Just a few short months ago, I decided to take a leap out of the working world and into adventure. A big part of my intent was to discover just how much fun my kids and I could have in one summer before they started Kindergarten and college. I’m happy to report that our enjoyment was limited only by time. We explored, travelled, played and had more fun in our 11 weeks than I did in an entire childhood of summers.
Before the summer began, I strategized to avoid the boredom by developing an ala carte list of daily activities. With all that Oak Ridge has to offer**, we easily filled our days with trips to the library (Inch read 20 first and second grade level books as part of their summer reading program!), the gym (for those who are wondering, Yoga and I have amicably split) and the pool (we still LOVE LOVE LOVE sunning at the southeast’s largest public pool and eating Razzleberry’s!) We also had 3 different visits from some of our Texas family, checked out the newly renovated Cedar Hill Park and managed to only see 2 movies at our local theater. The rest of our time was filled with outings, parties, camps, lessons and travels:
Within only a few short hours of starting my sabbatical, we were off. We attended the annual butterfly release at the Knoxville zoo with cousin M, celebrated Inch’s 5th birthday (in conjunction with 3 of her cousins’ birthdays) at a bounce house party, a preschool friend’s birthday at a pool party and her graduation from preschool and TR’s from high school.
The following week we all joined DH in Washington D.C. where, in near 100 degree temps, we took in a few of the museums and sights. We also had the pleasure of dining with DH’s uncle and getting a personal mini-tour of our surroundings. Upon our return, we attended Inch’s BFF birthday party.
I’d always wanted to check out the Lost Sea in Sweetwater and this week I finally got the chance. I took Inch and her cousin B to check out the largest underground lake in the world. It was pretty spectacular and less than an hour from our house! This was also the week of Oak Ridge’s annual Secret City Festival (SCF). We took advantage of the free day at the American Museum of Science & Energy (AMSE), attended the festival during the day with some friends and DH joined us to watch the Village People concert that evening. It cracks me up to hear Inch still singing Macho Man and YMCA every now and then! The SCF had another 5K affiliated with it this year, so I ran in that as well. On Father’s Day we headed out to the Bass Pro Shop and took in some of the free camp activities they offer throughout the summer.
I got to start this week off celebrating a dear friend’s birthday at Big Ed’s. Inch resumed her swim lessons during the day and attended Vacation Bible School in the evenings with her cousin B. We also made a trip to the Oak Ridge Children’s Museum and attended one more birthday party at the bowling alley.
This week, Inch spent her mornings at her preschool church’s Vacation Bible School and went to swim lessons in the afternoon. We also spent some time with my aunt and cousin who came into town from Texas.
We celebrated July 4th with family by having a picnic and attending the free concert and fireworks at Bissell park. Using our season passes, Inch and I made another trip to the Knoxville Zoo.
Family vacation week! We took a seven day cruise from Charleston with stops in the Bahamas and Grand Turk. Not entirely sure that cruises are our thing but we did get our white sandy beaches, turquoise waters and snorkeling in cheaper than in years past.
After being inspired by the Alice in Wonderland play she’d seen at the Oak Ridge Playhouse earlier this year, Inch participated in Sound Company’s Show Camp this week. We went with J & M to see the largest tree house in the world – the Minister’s Tree house in Crossville.** Oh, and I made a run for city council.
After a respectable (but ironically exciting) loss for the city council seat, things slowed down a little. We did make a day trip with my sister up to Kentucky to visit my mom, brother and nephew.
Final push to squeeze in some more travel! DH had another work trip planned to D.C. so we tagged along for part of the week, saw my soon-to-be-famous cousin perform in an off-Broadway production of Oklahoma! and then met up with TR to spend a few days in the Big Apple. I still can’t believe how much fun New York was! Both kids enjoyed it more than I would have guessed and we all cannot wait to go back!
The last week before school! We started off with a party sponsored by the library to celebrate the Summer Reading Program that Inch participated in. And what better way to wrap up a summer than with family? My uncle and his family came up from Texas this week and we enjoyed some really good times with them including a ‘Thanksgiving in August’ feast.
But alas, all good things must come to an end. As much as we packed in, it’s hard to believe that there were so many other things that we missed out on. We never even made it to the Smokies! Gatlinburg, Dollywood, Splash Country, Ripley’s Aquarium, tubing in Townsend, white water rafting on the Ocoee, and zip lining will have to wait until next summer!
**Green = Free**