Visiting our Kids at Camp Sandy Cove

Remember going to camp when you were younger? Warm days spent learning fun things, getting dirty, singing silly ditties and playing pranks. Good times, indeed. Zeb, Hudi, Bri and Mollie still get to experience this annually as they work at Camp Sandy Cove in West Virginia (Mollie grew up attending the camp, which is super-fun). In my opinion, their camp is even cooler than most. Not only do you get to do the normal cabin/hiking/swimming sort of activity, but you also get to learn to shoot rifles, cook outdoors, do some high-flying on a trapeze, mountainboard and skateboard (among other activities).

The kids have been asking us to visit for a few years, and we really wanted to go, but it just didn’t fit in our schedules. We had planned to finally get there on the way back from Utah, but that all fell apart. Then we discovered an unexpected window of opportunity.

On July 3, the kids asked if we were coming the next day. Since we were moving a load of beds from our old house to our new house, and we had plans with friends on July 4 (plans we made last February) I told them we wouldn’t make it. Then the load moved super well, and our friends had to cancel. We realized we could make it. At midnight the kids confirmed it would still work for them, and by 5 am, we were on the road in our reliable new-to-us car.

Wahoo! Since we left at 5 am, and I worked on the road, I was able to put in a full work day by the time we reached the camp so I could immerse myself in enjoying time with the kiddos. We got there right in time for lunch. Sons and dad caught up (it was Hudi’s day off, and he was tired. I didn’t notice he was yawning in the image below until much later, and I didn’t get any other shots with just the three, so this will have to do. It’s real, anyway). We also got to officially meet Oliver, Bri’s hedgehog.

My guys (minus CJ). It was Hudi's day off, and he was tired.

My guys (minus CJ). It was Hudi’s day off, and he was tired.

After lunch, Zeb had some time before his next session so he did some skateboarding with Chris.

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I somehow didn’t get images of Zeb’s rifle-ry session that he taught, although it was fun to watch. After that, we attended Bri’s outdoor living session and made waffle smores and learned to tie different knots.

Mollie, Hudi, Chris and I went into town and perused through a few shops that were open on the holiday while Zeb and Bri finished their sessions for the day. We met up for dinner, and the campers put Zeb on the spot to serenade us all. This was a highlight of my day. They started off with a verse of “Sing us a song, Chief Zeb,” which I did not get on film because it was unexpected. Apparently when this happens, if the person called on does not sing the song, they pay a forfeit. Later Zeb said that he was thinking of not singing until they started in with “for your Mother, Chief Zeb, for your mother.” He said at that point he knew he had to do it. What a guy 🙂

Bri still had activities to cover after dinner so we hung out a bit as we waited for her. Zeb had designed this mountain board course, creating elements out of beds that were getting thrown away. He is so creative with scrap. Just like his dad. Some little children helped with the painting to make it look good. This was Chris’ first time on a mountain board, and he is now addicted.

Finally we were all together, and we decided it was too late for a movie. Instead we went out for ice cream, stopping for gas. As I wrote in a previous post, the kids had persuaded us that the Honda Fit was a great car. This is the first official pic of the Blueberry (as we call Bri’s car) next to our Blackberry.

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Sadly, due to the holiday, our ice cream place was closed, but that did not deter us. We each grabbed some treats from the gas station and had an impromptu night-time picnic that lasted until past midnight. So much fun being with those kiddos. It really cracked me up when they mimicked the person in the ad behind them as I took their pic. And guess what? I found Ring Dings! (which are sadly no longer available in our local store).

We spent the night at the camp instead of the hotel we planned on staying in because it was offered to us, and that allowed us to spend more time with the kids. Before we left, we got to see Hudi in action, doing his job.

Hudi in his element - the kitchen

Hudi in his element – the kitchen

That impromptu visit was a treat that is already a highlight of my summer. Love those young men and women!

Here’s a summary of the day thanks to Google Photos:

Fortune Cookie

fortune-cookie

It’s impossible to be perfect. And this fortune cookie note I got reminded me that it’s okay. How reassuring is that message? My immediate reaction was “Hey, this is how I want to be for others” in my role as a Happiness Engineer. Then I remembered that since it was my fortune cookie, this was about me. And I realized that the statement is plain old true. It has been true in the past, is true in my present, and odds are high that it will be true in my future. This makes me feel really fortunate. And it makes me think about the importance of helping people in general.

My job, my marriage and my family are all arenas in which I feel particularly blessed. And this fortune philosophy is a main contributor to why my life is so awesome.

Work? WordPress is a seriously powerful program. Every day I help people with networking issues, SEO, site building, writing-sharing, advertising, account changes, etc. I know a lot and do not feel as if I’m not qualified for my job. That said, I sometimes find myself facing situations in which I don’t have an answer. Every day I’m learning more. But I never feel isolated or backed into a corner where I can’t be helpful thanks to my co-workers.

We all have experience in different arenas. If I have a question about analytics or MX records, then a ping to a co-worker will bring someone with experience in those fields to help me (and I help them where I am strong). No judgement from anyone. Just helpful attitudes (and I’m over two years into this job, so I’m not being idealistic. That’s just the beautiful reality of my work environment). Together, we provide answers to those who come to us for help.

I can help because I am helped.

Family? Again, every family member has a strength, and we work together to create good as a unit. I think back especially to the years I was bed-ridden (rough pregnancies and a few surgeries that laid me flat for long periods of time). My in-laws moved in to help us with parenting and household maintenance (as did my friends and members of our church, who provided meals and childcare until my in-laws arrived). We ran a daycare back then, and my husband became licensed so he could cover for me when I was down. My children were young, but they pitched in to help where they could. This made my healing happen faster, and when I was back on my feet, life was manageable, and I didn’t have to deal with the chaos of backlogged tasks.

Again, I could help others (eventually, after I healed) because others helped me.

Marriage? If anyone knows every single weakness I have, it’s my man. But I am very fortunate in the fact that instead of using those weaknesses to knock me down, Chris takes his own strengths to help me grow in those areas if I’m capable. Or to cover for me if I’m not capable. I try to do the same for him.

So there it is. My fortune reminding me of how fortunate I am. I hope I always remember that and reciprocate.

Feelin’ the Love at CJ and Lauren’s Wedding

It's official. Chris and I have a daughter.

It’s official. Chris and I have a daughter.

It’s been a pretty busy week, and it was magical. We now officially have a daughter (in law), and she is amazing! If you like watching weddings, you can see the Facebook Live recording from the event by clicking this wedding video link. Please ignore the less-than-professional filming. Things were a bit confusing. I have pics from the weekend at the end of this post. For those of you who want to be/are part of this exciting time with us, as promised, here is a summary. Enjoy 🙂

Ten Things I Learned From our Wedding Weekend Experience:

  1. When doing Facebook Live from the groom’s Facebook account, make sure the device you plan to set up early so you can start the recording is not in his pocket when he is off doing pre-wedding pictures 🙂
  2. Keep undershirts on hand for the guys. Even the non-sweaters might sweat in this sort of situation.
  3. Have more than one person write out name tags for table placement so you don’t get stuck having one person writing everything out for consistency’s sake.
  4. Keep as many vehicles on hand as possible for the bridal party/family/friends. Great for last-minute errands and carpooling to events.
  5. Make sure you have extra cash on hand for things like extra waters. That way others can help you run errands, and you don’t have to worry about forgetting who has your credit card.
  6. Find out about allergies in advance and plan food accordingly (that’s obvious for actual eating, but I had never thought of allergies that actually kept people out of rooms we were hanging out in).
  7. Have a backup suit for the groomsmen and dress for the bridesmaids in case of disasters.
  8. Practice curling hair on a day that is NOT the day of the wedding.
  9. If you are going to rent a conference room in the hotel for your guests, find out when quiet hours are (and get ready to placate managers with coffee the next morning).
  10. Request rehearsal luncheon deliveries for an hour ahead of time so you don’t have to worry about late deliveries.

As those of you who have been following my blog know, Lauren went to college in the town in which we lived, which gave us the really unique gift of getting to know her as she turned from young college student to a business-woman who is taking on the world. We witnessed our son becoming more and more attached to this friend he brought to the house to hang out with, and saw him put his own life on delay a bit so they could spend more time together.

She knew of his passion for snowboarding and the west so she learned to ski and got a job near him in Utah. From Utah, the two worked to plan this wedding where we all got to celebrate their love for each other.

Last Monday we drove to our old house to get our haircuts and to vote the next day. On Tuesday, Chris and I drove the 90 minutes to Rochester to pick up the suits from the rental place and to drop a car off with the kids. We made a date of it, hitting my favorite Indian cuisine restaurant and watching Finding Dory at a $3 theater. As a bonus we discovered it was half price night so our tickets were only $1.50 each. Score! Funny thing was that CJ was up in the air watching the same flick 🙂 Gotta love those family bonding moments. Lol

Chris and I sat in the cell lot waiting for the plane to come in. Chris wondered which direction they would approach from as a plane came in on what seemed to be about 100 feet over our heads. I saw the Delta tail and commented that it might be their flight right there. Two minutes later we got the text that they were on the tarmac 🙂 And so began an amazing week with the young adults.

We talked, laughed, baked and decorated as we planned for CJ and Lauren’s wedding. I have pics from the weekend below. And my aunt did some nice writeups on:

Gathering for a Wedding
and
A Tractor Greeting
and
Wedding of Lauren and CJ

On Friday night we gathered in Rochester to watch Here, There and Everywhere — kicking off the ski/snowboard season in style. 19 family members and friends from Kentucky, Pennsylvania, western NY, northern NY, Texas and Utah all gathered into two rows to enjoy the night together. Such fun! The next day we had a great rehearsal, rehearsal dinner, bridal shower and family gathering before we congregated on Sunday for the main event.

As the guests poured in, we were humbled by the dedication they showed. Many traveled 2-4 hrs each way — just for the day! All went well, and the reception went great. Hudi had a fun toast for his brother and his bride. 🙂

Then we were off to a final after party. On Monday everyone scattered then on Tuesday they were back on a plane for Utah. A true, amazing whirlwind. Better pics will be coming once the professional images are in. If you click on the pics, the descriptions will show. Here’s what I have for now:

Virtually Yours

My son is getting married on Sunday, and this week is filled with exciting events :). So how does a game-maker propose to the love of his life? Watch and find out how he did it last spring.

Lauren is a great alpha-tester so she’s used to checking out CJ’s latest updates. Since he’s working on motion in his VR games, it stands to reason that her reactions would be video recorded. She just didn’t realize this update had a little something extra special…

(short version)

(long version)

And this is what she saw:

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* Spoiler – She said “yes.”

 

Nobody Warned me About the Forties

IMG_20160531_160410432_HDRAnd I kind of wish someone had. It’s a horrible decade. It’s a beautiful decade. And I think I can summarize that in my day today. It’s kind of a step-by-step thing so if that kind of writing bores you, x out now 🙂

The featured image? The only relation to today was that it was actually taken while I worked today. To show my dad my setup, which will have to suffice for the next week since I accidentally left my real monitor in our other house. First world problems, I know. But it’s still not totally cool.

Yesterday was a great day. It was a holiday (Memorial Day), and I was filled with a sense of thankfulness for the veterans in my life even as I chose to work instead of joining the locals at the parade. I was happy to cover while some of my co-workers spent time with family and friends. And I still had a great day. That contentment paved the way into my day this morning, which started off swimmingly.

With a slight downer. A friend wanted to get together with our three sons and us before we broke apart. I had the harsh realization that we would have that option for literally two evenings before November. And even then, it would never be in this home again. Ah, well. Life goes on.

I was already ahead in my personal work goals, and we had some interesting issues at work that we (my team-mates and I) resolved. I LOVE it when I can really help people. Noon came, and I had an enjoyable team meeting over Zoom, with 16 co-workers from around the world. I love seeing their faces. Do you see a common thread in this paragraph? I’m intensely into my job, and I love it. It’s the job I began in my forties (when I was 42, actually).

So work was happening, life was going, and as my meeting began I kissed my middle son and waved to his girl as they headed out to Pennsylvania for work training. That letting-go part of parenting that’s still a bit unnerving. And the mail came. It contained info about housing for college for my youngest baby, who is starting college this fall.

Zeb’s leaving and Hudi’s mail ripped my heart a little, but mostly I’m proud of them and happy for them. My meeting ended, and I entered another meeting in which people volunteer time to write lesson plans so inner city kids can learn how to create websites. Nobody has time for anything, yet these people meet weekly to volunteer their expertise to help others. It always inspires me. Good, good people. And one of them is a friend I get to spend a week a year with at Bible camp. So fun to work with her there.

That meeting ended as I headed out for a walk with a friend who has been a buddy for 20+ years. What a gift she is in my life. I have now officially moved, and I’m technically back in town visiting, so we spent a good bit of time dredging up memories of our kids as they grew. She also learned details of my son’s recent engagement. Such joy! But bittersweet since we had to shorten our visit as people came to check out our house for possible rental.

It went well. I think they like it, and we only want the house to go to people who really appreciate it. We’re good with this family. But it also symbolized a clear cut with our decades of reality in the place we have called home.

No time to dwell on that. They left, and I immersed in work again (how lucky am I to have this job where I can work flexible hours like this?!?) for a while. Then Lauren came in to update me on wedding plans. We hit the Internet–hunting for party favors, table decorations and wedding gowns. It was while we were doing this that I found out that a good friend got a job she was interviewed for. And I found out another friend died. So as we celebrated weddings, work, moves and life in general, we also found ourselves donning fancier garb before heading to the funeral parlor for viewing hours.

Before we did anything else, I checked in with my parents. Both of whom have had some stints in the hospital for different issues (they are both home and well on the road to recovery now). While I was on the phone, my husband was on his phone, talking with our son who had made it to his destination in PA, but was reporting a bit of car trouble. Chris talked him through some options. Then we had a nice dinner and headed to our cars.

I stood in line at the viewing. It was particularly heart-wrenching because the grandmother in the family had also passed on, so it was a double funeral. Wife and mom. The line was long and somewhat slow, and I looked at the faces of people I have seen for nearly three decades. Good people, hard-working, honest people. People I’ve been thrilled to have my kids grow up amongst.

And I realize, once again,  it’s kind of hard to leave.

I also realize that the memories that make it so hard to leave are some of the greatest gifts one might receive. That young man smiling at me, telling me all is okay since his mom is now in a happier place? Yeah, that was the kid who talked to me non-stop on the school bus on the fourth grade field trip. That man ahead of us in line? He not only went to college with me, but he was one of the best teachers my son was privileged to have.

People hugged, people laughed, people cried. We have lived, we have loved, and now we are moving on.

The memories and joy will remain. Blessings. Gifts. Not always easy.

I didn’t realize the emotional upheaval one faces in the forties. It’s kind of exhausting, but brilliantly so. This is my day. This is my life. I’m so thankful. 🙂