Yael – here is the post you were waiting for! The conference has come and gone, but where to start? As the rain is pouring outside, and the boys are getting ready for bed so they can get ready for more tomorrow, I have a few minutes to write. What started out as a short trip and back to the conference, turned into something more. Oh, so much more!
My husband called me up and informed that he had a vacation day that he had to use or loose. We decided that driving 6 hours from Motzei Shabbos until Sunday morning at 9am was too much in the summer time, so we decided to use it on Friday and drive to our friends’ house in Virginia to spend Shabbos. That way the trip into Baltimore would be short and we would actually be awake. My husband had Monday off for Memorial Day and we were going to find something nice and educational for the boys that day and then drive home. That was the plan!
What I need to say here is that this new plan was thought of and decided within an hour or two late on Thursday afternoon – meaning I had just a few hours to pack for a departure of early Friday morning! Not to mention we had scouts and challah baking that night as well. Somehow everything got packed and we had a very nice drive to Virginia. We arrived at our destination on time and were pretty pleased with ourselves…that is until our friends’ daughter asked if we could just move our van over just a bit. The van would not start. I thought perhaps it was the battery in our key (it is one of those fob keys,) and our friend had replacement batteries. Nope. We thought ahead and had purchased AAA. I honestly thought it was the key – the battery was replaced about a year ago, lights came on, etc. Just the car did not turn on when I turned the key. AAA sent out a locksmith. He could not figure out the problem, and with Shabbos just minutes away, we had to let him go. (Fob keys are usually only able to be made at the dealership…)
Shabbos was wonderful! To wonderful friends, to meeting new friends, to boys having lots of fun! It was really nice. But then reality kicked in and that key issue just did not go away during Shabbos. Tried calling AAA again, but the locksmith I talked too said they could not give me a new key until several days after the weekend. 😐 Never mind, it’s too late, time for bed, I cannot think. Sunday morning – what to do? How to get to the conference? Never fear – friends are here! After convincing us that they really did intend to drive into Baltimore that day, we had our ride. So, we were a little late, that was fine, we made it late in the morning, but we made it! Baruch Hashem. What were we to do afterwards? Once step at a time, worrying would come later. Boys were sent to be babysitters or to be babysat, and the parents were free! My oldest was one of the boys watching the other sort of older boys. He was shocked that about 28 bottles of juice was finished up by 15 boys (including the teenagers) in 4 hours. Those are boys for you! You put it out, it will be gone! 🙂 Baruch Hashem!
It was wonderful. So many people, so many vendors! It was so nice to be amongst so many fellow homeschoolers. It really felt like one big family with everyone out there to help other people out. It was a place where one could just walk up to anyone else and ask questions or help give answers. There were many wonderful speakers, an amazing binder full of chizuk to everyone, and yes, enough food to fill everyone’s tummy. I think the big thing that I got out of it all was the connections. Over the last year or so I have met many people online, and this weekend was a time where I seemed to have met many of those people in person! It was so nice to put a face to a name and to connect in person. I am really a quiet person, but since I have “known” these people already, when we finally met, it was not a new friend feeling and I enjoyed every bit of it! I wish we had more time to chat with everyone, even with our friends we have met several times before, there was just so much to do and so many people to talk too that we did not get to chat with any one person.
When the conference was about ready to end, our dear friend was just finishing up her trip and was there to pick us up. She drove us to the airport so we could pick up our rental van that AAA is supposed to pay for (we purchased the highest AAA membership – 200 miles towing and up to $1500 in a car rental OR food and lodging on a trip interruption.) After taking forever to pick up the van, driving back, waiting several hours for a tow truck, we were finally ready to drive all the way back to Baltimore to our prepaid hotel. We had the man tow our truck 189 miles towards home to the car dealership. At after midnight, we were ready for bed. We were NOT going to set any alarm for the next morning.
Monday was a nice lazy start. After getting up late, driving next door to Target to get a carseat that we left at the conference and food to eat, we were ready to find a place to eat our food. It was really lunch time. We ended up going out to eat instead! The perks of being in such a huge Jewish population – we just drove up and down the street and saw restaurant upon restaurant that was available to eat at. After filling up our bellies, we decided that we should do some learning, and we headed on over to Fort McHenry for an amazing adventure!
It was a beautiful day to be outside. We walked around and found ourselves near some canons and a Park Ranger. After standing there admiring the canons for a few minutes, the Park Ranger started giving the crowd some information about the canons. One of them was an original that was found in France, and the others were replicas. He was funny, entertaining, and educational all in one. Apparently it took over 20 people per canon to man it. He started taking children and positioning them in different places, at the same time, telling them what their job was. The canon was “shot” 3 times in total. It was wonderful! We also took a tour of the Star Fort and saw the barracks, prison and other rooms. Back in the main building, we watched a movie about the battle at the fort in September 1814. It was an awesome film! Even though we all knew the outcome, we were kept in “suspense” anxious to find out the ending. It was also wonderful that we saw the canons and how they worked first before seeing the movie, we understood more of what was going on and it was more meaningful to us. I will not give away the ending – it was a wonderful surprise! The whole movie was only about 10-15 minutes long and so worth every minute of it. I would recommend 1.5-2 hours for a nice visit and tour.
After too long of a visit to the gift store, we were on our way to find our car. We arrived in Lewisburg, PA just after suppertime – that breakfast we bought in the morning sure came in handy! We went into our motel room (and I think we were the only guests there!) ate supper, did mishnayos and finally went into bed. We were exhausted from the weekend, and it was not over. Up early again to get to the dealer about the time they opened. Long story short – it was something under the dashboard that went out and it would take a day or so to fix, so on our way home we went. Made it back to do the afternoon classes in Room613 and send Daddy to work a full day.
It is now Wednesday morning. Clothes from the trip have been washed and dried. Counters have been cleaned and food for the rest of the week bought. In about an hour we are off again to drive back to Lewisburg to pick up the car and get one of the two keys we have rekeyed. We are now down to only one key. New keys cost $225. That’s a fob key for you. Tomorrow, Thursday, I make challah, have scouts and go shopping for the boy scouts. Why? Because Friday is the beginning of the boy scout campout and us two parents are the adults. I am so not interested in camping at the moment, but we cannot disappoint those beautiful boys! It should be fun, really. Monday. I think my extended weekend will be over then. Bonus? I don’t have to make any food for Shabbos (except for challah which I volunteered,)- the Boy Scouts are doing the food making, cleaning, and most importantly, the tent raising and lowering!