Friday, July 4, 2014

Missing Them

It’s good to miss your kids.  As a stay at home Mom all these years and a home schooler, I haven’t had many opportunities to miss my kids.  Oh, sure, they’ve been with our families without us and even friends for a couple of nights but this camp thing— it’s different.

We dropped them off last Sunday in New Braunsfels at T- Bar M for a whole week— just the two of them.  No friends in tow.  Just Julia and Brighton with a slew of kids they did not know.  They weren’t exactly excited.  And maybe I wasn’t either, but Jeff and I knew it would be a great experience for them— at least that’s the plan.  We pick them up tomorrow— haven’t heard hide nor hair from them.  That’s camp culture, so they tell me.  I told my nephew this morning I hope we haven’t scarred them for life.

“Get kids ready for camp” on my list last week was more daunting than I thought.  It was a line item among other things.  “Other things” are still on that list.  Then, while sipping coffee with a friend on my porch, she spoke of daily care packages.  Daily.  “Get kids ready for camp” began to look like a research paper outline.  I gave myself to it and bought some of their favorite things, some things I thought they might need, some things I was going to buy anyway and packed them all in ~ daily~ envelopes, along with notes from Jeff and me.  I combed the “Things You Need” list we got in the mail and counted and labeled and folded.  Trunks ready, care packages sealed.  Not pretty but fun, right?  {Some in their trunks, some to deliver as surprises}



Once the car was loaded, I was walking out turning off lights and such, I grabbed the almighty list T-Bar M had sent for some reason— to torture myself on the way in case I had forgotten something and realized I hadn’t spent much time on the “Things That May Not Come to Camp”.  I saw “Candy, gum etc.”  Oh.  It makes complete sense to me now but right then, I realized my care packages weren’t going to be nearly as fun—- nor nearly as cute after I had to rip them all open to rid them of contraband.  How sad.  But how smart of Tar- B M.

The kids were given a grand welcome to the camp as first timers.  We got a quick tour by Johnny Polk, camp director and met a thousand smiling folks along the way.  Goodbyes were quick— and possibly awkward as the kids were being brave and we were trying to be considerate of the kids with all these peers around them— and brave too.  No time for emotions.  Johnny was ready to show us something else!

He was literally waiting on us at the entrance and rode our side rails in.
When I saw this picture after we had dropped them off, Julia’s body language concerned me!!  And B’s smile is not his normal “bright” one.
The ONLY story we’ve heard was Wednesday, I think, and Brighton had sought Mr. Johnny out.  He’s the BMOC-- like, you find him for real serious stuff-- blood or bullying.  So I think Johnny was a little concerned when B came after him.  So after asking Brighton what was wrong, what could he do for him?  “Mr. Polk, I can’t find my pillow.  Actually, I haven’t had it since I got here.”  {They found it “in two shakes” the BMOC said.}  I am guessing if his pillow was his main concern, he’s just fine.

We got these pictures the very next day and I felt much better.




We loved the grounds— small enough for my kids to learn their way around in 10 minutes.  Things seemed close and the staff, well, they had more energy than I EVER remember having at 19 as a camp counselor.  Johnny promised to check on them and send pictures and he did.  As mom— of course I noticed B having on the SAME UT shirt two different days.  Can you IMAGINE?!  And WHY, when I counted TEN t-shirts in his trunk?!?  I have a serious mask to wear for when I open his trunk next week.  And Julia— as helpful and sweet as she is— everything I put in her trunk, I let it go. {That means I said goodbye for good.}  I wonder what we will never see again, what will come to us that does not belong to us and what I might just throw away.  

And guess what?  I don’t care.  I just can’t wait to see those two little jabbers.  I know they are exhausted— and I will let them rest and maybe whine a little.  But I can’t WAIT to see their faces, hear their voices, listen to their stories and have them sitting RIGHT beside me.  They can even argue a little on the way home if they want to.

As I was saying, it’s good to miss them.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Slice of Summer


It’s different than any other time of the year.  That’s why we all love it.  At our house, the rolling cooler stays by the kitchen door, beach towels are ALWAYS in the dryer, the house has beach reminders scattered about, my folding chair is a permanent fixture in the back of the car, kids are up until who knows when, I am on fiction book number 3 and we’ve not sharpened a pencil in a month.  First round of summer laundry I realized my size 12 boy shouldn’t have size 8 underwear anymore.  Oops.  I hope I have not done any permanent damage.  And that their white school uniform shirts are a shade that no word really describes.  Trash. Can.

And today, B is wearing himself out at basketball day camp and there is an all-natural spa morning going on upstairs with Julia and Atlee.  And I have an hour— and  I am sitting here beside stuff I couldn’t finish perusing on a week long retreat.  But how much fun would that be to try?



Do you see the Passport2Purity?  If you aren’t familiar with it and have young children, make a mental note.  You will want this. I can’t emphasize enough-- be on the offense.  Talk BEFORE.  Even if you can’t imagine these conversations yet, you will grow into it.  You want to do this well- perhaps even before the questions come.  Julia and I started this on our trip to Maine and are finishing it up this week while B is at day camp.  I just decided to jump in without pre-listening— so I wouldn’t chicken out.  I figure if the Raineys say it’s time for her to know all the “e” words and all the “v” words and use the “p” word multiple times in several sentences, it’s time.  And I can do this.  So after Barbara Rainey explained why sometimes your parent’s bedroom door was locked, it made it a little awkward when Jeff pulled my chair close to his after dinner last night and started showering me with kisses.  Well, Julia is DYING on the bench— giggling, covering her face with pillows and then I can’t stop laughing and Jeff has no idea which just makes him pour it on even more.  The power of knowledge….. we’re here people.  She knows it all.

A few moms signed up our boys for basketball camp for this week.  It’s from 8:30 to 4 all week.  First, let me say, they need to offer “Organizing Carpools” as an elective in college or something.  Hours, I tell you.  Texting, emails, phone calls and you know what?  It’s changed 14 times— worthless.  The planning, I mean.  It’s money when it happens but the getting there is exercise for the brain.

I dropped off this bunch the first morning.



Our basketball team last winter was……… well, a debut season.  An underage, debut season.  I’ll leave it at that.  Signing half the team up is our hope for more points next year.  When I walked into the gym for pick up, I was trying to spot our boys and I couldn’t find Brighton.  Then I spotted him.  Prostrate on the gym floor.  After ONE DAY, the boys were exhausted—DRAGGED themselves to the car.  Once all the boys were out of the car, B said, “I can’t believe this but I’ve never been so pooped in my life.”  Yes, “pooped” and only minutes later, he asked, “Is it weird I said “pooped”?.  It sounds weird to me.”   Rumor has it one boy was ready for bed at 6:45.  To add to that, they are all wanting to do spend the nights this week….. and we are letting them!  Maybe not so smart on our ends, but BRILLIANT for the hostess for the night.

I give my kids a summer questionnaire each summer and to quote them — this is why they like summer:

Because we have free time and we get to play with friends and go to the pool and do awesome stuff as a family.   - Julia
 {This is all well and sweet but not much thought put in here.}

No school, friends, family, beach, break.  And get to spend time with Jesus. -Brighton 
{So……. as sweet as it sounds, that last one, was for points.  For something.  And note, NO basketball camp mentioned here.}

And so it goes on—- as I asked them “What are THREE things you want to be sure we do this summer? {Not trips}

Have playdates/sleepovers.
Make popsicles.
Daddy come to the pool with us.
Camp in backyard.
-Julia

{We aren’t doing that bad on these.  I need to find my popsicle molds and Jeff needs to make a trip to the pool.}

Get a load of this.

Spend time with God.
Have all of us sleep in the same bed. 
Go to the museum.  
-Brighton

I love that kid.

B’s answer to “How many times a week should we do Happy Hour at Sonic? How many times should you pay?”  His answer was, “We should go every other day like today not tomorrow but the next day.  Um, we pay once a week.”

Clear?  We don’t go every other day even though I think about that cold drink with crushed ice almost every day.  Julia’s answer was once or twice and she’d pay once.  Of course, it was.

I like to ask these questions because sometimes, their answers can be more conservative than mine— and sometimes NOT.  But I love knowing what they are thinking and the expectations they have.  Bedtimes, exercise, book goals etc.

Summer is a gift and it’s just June 26th.  I’ve got a heap of thanks for just that right there.

Happy Summer.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

More Than One Morning in Maine

{Once upon a time, I wrote on Tuesdays.  That being when school was in session.  It’s full blown summer here.}

If you fingered through my children’s books, you’d find a theme pretty easily.  I have all kinds but a good many are coastal stories.  New England coastal— which is entirely different than our beloved Redneck Riviera.  Robert McCloskey, who summered with his family on an island in Penobscot Bay, wrote Time of Wonder and his illustrations earned him his second Caldecot award.  The way of life represented in that book {and One Morning in Maine} intrigues me so I jumped at the chance of seeing it with my mom, my niece and daughter.  The only disappointment for me was not doing some preliminary research on the history of the area, but considering I left my boarding passes to the boat in Fort Worth, I’m just glad I got to the airport on time.  With suitcases.  And Julia.

So let me warn you now…. remember, I make this blog into a book every year.  I don’t do photo books.  This is it.  Whatever is here is the momento for the year.  Everything is going down right here.  I went to Maine.  With 3 of my favorite people.  There will be lots of pictures.  Like more than the beach pictures.  I think.



Professional selfie taker got us all in this one at the Portland Airport.


We did the trip on this boat.  It was small--- held about 90 people.


This in each of our cabins was our first indication of, well, that this might not be your typical Carnival cruise crowd.  Even I felt like a spring chicken on this boat.  Julia and Hunter were like the mascots of the ship.  And they actually liked the spotlight.  Don’t let them tell you any different.  





All the towns looked beautiful as we came into the harbors.  First stop- Bar Harbor.  And every good town has a bookstore.  One must buy a Robert McCloskey book while in Maine.



Bar Harbor is a short ride to Acadia National Park.  It was breathtaking.


On top of Cadillac Mountain


Because this is what ADPi’s do just about anywhere {I hope I am not breaking some rule, Hunter, by posting this!  I’m not a sister but I am your aunt!  Does that count for anything? }



There was so much beauty to take in.


And so many different coffee houses to try.  Next stop was Belfast.  Their sleeves were cutest.




 These two-- makes me so happy.  Hunter has always been a great cousin-- despite the age gap.



Some sweet lady opened up her dream store-- books plus antiques.   


Writing post cards on our deck.... and I forgot to mention, the “young” girls-- I get to be counted as “young” on this boat-- were all down our first afternoon/night.  I thought my stubbornness could hold it off but evidently I am not as stubborn as I thought I was.  We sailed in open sea just that once and there were ten foot swells aggravating our small flat bottom boat.  It felt like the Tempest.  On one side of the room I could see the swells of the water through the window and the other side, I could see my clothes swaying in the closet.  Hunter took care of Julia for me before she succumbed.  We slept in bliss under the influence of “the patch” and awakened happy, normal, hungry people.  


Captain’s dinner.  Their youth gave us advantage.  The captain had 3 daughters so he said our table looked most familiar so he sat with us.


  He confirmed the Tempest from Sunday night.  He said he was even nauseous in his bed.  Not really.  But the 10 foot swells were intense.  


Our next stop was Camden.  The two buildings in the middle -- the church, of course and the library.  What more does a town need?  {I’ll show you in a minute.}



The view of the harbor from the road in front of the library---I haven’t mentioned the historian that traveled with us.  I’m a dork.  It was one of the highlights of my trip to have access to someone that grew up in the area and knew EVERYTHING about it.  He, Sam Ladley, did a short walking tour of every port we visited {and lectures at night unless we were playing Bingo or some local entertainment.  Seriously.}.  


Like these kinds of lectures--- the names and WHY they are so different.  Who knew?  And merely a week later, I was able to answer a question on Cash Cab because of it!


She is not a tourist, but you knew that, didn’t you?  I saw her making copies in the back.  Her yellow macintosh and head scarf caught my eye.  Just another morning of running errands in Camden.  

Here’s why I would run errands in Camden---




My favorite store in 5 ports


This is definitely the good stuff.


And this--- We dominated Bingo.  Won all the prizes except 2.  Hunter was hottest with 2 wins-- and I think her third win she threw her card at Nanna.  This night, we weren’t so popular.


The prizes were super cool...... like, our every dream come true.  

I warned you.  My favorite day is next.  Rockland, Maine

Sunday night lying in my bed enduring the Perfect Storm, there was no way I was getting on a small lobster boat with Captain Jack on Thursday.  I changed my mind by Monday.  So glad I did.  





More than just lobsters came up in those traps- sea urchins, spider crabs, baby eels.  Captain Jack and his stern man were entertaining and informative.  They kept it PG.  Lobster people have a lot of drama in their lives.  Sam, the historian, “lobstered” for 7 years so he had a few stories of his own to tell.  I said they needed their own reality show and someone said they did?  Where have I been?  


So this was cool-- look again.  See all that black nearer the tail?  Eggs.  Thousands of them.  Look closer at the end of the tail.  See one of the “fins” notched?  That means she’s free for life.  The notch means throw her back.


Captain Jack dropped us off here for a lobster bake on shore with our boat peeps.  They hadn’t made it yet so we had some time to make friends with the cooks.





And we got to throw our lobsters to their deaths.  



And I think because of it, we all enjoyed our lobster a little less....


 After the lobsters went the corn..


And then the seaweed so I all could steam.


The corn was my favorite.



When we weren’t playing Bingo or listening to Sam in the Chesapeake Lounge, Mom and I were getting beat in Hand and Foot by these yahoos.  It made no sense.  At. All.  Every night.  It’s a stupid game.


Our last stop was Boothbay.  It was a gorgeous day for a lovely town.




Blake-- HOW did you turn this beauty out?  Oh, Adele, that’s right.  
What a treasure to hang out with this special girl for a week.  The crew kept worrying about the “young people” asking if we- yes “we”-  were having fun.  We really just wanted to be together-- it was the purpose of the trip.  I truly thought by our layover in Portland on Saturday, the “all together for seven days”
tension may have set in but- nope- we rented a car and had another adventure in Freeport --the best of which landed us some MEXICAN FOOD!!




As we left Boothbay Harbor headed back to Portland, we had a wonderful view of this lighthouse. It’s the Cuckolds Light was erected in 1892 off the tip of Southport Island.



I am so grateful to my Mom for making this happen.  We saw beautiful things, had new adventures, ate unusual food, met new people every day-- and the fact that we did it ALL together made it that much more impactful.