The Vacation where we shared a towel.

With three (!) busy summer work schedules and a house under construction, an actual, proper vacation was shoved to the back burner this year. Having spent the better part of the last year working 6 & 7 day weeks, I wanted needed a few days off. With school related activities starting just a few days after Edie came home from camp, I knew we needed to make the most of those last free days.

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Catching up.

Since I last visited this space, we have had a few adventures.
Going to pick up Edie from camp was the first.
After last year’s camp closing ceremonies, Edie announced that her goal for this year was to be recognized for archery at the closing ceremony.  Which she was.  Her face as her name was called for that was absolutely beaming.  She was quite proud of herself, as were we. Is there anything better than seeing the satisfaction of your child’s face when they hit a goal they set for themselves?  She was also recognized for Dance & Lacrosse.  She was surprised by the lacrosse recognition as she doesn’t care for the sport.  I told her she didn’t have to like it to be good at it, but wasn’t it nice to know that if she wanted to play it she’d be good at it?  She was only slightly sold. 
There was a dirt road involved on the way home.
We are fans of detours that include dirt roads, especially when they include ice cream as well, which this one did.
When we got home, I had her dump her trunk down the laundry chute so I could wash everything.  My basement smelled like someone had been bathing in a pond for 3 weeks and then left all her towels out in a rainstorm.  Which pretty much was her story.
While I was switching out the loads from the washer to the dryer Saturday night, I happened to glance over and see something wriggling in a spider web that didn’t look like it belonged there.
Turns out, it didn’t.  It was a baby Eastern Ringneck snake. The tiniest little snake you’ve ever seen.
Edie really wanted to keep it, but Pat wasn’t sure if it was eating the tiny worms we brought him/her.  Also, when all of Edie’s pals came by to see her the one day she was home between adventures, the little bug catcher the snake was in didn’t get properly closed and we woke up to find Ringo gone.
Hopefully it’s made it’s way out of my house.  But if it eats bugs, then hopefully it will stay out of my eyesight.
As soon as I got Edie’s camp laundry done and my basement smelling like a basement again (a big improvement over pond water believe it or not), we took off for our last family adventure of the summer.
We headed down to the Outer Banks of North Carolina to visit our friends the Dorbads.
19 month old Lincoln is cute as can be.  He also had a nasty cold he was more than generous with.  His poor mum came down with it while we were there and while Edie complained of a sore throat for a few days, I think I managed to zinc her up enough to head it off. 
I had totally forgotten that when you have a 19 month old, that’s pretty much all you do all day.
Although they are awfully cute and entertaining.
We had some great beach weather.  It was in the 80’s and thanks to some offshore winds, the water was ICE cold.  After sitting in the sun and ‘getting warm’ as my mother used to say, it was refreshing.
Also, how nice is it to get in the ocean in August and have goosebumps from the water temperature?

We wandered down to Jennette’s pier one day so Pat could fish. 
While he was up there on the pier, Edie girl & I sat on the beach nearby. We had a most fabulous chat over a coke (her) and a beer (me). 
Daddy got to fish, Edie got chocolate ice cream AND a coke and I got to sit on the beach and read not quite an entire book all day, which we all considered perfect. How to top a day like that?

By heading even farther south to Cape Hatteras National Seashore the next day.
That was the view to the left of us down the beach. 
How sweet is that?  I adore Hattaras island and that particular stretch of coastline for just that reason.
The umbrella in the distance marked the set up of a young couple near us for the day.  It was so deserted she chose to sunbathe topless.  (One of us was horrified, one of us was amused and one of us thought good for her because I’d surely burn in a most unpleasant way in some uncomfortable spots if I did that.)
We went for a stroll to collect shells and to get away from all the people.

I couldn’t help but notice that Sandy McSandster, my daughter’s beach alter ego, lives on.
That child has some sort of magnetic attraction to sand.  When she was smaller and would come in from the beach completely coated in sand, I chalked it up to her being a baby, a toddler, three, four, etc.  But now she’s 10.  And still leaves a heavy trail.  I’m surprised there’s any sand left on Hatteras Island, because the inside of my car is completely coated, as is my beach bag, the cooler and I have no doubt her entire suitcase. 

At one point, we let her go into the cooler for something, where she proceeded to coat everything in there with sand as well.  Seriously.  One hand in to grab and everything after was coated.  That beer is fresh from the cooler, after she was in it. You should have seen the one she handed her father.  He took it into the ocean to clean it off. 

I guess she’ll never outgrow it.
Which is okay, because I happen to know 40-somethings that have similar traits.  She’s in most excellent company.

Despite the fact that my child coated everything in sight in sand and our hosts were under the weather, it was a great trip.  The day we spent at Hatteras was one of the most perfect beach days I’ve ever had.  It was 80, barely a cloud in the sky, the water temp and the breeze just right.  And I got to spend a day with those two with no outside distractions besides my book.  (I’ve been plowing through “Game of Thrones”, having watched the entire show the first week Edie was at camp, I picked up the books and am now on the fourth one.)
We spent the week without television and internet.  That was week two for me, unplugged and for Edie, week four.  (She was completely unplugged while at camp.).  It might be habit forming. 
We came back Friday afternoon.  Saturday I taught a pickling class for Market Central.

We pickled peaches, green beans and cucumbers.
It was a good class if I do say so myself.
I had planned on using the Ball Pickling Mix that is all over the market this season for dill pickles.  However, due to a small oversight, there was no pickle mix on hand for the class.  A quick flip through the stack of canning & pickling cookbooks I had brought along and we selected a new one – from my trusty Food in Jars Cookbook.  We just so happened to have everything it called for on hand and so we went with it.
I’ll let you know how they turned out in a week or so when I open the jar I carried home.  I’ve yet to make anything out of that cookbook or from her websites that isn’t good, so I felt safe trying that out in a class, untested.
I do need to brag that I completely guesstimated on the amount of brine to make for those pickles and turns out my guesstimate was just enough.  Not only did I pull it out, I pulled it out perfectly.
I’m good like that.
I can’t say the same for the amount of peach brine I made, there were several quart jars left over that students took home with them.  No one seemed to be too upset about that, as the pickled peaches were a huge hit just on the smell alone and as I pointed out, when you have leftover brine, you can use it to do another batch.  I shared the recipe I came up with as a happy discovery to much rave reviews, which felt pretty darn tooting good as well.
So now we are home for a good while – school starts Wednesday and we need to settle back into that routine.  The weather today – grey, drizzly and cool – was slightly conducive towards that end.  I cleaned out the fridge and found a forgotten jar of bread & butter brine, but I also happened to have a few cukes on hand and some jalapenos from the garden that I threw in, so there was a batch of pickles made today while I was baking bread with the sourdough starter Leni shared with me.  None of us have unpacked from the beach yet – heck, Edie still has bags sitting around with camp gear all over the house, thanks to the fact that she’s slept in her own bed exactly 2 nights since we picked her up over a week ago.  It’s good to have her home, it’s good to be home and it’s good to have a few more days to collect ourselves before it all starts back up again.

In the mail.

We are just over the halfway point of Edie being away at camp.
She’s been gone exactly 11 days.  We got one letter the first week she was gone.
She has since mailed two more notes and a list of things she needs sent, ASAP.
Four pieces of mail, one “I miss you” in the bunch.
Oh, and this:
One of her target practice sheets.

Not a bad little shot, is she?

Home again.

 Yesterday morning, we picked Edie up from camp.  Three weeks ago, that amount of time seemed so long.  Somehow, it flew by.  I didn’t get everything accomplished that I wanted to, but I also knew that it was quite likely that was going to be the case.  There were roadtrips to be taken (3 in one week), concerts to be attended (2, with a third being turned down), friends to be visited with, a house to be cleaned, canning and sewing to be done and much quality time to be spent with my husband.
We knew when we decided to send her that this would be a really great experience for her.  As an only child, she spends a good bit of time alone during the summer.  She goes to various day camps, but she still has a sizable amount of unstructured time on her hands.  Summers are tough and I think they are even tougher for an only child.  She generally is bored to tears by the beginning of August and so the last 3 weeks before school starts are brutal around here.  Most of the fun, creative day camps are over with the end of July and  it seems everyone clears out on vacation. It’s her & us.  And it’s hot.  By the time the first day of school rolls around, she’s so happy to see the big yellow angel, she’s singing Hallelujah. 
Her first letter from camp said she was having an okay good time.  She asked us to please send candy and she included specific instructions as to how this was to be packaged and sent.  Over the course of the 3 weeks she was gone, we got exactly 5 letters from her.  Each one sounded like she was having more fun than the last one. I kept hearing how it was good we weren’t hearing from her – that meant she was doing well.   She wrote about how she was enjoying archery.  We got a letter from her counselor, telling us what a joy she was to have and how she was doing well with riflery.  I immediately started thinking that she was going to take care of that little squirrel problem we’ve been having.
When we arrived at camp yesterday, she ran out to meet us and burst into tears. She later told us it was not entirely because she was happy to see us, but rather because she wasn’t quite sure she wanted to go home. Our already sweet, way cool, confident girl had blossomed. Oh yeah, she likes to shoot things. She’s a little bit good at it too and is willing to consider some target practice on the squirrels that have been giving me trouble. She gave us a tour of camp and showed us where they did yoga.  Her dad, who’s been doing yoga with her since she was a wee one asked very excitedly, “Did you do yoga?”  She shrugged and gave us a very nonchalant, “oh yeah”.  Later, during closing ceremony, when she was recognized for her excellence in yoga (as well as crafts and drama), we giggled about her coolness.

That’s the inside of the ‘craft’ cabin at camp.  It seems our sweet gal not only learned how to shoot things, but also got to play, supervised, with power tools.  And in her own, very cool way, is taking it all in stride.  There is a whole list of things she learned to do, not just shooting things, but horseback riding, how to play tennis, how to deal with outhouses and pond bathing for 3 weeks.  She grew on both the outside AND the inside. She definitely has a new, bigger perspective on life that is amazing to see.

Will told us we’d get sick of camp stories around December.  We’re on day 2 of camp stories and already Daddy is rolling his eyes….we only have 11 more months of hearing them before we can drop her off again.  Because yes, she’s already waiting for next year.
And quite frankly, I’m looking forward to another 3 weeks with my husband.
Summer camp may be the best thing ever invented.