Saturday, July 12, 2014
As I've mentioned in the past, in my family we take our sparklers very seriously. My grandfather just loved them, so each 4th of July we light 'em up in his honor.
Here's Lauren perfecting the patented "Pranty Twirl."
The "other" Lauren getting indoctrinated into our family's obsession.
Yes, it gets a little intense. Thankfully, he hasn't attempted fire eating. Yet.
Craig "Pyromaniac" Cathell supervising the annual backyard fireworks show.
We couldn't have asked for a better Independence Day. This year the weather was perfect, I had no food crises and all of our friends and family were in attendance. And because the 4th fell on a Friday, I could actually have the party on the holiday. So we were able to even close the evening with everyone joining us for our community's firework show.
While Lauren and I were at camp, Mark was hosting visitors to our garden.
Each year, the Shaler Garden Club hosts the Great Gardens Tour which features several private gardens in the area. The proceeds of the tour benefit the Shaler Area North Hills Library, which received a national award for excellence in 2012.
That same year, we entered the library's Great Garden's contest which lead us to be invited to feature our garden on this year's tour.
Since April, Mark has labored tirelessly for countless hours to get the garden into shape, and this is just a sampling of the fruits of his labor. All the tour visitors raved about his work.
The garden is really in full bloom right now. And it wouldn't be a Ross Family summer without sitting on the porch watching the hummingbirds flutter around the bee balm.
Here we have arrived at one of the highlights of the summer: Girl Scout camp. This year, we went back to Camp Redwing for their 3 day activity filled program, Me & My Gal. We had almost our entire troop attend together, including moms too. While this certainly added to the fun, it also made for some excitement. Our group started with 22, but only 17 made it to the end. One of our scouts slipped in the mud and broke her arm, so she went home the morning of the first day. One of our moms fell victim to the so very unplush cots and left a day early because of a sore back. Lastly, one of our scouts that attended independently could take a second night sleeping in a bug infested tent, so she had to be picked up by her mom.
But in spite of a few bumps in the road, we still had an amazing time. After all, it's camp.
This year, we were assigned to the Orchard platform tent unit. To say it was lacking the comforts of home is an understatement. One of our group had an unwelcome visitor in their tent during the night - a bat. All of the tents were crawling with bugs. Lauren and her friend would sit huddled together on a cot pointing them out with their flashlights so that I could shoo them out of the tent.
Our unit also had a unique feature: Composting toilets. While we were grateful that these were indoors (and not the bug infested stalls in some of the other units), they took a little getting used to and now I've come to appreciate how water adds to the whole commode experience.
Although our unit was right next to the boathouse, we unfortunately didn't get to go canoeing this time because the river was running high and fast due to all the rain in our area from the previous weeks.
Here are some of my girls. They are just the best. It's amazing how well they all get along. While they all have their best buddies that they hang with, they are never "clique-ish" and are always good to each other.
This sign is posted next to the rest rooms in the dining hall. While we're on the subject, I cannot state enough how awesome the food is at Camp Redwing. Here's how they fed us:
Breakfast: Buttermilk pancakes and sausage
Lunch: Cookout at our unit with hot dogs, hamburgers, pasta salad, watermelon and giant chocolate cookies
Dinner: Fried chicken, mashed potatoes, green beans, warm rolls, and wait for it - apple cobbler.
Breakfast: Bacon, egg and cheese muffins with home fries.
Lunch: Grilled chicken sandwiches, buttered noodles, fruit and sugar cookies.
Here are the girls participating in fire building session. All weekend, the councilors had a terrible time building fires because the ground was so damp.
Swimming in the pool is always a favorite activity.
Girl Scouts take safety extremely seriously. Each camper gets a "buddy board" tag. The color denotes whether you've taken the swimming test and are therefore permitted in the deep end (Most of us opted out of the test because it takes awhile and eats into your swimming time). Anytime you move in or out of the pool area, you move your tag to that place on the board. It helps lifeguards keep track of everyone at all times.
These mementos are on the mantel above the fire place at the camp's main lodge.
No visit to camp is complete without a souvenir stuffie from trading post.
Of course, the highlight of camp is the horseback riding.
For some reason, they put Lauren on a huge horse named Burk. The counselors had to help her down because he was too big for her to dismount on her own.
A close second favorite is archery.
Lauren even got a bullseye.
I did my best to savor these moments because they may be the last at this camp. The other leader and I concluded that we may not be the outdoor type of troop and probably require a little more comfortable accommodations, or at least bug free sleeping quarters. It's all good because whatever we choose to do in the future, it will still be an adventure.