Saturday, June 21, 2014

So Proud of our Beautiful Daughter!

Thing 1 has just completed a week of writers' camp - this is her second year attending it and she says it is the highlight of her summer. Of course we can tell that from the giant smile on her face when we drop her off and pick her up every day. Plus, she gets up early every day and gets ready in time to have extra time to write before she even gets there - it is not hyperbole when I say that she eats, drinks, and breathes writing. She really does!

The morning of day 1 - look at that smile!

Armed with her trusty laptop and pens!
So, during writers' camp, I get to hang out with Thing 2 and we love it! The camp is in SUCH a great little town in a neighboring county. It was voted "America's Coolest Small Town" this past year and it lives up to its name. We LOVE being there and even contemplated moving there as we looked for houses.

The camp takes place at the #1 college preparatory school in the U.S. for girls. It's also the oldest independent boarding school for girls (they have day students there as well). The quality of the instruction is top notch. And of course Thing 1 loves being with other kids who are also passionate about writing. Her teachers and mentors are more than we could ask for and we cannot say enough about how grateful we are to them for all they do to make it such a positive growing experience.

The Johnson boys joined us on Day 1 and spent the whole day with us playing games, eating, and writing!

Thing 2 and I spend most of our time at the beautiful park there as well as the local independent bookstore - we can't get enough of both places! This town is like Stars Hollow and being there is truly inspiring. I think we need to go more regularly and write there!

Also, you know how The Magic Violinist herself told everyone on her blog that autographed copies of her book are being displayed and sold at the store? Well, here they are!

Love this quote at their store - so true! :P

Love this sign at the park - this should be the norm at every park and playground!
On day 2, Thing 2 and I took Scout with us and walked around the park with her. She had a GREAT time chasing ducks and squirrels and smelling everything she could!

Too much cuteness!
On days 1 and 2, the bookstore was open for limited hours as the owners were on vacation. I went to the store both days and enjoyed talking with the woman who was running the store in their absence - I know her from a local writers' group I've attended now and then. She was terrific to talk to and very supportive and encouraging about writing.

On day 3, the bookstore was open during its regular hours, so after camp, we went there and got a picture of the author by her books! When I told her about how they're looking to have her do an author signing there in October, I'm not going to lie - she teared up as her smile stretched across her face. She is so excited!

Day 3 is also when Sherri and Jack joined us for the afternoon. It was a REALLY hot day. I was so tired that day that I forgot to take pictures, but we enjoyed having lunch with them and spending time together!

Day 4 - Thing 2 and I enjoyed a lovely morning at the town's hopping coffee shop - a Manhattan-style bakery where you can get donuts, breakfast sandwiches, bagels, coffee, juice, granola bars . . . you name it. It has a great vibe - friendly and vibrant and energizing.

My cute breakfast partner
Then we spent a bunch of time at the park feeding the ducks (and more time at the bookstore). We have purchased many, many books this week! It got pretty rainy, so we enjoyed our packed lunch under the cover of the gazebo.

On day 5, Mark was able to join us for the whole day and we really enjoyed ourselves! We stopped at the coffee shop and then went back to the park to watch the ducks and adorable ducklings. Then we played games in the gazebo. Dominion!

We spent A LOT of time at this wonderful bookstore. Endearing town. Great store. Fantastic owners.
And the highlight of day 5 - getting to see Thing 1 present her writing at a student presentation. I got so wrapped up in her 2nd reading that I forgot to take pictures, but here are some from her first reading. She is so poised and graceful!

Kate with her friend Peyton - they are so happy to have found each other!
***I LOVE THIS GIRL! I have no apologies for my outburst. It had to be exclaimed. I love, love, love my daughter. I love spending time with her. I love watching her grow. I love being inspired by her. I feel so over-the-moon lucky to be her mom. I GET TO BE HER MOM!!***

Okay, so back to my post. She learns from the best - in person, through blogging, through networking, through internships, through volunteering. She is always connecting with great people and honing her craft. Writers' camp is no exception.
Both instructors have such a positive, encouraging energy about them, and Kate has shared with us that she really likes that they aren't afraid to challenge and critique them. She craves honest and direct feedback in addition to encouragement. She loves writing so much and truly wants to be her best as a writer. 

Dr. Scouten is a former Teacher of the Year (in the state of South Carolina) specifically for his work as a writing instructor. And she gets to spend a whole week learning from him! He had such kind things to say about her when he spoke to us afterward. He and Ms. Savage both shared how they've seen so much growth in her and in her writing just in the past year. They both also, independently of each other, expressed how glad they are that she and Peyton connected and feel that they can both help each other and be excellent readers/critique partners for each other. We're so lucky to live in a world with technology that makes it easy to connect and stay connected in that way.
Kate and Dr. Scouten
The workshop is primarily led by Lancaster’s poet laureate Ms. Savage. She has written an impressive 3,000+ stories for magazines and newspapers. This woman is a true gem. We got to talk with both of these wonderful instructors at a reception following the reading. 

At one point, Ms. Savage, Mark, Kate, and I all shared tears together as this amazing instructor shared her feelings about Kate with us. She gave Kate very specific advice on what to do as she goes forward and so much of it wasn't what you'd necessarily expect. She told her how to challenge herself with whatever is hardest for her. She told her how lucky she is to have the educational setting that she does so that she can avoid getting tied down by anything that might limit her writing and her voice. She spoke with such passion about Kate's voice and how it is a true gift that she has SUCH a strong voice in her writing. I have to say that that is something we hear from so many of her writing partners and mentors - her voice, her voice, her voice. It is so strong and so consistently hers that you could open to any part of her stories and know that it is her writing.

It was validating for us as parents to hear that we're doing the right thing in giving her freedom and space and time to pursue her passion. And we walked away from that discussion (if I'm being honest, I would actually call it a true spiritual moment) edified. We also came away from it armed with such great pointers that we talked about Kate keeping a notebook of writing advice, starting with Ms. Savage's words to her. This amazing mentor was so unabashedly willing to think and exist outside the box and told us, emotionally and sincerely, that she fully expects Kate's first well-known novel to be published by the time she's 20.

Kate and Ms. Savage

Kate also got to hear from local authors and different writers in various disciplines and areas. I'm insanely jealous that she got to hear from author A.S. King, whom we've seen at at least 3 different events so far. We're quickly becoming groupies, I must admit. Apparently when Amy walked into the room, she looked at Kate and said, "Hey! I know you!" A.S. King is a terrific writer who isn't afraid to address real topics that are considered quite controversial by some. She is unfazed and unapologetic and, for that, she is one of our heroes. What you see is what you get with her and I could listen to her for hours. Every time I hear her speak, it makes me want to have her to dinner. I know we could easily talk for hours on end. Look her up. Find videos of her speeches. She is DYNAMIC. Then, when you're done with that, go buy her books. And order them from Aaron's Bookstore.

And this. This is one of my very favorite pictures from the week. Behold the cheering section for her reading. Behold the beauty of friendship. When I see this picture, I think "family" - just this week, I had a conversation with a friend where I texted her, "We love and appreciate all our friends just because, but yeah, they're essentially family, too." These good, amazing people all took time from their busy lives and drove the distance to BE there, smiling at her during her reading, cheering her on with applause each time she presented, and congratulating her with hugs afterward. She is a very loved and supported young woman and we all feel so lucky to know her and watch her grow and excel as a writer. WE LOVE YOU, dear author!

A writer and her family

And have I mentioned? I GET TO BE HER MOM!!


The Magic Violinist said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
The Magic Violinist said...

And I GET TO BE YOUR DAUGHTER!!! :) I had so much fun at writer's camp this year, probably even more than last year! That is a great picture of all of us. I'd thought about how we have our own "extended family" here in PA before you even said it that day! This was a great week. :)

LMW said...

Very cool for Kate!! Sounds like it was a good opportunity for all of you to slow down a bit for the week too.:)

Siths and Jedis said...

Yes, it was a VERY fun day! Thank you for being the mom you are. I love spending time with you!

Emily Foley said...

What a sweet post. You guys are really good at parenting those kids of yours. I think parents get the kids that they are perfect to parent, and you got just those--two kids that you are perfect to parent. Not that you are a perfect parent (maybe you are? heh), just perfect for them. This post is so fun and I really want to visit that town sometime! So quaint.

Congratulations on being awesome, MV! Thing 1! Whatever you want to be called online. :)

Anonymous said...

Lovely post. We were so happy to be at Thing 1's reading. Ron mentioned several times how great it was. What a great bunch of talented kids Thing 1 got to work with! And the instructors and the speakers...whoa! Awesome.

I'm so glad the week gives you so much one-on-one time with your amazing Thing 2!

Chelle said...

Your kids are awesome. I'm so glad you document your lives so well so people like me can peek in after months and months away and feel reconnected in minutes. I'm glad I checked in when I did or I would have been completely in the dark about your move. Congrats on that! It sounds like a great opportunity for your business and your new house looks beautiful. Another excuse (like we need one) to come out your way again...crossing fingers that will happen some day!! Love you!

p.s. you guys have a lot of games.

Jimmy said...

I'm so excited for her! She's already a success in my eyes.

Dave Johnson said...

Wish we could have come down more than just that one day. Lititz is so relaxing.

Getting to see/hear Kate read two years in a row at the wrap up has been so much fun. I'm amazed and encouraged at the talent of all the young writers. It pushes me to write more. Obviously, very proud for Kate to be in that number.

Great extended family picture. Hopefully more to come in the future. We had a great time with you guys that afternoon just hanging out and eating. Maybe we need to plan some days to just tool around town together with no agenda.

Boquinha said...

LOVE those comments, Thing 1 and Thing 2! And love YOU BOTH!

LMW, you're not kidding. So good to slow down a bit.

Emily, thanks! That town is SO awesome. Come visit!

72fishes, so great to see motivated writers like that, right? LOVE having you guys there. You're awesome.

Rachelle! I love hearing from you!! Yes, we'd love to have you guys here again. We had so much fun when you visited before! And come play lots of games with us. :) Love you, too! You guys are seriously our favorite med school friends!!

Jimmy, mine, too. :)

Dave, some down time there sounds soooo nice. We're trying to make more of an effort to be there more often. It helps that the bookstore recently contacted us and suggested we take them more books! They're selling out! :)

Thanks so much for being there - so special!