I Can't Wait Until Ryan Gets Home And Sees Our House. It Is The Most Festive On The Street For Sure.

Hey Blogstalkers!

Sorry this post is so late today, I spent the morning putting up Christmas lights and driving to Target three times to buy more Christmas lights and also more Starbucks peppermint lattes and then taking a quick jog about the block because I was so high on caffeine.  Oh you want to know what I was wearing whilst doing all of this?  Here is a picture.

I am no longer wearing these things because I had to shower after my jaunt around the block.

And then the cashier at Target gave me 10% off for Christmas Spirit.  Or because I had a coupon.  One of those two.

Anyway, I thought I would take a break from Christmas programming today (and you're doing a grand job of it Lauren!) to reflect on the subject of camping.  ::shudder::

I grew up as the oldest of five siblings and there is quite a large age difference between my youngest brother and me.  So there were always babies and toddlers in my life.  This I did not mind.  I was excellent at being quiet, escaping into a quiet corner with a jar of pickles and a stack of paperbacks.

Sidenote #1: I also brought a plate and a fork and a knife because that is how I ate pickles when I was younger.  Because I was pretending to be a long-lost princess all the time.  Obviously.  I even pronounced pickles as PIKE-uhls because I had a princess accent.  This is a true story.

Sidenote #2: Because there were always babies in the house my mother would freak out if someone rang the doorbell.  So I made a sign and hung it outside.  It said: 
            Inside this house a baby sleeps,
            And you will make its mother weep,
            If you come a struttin and press this button.
This is another true story.  I have always loved words and being weird.  Actually this was my second attempt at a doorbell sign.  My mom nixed the first one because it rhymed the word 'bell' with the word 'hell'.

I am very tangential today.

So anyway, I didn't mind the babies.  I LOVED the babies.  Unfortunately having all of those babies about meant that any vacations my family took had to be super child-friendly and probably not involve flying anywhere.  (I never even got on a plane until I was 15 and flew to my grandparents' place in Florida alone.)

So my parents decided that the logical solution to all of our vacation problems was to buy a used pop-up camper.  It looked like this.



From what I could tell it was from approximately 1972.  The inside looked something like this.



I will concede that it was well-cared for and very clean and everything worked, but still, it was not my favorite place to sleep.

So for years, many many weekends between Memorial Day and Labor Day consisted of my parents and all of my siblings and me piling into our green conversion van and towing the camper to yet another campsite where we would do various camping activities and then pile back into the van and drive home.

Here is a run-through of the reasons camping was not my best friend.  And NEVER will be unless someone builds a candy and gemstone forest and lets me pitch my tent near the Jack and Diet Coke River.

1. Because before we even pulled out of the driveway in what was the classiest of vehicles my dad would make us do this dumb roll-call where he would randomly shout out our names and we had to answer in the affirmative that we were indeed in the car.  Except we could not just say "here."  Nope.  My dad would not pull out of the driveway until each and every one of the five of us had had our names called and answered with a "YO!"  And the lucky child to be called last couldn't even get away with that.  Only a "Yo Ho Ho And A Bottle Of Rum Punch!" would result in the journey finally beginning.  (My mom added the word 'punch' because she thought it was inappropriate for children otherwise.)

Our van looked like this except lighter green.  My sister Jordan and I called her "Tankie" which made my mom spitting mad.
2. Because of spiders and ticks and a monstrosity of a bug called a 'chigger'.  Because apparently one can not go camping and then not go hiking.  What!? That would be unthinkable!  And then once one has finished their six mile trek through the forest for no reason other than to not see any deer because five children are incapable of being quiet, one has to have one's sister check one's scalp for ticks.  And one's sister would always find ticks.  And ticks are cantankerous little creatures who do not like to be removed from the skin and are basically tiny ticking blood time bombs just looking a reason to pop.  And then once all of the ticks were apprehended one's mother would scoot everyone off the to shower house to wash away the dirt of the day.  And she would shout "Remember to check each other for chiggers!"  And then once one was clean and bug free, one would be sent to bed in a sleeping bag that had to be checked extensively for spiders at least seven to eight times during the night.

3.  Because of fishing.  Because no one did it to actually catch and eat the fish, which would have been sad but maybe better because instead all of the kids (except me who did not fish) would catch fish and then be entirely too squeamish to unhook the fish and toss it back and I would freak out that the fish was going to die and then even though I was equally scared to touch the fish I would inevitably be the one to grab it and unhook it and save its tiny little life.  And then cry a little.  Thirty times a day.

4. Three words - Fat Man Squeeze.  Which is basically a narrow slit that has been created over time in a huge rock wall that for some reason people think is fun to try to squeeze their bodies through.  It gets pitch black and is long and scary and takes like ten minutes to complete.  And there are people ahead of you and people behind and it is the most claustrophobic thing in the entire world.  I never even tried it.  But I just don't like that it exists.  People have legitimately gotten stuck over the years and the path has to be evacuated and safety personnel called in.  It should not be a thing.  And yet it is.  And people go to it.  On purpose.


So yeah, there are a lot of reasons I will never be a camper.  I just don't get it.  I'm not snooty or snobby or afraid of getting dirty (I actually really loved "MudBall" - a camping game we invented.) It's just that the combination of all of the things camping entailed made it so I was always nervous that I was getting vampirized by a bug or that there were wildcats plotting to leap out of the forest and make me their lunch.

I do actually have a bunch of fond memories of camping too.  Campfires are amazing and stars are beautiful and you have not lived until you've fallen asleep listening to a freaking Whipporwhill that has no idea how to shut its dang mouth. (Just listen to the first ten seconds of this video)



Plus the fact that I had bonafide camped in the wilderness gave me a sense of pride in myself.  Like when I was in elementary school and we read My Side Of The Mountain  and everyone else was all scared for the boy stranded in the forest I was like, "Pssshh except for the trained falcon, this shit sounds like last weekend to me."

And when I joined girl scouts I actually was sort of horrified at the "camping trips" they took us on.  Like seriously, staying in a lodge with running hot water and a curtains made of fabric and a McDonalds down the street is not camping.  Those girls did not deserve their camping badges!  I deserved the camping badge.  So to even things out, I made myself some fake badges that said things like "REAL camping badge" and "Touched A Fish" and "Found A Chigger On My Thigh" and sewed them onto my sash.  It was weeks before I was discovered.

So yeah, camping.  Love/Hate.  Mostly Hate.

And OH OH OH (backwards Ho Ho Ho because I am so excited and typing too fast) - An update on THIS POST -  Ryan P. Gallagher, under the almost constant peer pressure of one OJ and one HIS WIFE has relented and will be dressing like Santa Claus and walking around the city with us this December!!!!!!  Yes!!!!  Thanks so much for all of your help on FB, you really really helped convince him.  The date is yet to be determined but I will let you know as soon as I know in case anyone wants to join!  And yes there will totally be pictures.  

Santa Claus Is Coming To Town!!!!  

Stay tuned tomorrow for an update on little miss Zooey Deschanelf (what we eventually named our elf on the shelf) because she has been up to some mischief.  

61 comments:

  1. My dad would take my sister and I hiking and be so far up the trail from us all we would hear was him yelling "MARCH OR DIE GIRLS!" What do you expect from a 29 year old sigle dad with 2 little girls? Im lucky I learned how to brush my hair.

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    1. Haha! When my mom was out of town my dad had the hardest time doing his four daughters' hair. We went school looking ridiculous.

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    2. haha. My dad just wouldn't bother. It was hilarious, except on that one picture day.. my mom was so mad.

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  2. So so so much of this is amazing.
    My husband does NOT understand why I detest camping so much.
    All of those reasons, but I do like sleeping outside and looking at the stars, and campfires.

    Plus I also really dislike being cold and sleeping in clothes. Both of which are inevitable whilst camping.

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    1. Yes! Exactly. I am happy as a clam to attend a campfire and look at the stars and breathe the fresh air but sometimes I just want to sleep in pajamas in my own bed.

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  3. Anonymous11/28/2012

    Here's what I think about camping:
    All the work of being at home, without any conveniences of being at home.
    I'm staying home.

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    1. Indeed. My mom had to make our dinners over a campfire stove and then lead us in sing-a-longs. That sounds so much harder than making a frozen pizza and putting in a movie or playing a game.

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  4. Camping as an adult [without children] is much more fun because you can drink and eat. And go places without ticks. And NOT hike. I am a NOT hiker but I am a YES camper. In a tent. With a blow-up mattress. And booze and snacks. And you generally shower less. So it's kind of like you're a guy who's still in college, but outside and smelling like campfire. 100% fun!

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    1. That DOES sound much much better. The one time Ryan and I went camping as adults though ended up being the windiest night ever and the tents totally blew away with me halfway inside struggling to get out.

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  5. Chiggers are seriously the worst part about camping. That, or getting bit on the ass by a horsefly while wearing a bathing suit (Lake camping, obvs).

    P.S. Love that you have an Elf of the Shelf but no kiddos to find it. Perhaps you stick doggie treats to it and make your dog find it?

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    1. As far as Elf on the Shelf goes, I make it impossible for Ryan NOT to find her. I put her somewhere I know he sees every single day. He's exasperated by her. I love her.

      And horseflies are awful! I've not gotten bit by one camping but I have while at my grandparents' lake house as a child. Those things hurt like heck.

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  6. YAY!!!!!! on the Santa bit....not the chiggers bit....

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    1. Seriously. Chiggers are the worst.

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  7. OMG! Chicago, here I come!!

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  8. My dad once bought my sisters and I a tent. He didn't realize we were all afraid of the woods at night, and refused to go camping unless it was in our enclosed backyard. Though, this one time, my sister and I were camping in our backyard when we saw yellow eyes in the distance. We screamed, ran inside, and never touched the tent again.

    You are going to have the BEST Christmas ever. This needs to become a tradition. :]

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    1. We used to have camping "parties" in our backyard during the summer. My dad would set up all of our tents (and we had a lot of them) and we would all invite friends over and he would make a fire and we would roast s'mores and play Ghost In The Graveyard and Flashlight Tag. That kind of camping is just fine by me. The yellow eyes thing would have scared me too though.

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  9. Our family also did the camping thing since it was myself and three brothers who, being boys, are automatically destructive so my parents figured they should break nature instead of their possessions. My favorite thing was finding a falled down tree and pretending it was a unicorn that would take me to a place that didn't require the need of an outhouse.

    I do like camping though and try to go at least once a summer. I just make sure the site has actual bathrooms.

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    1. I totally agree that the bathrooms can be one of the worst parts of camping. Once the shower house for some reason had windows all around it about eight feet off the ground. While my high school friend and I were preparing to shower (though still in towels thank goodness) we looked up and saw pervy teenage boy faces peering in. It seems they had moved the vending machine over and climbed on top of it. It was horrifying.

      I love the unicorn thing!

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  10. Megan M.11/28/2012

    Squeeeeee I'm so excited that Ryan agreed! Can't wait to see the pictures, RYAN. LOL

    I never went camping, thank God, because I would have been a nervous wreck. Plus I have never been able to pee outside without getting pee on my clothes. Did you have to pee outside?

    Zooey Deschanelf is THE most perfect elf name I have ever heard. My aunt is supposed to be getting us an Elf on the Shelf and I am totally stealing that name. It's not plagiarism if you tell the person first. Right?

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    1. First - Squeeeeeee indeed.

      Second - Not always. There were usually at least outhouses and at nice campgrounds there were bathhouses.

      Third - Go right ahead and steal it. I'm glad you like it!

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  11. "I am very tangential today."

    Some days I'm so tangential that I don't even get to the subject I meant to write about.

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    1. Sometimes those are the best days though!

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  12. 1. Where, oh where did you get that Santa shirt?!? I must have one!

    2. My dad frequently says that my mom's idea of camping is a Holiday Inn, which resulted in no camping trips for me as a child. Which resulted in my first camping trip being my freshman year of college. My roommate (her first time as well) went with our suitemate and her boyfriend the first weekend of December. On a mountain. Where it snows. And he forgot the firewood. To say it was an unpleasant experience would the understatement of the year! So on the second day there, we sent them out to find firewood in the forest and we packed up the entire camp - tent, food, chairs, everything. And when they returned we were sitting on the tailgate of his truck and we said, "it's time to go home."

    And that also happens to be the last time I went camping.

    3. Please, please, please do tell us the date of the Santa and Mrs. Claus extravaganza. While I likely cannot make it to Chicago, I will send all of my Chicago friends out to find you and wish you a Merry Christmas. (And perhaps give OJ my number.)

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    1. 1. Target. I am there a lot.

      2. That sounds freeeezing. And I hate being cold. We never went past early fall but some of the nights even then could get chilly. I don't know that I'd survive a night in the snow without sobbing.

      3. I'll let everyone know as soon as I do. Just waiting on OJ to book a flight!

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  13. I also camped a lot when I was younger. I loved it. There was no hiking but lots of swimming, relaxing, reading and camp food. I would bring several books throughout the course of the weekend and I usually would finish all of them.

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    1. I think maybe I would have enjoyed your version of camping. The place we went to the most had a lake but there was no swimming allowed since there were water moccasins (poisonous snakes) in the lake. And my dad didn't let us relax much. It was all GO GO GO. The food I never minded. If I could have read all weekend I would have been happy. Sometimes I hid in the van.

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  14. Lauren! Congratulations!

    I loved the camping memories, but seriously?? You did it! I can't wait to see pictures of Mr & Mrs Claus and their posse. I wish we were coming into the city this month to see my stepdaughter, because I would totally Clausstalk you guys down Michigan Ave. signing Christmas carols.

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  15. As I don't know sign language, I would be *singing* Christmas carols. My fingers got a little keyboard crazy from my excitement.

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    1. Haha I didn't even notice. I was too caught up in your excitement.

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  16. You are so awesome, Lauren. I wish I was half as clever as you. That story about your dad and the roll call totally gave me a glimpse into how you are so cute and funny, must have rubbed off :)

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    1. Haha he would like to think so. Although the pickle pronouncing thing may be directly his fault as he never calls cucumbers anything but "CueCAHMbras" It drove my sister mad growing up.

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  17. The last time my family went camping my sister woke up with chicken pox. I eventually caught them from her (post-trip), and my parents innocently (or so they would claim) gave me aspirin. Chicken pox or flu + aspirin = Reye's Syndrome (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reye%27s_syndrome). I think I got treated before the brain damage part, but either way CAMPING CAN KILL. ALBEIT INDIRECTLY.

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    1. OHMYGOSH Reye's Syndrom is scary scary. So glad you and your brain are just dandy. And SEE DAD? Camping can KILL.

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  18. Anonymous11/28/2012

    I camped ONCE. With relatives at Lake Texoma. And there were these HUGE flying bugs that only got about 12 inches off the ground. My uncle called them Ground Wasps. WHATEVER. They were freaking big and scary. I was 13 and that was the LAST time I camped. EVER. My own parents idea of a vacation was Disneyland. One night. Once a year. Oh, and we lived like 3 blocks from there so really it was no big deal to go there. As for Christmas, I can't get enough of it!! Love the name of your shelf elf too!

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    1. Ok so my new least favorite bug is a Ground Wasp. I hope never to encounter one.

      I LOVE Disney but if I lived that close I could see how it could be no big deal.

      So glad you like the elf's name!

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  19. Anonymous11/28/2012

    Should've started with Ryan WALKING AROUND AS SANTA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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    1. I know I know! But then no one would have read the rest of the post. I am tricky like that.

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  20. Ah children gather 'round and I will regale you with tales of my childhood camping. We did NOT have a classy van like yours, nay, we pulled our pop up camper trailer behind a blue station wagon. I am the youngest of five. Said station wagon had a third row seat that folded down when not in use but when needed, it popped up but faced backwards. I was the only one of the 5 children who could ride backwards without vomiting. Instead of putting two pukers in the back and let me ride in the middle row in puke-free relative comfort, I always had to sit in the back with a puker so my Mom only had to clean up one set of vomit. As it turns out, being puked on was probably the least offensive thing that happened to me on those trips. We usually spent the first few days of each trip trying to figure out what the bad smell in the camper was. Every year we forgot that it was my brothers' feet! I ALWAYS had ticks on me and I know all about chiggers. And my parents barely packed any food because we were going to "live off the land"....tell me how many nights we ended up eating hot water with ketchup packets to make a really F'ed up tomato soup.

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  21. I am soooo excited that Ryan relented! is it because part of his face will be masked by a giant beard so it's safe for him to wander around? YAY! so looking forward to the pictures!

    I actually didn't mind camping, but I am a west coast girl who grew up out in the wilds of Alaska. The only thing I was terrified of was the June Bugs (which are HUGE in AK) and bears. Bears are terrifying, I really detested Polar Bears. They did not live near me, but every year you would hear a story of one attacking a bus full of children in the middle of winter (TRUE STORY). Anyway, I didn't have to deal with ticks, so that made it more fun :-)

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  22. Hurray for Ryan Claus! Hopefully your day of choice coincides with a day that I can join in the fun, because I really really want to!

    In other comments, I am glad that my mom was very anti-wilderness when I was a child, and so my youthful camping trips were in 80's and 90's style motor-homes with refrigerators and running water and toilets and a loft bed and we stayed at Yogi Bear Campground with no chiggers or fat man squeezes. Eventually I tested out this real camping that you speak of...but it was great because it included rafting and beer and jello shots. But mostly beer. And Cheetos.

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  23. Reading the word chiggers made me itchy. This sounds like my childhood except for the fat man squeeze thing. and YAY for Ryan dressing up like Santa

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  24. So glad to hear he relented! And I too share childhood memories of camping and am not a big fan these days. I can take about a day and then I'm ready to go home!

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  25. I applaud your camping skills. I don't camp. That's around the time I quit the girl scouts because I don't sleep on the ground outside no buddy not allowed. The only time I was in a sleeping bag was at a slumber party and I still don't know why we did that because we were out of them before the end of the night sleeping wildly like small humans do. Camping now would require flying to a nice cabin and having everything I have at home--save maybe good cell service and cable depending on who is attending (if mom is coming we need lots of tvs and a huge private room to lock her in)--in a wooded area. And I am also glad he relented can't wait to see the photos. Have fun.

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  26. 1. I love your outfit.

    2. I hate camping. There are always spiders. And even if there aren't actual spiders, I'll think there is and have nightmares of spiders. And I don't even want to know what a chigger is. And also, I require a real bathroom. Because I am a lady.

    3. I love the name Zooey Deschanelf and I look forward to finding out what she's been up to.

    4. Yay for getting Ryan to agree!! I so wish I lived near Chicago right now.

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  27. Veronica11/29/2012

    Ahaha I need a Christmas shirt for my jaunts around the block!

    There is a place near us called Purgatory Chasm, and they have one of those paths but its called Fat Man's Misery. Except it was not nearly that narrow and you would have to be a very very fat man to be made miserable.

    I love Zooey Deschanelf! Awesome name!

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  28. In Maine there's a big difference between "Going to camp" (or up to camp, which sounds like "upta camp" with a Maine accent) and "camping". We do not go "camping" i.e. in a tent. We go "upta camp" i.e. pick up truck 2 1/2 hours away down miles and miles of old bumpy logging trails then down a treachurous goat path of a driveway to an actual building on a lake. We're not talking "ohh look at your cottage" we're talking roughed up camp but it's nice with propane to look on, gas lights inside, and BEDS away from the black flies (*shakes fist at black flies*). We do fishing, cooking on the campfire and tons of reading.

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  29. Okay, I love you Lauren but you talked about TWO of the things that freak me out the most in this world in ONE blog post. Ticks and getting stuck in snug spaces. I've got the heebie jeebies over here and now I feel like I need to go in search of (another) doughnut to wash them down.

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  30. Okay - I almost stopped breathing when you talked about the Fat Man Squeeze. We had "Fat Man's Misery" and it was the same kind of thing. The dude behind me was PUSHING me and it was NOT very nice, POPPA.

    My family camped in a relaxing way, too - lots and lots of reading, swimming, playing with paper dolls.. and we didn't have chiggers (What the hell are those) or ground wasps or any of those things. Earwigs were the worst, and they were tolerable.

    I love camping so much, I had a camping wedding, in fact - everyone was invited to stay for the weekend, and theGuy and I stayed in a converted CN Rail caboose, which wasn't camping, but was very cute.

    AND YAY TO SANTA RYAN! I'm going to try to make my Ryan feel inferior because he would so never do that :)

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  31. Horrah for Santa Ryan!

    And chiggers. I just can't. Ew.

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  32. I love the elf name!

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  33. I have never been camping. My mother was subjected to many camping trips during her own childhood in the late 60s and she was traumatized enough to pass on the fear and loathing of all things camping related to my sister and I. Except campfire cookware. Anytime I'm in a sporting goods store I'm drawn to it and I want some so bad, but my husband refuses to buy any because apparently it's "weird" to buy camping cookware to use in your kitchen.

    However, my husband loves camping and he keeps trying to convince me to do it. I'm holding out so I can use my eventual capitulation to get something amazing from him. Until that time, I've told him I would consider going Glamping. Google it. There are places all over the world that specialize in glamping, including a particularly amazing tent option in Morocco.

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  34. I love your doorbell sign! There are SO many things in my house that need poems on them. My husband is going to 'love' this, lol.

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  35. Anonymous11/29/2012

    I'm so glad the Chicago candy cane project is going down! I may have to jet off to Chicago for this and secretly marry OJ when no one is looking...

    Melissa

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  36. Your statements about the girl scouts not being "real" campers resonates SO MUCH with me. Except that your family, with your camper, wouldn't have been considered "real" campers to my family who slept in tents with NO air mattresses for every Spring Break and Thanksgiving for YEARS and YEARS.

    Also, yay for Mr and Mrs Claus!!!

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  37. Mary D.12/05/2012

    Is that Rock City's Fat Man Squeeze? My grandfather would pretend to get stuck there every year. Can't wait to take my kids!

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  38. Just came across your blog today and I'm loving it! Although I am slightly weirded out because I think you might be me from the future... Or something like that. I was reading your "How Ryan Met Lauren Part I & II" posts and the similarities are crazy! My fiance and I first met at school when we were just 7, barely knew each other until senior year of high school (where I, too, was the somewhat nerdy one), started dating and went to prom together, went to separate colleges, broke up for a bit when we were 20 (same reasons), got back together, have been together ever since, and now we are getting married in May. THEN, I get to this post and about died... my family had the exact same type of camper, AND all throughout my childhood my dad drove what we still fondly refer to as "the big green van." Not as creative as "Tankie," but nearly the same exact van. What in the world?!?

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  39. We have, like, secret (not anymore) matching childhoods. We had a 70's popup at one point (Fortunately my parents eventually upgraded.) that we crammed the 7 of us into every weekend in the summer (Well, sorta, my brother and I were at my mom's for half of the summer.). At one point we had a van that was like this, just mildly nicer: http://www.google.com/imgres?hl=en&safe=off&sa=X&tbo=d&biw=1280&bih=679&tbm=isch&tbnid=IIwsEHoTuqvNJM:&imgrefurl=http://gtcarlot.com/data/Chevrolet/Chevy%2BVan/1995/56704370/Exterior-56670987.html&docid=vrsIK2lxX7eBVM&imgurl=http://images.gtcarlot.com/pictures/56670985.jpg&w=1024&h=768&ei=5yfmUNXSF63y0wHL9oDwCw&zoom=1&iact=rc&dur=349&sig=102346622303041215247&page=4&tbnh=138&tbnw=180&start=84&ndsp=30&ved=1t:429,r:87,s:0,i:359&tx=38&ty=88, just mildly nice. (Sorry for the crazy link. I am going to guess I can't just go posting images all willy nilly in your comments.)

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    1. Don't worry about the link, I need to figure out how to let people post pictures and links in general! Loved the van pic! I totally remember when vans like yours and mine had a place on the road. Am I sad those days are gone? No i am not.

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  40. So, I am a new blogstalker and have spent the last 3 days at work reading your blog from start to finish (thank you dual monitors for making it look as if I am actually working, while secretly the other screen is home to one of my most favorite blogs of all time). I have seen a bazillion things I wanted to comment on, but I just had to say that I have seen Fat Man's Squeeze...and been through it. It's truly as terrifying as you imagined. I just remember my mom trying to go through with my baby brother in a baby-backpack thing and it not working, so my mom and dad went through together, holding my brother suspended in the backpack between them. And then we rode the Alpine Slide and I almost died, but that's for another time.

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