Category Archives: adventures

My trailer might be cursed

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It’s taken me a little while to gather up the energy for this post. Sometimes it takes a little bit of time and perspective to have a proper laugh over events that really aren’t funny as they are happening.

We sold our beloved red trailer and bought our ’67 Yellowstone in June. It took a few weeks and a team of elves to get her nearly into camp-ready shape. We tried to take her out in the heat of July but were thwarted by problems with our doorknob. The rest of July was just too unbearably hot to think of camping. August was pleasant but somehow we were never able to go. More than one weekend Rob or I suggested that we might finally make it away for a long-awaited inaugural night in our trailer, but for one reason or another no 24-hour space could ever be carved out to get away.

In the meantime, I made progress on our doorknob issue. The actual replacement knob was just too expensive to consider. I found a similar knob that I thought would work, but when it came in I found that the inside knob prevented the thing from closing if it were installed, and that the opening on the side of my trailer door could not quite accommodate the hardware. I ordered the handle version of the same knob and asked my kind brother if he’d cut a larger opening on the side of the door. He was glad to do this but had not yet had a chance to do it when mid-September rolled around.

In August, when our schedule prevented us from camping, we did make a date with some friends to go together in September. We still held out a hope of going by ourselves before that date, but in early September our towing vehicle overheated and had to be taken in to a garage. We were hoping for a minor radiator problem; instead we discovered that our old Discovery needed a whole new-to-it engine. This was unfortunately in keeping with all the other experiences we had in the first two weeks of September, what with the plumber, the electrician, the waterproofers, electrician again, and the sad state of Rob’s primary vehicle making us wonder why our karma took such a nose dive. But I got through the upheaval in my home and the pain of writing the checks by fixing in my head an image of how much fun we were going to have finally camping with our friends. We were to get our old ‘Rover back on that Friday, and would load it up and head for camp with our friends after soccer practice on Saturday. I daydreamed about the dog finally napping on her little bedroll, about finally getting to use all the sweet accessories I’d had so much fun collecting, and in general of relaxing in that space and using the night away as a barrier between the problems we’d been having and the new week that was to start on the other side.

Now, I’m 36 years old and I’ve had things break before. I really do know that when cars are supposed to be done on Friday that they sometimes aren’t. I know that getting through stressful events by focusing on one that may not happen is not really a good coping strategy…but somehow in the heat of it all I lost that wisdom. So when Friday morning came and I phoned Rob to make arrangements for picking up our ‘Rover and found out that it wasn’t actually ready at all, I should have dealt with it better but I didn’t. Instead, I’m sorry to say, I, um, lost my shit. I cried like a baby. I cried about my kitchen sink, and my dishwasher, and my basement, and the wire to the garage, and the hole in the back of Rob’s car hood, I cried because I knew that I should actually get a grip and be grateful that our family is whole and healthy, I cried about the money, and mostly I cried because I really, really, really wanted to finally use my damn trailer and I couldn’t.

Rob said we should go camping anyway. We had a tent and we had supplies, we had friends planning to meet us, and we had all the s’mores ingredients I’d already bought. I knew he was right. I didn’t want to break our date just because we couldn’t take our trailer. I occupied myself with other things for an hour or two to calm down and then I sat down to make a list of the things I’d need to gather to go tent camping. Then I started crying again. Almost everything we needed was in the camper. I was going to have to go in and out of my trailer a hundred times to unload and repack all our sleeping bags and gear, and I felt like root canals, childbirth, cat poo cleanup, or that “Call Me Maybe” song on endless loop would have been preferable to taking our camping gear out of the Yellowstone without ever having used it in there. I promise I really did (and do) have perspective on where my Tiny Ass First World Problems fit in the grand scheme of things, but that perspective isn’t actually all that helpful when you’re in your kitchen losing your shit over a disappointment that may not be worthy but is still very real.

I thought about ways to get myself out of unpacking the trailer. The most achievable scenario seemed to be renting a truck to tow it to our campground. We spend a certain amount of money on each family member for Christmas; if I petitioned to use my Christmas money this weekend to secure a rental truck no one was likely to complain. In fact, the kids seemed very enthusiastic about the idea (they were disappointed too, after all) and I think Rob must have felt like anything was better than me crying about it again. I discovered that the rental car companies would not rent me a car to use for towing, but that I could secure a U-Haul pickup with a hitch for a reasonable price. I went to make my reservation and discovered that most of the area’s U-Haul pickups were already reserved for the weekend, but that I could pick one up 10 miles away in Indiana. I’d have to be driven over by Rob and the kids, be charged for mileage back to my house, hitch the trailer and drive the 28 miles to our campground, then do the whole thing in reverse the next day and have the truck back within the 24 hour rental space. I didn’t even hesitate. Mileage charges for Christmas, a time constraint, and the extra hassle couldn’t possible be as bad as unpacking my trailer to go tent camping. I reserved it.

We were a happy band of campers that Saturday morning. We checked off the soccer game, packed our cooler, picked up the U-Haul truck. I wasn’t bothered that I didn’t have the new doorknob on the trailer yet. The old one still shut but just wouldn’t lock. I bungeed it to the handle-grip next to the door to make sure it wouldn’t come open in route.

I invited Belle up into the passenger’s seat of the U-Haul and we left home, with Rob and the kids following me in our family car. (The family car, for the record, does not have the towing capacity to handle our Yellowstone.) Our friends sent us a text message that they had arrived at our campground and secured a nice site for us to share. I sent back the happy message that we were leaving and planned to be there soon.

We’d gone about a mile into our 28-mile trip and had not yet reached the highway when the trailer door flew open. I pulled over and surveyed the situation. The bottom of the handle-grip to which I’d bungeed the doorknob had come off the side of the camper and lost its screw. The top still seemed to be firmly attached. I went inside the trailer and collected duct tape, made sure no items inside had shifted to where they were likely to hit the door and force it open again, and then duct-taped the door shut all around. I made a loop with the tape and re-attached the handle-grip to the doorknob as well, for extra security. We laughed cautiously at having to stop so soon into our journey but felt like we’d remedied the situation and traveled on.

We were on the highway traveling through Louisville’s west side when my duct tape job gave way. The door to the trailer flew open with so much force that the door’s window shattered in a spray of glass. The metal handle-grip detached from the side of the trailer and flew through one of the trailer’s back windows, also shattering it. Rob immediately phoned my cell to ask if I’d seen it, but really, how could I have missed it? We were near an exit and we took it, pulling into a vacant lot right off the highway. Rob and I got out of our vehicles and stared at the broken glass shards that were all that was left of the door and back windows. Rob put his arm around me and kept saying, “I’m so, so sorry.” I knew he really meant, “please do not start crying again. Please.” I fetched the trash can from inside the trailer and we disposed of what glass was left in the broken windows.

At this point we decided to try bungees again. I had a stout bungee in the back of our family car and with the windows out we had more possibilities for places to hook it. We got the door shut very firmly and duct-taped again more thoroughly for redundancy. We made it across the state line and were only a couple miles from the exit where we’d leave the expressway when the door swung open again. We took an exit and made for another parking lot. The bungee had shredded like dental floss. I don’t know if it was an old bungee, maybe a little brittle after a lifetime in the back of my car, or if the force of the door was just too much for even a bungee in good health.

We were only a few blocks from a hardware store I knew of, but Worth had fallen asleep. If Rob left me with the trailer in the lot he’d have to wake the boy up to take him inside the hardware store. We couldn’t wake a sleeping kid; I abandoned the U-Haul and the trailer in the parking lot and crammed myself and my fifty-pound dog into the front seat of the family car. Dorothy, Belle and I sat with sleeping Worth while Rob went in and purchased a bucket of fresh bungees. We made it back to the trailer without waking our boy, got Belle transferred back to the U-Haul, then set about securing the door with as many bungees and at as many points as we possibly could.

Once we finally pulled in to the park which housed our campsite I felt like we we’d come much farther than we had. The grumpy lady who took our money asked skeptically if we had reservations. I thought “bitch, you are not going to keep me from camping here.” I assured her we had a spot and drove off without listening to whatever else she had to say to me. No dominatrix gatekeeper with a librarian complex was going to stop me now. We were united with our friends, parked the trailer at our spot, and then I parked the U-Haul at the lot designated for extra vehicles. Another camper told me he liked my truck. I didn’t whack him.

The next 18 hours passed with far less drama. Some of our party got covered in ticks, but at least that is a possible hazard that always comes with camping. The children had great fun burying small cars in dirt and then exhuming them; the grown-ups drank a lot of wine and beer. Our dog went into overprotective watch-dog mode and growled at everyone outside our party all night long. But it was fun. It was fun to finally put down the bunk and hoist Dorothy up. It was fun to unroll the bedding and sleep on my polka-dotted cushions. Our friends’ homemade wine was delicious, and it was even better to drink it out of the aqua-swirled cups I’d placed in the trailer cabinets with such great expectation. We walked, we sat, we drank, we talked. The weather was perfect, the food had all the smoky flavor of a real fire. Ahhhhhhhh.

I’d like to end the story there but unfortunately there is a wee bit more to it. We stayed in happy camper mode a bit too long the next morning and were in a rush when we finally bungeed everything closed, hitched the trailer back to the U-Haul and pulled out. Our configuration of bungees this second time around didn’t seem to be as well-engineered as the day before and the door started swinging open and then quickly, violently closed as we drove down the state road near the campground. We did what we could but were still concerned about getting home with out incident. After our first stop to rearrange bungees I realized we were probably not going to make it home in time to turn around and return the rental truck within our 24-hour window, and two days of U-Haul rental was a more generous Christmas gift than I’d intended to claim. I phoned my parents, who lived much closer to our campground, and appreciated their willingness to house my trailer until we could get the door secured.

We dumped the trailer at my parents’, dropped off the U-Haul in the nick of time, then piled once more (dog on my lap) into the family car to get back home. I don’t think I’ve ever been so tired after such a short trip. My nice brother came to my aid a few days later, installing the new knob and even pulling the trailer back to my house for me. We think we’ll get our Rover back this week, and Rob already has a new camping destination in mind.

I’m not sure how I feel about it. We’ve gone to a lot more trouble than I ever intended to have a little family fun. The adventure reminded me a bit of our day trip to Mercer County, without all the poo and nudity and with a little more genuine frustration. I’m still working on laughing about it properly. I’m hoping that after this experience and the one before it, the next time I post about traveling with our Yellowstone I’ll just be gushing about all the fun we’ve had. Yes, indeed.

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An attempt at camping and a 4th of July dress

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Well, we tried to go on our first camping trip in the Yellowstone. I’m just going to copy and paste the status I wrote on Facebook about the experience, as I’m not sure how I could sum it up any better here: “This stage of life is really all about making family memories. So some day my kids may recall the time that our travel trailer was not quite ready to camp in yet, but Daddy wanted the family to accompany him on a business trip, so Mom stayed up until midnight trying to figure out how to air condition the thing and then packed in a haze and hurry after church, and we made it to Elizabethtown, but then Mom tried to go inside the trailer at a gas station to get something and the only door key broke. And then how we sat in a blazing hot Lowe’s parking lot while Daddy tried to have a new key made, only they don’t make that shape of key anymore, so we bought grease instead and tried very hard to open the door before the key split the rest of the way but we couldn’t, so we drove back home and the dog practically kissed the ground she was so glad to be back and Mom made a pitcher of margaritas for herself and let the kids eat the junk food we’d packed for the trip. Ahhhh, my kids will say, those were the days.”

The photo is my poor hot, sweet boy asleep on the sofa when we came back. We’ll try again soon and I’m sure things will go better. First I have to find a new doorknob, which I’ve not been all that successful with so far.

I’ve taken a break now from all things trailer-related to do a little sewing for people. Myself, first off. I’d bought this fabric a few weeks ago to make a dress to wear on the 4th of July. I feel like sewing it on Independence Day itself counts, right? It’s mid-afternoon and the dress is done; I was on time with the project. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it. I cobbled this pattern together myself from a bodice I liked the idea of but had to alter (Butterick B5176) and the skirt pattern I always use (Simplicity 2758). It has a zipper up the side under the arm. It fits comfortably and I love a dress that is wash and wear. The fabric has the very fancy schmancy name Imperial Pheasant Paisley and Butterflies and is from Fabric.com. It is more pink in person than it looks on Fabric.com, but I like it and the pinky shade makes it seem more appropriate to wear on any other old day of July too.

I am cracking up in the second photo, as you can tell. I insisted to Rob (who is not our usual family photographer) that he quit taking my picture from navel-level, which is pretty much the most unflattering possible vantage to have one’s photo taken from, so he climbed our kids’ slide and promised to save my camera if he fell, then snapped the shot. Thanks, sweetie.

Our NOLA and Orange Beach road trip

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So I think I mentioned that I took quite a handful (ahem…825) of photographs on our recent vacation. I finally combed through them today and picked the hundred or so best for a Blurb book I’m hoping to make before a coupon expires. I wanted to share just a few favorites on my blog, but excess seems to be the name of the game for me and vacation photos. I narrowed it down to twenty-three I simply had to share.

The first two go together. “Real food,” southern-style, at a truck stop in Alabama. Wouldn’t mistake that menu for one from a Yankee state, would you?
Although we’d already eaten lunch we had to try something from a place with so much local flavor, so we came away with these deep fried peanuts, which the package informed us to eat “shell-nall.” Well, we did. Dorothy declared them nasty, Worth spit his out. Rob seemed rather neutral. I loved them! Ate the whole bag over the course of the vacation. I thought they tasted rather like high-fiber peanut-butter filled pretzels. Yum.
This photo was taken walking down Canal Street on our first night in New Orleans. All the lights and craziness had us mesmerized after our long drive, and Dorothy couldn’t keep her little germ-magnet hands from exploring the city along with her eyes. Bourbon Street revelers threw beads to Dorothy from a balcony and she scrambled all over the ground scooping them up with joy, having no knowledge of the racier version of that tradition. A panhandler told her she was the most beautiful girl he’d ever seen and she believed him completely and glowed with pride.Worth was given a little freedom to explore out of the stroller with the help of our monkey backpack, which is a contraption that would have horrified me before I became a parent myself. Now I figure it’s not a child leash because I’m not yanking on it; it’s saving my kid both from screaming and from being struck by traffic. Worth buys into the idea that it’s just a cute toy that allows him to walk just like his sister, without the indignity of holding Mom’s hand. We stuck beads on the monkey for fun and got laughs all over the French Quarter.Each of my family members took in New Orleans in his or her own way. Worth looked for sticky things to touch. Rob and I looked at architecture and sweets. Dorothy looked for ways to spend her souvenir money. She found a small plush cat at an expensive little doll shop on Jackson Square and it became her constant companion for the rest of the trip.Rob became the happy owner of a new Stetson at the awesomely old-school Meyer the Hatter. He used to be a regular at the store when he traveled to New Orleans for business. Now their hat selection was one of the things that drew us back as family vacationers.Dorothy and I took the street car through the Garden District and out to the end of the line and back, just like the character Jenny the Giraffe in a book we’d read before our trip. I loved how the book had prepared her to enjoy the ride. She was thrilled when we passed the same landmarks Jenny had introduced us to, and she enjoyed herself more just by having some context for the experience. Her kitty seemed to enjoy the ride too.After so much excitement, however, Dorothy pooped out halfway through the return trip. I thought it was sweet that my fiercely independent girl could still nap with her head on Mom’s lap.Sleep was nowhere near Worth’s mind when we seated him in front of beignets at the Cafe du Monde. I’d made beignets from a mix earlier in the summer to get us excited for our trip, but they were definitely not like the real thing. Worth looked at the powdered sugar and just dug right in, face-first.
There is something that brings out the kid in everyone at these little sea-side gift shops. Worth and Dorothy still had money to burn (thank you grandparents!) during the second leg of our trip, and we were all happy to hit some beachy souvenir shops when we arrived at our next destination a little too early for hotel check-in.
The campy charm of the gift shops is a little timeless, I think. Other than the slogans on the shirts, have they really changed much since my childhood, or that of my own parents? We loved the shark entrance of this one in Gulf Shores.

Worth took to the beach immediately. I’d expected some hesitation about the sand or the waves, but my boy was full of fearless joy the the whole time. He met the waves head on; he ate sand.

I hope the size of this picture shows the detail that made me include it. Worth’s face is covered in sand.

Dorothy immediately made new friends each time we went out to the beach. If she couldn’t remember their names she’d just boss them around by saying, “friend! take this,” etc. She played age-old beach games with children from Alabama, Tennessee and Louisiana while her father and I chased our sand-eating son.

I was a little unsure about how to spend Worth’s souvenir money. Although he doesn’t talk much he has a way of making his opinions known, but he hadn’t seemed to develop any real opinions about gift shop items until we found Gawk on Orange Beach. Worth offered Gawk the pacifier out of his own sandy little mouth right there in the gift shop, so I knew we had to take that parrot home. Sweetly, boy and parrot snuggled in the hotel bed.

One afternoon we took a dolphin cruise. Rob and I were impressed with the number of dolphins we saw (many), and the kids were really impressed that I bought them chips from the boat’s snack bar. Vacation, baby!

Dolphins.

Me with my chip- and sand-filled boy.

We took the children to an old fashioned mini golf course. There were plaster mermaids, tiki gods, all the good stuff. It turns out, however, that our little family may not be quite ready for mini golf yet. Worth wanted to throw the balls (see him here, trying to pry Rob’s out from under his foot) and Dorothy had no interest in playing a game she was unlikely to win. Oh well–now we know.

My family patiently displayed on-cue affection in front of my tripod on our last night on the beach. We have a photo of Rob and I kissing Dorothy on another beach when she was Worth’s age, and I wanted to recreate that photo with the four of us. My sweet family, on record!

Dorothy used the last of her spending money to buy (drum roll, please) another small plush cat, this time with matching plush carrying case. Amusingly, the two cats and their purse still seem high in the toy play rotation at home, even several weeks out. I guess she knew what she wanted. How silly of me to think that souvenirs should say something about the place they came from–these kitties say something about my little traveler!

And a tired-out boy, sun-kissed, sand-filled and still fully dressed. These are the memories I want to keep!

A neckwarmer for Nana and Halloween politics

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This cowl is for Nana but I didn’t think I’d get her to pose for a blog photo. It’ll look sweet with her green eyes. This is the first pattern I’ve finished from the awesome book Crochet So Fine by Kristin Omdahl. I love the patterns in this book because they are all beautiful items that look crocheted. Sometimes crochet patterns look like they are trying to be knit patterns, which just doesn’t work. These lovely, lacey items show off the best of what crochet can do, in my humble opinion. Rob did have to laugh at me a bit for making a neckwarmer because it is the kind of thing that is only worn by people who knit or crochet. You don’t often go to the mall and see a display of neckwarmers. Maybe some day they’ll catch on–it is nice to have a warm neck, no? In the meantime, I hope Nana likes it.

This is my Very Expensive Fairy. We had a bit of an adventure regarding this year’s Halloween costume for Dorothy. I don’t make the kids’ costumes. Store-bought costumes have been, up to this point, cute and affordable, and I don’t like to toil over a project that will only get worn once. I’m all about seeing my kids in their homemades on a regular basis. My favorite Halloween tactic has been to purchase once-used Old Navy costumes on eBay for a just a couple dollars. The Old Navy big-belly costumes are cute and warm and comfortable for the trick-or-treater. Dorothy sized out of them this year, however, and declared that only a “pretty” costume would do. No more fuzzy purple dragons around here. I showed Dorothy some very cool costume ideas from the Family Fun magazine, which I love. She vetoed them all. I pulled up a Halloween website and let her browse the selection to get ideas. What I hadn’t realized yet is that costumes marketed for 5-year-old girls would look more appropriate on a Bourbon Street call girl than on my kindergartner. After lengthy searching and the input of her (older) neighbor girl, Dorothy announced that she found the costume she wanted. I looked. It was a $48 Barbie costume with a slutty vibe and wings.  Wow.  I told her (switching plans on the fly!) that we weren’t actually going to buy online, but I’d take her shopping to buy her costume in person. I remembered seeing some very cute costumes at the Gymboree outlet on my recent shopping trip. Rob needed something from the mall anyway. I figured that once we were there in person she’d fall in love with an age-appropriate “pretty” costume and the whole thing would end happily. When we went into Gymboree, 36 days before Halloween, the costume selection was already very picked over. The peacock costume I’d admired at the outlet mall was only available at this point without the tail (what’s the point?) and many of the costumes were only left in one or two sizes. There was, however, this adorable fairy princess costume. It fit the bill for her–pink, fluffy, “pretty,” and it involved wings like the neighbor’s costume. It fit my bill (so I thought) because there were matching warm tights available, it seemed to be of good quality, and it didn’t make her look like a 5-year-old floozy. I thought we’d really found the solution until the saleslady asked me for $69.91. What?! I’d not even looked at the price, never dreaming we’d be paying so much for tiny bit of tulle and some plastic accessories.  Yikes. But as memories of the Budding Buxom Barbie costume flitted through my mind I paid it. Dorothy never even saw me flinch. And it’s cute. Adorable, even. She’s as sweet as can be in it.

Locked in the basement

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First a finished project. I made a super-comfy skirt out of a thrifted jersey sheet. It’s soft like pajamas! It’s casual but cute–a skirt to wear with flip-flops. I love wearing skirts in the summer because they are cooler than capris and don’t have all the thigh-rubbing (sorry, I’m just shaped like that) and burning-legs-on-leather-car-upholstery issues of shorts. I think this one will become a summer favorite.

Next a funny story. Dorothy has been a little high-strung lately, perhaps due to all the talk at school about final days and transitions. She was passive-aggressively “waving” a doll apron at her brother, in a way that just happened to involve whipping him with apron strings. I asked her not to, she told me she was just fanning him and continued to do it. I asked her to go to her room and settle down. She stomped off to her second-floor bedroom angrily. Then I noted that the baby seemed to be happy tormenting the cat (whipping him with apron strings, perhaps?) so this seemed like a good moment for me to run some Costco purchases downstairs to our chest freezer. When I came up the basement stairs I found that the baby had tired of tormenting the cat and had moved on to fiddling with the basement door–in a way that involved locking me in the basement. As I stood there on the steps he opened the tiny cat door and waved at me pleasantly, thinking it was some kind of game that I was staying on the other side of it. It had been on my mind that I should get a screwdriver and remove those old locks before something just like this happened, but of course I hadn’t had the sense to do it yet. So I had to stand there on the basement stairs, frozen turkey bacon in hand, and yell for my exiled daughter over the sound of Pandora on the Old Crow Medicine Show station. She finally heard me and came down, sort of puzzled by the very short amount of time she was required to spend in her room. I explained the situation as calmly as possible and gave thanks that she’s still young enough that she just laughed at what her brother had done and let me out without further torment.  Shew! Now I really will take off those old locks before she gets old enough to be vengeful, or is waiting to be picked up at preschool next time I get locked in the basement.

Finally, I just joined Twitter but I don’t know anything about it. What do I do next? I’m RenataHomemade.

Day tripper

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So today’s post is a bit, er, off my usual beaten path. Rob had a work-related commitment in Mercer County this morning, and since the rest of the day was supposed to be a holiday for him we all tagged along to have a little outing.
Much of Kentucky’s population lives in the Louisville/Lexington/Frankfort corridor, and the rest of the state is where Kentucky jokes come from. I don’t mean to ditch on my Commonwealth brethren, but just to draw attention to the fact that life looks a lot different in the more rural parts of the state than it does in the comparatively urban ones. Ahem.
So Rob and I, being the diligent planners that we are, visited the Mercer County website to figure out how best to spend our day trip. What does it mean when the Mercer County website says they are “within a two hour drive of 2.5 million people”? Is that like being almost urban? Or cosmopolitan by association? What if I said I live within a two-hour drive of lovers and haters and beautiful people and bigots and fools and poets? Does that actually say anything at all about me? So we tried Google instead and decided to spend our day in downtown Harrodsburg and at Old Fort Harrod State Park.
We set off smartly this morning, kids in tow. The house was left clean for a real-estate showing, the kids were dressed very sweetly in matching outfits (store-bought this time); we made an auspicious start with four people in good moods and ready for adventure. The drive went well, Rob dealt quickly and successfully with his business, and we decided to try to find local color in the little town square area. We found a diner and decided to give it a try.
So far, so good. Breakfast served all day, yeah! The mostly senior citizen crowd seemed to think our kids were cute, so they’d likely be forgiven if they made a bit of noise. We placed our order and made friendly faces at the people next to us who were cooing over the flirting baby. Dorothy’s chocolate milk arrived and it was that really viscous, dark brown chocolate milk that I haven’t seen in a long time and I’m sure my organic-chocolate-syrup-stirred-into-lowfat-milk kid had never experienced. She started sucking it down, fast. I saw my food coming and decided to switch the baby to my other knee, to free up my fork hand. That’s when I realized we’d had a poosplosion. My apologies to readers who don’t have kids, but it happens. I’d put him in a hand-me-down diaper we hadn’t tried out yet–big mistake on a trip. There was baby poop all over my skirt and all over the bottom of the fully clothed baby. I make pitiful noises at Rob, who saw the problem, jumped up and handed me a roll of paper towels from the bar (glad it was the down-home kind of place that has paper towel rolls just sitting around). But this was really not a job for paper towels, and the only restroom there was a tiny facility you accessed by walking right through the establishment’s busy kitchen. No thanks. I clutch the dirty baby over the skirt poo and headed for the car.

Unfortunately we’d parked right in front of the restaurant and it also had outdoor seating. I never turned around to see how many people were watching us, but we were only a few feet away so I’m sure we had at least some corner-of-the-eye audience, which is just what you want when you’re trying to clean poo off yourself and your son on a public sidewalk. I grabbed the bag I’d packed for the day and located wipes, a bag and a clean diaper, but to my chagrin I realized Worth’s change of clothes had been left with some other items in the bag I’d packed for church yesterday and accidentally abandoned under our pew. Never fear, I thought, because I keep an emergency change of clothes for both children in a bag in the back of the car.

I fetched the emergency stash and pulled out…a teeny tiny newborn jammie that I could not even have tugged over the feet of my enormous 4-month-old chubster (please notice his tummy rolls in the photo above, jammie laid out on the car seat to show scale). Too bad I hadn’t updated that emergency stash lately! So I scrubbed him down with baby wipes–poo-soaked shortalls pulled down, poo all over lower half of baby; poo-soaked onesie pulled up, poo all over upper half of baby. But I had a Costco pack of wipes and I did get him all cleaned off, in the front seat of the car, with an audience of sidewalk diners, and put him in a fresh diaper. He looked radiantly happy and grinned and cooed at my the whole time I tried to clean my own skirt off with baby wipes, napkins and a bottle of water, all still on the sidewalk and with an audience. At this point I was both totally grossed out and starving. There wasn’t much else I could do, so I walked back into the diner with my soaked but still visibly dirty skirt and my nearly-naked baby. This time our neighbors pointedly avoided looking at me, which might have been for the best. I choked down what turned out to be very disappointing french toast (fried Wonderbread, anyone?) and tried to laugh.

We decided the next course of action should be a stop at a store that sold clean clothes, so we consulted the car’s navigation system for nearby shopping options. Of course there was a Wal-Mart handily right down the road, and I swear I never was so eager to go shopping there. Target would have been green with envy to see my eagerness to rush into that blue bastion of rural capitalism. I abandoned my naked baby in the parking lot with his father and rushed first (sorry, I have priorities) to the adult clothing section, envisioning the purchase of a clean skirt or maybe, in a pinch, a pair of capris. I found the women’s section quite easily (“women’s” being a euphemism for “clothing for bigger gals”), then the tiny skimpy junior shorts, but didn’t see the clothing for people my size. I circled back around. I wandered over to the pots and pans. Was I missing it? It turned out the Wal-Mart only carried a few pitiful little rounders of clothing for average-sized people, and none of them contained skirts or capris.
Now I get that Kentucky holds strong at the seventh-fattest state, but seriously? One cannot even purchase average-sized clothing downstate? I do not hold anything against heavier people, nor do I fit into the scrawny salad-munching soccer mom mold myself, but WTF?? I went in with very low standards–I needed something to wear that was better than a shit-smeared skirt, and I found nothing. Wow.
On to the children’s department. I did a little better there. A Carter’s romper for $4 that said something innocuous about surfing. At least I was able to find clothing in his size that wasn’t emblazoned with a sports team or a cartoon character. I made my purchase, dressed the baby, told myself no one would notice the now-dry discoloration on my skirt anyway, and we drove to the fort.
It was a really hot day to visit an outdoor exhibit, but we figured the place would be bustling anyway on a holiday. Dorothy professed hope she’d be able to pet a lamb as we’d seen on the website, the baby was ready for a nap under any circumstance, and Rob and I were still gamely ready to learn more about our state. Unfortunately, the reality was a bit different. The oppressive heat seemed to have kept most visitors away, the (full-grown) sheep sulked deep out of reach in the shade, and the costumed staffers seemed about to melt. But the trip still felt salvageable until we rounded the corner of the fort to the “primitive” or Native American exhibit. There sat a state park employee, in the dirt, in a manner that I have to say threw me off even more than poop down my skirt in a diner.
Are you familiar with Jay and Silent Bob? Well, the man in the dirt reminded me of Jay as much as anybody, definitely with a stoned sort of look but also with multiple facial piercings, and (I’m sorry, dear reader, I warned you this was off the beaten path) was wearing a loincloth. And a shirt. But on his lower parts, which were seated in dirt, as part of (I think?) an exhibit, he was wearing only a leather loincloth. Jay, from Jay and Silent Bob. With facial piercings. In a loincloth. In the heat. It’s not that I’m a prude, my friend, just that I’m confused about the historical accuracy/necessity/advisability/legality of any Kevin Smith character wearing a loincloth anywhere near me or my children. And yet there he was, talking about curing animal hides (seriously? I couldn’t make this up!) to another visitor standing on our side of the fence. Rob and I exchanged one of those married-people glances that mean 1000 things in one tiny look, and we, well, got the hell out of there.
I was trying to decide if I was going to recover from all that poop and Jay-in-the-loincloth all on the same day, trying hard to focus on a soap-making exhibit that normally would have really interested me, when the phone rang. Our realtor called, and today’s showing went swimmingly! We probably sold the house. The potential buyer will sleep on it first, but intends to write an offer tomorrow. We’re so glad, and so anxious all in one. We need to find a house/pack/mortgage and all of those things. We finally just gave up on our day in Mercer County and drove home to a liquor cabinet that I must remember to pack last at this address and unpack first at the new one, because honestly, on days like this, isn’t that cheaper than therapy?