Life On The B Side

Taking all that life throws at us one moment at a time

How A Space Heater Saved Our Lives October 23, 2018

Typically, a group of about 10 of us go camping together in the summer. Some years we have a couple extras. One year we had as many as 22. This year though, we couldn’t find a weekend that was suitable for everyone in our regular crew. Too many other things happening. Babies being born and weddings in other countries being attended and so on.

It seemed as though we’d miss out on our annual camping trip this year. And in some ways we did. But not in all the ways. Our rag tag army of 4 decided to brave the elements and take it on by ourselves.

Camping on a good day is a lot of work. It’s worth it. But it’s a lot of work.

Add to all the normal work that we chose to book a weekend in late-ish October AND hadn’t checked the weather report before heading out. Maybe it was a good thing that we hadn’t checked because had I known a storm was going to pass through I may have pulled the rip cord and spent the weekend on my couch.


We arrived at the site around 8pm on Friday; which is later than we normally try to get set up.  I mean, setting up in pitch blackness can be a little tricky.  None-the-less, we got the tent up, made a fire, hung out for a little bit and then went to bed without any problems.

Let me just say – Thank the heavens we had brought a space heater. It saved our lives when the temperatures dropped in the night. Even with the bit of warmth, no-one got a good nights sleep however. It rained pretty hard and the air mattress Shaunie and I were on, lost air steadily as the night progressed. By the time we “woke up” the next day, we were feeling hard ground beneath us.

Oh well. All part of the fun I told myself.

Saturday was a great day. The kids made a hot dog breakfast on the open fire and Shaunie made eggs on the one burner propane stove we had. We toured the site and found that it was quite nice. It sits on a river which I’m sure would be fun to swim in, in the summer time. They had a basketball court, a bouncy thing for the kids to jump on and a game arcade (which we didn’t actually use). Back at our site, we played board games and Jay threw rocks into the river. At one point he tried walking down a hill but he slipped and ended up going down the muddy slope on his butt. It was pretty funny and he took it like a boss.

In the afternoon there was a costume contest (since it’s so close to Halloween) and also there was trick or treating. The boys ended up with 2 bags full of candy. I snagged a snickers bar and some vampire teeth. We had no idea we were supposed to bring candy to give away but it was ok; All the regulars (who clearly knew the deal because they came PREPARED with legit decorations) made up for it and there was more than enough to go around.

When it got dark, we went for a walk on a haunted trail (also set up by the camp site) and it was really good. I think Ace was the most scared out of the 4 of us. But he made it all the way through and I was proud of him.

Saturday night was rough since a storm came through. Really heavy wind and rain lashed outside and our little tent was swaying a lot. It also got seriously cold. The space heater helped for sure, but it didn’t come close to making us warm. Poor Ace got so scared by the wind that I ended up moving to his air mattress and cuddling him all night.

We all woke up exhausted on Sunday and even though the sun was out, it did not help to warm us up at all.

We packed up and left the site at around 11:30.


All in all, I think it was good that we pushed through and did it. Shaunie may disagree with me.  But the kids enjoy it and I think it’s good for them to spend time “roughing it”.  Plus, I am all about having family traditions and this has become one of ours.


See ya again next year camping equipment. In the summer though.


Snitches Get Stitches August 7, 2014

We’d been camping before and it was always wonderful.  What we hadn’t been, was camping following a week long (and very tiring) trip to Florida and camping without CC.  It was anyones guess how it would go.


For starters, we had a 4 hour drive to get to the camp site.  We made one stop on the NJ Turnpike to get gas, something to drink and to use the bathroom.  That did not go well.  Apologies to the gas station attendant, the cashier at the rest-stop store, the young-ish gentleman who held the door open for us and to anyone who was unfortunate enough to be in the parking lot of the Woodrow Wilson rest stop on that day, at that time.  A couple of hours later we made a stop at Walmart to get fruits and charcoal in order to kill time since we were way ahead of the rest of our party.  That stop went perfectly well and was actually kinda fun.  You win some and you lose some.


 Camping itself was fun – as usual.  Sure there was the occasional whining and fighting and general fussiness due to being tired, but overall the adults  behaved themselves.   (ha ha!). 

Seriously though, there was a lot of tattling from all 4 boys which my friend Sun Man tried to discourage by telling them that “snitches get stitches.”  (so funny!)  Despite that, the kids all had a great time.  They spent A LOT of time in the river.  Man they loved that murky, cold, rocky, who knows what else river water. Yeesh.  They were in it from morning till night.  That’s not an exaggeration. 

S’mores were made and balloon rockets were fired off and there was dancing and a  full blown crab dinner.  Real rocks were thrown at real heads and boys tried to drown each other – all a part of the fun apparently (?!). 

To keep the adults sane there was an abundance of alcohol and there was much laughter. 

I found out through the game of Scruples that one of my friends is WAYYY more competitive than I realized and that my other friend would pick up a hitch hiker (still in this day and age) and that my other friend is a total softy when it comes to door-to-door sales people and that my other friend thinks that I might, “depending on the situation“, battle it out with her for a cute guys attention if we were both single. 


The trip wasn’t perfect but I would definitely mark it down as a success – even if the boys and I were happy to get home and to have no plans at all for the following weekend.



Pictures anyone?  🙂

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The Unpredictable Good August 22, 2011

It’s official.  We are now a family who likes camping.  (Who’d’ve thunk it.)  Bigger than that … We’re a family who keeps on trucking even when the outlook is bleak and then we find a way to make it work. 

There was some trepidation about going camping.  No-one was sure it would go over well.  We hadn’t ever been before and there were to be 8 adults and 4 children.  All of whom didn’t know each other.  Personally, I knew the company would be good.  Living out in the woods for 3 days didn’t sound so appealing but we were all up for the adventure of it. 

I was also pretty sure Ace and Jay would love it. Jay is my mess/dirt/bushes/sand lover.  He’s a bit of a sensory seeker.  Ace, not so much.  Not so much at all.  He does like water though, and he’s a fan of having other kids around and he loves to be active.  We watched the weather report nervously.  There had been thunder storms all week leading up to the trip.  There was even some hail.  It’s bad enough that we were going camping, now we are going camping in rain????? It came up a couple of times that maybe we should call this off.  Or at the very least rent a cabin in lieu of tents.  We assumed it would be wet and muddy and there would be bugs.  The weather we were having wasn’t what we imagined when we 1st agreed to do this.  I didn’t expect to pack ponchos and rain boots.  

But … we loaded up our umbrellas and we went. 

We left later than planned and as a result we fully expected to get caught in the usual Friday afternoon Jersey Shore mess.  Guess what folks?

*The traffic heading south was fine. (Maybe thanks to a rainy week)

*There was no rain all weekend at the camp site. (Except for a slight drizzle when we 1st arrived)

*The ground was not muddy. (It was moist and the perfect consistency for kids who want to dig and make mud pies but it was not yucky muddy for adults who want to keep their feet clean even if all we’re wearing are flip-flops. Win Win)

*There were no bugs. (None during the day and none at night that 2 small citronella candles couldn’t handle. No-one used bug spray at all. So basically, NO BUGS!!!)

*The days were warm. The nights were cool. There was lots of alcohol and there were happy playing-outside-and-not-watching-TV kids.

*Of course, there were s’mores.  (Of which Ace ate none as they were too messy)

*There was fishing and swimming and sprinting races. 

*There was laughter, board games, teasing, good food and to top it all off …

*There was no traffic on the way home either.

… I broke the trip down quickly and easily because I needed to make space for this part …

We were so nervous about what to expect.  After all it didn’t start off at all like we planned.  But the things we were most nervous about were the things we had no control over.  The weather and the bugs.  In the end, we all had such a good time that on the ride home people were already asking when we’re going again.  The rain actually turned out to be a blessing I think.  Re-read the part about the no traffic and the mud pies.  🙂  Also, the clouds made it possible for Jay to enjoy the beach.  I know I said he loves the sand and all that but he does NOT love the sun beating down on him.  The fact that it was mostly overcast made it perfect beach/outdoor weather for my boy. 

Here … Delete the camping trip and insert life.  So many things have not gone according to my plan. S o many things have been different from I expected.  But life happens.  It’s not always pretty.  But instead of throwing your hands up in defeat, you can still look for the good.  A lot of life is not something you can control.  We didn’t see autism coming.  We certainly didn’t get to choose the level of it or how it affects Jay or us.  We got what we got.  I don’t hink you should let what life hands you stop you from making the best out of every situation and who knows … You may get some unexpected gifts.

Yes, we’ve had to change the way we do some things.  Yes, some things are (really) hard.  Yes, (more than CC), I get tired and frustrated and angry.  We plan and then we re-arrange, we child-proof, we are extra vigilant, I have become a scheduling expert, we have learned triggers, we know to always have fruit snacks available, I pack extra everything (just ask CC), but we keep it moving no matter what the forecast says.  We take the good stuff and run and then do what we can to minimize the effects of the bad stuff but we don’t ever quit.  We do all we can to enjoy life and to ensure that our children enjoy their lives.  If not we would most certainly miss out on some amazing moments.  Like going on a camping trip in the middle of a thunderstorm.