Simply writing about faith, family, and life stories.

Yosemite 2014: Part 2

305We rolled down the rocky road to the Tamarack Flats. Beth wondered aloud if her U-haul trailer would make it down that hill. We didn’t know it then, but that road would be the least of the U-haul adventures. It was a pretty campsite, we told ourselves, even if it didn’t have running water. It had compost toilets which were just fine with us especially if they are working properly and don’t stink to high heaven. Finally, we reached the box with the envelopes, and we knew this was the place for us. The trees were tall and there were many. The creek was just big enough, and there was a giant tree that had fallen beside the creek that would be perfect for exploring.

Securing Your Campsite

by Katie Sciba

1. Get a lot of envelopes. You might mess up one. You don’t want to have to run back to the box to get more, frantic that some other freak might rip the perfect campsite out from under you. You should plan to have a pen. I had to dig through Beth’s side pocket in her door and came up with a pencil and a red sharpie.

2. Drive through the campsite eyeing the campers to see if a) they’re awake b) they show any signs of leaving and c)what their envelope says under the campsite number (this is important). Also this is all in pen and paper which fit our lack of any phone service or online reservations.

3. Stop and have a nice chat with some sleepy Dutch couple who are trying to eat their cereal. This is important because they might give you the low-down on who might be leaving that morning in the campsite.

4. Hopefully, you will find the perfect place with no one there with sites for your family members right next to them all complete with creek access. Look for a good place to set your tent. Consider the placing of the picnic table. Decide how much bear box space you need. Put YOUR ENVELOPE WITH THE CIRCLED AMOUNT OF DAYS ON THE CAMPSITE NUMBER NOW. Then go pay for it at the friendly box.

5. At this point, you might want to exhale, pat each other on the back, and smile knowing you are the cause of a great place to stay for your family’s vacation!

This is how it happened for us, and it could be like this too for you. But you need to get up early,  and you need to not mind asking folks if they are leaving. We also didn’t mind looking stupid running back and forth from the car and up and down the road. Anxiety of not knowing where you are sleeping that night helps the motivation level. We were determined. As we were paying, my brother-in-law Clay and my father-in-law Bill pulled up beside us. “We got ‘em!” Clay said. “No, we got ‘em!” Beth and I said. They had arrived late that night and stayed at Curry Village. We couldn’t believe that we ran into them. They had procured three sites also, but ours were better. So, they yielded to our greatness. We told them we would see them back at the great sites, and we all went back to where we slept the night before to break camp.

When we got back to our first night camp, our people were starting to break camp. We hurried as quick as we could, and got on the road back to Tamarack. On the way back down the road to the new sites, our car started freaking out again. After setting up camp, we made a decision we needed to get to the garage in Yosemite Valley first of all. We also needed to check on Wilderness Permits for a possible backcountry part of our trip. Matt dropped us at the Wilderness Permit place, and the girls went with their Nana to look at some of the sights in Yosemite Village. Beth, Cole, Bill, and I listened soberly to the Forest Ranger tell us our group was too big to back country hike together. “But, I have Half-Dome Day Permits,” I said. He went on to tell us that we had to have backcountry permits to sleep out there regardless. He told us our options and that we would need to be back at 11am tomorrow to secure separate permits that we probably wouldn’t be able to get.

Matt came back and said our coils needed replacing. He said the mechanic could temporarily fix it and we could try driving it. We agreed to try this, and then we all hiked Mirror Lake. It was a nice hike that was somewhat crowded. Some of our kids swam in the cold water, but I could only put my feet in. I tried hard to relax into my surroundings, but the dilemma with the  car and the permits were competing. I breathed in deep. What now?


Even vacations have bumps in the road, and even on vacation you have to adjust your attitude at times. We challenge the kids to choose a good attitude even when it’s hard, so I pushed myself during this hike to make decisions and let go of the frustration. I could appreciate where I was and what we were doing even if I didn’t know how my car was going to get us home. I could. Really. And I did. And then I sat next to my kids and nephews sweating with them taking dumb pics. And I was so glad to be in the place I was in. I was. Even though the mechanic had said the temporary fix would probably get us as far back to Texas as Vegas. Still happy. P.S. Mr. Yosemite Mechanic: Vegas isn’t very close to Texas. Thank you.




To be continued…

Now, you know you have to go back to the beginning, right? I know you want to know what happened at Half Dome, but I’m backing you up a few days. It usually starts with happy kids and grouchy parents. It takes a lot to prepare for these vacations, but we are getting pretty good at it. We finally got on the road about lunchtime, and we made it to Lubbock by dinner to meet my brother-in-law Cole and my sister-in-law Beth and their three sons. We ate calzones at a restaurant there, and they were very delicious. I had worked in the car a lot of the way to Lubbock so I was pretty tired. But, I started my driving shift and lasted a puny 2 hours. Matt took over for a long time. He woke me up about 3:30am, and I took over. My favorite driving time is while the sun comes up.


If you drive from Texas to Cali, you have to want it. It’s far. We did pass the Hoover Dam, but there are too many security checks with all our stuff and they wouldn’t allow Beth and Cole to come down to the dam with their U-haul trailer. So, we went up to the lookout and took some dam pictures.

We drove all day and all night and still we were only in Las Vegas by 10am the next morning. We watched Vegas pass by our windows and kept going. After that city, you head into the desert until you get to Yosemite. There is nothing. It was at this point that our car began to hesitate a little. I was driving and we were on a two-lane road with desert all around and the hills were up and down. I received a message from Beth, “We are now riding the Texas Giant.” I laughed out loud. I think I might have snorted. But everyone was asleep except Lydia in the way back. She was on the edge of her seat waiting for the next hill with her beautiful grin. She and I giggled as I went over hill after hill. Finally we saw trees, and I knew we were almost there. The oil pressure gauge began to drop, and the car’s hesitation increased. It was not great news, I tell you. It was not pleasant driving either.

Matt stared at the gauge, and I said, “I don’t like the feel of this!” as I saw the National Park entrance come into view. We paid the park fee, entered the park, and pulled over to check the oil. Ugh. Nothing was wrong with that. We surveyed the options, found that there is a garage in Yosemite Valley, and decided to go on to our campsite for the night. We had a site reserved in Crane Flat Campground for one night. After that we were planning to get an awesome, perfect, wonderful site at one of the first come-first serve campgrounds. The kids ran around relieved to be in the forest, free to explore nature. They took off up the hill, and we reminded them to look out for wildlife. We made Frito Pie, and then we had camp donuts of course. It was a healthy supper.

You want camp donuts too? Too bad. Just kidding. I’ll leave you the recipe at the end of this post cause I’m nice like that. We looked at our maps. We discussed who was going to get the campsites in the morning. We wanted to go to Tamarack Flats first. This campsite was supposed to be pretty. It only has compost toilets and a creek for water, but it’s location was the best. The rumor is that they fill up by 10am, and we were not going to miss out. We had alternative site choices, but we were determined. “I think you guys should go,” I said to Cole and Matt, “Last time we did it, Beth cried.” The last time we had tried to get first-come, first-serve sites was a couple of years ago at the Grand Tetons. It was stressful. We didn’t know what we were doing, and we didn’t get any sites. Beth nodded. It was getting dark, so we put every thing in the bear boxes and went to bed not really deciding anything.

Camping Tip #1: The way to enjoy an awesome first night’s sleep in your tent is to drive 30 hours in your car just prior to. Anything flat you can lay on will feel like luxury.

I slept like a baby that night until I heard outside my tent Beth say, “Kate! Are you awake?” I squished my eyes open and said yes. “Let’s just go now, okay? You want to?” “Sure, let me get dressed.” I said. Thankfully, Cole had made coffee. We had no phone service at all. Cole and Matt looked at us. “I guess, if you aren’t back by noon, we should be concerned?” Cole asked. I shrugged my shoulders. Beth laughed. I grabbed yogurt out of my cooler, put my sweatshirt on, and we left. I had a lot of questions.

Would we find the perfect campsite? How would we ever find our other family group who had arrived last night also? Would the Tamarack Flats be fun? Where are we going to sleep tonight if we don’t find a campsite? The pressure was building.

To Be Continued…

413Have you ever been driving and come up to a circle intersection? It’s all kinds of fun. There really isn’t a stopping place. There is a lot of merging. It’s a crossroads in a round sort of way. Many years ago, I came to a circle intersection with my husband in the passenger seat. He started fussing at all the people who hesitated at that circle. I chuckled as he yelled, “Jump out there and be somebody!” It really is true. You can pause if you need to, but hesitating too long causes problems for everyone. A brief yield is all you need most of the time to ensure safety. You’ll never find the perfect go round by waiting. Chances are, if you jump out there, you’ll get somewhere faster.

Life feels like a circle intersection too. Also, when you don’t blog for a long time and it’s not part of your task list anymore and you have so much built up in your brain for writing it has meshed all together in this big blob of ideas, it feels like a circle intersection. And sometimes you feel like you should start with this great post to remind people why they used to read your blog. And so you just don’t. Or you jump out there and be somebody which is what I am doing today. I’m saying sayonara you dumb circle intersection of writing. I’m going somewhere Jack. Sorry if your name is Jack. I actually like that name.

Hey! We just returned from Yosemite National Park. So, in case you were keeping track or counting which I’m sure you wouldn’t keep track of my vacations….we have been to 6 national parks now! Yay! Aren’t you proud? I’m not really trying to go to all of them, but if we do, I will probably bragblog about it. I really want to tell you about our vacation, but I never finished telling you about last years. I might need to finish the Grand Tetons 2013 before you hear Yosemite 2014. But, I will give you a teaser.

Yosemite 2014

I glanced around at Claire and she was holding Matt’s hand and taking each step as it came. Her blonde hair bounced in her pony tail, and she didn’t say anything. I was behind Lydia who was heaving with every giant rock step. Her legs had carried her many miles already, and I was confident in her abilities to make it to the top. First you go uphill for about 3 miles to hike to the base of Half Dome in Yosemite National Park. The trail has a good incline for some parts, and it is mostly wooded with rocks. Then you reach the end of the forest where a friendly park ranger sits on a rock with a tablet.

The park ranger took our names to check our Half Dome permits and asked me if all of the kids were going. I just nodded and said, “As far as they can.” “You’re the parent,” he said without condescension. Then you climb up rock. There are steep steps some of the way, and then there is granite that you kind of boulder up. This is the part I was on when I glanced back at Claire. I looked at Matt in question. His eyes held the same question and no answer. So, I turned around to follow Lydia. Anna and Maile were way ahead with their other cousins and my brother-in-law Cole. The rock went on forever and then finally we made it to the base of the Half Dome Cables. Everyone just stood there looking up at those cables with their hands on their hips. I could hear their thoughts, All that! And now this?!!!


……To be continued……

What’s Next



I know, I know. It was longer than 8 weeks. My sister-in-law Mattea keeps reminding me, “I’m tired of 8 Weeks. It still says that. I know, you’re probably saving it all for your book.” She’s smarmy. And if you don’t know that word, you’ve never hung out with Southeastern folks. I had to learn. I’m from Texas. We think we’re the only ones with our own vocab.

Endings. Endings are crazy, and fun, and relieving, and sad, and weird. But, also endings are beginnings, and I’ve been hanging in this in between space enjoying my ending but knowing it’s over. And, now.

What’s next?

It’s hard to cross the river sometimes. I liked just standing there and watching the water. There had been a lot of rain. It was hard. Some storms. The water was pretty muddy in places. The water had changed a lot. A lot. The water moves different now. It was fun to throw a few rocks in to see how deep it was. It was so very deep. I couldn’t tell you how deep. I kinda wanted to squish into it.

It was kind of like a cemetery on Mother’s Day. It catches your breath as you glance over making your way from place to place behind your wheel. There is beauty and love and life and death and you can’t stop looking and wondering how the cemetery could be so very beautiful and sad all at once. And then you know all at once that it never looks this beautiful. And then you know why and it all flows fast by you like this river that has had too much water dumped into it too very fast. It’s doing the best it can to move it. But there are stories of rock and sticky sticks that have formed places that are hard to get around.

And the water does move, the flowers flutter, and I’m still standing there with the breeze pulling my hair down.

But, there was life on the other side…some work…a good bit of work and some writing and some family to tend to and a diploma to frame and good grief loads and loads of laundry. And a summer. And a vacation to take so I can tell you about it. And a vacation I already had that I need to finish telling you about because there was greatness in it.

I made it across, and so did everyone else in my life. My chalk board’s been cleaned and has a bright new chalky list on it complete with deadlines. Cabinets are being cleaned out, and girls are groaning about the house clean out. I see their sneaky little secret smiles, though. They like the order that is coming about slow, but sure.

What’s next is good too. What’s next has lots of possibilities. What’s next has a little more sleep involved. What’s next is going to include a few mosquitoes, too. What’s next has different answers and also lots of questions. What’s next always includes a family, some guinea piggies, two dogs and a fish (Yay! I remembered Fin! Go Fin!). What’s next includes prayer and faith and girls growing up. What’s next has some deadlines and meetings and some hard honest writing.

What’s next might include some ordinary also. It’s okay to be ordinary…you can always add some extra in there and then there is greatness.

Wanna come with me to what’s next? Let’s go.

8 weeks

My eyes were burning, and I can hear Charles the guinea pig squealing for food. Claire wants a low pony tail, and Lydia wants two braids. Maile can’t find her jeans, and Anna doesn’t want to talk. I’m trying not to say the word tired anymore. But I applied the mascara anyways and yelled, “TEN Minutes!!!” Then I looked up and saw my shirt and gave myself a grade of C- in ironing. My ironing is getting worse in actually getting done and also in quality. My fingernails need help. My eyes are red. My stomach is starting to hate coffee. Matt is nightly folding laundry all over the living room. It makes me feel better to know he is addictedly watching Breaking Bad while he folds and sorts.

But, the announcements came today so it must be true. I’m about to graduate from Graduate School! OMG! I’m so excited.

I’ve set my sights on the goal. You should see my gaze. It’s a little gritty.

8 weeks must pass.

6 papers must be written.

8 weekly logs must be logged.

2 big projects.

Also, laundry has to keep going, kids need tending, dogs need food, guinea pigs need carrots, and this house needs something.

I’m glad Anna is feeding Fin because I forgot we had a fish. Sleep is not a priority right now. Academic excellence is. Making the most of this opportunity is. How much can I actually learn? Isn’t it exciting! It’s real. And so…I study and I research and I type. Isn’t it great?? It’s that season of brushing everything to the side, and focusing.

It’s just for a little while, and I want to knock this out of the park. Don’t you? Being delirious and focused also makes you stop, sit down and watch Gnomeo and Juliet with your kids for a bit and laugh loudly. It also warrants some dancing in the kitchen with said girls, and slow moments at bedtime you take with them even though you don’t have time. I’m giving up free time for Lent to accomplish this thing I’ve been working on for months. And, I’ve been thinking. Everyone should go hard after a goal like this…it’s so good for you. But, I’m so excited to finish this thing and move onto the next goal…like blog more or finish writing the book.

This is a focused time for lots of folks because it’s Lent. It’s a good time to do hard things.

So, bring it. Let’s go. I’m ready.  Are you ready?

Keeping It Real

I wish you could see my face right now. I have a green mask on. I like to scare my children. Not really. I just have to deal with this mid-life acne somehow. I like keeping it real, but not enough to show you my green face. I know I’ve been gone, but you’re okay without me. I’m sure you’ve moved on to some other blogger who thinks they’re funny or insightful. Well, just come over here for a second. I’ve been staying up late all week working on a project so I’ll keep it short and super scattered. In the history of this blog, the weirdest and most random posts always follow a week of little sleep. You’re welcome and you’ve been warned.

All day I’ve been singing Huey Lewis. I know that ages me, but I’m fine with that. What happened to him? I don’t really want to Google that.
Also, Huey Lewis makes me think of Back to the Future. I loved that movie.

The Olympics are killing me. I need to be watching them like I need more wrinkles. In fact, I’m probably getting more wrinkles because of the Olympics because I am getting less sleep. Hey, at least the US has the most medals. Maile pointed out that its because we have the most bronze. Thank goodness for honest kids keeping us humble.

I clipped guinea pig toenails tonight. I didn’t sign up for this. How many things can you say that about?

We have a new family member! My brother-in-law gave my daughter a fish for her birthday. His name is Fin. Top Fin really, but Fin for short. It’s cool. But, now we have another pet. He’s British I think. I talk to him in a British accent at least.

I’m over committed. I like it like that. I’m just confessing it to you. It’s probably not going to change. But I like to get off the train  and sit for awhile.

I miss my Mama always. She was such a pretty lady. Her eyes were a very interesting blue. I can’t describe them very well, but they always made me wish I had blue eyes.


We are passionate people. Passionate people have passionate children. This makes for a loud home, fight potential, a little dancing,  and lots of love.  And unexpected, real Valentines.

photo (11)

I love that girl.

Speaking of girls, one of my daughters has decided to speak in different accents constantly. It brings me to tears in laughter at times. Then I begin to join in. Of course, I think she got it from me. There’s one in particular that is my favorite. She hasn’t done it in awhile. I found myself asking her in a sad voice this morning if she was done with it. She said NO! I was so happy to hear that.

Happy Friday!

On Quoting and Blogs

Quoting on WordPress is weird. You can quote me on that. It looks like this.

But then you have to stop the quote. It’s like stopping the press. I’m picking up more quotes this week than the junk laying around my house. It’s been fun. Did you ever stop and think bloggers have it together? I think there are a million jillion killian blogs out there in the world. Lots. Heaps and heaps. I went to Australia once. They said heaps  a lot. They don’t say bunches. They say heaps and other words like yonks. I liked it there. Anyways, sometimes I feel like we (bloggers) are all trying to offer you advice. Maybe not. Many are just offering assistance or pleasantries or lists or their two bits. I don’t know about you, but I get tired of advice. We can sound like we have it all together. I’d like to break the barrier between us and tell you something. Nope. No. We don’t. We do not have it all together.

I’ll start by telling you about the hair balls under my bed. I dropped my work name tag somewhere in my room and got down on the floor to look. You could weave a rug with all the dust and hair and dog hair under there. Yep. It’s nasty. I commented on it. Then, I put my coat on and went to work and left that hairball to gather more bulk. Also, I don’t bathe my dogs enough. And last night was one of the worst dinners I ever made. I was dishing it out and everyone was asking me what smells so bad. I was talking up this bean soup that Mattea gave me and all I had to do was warm up and couldn’t understand all the fussing until I took my first bite. Ugh. It was so gross. I had burned the tar out of it. Burned kale all in that bean soup. Close your eyes and picture how my hairball house smelled. Maile went outside. I had a loaf of wheat French bread I had warmed too, and the girls watched me amused trying to wipe the burnt nasty off my tongue with a big piece of bread. I kept eating it. I wanted to be a good example which brings me to my first quote. They were yelling at me to stop eating it. I was cringing with every bite.

Waste not, want not.

I chimed this and Maile said:

Well, I want not any of that soup, so I’m good. And please don’t eat any more of it Mom!

We’ve been doing a lot of math homework around here lately. It’s been a little painful. I just want you to know I win the prize for the best in long-division in our family. :) I was thanking everyone for my accomplishment, and then I told the girls that I wasn’t great at math in school but I loved division. I also had a great relationship with algebra. I got along great with fractions and decimals, but geometry and I just didn’t work out. I told them I didn’t find trigonometry attractive, but I did connect with elementary analysis. And then one of my daughters stopped me and said:

Whoa, whoa. What is trigonometry…is that like shapes?

And then I had a little doubt moment with our public school system. And then I remembered homeschooling Anna. And then I remembered how much I love public school. But, sometimes we still teach at home. Tonight we had a political science lesson. We watched the STOU address with the kids tonight. Lydia came in and asked me to tell her who the men were behind the President. She ran out of the room and came back with the Wii microphone and kept getting in front of the television. We were fussing at her and then I realized she was holding the microphone out for John Boehner. “What are you doing?” I asked.

She giggled all sparkly and said:

Well, you said he is the Speaker, but he won’t speak!

We all laughed. I still can’t believe she’s so funny because she didn’t talk much her first few years of life. Before bouncing back out of the room she said:

I want to be the President! Hey! I’m going to be the first girl President everybody!

You go, girl. Go on now.

We always have clothing issues. I can’t keep up with all these little bodies growing. Claire doesn’t like to give up the clothes she likes even if they are too little, and Maile’s legs keep growing. We were talking about their jeans this week, and Maile said:

I guess we all wear high-waters now. You like my high-waters? I’m waitin’ for a flood, Mom!

I appreciate her comedic responses more than I can tell you. And don’t worry we are getting new jeans. Anna couldn’t find the right socks the other day and this is what she prefaced her groan with:

I know this is like…a first-world problem and all that…but I can’t find the right socks for my Converse.

Um, make that my Converse that she stole. Hmph. I love her. If she’s going to have a global perspective, she can have all my shoes. Well, that’s going a bit too far because I really like some of my shoes. But, you know what I mean; she is growing up. We went to the high school tonight for her 8th grade preview. High School. It was interesting. Her response:

It’s hard to think about the future. It’s so unknown and I don’t like it.

I said: Yes, but the unknown is more real than the known.

And then I paused to take in my own words. She stared at me. I mentioned something about taking hold of the unknown and braving the adventure, but it’s hard. We all hate to acknowledge our lack of control. I’ve been reflecting a lot on this little blog and the point of it and all that mumbo-jumbo. So, let’s be straight with each other. I’m not really here to give you advice. Maybe sometimes, but I’m a little broken just like you. I don’t always scrub my bathtubs as much as I should. I don’t always like doing my kid’s hair. I’m not always content, and I have days just like you where I doubt my faith and I kinda wish I was somewhere else. This is honest space here. We have to laugh. I want to be real. And I want you to know that there are dark spaces that everyone goes through. There is light there too.

And God is here with us in the real unknown.

And not just in quotes.

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