>My kids have been at overnight camp for exactly one week. I’d like to be able to report that they are doing great, but I cannot… well – this is not completely true as the camp posts pictures on their website regularly, so I can at least see their smiling faces… but I’d much rather hear about it in their letters to home.

I’m not really surprised. The first year my son went off to camp, I received three one-sentence letters in this order: “I love you,” “I miss you,” and “See you soon.” These letters were in response to my regular pleas to him through my own letters to write home. I even gave him multiple questions he could answer in his letters should he be suffering from summer writer’s block.

His next summer, I was more specific. The instructions were to write at least three sentences in each letter – one telling me if he was enjoying camp, one telling me about an activity he enjoyed, and one telling me about the other kids. However, I failed to tell him how many of these letters I wanted, as I only received one letter…. two days after he was already home. I think it was that oh crap – it’s pickup day and I forgot to write home letter.

By his third year, he had much improved. I received three descriptive letters. We shall see what this year brings.

I was at least expecting a letter from my daughter by now. She set the bar for herself higher early on. Her first summer, I had a letter from her after just a few days. It was her first summer at camp, and I was anxious to hear if she was having a good time. Her letter said, “I miss you, send a folder.” Huh? Her letters got better as the month progressed and came every few days.

Last year (her second year) she continued to impress. In her first letter, she asked that I send her robe and slippers. Apparently my daughter had mistaken overnight camp for the Four Seasons Hotel. Perhaps she would like a mint on her pillow as well? However, my favorite letter from her came towards the end of her stay. After telling me all the great things she was up to, she ended the note with:

“P.S. Did you know that J (her older brother) kisses girls?”

 Ah-ha – this explains why he didn’t have time to write home *sigh*

Anyone want to place bets on when I get my first letter?

>Hi everyone. Happy first day of July (rabbit, rabbit). Hope you had a great week. Talk about an emotional week! Unfortunately, the week did not start out so good as you will see, but someone was sure looking out for me by the end of the week. So here it goes…

1. Cats. We had the follow up visit for my little black kitty that I told you about a few weeks ago. If you recall, she is 18 years old. At her last visit, she weighed just over 4 lbs and had thyroid issues. We’ve been giving her medication and while her thyroid numbers are back to normal, she is not doing well. She lost over ½ lb and is now suffering from kidney disease. The vet tells us she is not in pain, so at this point we are just trying to keep her comfortable and give her extra snuggles, until it is time to say goodbye.

Sorry to start the week with such a downer, but the week does get better:

2. First day of day camp. My 4 year old started his first day ever of day camp. Bad Mommy forgot to take a picture 😦 But I am happy to report that he mostly loves camp. I say mostly, because the pool is still in question, but we are working on it. I am determined to have him loving the water by the end of the summer. However, to make up for his dislike of the pool, the camp has supplied him with ice cream and chocolate milk, so it’s all good!

3. Overnight camp. On Wednesday, we packed up the car and headed up to the mountains to take my older two children to overnight camp. The trip was a complete success. I am happy to report that both children disappeared within minutes after finding their bunks. Yes – this is good. It means they are with having fun with their friends. I did manage to get a goodbye hug and kiss from each of them before they left. You can read more about our drop of adventure here.

4. Jingle bells. I know what you’re thinking – it’s only July… why are you talking about jingle bells? For those who do not know, I was diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis four years ago. I have an amazing and supportive family, and I get through each day, one painful step at a time. A few years ago, my husband began participating in the Arthritis Foundation’s annual Jingle Bell 5K run/walk. Last year, I decided I wanted to give it a try. I joined a gym to train (yes – I had to train to walk 3 miles). Well, I did it! Okay, well maybe I finished in last place after everyone was already starting to pack up, but it’s not my fault! I was pushing a four year old in a stroller (bad mistake), and my daughter and her friend kept stopping to look at the horses along the route. Anyway – this year, I was asked to be the spokesperson/honoree for the race!! I’m super excited and humbled. More on the race to come…

5. Book news. I am officially published! I received a proof copy of my book earlier in the week. Oh my gosh – I can’t tell you how crazy it felt to actually hold it in my hands. I spent the next few days reading it over – making sure everything looked okay. After that, I gave the approval to the printer to go live. My hand was shaking as I pressed the ‘accept proof’ button on their website. So now what? Well, my book is officially for sale!! For the moment, it is available only on the printer’s site. Within the next week or two it will be available through Amazon, Barnes & Noble and other on-line retailers. Also – I am preparing digital files for all you kindle/nook/ipad/sonyreader/etc – etc users. I will have all of the details in a separate blog post coming soon!! For now, I am so excited to announce that you can officially purchase Nate Rocks the World here:

Nate Rocks the World

I told you it was a crazy week!!!

Hope everyone has a great weekend – thanks for checking in. For those in the U.S., have a happy & safe Fourth of July weekend! See you next Friday… and hopefully sooner!

Karen

>So I managed by some miracle to get everything purchased, organized, labeled, and packed for my two oldest kids, in preparation for their month away at summer camp.

Today was the day we they had been anxiously awaiting – drop off.

The plan was to drive there (hour and a half) unload two kids (fifteen – twenty minutes each) and drive home (hour and a half). I know what you are thinking – you are driving all that way to drop your kids off – kids you won’t see for a whole month – and you are only staying for fifteen/twenty minutes per kid???

Let me explain.

This is the fifth summer we have done this. Not only do I have unpacking down to a precise science, but before we have even fully stopped the car, the kids are off and running, trying to find their friends. Parents who? In their opinion staying twenty minutes is staying about fifteen minutes too long. (Plus, my husband has Phillies tickets you know!)

But let me back up so you too can experience the madness of drop off day:

1. Packing the car (night before) & leaving at 7:30am.
2. Sitting in rush hour traffic – because for some reason, drop off is on a Wednesday.
3. Sitting in a line of cars at the gate of the camp waiting to get checked in.
4. Trying to find a parking spot close to your child’s bunk while trying not to hit children running in every direction.
5. Bed selection…

Ah the bed selection… now pay attention because this is important. The camp has a strict lottery policy so as not to penalize latecomers. The policy is that upon arrival to your respective bunk, each camper picks a number out of an envelope. Each number corresponds with a bed. Done. Sort of…

In my son’s bunk, they do pick numbers, but then… . Last year, I spent a decent amount of time unpacking and placing neatly folded towels and clothing on the shelf next to the bed my son picked. Within ten minutes, everything was balled up & thrown across the room to a different bed. This year, I left all the clothes still packed in the plastic bins by his assigned bunk. He is 13 – he can figure out where his underwear is (maybe) when he gets to his final destination. I did however, make certain he knew exactly where the already addressed and stamped blank postcards were, that he needed to write and send home.

The girl’s bunk works a little differently. My daughter wanted a top bunk. In fact, she all but declared that her entire summer would be ruined if she did not receive a top bunk. She also insisted that I pick the lottery number, because I successfully picked her a top bunk the last two summers. Oy the pressure! So I picked… a bottom bunk. The counselor took pity on me, told me the top bunks were odd numbers and then opened the envelope wide enough so I could see all the numbers and told me to pick again. I picked number 11 – shocking I know!

I successfully unpacked and organized everything for her in record time. We said our goodbyes.

On our way out, we had to stop to drop off my daughter’s allergy medicine with the nurse. The line was out the building – and so we waited in another line.

We finally made it back to our cars – almost two hours later than our projected time. It happens almost every year – but looking back at all the kids playing and laughing and hugging makes all the lines and craziness so worth it!

>Happy Friday everyone! I hope everyone here in the U.S. enjoyed their Memorial Day weekend. I can’t believe it is June already – in a good way of course, I am not a winter person! It feels like the school year just started and now there are only a few more weeks of school left and then summer vacation! Speaking of summer, here’s what has been going on in my world this week:

1. Work. For this who don’t know, in my real life, I am an accountant. Specifically, I prepare taxes. Believe it or not, I enjoy it. (Did I put you to sleep yet?) But… tax season only lasts so long – thank goodness; and the last few years I have taken the summers off. It started because there just wasn’t enough tax work during the summer months to keep me busy, but honestly, I’ve gotten used to the schedule and I like it! This week was the first official week of my summer vacation… aaahhhh. Yay, more writing time for me.

2. Heat wave! Wow has it been hot here all week! I feel like for weeks I’ve been waiting for the cold dreary rain to end so I could get out into my garden and then WHAM all of a sudden the mid to high 90’s hit. Just brutal, but in a non-complaining, I would not rather have snow kind of way! Thank goodness for central air. I’m just praying it makes it through another summer. We have a very old unit and two years ago we were told we’d be lucky if it made it through that summer. Fingers and everything else crossed!! Oh and thank you to my husband for standing out at the hot grill in the heat so we could have burgers and dogs on Memorial Day!

3. Packing for camp. Apparently my blog post from this week has caused a bit of a stir amongst other camp parents who either can’t believe how super organized am I, or feel that I am making them look bad. Well, you all can feel rest assured. I have done nothing except ask my 13 year old to bring me the bins and bags from the attic. They have been sitting on my bedroom floor for the past week untouched. And will most likely stay that way for another week until the holy **** I need to pack for camp panic starts to set in. I did blog about packing though, so that counts for something right?

4. Book news. I love that every week I can announce I am one step closer to releasing NATE ROCKS THE WORLD! This week I was presented with a mock up of the interior design. As with everything that Deana at Book Starter has done, I love it! I am now working on figuring out formatting for all the different e-book readers. My book release date is still on track for July and getting closer every day! I hope to have chapter 1 available for free download on my website very soon!

5. Commentluv. I have been reading a LOT of other blogs lately. They are all amazing. There is a big buzz in the blog world about which is better – Blogger (who I use) or WordPress. One of my new Twitter friends suggested to me that the comment section on Blogger was less then ideal when compared to WordPress. I have to agree. However, I am so not tech savvy and when I tried to set up this blog on WordPress, it just got ugly. The fact is, I like Blogger. I like the design templates and I find it very user friendly (despite the problems it was having internally last week.) Instead, I ran across Commentluv, the comment plugin available on WordPress, and discovered I could use it on Blogger. Are you still with me? To make a long story short – I have a new comment system. Check it out & leave me a comment!!!!

Hope everyone has a great weekend – thanks for checking in. See you next Friday… and hopefully sooner!

Karen

Let's BEE Friends

Tawnasplan

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For many, Memorial Day means the unofficial start of summer – going to the beach, pool openings, cleaning the grill and bringing out the white pants. For me, it means all those things, but it also means something else: time to start packing the kids up for camp.

For the past few summers, my two older kids have looked forward to the four weeks in June & July when they get to go off with their friends, away from all parental control, to overnight camp. I would be lying if I said I didn’t look forward to it as well. Four weeks without laundry, preparing meals, and attitude. But most importantly, it is four weeks where I know my kids are having the most amazing time of their lives.

What I don’t look forward to, however, is the pre-camp packing. In fact, there is only one thing worse than pre-camp packing and that would be post-camp unpacking; when everything (and I mean EVERYTHING) returns with a damp camp stank. However, before I can complain about that (and trust me, I will), I first have to get the kids packed to go.

First step – plastic three drawer dressers, under bed bins, sleeping bags and duffle bags all have to be retrieved from the attic. Last year I got smart and put everything together right by the doorway. Once that is done, it is time to start attacking the list that the camp provides, shorts, shirts, bathing suits, underwear, bedding, towels, toiletries, shoes, sandals, raingear, sleepwear, etc, etc, etc.

Then there is the process of going through everything to figure out what I have and what I need. Some items on the list I might not truly need (Do I really need to send twenty pairs of underwear for my 13 year old when they do laundry every week?) And some things I may have, but need replacing (Is it fair to make my almost 11 year old sleep on the Hannah Montana sheets she had to have three summers ago?)

Once that gets figured out, it’s time to prepare the lists, hit the stores, do the laundry and get labeling. Since I don’t sew or iron, I prefer the black sharpie method – others will disagree, but for me it works. The process is tedious, but necessary if I want most of the items to return home. Then I neatly organize everything into their drawers, bins and bags – yes I am aware that once they get to camp, everything just gets tossed around & shoved wherever – but that’s okay – it’s just part of what Mom’s do for their kids.

Stay tuned for “Camp – Part 2: The Drop Off”