Wednesday, June 27, 2012

14 Nealons and a Treetop Adventure

So yesterday it was quite chilly and windy in the Pocono Mountains. Our lake, lunch, pool schedule was not going to do. We sat around the table after breakfast and tried to come up with a plan. Going to the movies to see Madagascar 2 was one suggestion which seemed to be an okay idea but then I think it was my brother-in-law that had a brochure for Camelback, which is one of the ski mountains here. During the summer months they have the water slides...that was not going to be an option as we sat around in our sweatshirts, but then they also have treetops adventures. That is what we were going to do on this beautiful but chilly day in the Poconos. 

14 Nealons piled into two cars and we were on our way. 

We had to split up for our treetop adventure. Molly and Mikey weren't quite tall enough for the bigger course. You had to be able to reach 5'11" with your hands over your head in order to be able to fasten and unfasten the safety clips. So Chris, Laura, and I stayed with Molly and Mikey and the rest of the Nealon gang headed to the big course.

Love this picture of Molly...another picture of her with her arms outstretched, loving life, and ready for a new adventure.

Mikey thinking about his next move.

The safety clips were not an easy thing to master for their little fingers but they did get faster with each new section when they had to clip and unclip themselves.

Mission accomplished! 

This was the safety demo where the kids learned to clip and unclip themselves and attach themselves to the zipline.

Molly and Mikey were finished before the big kids, so we went to Friendly's for lunch and ice cream.

Another Nealon memory was made. The memories that we make today, are the stories that our kids will tell tomorrow.

Monday, June 18, 2012

The Gazillion Dancing Lanterns

It's been over two weeks since my last blog post. Boy, has life been busy with the end of school and the first week of summer behind us. We can already cross off things on our Summer Bucket List. The boys have already been to their first camp, basketball sleep away camp. They did this camp last year and really loved it. Unfortunately, Timmy got sick on Friday and as hard as he tried to get through the day, he needed to come home a day early. I got a phone call at 8:00 Friday night from the coach saying that he wanted to come home. Timmy is passionate about basketball so I knew he was sick if he didn't want to stay. Shannon, Chris, and my brother Brian were at the Yankee/National game (another thing to cross off our list) and so Molly and I drove to camp to get our sick Timmy. We pulled into the driveway at about 1:30 in the morning.

Timmy is back to his old self and as I write this, he and Ryan are at another basketball camp this week and Molly is at horseback riding camp. It is quiet with only Shannon in the house. Today, the plan is to get things done around the house; finish the laundry, finish cleaning out my closet, (I've had that one on my to-do list for a long time) and then start thinking about our Pocono trip with the Nealon side of the family. I love the summer! I love having down time away from the school schedules. But the summer brings new schedules and new routines and they change by the week. What we did last week already looks different than what we are doing this week because of camps, and what we do next week will look differently because we will be following our Pocono routine...lake in the morning, back to the house for some lunch and then an afternoon at the pool...a normal day in the Poconos for the Nealons...lake, lunch, pool. This routine started years ago. There seems to be a comfort with having a routine. 

But summer is also a time for breaking out of a routine or schedule. Last night it was nearly 10:00 by the time we finished cleaning up the kitchen from our late Father's Day dinner. Molly wanted to take me out firefly catching. At first I had said, "no." She had gone out the night before with Chris, it was late, and she had to get up early for horseback riding camp. But somehow she got me to the front stoop. I didn't see any fireflies and it was chilly last night. I still wasn't convinced but Molly gave me one of her pretty please faces and tells me that the fireflies aren't here in the front yard but down behind the neighbor's house and the next thing I know, I am going inside to get my sweatshirt. 

Molly grabs her net and bug jar and takes my hand to lead me to the fireflies. "I'll show you where they are," she says. "There are gazillions of them back here, mama!" She continues to lead me by the hand. The more we walk, the darker it gets, away from the front lights of our cul de sac and into the blackness of the trees and the woods behind the houses and then, I see them. A gazillion of them, just like she said. I've never seen so many fireflies at once. Molly handed me the bug jar and instructed me that I was to hold the jar as she ran off into the darkness with her net to catch some fireflies. I just stood there in awe of the dazzling lights that were twinkling before me. I called Molly's name every once in awhile because I couldn't see her. It was like playing Marco Polo at the pool. But she would call my name and she would follow the sound of my voice with a firefly in her net and we would put it in the bug firefly, two fireflies, three fireflies. I finally sat down on the grass and enjoyed this natural light show that was before me. Molly skipped over, net in hand, and just plopped herself down next to me and then put her head in my lap. 

"Mama, what are you doing?"

"I'm just sitting here watching the fireflies. I don't think I've ever seen so many at one time before."

"I told you this was a good spot. It's like watching a gazillion dancing lanterns in the sky, isn't it mama?"

"Yes, Molly, it is exactly like that. Thank you for taking me to see the dancing lanterns."

"You're welcome, mama."

The two of us just sat there together watching the show, Molly's head in my lap, me stroking her hair, and a gazillion dancing lanterns above our heads...and I just soaked up the moment because I never wanted it to end. 

Eventually we got up, we released our firefly friends, and walked back toward the house. Molly wanted to snuggle in bed with me and I said sure. "I'll read you a story," I tell her. So while she got on her pj's and brushed her teeth, I grabbed a book. We got cozy in bed and we read Patricia Polacco's When Lightning Comes in a Jar.

Later on that night, I googled fireflies and found a website that said the number of fireflies is on the decline and they believe it is because of light pollution and loss of habitat. "Their environment of choice is warm, humid, and near standing water of some kind-ponds, streams and rivers or even shallow depressions that retain water longer than the surrounding ground." This described Molly's firefly spot exactly...we walked down the slope of the hill to be near the creek and there is a wet marshy area that always stays wet long after a good soaking rain. Molly has found the perfect spot for firefly watching.

I am one for schedules and routines, but summer is a time for  new routines, like taking time to watch the "gazillion dancing lanterns." We may be able to cross off catching fireflies on our Summer Bucket List, but I'm sure we will be watching "the dancing lanterns" again this summer.