Sunday, September 29, 2013

A Wonderful Weekend in Review!

Fiona arrived Friday evening for her overnight visit.  It was fun.  I had made some of her favorite foods for Friday ngihts supper and we all settled around the table to reconnect.  Family meals are important to me, especially treasured this year as there are two nights weekly when our dance obligations negate actual family meals. I don't count take out pizza gobbled out of desparation a true meal! LOL  At any rate, she settled in and it was a great evening. The kids watched a movie together, she and I chatted in the kitchen while I did housework. It was just easy and free flowing.  For the first time in a long time, she slept through the night with no obvious nightmare or disorientation. I am not sure if that is a result of being here more, the change in her meds or a fusion of the two. If it makes my daughter have a more peaceful night I don't really care what it is from!

The next morning I managed to get every one up and us out the door for shopping by 7:15. This is pretty miraculous as Fiona is most definately not a morning person.  I had primed her the night before that we have to shop early in the a.m. and she was gracious about it. She fell into a good routine in the store as well; it helps that the other kids really know their shopping duties and she was able to follow their lead.  Then it was to the donut shop for the post shopping treat, and then home to unload and grab library books and bank books.

All my kids except Fiona have passbook savings accounts. It is horridly old school but it is visual enough that even the youngest get the concept of putting money in so that it is available for when they need it.  Saturday afternoon we were going to our city's fall festival. They would want to buy things--tickets to bouncehouses, food, raffle tickets, whatever.  They each took out $25.00 from their accounts and I took $25 from mine for Fi.  All money went into small envelopes with their names on it and we talked about how this was their money for the whole event.  There was no Bank of Lee.  I would not and could not loan money. They could buy what they wished but it was up to them to decide how to best use the money they had.

So after banking, dance classes and going to the library we came home for a quick lunch and then walked downtown to the festival. It was bigger than usual this year with this being the 20th anniversary of this celebration.  It has grown from a small event that used one street to a large multicultural event that encompasses the entire downtown and beyond. Many times I privately bemoan how large our city has become. But at that festival, for that small moment in time, it doesn't feel large.  I see person after person that I know and we catch up or exclaim over where life's journeys are taking us.  I love the melange of foods. From the chili battle between the fire dept and the police department, to the thai, laotian, spanish and brazilian offerings, there is something for everyone.

There are free crafts for kids and a few free games, but there are things to raise money for city sports programs and those cost money. There are a few free food offerings, but mostly they are fundraisers for the agencies that work with and for these populations in our community.  There are vendors as well. Many are small local businesses with amazing crafts to choose from.

After looking at everything, Fiona decided on a pretty butterfly ring. It took the lions share of her cash but left her enough for a few small snacks during the rest of the day.  KC came home with cash but spent money on some art and bounce house events , a cheap inflatable toy that will likely break in a day, and some food venues.  Rob and Chet spent most of theirs on raffles and food.  Lissa spent money on lots of food things, lots of bounce house stuff and a dunk tank experience.  She tried valiently to dunk a local police officer with no luck!  She also made sure that at the outset she had reserved enough money for cotton candy. She is obcessed with cotton candy--absolutely adores the stuff.  It is not a festival for her if she doesn't get it.

By the time we walked back home it was supper time and I cooked for the tribe--privately marvelling that they could squeeze anything in!  Then staff arrived to bring Fiona back to school and the littles settled into beds.

Today was church.  I look forward to spending time in my faith community each week.  I need the time spent there in a bit of quiet contemplation--quiet doesn't happen often in my life.  I need the music that lifts me up and beyond myself. I need the friendship and support that i find within the friendships that have grown up over the years there.  I love watching the kids singing the prelude hymns.  The two littles have been going to this church since they were days old and it shows in their level of contentment and security there.  After church, we went to an adoption gathering at a local farm.  There are play spaces and cool animals to pet and/or help with. There are ponies to ride. The weather cooperated and it was the kind of beautiful day that typlifies an early fall New England day.  Such a gift from the goddess.  And also a gift to re-connect with the two women who helped negotiate our homestudy and the dreaded Interstate Compact (which is an experience not for the faint of heart) when we went to IL for KC and Lissa.

Now Rob is off at youth group, where they are finalizing plans for their October mission trip to Maine.  They travel to Orland Maine and work there for all of Columbus weekend.  He gets a lot from these trips and gives freely of himself, both in labor and in building friendships with the people who are served there.

These are the days that are the reason that I do the daily grind of work. The time spent with my family is my most treasured time.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Somehow, we are family

Back in 2010 and 2011 we dreamed of expanding our family.  We met Fiona and Rob, their sister Krystal and we thought that we were destined to be a forever family.  Things are often more complicated than how we think they will be.  Krystal was adopted by a family member and then moved down south to live with another relative.Fiona's significant emotional and mental health conditions meant she ultimately could not live in our home.  We were blessed that Rob thrived, and I am grateful every day for him.

But what I am ruminating on tonight is the concept of not giving up.  Things didn't come out the way we expected.  But our family did expand.  KC came to us, and then Lissa, and through it all, we kept being there with and for Fiona.  And though the web of family was not woven as I had envisioned, it was woven.  It is just as strong for having been made differently.

She did not run through our house much as a child.  She didn't spend as many holidays here as I dreamed of.  But she did and does, know that we love her. She spends more time now with us at home than she ever has.  Years of therapy, increased awareness of her mental health issues and the medications best suited to assist in stabalizing that have all played a role. But we are a role too.  Because we didn't walk away.  We were willing to be family in whatever way she could accept family.  Just like I am willing to have a picture where my youngest daughter refuses to turn around, I am willing to re-think, re-adjust and re-calibrate family.   I think that is paying off.  Fiona seems more relaxed when she is here these days.  It feels natural to plan what we will do the next time she comes.

Have I done the things with and for Fi that I imagined doing many years ago?  Not necessarily.  But I am no less her mom and she is no less my daughter.  We just re-drew the picture of what family was is all.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Farewell to Summer

Fiona came to visit today.  We had a lot of fun. We went to the library and the kids picked their books.  We picked up lunch at Subway and brought that home for lunch. (yay for $5.00 footlongs for this month!) Then we went apple picking at our local city orchard.  Years ago, this lovely orchard was up for sale and plans were in the works for it to be sold for housing development.  A massive effort and many donations and fundraisers allowed our city to purchase it and preserve the beautiful space.  It is a working, thriving orchard with over 5000 apple trees and 40 different varieties.  This is also the site where we typically have a community garden plot yearly.

We had a blast picking apples, and taking a wagon ride through the orchard, soaking up the history of the area. Then we went to the house of a person K cleans for.  They were away for the weekend and we are dog sitting their sweet baby.  We took Jersey for a walk, and she soaked up all the love and adoration all the kids lavished on her. She clearly is missing her family and her own little girl.

On the way home we stopped and chose pumpkins. The kids had a blast doing this and the front and back porch look ready for the new season now.  Then here at home they played in the back yard, helped with laundry, played Wii and had supper. Rob helped me make rigatoni, K made garlic bread, Rob and I made butterscotch graham cookies for dessert. It was a lovely day and though I hate to see summer go, it was nice to bid farewell with all of us together.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Lissa wants hip hop

Last night was KC's first hip hop class of the season.  He was super excited. We picked up his friend, whose mom has a scheduling conflict, and my brood plus M made it to class on time. This is something of a miracle as I have to get across town through a maze of road construction at the moment!

While we were in the lobby during KC's class, Lissa told me she really REALLY (caps for her emphasis!) wants to take hip hop.  By the schedule of the school, she is a year too young.  But I promised her that I would email Miss H. and ask, which I did.

She is going to be a happy girl because she can join the class next week!

Last night while we were doing piece work, my wife was talking about some local festivals and events that we could consider going to this fall.  I love that we are able to look at these things together now, because her work schedule has changed.  We have been able to reconnect a lot since her job change and it is awesome.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

What to Say?

For probably the first time ever, Jane put me in what felt like the hot seat when Fiona and I were talking on Tuesday night.  She wanted me to give Fi suggestions of what she could say to her mom when they have their first phone call.  They have been writing back and forth for a while now.  Fiona has struggled with the fact that her first mom has another child that she is apparently successfully raising.

I am glad she is having the contact. She needs it and anyone who has looked at my blog before knows that I support first family contact whenever it is possible to safely have it.  But I was petrified when Jane said that to me!  What to suggest?  What if I suggest the wrong thing?  Does not having something to suggest imply to Fiona that I don't support the contact?

I tried mentally putting myself in Fiona's shoes--what would I say if I suddenly had contact with my dad.  He left the state I live in more than 25 years ago and never said goodbye.  He still has contact with my sister and sees her yearly. So part of me does understand feeling abandoned, feeling "less than" and wondering why things happened as they did.

I just don't know how to help Fiona phrase things and I suspect that my baggage (I literally could not picture myself saying anything nice, helpful or healing to my dad) was totally in my way.  So I bought myself a little time.  I said that it was a good conversation for us to have and that Saturday when she is out, we should talk about that. One of my  go to parenting strategies is buying myself time when I need it!

I am thinking it is best to start by asking Fiona what she wants to say and building off of that. If she has no idea, I am planning to suggest that she share some of the things we have done lately and the placement plan, explaining to her if needed that J will be glad to hear what she is planning for her adulthood. I am glad the rest of our Saturday together has easy stuff like making some decorations and going pumpkin picking!

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Keeping Up is hard to do!

Keeping up with the kids schedules that is!  With the end of camping, so ends what passes for quiet time at our house.  Last night was Lissa's first dance class of the season. She is taking on Tuesday nights now from 5 to 6 pm.  I get out of work at 4 so it is a quick turnaround to get her there on time.  Tuesday is also the night that Fiona calls us.  I made arrangements for her to call in on my cell phone instead of the house phone so that was not disrupted at all.

Then en route to the school, Rob saw a Facebook alert that his older brother was going to be on a local radio station.  We tried to hear him, listening before dance, on the way home from dance and at home, but must have missed his interview.  I don't know if he just chatted with the DJ or got to play some music.  It is a big station that he was on though so it is definately a good thing for his career.  I went to his Facebook page this morning and congratulated him and sure enough there was a wicked cool picture of him and the DJ that was on last night.  Although we didn't hear him, at least I could share the news of it with Fiona and she was so excited.  Squealing and shrieking in my ear!

Tongiht Rob is getting together with his girlfriend so I am on the road again. Mid week visiting will be very seldom during the school year and I have explained that to him.  But they have not seen each other in a couple weeks and are having love bird withdrawals. LOL

Tomorrow, KC starts dance and I have to also get across town and pick up my girlfriends daughter for the hip hop class.  This was a relatively easy prospect when I offered to do it.  In the interim they have begun bridge work on the highway and closed the ramp to the other highway I would usually pick up to go get her.  So I must find another route and hope it is all doable by 5 p.m.!  Maybe they will finish road construction quickly?  Wait, I think I saw a pig fly!

Meanwhile, there are lots of homeschool things going on and Rob is exploring a new volunteer opportunity next week. I think I will go take a vitamin!

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Congratulations . . .

"You've done such a great job with Rob."  I heard it over and over again this past weekend.  Rob is a really helpful fellow, loved by teens, pets and small children pretty much equally.  Even if someone annoys him it is hard to know.  He is just so laid back that i often tease him that i wonder how he remembers to breathe.  LOL

Folks at the beach were interested in his college plans and also greatly enjoyed his piano music at the talent show that happens annually there also. But I kept saying that this is Rob and he is the one they should give the praise to.

Sure, I gave opportunities and absolutely role modeled and talked with him about choices. But at the end of the day, who he is --that is on him.  Rightly or wrongly and in this case, (knock wood) pretty spectacularly rightly.

I am absolutely proud of my son.  But I don't feel like I can take all kinds of credit for how he is turning out.  He came home at 5 and was a scared, traumatized little fellow.  The fact that he was able and willing to trust and to soak up other life experiences is a testament to him, not me.

Final Camping Trip for 2013

Friday afternoon we left for our final camping trip of the year.  This is a gathering with friends from our church and a neighboring church, probably about 200 or so of us for the weekend.  It is at  a conference center on the ocean owned by our denomination.

Unexpectedly it POURED most of the way up to our destination.  This was so not in the plans (or the weather forecast.)  Technology isn't everything, folks. As we sat in a common room on our arrival looking at the forecast on my phone, it said "30 per cent chance of scattered showers."  Um, there was so much rain you could not see out the windows and this went on for hours!   LOL

However my joy was that my kids did not let this dampen their spirits.  We were one of the earlier arrivals.  Most people stay in dorm rooms in a variety of buildings for this experience.  I could not afford to do that and have always camped at a greatly reduced rate. Chet had been given the responsibility of helping people check in and find which building and room they were staying in.  He loves to help with this and the fact that his task was "official" this year was super for him.  He rummaged through the sites lost and found and located spare sandals that would fit him  if his shoes got too wet  and a rain poncho to borrow.   The littles found games to play with me and then just danced and sang to music on my phone.  At no point did anyone whine or moan.  Then, about 7:30 or so, the rain began to lessen and we spied this double rainbow out over the ocean.  It was much more spectacular than my photo portrays.  But shortly after that, the rain let up enough for Rob and I to go look for a tent site and for the littles to go play at the playground with friends.

Finding a tent site was a challenge as the land is lowlying and most were very much under water.  Inches of water.  I finally found a platform to put the tent on that was not inundated and we set up camp.  Luckily we can do this so quickly we were done in jig time.  What I did not factor in, was that we were in a totally different locale of the sites from any other year we have camped here and the impact that would have on Chet.

At 9:30 we went back to the tent as the littles were tired and Chet had finished checking people in.  He flipped out because we were in a different spot. Change is sooooooo hard for him. He was beyond agitated, flailing his arms so wildly I thought he was going to knock the tent down.  Eventually I just got him to lie down and I kept saying, "just go to sleep, you will be okay with this in the morning."  And he was.  That was really the only bump in a very fun filled weekend.

This is a weekend where the "village" cares for the kids. I often had kids with me that are not "mine." My kids got to eat with friends instead of in our family unit.  They ran barefoot and joyful during the day and curled up like exhausted puppies late at night in sleeping bags piled high with extra quilts to ward off the 45 degree temps.

For me, it was time to chat with adult friends, steaming cups of coffee while looking at the ocean and very little to have  to do.  I love to chat with people and there were lots there so I was never lonely!

We are all sad to see camping end for the season but grateful for this last final gathering and the memories we have to carry forward into the new season.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Rob's College Phone Interview

So at 17, Rob is starting to look at colleges for next year.  Gulp.  I have never done this with any of my kids as Chet was not able to attend.  So it is not just a new experience for him, but new for me as a parent.  While I went to college (back when dinosaurs roamed the earth and college syllabus' were carved in stone) much has changed in academia.  Also, Rob is not looking at a community college as I did.  He wants to pursue a career in culinary and is choosing colleges with the long term goal of obtaining skills to help him open his own business about 10 years after graduation.

Last night, one of the colleges that he is interested in, did a 90 minute phone interview with he and I.  It was so much information I think we both felt pretty blitzed.  I made lots of notes and he has started a folder as he wants to be able to compare the schools as we gather our data. He will probably put them on some kind of a spread sheet but it was easier to jot things old school while we talked.

This school is in Oregon and it is so hard to think of Rob being on the other coast line.  On the other hand, I know that Portland Oregon could be a good fit for him.  Kind of trendy, funky, very environmentally friendly; all those things speak to both he and I. The fact that you don't need a car (which he likely would not have by then) to get around easily is another plus.  The school is located right on a very good public transportation system, and bikes are also both welcome and encouraged.

The school day is tailored to allow students to work part or full time in the culinary field while they are studying. This would be good for Rob, but he and I both think that part time is the way to start and the school admissions person seemed to agree.

Financing makes my head spin and that will be a whole other arena if he does in fact choose this school.  I feel like I just jumped on an amusement park ride.  It goes faster than a roller coaster and has unforeseen dips and turns.  Holding on for dear life!  LOL

Monday, September 9, 2013

KC Keeps Connections

I have never had a kid feel the importance of connections with family and friends as profoundly as KC does.  He is very worried because Fiona is in the hospital and missed her visit with us.  "It's just not the same when she isn't here" he moaned to me and he chattered like a magpie to her on the phone later in the day. This is good for Fi as her emotions have been all over the place lately. She needs to hear from as many people as possible how much we love her and that things are going to be different when she moves, but they are going to be okay.
I have to explain that to the other kids.  KC just knows it intuitively.

But this is also the same kid who got up on Sunday and before he had even had breakfast said, "hey, it's grandparent's day today. I really need to call Nana." And he did. I didn't have to remind him.  He just did it. 

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Fiona is still in the hospital

I have been on the phone a lot with Fiona these days.  She is back in the hospital after another incident of rage and attempted self harm.  I know in her mind, the fact that she tried to hurt herself instead of someone else is a better choice.  How sad is that?  How sad is it that the placement change she wants desperately--to be near to us--is the trigger for her de-regulation.

It is not unexpected.  Like an enhanced version of my Chet, she self sabotages and is her own biggest obstacle to the things that she wants.  AT this point the placement change is not jeopardized, but she missed this weekends visit due to the hospitalization.

Her emotions seems to ranging wildly from giddily calling me and talking about how excited she is to think of being nearer to us, and anger/despair/fear.  I don't know exactly how to help her except to just continue being who I am and sayinbg the stuff I always say.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Homeschooling Chet

Chet has turned 28 and his formal homeschooling classes ended years and years ago.  He did well, as he is academically bright.  However, he has fairly profound social deficits and despite keeping a wide circle of social opportunities open to him, as he has gotten older he has become less and less facile in these settings.

This is obviously troubling to me.  Part of this stems from almost a delayed adolscence.  You know how teens push boundaries and test with their language etc?  Chet didn't really do that in the classic way as a teen.  If he misspoke it was because he copied a word and didn't understand it.  But I guess no developmental stage can ever be truly skipped so here we are with it.

The other component is that Chet has developed a passion for really inane  animation.  (Think Family Guy and others of that ilk) Also, I say "passion" as only a person who has Aspergers can have it.  A very single minded focus.

The animation thing kind of got by me for a while.  Since he is an adult I monitor his TV very lightly.  I make sure he is not watching super scary things as I know he triggers depression for himself with those, but other than that, I really did not involve myself much in his TV choices.  Also, much of his viewing would happen when I am at work, leaving me somewhat clueless as to the amount that he was actually watching.  Because he needs to have his own space more than anyone else in the house, he is the only person who has a TV in his bedroom.  This too, while necessary contributed to the problem.

I can't totally stop what he has glommed onto for his viewing. Too much push against that and he is going to be agitated and feel that I am taking the best thing in the world away from him.  So instead I told him that we formally started the new homeschool year and that he was having a class in social conversation this year.  Each night he is charged with watching something on TV that you need some brain cells to understand. LOL  He has a list of possible shows and the channels they are found on .  He is to watch it and then come tell me about it while I clean up from supper.

In true Chet fashion, he loves this because it is "research" and "data".  And he showed up eager to share, with a clip board where he had made copious notes.  He proceeded to read from the clipboard without coming up for air for many minutes.  Also in true Chet fashion, I could not get a word in edgewise or slow him down. It was a train that was running full tilt down the data track at 100 mph.  So I let it run.  Otherwise, he would decide that I wasn't really interested and be angry instead of engaged.

So a bunch of nights went with him reading to me from his clipboard.  Last night before he got to pick up the clipboard I explained that he had done so well that now we were moving onto the next challenge of his course.  The conversation part.  He needed to launch the topic and provide some data but also to work at going back and forth with me about it.

I actually felt badly for him as he truly looked terrified when he put the clipboard down.  I made him turn it over as he kept craning his neck and trying to see it.  I said he could refresh his memory first if he wanted to, but it wasn't that. It was just that a clipboard or a notebook is security for him. But it also is an obstacle to engaging with a person. People are always unnerving at some level for him.  Inanimate objects and facts are much safer.

However he did pretty well with it and we talked about the growing problem of the new drug Molly in our area. What he could still not get was when to end a converation. That is definately a work in progress.  But at least he is watching less trash tv and engaging more healthfully.  Hopefully this will help him when we are at functions, outings and at church.  He loves all those things and I would so love for him to be more successful at them.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Chet's hair

I am pretty easy going about most things. I don't have extremely high expectations regarding clothing and fashion.  I expect cleanliness and I expect that nothing one wears will have rude language on it. Private parts will be covered.   Other than that, I am pretty open.

So it astonishes me that I have been quietly going batty over Chet's hair.  Part of it is that Chet is 28 now and although I know intellectually and emotionally he is not 28, I don't want him to look, well, weird.  And weird is the order of the day for him.  His first goal was to try and grow his hair so that he could put it into what he called a Chinese top knot on his head.  The fact that he is not Chinese did not disuade him.  Nor did the fact that none of the Asian men (or women for that matter) that we know do not wear top knots.

However he thankfully decided it was going to take too long to invest time and energy in torturing the parents  this particular fashion statement, and moved on.  The new look involved him parting his hair exactly dead center and oiling down the longish bangs so that everything lay flat and sort of tucked behind his ears.  It was quite the look.  I thought he reminded me of Squiggy on Laverne and Shirley. Then I googled and found out Squiggy looked odd but did not wear his hair like that.

The other problem is that Chet decided that he had to totally wet his hair to achieve this style.  Also he decided that one should style your hair like this after your evening shower. It is starting to get cold in New England.  He can't really walk around with saturated oily hair like this as the seasons turn. The rest of the time, his hair kind of stood up all over his head. Like I said, it has been interesting to say the least.  (I should back up and say that he has been astonishingly resistant to having his hair cut)

Tonight I was talking with him about this and i asked him what he liked  about wearing his hair in this manner. He said that it kept his hair out of his eyes which annoyed him.  I took a breath.  And another.  THIS was the motivation for the style? "What if" I offered gingerly, "I trimmed the hair" (totally avoiding the word hair CUT) with a side part but kept the bangs short enough to stay out of his eyes.

He didn't say no and he didn't say yes, so I steam rolled ahead and suggested we try it and see if he liked it.  I guess that could have ended in disaster.  He is hyper sensitive to sounds and smells so he has never been one to do well at a salon or a barber shop.  And truly, knowing how little he can filter, I can not see him comfortable there,. It would be a painful cacophony of sight and smell and sound.

My wife used to trim his hair but for some reason he did not want her to do it.  But I was a novelty, and moving along too quickly (using my quiet but happy voice) for him to decide to dig in his heels.  He sat relatively quietly in the bathroom and I trimmed the hair.  I was petrified. I have zero barbering skills.  I can't even trim my own bangs. But his hair has a natural wave which is forgiving of less than perfect cutting and at the end of the session it looked SO much better.  Best of all, Chet likes it too.

The kids all complimented him without any cueing or dirty looks on my part. Absolutely a success!

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Fiona is struggling

Fiona is presently in the hospital. She had a brief hospitalization last Wednesday.  Did not stay overnight but did have a transport there due to attempts at self harm.  This past weekend she apparently had another significant incident while on a school trip and is presently in the adult psych ward of a hospital.  We are all pretty sure that the trigger is the recent meeting that occured planning for her placement in December.

On the plus side, Fiona called me herself from the hospital. That is really good as she has typically not initiated contact when these incidents occur.  But obviously,  I am worried for her, and Fiona is worried that her planned visit for this coming weekend is jeopardized.  Depending on how stable she seems, I may suggest we step it back to a day visit only this weekend. It was supposed to be an overnight but if she is still not really stable, I worry about trying to do that.  Also the information I got from the Great School this morning indicates that she will likely be in the hospital till at least Thursday. That is not much time to re-settle at school before coming out here.  Fiona does not do well with transitions, much like my Chet.

I have the number of her room at the hospital, so I will call Fi tonight and see how she is doing and reassure her of our love and connections.

Sunday, September 1, 2013


I've pictures galore of the kids doing cute things this campout. There were campfires, a night at an amusement park, time at Portland Head Light, pool time, beach trips, boardwalk adventures (AKA their chance to decide how to use their money) and more.  We are all a bit sad to be home, and a day early due to a forecast of yucky weather coming in.  Breaking camp in the rain is not particularly pleasant, so though it was sad to leave late this morning before the rain, it was the right thing to do.  Sometimes I hate being a grown up though. I wanted to cry and wail and kick my feet and say NOOOOOOOO, Summer can't be over, I won't let it!

These nature shots from the weekend are a big part of what fuels me when things are busy stressful and hard.  Camping by necessity pares things down.  You have to decide what you really truly need and what is just extra fluff that we get used to.  I need a dishpan. I don't need a dishwasher, for instance.  I need a modest number of pans, not the luxurious amount of pans that I have here at home.  And I need time with family.  That is the best thing for me about camping.  We are sort of in each others pockets by necessity.  I am not a person who has big personal space issues obviously. This is the facet of camping that eventually drives my wife to long for home.  But for me, they are the most important memories that I take away from these excursions.  The elements of nature, and the elements of our family.  Entwined. Strong.  Beloved.
 Nature is powerful and so too are the bonds of connection and love that we have built as a family.  I watched Rob bring back two new friends to our campsite last night. The three sat late into the night by our campfire, talking and laughing.  I love watching the way he makes friends so easily in virtually any setting.  I love watching how he quietly shows his love in a million tiny ways to us all.
Nature is full of hidden beauty, like this goldfinch.  And camping gives time for me to further explore the personalities of my family that are sometimes hidden in our day to day hustle and bustle.  Lissa is ferociously independent but camping knits us together in ways that normal family life does not.  KC is somewhat timid but found the independance that some facets of camping afforded him were really cool.  Chet was entranced by the colors of mystical fire; I will treasure always the quiet look on the face of my son who so rarely looks peaceful and calm. It was  a time too for my wife and I to reconnect. Time to just talk and ruminate in the quiet of firelight.

So now, it is back to laundry and chores, home making, and hearth tending as we prepare to head into a busy fall.