Sunday, July 23, 2017

Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Camp Aunt Barb!

Oh. My. Gosh! It was so much fun and such a success.

When we first arrived, I thought Camp Aunt Barb might be a "fail." My little great nieces and nephews just don't know me that well. I don't get to see them as often as I would like. Emma 8---Jim's granddaughter, didn't know me at all. Nathan---3, is a total momma's boy and Josie---2, is a daddy's girl. Evie---5, is outgoing and has no problem interacting with me. Travis---5, is shyer and doesn't really want to talk or even look at me. I was potentially looking at only one---maybe two showing up!

Instead, I was surprised that they all came and STAYED!! I think they were distracted right away by what I called, their "tackle, treasure boxes" and water bottles.
When they arrived, I had them put on their t-shirts.
I found out their favorite colors in advance and stamped the shirts with acrylic paint. It might wash out with the first washing! Jackie said that Josie's favorite color was whatever they told her it was! I picked yellow for her since I thought it would go good with her red hair. (Side note---we have no redheads in the family and now have two---her cousin Nathan is a redhead too. Nobody knows where it came from--some sort of recessive gene. Only 2 percent of the population has red hair.)

Butch helped me get everything ready.

Janet took a bunch of pictures and I'm glad she did. I was too busy to take very many. I got a few--reflected in this post.) Next, I had them get up to the table in front of their boxes. They were not to look inside until I told them they could. Even then, I said, "Open your box. Don't look at anything. Just take the ziplock bag out." I wanted everything to remain a mystery as long as possible. I packed everything they would need for the day inside.

Here's the agenda that I planned:
  1. Put on “Camp Aunt Barb” t-shirts.
  2. Kazoo practice (Twinkle Twinkle Little Star)
  3. Water balloon relay race (under arms, between knees, under chin, wooden spoon)
  4. Nature hike—look at bugs and flowers up close
  5. Scavenger hunt (heart leaf, round rock, black rock, stick, acorn, roly poly, pointy leaf, flower)—get ziplock bag
  6. Snack—Fish for goldfish (pretzel sticks, peanut butter and goldfish crackers)
  7. Pool time
  8. Fish for plastic fish in the pool
  9. Put Gummy Bears on the line and let them “catch” them with their mouths.
  10. Pretend like they are seals and throw them Swedish fish
  11. Singing time (BINGO, Itsy Bitsy Spider)
  12. Game—Steal the Pile
  13. Make slime.
  14. Simon Says
  15. Lunch
  16. Books (The Disappearance of Miss Nelson and George Shrinks)
  17. Movie/rest (Little Brave Toaster)
  18. Ring Pops
  19. Dip magic towels in water
  20. Craft—paint initials then glue on buttons
  21. Kazoo practice
  22. Head Banz game
  23. Snack—Watermelon 
  24. Magic trick—water bottle and penny
  25. Concert
  26. Playground if there’s time left.

Everything was going really well. When we got to #7, Nathan fell down the steps---head first--- on the way to the pool. I was sure it was all over for him. Since he's a momma's boy, I thought for sure he'd cry for her. I scooped him up really quick and held him. He snuffled, but didn't get worked up to a full on cry. I rubbed his back and told his that he was so brave that I was going to let him fish first! He recovered quickly. 

Pool time was a lot of fun---until later, when they ALL admitted to peeing in the pool. Believe me, when the day was over, I couldn't get to the shower fast enough! 

While at the pool, we nearly had disaster number 2. Jose fell and scraped her knee. I asked her if she would let me hold her. She shook her head "yes." She laid her head on my shoulder, cried softly, but didn't ask for her mom. I felt like we really dodged a bullet! Even when Janet walked away to join the other adults going on the boat, Josie just watched until she was out of sight. Then she re-joined us in the pool. Somehow, the Gummy Bears had disappeared (I never did find them), so I used the Swedish fish for #9 & #10. 

When we finished at the pool, I got them all dried off and dressed. Evie said her mom didn't pack underwear, so she went au naturale in her shorts. Turns out, the underwear were in a pocket of the bag. I've learned to trust Evie--that little girl is "on" it! So, I didn't think to look in the pocket. No problem.

The game "steal the pile" was a "fail" as Jose and Nathan were too young for that and kept picking up the cards. It was the very first game that Grandma Preli taught us when we were kids. I quickly finished the game and moved on. I skipped #13--make slime because it was a little more involved than I was ready to take on by myself. I inadvertently skipped #14--Simon Says.

Next up was lunch:
With the exception of the Swedish Fish, I kept the food healthy. For lunch, they had Uncrustables, juice and cherries. I told the kids at lunch that afterwards, we were going to read books, watch a movie and rest. I bribed them with Ring Pops as I needed them to be quiet so Josie could fall asleep. I pictured myself getting a rest too. That didn't happen!
 The boys grabbed the couch. The room was so small, that they all couldn't fit on the floor anyway. My rest consisted of sitting straight up in a kitchen chair in the doorway! Not very comfortable.

After rest time, we had another little accident. Nathan didn't make it to the bathroom. He was so embarrassed. I tried to ease his feelings by helping him. I remembered that we had put the swimming suits and towels out to dry. I went out and discovered that his and Travis' weren't there. I checked their backpack and found that the wet trunks were in there---on top of the spare underwear which were now wet too! I suggested that he put his wet trunks back on, but he balked at that. I said, "okay, never mind, your shirt is long enough." So we had another "au naturale" situation. I put the trunks out to dry which we put back on later.

The game Head Banz is so much fun---even for adults. I had the kids version and they understood how to play right away. Even Josie! The card I gave her had a slice of pizza on it. I told Evie to give her the first clue. She said, "it's what you and I love to eat the most!" Josie said, "peez!" I looked at Evie in disbelief and said, "what did she say?" Evie responded, "She said pizza, Aunt Barb! She can't say "za!" I was blown away. Even that little 2 year old knew exactly what to do! In fact, she did everything and kept up perfectly!

We never made it to #25--the playground. The timing couldn't have worked out better. We finished everything around 3:50. Camp Aunt Barb was from 8-4! I was tired--no doubt. But what I really noticed was how bad my back hurt! All that bending down to little people.

I went straight to the shower (the pee and all) and then took a little nap. Around 5, Evie came over while I was on my computer.
She said, "Aunt Barb, do you have wifi? I brought my tablet, but couldn't get wifi!" These kids just amaze me! They are so darn smart!

Anyway, the day was a total success. I loved every minute of it. For me, it's all about the memories. That's what it's all about! Now, maybe the next time I'm in St. Louis, they'll really know who Aunt Barb is. At least I hope so!

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Table Rock Lake

Well, being out in the "boonies" means sketchy internet access and very slow at that. I could not post pictures. Texts were "iffy" too. We're home now and had a fun time. It's a long drive for us---8 hours--although it took us 9 to get home.

Anyway, the lake was gorgeous.
We arrived on Sunday afternoon. The family was already out on the lake. When they got back we all hit the pool and spent some time catching up.

Jeanne asked me to organize the trip since she was in the middle of her move. The plan was that each cabin (we had 5--for 18 of us) was responsible for their own breakfasts and lunches and we would all gather for dinner. Each of the first generation would be responsible for dinner---me, Jeanne, Janet and Joyce. Their adult "kids" could help them. They would cook and serve at their house. The rest of us would bring our own chairs and drinks. That worked perfectly. We had great food and no repeats. Jeanne did brats, salssiccia, and hotdogs. Janet did bbq pork and Italian beef. I did a Mexican dinner. Joyce (and mostly Scott) did this:
A shrimp boil! I was so excited. I've never had a boil in my entire life and now I've had 2 in 2 weeks! It was delicious. Unfortunately, I snapped this picture after everyone had filled their plates.

Speaking of Scott, he brought this jar of his "famous" pickles for Mindy.
When we gave them to Mindy, she opened them right away and shared them with us---just a taste! Scott had some for all of us to eat on vacation. They are the best pickles ever. He grows everything for them, cucumbers, garlic, dill and I don't know what else. He makes some hot. They're really good, not too hot.

Butch and I had planned to do some fishing on this trip. While everyone else likes to go out on the boat and sit for hours, that's just not us. Besides it's too hot. You can get in the lake to cool off, but that doesn't work for me. Yes, I've done the lake thing many times, but never really liked worrying about the creepy things you cannot see in the water. Plus getting in and out of the boat could be a problem for me these days. I'll stick with the pool.
Anyway, fishing these days couldn't be easier. You can just go online and get your fishing license. I just took a screenshot and had it on my phone along with the receipt that I'd paid. We were never stopped, be we never take any chances.

It was pretty hot right off the bat. I caught the first 3 fish.
I don't care how little they are---it's just fun to catch. This one was nearly as big as the lure!

I just love these fish. They are all so different and beautiful. This was my favorite--blue and orange. The colors seems like it would be a danger for them as they don't exactly blend in to their surroundings.

Butch caught one fish and another that got off right before he got it to the boat. On Tuesday, he went without me since that was my day for "Camp Aunt Barb" (all about that in then next post). He caught more than he could count. Figures. We went out again on Wednesday. He caught 6. I only had two bites. I caught trees, bushes and rocks. That made me skittish, so I quit getting really close to where I needed to be to catch fish. Butch said, "Barb, they're not going to jump in the boat---you have to cast out there!" Still, it's such a hassle to have to retrieve your lure. I will say, Butch is incredibly patient about it. He had his share of entanglements. He says that's just part of fishing.
Still, it was fun getting my rod in the water! I do enjoy fishing until it gets too hot. At one point, I asked Butch to find a shady cove. He said, "Barb, the sun is straight up, there is no shade!" I'm glad we're both early birds. We quit about 11. We went back out one afternoon, but it was still stifling.
On our second day of fishing together, he pulled this on me. I though he planned to somehow "steal" the fish! He said that all the pros wear this---to prevent bugs, I think. Anyway, after modeling it for this picture, he didn't really use it. I texted a picture to the girls, since I knew they'd get a "kick" out of it. He provides us with endless entertainment!

We packed up Wednesday night so we could get an early start for home on Thursday morning. We got on the road by 6 a.m.

It ended up taking us 9 hours to get home because of this:
We were stuck behind this RV for 45 miles. He had a long line of cars behind us, but wouldn't pull over. That's the courteous thing to do. Butch handled it remarkably well. I kept telling him to honk, but he wouldn't. My blood pressure was rising, so I just played my new game.
It sure helped pass the time. It's a free app for your phone or iPad. Butch doesn't know it, but I put it on his phone. I know he'll like it. It's so easy! Thanks for sharing Connie! As if I need another time waster!

Up next: Everything you ever wanted to know about Camp Aunt Barb!

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Camp Aunt Barb

Butch and I leave tomorrow for Table Rock Lake to join some of my siblings for the annual Zimmermann family vacation. It's been several years since Butch and I have gone since the Z vacation is always so close to our family vacation. We're looking forward to it.

I decided to plan a fun day for the kids. There are going to be 5---Josie-2, Nathan-3, Evie and
Travis-5, and Emma-8 (Jim's granddaughter). I have so many activities planned. I'll share the itinerary later. But for now, here's just a little glimpse.
 Sandy gave me this idea based on a birthday party Mitchell went to when he was little. I got tackle boxes for the kids and stamped their names on them. I'll pack their lunch and little treats inside.
 I made some cute invitations that listed some of the activities I'm planning. I want them to be excited. I'm taking them from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Tuesday. I know it's going to be hectic and I'll be exhausted. I'm all about making memories.
 Who doesn't like getting mail?
I wanted to have some t-shirts printed, but the cheapest I could find was $10.00. Instead, I decided on stamping them myself. I got the colorful shirts at Michaels--3 for $10.00. Sure, it took time---of which I have precious little these days--but it was worth it. They came out pretty cute.

I'm still working on the itinerary. I'll post it when I get it done and all of the "stuff" gathered!

Thursday, July 13, 2017


Kate Spade is my designer of choice. I've been carrying Kate Spade bags for 10 years or more now. "She" sends me email deals all the time. Taking advantage of one of those HUGE sales, I made Christmas a "Kate Spade" Christmas a few years ago. Everyone loved it. She has cute purses, totes, umbrellas, jewelry, sunglasses, office supples, scarves, shoes---just everything.  I got this one for Sandy last Christmas:
And did I mention the packaging?
 Swoonworthy! You know how I am about cool packaging.
Those boxes.....

Anyway, just wanted to give you a little preface for the story I'm about to share.

Yesterday, I received another "deal" via email from Kate Spade. It was an awesome two-toned, striped coral tote for $99.00. I wanted it REAL bad! Like I really need another tote, but it was oh, so cute. I was going to get it. I clicked on the link and then the problems began. Here's the email I sent to Kate or most likely, one of her lackeys:

Your website has become so frustrating. I’d say for the past year, I have no longer been able to place an online order. I can’t get anywhere as the pages will not load. What is the problem? I don’t have trouble anywhere else.
This was the response I got:
Dear Barbara,

 Thank you for contacting kate spade new york.

We are excited that you wish to place an order with kate spade new york and are sorry to hear of the difficulties you have experienced. We were unable to replicate the issue you described, and we recommend an alternate web browser and/or deleting your browsing history and cookies.

If you are using Internet Explorer, you can do this by clicking on “tools” and then “internet options.” You may then click on “delete” under “browsing history.” If you are using a different browser, such as FireFox or Chrome, please use a search engine, like Google or Bing, for directions.

We would like to suggest using a non Apple device to place an order for other items, as we are currently experiencing an issue with Apple products not working properly with our website. Rest assured, we are working diligently to have this issue fixed.

We thank you for your patience and understanding in this matter. We look forward to assisting you in the future!

If you have additional questions or need assistance with anything else, please give us a call at 866-999-5283 in the U.S. and Canada or at 610-491-2028 if located internationally. For your convenience, we are available 24 hours, 7 days a week.  


Kayshlee R.
Customer Care 

ARE YOU FRIGGIN' KIDDING ME!! Their website doesn't "do" Apple products?? What the ??? I ONLY "do" Apple products! So sad, too bad Kate Spade. How many sales are you losing? This seems to be a really serious situation for you. Because not only did you lose my sale of that one bag---but everyone who knows me and my multiples problem, knows you lost out on more than one bag! I was already thinking ahead to this Christmas.

Oh, well, I didn't NEED that bag. I guess I should thank you Kate Spade. You saved me a few bucks. Still, it's irksome. I want what I want and I don't care what it costs! (That's for my friends who like to razz me about this).

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

There's No Going Back

Well, my effort to NOT spend money on books this year gets tough sometimes. Whenever I learn what our new book club books are going to be, I have about 7 weeks to get them and read them. That means that I'm usually down to the wire getting them and then reading them. I'll admit, it makes me nervous.

This month, I've been waiting and waiting for Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine. I've had hopes that it would come in on time. I have exactly 2 weeks to book club.

On our family vacation, I noticed that Stephanie (she's in our book club) had bought the hard back. She said she actually preferred real books to the electronic. I have not tried a hardback since getting my Kindle about 6 years ago. In fact, when Butch gave me the Kindle for Christmas, I was afraid I wouldn't like it because I like my books so much. It took me about two minutes to get used to it.
Well, it was hard going back. I noticed a couple of things right away about the book. It's heavy! Really heavy! I can't remember how I used to hold them while reading---especially in bed at night. I don't remember how I attached my little book light. It's awkward and keeps getting in the way of page turning. But the biggest negative---and it's a big one for me---is that you actually have to use a real dictionary to look up words. I'm obsessive about that. I cannot just skip over words I do not understand. Even if I can gather the meaning due to the context, I find that I want to test myself and see if I'm correct. I found myself tapping a word in the book before realizing that it doesn't work like that with a hardback. I did it three times before I finally got it through my head that I can't get a definition that way.

Another feature I like is the highlighting for notes. I need that to remind myself of things I want to discuss at book club. Plus, I need a refresher of the book prior to our meeting.

The jury is definitely in for me. There's no going back. I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE my Kindle!! And, just in time, my library book arrived today. I was about a third of the way in the hardback. I'm done with that. Plus, I love the feature of being able to use my Kindle app on my phone. Now I have my book with me everywhere.

One thing I do not like about my Kindle--or I should say this Kindle. The latest way to page turn is to swipe or tap. I don't like that. My hands aren't big enough to be able to do that while holding the Kindle. My old Kindle had buttons on either side you just pressed. It was very simple. In fact, my fingers rested on them while I held the book. Someone, decided that tapping or swiping was a better way. Just like my complaints about my car and other things---they need to let short people be the testers. And by that I'm saying that because I'm short, I must have littler hands too!

What about you? Have you tried going back? Or have you never left? Still, I can't believe I love the Kindle better. I always loved the tactile experience of a book---and the smell. Now, I don't miss either. There's no going back for me.

Monday, July 10, 2017

Home Again, Home Again

Jiggety jig. Remember that?

Anyway, it's always fun to come home after a trip. You get to see your house through new eyes again. Everything always looks so nice. My view out back was no exception.
 Everything was so green. The flowers looked healthy and colorful.

My friends were to use the pool in exchange for watering everything---and as you can see, it's quite a lot. We have a sprinkler system in the yard and landscaping beds. They do their job too. As it turned out, with the exception of July 4th when the pool was closed for a private party, my friends didn't come over. I think it was a rainy week here.
Jordan and Morgan had a pool party on Saturday. They left us a little surprise. Yes, it's a bag of dog poop!

We just never know what we're going to find when we come home from a trip! Still, it's good to be home!

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Our Final Day!

We were determined to make this a really fun day. The whole idea of leaving and what goes with it---cleaning, packing, loading---is just depressing!

The family (except Butch and I) decided to make this a whole beach day. Butch and I headed out for some last minute sight seeing. I figure, this will probably be the last time we go to the Charleston area.

With that in mind, I decided that I wanted to tour the Charleston Tea Plantation. It is the ONLY tea plantation in the country. All other tea is imported. Being the tea snob that I am, you would think I know more than I actually do. I've never said I knew a lot about tea--just what I like.

Our first stop was to see the Angel Oak Tree. Sandy, Mindy and the girls had done it the day before and said it was pretty impressive.

The oak tree is 400 years old. They are trying to preserve it to last 900 years---the life span of the tree. It was pretty unbelievable as to how far it spread out. The limbs are actually hollow.

From there, we went 10 miles down the road to:

 We arrived in time for the trolley tour. This is one of the tea fields. Without going in to all of the details, the most impressive things are:

1. Only the top 3 leaves of each plant are harvested to make tea. That means they get a harvest every 18 days.
2. There are only 3 men that work the fields: 2 that use machetes by hand to open the rows for harvesting machine and do all the weeding completely by hand and one man who works the harvesting machine. That machine does the work of 500 men.
3. There is only one man that runs the entire manufacturing process in the factory.
4. Black tea is made by letting the leaves oxidize for 50 minutes, Oolong tea is oxidized for 15 minutes and green tea is not oxidized at all. All from the same tea leaves!

They gave us as much free tea to drink as we wanted. There were many flavors and it was all sweet---but not like southern sweet tea that is too sweet---just right! It was all good!

We got home with plenty of time to join the gang at the beach for our family book club discussion. We read Hillbilly Elegy.  Everyone really liked this memoir of a kid that grew up in a dysfunctional family to graduate from Yale and write this best seller by the age of 32. Definitely worth the read.

I'm going to try again to post a video. These kids can do everything with their phones.
(Well, once again, I can't get the video to post. It shows up when I'm writing this, but then doesn't show up on the post. I have no idea what to do about that.)

We decided to go to dinner at the Crab Shack since we enjoyed it so much the first time. Plus, Mitchell wasn't with us then. After dinner, the plan was to spend about a half hour getting our stuff organized to go home. We didn't want to end the evening with that.
We played dozens of games of Mexican Train this week---great for all ages. On our last night, we decided on Catch Phrase.
It's a great game for a large gang. We have so many laughs---if you've never played, put it on your list for sure!
Even Elizabeth is really good---not only at giving clues, but at guessing. We also played charades this week---always a good fall back. The only problem with that is we spend more time thinking up the clues than actually playing. I've decided to come prepared the next time!

Well, that's about it. Another one for the books. It all went by way too fast. And, as always, Stephanie has everyone list their favorite thing and least favorite thing about our vacation. I'll start with the least favorite as to end on a high note.

When we arrived, Mindy discovered a bird's nest of swallows in the carport. We all spent the week watching the baby birds. On the last day, one of the birds had fallen out of the nest. Everyone was upset. Butch scooped it up on a paper plate and carefully balanced on top of the trash can (I was a nervous wreck) to put the bird back in the nest. We were all happy. It wasn't two minutes before the mama bird pushed it back out. Butch took care of it so it wouldn't suffer, but no one wanted to know about that. What a downer.

On to our favorite. Everyone agreed that although there were many high points of the week, the low country shrimp boil was the BEST! If you ever get a chance to arrange that, you must do it!

It was a fabulous week and we had a great time being together---that's what it's all about.