Category Archives: On the road again

Homecoming

Ace is home.

For the past eleven days, Ace has been on a trip with his grandma. Grandma likes to travel, and she decided that once Ace turned 13, he was old enough for an adventure just with her.

They flew to Colorado (thankfully avoiding all areas of wildfire) and stayed with my aunt near Estes Park and my cousin in Loveland. My cousin has triplets who are all Ace’s age, so it was basically a week of things 13-year-olds love. Ace did not want to leave.

Scenes from Ace's vacation with Grandma. He is never going to want to come home.

Then they flew to Oklahoma to visit my sister where Ace watched MMA fights, went to a cowboy museum and Pop’s Soda Shop. He also got to wear his uncle’s flight mask. Apparently, he wore it around the house for 4 hours because you never know when the living room might lose cabin pressure. Ace did not want to take off the mask, nor did he want to leave.

Ace chillaxing in his uncle's flight mask. Because you never know when you might lose cabin pressure in the living room

The trip was a wonderful, memory building thing for my mom to do with him. I know he’ll never forget it.

They're back from their Grand Adventure

I missed him greatly while he was gone, but it was an important break for me.

For eleven days, I didn’t have to worry about him.

The past few years have often felt like a long, fearful slog through situations I never imagined and have often felt I can barely handle. I spent almost every school day of the past two years sending Ace off to school with knots in my stomach. Would he be okay today? (Usually, no.) Would he get hurt? (Often, yes.) I would jump when the phone rang during school hours. If I saw the school number on the call screen, my heart would immediately start to race. It wasn’t going to be good. It never was good.

This has all improved since we switched his school, but the vestiges are still there. And Ace still careens through life – crashing off of everything, leaving shattered pieces in piles on the floor and bruises across his body. I often feel like a triage nurse – assessing injuries, winding bandages, stabilizing situations.

He’s been away before. Two years ago, he went to sleep-away camp for one week and had a wonderful time. I worried for the entire week because it was the longest he had been away from home in someone else’s care and camp seemed like a potentially volatile social situation for an impulsive, emotional kid. It turns out I didn’t need to worry that year. Ace did great and loved camp so much that, last summer, we sent him to the same camp for two weeks. I didn’t start worrying until I started getting calls from the camp after less than a week. I ended up having to pick Ace up early because his counselors took a dislike to him. They told the entire cabin that he had ADHD and was on medication, so Ace got harassed by the other kids. The counselors didn’t intervene to help Ace. In fact, they told him to his face how much they wished he wasn’t there. Several nights the counselors banished Ace to the porch outside the cabin where he had to sit by himself in the dark. I am still instantly filled with rage when I think about it, and if I ever run into those counselors on the street, they are going to want to run far and fast. It was hardly a worry-free time.

This trip was different though. Ace was with his grandmother. She knows, loves, and understands him. He was with our family, who know, love, and understand him. I knew he would be okay. My mom would take care of him, so I didn’t have to worry.

Grandma kisses

And I didn’t. I didn’t worry at all. I only spoke on the phone with him a few times. We exchanged a few sporadic texts. But mostly, he went on his adventure, and I let him – without any worry.

It was a tremendous gift – both for him and for me. It’s hard to measure the weight of something you carry until you set it down. Constant vigilance is heavy. I didn’t realize how heavy until I was able to set it down for awhile.

Ace came home today. I missed him terribly. While it was a relief not to worry for a short time, part of my heart was in Colorado and Oklahoma, probably in the pocket of those brightly colored, skinny jeans he likes to wear.

I’m glad to have my heart back. And my boy.

He’s worth the worry. He is mine to care for, to guide and to worry about. Always.

Hanging with the big bulls (elk, that is): Colorado adventures continued

We told the kids we would see lots of elk in Estes Park.

And then we didn’t.

We went to the elk viewing areas. (Yes, there are such places. They are even marked with signs.) But the elk were not there.  Perhaps they don’t like being labeled.

We didn’t see any around town, even though my aunt said she had seen one at the McDonald’s drive-thru the other day.  My mom didn’t find any by the lake where the locals told us the elk like to hang out.  We didn’t even find any in the Rocky Mountain National Park.

One afternoon, IT Guy came into the house after going for a walk to say, “There is an elk right down the road.” The kids and I grabbed our coats and set out.  Rounding a bend, we saw a flicker of brown fur in the trees and then antlers.  Ace peered at it.  ”That’s a deer, Dad. Not an elk.”  Ace was right.  (Ace is almost always right about wildlife.)  It turned out to be a false elk alarm.

We looked and looked and looked and couldn’t find any elk, anywhere, but, lucky for us, elk make house calls.

On Thursday afternoon, a whole herd turned up in the field next to our rental house.  Ace belly crawled out into the field like a wildlife photographer to get a picture of our visitors.

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Unfortunately, Ace is kind of the opposite of stealthy and our visitors weren’t really sure what to make of him, so they skedaddled over the fence after a few minutes.

That was our only elk sighting until the last day of our trip.

Saturday night, our last night in Estes, found us wandering around the downtown shops.  We’d pretty much given up seeing any more elk at that point, but we were wrong.  Apparently, we weren’t the only ones with shopping to do.  An entire herd of elk came wandering down the main street, blocking cars and clogging intersections.

We stayed well back from the side of the road, at what we thought would be a safe distance, to watch them pass.

About half the herd passed by down the road and then, suddenly, the group decided to change course.  They turned off the road and were heading onto the sidewalk right where we were all standing.

I told the kids to stand perfectly still without making any noise. Elk aren’t aggressive, but, personally, I’m not interested in spooking any animal that much bigger than me.

The kids obediently froze, and the elk paid them no mind and walked calmly by.

Then the bull elk came into view. He was walking right towards Ace.

The bull turned the corner and kept walking, completely unconcerned by all the people milling around on the sidewalk.

Then he walked right up a set of stairs less than 2 feet from IT Guy and began to graze on the grass at the top.

IT Guy says, “Yeah, I hang out with the big bulls.”

After a few minutes of watching the herd graze, we got hungry and set off in search of our own dinner.  We found another part of the herd over by the library.  Perhaps they needed something new to read?

Also by the library were a bunch of idiots.  Two parents were posing their small children in front of the elk for a photo.  At first, they had the children lined up about 8 feet away and the elk ignored them, but then the parents decided their kids needed to be closer, so they backed their kids up towards the elk — 6 feet, 4 feet.  These were little kids and their parents were waving at them to continue backing up into a herd of very large wild animals.  When the kids were about 2 feet away, one of the female elk took exception to their closeness and snorted and pawed the ground.  The parents still gestured for their kids to back up more!  And the kids did!  This time the female elk darted forward at the kids, snorting and pounding her hooves in warning.  The family jumped and scurried off down the sidewalk.  They scurried by a couple walking towards the elk.  The man in the couple said, “Oooooohhh. So scary.  It’s just a bunch of deer.”  Then he walked up to the female elk, throwing his arms out towards her.

The next thing that happened made my day.  Don’t you just love it when people get what’s coming to them?

That female elk, already agitated, ran at the Mr. Big Man and chased him and the woman with him right down the sidewalk.

It was awesome.  Seriously, dude, didn’t your mother ever tell you not to mess with Mother Nature?

** Coming up next  - a post about the the actual wedding at The Stanley Hotel (yes, the Shining hotel) in which I learn to do a french bustle and a British guy tells me I look “country casual.” Stay tuned.**

Sky Pond, Part 2

The entire Sky Pond, Part 1 was  back story, so I could tell you this.

We went to Colorado last week for my sister’s wedding, and we did not get to go to Sky Pond.

We wanted to go.  The kids are both old enough now to hike it themselves.  We planned to go.  We scheduled our flight for Tuesday, so we could have Wednesday to hike before the wedding events started on Thursday.  I made sure both Ace and Tink had hiking boots.  I bought new insoles for my sadly, under used hiking boots.  We were taking the kids to Sky Pond!

Except we forgot one small detail . . . well, two small details actually.

First, the end of October in Colorado is a bit different than the end of October in Maryland.  Here at home the weather is in the high 60s/low 70s.   Winter is on the way, but it’s taking its time.  We still have some days left of wearing t-shirts and no jackets.  In Colorado, up in the mountains, though, winter was already shaking its snowy head.

We landed in Denver, and it was 39 degrees.  As we drove up highway 36 and the night fell, I kept one eye on the temperature gauge measuring the temperature outside the car.  39 degrees.  10 minutes later, it was 32 degrees.  We continued our ascent up the highway towards Estes Park.  28 degrees.  We had to pull over as the sun set to let Tink pee by the side of the road, and, as she and IT Guy clambered back into the car, snow flakes started to drift out of the darkening sky.  10 minutes later and the temperature had dropped to 22 degrees, and the snow was covering the highway.  I spent the last 30 minutes of our trip creeping the rental car along the dark, snow covered, mountain highway thinking, “There is no way we can climb to Sky Pond in the snow.”  People do it.  My aunt has done it – with proper winter gear and snow shoes.  We didn’t have the proper gear and snows shoes, so our trip to Sky Pond ended before we even made it into Estes.

We decided we would still hike though.  My aunt knows all the trails in the area, and she suggested a 3 hour hike around Gem Lake.  It was a lower elevation and an easier trail than Sky Pond — perfect for the kids in the snowy weather.

That’s when that second detail we’d forgotten showed up. Altitude sickness. Estes Park is around 7500 feet above sea level.  That’s high enough to make you sick from lack of oxygen.

We all slept horribly that night.  The wind was howling and shaking the windows in our bedroom.  We had a huge room.  IT Guy and I had a king size bed.  Tink was sleeping on a full size futon on the floor, and Ace had the pull-out couch. (As much as I enjoy my own bedroom and have never wanted to co-sleep with my children, I do have to admit that it was kind of nice to have us all bedded down together in one room for a few days.  I have no plans to make this a permanent arrangement though.)  At 4am, my entire family, still on East Cost time, was Wide Awake.  And everyone but Ace felt crappy.  After the sun finally made an appearance, we dressed and had breakfast.  IT Guy went right back to bed complaining of a stabbing headache and nausea.  It became rapidly apparent that he wasn’t going to be hiking.  He could barely stay upright.  I had a terrible headache, as well, but I figured I could push through it.  I mean, altitude sickness?  How bad could it be?  IT Guy and I had been coming to Colorado for years and we’d never gotten altitude sickness at all.

How bad can it be?  Bad.  I learned that just because you’ve never had altitude sickness before doesn’t mean you won’t get it the next time.  Poor IT guy spent most of the morning in bed.  He  rallied eventually and we decided to go into town and just walk around.  We had been in the first store for approximately 3 minutes when Tink turned white and sat down.  ”Mommy.  I don’t feel so good.  My tummy hurts, but I don’t want to go back to the house.”  We tried walking around for about 30 more seconds, but Tink kept clutching her stomach.  She and IT Guy headed back to the house to lay in bed, watch cartoons and, hopefully, not throw up.  I only lasted 20 more minutes.  My head started to swim.  I couldn’t catch my breath, and my head throbbed with every step.  Lack of oxygen can really mess with you.  I ended up in bed sleeping for most of the day.  By afternoon, Tink had fully recovered and, by the next morning, IT Guy was fine.  My headache lasted until Friday, but on Thursday morning, I was done with laying around. Altitude sickness or no altitude sickness,  I was in Colorado, and there was no way I was leaving without at least one hike.

On Thursday morning, we called my aunt and drove up into the Rocky Mountain National Park for two short hikes around Bear and Sprague Lakes.  Actually the trails were so short and flat, they were really more walks than hikes,  but it was better than nothing.

It was a lot better than nothing actually.

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Once we got up there, 2,000 feet higher than Estes, my headache disappeared and I could finally get my lungs full of air.  It doesn’t make any sense.  I should have been worse at the higher altitude, but I wasn’t.  There is some kind of magic in that mountain air. . .

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It always relaxes Ace.  Being out in the woods seems to burn off all that buzzing in his brain and he is calm and happy.

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Both my kids are rarely happier than when they are out in the woods hiking along.

I am rarely happier than when I’m out in the woods hiking along.

We didn’t make it to Sky Pond this trip, so I guess we’re just going to have to go back to Colorado again soon.

Darn.

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Sky Pond: Part 1

The first time we climbed to Sky Pond was 1992.  I had just turned 21.  My parents gave me two airplane tickets, so IT Guy and I could fly to Colorado to visit my aunt who lives right outside of Estes Park and the Rocky Mountain National Park.

IT Guy and I spent the entire week hiking through the mountains, scrambling up waterfalls, and climbing over boulders.  Every day was a new trail, a new hike, a new adventure, and they were all wonderful.

Sky Pond, Colorado 1992

But one hike stood out above the rest . . . Sky Pond.

Sky Pond is approximately 10,800 feet above sea level.  The hike is 9 miles round trip with an elevation gain of approximately 1,600 feet.  It’s above the tree-line, a sparkling mirror set into rock beneath Taylor Glacier, the Sharkstooth, Taylor Peak, Powell Peak and the Gash. (I don’t have any pictures that really do it justice, so here are some links to other people’s picture of Sky Pond: here, here, and here.)

To stand at Sky Pond – rocky, bare and windswept – is to sit in the lap of the sky itself.  There is nothing above you but empty blue sky and the jagged peaks of moutains soaring like cathedral spires.  At Sky Pond, you hear the everything of nothing.  No cars. No hum of electricity.  No engines.  Often no voices.  There is nothing but the rippling conversation of the wind and the pond.

We climbed half a day to reach Sky Pond – 4.5 miles one way from the trailhead.  We skirted the Loch and the Lake of Glass.  We passed pica popping from crevices in the boulders like whack-a-moles.  We climbed hand over hand up the vertical face of Timberline Falls.

We climbed until we left the trees behind.  We climbed until we found the cold, icy pond sparkling at the top of the world.  We sat on sun-warmed rock and ate our lunch of apples and cheese in the kind of silence usually reserved for church.

We felt true reverence there.

That day Sky Pond became a special, almost sacred, place for us both.

3 years later and newly married, we returned to Colorado for my cousin’s wedding.  We hiked to Sky Pond again and found our reverence was still there, right where we had left it.

Sky Pond, Colorado 1995

We didn’t get back to Colorado for 6 years.  We returned in 2001.  This time we brought two-year-old Ace with us and a backpack.  We wanted to climb Sky Pond again and we wanted to take our son.  Ace loved the backpack and he rode happily along on my back for all the hours of our ascent.  I climbed and I climbed.

Climbing to Sky Pond with Ace on my back

When we reached Timberline Falls, I just kept climbing — Ace on my back and IT Guy right behind me.  I carried my son on my back all the way up the mountain to Sky Pond.  When we got there and I lifted my son out of the backpack, he filled the space under the peaks of Taylor Glacier and the Sharkstooth with happy squeals.  He toddled across the rocks and talked to the marmets, his happy voice echoing off Powell Peak.  It was reverent in a different, louder way this time.

Ace at Sky Pond 2001

When it was time to go, IT Guy put on the backpack and carried his son down the mountain.  When we were about 30 minutes from the trailhead, a fast-moving storm broke over us.  In those mountains, the summer storms roll in quickly and with unexpected fury.  Suddenly, the switchbacks turned to muddy rivers of cold, rushing rain.  Then the rain turned to hail.  We were pelted by balls of solid ice as we scrambled for cover.  IT Guy pulled on a giant rain poncho, big enough to cover both him and Ace in the backpack.  The back of the poncho stretched from IT Guy’s shoulders to the back of the frame pack, creating a dry, warm tent over Ace’s head.  The hail bounced harmlessly off.  Our little group huddled under a pine tree, lettting the branches shield us from the worst of the August hail.  One tree over to the left, a female elk stood, also waiting out the storm under the branches.  She was no more than 10 feet away, but she just regarded us placidly.  In that moment, we were all the same, all just waiting for a break in the storm.  Worried about Ace, I peeked under the poncho to find him fast asleep, warm and safe with his cheek resting on his father’s shoulder, under a poncho, under a pine tree, next to an Elk, during a hail storm in the Rocky Mountains.

I keep this picture of IT Guy, Ace and myself framed on my dresser as a reminder of the time I carried by son up a mountain on my back, as a reminder of where I am capable of carrying my family, as a reminder that anything is possible.

Family at Sky Pond 2001

Tomorrow: Sky Pond, Part 2

2:51 a.m.

It is 2:51am. BlogHer officially begins at 8am and it looks like I will be sleepless ….again.

Last year I attended BlogHer for the first time. The conference was held in Chicago. I booked a flight on Thursday – the day before the conference started, but my flight got delayed on the tarmac for hours and hours. They held us on the plane. They let us off the plane. They loaded us back on the plane and we sat some more. Finally we took off. I made it to Chicago very late, so late the hotel had given my room away. I squeezed into GenieAlisa’s room and her bed and managed to get a whopping 2 hours of sleep. It was not a good way to start and much of the conference was a sleep- deprived blur.

This year I planned to be rested and fresh for Blogher. I am staying with GenieAlisa in her cousin’s lovely apartment, a short walk from the conference site. I brought an air mattress – lugging it on the train. I even packed my own sheets and pillow. I arrived in New York with plenty of time to enjoy the day and still get a goodnight’s sleep for tomorrow.

I stretched out to sleep at a reasonable hour, but around 1am I felt my butt sink to the floor. My air mattress had sprung a leak and deflated. I had nowhere to go but the couch and that is where I am now – wrapped in the sheet I brought with the useless, leaky air mattress and completely unable to sleep.

The clock reads 3:09am and now 3:10, 3:11.

The clock tells me the time and the truth. I am a terrible traveler. I sleep poorly in any bed besides my own. Some places, like BlogHer apparently, I don’t sleep at all. I want to be an independent, confident, world traveler. Instead I lay on the couch in an unfamiliar room and watch the clock tick off the minutes, 3:14, 3:19, 3:21.

I am embarassed by my high- strung, high-maintenance needs. I want to require nothing more a backpack and a pillow for my head. I want to flow easily from adventure to adventure. I want to be flexible.

I want to sleep.

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But it’s not happening tonight (really this morning.) It’s another sleepless BlogHer for me.

Riding the chocolate train to BlogHer 10

I wasn’t going to go to BlogHer this year because we really don’t have the money to spare.  My sister is getting married in October and it’s a destination wedding.  I have to fly my whole family out there and the airfare alone is over a thousand dollars.  Then there is a rental car and food and the clothes for the wedding. . . . it’s a good  chunk of change.  I didn’t see how I could go to BlogHer when I have these wedding expenses looming, so when tickets for BlogHer went on sale, I didn’t buy one.  I let the deadline for the discount tickets pass and I explained to myself over and over why I couldn’t go.  Then the conference sold out and I cried.

I decided to put my name on the wait list.  If I got in, maybe I am meant to go or something, I thought.

And I got in. And I cried.  We still couldn’t afford for me to go.  We could probably swing the ticket, but then I needed to pay for a hotel room and transportation up there.

“For God’s Sake, just GO,” said IT Guy. “I want you to go. We’ll figure it out.”

(This is one of the reasons I love him.  He pushes me past my anxiety ridden indecision.)

I bought my ticket and then things started to just fall into place.  GenieAlisa offered to let me stay with her at her cousin’s house in NYC, just a mile from the conference, for free!    I know!

And then I got a sponsored seat on a chocolate train . . . well, technically it is a S’mores Train, but doesn’t chocolate train sound better?

Hershey is sponsoring a round trip train ride to BlogHer for a group of area bloggers and somehow I scored a seat.  For Free.  On a Train – unfortunately not made of chocolate. But still, it’s awesome.

When I ran to tell IT Guy “I have a free ride on a chocolate train!” he was also very excited.

“I have the perfect theme song for your trip,” he said.  ”Listen to this and change the word ‘rain’ for ‘train.’”

Then he played me the worst song ever written or performed.  Despite the fact that this song has had 54, 500,000 hits on youtube, I had managed to be blissfully ignorant of its existence.  Blissfully ignorant. Until now.  (Watch this at your own peril.  You’ve been warned.)

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I stared at IT Guy.  ”What is that? Why is he singing like that?  Why are people watching this? Oh my god, I just don’t understand!”

He started giggling evilly.  ”Now every time you talk about taking that train to BlogHer this song is going to pop into your head.  You’re going to start singing ‘Chocolate Train.’ Muahahaha.”

I had no idea he was sadistic.

And damned if he wasn’t right.

“Chocolate train. . . ”

I might have to murder him in his sleep.

Despite the unfortunate theme song now on endless loop in my head, I am very excited to take the train to BlogHer with a bunch of other local bloggers.  I haven’t been on a long train ride since I was 7, so it will be an adventure.   Hershey also sent chocolate to my house, along with marshmallows, graham crackers and these long, telescoping metal forks perfect for toasting marshmallows (or poking your evil, earworm inducing husband in the forehead – although I’m pretty sure that particular use is not condoned by Hershey.)  I might try making s’mores with the kids using the grill tonight. Hopefully, I can manage that without setting anything on fire.

“Chocolate train. . . ” ARGH!

***Hersheys is also sponsoring The S’mores “Snacktivty” Suite at BlogHer which can be found in #4233 and they will be giving out great S’mores branded bags, while supplies last.

**”As part of the S’mores Road Trip to BlogHer I received a round trip ticket on Amtrak to the convention and Hershey branded items. Any views expressed in this post are my own. And Hershey has nothing to do with “Chocolate Rain” or train. That’s all IT Guy’s fault. Blame  him.

I won’t be water-skiing in a tutu, but I’m still excited

When I was 11, I spent a lot of time in the basement with my sister and our friends pretending to be The Go-Go’s.  My sister was always Gina, the cute drummer.  Our friends were Jane, Charlotte, or Belinda.  Somehow I always ended up being Kathy the bassist.  No one wanted to be Kathy the bassist.  I didn’t mind the instrument.  I actually prefer rhythm to melody, but Kathy wasn’t the cute one or the fun one.  She was the one nobody could remember.  I was Kathy.

Despite my Kathyness, air-guitar Go-Go’s was fun.  We generally “played” songs from Beauty and the Beat. I think that album might be one  of the first albums I owned, if not the first.  (Tina the Ballerina doesn’t count.)  I did some mean air-guitar or, um, bass, on a yardstick.

The Go-Go’s follow up album, Vacation, wasn’t as exciting.  It didn’t get much play in the basement and evenutally I hung up my yardstick.  But the title song still stuck. It has been playing in my head today on permanent loop almost 30 years after my air-guitar Go-Go’s stardom.

I’m not sure I will be water-skiiing in a tutu and crown, but regardless, I’m packing and I’m excited.

It is time to get away.

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Ok, well, in the 30 seconds between me embedding the video of Vacation and pushing the Publish button, embedding was disabled on the video. Sooooo you have to go to youtube to watch The Go-Go’s fake waterski against a green screen.  Sorry.

**UPDATE**

My mother has a picture of the air guitar action!  Look at my hair.  (Why do I have Shaun Cassidy’s hair?) Now you know why I’m Kathy.  Belinda would never be caught with that hair. Apparently, my sister switched off drums to play the ironing board on occasion. I can’t remember which Go-Go played the ironing board.

Camp Stryker – I miss it already

Really good friends have no problem being the reward you dangle in front of your son to keep his behavior in line during the last month of school. Really good friends offer up their house to you as family camp. Really good friends open their home to your entire family even when they have a baby in the house.

I am incredibly fortunate to have Really Good Friends like this in Rich and Genie.  Back in May, we planned our trip to visit them, and this weekend, we went.

My kids were wildly excited.  Ace hero worships Rich with an unwavering devotion.  Ace looooooooooooooovvvvvvvvveeeeeeeeeeessssss Rich.

Tink loves him, too.  And she loves Genie.  And she really, really loves their baby, Ian.

I was only slightly less excited than my kids because I also adore all those Strykers.

Here’s a recap of our weekend adventure at Camp Stryker.

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There are many activities available at Camp Stryker.

First (and for Ace, foremost), you can mow the lawn on their brand new, super speedy, riding lawn mower.

You can swim in the backyard pool.

You can play with the impossibly cute resident baby.

(Baby Ian is so cute he made my uterus ache despite the fact that this uterus is Closed for Business.  It is so closed there are boards nailed across the door and plywood covering the windows, but still Ian made it ache.)

Transportation is provided free of charge for all children at Camp Stryker.

You can play with swords,

watch pirate battles at sea,

and learn to say, “ARGH!”

Wait. That’s not really an “ARGH!”  That’s more of a “hehehe.”

Here’s a better ARGH (even if the pirate is missing her front tooth.)

BABY!

You really just can’t get enough of this baby.

Fancy clothes are not required at Camp Stryker.

You can go out for ice cream, even while wearing toe socks and flip flops.

Camp Stryker is not particular about hair styles either .  . . obviously  . . .

Camp Stryker is educational! You will take field trips into History!

You can pet colonial horses,

learn to decorate your foyer with weaponry,

fire a dangerous colonial stick,

and learn some table manners.

You just have to make sure the baby doesn’t get too hungry.

Camp Stryker.  It’s just good, old fashioned fun.

I can’t wait to go back.

**Thank you, Rich and Genie, for your hospitality.  We’ll space out our visits to give you ample time to recover. So see you in 2012?**

Maine. Home. Maine.

We’re home.  Unpacking. Grocery shopping. Laundry. Mail. Email. Cleaning.  Wanting to go back to Maine.

I could stay there.  I can see Ben and I there years from now.  I did see us, actually, loading our Suburu in Elllsworth. My long white hair was braided.  My face was tanned and lined and soft looking.  I wore hiking boots and khaki shorts.  Ben was loading wine and groceries into the trunk.  His hair was white now, too.  He had a ponytail and a white beard.  His baseball hat was pulled down low and he wore a t-shirt, jeans and sandals.  We were on our way back to our lake house.  I write there.  Ben makes found art.  We kayak and read books and maybe I’ve finally learned how to garden, so we have flowers.  The kids are grown now and they come visit.  Happy. Someday.

On the plane ride home,  I was already planning our next trip.  We’ll work hard here, so we can get there.

Someday.

(More pictures are on Flickr. Click through on the sidebar or here.)

Report from Maine

I am sitting in the Maine Grind coffee shop.  My children are eating cupcakes.  IT Guy are plugged in and on-line for the first time since Friday.

The computer keys feel a bit foreign under my fingers.

Instead of typing away at a keyboard, my hands have been busy paddling a kayak on the lake, learning to put hair wraps into Tink’s hair (which promptly fall out), delivering bites of Priscilla’s Homemade Pies to my lips along with lobster rolls and lobster chowder and popovers with butter and strawberry jam.  (My mouth has been very busy and my pants are getting very tight.)

Today the kids went tubing on Beech Hill Pond (which is MUCH bigger than any pond I’ve known). I stood on the dock and fretted as they bounced across the wake.  Tink was scared, but still determined to try.  She would waggle her legs at her daddy if the boat was going to fast and she wanted to stop.  Eventually, she stopped waggling at all and I could hear her clear, bell-like voice from the dock, “FASTER!”

Ace took a turn and I was even more worried.  Yesterday he almost drowned his sister and capsized the kayak I was paddling in his attempt to avoid touching lilly pads with his legs . . . . in water that he could stand in.  I wasn’t sure how he was going to handle being in the middle of a lake (because the pond is really a lake.)  I watched him get on the tube and the boat slowly motor away until the tow line was taut.  Then the boat picked up speed and yanked him forward.  IT Guy said afterwards that Ace’s face went from serious concern to wide-open joy in that moment and I heard his full-throated yowl of delight echo off the shoreline.  They pulled him fast and far.  When his time was done, IT Guy pulled him back to the boat.  Ace, still hanging off the tube in the water and grinning wildy said “Dad!  I need to use a bad word, OK? I really need to use it!”  Before IT Guy could say anything in reply, Ace burst out with “THAT WAS FUCKING AWESOME!!!”

And while I don’t approve of his choice of words, I also understand that sometimes only certain words will do . . .

It was fucking awesome, Ace, as are you.

And so the adventure continues. . . .