And by ‘family camping,’ I mean ‘a lot of family going camping together.’
Ahna’s family was able to make a week-long journey en-mass to our house immediately following the completion of the school year. And while there will most certainly be more to come on their stay, this post is about our joint camping experience.
14 people, all related, two campsites, and little-to-no recent camping experience for most of us. And yet it somehow turned out to be painless, beautiful, and fun. It’s always amazing how much stuff needs to get packed for one night out – especially when you go car camping and are building a house and bed to sleep in. All 14 people and gear fit into three cars, and the three cars managed a 2 hour drive into the mountains without getting lost. We all ended up at the campground located just off the shores of Lake Dillon and spent a chilly evening exploring, getting dirty, getting bit by local bugs, roasting perfect smores, and going to sleep (sort of) way too late. Sounds like family camping perfection.
Not too many times will one get to experience arguably the greatest of anything in history – let alone four times. Whether or not U2 sits on top of the pile isn’t the point…it’s that they are at the top of the pile. For decades they have been producing some of the best and most important music in the world, and because they are globally loved, being able to see them live is an exercise in timing.
Once at RFK Stadium in Washington, DC. Once at Mile High Stadium in Denver. Twice at Pepsi Center in Denver.
I’ve been lucky. And considering that two of those times Ahna and I went together, I have been very lucky. The Pepsi Center (capacity around 19,000) seems like an intimate venue to see a band of U2’s stature. Having seen two huge performances in stadiums, the shows that they do indoors are entirely different. While still a performance, they are much more raw, much more rock, and much more fun.
This time around, we snagged floor/GA tickets, and met up with a couple of friends. We walked into the arena through a special entrance with no idea on what to expect. When we ended up about 10 feet from part of the stage, we were assured by someone who attended a previous version of the concert at an earlier tour stop that we were in perfect placement. Then the show began and our jaws dropped. Bono appeared immediately in front of us; then later seemingly serenaded us with Sunday Bloody Sunday. The band walked and played just in front of us, and the big video screen was omnipresent. Oddly, one of my favorite parts of the show was actually just a video…of Johnny Cash singing The Wanderer – perhaps my favorite U2 song ever (it was never played in the previous shows I have been to).
A night to remember for sure.
My Dad and I spent two days late last year going through my Great-Uncle Bob’s fire museum in Woodbine, Georgia. He passed away a couple of months prior and left the entire contents of the museum to the National Fire Heritage Center. We met representatives from the Center on site at the southern Georgia location, and were able to bring home some unique pieces…mostly importantly of which were several pieces of family history (badges, etc). Our family firefighting legacy extends 102 years now…
Not actually sure how many parts to this year’s birthday there will be. Part 2 is the actual day-of celebrations, which included donuts for breakfast, a lunch out, a special movie experience with Nana and Papa, and a dinner and desert out of his choosing…culminating with the highly anticipated opening of presents. I get the feeling there will be one more celebration as a slew of family arrives over the next two days – all looking to share in the excitement!
(must say, that I love this first picture)
Early mornings. Long days. Short races.
Having done it for like 15 years competitively, I should know and understand this, right? Sure do…from a kids hang-out-with-friends perspective. Now as a parent, there is a different reality to this set up.
Ezra has been doing lessons for quite a while, and for the first time, joined the summer league swim team. Summer league is what I would call a non-competitive fun league, compared to the year-round club swimming of high degrees of competitiveness. To be fair, they practice, race, win, loose, etc…but there isn’t the same pressure; and because it is only six weeks long, it’s full of all ability level swimmers. Regardless, it is a parent’s dream…short season, intro to serious sport without long term commitment, and fun for the kids.
The team has been practicing for two weeks, and those practices finally culminated in the first of five scheduled meets. This season, Ezra swims in the 6 and Under age group, and is officially eligible for only three events: 25m free, 25m back, and 25m breast. We signed him up for the free and back races, and threw him to the racing wolves to see what would happen.
Being at the pool at 545am, watching the set up and warm up, hearing the starter, and listening to the races brought back a lot of good memories. But being part of the larger experience, and seeing it from the seat of a non-participant was a lot more fun than I initially thought it would be. Of course, when Ezra lined up in the heating area, then moved to the starting blocks, then dove (ish) in when the starters “beep!” sounded, then raced as hard as he could to the other end of the long course pool, then finished second in his heat during his first ever race, then got out of the pool with an exhausted smile…well, that made Ahna and I pretty damn proud. Then he did it all over again about an hour later in the backstroke race with a less good finish position, but with all the same effort and joy.
The friend party. While in and of itself, this isn’t a new experience, this year marked the first year that it was entirely up to Ezra on who to invite. Friends from school and friends from life – and none of our parental influence outside of limiting the number of attendees.
This year’s theme was Pokeman (which appears popular again evidenced by a couple of other similarly aged kids having it as the theme of their party). It turns out that nobody, including the kids who love it, have any idea on what Pokeman actually is or how to play it. Ezra enjoys watching the cartoons and collecting the cards – but doesn’t actually do anything with the stuff…which is just fine by us. Outside of Lego sets, the Pokeman cards are the only thing that he collects, and that has been a fun process to witness. Pokeman cards are for him similar to what football cards were for me.
It has been mentioned before, but Ahna has developed quite a knack for building amazing birthday cakes for the kids. Of course, this would be no different. She stayed up to the wee hours of the morning the night before making a ridiculous Pikachu cake and some awesome Pokeball take-home bags.
Most of the last month here in Colorado has been rainy – like Pacific northwest rain at times – so it was nice that at least for the afternoon of his party the weather broke into warm sunshine. From a parent perspective, the unopposed highlight of the party was during the cake presentation/signing of Happy Birthday. Ezra – completely unprovoked – invited Elia to join him on his chair to help him blow out the candles. No fighting, no whining…just pure kindness; and it was beautiful to watch.