We're only a month in and I'm EXHAUSTED. From chaperoning a girls camp for a week up in northern Michigan to spending some time with Hope and my parents on Higgins Lake, I feel like I've been on the go nonstop since the school year wrapped up. And I have. But there are certainly worse things. I'm really lucky I've gotten to do so much.
My first big foray of the summer was a week at Girls Rule Our World (GROW) camp at Chalfonte House in Elk Rapids, Michigan. Joel briefly wrote about Chalfonte in January but it's an incredibly special retreat house that a family friend started years ago. It holds a special place in my heart and it's where I've gone every March since I was 19 to spend a weekend away with some amazing women to bond, reflect, eat and shop for Women's Weekend. Anyhow, about three years ago, the family friend who started Chalfonte (it's his beautiful Victorian house), Jimeyer, asked if I'd like to be involved in GROW, a retreat for teenage girls. The idea was to give girls who may have medical issues, emotional problems, unstable family situations, or just need a break from home a week to away to experience new things and thus, grow. I agreed and it was such an incredible (and exhausting) experience that first year I've been back twice more as staff. It's a ton of work but by the end of the week you really feel like you've given these girls an experience that will last a lifetime.
This year was no different. We swam like fish, hung out at the beach, went to Sleeping Bear Dunes, camped out in the woods one night, got beautiful portraits done by an incredibly a local artist, made tie-dye shirts, and went tubing. I was the main staff person so it was my job to coordinate all activities, meals, etc. for the girls.
The good news is I was so busy cooking meals and moving from one activity to another that I didn't have a lot of time to dwell on Hope and the fact that I was away from her for SEVEN DAYS. I missed her but I knew she was in good hands with my mother-in-law, Anita, and Joel and that they were having a good time. The other good news is we had a fulfilling, unforgettable week and I really believe a lot of the girls experienced things they'll treasure for the rest of their lives. Some left crying, asking if they would be invited back next year.
Now, the bad news: After dropping off the last of the girls -- I also drove the girls around all week, along with another staffer, in a van the size of Toledo -- I couldn't wait to get home. I kept envisioning Hope's smile and couldn't wait to feel her little hands on my cheeks.
So much for visions. As soon as Hope saw me, she didn't smile. I don't know if I was too loud or what -- she did have her hearing aids on which we've been kind of lax about this summer for various reasons -- or she wasn't feeling well but she stiffened up when I held her for the first time and even cried a little bit. I thought I handled it pretty well. I calmed her down and gave her back to Joel. I waited until she went to bed and then I cried.
Things are fine now but I honestly wonder if she was mad at me. Does that happen? What do you all think?
Anyhow, sorry for the long, rambling blog post. I hope everyone is having a great summer. We're off to Maine next week to hang out with the Kurths & Konniks in Boothbay Harbor. We can't wait!
In the meantime, Hope continues to dazzle us with her cruising -- she's now turning corners. She's still nowhere near being able to pull herself to a stand but this kid is ready to move. She's also obsessed with her toothbrush and about to cut her fourth tooth. She got a molar out of the blue in late June. I knew kids with CdLS could cut teeth in an unusual pattern and I guess Hope fits the pattern. So now she has her two bottom teeth and a big molar on the left. It's kinda funny.