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Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Too Many Clothes!

Having our three grandchildren staying with us for a couple of weeks (without their parents) has brought back memories of parenthood and made me realize again how much work mothers have to do to stay on top of life at home. 

I remember when my children were young, my biggest dread was "clothes".  I hated clothes.  There always seemed to be the stack of clothes to wash every day, the stack of clothes to be folded and put away, and then the bags of clothes stored for when the next child would "grow into them". 

We were fortunate to be the recipient of hand me down clothing for our four boys.  I say fortunate because we were on a very tight budget and with five little children, clothes were always needed but difficult to buy.  I was grateful for our neighbors for giving us almost brand new items that my sons would be able to use a year or so later.  Then with four sons, we were always passing down clothes to the next boy. 

One thing I did learn was that no one needs 15 pairs of pants and 30 shirts in their drawers.  It is hard to maintain a clean bedroom when the drawers of a child's dresser are so bulging that the child can't even find their clothes and there is no place to put the clean clothes away.  In this day and age of cute clothes, it sometimes is difficult to resist getting way more clothes than a child needs (or even an adult needs).

No person needs more clothes than their dresser can hold.  If you really look at what people wear, they choose clothes from a pretty small selection that they own.  Kids are even worse than adults.  They have their favorites and almost refuse to wear those "cute" clothes that mom loves.

When my sons were young, the velour shirts were popular.  My neighbor gave us "many" beautiful ones   I loved them.  They were so soft and the colors were pretty but my kids hated them.  I would beg the boys to wear them but they wanted to wear "their" favorites leaving these beautiful shirts in the drawer or worse yet, thrown on the floor to step on and get dirty then be added to the wash pile unused.  I learned after the third son refusing to wear them that they needed to be given away.  They took up space in the drawers and made unnecessary work for me as they were having to be washed without ever being worn.

I see moms with so much laundry that they can not possibly get it all done in a day and children's drawers busting at the seams with clothes that they probably will never wear.  I learned over the years that it was actually so much more work for me to keep all of those clothes.  I wish I could convey that to these moms that hang onto those treasured cute clothes that their children will never wear.

My daughter must have brought just about every piece of clothing her children own (she is really good about not having too many clothes for her kids but she didn't know how dirty they'd get at my house so she brought way too much).  I learned the first day after she left that I had to remove most of the clothes for the kids from their drawers and just leave the ones that they truly wear.  I found as I had seen with my own children, that kids will pile through their drawers to find the ones that they really like and wear over and over and dump the others on the ground to be stepped on and washed (yet never worn).  So I pulled out 2/3's of the clothes and packed them away in their suitcases.  Now I do a load of wash a night and stay up with my laundry which in turn keeps a much cleaner house and a much happier grandma!

Friday, July 9, 2010

Senior Hiking #360 - Strong Creek (7th Anniversary of Hiking)

55° partly cloudy

Jul 5, 2010…Strong Creek…tr#444 …hike # 360…
***7th Anniversary of hiking!
by Betsy

The plan was to go up into the Selkirk’s and go off trail to Little Harrison Lake via Harrison Lake. While trying to decide on an alternate hike, just in case of rain, I went thru the old hike reports and thought of this hike out of Hope, and a hard, long and steep hike it is. We’ve hiked this one five times before, a lot on snowshoes and once continuing on to the top of Round Top Mt. That was hard. When the weather report for today sounded ominous, 30% chance of rain, thunder and lightning, it was either this or 12 mile Gold Hill. With the grey overcast skies, we dressed accordingly in long pants.

The trail is a pretty one, going thru lush deep old growth forest for more than half the way up. In spite of overcast skies, the views of Lake Pend Oreille and all the mountains to the west and then north were spectacular. Crossing Strong Creek about two miles up was okay; I just needed a little more help thanks to Jim throwing a huge log in for me to step on.

Wildflowers abounded with Queen’s Cup taking predominance. Lots of Wild Roses, yellow violets and Indian Paintbrush and as is so typical of this trail, the Brain Coral Mushroom. We didn’t see even one Fairly Slipper, the rare and small wild orchid…I thought for sure we would see some in the damp and boggy soil at the beginning.

Now the trail began to get steep and we so regretted wearing long pants and longed for the shorts. Jim finally zipped off his pant legs; I just rolled up the bottoms. The views were beginning to become outstanding. Working our way over and under the jagged Cabinet Mountain shale, we began switch backing across the 2200’ vertical feet to the saddle.

The old Auxor Mine at 5006’ is about 2½ hours up. The entrance inside is now blocked with a strong gate to discouraged idiots from venturing too close to the edge of the deep dark hole! In addition to the gate, so much work has been done on the trail since we have been there…don’t know if it was the U.S. Forest Service who did it but all the drainage issues were also addressed very well.

As we got closer to the top, we could see black clouds filled with “weather” closing in around us and the sound of thunder alerted us to possible wind and rain. I was beginning to get hungry and we debated whether to stop where we were to eat and turn around or eat and decide whether or not to continue. Being so close to the top, we just kept going, taking whatever the weather gods had to dump on us. Looking over across the lake at Gold Hill we were so glad we didn’t climb that…the rain was pouring down heavily over there.

Finally up at the top at 5700’, we found a sheltered spot in the sun to get out of the wind and cold…I put my jacket on and changed my socks on for the trek down. Getting down seemed to take forever; I was in the lead and boogieing fast, carefully avoiding tripping on the jagged rocks. I had to stop a couple of times to adjust my socks in the left boot…it was killing my arch and I’m sure it had to do with the steepness. We saw very few tracks, but one elk track imbedded in the mud stood out very well.

Left home 9:00
Started up 9:40
Got to top 1:15 (3 hours, 35 minutes)
Started down 1:40
Got to truck 4:15 (2 hours, 35 minutes)
Total miles hiked 16 miles
Total hiking time 6 hours, 30 minutes
Elevation gain 3600’ ???

Grandchildren - A Blessing!

Three of our grand children stayed at our house after our family reunion.  They live in Southern California and only get here once or twice a year.  They love to come to Grandma and Grandpa's mostly because the weather in Idaho is so much cooler in the summer than at their home and they have room to run and play here (their house is in a tract with a very small yard).  We also have a river with sandy beaches at our place so we get to go to the beach as often as we want.  They will be here for 2 weeks. 

What a joy it has been for grandpa and I to have these kids (ages 3, 5, and 7) here with us.  Our days are usually so quiet but what fun to wake to giggles (the boys trying to be quiet while others are sleeping - NOT!) and singing (our granddaughter begins her day with Twinkle Twinkle Little Star).  It is fun to hear the cute little comments that kids make.  Our granddaughter, the 3 year old, was trying to tell me that her shovel was clean (it had previously been filled with sand at the beach and she had washed it in the river).  I could not understand the word clean (between my bad hearing and her youthful way of talking, I just couldn't make out the word) so she began to explain that when something no longer has mud or dirt on it, it is then CLEAN.  I guess it helps this old lady to get a definition once in awhile.

As grandparents we forget how smart little ones are.  As a young parent, I never really thought about the things my kids did in the way of talking or actions.  I thought it normal but watching grandchildren, I am amazed at how smart they are and how much they can do.  It is so much fun listening to them tell each other about how things work, what things do, and explain some pretty complex thoughts to each other. 

One thing I have noticed as our children have grown and watching our 24 grandchildren, their personalities shine through from the very beginning.  The little behaviors they exhibit as a small child seem to grow with them as they become adults.  I watch these three children and can begin to see the adults they will be.  The 3 year old will be a leader in everything she does.  She already has complete control of her little world.  The 5 year old is funny.  He is well liked by his peers and smart as can be but he will have to be coaxed to progress as he is very content being the "little kid".  The oldest, the 7 year old, has his dad's aptitude - an engineer.  He is smart, independent, stubborn, and determined.  Looking at the other 21 grandchildren, it is amazing to see how little they have changed from when they were babies.  Those that are athletic, are still very athletic, the strong willed continue that way, the leaders and followers are still leaders and followers. 

Grand parent hood is a blessing.  What a joy to have the opportunity to be around the young.  It brings a brightness to our lives.  I am saddened that one of our sons will be taking his family to the other side of the country.  I understand it is necessary, but sad for us none the less.  We have been so blessed to have most all of our grandchildren right around us but I see as they begin to get older that life will be taking them away into their own directions.  Our oldest grandchildren will graduate soon then others follow very quickly.  I am grateful for email and phones to help us stay close with pictures and communication.  As I do genealogy, I realize that in olden days, children would leave home and sometimes never return or never be heard from again.  I just don't think I could handle that.  It is sad to have these families go back to their homes but I know that I can go see them, they can come see me, or we can communicate anytime through the wonders of modern technology.

Our time with these three children vistiting us is drawing to a close.  Our home will be quiet (and clean) again.  I will miss them greatly but I am so grateful for these memories we are creating.  I am grateful that they get to meet their cousins and have a connection to family.  I am grateful to be a grandma and will cherish this time I have with all of our grandchildren.

Senior Hiking #359 - Mt. Pend Oreille

76° Sunny
June 28, 2010… Mt. Pend Oreille and beyond tr #67
…hike # 359
by Betsy

We got an earlier start today, and after getting “the boys” settled in, we took off. The forecast for today was HOT! The choices were to go up the Upper Pack River Rd to the end, climb to Harrison Lake and go off trail from there, with Little Harrison Lake in mind. I thought there still might be too much snow on the steep granite slabs, not to mention ice, making it quite dangerous.

The second choice was to go over to the Cabinets and climb Mt. Pend Oreille, a mountain we have climbed several times in the past. The majestic peak looms high on the Cabinet Range, and we can observe its beauty daily from our deck.

Driving to the trailhead up Trestle Creek Rd in Hope is an experience in itself...a long and steep 16 mile climb to Lunch Peak, where an old fire lookout still stands. The Forest Service now rents it out to folks who would like to experience what it would be like to live in one for a weekend. The primitive room is quite small and has only a wooden picnic table inside. An outhouse is down the hill, and the trail to Mt. Pend Oreille starts here. Most of the road up had been bladed and several new signs leading the way were installed. The top half of the road however was in extremely bad condition. Snow blocked the road just below the lookout so we walked up to the top to the trailhead.

The trail is a very pretty one, with views of the mountains and the lake just about the entire way. The undulations on this part of the trail are quite comfortable, at least for us. Several scree fields need to be crossed, and were careful to pick our steps wisely. Wildflowers were everywhere, with Glacier Lilies covering the meadows and hillsides with the yellow color of the beautiful edible blooms. There was also a lot more snow on the trail than we anticipated but it posed no problems.

Instead of climbing directly to the top, we hiked around, thinking we might be able to extend the hike off trail over to Mt. Willard (6536’) but serious snow stopped us…it would have been fool hardy to continue, with the cornices and steeps sides. So now we had to climb up the steep snow covered side to get up to the peak…I found ground to go up as much as I could, avoiding the steep snow banks. And I tried not to look down!

Once on top at 6756' elevation, the view was better than the view from Lunch Peak, which is at 6412' elevation. The remains of the old fire tower are still lying around, the cement posts, old telegraph cables and a lot of fallen structures. Other peaks along this trail are very visible...Mount Willard to the north, Smith Mountain, Calder Mountain and Purdy Mountain. From the 360° panorama, we could see the Cabinet Range to the east and Selkirk Range to the west and of course Lake Pend Oreille to the south. We huddled behind a clump of trees to get out of the chilly wind to eat our lunch. Then we climbed to the top before heading down to get a good pic and it was cold.
The undulations seemed to be more in the up direction than down for the trip out…and it got warm again. Cool breezes were now welcome. We saw a couple of cat tracks, and some scat and other than an occasional grouse, we saw no wildlife today.

Left home 10:30
Started up 10:00
Got to truck 4:00
Total miles hiked 11 miles
Total hiking time 6 hours

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Senior Hiking # 358 - Gold Hill

48°  Rain

June 21, 2010…Gold Hill tr #3 and tr#2…
hike # 358 1st day of summer! HA!
by Betsy

Yes, once again, the weather forecast was for 100% rain…and the prediction came thru. So we picked one of our rainy day hikes...we have three or four…and chose Gold Hill. It is a steep climb and it is always hard to decide what to wear…you want to be protected from the wet and cold yet you know you will work up a sweat on the climb. I was glad I put the rain pants on at the trail head…the fast growing brush along the trail side was soaked with water and it did it’s best to get all over me!

There was no one at the trail head and we met no one all day…surprise, surprise. The trail is as pretty as ever, and now full of spring green. So many wildflowers already gone…but we saw sego lilies, wild roses and lot of the small white Queen’s Cup.

The normally great views of the south end of the lake were shrouded in fog today…and the wind was stiff at the top. We didn’t linger long, just long enough to snap a couple of pics for documentation. We continued on to the very top and did the extra 3 mile loop. We ate lunch and I huddled under some trees. Doing the loop makes this hike a good 11-12 miles. Our pedometers always read 12 miles instead of the 11 miles that the sign says. It always feels like 12 miles!!! We were rained on lightly all day and on the way down I got cold and put my sweatshirt jacket on.

There were just a few minor downed trees which caused no problems. It is mostly easy walking with just a few areas of slate…the trail being heavily laden with pine needles, making for a nice soft tread.

Short report…long and very wet hike…for the first day of summer…where the heck is summer???
Left home 10:30
Started up 11:00
Turned around 2:30
Got to truck 4:00
Total miles hiked 12 miles
Total hiking time 5 hours

Monday, July 5, 2010

Family Reunion - A Must for All!

Most of my family live very close to us. We have two children that live far away but one of those we see often. We get together often for dinners or birthday's or fun but we have never really had a formal "family reunion". This year we did.

We have five children and 24 grandchildren. Our oldest three grandchildren live far away and were not able to attend our reunion but everyone else was there. I have wanted to do something as a family for a couple of years but every time I tried to plan something, the road blocks kept me from it. I was determined this year to not let road blocks stop me. There were times that I really wondered why I was so determined to go through with this but the end result was far better than I could possibly have imagined. I am forever grateful that I stuck it out.

We have a very opinionated family. I am the kind of person that wants to please and therefore, it sometimes is difficult for me to make a decision and stick to it if I find others objecting to it. My first decision was the date for the reunion. This seemed like it should have been quite simple - NOT! I first planned the third week in July. Everyone was fine with that except my husband. He was planning to retire on his birthday and the reunion would have been one week before. He did not want to take off a week then go back to work for a week only to then retire. So I moved it to the first week of August (I had to work around other family reunions and obligations). This date became difficult as other family members had obligations arise that would make it so they would not be able to attend. So we then made it for the last week of June. This seemed to work for everyone except for the fact that North Idaho is still quite cold and often rainy in June (which in fact proved to be true - it was cold and rainy much of the time).

Next came the decision of the location. I really wanted to go to the ocean and have a great experience there. Unfortunately, it was quite pricey and difficult to find a location that would accommodate this large of a group. We have a church camp ground near our home and that is where my husband and I decided to have our reunion. It had everything, camp sites, sandy beach, boat dock, roped off swimming area, huge pavilion, storage for food which included 3 refrigerators with freezers (electricity), porta potties, play area and more. Now, my husband and I live on a gorgeous piece of land which has many of these same features but we felt we needed to get away from home and this seemed perfect. I got many negative remarks from my kids as they had memories of this camp that were not the greatest but in the end, the kids loved the location and realized how great everything was - even with the weather the way it was - so perfect!

The next decision was simple for me. My husband and I decided that we would plan all of the meals and bring all of the food and supplies but have the kids help us with preparing and clean up of the meals. This actually worked great. I had assigned different families for different days and that didn't really work as planned but we always had help so it really didn't matter.

One of my biggest problems is that I tend to "overkill" an activity. In my mind, I saw this perfect world of organization and fun but in reality, life is really quite simple. My son brought home to me the fact that family reunions are to be a time that everyone does things they enjoy together. I had  to "lighten up" with my thoughts and allow my kids the opportunity to have fun with their family in way "they" wanted not just what "I" wanted. Once I had the long talk with myself about how he was right, I relaxed and realized that this reunion was for all not just for me. As it turned out, everyone had such a wonderful time doing what they wanted "together". We had people everywhere. Some were at the river, others were playing on the grassy field, some were sleeping in tents, others were playing all around camp and some were sitting around talking. It was fun to just relax and have NO structure.

My final big hurdle was that I wanted something that everyone could have as a souvenir from our reunion. I had thought about doing Olympics and having some sort of prize but changed that when I realized that I was "over planning". So my decision was T-shirts. A friend designed a simple pocket logo for our reunion and every family got different colored shirts. We had a family picture taken (which was a huge feat since over half of the kids were under the age of 8).

With our location fairly close to home, it did allow some to go home at night if needed (some had animals to feed). All of us camped at least one night some two and a few did all three nights. Now this may not sound too difficult but it was quite cold and in the middle of the second night, it began to rain heavily.

Some of the things I learned were:
1. Don't over plan - allow most of the time for free play.
2. Have an evening activity. We did a campfire every night and that was fun. It kind of ended the evening. It brought us all together and allowed us to get to know each other in fun ways. One night we did a scripture story and had some'mores, the next night was a talent night, and the last night we played "Minute to Win It".  The pavilion had a large screen so we got a projector and had "Movie night" with popcorn as a final evening activity.
3. Have plenty of food. We have some picky eaters and food was kind of overwhelming to plan but in the end, we kept it simple yet yummy. We had pancakes and eggs every morning (with cereal as an option), lunches were sandwiches - make it yourself style - one day we fixed scones (yumm), and dinners were lots of fruit with a main dish (BBQ beef on a bun, tacos, and smoked meat for the last night). I had lots of snacks available (after all it was a vacation), drink was lemonade or water - hot chocolate for breakfast.  Everyone seemed to be content with food.  The last day I let everyone into all of the goodies so I didn't have to bring much home.
4.  Bring a wagon!  This may sound silly but I used the wagon to haul food to the cooking area, we hauled wood to the fire pit, and the kids played with it all day every day hauling the little ones all over the park.
5.  Plan the reunion for August.  I know I really didn't have much of a choice this year and we had fun in spite of the cold weather but it would have been even better had we been able to play in the water and not frozen at night.
6.  Most of all - DO HAVE A REUNION!  I could not believe how special it was to actually have a formal reunion where we got away from the house versus playing at grandma's house as a family.  There is just something different about going somewhere and camping or doing something special together as a family.  The few grand kids that live away from us actually got to know their cousins and their cousins them.  Our oldest son has some medical problems that have caused him to isolate himself from most of the family.  We were not sure if he would be able to participate very much but he has told us daily how grateful he was for this reunion.  I see a spark in him I have not seen for awhile and it touches my heart.

I was ready many times to call this whole reunion off or at least never to do this again but after this last week, I want so very much to do this every year (which may not be feasible but every other year - most likely).  I encourage all to  bring your family together even if you live right next door.  Find a place where you can step out of the every day routine and learn about your family at a Family Reunion.  You'll be glad you did.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Note: Catching up with Blog

Hi Friends,  I was at a family reunion so got a little behind on blogging.  Please check back soon as Betsy has a couple of hikes and I have a few things to write about too.  Thanks, Diane