So the Big Three are off at camp this week.
We took them on Sunday after Mass. The Reepicheep and the Pickle are Main Camp campers, living with their cabin groups and doing general camp activities: archery, outdoor science (way cool science stuff, like rockets, egg parachutes, volcanoes, etc.), swimming, performance (skits, etc.), trail rides, and tons of other things that tire them out! So far the camp website has shown me pictures of Reepicheep with a caterpillar (which Monkey proclaimed as "cutie"!) and Pickle being generally goofy at his cabin group's table...and several others, including Reepicheep with her bow and arrow (I think she fancies herself Susan Pevensie...), The Pickle building something akin to a parachute (for the egg drop, I'm sure), and a couple of great shots of general campfire antics.
The Frog is a ranch camper this year. That means that she gets to bond with one particular horse, learn about the breed and how to care for it: tack, grooming, feeding, saddling up, and how to ride on more than just a trail. When we were pulling into the road to Camp, she said to me, "Mom, how do I make a good friend?" I was stunned! I said, "Sweetie, you've done this before! You've been to camp and made new friends. You've gone to building school and made good friends. You started homeschooling and went to First Friday for the first time and made good friends. You know how to be a wonderful friend--and that's the best way to make a friend!" My very dear friend (whom my children refer to as Auntie Trish) called me (she lives on camp) and let me know that the Frog has indeed apparently made a good friend. :) As Pa Ingalls would say, "All's well that ends well!" I've been able to see pictures of her out by the horses, both sitting near the arena and on her horse. She is so tall and poised, it's breathtaking....
This afternoon, they had the opportunity for Confession. On Friday they'll have Mass before lunch. It's such a beautiful place to experience faith, and especially to partake of the Sacramental life.
This is our seventh year as Camp Parents, and it's the camp where I used to work. I'm still there very occasionally, but with homeschooling and house building and family activities, it's pretty rare these days. I miss it.
The house is so quiet with the kids gone. It's just been me and the Monkey during the days since Sunday. I've gotten a lot done, which surprises me--I guess I thought he'd require a lot more entertaining than he does. I've been blessed by his ability to play by himself...it's something I knew the others did well, but with Monkey being the youngest of four, for Pete's sake, and having his brother and sisters around him all the time, I guess I didn't realize that he really does play alone very well. This is an important thing!!
I've enjoyed this time with him, Just We Two. He comes downstairs with his characteristic smile in the morning, cheerful and ready to snuggle for a few minutes before we find breakfast. We've read stories, played blocks, snuggled for snoozes, colored pictures, listened to music (check out John Lithgow's "Singin' In The Bathtub"--who knew?!--Our favorites are The Gnu Song and The Hippopotamus Song...but they're all good. Except the Triplet Song. We don't so much like that one.), danced, watched the rain, listened to the thunder, squealed over all manner of bugs...and he's had a hair cut and several baths. Tomorrow he wants to paint, so I'll get out the watercolors and let him go crazy while I wash the kitchen floor.
In the evenings, Monkey follows My Darling around with awe in his eyes...which I love. They've done wiring, watched baseball, built roads (some out of sand and some out of boards), gone to the hardware store--general Guy Stuff. Last night, when he needed to get some things done in the upstairs of the addition, My Darling hauled Monkey's bike up there so that he could putter around while Daddy worked.
Every time we get into the van to go somewhere (and apparently when he's gone on errands with Daddy), My Monkey pipes up with, "Can we go pick up (insert the name of any of his siblings here) now?" and we have to tell him, "Not just yet, Buddyroe."
We'll pick the Big Three up on Friday. They'll be completely worn out, and there will be the usual long faces and even a few tears about leaving Camp behind for another year...but they won't be able to stop chattering about everything they did. My ears will be ringing by the time we pull into the driveway, but I'll love it. They'll each bathe and fall into their beds, remembering the special things they did and learned at Camp.
And the Monkey will be thrilled to have them home.
(And so will I.)