As some of you know, we've been spending the last two weeks in central New York camping with our five grandchildren, ages 11, 9, 8, 5 & 2 1/2. My son Nathan went to work each day (before sunrise!) and then joined all of us after work, through the night. What a joy to spend such quality time with each one of them!
We chose a KOA Campground that was fairly close to his work, to make his commute as easy as possible. We rented a "Kabin" just across from our space, to make it easier on us! KOA's are usually one of the cleanest, most social & dependable campgrounds you can count on. This one said it had "a fishing pond (yea! they love to fish), paddle boats (oh boy, good activity), an arcade room (good for the older ones), a playground (good for the two little ones), a large swimming pool with a slide (yea! good for all of us) and "planned activities for the whole family". Well, it was quite an exaggeration. The "fishing pond" turned out to be a very small, algae covered, low fish thing; the paddle boats (2)on it were a joke since it would take two pushes and you would be across the pond! The "arcade" was two machines that took almost $2 each just to play 1 game. The "activities" turned out to be 1 night of a "flashlight candy hunt & a ride around the park in a wagon. The only saving grace was the pool. It wasn't heated, so cold as all get out, but luckily that didn't stop the kids! It was a great move of Nathan's to bring their bikes too!
Our first week was a combination of "getting to know us, again" and the excitement of being at a campground. Routines began to be established, meals figured out (each one had their own "pickyness") and familiarisation of where everything in the campground was. The older ones were a great help in all of that. By week two, the older ones were comfortable enough with us to "test" all the "brother-sister" rivalry and teasing on us. The two youngest ones became more used to us and I could now understand (most of) Avida's (the baby) words. She and I bonded. The last couple of days they all had made friends with other kids, but the pool wasn't always enough to keep them entertained and boredom along with missing their Mom, set in. The only one who seemed completely content was the baby. She never tired of the "baby wing" & the sandbox. By now she knew the pool was awfully cold, so was pretty content to sit with me on the edge and dangle our feet together. Her "gamma" requests were predictable and endearing.
At the day's end was Nathan & the campfire ring, that was the best time. All of us sitting around after dinner and sharing our day, toasting marshmallows, telling stories and singing. On the weekends, Nathan's girlfriend and son joined us - that made a family of 10. Pure joy. We broke up the monotony by having a few "special days". One was when Grandpa took the two boys and went to see Howe's Caverns, out to lunch, then a movie. We girls baked cupcakes, made fudge, deviled eggs, Jello, and a multi-layered Mexican dip for lunch. We polished our fingers and toes, and put make-up on! Giggles and spoon & bowl licking were all part of the fun. Everyone couldn't wait to show off ourselves and the fun foods we made! The last weekend...miniature golf and pizza!
Since it's been a very long time since I had to entertain 2-11 year olds, I turned to my daughter for ideas! She came through like the super-mom I knew she was! So there were days of scavenger hunts & eye spy games; days with making silly masks to take pictures for "Auntie LaLa", movies and ice cream parties.
As with all "vacations", this one had to end as well. That day came yesterday, filled with packing, spending last minutes with their new friends, cleaning up and finishing off all of the special food. The baby & I took one last nap together. As the day was ending, the tears began. Living so far away, I've only gotten to see them about once a year at the most, but thinking of them & missing them daily. My family so spread out...a daughter, son-in-law & grandson in California, a son & fiance in Texas and my son and his children in New York - all so far apart. As time ages the children and parents vacations can be planed, I would love for all of us to have a real "family vacation" all together! Perhaps next year...
In the mean time, I dab my eyes, take deep breaths and remind myself how great our time was and plan for the next time...
If you wish to view the rest of the photos from this trip, you can at my Flickr account at:http://www.flickr.com/photos/74905158@N04/
...on the road in New York, Marie