Day 7: Pool. Party!

I was already excited. Any minute now, and for the first time since Easter weekend, my sweet Eliza would be pulling her little black car into our driveway and parking it.

She’s been a long time gone, you see, due to senior year activities and an intense, 14-week internship at Camp Twin Lakes in Rutledge, Georgia. Her camp experience complete, this Friday she’ll receive a bachelor of science degree in Recreation Therapy and will officially be a graduate of Clemson University.

So I was pacing just a little bit, finding one excuse after another to pass by the big glass doors to look out toward the driveway.

Then came this little gem on my trusty iPhone from my friend and neighbor, the fabulous T. Coles.

Screen Shot 2015-08-03 at 3.55.15 PM

 

Then there was this.

 

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“out back drinking margs!” the caption said

 

A few minutes passed. Then a few more. Then finally. Finally. FINALLY E landed!

Up for a late afternoon swim at the Coles? I asked.

Sure, she said, her feet barely in the door.

And off we went.

 

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we love a party
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could you say no to this???
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Max in charge.
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everybody’s happy eliza’s home

 

 

30 Days Of Fun III

Did you have some summer fun today? Leave details in the comments below, or better yet, send a photo to cathy@thedailygrace.com. You can also post to instagram with hashtag #30DaysOfFunTDG or to my TheDailyGraceBlog Facebook page. I’d love to share it here!

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Day 2: Road Trip! (with a view)

At the very last minute–and by that I mean I didn’t even shower first–we hopped in the car for a quick trip to the mountains. We grabbed our things, our dog, three Lexington County peaches that were at risk of getting overly ripe, and off we went.

 

#InstaSize
See? Even Little Bit is jacked.

 

We spent the afternoon looking at gorgeous views like this.

 

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Then we made the drive to Clemson, where tomorrow we’re moving sweet Eliza from her house on Hillcrest Avenue. She’s about to graduate from college for real, her Recreation Therapy summer work at Camp Twin Lakes nearly over.

We made a quick stop at the Esso Club,

 

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where we enjoyed a beer with Little Bit.

 

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Just kidding. LB’s not a beer drinker.

 

Then we up and called our friends, the Maibergers, who live just around the corner, who just happened to be home, who just happened to invite us over.

It was the perfect summer day–full of whimsy, impulse, joy and friends.

I do love summer.

 

30 Days Of Fun III

Did you have some summer fun today? Leave details in the comments below, or better yet, send a photo to cathy@thedailygrace.com. You can also post to instagram with hashtag #30DaysOfFunTDG or to my TheDailyGraceBlog Facebook page. I’d love to share it here!

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Fun, Fun, Fun. Here we go!

I made a new friend today, a young woman with whom I was corresponding about The Daily Grace. She ended one of the emails with this lovely comment:

I’m now into reading your older blog posts and love the 30 Day Series!  I’m going to have to do the “Fun” ones before summer ends!

I’ve been thinking about doing that again, too, I wrote back. But I’m not having that much fun.”

And that is the point, I thought. Neither she, nor I, (nor you) should let this summer pass without a real effort to put a little fun into every single day.

So let us begin! 30 Days of Fun III ~ Summer 2015 ~ is officially underway!

Join me, won’t you?

 

doing a little drumming at Camp Twin Lakes
A little fun from Camp Twin Lakes, just to get us in the mood.

 

 

 

 

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I love camp.

I do.

I’ve loved camp since I was 10, packing up my big blue trunk with everything a girl needs for two, three, five weeks away from home; kissing my parents goodbye, choosing a bunk bed (top please), swimming in the lake, weaving lanyards, learning dances, riding horses, laying a trail, idolizing counselors, eating in the dining hall, ringing the morning bell, roasting marshmallows, writing letters home, reading by flashlight, performing silly skits, catching lightning bugs, making Best Friends you will remember forever and ever. And then crying all the way home knowing Camp is over, knowing another year will pass before summer will come round again.

Camp is all that and so much more to the kids who come to Camp Twin Lakes in Rutledge, Geogia. It’s a respite from the world for children who face difficulties I can hardly imagine, be it complicated home situations, significant medical challenges, life-threatening illness. It’s where my brave about-to-be-a-college-graduate daughter, Eliza, is spending the summer giving her all to children who need so much–children, she says, who give her way more.

 

CTL

 

We spent last Saturday there, Tim and I, and Eliza was determined to give us the full Camp experience. First we met her friends, fellow counselors I immediately loved who are changing the world one camper at a time with grand gifts of love and normalcy.

 

camp-girls
Don’t you love them?

 

Then we spent two hours on a golf cart traveling the entirety of Camp Twin Lake’s grounds. I was overwhelmed with it all, from the fabulous HGTV-style treehouse (my favorite) to a full working farm to two lakes to a boundless playground to the rock climbing wall to the ropes course to the arts and crafts building to the rimless pool. There is so much to see and do and the most remarkable thing of all is these activities are adapted for people with physical challenges.

I’ll never forget one of the first times Eliza called to tell me about camp. “Some kids may not be able to walk, Mom, but on our Zipline they can fly.” Yes, yes, yes.

 

campsigns
this is but a small sampling of their camp activities

 

We were thrilled to try our hands (legs?) at Paddle Boarding, something that’s been on my life list for a while. It was so much fun!

But the very best part of the day came when we visited Eliza’s cabin. At the last minute she pulled from a plastic tote this letter, which she’d just gotten from a camper the day before.

 

eliza-letter

 

I’m proud of my daughter, but I was even more touched by the words this child chose as she considered her Camp Twin Lakes experience.

You are important to me.

Isn’t that the most perfect way to begin a letter? Or a conversation? Isn’t it like having the other person look deep in your eyes to say I see you in there, and I mean this just for you. It’s a sentiment I love, and a phrase I vow to use in my own life in the future, just one of the many lessons of my day at Camp Twin Lakes.

You are important to me.

Yes.

 

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the best day ever

As days go, this has to be one of the best ever.

First, the Confederate Flag no longer flies on the grounds of our South Carolina Statehouse. In tribute I humbly offer Columbia poet Nikky Finney reading a poem she wrote in the early morning hours yesterday, just after our lawmakers and Governor Haley put ink to the decision to Take It Down. Its publication comprised the entirety of the front page of this morning’s newspaper. Bravo to The State, and thank you, Ms. Finney, for articulating what so many of us feel. How poignant is your question: Who are we now?

 

Second, the baby bluebirds have fledged! It is an understatement to call this a miracle, since the last four nests of this devoted bluebird couple have not been successful. You will remember the last sad tale of the morning I woke up to find the five-day-old babies missing–devoured by a snake, we later determined. Our hearts were broken: Mama’s, Papa’s and mine. And so we moved the nest box out into the yard, took preventive snake measures, then fretted as temperatures topped 98 degrees seven days in a row.

I took drastic measures, constructing heat shields and (ultimately) bunji-cording a large golf umbrella above the birdhouse to provide some shade for the eggs and the Mama in that box, baking in the heat.

 

i am the crazy bird lady

 

The eggs hatched, and with all the rigging I’d done to that birdhouse my glimpses into the nest were few and far between. I did keep a close eye on the parents, however, rejoicing each time they flew to the box, dinner-in-beak.

 

mama

 

Last night I got home from work and took my (hot) perch on the back porch, waiting and watching for activity. There was none in sight. With each passing minute my panic rose. Where were they? Why weren’t they feeding? What had happened this time???

Two hours and lots of fretting later I began to wonder if there was a chance the babies had fledged. Surely not, I thought, there hasn’t been time. They’re too small. I mean, the last time I got a photo, they hardly looked feathered!

 

July 5, 2015
July 5, 2015

 

When were they born? How many days had it been?

I tracked it back to the first sighting of Papa with a tiny crawly in his mouth. Seventeen days. Seventeen days! That’s fledge time!

And still I was not brave enough to look. I decided to wait until morning, when my sweet husband, Tim, would be home to assist.

Just today, this is what we found.

 

Brave Tim.
Brave Tim.

 

An empty nest!
An empty nest!

 

home sweet successful home!
home sweet successful home

 

I am overjoyed! I believe the three babies are in the woods just there to the side of the Cope’s yard, out of the sun’s direct heat, learning to fly and jump and play. Their parents will continue to feed for the next month, keeping them under cover, safe and sound (we hope) and out of Hawk range. I am going to believe that is the case, anyway.

As for me, now, I have breathed a great sigh of relief and am so happy this dear couple is having this joy. Life is good.

The third thing that makes this one of the greatest days ever? It is the day before I get to go see my own sweet baby, all grown up and spending the summer working at Camp Twin Lakes, a life-changing camp for children with serious illnesses, disabilities and other life challenges. How proud I am of Eliza for not just wanting to make a difference in this world but for actually doing it in such a special and meaningful way.

 

Camp Twin Lakes
Camp Twin Lakes

 

My heart is full, my spirit soars. I send you all good wishes, my friend, for a July weekend filled with everything that makes you happy!

 

 

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