Oct 20, 2014

Camp-What-AFamily 2014

The last weekend in September was our annual family retreat with church friends, Camp-What-A-Family. We travel to Lake Forest Ranch and spend a couple days taking it easy and chasing SM around the lake. 

We arrived a little late this year because Reagan had to work until 6:00 that Friday night. Then he had to load the luggage and the bikes, and, well, we got lost once we turned onto the dirt road. Anyway. Late. 

When we arrived we went to the cafeteria to see all our friends and find out our cabin assignment. Then we went to unload before heading back for a short while to fellowship. 

Here's SM in front of our cabin. I always take a picture of her in front of the cabin each year. The first time I took her picture I think she was 2-years-old. Wow!


We stayed up late (for us) on Friday night and crashed when we all finally got in the bed. SM let us sleep until 7:00 the next morning, then she was ready to get the party started. Meal time is always our most stressful because usually there is at least one thing on the menu she can't have. It doesn't matter what she CAN have to eat, or what alternative I bring for what she CAN'T eat, she almost always throws a fit. This year wasn't as bad as past years. I'm hoping that next year will be complaint-free at meal time. 

After breakfast on Saturday is always a walk around the lake. SM and Reagan had brought their bikes this year because Reagan thought it would be a great idea for her to get to ride around the lake. I had a headache - I had actually woken up with one - so I went back to the cabin for a nap during that time. I received at least 3 text messages over the next hour from my husband letting me know that, no, in fact it WAS NOT a great idea for SM to ride around the lake. She's a little competitive (like her Daddy) and when someone would pass them she'd get upset that she wasn't winning. The road was gravel and she'd get stuck. I'm thinking he'll think twice next year before encouraging her to ride her bike around the lake.

Sometime mid-morning we had the annual treasure hunt. I was asked to oversee it this year. I oversaw, and overdid, it. I planned for about 20-30 children 6-years-old and under. I think we had 5. Maybe 6. They got lots of prizes and candy though. Here is SM with a couple of her little friends after the treasure hunt. They were enjoying all the fun things they'd collected. 


After lunch on Saturdays the kids (and adults, if they choose) get to pick two activities. SM has always wanted to ride the horses, but she's either been too young, or we spent time on other things. This year, the horses were our first stop. She got to ride a horse named Avatar.



After being led around two rounds by her Daddy, she told him that she thought horse riding was going to be her new hobby.

She hasn't mentioned a horse since that weekend, so I think we're safe.

After horseback riding, we went to our cabin so she could change into her swimsuit and go play in the lake. Here she is riding back to the lake. I wish I had that kind of confidence to ride around in a swimsuit in front of people. 


She rode the tube with one of the older girls, Ava. At first she and Ava rode in the boat while the driver pulled two boys. Then, when it was the girls' turn, SM told Ava to tell the driver she wanted him to pull them fast. I looked at him and said, "She's 6. Pull her like she's 6."


After the water fun, we all went back to our cabin and she actually played well with some play-dough on her own while Reagan and I took a little cat nap. 

On Saturday night after dinner we always have family worship. SM always sits with us, although most of the kids sit in the front together. This year, she and her friend, Audrey, who is also 6, decided they were big enough to sit up front too. Without their parents. They didn't even discuss it with us.


Reagan and I did sit on the row behind her. She did pretty well till almost the end of service. She was over it and started moving and wanting to talk. I had to tap her on the shoulder once. Then, at some point, she just got up and came and sat in my lap. 


After worship is always talent show contest. SM has always wanted to be part of the talent show. But since her "performance" a couple years ago,  I've done everything I could to discourage her from being in the talent show. This year she decided she wanted to recite one of her poems from school. I was ok with that. However, for some reason, she got nervous. The most confident child I've ever met, got nervous. She said the title and author of the poem, then she froze. Then she crossed her arms and walked right off that stage. But we all clapped for her anyway. Next year, I'm sure she'll make up for it. 


I convinced her to go to bed right after the Talent Show. We got a good night's rest, then got up early to pack and get ready for breakfast. Here she is making one more loop around camp before worship service.


And here's our annual family photo. 


We had Sunday morning worship together then everyone headed home. SM and I napped the majority of the trip home. 

Every year I tell Reagan that it's almost too much stress and work to fool with going. We have to chase her around and make sure she doesn't hurt herself or someone else. We have to argue about food. But even with all the stress, arguing, and chasing, I know she enjoys it. She looks forward every year to going and being there with her friends and the people who make her feel loved and safe. She can mess up or get nervous, and still receive applause. She throw a fit at breakfast, and still have a friend who begs their mom to let them sit with her. She can be the youngest kid at the lake and still find an older kid who wants to ride the tube or boat with her. And those reasons are why each year we pack our bags, our cooler, and our bikes and head to the woods. 
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Oct 17, 2014

College Friends Weekend 2014

Each year we try to get together for a weekend with two of Reagan's college roommates and their families. We usually spend the weekend at the Douglas home and do a few fun activities in the Jackson area. Last year we were all unable to make schedules work for us to get together. We were all pretty disappointed. So, this year, my husband took matters into his own hands and stayed on everyone until they committed to a date. Then he researched condos and found us a great deal on one that would accommodate 3 families. And he did a great job. So, the weekend after Labor Day we met up together in Orange Beach to enjoy the water and some time together.

The first day we were there was overcast and a little rainy. That didn't stop the kids (and adult men) from enjoying the beach. Here are a few pictures from the first full day there. 




We enjoyed beach and pool time that first day, then everyone changed into their obligatory white tee and khaki shorts because Mrs. Malinda (and Mrs. Reagan and Mrs. Julie) wanted pics on the beach. Look at this crew. The love the beach and corn dip.


Sweet girls. 


Our family.




The Suhors.


The Douglases.


The boys that brought us all together. 


Sweet friends.


We had one more full day at the beach and it was beautiful. That night we walked the beach looking for crabs. Then we enjoyed pizza in the condo. We always enjoy our time with these precious friends. I think the beach trip will be another annual get together for our crew. 
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Oct 16, 2014

The Serpentarium

After we finished our visit to Disney in late July, we checked out of our "fancy-smancy" hotel and traveled to nearby DeLand to spend some time with our friends, The Glenns.

We arrived just in time for lunch. Nicki did not disappoint. She pulled out all the stops in preparing our welcome meal. When I grow up, I hope I can be as much of a domestic goddess as her. 

After lunch we headed to the BIG surprise we had kept from SM our whole entire trip. We went to the Serpentarium to watch a real, live venom extraction. It was better than Disney for SM.



Before the venomous snakes made their debut, the handlers brought out a few non-venomous snakes for those who chose to do so, to hold. This girl would have taken out anyone who got in front of her to hold one of those snakes. 






After a few minutes of snake handling by the kiddies, the trained handlers went to an enclosed room, with a viewing window for us, and they began to take out venomous snakes, one by one, and extract venom from them. 







This next photo was taken as the handler dropped a king cobra as he was removing it from its box. 



After all the snakes and venom, we went outside to explore the nature trail. These three make me so happy.




Thanks to Nicki for the idea and for taking all these pictures for me. SM had a blast. 

We spent the night with the Glenns. We always have a blast with them. We woke early the next morning to travel to the airport to catch our flight home. Sara Madalin DID NOT want to leave. She would have been happy having spent the entire week there playing with Jonah and Micah. We just don't get to see them often enough. 
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