“Camp is fun!” Mallory said, about thirty minutes after we arrived. Then she looked back at me. “Camp is fun, right, Mommy?”

“Camp” was for Girl Scout leaders and their daughters – a special weekend getaway. I decided to bring my kids to camp so I could get a feel for the facilities and decide if camp was something I would ever want to do with our whole troop.

Camp was climbing on logs

and rocks

and crossing a “swinging” bridge.

Camp was Phoebe’s sudden fits of hysteria anytime she, Mallory, or I got separated by more than ten paces. “Mallory, wait!” she would wail, whenever Mallory tried to run ahead. “Mommy, hurry up!” she would holler tearfully, if I was lagging behind. “We have to stay together!” She takes the Buddy System very seriously, does Phoebe.

Camp was going on a canoe!

We were subject to a 15-minute lecture on Canoe Safety by a woman who called herself, mysteriously, Band-Aid. As Band-Aid spoke about grips and feathering and sterns and pivoting on a dime, I felt trepidation about piloting the long aluminum crafts parked (beached? Stowed?) on the shore of the lake. I pictured myself grounding the boat in the shallows or crashing into a stump, and suffering the ignominy of being rescued by…Band-Aid.

And yet…once we got in, and I pushed off, my qualms disappeared. Canoeing is fun! I realized, and paddling a breeze. (A good thing, because my daughters quickly decided that they didn’t want to help paddle at all – it made them feel “wobbly.”) I didn’t mind. There was something awesome about being able to propel us all – myself, my 8-year-old who reaches my chin, my 5-year-old whom I can hardly lift anymore – with one stroke of an oar. I could’ve spent all day in that canoe! I’d like to canoe again! (Of course, I was canoeing on a very placid cove in a drought-depleted lake, on a day with no wind to speak of. I don’t know if I would like to canoe in more challenging conditions. But I’d like to try!)

“Camp is fun,” Mallory said again, while we waited for dinner. “Except for canoeing, though.” I asked her why she didn’t like canoeing. “It was buggy, and hotty, and afraid-of-falling-outy,” she said, syncopatedly.

Phoebe said, later: “Let’s play the Opposite Game. For example, if I said, ‘camp,’ you could say… ‘a nice hotel.’” Because Camp was realizing, as night fell, that we would be required to sleep in cabins that were not wired with electricity and thus had no lights or, more importantly, fans or cooling devices. Girls and adults slept separately, and my cabin was quite a distance from the girls’, down a dark windy path. My children, as you may know, often still ask me to sleep in their bedroom with them, because across the hall is too far away. After dinner and a campfire and singing and s’mores, we headed to the cabins and I promised myself that if either of them – but my money was on Phoebe – if either of them complained, or cried, or expressed any kind of fear or doubt about the sleeping arrangements, I’d take them home.

I tucked them in – which just meant arranging their sleeping bags over the icky cot mattresses, it was too hot to cover up – and kissed them good-night and left them in their cabin with three other girls. I stopped by the showers, thinking that perhaps I’d rinse off, but beat a hasty retreat when I saw the quantities of spiders and beetles clustered therein. I arranged my own bedding and changed into my pajamas and sank down onto my own icky cot mattress, which immediately folded almost completely in half and made me worry about the integrity of the cot springs. I read for a while with my flashlight. I sweltered. Dear God, but it was hot. There was not a hint of a breeze. It was just as well I couldn’t take a shower. After thirty minutes, I decided to go check on the girls. I was sure they were as miserable as I was and would ask to go home. I stumbled along the path with my flashlight. As I neared the girls’ cabins I heard – giggling. Lots of giggling. I pushed open the door and saw Mallory and Phoebe sitting on the floor with the other girls. They were playing a card game by flashlight. Phoebe said: “Mommy, we’re having fun! Go back to your cabin!”

Color me surprised. And very relieved. And happy they were having a good time. And disappointed that we couldn’t go home. I went back to my cot and read and sweltered some more. Eventually there was a call for lights out and I lay there in the dark, listening to girls giggling, and crickets chirping, and frogs croaking, and owls hooting. It would have been pleasant were it not for the terrible terrible heat. Eventually I slept, fitfully.

The next morning we tried archery:

I liked archery almost as much as I liked canoeing; the girls didn’t care much for it. Mallory in particular had trouble grasping the finer points. (“Turn your wrist,” I heard the instructor say to her. “No, your wrist. Your wrist. Pull back on the string. No, pull back. The string. Pull back, on the string.”)

We went on a nature scavenger hunt; the girls were tickled to find a tree smaller than they were (look by their feet).

Then it was time to go home. The girls were sad. I expressed surprise that they didn’t want to leave; after all, they hadn’t much enjoyed the major activities. “But we liked playing in the cabin!” Mallory said. “And I liked singing campfire songs!” Phoebe added. “I wish we could rewind and start the whole weekend all over again,” Mallory said.

As for me -- I was gratified that the girls had fun, that we’d spent time together, that the weekend would be a special memory for them. I was glad we’d gone – not least because I know now for sure that this is absolutely not something I want to do with my troops. The bugs, the heat, the lack of lights, the dearth of clean running water – I don’t like it, and I can’t see myself mustering the necessary enthusiasm to fake liking it through an entire weekend with nine or ten girls in my care. We’ll find something else to do. There may not be canoes, but there will be clean bedding.



Was surprised to come across the highlighted line in the book I'm reading:

The author, in 1997, chose those two names at random for these particular characters (who are never mentioned again). My daughter's names (one of which we chose at random, one of which she inherited). It's just so weird. I'm wondering now if I read this book, some time before December 2001, and then remembered it subconsciously after I got pregnant, and...but no, I know that didn't happen. (This book is kind of dumb, frankly. Memorably dumb.)


Here are the lines Phoebe wrote in her "journal" at church last weekend (asking me to spell each word, of course):

Turtle on the loose
Top secret cat diary
Donkey Kong is amazing and awesome

Then I told her I couldn't spell any more because it was time to listen to the priest.


At a former job, Chris got to write a personal bio for his company's web page. He included the line: "My lovely wife, Krista, teaches kung fu to senior citizens in her spare time." One day I got a phone call. "Is this Krista?" Yes it is. "Hi, I'm so-and-so from the David Letterman show. We're looking for people with unusual jobs...we understand that you teach kung fu to senior citizens?" Wish I'd had the presence of mind to play along...I could've been on Letterman! Alas, honesty ruled the day. In the sense that I truthfully told the woman that my husband was a liar.

Never a dull moment, I tell you.


Which witch?

Mallory has changed her mind and no longer wants to be a giraffe for Halloween. You can bet that I did not spend any amount of time trying to change her mind back.

Now she wants to be a witch. Phoebe is also going to be a witch, having inherited the witch costume that her Aunt Amy wore for many years as a child, and which was recovered from a box in my in-law's attic and which is still in pristine witchy condition.

I went to Target today to look at witch costumes for 8-year-old girls. I found a Sweetie Witch costume of inappropriately short length, and a Fairy Witch costume with purple sequins. I went to the Adult section and found a Spiderweb Witch costume and a Glitzy Witch costume which one would need a whole lot of cleavage to pull off. There were Twinkle Witches and Elegant Witches and Goth Witches and, yes, Sexy Witches too.

I just want, for my child, a long black dress, maybe a bit raggedy around the hems, with a plain black cape.

I guess I need to learn how to sew.


Know Thyself

We received a DVD of the play Mallory was in last summer, and watched it Friday night. Captured on film was Mallory's late entrance for the big "NYC" number. As she watched herself meander across the stage to her mark, Mallory shook her head and said, "Boy, I'm a slowpoke."

Perhaps awareness will be the beginning of a cure. But I'm not holding my breath.


Lemonade/Girl Scouts/Pottery Fest/Trees

We've had a busy week.

Last weekend, the girls begged us to let them set up a lemonade stand. They've asked before, and we've vetoed the idea, having visions in our minds of the girls sitting, dejected, in the hot sun, with a full pitcher of lemonade on the table and no ready customers. But I finally said yes because, well, I figured if the no-customer scenario came true, they would at least learn a valuable life lesson about disappointment and commerce and so forth. (Plus, Phoebe made the heartrending plea that "I've wanted a lemonade stand my whole life and it's not fair!")

As it happens, the girls sold 4 dozen cookies and 2 gallons of lemonade in about 45 minutes. They made $9 a piece (because I didn't have the heart to charge them for my own time and labor and the price of chocolate chips). Of course, it could be that the only thing worse than an unsuccessful lemonade stand is a successful lemonade stand, in that now they're going to want to try it again.

The girls also started Girl Scouts. Mallory is in her second year of Brownies, which is so old hat that I didn't even take a picture. Phoebe started Daisy Scouts:

Amy and I are now the leaders for both of their troops, which is a bit overwhelming. But our first two meetings went well, and the Daisies in particular were just sweet as can be, so I think it's going to be all right. (Deep breath and prayer to universe.)

This Saturday we went to Pottery Fest, a gathering of local potters. The children were allowed to make something out of clay:

If you can see the vendor in the background -- man, I could've bought every single one of her pieces and still not be satisfied. So many beautiful things. I exercised restraint, however.

The girls found a tree to climb:

It was lovely event and the weather was gorgeous. It was a day that made me so happy to be in North Carolina. (And made up for missing my 20-year reunion, held that same day.)


20 Years

I thought and thought about how to make the "bio" for my 20-year high school reunion interesting and witty and insightful and memorable.

Finally I wrote:

My life is not what I expected it would be, 20 years ago. I am less “successful” than I anticipated but more fortunate than I could have imagined.

I think that pretty much sums it up.