Sunday, October 18, 2015

Happy Birthday Chris!

This weekend we loaded up the camper and headed to Cedarbrook Campground. 

Dan and I have stayed here once before. Last time it was windy, cold, and Dan walked away with this.... 

Because no means no. 

JK, when we were packing up the camper, Camper Dan walked right into the back hatch of our car. 

We have associated Cedarbrook Campground as that place where Mommy almost had a nervous breakdown because she thought she was going to have to drive the camper home. Oh, and where Dan damn near lost his eye. 

I'm happy to report we now associate Ceadarbrook Campground as a wonderful place to spend time celebrating this guy... 

My brother turned the big 4-1 on Friday! 

I can't think of a better guy to have as a big (much older) brother. 

Chris is one of the best. Everyone who knows him loves him. He has watched over me and my sisters throughout our lives and continues to try and keep us in line. 

Before his own children I have watched him play and care for my boys. I once took a spontaneous trip to Florida with Chris, my mom, and my boys. Chris was single and the boys were four and five years old. I remember watching Chris in the ocean with Max and Tommy, ever watchful of them. It reminded me of a time when Buffy and I were in the ocean at the ages of twelve and thirteen floating on a raft. I specifically rembember cussing and yelling at him to leave us alone. We were really annoyed and couldn't understand why he wouldn't just leave. Years later I realized it was because he was so nervous that we were drifting down the coastline and pretty far out and didn't want anything to happen to us. 

Even when we were awful to him, he never left our side. 

My brother has put up with his three younger sisters. He has watched us go through heartbreaks, adolescence, pregnancies, managed our outrageous hormonal ups and downs... all of the typical craziness of being a woman... and never has he left our sides. 

I know I don't always say it to your face but I love you Chris. Thank you for always being our glue. 

So for his birthday weekend, we gathered the troops. 

We are missing a few faces but this is our camping family. I have so much love for these people. 

Note: this is the picture I posted on Facebook. When Dan woke up Saturday morning and checked his FB he said, "Wow, thanks for posting our camping on FB. Now 171 people know we aren't home." 

Me-"why does it matter, everything we love is right here. Who cares if someone breaks into our house..maybe they fix some stuff for us" 

Dan-"no, they will probably steal our "nice" shit instead of doing me a solid and burning the house to the ground after pulling the cars in the garage..." 

Me-"well I guess that's one way to look at home improvements" 

We had a great time hanging out. 

You are probably noticing that this cake looks different from the first picture of Chris's birthday cake and you might notice it isn't the cupcakes he's holding in the second picture. That's because he had three cakes.... that's how we roll.  He's a three cake kinda guy or maybe it's because we just like to eat cake... 

Here's a look around our campground:

Eating and watching football. 

Drinking and watching football. 

Cooking food and watching football. 

Hanging out with friends and watching football. 

It was a chilly weekend, we spent a lot of time standing near the fire...and watching football. 

Could it get any better? 

I'm sure they want to say it's because it's October and they are supporting Breast Cancer Awareness, but honestly it was freaking cold. 

It's never a fun weekend unless you get a field sobriety test by Camper Dan...

Nailed it. 

Walking heel to toe (the secret is keeping your legs bent, just my opinion) I demonstrated a much better way, it's a combination between the boogie bounce and imitating a chicken...with sounds, but Dan said, "No Kate! We actually don't want anyone to liven the situation up with a little pep in their step..." 


It was another successful camping weekend. Good food, good friends, good times. 

Thank you Jesus for heated campers. 

And Happy Birthday Chris!!! 


Friday, October 16, 2015

Data woahs!

Yesterday I receive this text...

This isn't an unusual text to receive because we have five iPhones on our account. 

1. My iPhone 6 plus
2. Max's iPhone 5
3. Tommy's iPhone 5
4. Shirley's iPhone 6
5. and Dan's shitty iPhone 4..... 

The unusual part is that we are only five days into our billing cycle. 

I started the following text...

I can only imagine Max's fear when he opened the courtesy "bahahaha we are about to take more money from you" text from AT&T... 

Now, we have only blown data a few times and the rule is, whoever uses the most pays the $15 extra fee. However, with the new Rollover Data we have been able to stay within our plan. 

Until yesterday. 

I get home from work and Dan is already pacing the kitchen. 

"Kate, check the app. I want to know right now who is using up our data!" 

Here is what I find:

7.57 GB have been used in five days.

Five days. 


All from Max's phone.

Disbelief set it next. 

"Max, how??! How does one use 7 gigs of data in 5 days??!! Kate something is wrong with his phone. There has to be something wrong right???" 

The great thing about our parenting philosophy is that only one of us is allowed to be "the crazy parent" at a time. 

Clearly Dan was up. 

I could see this was going to be a long night. 

I tried to be on the calm side of this but I was also in disbelief, so I do what every logical mother would do and call Tommy to the kitchen so that he can share in the wrath. 

We begin with "the lecture" of responsibility followed by the "you boys don't know how good you have it" and finish it with a "on paper you both are good kids". 

Seven point five seven. 

When you get to a point where you honestly have nothing left to say you have to dismiss your kids but not in a way that says "we are weak and are taking the easy way out" rather in the "we are so incredibly pissed the only thing left to leave our lips is fire and verbal regret, so go sit on the couch, which by the way, you're lucky to have and WAIT for the harsh punishment we, your parents, are about to bequeath upon you". 

Forty-three hundredths away from an even eight gigs. In five days. 

As the boys unite with one another...

I'd like to pause here and say, there is nothing in this world that unites our boys faster and stronger than when Dan and I become those asshole parents. You know, "the mean ones"... 

Even in this dire time it does warm my heart to know that when the shit show hits, the Hamlins will be fighting side by side. 

So, as I was saying, as the boys sat on the couch waiting for the final verdict, Dan and I stood in the kitchen to try and brainstorm how the hell this all happened. 

My sisters are privileged to have witnessed the video I took of Dan going through Max's phone and placing a call to AT&T customer service to cancel "any and all data usage for my irresponsible kids". 

If only I knew how to load them on this blog... 

To summarize it went something like this:
"F*#k, F*#k, F*#king... What is all this shit? Do these apps use data?"

All this mostly to himself and every now and then yelling to Max in the other room:


And then talking to himself:

"Unbelievable.... f*#king unbelievable, there must be over a hundred calls to Michael, what the hell do they have to say to each other?!!!!" 

And it went back and forth this way for a good 20 minutes give or take.... 

The disbelief was incredible to say the least. 

A near 8 gigs in 5 days. As in over a gig of data a day.... five times. 


The only answer to this puzzle is that there is obviously something wrong with the phone itself, a factory flaw.

The next day, Dan drove over to the AT&T store, which ranks up there with buying a car in his "top 5 worst places to go ever in life" list. 

The answer was in fact solved: there is nothing wrong with the phone, just our kid. 

On a group text Dan did share that everything takes data these days when using LTE. 

Guess who will be turning those features off? 

You will all be happy to know that this eventually died down and we are all living as a happy family now. As punishment we ended up buying Max a car for "almost" being sixteen and Dan has upgraded his shitty iphone 4 to an iphone 6. 

I know, we are flawed as parents. We do our best. 

Monday, September 7, 2015

Duncan State Park

Please don't try and make a reservation at this awesome campground because it's invitation only. In fact it's not an actual State Park, rather a private retreat created by our good friends Dave and Sandy.

It's fitting we would choose Labor Day weekend to relax and enjoy this labor of love. The Duncans certainly know how to do things right.

Beautiful view........check
Hospitality..............check, check

Their "campground" is one of the nicest we've been to. 

Let me give you a little tour of Duncan State Park. 

This is the view from Dave and Sandy's back porch. In this picture you can see our camper and car located in the "campground" portion of this yard. We had a waterfront view.

Here's a closer look at our campground. Being a small private resort, there are five electrical hookups. We were joined by the usual camping friends. 

Do you know how nice it is to be able to camp with only the people you like? For all the campers out there, you know what I mean when I say "asshole neighbors". That one family whose dog never stops barking, who plays loud music, who always tries to interject in other's family fun, who party too late into the night... 

Yes, I know that many times we are those assholes and that half of them are related to me, but this weekend we had full reign on family fun. No one to tell us "lights out" or "turn your music down" or "ma'am, please stop dancing on the tables". Nope, just good old fashioned, carefree fun. 

This is the view from our camper. Amazing.

I've gotta say, I'm not big on swimming in ponds or lakes. As you all know, I'm fearful of snakes, birds, fish, and not being able to see the bottom of whatever I'm swimming in. I also have an irrational fear of an evolved saltwater shark swimming around in ponds/lakes, eyeing my dangling legs like succulent drumsticks.  Duncan Lake is one of the nicest lakes. It's treated with a beautiful blue chemical that does allow fish to coexist, but I was assured by Camper Dan that, "No Katie there are no snakes!" and "Sharks? Are you kidding me right now??" And then I reminded him that's what the people first said in Sharknado..... I wouldn't call myself a doomsday prepper, we all know my pantry runs on low at all times, but I am definitely a member of the doomsday awareness committee and am aware that sharks live in water.... enough said. 

If you don't believe that a pond can be completely safe and fun, take a look at these actions shots.

Camper Dan floating his cares away...

Boys doing what boys do....

Great catch buddy!! 

After kicking Camper Dan off the raft, the kids play a little "king of the raft".

Most backyard ponds don't have a white sand beach.... Duncan Lake does. It's how this family rolls... 

Digging for gold

Making sand castles

Fun for all ages! Even Bella loves the pond! 

Seriously, could this picture be any cuter. This picture says, "I love you sissy but if you even think about wearing my jeans I'll cut you."

That is true sister love right there.... At the rate Bella is growing Lilly, you better hide yo stuff.

Also I'd like to point out that the boat in the background did indeed sink but the big boys were able to save it.

If you don't feel like swimming you could always hang out in the garage. Now when I say "garage" you are probably picturing a regular person's garage with tools, maybe a small t.v. hung in the corner, and shelves full of random junk. 

Not this garage.

From the look of this picture you might be thinking "who scored?" And the answer is I think they both did.... for being the two best dancers!!!

We (I) decided it was a good night put on my boogie shoes and get this party started!

Me and my girls dancing

In this picture Dan is probably apologizing to Dave for me hitting the whip on top of his picnic table.... or maybe for my stanky leg....

This is the hat I made Dan wear.... he's always a good sport. 

Please note the background of the picture. You might be thinking, "whoa! when did they move the party inside to the kitchen?" 

Ummmm that's the Duncan's garage... 

I love every face in this picture. 

This is Tammy and I before Tammy found a make-up kit that belonged to one of the kids. She said, "I am going to give you a make over! I can contour" 

She is amazing because here I am after. Who knew I would look this great in baby blue eye shadow???? I know the picture doesn't really do it justice.. 

Maybe this one will..

See! She nailed it! 

If all of this wasn't enough you can always unwind in the hot tub. 

The next morning I will admit my head was a little sore, probably from all that dancing....

Campground mornings are serious business for Mike. If there is one thing Mike does well it's breakfast. I had to pass on solid food and stick to coffee but Dan assured me it was almost as good as my homemade Honey Bunches of Oats....

Here is Camper Dan making his second plate. 

Does this camper look familiar??? It belongs to Mike and Megan and it's just like ours.


This past winter Dan and I went to a fundraiser gala where among other silent auction items, there was a Cork Pull. Basically you pay $25 to purchase a numbered cork. There were lots a great top shelf bottles of liquor, fine wines, and this piece of shit bottle of Voodoo Pretzel, Raspberry, Chocolate Ale.

There are times when I wish I had a group of people constantly filming our lives because Dan's face when they handed him #37 was priceless.... I think I quickly ushered him away from the table. The entire way home that night I had to try and remind him we donated to a good cause. He swore he was going to "donate" that shitty bottle right back to the next thing I volunteered us to work but instead he brought it to Duncan State Park.

A fancy park calls for some fancy beverages....

We passed it around and it is indeed shitty ale.

Here are Dave and Sandy showing Kris where to fix the well pump... right next to the dinner bell.... parenting is great at Duncan State Park. You don't even need to scream at your kids to come back.

Oh and plumbing things is perfectly normal for Kris, you can see Dan isn't even trying to give his two cents....

But we all play to our strengths right?? Plumbing may not be Camper Dan's thing but kicking some butt in cornhole is!! 

All in all, we had a wonderful weekend with some of the best people.

Dave and Sandy, thank you for opening your home to us. We love you guys and can't wait to come back to Duncan State Park (seriously, can we come back??)

Happy Labor Day Weekend Everyone! 

Monday, July 27, 2015

A "super" fun weekend at The Lazy River

This weekend we packed up the camper and headed to The Lazy River at Granville. The theme: Super Hero.

I stumbled upon this campground a few years ago while I was researching places to camp. I put in under my favorites so as not to forget this gem. Then I forgot. We knew we were going to camp this weekend but weren't sure where so I went back to my favorites folder and decided to visit the website, I was stoked when I saw the theme of the weekend was Super Heroes. 

This guy is the owner of the campground. He's also a retired middle school teacher. Quite honestly I'm a little shocked that he chose this as his "retirement" path as I've never seen so much work go into a campground. I seriously think he might be Superman for pulling all of this off. Sober. 

A little fact: there are many campgrounds that are very family friendly. Ones that know that vacation is about 1. Relaxing 2. Family and 3. Keeping the kids busy so that the adults can relax (#1) and not hate the family (#2).

When kids are idle it makes for a hostile camping experience. The Lazy River understands this and therefore creates activities upon activities that everyone in the whole family can enjoy. 

I hope you are in the mood for scrolling because there is much to share. 

First of all the weather was perfect, my dream year-round kind of weather. Sunny and hot (thank you Jesus). 

We invited some of the usual camping friends and family to join in on the fun. That makes for five campers, thirteen adults, fourteen kids, and six dogs. 

You'd think #1 couldn't be possible but let me show you how kid friendly campgrounds make it all possible. 

I know it's a little fuzzy but this is the itinerary for Super Hero week. 

1.  Bike rentals- Tommy is about 90 lbs over the "recommended limit". He recommended having a good time instead. 

2.  Sand soccer- this family never goes anywhere without a soccer ball. Max might have broken a toe but we find most activities end this way. Again fun was had and that's all that counts right? 

3. The lazy river- best river ever. Bring your tubes people because this is the cleanest and nicest river to float your cares away. I assumed it was this shallow the entire way through but Tommy informed me that it does get pretty deep near a bridge. I'll take his word for it because I was busy getting my #1 on at the pool. 

4.  The pool- heated and full of chemicals, just like I like it. 

Camper Dan always mischievous.... 

Grammy and Bells!

This was the adult corner. I pretty much posted up right here for most of the weekend with a pool bag full of Twizzlers, pretzels, beer, and To Kill A Mockibgbird (way different read the second time around). 

5. The Splash Pad- for the losers who can't swim they have this awesome splash pad that continuously pumps freezing cold water. 

Also perfect for the littles, like Bells. It's completely fenced in, no escape. Technically the "winners" are the parents! 

6. The park- do yourself a favor and zoom in on Bella's face. This one needs no explanation. 

7. Ping Pong- or beer pong depending on your age limit. I'd like to point out that when a campground sets a theme we like to fully embrace, become one with the theme. I am wearing a tutu because my Super Hero costume was part, Captain Ameri-mom and part Wonder where-are-my-kids Woman. I think I nailed it all weekend. 

Oh here they are, watching the Super Hero powers of the Beer Pongers. We like to call this a "college prep" experience.

8. Riding Your Bike- we've introduced our kids to something very popular from our childhood.  "What you're bored?! I'm calling bullshit because you have a bike. Now get after it." The sky's the limit kids. And you're welcome. 

I love that Tommy and Bradyn are towing Carson and Jack around. Well done boys! 

Bikes are so handy at a campground. Here is Lindsey going on an ice run! 

9. The Challenge Course- when we pulled in and saw this, everyone's faces lit up like an addict at a heroine buffet.  It looks dangerous from every angle. I think we hit the jackpot on this one! 

Safety first though... These were super safe harnesses. So safe that the worker doesn't even go up with the kids. I love it. It's called "problem solving, another little tidbit from our childhood (minus any safety harness or even a care that we were climbing anything or where we were during the day).

For example, Tommy found himself in a pickle when he noticed his line was stuck on one of the climbing grips. He looked down at me and said, "mom! I'm stuck!" And I responded with "Yikes! That looks awful! Problem solve!" I bet his arms were burning from trying to hold on and manipulate his line.  He's home with us now so he worked it out...

That's Lilly and Tommy at the tippy top of the death trap challenge course. 

Jayda was just a smidge too short so Chad went up. It's like watching American Ninja Warrior!

Gene getting in on the action!

Jack and Koral crossing the tires.

Tommy at the top again, on the skateboard. Nice form T-man!

Bradyn and Carson

Kara getting after those barrels.

10. Ziplining- that's right, this campground also has its own zipline. It's not "extreme" but a great way to introduce the kids (and adults) to what it feels like to fly, out of control, on an unsteady and thin cable. My boys opted out as they've had a taste of the more extreme courses. 

But not these kids! Waivers in hand, they are ready to fly! 

11. Super Hero Obstacle Course- again, the scheduled activities for the kids went above and beyond. This is the laser field. If you touch the laser you die. These Super-kids made it through with all body parts in place!

Except Hayden. If this were a real laser he would be missing his head...

This guy pictured above is the one who ran the activities for all the kids. He was so patient and full of energy. He's nineteen and when I asked him if he was going into Education (he seemed natural at this) he chuckled and said "No, I'm going into Economics". 

Smart kid. His vacations will probably be at a Sandals instead of a campground. 

12. Super Hero Water Battle- BYOG and spray the medallion (an antacid that dissinigrates when it gets wet). 

Good vs. 

Evil (muwahahahaha)

12.  The DJ- Saturday night all the campground peeps gathered around the basketball court for some dancing! Every line dance was danced that night! When the Electric Slide came on we had to show those little whipper snappers how it's done. 

Whether you're on the floor or a table... 

14. When it gets dark the kids usually make their way into someone's camper for cards or a little Playstation. 

And when the kids are inside playing, the adults are outside playing. 

15. Campfire- nothing beats pulling a chair up around the campfire. Camper pies, smores, and passing around the moonshine.... does it get better than that? 


Campfire relaxation. 

Atta girl!

This weekend was awesome to its full Super Hero capacity. We will return. I was told Halloween Weekend is amazing so we might head back. For all you non-camper-owners they do have cabins and a huge house to rent. I will warn you, almost anyone who has camped with us has ended up a camper-owner. Just've been warned. 

Fun times

Noah and Buff

Happy faces


The face of a successful weekend. 

Family- it's who we are. I also think it takes superhuman power to keep some together like this. (Chris you must be like Ironman to keep your shit together around us sometimes).