Friday, July 31, 2015

Vacation Plans

Arriving early Saturday morning, we had a wonderful breakfast before setting up camp and spending a good portion of the day at the beach. The traditional Fourth of July Blue Hill Brass concert was excellent as always, and all drifted off to sleep with relative ease, not even bothered by the familiar call of our friend the whippoorwill. Everyone, that is, except me.

We dropped off the three teenagers at Resident Camp following breakfast, worship, and lunch on Sunday and continued enjoying all Camp Calumet has to offer. The two youngest especially enjoyed the Welcoming Campfire, a rousing game of Clue-u-met, and some serious marshmallow roasting. Excitement over their first day of camp battled the marshmallow-induced sugar crash, sleep finally winning the battle. My husband drifted off quickly as well. Me, not so much.

Monday morning dawned with two tired but giddy children who could barely wait to get to breakfast, then from breakfast to Day Camp. While Daddy took them to Camp, I enjoyed some quiet time before delving into a wonderful Celtic Christianity Bible Study. Walking with my husband back to our campsite, we discussed which of the many things we would do this day and settled on hiking Jackman Ridge, the trail basically across the way from our campsite. 

Emerging from our screen tent after eating lunch, we made it as far as our camp chairs a few feet away. Once there, we came up with a new and daring plan. Something so out of the ordinary it was nearly mind-blowing. Something that went against every fiber of my grandmother-induced tendency to want to fill every moment of vacation with one exciting experience after another. We opted for a nap. In the middle of the day. With no children waking us up every 3.42 minutes to ask a question or inform us that someone is bothering them. 

After our nap we discussed the possibility of going to the beach, again making it as far as our camp chairs before giving up on the idea. So we sat. After a while, I remembered I had a book with me. I read several chapters of the book in one sitting - a feat beyond anything I'd accomplished since our last camp summer a year before. 

Eventually it was time to pick up the children from Day Camp. After hearing the amazing tales they had to tell about their first day, they asked us what we did. At first they failed to believe our answer of "nothing." One even said, "but didn't you have a plan?" It seems I always have a plan, especially for vacation.

'Vacation plans' took on a new meaning for me this year - one that it took me more time than it should have to comes to terms with. Pain, exhaustion, and expectations clouded my enjoyment of our first couple of child-free days. It wasn't until I relaxed into relaxing, reduced my expectations to general life-sustaining activities, and ceased comparing my top of the world Summer two years ago and my downhill but ok Summer of last year to my barely treading water Summer this year that my new vacation plans of relaxation and peace were able to bring me joy. 

Funny things happened when I started actually taking a vacation ... but tales of those adventures will have to wait for another day.

Thursday, July 30, 2015


Having heard the story of the Lake Ossipee Monster many times before, my attention instead turned to the beauty surrounding me. The sun set as the pontoon boat made its way back to shore, pinks and purples dancing on the water, my youngest daughter snuggled up next to me.

This is why I go to Camp Calumet. 

This view.

This story.
This beauty.
This connection.
This peace.

This is where I find my center.

This is where I find balance.
This is where I find myself.

In this place, God speaks in the lapping of the waves, the laughter of the children, and in kindnesses shared, as well as in campfire songs, in worship, and in prayer. 

Friday, July 24, 2015

Pain Block

I sit and try to write. On paper, words come quickly, but my hand tires easily. Darts of light from the computer screen bore into my migrained brain as I type, letters too small, the process too long. My head pounds, neck is wracked with pain, back on fire. Hands slowed by numbness and pain, writing falls to the wayside as I opt for quieter, less arduous pursuits.

Some people have writer's block. Me? I have pain block. I sit, myriad thoughts swirling in my brain, but once I start to translate the thoughts into words, pain takes over and my mind fogs.

Would that someone invent a device that could transcribe my thoughts to typed word, I could put my insomnia to good use and compose while I attempt to slumber. Instead, inspiration gets sucked into the void of my overtired, overburdened mind come daybreak.

My to-do list is miles long. Waking every morning with the best of intentions to get things done, I'm excited about the tasks at hand. An attempt at movement immediately overwhelms my body with pain and all plans fall to the wayside until movement and medication lessen the agony. 

I used to procrastinate the mundane. Now I'd love to tackle the everyday duties that pain blocks me from starting. 

This blog post has taken months. I've started, stopped, updated, reworded, and then finally gave up and decided to worry less about the language and more about the post itself. 

What's important here is not the pain. It's the getting up and moving. It's the continuing to write in fits and spurts until some semblance of something comes from it. It's the moving forward and doing things despite the pain as well as the doing nothing all day in the name of taking care of myself and being ok with it. 

Friday, July 17, 2015

Four score minus sixty-five years ago

How on earth did this happen?  How did one of the most awesome people I know get to be so old? Who turned the cute kid with the long blond ringlet curls into such a kind, caring, chivalrous, young man with an awesome sense of humor?

Zachary has amazed me this year, handling tonsil and adenoid surgery with grace, working on getting his emotional wonkyness under control and helping me understand it better, and getting great compliments from the mom of the young woman who currently occupies much of his time and thoughts. 

The two of us have had some epic times together this year. Most memorable, perhaps, was our roundabout trip to the movie theater during which we talked about lots of crazy and funny stuff, that ended in sitting in a pitch black theater for a very long time until we investigated and found that the projector wasn't working. And the second attempt to see a movie, which began with a glitch in getting the film started, but thankfully ended in us actually seeing the movie. 

It is amazing to watch my child turn into such a thoughtful, fun, intelligent, and just plain awesome young man. His creativity inspires me, patience with his siblings (especially certain aspie ones, even when it occasionally wears thin) astounds me. That the two of us can sit in silence, or in conversation, or in hilarity, and be at ease with each other delights me. 

So, Zachary, on your fifteenth birthday, I will write to you fifteen things I want you to remember:
1. I love you no matter what.
2. I know you're going to mess up, and I'd rather you mess up and tell me and let me offer help/advice/laughter (whether or not you choose to accept it) than mess up and think you need to cover up your mistakes. Mistakes are nothing more than learning experiences.
3. Our family operates on forgiveness.
4. Buckle up for safety.
5. Call your mother. Call your mother if you haven't spoken to her in more than ten days. Call your mother if you need help. Call your mother just because. Call your mother if you're too drunk to drive or your friend is too drunk to drive or you've somehow found yourself at Camp Calumet and need someone to pick you up after spending a few days there with you having all sorts of fun.
6. Being a friend doesn't mean going along with whatever your friends do. Think and act for yourself, from your heart, with your own good judgement.
7. If you want a tattoo for your sixteenth birthday, you now have a year to figure out what you want, where you want it, and to draw it (or have someone else draw it). 
8. Your mother will always embarrass you, even if she doesn't always mean to. It might just be payback for all the embarrassing things you have done, like the time you were two and took off your underwear without taking your shorts off in church during worship and then shot them at me rubber-band style.
9. Never ever lose your sense of humor. If you do. call me and I'll help you find it. 
10. Sushi is good. Gluten free sushi is better. Gluten free sushi with your mother is the best. We need to do that soon.
11. You are never alone. (Ok, that sounds creepy ... what I meant is that even when it doesn't seem like it sometimes, God is with you and will help you through ... and your mother is always there for you when you need her. )
12. When all else fails, laugh.
13. Pray at least twice as often for others as you do for yourself. 
14. Give thanks upon waking, before eating, and upon going to sleep. 
15. Be yourself. Always. Unless you're in a play. Then you should probably be in character, as the play probably wouldn't go as well should you remain yourself. 

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Brown Paper

 It was quite an adventure. We basically packed up our house, room by room, moved furniture, and used just about every ounce of creativity, patience (most of which ran out), and more money, time and effort than expected. We're finally done. For now. 

We slept in our dining room for days. We ate wherever we could find space. We ran up and down stairs just to get things out of the fridge. We cooked just about every meal in crockpots for close to a week. We even shipped our kids to Gramma and Papa's house for a night because there was very limited access to our one and only bathroom. 

We ripped up nasty, disintegrating carpet. We pulverized the breakfast bar separating our kitchen and dining room. We tore up underlayment with grooves and bonded-to-it  chipped and scratched up linoleum. We hammered and glued and polyurethaned. 

We laughed. We cried. OK, I cried. We yelled, we apologized, we thanked, we accepted help, we thanked some more, we ran away. OK again, I ran away, briefly, with kids, to my parents' house due to fumes and migraines and stress. We learned a lot about the process, about ourselves, and about each other. 

The result? One continuous type of flooring throughout the main part of our house. Brown paper flooring, to be exact. Flooring that is much more handicapped accessible than ancient carpet and broken and missing stick-on vinyl tiles on top of linoleum. In addition,we now have a much more open kitchen and dining room area - a space that works much better for my family. It took much more work and a lot more money than I'd anticipated, but it still cost a fraction of the alternatives and will meet our needs for now.  

Now that that's done, I can barely wait to patch walls, paint, and then tackle the bathroom floor. But that will have to wait - we have a basement bedroom to work on next. It should be interesting, the budget having been mostly eaten up by the floor renovations, but we'll figure out some creative solutions to make it work.