Back to school so soon?

For many years, my favorite book was Charles Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities, and its opening line–though now cliche–definitely describes our summer:

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.

This is what the Eiffel Tower looks like from the inside.

We kicked off the summer with a three-generation family trip to France, where my dad performed with the Choral Arts Society of Utah at several D-Day commemoration events. We saw castles and cathedrals across Normandy and visited several museums, churches, and bakeries across Paris. I didn’t manage to bring home a single decent family photo, but we did manage to bring home COVID–across all three generations.

Fortunately, we all pulled through–including my dad, who then underwent a major heart surgery and a lengthy recovery. Meanwhile, the twins went to their first touring Broadway show, Hadestown, and their first sleep-away camp, an adoptee-only camp sponsored by Holt International in Oregon.

And they loved it.

In fact, Darnell declared that he’ll never go to any other sleep-away camp, and he held to it–when the opportunity arose later in the summer to go to a different camp, he refused! Needless to say, they’ve already started asking about it for next year.

Camping fun continued with a trip to Fort Townsend, the state park near Port Townsend, where we enjoyed the company of Ron’s brother and his family AND managed to beat the heat during the hottest week of the summer–except for that hike up Hurricane Ridge in Olympic National Park (seriously, why was it so hot on top of that mountain??).

Definitely on Dawn’s worst-of list.

But then, once back home, another worst-of: we had to say goodbye to my sister and her family as they packed up and moved to Arizona (for a whole new definition of hot!). We were really sad to see them go, even as we acknowledge that the climate here isn’t for everyone (and don’t get me started on house prices).

August brought some summer colds as well as doldrums. But amid the frustration and lingering sadness, I achieved an exciting personal first: I got published in the paper! Specifically, I had an op-ed published in the Salt Lake Tribune. If you’re interested, follow this link:

We then fit in another best-of: a trip to Utah to celebrate my parents’ 50th wedding anniversary. We also got to visit an amusement park, Lagoon, for the first time since 2017.

Shortly thereafter, a true tragedy struck: Danielle’s father passed away very unexpectedly. My heart grieves for the grandfather that the kids will never get to meet, but our grief is nothing compared to what Danielle is experiencing. It is so hard.

With the twins starting middle school and Dawn beginning high school, I had thought that kicking off this schoolyear would kick our butts. And it hasn’t exactly been a joyride. But after this summer? I think we are all glad to say goodbye to the best of times so long as the worst of times goes with them.

Published by Danelle Henden & Stephanie Lundeen

Danelle: I am an HR professional with a keen interest in psychology and in adoption activiwsm. I work with a nonprofit that supports adoption, On Your Feet Foundation. Stephanie: I am a writer and editor with a background in education (I have taught English as a Second Language, college writing, and college literature courses).

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