Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Hooray, March! (Someone forgot to tell the weather)

March has been three incredibly busy days thus far. We have had two dentist appointments (at different dentists on the same day!) Paid to have our taxes done, been to Lewis and Clark somewhere in the neighborhood of three times (only once in the last 3 days, but three times in the past 7!) Been to Siloam Springs twice, Bentonville/ Rogers 4x. Been to 5 different WalMarts during the course of the last 3 days, the library, and the USPS Passport office. (Daniel and Sam will be passported quite soon, and Tom and I should apply for ours in a couple of months, leaving plenty of time before we go get the twins in Maine. I really want to see Canada, even if it is just barely crossing the border.)

 We had four or five inches of snow -topped with ice- since Friday, and it is at last melted off today, leaving the ground soggy muddy sink to your shoe tops muck. Tomorrow (starting later tonight) we are to get ice, topped with up to 3" of snow before tomorrow night. My worry right now is Dan having to drive to work in the morning.

The boys have everything for their adventure, I am pretty sure. We have made the lists and checked them twice  five or six times. Backpacks have been packed, weighed, unpacked, rearranged, repacked, re-weighed, unpacked, re-rearranged, re-reweighed and unpacked again. I think the only thing we thought of and are currently missing are abominations flip-flops for camp/shower shoes, and the Dr. Bronner's soap, which failed to make its 2-day delivery guarantee. (Weather delays, they say!)

 The twins are only working one of their jobs this week- The Wooden Spoon. We all three work Friday night! Then we head off Saturday. By Monday, the boys will be on the trail. At least THAT weather looks good. While the starting point of the AT on Springer Mountain, Georgia, is currently getting rain, the three days of the forecast we can view for there right now has sunny days in the upper 60's, and nights just down to freezing once (Just checked, and that one night has been revised to 37*). (Yes, they are well equipped for freezing temperatures.) Their first chance of rain is next Thursday, which may well see them overnight in a motel in Hiawassee, GA, as part of their plan at the moment anyway.

So... This week sees Granddaughter Alana reach 12 years old on Thursday. My Dad will (pretend not to have) his birthday Friday. Since he doesn't read my blog, I can say I got him several varieties of chocolate candy, and a bag of coffee. Happy Birthday, Alana (and Dad!)! (Alana got a book of poetry, and a copy of the movie The Princess Bride.)
I have crock pot full of chili at the moment. The twins are off for a last visit to friends, so they can have chili later... or tomorrow. I have the laundry pretty much caught up... until the twins do a final room cleaning before Friday! Dishwasher is empty, but the sink is half full of dishes I figure can wait until after supper. We should be good for hibernation tomorrow and Thursday.

Keep the Appalachian Trail trip in your prayers, thank you for reading!

Monday, February 23, 2015

For a short month, February has been really long.

Maybe it is the weather. I haven't done my walking in over a week. I had done well, getting 10 miles under foot by the end of the first week. I don't care to go out in the cold, much less traipse along in the snow and mud, so no walking the past week... and it is snowing again. I can't complain about the snow- there isn't much more than enough to cover the ground and soggy my sneakers here. I have friends in other states who have run out of places to put the snow they have shoveled this winter.
 There is snow predicted this week for the nearest town to where the boys will be starting the AT hike. I am praying that it gets all the snow out of its system before the 9th!
I will probably STAY concerned... Mom's do that. However, I do know the boys have plenty of common sense. They are taking state-of-the-art equipment, but they also know low tech survival skills. They have access to enough funds that they can rent shelter in a town if any unexpected major weather hits.
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In other news... Benjamin graduates Firefighter/ EMT school on April 2nd! He will be a bona fide Firefighter rotating regular shifts at the San Angelo Fire Department. Way to go, Benjamin!

I have now worked three Friday nights at The Wooden Spoon. This past Friday was Chicken Fried Chicken night. It is a BUSY night for the fry cook. It was the first Friday of Lent as well. Dan was trying to let me do the work, but he stepped in several times to keep up the pace... we were frying fish, chicken fried chicken, tortilla chips for the BBQ pork nachos, hush puppies. They have an extra (electrical) fryer that is set up on CFC Fridays. I felt like I'd been beaten with sticks when I woke up Saturday morning.
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Saturday, February 14, 2015

Even MORE Blessings, Background and Blog Link

Becky got me started "blog surfing"... Reading blogs linked to other people's blogs, and just "listening" to so many different people. Sometimes I "follow" the blogs I come across. One blog I follow is Enjoying the Small Things . Kelle Hampton is a polished writer, photographer, and a Mom whose children are still small. She has more than 22,200 followers... a huge readership compared to my 14! (yes, just 14- no zeros behind it!) (Thanks for reading, Y'all!)
ANYWAY... Kelle sometimes has sponsored giveaways on her blog. I entered my comment in one such give away a few weeks back- and WON! I am supposed to be receiving a $250 gift certificate to "My Publisher" . This site does photo books- and you all KNOW how much I love photo books! My comment was that I would use the gift certificate to document my twins hike of the Appalachian Trail. So, Wow! I can hardly wait! I really expected the photo books to be more expensive, but they are comparable in price to Shutterfly. (Thank you Kelle and My Publisher!)

Here is a bit of background for Daniel and Sam's Appalachian Trail Trip.

Always an Adventure

Daniel and Samuel  were born to Tom and Tammy at home in Central High, Oklahoma on June 17, 1996; the youngest two of seven siblings. They were entirely home schooled. One of the favorite family outings as they grew up was hiking at the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge near Lawton, OK. From a very early age, all of the kids were exposed to hiking.  Most of Tom's vacations saw the family hiking in the beautiful Hocking Hills of southern Ohio.

For their fourth birthday, the twin brothers asked for and received camping equipment. They spent many nights camped in the yard outside their parent's  bedroom window.

About the time the  boys were eight, the family moved to Arkansas. Being youngest by a number of years, Dan and Sam often visited their grown siblings in Texas. Here, they became acquainted with other families that take annual hiking treks into the wilderness. Two of their older brothers invited Daniel and Sam to accompany them on Trek one year. They all had such a great time, Dan and Sam have continued participating in the yearly adventures even when their siblings have been unable to attend.

Daniel requested a subscription to Backpacker Magazine for his fifteenth birthday. Sometime during the following year, he read about the Appalachian Trail- and the idea of hiking it took root in his mind. Dan was anxious to get a job and begin saving money to finance his hike. By the time he was 15, he had found a job as a dishwasher, and set about saving as much as he could. When he moved up from the dishwashing position to fry cook, Sam stepped into the dishwashing job. Sam wasn't eating, breathing, and dreaming the AT like Daniel. He saved his money and bought a truck, and invested some into hiking gear like Daniel was accumulating. Both Dan and Sam worked several part time jobs for a number of people in the community. When they could manage time off, they would toss their backpacks into the truck and go hiking.

In the summer of 2014, Daniel set his AT departure date: March 9, 2015. He began meticulous planning. Tammy was to be his re-supply person back home. "As a Mom, I was pretty nervous about my son being on the trail alone. I knew Dan was determined to go through with this, so I wanted to support him in any way I could. One of my big concerns was that, as a twin, Daniel and Sam have never been apart more than a few days at a time. This could possibly be their point of divergence."

Before the summer was over, Sam decided that he would be missing an awesome lifetime opportunity if he didn't hike the AT with Daniel.  (Mom breathed a sigh of relief!) Working together, their trail hiking strategy was fine tuned.

Rather than relying on care packages from home, it was determined their best bet was to resupply along the trail. Most of the things that would of been shipped to various Post Offices or hostels along the route were readily available in towns the AT passes through. A few harder to obtain items will be drop shipped from Amazon as needed.

 Tom and Tammy will be dropping Daniel and Sam off at the trailhead on Springer Mountain in Georgia, and picking them up at trails end in Maine. Sam will be keeping a trail journal as well as updating a blog chronicling their progress.  Several of their siblings hope to be able to make the trip to meet Daniel and Sam at the end of the hike, but those details haven't been worked out.
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Here is the link to the Sam's blog, which he will be keeping updated during their hike.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Showered with Favor

I am truly grateful that my children are so blessed by God. They are showered with favor beyond anything asked or expected.
 Daniel and Sam have purchased a good amount of their AT trail gear from Lewis & Clark Outfitters.
One day they met a very friendly older guy in the store that asked them quite a few questions about their planned hike of the AT. Later that day, Dan was surprised to get a call from this guy, Jim Potts, who happens to own the L.&C.O. stores. Mr. Potts asked if the store could sponsor part of their hike.

Yesterday afternoon, the first meeting finally happened. Daniel and Sam never counted on the sponsorship being anything major, and have pretty much purchased all of their own gear.
Mr. Potts and the L.&C. O. team looked over their gear, and planned several upgrades. There weren't a lot of upgrades to be made, as the guys had been purchasing excellent equipment all along. If I can remember everything, Sam will get a new Osprey backpack. Both will get new (I think the brand is Klymit) sleeping pads. Salomon hiking boots. First aid, and bug repellent products. Back-up water purifiers. Omni-wool socks. Base layer clothing, if desired. L.&C.O. tried hard to get Dan to budge on his new tent, but Dan is determined to carry his new Tarptent. Mr. Potts may look into carrying Tarptents in the L.&C.O. stores if he can strike a deal with them.

All in all, the folks of Lewis and Clark Outfitters are impressed with Daniel and Samuel. Ryan, the store contact person said that Mr. Potts almost never sponsors anyone, and he is asked several times a week. When he does sponsor a person, it is never to the degree that Dan and Sam are being set up. Both Ryan and Mr. Potts commented on how mature the twins are, they thought they were several years older. Mr. Potts also said that he has been friends with Cam, the owner of The Wooden Spoon, for many years, and that Cam holds the boys in the highest regard.

In return for their sponsorship, the boys must complete the trail. They will offer routine reports along the way, which will be updated on L.&C.O. web page. Sam intends to keep a paper journal, as well as a serious blog, plus a humorous video blog inset from time to time. His blog will be linked to the L.&C.O. website. Upon their return, the boys will be invited to give guest lectures at the stores from time to time. (The guest lectures are NOT required of them.)

We are hoping that as many friends and family that can set aside what they are doing as the end of the hike approaches, will gather near Mt. Katahdin in Maine to celebrate the end of the journey with us. Best guess of when that will be is last week of July to the middle of August. We will know more as the day approaches.
I will post links to Sam's blog when he has it going!

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

February...

This month is already 10 days old. Half of it has been typical winter weather, cold and overcast. The sun has insisted, the other half of the time, that SPRING is here. The trees and the bees seem willing enough to believe. With the weather hovering at 70ish, the boys as excited about the trail as squirrels on espresso, and Staffmark NOT sending me on assignment, I decided that perhaps I'd better get back to walking.
Baby steps- It has been what, four years? five? since I was walking daily. Today is supposed to be a nice day, before the cold sets upon us again. I have accumulated 4 miles since Saturday.  (This isn't counting today!) Worst part of this is pollen... I am taking the two different "24 hour"  (HAHAHA!)
allergy tablets. Some days they work better than others. And I can certainly tell if I miss a dose. (Side note: the doctor told me to use these two tablets, alternating one morning, one evening.)
Anyway... I'm trying to be more active.
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Four weeks from now, the boys will have spent their first night on the AT. Their tent came yesterday afternoon, so they practiced setting it up and camping out last night. Both had to be at work early this morning, and I've been worried that our exuberant neighbor dog will discover the tent before they get home from work. The neighbor dog loves to play with stuff we don't exactly consider toys. One of her favorite things is my garden gnome "Tom Bombadil" I repainted last summer. At least I ASSUME it is the neighbor dog playing with it... I keep finding the gnome in various places around the yard. Since he is seldom sitting upright when found out of his place in the flowerbed, I don't think it is anyone playing the creepy gnome game.

I have started training at The Wooden Spoon to be the Friday night fish fryer. It will be one day a week I know I will be working. If I get called to pick up hours for Staffmark, Yay! I will just need to be off by 2:30 or so on Fridays. And in the few months I've worked for Staffmark, I don't think I have been at work even until noon on Friday.
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Guess this is all for today!

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Doing "Grown Up"Stuff...

Daniel and Sam are off having some teeth filled this morning. They went for their cleanings a few weeks ago (without me) and were discovered to each have a few small cavities. They brought home their "treatment plans" and estimated costs.
I suggested it be done before they leave for the AT. I insisted they needed to practice this "grown up" business, so... Daniel called and set up their appointments. Now they are on their way. The insurance covers most of the cost, but the boys are paying for the rest themselves.

Our garbage disposal in the sink has been acting up lately. The last couple of times it has just stopped, I was able to wiggle the wire going into the back of the unit, and it worked momentarily. Until last night. So with me in the middle of trying to fix supper, Mr. C dragged out all the under the sink junk so he could have a look at it. At my insistence, he turned off the breaker first. (Boy was there a LOT of stuff under the sink... vases, hummingbird feeders, candle holders, cleaning supplies, plastic and paper grocery bags.... sigh. A mess I had cleaned out in September was back to epic proportions!) A few minutes later, Tom made the announcement: "The garbage disposal works a lot better when it is plugged in." I was so relieved!
But I had to overcome my annoyance at his cleaning methods. He just started throwing things into the trash. I was fishing some stuff out as fast as he was throwing it away. He tossed the dishwasher rinse agent... a half a bottle... because he didn't know what it was for. "Why do (I) keep it under the sink, anyway?" "Where ELSE would I keep it? The dishwasher doesn't hold a full bottle at a time!"

He tossed my hummingbird feeders... which worked fine, even if they were so old they had faded to pink instead of red. My cat food dish... (OK, so I don't have a cat!)
Candle holders because I wasn't using them right.this.minute. Mostly, I just let the stuff go, and seethed a few minutes.
(How would he like if I went through his tools that look like piles of junk to ME, and just started tossing things I could see no purpose for?)
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Yes, I am a packrat. I come by it completely honestly. I AM trying to do better, and de-clutter, to let things go. But I saw myself acting like some of those people one sees in episodes of Hoarders. My STUFF! I NEED that!
I'm not bashing Tom in this. I am examining my own attitude, which was bad. It WAS a wreck under the sink. We DON'T have any place to store things. Why do I feel like I have to collect and save every memento? I have boxes of home school stuff... and no children to school. I have like 60 lbs. of old photos in suitcases, bins, and boxes. (60 lbs. is a VERY conservative estimate.) I have my Granny's chicken collection... and most the younger family members remember her for her teddy bear or taco bell dog collections, so they don't even associate the chickens with her. I seriously need to let things go. My grandkids will remember me for cows, I suppose... yet very few of the cows in my collection hold ANY sentimental value to me at all. I'd hate to think that someday, a great/ grandchild holds onto some of this stuff out of the misguided notion it was important to ME.
(And if it isn't important enough to me to want to bother my grandkids with it, why am I clinging on to it in the first place?)

Identity crisis here, I guess. Is this a symptom of empty nest syndrome?


Friday, January 30, 2015

End of January? Already?

Seems like life is really picking up steam, headed towards our "empty nest". I sort of want to drag my heels and dig in and say "NOOOO!"
But that is hardly fair to anyone, is it? Kids grow up and leave home. That's the way God planned things.
We had more than the American average number of kids, spread over more years than the average family... so here I am in my mid 50's, preparing for the last of the kids to spread their wings and fly!

Either Daniel or Samuel can tell you exactly how many days remain before they take off on their grand adventure. Me, I don't want to count down the days! I am SO thrilled for them, making such an epic plan and working so hard to bring it about. I never did anything so "big". Of course, I was married before I ever got out of high school, then had kids. It sort of keeps you focused at home! Have your big adventure... at least ONE before you settle down.

Not too much is going on, otherwise. I am trying to average one note of encouragement per day... The days I can, I send two... to make up for missing other days. I have lost ZERO lbs. towards my goal of being under 140 by June.

I suppose I best be getting supper on the table. Have a blessed night!
~Tammy~