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Lilypie Kids birthday Ticker
Friday, July 31, 2009
Laugh of the Day
All politics aside, this is just funny.


Thursday, July 30, 2009
The Power of the Big Girl Bed
Sera and I got home last night from visiting my sister, Marcia, and her family in Atlanta. We had a wonderful time. One of the things that Sera most enjoyed was playing and napping in her Cousin Ava's big girl bed.

While we were out of town, Jim took down Sera's crib and put up her bed. We were well overdue. Sera has slept in beds anytime we've gone out of town, but it was just so easy keeping her in the crib at home. She still easily fit in it, plus it kept her contained. I didn't want her wandering around the house while we slept and tumbling down the stairs or something worse. We've talked about her getting a big girl bed for months and finally decided to wait until summer. The summer was getting away from us because I didn't want to change her room and then go out of town.

Last night before she went to bed, I told Sera that if she woke up needing to go to the bathroom, she could now get up on her own and go. She tested this. Within five minutes of Jim leaving her room, she was calling me to say she had to go potty. Of course, she didn't actually have to go. That meant we had a little chat about staying in bed and getting up only when she really needed to potty. I tucked her back in, and she slept soundly until she came into our room at 7:30 am to let us know it was wake-up time. She was beaming with pride.

After a lazy morning at home, we decided that Sera and I needed a fix from our favorite Chinese restaurant. A quick stop at Wal-Mart to buy some new curtains for her room because paranoid mommy wants the blinds down now, and then home for naptime.

Normally, she chooses one of us to take her up (usually Jim) and gives the other hugs and kisses. Today when I told her to pick who was taking her upstairs, she first chose Jim. Then she changed her mind and said that she didn't need anyone to take her up. She's a big girl. We agreed. She gave us both hugs and kisses and headed upstairs.

And we sat.

And we waited.

And we looked at each other.

Any minute we knew that we'd hear her run around or call one of us or get into something.

And we waited.

Nothing but silence.

Jim went upstairs to see what she was doing. Guess what he found?

Sera was all tucked in under her blankets and sound asleep.

That was way too easy.

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Monday, July 27, 2009
Batter Up

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Sunday, July 26, 2009
Afternoon on Wheels

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Friday, July 24, 2009
Drive-in Frisbee

Even though we're in Atlanta, we still ended up at the drive-in on Friday night. Love it!
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I don't expect a full bag when I open a pack of Doritos, but I do expect more than 25%.
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Thursday, July 23, 2009

In case anyone was wondering, this is what it looks like when interstate traffic comes to a complete stop in Kentucky!
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Tuesday, July 21, 2009
One Of The Best Things
We all know why it's important to get to a healthy weight. It's to improve our health, to improve the way we feel, to improve the way we look, to get more energy, blah, blah, blah...

Want to know one of my favorite parts? Going through my closet and trying on a shirt that hasn't fit in years.

And it fits.


Saturday, July 18, 2009
Yay, It's a Harade!

This morning I turned on the TV to find out the weather forecast for the day. The Saturday morning news show was pre-empted because they were broadcasting a parade. It's Enshrinement Weekend for the College Football Hall of Fame, and there was a big parade going on downtown. All sorts of football bigwigs, floats, balloons, bands, etc... Sera got very excited and wanted to go see it. I had to tell her that by the time we got there the parade would be over.

She's been a big fan of parades or harades as she calls them since seeing the one in Mesick for the Mushroom Festival. When we came downstairs, she decided that if she couldn't go to the parade, she'd make her own.

Sera is developing a very rich and colorful fantasy world, and I love every imaginative minute she's having.


Thursday, July 16, 2009
Gotta Love The Crock Pot
Last week, I took a sirloin tip roast from the freezer planning to slow roast it. I haven't done that in a long time. More than the roast dinner, we enjoy thinly slicing the leftovers for sandwiches. It's cheaper, tastes better, and is better for you than buying sliced roast beef at the deli. I took it out planning to roast it on Saturday while Jim went to see the Tigers play. Since it takes two to three days for meat to defrost in my frig, I didn't want to leave it for another day when Sera and I ended up going to the game, too.

I only had about 15 minutes to spare before we left on Saturday. I put the roast in the crock pot and decided to go with the old standby - add a pack of onion soup mix and a can of cream of mushroom soup. Of course, that's when I discovered I was out of mushroom soup. Here's what I did instead:

Vegetable Beef Stew/Soup

1 sirloin tip roast
1 can tomato soup
1 pkt onion soup mix
1/2 can water

Mix soups and water together, and pour over the roast. Turn your crock pot on low, and go to Detroit to watch the Tigers play. When you get home at 2:00 am, transfer the roast and sauce to a storage container and refrigerate.

1/2 bag baby carrots
6 red potatoes, cut into bite-sized pieces
olive oil
1 box beef broth
roast, shredded
leftover sauce from the crock pot
1 can diced tomatoes
1 can low-sodium corn
1 can low-sodium peas

Two days later, when you finally get a chance, place large pot or Dutch Oven on med-high heat; add olive oil to cover bottom of pot. Add carrots and saute until just starting to brown slightly. Add potatoes and beef broth. Bring broth to boil and cook until potatoes and carrots are fork tender. Add the roast and the sauce as well as the remaining vegetables and any others you might have in your pantry/freezer. Look at the clock and realize it's just 10 in the morning. Turn the burner to low, and let simmer until your husband comes home for lunch.
Bow and accept the compliments because this is awesome!


Tuesday, July 14, 2009
Open Letter to our Friends
I don’t know how else to reach out to you. I know you read here, so I’m hoping this will be okay. Let me begin by saying we love you both, we love your children, we’ve missed you. It had been a very long time since we’d seen you. The last time we did, it wasn’t the same. He was so angry. We gave you time and space hoping that it was an isolated time as neither of you acted that day like the people we’ve known for so long. We thought there must be something going on. We hoped and were sure you knew we were right here if you needed us.

Recent events had you reach out to us again, and I was very happy. We’ve missed you. Sera has missed you. It was horrifying to see that the anger is still there, and it’s worse. He is so angry. The rest of you seemed afraid. You should be. He frightened me. I don’t know why he’s become such an angry person, but he needs help. His anger is escalating. I don’t know how far it’s gone. I hope no further than what we saw, but I know that if he was willing to be that angry in front of us that it must be worse. We cannot witness that. We cannot let Sera be exposed to that. Jim’s history would not allow him to stand by. The law would not allow us to stand by. We are mandated reporters. What we witnessed yesterday was so close to crossing that line that I fear for you.

We know he is not a bad person. This is not the man we’ve all known. I’ve known him the least of all and that has been for over 10 years. Someone doesn’t change this much without a reason. It could be medical. It could be something that happened. It’s not our business what caused this. I am just so afraid that if he doesn’t get help, then something horrible is going to happen. Something that can’t be undone. A person can’t live with that much anger without it hurting themselves or others. We don’t want to see anyone hurt.

We know that you two have always argued. You’ve always had a loud, vocal relationship. This isn’t the same. In fact, you never argued once in front of us our last two visits. I missed that. Those arguments were never mean-spirited. They were the way you two communicated, and the love was always obvious. Now I see fear and supplication.

There is support all around you. Your family, his family, your church, your doctors, us. How can we help you? Please get help before it’s too late.

We miss you.


Monday, July 13, 2009
Growing Up

In our quest to visit every Cabela's known to mankind, we saw this dress at every one. Each time Sera saw it she would fall in love again.

On our last stop on our journey home from Utah, we saw the dress had been marked down. The only one left was actually too big, but that just means we'll get another summer out of it.

Last night, she pulled this dress out to wear today. She also chose her shoes, hairband, & purse. Where oh where did my baby go?
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Sunday, July 12, 2009
A Year of Change
I stole this photo from Jim's blog. We pose for this picture every year at Comerica Park, home of the Detroit Tigers.

As you can see we've all undergone some changes this last year. We've grown or ungrown...disgrown...err....you get the idea. What's really funny is that we're all wearing the same hats, Sera & I have on the same pants, and Jim has on the same shirt.

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Saturday, July 11, 2009
On Our Way Home

One tired little Tiger.
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Here Are My Tigers

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Very Happy

Sera waited 11/2 hours for this cotton candy. She spent that whole time asking for the vendor. Finally Jim just went to get it and, of course, the vendor showed up.
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Play Ball

Go Tigers!
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Do You Know What This Means?

If you guessed we're on the road again, you're right.

It's just a day trip though. Jim has had this excursion on his calendar for months. He and some of his fellow teachers go to a Tiger's game every summer. At the last minute, two of them cancelled. This means Sera and I get to go.

She could not be more excited. She keeps yelling Go Tigers! We've got cameras with us and will get some good shots.
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Wednesday, July 08, 2009
Road Food

Just before we hit the road for the big Utah camping trip, I found out that I would be receiving a voucher to try Kraft's Bagel-fuls. The timing could not have been better. Well, actually it could have been if I could have received the voucher before we left, but it was still pretty good. After a week of prepping, cooking, and freezing all of our meals for the camping trip, I realized that I hadn't considered any road food. Taking into consideration that I would have a 12-year-old boy and my 3-year-old daughter in the car for two straight days, I wanted to pick up some things that would be tasty, yet not just pure junk food.

I wandered the aisles of the store picking up juice & milk boxes, individual cheese sticks (string & colby-jack), yogurts, etc... Then I headed over to the frozen section to check out the Bagel-fuls. Honestly, my plan was to buy a box for us to eat before we left so that I could have my review ready in time. When I read the preparation directions and realized they could be eaten without heating, I realized they'd make a great addition to my road food selection.

I bought a box each of the blueberry and strawberry flavors. I did try one of the blueberry bagels at home because I wanted to try it toasted. It was delicious. Toasting is definitely preferable to eating them just thawed. However, I have to say that when we were crossing the very long and restaurant-free state of Wyoming those strawberry Bagel-fuls hit the spot. It was such a nice change of pace from standard road fare.

My daughter isn't quite old enough where I have to worry about packing school lunches yet, but I already have school plans for these bagels. My husband and I are both teachers and brownbag our breakfast and lunch every day during the school year. I am always looking for something that is easy to pack and eat at our desks. These bagels fit the bill perfectly.

The best part? Coming home and finding my voucher in the mail. Now I get to go pick up another box!

Thank you to 5 Minutes for Mom and Kraft for including me in this product review.


Tuesday, July 07, 2009
Miracle at Sunset Point
I didn't realize until yesterday how few pictures we took on this trip. Bret used Jim's camera to take pictures from the moment we left until the moment we returned. While in Utah, we downloaded the camera to a cd and gave it to him, so we don't have copies of those pictures. While we were in Bryce Canyon, I didn't use my camera because I was acting as chauffeur. To be honest, we got all those pictures last summer. I don't currently have access though because I can't get to the external hard drive on the network right now. Instead, I'm posting pictures from recent weeks when Sera and I rejoined the local weekly playgroup. That's one of the best perks of summer. Yesterday's pictures was taken at a small man-made beach on a nearby lake the week before we left for Utah. Today's picture is riding the pony at the zoo from early June.

As I've previously mentioned, I took all the kids to Bryce Canyon every day to give Jim, Jeff, and Dee some privacy and quiet as they went through John's affairs. On Wednesday, I decided we'd picnic while there. I packed up chips, plates, napkins, juice boxes, and soft drinks. All the food we had with us would require heating, so we stopped at the store and picked up some luncheon meat and bread. When we dropped the guys off at Dee's house, she added cookies and apples to our stash.

We got to Bryce Canyon and headed to Sunset Point for our picnic. This area had picnic tables and restrooms, plus it was the site for a geology talk. Two of the boys had expressed an interest in this. In fact, they bonded discussing rocks. My thoughts were that Wendy would take the boys over to the geology talk while I took Sera back to the car and encouraged her to nap.

Two o'clock arrived and I sent the rest of the gang off while I walked an unhappy Sera to the car. She was in desperate need of her nap, but didn't want to leave the others. I was struggling to get her in her carseat when Wendy's son came back to the car. He was looking for her bag. I opened the passenger door and told him to come around as her bag was where she had been sitting, not on the other side of the car. When I leaned back in to finish buckling Sera, I must have grabbed the door frame because the next thing I knew the door had swung shut on my hand. The door was fully shut, and my hand was stuck. The pain was one of the most intense pains I've ever experienced. I started screaming for Kayson to come around the car and open the door. I was trying, but I could not open the door with my left hand. I was sure my hand was crushed. In what felt like hours, but was probably really seconds, he came around and opened the door for me. I painfully moved my fingers to make sure they weren't broken and sent him back to the others. I got Sera buckled and drove the car around to where the talk was taking place. You could see the mark angling across my fingers between the first and second knuckles on all four fingers. The pain wasn't nearly as bad as before, but I felt jittery and nauseous. Sera didn't fall asleep, but the 30-40 minutes we waited for the talk to end was enough for me to settle down. My fingers stiffened up and felt like they were swelling, but it didn't really look bad. I iced my hand immediately and again that evening. When I woke up on Thursday, my hand wasn't even sore.

When that door first closed, I was convinced that we would be visiting the local ER and that I'd seriously damaged my hand. I still can't believe that my hand was perfectly fine. I must have found a sweet spot between the door frame and door that protected my hand.

When everyone returned to the car, I drove us up to the highest point and started down stopping at the different view points. Sera had finally fallen asleep, and I wanted her to nap for at least an hour. Bret got out every time I stopped to take pictures. James got out a few times, and Kayson stayed in the car playing with his video game. Wendy also got out to take some pictures. When we got to the Natural Bridge, I made them all get out to see it. It's my favorite spot there.

My plan was to stop at the Visitors' Center to let the boys souvenir shop, and then stop at Old Bryce Town, another souvenir store, to let the kids look at all the pretty rocks. Sera woke up just as we pulled into the Visitors' Center. Close enough. We got to the rock store, as they named it, and I gave the boys a time to meet while Sera and I wandered. Wendy had a headache and decided to lie down in the car. I took Sera to this big bin of different rocks, mainly lots of quartz. You could fill a small bag for $2.49. Sera meticulously picked every single rock before adding it to her bag. That was the best $2.49 souvenir I've ever bought. After an ice cream cone treat, we all piled back in to meet up with the guys and head back to Dee's for dinner.

This evening ended like every other, with all of us sitting around the fire roasting marshmallows long after anyone wanted to eat any more of them. And that is just how it should be.

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Monday, July 06, 2009
I am so tired, so very tired. The summer of '09 is turning out to be quite exhausting. It all started on June 8th. That's the day I started cooking for our big cookout. We had friends visiting from out of town, and we wanted to host a BBQ for anyone who was available on the following Sunday to see them. They had moved away in 2002. Jim has an aversion to covered dish parties. He thinks it's rude to ask people to bring food to our house if we're having a party. I love cooking for parties, so I don't have a problem with this at all. I started cooking on the Monday before and freezing what I could.

Our friends arrived on Saturday afternoon. From that day until Thursday, we had guests at our home every evening. We had dinners and campfires in the yard every day. It was tons of fun, but lots of work, too.

During our party that Sunday, Jim received the phone call from his father that changed everything. That was when his partner, Dee, took the phone from John and let Jim know how sick he really was. He died the following Sunday.

That week was filled with getting ready to go to Utah. This was not a scheduled, nor a budgeted trip, so we planned to camp. I started cooking and freezing again. I planned out all our meals and brought everything as cooked or prepped as I could to avoid eating out as much as possible.

On Saturday morning, Jim, Sera, my nephew, Bret, and I set out for Utah. Over the next 48 hours, we spent 31.5 hours in the car. The week in Utah was very busy. There were some really enjoyable times, but it was also on the stressful side. We decided that we couldn't do that drive over two days again, so we took three to get home. Saturday and Sunday were not bad drives, but Friday was one of the worst and most stressful travel days I've had. As I started to type the other day and lost on the Blackberry, we got off to a late start. Tearing down the campsite always takes a little time, but most of the time was lost trying to get everything in the car. We were expecting a couple of boxes of family photoes. There were more like seven boxes. I'm still in shock that it all made it inside the car.

We finally hit the road around 11 am. Jim and I hadn't had anything to eat. I know that Jim's sister gave Sera some cereal and milk, plus snacks while the car was being loaded. I'm not sure if or what Bret ate. The closest fast-food we could get was an hour away. We wanted to just grab some food we could eat in the car. We'd lost enough time already. Jim took the first leg and the majority of the driving. I took over somewhere in Colorado, I think, and drove us to our dinner stop north-east of Denver. The Rockies are just gorgeous, but the constant elevation changes are really hard on me. I never realized until we visited them last year that I am sensitive to elevation changes. I immediately get headaches, light-headed, and it's harder to breath. Not seriously, but enough to make it physically tiring to me. We'd actually planned to eat in Denver before we realized that the route was actually going to take us around the north-east part of the city. When we switched highways, we ended up going through the industrial section of Denver. Not exactly filled with eating establishments, ya know? By the time we saw some restaurants, I pulled off the interstate without even caring what they served. We ended up at a Buffalo Wild Wings for dinner.

When we got back in the car to finish our drive to Sidney, NE, Jim pointed out a cloud on the horizon. It was a white fluffy cloud at dusk, but you could see flashes of lightning inside of it. Soon we noticed several clouds like this on the horizon. It was actually very pretty, almost like a light show with the lightning inside the clouds. Within about 45 minutes, the rain started. Almost immediately it turned into a complete and torrential downpour. We literally could not see the road. We couldn't tell where one lane ended and another began. We couldn't tell where the shoulder was to pull off. We couldn't tell what was beyond the shoulder - a field or a huge ditch. All we could do was follow the blinking hazard lights in front of us. Eventually, through flashes of lightning, we found the shoulder and pulled off. The rain seemed to lighten up a bit, and we followed the car in front of us as it pulled back on the highway. We soon noticed an exit coming up and decided to pull off the interstate and wait out the storm. By the time we reached the bottom of the exit ramp, we realized we had made a huge mistake. The road was completely flooded. We'd driven right into a flash-flood. We pulled into the closed gas station at the corner and pulled up next to other cars who'd driven up the slight incline to the garage doors. Other cars followed us in. You could see the water shooting out of the manhole covers in the roads, and the current on the road was moving very fast. The rain continued to lighten up. We watched the road and noticed that the cars were able to make it as far as the entrance ramp back to the interstate and decided to get out of there. Being stuck on the side of the interstate was preferable to being in a flood. Luckily, the worst of the rain was over. The rest of our drive to Sidney was uneventful, but we were already wiped out.

On Saturday, we left Sidney with plans to go at least as far as Des Moines, IA. We wanted to save as little of the drive for Sunday as possible without killing ourselves by trying to get back in just one more day. We also stopped at several of the Cabela's in Nebraska so Jim and Bret got to feed their inner outdoorsman. When we hit Iowa, we decided to go as far as we could. We even briefly, very briefly, entertained the idea of going all the way home.

One of the very great things we had on this trip were our Blackberries. I did start looking for a hotel in Des Moines in case we decided to call it a night. In the process, I found a hotel online that offered a 100' slide with their pool. It was in Coralville, about two hours further east. We didn't see anything in Des Moines and decided to keep going. It was also really fun watching all the 4th of July fireworks displays as we passed by the various Iowa communities. I kept Googling looking for a good place to stay. Finally, we passed a billboard advertising a hotel with a waterpark. It was 15 miles before the hotel in Coralville, so we decided to stop and check it out. This is how we discovered the Amana Colonies. I was not familiar with them and found their story quite interesting. The hotel had rooms available and was priced competitively with every other hotel off the highway. The main difference was that we did not get a free breakfast. Instead we got free passes to their indoor waterpark. Okay, waterpark might be exaggerating slightly. It was pretty small, but it was a perfect way to let Bret and Sera blow off some steam before another day in the car.

We took out time on Sunday with a morning at the waterpark and a few hours in another Cabela's before getting home around 7:30. We could tell the minute Sera truly recognized where she was. She was so excited. She started cheering and yelling that home wasn't too far away any more.

This morning was rushed as I got both kids up, dressed, and out the door. We had to go out to eat because I had nothing to feed them after being out of town for 9 days. No bread, no eggs, no milk, no breakfast. A late breakfast, a quick tour of Notre Dame, and then off to the airport to see Bret off. Sera was very sad. She wanted Bret to stay with us. I had to explain to her that Bret's mommy and daddy missed him and it was time for him to go home.

When we returned home, I just crashed. It was the first moment I just stopped and it all hit me like a brick wall. A look at our bank account showed us just how much even a cheap trip across the country cost us. Even bringing our own food and camping for most of it was not enough to keep it from costing a small fortune. This on top of being treated by everyone as if we were the "rich" relatives who were expected to pick up the tab (hence all the food I brought to help offset this) or people acting as if we were trying to get something was just too much. What exactly did they think we were after? John had nothing. When Jim brought me to meet him, he was so humiliated because his father was living in a camper shell. Not a camper; a camper shell that you put on the back of a pickup truck. Anything of value that he had was purchased by his partner. We never asked, expected, or dreamed of getting anything of monetary value when John passed. What we, and by we I really mean Jim and his brother, went to pick up were the things that John received when his mother died: all the family photos and few isolated items such as the folding yardstick that Jim's grandfather used in his shop or the medicine bag that John had made for his mother during her illness and had specifically told us he wanted Sera to have one day. That was it. There was no money expected. There was no money offered. There was no money received. There was plenty of money spent. It's really sad how death brings out the worst in people.

This post is so long that I don't expect any to read it. If anyone persevered long enough to have to deal with my rant, then you get to hear this news as well. One of the things I've wanted to blog about, but haven't been able to sit down and write about is my weight issues. I know I've mentioned them, but I really wanted to address them. I kept putting it off until I had time to write some big, eloquent post. I can do big, but I don't know that I can do eloquent. It's time to stop waiting and start telling. Jim's active approach to getting healthier has inspired me to try and follow in his footsteps. I'm taking babysteps to his big gigantic steps, but I've been working on it since April. I was shocked this morning (I weigh myself every Monday morning) to learn that I had lost over 7 pounds in the last two weeks. I didn't weigh myself last Monday as the tent didn't have a scale. This makes about 32 pounds since I started in April. I'm not breaking records, but at least I'm moving in the right direction.

Okay, I feel better now that I've typed out my rant. Thank you, and good night!

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Saturday, July 04, 2009
Happy Fourth of July

Our plans for today include driving across Nebraska and half of Iowa. It may not be the most exciting way to spend the holiday, but we're happy to be on the way home. We're breaking up the rest of the drive over two days.

Yesterday was just awful. Between tearing down the campsite and getting all the family photos in the car, we didn't leave Panguitch until 11 am. The drive through Colorado is beautiful, but exhausting.

I just spent 20 minutes going into detail before my Blackberry ate it. This phone really needs an undo feature. My thumbs aren't up to retyping it all. This will be continued when I get back to a real keyboard.
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Thursday, July 02, 2009
Sera's Rock Garden

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Camping When The Weather Doesn't Cooperate

Today's plans originally included a fishing trip for Jim's brother, Jeff, & his son and a hiking trip for Jim & Bret. While we slept last night, the rain began. It stopped and then started again at 6 am. By 7, it stopped again.

I got up and went to weather.com to learn today's forecast calls for scattered thunderstorms and the area is under a flash flood watch. We don't have to worry about flooding, but it sure put the kibosh on hiking and fishing.

Instead, we've commandeered the pavilion available for tent campers. We''re the only ones left as of now. Jim and Jeff have one of the tables where they are sorting through old family photos. The boys have another where they have Jeff's laptop set up and they're watching movies. Sera is at another watching one of her movies on our portable DVD player when she's not running around the tables. I have my book and my Blackberry.

We've put out all our food out since we all leave in the morning. Luckily, tonight's activity is indoors. Bret and I, and anyone else who is interested, are going to qn astronomy presentation at Bryce Canyon.

Tomorrow begins the trek home. We'll take three days going back as two was just too hard on everyone. We have a reservation again in Sidney, NE. We'll camp some where on the way on Saturday.
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