“What are your thoughts on a family camping trip where you and I stay in a cabin?” Mom asked me back in December. I said of course. And before I knew it, it was time to head back to Missouri and drive to Bennett Spring State Park with a car packed to the brim (including a waffle iron and Keurig). It truly was a little insane the amount needed to sustain the two of us, for two days, when we didn’t have to bring a tent.
I was nervous. Mainly because while I’d like to think I’m a frontier woman, I sorely am not. Now don’t get me wrong, I love being outside. I love staring at the sky aimlessly wrapped in a blanket and just sitting and staring at water. Though I love knowing a bed, four walls and few bugs wait for me at night.
Needless to say, the Ladage Family Camping trip was stellar. Growing up, we ran a pretty tight-knit group. Most often, aunts, uncles and cousins all felt like extra Moms, Dads and siblings. Though as everyone started school, getting married, moving, we started seeing each other just around the holidays. I felt like a kid again spending more than just an evening and afternoon with everyone. There was always an empty chair somewhere around the fire. Someone ready to play cards. Someone ready to make s’mores. Someone needing to make the trek to the bathroom in the dark.
We learned that Cousin Kate and Uncle Rob dominate yard games while Mom and I do not. That the way to anyone’s heart is through a Bacon Station. That fresh fish from the river is divine. That the Olympic theme song truly is inspiring. That beverages make things funnier. That hiking is truly fantastic when you have Cousin Alli ready to play the ukulele on demand. That seeing a bald eagle fly over your head while you’re in a kayak paddling around the river bend is pretty damn American.
And that it’s always a Good S’morning when surrounded by your favorite people.
A trip. A movie premiere. Finishing a great book. A date. Seeing family and friends. A concert. Whatever it is, I find myself in a complete state of glee the eve of a day when something fun, stellar or amazing is about to go down. I lay in bed like it’s First Day of School Eve. Tossing and turning and smiling and unable to think about anything than that specific greatness awaiting.
Hell, even the promise of a sunny day from the Weather Channel gets me amped. Just the mere idea of what tomorrow holds doesn’t give me anxiety, it gives me excitedness and eagerness. And I find it hard to harness.
Needless to say, this is pretty much me all day, every day:
*Last night’s glee totally tied to the KC trip to see the Kansas family*
For this year’s Fam Fest/Gram Fest, we decided to participate in St. Louis Public Radio‘s MetroQuest–an adventure around St. Louis using only your feet and MetroLink (and okay wheels in our case). Rounding out our team were our fearless leaders, Grammy and Grandpa, Aunt Nan, Aunt Suzi, Mom and myself. Aunt Suzi named us (“Fam-A-Lam-A-Ding-Dongs”) and Mom dressed us (in capes and white sunglasses courtesy of Stoli). Then we literally were off.
Taking flight at the first Metro Stop
Along each stop, you answered trivia and completed challenges. Not having a smartphone, we didn’t upload our photos to the site for points. Instead, we were the team creating chaos and laughter along the way. Case in point: the elevator.
It was here the wheels of the Gramses’ got tangled and refused to come apart. While the elevator door opened and closed at the Metro station, Grandpa used his cane to make it stop and Grammy attempted to use her arm. All to no avail. I made sure to document the fact the sisters could barely get it together in the back to figure out a plan.
Upon exiting, I think everyone was newly invigorated as we took the Missouri History Museum by storm in our photo scavenger hunts.
Sing “Proud Mary” to a stranger. And to think, we were rollin’ all day!
Your best 50s housewife pose in the pink kitchen
Proudly display the beaver pelts
All in all, the day might have started out with this….
But it ended like this. Successful Fam Fest 2012!
Every winter season in Chicago, I find a TV show and series to carry me through the winter blues. It helps keep me sane. Last year, it was Friday Night Lights. The year before, Modern Family. And this year, while Dexter appeared to be my new favorite show keeping me trapped in my room dressed in sweats, it isn’t.
After hearing much about Downton Abbey on all of the blogs I read, I decided to look into this show, which I’ll admit, I thought was Downtown Abbey. This miniseries airs on PBS Masterpiece and follows the lives of one aristocratic family and their servants–a bit a rather enjoy. I’ve now found myself unable to stop thinking about the show and wondering when I’ll get to watch it again. And despite appearances, it has nothing to do with the accents. It’s all about the music and that library!
I’m sure my dreams appreciate going to sleep after watching an episode about the Crawley family instead of the serial killer ways of Dexter Morgan.
Yesterday my cousin Joel decided on an impromptu day trip to Chicago. Sadly, I was freelancing downtown and missed Joel’s first attempt at street parking, riding the bus and hailing a cab. Big day for Little Joelie (Joeley).
Couldn’t really tell you the last time Joel and I hung out, but he’s always been like a psuedo-younger brother for me. We grew up close to one and other (only one stoplight separated our houses) and it feels like nearly every weekend we had a cousin slumber party (these parties consisted of my brother, Joel, his sister and me, so it wasn’t technically a full-blown cousin slumber). He was there in the ANP room when they called my name for Homecoming Court and I was there for every talent show in elementary school (Splish Splash and Hey, Hey We’re the Monkees). I helped him get his first job ever at the one and only Oberweis Dairy (oh, the pull I used to have there) and he would road trip out to Kansas for my 8 a.m. Journalism Graduation ceremony.
I was ever so excited for his visit to the Windy City while we sat around at Castaways enjoy drinks and reliving tales for his girlfriend Lauren. I’m not a huge homebody, but as of lately, I find myself getting occasionally homesick. I think it’s because I’m finally at a “permanent” place. It’s not college anymore. I’m not stuck in a desert contemplating my next move on Southwest Airlines. I’m finally at a place where I feel like I’m home, where I feel like sticking around for a bit. This in turn, makes me miss the Heintz Hill, Camp Edwards and sounds of a normal ice cream truck.
Joel helped me get out of my funk with his tales of Judy the Jetta and golf lessons with Chick. I came to the conclusion I was a pretty stellar older cousin. And Joel was pretty fantastic too despite not bringing an Imo’s Pizza with him as a form of payment for letting him cool off in our apartment.
Cousins sittin' on the dock of the bay