284 steps to the beach

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Either the stuff they say about global warming is true, or some kind of weird thing has happened to my skin over the past 20ish years.  Maybe we really did kill the ozone with all that Aqua Net in the 80’s.  I don’t know why but I NEVER used to get sunburned.  When I was a little kid I could be out in the sun all day and not even my nose or cheeks would turn pink.  The only time I ever remember getting burned was when I was 14 or 15 and we visited my sister when she lived in Colorado.  We went to a water park and we were obviously a mile closer to the sun and my nose burned just a little bit.  But that was it.  Now…… if I don’t go out with SPF 30 I burn.  Now that I’m thinking about it, the change happened not too long after Dawson was born.  We were in Florida and I basically got sun poisoning which was combined with an allergic reaction to the lotion I was putting on it.  Good times!!  Anyway — enough history.

So the basic idea here is that on Tuesday we all decided to enjoy a relaxing day at the beach.  Our house is 284 steps from the beach according to its owner.  So we sprayed ourselves with Coppertone and headed to the beach.  Maybe it was the sprayer or the wind direction and velocity or just pure bad karma, but all of us got sprayed unevenly.  And the best part is, none of us knew it until way later in the day, and continued to mis-spray all day.  So we all have odd lines and stripes of burns and basically look like we were wearing some kind of Lady Gaga designed swim suits.  One part of my burn in particular looks like I specifically designed one of my blob cartoons in the middle of it.  It’s a cute little white spot with a head and amorphous body right in the middle of a giant sea of red skin.  HOW DOES THAT EVEN HAPPEN???

But before we found out about the sun burns we were still enjoying a nice fun day – partially overcast even – at the beach.  284 steps to the beach and for fun I turned on the pedometer on my phone to count them.  But then I forgot and left my pedometer on all day.  About 130 we decided we were hungry and decided to take 284 steps back home for lunch.  As we arrived in the back of the house Dawson had decided to go meet us at the beach and walked out the front door.  284 steps back to the beach to find out he’s ok with playing soccer in the sand until we get back.  284 steps back to eat lunch.  This is where it starts to get good, keep up with the math.  As we’re eating lunch Dave gets an alert on his phone that says there is a tornado warning for Hendricks County.  Odd.  But hey we’re in South Carolina… whoo hoo… it’s beach day.  284 steps back to the beach and (oops!) we both left our phones at the house.  We were having fun – then my sister gets out of the ocean and checks her phone and she says there’s a tornado in Plainfield.  Of course there is.  And the two phones that would have the most information on them are 284 steps away.

So I took off for the house – supplied with the incorrect information from my sisters co-worker who “knows a cop” in Plainfield – that the area by the police station was damaged.  284 steps back to the house to find out that there was only one or two pages on Dave’s phones for runs and the one that was “structural collapse” which would be what they would use for damage from a tornado was at the other end of town.  But I’m still frantically searching for the weather channel on our TV – yelling at the TV the whole time.  My niece and her fiancé walked in as I was yelling at the TV – just returning from getting their marriage license and not knowing what was going on.  So my string of cuss words was making very little sense to them.  But a few texts later we found out everything near us was fine and our neighbors said the house was fine.

284 steps back to the beach, plus 4 more beach accesses down as we had moved to meet up with my nieces fiancé’s family.  Another hour or so at the beach and back we went to the house to get ready for dinner.  Now I did walk a few blocks from where we parked to get to the restaurant and back, but no further than the house to the beach.  When we got home I remembered, oh yeah I turned on the pedometer so I checked it.  4.01 miles later the 284 steps to the beach seems irrelevant.  And that total was 568 steps short (from the trip after lunch and back).

It always seems that when we travel there is an epic weather event — either near us or back home.  Glad this vacation didn’t disappoint.

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“People need a passport to come down here” Reese Witherspoon

There are different rules in the south.

Rules that you need to know before you come down here.  And oddly for all the times I’ve travelled south to Alabama they have different rules there than the rules here.  First, you can buy alcohol any day of the week even on Sunday.  However all the liquor stores close at 7pm.  I guess you can get drunk 7 days a week but not past 7pm.  Which technically makes it nice because all the drunks pass out around 9 or 10 and they can’t go get anymore until the morning.

Second, and we were told this is a new rule or law or something, if you are travelling from out-of-town you can’t use your debit card as a credit card unless you have informed your bank ahead of time that you are travelling.  WHAT?!?!?!  Of course I called my bank and told them all about my vacation plans.  Because everyone does that.  Dave found this out at the Harry Feeler grocery store (actual name is Harris Teeter but it has had at least 25 name combo’s since we’ve been here).  He went to pay and the card was declined.  The checkout clerk asked if it was a debit card and he said yes and she informed him that unless  he notified his bank ahead of time he was travelling that you couldn’t run it as credit it had to be run as debit.  Again….. WHAT?!?!?!  That’s their idea down here to curb credit card fraud and theft.  Because that’s really convenient for travelers going to a tourist destination.  Balderdash I said.  I’ll show the Harris Teeter that I can go to Walmart and use my card as a credit card.  Nope.  Denied.  Better yet the ONE credit union ATM I’ve found down here keeps spitting out my card and won’t let me get cash so now I’m getting charged $1.00 for every transaction I make or whatever the ATM fee to get cash.

Then there’s driving.  Nobody really knows how to drive.  They slow down when there’s no reason to slow down and they turn right from the left lane.  And unless everyone who’s visiting down here opted for the 3 hour flight and rented a car the plates have South Carolina tags so I’m pretty sure it’s not tourists.

So for a destination that makes millions of dollars on tourism they aren’t very tourist friendly.

Anywho, we’ve been having a pretty good time minus the above rants.  We walked around historic downtown Charleston yesterday and ate taco’s and gelato and pralines.  Dawson was excited to find the Moon Pie store.  We went to the downtown market and looked at saw grass baskets which are a bit pricey for something that grows here naturally.  And other “artsy fartsy” stuff as Dave called it.  The only downside to the market was that it’s also the hub for the all of the horse carriage rides.  So there’s a “horsey” smell as your walking.  And by horsey smell I mean it smells like a stable.  Dave loves horses and he was thrilled when one decided it needed to pee right next to him.  But we could hear some of the tour guides as they went by giving us little tidbits of information about the town and history.

We found out that letting Teagan eat a Moon Pie, chocolate gelato, an unknown amount of salt water taffy and sample of Pralines with an RC chaser sends her into a sugar rush that might be the equivalent of giving her an IV of pure cane sugar.  Yep I’m a great parent.  It was like watching  ping-pong ball in a wind tunnel.  If the ping-pong ball talked the entire time and never took a breath.

Next adventure is the wedding.  The whole reason we came down here.  We’ll see how that goes!

 

How to take a 10 hour trip in 16 hours

So I had a travel plan, with directions on the best route from Indianapolis to South Carolina.  It was going to take 10 hours and 37 minutes according to Google Maps.  See….

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The problem with Google Maps is that the other 5 million people who are also travelling to the beach use Google Maps also.  Look isn’t Google nice it now shows you how you can save 7 hours of your life by flying.  Or in our case it would have saved about 13 hours.  Because what should have been a 10 1/2 hour trip took nearly 16 hours.  You know its bad when you have an app on your phone that assesses the upcoming exits for you based on your speed and GPS location and it wont work because you are at a standstill and it keeps telling you that you are not on the interstate.

We did have a scavenger hunt to keep us entertained while we were sitting in stand still traffic.  Some items on the scavenger hunt are maps from rest area, horehound candy from Cracker Barrel (although the Gamemaster didn’t tell anyone that it was at Cracker Barrel), and an item from a gas station vending machine.  The fun part was when one of the cars — did I mention we had 3 cars on this trip? — lost their vending machine item temporarily in the snack bag.  Because when you reach for a snickers it’s not fun to get a glow in the dark …………..well you get the idea.  Items that we might want to add for next year would be expired cat food at a gas station, couple with a broke down car sitting in camping chairs by the side of the road, random guy picking up cans in the median in the mountains, most creative bumper sticker on a car (single sticker not multiple), and large 3 story cross over looking an adult book store  — that’s in Tennessee by the way.  There was one really pretty detour near Lexington Kentucky that took us by some magnificent horse farms.  Magnificent as in these horses live better than most humans.

Other things that would have been nice was a bathroom at a gas station with more than 1 stall.  When you are travelling with 10 people a bathroom stop can take a really long time if there is only 1 toilet. Even a 2 stall takes an inordinate amount of time and then add the other 5 million people who thought a trip to South Carolina sounded like a great idea this week and you have a line longer than a group of teeny boppers waiting to get in to a One Direction concert.  When there was a line 25 deep at the rest area – you know there’s a problem.  Seriously this was my view of the majority of South Carolina:

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We got a tip from a lady in a McDonald’s bathroom (don’t judge we’re travelling – and PS McDonald’s needs more than two stalls as well) that her dad lived close to where we were going and we could take State Road in the Middle of Nowhere to get there.  Skeptical as I was that State Road in the Middle of Nowhere did get us where we were going and even though we were only going 55 mph it was faster than the interstate.  Before getting on the Road in the Middle of Nowhere Dave stopped at a gas station so we could all go to the bathroom since we didn’t know what to expect.  The line for the bathroom was 35 people deep and I’m not exaggerating or embellishing like I sometimes do as I’m sure there really aren’t 5 million people in South Carolina right now.

An hour later we approached a “town” that had a General Tire Store and Gas.  It had a bathroom.  A single bathroom that you could only access from the outside next to the fence containing the “Beware of Dog” guard dogs.  The only thing that would have made it more fun was if the key was attached to a license plate but it wasn’t.  Surprisingly it was one of the nicer and cleaner bathrooms we had been in the whole trip.  But I was mad that exactly 2 miles down the road was an El Cheapo gas station.  I will visit an El Cheapo gas station before this trip ends.  Google it, it’s real.

You know what always happens when I travel right?  About 1 hour away from the destination Mother Nature decides to remind me why it is that I should never go on vacation.  I mean I saw the dark and ominous clouds building all around us.  I was trying to remain positive – it’ll blow over, it’ll go north of us.  No…. no it did not.  The “bling” of my cell phone alerted me to the SEVERE THUNDERSTORM WARNING for northern Charleston (hmm.. my Red Cross Severe Weather App works according to my GPS !!).  The downpour started, the lightening sparked and to quote Garth Brooks the thunder rolled.  For an area that I would assume gets a lot of rain/weather the roads were not capable of handling large amounts of water and we mostly hydroplaned into the north part of Charleston.  But it was fun… it was an adventure.  And it wouldn’t be a Baughn family vacation if we didn’t hydroplane into our location after driving for 16 hours.

Well it was a rocky start… lets see what the rest of the week brings!

 

The funny thing about vacations…..

Everyone loves a vacation.  Right?

I do.  I love visiting new places and seeing things that are different from your everyday life.  Yes it takes a lot of planning and researching to find a place to stay and the best travel route but I don’t mind.  I’ve had both hits and misses on places to stay and routes to go.  Some of my epic errors include the hotel in St Louis on my honeymoon (don’t mind the armed security guard – he’s just there as a precaution) and trying to get to Key West from Fort Lauderdale after Hurricane Wilma had blown down at least 1/2 of Miami’s street signs (Little Havana is nice in November).  I look at vacations as an adventure.  In my family we still talk about the vacations we’ve shared and the crazy, silly, scary things that have happened.  One of the first times we ever travelled together as a family was a camping trip down to Dale Hollow to meet with some of my brother-in-laws family to ride horses.  A tornado ripped through the park taking out the dock just past out campsite – the only thing that saved us was that we were in a valley and the tornado “skipped” around us.  It probably should’ve served as a warning that we shouldn’t travel together  – but we still do.

We made that Dale Hollow trip in 1996.  In the 18 years since then we’ve travelled to Florida, Alabama and South Carolina with most members present, as well as San Diego, Georgia and North Carolina with some family members.  Tomorrow we’re heading back to South Carolina and I’m sure the adventures and memories will be epic.  We’re travelling with a few of our vacation staples.   The “Grumpy Gill Jar” — if you have a complaint or grouch you write it down and put it in the grumpy gill jar to be discussed at the end of the vacation.  The “King Julian lei” — there is a daily process or contest to decide who is “King Julian” for the day – winner gets to pick activities and food for the day.  Yes “grumpy gill” is from Finding Nemo and “King Julian” is from Madagascar – never under-estimate the power of an animated movie.

Check out this picture:

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It’s awesome right…. everyone is happy and smiling and having fun.

The funny thing, when I see this picture is that I don’t see the happy and fun, I remember the near death experience of getting everyone ready for the pictures and to the beach to take them.  My sister and I learned an important lesson that day.  Not everyone likes a “surprise we’re taking family pictures on the beach” day.  But as bad as the getting ready was, the smiles and fun we had that night on the beach was real.  And we all ate at a hole in the wall restaurant with really good pub food later that night which was better than some of the expensive restaurants we had been to all week.  Lesson’s learned. Memories made.

Next blog from the road………….  Memories here we come!!

Not to be rude… but….

What made me think of this I’m not sure, but there I was awake at 3am thinking about something someone said – and it wasn’t even something that was said recently.  As a matter of fact it was over a year ago.  Anyway I had made a comment to someone about a rude email I had received as a parent of a child involved in a sport from the director of that sport – basically the director started his email off with “Please read this email all the way through before you email me back with stupid questions that if you had read the entire email the answer to your question is there in black and white – and I have to reply and point out how stupid you are.”  I really wish I would have kept the whole email because that was just the tip of the iceberg of this mans rant about how we as the parents are basically idiots who he has to guide through everything.  I found it rude and completely unprofessional for someone who is in charge of a kids sports organization.  I let someone else read it and their comment was something to the effect of “Well you don’t know how hard it is to deal with groups of people sometimes and sometimes when you are organizing something like that you do get tired of people asking the same things over and over.”

Two problems with the persons reply.

First, it’s laughable to think I don’t know how hard it is to deal with people – I answer 911 calls for a living.  I deal with people all day long!  And second I have organized many events and even at the height of my frustration I have never once told someone they were stupid.  Why?  Because it’s rude and it makes you look like an ass (see above).  And while I may have wanted so badly at so many times to tell someone what I really think — if it’s mean I usually keep it to myself.  Why?  Cowboy Bob…. every afternoon Cowboy Bob signed off his cartoon show with the saying “If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.”  Even if the sports director did feel that way about the parents he shouldn’t have said it – at least not that way.  And PS… as the head of the organization it’s your responsibility to answer questions – no matter how stupid you think they are – because that’s what you were elected to do.

We live in this world where people think it’s OK to say anything they want to say no matter how it may affect the person they are talking to.  There is this new thought that if you preface your comment with the phrase “Not to be a ________ but,….”  Fill in the blank with any negative you want:  bitch, jerk, rude, crude, insensitive, pain in the ass.  It’s like by saying “not to be a _____” you are giving yourself a free pass to be exactly what you are telling people you are not.  It’s that word BUT that seems to make it OK.  It doesn’t make it OK — in case you’re wondering.

So now at 330 am I’m still perplexed by this subject.

A few years back I wondered if I was “two-faced” or whatever you want to call it because I refuse to be mean to someone even if I don’t like them.  I may avoid talking to them at length or avoid them all together but just because I don’t like them doesn’t mean I’m going out-of-the-way to be rude or mean to them.  This whole scenario came about after my husband I came upon a group of friends we knew and started speaking to them.  Two of the men I truly wanted to avoid because I really don’t have warm or fuzzy feelings for either of them.  They are the kind of men who if I see them in the grocery store I run and hide in the tampon aisle because if you really want to avoid a man while shopping the tampon aisle is the place to go.  But I sucked it up, smiled and spoke to each of them in a friendly tone, briefly, then excused myself from the conversation.  I was really worried that my ability not to act like a reality TV star and get up in their face and tell them they are both jack asses and then maybe hurl a drink on them made me somehow a bad person.  See how skewed our mentality has gotten?

And don’t even get me started at the “comments” section of news articles.  Have you ever read these?  They are spectacularly horrible.  Do you think half of the people who spat their opinions and hate in those comments would make the same comments if they were face to face?  The answer is NO!  Do you think that 80’sBoYtoY would really walk up to HippyRebel764 and call her superficial and judgemental at the coffee shop?  Probably not.  And I’m sure that HippyRebel764 wouldn’t really point out to 80’sBoYtoY that she has wounded civic pride and that she’s shallow if they were face to face.  But it’s OK to sit and ridicule each other while hiding behind a computer and commenting and opining on a news article that neither person is directly involved in.  I often like to imagine 80’sBoYtoY and HippyRebel764 sitting next to each other on a bus unknowingly going back and forth at each other on a comment thread having no clue the person they are berating is right next to them.

I’m not sure why it bothers me.  I guess I just get tired of people thinking it’s OK to say anything they want just because they think it.  Yes, be yourself!  Yes, share your opinions!   Yes, say what you mean!  BUT …. don’t do it at the expense of another person or their feelings.  There are ways to be tactful and respectful and still say what you think you need to say.  You don’t have to scream at someone or call them names or degrade them or throw a drink on them to get your point across.  Or you could just hide in the tampon aisle and avoid the whole situation.

If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.

Side Effects

So it’s May. It’s the very last day of May. How many times this month have I reminded anyone that it’s Brain Tumor Awareness Month? Zero. Zilch. Nada

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It’s not that I forgot. Trust me I have thought about it a lot this month. But I haven’t been inspired to jump on my shrinking soapbox and shout (or type very loudly on various forms of social media). And it was bothering me, but earlier this week I figured out why I hadn’t been inspired to remind everyone that it’s Brain Tumor Awareness month and brain tumors are bad and they change peoples’ lives in ways too hard to explain. The reason is just that. First, everyone knows brain tumors are bad. Most people when you tell them someone has a brain tumor that say, “Oh my God! That’s terrible.” Most people assume (like I did for about 14 terrifying months) that everyone who has a brain tumor will die. Second, if you understand that brain tumors are bad – logically you have to come to the conclusion that people who have brain tumors have their lives drastically altered.
It’s a no brainer. Pun intended although it’s really not that great of a pun.
But for me it’s even more than that. I want to be one of those parents who takes the soapbox with me everywhere and launches websites and social media campaigns and raises money to “make a difference.” I really want to be that parent. But it’s not that easy. Because for me to get on that soapbox I have to relive 14 terrifying months of my life. And there’s a big part of me, a selfish part of me that doesn’t want to re-live that.

I’m not sure how some people do it.  Like Liz and Jay Scott who run Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation.  Their daughter Alex was diagnosed in 1996 with neuroblastoma at the age of 1.  At the age of 4 she told her mom she wanted to have a lemonade stand to raise money for kids like her – she made $2000.  In 2004 when Alex died at the age of 8 she had raised 1 million dollars for cancer research with her lemonade stands and now her parents and siblings run one of the largest foundations to provide funding for childhood cancer families and for cancer research.  I just can’t imagine how her parents have gotten up out of bed for the last 10 years let alone continued to campaign for childhood cancer – but the do.  I admire them.

I aspire to be like them.
Maybe someday soon I will get my stuff together and do something monumental. Unfortunately it’s not today. Today I noticed something I hadn’t seen in a while, but one of those things that takes me back to 2007 in a heartbeat. Teagan was getting fitted for her bridesmaid dress for my nieces wedding and when she was changing I saw the 2 inch scar just under her bra line (she’d be embarrassed if she knew I told everyone on my blog she was wearing a bra….). The scar that was so carefully placed by a surgeon with the explanation that when she went to prom or got married he wanted her to be able to wear a strapless dress without a scar near her clavicle. The scar left behind from her “button” which was a port for easy access for chemo and blood draws. The same quirky surgeon who placed the “button” also removed it and gave it to us in a jar and suggested one day she might want to make a necklace out of it. We have not made a necklace.
But that’s all it took, seeing that scar and I was back in 2007. And it’s not even that big or noticeable of a scar. Not like the giant one on her left arm that runs from her elbow to her wrist – put in place by a not so careful surgeon who wasn’t nearly as concerned about her prom or wedding day and left behind that large scar that did very little to improve her arm. Then she turned around to show the seamstress the back of the dress and there were the 2 other scars on the back of her knee and ankle – placed by a cheery pediatric surgeon who helped her walk better. Thank God we didn’t pull her hair up so I could see the S-shaped scar just over her right ear. That’s the big one, also carefully placed along her hairline so it doesn’t show, by a very careful surgeon who saved her life.
Those are the side effects of cancer. The tumor may go away but the side effects are always there. And we live and deal with those side effects every day. And maybe one day I will get past the side effects and put my big girl panties on and campaign like I always say I want to.
But unfortunately it’s not today.
Today I’m again telling Teagan she really needs to reconsider having a zipper tattooed along the scar on her left arm when she turns 18. I’m very lucky. She has that ever lasting sunny disposition to handle her situation. Maybe I can talk her into a nice rose vine or something other than a zipper before she turns 18.

I see those billboards all the time that say “My Scar Means….” and then gives some explanation of what the person pictured can do now that they had surgery.  For Teagan her scars mean she survived – we survived.  And that means more than standing on my soapbox any day.

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