Friday, July 24, 2009

Lewis and Clark: I

In Erik's family, "vacation" is synonymous with "adventure." And, the bigger the adventure, the better the yarn.

I should've known it would be that way with Erik. This year our adventure is Erik's participation in the MR340 River Race. In short, he and his best friend (from first grade) will be in a canoe for 4 days and 3 nights, racing from Kansas City to St. Louis on the Missouri River. For 340 miles. We will have yarns, for sure.

This summer race preparation has been a big activity in our house. Unlike many racers, Erik and his friend aren't canoeing hobbyists. Except for a Miller Lite canoe won in a bar 15 years ago, neither had any gear (or knowledge, I'll add). There were practice trips, books to read, the brains of outdoor enthusiasts to tap, and, of course, money to be spent. The kids screamed with delight when a shiny new canoe showed up in the garage.

Around June I was sucked into the mix. Back in January when I thought the whole thing would fall through, I'd agreed to be the boys' support crew. Now I had to put my project management skills to a real-life test. I dug my heels into schedules, topographical maps, and meal planning (with all the constraints of life lived out of a mini-van). Soon I will get friendly with a GPS.

The boys' goal is to finish on time. My goal is to successfully feed, hydrate, clothe, and medicate the crew. We all hope to survive the demands of the week while having a lot of fun.

We are down to days now. When we get down to hours, I'll start filling the car. Now that Erik has a new craft he doesn't want to lose down the river, he's concentrating on knots. Watching him last night, I was struck with the beauty of his hands turning the rope over and under. I laughed - it looked just like hand quilting or knitting! Pattern in one hand and rope in another, I realized Erik has discovered his handicraft! It was impressive and (I dare say) sexy. I'm wondering if there's a market on etsy for pre-made knots...

We may be obsessing but we've also revisited the journals of Lewis and Clark. Last night Sarah watched the Ken Burns documentary with us. For all she knows Dad is precisely revisiting the historical trip, complete with run-ins with the Teton-Sioux.

Maybe there won't be Native Americans, but there will be mosquitoes and who knows what else. Oh, I know what else - a BIG family story.

Monday, July 13, 2009

4H 2009

We're having a very good summer. I'm keeping things as simple as possible. Most days the kids play from sunup to sundown. Most days I'm working in my home office. We meet up to play in the backyard, take walks, read together, and eat snacks. Everyone is happy.

The summer has gone fast. This morning we bought school supplies for Sarah who is leaving for her grandmother's soon and won't be back until school starts on August 11.

It may feel weird to fill her backpack in July but it does feel like Fair time. The kids have grown so much since last year. Sarah finished her two 4H projects this afternoon. For Clothing, she is exhibiting a pillow. Since she did Level 1 last year, she was Level 2 this year. I'll vouch that teaching machine sewing is easier than teaching hand stitches. The pillow was a breeze.

The Foods entry was surprisingly harder. She chose to make breakfast cookies. It took an HOUR AND A HALF to mix them (my Type-A self nearly had an aneurysm). They taste delicious though. All of us are now counting down to the Fair. I think next year I'll do a pie––I still can't bring myself to part with one!