Greetings from sunny, and insanely hot Florida! This blog post is brought to you by all the free time I have thanks to MDA camp! Although I’m constantly afriad of getting a call from camp that cuts our week short, Tony and I are enjoying ‘Mama Papa Week 2022’ with all the joy that comes from getting 8+ hours of uninterrupted sleep at night.
July was a busy month. It was supposed to be when I caught up on all. the things. and got back into a regular groove post fostering Todd. In many way, I did. I thought perhaps I’d use this week to catch up on other things, but so far, relaxation has been the primary focus, which hasn’t been a bad thing. But, for posterity, lets run down the rest of July.
I took Byron to Kutztown for his college orientation way back on July 6. While he sat in an auditorium with hundreds of incoming freshman, I spent the day at the Kutztown Folk Fest. I’d never been to the event, as most summers I was either home from college, or working and taking classes at the college (and I probably didn’t think it would be “cool” to go at the time). But older, wiser me loved the opportunity to walk the stands, view the crafts, try the food and drinks, and sit in the beer garden and make small talk with strangers. I tried local wine and spirits and had a delicious piece of shoo-fly pie. When I told the kids later how good it was, they were like, “What’s shoo-fly pie?” and I realized how I’d failed to teach them about one of the best parts of their PA Dutch heritage.
Byron joined me after his orientation and when I asked how it went all he said was, “That could’ve been an email.” Poor kid. They gave all the students a calendar that listed all the important dates for dropping/ adding classes, paying bills, etc. and I thought “Oh, this is really helpful.” before noticing that at the bottom of each month was a tip written for parents on how to basically stop interfering in their child’s life. So, they gave this calendar to students with the understanding that they were just going to give it to their parents, and that the parents would be nagging the kids about all the dates on the calendar rather than letting them take responsibility for everything. The best pieces of advice talked about how to acclimate to living together again after your child has been away at school and how parents may need to “adjust their expectations”. Uh-huh. I don’t think I’m the one that needs to adjust to living in my own home. I don’t know if I feel insulted by this calendar, of if I feel sorry for the college administrators who deal with parents who need this level of support.
Tony and I decided to list our old home for sale. We’d been renting it out for the last three years, and as I previously mentioned our tenants didn’t leave it in the best shape. As we tried to figure out what to do, we realized that in the current market, our home is actually worth more than we ever thought we could get for it. We bought it right before the housing market crashed in 2008 and we wound up needing to sink a ton of money into it through the years. We didn’t think we’d ever be able to recoup what we spent, but apparently we might be able to. I have a lot of sentimental attachment to the home, but that’s not really reason enough to hold onto it at this point. I’m optimistic we can find a new owner who will love the property as much as we did.
Our town celebrated its 147th Our Lady of Mount Carmel festival from the 11 – 16. Last year’s week of camp coincided with the festival, so we missed everything. And we couldn’t attend much in 2020 due to COVID. It was great to be able to walk down to the festival several evenings with just Tony, as well as treat the kids to carnival food, and attend the procession.
When I wasn’t repainting kitchen cabinets or sneaking off to eat funnel cake, I was preparing for the Catholic Marketing Network’s trade-show in Chicago. I was hoping to promote my book, my ministry, and enjoy some of the Catholic Writers Guild talks.
But right before I left, I also had to make sure everything was ready for us to drive 16 hours to Florida the day after my return. We’d finally gotten confirmation that the MDA camp had enough volunteers and that Teddy and Fulton would get to attend summer camp! The boys and I compromised; we would stay in a “fancy” hotel on the drive down (ie no cockroaches) and stay at South of the Border on the drive home (ie risk of cockroaches).
I flew to Chicago with no problems and fortunately, I got to stay with Tony’s aunt for the duration of my stay. She arranged for other family to come over on the day of my arrival and we had a great family dinner and time together. During the trade-show I was interviewed for the Catholic Mom podcast by Lisa Hendey and Alison Gringas (which was so much fun!) plus I was interviewed for CMax TV, a new streaming service. I saw my book on display at the OSV booth and finally met my editor Rebecca in person.
The only downside was my return flight for early Thursday morning was cancelled. I was automatically rebooked on a later flight but, seeing as I had to get home early to pack, I changed my flight to one that left late Wednesday evening. It meant leaving a swanky dinner early, but ultimately I was glad I had all day Thursday to get things ready.
Friday we left just after 6 a.m. The weather was oppressively hot early on and never let up as we moved down the coast. Thankfully, we avoided traffic around Baltimore and Washington D.C. (if you drive 95 you know how much of a miracle that is!) As we stopped for gas, I got a call from our hotel saying that their elevator wasn’t working so we could only use the stairs to access our “accessible” room. I learned that all their accessible rooms were on the second or third floors and that any available room on the first floor would be too small to accommodate our needs.
We had just talked to the boys about how being ADA compliant doesn’t equal wheelchair accessibility and this really drove the point home. Ultimately we got a room at another hotel with two elevators and all the accessible rooms on the upper floors. Tony noticed that by the stairwell on our floor there was an area for disabled people to wait “in the event of an emergency”. Good to know that if a fire breaks out, wheelchair users can huddle in a stairwell, hoping that the local fire department will be able to rescue them and their mobility device.
The moral of the story is, even 32 years after the ADA was signed into law, businesses are still constructing buildings that, while meeting the letter of the law, do not have the safety of the disabled in mind.
But let’s move on to happier, more accessible place – the Elks youth camp in Umatilla, Florida, host to MDA summer camp! We went over Sunday afternoon and all got swabbed for COVID. I was terrified (and had been for the last two weeks) that someone would test positive at check-in. Thankfully, we were all negative and we set to work unpacking and overwhelming the staff with instructions. I print out directions for all the staff, and Tony and I demonstrate proper lifting technique. It took awhile, but the staff seemed experienced and after a family photo Tony and I drove off. We’ve filled our time with a mixture of activities and relaxation I’ll document later. It was a blessed end to July and hopefully it recharges us for the month ahead.