This is what happens when you don’t use a straw to drink a smoothie!
Refresh, Regroup, Reconnect July 26, 2010
We’ve just returned from a wonderful three day camping trip in the mountains of North Carolina. We spent time with my husband’s aunt and uncle, who camp all summer long at the same campground. They like to escape the Georgia heat for the coolness of the mountains. Brad and I were able to borrow a friend’s pop-up camper, which sure beat our original plan to tent camp!
I must say that camping is a lot of work, but it really is a lot of fun. I had to pack for three children, including water shoes and swim suits. We had to take pots and pans for outdoor cooking, food, water, coffee maker, towels, bed sheets, blankets, pillows, fire wood, flashlights, and so much more. We didn’t forget a thing because I think we packed it all! To make it worth all the trouble, it’s best to camp for a minimum of three nights! Packing is just one part of the work because then you have to unpack, constantly sort through the supply boxes, and then put it all away when you get home. The mountain of laundry to wash is also work! I think I did seven loads of laundry to get us caught up from just being gone three days! My husband asked me if our trip was worth all the work, and I replied, “Absolutely!”
One of our favorite things to do was sit outside each morning with our cups of coffee and hot chocolate and enjoy the scenery and coolness. Our camp site was right on a beautiful pond overlooking a mountain. Aunt Betty would join us early in the mornings with Logan’s requested cup of her “kid coffee.” Our first morning, Brad cooked bacon and eggs for breakfast on our outdoor stove. Yum!
On our first day, we ventured to the Cradle of Forestry Discovery Center, a 6,500 acre historic site within the Pisgah National Forest. It is the home of the first US Forestry school. This place was not our original destination, but due to rain, we decided to stop and tour the center while we waited for the weather to clear. We ended up staying three hours! We toured the center where the kids participated in a scavenger hunt, rode in a fire fighting helicopter simulator, and crawled through an underground tunnel to peer at nesting animals. We also took a one-mile loop walk around the historic buildings of the old school grounds. On the way, Aunt Betty and I enjoyed taking pictures of everything we saw. She and I share an interest in photography. If we ever got away by ourselves on a nature trail, we could probably be gone for hours! Betty taught me some new things with my camera and offered helpful hints on getting the perfect picture. We discovered after attempting several shots of the children that having a cooperative subject helps, like a mushroom for example!
On our second day, we headed early to Sliding Rock. We paid $1 per person (except Luke was free). Sliding Rock is a natural water slide that is a popular destination for tourists. Brad, the kids, and I waited in line to slide down the gently sloping 60-foot waterfall over rock, dropping into the large, deep pool at the bottom. I slid down with Luke, and when we landed in the cold water, our breath was taken away! It was SO cold! After two slides, Luke was done! I went down one more time with Logan, then I was done! Brad and Lindsay went down four times, and by then the line had grown quite long and we all decided it was a good time to go.
We drove into Brevard and had lunch at Rocky’s Soda Shop. I had a delicious grilled pimento cheese sandwich with tomato and bacon. It came with green tomato pickles, which were marvelous! Brad got chili cheese hotdogs, Lindsay and Logan ate BLT’s and Luke had a grilled cheese sandwich. On the way out, the kids got ice cream! As we were walking back to our cars, Uncle Gene spotted a white squirrel, which are quite popular in the area. Well, Betty and I headed across the street after it to catch up and snap some photos. My picture was blurry, but Betty got a great shot of the little guy’s tail!
We stopped at Looking Glass Falls on the way back to the campground. When we saw people swimming there, we decided to stay and swim too. The waterfall was just beautiful and amazing and peaceful to watch. Brad swam across the bottom of the fall and sat on a rock where the water fell on his back. He said the water was falling with such force that it stung his back. The water was quite rough around the area where the water fell into the pool at the bottom, so the kids and I stayed around the edges. We spent about an hour and a half there and headed back.
After taco salad for dinner, we all went on a walk. We stopped in a field where the kids caught fireflies and played frisbee. After dark, we pulled out our flashlights and went on a flashlight walk. There is one road in the campground that is surrounded on both sides by tall trees and makes for a dark road, so that’s where we walked. The moon was almost full, so we did have lots of moonlight. The kids loved it!
After breakfast Saturday morning, Logan, Lindsay, and Luke wanted to check out the canoe in the pond. Betty and I walked over with them and let them sit in the canoe while it was tied up. Then, Logan wanted to be let loose on the pond. I gave two simple rules and allowed he and Lindsay to untie the canoe and paddle the pond. They laughed and had a good time! Logan sat in the back and steered and Lindsay provided some muscle power. As they pulled to the side to get out, Lindsay fell part way into the water as the canoe was not quite stabilized and started pulling away from the wall. Instead of staying in the canoe, she grabbed the wall and hung over the water as the canoe carried her legs away! I ran to help as Betty snapped pictures. Later, Brad and Logan went out on the canoe and Logan got to show off his new found skill!
Next, Betty and Gene took Lindsay and Logan creek hiking. This is where a good pair of water shoes and a good walking stick come in handy! Brad and I sat with Luke at a pool of water collected inside a wall of rocks on the creek. Luke enjoyed playing in his own private pool and of course, throwing rocks into the creek. When Betty, Gene, and the kids met up with us at the pool, I joined them in their creek hike. It was a lot of fun!
We enjoyed three days of rock sliding, waterfall swimming, canoeing, and creek hiking! The kids were never without something to do or to explore. Brad and I enjoyed experiencing these things with our children! I enjoyed taking my boys off separately on morning walks with our cameras. Even little Luke loved the privilege of taking any pictures he wanted with my old digital camera. Our family had the wonderful opportunity to refresh, regroup, and reconnect with each other. We so enjoyed our time away, and we praise God for making a beautiful world for us to delight in!
Lost Memory Found July 20, 2010
My children spent a week with their grandparents this summer. Each day, my in-laws had something fun planned for them to do. After all, three busy kids need to be kept doing something productive!
One day, they took Lindsay, Logan, and Luke to The Children’s Museum of the Upstate. It is a three-floor, 79,000 square foot facility that encourages children to learn in a hands-on environment. In fact, this museum is one of the largest children’s museums in the United States!
One of the stops in their day at the museum included a studio where children could dress up and act out a made-up story which could be recorded on DVD. My imaginative children went right to work on planning a weather show. Luke dressed in an elephant hat and the two big kids forecasted the weather. My father-in-law bought the 60 second DVD to surprise my husband and me.
Well, when show time came to present us with their big surprise, we all were really surprised when we realized there was nothing recorded on the DVD! My father-in-law took the DVD back to the museum about a week after their visit, and it was confirmed that nothing indeed had been recorded on the DVD. Then the museum employees asked him for the wrist band he had worn the day he had visited the museum (for proof of his visit per museum policy). Of course, he did not have it! He was told he could not get access to the recording without the wrist band.
A week later, my in-laws came to visit us and relayed the story. That’s when Lindsay chimed in with, “I still have my wrist band!” (Lindsay is my keeper of memories!) Her Papa replied, “Give it to me, and I’ll try it!”
On his second attempt to recover the recording, he succeeded because he had Lindsay’s wrist band as proof of their visit. So now we have a copy of their weather show! A lost memory found, thanks to Lindsay for keeping her wrist band! Way to go, Lindsay!
Blue and Blue July 15, 2010
It wasn’t until I had dropped off Logan at sports camp and arrived at Wal Mart with a shopping list, a quick stop before my daughter’s dermatology appointment, that I got a good look at what my three-year old was wearing. This is what I saw: (Just imagine him in a shopping cart!)
Though he was a cute sight, I did say, “Well, it doesn’t really match.” With fashion confidence, he proclaimed, “Well, it’s blue and blue!”
Of course! That’s how all my kids match their clothing choices! If the shirt has any of the same color as the shorts, it’s a match! I guess I need to teach them about coordinating patterns!
If you see us out and about today, be sure to compliment Luke on his outfit! I’m proud that he is taking it upon himself to get dressed, even if he is mismatched!
Belly Mess July 13, 2010
My littlest son, Luke, had just had a bath. He was clean and sweet smelling, and I knew it wouldn’t last long. We were about to eat dinner, and pizza was on the menu! Since all of his four pairs of pajamas were still drying in the laundry room, I encouraged him to eat without a shirt on because he’d probably get messy any way. A belly mess is easier to clean up than a stained shirt!
During dinner, sure enough, he dropped pizza sauce right on his stomach. I said, “See what would have happened if you’d had a shirt on?” Luke replied, “Yeah, I wouldn’t have got sauce on my belly.”
My question reflected the fact that I did not want to deal with a stained shirt. His answer reflected the fact that he’d rather get a shirt messy than his belly! I rolled with laughter! I guess there is ALWAYS a bright side to everything!
A Special Box July 8, 2010
My daughter keeps something hidden in her closet she calls her Special Box. She likes to pull this red, heart-covered box out, sit on her bed, and look through all the things she has carefully placed inside that are important to her. Among the items in her box are a broken sun silly band, a Princess goodie bag from a friend’s party, a wrist band from her stay at Great Wolf Lodge, a piece of cotton she collected on a field trip, rocks, and a snail shell. At first, these things seemed worthless to me, and I sometimes wonder why she keeps things I might consider trash (a broken silly band?).
However, I have learned that these things are special to her because of the fact that each one holds a special memory for her. The Princess goodie bag was from a four year old’s birthday party. Lindsay was invited because the birthday girl absolutely adores Lindsay and had to have her at the party. The party, back in January, happened to fall on a Saturday that we had a winter storm with snow and ice. Even though the party was in our neighborhood, we could not drive to the friend’s house because they lived down a steep hill at the bottom of a cul-de-sac. So Brad and I packed the kids onto our sled and pulled them to the party. It was a dangerous trek, even on foot, going down the hill, but it made a memory for Lindsay! After the party, the dads took the kids outside to sled down that monster hill and we ending up staying for dinner. It was a fun day, and the goodie bag is a memory of that time.
Last December, Lindsay spent the night at Great Wolf Lodge with her best friend who was celebrating her birthday. Lindsay and Claire have known each other since Lindsay was six months old, and their friendship is so special! The wrist band is a memory of that fun time with a friend!
The cotton she collected reminds her of a fun day at historic Brattonsville Plantation. She remembers the sweetest cat who laid around the cotton demonstration area, making a bed in the cotton! That’s a cat for you, but it was fun for Lindsay. The rocks and shells are special to her because of where she found them or who gave them to her.
Encourage your children to keep collections. I keep the ticket stubs from all the places the kids have been (zoos, Biltmore House, professional sports games, museums, etc.). I also have a special keepsake box for each of my children where I have stored precious items from their babyhood (Lindsay’s bonnet, first lock of hair, teeth, booties, certificates). Collections are fun because of the memories they hold!
I have learned to treasure what my children treasure! I still need to find out what memory that broken silly band has!
Spirit vs. Self July 4, 2010
I had my week all planned out. I was attending a three-day Classical Conversations parent conference, and my three darlings were spending the week with their grandparents. I was going to have some “me time,” and I couldn’t have been more excited!
Then the phone rang…I answered, and my week suddenly took a turn. I had been asked by a friend to host for three nights a mother and daughter traveling from out of town who were coming to work with the children’s camps for the Classical Conversations conference. I would like to say that without a moment’s hesitation or any thought to my plans, I said, “Oh yes, I would love to!” However, truth be told, I bought time with the words “I need to talk with my husband.” This line, by the way, has become my and my husband’s first response to anyone who is asking about something that affects our calendar! We always communicate with each other before something “big” makes it in pen on our family calendar!
I knew immediately the right thing to do, but I didn’t want to do it because of how it would “interfere” with my plans. After all, my children were gone for the week! My selfish nature warred with my spirit. Isn’t that a daily battle? As my husband and I talked, he cited an example from Scripture (ever the pastor!) where it talks about if your neighbor comes to you asking for help, you should not send him away empty-handed. The words from the book of James flooded my heart, “Be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves” (1:22).
God showed me that this was something I needed to do, so I gladly embraced the idea of hosting strangers. I called my friend back and said, “Oh, yes, I would love to!” God has so blessed us with a beautiful home and a guest bed, and I do want to use it all for His glory. How could I be so selfish in light of all He has done for me?
Our house guests arrived late Sunday night with a surprise…an extra daughter had come as a last minute fill-in for one of the camps. Due to their late arrival, we did not chat long the first night…just long enough to figure out that they had the right house! Over the course of the next two nights, we were able to visit some, and I so delighted in their company. In fact, I told them the day before they left that I wished they were our next door neighbors. The two girls (ages 16 and 18) were mature, fun-loving, and quite the talkers! Their mother was very kind and told wonderful stories of missionaries. Oh what I would have been robbed of had we not hosted them!
We hardly knew they were in the house, they ate all their meals out with their friends, and my husband and I still got to go out for a movie date! They could not have been more thankful or sweet! I believe I was the one truly blessed by their stay! “Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some have unwittingly entertained angels” (Hebrews 13:2).