Thursday, September 15, 2011


These days, when I open a Chobani yogurt, I am always amazed to think that at one point in time, the mere thought of eating Greek yogurt grossed me out. Something about the texture and thickness just gave me the heebie-jeebies.

Then I tried it.

I forget when, but at some point I decided I wanted to try Greek yogurt for a number of reasons. One, most of them are free of artificial sweeteners. Most non-Greek yogurts are packed full of sucralose and other nasties. Two, it's high in protein.

So I picked up a Chobani and tried it. And loved it.

Now I get about three of them a week (more if they're on sale) and they're MINE. Heaven forbid anyone else in the house touch my Cho! Actually, Logan and Hubby have zero interest in yogurt but when Jordan sees me with a cup o' Cho, he is ON IT. That has prompted me to hide while eating it. Actually, I'm happy when Jordan eats Greek yogurt, I just don't like it when he wants the one I'm eating at the time.

I really look forward to my Chobani!

So, one afternoon last week I grabbed a raspberry Cho out of the fridge and settled down at the table to eat it. My spoon was almost to the yogurt when I noticed it was green and furry. Gross gross gross.

I checked the expiration date, and it didn't expire until the 26th of September, so I snapped a photo of my moldy Cho and posted it on their facebook page. I will be honest, I was hoping they'd offer to replace it.

Well, they did. Immediately. And they followed up, asking for a code off the package so they could investigate the specific line where it was produced. I was thanked and ensured that a replacement would be sent. I was happy.

Then, I got an envelope in the mail yesterday, with a nice hand-written note. It contained not just one replacement coupon for my bad cup, but one for a free 32-ounce container, five for free 6-ounce cups and three 30-cent off coupons. They also threw in some cute magnets and a handy magnetic conversion chart for using Chobani in recipes. (I've seen a number of tasty-looking recipes on blogs and on the Chobani facebook page, so I plan to put that chart to use!)

Anyway, I am not only impressed with the Chobani product, but also with their awesome customer service. Something was wrong and they went above and beyond to make it right. They have a loyal customer in me, for sure.

I just wanted to share this with my readers because good customer service is so rare these days and I appreciate it when I find it.

Thanks Chobani!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

My frustrating sit-shoe-ation

I am no Carrie Bradshaw.

I don't really have THAT many pairs of shoes. Especially not cute ones. I have my hiking boots, my trail running shoes (well, 2 pairs), my older running shoes, my new running shoes, my indoor workout shoes (for when I do DVDs or if my feet are bugging me), then I have my Teva sandals, my flip flops, a pair of brown flats, a few pairs of heels that I wore in this wedding or that (and never since), my one standard pair of black heels, some cruddy old flip flops that I use for shower shoes when camping, a couple cruddy pairs of shoes that I slip on when I take the kids outside...

OK, well, it does add up, but still, I don't have anything cute. No Manolos or Louboutins or anything like that. For one thing, I can't afford them. For another thing, I can't wear anything with a heel unless I want to limp for a couple weeks, thanks to plantar fasciitis. Too bad, too. I used to love heels and they do wonders for my stumpy calves.

I'm getting way off point here.

So, I have those shoes. My sons have their shoes and my husband has his (big) ones.

What that means is a big pile of shoes tripping us up every time we come in the house or try to go into the laundry room or whatever.

How the heck do you keep your shoes organized and out of the way?!?!

We have shoe cubbies, shoe racks, shoe boxes... still, we have a pile of shoes. I pick it up. A half hour later, the pile is back.

What? Do they all crawl out and pile up when we're not looking?

Here is my rack of "dressier" shoes in my closet (well, and my old ratty but super comfy pair of mooseskin moccasins!)

The other rack of random shoes in our closet.

By the garage door where we usually come in is another cubby and also a box for our hiking boots, because they're big and don't fit in cubbies.

The bench/shoe rack and a typical day's shoe pile (which has been shoved to the side).

I am open to suggestions as to how we should deal with this super annoying sit-shoe-ation. How on Earth do you organize all your family's shoes and keep them that way?

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Can't win 'em all

Right before school started, we decided to take the boys on one more backpacking and camping trip. After all, Hubby had bought me a 4-person backpacking tent for my birthday in June and we'd not had the chance to try it out yet.

So, we chose to hike the Platte Plains. We picked this spot because it's in the Sleeping Bear Dunes area, which we love, and also because there is a spot you can park that makes it only a short 1.5-mile hike to the White Pine Campground, which is good when you're toting a two-year-old and when your six-year-old is hiking with you (and carrying a pack) and when poor Hubby has to carry basically ALL the gear because you have the kid on your back. Also, because it has relatively easy beach access. It's only about a third of a mile from the campground to the beach, though it's a hilly, sandy third of a mile!

Anyway, we drove the four or so hours up and started out on our hike on the same day, so when we got there, we were just tired of being in the car. It was pretty hot out, too.

As we started the hike, I decided to snap a photo of myself carrying Jordan.

But the sun got in my eyes. Photo fail.

This one's a little better.

Note the white styrofoam container with the leftovers from Big Boy, where we stopped on the way up. There was one huge chicken strip and half a grilled cheese sandwich. About a quarter mile in, the boys ate them, leaving me with a stupid container I'd really rather have left behind. Oh well. Pack it in, pack it out.

We got to the campground and set up camp in the same spot we camped when Logan was two. We found this gnarled old tree where I had photographed Logan four years ago. It's a cool tree. I put the kids in it. Jordan was scared. I didn't blame him. They were around five feet off the ground.

Then we headed to the beach because we didn't pack in any water and we were thirsty. When we hike, we dip a bag of water out of Lake Michigan and use a filter on the beach to fill our bottles.

But Lake Michigan had a surprise for us. A rather large growth of Cladophora algae.

If you really care, you can read more about it here but basically it's a naturally-occurring and non-dangerous algae that grows in the lake. Increased water clarity, possibly due to the invasive zebra mussels, and higher levels of phosphorus, possibly due to fertilizer runoff and other human idiocy, are two things that might be to blame for the unusually large amounts.

Anyway, it's pretty ugly and gross when you're used to clear, sugar sand beaches, but we found that if you can get to a spot where the beach forms a little point, the algae isn't so thick, and also, once you get past the first few feet, the water is nice and clear again, as long as it isn't too choppy.

So, we were able to filter some water and swim and play a little.

Hiking with a 25-pound kid plus probably another 15 pounds of pack and gear on your back, on sand, isn't easy. Just sayin'. I was pretty sweaty here.

And this is my super sexy summer style. An old ratty mom swimsuit, with hiking socks and boots. Aww yeah.

So we went back to camp and set about making dinner. Somewhere near the end of the mac n' cheese cooking, the camp stove just quit working. The food was edible, though. Of course, Jordan knocked his bowl off the log into the dirt. Didn't matter. He wasn't eating it anyway. The kids were pretty crabby. OK, Hubby and I were too. I don't know. We were just tired and... something. It was just one of those vacations where no one was in the best mood for some reason.

Bedtime came. The tent had plenty of room, but Jordan's still too little to carry anything or even hike in on his own so we were unable to bring any kind of sleeping pad for him. I was going to share my bed. Sounds nice, huh? Snuggle time with my baby? Uh, no. First, he sleeps SIDEWAYS.

Assuming the position

Second, he sprouts about a thousand extra feet when he sleeps. Basically, when Jordan sleeps with you, you don't sleep.

And I didn't.


Since it was, you know, the middle of the night and all, I couldn't exactly photograph it, so here is my amazing rendition using my computer's paint program. (A program, I might add, that Logan actually came home from kindergarten and taught me how to use. Yeah. A five-year-old.)

So, I laid awake. After an hour or so, I heard thunder. Then I saw lightning. I listened to it get closer and then I woke Hubby so we could "batten down the hatches" and pull the stuff in from outside.

A little while later, the storm came. Of course, I was awake for it. I honestly saw every hour that night.

Logan woke up in the morning and wanted to get dressed and go outside right away. He did, exploring some trails behind the tent, and then I heard him say he got stung. Sure enough, he had a couple stings swelling up on him. I looked where he said he'd been and found a ground nest of yellow jackets.

Thank goodness he's not allergic! He handled it well, no tears, tough kid.

Here's Joe, chilling on a stump, pickin' his nose.

I have a photo of Logan at the same age in the same outfit sitting on the same stump. Unfortunately, I don't have a digital version to share. :(

We managed to get the stove lit and had some oatmeal for breakfast and I had a decent headache going on. We needed more water. It was kind of hard, having just our water bottles and having to hike to and from the lake to get it. We couldn't carry a whole lot back to camp, and I knew I hadn't been drinking nearly enough. This would come back to bite me later in a big way.

We went to the beach, and it was soooo windy, it was sandblasting us. The kids were crying. The algae was all mixed up. Hubby had to go way out to get some water in the bag and filtering it was a real chore with the sand blowing around so hard. We got some, and I drank a whole 32 ounce bottle to try to help my dehydration headache. Wasn't enough, though.

To the west, some really threatening clouds were blowing up really fast. The combination of another storm coming, the wind making the beach no fun, the wonky stove, the bee stings and the prospect of spending the whole day in the tent with cranky kids made us hurry back to camp, pack up and head for the hills. It was thundering over our heads for the hike back to the car, and toward the end, the lightning started, too. Just as we got to the road, it started raining. The kids and I parked on a log and Hubby ran ahead to get the car. Quite a feat with the huge pack he was wearing!!!

We headed to Traverse City and spent the next few days at the Grand Beach and Sugar Beach resort hotels.

The "fun" didn't end when we got there. My headache escalated, as I'd feared it would, into one of my infamous dehydration migraines. It's the only time I get migraines, and it's brutal. I can not handle light, the pain is amazing and I know at some point I'm going to vomit. It's the process. I chug a bunch of water with some ibuprofen, lay down for a few, the go throw up violently until I think my eyeballs are going to explode, drink some more water and lay down, and then it magically goes away. It's the exact same scenario every time. It's happened about four times in my life, almost always on vacation, when I forget to drink enough. Hubby was great and took the boys to the pool while I barfed my brains out, and after a while, I felt fine and went to join them. I was SO GRATEFUL that it hadn't happened in the backcountry. That would have been really bad.

Also, the boys were still being stinkers. Jordan even shattered a hotel lamp. An accident, but still...

But whatever, you can't win them all. We still did a few fun things on the trip. I'll probably blog about them at some point. For now, there you go. Even people who really love backpacking with kids like we do can have a bad trip sometimes.