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Jen Deinlein: Imperfect summer offers some perfect opportunities


My oldest daughter heads back to school next week, so in homage to those old first-day-of-school essays, my first Mommy Blog will be about what we did (or didn’t do) on our summer vacation.

Disclaimer: Time has sort of melted for me during the pandemic, so we probably did some of these things in the spring. 

I should note that we don’t have a “regular” summer vacation spot. We’ve been pinching pennies lately, so there haven’t been a lot of trips, or camps and lessons for our kids, either. We tend to look for adventure in the everyday things, even if it’s wandering close to home. 

So this summer wasn’t wholly abnormal.

Sophie, our 7-year-old, finished first grade at our dining room table. Her teachers did a great job keeping us going virtually – we had daily assignments (even in special subjects like music and P.E.!) – but we still found ourselves with some down time. And I found myself trying to keep both Sophie and 4-year-old Annabelle occupied in more quiet activities, since my husband has been working at home since March. 

 Pete the Cat and the Missing Cupcakes, by loyal Pete the Cat Club member Sophie.

Pete the Cat and the Missing Cupcakes, by loyal Pete the Cat Club member Sophie.

One quiet activity we enjoyed into the summer was Pete the Cat Club. Like a lot of artists and writers, James Dean (the author/illustrator, not the late actor!) wanted to find a way to reach out to kids stuck at home, so he began doing daily Instagram Lives where he would read a Pete the Cat book and show kids how to draw a character or scene from that book. Our house is filled with sketches of Pete the Cat surfing, making cupcakes, standing in front of the Empire State Building…

We’ve continued a nightly tradition of golf ball hunting – the perks of living on a golf course. It’s a good way to get some socially distanced exercise, and we also try to sneak in some math practice and color sorting. We got to do some bonus explorations while the course was closed, and instead of just walking the area behind our house, we wandered all the way down to the lake and even a section on the other side of the neighborhood.

Sophie and Annabelle in front of the Paw Paw Tunnel.

Sophie and Annabelle in front of the Paw Paw Tunnel.

Yes, we’ve gotten a little stir-crazy at times. We tried to make lemons out of lemonade while my husband was furloughed, and we took day trips in the middle of the week when we thought places might not be too “people-y.” We went to explore the Paw Paw Tunnel on the C&O Canal towpath (the towpath is another favorite!) on a Wednesday afternoon. We packed our lunch and ate at a picnic table – after proper sanitizing, of course – so as not to have to stop anywhere else.

Living in Franklin County, we have access to easier stretches of the Appalachian Trail. We haven’t hiked as much as we usually do, but you can give fellow hikers a wide berth if you pass them, and we also took advantage of the furlough weeks for mid-week hikes. We hit Pine Grove Furnace and Big Flat, off the Shippensburg Road in Cumberland County – where we also found the 2020 AT mid-way point, marked by “COVID Bear,” a wood carving of a bear with a mask on his face!

We also took a hike at King’s Gap, where we found a beautiful overlook and view of Shippensburg, Newville and the mountains to the west. In spots like that, the view is like a deep breath for the soul in the midst of so much uncertainty and anxiety.

It hasn’t been a perfect summer. We would love to have gotten out more, and we miss seeing family members we’d usually visit during the summer. We didn’t do the sports or art activities we wanted to try this summer, and the girls were disappointed about that. But we found some small ways to keep up the adventure. It’s all in how you look at it.

Jen Deinlein.

Jen Deinlein.

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Tue 22

Veterans’ Expo & Job Fair (Virtual)

September 15 @ 10:00 am - September 30 @ 6:00 pm
Tue 22

Preview Week for the Online Auction to Benefit Simpson Public Library

September 21 @ 9:00 am - September 25 @ 9:00 pm
Wed 23

Ryan & Friends: Comedy Calamity

September 23 @ 7:00 pm - 8:30 pm