I did it! I wrote for slightly longer than 30 days – from the end of June until the end of July.

30 pages and 13,000 words.

That sounds quite substantial, but some days it didn’t feel like I had much to say. Looking back on the second half of July though, I realize that we did have some fun times.

Here were a few highlights:

Camping Fun

Similar to non-pandemic years, we enjoy tent camping as a family. Instead of a big family reunion, we went camping with our family of four, leaving on a Sunday and returning home on a Tuesday.

I was glad to head out of town to relax and put down our devices.

We did really well packing up after going to 9:30 church in person. The kids helped carry gear to the car, and Daddy O. did his expert packing job.

Despite our best efforts, we discovered that we needed to run a quick errand. The bathrooms at the campground did not have any soap or hand dryers due to COVID-19. The camp office is closed too. Water fountains have signs taped to them telling people to only fill up water bottles and not to drink directly from them.

Outside of those things though, it’s still a beautiful, big campsite nestled under towering trees. We are distant from other sites and campers. It’s peaceful.

Daddy O. on the path leading to our campsite

We are sitting by a campfire making s’mores, trying variations with a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup instead of a Hershey’s chocolate bar. 

After dinner – hot dogs made on our camp stove – we hiked to the Lake to watch the sunset. Even though the sun was behind the trees, we still saw the sky’s reflection in the water.

The kids, reluctant to hike, said, “Okay, Mom, we trust you, good idea to go hiking.

Yes, score 1 Mom!

This feels like vacation and summer – at last!

The next morning we woke up to find that raccoons had visited our campsite! They ate an entire bag of almonds and ripped open a bag of pretzels. They left most of the pretzels untouched, apparently not their taste.

We made a rookie mistake leaving food out. Oh well.

I made pancakes for the kids on our camp stove using one of those just add water mixes. We love eating breakfast under our screen tent when camping. Food somehow tastes better in the fresh air.

We enjoyed the outdoors: going for a hike, renting kayaks, and swimming.

Picture of the kids on a hike.
Me on a favorite hiking trail.

While on the lake, we heard frogs, saw a blue heron, and lily pads.  We paddled for one hour, which was just about right.

Everyone showered after swimming and we caught part of a news story on COVID-19 on the radio. Little Brother said that he forgot about coronavirus while we were camping.  Didn’t we all?!

We enjoyed curbside takeout at our campsite and ended the night with s’mores at the campfire again.

The next morning, we hiked and started packing up. I took the kids for a swim to help burn off some of their energy before driving home. It IS a lot of work to pack in and out of a campsite.

During the ride home, I read in the car and snoozed. All of the fresh air and walking tired me out. I also realized that I need to increase the intensity of my workouts.  I feel out of shape!

At home, we quickly unloaded gear from the car top carrier and car with laundry piled high.

Then I picked up our ferret from the kennel. The kids were happy to see Blaze again.  She hopped around and played like crazy when we let her out of her travel carrier.

Last, but not least, I showered. Our home never felt so luxurious after camping and sharing communal bathrooms.

Returning to Church in Person

I have enjoyed physically being in church with mitigation efforts in place. Everyone is wearing masks, spaced more than 6 feet apart if not in the same household, and hand sanitizer is available throughout.

While attending mass one Sunday, we sang some of my favorite songs that reminded me of family. I ended up getting a little teary eyed at You Are Mine because that was a song that my mom sang for her parents’ funerals.  I have been missing all of my grandparents lately!

This is still true. I often wonder what they would think of this pandemic.

Celebrating a Milestone in Church

My son made his First Communion, rescheduled from April due to COVID-19. 

Similar to any party we host at our home, there was cleaning, shopping, invitations, and getting dressed up. 

Unlike other parties, we limited the number of guests to grandparents and godparents.  We ended up hosting 13 people total instead of 17 or 22 family members.

I emailed everyone earlier in the week, asking for their dinner order from Panera Bread and explaining that we would stay outside (mostly) and have disinfecting wipes and hand sanitizer available. I felt compelled to share this in advance.

There were three other families, four total with 2nd graders receiving their First Communion. Everyone looked so grown up in their white dresses and suit coat or jackets.  You couldn’t help but be proud and so happy for them.

Our son did great – processing in with a candle and loudly professing his beliefs with “I do.”  We went up for communion as a family, as did the other first communicant families, and received the host only.  He was okay with not receiving the wine.  We’re so proud of him for learning about the Catholic faith since he started religious education in 4K. 

We met a local photographer after mass for a quick photo session. My kids tend to behave and smile better for a professional instead of me, so I’m glad we’ll have some nice pictures to mark the occasion.

After church, though hot and humid, we enjoyed eating our meals outside on our patio and hanging out.  With a smaller group, it was easier for everyone to be part of the same conversation.  The kids had their kids’ area of chairs, similar to any kids’ table at other parties. It was really fun to be together.

The evening went by quickly. Our parents were the first to leave, so they were not driving home in the dark. My brother in law and his family lingered longer, catching up more while the five kids played together.  They climbed our maple tree, caught fireflies, and drew with sidewalk chalk in our driveway, good old summer fun! At ages 10 – 8, all five of them play so nicely together.

At the end of the day, my heart felt happy and full.