be pissed? No good can come from that.

I've never been to Italy (if anyone wants to sponsor a trip, I'll be happy to blog about it), but even I know that "pastachetti" is a bullcorn word. I know their wine selection is an exercise in mediocrity. I hold no illusions that anyone in the kitchen had learned to make Mortadella and then learned how to stuff it into intestinal casings themselves.

I worked at the Olive Garden for a few years, and the level of corporate bullcrap would make your spaghetti spin off your fork. At one staff meeting, we were asked to discuss the merits of Italian sociability.

"Can anyone tell me what 'hospitaliano' means?" the manager asked.

I raised my hand: "It's a word the marketing department made up to sell more food to people who don't know any better."

I can't imagine why I never won Employee of the Month.

This is not an authentic Italian insalata.

None of this means it isn't tasty food. Frankly, I liked a lot of it, the way I love veggie chips. Just as I don't think there are fresh vegetables in the bag, I also didn't think there was actually someone's Nonna in a test kitchen in Tuscany working her arthritic fingers to the bone to bring "authentic Italian food" to the American masses. Classic Italian recipes are well documented. What would they have been paying her for, transcription services?

Did they send their employees to Italy for training? I don't know. Maybe. I never knew anyone who went. But corporate offered a contest every year to employees. In theory, one employee from each district got to travel to the test kitchen in Tuscany to learn more about Italian food and to "bring that knowledge back to co-workers." Riiiiight. I saw "travel to... Tuscany," and immediately took home an application.

This is not an authentic Italian chicken marsala.

"Describe how this trip would allow you to bring the Hospitaliano philosophy back to your store to encourage your co-workers and better serve your customers?" it asked. Well, roughly; I don't remember the precise wording.

There were only so many stores in our district, maybe 10. Of those stores, each one submitted only one or two applications each year - about a dozen, total. I had a one in 12 chance of winning a trip to Italy. Them's good odds.

Y'all. I spent two weeks working on this essay. I worked hard. It was a four-page masterpiece of precise grammar, adjectival acrobatics and effusive corporate bullhockey. The only other employee to enter at our store was a 45-year-old grouchface, despised by many, beloved by none. She was not the epitome of "hospitaliano," whatever corporate wanted that to mean. She was the epitome of pathos. She turned in a two-sentence response to the question that - even in that short composition - contained TWO comma splices (don't judge me, y'all. I totally don't copy edit a dang thing I put up here). If everyone put as little thought as her into this contest, I was a shoe-in.

Or so I thought. Guess whose application got forwarded to corporate as the store selection?

Maybe I shouldn't have been such a smartass.

This is not an authentic Italian... heck, I don't know WTF this is. Is it even edible?

In truth, the comment I made at the company meeting was well after my application had been rejected; after I worked 10 hours of a 50-hour workweek off the clock, more than once, so the company didn't have to pay overtime; and after the third time I had to complain about the same male employee slapping my butt - one time, so hard that it left a bruise. He was later named Employee of the Month.

But, as serving jobs go, it actually wasn't a bad deal. A flexible schedule and cash-in-hand were very nice things for a college student. It was also a valuable crash course in basic public relations. Anyway, I worked at worse places. There's a certain steakhouse in town that I won't go near because I know how the kitchen is run.

This is not an authentic Italian waitress.

I am comfortable eating at the Olive Garden, although I didn't often eat there before I worked there, and I have only been back once, at my mother-in-law's request. I know the food has been stored and prepared appropriately, and I know the kitchen is clean. I know the servers work their butts off. (No one's back there making eighteen bowls of salad for your table, or wrapping as many baskets of breadsticks, guys. They run all shift long - especially during Never-ending Pasta Bowl month. Tip the shit out of them.) But I also know the food is not "hospitaliano." It's not authentic. It's not Italian. At best, it's "Italian fusion," which is like saying "nouveau Southern cuisine" - the basic ingredients and spices are the same, but there are non-native elements to them.

This is not an authentic Italian.

Usually, however, these fusion methods are not created by a corporation. Fusion is inspired by a diaspora of people and culture, in such a way that the ingredients from the immigrant culture and the native culture melt into a delicious amalgam of non-traditional but complementary flavors. Think jalapeno cornbread. But just as your Southern grandmother would not be caught dead at a freaking Po Folks restaurant, because the food is crap and the name even worse, "Uncle Nick" from the Italian side of your family would not be caught dead at the Olive Garden.

They say to find the best ethnic cuisine in your area, eat where there is an abundance of people of that ethnicity dining. For example, if you want Korean in Augusta, you don't go to Blue Sky Kitchen - though I do enjoy their version of bulgogi. You go to Arirang on Deans Bridge Road. Because what you get at Blue Sky isn't really bulgogi. Likewise, you don't go to Bonefish Grill thinking the Bang-Bang Shrimp is authentic Thai food, either. You go to Thai Kitchen for authentic Thai food. So you don't go to Olive Garden for Italian food. Italians won't set foot in the place.

I'll let Anthony Bourdain sum it up it in his own special way: "Olive Garden? That. Is. Not. Italian. Food. It may sound Italian, but so does chlamydia. That's not any good, either."

Monday, July 11, 2011

Anyone have doggie diapers? For real?

Monday, July 11, 2011 By

A puppy showed up in my front yard. Emmie and I were on our way out the door to meet my parents for lunch in Greenesboro, and there it was. So cute, so tiny, so sweet.

So right when we had to leave.

But I couldn't leave it there. It was obviously tired and hungry.

We took it inside and gave it water and lunch meat, acclimating it to the house before setting food and water in the bathroom for it. We took up the rugs and closed the puppy in the tiled room, knowing I'd have something to clean up when I got back.

Yep. Just a little something...

WRONG.

"It was everywhere!" I told Alice. "This dog is obviously sick, and completely lacking the instinct to stay away from its own poop."

Alice cackled into the phone.

"No, really, it's like it ran around pooping, and then walked in it. There were little poop footprints all over the place!" I said.

Alice gasped from laughing: "Why does this stuff always happen to you?"

"I have no idea."

But wook at dis wittle face... could you be mad?

Friday, July 08, 2011

I will be so excited... later

Friday, July 08, 2011 By

A.W. calls me about plans for Saturday night.

A.W.: "Are you off the grid? I was starting to get worried."

Me: "No, I just didn't have any reception in Greensboro."

A.W.: "Oh, that explains it. We still on for tonight?"

Me: "Heck, yeah, trivia all-stars! Do you want to hit up Takosushi first? Or just burgers at the bar?"

A.W.: "Oooh, Takosushi... Eh, no. That would cut into my laying-around-doing-nothing time."

I like the way you think!

Wednesday, July 06, 2011

Rollin' on the rivers

Being the fabulous ladies we are, Allison Brown and I decided to take our kids to Gatlinburg, Tenn., over the July 4 weekend. Her cousin owns a vacation place there, and she kindly let us borrow the place for the weekend.

So I booked us some rafting and tubing, and we set out for the mountains… along with about half the population of the surrounding four states. I don’t know why we didn’t anticipate that everyone else might also like to be in the gorgeous Great Smoky Mountain National Park over the holiday celebrating the birth of our country, but we were just totally clueless that way.

Who wouldn't want to see this? BEAUTIFUL!
We got out of Atlanta (where we picked up my 13-year-old nephew) with ease. But we hit a traffic jam in Rabun, near Brasstown Bald (my zombie apocalypse retreat) and then periodically ran into stop-and-go conditions: Turnerville near Tallulah Gorge; Mountain City/Clayton near Black Rock Mountain State Park; Cherokee, N.C.; downtown Gatlinburg... the moral of this story is leave early.

Side note: between Cherokee and Gatlinburg is a crazy-long stretch US-441 that is nothing but winding mountain roads. Go to the bathroom before you leave the outskirts of Cherokee. No, really. Even if you think you don't have to pee, some of those sheer cliffs will scare it out of you.
Stop and check out the bears painted by native artists in 
Cherokee, N.C. This one is my favorite.
Also, Allison drives like the bad guy in “Roadhouse.” She likes to test the imaginary force field between lanes. At one point, we veered into the parking area of a mountaintop observation point. Without slowing, she merged back into the lane, glancing over slightly to see if I noticed her mistake. I TOTALLY DID.


Because of traffic, we missed our scheduled rafting time. I called the outfitters, slightly panicked that we’d bottled up the kids for several hours only to loose our rafting trip.

“Oh, how late do you think you’ll be?” asked Customer Service Rep Ashley.

“Uhh…. a lot,” I answered.

And we were. The road to get there wound down into a part of the valley that scrunched the road into just one lane at times.

“I’m not convinced we’re going rafting,” Allison said. “I think we’re going somewhere to die.”

But we made it... an hour and a half after our scheduled time. When we arrived, a cheer broke out in the back of the minivan, from two teen boys and two elementary-school girls who had been cooped up in a metal coffin for I-don’t-even-want-to-tell-you-how-long-it-took-us.

“Hi, are you scheduled for rafting? What’s your party’s name?” the young clerk asked at the check-in counter of USA Raft.

“Yeah, we’re the Sucky McSuckersons who couldn’t get here on time,” I said.

“I don’t think we have a party by that name,” he deadpanned. But he had our paperwork all prepped so I’m pretty sure he knew who we were.

They were so chill about us being late. They kept bumping us to different departure times whenever I called. When we got there so late that no other party was running the mild lower end of the Pigeon River (class I-III rapids appropriate for children as young as my 6-year-old), they assigned us our own one-boat tour. Thanks, USA Raft!

Our guide, L.J., was an experienced rafter who grew up on the river, canoeing it with his brother from the time he was about 10 years old. He had a long ponytail and beard, and spoke with a mountain accent that one doesn’t often hear in our flat-earth media culture that tends to whitewash Southern styles. He offered tips on reading the river, engaged the kids, told personal stories and was as laid-back and friendly a guide as you could want on a beginner’s trip.

The boys picked up paddling naturally, and seemed very comfortable in the front of the raft. Anna Grace was her usual composed self, paddling like a pro in no time. Emmie and her little paddle were so short that she flipped up more freezing mountain water into my lap than she did actually help to propel the boat, and she whacked me in the face a couple of times before I took it away from her. Thank goodness for helmets.

The moms hung out in the back, the better to keep a watchful eye on our brood – but also to let them have as much fun as possible. The trip was mostly Class I and II rapids, with a short Class III run near the end. It was mild, but very enjoyable. The Pigeon is a dam-controlled river, so I suggest going on days when the dam releases water. The rafting companies know the schedule and will help you coordinate the trip.

It looked mostly like this. But that meant swimming! Yay!
It had been almost a decade since I went whitewater rafting. While the class of the run didn’t really excite me, it was great family-and-friends time. It was also a nice reintroduction to a pastime I hope to enjoy more frequently in the future, now that Emerson is old enough to do it, too. And I think she’ll be wonderful. She was the first in the water to swim, and was the one who ventured the farthest away from the boat.

This is more like it. Next time...
If you buy a rafting trip from USA Raft/River Rat, you get all-day tubing the next day. No, I am not being paid to say that. River Rat offers unlimited tubing on the Little River, with unlimited shuttle service. The staff is very friendly and helpful. While the line to get a tube and follow the ramp down into the river seems long, you can pass the time chatting with other folks in line. We sent the kids on a bathroom break and to explore the outpost's store.
Our wait was about 30 minutes, but it was a heavy-traffic holiday weekend. Most other weekends aren't so crowded.

Depending on water levels, the run is about 2 hours long. Midway through, you can test your bravery – and upper body strength – with a rope swing over the water. If you’re really, really stupid, you can climb the three-story tree next to it, and leap off into the water like two idiots we saw. I do not recommend that. It was incredibly dangerous (I was reviewing my CPR skills in my head), but it was fun to watch.

Emmie climbed up onto the boulders and tried to chicken out – but there’s no way back down those rocks once you get up there. In the end, she jumped off the rocks into the water instead of swinging on the rope. She felt safer, but it was actually the same height as the swing. She wants to try again next trip.


I want to try, too!
The Little River runs through a residential area. Essentially, you’re floating through residents’ back yards. Be respectful of them. They were very friendly for people who see a parade of yellow-tubed goobers every day, and waved and smiled at the kids.

There was a brief townie-vs-tourist situation, apparently, that I did not witness. But my nephew said:

“So this kid was fishing, right, and he cast his line out into the water, like, right past this girl’s face. She was about six. And her dad said something to the kid, like, ‘Hey, right into the middle of tubers? Really?’ and the kid said something smart back to him, and the guy was like, ‘I’ll throw that pole in the water.’ Then, the kid left and like 20 rednecks came out yelling, ‘Oh, you gon’ threaten to drown my son with his own fishin’ pole?’ and then a hush fell over the tubers. And the guy tried to pretend like he didn’t hear them, but then some idiot pointed him out. So they started yelling back and forth and finally the fishing kid’s dad was like, ‘well, maybe it was an accident.’ But it totally wasn’t. They should make a movie out of it called ‘The F-Bomb.’ Or ‘Stupid Rednecks on a Riverbank.’”

Sounds like a man-sized grade school slap fight to me, but my nephew infused it with big drama. Do you see how awesome he is? “And then a hush fell over the tubers” – LOL! Adore him.

At the end of this run is a pretty wooden suspension bridge for pedestrian traffic. You can watch other tubers come in. And you can watch them fall down a lot on the slippery rocks. Then buses come by to pick up the tubers and tubes, and everyone acts all stupid like they’re going to elbow their way onto the bus first. Seriously, just hang back. Another bus will be there in three minutes. It’s not worth the stress, and, anyway, your kids want to spend that time trying to bounce each other off the bridge.


Only four at a time are allowed on the bridge. 
Guess who listens to that sign? NOBODY.
And then, despite the fact that you just spent two hours on the river, and might have broken your tailbone on a rock, the ride back to the starting point takes only about 10 minutes. Apparently U.S. Raft/River Rat has a Stargate. Awesome.

Would we recommend this as a family outing? Definitely. The total cost of the rafting and tubing, not counting gas, etc., was about $165 for 6 people. It’s not the kind of thing you can do every weekend, but it’s worth it when you can.

Things to remember when rafting or tubing:
 

1.     If your company doesn’t hold their customers keys for you at the counter, bring a small mesh backpack with a Ziploc bag for your keys.
2.     Sunscreen is essential. Not only do the sun’s rays rain down upon you, but they also bounce back up from the water. Remember your hairline and the edges of your swimsuit.
3.      Bring water shoes that fully enclose your foot. You will want a shoe that will not come off in the water, that drains easily, and that has a protective, gripping tread on the bottom.

If you go rafting/tubing:

Bring: Water shoes, sunscreen, change of clothes, towel, love of adventure.

Leave: Non-waterproof items, irreplaceable items, grumpiness, fear, children who cannot swim.

Friday, July 01, 2011

What's up, doc?

Friday, July 01, 2011 By

While I wrote, Emmie was eating dinner: Fish sticks (shudder) that she'd been begging for, and carrots with cinnamon, agave nectar and cranberries to balance out the Soylent Green that sits on the plate beside them.

"Mom, can I hab some more fish sticks?" (Hell, no)

"You haven't touched your carrots, honey."

"Yeah, wull, I'm jus' gonna eat all my fish sticks first, and den I'll eat da carrots."

Huh? That doesn't make sense. Wait a second...

"Are you scared of my carrots?!"

She hid her face, laughing.

"Well, guess what? You're still going to eat them."

She laughed harder. I'm really happy to have a daughter with such an active sense of humor, but it's not always the most delightful when it's pointed at me.