This summer has been odd. I normally like my time alone with the kids a lot, but for some reason, this year, I am feeling really odd about being alone. I just feel the desire to be with people and doing stuff all the time. I really don't know why. Accepting all theories.
On Sunday, we all headed up to El Camino Pines with Marc for summer camp. It is a small Lutheran camp, and some of our church kids were going for the week, so Marc was going to be supportive and involved and volunteer. We were basically along for the ride. Vinny was really excited about the idea of going to summer camp, but he is too young to be an actual camper, so it was sort of neat for him that he got to somewhat experience parts of camp.
I was a little worried about how Tiana would do. Camp is not exactly toddler friendly. For the most part, it was fine. She loved, loved, loved being in the mountains. If you think about it, a toddler's world has so many boundaries. Backyards have fences, houses have off-limits rooms and shelves, etc. Just being in nature seemed very freeing to her.
She loved to just run on the paths and walk around looking at stuff. Tiana is good for me. She slows me down a lot, just by nature of who she is. I am very much a busy-body. People who don't know me very well often see the life I lead as very stressful because my schedule is so packed so much of the time, but those who know me well know that my life is busy by choice. There are only select times of the year (basically production time and the end of each semester, particularly when they overlap) when my life actually gets too busy for my liking. For the most part, I like to be doing something all the time. Vinny is sort of the same way. When one activity is ending, he wants to know what is next, and he doesn't want to have too much time when nothing is really going on. Tiana, however, is the type of kid who literally takes time to stop and smell the flowers. (I think I have my mom to thank for that one. My mom taught her that flowers smell pretty and Tiana always wants to stop and smell flowers and talk about how "pretty" they are).
Anyway, so back to camp. The first evening, we went on a little walk, and we basically just followed Tiana. She loved it. Nature sort of made her giddy. I don't think she had ever seen a pinecone before. She picked one up and examined it like it was the coolest thing she'd ever seen, and she carried it around for most of the walk. Monday afternoon, she spent about an hour gathering rocks and bringing them to me. On Tuesday morning, she and I spent about an hour in the morning just watching birds. This is not an activity I would think I would enjoy. Too slow. But you know what... it turns out I really enjoy it. I actually found it fun to attempt to take pictures of them too. This was really a challenge given that Tiana wanted to basically chase them from tree to tree. There were mostly what I think were a type of blue jay (stellar jay?) and what I am certain were woodpeckers (ladder-backed, I believe). Looks like I may have found a new hobby.
Eating meals camp style with Tiana was a bit of a challenge. Its not that the food was a problem - she's not that picky and there were good options for her - but she just doesn't sit still for very long, and eating in that type of setting is not quick. At home, we pretty much let her get up from the table as soon as she is done, even if we aren't done, but that didn't really work at camp, which meant a lot of fits at meals. Sleeping was also a bit of an issue, but that is to be expected for any toddler away from home. The other thing is that there just wasn't a ton for her to do. Other that walking around (which we enjoyed a lot), there wasn't much, so by Tuesday she was pretty bored and so was I, so we left. Marc and Vinny stayed. Vinny was having a really good time. I was a little hesitant to leave him, since he was kind of whiny and clingy at first, but he seemed to be acting more mature and gaining more independence as time went on, so I left him. Later in the summer, they have a week of arts and music camp, and next year, Vinny will be old enough to go. Sending him away from home without us for a week is a frightening concept, but he just might be ready next year. We'll see.