Sunday, June 28, 2015

Summer Projects

A while back, a friend of mine gave us their playset.  This of course involved taking it down at their house, transporting it, and reconstructing it at our house.  With so much rain, and needing to borrow a truck and extra arms, it's taken us a long time to get together.  It's now fully functional (swings and slide and house are up) but not yet complete.  But it has been the biggest excitement of the kids' lives!!  They have very eagerly anticipated this playset and so far have not been disappointed!

The best thing has been the kids' eagerness to help.  William especially has loved the access to tools and building!  But they have all pitched in.  The other day, Abby eagerly ran up to Chopper when he got home from work and said, "daddy I'm going to help you work on the playset and then we can drink Dr. Pepper and talk about the world!"  She knows how to get into his heart!

But our artsy side has not been neglected!!  Scrolling through Pinterest one day, Megan and I saw some postings of clothespin dolls and fell in love.  So we took 2 days to get the materials, paint, and clothe.  Ok I took 2 days.  The girls painted some and then decided it was too tedious and time-consuming.  It's not really a project for impatient fingers for sure but the results turned out great and Megan especially has enjoyed playing with their new dolls.

Yesterday was the annual Freedom Fest in Oak Point.  3 minute parade followed by playing at the park and pavilion with bubbles, hula hoops, and some lunch to end the morning.  We enjoy this small town festival every year! 

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

More Arboretum

My albums and your patience are inundated with Arboretum pictures, I know.  We always try to get in one summer visit though, hot as it is.  We got lucky last week with an overcast, sprinkly, cool (80s) morning that turned in to a downpour about 15 minutes after we left.  It was humid though so we spent the morning damp and sticky.  But we came home and did swim lessons and pizza for dinner and the girls declared it the best day ever!
Summer display -- Texas fairy tales.  

Hello who's this?  That would be my almost 3-year old!!  He's so handsome when he's not screaming or destroying things!

As you can see, Megan still "loves" to have her picture taken.

And Abby really does!!  But this is the smile she's started giving me every time.

I always ask them to do at least one hugging picture.  It gets them close together and creates the sweetest moments -- that don't last beyond 5 seconds.  This is why pictures are deceiving.  They are ordinary siblings -- fighting a good portion of the day and best friends when they're supposed to be sleeping.  Or doing chores.  Or following my directions.

I love the mushroom pictures though and they do too.  We took several this way and then we had to mix up mushroom size and kid size and take several each mixup.  I really don't think you need to be subjected to that! 

In the children's garden we found a place we actually hadn't seen before and it was cool!!!  Cave drawings, plant life cycles, and GIANT flower pots! 

This display was tons of fun -- putting the flower together from stem to stamen (isn't that what they're called?).  I took a lot of pictures of this process too.  

William has pretty much broken my camera and it isn't focusing correctly and sometimes it doesn't work at all.  This means that until we get a new one I'm relying more on my phone and I don't like that.  The camera on it isn't nearly as good and even though I carry it everywhere the pictures don't come out as good for printing copies or publishing in the blog book.  I'm hoping to get a quilt commission this summer and using the proceeds to buy a new camera!!

Thursday, June 11, 2015

A Craving for Camp

Doesn't that sound funny?  Can you crave a time and a place?

A few weeks back I dug through a box of old pictures looking for a particular one and found just a few from the summer of 2001 when I worked at Lochearn Camp for Girls -- a private girl's camp in rural Vermont.  Then today, I was sewing up another pillowcase for the girls' cozy nook and thought "this would be awesome fabric for camp!"  I love summer camp!!  In high school, when I went to Young Women's camp, I had 4 years of fantastic experiences despite the mosquitoes and spiders and dirt.  I've always wanted to be in our Young Women's program at church and since becoming an adult, never have been!!! Ironic isn't it?  When I've been friends with a lot of YW leaders who have dreaded camp!!  

Anyway, I digress.  Lochearn.  I want to write about it now so I don't forget and I may have to dig up old letters to my parents and things and see what they say too.  But in the meantime, I thought it would be fun to write the story since we're into the first week of summer here and I am craving summer camp!!!

I don't remember how I found out about Lochearn or even when the idea first popped into my head, but at the beginning of the summer I got in my car and drove the 9 hours by myself (no cell phone!) from Virginia to Vermont.  When I arrived at the camp I felt like I had stepped into the camp in The Parent Trap (which we may have to find and watch now!).  Cabins clustered in groups along the lake and in the trees, a main dining and activities building and the flagpole front and center.  Actually, go to their website and see the pictures: Camp Lochearn  -- there's actually a virtual tour of the camp that includes cabin interiors, etc.  The White Mountains are in the distance and we did a day hike up there -- idyllic setting really.

I had been hired as a camp counselor and then rehired as a group leader (I can't remember what it was called).  That meant that I was in charge of the counselors for one of the age groups.  Mine was 8-10ish.  The youngest campers.  Campers were arranged into age groups and for the younger girls there were 4 to a cabin with a counselor in the cabin.  I got my own cabin (awesome!) and had about 7 cabins under me with their campers and counselors.  Halfway through the session we had a counselor leave and I got to move in with the campers and do double-duty until a replacement was hired for the 2nd session.  The website says the sessions are 3 1/2 weeks but I'm pretty sure they were six when I was there.  And it was the youngest cabin.  Poor girls were all 7 turning 8 in the summer and they were sweethearts but I can't imagine Megan being in summer camp for that long and she's about that age!!
My girls of cabin F -- ha I almost forgot!!  We had a bat in our cabin.  I laid awake one night listening to it chirp (is that what bats do?) and the girls slept through it.  But the next night it was spotted and you can imagine chaos that ensues when you're trying to get a bat out of a small cabin with 4 screaming 8-year olds.  One of the other counselors, Naz I think, got a broom and in the process broke our overhead light.  So then we had a bat, 2 counselors, and 4 screaming girls in the dark.  We did finally get it out -- I think it came back the next night -- and then they installed a bat house on a nearby tree and we were good after that!!

Each counselor also taught classes and they had all your classic camp classes: canoeing, swimming, basket weaving, theater, crafts, various sports, and for an extra fee you could do English riding.  What did I teach?  Scrapbooking and I don't know what else.  I didn't teach quite as many classes because of other duties.

Cabins did have electricity but no air-conditioning (not needed!!!) and had to be cleaned up ready for the day by breakfast.  Girls brought fabric from home and used it to make curtains around their beds or in the windows.  This actually was my first exposure to Harry Potter because as I was going around on opening day helping with move-in, one girl was hanging up Harry Potter fabric and I didn't know who that was!!

We had so many fun camp activities!!  The counselors and staff were the red team and girls were divided into blue and green and stayed on that team for as many years as they came to Lochearn.  So we would play games against each other, we had songs and chants for our team (I can still do R-E-D and it was hard to learn!), etc.  We had campfire every Sunday night I think where we dressed in camp uniform -- navy shorts, white Lochearn shirt, red plaid sash, knee high socks and sang camp songs and had a program.
Crazy dress night????

Me and my counselors for the junior level
Wow bringing up all these memories is really making the holes apparent!!  I have to have this written down somewhere.  2001 -- no cell phones and internet was spotty so I called my family once a week on an office phone and wrote snail mail to them.  I doubt my mom has those letters but now I wonder if I have them tucked away somewhere.

The people.  The people!!  Obviously I didn't know anyone on arrival and most names I've forgotten but it was a very safe environment and I made fantastic friends.  There were a few other LDS girls there and we went to church on Sunday when we could.  There were quite a few girls from England and Australia and that was fun to compare lives, and then there was also a group from Eastern Europe, Romania I think -- that group included our male water instructors that made all the teenage girls in camp twitter-pated.  The food was actually pretty good even if it did get old from repetition but I do remember some of the Australian girls had brought Vegemite with them (I thought it was awful!) and my friend Leanne sent home for decent tea because we didn't have any!

I can't think of a whole lot else right now.  Maybe I'll dig and see what I can find.  I should be posting stuff like this though.  I didn't start blogging until we had Megan and there's years of good stuff from when Chopper and I were first married, etc.  Since I print my blog off into a book every year, I should be including more from our "family history!"

So that's the basics at any rate.  Especially since we're already approaching 100 degrees here I am really wishing for hot days but cool, perfect nights and that carefree, summer enjoyment that camp gives.  I can't wait until the girls are able to go to camp -- probably just our week long church camp -- but I hope that they love it as much as I do!! 

Friday, June 5, 2015

It Gets Harder

I really thought that things would get easier over time but maybe I've packed too much in at once and done myself in.

Today is the last day of school and I am crying.
Not because I'll have all three home for the summer -- although ask me again in August and yes, that might be the reason.
It was the last time I walked home from school with William AND Abby.  So I'm already crying about Abby going to school too!  It will be just me and William and I'm not sure how to parent without breaking up fights and arguments and maneuvering the wishes and demands of more than one child.  After all, by the time Megan was old enough for all of that, Abby was here too.

What a funny place to be.

In addition, we've removed the crib entirely and William is now sleeping in a regular bed.  Next week I potty-train him.

I know that some of my struggle with all of this stupid growing-up stuff is grief that things are coming to an end so soon when they weren't supposed to.  I think that I will always feel a little bereft that I'm not suffering through one more set of terrible twos, one more first words, one more headed off to kindergarten.  Because amazingly, those first months of having Megan when everything seemed to DRAG are completely gone.  And now it's one big race.  How quickly can they grow up and move on?  Too quickly.

Megan has progressed more in this year than I think I've ever seen.  She is FINALLY bathroom independent and will be a completely silly girl at times.  She still struggles with performing in front of a crowd but has come so far and does it when she has too.  Her reading and writing are phenomenal!  She has had A honor roll ALL year.  She has gained a lot of confidence in herself but we still have a long way to go.  We've struggled this year with a particular "friend" who tears her down so much.  It's really come to a head this last week and I think we will both feel better when summer is here and they are NOT in class together next year (special request by me).

Abby has learned a lot and is primed for kindergarten.  She already knows the school and the teachers so well and is so excited to go.  I imagine that our biggest problem will be the talking!  And the thumb.  I just do NOT know what to do to get her to stop sucking it.  I don't think there is anything that I can do.  She knows most of her letters and numbers and can write her name although it's often with backwards or upside down 'b's.  Next year I anticipate that she will take off  and not look back and I can hardly believe it.  Everyone she encounters loves her and it's because she loves everyone she encounters!!  I will miss so much her cuddles and stories and funny things. Probably not the whining.

William -- well I'm keeping my fingers crossed that potty-training goes well next week (because I'm dreading it) and curious to see what my life looks like with one child - a BOY - the only one at home.  This could be very weird for me.

I'm looking forward to our summer though. I'm looking forward to not getting up in the morning to the sound of an alarm and having to rush and push and yell to get everyone out the door on time and ready for the day.  Im excited to not have homework but to have different responsibilities for the kids and shove some more gospel learning into them to hopefully prepare them for next year.  I'm looking forward to a fluid schedule of activities, playdates, movies, and pool time.  And all of it will be gone in the blink of an eye.