Tag Archives: Cub scouts

It Would Have Been Positive

I took the cub scouts on a bike hike on a Midewin prairie trail that was a little overgrown. Four days prior when I confirmed the suitability of the trail for bikers as young as 7 years old, I figured the excessive weeds lining the limestone trail would just enhance the rugged ambiance. I underestimated the weeds or the weather or both.

We received 3.9 inches of rain the night before the hike. I assume the weeds succumbed to the rain because they were bent over the trail. While this may not mean much to you, I’ve neglected to mention that these weeds are actually giant ragweed. I’m not even using ‘giant’ as an exaggeration. That is their actual name. Giant ragweed grows to be 8 + feet tall.

20120905-100311.jpgPhoto from University of Illinois Extension/Lyle Paul show casing 11 feet tall Giant Ragweed

So when I say that weeds were bent over the trail, it was so bad that we really should have used machetes to get through. I went first, forcing myself and my bike to break through the overlapping stalks. I tried to push back the weeds as much as I could.

Fortunately, about 100 yards into the trail the weeds receded allowing the kids to actually ride a couple of miles. Then the giant ragweed was pleasant to have around because it provided endless shade on a treeless trail on a hot August evening. The challenging trail became fun. The kids were excited to ride farther and farther.

20120905-094003.jpgCheck out the shade!

Too soon, I had to turn us back because I had developed massive hives from armpit to wrist, was sneezing endlessly, and was told my face was all blotchy. Luckily, I was still breathing at the end of the ride, and I was the only one in a pack of 14 that reacted so quickly to the giant ragweed.

Every year growing up, my mom would try to convince me to have an allergy scratch test so that we could resolve my itchy eyes and endless sneezes but I stubbornly refused believing that an allergy test would only elevate my sensitivity to 100 million things in my environment? (I started my hypochondriac career at an early age). I’m pretty sure it would have been positive for ragweed.

20120905-094404.jpg Henslow Trail at Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie. Objects are bigger than they appear.


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Filed under cycling, exercise, Lessons learned

Gone, baby, gone

I sat in the chair nearly choking from the cape wrapped around my neck to protect me from the detached hair.  Those with cameras crept closer to capture the picture with tears in my eyes as the young boy began to saw away at my ponytails.

There was no sadness, I was mad.  Mad with delight, that is.  I’d been waiting impatiently for a year to cut my hair.  If I hadn’t been so determined to donate, at least, the minimum length required by Pantene Beautiful Lengths then I would have cut my hair 20 times over by now.

I have never had long hair before and I’m not so sure I’d ever grow it long again.

X number of things I’ll never miss about my long hair:

1. Getting it caught under the shoulder strap of whatever bag or backpack I am carrying.

2. Having the wind blow it into my mouth when I’m eating.

3. Having to readjust ponytails or buns because I want to rest my head back on the couch or a pillow.

4. falling into my kids faces when I bend over to kiss them good night.

5. The gigantic snarl forming at the nap of my neck if I wear it down and loose for more than an hour.

6. My husband cursing at the hair laying all over the house.

7. Not being able to fall asleep in the winter if I take a shower right before bed because the long, wet hair will make my head cold.

8. Feeling dampness across the back of my shirt from my wet hair after a shower

I hope someone else can enjoy my hair because I won’t miss it at all.

Before the cut

Making the cut



And a big THANKS to Handsome Alice, the beauty shop in town that got me back to looking normal afterward.

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Filed under Lessons learned

No Regard For Dignity

As I mentioned in my sleeping post, we defied the weather forecast last Saturday by going camping at the K3 state park with our Cub Scout pack. With so many eager learners and helpers our camp was hoisted in record time. The scouts and their siblings were running around the area. Although the camping area was plentiful, we agreed that a hike might burn off some of the youthful energy.

Our hike traversed the two track converted into a bike path nicely lined with a multitude of foliage. Sure, adults lose some ability for imaginative play as we grow older. In exchange, we know how to stop and smell the tree leaves. That youthful energy quickly grew tired of observing the differences between trees. Their faces said, “Dude, they’re just green leaves.”

Fortunately, I have little regard for maintaining my dignity. The kids and I skipped, ran backward, side-stepped, laughed, walked with high knees, galloped, raced, grew breathless and smiled. We let loose and had some fun with it.

I’m not dismissing the retrospective nature walk. I like a good dendrology lesson as much as the next corn based, plastic soled, shoe wearer. It’s just that sometimes it’s fun to dismiss your dignity. You’ve got to live smiley and sometimes being silly helps accomplish that.

We went on that night to tell scary stories by the campfire that night. I, on the other hand, faced the scariest story right there on that two-track. One mom was telling another mom that her Shape-Ups really work. SCCCCCCRRREEEEAAAAMMM!

I’m not going to argue whether those shoes work or not. I don’t have any scientific evidence to back my opinion. I do like this article, Can Shoes Really Tone the Body? By Gretchen Reynolds from The NewYork Times. And, I have to agree with the FTC’s move to fine Reebok for making claims without scientific evidence. I have my own personal concerns after living 35+ years in various shoes that altered my center of gravity and forced my feet into unnatural positions. I admit, I used to love high heels. I gave up on them when I started to develop bunions. I also had life long issues with pointed toe shoes. Don’t give me that look. Even my penny-loafers of my high school years pushed my big toe inward. Consequently, I have concerns regarding toning shoes. I really don’t see how these strangely shaped soles can be good for you to wear all day, day in and day out.

Sorry, I got side tracked and ended up on a soap box just to tell you that after the Shape-Ups statements, I declared my love for barefooting and took my shoes off to race the boys on that gravel covered two-track. Imagine, I’m wearing jeans and a sweatshirt over a long sleeve t-shirt under my Class B uniform T-shirt while carrying my New Balance Minimus in my hand. Again, its useful that I have no regard for dignity. With that much clothing on, I got hot within a quarter mile. My feet begged to go farther but it was going to be another twenty-four hours before I’d see a shower so I wasn’t willing to stink up the tent for that nights sleeping. See, it was about odor issues not lack of dignity in becoming a sweaty mess.

In the end, our mission was accomplished. The youthful energy tanks were half empty just in time for the S’mores.


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Filed under Barefoot, minimalist shoes, personality flaws

Get Some Sleep

Sleeping is my talent.  I can sleep anywhere, anytime.  I slept through 80% of my freshmen college courses.  I struggle to stay awake five minutes after sitting down on an airplane.  I sleep; it’s my super power.

When I am woken up in the middle of the night, I am ridiculously groggy. I stumble through the house to take care of the cat or whatever woke me up. Then I shuffle back through the darkness to my stead-fast friend, my bed. On my way, I ponder the hour. I am delighted when I read on the alarm clock that it is no-where near the time for me to wake up. I have so many happy hours to employ my super power.

This past weekend I slept in a tent at our Cub Scout family camp outing. Although, I spent many childhood nights sleeping in tents, I can count the number of times as an adult that I’ve slept in a tent on one hand that has several broken fingers. I have no camping gear as I have never had motive to acquired camping gear. I presumed that I could handle just one night in a tent in late September with just a couple of blankets and a pillow.

That night progressed like a 6th grade band concert. When I went to bed I didn’t change into something more comfortable because I feared breaking the heat seal. I thought sharing blankets with my husband would allow me to steal heat from him to make me warmer. Instead, I was disturbed every three minutes by movement and cold drafts as he shifted to get more comfortable. Our top blanket was an old comforter of ours. It’s been washed so many times that I think the fluff must have migrated to the corners. I’m fairly certain that was the same situation for the blankets beneath me because there certainly wasn’t any cushion in between the points where my hips and ground came together. We were just up the hill from the outhouse with a metal door. I can tell you exactly how many times the outhouse was used that night. It was used three times by my husband alone. I was sure that my head was lower than my feet despite a thick pillow. I slept about five minutes of every hour. I was miserable every minute of that night and could not wait for it to be over with.

I mused at how vary different I felt on that night compared to most other nights. Every time I opened my eyes, I was hoping to see daylight glimmering. It looks like tent sleeping just might be the kryptonite to my super power.

Unfortunately, as the Pack Master, I won’t be able to get out of future camping trips.  Christmas is going to have a theme this year: Camping.

I have my eye on one of these.  Have you ever used one?

ALPS comfort pad


Filed under Lessons learned, personality flaws, travel