July 23, 2010

Good Times (warning--very long post)

Last week we had the pleasure of being the first family to camp in Grandpa Ward's brand new, custom built 5th wheel camper. What an adventure! First off, the camper is beautiful and so huge! It has two bathrooms, a full stand up shower, and two bedrooms--one master bedroom and one with extra large bunkbeds. It also sleeps up to 5 more people in the kitchen/living room area. The kitchen includes a stovetop, oven, microwave and double sink. There's a built in sound system as well as a flat screen TV. It's like an apartment on wheels.

Our destination was Storybook Land at Wylie Park in Aberdeen, SD. If you've never been, we highly recommend it. The actual Storybook Land/Land of Oz park is beautfully manicured with many bright, inviting sculptures of nursery rhymes and fairy tales. Wylie Park includes bike and hiking paths, a small zoo, at least 3 beautiful playgrounds, and an amusement park area with mini golf, bumber boats, and go-karts. So it should have been an idyllic 3 days, right? Uh huh. Read on...

After we got there and Kris set up the camper, I went to the bathroom. I pushed the flush button on the back of the toilet and it broke off. Oops. "Kris, can you come in here and put this button back on? I can't get it." "What button??" "The flush button..." "That's NOT a flush button!!! You flush with the foot pedal, Erin...you BROKE IT! THE PIPE'S BROKEN!" This was followed by several choice words I can't repeat here. I felt awful. I hustled the kids together and we went for a walk to one of the playgrounds. I was dragging with guilt and hoped it could be fixed. We'd only been there 20 minutes at this point. Thankfully, it wasn't truly broken; it was just unattached and Kris was able to fix it. WHEW. Huge relief.

At 3:30 in the morning that first night Grant came across the living room area to wake me up. "Mom, Hope's crying." "Okay. Thanks, Grant." I groggily got of out bed and walked down the two steps from the master bedroom to the main level. But I misstepped and caught myself with my right hand. Thud. "OWWWW!" Kris leaped out of bed, scurried by me to calm Hope and Ross, who by now were both crying. I moved gingerly to the sofa and sat, gripping my shoulder. Grant sat by me and asked, "Are you okay, Mom?" Kris came over. "Erin, is it all right?" Nope, sorry folks. I dislocated my shoulder again: FOR THE THIRD TIME IN TWO YEARS. So Kris got all the kids to pee, gathered up the nintendo DSes, put shoes on, helped me into a pair of sweats, and loaded us all into the truck at 4 o'clock in the morning to drive into Aberdeen to find the emergency room. Good times, right?

Thankfully, it only took 10 minutes to get there and I was their only patient at that time. You should have seen the kids' faces when they put an IV in my arm. Eys as big as saucers! Ross walked over to me and gently touched my arm. The nurses were wonderful, the doctor was very caring, and when it was all said and done it only took 2 hours for them to xray, administer pain drugs, pop my shoulder back in, and take another xray (thank God for versed--this drug takes away all memory of a procedure, so they tell me I was conscious but I have no memory of the popping back in). We made it back to the camper about 6:30 in the morning. Kris was so awesome through it all--taking charge, calming the kids, maintaining patience through major fatigue, and then buying the kids doughnuts before tucking us all back in to sleep for a while.

Don't get me wrong; we still had a great time: did all the things there were to do, and we even went to the local waterpark that afternoon. But Kris really wanted to drive back that night so he could concentrate while the kids slept. So we did cut our trip short by a day. :( But I've got to hand it to the kids--none of them complained at all about coming back a day early. We all had a great time and made many memories. Yes, good times.

The shoulder? I'll likely be having surgery on it in the near future to tighten the muscle/tissues around the socket so this doesn't happen again.

July 18, 2010

Ricky Nelson Remembered

I took Mom to this concert event on July 8. This was a tribute put together by Matthew and Gunnar Nelson for the dad, Ricky Nelson. It was a blend of VH1 Behind the Music and a concert. The guys stood in front of a floor to ceiling screen to sing their dad's most famous hits, with Matthew playing bass or acoustic guitar and Gunnar on electric guitar. They spoke directly to us, telling stories from their dad's career or their own childhood growing up with him, and then they would step aside so we could watch a series of video clips that elaborated on their story. It was fascinating (at least for me) to learn that between 1958-1961 Ricky Nelson was right up there with Elvis in terms of Billboard hits and fame. While Elvis was the King, Ricky was referred to in the teen magazines as the Crown Prince of Rock and Roll. Gunnar and Matthew clearly enjoyed sharing their dad's life and music with the audience, and were very proud to elaborate on Ricky's musicianship and his ability to come back in the 70s as the founder of the country-rock genre with his Stone Canyon Band after so many people thought he was washed up. The guys still looked handsome, although their long blond locks (think Nelson from 1990--Love and Affection, anyone?) are long gone. The guys stayed afterwards to sign merchandise and pose for pictures with anyone who wanted to meet them. They do this after every show. I think their father would have been so proud of them. Here's a link to a youtube clip of them singing their dad's 1972 hit Garden Party with their little brother Sam. Beautiful.


Gunnar on the left and Matthew on the right.

July 11, 2010

Been gone for so long

For the longest time I have felt like I haven't had anything to blog about. Now I've been away so long that it's intimidating to come back to it at all. A quick summary:

June--Kris was out east in Philadelphia at another military school for a week and a half. We missed him a lot, but that short time span was a piece of cake compared to last summer's 8 weeks. He has to go to another school in FL for two weeks in August, the dates of which coincide exactly with my first to weeks back at MSUM. When he came home we all headed to Sioux Falls to spend 4 days with Mike (Kris's brother) and Kelly and their three kids. We had a wonderful time! Kris and Mike golfed in a tournament, Kel and I enjoyed some girl time together, and all the kids swam, played wii, rode bikes, and had a blast.

July--brought with it a new responsibility for me: co-chair of our department at MSUM. For the past three years we have been organized as a sort of 'mega department' called the School of Teaching and Learning, which includes 4 'programs' that used to function as separate departments: Elementary Ed, Early Childhood Ed, Special Ed, and Foundations of Ed. I'm not thrilled about this new responsibility because it takes me out of teaching almost half time, but I have a wonderful colleague with whom to share the load. I'm very nervous about the new responsibilities: hiring adjunct instructors, being responsible for scheduling classes for all 4 programs, coordinating faculty reviews, leading dept meetings, and much more. But it is what it is. I will do my best.

Last week I took mom to Ricky Nelson Remembered at the Fargo Theatre ( a separate post will follow). Super show! This week, Kris and I have the good fortune of borrowing my in-laws' brand new 5th wheel camper to take the kids to Storybook Land in Aberdeen. It's a great campsite and park, and we're looking forward to three days of lots of outdoor time with 5-star camper amenities. I'm not kidding. This thing even has 2 bathrooms!

Grant has been playing Babe Ruth baseball since May. We love watching him play! He really enjoys it and the boys on the team are a neat bunch. Hope and Ross are getting bigger all the time. Unfortunately, I haven't downloaded pics in forever, so that's another daunting task I have to bite the bullet and get back to.

Be back soon!