Sunday, July 31, 2016

Surviving Summer

Although this looks like enough school supplies to meet the needs of a classroom, it's merely enough supplies for my four kids.  It took four hours and a lot of $, but we're done.

Caleb took his buddy downtown to rent bikes and eat pizza.

The 13 year olds insisted on driving.  I got an early glimpse of how terrifying it will be to train my teens behind the wheel:)

Holiday World trip with our friends the Brinkruffs.

So, not the weather we ordered for our amusement park day....

Watching these kids transform from toddlers to teens has been precious.  We used to chat about potty training.  Our conversation at lunch revolved around braces:)

Beach towels that transformed into makeshift rain ponchos.

We've graduated to a new phase in life with these kids.  We went to a sit down restaurant where we placed the kids on one side of the table and had minimal disruptions.  Woo Hoo!

 This afternoon, we traveled to our local pool.  The boys splashed in the water while I sat poolside.  A friend pulled her chair up to next to mine.  We exchanged pleasantries as I watched my crew and she eyed her two sons.

When her boys started to fiddle with each other, my friend opened up about their bickering and how it has intensified within the last week.  She then explained her new behavior system designed to encourage sibling harmony.

Honestly, although her system was well-intentioned, it sounded a bit complicated.  I was tired just listening to the details.  

When she finished, I cleared my throat and said, "My main goal this last week of summer is to survive."

She laughed as if she imagined I was joking.

It wasn't a joke.

This summer has been fun.  So fun.  But, we've arrived at the point where we need to go back to school.

I'm starting to lose my fight.

If asked one more time, I just might allow candy for breakfast.

I may consider a bowl of cereal a healthy dinner option.

I could possibly be talked into more Pokemon Go time just to give this mamma a few minutes to empty the dishwasher (even sounds pathetic:)).

I may feign ignorance about my child's bathing regularity.

I may sidestep and muffle sibling conflicts.

Eleven weeks into summer, and I'm tired.

Then I think about the demands of daily homework, lunch box packing, and an endless amount of after school activities.

Suddenly, I have the energy to tackle the next week.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

My Youngest: The Hugger

Friends Mica and Mackenzie showed off their fowl friends at the Hendricks County Fair.

Cooper says he wants to be an architect.  So, we went looking for good architecture within Indiana.

We found one close to home.  Within an hour of our house sits a Frank Lloyd Wright home that can be toured.

Connor's summer basketball league.

Young concert goers for the Jim Gaffigan show.

My concert friend:)
All smiles at church camp drop off:)

Around 9 a.m. this morning, my youngest son emerged from his bedroom.  Sleep still nestled in his eyes, and his hair looked like a porcupine.  He stumbled onto the couch and stretched out upon the cushions.  A few minutes later, he wandered into the kitchen and helped himself to some leftover muffins.

This, my friends, is Collin.

The son that takes life slow, easy, and leisurely.

The one that doesn't work himself up over much.

He's always the last one at the dinner table.  He treats meals as if they are to be savored.  He'll chew bites politely and drink his milk with grace.

He's also the one who will still slip into a cuddle and huddle under a blanket with his parents.

Recently, I was feeling a little blue.  Chris went to give me a hug, and Collin cut him off.

"Let me handle this Dad," Collin said.  "I'm the master."

Then, Collin pulled me into the most comforting of bear hugs.  He most certainly is the master of hugs and comforts.

Collin is the youngest.

Is it because of his birth order that Collin exhibits an easy going, affectionate nature?

I'm not sure.  But, I'm grateful that my youngest is the one that's not yet too old to hug.

Friday, July 15, 2016

Camp Pickup

The boys survived a week at Springhill Camp.  They even remained buddies with their friends.

I visited Chris (camp doctor) one night and witnessed the "crud wars" (aka teen mud fight).  It was like a car accident, I literally couldn't look away!

On my visit, I went for a run and had this lovely backdrop.

Collin received the bravery award from his counselors.

Collin's sweet counselors.  Bless their hearts for spending the week with seven year old boys.  

Connor received the leadership award.

Cooper was awarded the creativity award (Shockingly he didn't receive the cleanliness award as displayed by his shirt!).

Bless this counselor's heart for working with middle school boys.

Cooper's counselors may have earned saint status.

Cooper's cabin mates from the week.

Over the span of a week, I made the trek to Springhill Camp three times.  Sunday was drop-off.  Wednesday was pickup for Collin.  Today, I picked up the remaining boys.

It's roughly 90 miles to Springhill, which doesn't seem like a lot.  But when your ancient minivan's air condition suddenly goes kaboom, 90 miles can feel like eternity.  I kept reminding myself about the major problems going on in our world today.  In the grand scheme of life, whether a car has air conditioning cannot compare to those struggling with world peace.  But when my backside was adhered to the leather seats with a heavy layer of sweat and my shirt looked like I jumped into a pool, it was hard for me to meditate on my (seemingly) inconsequential problems.

When I arrived at Springhill for the last pick up.  I looked as if I had just ran a marathon.  My hair was matted to my neck with sweat.  Any makeup remnants melted away a few miles into our trip.

I located the boys right away.  I've learned a little parenting tip this week: When greeting the boys from camp, I have to play it cool.  As much as I want to pull them into a bearhug and kiss their foreheads while calling them mushy names, those gestures of affection will be returned with a scowl.  Outwardly I greeted them with a "what's up," while inwardly I was screaming, "There's mommy's little baby!"

When we finally arrived home tonight, I instructed the boys to drop their bags by the front door (unsure what "goodies" may have returned in their bags from camp).  When I opened the first bag, I instantly pined for a hazmat suit and a sturdy mask.  The stench that drifted from the bag was deadly.  

I gagged.

Connor replied, "What do you expect?  It's camp!"

In fact, I did expect it. 

I expected the piles of dirty clothes, the filthy kids, the funny stories, and the sad reality that a return to camp is 365 days away.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

First Overnight Camp for the Baby of the Family

In my last post, I failed to include pictures from the boys' visit to the Michigan Dunes and Lake Michigan.

The water temperatures were borderline frigid, but that didn't stop the boys from jumping into the waves.

Looking at this photos, one might think we were at a tropical location!

But note, the sweatshirts:)

Enjoyed our summer weekend tradition with my brother and his family.

We braved a restaurant with the whole crew.

Cuddles with Uncle Matt are the best!

And Aunt Becky likes to spoil with sugar (donuts!).

A belated photo.  Sadly it takes a funeral for the boys to look this nice.  My gentleman looked very dapper at my Grandmother's funeral!

The boys returned to Springhill Camp.  On Saturday, we rushed around packing for a week of church camp.  The camp provided a packing list.  And so, we grabbed flashlights, bug spray, and other essentials and dropped them in their duffle bags.

With the placement of each object in the bag, I silently said my goodbyes.  So long pajamas!  Nice knowing you toothpaste.  From experience, I know camp is like the Bermuda Triangle.  Things that go to camp tend not to return (and if they do, they take on an entire different appearance).

The next day, we drove for 1 1/2 hours to arrive at camp.  Three boys would spend the next few nights in cabin.  For Collin, this would be his first overnight camp experience.  As the baby of the family, he is the one who tends to still enjoy hanging out with his mama (and vice versa), I imagined a big tearful goodbye. Perhaps there would be a big scene where he clung to my leg and sobbed, "Don't leave."

But, Collin surprised me.

When we arrived at his teepee (air conditioned!) cabin, he immediately wanted to disassociate with me.  He even tried to shoo me out of the cabin before I placed his bag on the ground.  I went to give him a goodbye kiss, and he opted for a hug instead.

What happened to my baby?

I explained Collin's goodbye behavior to my husband.  I said that Collin was just trying to be strong for the both of us.  He smiled, the sort of smile that says, "Keep believing that."

I want to believe that.  But, deep down I know it's a good thing that he wants to be independent and experience overnight camps without a parent hovering around him.

Independence is the end goal, but we moms are the ones that suffer sometimes from the growing pains.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Michigan: Fourth Weekend

On July 4th weekend, I traveled to Michigan with my traveling companions (aka my four sons) and parents for a mini-vacation.  Chris stayed home and worked in the emergency room.  (Evidently, sickness and injury work overtime on holiday weekends.)

Just miles into Michigan, we made our first stop at the Saugatuck Dunes.  After a brief hike, we landed on the beaches of Lake Michigan.  The boys raced into the waves and seemed blissfully unaware that water temperatures could easily lead to a nasty case of hypothermia.  (Remember how I said ERs were busy on holiday weekends:))

The next day, we visited the Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park.  I was sort of thinking it would be like walking through a neighbor's garden where the boys would spend hours gazing at hydrangeas and daffodils.  Not the case.  The gardens were extensive and captivating for the pickiest of critics: my four sons.

That afternoon, my Dad said we'd go the Ford Museum. I talked up the experience to the boys.  We discussed how they could gaze at a variety of cars including some amazing model-Ts.

So, that would be the Henry Ford museum.  We were actually at the Gerald Ford museum.  A bit different.  Despite the discrepancy, the boys rolled with it and even gained a working knowledge of the Watergate Hearings (essential for every elementary student).

On Sunday, we traveled to Windmill Island in Holland, Michigan.  We gained an appreciation for Dutch culture and heritage.  And for the boys, this appreciation was best gleaned by nibbling on Dutch chocolate and fudge.

We stopped by Grandmother and Grandfather Woods' temporary housing on the way home.  They are in transitional housing before  their move to North Carolina.  Our stop left us with just enough time to grab a cookie, drink, and a hug.

We arrived home before July 4th with a suitcase full of dirty clothes  and countless good memories.