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It’s stressful finding time to relax

Mick lost his mother a year ago and his father died early this spring. His younger brother, Tom, was visiting with him a while back and had suggested all four siblings and their families — kids and grandkids — get together for a family picnic ... a reunion of sorts.

I immediately gave my kids a heads-up so they could get the date on their calendars, hoping each would be able to attend. Very few of Mick’s relatives have set eyes on our grandson Reid since he was a toddler. I was really hoping he’d be able to attend so they could see what good-looking offspring we produce. (You say it about your kids too, so don’t judge.)

We chose to make a long holiday weekend out of it and decided we would pull our travel trailer down to southwest Iowa and set up in the campground of the county park where everyone would gather. The plan was to leave Thursday once Mick was home from work.

So Wednesday afternoon, I was trying to get some of my work done ahead when suddenly my computer crashed. I did the usual groan and selected a few special words — reserved for failing technology and stubbing my toe — to spew at the stupid machine before starting it back up. About seven minutes into my reboot, it happened again. And again. And again. I was panic-stricken. My computer is my job! It’s my livelihood!

Since my health scare in March, I’ve made a conscious effort to keep calm. Breathe in. Breathe out. Close my eyes. Slow, deep breaths. Just let things roll. It doesn’t always work quite as well as I plan, but for a reformed handle-flier-offer, I’m doing a pretty good job.

We were leaving for the weekend the following day and my schedule was packed until our time of departure. Thursday morning I had a couple of commitments in Altoona. I volunteer time at the Carson King Foundation and we had two $10,000 check presentations scheduled. Following that, it was a trip to the grocery store for food for our weekend, then to my six-month visit to my dentist, then home to pack the camper. Plus I had to be back to work Sunday afternoon. There was absolutely no time to go shopping for a computer. With what I perceived as few options, I ordered one online Wednesday night with a guarantee it would arrive Friday. I wasn’t going to be home but my daughter-in-law would be, so I had it shipped to her. Crisis averted.

Deep breath. See? Everything was going to be just fine.

So anyway ...

We made it to our destination around 8 p.m. Thursday night. Our campground was full but quiet. With only 14 sites, I wasn’t concerned about a lot of noise.

As we were settling in for the evening, Mick realized he’d failed to pack underwear and socks. So Friday morning we drove into town and went to the Dollar General Store.

We also stopped by my dad’s house and picked up a few large cinder blocks to use as additional steps. We were parked on a bit of a slope and the first step to our camper was nearly two feet off the ground. (Imagine a 10-year-old bloodhound, or worse yet, a 50-plus-year-old me trying to take that first step with a coffee cup in one hand and a platter of over-easy eggs in the other. Why even tempt fate?)

Our youngest son, Carson, arrived Friday night to camp with us. Saturday morning as he was getting ready to shower, he discovered he’d forgotten to pack a few items ... underwear and socks. I think we were Dollar General’s best customers that weekend.

The turnout for the picnic was better than I’d imagined. There were right around 30 of us there. I believe we were shy seven people of making it the entire family. It was nice to see those who made it. We just don’t see everyone gathered together often. I know Reid had never met any of his first cousins twice removed and has yet to meet four of them. (I actually just learned how to do that whole “first cousins, twice removed” thing. I hadn’t realized it actually was different than third cousins.)

Before everyone left, Tom threw out the idea of organizing a whole family campout next year and I think it sounds like a lot of fun. However, the only ones with campers are Mick and me, and two of the nephews, who each have four kids of their own. I’m not sure how many of the others have tents, but they’re going to have to figure something out. My camper is full with just us and our three dogs ... and occasionally one sockless guest.

Contact Dana King at

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