Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Camping Right Along

Last week was another week of camps. This time, Smunch was at baseball camp from 9 to 3:30 every day. And it was HOT. And there wasn't a lot of shade. After the first day, I took to sending him with three water bottles. That seemed to do it. As you can see, he was a little guy at camp. This camp was for 7 to 12-year-olds, so he was on the young side and he's always been on the small side for his age. He wasn't the smallest kid there, but he was certainly a shrimp.

It didn't seem to make a big difference. The second day, he wore his Chicago White Sox jersey that his great Uncle Quentin sent him. It has his last name on the back with the number 20 (random number as far as I know). From that day on, you could hear all the other kids talking about Ryder doing this or that. It was cute and it was clear that he'd be accepted, even though he didn't know any of the other boys before the start of camp. Smunch was also named "camper of the day" on Tuesday. He was so thrilled! And I was thrilled for him. Unfortunately, things kind of went downhill from there.

By the end of the week, he wasn't so sure that he liked baseball camp after all. He hated all the warm-up running they had to do each morning. I tried to tell him that running is part of the life of a baseball player. He still says he's going to be a major league baseball player when he grows up. Guess he's going to have to learn to run.

Mam, on the other hand, had a completely different kind of week with an animal-themed camp at her former preschool. She was gone from 9 to 11:30 every day, knew several kids in her class and came home with all kinds of art projects and stories. She got to see a walking stick, a hedgehog and a parrot show. Beyond that, I know very little about what happened. There were no pictures, but hopefully for her, there were lots of great memories.

For me, I spent what little free time I had between getting home from dropping Smunch off and picking up Mam by trying to think about our next big trip and what we needed. Either I'm overthinking things because camping trips are so much work (and we've done a lot of that lately) or I've failed entirely to get it together for this trip. At least we'll be in cities and hotels this time around, so we may be able to make up for all my packing failures. I guess we'll find out!

Saturday, July 11, 2009


NO. Not more of that kind of camping. Not yet anyway. After all, we just got back, didn't we? Well, not quite, but I'm definitely not ready to pack that much stuff in the mommymobile again. Getting two kids in there each morning in time to get to camp is enough for a couple of weeks.

This week's camps brought a startling realization. My kids are growing up!

Just a couple of years ago, they were clingy and cried on the first day of camp. In fact, Smunch memorably screamed his way through every day of the first several minutes of gymnastics camp a few years ago. This year was a stark contrast.

First thing Monday morning, I loaded the kids in the van and drove Smunch to his first full-day multi-sport camp. From 9am to 3pm every day, he'd be playing baseball, basketball and flag football.I had to wait around a long time while the camp director waited for other parents to arrive so she could make all of her announcements. In the meantime, the other coaches had gathered a group of kids out on the field and were starting a game. "Why don't you go out and join them?" I asked Smunch. He set his bag down and took off without a glance back at me.

The city somehow totally over-enrolled this camp, so they had 50 kids instead of 35. Smunch, at 7, was at the very bottom of the age range and he's still a small guy on top of that. Scoring in basketball is a major accomplishment for him with these hoops, but do you think it made any difference?Nope.

They were long days, but he had a great time and came home exhausted and somewhat grumpy. Ready to do nothing..aka watching baseball replays on the computer ad nauseum...for a couple of hours.My next stop each morning was at Mam's nature camp. I tried without success to get Smunch interested in doing this camp too. "No, Mom," he insisted. "I'm not interested in NATURE. I'm interested in SPORTS!" O.K., fine. At least I've got one kid who likes a well-balanced assortment of camps.She played games, made necklaces, painted rocks, met animals in the petting zoo, tie dyed a T-shirt and watched a wildlife presentation that included a golden eagle, a kestrel, a porcupine and some kind of large cat that I couldn't get a straight answer on. It had spots, I gather. She got to have all that fun in this pretty little spot that you'd never guess is just blocks from the local downtown.She was quite literally a happy camper. She didn't know a single other kid there, but it didn't matter. She ran to join her group the minute we got there and made another new best friend. These last couple of photos are from her performance in the last day's sing-a-long. We've got another busy camp week coming right up. I really need to make sure I don't schedule us for so much stuff next year. I hope they feel like they had a crazy fun summer and not just a crazy one!

Sunday, July 5, 2009


You would think that Christmas was on the 4th of July if you saw my children on the morning of Independence Day. This is really one of their very favorite holidays. I'm not sure they really care about the nation's birthday or our independence from British rule. It's all about the fireworks. It seems so unfair that they have to wait until dark, but then, it makes for a grand finale to the day.

This year was a little bit different because my cousin was visiting from Texas. After a nice breakfast of bagels, muffins and varieties of Starbucks, followed by a significant amount of lolling around my parents' house, we finally packed up some food and headed to a local winery for a picnic.Unfortunately, Daddy was feeling particularly ill, so I drove him home before we left on our adventures.The rest of us had a lovely, if slightly too warm, time at the winery. My cousin's husband treated us to a bottle of rosé and we took a short walk to "the pond". Mam was sporting her Independence Day best. And Smunch (pictured here with my cousin) was looking pretty festive too. At this time of year, the pond is little more than a few large puddles among the reeds. It turns out that the reeds were alive with tiny little frogs, each about the size of a thumbnail. I loved watching them jump around. They were fast and hard to photograph, so this is the best I did.And, like all good ponds, there were a couple of mother ducks overseeing a group of teenager-y ducklings. They looked so picturesque among the reeds and the pond weeds that were blooming with pink flowers.We also spotted this cool, red dragonfly.We walked back to the car and parted ways to get ready for the neighborhood block party on our street. Our block party is a really fun, yearly event where we all set up tables in the middle of the street, barbeque, make ice cream and supply potluck dishes to share. Both my parents and my cousins joined us for a mellow evening of food and company. I didn't bring my camera. Just as well. I could barely roll my own bloated body home, much less anything additional.

My cousin and her husband decided to forgo the fireworks, instead watching them on TV while the rest of the family headed to our oldest fireworks-viewing haunt to wait for the pyrotechnics to start.

Turns out, as the kids get older, this whole thing gets much easier and more tolerable. They happily played several hands of Uno with us, begging for another one as soon as the last one was done.As has been the case for the last couple of years, there were glowsticks, but we didn't use so many this year with all that card playing.I don't remember exactly what was going on when I took this picture. I just liked the backlighting on Mam's hair. It cracks me up though.Finally, the show started. I'd forgotten how rewarding it is to drag the kids out to the park. They have such a great time watching fireworks, commenting, squealing, exclaiming over their favorites. I annoyed people by trying to capture their reaction. This isn't a great photo, but I think it captured them rather well.We all had a really nice time, well worth the crabby Smunch we had this morning. I don't think I'll tell them they'll get to see plenty of fireworks at Disney World this summer. I can't wait to see the look on their faces when they just start exploding overhead.