Saturday, August 27, 2016

Road Trip 2018?

This summer has been filled with memory making opportunities.  We have camped multiple times with a variety of friends.  I am so lucky to have so many people I genuinely enjoy spending time with. And who apparently reciprocate this feeling.

Our most recent camping adventure also found me bringing along the little boy who used to live next door to us and who was part of our kids lives for many years.  B had never been camping and he and KC and Lissa relished the 5 days together.  We were also camping with my friends Des and Eric and their four kids.  We have camped together for about 5 years now.  While we were sitting around the campfire, they said that in 2018 they want to travel cross country and they would love our family to come along.

It was high praise--the proposed trip is a month long journey.  They said that they could not envision doing this with any other friend than our family.  (sniff)  My knee jerk reaction was "heck that is so sweet but how can  I possibly do that?"  Thankfully I stuffed that thought back in my craw and said I"d ask my wife what she thought when I got home.

Kirsty was very excited by the idea.    My next step was to find out if I can get a month off from work.  I get 5 weeks of vacation annually.  Truthfully I have never used all my vacation days. Ever.  But the type of work I do has federal deadlines and there is a policy that one is not supposed to be gone more than 2 consecutive weeks.  (OK here is where I confess I have not done THAT either!) I use about 2 1/2 to 3 weeks yearly but in dribs and drabs throughout the year.  I typically maximize my time off by planning around existing holidays when our office is closed anyway.

I told my boss about the possible adventure.  She is very supportive and has submitted my request to HR.  I have my fingers crossed for a yes.  After all it is a 2 year notice and I am willing to do anything necessary to make sure someone is fully trained in what I do for the month that I would be gone.

Meanwhile, in a spirit of optimism we adults met at Des and Eric's new RV last night.  Partly to admire their new digs. Partly to talk about where we all want to go.  Mostly to State Parks which  an annual pass will make pretty affordable. Partly to talk logistics--how many driving hours would we shoot for daily?  What type of areas do we want to stop in at night?  My family will have to rent an RV as we do not own one.  I am a tent camper and am also petrified to drive an RV.  So I will be copilot and keep the kids happy and entertained while we travel.

Des shared their list of "must sees" and we have added a few. The kids are very excited about this. It will be the trip of a lifetime for us, I am sure. Lots of planning, lots of saving, but an adventure of epic proportions!

Monday, August 15, 2016

Adoption and the Olympics

I have been watching the Olympics and enjoying all my favorite events. (which is basically anything except water polo!)  I especially adore gymnastics and have loved watching the women's team this year. They are a dominating force and the routines leave me breathless with awe.  I am also pretty excited about the racial diversity on our team.  In a sport that was pretty much dominated caucasians, we have 2 blacks and a hispanic on our winning team. There are a two caucasians but the demographic of the team is startlingly different from previous years.

However what is not different is the media frenzy surrounding Simone Biles and her adoption story.  I have watched this unfold and it is painful at so very many levels.  First off, I am feeling very very badly for Simone herself.  Her personal life is out there for public dissection in every conceiveable way.  Adoptive parents are rallying around the "we are the real parents" banner.  First mothers are rallying around the "first families are forgotten" camp.  Foster parents and foster alums are weighing in.  All come with their own stories which color their perspectives.  And all i see is a young woman whose amazing gymnastic abilities and achievements are somehow incredibly being second fiddle to her very personal adoption/family story.

I want to be very clear that I wholeheartedly respect first families.  They are my kids family.  They have become my family, because we all love the same people.  And we all want what is best for the kids and we have learned from each other and we value each other.  I personally feel the portrayal of Simone's first mother in the press is cold and painful.  No one needs the labels that this woman has endured.  And if she is as she stated, sober for many years, it's even worse.  People make mistakes, sometimes horrible ones.  If we are lucky, and have a dose of common sense, we have an opportunity to learn from those mistakes.  I feel that the media is not giving Shannon Biles that chance. And the media circus could derail any opportunity in the future for Simone and Shannon to have a relationship should they wish to develop it.

Does this mean I don't support her adoptive parents?  No, of course not.  Her grandparents stepped up and they have clearly done a great job raising an amazing young woman.  The fact that Simone calls them mom and dad bothers me not a whit.  Kids choose what they want to call the people who love them. Also most kids have a nearly desperate need to fit in. I can see these factors playing into Simone's decision to call them that.  I have kids that call their first moms Mom.  I have kids that call their first mom's Mom followed by their first name)  I have kids that call their first mom by their first name.

It has never been my decision what to call their mom. It has been theirs.  I am happy being one of the moms. I am happy being lucky enough to be the mom that gets to kiss them goodnight, hear about their day and make memories on a daily basis with them.

Let's let amazing athletic achievements be the thing we watch and talk about.  Let's let these fine young people have a personal life this isn't dissected and the source of media sound bites.

Sunday, August 7, 2016

High Summer

It has been a hot summer, hotter than our area of the country has had in a number of years. And the driest summer since 2001 or something wild like that.  There are water restrictions and  even I, lover of perpetual sun, get the need for rain.

But when today dawned another hot bright sunny day, we decamped to a beach about 30 minutes from our home.  My wife was actually supposed to lead an event there for the church that she works for. No one showed, but we all had a fabulous time there.  The lake deepens very gradually and it is a quiet beach.  Even with the heat we have had it was far from crowded.  I could have stayed there all day--literally.  I think though that I am programmed this way.  When I was a child we spent almost every day at a lake beach and were there literally almost all day.  We would go after breakfast, go home for lunch and then go back in the afternoon.  If it was really super hot, we could almost always talk my mom into an evening swim as well.

My wife doesn't really love beaches though, and in particular despises sand, so I felt blessed to have the couple of hours there with her. Usually it is me there alone with the kids and while I don't mind that, it is definately special to me when she is there.

Summer is fleeing by far too quickly for me.  In a couple of weeks I will take the littles and their friend B camping for 4 days. We will be with other friends as well so it will be a passle of kids who will have a blast together.  But then, except for our church camping weekend in mid September, that will be it.  The season so eagerly awaited, so lovingly planned during cold dark winter nights, it will be over.  (cue sad music here)

I've seen a few red swamp maple leaves and while I tell myself it is water stress, it is likely that it is August.  The robins have decamped and the crickets now sing with the frenzy that I associate with late high summer nights.  They too, know time is finite for this season.

Though summer is busy, it is in many ways less structured than the rest of the year.  I have time to work out with my friends instead of having to rise early to do the train run with Rob.  Meals are relaxed.  We've had picnics and ice cream for supper nights.  Bed times are later.  Rob has had a lot of time to hang out with his friends after work, getting home after 2 on many nights.  That will sadly have to change during the school year and I expect that the realization of a 6 a.m. train has not come to the forefront of his mind yet!

So for now, I will enjoy the last vestiges of this most beautiful of seasons.   I will drink in every opportunity, admiring our gardens, parched though they may be, creating memories to warm me when the chilly winds and dark evenings come.