>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?

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>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!

>Hi all – I hope everyone had a great week! To be honest, it was an exhausting (and mostly great) week for me.   Before I start, thank you to all who asked about my four year old. He is feeling better and is back to his happy and healthy self. Now, onto my crazy week:

1. Dance Recital. My daughter was in two back to back shows – 8 dances in total. Two in ballet, three in modern/lyrical and three high-energy hip hop routines. I am always amazed that she can remember that many steps! There was a lot of rushing backstage to help with costume changes and then rushing back to my seat. The hair changes were the worst part for me. I definitely need ‘bun making for dummies.’ But – – it was SO worth it. She and all of the other dancers were amazing and so fun to watch.

2. Lightning. This actually happened last Friday, but it was after I had already written my Friday Five. At around 2:30 am, I woke to the sound of thunder that was so loud my house shook. Confession time – I am terrified of storms!! Lightning struck one after another after another. The next morning we woke up to discover that our big screen TV was fried, along with the upright freezer that is in the pantry room directly on the other side of the wall where the TV is. Of course, it completely missed my 20 year old washer and dryer – it had to go for the less than five year old appliances. Thank goodness I had unplugged my laptop after the first round of thunder struck (priorities you know!)

3. Book News. Busy week for NATE ROCKS THE WORLD! In case you did not see my post from a few days ago, my cover is finished!!!! I am so SO loving it. What do you think? My interior design is also completed and ready for print! Thank you again Deana at Book Starter for all your creative touches. It is now off to the printer and hopefully ready in just a few more weeks in both print and digital formats. I hope to upload chapter one for you to check out very soon.

4. Camp Packing. After my gung-ho start a few weeks back (and by gung-ho I mean pulling bins & duffle bags out of the attic and leaving them in the bedroom where they sat collecting more dust), I calmly realized majorly freaked, that the kids were leaving in just a few days with nothing really packed. So, I enlisted my two older kids to sort through their clothes and other necessities. They brought everything to my room (translation: they threw their things haphazardly all over my floor). I now have piles of stuff to sort through, label, and pack this weekend. Aren’t you jealous? Which leads right into number five:

5. Kids. I write about the packing and being exhausted and feeling like my children’s personal assistant, driver, butler, chef, and maid. And – well – while all that is true, I did sincerely love having them home all week with me. In between all of their various social engagements, we spent some quality time hanging out, playing games, shopping, eating out, talking and laughing. I think they may have even enjoyed hanging out with me as well… don’t worry kids – I won’t tell anyone!

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

Karen

>Hey everyone – this week flew by (at least for me!) Here’s what’s been going on in my little world…

1. Fever! It’s never easy having a child who is sick. But, when you have a kid who has already fought off a bout of meningitis, “Mommy, my neck hurts,” coupled with a fever takes on a whole new meaning! So I did what any crazy mother would do, I called the doctor’s office and demanded he be seen ASAP. Of course once I told my four year old our destination, he insisted he was cured. He stuck with this story during his entire examination. But, since he still had a decent fever, the doctor gave us the run down on the list of things to watch for. He stayed status quo for the day, until he woke up at 2:30 in the morning with 105 fever. Oh yeah – that doctor got woken up in the middle of the night. I love when doctors tell you to call back if the fever goes above 105 or he starts seizing – I mean – really?? Day three – still feverish, although thankfully, not as high with no further complaints of neck pain.  Poor little guy!

2. Construction. I was going to list the roof and the roadwork separately, but honestly, they were both equally driving me batty with noise this week. The new roof on our house was supposed to be a one-day job. It turned into a five-day, very loud job. At least no one fell off any ladders, although I do have some garden casualties from their tarps and debris. The water company, as I posted last week, is putting new water lines in our street. We have the lucky property with the fire hydrant, so we get extra noise – every morning at exactly 7am. At least it is all done now, I think. Even my 4 year old is over it – seen one bulldozer, seen them all.

3. Book News. A little delay here, a little delay there… But, it’s all good, because things are still moving along with NATE ROCKS THE WORLD. I’m expecting to get look at the cover later today. I’m crazy excited and will of course give everyone a sneak peek! The rest of the interior design is expected to be ready later in the week – cannot wait – then it is off to the printer for a final proof! I have also been busy figuring out e-formatting for all the kindle/nook/sony/apple users out there. I have to admit, I’ve never used one of these devices. I still like the old fashioned way of holding a physical book in my hands, but I may acquiesce soon. In addition, I’ve been busy lining up interviews and book reviews. If you would like to feature NATE ROCKS THE WORLD on your own blog later this summer, please let me know.

4. Last Week of School. Finally, the last week for my two older kids!! I think I’m just as excited as they are, although I am still in denial that my oldest will be only one year away from high school! In reality, they ended last week, but I guess since we had quite a few snow days, there are hours to make up. This last week actually is more like transition into summer – they have field trips, color war, assemblies, and the dreaded cleaning of the lockers. I think both kids really had great school years, with a lot of discovery, learning, new friends, and growth (especially my 6’3” 13 year old!) Thanks to the teachers and staff for another successful year!

5. Dance Recital. I will no doubt, talk about this next week, as the actual recital is on Saturday. However, the week before the recital is definitely post worthy since it is, as my parents would say – meshuga. My daughter is in eight dances spread over two back-to-back shows. That means, there are many costumes that need to be organized with appropriate accessories: hair decorations, shoes, tights, makeup and other assorted items, including the black and white wristbands my daughter just informed me YESTERDAY that she needs for TOMORROW. I also have yet to sew the straps on one of the costumes. Big giant YUK. Then there are all the hairstyle/makeup changes I have to remember and get right. And the schedule – – trying to figure out what dance is when and how many dances we have in between her dances to change everything out. In case you couldn’t tell, “meshuga” means crazy & then some. But it’s all worth it!!

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

Karen

>I just dropped my youngest off to his last day of preschool…

Last day of racing down the hallway in the morning, eager to see all his friends.
Last day of having a class size under nine.
Last day with Vicky & Rhea – two of my all time favorite teachers.
Last day of playing in the playscape.
Last day of circle time.
Last day of sign in, job lists and calendar.
Last day of Reading for Pennies.
Last day of KI puppets.
Last day of afternoon enrichment with language, art & Jungle Annie.
Last day of running down the hallway to get a Hershey Kiss from the school director’s office.

Last day as a preschooler.

First day of his future filled with endless possibilities….

>Road Trip!!

June 6, 2011

>This past weekend, my husband and I along with the three kids loaded into the minivan and headed to Connecticut to spend the weekend with my parents. We packed light – two mega-sized stuffed to capacity duffle bags, with a couple of other assorted bags. I don’t care what anybody says –we did need it all!!

We left Friday night at 5:00pm. Have you ever been on the New Jersey Turnpike during rush hour with construction going on? It is not pretty. My husband’s thinking was that it was a beautiful Friday – most people would be leaving work early to go down the shore (no that’s not poor grammar, that’s Philly/NJ lingo. Personally, I prefer ‘go to the beach’, but whatever.)

Miraculously, my husband was right.

Let me clarify – it was not a miracle that my husband was right – it was a miracle that we did not hit any traffic – not even on the dreaded George Washington Bridge! We stopped for a quick dinner and still managed to get to my parent’s house in record time.

We did hit a tiny snafu when we entered my parent’s development. It is a gated community and in order to enter, the homeowner has to ‘buzz’ you in after you call them to announce you have arrived. Well, for some reason my parents had turned off their house phone… and were not answering their cell phones. For a tiny moment, I thought they were trying to tell us something, but after the sixth or so attempt of stalking, I mean calling, they finally opened the gate and let us in. (Yes we were invited ahead of time!!)

With the exception of some tummy troubles for my four-year old, we had a great weekend – the weather was perfect, the pool was fun, and as usual, Pictionary became a little crazy. Even my two oldest children got along, despite having to share a bedroom. I suggested to them on Sunday morning that perhaps we should adopt these sleeping arrangements at our house, since it seemed to be the answer to their constant bickering. The look of horror on their faces was priceless!

A highlight of the weekend was going to visit my 96-year-old Grandmother. She mixed up all of our names, asked us the same questions repeatedly and most likely has already forgotten we were there. But, none of that matters – seeing her face light up when we entered the room was the best!

All in all, a fun time… thank you Mom & Dad – hope we didn’t tire you out & leave too much of a mess!

>

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”