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Back from our camping extravaganza. Or, as someone in the family named it, “gramping” (because we were sharing a campsite with Grandpa (the kids’ grandpa, my dad), get it, get it? These are the jokes).

It was fun, though I discovered anew that while I love my extended family all the time, sometimes I like them better in smaller doses. I also discovered that I really do go a little crazy if I don’t get any time away from people in a four-day period. One of the best times for me was walking my baby niece back to the campsite from the beach – pushing her in her stroller helps her to sleep, and everyone else had brought cars, so I sent the kids back with Grandpa, and I pushed the dozy Miss M all alone, the entire long distance walking back. It was glorious. And quiet.

But overall it was a fun time, singing around the campfire to the accompaniment of three guitars (one of my uncles, his wife, and one of my cousins), a fiddle (another cousin), and some beautiful harmonizing (another cousin), making s’mores, cooking all our meals over a campfire (no sissy grill for us!) (except we cheated and ate at the local diner with Mom and Dad our last morning – it had dumped rain the night before, everything was soaked, we had to pack up, and it was cold), sharing coffee with one of my uncles each morning, family inside jokes, card games with the cousins, watching my littlest cousin (eight years old) playing with my kids, swimming in a proper lake again (technically it’s part of a river, but it was The Lake to us growing up, and therefore still is to me), checking out Mom’s gardens at the house and visiting with Gram, making bad puns with the cousins and watching in awe as my kids start to play with words as well (“The fire’s not going well,” Carl said. “That’s understandable, because of the rain,” I answered. “You mean that’s thunderstandable,” Joy piped.), getting to see family that we usually only see once or twice a year at best.

My boy cousins are all growing up, taller than me and their voices all changed or almost changed, little ones I used to hold as babies off to college or even almost finished. My youthful aunts and uncles are all either creeping up on 50 or already past it. Even when they drive me nuts at times (as I’m sure I do to them as well), I don’t want to drift away just because we live far away from them all.

Family is important.

We got back home Thursday and spent Friday drying out the tent, washing EVERYTHING, weeding the garden, and reveling in being clean and having slept in a real bed. Camping is fun, but recovery from camping is almost better.

Letter in the mail from the school district when we got back, approving our education plan. Hurrah! We start school the last day of August. Summer is winding down, fall is approaching, and I am content.

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