The last two weekends we took the kids camping. We took two camping trips right after school got out for the kids. The first place we took them to was up north in Brainerd. Our campground was right next to Camp Ripley, so we got to listen to machine guns and cannons all day and night long. The original site we picked ended up being very small and would not have fit us, our truck and trailer and our 12 man tent in it. I think our tent is something like 10x14 feet big. When we pulled up the ranger told us we might like another spot better, and thank goodness he was there and told us that, because we needed the other site. We ended up right by the bathroom, which is fine with me because then I don't have to wake up Jake or Joel to walk me there in the middle of the night. The second day we were there we visited the museum at Camp Ripley which the boys loved. I took some pictures I'm going to try to turn into HDR (high dynamic range) images. The next day we spent some time at Paul Bunyan Land. I didn't know it was an amusement park, when I planned the trip I just wanted the kids to see the talking Paul Bunyan in case we don't live in Minnesota for much longer. When we first went in there was Paul Bunyan (Joy called him Tall Bunyan) sitting in a chair and he was moving his mouth and eyes and greeted us by name. Joy thought that was creepy. There were a lot of fun rides, the most popular were the roller coaster, bumper cars and the carousel. Jaeden, with some encouragement from Jake finally got brave enough to ride the carousel and ended up loving it, she went on it twice! I skipped the haunted house and hung outside with the girls and two other kids who refused to follow their parents into it. I got them together and we did one concerted scream, hoping to scare the adults in the house, but sadly, they didn't hear us. I thought we sounded pretty scary. The second trip was Father's Day weekend and we spent two nights at Beaver Creek State Park. I loved this place once we settled in because I didn't have to worry about bears. I knew this because they had garbage cans for recycling out in the open. Our first spot that we'd had reserved, again, didn't fit our tent. Joel tried to pick another spot from their map, but it ended up being way too small for our tent as well. So we went for a walk and found a really great spot that would fit all of our stuff, and ended up renting that and even got a refund of $8 because it was in the tent area instead of the camper area. We'd picked the first spot because it was right by the flush toilets and showers. This campground was in a huge ravine and was surrounded by farm lands. There was a stream and cliffs on one side of us and a huge hill on the other side of us. There were several low lying streams in the park, one that the kids had fun playing in, but it was SUPER cold! One day Joel had put our tin foil dinners on the fire and took the kids for a hike up one of the trails. Jake, Jaeden and I stayed behind. We could hear people up on the hill talking and hiking. I saw Joys orange shirt through the trees up on the hill and shouted a "hello" to them. After that a man yelled, "deer!" and suddenly a deer came crashing down the hill through the trees almost into our campground and across the road. I don't know where it ended up after that because there was a cliff several feet into that area. It was crazy. The next day we went into a nearby town for more ice and to visit Dairy Queen. On the way back to our campsite a young buck came out of the trees by the road and raced us about 1/4 mile down the road. Joel clocked it at 30 mph before it crossed in front of us and ran down an adjoining road. That was wild too.
Here's pictures from our trips:
And then some nature shots I did while we were camping....
So, through the neighborhood grapevine I have heard that the fire at the house behind us (which on the backside looks like it was started on the ground outside) was not an act of arson, but a meth lab gone bad. I thank heaven above that the house didn't blow up instead because our kids bedrooms are only yards away from where the fire was. However, it has me feeling huge amounts of sadness for the two little children that lived there. Teja and Logan were my kids friends. Teja was in Josh's 1st grade class and Logan started Kindergarten in Jaeden's class but then got moved downstairs to another teacher's class when a fourth teacher was hired. These two kids were at our house all the time, and if the doorbell rang, it was usually them. Teja with her red hair and freckled face and large toothy grin would usually be the one to ask if Josh could come out and play. Just last week she was talking to me telling me, "I haven't quite decided if I'm going to invite your family for my birthday". I asked her what day it was. It was supposed to be this coming weekend (and I'd told her we would be camping). I guess that party is on hold. So is the end of Kindergarten and first grade. They will be missing the last two days of school. Gathering their things. Saying goodbye to friends they made this year and to the teachers that taught them. I don't know where they've been taken to. I only know that after the fire a drug raid was done on the home and the children were removed and have been gone since. Out on my drive this morning I was thinking that I don't think they'll ever be back. Insurance won't cover that damage, even if they had it. The doors are all smokey, windows busted out on the other side. Fire tape has been wound around the home. I think the home will have to be destroyed unless they have money to fix it, and that money probably came from selling meth. I think we'll probably see a backhoe there someday soon. I feel sad for the children's innocence lost. Theirs and mine. My children have been told what happened. They don't understand what it means to be "cooking drugs", but they know that drugs are bad, and now they know that drugs can burn up homes and make kids be taken away from their parents. And they know that sometimes other little kids parents don't make the best choices or protect their kids from that kind of thing. My heart is just so full of sadness, for those kids, for my kids, for the whole earth and all the crap that goes on in it.
Who ever said "ignorance is bliss" surely had it right.
For the last 5 years I've lived in this neighborhood and never had much to worry about. Didn't have to worry about my children much because I keep a very close eye on them and their friends. Didn't have to worry about what my neighbors said about me, because they didn't know enough about me to talk. Didn't have to worry about our possessions because nothing had happened since the first few months after we moved in (except the time Joel left his truck unlocked and kids stole his spare change and lighter). I guess I had my head in the sand.
Two nights ago someone tried to light my neighbor's home on fire. They had the siding fixed and changed before their kids got home from school. I think they might have been trying to protect their children from the trauma it could cause. Thank the heavens above that nobody was hurt. They have two little ones there, one Joshua's age and one Jaeden's age.
This leaves me feeling angry, scared, worried, wanting to move, nervous. My stomach is in knots. I want to dress in black and walk my streets at night and take down anyone where they shouldn't be. I know I can't do that. That's the crime fighter in me coming out. When I was young (and even secretly now) I wanted to be a police officer. I feel helpless. Victimized. Unable to protect my children. I know the biggest power I have is God and my prayers. So I rely on those heavily.
anything like it before. Last night was a crazy night. Our wonderful home teachers, JoAnne and Justin, came over and we had a great visit. In the middle of the visit I had a friend come over to give me back my memory cards and a much appreciated check for second shooting a wedding for him this weekend. Then when our home teachers were leaving my husband bugged Justin about Jacob's bike. We have a few camping trips planned and his bike needs fixing before we can bring it. So while they are messing around with it we start hearing fighting out in the road, and look down the road to see about 15-20 teenagers having a verbal smack down in the road. I yelled at them to break it up or I'd be calling the police. Nobody heard me, there was so much yelling, and I don't think they cared anyway. I sent my kids into the house because I was worried about their safety and little ears and told Jake to call 911. There was a lot of swearing going on. Then I remember seeing two boys fist fighting on the ground. I'm wanting Justin and JoAnne to leave quickly because then I'm seeing pipes, sticks, rakes, chains with locks on the end of them being wielded around and I'm worried that there's a gun in there somewhere. Their van is in direct line for a badly aimed round.
I contemplated getting my camera, to identify the kids with later, when I complain to our land's owners and manager, but then I worried about retaliation if they end up being kicked out of here... no denying who took the pictures.
Police showed up in the neighborhood shortly after our call and the kids split up on their own, they didn't run, but walked in their own directions. One group of them, and who were directly involved, live on my road. I saw Chris, my neighbor whom I share neighborhood association representative duties on our road with. We both will be writing up reports to our manager and then also to the owners, because our manager does not have a good track record of following up with complaints by residents.
To me, the whole scene was surreal, I kept thinking, "this is so weird." It was not some little spat, it was big. And scary.
Edited since original post to add detail.
I hate cats.
Today I was attacked by my neighbor's cat that has not seen a vet since it was a baby. I have about 20 wounds on my legs and they really hurt :( This morning my neighbor was sleeping and letting her little girl run around the neighborhood, unwatched. So I had her little girl over here playing with my girls. It was almost time to leave for play group so I started sending Chrissy home, but she asked me if she could come with. I thought it might be a nice thing for me to take her while her mom slept. So we went over to her house to ask her mom, and when Chrissy went in the house the cat came out onto the porch and completely went ballistic on me. The door was open, and it left me and went into the house and attacked Chrissy as well. She screamed and ran to the back of the house. I went home, and started to gather stuff to clean my wounds, but then decided to show the mom first what had happened, so I went over there and knocked on the door and ran off the porch (what a sight that must have been). She tried to come out but the cat was right there hissing and yelling and attacking the lady now. She screamed at it, "what's wrong with you!?" and threw it into the room. She came out and said that she didn't know what was wrong with the cat and that it's never acted like this before. I said to her, "are you sure? your kids are showing us all the time how they are getting bit and scratched." "Not like this", she said. I told her I wanted papers on any vaccinations the cat has. She hemmed and hawed, and it sounded like the cat has never been to the vet. I then handed in a report to the office about the night before, and told him about the cat attack. Later the dad of the family with the cat went to the office and the manager told him to take the cat to the vet. He took the cat to the vet, which is nice, but doesn't do me any good since they took it AFTER it attacked me. He came over to talk to me after, and give me a paper, but the paper doesn't mention any blood tests done. I don't think he gets it that the blood test doesn't say if the cat has rabies or not, but the cat attacked the vet as well, and also the guys little girl and wife today as well. Insane cat. If I die from rabies, I want to leave all my cameras to JoAnne :)