Sunday, August 30, 2015

Camp Auntie Sarah

I had the pleasure of spending the past ten days with two of my nieces and nephews. Four of those days, the third of the Watts clan was part of the fun. My sister has named this week Camp Auntie Sarah. Because this is my second year hanging out with the kids, she must have decided to formalize the name. What a fantastic ten days!!!

I learned a lot during camp because I feel like I got to take a look at my life through a child's eye. It reminded me of some of the most important lessons that I have learned in life so far.

Here are the lessons:

Treat people how you want to be treated: When I was a kid, I was relentlessly teased by my siblings. I'm certain I annoyed the crap out of them, which is likely why they teased me. They had me stick my tongue to D batteries, vacuumed my back, gave me 'sprite' or some mixture of baking soda and vinegar to drink. While watching my niece and nephew relentlessly tease each other one minute, and play games the next, that actions really do speak louder than words. They knew that when they told each other that they suck, that neither of them really meant it, because when it came down to the tough moments of getting on roller coasters that were scary, they anxiously encouraged each other (by calling the other a wimp) and then climbed on and high fived afterwards while saying, 'see it wasn't that bad.'

Stay away from the edge of cliffs and Double Sclerosis: While at Great Falls we hiked around, near cliffs. I'm not the steadiest on my feet anymore and so I choose to stay away from edges that don't have rails. Rose turned around and tried to encourage me to come to the cliff, at which point I gently stated that I fall over too easily and so I wasn't going to get any closer. I heard my sister chuckle, and I didn't quite know why. Several minutes later as we were walking back to the car, Christina asked me if I heard was Rose said. I hadn't... Apparently after I said I wasn't coming to the edge, Rose asked if I wasn't going to come closer because of the Double Sclerosis. I got a nice chuckle and then walked right off the edge of the trail almost falling over!

Stop to enjoy the little wonders of the world: There was a bug, a big bug of some sort near the trail at Great Falls. I would not have noticed this bug because I was too anxious for the boat ride. I turned around and squatting next to the trail are all the kiddos and their dad. They were obsessing over the dirt, so I thought. Next thing I know, Liam is walking over with a big ole bug on a leaf. That bug turned into his center for a few minutes. He examined, and was fascinated with the bug. He took the moment to forget about the boat ride to watch a bug! Seeing that wonder while he explored was a great reminder that the small things are the things that matter.

Be nice to your parents: Someone who must have been smart pointed out that we treat the people we love the most the worst. It is true!!! Mothers get the worst of it because they are the one's who love you most unconditionally. I made the kiddos call their mom every morning, and before calling they would groan, they would say that she asks too many questions, etc., and the minute their mom would answer the phone they would dive into long stories about their day or the cool thing they saw. While spending this with the kids, they started treating me like a person who unconditionally loves them. Because of that there were some harsh words, but it didn't make me love them any less, just appreciate them more for their honesty! It made me think of the times I'm sure I made my mom cry when I was young, and I wanted to pick up the phone and say I'm sorry!

Adulthood does have it's advantages (outside of bill paying): Parents monitor what their kids eat for good reason. As an adult, if I want to eat Trix for breakfast, I don't have to ask. As a kid, if you want to eat Trix for breakfast, you have to beg. I have to appreciate my Trix eating freedom!

People are going to disappoint you: I heard a few stories from the kiddos about their friends, and how their friends hurt their feelings in one way or another. It was interesting to hear about this from a kid's perspective... I can go on about this, but I'm not going to... All I know is that adults can learn a lot by watching how a kid deals with hurt feelings.

Stop and just have fun: During our drive, we listened to a song on repeat for over an hour. The entire hour, Rose sat in the back seat singing. Her singing got a little snarly at the end of the hour period and that is when the video camera was pulled out for recording purposes. All three of us sat in the car and laughed heartily at Rose's rendition of Cheerleader while Liam video taped my dancing and Rose's singing.

Take some time to exercise: I needed to clear my head and have 'alone' time, of which you get none when you are a parent. I now understand why parents exercise... It is their freedom to just be!!!

I realize this isn't my typical post, but I did want to make sure I remembered some of the take aways from the kiddos. If you want a more detailed look at Camp Auntie Sarah, feel free to continue reading. The following recaps all of the activities from Camp Auntie Sarah, with additional pictures.

A chronicle of the week

Unfortunately my exercise regime was somewhat impacted, or was it? So, what does Camp Auntie Sarah entail? Here's the breakdown, with some of the fun stories that go with each adventure!

Drive to Ohio from Chicago - The first Friday of our adventure included a 5 1/2 drive from Gramma and Grampa's house to hang out in Ohio for a few days. On this drive I was tricked into a candy stop. I didn't realize how cheap some candy still is and so I gave them a budget of ten dollars a piece. Well, at Albanese Candy, ten dollars gets you a huge back of random candy that had to be monitored for the remainder of the trip.

Movie Day - We wanted to have a relaxing day before our two big adventures, and so the kiddos decided we needed to go and see Shaun the Sheep. If you haven't seen the movie, you must know that continuous sheep jumping over a fence really can put a person to sleep. No kidding, I am living proof!!!

Zoombezi Bay - Welp, on Sunday, the extreme adventuring began. The three of us went to the water park, applied sunscreen, ran around the park for seven hours, which had to amount to miles of walking around on hard concrete and no shoes. We all left a little cooked lobster like, I had a bit of plantar fasciitis, Liam with a tarnished ring, and Rose with more energy than she had when we got to the park.

Cedar Point - After a day at the water park, we decided it would be a good idea to drive two and a half hour the next morning to walk around an amusement park for ten hours. My amazing aunt sponsored this trip, and boy were we thankful for the day!!! In the ten hours we were at the park, my fitbit told me that I walked almost eleven miles. We went on many roller coasters, and my niece and nephew may have heard more expletives come out of my mouth than any parent would have approved of.

Rest Day - We decided a day of rest might be a good idea, and so the kids and I rested on Tuesday by making home made taffy apples and brownies, purchasing some fish for my fish tank, We also made dinner, packed bags, watched TV and played with Piper.

Drive to Virginia - I then had to get the kiddos back to their parents, and so after packing some more, making more brownies, vacuuming the kitchen for the third time, we headed out for their home. We stopped at the promised Cracker Barrel and then made the six hour journey take about nine hours. We danced, they argued, we discussed how the world works, I explained Multiple Sclerosis for the third time on this trip, we talked about cell phones and danced a little more, all while listening to the song Cheerleader on repeat for over an hour. Yes, I am that good of an aunt!!!

Hang out with Brady and Tie Dye - Since Brady didn't get to spend the week with us, we knew that Thursday would be the Brady day. So, Brady decided he wanted to go to a movie and have Sushi, and that is exactly what we did. Movie, lunch, tie dying blankets, shirts, bandannas, hats, aprons, socks, our bodies... and then a Sushi birthday date with Brady. My sister also convinced me to go out for a three mile run. Thank goodness because I was certain that I wasn't going to know how to exercise when I got home!

Pool and Pizza Suckered - On Friday, we once again didn't have any plans so we rinsed out the Tie Dye, and the kids in the house multiplied. Suddenly there were friends and kids running between houses. I had no clue what had happened when I turned my head! Next thing I knew it was lunch time, and one of the add-ons for the day recommended a pizza lunch. Someone told me I needed to order two pizzas, of which we only ate one... But it was pretty good pizza. We then went to the pool, I started Brady's birthday cake, had a fantastic time catching up with a dear friend, and got home to watch TV with my sister and brother-in-law.

Great Falls - On Saturday we took a family trip to Great Falls National park, hiked around and took some pictures. We also went on a fantastic boat ride on the canal in which mules pulled us up and down the canal. I also learned a song about donkies, mules and mares. Catch me on a good day and I might sing it for you! We then got home, I finished Brady's cake, made ginger cider with Liam, went out for Thai for Brady's birthday and then sat around the fire while munching on cake and pie.

Drive Home - All good things have to come to an end, and this is when it all ended... This morning I had to hop in my car and drive six hours back to Ohio. I literally drove the entire way in silence. I stopped at another National Park on my way home, but it just wasn't the same without Liam and Rose picking up the bugs and bringing them to me for show and tell...

So folks, that sums it up. We are already planning Camp Auntie Sarah for next year. It looks like a camping trip with fishing, s'mores and camp fires are the desired activities. I think that sounds like a great plan!

1 comment:

  1. Such a wonderful memoir. We are so blessed that 'Camp Auntie Sarah' could be etched into our Summer Google Calendar. What was I doing? Getting ready at work for 600 students to arrive for their first year of college in America and training new faculty to teach them. MY Favorite Part Of This narrative is the kids suckering Sarah into more pizza and singing the same road song on repeat for over an hour. And oh yes, the batch of leftover candied apples in my fridge. Lucky us!