I was one of those moms who looked forward to and loved summers. I enjoyed having my kids home and with me more, I loved including them in my summer schedule and routines, I especially loved the family “job jar”. I was always sad when it was time for school to start again. I had a well-known tradition of cleaning and rearranging their bedrooms on the first day of school, and again on the last.
So it was especially important to me that our college kids would be able to spend at least part of their summer vacation helping us and being part of our new adventure this summer. Little did I know how it would all transpire, and how the Summer of 2016 would go down in our family history as the best summer ever….
I asked our kids, Morgan (entering her senior year), and Mitchell (entering his sophomore year at the same college!) to answer a few questions for me during their nine hour drive back to school. I appreciated their honesty, humor, and personalities coming through in their responses.
#1. What were your thoughts when Dad and I announced this plan to you last winter?
Morgan: “Surprisingly, I was not shocked. I was super busy student teaching and I didn’t really have time to process it. But overall, I was very happy that my parents were happy.”
Mitchell: “Did we really just buy a dumb-@$$ ranch????”
#2. What was better than you envisioned?
Morgan: “I was expecting to come to Virginia and miss Pennsylvania terribly. But once we were all unpacked, I felt right at home. That was definitely better than I envisioned it to be.”
Mitchell: “The amount of fun we had together as a family.”
#3. What was worse?
Morgan: “Overall, I would say that the little town of Lovingston is very different from our previous life in Mars, PA. I was not expecting such a big difference. It’s not bad, by any means, just different.”
Mitchell: “Going from a college lifestyle to not having any friends to hang out with.”
#4. What was your favorite part of this summer?
Morgan: “My favorite part was being a ‘tourist’. It was fun testing out the wineries and breweries. I also loved how close our family became. We were always very close but being together 24/7 gave us a different connection.”
Mitchell: “What she said.”
#5. What would you never want to do again?
Mitchell: “Tucking grape vines in the vineyard in the 99 degree heat with 80% humidity and bugs attacking you. And then there was the poison ivy.”
Morgan: “What he said.”
#6. What skill or experience will you transfer into your life?
Morgan: “You always have to be on your toes when running a Bed and Breakfast. You need to constantly be thinking about what is coming next, who is checking in and into what room, what you need to do for them, are there any special requests, etc. That is something I will also need to be able to do in my own classroom someday.”
Mitchell: “I learned a lot of handyman skills like building stuff with wood, plumbing and electrical, and properly maintaining a huge yard.”
#7. What will you miss the most?
Morgan: “I will miss being with the family. We had a lot of great laughs and memories this summer!”
Mitchell: “I will also miss being with the family.”
#8. Describe your favorite guests.
Morgan: “I was surprised by how many teachers stayed with us. It was fun talking with them about their teaching experiences. I was also surprised by how many younger couples visited….I guess all the wineries and breweries are a big draw. Everyone I met was so complimentary and appreciative of all our projects!”
Mitchell: “I spent most of my days on tractors, the vineyard, and moving heavy things with Dad so I didn’t really interact with as many guests as Morgan did.”
#9. What did you take away from working side by side with your parents this summer?
Morgan: “I learned that my parents work really well as a team (even when Mom spends too much money at TJ Maxx), and that they both have the traits/skills that will make this business very successful.”
Mitchell: “That they both work really hard and they have a great vision for the Bed and Breakfast that will no doubt be successful.”
#10. What advice do you have for Dad and me when you leave?
Morgan: “My advice would be to continue to find ways to treat yourselves. It is going to be hard to find time when you are constantly trying to make all of our guests feel special and happy, but don’t forget that you deserve a fun night out, too!”
Mitchell: “Work hard, play harder. It’s supposed to be fun.”
Yesterday was a teary and emotionally wrenching day, as we packed up our college kids for their return trip to school. I knew this summer would be an interesting one, but I had no idea how amazing it would be to get the chance to work next to our kids all summer long. I’m grateful that they got to be part of this adventure from the very beginning. I think they will be even more invested, supportive, and appreciative of what their parents are doing at the Orchard House.
They left at 7:45am, and by 12:30pm I had both of their rooms cleaned, rearranged, and spotless. Just like years past, I realized I loved it most when the rooms were messy but inhabited. Thanks for a great summer, Morgan and Mitchell. You are amazing people and you are both already missed!!!