Monday, June 25, 2007

Either the best idea or the worst idea

I've been over the fact that I’ve never really camped before – or more like the few times I did, I didn’t really enjoy it. And I’ve been over the fact that the gods drenched my tent last week while it was set up in the backyard and that maybe, just maybe they were trying to tell me something.

Still I haven’t been listening to the gods or the little voice in my head and have remained excited for this weekend’s camping trip.

But the gods – or at least he weatherman – is at it again. Suddenly visions of bathing suits and lakes are being replaced with sweatshirts and campfires. I didn’t think of that when I thought of camping on July 1. I’ve been mentally planning what to bring so that Austin doesn’t get too hot – not once did I think of what to bring to make sure he doesn’t get too cold, especially at night.

Let me stress, I'm still looking forward to this trip because regardless of the sun, the rain, the heat or the cold, the sleeping on an air mattress or the getting really dirty, we're going to be hanging out with good friends all weekend long. But that said, this is definitely going to be the best idea or the worst idea we’ve ever had. I’ll be sure to share which one it turns out to be.

Oh well, at least it doesn’t look like I’ll need to worry about my tent flooding, so far, no real calls for rain. But knowing my luck…

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

I sure hope this isn't a 'sign'

On Sunday, we set up our brand new tent in the backyard. We figured that since it was still in the original packaging, before we arrived at the campsite we’d better make sure that a) all the pieces are there and b) we have some small idea of what we’re doing when setting it up.

It turns out it’s a heck of a lot bigger than we realized. (Hey, it was on sale at Canadian Tire – that’s how we chose it.) This is not necessarily a bad thing, because if we like camping, we’ll have it forever and there’ll be room for our family to ‘grow’.

So we set it up, but the only thing we didn’t do is tie down the top cover – or whatever the heck the thing is called – because we were too lazy to, and there really wasn’t a lot of space left in the backyard.

Then, the afternoon flew by and before we knew it, it was dark out – and who wants to take down a tent in the dark!

Then Monday flew by and the tent continued to take up space in the backyard.

Then came the flash storm on Tuesday afternoon and we came home to find the tent still standing (that’s a relief) but full of water. Ryan had to use the wet/dry vac to dry it out.

Now I know it’s because we didn’t tie the top thing down, so it just blew back during the storm, but maybe, just maybe this is a small sign that someone’s trying to tell me I shouldn’t be getting myself into this camping thing. I mean, I’ve already been pretty honest in saying that I’m not a camper, and never really enjoyed any of my previous camping experiences.

Although I am still looking forward to the trip – so I’m just going to hope it doesn’t rain, and maybe, just maybe, we should take the damn tent down, because it’s still taking up most of the space in the backyard.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Wedding bells sure ring a lot

Last night, Ryan and I were trying to figure out how to swing a quick trip to Fredericton for a wedding in September. The problem is, is that Fredericton is not a cheap place to fly to -- in fact I think we could fly to California to visit my sister for cheaper -- and it's not an easy place to drive to either -- 13 hours each way is not high on my list of things to do for a weekend, especially with Austin.

And to top it all off, this wedding is two weeks after we're driving to Montreal for my best friend's wedding. (We did lament the fact that if they had been back-to-back weekends, we could've made a week-long driving trip out of it -- since Montreal is about a third of the way there.)

All this talk got us no closer to figuring out whether we can go or not, but it did take us on a tangent -- we've travelled to quite a few weddings over the years. In the past (read pre-Austin), we managed to find ways to travel to Halifax (2001), Germany (2005) and on a Carribean cruise (2005) all for weddings. All of those were pretty amazing trips -- especially the last two, which turned into entire trips, and not just quick fly-ins for the wedding.

But this led us to yet another tangent. In the 10 years we've been together, we've gone to at least one wedding every year except one. That's a lot of weddings! There was 1 in 1997, 1 in 1998, none in 1999, 1 in 2000, 1 in 2001, 3 in 2002, 2 in 2003 (that does include our own though), 1 in 2004, 4 in 2005, 2 in 2006, 2 (planned) in 2007 and one's already set for 2008. I think that sums them all up. And this doesn't take into account the few we had to decline for whatever reason -- sorry, you know who you are.

So, that being said, if you read this blog, and you got married in 1999, and I was there...remind me please. Because that's the only year I can't think of one!

Friday, June 08, 2007

Backyard Project Part II

Part II of the backyard project is now complete.

Over the May long weekend, Ryan, two friends of ours and I, broke our backs ripping out weeds and digging out the grass in a 186sq ft section of our backyard to build a new patio.

The weekend started with a 9 a.m. trip to Home Depot -- which was probably the busiest store in the city on the Saturday of the first long weekend of the year.

After an hour an a half, Ryan and I had made our purchase -- 85 stones and 20 bags of construction sand. Oh yeah, and some new tools and gear (of course) and a pretty new patio set.

We had to rent a Home Depot van to get everything home and as the guy was loading an entire skid of stones into the van for us, we both suddenly realized 'what the heck are we getting ourselves into'.

But it was too late now.

The rest of that day was spent working away. Hugh and Catherine showed up as we were unloading the van -- or Ryan was, I was keeping Austin away from everything -- and as soon as Austin went down for his nap, we all got to work. Ryan and Hugh started to take the grass up while Catherine and I started ripping the plants and weeds out. The patio was going on top of what was once a garden -- but since I didn't plant the perennials that were there, I felt no love towards keeping them. So everything, except two day lillies (which were transplanted to the other side of the yard), were chucked right into a lawn bag.

After that, the rest of my day was spent keeping Austin out of the way, while they worked. All I know is that it took all day to dig down, pack the dirt and lay the sand beneath the patio.

All day Sunday and all day Monday, Ryan lay patio stones. And every time Austin napped, I pulled weeds from the dirt, from the grass from the trees...wherever I could find. All in all, I filled three lawn bags with weeds.

A lot of cleaning up every night after work followed and by Saturday night the patio set was set up and we had our VERY FIRST backyard party!

Two weeks have gone by now, and we've done nothing but look at the backyard, or lounge in the patio chairs and watch Austin run around the grass or play in the dirt.

So there's still a lot of work to do. There's a large pile of dirt at the end of the patio which needs to be spread out over the yard and there's still the matter of the old patio stones which need to get out of here. And then, finally, we can get grass. By the time we get to it, it may be too late in the season to lay sod -- but that's ok. The point is, whether I grow it or I lay it....there will be grass!

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

I agreed to what?

A funny thing happened this spring. I easily agreed to do something I never thought I’d agree to – at least not without a fight. And not only did I say ‘yes’ without a second thought, but then I said ‘yes’ to doing this thing a second time before the first time even happened.

What I’m saying is I’ve agreed to go camping…twice.

I’ve never been a camper. In fact, except for my childhood trips to summer sleep-away camp (where you sleep on bunk beds, in cabins for two weeks) I have been camping a grand total of three times.

The first was when I was 15 and my parents decided we were going to take a family trip to Algonquin Park. So, not only were we camping, but we were canoeing with a guide all day long, hauling all our stuff with us and setting up our tents in the middle of nowhere. I remember it being fun, sort of. Well, I remember it being different and a lot of work for a vacation actually. And in hindsight, I realize it was really not my family’s type of thing.

The second and third times were car camping – each for one night only. It was while car camping that I discovered that camping’s not really all that bad, but well, I can’t say I had a great time either time. No particular reason really, but I don’t have many memories of either trip – good or bad – and haven’t felt like I’ve been missing out on anything in the seven or eight summers that have slipped by since the last trip.

In fact, when previously asked to go camping, I’ve always found reasons why not.

But then, something funny happened when it was still too cold to think that summer would ever arrive. A good friend of ours asked us if we wanted to go over the July long weekend with a group that would include 8 adults and 5 kids, and before I realized what I was agreeing to, I found myself at Canadian Tire shopping for a tent.

And I’m actually looking forward to the trip. So much so, that when another friend of ours suggested a camping weekend – I was the one sending the e-mails to get a date pinned down to go.

Maybe it has to do with being older (although I don’t know why age would have anything to do with it). Maybe it has to do with being relatively sure that Austin will really like the idea of ‘being outside’ for three days straight. Or maybe it has a lot to do with the company we’ll be keeping. Whatever it is, I’m really looking forward to our first (and second) camping trip of the season.

Who knows, maybe I’ll start to want to vacation like this more often. It’s certainly a cheaper way to travel.